Posts Tagged ‘school’

Okay, it’s probably time to stop pretending I have the time or intention to write with anything resembling the regularity I used to Back In The Day on platforms like LiveJournal and Vox.  But I couldn’t let 2012 slip into 2013 without taking a moment to write about what was a pretty momentous year (although you might not know it based on the number of blog posts I wrote).

A few moments ago it occurred to me that exactly a year ago, Stephen and I were driving through Oregon, just a few hours away from beginning our lives together in Bellevue, Washington.  I imagine for the rest of my life, I’ll look back on the brief months I spent in Washington as a truly wonderful time in my life.  This isn’t because of any enormous thing that happened, or anything particularly remarkable to most people—and in fact, I spent a lot of time sad to be so far from my family and my adopted hometown of Montevallo, Alabama.  But many things just added up to make it otherwise perfect:  living with Stephen, and thus for the first time in our relationship no longer being a long distance couple; the peace and relaxation of really having no responsibilities (a generous gift of Stephen, who encouraged me to take that time off from working before grad school), especially in the wake of having previously been working full time and taking several classes to finish my psychology degree; and the refreshing nature of finally living in an area where I felt my beliefs and values were part of the culture as opposed to standing in harsh contrast to it.

I also have a number of lovely memories from that time.  Within a few weeks of my arrival, Washington delivered a housewarming gift to me in the form of a storm that brought an unusual amount of snow to the area.  I was able to experience Opening Night ceremonies for the Seattle Mariners (who unfortunately… lost).  My parents came to visit in May, which was completely a blast—and I was surprised by how much they loved Seattle!  I got to meet in person Mari, a dear friend whom I’ve known online for something like 12 years.  Stephen and I spent one of our final days in Washington in a rented two-seater kayak on Lake Washington; the day was warm and absolutely beautiful, we were treated to an unexpected airshow from the Blue Angels above our seats on the water, and we marveled at a bald eagle who, deciding “NO, I CAN MAKE THIS MORE PICTURESQUE,” flew low not too far over our heads and landed in a nearby tree.  That one easily falls under my definition of a truly perfect day.  Moving was bittersweet, and I still think fondly of our cute little apartment in a sweet little complex, with the adorable Middle Eastern kids next door who were never more cheerful than when Fritz was in the window meowing at them.

But move we had to.  In February I interviewed along with 20 other hopefuls for a spot in a clinical psychology PhD program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  The interview weekend began as a disaster, complete with an airheaded mistake leading me to miss my flight from Denver to Colorado Springs and a frantic rental car drive in unfamiliar territory to make it on time for a dinner before interview day.  The day of interviews went much better thankfully, and I was ecstatic to be invited along with four other students.  I happily accepted, and in August Stephen and I set out on our second major road trip in less than a year—although after the five days and 3200 miles it took to get from Alabama to Washington in winter, the two days and 1400 miles from Washington to Colorado in summer was a piece of cake (although a bummer to drive in separate cars).

The first semester of graduate school has been a mixed bag—a pre-midterms period of thinking the easiness was too good to be true, and the post-midterms period of realizing yes, it was too good to be true!  But even in this short amount of time, I feel I’ve learned a tremendous amount and gained valuable experience.  While I look forward to learning even more, the prospect of five-and-a-half more years until gaining a doctorate is daunting at best and depressing at worst.

Stephen and I are happy to be back in Colorado, although the Springs is quite a bit different from Boulder, where Stephen lived when we began our long distance romance.  Still, we love the house in which we’re living and the scenery is always breathtaking—snow is falling gently as I type, and to see Pikes Peak constantly snow-capped on my drive to school each morning is just wonderful.  Though I’ve been consistently busy since moving here, we’ve been able to enjoy a few excursions, including some nice hiking and a week-long visit from my parents for my birthday.  As in Washington, we also have a great little walking trail in our neighborhood.  I would be lying if I said I’m as happy here as I want to be, but the drawbacks are not worth going into; I’m grateful to be where I am with Stephen beside me.

