Wednesday, July 17, 2013

traffic school

Since I've been home, I've been working on completing an online traffic school course (I was going 80 on the 134, in case you were wondering. 80! Come on!). Came across something interesting today in the section on speed limits: Apparently, Caltrans holds a memorial service for its fallen workers EVERY April. I mean, this is an annual, scheduled event! How terribly sad. Hoping that this will be an unnecessary ritual someday soon.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Moving on

Wow. It literally took me 15 minutes to figure out how to create a new post on this thing. Guess it's been a while. Does anyone even use blogger anymore?

Anyway, I'd like to get into the habit of writing again, if only for the sake of writing something other than neuropsych reports and research papers. I miss just typing out my thoughts without having to think about structure, organization, word choice, etc. Writing without rules feels nice.

I was 24 when I moved to Pasadena and started the psychology program at Fuller in 2007. Fast forward to the present; Jeff and I packed up our place on Villa a few days ago, and now we are homeless, crashing at my parents' until we go on the road again to find a new home in New Hampshire. I was talking to Jeff about this during our last night in Pasadena, how we didn't really have a home anymore, how we'd need to find a new one. We'd be alone, just him and me, no friends or family. He said, "Don't you remember our wedding song?" and started singing, "Home, yes I am hoooome. Home is whenever I'm with you...."

I love Pasadena. I love the friends I made there, and I wish that I'd realized sooner how unique and wonderful our time together was. I'll always think fondly of how we bonded over romantic prospects and cramming for exams and proposing dissertations, and realizing our own dysfunctions and facing our demons. Growing up together, really. I'm so, so grateful. Thank you.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Why I Love Bluegrass

Thursday night I went to see the Watkins Family Hour at the Largo for the second time since I've been in Pasadena. Just as anticipated, the experience was heavenly. The Watkins siblings, Sarah and Sean, who make up two thirds of the neo-bluegrass group Nickel Creek, were joined on the stage by Crooked Still, among a few other of their "musical friends," as Sean refers to them on his web site. I just about died when Aoife O'Donovan of Crooked Still sang a cover of "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" by Marvin Gaye, backed up by a guitar, banjo, fiddle, lap steel, and stand-up bass. Inarguably, it doesn't get any more awesome than that.

This show cemented for me what I love about bluegrass music. It's a genre that is completely unpretentious. There was no fancy lighting or costuming; everyone on stage was casual in both dress and demeanor. You got the sense that the Watkins had simply rounded up a few of their friends for a jam session. Bluegrass has no image to maintain or target audience to draw in; it's simply about playing good music and having a good time. As my friend noted, this down-to-earthness was reflected in the 300-member audience, the makeup of which ranged from underaged hipsters to couples in their 40s and 50s going out for a night on the town.

And of course, the key element that makes good bluegrass so enjoyable is the amount of skill and talent it requires. Both times I have seen the Watkins and friends play, I am left sitting in my seat for several minutes after the show with the unanswerable question "How did they DO that?" running through my mind. I mean, have YOU ever seen someone shred on the banjo?

Anyway, I guess I'll just wrap it up here by reiterating what a great show the Watkins and friends put on Thursday night. Sarah, your fiddling always blows me away, and Sean, I will never understand how your fingers move so quickly up and down the neck of your guitar. Thanks for the transcendental experience. Hope to do it again soon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Clerkship Craziness

Yesterday morning was the first time since I started graduate school that I actually questioned whether or not I should continue with the doctorate program at Fuller. At about 9:20AM, I received a phone call from the one clerkship site I had been able to apply for (the Semel Institute at UCLA), and was told that all their positions had been filled.

I hung up the phone, and instantly, everything I had poured into the last three years--the extra time spent in the lab, the hours devoted to grading papers and preparing lectures, the commute to and from the hospital for the last 8 months, the time and effort I'd invested at my assistantship, not to mention all the work involved with classes and research--felt like an enormous waste of time and energy. All the insecurities that I had been holding at bay for the last several years suddenly came flooding back. I wasn't smart enough. I wasn't hard-working enough. Why did I ever think I had what it takes to make it through a doctoral program?

But then, as I felt myself starting to fall apart, I also felt the love of those around me holding me up and keeping me together. As I called my parents to tell them the bad news, I had a flashback of when I was in eighth grade and brought home a "D" in English for never turning in my work, and my dad holding me telling me it wasn't the end of the world.

So I think yesterday, I reverted back to being a 13-year-old girl who needed to be told that everything was going to be okay. And I am lucky enough to count on both hands the number of people in my life who were there to do that for me when I really needed it, through sitting with me, phone calls, texts, and e-mails. How awesome is that? Sometimes I can't believe how blessed I am.

I should end this post by informing the reader that two hours after that phone call from the Semel Institute, I received a call from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and was offered a position in their neuropsychological ambulatory clinic. I was shocked because when I had first applied to Harbor in February, I wasn't even offered an interview and I was pretty disappointed. So of course, I accepted.

I think I'm still processing everything that happened yesterday, so I don't really have a concluding statement for this post yet. For now, I can say a whole-hearted "thanks" to the people who helped me through this craziness, and that my confidence is a lot less shaky than it was yesterday morning. I just need to breathe for a little bit now...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Silly Moments at Practicum

Scenario 1: I am just about to complete an intake evaluation with a new patient, who thus far has not endorsed any symptoms of clinical significance and seems to be adjusting well to his hospitalization.

Psychology Student: So Mr. X, unfortunately, our session's just about to end. Anything else you wanted to talk about today?

Mr. X: Actually, yes. There is one thing that has been bothering me...

Psychology Student: Oh? What is that?

Mr. X: Well, those little green guys that come into my room every night right before I go to sleep. Where do they come from? How do I make them go away?

Psychology Student: (uncomfortable silence) What? well, um....uh....

Mr. X: HAAAAA---hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

Psychology Student: Dangit!

(I really did say "dangit" outloud--couldn't hold it in.)

Scenario 2: During a session, I am talking with a couple of patients about how their appetites have been as part of a screener for depressive and/or anxiety symptoms.

Mr. Y: The food's okay.

Mr. Z: The food's terrible. Hey, could you bring us some Kentucky Fried Chicken? That's the only way my depression is gonna go away.

Psychology Student: Well, what's on the hospital menu today?

Mr. Y: Some pasta or something...

Mr. Z: You want me to feel better, right? That's your job!

Psychology Student: Is it?

Mr. Z: I don't need no therapy. I need me some chicken and mashed potatoes. Mmm..that sounds GOOD.

Psychology Student: I'm not getting you chicken.

Mr. Y: Give her a break, she's just a student!

Mr. Z: I know! That's why I thought I could get her to buy me some KFC!

Nice try, Mr. Z.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chinese Opera at the Dinner Table

Dad's stories at the dinner table usually involved creating sound effects by hitting a wooden spoon against an array of glasses, metal bowls and pots of various sizes. These sounds were meant to imitate the gongs and cymbals used in traditional Chinese theater.

Hence, the stories would go something like this:

"Once upon a time, there was a boy named ______." boing!
"One day, he overslept, and realized he was late for class, so he jumped out of bed and he ran as fast as he could to school." gong-gong-gong-gong-gong (the sound of feet running)
"On his way to school, it began to rain." (softly falling rain)
"Then, it began to thunder!" CRASH (thunder)
"...and then the rain began to pour!" ping-ping-ping-ping (more raindrops) CRASH, CRASH (more thunder)

And so on and so forth. We loved it.
When you try to make everybody happy, somebody always ends up paying.