Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 Months

Over three months have passed since my last entry. For 3 months, I've been a resident of Wilmington. For 3 months, I've been a family counselor with Youth Villages. It's just funny where life leads us. Here's the update...

Working at Youth Villages has been one of the most challenging experiences I've ever had. I've encountered lots of things that I certainly didn't see in my grad program. But that's what happens when you're working with troubled teens and their families. In the last 3 months, I've been through the new-hire orientation, attained my prized "Covey" (a FrankinCovey planner that has become my lifeline...Lord only knows what I'd do if I lost it...that thing has EVERYTHING in it - it's a staple at Youth Villages and completely necessary to keep up with our chaos), experienced MST 5-Day training (Live it up! It's MST 5-Day! - sort of our motto for the week), attended my first "booster" training (in Greenville, no less...sure felt weird to be back there), and watched my caseload quickly build. This job has already taught me a ton about what I want...and what I don't want...from a career. It's solidified the lurking feeling that the mental health field isn't a good fit for me. And so, now, I'm kind of floating. While others are trying to move up in the agency, I'm simply existing from day to day, hoping that I'll wake up one morning and suddenly realize what I really want to do with my life. It hasn't happened yet though. And, unfortunately, this job keeps me so busy that I haven't had a lot of time to explore or soul search. It's beginning to look like I'll just have to find the time (perhaps I'll stumble upon some previously undiscovered 25th hour in the day?). Until then, I'll continue floating and simply doing the best I can with what I've got.

Brandon and I are still making it...and we haven't killed each other yet. Living together has been an adjustment though and we've had to make some compromises. We've had our ups and downs but, so far, it's been a pretty successful arrangement. We've made time in our busy schedules (Brandon recently started a new job) to do some fun couple-y stuff too. We went to Texas in September to visit his dad and step-mom (super fun trip) as well as Ashley and Marty's wedding. And we've done some things here in town...Coastal Cupcakes (duh), the Ghost Ship (they turn the USS North Carolina into a haunted attraction for Halloween), and Riverfest. Next weekend, we're planning to celebrate our first Halloween in Wilmington, probably by checking out the downtown scene. In November, Brandon is accompanying me to Brevard, where my family goes every year for Thanksgiving, and we're both really looking forward to is my family. It'll be the first year in a long while that a boyfriend has been with me for Thanksgiving. And for Christmas, we're splitting time between our two families. Working that out was a bit of a struggle because we both have limited time off (the first time I've EVER had so few days off for Christmas...ah, I miss being a college student!). But we figured it out and we're going to (try to) make everyone happy. :)

I recently started attending Port City Community Church and it's been a great experience so far. It's a huge church, which I thought would intimidate me, but I like it. The music is inspirational, the pastor is sincere and funny, and the message is applicable to real life. I've also joined a small group called Step 2 for people who need a little help in their walk with God. This group is really making me stretch because I don't know that much about God or the Bible. I hope to in a few weeks though (it's an 8-week group).

And that's about the gist of it! A lot has happened in the last 3 months but, strangely, it doesn't look like that much on paper. I'm interested to see what the next 3 months will bring!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Movin' On

Tonight marks one of the last couple nights I'll be spending in Greenville for a while. I figure that the last official night will be the Friday before all my stuff is moved. It's sort of hard to believe. And unfortunately, the night has been a bit lonely. I'm not sure if it's because Sam isn't home or because the majority of my belongings are now in cardboard boxes's too quiet for my taste. Leah stopped by earlier. We shared a pizza and chatted for a bit. I'll definitely miss seeing her as often as I have been.

I'm leaving for Wilmington sometime tomorrow afternoon and I start work on Monday. That's crazy for me to think about. On Monday morning, I'm going to wake up in Wilmington and go to work like it's no big deal. As if I haven't been living in Greenville for the last 2 years. As if I didn't just finish my 500 client contact hours YESTERDAY (!!!). It hasn't really hit me yet, I don't think. I received my schedule for the upcoming week via e-mail. Overall, it doesn't sound so bad. I'll be staying in the office most of the day and probably shadowing a few other therapists with their families. The earliest I have to go in is 9am (which is a bit of a relief because I thought it would be starting at 8:30am...that half hour makes a big difference) and I'll be getting off at 5pm everyday except Friday, when I get off at 4pm. I'm excited to start but also nervous. It's the fear of the unknown...and starting over. I feel like I just became comfortable in Greenville. I know where most things are and how to get there. Now, I'm going to have to familiarize myself with totally new surroundings. It'll probably happen quickly though with all the driving I'll be doing for my job. I'm a little scared too, I have to admit. Not nearly as terrified as I was when I moved to Greenville, however. At least I know people in Wilmington. Looking back on it, I don't know how I survived those first few months here. They were rough. And now, leaving Greenville almost makes me...sad. I'm definitely going to miss some people...Leah, Kasey, Jodi, Rasheeka, Bryan, Jeff, Priti, and my ECU professors. But they give me a reason to come back and visit. It's funny to think about actually wanting to VISIT Greenville. I'm going to miss some places too...Chico's, The Tipsy Teapot (one of the places Brandon and I went on our first date), East Coast Wings (for the cookie skillet, of course), my internship, and even the darn clinic. When I left my internship yesterday, I knew that I wasn't coming back and I suddenly felt very nostalgic for everything that had happened over the last year. I've had some very good days and some very bad days in Greenville. But living here has certainly taught me a lot about what I can endure. I've probably felt my weakest here, but also my strongest. And I've felt stronger here, I think, because I had to BE stronger here. Unfortunately, life doesn't stop just because you're in grad school. I hope that strength stays with me in Wilmington.

