Posts Tagged ‘undergraduate’

Ready, Set

March 28, 2018

Interview!

My PhD interview is tomorrow morning!

Holy crap.

I’ve got to get all the profanity, crassness, and foul language out of my system before going in.

Although, to give myself some credit, I am an articulate person.

I have a way with words.

Plus.

I interview well.

Which was not a talent I would have recognized in myself previous to this experience, but when I reflect on how I have done historically in interviews, I usually get the job, or the school to accept me.

Sometimes even when I don’t think I have done so well.

Hell.

Most times.

Most times before not too long ago, I would think that I hadn’t gotten in.

I didn’t think I was going to get back into my Bachelor’s program at UW Madison, I mean I seriously fucked up my first round of schooling there.

But I did, I interviewed with the dean of admissions after sending in an application letter to be readmitted and I was shocked I mean, shocked, when they let me back in.

There wasn’t even any waiting period, the woman basically told me at the end of the interview that I was accepted back.

That I could start that Spring!

It was the fall term and I think I had interviewed at the end of November, beginning of December.

I had not planned on that.

I hadn’t planned on getting in, I was “humoring” my best friend and a good friend of hers, a boss that I worked for, by applying to school again.

“You are just too smart to not be in college,” my boss said, echoing my best friend’s sentiments.

“If you don’t apply, I’m going to fire you,” my boss continued.

“What?!” I said, incredulous.

“I’m serious, Carmen, you really are just too smart, and I wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t encouraging you to go back to school, go back, we still want you to work here, but you really should go back.” He concluded.

Of course I applied.

I didn’t want to lose my job.

And maybe there was a part of me that wanted to go back, to get my shit together, to do it right this time.

But I hadn’t expected to get right in, nor that I would be able to start in the Spring semester.

I had only a few weeks to adjust to the idea that I was going to be back in school full-time.

My boyfriend at the time was not at all pleased.

He was, in hindsight, though I couldn’t see it at the time, very jealous of my time.

He was also displeased, I suspected, because he had dropped out of UW Madison a couple of years prior and hadn’t managed to get his shit together to go back.

He did eventually.

After doing time for a felony conviction for stalking me.

But that’s another story, for another time.

Suffice to say.

The encouragement of my friends got me in and the encouragement of my friends here in San Francisco got me into my Master’s program.

I think they’re all still behind me for going for the PhD.

Last time I checked in with anyone it felt that way.

Although a few acquaintances did register surprise.

“Two more years of school!”

“We’re never going to see you at fellowship again!”

True.

And not so true.

Yes.

I will still be busy.

But I think I have learned well over these last few years to balance out my studies with my job, my recovery, and my social life.

Sometimes better than others.

And sometimes I really had to work hard at it.

Hell.

It’s been all hard work.

“Sometimes I wish I was done with the hard work!” I expressed to my therapist today.

We had a really huge session.

In fact, I left over time with her saying that she would like to support me in whatever I needed regarding our session.

I thanked her for that.

That’s the second time in a month my therapist has let me know that I can reach out for support after hours, or without having a session scheduled.

Though I don’t think I will do that.

I was quite touched.

I am, however, going to do some work.

The work it doesn’t really end.

It just changes.

And I change.

That’s the hope, anyway, that I will change.

Grow or die.

Ha.

Well.

Perhaps not that stark, not that black and white.

But I was pretty miserable today and sad and angry and upset.

I talked with my therapist about my health stuff, going really into detail, letting her know how I was affected by the system I seem to be unable to get out of.

And.

By my history.

What health advocacy looked like in my home.

In my family of origin.

Which was shit.

I only went to the doctor in an emergency.

There was no healthcare aside from the mandatory doctor’s physical before school each year.

There was only a doctor’s visit when something horrible was happening.

And it had to be really bad to get the attention of my mom.

Really bad.

I remember an incident that happen when I was seventeen.

Mono, strep, and tonsilitis all at the same time.

I was delirious.

I remember calling my mom and begging her to come home from work.

She told me she couldn’t.

I walked around the house crying and delusional with a fever that was so high the emergency room doctor chastised my mother for not bringing me in sooner.

He was irate.

It was one of the few times I remember my mom getting me a special treat from the market, croissants (day olds, but fuck, I had never had such an amazing piece of bread) and crab salad (fake crab, but crab!) and ice cream.

I certainly felt special and the words of the doctor faded out of my perceptions in a haze of fevered ice cream eating and sleep.

But the impact lasted.

I wasn’t allowed to ask for help, I wasn’t allowed to get sick, I wasn’t helped out when I was, I had to take care of myself and figure it out and doctors, dentists, hospitals, the medical system, all seemed scary and also not allowed for me.

I have done a tremendous amount of work to get through it and to be where I am, but it raised its head and there I was in therapy with a pile of tissues around me and angry tears on my face.

And.

Oh, the gratitude.

