In Which We Let Go

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Let's pause and reflect on the fact that it is still May 30th and I am posting Day 30 of Blog Every Day in May! Today's prompt simply said, "React to this term: Letting Go".

First Reaction: No no no no no no no! I refuse! I will hold on more tightly than I was holding on prior to this request to let go! I will NEVER LET GO! Why are you asking me to do this? This is going to ruin my life! What will happen if I let go? The world might end, you don't know! MUST. MAINTAIN. DEATH GRIP. ON. LIFE.

Ok, now that we've gotten through that, I can think more rationally about the phrase "let go". I am reminded of the Frou Frou song by the same name:

Let Go by Frou Frou on Grooveshark

 So, let go, let go
Jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It's all right '
Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

If you can't tell, I am the worst at letting go. I'm not terrible when it comes to letting go of individual events; I don't tend to hold grudges because I think it's a waste of time and energy. I am not good, however, at letting go of things in my own past. I guess in a way, I hold grudges, but only against my former self (this sounds weird, haha). A perfect example is that I am still holding onto the horrible feelings I have about myself since I left medical school in 2009. Yes, 2009. It has been 4 years, 3 months, and 19 days since I signed the paperwork that got me out of my med school class. I am apparently still hating on myself for this decision that I basically had to make in order to save myself. ANYWAY, I'm bad at letting go of things I've done in the past.
Worse than that, I think, is my inability to relinquish control over a situation, especially when it's one over which I never had any control to begin with. The last few years have been an exercise in forcing myself to take things as they come, mainly because there is no other option, haha. I've been getting better at it, but I'm still not GOOD at it. In my therapy session on Wednesday, Danna said that she's never seen a patient suffer as much from understimulation than I do, which may be a reason that I obsess over things and feel the need to continually torture myself with what-if's. There is a big part of me that thinks that if I'm not thinking about something/trying to achieve something then I will immediately start backsliding and all the work I've done thus far will be undone. Or, if I'm not worrying about a situation or trying to control a situation, then WHO IS??

One of my goals in therapy is to exist in the moment, or at the very least, the present, instead of trying to see the future (impossible) or getting bogged down in the past (not useful). 

Letting go means trusting others, and that can be scary... but it doesn't mean I'm not trying! What does letting go mean to you? See what it means to others over at the link-up. And now, I have to get to my biochem class because I'm studying with a classmate before class at 5. Tomorrow is Friday! Whee!

- A

In Which We Get Musical

This should not surprise anyone who knows me, but I love music. I'm a musician and there are few things that make me happier than live music, especially it's being performed by people I know. For Day 29 of Blog Every Day in May, I was supposed to choose five songs or pieces of music that speak to me or bring back memories  For me to pick only 5 songs with memories attached to them is practically impossible, but I will try. Also, I'm a day behind again. Shocking.

Music is life. See?
1. "At Last" by Etta James - This was the first song my now-husband and I ever danced to (we were at a friend's wedding!) and it was also our first dance song at our wedding. We took ballroom lessons from the teacher that I had taken lessons from in college, and it was SO fun. Ken had never taken dance lessons, and it was hysterical for us both. We loved it and having a special dance (complete with dramatic dip move at the end!) at our wedding made it feel even more special. I'm also a sucker for jazz in general, and who doesn't love Etta?

2. "If I Had a Million Dollars" by Barenaked Ladies - Our babysitter (who eventually just turned into a cool, older girl who hung out with us and made sure we didn't die) introduced me to BNL when I was in middle school, and I fell in love with them. I took Levi to see them (his first concert!) and we've seen them a few times since then. This song takes me back to summers spent dancing around in the living room, drives down to the beach with BNL blaring, and every time I've hung out with my brother, especially at a concert. It's just a happy, funny song and I love it.

3. Romanze for Viola and Orchestra by Bruch - Random classical piece! I've played the viola for 17 years (WHAT?) and this was my favorite piece that I've ever studied. I learned it the summer before my freshman year of college while I was taking lessons from the best teacher I've had, Tony Simmons. It became my college audition piece (and subsequently led to me getting multiple scholarships) and I love it to this day. There is something lyrical and longing about it, and it shows off everything that is fabulous about the viola. (You viola haters can stay quiet, here!) It brings back memories of Saturday mornings spent in Tony's studio slaving over double-stops and laughing about stupid mistakes, feeling like throwing my viola after playing the same measures over and over, feeling my heart fill up when I performed it, and letting the music pour of me when the piece reached its peak. It also brings back intense sorrow when I found out that during my freshman year, Tony was killed in a tragic car accident on his way to an orchestra rehearsal. Every time I've played the piece since, it's been for Tony.

4. Moonshadow by Cat Stevens - So this was a tie between "Moonshadow" and "Wild World", both by Cat Stevens. When I was a little girl, my dad made me a mix tape (so 90's, right?) with all of his favorite music, which was the music we listened to when he came to visit for weekends (my parents divorced when I was 3). It was full of things most little kids wouldn't enjoy, like Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, The Doors, and The Eagles, but it became my favorite tape because it was my dad's favorite music. I think that I still have the now-defunct tape somewhere, haha. Anyway, we used to sing this song in the car when we were driving, even though my dad "can't carry a tune in a bucket" so he says. As a little kid, I especially liked the "if I ever lose my ________" parts because it was amusing to me, but I think that my love for acoustic singer-songwriters is a direct result of listening to so much stuff like that when I was a kid, haha.