I’m now enjoying a much-needed break from school, though I’ll return on the 14th for training at the University Counseling Center (eep!) and on the 22nd for Spring term.  I just returned from my first visit back to Alabama in almost a year, where I had a wonderful but all-too-short time with my family, including my nephew—another change that 2012 brought!  I was surprised to find that being back in Alabama didn’t feel strange, but returning to Colorado did—kind of a sad side effect of living so far away from family, I suppose.

Despite some major ups and downs of 2012, I’m inclined to label the year a great success.  I feel very fortunate for everything in my life, and as for the negatives—well, my New Year’s resolution is to focus on positivity and the present (how very Buddhist, no?).  Here’s to 2013, and may the changes it brings be happy ones!

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According to Abraham Maslow's theory, people who have achieved self-actualization---that is, those who have achieved the full development of their abilities and the complete realization of their potential---are an extreme minority, representing less than 1% of the world's population. Maslow's self-actualization is also something that can't be achieved until middle-age. If that's not a system that warrants youthful rebellion, what is?!

The semester is wrapping up at long last, and only one little final stands between me and graduation.  Then the real fun begins—frantic packing, a few days of holiday down time with the folks, and a drive across the country.  It promises to be an adventure, but I’m looking forward to having some time to sit, relax, and not stress about the immediate future, at least for a few months.  I’m going to try to make some posts during the Epic Journey, and hopefully I can resume regular commenting and posting come January!

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As the temperature outside climbs toward the 90s and I sit here munching on my dad’s homemade (and delicious) cucumber salad, I realize well—summer really is here.  To be honest, I prefer the quiet, laid back atmosphere of Montevallo in the summer to the more crowded busyness of the fall and spring semesters (although the heat and humidity I could do without).  And what’s more is that unlike last summer, in which I filled my summer schedule with classes in an effort to get some coursework out of the way, this summer I’m wide open aside from work.

Fritz essentially has his summer plans down:  find sunny spot; sleep; occasionally wake to complain about the neighborhood strays who camp out on the porch; repeat.

Fritz contorts himself in his window seat

Summer Yoga for Kitties

But I’ve been debating for myself: what to do with all this unheard-of free time?

When in the throes of this past very arduous school year, I would dream of having the time to exercise a little creativity.  On weekends I found myself procrastinating on homework by playing music—something that until recently I’d had a hard time enjoying again.  (I should also point out the interesting fact that when I was a music student, I’d put off practicing or composing by doing, well, anything.)  I even worked it into schoolwork whenever possible, such as this reimagining of a Gilbert and Sullivan classic for my Biological Psychology class:

(It seems my video’s view count has benefited heavily from a lack of many YouTube search results for “corpus callosotomy” or “commissurotomy.” SCORE ONE FOR A CHEAP PATH TO THE TOP.)

So it’s tempting to me to declare this a Summer o’ Artsy Fartsy-ness, spending my evenings and weekends either recording music or brushing up on long unused drawing skills or of course, writing here. :)

As much fun as that sounds, more practically, I should spend my time preparing for that most dreaded of tests: the GRE.  I’ve opted to take the newly revised version of the test in August because it was 50% off and there’s no way in hell I’m paying $180 to take a test because it was the best choice for me academically.  I’ll also have to take the subject test in psychology this fall.  All of this with the goal of making it to graduate school, the most holy of nerd meccas.

Typical Daydream of a Perpetual Student

But alas, while creativity and practicality are each appealing, both fall prey to that burster of ambitiousness bubbles we’re all too familiar with: reality.  And folks, the reality is that any Joie, given unlimited free time and finite funds, will choose to burn that time away on the Internet, movies, and video games.  But no! I must resist…

…Hmm, actually, that doesn’t sound like a half-bad summer…  And I mean, I could really go for a nap right now… Couldn’t hurt, right? I can always student or record music tomorrow…

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