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I seem to be thriving of late with last minute decisions to do things.  Last minute as in spontaneous choice making.  A little out of character one might say except for the times when looking at a calendar of planned events makes me feel weighed down and suffocated.  Even when the spoken for time is meant for fun and recreation. 

I blame this schedule phobia or heightened anxiety to the many years of single parenthood, raising my daughter, alone.  All the while, working 2-3 jobs and attending college part-time and sometimes with a full credit load.  Woah Nelly.  Overload to the max.  I don’t think I ever quite recovered from the stress strain and demands of my time and efforts.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that any of that whole scenario was unworthy of my attentions, particularly the raising of my daughter part.  She was, and is and will always be, worth every single bit of care and consideration that I ever have or ever will proffer. 

I am just saying that I got worn out and used up in a sort of whole person, mind, body, emotions, psyche and spirit kind of way.  That even though I have re-charged and many years have passed since that totally uber time, there have been other demanding times (e.g., running businesses and grad school spring to mind) that have collared a lot of my focus. 

So today I am going with the flow and have decided to run out and meet the day in a retail sort of way this morning.  Wish me luck!  I’ll be with friends and family, which has it’s very own share of the upside and the potential downside ~ if you receive my meaning. 

Ahhh, life in the times of me.  I’ve said it before but it bears saying again, simple folks living simple yet extraordinary lives.  Yep.  That’d be me included in with that bunch, for sure.  Hope your day is a good one.

Feels so good. To be back with a friend who saw me through my grad school years and then some. All it took was a couple of years. Hey, the road back was one long ass journey. For reals. For sure. So worth the struggles and the detours though
in more ways than one.

I mean really. From there to here are a lot of miles, figuratively and literally, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other miles. And then there were the one-foot-forward and two-steps-sideways followed by three-and-a-half-steps-back, only to trip and start all over again days that a couple of times turned into months. And let’s not forget the huge divots that were dug on the spinning-my-wheels days that turned into an almost dug-my-own-ditch-to-die-in-grave, along the way. Worth it? Yuh.

Was there any joy along the way? Was the journey joy-full? More importantly, where is the joy? Gotta think on that one. I am, after all, a glass half-empty sort of woman ~ except for those times when the glass is running over wasting the good times. Wink. At least I have retained my sense of humor along the arduous and hilly terrain. Double wink.

Well the good-byes have been said to the Attic and the keys left on the kitchen counter.  I am chillin’ at the airport while I wait to begin my first leg of the journey home to the North Land.  Ahhhhh.  Summer in Alaska.  We don’t call it the Land of the Midnight Sun for nothin’.  The sun is setting around 11 pm’ish and rising oh probably around 4:30 am’ish and even when it has set there is no total darkness, more like duskiness.  Having grown up with these long summer days, I do not need darkness to sleep and do not keep curtains on my windows.  I absolutely love the sun and the light.  By summer’s end, many Alaskans are nuttier than fruitcakes from lack of sleep cuz we all want to soak up as much light as we can to help us endure the dark winters.  But I am at the front end of summer solstice and am pretty jazzed to be heading North.

In fact, I am pretty happy and contented right about now.  I reached my educational goal and am now a bonafide Doctor of Psychology!  Yup.  as of Wednesday.  Hallelujiah!!  Jubliee!  and before I even begin studying for the big national exam, I plan on taking two weeks off to play and just be.  I feel so grateful to live in a country where I, a Queer woman of Color, can earn a graduate degree in the study of my choosing.  I also feel grateful ~ very ~ for the support, help, and encouragement of my familia and friends, including those friends who have cheered me on right here on my little blog.  I am proud of myself for enduring this journey and reaching my goal ~ the end of this particular venture. 

There are many more ventures and goals, both professionally and personally on my horizon.  But for today, I am outta here and onto There.  I will be sharing (regularly, I hope) my Last Frontier adventures and I’ll be sure and soak up the long long hours of daylight for all of you.

If I needed further proof that I am rapidly approaching the end of one journey, the closing of a chapter(s), and getting ready to transition onto other adventures, I have received the evidence in the form of exit interviews ~ multiple exit interviews.  Final evaluations at my internship site with multiple personnel and exit interviews with my school’s administration, including the financial aid powers that be.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not grousing about these taking leave formalities as they serve numerous purposes.  For me, the valuable message is you are approaching the end of an epic journey   rejoice!

Of course, like in most things in life there are some true endings and some forks in the path where the life journey continues on a different highway or side road with different scenery.  What is true in this particular instance, is that I am indeed coming to the final destination of my academic journey of earning my doctorate degree in clinical psychology.  There is another path that I continue to trundle toward the full licensure destination but the degree destination’s ribbon busting (as in marathon race imagery) is well within sight.  Just another 13 days.  and in the big picture of this endeavor, 13 days is nothing.  well they’re something(s) as a lot of living will be lived within their 24 hour segments but let’s put it this way, I am a darned sight closer to that finish line today than I was in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, or 2007. 

