Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hello, lover.

Lately it seems I have become a woman obsessed. A week ago I looked down at my shoes and thought, "I don't really like these dress shoes anymore, they look old and worn." Since that moment I have spent my free time obsessively searching for THE shoes. The perfect shoes that are functional for everything. They don't exist because apparently I hate everything....anyway, why do I continue to look and look for shoes when I have at least 20 pairs of shoes between my closet and entry room? Not only is it shoes, it's purses, work clothes, dyeing my hair red, painting my toe nails, etc, etc. Are we seeing a theme here? I am the most fortunate girl in the world and I can't seem to remain satisfied with just being still. I'm also frustrated that don't seem to be getting the results I was hoping for in changing my diet, it was much more effective 3 years ago, and I've concluded my metabolism sucks because I'm 27. It just means working harder and being way more active.
I am confronted with this often when I am feeling comfortable. I've got a job, a place to live, a man that adores me (I must be a magician) and a means to start chipping away at the mountain of student loan debt I've acquired. It is NOT time to start looking for a new project. It's time to maintain. I need to learn how to do that.
So that's where things are, seemingly right where they should be. Maybe I'm ok without a bunch of changes happening, it just feels weird to not be constantly working. 


I will say that in my search for the perfect shoes I found a brand that I fell in LOVE with though I haven't talked myself into that price range just yet. 
Hello, lover.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Same old song and dance

I haven't liked people much the last few days. Not for any particular reason individually, but as a whole they have either disappointed or angered me significantly the last many hours. So I stay away because that is the easiest thing to do. I crawl into my little cocoon of solitude and you stay out. Stay out. 
Here's the thing about people. I don't typically turn to a lot of people to talk to mostly because I like to solve problems on my own. I do enough thinking that I look at everything six ways from Sunday. Is it good to get other people's perspective? Of course. Do I want it when I'm already agitated? F*ck no. Stay out. I've talked a lot about the fact already that I don't have many friends because I don't like dealing with everything else that comes along with it. When I commit to something, I really commit and in my many years of experience there are not many people out there willing to do the same. Fair-weather friends if you will, so I've avoided wasting time on a lot of people because frankly, I'm not a huge fan of disappointment and I also take a lot of things personally. So be it. It is a cynical view of people but I've spent most of my years being friends with guys because they are better at being a friend. Now I'm getting to a point in my life where it is difficult to make friends with guys my age because their wives or girlfriends don't see it as appropriate. No one is trying to steal your man, ladies. Plus I just don't really know how to interact with women in social settings because of my cynical view of them. Sorry. 
Here's the other thing about people. They disappoint you. They are really good at disappointing you. That is a fact of life that I don't like to ponder often because I feel that I am very choosy about who I lend myself to and I try to choose people that are loyal and trustworthy. People are still people, and they are very flawed, myself included. So when those few people that I bring into my circle disrupt that slow, easy rhythm that I try to surround myself with, it takes a very long time for me to regain that rhythm. If the disruption is large enough, it will set the whole record off track and may even restart the song. In the meantime you start to wonder if it's time for a new album, one with less scratches. There is a very large part of me that wants to put that record into the 'donate' pile, that wonders why I even owned that record in the first place, that wonders why that record even came to have a place on my top playlist, etc. 
It is not a secret that I sometimes fantasize about picking up and leaving town, like a vagabond. It is always an option. It is never a good option but there is always a potential for it to be on a list of ways to solve a problem. Or run away from a problem, I suppose.  It has a lot to do with being a coward and a little to do with the fantasy of being disconnected. Being connected can burn you, hard. And no matter how many times someone tells me that I need people, I will argue with that. I don't want to need people, not one bit. And I am stubborn, and I am flawed. I don't want people to see that. After they do I just want to shut them out. I can rationalize cutting them out completely. I have rationalized it. Especially when I'm finding it difficult to recall the last time there was a truly positive interaction. And maybe that is my fault because all of the interactions were viewed as negative or just menial. It's hard to not view them that way when you are regarded as an afterthought. When you spend so much effort and time building up, encouraging and supporting a person and as soon as something positive happens they run away happily to celebrate with someone else. And then when you are struggling and are in need of similar support or even a distraction, it is seen as a chore or an inconvenience because now their schedule is much more full of easy, peaceful things. And then you feel as small and as insignificant as that laughable gesture of time that they offered because you guilted them into it. And then you just turn angry and toxic and feel bothered by the most minuscule thing that they do. Those things build up and up. Implosion. Irrational decision to cut them out and now we're back trying to get that slow and easy rhythm to return for the sake of your own sanity. 
 That record is not going to play quite the same, there will always be that little scratch that shrieks when the needle hits it. It doesn't necessarily mean you throw out the record, you just learn to live with the flaw. 
Something about friendships that can make a 27 year old feel like she's 15 again. You expect these things not to happen as you get older but relationships are just that. And people are people. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Those letters won't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing....

