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I'm spending 12.5 hours per week in class, now, and about 4.5 hours per week commuting to and from school. Of course, there is also homework.

I LOVE feeling connected to my classmates. I love that there is a group of us moving through this program together, having multiple classes together, and embarking on the beginning of a couple of years together - so different from undergrad, so much more like high school but with more common interests and ideology across the board.

The spectrum of people was dizzying and almost unbelievable at first - the recovering heroin addict who wants to go into helping people with substance abuse. The attorney with a friend who was jailed and disbarred for petty drug use and wants to help change the prison system. The flamboyantly gay man who is there for LGBT policy. The woman who just got back from 2 years in India, where she became certified as a yoga instructor, and decided she wants to bring yoga to the disadvantaged, since it can be done without equipment or memberships, and in troubled neighborhoods where walking doesn't feel safe, and even in a jail cell. The immigrant who lost his mother five years ago when, as soon as they arrived, she fell ill and then died after being refused help at a local public hospital (spoiler: it's the one I loathe) - he's on a mission now to reform protocols for immigrant health care. The blind, 65 year old man who takes the bus in, and wants to inspire others with disability even though his kids wish he'd just retire. Those are 6 people out of a class with only 12 people in it, another of whom is me, talking about death positivity and end of life care....

To be clear I have another class with 35 people in it, it's just that it includes about 10 of those 12, and in general the program let's in I think 50 new people each year (approximately), so it's the same core group with lots of overlapping people in individual courses.

It's strange and interesting to be seen, in my classes. I'm used to moving through school invisibly - since 2010 when I started, I've been taking classes at strange times, and in fits and starts, at huge places where I'd never see anyone from a given class again after that class was done. I did a whole semester online twice, and I was usually a solid decade older than most other students when I was around them. I've never done any kind of "campus life" stuff with clubs or events.

Now, I get someone yelling "Hey Book Writer!" on the way back to my car, and then catching up to talk. I get people adding me on facebook. I get told someone saw an article they think pertains to my interests, and that someone likes my pants. People reference something I did during a role play in front of a class two days later, in a different class. Or they ask if I have notes from a class we're not currently in.

There's also an interesting overlap between this group and my general life, that I didn't expect. A mom I know from the kids' school and GMYS, is in one of my classes. One of my supervisors from the Switchboard is in another. And, I'm currently writing a group paper with somebody who is a mutual friend of one of my good friends. I saw somebody from class at the grocery store the other day - considering that I live 45 minutes from school, it was a surprise.

I'm struggling with the roundtrip 3 times per week when I already do SO MUCH DRIVING on the days I have to go there - yesterday I was in stopped traffic for over an hour twice, and was unexpectedly detoured off the highway, during a different trip... there's so much construction and so many accidents (and yesterday, a bomb threat, and a couple of weeks ago, a sinkhole, and often lately, torrential downpours).

I clash a little, with one of my professors, and feel intimidated by the (punctuality and attendance) standards of another.

I'm also struggling with just how long those 3 days in a row are - from getting my school kids ready to hanging out with, teaching, and carting around Jake and Elise (to their activities,) and then starting my school day as theirs all wind down. The days that I wake at 6:45 to get them out of bed and I don't arrive home again until almost midnight are really something. Of course, it's also beyond epic that Grant is making them good dinners and texting me pics and going shopping, etc.

I'm still working out the time management, as by the time those 3 days in a row are done, I want to completely ignore school for a couple of days before I come back around to studying - which can be ok, and can also not be ok.

The material I'm learning is amazing. I love research, and discussion, and take so many pages of notes and come home bursting with things to say, and ideas. It's almost time to settle on my Spring Practicum already (AAAH! Positive and Negative AAAAH!) and I am vaguely but consistently considering a research assistantship.

I'm sort of confused that I'm already almost done with week 4 of 15.




Grant and I went to New York for 5 days/4 nights, with Ananda. It was our 10th anniversary and her 16th birthday celebrations, and it was a really, really great trip. Some highlights from fairly to most amazing:

Chinese Hot Pot
The giant rocks and hills in the ground being natural, and the lovely trees with skyscrapers right behind them all not being a movie set, in Central Park. I've been there before, but I still stare with Floridian amazement at this surreal shit.
The subway, from real NY subway rats to haunting violin played full volume in a crowded car.
Raclette
THE SHOPPING. What the HELL, we bough so much stuff, from Obscura Antiques and Oddities, from a Brooklyn Flea Market, from Forever 21 in Time Square (which is four stories and has an entire plus sized floor), from Nordstrom Rack (who unexpectedly offered and then gave me a credit card, can you hear the danger alarm going off?)
Being outside and taking pictures at the top of the Empire State Building
The Met, including the current Manus X Machina fashion exhibit
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Dresden Dolls live in Coney Island Ampitheater - and we were comp'd VIP passes for having to deal with a seat change! TO BETTER SEATS. But man, OH MAN, that show.

There is a tag on my tumblr about NY, but I've only included a few things because I just haven't had time.