I’ll take the Gatorade that will surely be offered at the end of the race, that’s for sure! 

Finding Home.  The Long Walk Home.  Searching for Home.  Redefining Home.  Home Is Where the Heart Is.  There’s No Place Like Home.  Home Is What You Make It. 

Yes.  This is another post about my personal musings on the topic of home.  and I must in all good conscious warn you, that there may be more on the way.  not homes necessarily (but who knows what’s over the horizon) but posts about my first paragraph’s titles.  This is a timely subject for me as I am actively in my search for home and, as usual, am in a redefining sort of mood as well. 

After I was adopted by the White American Older than Most First Time Parents, we lived their dream (or at least mama’s dream) of being an Alaskan Pioneer.  We homesteaded their 160 acre spread of land.  During my growing up years, we cut down trees, built two cabins, gardened, and survived off the land.  Some of the homesteading adventures were interrupted by years of living a rural existence in Maryland along the Eastern Shoreboard.  But in my child’s mind, country was country and the places we lived in Maryland (with one exception in a small village) felt like homesteading as we did not have electricity, water, or indoor plumbing. 

In my adulthood, I have come to refer to places I live/d as _______ Homestead.  Like the Duplex Homestead, the Downtown Homestead, the 10th Avenue Manor Homestead…  But the Attic where I have lived for almost five years has been simply the Attic.  Although the piece of land where the Attic is situated may, indeed, have been someone’s homestead at some point in history, it has been just our Attic.  I have lived here in the Attic for longer than I have lived anywhere in my adult life. 

The Attic has provided a beautiful physical space to live in, a feeling of safety – three floors above the sidewalk and street, as well as shelter during these five years.  The Attic, however, has never felt like my home.  Maybe because I knew that Moving Day was bound to arrive as I was here to attend school and earn a degree.  Maybe because after having moved 50+ times already that I do not know how to put down roots.  Maybe because I am a Korean adoptee who left my original home too early.  Maybe because I need to redefine the word home.  Whatever the reason(s), I am moving on down the road, taking leave of the Attic. 

I will definitely miss this living space.  I wonder if the next place I live will be a Homestead or who knows, maybe just Home. 

Since I am quickly (if you call almost five years, one day at a time, quick) approaching the finish line of my educational journey and if all goes as hoped, I will be conferred my doctorate in clinical psychology in less than one month (which translates to less than 28 days), my thoughts are interrupted by ways in which to reward myself for my hard and diligent work.  Mind you, I have already rewarded myself here and there this past month with little semi-precious stone trinkets, visits from beloved familia members, a side trip to Reno (where believe you me I did not just sit in my hotel room not spending any dough), a side trip to Point Reyes, and some danged good meals cooked by someone else(s) and served up in some pretty settings.  But hey, this is a pretty doggone big accomplishment, right? 

And so I daydream and spin possible scenarios in my noggin with my creative paintbrush or since I am spinning these creations, would it be my creative spinning wheel…  For this post, the implement of creation does not really matter as much as the wish list in my dreams ~

  • a week in a beautiful luxury condo on or near my favorita Alaskan beach shared with familia and friends that would include, but not be limited to, numerous walks along the water’s edge, adding to my rather impressive seashell and rock collection, several bonfires over which various meats would be roasted (apologies to the sacrificial animals), lots of board games with my grandkiddos, and some big wins at the poker table.
  • a brand new digital SLR camera with personalized lessons and unlimited time and focus with which to hone my craft.
  • a glass blowing class that includes an aptitude (on my part) and patience (on the teacher’s part) to develop a new creative outlet.
  • time (guilt free) to hang out (translated into visiting, eating, and laughing) with friends.
  • the guarantee of passing the EPPP national exam after diligent summer studying.
  • or hell as long as I’m wishing, the guarantee of passing the national exam without one whit of study.

So there are some of my wishes.  Oh and one more ~

  • the ability to skip a stone at least 10 skips.  No, make that 15.

This morning, I once again exercised my free will and opened my Attic door and traipsed out into the spring sunshine.  I headed for my neighborhood market that occurs like clockwork on Saturdays.  This market and the walk to the market, passing abundant flowering plants, shrubs, and trees are a huge part of what is good and wonderful about City living.  Now some Californian natives might argue that Berkeley is not a City and that the City lies across the Bay.  I beg to differ.  As a country kid who as an adult lived in a Small City, Berkeley most definitely feels like a City even after having lived here for almost five years.  The City across the Bay where I commute to and from three days a week is a Big City. 