Some client advocacy from my therapist who made some suggestions and gave me some very valuable information.

Information I will be acting on pretty much immediately.

Well.

First the interview.

Then new insurance!

It’s how I celebrate now.

Not popping a bottle of champagne.

But rather.

Gifting myself.

Better.

Health care.

Officially.

#adulting

Almost There!

December 10, 2015

I said to her tonight and gave her a big hug.

She looked a little glassy eyed with sleep deprivation.

She, the woman with whom I was commiserating, is a third year graduate school student at the same school I am in.

This is her last push.

She finishes this weekend and she will have her Master’s degree.

Granted we are in different programs.

And different years.

But the feelings were the same.

Come on you can do it!

I actually got a little sick to my stomach when she described what she had to do to finish with her program.

Then I thought.

Not my program, my program may be very different when I get to my third year.

Oh.

And yeah, haha, I’m still in my first and I’m doing ok.

In fact.

I am doing fucking awesome!

I got back my fourth reflection paper grade from my Human Development class.

Here are some of the comments:

Amazing and brave. It is so life-affirming to read your journey.

Beautifully descriptive narrative imagery, Carmen.

Grade: A

Great essay!

There was more, but, um, haha, no need to toot my own horn.

Besides.

What I am more thrilled about is that I am off the hook for writing the third optional paper.

Unless I fall flat on my fucking face in class with my final presentation project, I will get an “A” in the course.

Small happy dance of joy.

And back to the blog.

The other thing, that I just acknowledged in a phone call with my person, I have done the work.

I mean.

For the first time all semester, I am completely up on all my reading.

I did it all.

I finished it all.

I read it all.

ALL OF IT.

I am that person.

I am even re-reading a little of it before class on Friday because I can and I will need to have a better grasp of my Psychoanalytic readings to be able to write the last paper for the class.

Oh.

I liked typing that.

The last paper for the class.

I have tentative dinner plans to celebrate with a friend on Sunday.

I’m going to give my friend the biggest hug ever.

Ever, ever?

Ever.

I remember the warmth of congratulations given to me when he heard about my getting into the program and also when I shared about my scholarship news.

I feel like I have had this friend in my pocket, like an ace up my sleeve, helping me, giving me rides to class, grabbing me coffees before class, helping me grocery shop, so many things.

Probably too many to recount here.

But I wrote them all out this morning in my journal, my morning pages, my morning routine.

It just poured out, this river of gratitude for the gifts I have received.

There are so many.

Countless.

I have also received unexpected gifts from the school program.

The first being the simple acknowledgement that I belong where I am, that I am on the right path, even if I’m not certain exactly where it is going, that I am talented and smart and capable and can do the work.

The next is the surprising friendships I have struck up with women who I never would have met otherwise, and who I cannot imagine moving forward without in my life.

So very graced.

So blessed.

I have school “girl” friends!

I mean.

Heh.

I almost just blushed with that.

I am so pleased.

Happy.

Loved.

I feel loved.

I know that sounds silly, but I have new girl friends and that makes my heart happy and I know that I will have them always in my life.

Maybe not under the exact same circumstances, we won’t always be in school, but I know, they will always be in my life.

Such gifts.

A wealth.

An abundance.

Then.

I was thinking of a group of girlfriends.

Sort of my first group of solid out in the real world girl friends.

How they got out and ahead and I somehow faltered and fell behind.

It’s not much of a secret what happened.

I fell down into the selfish hell hole of my addiction and the narrow parameters of living a lie coupled with a complete inability to be a friend to anyone, not myself, not another human being, in any true manner of the word, and of course, my friends left me.

Out paced me.

Out grew me.

Said, hey, “I love you, but I can’t be a part of this anymore.”

“I’m done.”

That hurt.

But it hurt in a way that it sunk home.

Of course, it didn’t stop me.

I still kept on.

Not for much longer though.

Of those three girlfriends I am in touch with just one.

Nurse.

Public Relations maven.

Lawyer.

Nanny.

Which one of these is not like the other?

I realize today, as I was getting ready for work and did a quick scroll on facecrack and saw one of those ladies post a life event (we are still all connected on social media) that I have finally, almost, not quite, but kind of getting there, catching up to them.

They all have Masters degrees, law degrees, nursing degrees.

They are smart capable women, all with children and husbands and careers.

I’m the weirdo.

Single, tattooed, artist, Burning Man attendee, bicycle commuting, pink hair, sometimes in a faux hawk or studded with fake flowers, odd duck who lives in San Francisco.

Or I can flip it and say I am a powerful, realized, self-acknowledged, hard working, graduate school student, who works full time as a professional nanny (a job that I would not have gotten without my undergrad degree, fyi, not for the money I’m making as a nanny), who has overcome what on the outside looked like insurmountable poverty, neglect, trauma, physical abuse, abandonment, stress, PTSD, clinical depression, rape, incest, being stalked–to getting sober, writing a book, no not just a book, but three manuscripts about those aforementioned “misadventures,” being published in Paris, blogging for five plus years, being a world traveler, having love and friends and community in abundance around me.

