Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lately.

Yeah, I know. I promise to try harder with post titles in the future.* This entry is a "what's up with me" installment for those who are interested. 

...

On Friday, I took a day trip to Columbus to meet my newest and littlest friend, Alasdair. Little dude had a rough first few weeks in the world, and I was thrilled to get the chance to introduce myself and see that he's healthy and as happy as a newborn can be. Alasdair belongs to Sonya, a dear friend I wrote about in September. I've loved Sonya for more than half of my life. Thinking about her son as an extension of that love is strange and incredible. To borrow a perfect phrase from one I admire: Alasdair is pure floating light

Obviously, little dude's entrance was not only rough on him. His parents really went through it those first few weeks. I was so glad to catch up with both Sonya and her husband (hi Sean!), and I appreciated their frank comments on how challenging parenting has been. I've definitely come around about babies. Someday, if it's right, I'd like to have a child. I think I would enjoy parenting, and that I would try really hard. 

Here is little Alasdair. What a stud, right?



I spent all of yesterday and today in a licensure prep course at school. The course was taught by a super accomplished clinician, researcher, and social work administrator. I feel that it was ultimately helpful and a good use of my weekend. What a relief! Also, I appreciated the instructor's enthusiastic storytelling, Long Island accent, and her spontaneous song break-- a decent rendition of Silent Night during a discussion about delirium vs. dementia. 

Throughout the day, the instructor asked us to approach her and ask for a handmade bear charm (apparently bears are healers). When it was my turn to receive a charm, she told me that I can see into the hearts of others and that it may sometimes scare them. Another student behind me, who can also see into hearts, summed it up best when she said: "I could use a totem." Something you may not know about me: I'm all about a totem. You have a good luck charm? I'll take one. I mean, why not?

Here's my bear. The bead above it is called a shaman bead, (I think) because shamans are teachers. 



I'm planning to take the clinical exam in the next couple of months. I'll let you know what happens.

On a break from the seminar at some point this weekend, I learned that my friend Sarah used to work as a dental hygienist (you know, filling cavities and making false teeth) when she lived in Colorado. Now, Sarah's a badass with a business degree and (almost) an MSW, but she had no education or experience related to dental hygiene (besides brushing) before taking that job. WHAT'S UP, COLORADO!?! I just felt like you guys should know that this is happening. 

The final update is about our mighty (and mighty old) cat, Mo. We recently learned Mo has kidney disease, so we've changed his diet to help manage his (pretty gross) symptoms. Mo has been on my mind a lot lately. I want to be a person who can make a tough call when needed, if and when his quality of life is in question. I think I am that person, but it's a bummer to think about being without him, especially because I think our other cat will miss him terribly and struggle to adjust. How can you explain to an animal that their friend is gone? That one's kind of a bummer-- sorry guys.

Overall, I'm just chugging along. I'm taking a trip in March that I'm pretty excited about (there will most certainly be pictures), and weekly operations are focused on wrapping up this graduate school chapter of my life and making a plan for what's next. I know that I'm getting older because, more and more, I think to myself, "Where has the time gone?" 

Until we meet again. 





*Maybe.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weird exercise situations

"How do I always end up in weird exercise situations with you?"

That's what Eli said to me at 9AM this morning from his personal trampoline next to my personal trampoline. During my freelance research, I discovered a "trampoline park" called Sky Zone in Springdale. Growing up, our neighbors had a trampoline in their backyard that served as a meeting point for all the neighborhood kids. Older, braver (or more stupid) neighbor boys would jump off the shed onto the tramp for maximum air. When we were tired, we'd lay on the tramp in the sun. That's right-- we called it "the tramp." I've been abbreviating for a long time. 

At first, I couldn't imagine what I'd do for Sky Zone's advertised 30, 60, or 90 minutes of "free jump" on a trampoline next to "people of a similar size" (for "safety"?). Still, I stored it in my mind filed under "fun boyfriend/girlfriend activity for the future."

Maybe because the future is now (?), or maybe because Eli's newly acquired FitBit and resulting obsession with steps had me brainstorming ways to walk without being outside in 5 degree weather-- whatever it was, I revisited Sky Zone's website, learned they had a focused exercise class, SkyRobics, and I signed us up. Classes are 10 bucks each and your first class is half off. I mean, what the hell, why not?

As predicted, the jump-oriented portions of the hour were the most fun. I'd do it again. And maybe I'm coming around to the idea of "free jump." 

Anyway, the answer to E's question is that I'm on a lifelong mission to find exercise that I enjoy. There are very few forms of focused exercise that I get excited about (walking-- preferably on a beach or with a dog, riding bikes with my dad, and hot yoga). I always think I'm going to discover something that's going to make me love to burn calories in an hour-long, concentrated way. And Eli lets me drag him along. 