Since I moved here to begin my doctoral program, I have been keeping a pro’s and con’s mental, and sometimes on this blog, list of City and Big City living while most of the time pining away for Country Living (not the magazine but the real life deal).  What I have been keeping at bay, right at the edge of my peripheral conscious, is the fact that I have not been a Country Dweller for going on 30 years.  This realization is a sad one for this country woman.  There is nothing like the solitude of the countryside accompanied by the sounds and nuances of nature, to soothe my spirit and worried mind.  So that is why I treasure those moments when I am cognizant enough to tap into the country while living in the City. 

The fact that there is always something in bloom and that the color green is represented in non-manmade flora and fauna year round here in this neck of the City, still astounds and delights me.  Years and years of living in the Frozen Frigid Northland of Alaska’s winters where I can guarantee you that if you see a flower in January, it’s plastic and/or a visual hallucination, requires me to walk about the Cali City streets with a look of amazement and pleasure from November through May.  Take this morning’s walk, I would have filled up at least two pages of college-ruled paper if I had known and written down every name of the flowers, non-dormant green plants, trees and shrubs on my 15 minute walk to the market.  I then could have filled up another two pages on the walk back to the Attic.  The air was perfumed with the heady scents of spring that helped put a bounce in my step. 

I feel happy inside when I see folks hauling off their market splendor in their backpacks (or as my grandkiddos used to call them, their packpacks), reuseable bags, strollers (wth the kid walking alongside), red wagons, bike baskets, and brown bags.  As for me, I totally treated myself and splurged on some hopefully tasty tidbits ~ a small container of cooked dungeness crab meat (which I really really hope is fresh and tasty as it is a small 8 oz container for a big price, but hey I deserve a little extravagance, right?), two small light green artichokes, a small head of white cauliflower, and another big splurge on 12 extra large brown organic eggs.  Ummmm my tummy is growling ~ I think it’s telling me to hurry up and cook some of that food loot up.  Me thinks I will heed the call.  I’ll let you know how it turns out. 

departure.jpg

So today dawns a brand new chance at starting over, beginning anew.  After all, it is April 1st is it not?  And with the nod to fools or some such persons, I declare today to be a day to proclaim new resolutions     reclaim resolutions that may have been in the shadows, on the back burner   and for reveling in what has gone before, recent completions   accomplishments.  All with an eye of moving forward  but not too quickly ~ I don’t want to miss today ~ that would be fool-ish.

   ~ [photograph courtesy of Flickr photographer]

The following are tasks I can unequivocably check off my To Do List ~

  • formally file my dissertation with my school
  • formally file my dissertation with my school three full days before the filing deadline
  • complete the dissertation process
  • complete the dissertation process fully leaving nothing to read, marinate on, or write toward the dissertation

The following are accomplishments that can be claimed with wild abandon (in process, will happen any minute now) ~

  • the accolades and recognition from dissertation committee members, mentors, colleagues, family, friends
  • my own recognition and ownership of my accomplishment

For now I can say this for sure ~ it’s a done deal.  Oh, I can also say for sure that the final version looks mighty fancy and official.  Oh and one final thing ~

WOOOOO  HOOOOOOOO ! !

I am reading Irvin Yalom’s book Love’s Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy.  In the prologue, Yalom writes of the experiential group exercise where strangers are asked to pair up and take turns in asking each other “What do you want?”  This question is asked repeatedly until the one answering gets to the core of what exactly they are pining for.  This is typically evidenced by the person dissolving into tears or jubilant smiles but usually tears.  As Yalom writes, this is a powerful exercise; one that I have participated in and experienced at least once and maybe twice many years ago.  I recall the exercise.  What I cannot seem to recall are my answers, then or now. 

What do I want? 

Top layer answers ~ earn my doctoral degree, get healthier (let go of some dissertation poundage, exercise more, regain some physical flexibility), find and secure a great place to live, stay cig free (after 16 years, I still don’t take this for granted), have my memoir essays about my experiences as a Korean adoptee published and for the book to be well received, spend more time with my family, to live in the country. 

Second layer answers ~ to find my place in this world, to recognize my place when I find it, if I am already in my place  embrace it, to feel  really feel  a sense of belonging, to know my origins   or if that is impossible to let go of the yearning, to see my omma’s face  and not forget it   again.  [okay, so right about here I would be getting to the core cuz I can feel the tears begin to sting] 

and now I want to stop this exercise because it’s not really supposed to be done alone.  remember the original exercise has another person asking the question so that the answer-er is not alone when they reach their middle ground.  and today, I am alone ~ very much alone. 

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