Moonshadow by Cat Stevens on Grooveshark

5. Fall in Two by Guster, covered by 8 to the Bar - I am a huge dork and love a capella music. In fact, I was in an all-girls a capella group in college (The Treblemakers, obviously) and while we weren't terribly awesome, it was super fun. Our brother group at Drexel, 8 to the Bar, has always been pretty damn good, and recently has been AMAZING. I also may be slightly biased because my brother sang in the group, and the alumni group, After the Bar, performed at our wedding. It was so hard to pick one song of theirs that I love, since all of them bring me RIGHT BACK to college and make my heart smile. I especially love the rich harmonies that an all-men's group can achieve, and who doesn't love a bunch of attractive men who can sing? "Fall in Two" was Levi's senior solo in college, and it made me SO PROUD to hear him perform it. I love being able to pick out his voice among the rest of the guys (who are all awesome). I can't wait for them to put out their next CD; I can guarantee that it's going to be on repeat for awhile.(Levi is the soloist on the right! Steve, his friend, is on the left.)

There you go! 5 songs with memories. See what everyone else posted over here at the link-up!

- A

In Which a Picture is Worth a Thousand (Joyful) Words

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I can't just start throwing pictures around without an introduction, but this is supposed to be "only pictures", so I'll be brief. I spend a lot of time talking about my depression and anxiety, or about the things that aren't going so great in my life, mainly because it's therapeutic. I decided that for this post, I'd post pictures of things that make me happy. Enjoy.

The light in this engagement photo we took in Brooklyn Heights
 (Katie Jane Photography)
Pretzels with beer cheese dipping sauce
Julie, very excited about a GIANT lemon in Epcot
Two of my favorite men (Levi and Dad)

Gardenia (my favorite flower)
My beautiful friend Pam (who keeps me sane)
My wedding gown
 (Katie Jane Photography)
World's Best Roomie, my Memily, with Mr. and Mrs. Bump
My viola (her name is Aurelia)
Sangria on a patio in Philly
My dad's face when he saw me in my wedding gown for the first time
(Katie Jane Photography)
Getting engaged in Key West
My best friend and MOH, Victoria
(Katie Jane Photography)
Seeing the sunrise at Masada (2011)
Old City Jerusalem (2011)
The light in this photograph
(Katie Jane Photography)
The look on Ken's face
(Katie Jane Photography)
Walking my dad down the aisle at his wedding in March
My beautiful Little Friend (AKA: Sarah) at her wedding in 2010
Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory
This octopus necklace from Memily (also, octopi in general)

My awesome, talented, amazing, brother (and first best friend)
(Katie Jane Photography)
This sleepy kitty face

Have a happy, restful night, all.
- A

In Which I Am Totally Behind and We Play Catch Up x4

Okay, Blog Every Day in May has clearly turned into, "Whoops, I blogged every day or at least every other day for awhile and then I missed 4 days entirely." I don't even have a good excuse other than I was busy and forgot that my blog existed for a bit. Sorry, blog! Sorry, readers! Sooo, lucky you, you get one entry with 4 (FOUR!) topics in it! Whoo hoo! (I guess that's exciting?) Let's get to it.

Day 24: Your top 3 worst traits
Well, if you all had to guess, you might say, "Being late" is one of my worst traits, but guess what, I'm not usually late! In fact, I'm usually early. Apparently, this trait does not extend to blogging. ANYWAY, the hardest thing about picking my top 3 worst traits isn't that I hate talking about the bad things about myself (I mean, I don't particularly like focusing on the negative traits, but who does?) but rather, picking only three. Of course, that made picking my first "worst trait" easy.

1. I am entirely too hard on myself. 
I could probably write an entire book on my flaws. Multiple books. It would be VOLUMES. I pick apart everything about myself, from my looks and my weight to my work, both in and out of school, and everything in between. Nothing I do is ever "good enough" for me, and I always feel as if I have failed in some way. As you can imagine, this does nothing good for my depression and anxiety, and in fact, probably is a driving force in why I am depressed/anxious. Objectively, I can list out things that I've done that are good or "impressive":

- Graduated in the top 8% of my high school class
- Got into good universities with significant scholarships
- Got into med school
- Got into an MPH program and graduated magna cum laude
- Got a job 4 weeks after I graduated at a prestigious research hospital
- Got another, better-paying job at a second, prestigious, research hospital
- Married a wonderful guy
- Lost 35 pounds

But none of those things are "impressive" to me because they are just "things I did" and why should I be applauded for doing what I was "supposed" to do? Especially when... I could have done better in high school, gotten more scholarships, never left med school, graduated summa cum laude, gotten better jobs, or lost more weight (nothing I can improve upon for the guy I married, fortunately!). In any case, I spend 99% of my time critiquing myself, and the other 1% of the time, I am asleep. It's not the best way to live, for sure.

