November 29, 2009 - 10:28 PM
I am so glad that this term is coming to a close. Somehow in these past two weeks time has seemed to slow down to a crawl. I don't know if I can attribute this to the work load of the term and the internal dread I've carried with me regarding a very complicated paper I've been working on this term or if my wanting-to-be-pregnant-impatience is getting the better of me again. Either way, time has been going so slow.
But time has also been flying by. When I think about how soon this paper is due time feels imminent and short. (Thank be to God I am done writing my firs draft and need only to go back through and polish it up between now and Friday.) The fact it is not turned in however feels stifling and time is playing a cruel trick on me. Time is cruel when I think about graduate school too. It isn't possible that I have been in my program for a year and a half, and it's even less possible that in six months I will be done with school. I don't know what I'm going to do! I don't know how long it will be before I go into a doctoral program and the though of being done is so sad. For this, I am grateful for projects like crazy hard papers to force time to slow down, but I hate them for the panicked quick feel they give time simultaneously.
I remember feeling very anxious about going into the CFT program at the UO. Time played this same game on me and I loved and hated my summer of rest before starting classes. I also remember praying about this feeling and God showing me that my experience was like a rollercoaster. It would be up and down, twist and turn, and there were two ways I could react: I could scream the whole way, or I could throw my hands up in the air and say, "Weeeeeeee!". I have had my screaming days but I am very pleased to say I've had more consistently chosen the latter option. The ride has been trilling so far and as I'm coming closer and closer to graduation I want to scream again.
If only I could manage how time feels. I can organize it, prioritize, and section it out, but it is ultimately in control. I only play with time but it seems to know how to break the rules of my game. I wish I could speed up the slowness and slow down the speediness. Oh to be able to fast-forward and rewind and freeze time. It sounds good, but something tells me that life like this would be boring and that I wouldn't really appreciate it the way I assume I would. So for now I will recommit to throwing my hands back up in the air and stop trying to fight the ride. I will enjoy it instead and stop trying to control time's game. So for now, I will rest, have fun, and wish that things would stay as they are and wish they would change drastically with the announcement of a baby on the way.
I love and appreciate life. I am so grateful and thankful for this experience. I might complain from time to time, but I know deep down I wouldn't want it any other way.
November 29, 2009 - 9:42 PM
Four years ago I went to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. It was my first experience spending a holiday with my husband's family and it was my first experience with holiday awkwardness. I've always heard the stories about the Turkey through the window and the drunk uncle who makes everyone's life miserable. Silly me, until this experience four years ago I thought these stories were just that, stories.
After my experience four years ago my husband and I decided to have Thanksgiving at our house and break the family up a bit to save on some of the tension. This worked well for a couple years but there is something about having Thanksgiving at mom's that Brian's brother and sister began to miss. So this Thanksgiving we went back down to his mom's house.
Neither of us knew what to expect and I was a bit nervous and on edge the entire trip down that something somehow would go terribly wrong. I was so relieved when all of the brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents played well together. This is amazing considering how many people were packed into a tiny house in the middle of Rogue River, Oregon. There truly was no escape and in the colliding waves of relationship dynamics there certainly could have been an explosion.
It was fascinating to watch everyone interact. Being a bit more removed, I enjoyed sitting back and watching my family play out emotions and under currents of past enjoyment, issues, and regrets in such a concentrated space. I learned more about family and relationships in this one day than in a whole year of classes and I feel that I now know some of my family members that I hadn't known before.
And we made it through Thanksgiving! I remember Brian and I commenting how impressed we were that we didn't have any crazy stories to tell and the relief we experienced as a result. Well, we spoke to soon. I got my awkward holiday story the next morning.
I woke up late and didn't have time to take a shower at my sister-in-law's house with the three other adults and five kids all competing for bathing time. I decided to pull my hair up in a quick pony-tail and not mess with trying to bid for a rushed, cold five-minute shower. So I walked out into the living room with my arms full of bags ready to pack back in the car for the ride home. My brother-in-law was in the living room and is notorious for pulling on pony-tails. I bent down and dropped my giant load of bags and stood back up, immediately I felt someone pulling on my hair. It was my brother-in-law, he was laughing and reached around to give me a good-natured hug. I guess he was feeling a little too good natured and I was shocked and didn't know how to respond when his hand slid down my back and rested on my derrière. I felt stunned and didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything at all.
