Wednesday, January 14, 2009
So these past 24 hours have been excellent. My headlights burnt out, so I spent some money I didn't have getting those fixed before driving for an hour and a half to get to a sign class (which was actually pretty cool) and then my printer wouldn't accept my toner so I knew I needed to get up early to get to school to print some stuff, and I did but the train was delayed an hour anyway and my phone was broken so I couldn't call my supervisor to tell her I was going to be late and unprepared, but then I got here and the supervisor was sick and hadn't been able to get ahold of me to tell me the appointment was canceled so now I was at school four hours before I needed to go to rounds.
I'm sorry, did I say excellent? I MEANT HORRIBLE.
But the benefits of this are that I can catch up on my reading, actually get a chance to eat lunch (a virtual impossibility on Wednesdays), and decompress for a bit.
My sign language class is going to be cool. It's a bit of a pain in the ass logistically, because it's up in Northbrook and the two girls I'm taking it with don't have cars, so I'm stuck behind the wheel for an hour and a half each way. When I emailed the department about taking classes, the idea was to carpool, not to find the two girls in the program who don't have cars. But they're really nice and accomodating, and having others depend on me keeps me motivated. Silver lining and all that.
Also? Between fucking American Idol and dumbass Bush, Bones is all screwed up this month. It was supposed to come back tomorrow, but Bush's "later skaters" address is pushing it back a week. Then, they're airing two in a row (dude, self control) which puts the second episode against some serious competition for ratings as well as in a horrible DVR spot. I have to negotiate with Mateo Suerte to see if we can work something out.
I hope to get more topical in the blog (not necessarily political or current, but have some kind of a theme to show some growth from the horrific livejournal entries of my high school/early college career).
Friday, January 2, 2009
Let's see how it goes this time. I've been running pretty consistently and keeping food levels down to that of two small families. Sleeping needs to be seriously worked on as well as writing. I'm going to see if I can post every day here.
Monday, January 28, 2008
God and GPA willing, at least one of these four fine instutitions of higher education admit me into their speech-language pathology progam, preferably with an assload of financial aid to go along with it, and I will be able to start looking in the appropriate neighborhood for a lovely studio/one-bedroom apartment to spend the next two years of my life.
I want to come up with an equation that will allow me to pick the right school. Ideally, I am the greatest applicant since Van Riper, and they all want me and throw tons of money at me. Even then, this presents a conundrum.
Northern is the cheapest and offers the most financial aid. They would cover full tuition and offer a stipend if I TA for them. TAing is something I've always wanted to do, and considering I want to become a professor at some point, it's probably a good idea I get some experience in front of a class if thats the route I'm mapping. However, I hate DeKalb with a fiery passion. I am lonely, bored, and completely cut off - there is not one person within an hour who loves me. That's a stark realization to make. Sure, I hang out with the postgrads between classes - they're lovely people - but they're most likely not going to be around for the rest of my life. Plus, it's a cultural vacuum. There is a community theatre which I'll be trying out for in March, but if it's ruled by politics as strongly as every other community theatre everywhere, getting into a show doesn't look likely.
The next cheapest in Rush University, but I'm having so much trouble getting them my transcript that I don't even know if they'll have a completed application from me. Considering how much I paid to have transcripts and GRE scores and everything sent over to them, everything had better fucking work out. But that's another headache for another day. On the plus side, their focus is on hospital training (although I would be certified to work in a school or hospital upon graduation), which is my primary focus. Even if I changed my mind, it's easier to go from working in a hospital to working in a school than the other way. I have no idea what their financial aid options are because their website has such vague wording, but I have a strong feeling it's paltry. But Rush is at least in the city, so I could hop on a train to go see Mark or get someone to pick me up in Naperville, Blue Island, or New Lenox to see friends and family. I'm not really familiar with the area, but I'm guessing that not having to deal with having a car around there is a good possibility.