2. I think I can, and should, do it all.
Ever since I can remember, I have validated my existence as a human being by being "good" at stuff, generally in the academic sense. Because of this, I've felt this huge need to DO ALL THE THINGS, as if doing them will somehow make me a better/more likeable/more admirable human being. There is also a component to my personality that makes me want to do the hardest thing possible, because succeeding at the hardest thing must mean that I've really good, right? (Spoiler alert: Wrong.) I since learned that the hardest thing is usually not the most enjoyable thing in the world, and that if I really hate something, I should not be doing it simply to do it. Also, what is the "hardest thing" to me is probably not the hardest thing to someone else, and in fact, might be their "easiest thing". For example, I think physics is one of the hardest things in the world, but I hate it, I am not very good at it, and frankly, I'd rather hit myself in the head with an appliance than sit through another physics class. I happen to have at least half a dozen friends who have advanced degrees in physics or engineering, who teach physics at the college level, etc. Clearly, physics is their jam, haha. Anyway, because of this bizarre neurosis, I've always taken on too much and subsequently burned myself out, which is no fun. I'm slowly realizing that I can't (nor should I) do it all, but it's a slow process.

3. I am a control freak.
This actually branches out into a bunch of other traits, so it's kind of cheating, I guess. But, because I am a control freak, I hate waiting, I worry too much, I get angry when things aren't done the way I would do them, I am intolerant, and I'm generally unpleasant when things aren't done "according to plan". It also drives my anxiety and depression in a major way, which makes me again, a very unpleasant person to be around on occasion. I hate not having a plan, which extends to hating when other people don't have a plan. I make contingency plans for my contingency plans, which gets complicated and annoying (and is often an unnecessary expenditure of mental energy.) Occasionally, being a control freak works out (in my job, it's kind of a requirement) but the problem is when that bleeds over into the rest of my life (which it does... frequently). I'm trying to "live within the chaos" but I hate it, so it's not going well.

Thank goodness the prompt only asked for the top three worst traits, or we'd be here all day. You can see what other people think are their worst traits here.

Day 25: Something someone told you about yourself that you'll never forget (good or bad)
Of course, these are two things that my mother has said to me, and also of course, they aren't good. When I was in high school, I was super awkward, as are most people (especially people who classify themselves as"nerds"). I had friends who, really, were also pretty awkward (sorry guys, we were all kind of weird... still are, haha). I would say that the height of my body and physical feature discomfort came in middle/high school, which makes sense, because that is when your body goes completely insane with the hormones and whatnot. I had glasses and braces, wasn't a twig, had boobs that I thought were too big (I got over that), and hated how I looked. My mom, who I'm sure wasn't trying to give me a complex, frequently remarked about how pretty one of my friends was... and I'm sure she also told me that I looked nice, but I don't remember ever hearing her say that I was pretty. Of course, I internalized that as, "My mom thinks all of my friends are prettier than I am, and why can't I look like (insert name here)?" I was, and occasionally still am, obsessed with how my mother views me, so thinking that she thought I was less-than attractive was a major blow to my self esteem. 

Similarly, before I lost the 35 pounds that recently lost, I was the heaviest I have ever been. Once again, I hated my body, didn't feel like myself, and had compared myself to a large sea mammal on multiple occasions. I even had a huge meltdown about my weight while getting ready for a job interview because I was convinced that no one would hire me because I was "fat". For reference, I am 4'11" and usually weigh between 120-130 (and want to weigh 110-115), and I usually wear a size 6 or 8. At my heaviest, I was 175 and was wearing a 14. I was also dating my now-husband at the time, and my mom said, "I'm glad Ken likes you even though you're heavy." It basically made me want to die, and even though Ken did still love me and think that I was beautiful, it made me think, "Wait, is being this big a reason for him to NOT like me?" (Answer: No.)

So, while I'm no longer that awkward 14 year old, or as overweight as I was... comments about my appearance, especially from my mother, apparently hit me really hard. See what other people will never forget here

Note to self: Be careful with your words. They stick.

Day 26: Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you'd like.
I love bookstores. I know, what does that have to do with something you read online, Alison? Thanks for that random factoid, but why are you telling me this? I am telling you this because bookstores are one of my happy places, and yesterday I was at Barnes and Noble with my friend who writes over at Smug Singleton, who is lovely and you should go read her blog. ANYWAY, we were at B&N and I have a weird neurosis (Yes, another one) about buying books. I love books, and would sit in a bathtub, nay, a swimming pool, full of books and be happy. I would own every book in the world... if it hadn't been driven into me that buying books is silly and you should just get them out of the library. I have let myself purchase Kindle versions of things because they are less expensive and take up no additional space, but even that is a new development.

So, when I go to bookstores, I write down (or really, keep a list in my phone) of books that I want to read that I will take out of the library, get for free on Paperback Swap, or buy used online. If all of those options are exhausted (or if I happen to have a gift card), I will buy a new book. One of the books that I found yesterday was called Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps and I can't wait to read it. The author also has a blog, which is HERE! It's very funny, and useful, and you should definitely read it. I'm a big proponent of people, especially adults, acting like adults, so I think that it should be required reading for everyone in their 20's, again in their 30's, and possibly for the rest of their life.

