Christmas Pedi

One of the little things I have taken up in the last few years is pedicures. Honestly, I never thought I would be one of *those* people (no offense intended as I am also one of *those* people), but a friend went on and on about how relaxing they are so I decided to give it a try. And, I gotta admit, it's pretty darn nice. Especially if you get someone who gives really good massages, cause there ain't nuttin like a good foot massage. Ahhhhhh…

So, as life recently has been about poverty and busyness, I have not had a pedicure since the beginning of October and I decided to wait until after I finished the semester to treat myself. Yesterday my friend and I went and got out little tootsies tended to. So nice. My polish is "Hot Lava Love". Yum yum. I ❤ the candy cane striped flip flops. Too cute.

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Poor poor pitiful me

We will just take one moment to have a pity party. I just want to chronicle what my life is like in grad school.

Monday – work 9-4, class 6-9, sleep at 11
Tuesday – work 9-3, class 4-5:30, school stuff in evenings
Wednesday – work 9-noon, class 2:30-5:30, collapse in exhaustion (this is a hard class and I'm brain dead when done)
Thursday – class 9-noon, work 1-4, collapse exhausted from week so far
Friday – wake up 9:30, schoolwork 11am-10pm, bed
Saturday – wake up 9:30, schoolwork 11am-10pm, bed
Sunday – wake up 9:30, schoolwork 11am-10pm, bed

I am now done complaining. I chose this.

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Not so much blobbage…

I haven't been writing much because I've been exhausted lately and I don't really have anything to talk about except about school. My gut tells me no one really wants to know about what I'm reading or the latest paper I've written. And for the last two weeks that's literally all I have had going on, so no blobbage.

I will tell you that I took my first midterm in eleven years last Wednesday and I studied for it for 35 hours in one week. Thirty-freaking-five hours. Yes, I added it up. Wednesday I may know how I did. If they get graded in time. The professor says the class average is usually in the 60's… grrreeeeaaaattttt… but he curves like crazy.

The stress in the weeks leading up to the mid-term then the stress of trying to prepare for it have left me squarely in the insomnia category which SUCKS. I have always been a terrible sleeper. The tiniest noises or amounts of light or too hot/cold temperatures have woken me up for years. But I've always been able to find a way to keep it under control – sleeping masks, living in very quiet locations, etc… But now I've moved out of the problem sleeper and squarely into the insomniac category. Grumble grumble. I'm finally going to give in and get a prescription sleep medication. Hopefully I'll be sleeping again soon because I feel tired and achey and cranky and just plain old crappy when I don't sleep.

So enough blobbity blah blah about school. Here are a couple of cool things:

I work in the same building as the public tv station. Every once in a while they do live shows in the lobby. It's pretty cool. Here are some photos from the last one…

Saw this crazy load of babies on the sidewalk. At first I thought they were all hers, but no, she works at a day care. Whew!

And I got the WORST haircut ever in the history of bad haircuts last week. It's so bad I don't even know what to do with it. It looks bad down. It looks bad up. It looks bad straight-ish. It looks bad curly. Sheesh. Just awful. And the lovely thing – I can't afford to go get it fixed somewhere. Yay for being a student. Here are all my curls after they got whacked off my head. Sniff sniff…

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Life Update

I survived my first PhD Hell Week… Yaaaaayyyyyyy! It was exhausting but I feel pretty good about everything overall. I feel a bit more stable in classes now. I have enough of the lingo down that it doesn't sound as much like a foreign language anymore, which is a relief. Lots of BIG projects looming in the near future, I'm trying to keep on top of everything so I can (1) sleep and (2) not panic. Both very important.

However, this will be me this time next week as I am facing the research methods mid-term next Wednesday. Eeeeeeekkkkkkkk! Very scared of that one.

I also registered to vote in PA on Friday. Whatever else was on my to-do list, that was the most important. Got in right under the wire, Monday is the last day.

Went to a friend's for a movie night – Iron Man – Robert Downey, Jr. Yummmmm… The problem with movie nights with nocturnal friends is they don't want to start watching until my bedtime. Crappers. Feel kind of crappy today as a result.

Oh, I think we need a little more RDJ… All nice and yummy and intense…

What the heck… one more… I like the silly RDJ too…

Still running kinda regularly. Proud of myself for that. Less jiggly now, I think. I'm getting into my medium-sized clothes again. I have not tried on my fat jeans in a while because I want to absolutely SWIM in them so I can pop with pride. Want to get down into my skinny sizes so I can wear all the fabulous clothes I bought a couple years ago. I think it will happen if I stick with running, it gets me fit like nothing else. One of my classmates and I are going to keep each other motivated through winter by going to the gym together. Yay for friends.

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Zombies & Web 2.0 for Dummies

I am researching Web 2.0 tools for both my PhD program and my graduate assistantship. In looking for basic information I found this great series of videos on YouTube by a guy named Lee Lefever who runs a company called CommonCraft. He puts together these simple, easy to understand, "in plain english" videos explaining the basics of a bunch of new technologies. If you feel intimidated by the jargon flying around these days, watch a few of these. They're awesome.