The second most expensive school I'm applying to is St. Xavier University. When I stepped onto that campus, I got the same "good feeling" I got when I first came to North Central. I can't explain how exactly I felt, and I wouldn't really say it was home, but it felt right. They have been very attentive in terms of calling me when things are missing from my application (not to mention offering free application fees), and they have offered several open houses. The university is also unbelievably close to where my dad lives - so close, in fact, that I may be able to live in the other half of his split level house (I hope I'm using that term correctly) if a series of fortunate events fall into place. Also, it's right by 294, which means I can shoot straight north to go see Mark and head over to 55 to see my mom or visit Naperville. Dave works there, too, so I'd have a friend on campus already.
The most expensive school I'm applying to is Northwestern University. Looking at its exorbitant cost (plus the cost of living in Evanston), I can't believe I'm even considering it. If it weren't for the 10% acceptance rate at each university, I probably wouldn't have looked at it twice. But I can't afford to be too choosy. It does offer some financial aid (10%-30% of tuition covered), but it's barely a dent compared to the other ones. But there is a professor there that is doing work on language disorders in gifted children that I would give my right arm to work with. Other perks include being able to live unbelievably close to Mark (although a voice in my head is warning me that I'll just become a full-time responsibility for him and drive him insane), being able to get around without a car, and possibly living with Kristin.
I wish I could come up with some kind of equation. X amount of misery is worth Y dollars. Z% financial aid equates to X hours spent alone. From the outside, it seems easy: go where I'm happiest. But isn't a little more moping, a little extra driving on the weekends, a few more sighs worth not having to take out another $60,000 to cover graduate school? The other thing to consider is that I will be entering an extremely abundant job market that pays ridiculously well. Those student loans will be gone relatively quickly after I'm done with school. But $60,000 is also a great amount of money to put toward a car, a house, (a wedding?), or zillions of other projects.
So someone give it to me. Give me the equation that will decide which school I should go to.
Or I could just wait until late March and see who admits me.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I looked up the surgery I am going to get in a few months, and I am ready to completely lose it.
I'm not going into detail about it because a) it's not life-threatening and who wants to hear about it if it's not going to be exciting? and b) I'm going to fucking lose it even more if I start typing out what they're going to do.
I don't know why I have such a deep rooted fear of anticipated pain. I mean, no one is thrilled to find out they need surgery or a shot or whatever, but they're capable of dealing with it like civilized, rational adults. They don't break down two months before the procedure. They don't Google for more information on it and then freak out when they find first hand accounts of worst case scenarios. You'd think someone as self-aware and screwed up as I am would know not to go looking for this shit, but there you have it. Phobias are, by definition, irrational fears, and I'm about as irrational as it gets when it comes to this.
That's not to say that I haven't been able to overcome it in some situations. When Abby collapsed senior year, I was in her hospital room for the majority of each her stays. I saw her bruised forearms and IV needles that had to be inserted and reinserted and adjusted. I was there every time they had to give her an injection or blood test. But I was so overwhelmed with Is she okay? Is she going to be okay? pounding in my ears over and over again that I didn't even think about the needles.
I felt downright selfish, in fact, when a nurse came in to take her blood, and Abby looked at me, vague-eyed and pale, and said, "Jana, turn around." My inability to deal with needles was so overwhelming that even if her mostly-unconscious state, Abby mustered her last bit of remaining strength to warn me.
"I'm okay," I said, still numb. I'm pretty sure I forced myself to watch, but nothing was really registering at that point other than Is she okay? Is she going to be okay?
The closest thing I'd ever been to being angry at Alec in eight years of best-friendship was when he was screwing around with a drink straw from an orange juice container, flipped my wrist over, and pretended to jam the straw into my forearm. I don't remember if I screamed at him or ran out of the room or what, but I have a very vivid memory of it happening.
It's not something that comes up often enough in my life that I really feel like I should do about it. I mean, it's not like I'm afraid of meeting new people or speaking in public or making left hand turns. I rarely have to get injections, I absolutely refuse to get a flu shot, and I've never broken a bone in my entire life.
I wish there were some traumatic experience in my life I could just talk out with a psychologist and get out of my system, so I can function again. But I don't remember anything other than my dentist being particularly mean (He made me beg him to drill my teeth so I wouldn't have to get braces later in life; I didn't know until I was much older that those two things weren't even remotely related.). The only time I was ever deathly sick was before I could remember.