So what do you think of Adulting? What have you read recently that you think I need to read? Share it in the comments! And also, check out what other people read over here at the link up.

Day 27: A letter to your readers

 Dear Readers,

I am not even sure how many of you exist out there, but hello! Thank you for being here. Without you, this blog would be way less meaningful, because it would just be a lot of existential naval gazing. Let's face it, I still do a lot of existential naval gazing, but that's what blogging and writing is for to a certain extent, right? Right. (Arguments against that statement are not currently being accepted.) But again, if I didn't want readers to know about my life, my thoughts, my existential naval gazing, I wouldn't put it on the internet, I'd just write it in my regular journal. Blogging is a way to connect with others around the globe about topics that interest you, and I've found some of my favorite people through blogging! I've also gotten to know people in a better or different way than how I know them in real life, and you are all a part of that. I love reading your comments, finding your blogs, and getting to know each and every one of you. 

I love knowing that I can connect with people through writing. Thank you for your interest, your support, your kind words, your "get yourself together" words, and your patience. You're all the best and you help me to continue refining myself and my style. Keep up the good work, readers!


Whew! We're now...

Hopefully, I'll get to today's ACTUAL post later today, which will be entirely photographic in nature, so at least you won't have to read anything else! Thanks for hanging in there through this longer-than-usual post, and soon, we'll be back to posting as usual because holy crap, May is almost over. Whoa.


In Which I Discuss Some Things I've Learned (AKA: You Could Get Hit By a Bus Tomorrow)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Annnd surprising no one, I missed the actual Blog Every Day in May post yesterday. To be fair, I had to go to class and after class, Ken and I went out to dinner with a couple of friends and we didn't get home until after 10, and my brain was fried so I just showered and watched Hannibal and went to bed. 

Yesterday was a wildly unproductive day, mainly because the database that I use was down and unusable, so I tried to find other things to do (rather unsuccessfully). Although, I must admit that I wasn't trying very hard. Class totally fried my brain, because somehow, despite having gotten my BS in Biology and taken (and passed!) med school biochem (with an 89, thank you very much!), we are doing something in this 200 level cell bio/biochem class that I have never seen before. I had a completely useless freak out (are any of them ever useful, actually?) about how going back to school was a total mistake and how I was clearly not smart enough to do this... but I think I'm getting over it. I spoke with the professor after class and I felt better, although not totally convinced that I wasn't a complete moron. As my friend Julie said, though, "Well that's the point of classes, right? Learning stuff you don't currently know? You were bound to not know something at some point!" which is totally true (even if I don't want to believe it, haha).

Anyway, speaking of learning, not all of it happens in the classroom (thankfully), and the post I was supposed to write yesterday was about things I learned outside of school. So... here are some things that I have learned from life.

The Holstee Manifesto
For those of you who don't know, that is the Holstee Manifesto. It hangs on the wall in our apartment, and I look at it every day. It reminds me of the important things that Life has to teach me, even when most of the time, I think Life is bent on elucidating the many ways that people at large can be a vastly annoying group of organisms. So yes, the Holstee Manifesto is great. It's also quite idealistic. Most of what I've learned from life is far less poetic.

People are stupid, or at the very least, will do stupid things. Often. Do not be surprised. Anticipate.

This sounds horrible, but it is really true. My dad always tells me to remember that, "Most people you will encounter are not as logical or as intelligent as you and the people you hang out with..." which... is true. I am not an overly confident person, but I do know that I am quite intelligent and logical (although last night, I was skeptical of that). Because of this, I spend a lot of time smacking myself in the forehead (physically or metaphorically) saying, "What the actual fuck is wrong with people?" when something stupid happens. However, people seem to like to do a variety of dumb things, for example, spending money in ways they shouldn't, driving like it's the first time they've ever been in a vehicle and they decided that doing so blindfolded was a good idea, or dating someone that treats them like crap... and that is just a few of the many examples one could probably come up with, unfortunately. So, what is one to do about this intensely high concentration of stupid in the world around us? Well, first of all, stop being surprised when something stupid happens. In fact, expect stupid things to happen, and when they don't, you'll be pleasantly surprised. At least, that's what I'm trying to do. It helps to keep my blood pressure down, haha. Also, just because people are acting stupidly doesn't mean that they're trying to make you have an aneurysm, at least... not most of the time.

Sometimes, you have to cut toxic people out of your life. 

 One of the hardest things I've learned is that sometimes, the people you think are your friends turn out to be not such great friends. That doesn't mean they're horrible people, either, as I'm sure most of us try not to be friends with horrible people. (If you're trying to be friends with horrible people... I hope you're either doing some kind of bizarre social experiment, or you should probably look into getting some therapy because you don't need to befriend horrible people!) Anyway, people change, needs change, opinions change, and as a result, relationships can (and often do) change. Someone who you were best friends with in high school might be a totally different person 5 years later, and so will you, probably! (Hopefully! Who wants to be the same person they were in high school? BLECH.) It's really hard to end a friendship, or to watch one collapse slowly (like a flan in a cupboard), because you have all of these memories of when things were healthy and fun and mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. There's also something to be said for not putting up with people's bullshit longer than you have to, and if you find yourself going, "Why am I friends with this person?" or making up reasons why you should stay friends with them... it's probably time to end it. Growing up is (still) hard to do.