I had to say goodbye to my clients this week. Some didn't really seem to care one way or the other (one of my parenting clients in particular...but she's mandated to come so I wasn't offended). It was tough to part ways with, quite possibly, my favorite couple at the clinic. I was glad when they hugged me because I wanted to hug them too. There was also an individual who I've seen for several sessions. She's made SO much's clients like her who make you feel like you've made a difference. She hugged me too and thanked me for everything I've done, which meant a lot to me because, some days, you wonder if what you do counts for anything with clients. I always thought I'd be happy to hand over my clients because it meant I was finally finished but, surprisingly, I wasn't.

I just wanted to reflect a bit on what I'm feeling tonight. I almost started crying when talking to Kasey yesterday. She asked if I was excited about moving and, suddenly, I started to swell with several different emotions. I held it together though. I think I always feel this way when a big change is on the horizon. And so I'm off to finish up the packing and hopefully get a good night's rest. However, I have a feeling I might have a bit too much on my mind.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

With Intensity Comes Change

It's been nearly a month since I've written and the last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride. Here's an update...

The first week in June, tragedy struck my family. My dad's older brother committed suicide. It was completely unexpected (at least for us) and fairly unexplained. He had been somewhat estranged from most of the family for a while, so none of us knew much about what was going on with him. We still don't know the whole story but, apparently, he had been very depressed for a while. When my mom called to tell me the news, I just couldn't believe it. I was never close to my uncle David but I still never imagined that he would do something like that. I was instantly very concerned about my dad and my grandma, because I knew they would be taking it especially hard. For the rest of that night, I was in complete shock. I talked to my parents several times that night, making sure my mom was going to stay by my dad's side. Needless to say, it was a very rough few days. My parents insisted that I not come home, even for the service, because I was planning to visit the following weekend. It was hard not being physically with my family but I checked on them everyday via phone. It's funny, and a little unfortunate, that it takes something like that to make you realize how much you value your family, and really everyone in your life. Though this incident was definitely a blow to my family, I think it made us stronger and brought us closer together. I was really glad to be going home soon, which leads me to the next part of my update...

The second weekend in June, I went home for the first time since January and I was really excited about seeing my family. My parents had been planning a graduation cookout for me, since several of my family members weren't able to attend graduation, but I was hesitant about having it given everything that had taken place. Even so, my parents were adamant that it go on. They said it would be good for the family. And as it turned out, it really was. Family and friends came together to celebrate my graduation and it meant so much to me to have them all there. Usually, I struggle with who to visit while I'm home, because it's for such a short period of time, so I was happy to have everyone in one place. Despite the previous couple of weeks, we all had a good, light-hearted, fun time. Every once in a while, I would catch my grandma looking off into the distance and I believe she was thinking about David during those times, which is certainly normal, but even she seemed to enjoy herself. My mom put together this amazing table with pictures, mostly from graduation day, my cap and hood, and a few other things. AND my parents ordered a dozen cupcakes for me, which were incredibly tasty. :) It was a great weekend.The table my mom put together for me.

A delicious assortment of cupcakes!

The following weekend, I stayed in Greenville for the first time since before graduation. I had a lot of odds and ends to take care terminating files at the clinic and my internship. I also went through EVERYTHING in my room and got rid of what I haven't used lately and knew I likely wouldn't use in the future. I'm not good at throwing things out, because I tend to be sentimental and hang onto things for that reason, but I ended up with 4 garbage bags completely filled with stuff. It was actually refreshing to "clean out my life", especially with all these changes that are quickly approaching. I donated it all to My Sister's Closet, which is a consignment shop here in Greenville. Their proceeds benefit the Center for Family Violence Prevention, where I've been interning for the last year. It was tough to say goodbye to my things, but nice to do a good deed.