The closest thing I can think of that could be a reason for my fear of needles is the lie adults tell. Not the one about Santa or the Easter Bunny and not the one about the car not starting unless you had a seatbelt on (although I think I'm the only one that's gotten that). Adults always say that it doesn't hurt. You won't feel it. It'll just be a pinch. METAL IS BEING SHOVED INTO YOUR SKIN AND MUSCLE. Sure, it's not the hysteria-inducing trauma I perceive it to be, but there's no way around the FACT that it does hurt.
As part of my Counseling in Communicative Disorders class, I have to either write an 8-10 research paper or I have to go to four counseling sessions and write my responses to those sessions. I was really looking forward to writing the paper - honestly - but I might as well kill two birds with one stone.
I just don't look forward to walking into a room with a stranger and then bursting into tears.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
9. Spoke at my college graduation
I have two regrets from high school: I never tried out for Once on This Island, and I never auditioned to speak at my high school graduation. I remember watching whoever did speak drone on and on, tossing out tired cliches one after another, fuming all the while that I could have done a better job. I decided I would do what I could to fix that in college. I spent months writing my speech, having professors look over it, listen to it, and forcing roommates to overhear me practicing it in the shower (just after they got over listening to me practice Twelfth Night in the shower for the previous three months). Finally, I got the chance to audition in front of a committee that ever-conveniently included my speech teacher and my creative writing teacher. Frankly, if I hadn't been chosen, it would have been their fault, but I digress. I will never forget getting the call from Mary Reynolds and running around Seager Lot. I told a few people like Abby and Alec, and kept it relatively quiet otherwise in case I accidentally rubbed it in the face of someone who'd tried out.
Speaking in front of those thousands of people - fellow students, professors, family, administrators - was the biggest rush I'd ever gotten. I wasn't worried about stage fright, but my heart pounded the entire time. I remember sitting back in my seat and watching the rest of the ceremony with a sort of dazed expression. I remember half-listening to Senator Chuck Hagel, our keynote speaker, giving his speech which actually included several of my talking points. As my brother said later, it was a good thing I went first.
After the ceremony, I had people I had never met before - parents of people I had never met before - coming up to me to tell me how incredible my speech had been. I got emails from professors whose classes I had never been in asking for copies. Professor Mary Jean Lynch even asked for permission and used part of my speech for the freshman class orientation. People told me that they had been to years and years of graduations, and my speech had been the best by far. When I started my job that summer, one of my coworkers (who had graduated in my class but we'd never met) knew who I was from the sound of my voice and quoted by speech back at me. Even now, whenever someone new starts, Anthony will bring up me speaking at graduation. It was a beautiful experience.8. Played Viola in Twelfth Night
Not often is someone presented the opportunity to play her dream part. In college, it happened to me three times: Boy Gets Girl, Barefoot in the Park, and Twelfth Night. I got the part in Boy Gets Girl, absolutely blew my callback for Barefoot in the Park, and prepared for almost a year for Twelfth Night. Shakespeare was something I'd always loved but had never performed. It was something I had resisted in high school, embraced in college, and plan to have a torrid affair with for the rest of my life. I had the monologue from Troilus and Cressida taped behind a sheet of plastic on the inside of my shower from August to March (Hard to seem won, but I was won, my lord, with the first glance that ever--). I took Acting III. I knew it would be difficult to get a part at all, considering there were only three women's parts in the whole show and my being too short to be mistaken for any of the guys. Luckily, Carin took a chance on me, and I got to live in an honest-to-goodness heroine's shoes, if only for a few months.
7. Got a 4.0 in my Communicative Disorders classes
I did have to study for the first time in my life. I actually had to call someone and ask them how to make flash cards. However, I didn't study that much, considering I had full time classes at NIU, took a Tuesday night Sign Language class at the church, worked nearly full time, and drove out to Evanston to see Mark whenever I could. I have a learning condition - I shy away from the idea of calling it a disability - where I either get something right away or never grasp it. Luckily, speech-language pathology is something I "get."