I am more actualized and realized than I ever was.

More authentically me.

So.

It took me a little longer to get here.

“I wish you a long, slow recovery,” she said wisely.

What the hell does that mean?  I thought, but hugged her back.

I know now.

And I am so utterly.

Completely.

Inexhaustibly.

Grateful.

Beyond words.

So grateful.

I ache with it.

Ache.

But in a very good way.

The kind of way that tells me I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Happy.

Joyous.

Free.

Stay Calm

April 21, 2015

I repeat.

Stay calm.

I really want to freak out though.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I sounded like I knew what I was doing when I call the Registrar’s office at CIIS this morning while there was a brief pause in the work day.

“So I just go online, and register and I’m all set?” I said.

“Yes, anything else I can help you with?” The woman, Nikki, I think she said her name was.

“Nope, all good, thanks so much for your help.” I replied and got off the phone.

I don’t have any idea what I am doing, I thought as I got off the phone, further, I’m not even sure what the correct questions are to ask.

I received an e-mail a few days ago about the course schedule being up and I poked around on the website looking at things, but it was sort of gobbledy gook to my eyes and I got off it pretty quick.

I was unsure what I was looking at.

My assumption, ah assuming that wonderful thing that makes and ass out of “u” and “me,” was that because I was accepted into the Weekend Integral Counseling Psychology Masters Program, there would be a big sign saying, you do this now and go here now.

Push this button and you are all set.

I mean, maybe not literally, but I just thought, ok, there’s only one program set up, I’m accepted, I paid my deposit, I just show up for the first day of class and they tell me what to do.

Right?

Um.

Wrong.

I do have to register for classes.

Well, fuck.

What classes do I have to register for?

I’m confused.

How come the department head didn’t send out a message to the weekend program detailing which classes are to be registered for?

That’s not helping, self, when I think I know better how to do something and I have never been to graduate school and it’s been a long time since I have been in school period and when I was there was this thing you did where you looked up your classes in a paper book of schedules and then you were assigned a time to call on the phone.

Like a phone with that’s attached to the wall via a cord.

And then you registered by punching in the number of the class followed by the pound key and it would tell you if the class was full or not.

A lot depended on registering as soon as you could, at the exact time you were scheduled.

You snooze, you definitely lose.

Somebody else was going to get that class.

Occasionally the class I would want would be full and I learned that you kept trying, because somewhere someone on campus was trying to get into another class and might be dropping the one that you wanted and if you got it at the right moment, you might be able to snag that spot.

I remember pumping my fist in glee getting into a Comparative Literature Class that I had been trying to get into my class schedule for over a week, randomly calling at odd times of day or night, or whenever I had a spare moment to sit on the phone.

I swear I had that class number memorized for years.

Then there was the last resort, where you could show up for the class and hope that someone found the professor to be an asshole or a taskmaster or the class wasn’t exactly to their liking and they would drop and you could pick it up.

I remember walking out of a class my junior year thinking, no way I could listen to that professor drone on for an entire semester.  I hadn’t even waited until the end of the class, I got up and left after fifteen minutes and never once regretted that.

I believe the system hasn’t changed that much, it appears to be of the same general idea.

Except that I have to register online at 11:35 a.m.

Which is when I’m at work.

I also don’t want to have to do it on my phone.

Even though I have internet access on my phone it seems like it would be far easier to bring my laptop into work with me.

I’m sure the mom and dad won’t have an issue with me taking a few minutes to register.

I went online and logged into my student page and I figured out what I’m suppose to register for, the classes for the fall, 13 credits, my god.

I’m really doing this.

Aside.

I’m fucking going to graduate school.

Holy shit.

This is real.

I’m registering for the fall semester tomorrow at 11:35 a.m.

That just blows my mind.

That I’m going to be a child therapist blows my mind too.

“Breathe,” I told him as he threw an epic temper tantrum in front of the market at 21st and Valencia.

I’m already practicing, have been for some time, it would seem.

I took in a big deep breath and moved him a little further down the street, he was still apoplectic; however, it was going to fade and I knew if I could just get him to the store front of Casa Bonompak on Valencia Street, all would be well.

They have a huge display of pinatas in the window.

It was like a switch had been thrown.

The next thing you know the hurricane of tears and wails and no’s and screams were gone and we were talking about paper mache.

Incredible.

I suspect I was telling myself just as much to breathe as I was my little charge.

I suspect I will tell myself much the same when I get to work tomorrow and talk to the mom and dad and ask for a few minutes out of my schedule to register.

I’m nervous that I will fuck it up.

The truth, however, is, that even if I do make a mistake, it can be corrected.

And I will have another experience under my belt.

I will have registered for my first semester of graduate school.

That, I suspect, will feel pretty damn good.

It already does.


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