Now is the time for me to take some deep breaths and just dive head first into the remainder of this work so I can get it done. There is nothing more satisfying than checking things off of lists that I won't see back on a list ever again. Like 'Worksheet for 548'. The thought makes me want to weep tears of joy. 
I'm not leaving graduate school with the perfect g.p.a. like I had hoped, and by the looks of it I'm not leaving with a full-time job, like I had hoped, either (which leaves me slightly bitter if I were forced to label that feeling). I am leaving with a degree that I stressed over, that challenged me at times, and that left me with a temporary distaste for academia-which will likely change after enough time has passed to forget the bad parts. 
I'm also leaving having had a massive amount of really positive experiences and a greater love and appreciation for social workers. I was lucky to have three really strong, intelligent role models to help me through the process, encourage me, and help me stay sane. And most importantly, they taught me SO MUCH! Not just about managing contracts or child welfare but about being an advocate for myself, learning to push myself through the unpleasant stuff to get to the parts that were worth it, and figuring out my strengths. I seem to surround myself with strong women because I grew up around them. It's an important part of my growth process as well to make sure that it is what I strive to be as well. Maybe that's why I think social work is so great too. It takes the nurturing and empathy skills that are thought of as feminine traits but mixes it with the justice and advocacy pieces that are powerful. 
Tangents aside, I am super grateful for making the decision to start school when I did, after I got some experience under my belt, grew a little thicker skin, learned my tolerance for many things, and met some really amazing people that helped shape me before and during grad school. It's really easy for me to look at where I am and only see what I don't have, but its time to take those deep breaths, let them out, and really open my eyes to see what I have, because it is certainly more than a few letters after my name. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I didn't know where you were going with this....

What? What's that? A moment to relax and not feel guilty about it? Oh hello, Spring Break. Glad to see you again. Sadly you may be my last. 
I don't actually get a solid week off, but I do get a few days off to not do homework and I get paid to do some extra hours at my internship. It's kind of a win-win. 
Have I mentioned this semester has been crazy?
The Governor signed my bill on Wednesday. It's not really my bill, but I refer to it as such because of the large chunk of time devoted to that little guy. I'm beginning to understand why governmental processes are so freaking slow and inefficient, but that rant is for another time. 

On a mildly related note I have recently found myself in the car pondering ideas about wealth, class and welfare. Sometimes my best thinking happens after I listen to a story on NPR that gets my brain really moving or if I've left a meeting that infuriates or motivates me. Sometimes I would classify them as big picture ideas or personal intellectual growth on a subject, or I'm way off in left field where no one knew what I was thinking. I don't have time to blog in the car, aside from the fact it would be fairly unsafe, I don't have the motivation to make these thoughts coherent. Every so often I will think that I am being so profound that I dictate my thoughts into the notes app on my phone to look at later. Hahah. I don't think profound thoughts. 
I don't typically do this but maybe someone else will have some thoughts. 
This will need to be further thought and maybe reinterpreted or clarified later, but I want to keep thinking about these things:

We enable the cycle of poverty for those in poverty by spending money on entitlement programs because we can't 'afford' to fund projects that empower them. Society finds no value in people that are in poverty. This is a major misconception within society. Every person should be valued and every person should have an opportunity to be an asset to their community and see themselves as valuable. Why aren't we going door to door to discuss micro-enterprise or loans for starting small businesses? Why aren't we encouraging every person in a low income neighborhood to grow fruits and vegetables in their back yard and providing them with the tools to do it? .....(unfinished thought)
This one is a little crazier:
Instead of a child welfare system that removes children from the home, why don't we give parents the opportunity to ask for help? The parents can recognize (most times)when they are struggling and if they know that it is okay to ask for someone to come in and help before some sort of traumatic issue ensues, then they should be able to. If you are using drugs around your kids and in a moment of clarity you realize, 'I shouldn't be doing this' you're currently not left with a lot of choices. You either a) continue doing what you are doing, b) ask a family member (if one is available) to help out or c) you report yourself to child services with drug charges likely to follow. Contrary to popular belief, drug charges don't make you want to quit using drugs, treatment does. 

Yes, I do see room for misuse within that kind of policy but I need more time to sort that one out. Or maybe that is entirely the wrong way to go with that one. 

For the most part I am happy. Grad school is almost over, I'm job hunting and keeping my ears open at the current placement, and I am mostly staying on top of my work. Good things. I'm surprised my brain doesn't shut off, it needs a rest and it really should. 
I have a countdown on my phone of other things I am looking forward to. Also, I am going to Puerto Rico. Well we are starting in Puerto Rice, but it's more of a mini-tour of the Caribbean. We are backpacking and island hopping and I can't wait. 