6. Got closer to my brother, JamesI'll never forget the day I came home with a new haircut, and James told me that he felt like I was getting farther and farther away from him in age. We'd never been super close as siblings; the term "sibling rivalry" is probably illustrated with our pictures in this year's OED. I'm five years older than him, which is just close enough that we compete for the same kind of attention from our parents and far enough that we don't quite understand what it's like to be the other. He doesn't get that I didn't get away with a quarter of the things he's allowed to do, and I can't understand what it's like to have something to live up to. He doesn't get that I was his age once, and perhaps I have forgotten some of the things I felt at his age. But we've bonded over some serious conversations (that is to say, the topics were serious even if we are incapable of going more than a few minutes without making a joke), and our differences - age, gender, interests - aren't keeping us as far apart as I had thought.
5. Started running
I know. My motto before all of this was that there was no need to run unless you were being chased. I get it. But those few times when I ran with Abby did ultimately feel... Good isn't the word. Accomplished. I did something. It costs nothing to go running, it's great way to sort out my thoughts and grab some quality time with myself (which is just about as hard as you'd think when you're living with three guys who prefer to stay in and play video games than go out and do whatever guys do), and my body responds well to exercise. Sure, I have to remain consistent, and it hurts like hell because I always push myself harder than I probably should, but I've always been a fan of reaping what I sow. In theatre, I could work harder than anyone else preparing for a part and still not get the part. With running, my body has no bias; it responds exactly to my input, keeping me honest and disciplined. It has fallen to the wayside with the cold weather, but I've started again recently, and I have every intention in the world of sticking to it.4. Met Mark
This one is a no-brainer, although many reading this will be surprised that it's not higher on the list. For years, I was worried I'd die alone, and it wasn't just a passing "no boys like me" phase. It was a series of failed almost-relationships after leaving a long-term relationship feeling worse about myself than I ever had in my entire life. And considering my high school experience, that's saying something. I was certain that while I may have caught men's (or boys' as the case may be) eyes for a moment, I was ultimately too disappointing, obnoxious, untrusting. I talked too much, tried too hard, cried too often for anybody to want my company as a romantic partner. The only reason I did not sink into a very real depression, which is a condition that runs in my family, is because I was together enough to be comforted by the "fact" that while I was probably going to be a decrepit old cat lady, I would never lose the love of my family and friends. I didn't dismiss love; I simply stopped believing in romance. As Elizabeth Proctor said in The Crucible, "I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me."
It's weird, because this relationship is going really well, but it's not like I'm planning our wedding (yet). Sure, we clicked, and we clicked fast, but as the song goes, "This can't be love: I get no dizzy spell; my head is not in the skies." I had butterflies on our first date, and now - three months later - I still get butterflies when I open my eyes to see him smiling at me, when he rubs his thumb along my hand while we sit at a restaurant, when he laughs into my hair. I know, I know, three whole months and the spark's still there - what an accomplishment. But he seems to actually enjoy my company, is happy to hear my voice when I call, and has an incredible instinct for when he can make fun of me and when a subject is too tender. I'm happy in this place where we haven't named our kids and started constructing our white picket fence life, but we're past the place where "Does he like me? I think he likes me. Maybe he's just being nice. Maybe he's just desperate," runs through my head every moment we're together. He's one of the best things to happen to me this year and in my entire life.
3. Lived in an apartmentYou can never appreciate your mother or cafeteria food as fully if you don't live on your own for a while. You will be surprised by how much everything costs, by how quickly those rent payments sneak up on you, by how expensive cable and heat are, and by how rewarding it feels to call a place yours. True, I share my place with three other people, but I have my own room, and no RA can go into it. I can burn candles whenever I feel like it, I can prepare food (limited only by my own admittedly dismal cooking skills), and I never have to go to another floor meeting ever again. On the downside, there's no one there for me if I wake up confused and convinced there's a vampire in my closet, I can't complain to the RA if the douchebags next door are blasting their music, and - considering my budget and physique - I can't just run out and buy prepared food whenever I feel like it. It takes planning and self-control and discipline like I've never had to exhibit before in my life to live in an apartment.