You cannot control everything. You can control how you react to things.

I am still learning this. Every day. Every minute of every day. It seems obvious. I know that I cannot control the weather, the economy, or the fact that Comcast is the worst company in the history of companies ever. I cannot control when people do stupid things (See #1) or when they make decisions that make you want to punch them (See #2). However, I can control how I react to all of these things. Because of this, I fully believe in grabbing your own life by the horns (or the balls, if you are so inclined and you think life is a dude) and controlling your own destiny. I can control how I react when people make insanely self-destructive decisions, whether that's counseling them against said decision, or deciding to keep my mouth shut because no matter what I say, they're going to reject the reality of the situation and replace it with their own. I can control how I do in my classes. I can control how I react when people are angry, when work gets nuts, or when people cut me off in traffic. I cannot control any of those things, but I can control my reactions. This is something that more people need to realize, because it will help to prevent that thing I ranted about the other day (people not taking responsibility for themselves and their actions).

You can, and should, say "No".

I am the worst at saying no. I hate disappointing people, and more importantly, I like making people like me, so when people ask me to do things, I like to try and comply. However, this leads to entirely overbooked schedules, too much on my plate, and general melting down. Like I just said, I totally believe in grabbing life by the horns and getting as much out of life as you can, I also have learned that I have limits, I cannot do it all (especially not if I want to do anything well), and that contrary to popular (okay, maybe just my own) belief, I am not expected to do everything. Saying no may feel gross in the moment, but in the end, it will save your sanity.

Don't lie.

Ok, so I guess we kind of learned this in school, but I'm talking more about not lying to yourself, moreso than not lying to other people. I spent the last 4 years lying to myself about not wanting to go back to medical school and I wasted so much time doing a hundred other things instead of what I really wanted to do... which was go back to medical school. So, don't lie to other people, because that's mean, and don't lie to yourself, because that's stupid.

You could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Seems out of place, and truthfully, you could get hit by a bus today, but I started saying, "Well, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow..." to remind myself that bad things can happen without warning, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try things. Or, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but you shouldn't stay in your house to avoid getting hit by a bus because then you'll never get anything done. And also, there's a ton of stuff in your house that could probably kill you, too, so... there's that. That being said, life is scary and new things are scary and the possibility of failure is scary, but not doing anything and accomplishing nothing is way more scary... so get out there and do something.

And now, a few things that don't really need explanations, but are good to know, nonetheless:

- Don't touch things when they're hot (I do this all the time. Don't be like me.)
- Don't let your laundry pile up, because it will take over your life.
- Always keep tissues in your purse. Or pocket, if you're a dude.
- Always keep napkins in your glove compartment (does anyone keep gloves in there?)
- When in doubt, order dessert.
- Don't stand on the edge of a ceramic tub in socks
- Always, always, always  put a mat in the bottom of your tub (I didn't. I fractured my spine. Don't be like me.)
- Laughing hysterically or a really good nap can fix most problems.
- Don't be a passive-aggressive weirdo. Tell people how you really feel. (That goes with DON'T LIE.)
- But seriously, tell people you love them. You never know, you might get hit by a bus!

Check what other people have learned at the link-up!

- A


In Which We Get Poetic (Ish)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Look! It's not a Blog Every Day in May post! That will come later, but for now, I thought I'd entertain you all with the haiku that I wrote over the last two days while I was being held captive in that horribly boring training. Mind you, these haiku were not meant to be poetic masterpieces... they were simply written to help maintain my sanity, haha.

Clinical Research Coordinator Training Haiku

Emily said write
So I am writing haikus
About this training

I know this info
Simply from doing my job
Why am I here now?

On the sixteenth floor
Is the Ninth Circle of Hell
CRC Training

The best part of this
Is the free breakfast and lunch
Fruit trays are yummy

The fire alarm
Is really adding something
To this painful day

My brain is melting
Because this is so boring
Someone save me, please

Does this presenter
Really not know Jeopardy?
What year is she from?

Is it lunch time yet?
I may shortly go insane
Listening to this

I might kill myself
If this training was my job
It is just that dumb

I don't need to hear
All these personal stories
About your subjects

Sandwiches are here
Ninety minutes until lunch
I might not make it

Panel discussions
And forced group activities
Are so tortuous

I am so hungry
I may consume my own arm
Before 12:30

I turned my phone off
To conserve battery life
Times are desperate

Research is fraught with
Too many acronyms
It's alphabet soup

Acryonyms that don't
Use all of the first letters
Are really stupid

Useless metaphors
Don't really help anyone
They have to make sense

This is so boring
The Geneva Conventions
Should have outlawed it

Research Billing Plans
Are so painfully boring
I don't need this skill

It is a good thing
That these windows are plate glass
Otherwise, I'd jump

Thank God there's a seat
Near this electric outlet
Or my phone would die

Why is this lady
Reading her PowerPoint slides?
Amateur mistake

To file under
Things I Do Not Need to Know:
This entire day

They are trying hard
But nothing will make this fun
Unless I can nap

There is no dessert
Which seems quite cruel and unfair
I want a cookie

The pregnant lady
Is rubbing her huge belly
Please don't give birth here

Dessert has appeared
Oreo fudgey brownies
Far too sweet... ew gross

Ninety minutes of
IRB education
Is far too many

Trying to French braid
My own hair while sitting here
Too many layers

This final hour
Is dragging painfully slow
I want to escape

I am never hot
And this room is so stuffy
That I want to cry

The girl next to me
Is doodling horse pictures
We're all losing it

So close to the end
I can almost taste freedom
Get me out of here!