Last weekend was spent in Wilmington. Brandon and I had seen each other once in the past 3 weeks so it was great to spend an entire weekend with him. On Friday, we went to look at the apartment model again. I couldn't remember exactly what it looked like and wanted to refresh my memory so I can start thinking about where we might place furniture and such. It really is a beautiful place. Of course, the model is furnished so that makes it look better, but the place itself is lovely. The model has a fireplace, as opposed to the sunroom we're going to have - which will make the living room so much bigger. We met a new staff member too and she was very nice...we took that to be another good sign. After checking out the apartment, we went to dinner at On the Border and saw The A-Team. It was a great movie...I definitely recommend it. On Saturday, we drove to South Carolina, which was only about an hour away, to get fireworks (since they're illegal in NC - we're rebels) in honor of July 4th. On the way, I texted my mom and told her Brandon and I were going to SC. For some reason, she jumped to the conclusion that we were getting hitched...maybe before her sister ran off to SC to get married? We definitely got a kick out of that. Speaking of my mom, she was saying in Topsail Beach that weekend with my aunt and a friend of hers. Brandon and I went to visit them Saturday night and they cooked us a really great dinner. We sat around for a while, enjoying the conversation with each other and the quiet of the beach. It was much cooler with the ocean breeze. I was happy that Brandon and my mom were able to get to know each other a little better. On Sunday, we were complete bums. We slept in, got lunch, ran a few errands, got caught in a torrential downpour, and took a 3 hour nap. Both of us had some sleep debt from the previous weeks, so I think we were trying to catch up. That night, we watched Pandorum, which was a movie he'd been wanting to see for a while. It wasn't as bad as I imagined but it was definitely a typical "guy movie". I always hate coming back to Greenville after a weekend like this one.

And along those lines...I only have about a week and a half left in Greenville. That is so surreal. What is even harder to believe is that I'm only 9.25 hours away from being completely finished with my Masters degree. I had 99 to go on graduation day. I've come a long way, baby. Today, we said goodbye to the office manager at my internship, Lori. I've grown to love Lori. She's been one of the few people there who really looked out for me and never seemed to mind listening to me vent my frustrations. And she's always had such nice things to say to and about me. I'm really going to miss seeing her. Of course, her leaving made me realize that I'm leaving next week. Next week. I haven't always enjoyed my internship but leaving, like graduating, is bittersweet. And I still can't believe this whole terrible, wonderful, challenging, growth-inspiring, eye-opening (and there are many more adjectives that would certainly apply) Greenville/grad school experience is so quickly coming to an end.

Monday, June 7, 2010

That Much Closer to Becoming a Non-Student Adult

Things are starting to fall into place! I'll explain...

I went down to Wilmington this weekend with the hopes of finding an apartment with Brandon. When I thought about how little time we had to select a new home, I started getting really stressed out. This weekend was pretty much it because I'm not able to go down there for the next two weekends, then it's already the end of June. Unbelievable. So the pressure was really on. We set out on Saturday afternoon to look at places. Very unlike me, I didn't have a plan. We really had no idea where we wanted to look so we were just sort of driving around. The first place we went to was really nice and in a great location...but WAY out of our price range. A two bedroom/two bathroom apartment was $1195 a month with nothing included (except maybe trash - big deal). We didn't even torture ourselves by looking at one...we knew we couldn't afford that. The next place was on the other end of the spectrum. The price was much better but the location wasn't as great and the apartment itself wasn't impressive. It looked more like something college students would move into and we're definitely trying to get away from that. We later realized that the place didn't even have room for a dining room table, which would have been a problem for us. No wonder it looked small. Fortunately, while at this place, we picked up one of those Apartment Finder books. That turned out to be the best thing we could have done and the 3rd time was the charm. The last place we looked at felt right as soon as we got there. The woman who helped us was SO friendly and helpful (unlike the woman at the 2nd place who acted really suspiciously when we asked if the neighborhood was quiet). She showed us the model apartment and I pretty much fell in love with it. It was such a step up from the other place. This looked like an apartment that would belong to young professionals, not college students. Also, the neighborhood seemed like it would be a nice place to live and we saw some families with kids, which we took to be a good sign. The best part was that it was within our price range. We both left feeling really excited. After we got back to Brandon's place, we sat down and talked about everything, then made out a mock budget to make sure we could afford it. On Sunday, we took our applications back to the complex, paid our application fee and security deposit, and suddenly...we had reserved our very own apartment to be occupied on July 29th! The one we have is on the 3rd floor with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a nice little sunroom. We are very excited!The floorplan of our new apartment!