Have a wonderful week! I hope I will. Spring Breaaaaaaaaak!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

School House Rockin' it!

Somehow it is already March. If you know who the time thief is, please thank her for speeding up this last semester for me. 
On a related note, I am carrying so much tension in my back and shoulders that I have created knots in my muscles which make me feel like an arthritic old woman, so there's that. I'm not saying that all of my problems will be solved after Friday, I just know that I'm going to feel a whole lot better about life. This Friday is my Competency exam for Grad school which is basically a comprehensive exam that is taken instead of working on a dissertation. Do I honestly think I'm going to perform so poorly that I won't graduate from school? No. But it is the mere weight of the exam that makes it so terrible. There is a possibility that it could happen, no matter how small, it is still there. That's what I don't like. It seems so punitive. If you don't pass this ridiculous test then no diploma for you! I don't like it. In hindsight the dissertation would have been a better idea......No one picks to do the dissertation, it's an incredible amount of work. Eff that.
So aside from whining about this big test everyday I've actually been pretty productive. My classes leave a lot to be desired. My policy class would have ruined me had I not had any experience in it because the format and the way material is presented makes me want to swallow barbed wire. And I had such high hopes...
My internship could not have been a better decision. It is fantastic. This doesn't always mean stress-free but I have learned more than I could recount right now. I seriously struck practicum gold with both of my internships, I don't know how or why I got so lucky. 
This year has entailed a lot of learning about what my supervisor refers to as 'watching the sausage get made.' The political process is not a pretty thing, not at all. And sometimes I want to Upton Sinclair that whole thing and write a book about how intolerable it is, but then sometimes you get to add your own ingredients. Follow me with this metaphor, it totally makes sense if you think about it. Politics are messy and ugly and most of the time people don't know what is going into it or who is stirring the pot, but the policy comes out in these nicely packaged documents. Trust me, you'd rather not know. Just check the ingredients before consuming anything.
With all that to say I have been a part in creating a piece of legislation, that I think is pretty damn important, and can point to a phrase or an idea that I put into it. By no means did I write it, they have pale-skinned people in the basement of the Capitol that are really good at that. However, I can point to 2 items that I suggested to a person with more power than me, which then went down a short line to the bill's sponsor who said, 'ok, put that in there.' This is the first bill I have ever worked on so I am going to be overly optimistic and excited. I'm ok with that. The great part is, is that it appears that it will pass. We've got a few more days of concurrence and some veto days to get through but the word on the street is that, things are looking good. When and if i becomes a law, I am going to watch the School House Rock "I'm just a Bill" music video. And likely share. Just in case you never saw it, for your viewing pleasure:

 I will survive the rest of this semester, hopefully without an ulcer or mental breakdown.
I hope everyone else has survived this winter, it appears to be coming to a close. I don't want to speak too soon but the temperature today did remind me that there is good in this world...ha.
Have a lovely week. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Political discourse and run-ins with cult members