My children are wonderful, complicated, etc. Ananda is having a hard emotional time, lately, but also downright inspiring in her efforts to cope, and self-care (that's a verb in this case), and reach for help as needed. Aaron is doing fine, Isaac is doing great, Jake is good - Elise is having such wild bursts of spoken language skills, and reading and writing abilities. She is currently beginning 4th grade by age, and she is not there with the reading and writing at all, but she has recently jumped somewhat suddenly from about beginning 1st grader to ending 2nd grader level. It's a big deal! All her voluntary activities involve things like grabbing a stack of books to bring in the car for a ride, and writing up "newspapers" for her My Little Ponies to gossip about each other all over Ponyville with.

I wonder sometimes if Jake and Elise will develop (or reveal?) mental health issues as puberty really takes hold. Ananda has fairly new depression and has always had moderate anxiety. Aaron is seeming more bipolar by the day, though as stated he's in a stable period. Isaac has had severe anxiety all his life, which thankfully is mostly controlled by Zoloft for a couple of years now. The three of them have seen a psychiatrist for varying periods, and been in and out of counseling at different phases for years. We talk about it all very honestly and casually; Grant is depressed, too, and actually talked himself into meds in the process of trying to convince Aaron they're a good idea for him.

They all have plenty of friends, activities, and even romantic relationships. Nobody is actively suicidal or trying to self harm. They do pretty consistently well in school (As and Bs, very good rapport with most teachers), and are pretty artistic - Isaac writes for pleasure in addition to playing his clarinet, Aaron is really emotional about dance and spends hours per day doing that at school, and Ananda warned her visual art teacher that her summer portfolio project was "very dark," because she was "going through some stuff." He's wonderful, told her he's so glad she can use art to purge, and gave her high marks.

There are just also days when rather than getting up to go to school, we have uncontrollable crying with a side of unable-to-get-out-of-bed. Or, I wake up in the morning and find that Aaron's been up all night, mostly on the roof, and is SO EXCITED about the gorgeous sunrise and isn't even tired. Or he makes a Vine account and posts 50 different 6 second videos in one day, each of which is more erratic and bizarre than the last. That is a switch, from the 2-4 VERY EMO dramatically sad Instagram posts that were appearing each night...

Mental illness of various kinds is definitely heavily featured in all of their DNA. I spend a lot of time wondering whether we (as a generation) over diagnose, or people have just refused to be honest in the past. I think often about an episode of Invibilia that I heard over the summer, about how frustratingly HARMFUL it can be for loved ones to try to help, change, and/or cure, mental illness in loved ones - you should check it out, it's really something.

I don't know where the line is between being a teenager and real mental illness, but I do know they are over it. I do a lot of taking people out one at a time (usually at least one per day) and a lot of going behind a closed door with one person at a time, to talk (again, usually at least one per day). I push thoughts of dishes, free time, and homework from my mind to linger in cuddle piles. I spend my ten minute walk between classes glued to my phone trying to connect.

Sometimes I get sick with worry and preoccupation. Other times I'm just tense from my efforts to be endlessly available and always ready to listen warmly. Overall I know they're ok, but I still find myself begging for a hard pressure massage, listening to sad music as I drive home through the dark just to cry and get some of this out, just... ugh.

Jake and Elise have been watching Stranger Things with Grant and me. They're SO INTO IT, even though we have to pause the show every half second to explain things - Elise wants to know what is a morgue, and a coroner, and a state cop, and CB ham radio, and we end up having these wildly long talks about how most people are NOT just a "good guy" or a "bad guy," or going back over a scene to make it more clear what the heck is happening, plot-wise. They're really poised to enjoy it though, being 9 and 10. It is definitely the most intense/mature thing they've really watched, so far.

Aaron is 5'10" - ISAAC is 5'2"! Jake is 5'1". So big, the lot of them. Ananda is stuck forever at 5'3", where she's been since she was 11 (she's 16 now).

Everyone is healthy and beautiful. We do a lot of laughing, and music up dance parties, and play WAY THE FUCK TOO MUCH UNO.

I'm (still) using a rescue inhaler so often that I'm afraid I need a maintenance inhaler, and I'm not pleased about it but not sure what to do otherwise, so.... also chewing the everliving fuck out of my fingers, partially out of albuterol jitteriness.

Grant has been on a big calzone and stromboli kick lately (I'm telling you, they are the SAME THING). Shaun and Cristy have come over a lot of weekends, to eat here.

Say hey and by the way, this is a video Grant voiced, Cristy drew, and Shaun animated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FG4-9Tv3q8




Grant and I went to a backyard potluck of a local polyamory group. It was pretty great, better than either of us anticipated - every age and ethnicity, a big turnout that is supposedly usually even bigger since the weather was meh, and an informational meeting beforehand about how it is not a sex or even a dating group, but just a way to talk and connect with like minded people. They have a lot of other events coming up. It was pretty lovely. An older Indian couple pressured us to try the coconut rice they had brought, and the owner of the home compared gardening notes with me.