I talked this over with my husband later as we were leaving town after breakfast at my father-in-law's house. We decided that there is the benefit of the doubt and perhaps it was a mistake. If it happens again I have resolved to gently call him out on it and correct the issue. But for now, I like to think it was a mistake and I have learned my lesson to not celebrate an awkward moment free holiday with Brian's family until we are officially in the car and headed home.
November 22, 2009 - 10:08 PM
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. There have been too many late nights and early mornings for me lately. I'm getting to that point that I usually live at throughout the term where my brain is too full to sleep well at night, where I have weird dreams, and where stress wakes me up with a surge of adrenaline way too early in the morning. I am so thankful to say I haven't lived in that place but I am regretful that it came. In all of my planning and discussion of how amazed I was at my lack of stress this term, somehow the stress crept up behind me and pounced when it had its opportune moment.
I can blame the sleeplessness of my preoccupation with thoughts and excitements about the prospect of getting pregnant, but the dreams I can only attribute to stress. There are a few classic historic stress dreams that illustrate my point of their bizarre nature. But by far my favorite stress dream happened a few years ago.
In this dream I lived with my roommate in an apartment in a large white medical looking building. I opened my closet and it opened up into a secret medical lab where scientists were hiding Michael Jackson and performing all sorts of strange experiments on him. I remember their shock at my "discovering" their secret lab and made me promise to keep the whole thing a secret. I promised, but continued to regularly visit Michael Jackson in my closet. Eventually, he and I became really good friends and I remember my deep and sincere remorse that I couldn't tell any of my friends about this great new friend that I had made. That sadness was pervasive and I felt it very vividly both emotionally and physically. The dream closed with me walking in the park with Michael Jackson eating ice cream cones and my sharing with him how badly I wanted to be able to tell my friends that he was such a special person.
I have never cared for Michael Jackson and haven't listened to secular music for close to 10 years. There's no logical reason for him to pop up in my dreams and the vividness made it strange. Now, while not as funny, I had another interesting dream the other night. I won't share with you all of the details except for the part that felt the most vivid and seemed the most out of place. I was visiting my parents and was waiting with my Mom in the living room for my Dad to come home from work. Well, apparently he was having a mid-live crisis because when he walked in he was wearing a bright red silk shirt with sequins, a large collar, and it was open half way down his chest. He was sporting shiny black patent leather boots and black rubber snake skin patterned pants. These pants were the best part of the whole outfit. They went half way up his stomach and had two giant belts on them, both of which had very large shiny silver buckles on them. Now, you may not know how out of place this picture is since you do not know my dad, but I bet if you imagined your own father in the same outfit you might understand how disturbing the mental image was for me.
All I can say about this is that I am sure glad there are only three more weeks left in the term. There is a maximum of three weeks opportunity to continue having these vivid and strange dreams before I get a break. I hope my rest comes sooner, but I know I can endure for another three weeks if I have to. And with that, it's late and I'm going to bed, hopefully to better dreams than the ones I've described to you!
November 22, 2009 - 9:39 PM
This weekend I was in charge of throwing a baby shower for one of the girls in my cohort who is almost 8 months pregnant. I very much enjoyed being able to plan and put together this party for her, especially considering the stressful point I am at in the term. It certainly felt good to do something nice for someone else, to show my friend support during this trying time of becoming a mom in the midst of grad school, and for the break from classes and clients.
This was a fun day but it was SO hectic! I jumped out of bed at 6:00 on a Saturday morning and ran into the shower to wake up. I put on my therapist clothes, did my hair, and my makeup in time to wake my baby girl up and get her ready. I snatched a banana for breakfast, piled my, my husband, and my daughter's arms full of baby shower supplies and hurried out the door at 7:20. Next was a quick stop at Albertsons for a Starbucks (decaf for me) and a breakfast treat for my husband to take to his meeting.