Day Two of training
Can't be as bad as Day One
Oh wait, no, it's worse

My autocorrect
Changed "morning" to "Leningrad"
What the hell happened?

Our lunch is delayed
There will soon be a riot
Give me a sandwich!

My autocorrect
Changed "sandwich" to "sunfish"
That was a weird choice

My turkey sandwich
Had a weird, mottled, color
In the trash it went

And there's my experience in training in haiku form. SO glad I never have to do that again...

- A

In Which I Rant

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If you've read this blog (or any of my past blogs) then you know that I rant. Frequently. What else is a blog for if not for the occasional rant? I also keep a paper journal in which I keep the rants and babblings that don't belong on the internet, because contrary to popular belief, such things DO exist. Anyway, here I have permission to rant as part of Blog Every Day in May!

Today, while sitting captive in this horrible training, I actually wrote down, "Potential Blog Post: Pet Peeves," and I think that dovetails nicely with today's theme. Most of my rants are about people, and more specifically, they are about people doing dumb things. The rant-du-jour of today was about people who refuse to own up to their mistakes and think that they are victims of life.

Seriously. Here are just a few of the things I've heard that are absolutely infuriating:

- "I failed that class because the professor hated me..."

- "The boss screwed me over and didn't give me that promotion..."

- "I swear, people sit around and think about how to make my life miserable..."

I am not saying that bad things don't happen to people. But no one has ever failed a class because the professor hated them, and if you seriously think that that was the case, then investigate that professor and talk to the judiciary committee at your school. Take control of your situation and DO something. Either don't screw up and fail your class, or investigate the reasons why you did and get it fixed.

If you think you're getting a promotion, make sure that it has gone through before you do something stupid like move to a different state. Maybe your boss did screw you over, but even if he did, you were a moron for moving to a different state (the state where your promotion would have taken you) before the promotion went through. Otherwise, you'll end up commuting 100 miles in each direction and eventually moving back your home state anyway.

If you seriously think that people sit around and think of ways to make you miserable, then you are one of the most self-centered people on the planet because holy crap, you are not that important to anyone except maybe your mother, and she probably wouldn't try to make your life miserable (at least not on purpose). Get fired? I'm sure no one was "out to get you" and that somewhere along the way, you did something that warranted your termination. Didn't get that job you interviewed for? Well, if you've seen the economy since 2007 and you keep applying to jobs that you don't really have the qualifications for, you shouldn't be surprised.

I've definitely said, "I think the universe hates me," but I've never been actually serious, unlike many people I've heard utter these phrases and others like them.

So, all that to say... own your shit, people. Make plans, follow through, be an adult. No one is going to do it for you, and frankly, they shouldn't have to.

See what other people are ranting about over here at the link up...

- A

In Which I Realize How Young my Blog Is

I somehow survived the last two days, despite the fact that from 8-4, I was being held captive in the world's most boring training known to man. It was theoretically supposed to be a 2-day training for Clinical Research Coordinators, and in theory it would have been very useful... if I hadn't already taken essentially the same course at Penn last spring. It was seriously two of the longest days of my life, and if I hadn't been able to keep my phone charged, I would have lost my mind. I also wrote some haiku about the experience, which Emily suggested I do to pass the time. Don't worry, I'll definitely be posting them later.

Anyway, the theme for the post that was supposed to be on the 21st was to link to a few of my favorite posts in the archive. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I've only posted 51 entries in this blog, and I can't link to my old journal because it's friends-only. So here's a list of links to my favorite posts from this blog thus far...

Quoteable Life

Quoteable Clinical Research

Daily Dose of Poetry

In Which I Discuss Introversion 

 Enjoy! Check out some other favorite posts from people here at the link up!

- A

In Which I Share a Struggle

Monday, May 20, 2013

Well, I survived my first day of class at Penn after a full day at work. I know that I took a class last winter, but it was intro to anatomy at a community college, not Autonomic Physiology at Penn, haha. In any case, I'm very tired, but the class should be interesting and there only seems to be one obnoxious girl who insists on commenting on everything that the professor says. The professor is a really great lecturer and she's very funny, so at the very least, it will be moderately entertaining.

Today's assigned post is, "Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now." Clearly, I am struggling with blogging every day in May. But seriously,  I feel similarly to when I had to write about a difficulty in life, mainly because I feel like this blog exists largely because I use it to work out things that I'm struggling with on a regular basis. Here we are with today's post theme and I tried to focus on the most pervasive struggle that affects my life. Read what other people had to say over at the link-up...