But, that's not what I said. Because, more than my quest-- I've got to keep him guessing. Every once in a while he's going to find himself on a trampoline in Springdale. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A break


Oh, hi. 


I know it’s been awhile, but the blog has been on my mind. I've said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the best things about graduate school is the opportunity to break…not your brain or patience, but for summer, for spring, and for winter holidays. I had planned to blog more over winter break (which started mid-December), and I’m just now getting around to it. How does that always happen? 


Well-- this year, although I haven’t had classes, I’ve continued to see clients, and I’ve been working on this monster of a freelance project the past few weeks. So, some moments of my break have felt restful and others have felt busy. Hopefully this steadiness will prepare me for my final semester of classes which begins on Monday. Ouch. One more, right? This morning, I applied to graduate. The fact that you have to pay and apply for graduation is something else entirely, but I did it. If all goes well, I’ll be a master of something by May.


Over the break, we spent a lot of wonderful time with our families. Even though it is, truly, the most wonderful time of the year, the season often feels hectic to me. We kept a shared Google document with a list of gifts we’d gotten for everybody and color-coded it to indicate how wrapped each thing was. This helped us stay on the same page as E was traveling for the few weeks right before Christmas. I always feel the holidays demand a high level of organization that is not my norm. There was much planning, much driving, much visiting, and then, just like that, they were over. 


Poof. 


Now, I need to put away the menorah, the two strings of lights I draped across the piano but never remembered to turn on, and the silver garland I bought at the grocery store and never found a use for.


In the middle of everything, we’d been kicking around the idea of a weekend trip before things really pick up again. Last week, we decided to go for it. We looked for flights and found one to Fort Myers Beach, a place we both had never been. And then we went.  


I worked some on the aforementioned monster of a freelance gig, but other than that, we ate seafood and walked along the beach. We watched dolphins from the pier, and on Sunday we went parasailing. It was restorative, and FMB was full of seemingly nonjudgmental and polite Midwesterners. I wish we could’ve stayed a few days longer. You all would like it there. 


Here are a few photos from our short trip. I miss you, and I hope to write to you again soon. 



 





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Social Media Profiles as Avatars

Definition of SIMULACRUM
1: image, representation
2: an insubstantial form or semblance of something

(from Merriam-Webster)

When E brought this word to my attention, he explained it as: "a copy for which there is no original." 

...

“She does not know herself, but who does? Don’t we all go through life in the same ignorance of who we are, ready to rush at any description of ourselves that would give us the illusion of having a simple identity that can be summed up in a few words?”
Jacqueline Harpman, Orlanda (translated from the French)

Harpman could've been talking about Twitter. 

...

I've been thinking a lot about privacy lately, and about image management. I feel very split on the subject between my work as a mental health professional and my growing number of freelance projects. The former demands a certain degree of privacy and/or professionalism and discretion related to my Internet profiles. My latter work would arguably benefit from transparency and link-ability across Internet profiles. In an attempt to balance the two, I've made some changes to certain privacy settings recently, and have really begun to think about the purpose of each online profile I maintain. 

Like it or not, online profiles like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, blogs and whatever others I'm not aware of because of my age and interests, have become so important to our culture. These profiles generate sales, they generate awareness around news and causes, and they allow us to "connect" with people we cannot or do not see or speak with on a regular basis. The degree and reality of the connection is, in my mind, arguable. Nevertheless, to suggest that these social platforms aren't relevant or important is to miss the point. 

I was never a gamer, but it makes sense to me to connect Internet profiles with avatars. We choose a profile picture that represents (in some way) the things we like about ourselves, whether it shows us looking our best (for example, made up for an event), with people we love, or doing an activity we feel represents what we're about (or even an activity that we would like to represent us). We create and share content that presents us as we see ourselves or as we'd like to be seen. Our social media avatars even act for us; we make public endorsements and we say things online that we might never say in person. 

So, when does cultivating your image detract from cultivating your substance? Is authenticity authentic if it's very carefully recreated and represented online for others to see? 

I don't know the answer to that. 

What I do know is this: I never want my actual person (as in, conversation with me over coffee) to not live up to my Internet profile. I always want to exceed the expectations created by my Internet persona in the flesh. In a world where everything is sharable and absolutely nothing is private, I don't want to fully replicate the experience of being with me on the Internet. I know how hard it is to be present in the here and now, but perhaps a series of "disconnected" moments is the stuff that makes a real life.

So, what are your thoughts? Feelings? Dreams?

...

Okay, this has been a nice break. I must now return to my analysis of psychoanalytic theory in Harpman's Orlanda (which I highly recommend; it's incredibly strange and even wiser). I must submit this final final paper tonight, and then I'll be free of schoolwork for a few weeks. 

What a lovely thought.