I dropped my husband and daughter off at his meeting, gave quick kisses and hurried over to my internship by 8:15. By 8:30 I was seeing my first client for the day and was busy with clients and paperwork until 1:00 exactly. I once more jumped in my car and ran across town to the baby shower to set-up. I made trip after trip into the club house with arms full of baby bottles, magazines, yarn, and other miscellaneous supplies, gifts, and prizes for the afternoon. I made piles of materials and went to work setting up tables and chairs.
Needless to say, I was relieved when I was done with the set-up and my friends began to arrive for the afternoon. Together we ate potluck style and played an hour or so's worth of games. The girls made collages of what they thought our classmate's baby would look like, guessed her belly size, and raced drinking juice from baby bottles. We laughed and talked and learned more about our friend and her experience being pregnant. The highlight of the shower, I would have to say, was the unveiling of a quilt the cohort made together. We each were given a material square and we spent time decorating our square and returning it to a classmate who arranged a sewing party. This was the first glance many of us had at the quilt and we were all very impressed at how well it turned out. No one was more impressed than our friend who received the gift. After this, it was time to go home.
It was now 4:30 and clean-up went a lot faster with 20 other people at the club house helping out. I once more picked up my piles and tossed them into my car and then headed home. Finally, a chance to breath on this busy Saturday. . . but the breath was over as soon as it started. My parents arrived for the evening and they decided to stay for the night. This too was fun but it made for another full day's worth of activities I do not have the time to write about. All in all, my day started at 6:00 and ended about midnight. These long days are starting to wear me down.
November 16, 2009 - 5:06 PM
Once again I am shocked to find myself surprised at the low levels of stress I am experiencing this far into the term. The reality of only having three more weeks of class no longer holds any shock value and I have found myself left with only one assignment left to complete for the term.
I haven't been able to touch this assignment in over a week, however, and while my stress is low I know the magnitude of this paper and am eager to dig in to in. But there are certain sacrifices I've learned to make and I have been stretched to become more flexible in my somewhat, ok very, particular ways of studying knowing that I am sharing the term and homework time with my husband. Brian is in his second year of college now and has transitioned out of a 13 year career as a mechanic. He is gifted and intelligent but he has not had any recent training on how to construct and write papers. This has added the extra task of teaching Brian these skills to my full plate.
We've enjoyed this past week together as we've buried ourselves in a mountain of journal articles as I showed Brian how I create outlines to pull information together across the various papers in a way that isn't overwhelming. We read, highlighted, talked, crossed things out, added others in, and debated the placement and use of certain pieces of information. Through this process, Brian learned how to take a stack of articles and pull out the pieces of information that were relevant for his topic and not become distracted by the rest.
And then it was time to type. Brian typed all day long yesterday and I sat faithfully by his side, coaching and encouraging him as this was a major undertaking for him. We worked on academic wording, flow, creating density and not length, and removing all of the "that's" from the paper we could. Brian quickly picked up on how to cite a paper and how to take the bits and pieces and wrote an impressive paper.
I started thinking about all of the work Brian had done and how much of it was new information for him. Writing academic papers has become so second nature to me that I have failed to see the complexity of this work intensive process. I know that I knew what I was doing when I helped him, but I couldn't recall where or how I'd learned the skills, tricks, and rules that make up writing for school. This was a strange revelation. I realize that my understanding has come from the 18 consecutive years of school building off of each other. I never had anyone sit down with me from start to finish and coach me in writing a solid paper and I'm not sure the help would have been welcome but I see the benefit in it. I'm sure my writing would be far more advanced if I could have started out early in college with a structured framework for writing a paper.
But I am encouraged to see how easily I was able to share this information with Brian. As the situation sits, there is only the abstract and conclusion left for Brian to tackle which opens the computer and the time up for me to start in on my final paper for the term. I have to say this is relieving and while helping Brian was by no means a burden or stressful, I am still glad to see his paper coming to a close so I am turn my attention back to my own work.