I found this quote by randomly Googling, and it brought me to Whitney English's blog (which is linked if you click on the picture). Anyway, it sounds cliched, but it really is true that our struggles make us who we are, and even when they are sucking the life out of us, they are part of the story. I am not going to life and say that without them, life would be boring, because I'm pretty sure that I could take a year (or fifteen) of "boring" given my life thus far. I'm also not going to say that "anything easy isn't worth having" or some variation, because I think that's what we tell ourselves when things suck so bad that we want to give up. Regardless, no matter how bad we want them to, problems and struggles aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and as soon as we get rid of the ones we have, it won't be long before new ones show up to replace them... you just always hope they're not as ridiculous as the last ones, haha.

I tried to pick a struggle that has, for lack of a better phrase, "grown up" with me. I think it's one that many people can identify with. Doubt. Doubt can put me in bed (or under my kitchen table) faster than anything else. Doubt feeds the anxiety monster, doubt fuels depression. Doubt has stopped me from doing things that I wanted to do, and not let me enjoy thing to the fullest extent. Doubt invades my personal life, my academic life, and my professional life. Doubt sucks.

On Pinterest, if you were to search "doubt" you'd get a variety of things, including:

- When in doubt, drink coffee
- When in doubt, wear red.
- If in doubt, bake a cake.
- When in doubt, run it out.
- Leave no room for doubt.
- If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.
- Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

And then:

- Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening; small doubt, small awakening; no doubt, no awakening. (Zen Proverb)

- "If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." - Rene Descartes.

Lots of people are trying to ignore doubt, push it away, do things instead of doubt, or turn doubt into some kind of positive thing. I think that the biggest issue with doubt is that a healthy dose of doubt will go far (I mean, look how far it got Descartes!) But I doubt myself to the point where I don't get anything done, or I feel intensely unsure about everything the entire time I'm doing whatever I'm doing (and often long after I'm done, as well). I have no delusions that one day, I will stop doubting my abilities and my ideas entirely, but I do hope that I can find the line between detrimental self-doubt and the kind of doubt that produces great awakenings.

I think one of the hardest things about anxiety and depression is the doubt that gets insinuated into every situation. I feel like I can't trust the world, my emotions, or my ability to remain upright and functional. For awhile, I couldn't even trust my own senses because I was having auditory and visual hallucinations (and even some olfactory ones... spent an entire day smelling pineapple in lecture once... that was annoying.) But the doubt starts to take on a life of its own, it starts to creep in when you aren't even aware, and before you know it, you're laid out on the floor, wondering have you even got as far as you did and if you'll ever get up again. Even now, when I'm in what I'd like to call a "remission" of my depression, I doubt that it will stay. Yes, I'm taking my medication and going to therapy, but I can always feel the depression on the edges, and I doubt that it will ever truly leave me. Doubt has robbed me of so many things, and continues to make me uneasy, even when I'm doing "well". It's hard to trust the world when you can barely trust yourself.

I don't think that my struggles are any more difficult than anyone else's; in fact, comparatively, I'm doing really well. Today, I watched a documentary about an 18 year old boy who died of osteosarcoma. It was a beautiful documentary about a beautiful human being who left this planet way before he was supposed to. My life, compared to that kid's and that kid's family's life? Practically problem free. That doesn't mean that my problems are any less significant to my life, but in the grand scheme of things... I'm not dying of osteosarcoma and neither is anyone that I hold near and dear, so thank God for that. Every day, I go to work at a The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the oncology department, and every kid I deal with has cancer of some kind or another. Compared to that, my doubt/depression/anxiety is small potatoes (Unrelated: Who even came up with that phrase? So weird.) I hate when people say that something is a "first world problem" (and they're being serious) because just because someone is dying of cancer or starving to death in some far off country doesn't make someone's problems less of an issue or less upsetting. It is, at least for me though, a good wake up call that I work where I do, because it reminds me to be thankful for every day I have, even if it is filled to the brim with doubt.

So, I struggle with fitting my "issues" into the grand scheme of things. I struggle against myself and how I fit into the world. I struggle with doubt and how I can subdue it long enough to get things accomplished and enjoy my life. I struggle with walking the line between a healthy dose of skepticism and second-guessing myself to the point of immobility. I struggle against my own brain, and that is the biggest struggle of all.

- A

In Which I Highlight my Favorite Blogs

And we're still behind! Only a day, but still... we're remedying this as soon as possible. This is the week that I start classes, so I'm sure my brain will be on overdrive at approximately 5:02 pm, but I am going to keep blogging! Just be aware that if my posts devolve into senseless rambling (moreso than usual) that it's because my brain is melting and leaking out of my ears.

So, I talked about my favorite bloggers here, and now I have to talk about some of my favorite blogs. Of course, my favorite blogs are written by my favorite bloggers, so... sorry for some repeats. Thanks to the Blog Every Day in May Challenge, though, I've found all kinds of awesome blogs that I now read and follow. ::waves to Amanda and Franziska:: Anyway, enjoy the list and I promise, today's post will go up today!