Today, I got a better idea of when I'll be starting my new job with Youth Villages. It looks like it'll be July 12th. That means, of course, that I'll technically be living in Wilmington before we're able to move into our apartment. How that will likely work is that I'll stay where Brandon is currently living for a week. Then, we have a training/orientation in Greensboro for a week. I'll be back at Brandon's for a few days before we can move in. It's going to take some patience and flexibility but I think it'll be worth it.

Aside from apartment shopping, the rest of the weekend was good. Kristy texted me on Saturday evening, asking if I was in Wilmington. Apparently, she was just down the road in Carolina Beach and wanted to hang out. Brooke was planning to meet up with us as well. So, long story short, Kristy, Brooke, Brandon, his roommate Jeremy, and I ended up hanging out until about 2am Sunday morning. It was a really great time. We first went to a place called The Grand Union Pub where we had dinner, drinks, and sat around chatting. The table was pretty segregated for most of the evening...ladies on one side, guys on the other...but no one seemed to mind. It was really glad to see Kristy and Brooke and be able to catch up with them. I didn't realize how much I'd been missing my cohort. I was especially impressed that Brooke came out - and I told her so - because she never hung out with us much while we were in school. I'm hoping this is the start of a new trend. Brooke will be moving to Wilmington in July as well (it's actually where she's from) and I would love to hang out with her more in the future. I'm glad Brandon was able to meet her as well. He wants to make sure I have some friends in Wilmington since he already has a few through work and such. Our next destination was called Fibbers which is essentially a pool hall but no one played pool...we just talked and joked around a bit more. Brooke took us all back to Brandon and Jeremy's place and I was really pleased to hear that she was listening to the cohort CD I made. :)

And that's the update for now!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Turning the Page

Despite no longer having classes, my days aren't nearly as free as I thought they would be. I still find myself scheduling out every day, having to squeeze things in here and there, including the things I want to do (those things I thought I'd have SO much time to do once school was over). There's so much I want to do...scrapbook, read (for fun!), go to the gym or do Wii fit, go to the pool, blog, catch up on TV and movies I've missed over the last several months, etc...but there still aren't enough hours in the day. Sometimes I start thinking, "Well, if you'd only finished your hours on time, you'd have the chance to do all those things right now." but that only brings me down and I'm trying to focus on the positive. I told someone tonight that I'm over feeling bad about not finishing my hours by graduation and I hope that's true. I just need to bite the bullet and get it done. 59.5 to go. Some people are shocked when I tell them that number but I'm not ashamed of it anymore...I've worked my butt off since January to even be there. It'll happen - I'm convinced of that. I've started going to team again. I thought it would be strange to be there with the new 2nd year cohort (though I still call them the 1st years in my head and in most conversations), it really isn't that bad. While they could never replace my cohort, I enjoy being around them for the most part. At least the banter is entertaining. And it's nice to spend a little more time with the supervisors before I leave Greenville.

Speaking of which...I got a job! Well, it's not official yet but it's in the works. I've been given a "contingent" offer, meaning I have to pass the drug test and background check, plus they have to speak with my references. I don't think any of those will pose a problem. I'll be working for an agency called Youth Villages that specializes in in-home therapy with families who have an adolescent/teenager who is at risk of being place outside the home due to behavioral issues. Yes, I know this will be a challenge. Kristy and Jodi are already working for this same agency (Kristy in Durham, Jodi in Greenville) and Sam was offered a position today. I haven't spoken to Kristy about it but Jodi seems to be enjoying her job thus far. I'll be starting in July, though I haven't found out the official date yet. There will be a week-long training, then I begin receiving families (at least, that's my impression). Last week was an interesting one for me. I interviewed for the job on May 20th and was told I'd find out by the following Monday or Tuesday whether I got the job. Well, Monday and Tuesday came and went. Every time my phone made a noise, I jumped. It was completely nerve-wracking. When I still hadn't heard by Wednesday, not only was I getting rather irritated (I hate being told someone is going to contact me and then they don't...mostly, I just hate waiting by the phone), I also was beginning to think I hadn't gotten the job. This concerned me because none of the other places I'd applied to had shown any interest. Finally, on Thursday morning, I got the call. It was SUCH a relief. Of course, with it also came some nerves. First of all, since second semester of my first year of grad school, I've been unsure if therapy was even what I wanted to do with my life. And yet, here I am, about to dive into a therapy job. Secondly, as I said before, this is a very challenging position. It's really going to make me stretch, pull me out of my comfort zone. This is both a good and bad thing. I don't usually do very well with change but there are lots of things I need to work on that I think this job will help me with, such as being more assertive. So, it's safe to say that I am both nervous and excited about working for Youth Villages.The second part of that story is that the particular office I've been hired with is in Wilmington...meaning Brandon and I have decided to live together. It's a big step but we've done a lot of talking about it and will continue to do more. This weekend, I'm heading down to Wilmington and we're going apartment shopping. We're also planning to set up a budget based on each of our expected salaries. We've each lived with significant others in the past and I think we've both grown a lot since then. We have a clearer picture of what we do and do not want. I know I've changed so much since Ben and I lived together 2 years ago...mostly thanks to grad school. And I'm hoping this will be a MUCH better experience for both of us. All in all, I'm looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life. :)