Since a friend just asked me about this, here's one on Twitter..

Just for fun, Lee did one on Zombies for Halloween last year. Since I love me some zombies I thought I'd share it. It's pretty funny.

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Life, the Universe, and Everything

First a confession… I've been avoiding this blog for the past few weeks. I've been going through so many things and thinking so many things that it was swirling around in my head like a tornado and I couldn't make enough sense of it to know what to say let alone write it down. So, avoidance theory. It works every time.

But the past 48 hours have been pretty important. At least I think so in this moment. My moods are like the weather… wait five minutes and they'll be different.
Wow, where to start? TV class…
Monday night is my tv class. I think I'm going to really like it. I loved it after the first night, actually felt euphoric afterwards, But then I got all jumbled and twisted and turned and now I'm back to thinking I will like it. This week the whole class had to write short reaction papers for two of the weekly readings and then post them on the class Angel site (like BlackBoard for you JMU'ers).
I was all anxious about it – of course – because it was my first assignment as a PhD student and I really had no clue what to expect. But I worked on them and posted them like a good little student. Then I went back and read other people's and I started to feel worse and worse.
Monday's class was our first "real" class because of Labor Day. I was ok for the first 15 minutes –  answering questions, contributing, engaged. Then I started to feel worse and worse. And I shut down.
Then I went home and cried.
And questioned myself, my intelligence, my abilities, and every single decision I made on the way to landing in this moment in time, in grad school, feeling like a complete idiot.
Monday I felt like the dumbest kid in class. 
Was I really? Who knows. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is that I suddenly wondered if I could even make it through the first semester let alone the whole program. I have never felt that way. Ever. I'm not dumb. I know I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree, but I'm also not the dimmest. I did really well in my master's program. They thought I was a good student. See? Proof!
But Monday night was a pretty bad night. So, as I am inclined to do, I retreated inside and swirled around in my head. Questioning. Wondering. Thinking. Processing. Analyzing. Round and round and round and round. And round and round and round and round. It's my way.
Things were still pretty bad when I woke up Tuesday. But by noon they were looking up because I had two lightning bolt insights that calmed the chaos and helped me begin to breathe again:
1) Most of the other people in my class are 1-3 years into their Master's or PhD programs which means they are 1-3 years ahead of me in what they have been exposed to and studied. How can I be expected to know after two weeks what people know after two years? Maybe some people can and do, but not me. This is a completely new discipline for me and I do not have any of the foundational knowledge or theories to draw from. I'm getting it all for the first time and am just trying to see the forest for the trees. No one has those expectations of me except me, I'm sure. But my expectations sometimes have a life of their own. So… perspective… it's a good thing. It takes off some of the (self-imposed) pressure.
2) Then I suddenly remembered the first two weeks of my master's program and realized I felt EXACTLY this same way. Totally lost. Totally stupid. Unprepared. Not smart enough. Freaked out of my mind and scared to death. Like everyone else was so much more sophisticated and smart and wise and scholarly.  Again, perspective… it's a good thing. I've been here before and I not only survived, but thrived.
So, I began to breathe. And relax.
And took down my walls, made myself vulnerable, and told a few people what I was going through.
And I started to feel.
That's a big one for me. Feeling.
I trap myself nicely up in my head and block out the world and keep everyone away.
I'm really really good at it.
So when I get to a point when I am feeling, which doesn't happen much these days, I know I'm in a good, if scary, spot.
In fact, in a lot of ways, this whole journey that I'm on right now is all about that. I had a great life before. Anyone looking at me would have seen a happy, successful person living a pretty darn charmed life. But I was walled off in a lot of ways, in a deep deep trench, and knew I needed to make huge changes in order to get life back on track. Or to re-create it the way I wanted it to be. So, here I am.
That tornado that hit me on Monday has – oh please please please – started the process of jumping me out of the old patterns from my old life. I have started to feel. I have opened up and shown people my real, true, honest, and vulnerable parts. The parts I usually try to keep secret.
Today, Wednesday at 1:30pm, I am hopeful. Oh so hopeful that this really is a first step towards living a life of joy and passion and love and energy and excitement and happiness again. I don't want to be ok anymore. I want to LIVE my life like I used to. I want to smile all day every day. I want to have friends that burrow themselves so deep in my heart I can't even tell where the entry point was. I want to find romance and a partner to walk through life with. I want to take everything this PhD program can throw at me and savor every moment and ask for more.
Today, Wednesday at 1:30, that's what I want. It's scary to admit and I am actively resisting the temptation to delete it. If I leave it and I hit the post button, it's going live. Even if no one reads this, it's still out there in the public world and not locked away like a secret in my heart and in my head. Am I ready?
Robert Downey Jr. visited me in a dream last night. Apparently we dated back in college. How about that? Who knew? But I felt something in that dream. Felt something strong and powerful and intoxicating. And that gives me hope.

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