2. Figured out what I wanted to do with my post-college life
Unfortunately, it's not what I did my undergraduate work in, but I did figure it out. Speech-language pathology just fits, like when I discovered theatre. It's diagnostically interesting - I feel like I'm on an episode of House every time we study a stuttering client - in terms of critical thinking, but it also requires memorization. It's easy for me to be better than my classmates (sorry, but it's true - my 4.0 wasn't born from blood, sweat, and tears), because I am good at both of those things.
Sure, I had to do the college victory lap, but it doesn't feel like a fifth year taken because I didn't get my shit together in undergrad. I have my theatre and English degree; I'm just taking a year of extra classes to prepare myself for graduate school in SLP. After I put in a few more years of hard work, I'll be able to work pretty much anywhere, at a job that doesn't force me to live paycheck to paycheck, and I will be happy to head into work instead of slugging in as late as possible just to make ends meet.
1. Fell in love
When I say I fell in love in 2007, I'm not referring to Mark, although I am sure that will come along sooner rather than later. I mean, I fell in love with myself. I am a social creature by nature, and as painful as it is to live in DeKalb so far away from all those I love dearly, I'm okay. I can spend time on my own, whether chilling in my apartment or on my half hour commute to work, and I don't wallow. Do things get me down? Sure. Do I not like the way I look or act or feel sometimes? Of course. But I still love myself at the end of the day. I may never reach my weight goal (110), and I will probably never be happy with my squinty little eyes. I can smile and give myself a little wave in the morning, though, because I love the person I've become.
Friday, November 2, 2007
I begin getting the Christmas itch in mid-September. Because I hate cold weather, I distract myself with the thought that Christmas is around the corner the first time a cool breeze whips past. As I write this, it occurs to me that this will be the first Christmas season I won't be working retail since I was fifteen years old. Many of my jaded coworkers groaned at the first sign of a holiday planogram, but I always got a shot of energy.
After all, Christmas was coming.
There are two types of last minute in-store Christmas shoppers, the psychos and the mellows. The psychos know they want THIS size of THIS shirt and THAT color of THAT appliance. They MUST have it, or WE'RE CANCELLING CHRISTMAS. This may make me a traitor to my sex, but psychos are usually women. They come into my store just after the deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery.
"What if it doesn't show up by Christmas?!" they screech. "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WOULDN'T HAVE IT ON THE SHELVES! WHAT ABOUT THE CUSTOMER? THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!" Psychos might be the only thing about Christmas and its associated events that I dislike. They often threaten to tell my manager ("Yelling about me to Mike won't make the fourth season of Everybody Loves Raymond appear on the shelves any sooner, but I can call him over if you'd like."), go to a competitor ("And never come back? Promise?"), or just look at me and simply let their judgment of me as a simple store employee radiate from their beady little eyes. I've always been proud of what I do, but I'd be lying if I didn't have fantasies of stomping on their throats while wearing ice skates.
It's difficult to tell them apart; psychos look and behave like mellows until you say those magic words, "We don't have it." It doesn't matter if you follow it up with: "But I can show you something similar," "I can call another store to see if they have it," or "Would you like my firstborn child instead?" The magic words set off a chain reaction that spells doom for the next ten minutes of my life.
I love the mellows, though. They're usually men, and they come in at about the same time that the psychos do. Again, that's why they're not always easy to discern. They're usually browsing in a single section for a while, sort of looking for something they maybe saw on TV but aren't exactly sold on getting it just yet.
"Do you need help finding something?" I ask, as they hurriedly put a book back into its correct slot. It would do all bookstore patrons well to know that I am a humble customer service employee and not their seventh grade librarian who, evidently, beat them for misplacing books. I am not a violent person; I simply think less of you. But I digress.
"Yeah... well, I need something for my niece. She's fourteen now, and I heard about those Gossip Girl books--"
"Dear, sweet Jesus, don't."
"I'm sorry. That was abrasive. What I meant to say is that the Gossip Girl books and their wannabe imitators are not only poorly written and demeaning to young women everywhere, but they're also way more expensive than they ought to be. Can I show you something that won't turn your adorable fourteen-year-old into a pregnant fifteen-year-old?"