I also took a bunch of tulsi seedlings to a plant and seed swap (different group, if that's not obvious), and am probably going to be teaching a little, 15-20 minute class on tulsi at an upcoming swap. I have enough seedlings started to distribute them, and can bring pitchers of iced tulsi tea to share as well. There are other people showcasing their various specialities the same day.

Back to poly, I think about it a lot, and I have a guy from another city that I talk to on FB messenger most days and on the phone once or twice a week, usually while driving. And there's another guy I've met IRL a bit, and known only-online for over a year, and interact with a lot in facebook posts, comments, and tagging. He's also long distance but with a lot more realistic prospects for hanging out again... sometime. Maybe. Mostly it's all calm. I went to an art event over the weekend for the sole purpose of flirting with somebody, but that was stupid as all I really did was sweat a lot and get pissed that the food truck generators were so loud.

I'm mostly polyamorous in that I'm very active in a couple of closed polyamory fb groups where we debate philosophical shit :p




BOOKS!

I LOVED Russell Brand's Bookie Wook - could not put it down, sent Grant and others lots of pics of excerpts, had Grant reading a section of it out at a french restaurant on Sunday. In many ways it's the male version of Michelle Tea's How To Grow Up, which I consumed on the plane to and from NY - both books are about people who grew up in some kind of pain and spent their 20s in extremely dysfunctional and often very dangerous situations, but eventually figured life out enough to move on with it. I'm reading Michelle Tea's Rent Girl now, and have her Mermaid in Chelsea ready to go when I'm done. Didn't realize Rent Girl was an illustrated book until I received it - I think I like it, but it makes it a little more awkward to read out and about at some places since it's basically a memoir of her time as a sex worker, and the illustrations reflect that.

I finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and you know I really got into it just before it ended, which was awful in that it meant I got to feel a renewed pang of "no more Harry Potter to read" about a book that didn't even hold my interest most of the time. It was great as a conversation piece but personally I didn't get into it deeply on a personal level.

Also creeping slooooowly through Barbara Moore's Tarot for Beginners, which begins with lots of delicious detail about tarot history. She details four hundred year old decks of cards individually hand painted as wedding presents with portraits of the brides and grooms in mythical situations, "dripping in gold leaf" and currently held in museums. Lots of interesting ideas about the cards evolving from game playing to fortune telling and, more recently, from fortune telling to psychology, as people are using them more and more to explore their self image, goals, fears, etc based on talking through their interpretations. Not sure if that elevates the tarot or downgrades psychology, but I have thought QUITE A LOT lately about the freedom a degree and licensure gives you to act credentialed as you do all manner of suspect things in a seemingly professional way.

I was in a crystal shop the other day that was advertising moon and aura related events hosted by someone calling themselves, "Their Name, LCSW." It leaves me torn between intrigue and side eye. Is it even ethical to advertise yourself as your credentials if they're not really coming into play in the setting you're advertising in? I don't even know where that line is - you wouldn't stand in front of a car, though, and try to convince someone they should take your advice about their alternator because you are an MD. "The Engine Doctor!" Or maybe you would.

I have to go to bed now. I feel like I'm going to fall asleep right here at the laptop, and also like I'm getting sick. Hopefully that will fade back while I'm unconscious. Luckily, Grant is a cozy and home-smelling furnace to cuddle up to.
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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
nun_sense
Sep. 14th, 2016 11:44 pm (UTC)
As seems typical for you, you seem to be busier than a one armed paper hanger! I don't know how you do it!!
bicrim
Sep. 15th, 2016 03:53 am (UTC)
I hear you about the watching your kids sort of come into their mental problems. My Elliot has always been high strung, anxious, and now that puberty is starting he is dealing with more about looking different than other kids, with his ear. Izy has always been my easier one, but he is going through some shit right now, at just turned 8, and I am trying to figure out if it's physical, emotional, or both. We just severely curtailed screen time, and he is going to crainosacral therapy, so i'm sort of throwing all the things at it and hoping something helps.

I'm all sorts of intriged with your possible poly-ness, both because it's nice to have poly friends and because you are always super hot, lol.

Also, if it's not weird to say so (weirder than telling you you are hot, idk?) I'm super proud of you for being in grad school and doing what you are passionate about in academics. It's always impressive when a mom goes to school, but to do what you love and not just what will get you a "good job" one day is awesome.
altarflame
Nov. 8th, 2016 05:20 pm (UTC)
I never replied to this comment, for god knows what reason, but I've thought about it a lot - it's so epic to have a therapist (AP'ing, even!) mom telling me about watching their kids "come into their mental problems!" People really jump to thinking that if you have multiple kids with "issues," you're either a hypochondriac or a bad parent. When really almost everyone has some kind of issue, and mental health issues ARE HEREDITARY.

It's not weird for you to say I'm hot, I'm flattered :) And honestly being proud of me is cool too - I don't really have family members that seem capable of seeing value in the way I parent or the choices I make, so, it's nice when SOMEBODY does :p
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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