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend. Molly and I went down to Carolina Beach to visit Jason and Kenny - a trip we'd been planning for a couple months or so. It's always really nice to get away and this weekend was no exception. I arrived Friday evening and Molly had already been there for a couple hours. It was a laid back night. We ended up playing a game with the four of us, plus the boys' two new roommates and one of the roommate's lady friends (they were exes, I believe). I was surprised at how well we all carried on with one another...but mostly surprised at myself. Sometimes, I'm so shy around new people. Other times, I can interact with them as though I've known them for years. I guess it just depends on the company...and it usually helps when I have someone like Molly there as a safe base. So it was a fun night. Before bed, Jason's younger brother, Michael, and his girlfriend, Janice, showed up. Their trip was last minute and Molly and I didn't find out until we got to the beach that they were coming. I felt a little awkward once they got there. It was the first time I'd seen Michael and Janice since James and I broke up. I wasn't sure if they'd have any hard feelings toward me for being the one who ended it. They didn't seem to though. In fact, I really didn't see them much at all throughout the weekend. Not that I have anything against those two but, I was actually kind of glad that was the case. I didn't really think they would but part of me was a little worried they would ask why James and I broke up. And I really didn't want to have to explain that.Numa - We don't claim him in public ;)

On Saturday, Molly, Kenny, and I grabbed some lunch and took it down to the beach. The sun wasn't out much but it felt great outside. We sat there for a while, just talking and relaxing. I didn't realize it until later but I got a little burnt. Those clouds can be deceiving. Afterward, the three of us went to see Iron Man 2. It was the second time I'd seen it so, while still good, it wasn't nearly as exciting as the first time. I even dozed off once or twice. When the movie was over, we were all getting hungry so we swung back by the house to see if Jason or anyone else was interested in having dinner with us. It was a little disappointing when Jason said no. He hadn't hung out with us all day and, after all, Molly and I had come to visit him as well. But alas, it ended up just being the three of us again for dinner at Mama Mia's, which was very good. We hung out at the house for a bit before heading downtown. Again, we were in two groups. Jason, Michael, and Janice left first, then Molly, Kenny, and I - even though we were heading to the same place. Our first stop was the Fat Pelican, which is a favorite of Jason and Kenny's. It's a very interesting little bar with lots of character. There, one of Jason and Kenny's friends from high school, John, joined us. Before too long, Jason, Michael, and Janice were on to the next destination, The Seawitch, to hear a band play, and we followed along soon after. To be honest, the band wasn't too entertaining so I wasn't sad when they finished up at midnight. The other group decided to head home early (they were going fishing the next morning) but Molly, Kenny, John, and I moved on to The Silver Dollar, a bar famous for its karaoke. Of course, it being Memorial Day weekend, the place was completely packed. I even witnessed my first ever bar fight. After the fight was broken up, we decided to pick another place and ended up at The Dive. This was a bar as well but, unlike the others, had dancing, which especially interested Molly. I didn't plan to dance but she ended up convincing me anyway. Of course, it wasn't long before guys were trying to dance with us. That was fine for Molly but it wasn't something a girl with a boyfriend should be doing. It just really irritated me that I couldn't just dance, by myself or with my friend, without guys trying to bump and grind with me. Sometimes, I just want to dance! I need to start wearing a sign that instructs me to leave me alone. Most of the guys who gave it a shot were so drunk that they didn't even care when I told them I had a boyfriend. Ridiculous. Eventually, I just gave up trying to dance at all. Molly had a good time though. That night, Molly went to bed but I stayed up talking to John and Kenny. I think I was too wound up from the night so I couldn't sleep. It was definitely entertaining to talk to those two Denton boys though.Kenny, me, Molly, and John - at The Dive.