Oh geez, I have been neglecting updating everyone on my life. Busy, busy.  To ease the minds of my three readers (I love each and every one of you) I'll give a brief rundown and anecdotes to keep your hearts from breaking any longer. (It will be ok). 
I'm taking a break from reading about political discourse techniques because I have seen enough of that over the past few weeks. My internship held a rally where the legislation I have been working on was announced to have bi-partisan sponsorship. However one of the parties had already submitted a version of it the day before and "didn't remember" but then later said "we just needed to get it in the statute." That was a crazy and frustrating day. The unfortunate thing is that this legislator has been a huge advocate for kids in the past, and the move reflected poorly on him. To me it felt like someone took my cake out of the oven before it was ready and starting cutting it up and serving it while it leaked batter everywhere. Hows that for discourse? Also at the rally I had some less than ideal interactions with pervy men and then another person tell us that he would 'pray for us' after discovering we were from Jefferson County (Louisville). I also had a nice conversation with a Tea Party-er about advocating for children. 
 We've since gotten the bill settled for the most part with the very necessary amendments and it passed in its Committee (forgive me for being vague, I feel like its necessary) and is now moving along at a good pace. Other than the legislative drama things at the internship are going well. Everyone is super busy since the legislators are back in session and I've got so much to do that I was asked to come in an extra 10 hours per week. This means much less time at the coffee shop, but it comes with pay so I'm definitely not complaining, and I'm hoping its one foot in further to a full-time position when I finish school. 
A few weeks ago one of the customers struck up a conversation and disclosed that he was a Masters of Social Work student at the nearby University. He then proceeded to tell me about how social work has helped him to really "find himself" (his words, not mine) and really empower him to become a better person. I told him that was great because it's important not to drag your baggage around with you when you're in a helping profession. He then asked me if I had ever heard about "Woman Within," which I thought was an odd jump but he then explained that a connected program called Mankind is what also really helped him to again, "find myself." He told me to check out the website but to ignore the other sites that talk about them (RED FLAG). So of course when I think about it again I searched for this organization. They use catchy words like "empowering" and "life's journey" and talk about a weekend retreat where apparently showing up late or learning early is very frowned upon. They used very general language and didn't specify exactly what happens during this weekend with strangers but building trust and finding yourself. It is not faith-based and in the FAQs they stated that they were not a cult. Well now, yes I am looking at other sources to see if they are the kool-aid drinking type or they are just Birkenstock wearing hippies that find their power animal. Several other sites talked about the exorbitant amount of money a weekend costs, their penchant for recruiting women that are questioning their sexual orientation and divorcees.  Many of the trainings focus on finding your femininity, celebrating femininity, sexuality, etc. Apparently the brief conversation we had led him to believe I need help finding my femininity. Thanks, bro. 
Last weekend we went to Red River Gorge for Jason's 30th birthday. I understood the need for a hot tub after the near 4 miles of hiking. I now also have a love/hate relationship with hiking. It was nice to get out of town for a bit and hang out. I still ended up working on things, but less than most weekends. J had a really great time with his friends and I think the birthday bash was a hit. I definitely want to go back to Red River Gorge to hike and see the Natural Bridge again when the trees are blossoming. 
I don't think I have been this busy since.....ever. Grad school is busting my ass with the extra studying for my Comps exam, work, internship, yada yada. I'm still figuring out that time management thing and would REALLY love to figure out a time to get regular physical activity thrown in there too. I suppose waking up earlier is an option I just need to mentally break my brain of the habit of pushing 'snooze' in my sleepy stupor every morning. 

Things that are awesome:
Counting down days until the end grad school

Sea Salt popcorn
Date nights (infrequent but awesome)
Sunshine in the winter
Natural Bridges

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zero to stupidity in 2 seconds flat

Its insane to me how easy it is for anxiety to seep in.
Background: I noticed that I was no longer friends with a classmate on Facebook and I couldn't remember if I un-friended her or if she un-friended me. This is silly already, but there's a point in here somewhere. So I began to wonder why someone would de-friend me (BECAUSE its life-threatening, right?) and then came to the conclusion that I had offended this person in some way. My first thought was it was likely a religious comment, because as much as I try not to offend, I have never had anything very positive to say about the South or their infatuation with putting Jesus into everything. My distaste for the tendency to put Christianity on this pedestal and not acknowledge that other people have different beliefs makes me crazy(350 million Buddhists and 1.6 Billion Muslims must be mistaken)*. I'm generalizing the views of the entire South, which always makes for an effective argument (obviously) but there it is. I'm constantly worried that I am going to offend someone and I need to knock it off, because then I get thrown into this whirlwind of anxiety that then leads to more anxiety about bigger, more important things. Not only that but when it stems from my thoughts on religion there is the inevitable guilt that comes along with it (and I wasn't even raised Catholic). The beautiful parts of religion (any religion) always get stepped on or misinterpreted to hurt people. My hippie tendency to ask the question, "Can't we all just get along?" exposes its little, naive head. 
Unfortunately that was a very small piece of my thought process that led me here.
I then start worrying about classes, Comps, graduating, jobs, friends, relationships, you name it I thought about it and decided I needed to figure out a way to FIX EVERYTHING! After minutes of rushing thoughts about visiting old friends, studying instead of sleeping and applying to jobs RIGHT NOW I came back to reality. That's when I say, Shannon shut up, it's after 10 pm on a Sunday, what are you going to do about it tonight? Nothing. As much as I want to solve all of my potential problems, I need to consider that these are not even really problems. My life is great, the people I love know that I love them and miss them and I'm usually pretty intelligent so I will figure all of the school stuff out. I consider being more intentional about connecting with people but also need to remember that it is a two way street.
So all-in-all fifteen minutes or so worrying about everything then talking myself back to a normal level of worry/doubt/anxiety is much better than it ever was. So the next time I go from 0-60 in .002 seconds flat I need to remember the following:
-Where is this worry coming from?
-Am I being ridiculous?
-How is this remedied without creating more anxiety?
-Where does the importance of this rate on a scale of feeling chilly to being set on fire?
-Get the eff off of Facebook and focus on something more important-like anything else.

List making is fun and relatively effective. Give it a shot sometime. Maybe use a better scale for level of importance that is suited to your needs. You may hate feeling chilly. Most of the time I state out loud something about chilly willy, laugh and grab a hoodie, so its pretty minor for me.

*Those stats are from wikipedia so maybe don't run off and cite them as credible just yet.