A Practical Wedding
I think that A Practical Wedding is my favorite blog in existence right now. I started reading it before I got engaged, relied on it heavily through our wedding planning, and continue to love and adore it because it is a community full of smart, funny, caring people who I wish I could hang out with on a regular basis. Lucky for me, I get to see some of them in real life (like Liz!) There is just so much good conversation going on over there about marriage, relationships, feminism, and life.

The Bloggess
As I've said before, The Bloggess is an amazing woman who also has made me laugh so hard that I've either cried or stopped making noise entirely. She also is an incredibly strong person who is a wonderful role model for people with depression and anxiety. One of her favorite quotes of mine is, "Depression is a lying bastard." It's absolutely true.

Chrystina Noel/Girls Who Make Lists
I didn't talk about Chrystina Noel last time, but her blog is definitely super fun! She is, as her blog says, an "Engineer by Day, Hostess by Night" and she throws excellent parties. She also makes beautiful cards, takes lovely photos, and is an all-around great person. We went to college and sang in some musical groups together, and now she works all over the place, so I haven't seen her in awhile. She also cowrites a blog called Girls Who Makes Lists, which is great as well. If you need help organizing a party, want some advice on crafting, or want to smile, check out her blog(s).

This is a blog that was just started by my friend Colleen, who happens to be not only one of my best friends but also a fabulous artist (even if she doesn't think so). She posts photos and drawings here, as well as life updates. I love her comics, and she always makes me laugh. She and I got married (to our respective fiances, haha) the same weekend, so we bonded over wedding planning insanity and kept each other from jumping off of buildings. She is hysterical, beautiful, and her art (especially her lettering!) makes me smile. Head over and say hello; you definitely won't regret it!

Josette Plank
I wrote about Josette before, but now is the perfect time for people who haven't read her blog before to head over there RIGHT NOW and read about her bat escapades. Bat-scapades? Let's go with bat-scapades. But Josette is a great writer who always makes me laugh, and also, now she can't get rabies, so if you need a possibly-rabid animal removed from your home, she's the one to call. But seriously, go check out her blog and laugh about bats and other hysterical stories from her life.

Anyway, now that we've caught up from yesterday's blog, I am going to go do some actual work, then blog again later so I am officially caught up for the Blog Every Day in May challenge. Go check out what blogs the rest of the participants love over at the link-up!

- A

In Which I Recount My First Dental Trauma

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Okay, so technically I'm already behind because it's technically the 19th and here I am, posting Day 18 of Blog Every Day in May... but damn it, I'm determined to get it done before I go to bed! I'm just going to pretend that it's still the 18th, okay? Okay.

Today's post assignment was, "Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt." I have some pretty vivid memories from my childhood, but when I sat down to write this post, I wasn't sure which one to pick. Of course, my most vivid memories are ones with extreme emotions attached to then, and unfortunately, all of my intense emotions in my childhood were related to sadness. My parents separated when I was three and a half, so I don't really remember much about my parents being together. Just today, I was talking with Ken and I mentioned that I had memories of my dad and memories of my mom from when I was about three, but none of the two of them together when I was that old. Odd. 

Anyway,one of the stories I do remember that isn't intensely sad was from when I was about 4 years old. My mom was working at the hospital as a medical technologist, and one of her friends watched us during the day in our house. Our living room, or "Great Room" as it was called, went from the front of the house, all the way to the back wall of the house. I don't remember why I was running from one end of it to the other, but I was. Of course, since I've been a spaz since I was born, effectively, I slipped on something and smashed face first into the wall. Yup, I ran into a wall as a kid. As if that wasn't funny or weird enough, I somehow knocked my front tooth out, root and all. 

So, I was bleeding all over the place, screaming in pain and terror, and could not stop crying. Our sitter called my mom at the hospital to see what we should do (I vaguely remember my tooth being wrapped in paper towel and stuck in a glass of milk, as it we were going to put it back into my head somehow and the calcium in the  milk would help it...? I don't know.) Once it was determined that I was not going to die and that it was useless to go to the dentist, the sitter tried to distract me/calm me down by asking, "Do you know who's going to come tonight?" My first answer was, "Mommy?" to which she replied, "Yes... but... who else?" My next guess, because I had no idea, was, "Santa!?" even though it was nowhere near Christmas... but I was four, who else was going to show up at my house?? The correct answer, of course, was the tooth fairy, but I hadn't ever heard of such a thing, so I said, "WHO!?" and got even more confused and upset. Fortunately, my mom came home and explained the concept to me. I even got a "Tooth Fairy Bear":

This is pretty much what mine looked like.
I wonder where mine is now...

That night, the "tooth fairy" brought me $1.50, which to me, was a TON of money. That was pretty exciting. My tooth eventually did grow in, thank goodness, and I didn't suffer any permanent damage, mentally or physically, haha. Fortunately, the rest of my baby teeth were removed from my skull via the natural method (minus one that had to be pulled and one that didn't have an adult tooth under it, so it stayed with me until I was 18, at which place it was replaced with a bonded bridge). And that's the crazy, ridiculous, story of how I ran into a wall and knocked out a tooth.

Read some other childhood memories here at the link-up!

- A  

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