Sunday morning got off to an interesting start. I was woken up by Jason. My initial thought was, "Why is he in here?". But then he started telling me a story and before he even got to the end, I could tell where it was going. Apparently, they found a drunk man passed out in the passenger seat of my car that morning. My only guess is that, when I got something out of my car Saturday night, I hadn't locked it back. That would be my luck, right? I gave Jason my keys and asked him to check if the GPS was still there (thank God it's Brandon's). So the guy was harmless, I suppose, and just needed somewhere to sleep. But seriously? To be so drunk that you'll sleep in some stranger's car (but still have enough sense to lean the seat back)? Double ridiculous. Of course, I felt like an idiot for not having my doors locked. I'm so lucky nothing was harmed or missing. A little later (this whole incident took place way too early), I left for Wilmington to visit Brandon. He and I headed back to the beach and, this time, the weather was much better. We had to park miles away because it was so crowded but it could have been worse. Though we weren't out there for long, we both got sunburned - me more so than him. But it was fun. I was exhausted by the time we got back, from the sun and being up so late the night before, so I napped for a bit. Then, he grilled some burgers for dinner and we watched a movie before bed. He always cooks for me when I'm at his place. :)

And that was my weekend. The weekends have been crazy since graduation, and will continue to be for a couple more. But it's great...especially spending time with people I love. :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend Update...Like SNL

It's been a great weekend and I'm a little sad that it's almost over. Actually, my weekends have drastically improved since graduation. Even though I'm still really busy during the week, how wonderful it is to not have papers, exams, or other assignments to worry about Friday through Sunday. I feel like I have a life again.

It really started on Thursday... Brandon came to see me. I'd decided I was going to cook dinner for him because, the last couple times I've been at his place, he's not only cooked dinner but also breakfast. I chose spaghetti because, let's be honest, that's one of the few dishes I know how to make (I hope to improve my cooking skills now that I have a little more time). Dinner turned out well but, what was even better is that Brandon volunteered to do the dishes. Yes, I know, not a huge deal but it really said something to me. I was impressed. I'm not used to that kind of treatment. I haven't had it in a while. Plus...Brandon and I are actually thinking about moving in together. And seeing that the domestic responsibilities would likely be 50/50 makes me feel even better about the decision.

On Friday, I met up with Dr. O'Dekirk for lunch. This was the first time I'd seen him since February so I was very excited about it. We went to a place called Zoe's Kitchen where I'd never been before. My sandwich was super messy but delicious. I love talking with Odie because he's so encouraging and supportive...not to mention interested in everything that's been going on with me. He wanted to hear about Brandon, graduation, friends, job prospects... I usually end up talking so much about my life that I forget to ask about his...something I end up feeling guilty about but he doesn't even seem to mind. He mentioned that things haven't been going well at Meredith, due to budget cuts and such. Women's Studies was cut a while back (at a women's college...ironic). Now, Psychology is merging with Social Work and possibly Sociology. Religion has been combined with several other departments. Faculty and staff positions are getting cut now. It really broke my heart to hear that I place I love so dearly is falling apart over something like money. It actually makes me glad that I graduated when I did and didn't have to witness what's happening these days. I'm even sort of relieved that I didn't get the RD position this year like I was hoping. Maybe, if another position like that opens up in the future, the state of the college will be better.

After lunch, I met up with Kenny at the mall. I first met Kenny through the Fine family. He's Jason's roommate at Carolina Beach. I didn't interact with him much while James and I were dating but we've been in touch since Molly and I spend the weekend down there in March. We hung out at the mall for a bit while waiting for Molly to get there. He even bought me a cookie and a Coke. When she arrived, the three of us went back to her apartment where we would hang out until dinner. It was fun to have Kenny there and he seemed comfortable. He even let Molly straighten his hair (actually, I think he asked her to do it), which was amusing to watch. Dinner that night was at Carrabba's. They don't take reservations so we called ahead about an hour before we were set to arrive. Nevertheless, we ended up waiting about an hour and a half to be seated. It wasn't so bad though. The company was good, we had time to take pictures and for Molly to open her gifts, and they brought out free appetizers since our wait was so long. And the food was worth the was the champagne Sara recommended that I try. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. After dinner, all 11 of us went back to Molly's apartment for some incredible cookie cake and chatting. Then, a few of us went to Bogart's downtown for dancing. I actually wasn't thrilled at the idea of going dancing. I've noticed that I feel pretty out of place at the club. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or because, when I used to really like it, I was going through some sort of phase. Either way, I was glad when we didn't stay too long (not to mention the fact that my new shoes were KILLING my feet). Don't get me wrong, I love to dance but I think it's the atmosphere of the club. When we were at Molly's apartment, Sara suggested that we turn on some music and dance there...I was secretly hoping that would be the chosen option. But Molly was the birthday girl and it was important to do what she wanted to do. Overall, I thought the night went splendidly.
The whole group at Carrabba's.
A few of the ladies at Bogart's.