I may exaggerate on my wording, but I have no problem admonishing people from buying shitty books. If they insist, I do my job and try to move past it. But many people are not only relieved that I have warned them about the dangers of those disgusting books, but they're also impressed that I can recommend a replacement. Although I do often get "How young do they hire here?" from customers, so maybe they think I'm fourteen, so I'd know what they like.
I'll explain that the Everworld series is great for both boys and girls who like fantasy and/or science fiction while something like Break, Blow, Burn is a fantastic way to get people interested in poetry. Got a guy who's got a good sense of humor but doesn't like to read much fiction? Let me show you to the Bill Bryson section, and especially check out A Walk in the Woods. Want a mindblowing mystery that will absolutely blow you away? Brian Freeman's Immoral is the way to go; I couldn't put it down, and the ending was not only legitimate (all of the clues were there), but it totally blindsided me. Your wife will love P.S. I Love You, but if she's wants a dash of humor and mystery with her romance, check out Carl Haaisen and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.
It depresses me that this year will be the first year since I was fifteen that I won't be working retail. I work in a tiny little office with no windows, often on weekends when there's no one even in the building. I get paid more, I get to sit all day, and I can choose my hours, sure, but it's lonely. It's not in the Christmas spirit of helping each other, reminding your loved ones how well you really know them with a perfectly selected gift, and seeing the smiling faces of those whose skating competitions, choir concerts, and art shows you've somehow missed the rest of the year. It's not snuggling by the fire, watching heart-warming television specials, sipping hot chocolate or apple cider, and having an excuse to kiss in the snow just like they do in the movies.
So as much as I hate the cold, I do love Christmas.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Don't get me wrong. I get along (even like) the vast majority of the people I meet, I make physical contact with almost everyone in almost every conversation I have, and I'm pretty sure I don't have any trust or intimacy issues.
But when it's any cooler than 70 degrees outside, I am miserable.
Miserable, now that I think about it, is probably too strong of a word. Uncomfortable would be more apt, but my desire to find warmth when I'm shivering is so all-encompassing that it doesn't quite seem to fit. So I default to miserable, because that word connotes a constant suffering that need not always be expressed but is universally understood.
It's weird to think that I get so easily cold, as I was a figure skater as a kid, and you'd think that would harden me to the elements. Not so, grasshopper. And what about all those times I was dragged out on camping trips with Dad and Pam and James? Shouldn't that have toughened my skin a little? Evidently not.
However, when it's 110 degrees in the shade (don't make theatre references, you'll only miss NCC more), I am a happy camper. I love the sweltering heat, that layer of disgusting sweat that covers your whole body the second you step out the door. I enjoy laying out on the beach, going for walks at midnight when it's still 75, and lounging under a tree with a good book. So it's not that extreme temperatures as a whole bother me; it's that I have a ridiculously low tolerance for the cold and yet-undiscovered tolerance for heat.
The reason I bring this up is because it was recently brought to my attention that it's the only high maintenance thing about me. As Mark and I were watching Shaun of the Dead last night, I fell asleep. Not that the movie's not great and not that I ever want to waste the short hours I have with him each week, but I was unbelievably exhausted from staying out late the night before. When I woke up towards the end of the movie, he tells me that my constant need to be wrapped in blankets is the only high maintenance thing about me (Obviously, he's never seen me organize a group outing, but that's another discovery for another day.).
Don't worry, he quickly added, kissing the side of my face. It's worth it. I would be lying if I said that those words alone didn't make me need the blankets a little less.
Now that I think about it, being cold all the time isn't so bad. It's a solid excuse to hold hands, snuggle close, and steal all the blankets with no real repercussions. The cold doesn't bother Mark at all; he actually had the A/C going in his car last night which makes me shiver just thinking about it, and he wore just a long sleeve shirt - no jacket, no hoodie, nothing - outside. It sorts of amazes me, really, that someone can be so unaffected, but it just adds to my list of evidence that he's actually a robot with an electrical heating core. Yes, there is a list, and the warmth thing isn't even the most compelling bit.
I've learned to live with the constant chill of being just barely uncomfortable in air conditioning. I can't say I don't notice it anymore, but I've at least stopped complaining about it. As much.
You really can't get too exasperated with yourself over a default reason to pull someone close.