Saturday, Molly, Leah, and I met up with Sam at none other than The Cupcake Shoppe. That is my happy place. I had the flavor of the week which was chocolate raspberry and it was incredible. Leah and Sam had never been there before so I was excited to introduce them to one of my favorite places in Raleigh. Afterward, the four of us went to the mall. Sam, Leah, and I are deprived of a good mall in Greenville so we had to take advantage of the opportunity. I went in Lush for the first time, which Sara had told me about. They were playing the Glee soundtrack! I didn't end up buying anything but they had gained my respect. Eventually, it was time to go our separate ways. Molly and Leah went back to Molly's place while Sam and I took off for Southpoint for a little more shopping. Sam was on a mission to find what she calls "the monkey skirt" at Anthropology. She didn't end up getting it but I hadn't been out there in a long time and the change of scenery was nice. Sam and I had dinner at PF Changs (another first for Sam) with Jamie, which was great. We stayed at the restaurant for almost 2 and a half hours, just chatting. We hadn't seen Jamie since graduation, which feels like forever when you're used to seeing each other nearly every day. We caught each other up on our lives. Right now, we're all in the same boat...just looking for a decent job. I was relieved to see that, even though we're not in school anymore, the three of us still had a ton to talk about. I was afraid that my cohort and I would no longer have anything in common and would drift apart. I don't think I need to worry about that with Sam or Jamie. We drove back to Greenville last night and I was really wishing I had someone with me because the weather was terrible. It was dark, raining, and foggy. I'm pretty sure I went about 15 MPH under the speed limit for most of the trip because I was so nervous. People were whizzing past me, which I just couldn't understand. I was praying the whole way and, thank God, we made it back safely.

I'm a bit sad that I wasn't able to see Brandon this weekend (his friends came down to Wilmington to visit him) but I'm really grateful that I had the chance to spend some time with my ladies. Here's to more fun-filled weekends to come!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MASTER'S Degree Does Have a Nice Ring To It...

I finally have a moment to update my blog! I need to get better at this because writing these tremendously long entries gets exhausting. Well, there's really no way to recap the last 3 months as they've been crazy but I'll touch on the most important moments.

First of all, I started dating someone. He's actually someone I've sort of known for a few years now and he expressed some interest in me about a year ago but, at the time, I was dating James. His name is Brandon and he's the older brother of my friend, Tiffany. Here's the story... Last March, Tiffany got married. It was a small ceremony with just family and the couple's closest friends. In May, Tiffany and Mike had a reception to celebrate with the rest of their friends who weren't able to attend the wedding. Of course, I was there and so was Brandon. I had a "date" that night but it wasn't James (well, it was a James but not the one I was currently in a relationship with). We had a nice dinner and then went back to Tiffany's parents' house to mingle. That's where I met Brandon (it was actually the 2nd or 3rd time we'd met but probably the first time we had a real conversation). He and I started talking but he was apparently under the impression that my date was my boyfriend. Nevertheless, he asked Tiffany if she thought I would be interested in dinner. Too bad I was taken. So I didn't hear or speak of Brandon until February. After James and I broke up, I was on the verge of falling asleep one night when the thought of Brandon popped into my mind. I figured he was probably dating someone at that point...after all, it had been nearly a year. But I decided to contact Tiffany anyway, just in case. As it turned out, she thought he was seeing someone. Oh well, I thought, it just wasn't meant to be. Fast forward a couple weeks later. Tiffany came home for a visit from Canada where she and her husband are now living. I'm having dinner with her and a few other Meredith girls when she brings up Brandon. Apparently, he is not only single but interested. Suddenly, I was quite giddy. At the end of the night (after a few too many adult beverages and certainly after a few too many comments about how cute Brandon is), I scribbled my number on a piece of paper for Tiffany to give to her brother. Two days later, we had a date. To make an already long story a little shorter...the date went VERY well and after several more that went very well, we decided to make it "official" (Facebook official, in fact). And there it is. Brandon has been really great for me so far. He helped me get through the last really tough months of grad school and never stopped encouraging or supporting me when I was ready to give up. Even now, I know that I can call him after a bad day and he'll make me feel better. He's always pushing me to think more positively, which is exactly what I need. He was completely cool about meeting all my friends and family (which he was pretty much forced to do during graduation weekend). He's attentive and considerate which, let's be honest, I'm not really used to. He was a pleasant surprise. :)
Brandon and me.

Secondly, I turned 24. That seems kind of strange to me. 24. Next is 25. Quarter-life crisis? I hope not. I don't know where I expected to be at 24 but it seems like just yesterday that I was turning 21...a junior at Meredith. things have changed since then. My birthday was good. My friends and I had dinner at CPWs, a restaurant in Greenville I've been wanting to check out since I moved here but never had the opportunity. The service wasn't great and it was a little more pricey than I'd expected but the food was good and I think everyone enjoyed it. Ashley and Marty came in from Siler City, which was nice and unexpected. After dinner, most of us came back to mine and Sam's place for games, gifts, and drinks. It was low-key and relaxed. Brandon fit right in with my friends and Sara was finally able to meet some of my cohort. And not to be materialistic gifts were amazing. My friends know that 3 things in this world make me very happy...cupcakes, scrapbooking, and feminism. God bless 'em.

Third, I graduated. Wait...what was that? I FREAKIN' GRADUATED FROM GRAD SCHOOL!!! It still doesn't feel real that I'm the holder of a Master's degree. Granted, I'm still trying to finish up my hours...more about that in a minute though. Graduation weekend is a bit of a blur. Friday night, we had our cohort graduation party at Winslow's Tavern in downtown Greenville. I'd never been there before so I was excited to check it out. Everyone brought their families to the party and, probably for the first time since we started school, everyone in the cohort was in attendance. Mom, Dad, Molly, and Brandon joined me for dinner. It was a really good time, actually. I was glad to finally introduce my parents to all the people I've been talking about for the last two years. And my friends could finally see where I came from. I was especially excited about giving out the gifts I made for everyone...a CD which included a song for each person as well as several "cohort" songs. That night, Molly, Brandon, and Sam's friend, Josh, stayed at our apartment. Like a bunch of old folks, we turned in early...just to rise early the next morning. Graduation day was completely chaotic. To start, everyone was trying to get ready at the same time, Sam realized there were holes in her graduation dress, she couldn't find the ingredients to make some dips for her party later, my shoes were already killing my feet, and my bra was showing...what a way to begin the day! The graduation ceremony itself was long and, as it was happening, it wasn't really sinking in. When I walked across the stage, I was so focused on not falling, stepping out of my shoes, or letting my cap fall off that I barely remember doing it. After being "hooded", I walked by all the faculty on the way back to my seat and hugged all the MFT professors, along with a few CDFR professors like Priti, Dr. Sira, and Dr. T. Poor Damon was crying...we were his first graduating class. I'm quite surprised that I didn't cry. After such a long and trying journey, I thought I would be emotional upon it coming to an end. But I wasn't. Honestly, I think my favorite part of the whole ceremony was finding my family, Molly, and Brandon amongst the crowd, waving at them, and seeing the proud looks on their faces.
Molly, me, and Brandon after the ceremony.

After graduation, it was time to head to the clinic for a group picture, as is tradition. I was already beginning to get stressed out. Graduation ran over time, traffic was awful, and I could see that we weren't going to make our 12:00 lunch reservation. And did I mention it was HOT? Fortunately, we finally made it to the clinic and were able to push lunch back a bit. Many, MANY pictures later, we were headed to Chico's for lunch, where we met up with Leah. I'm glad she was able to meet my family and they were able to meet her. She's been a big part of my life over the last year. Lunch went well...even Dad and Grandma didn't complain too much about the food...and I had a large celebratory strawberry margarita, which was delicious and served to calm my nerves. :)
The survivors of the MFT program...and our faculty.

When lunch was over, it was time for Trish, Robbie, Grandma, and Brandon to head out. Mom and Dad accompanied me to Garner where Jamie's family was throwing her a graduation party. Some of my cohort was there as well. We didn't stay too long because, at that point, we were exhausted, but the festivities included food, cake, and a pinata...always a recipe for fun. Mom and Dad dropped me off at Meredith, where I'd be staying with Molly for the night, and went home. Sitting in my car, waiting for Molly to return, I made the mistake of listening to the CD I made for my cohort. I was barely through Sam's song when I started crying. My exhaustion coupled with the epicness of the day...I just couldn't take it. I began reflecting on the last two years and just felt really sad...probably for the first time...that they were over. It was my cohort I was mostly thinking about. I'm truly going to miss seeing these people. One day, you're together for 12 out of 24 hours and the next, you're not seeing each other at all. It's just weird.
Jamie, Jodi, Bryan, Kristy, and me at Jamie's party.

And so, that's pretty much where I am now. Graduated but still finishing my hours and searching for a job, like probably half the country. My hours are coming along slowly...I'm in the final stretch and, some days, I feel like I'm never going to finish but, as Brandon tells me, I can't give up because I WILL make it eventually. And some SERIOUS celebrating will be in order when that happens. Until then, I'm just trying to enjoy the additional free time I have since I'm no longer in class. I've started a new scrapbook spanning the last two years and I'm VERY excited about that. I love having a project to work on. I also have more time to visit Brandon, who is now living in Wilmington. And I can do things on the weekends without feeling guilty or rushing back to Greenville because I have a ton of work to do.

With grad school finished, I'm wondering what the next chapter of my life will hold. I'm both nervous and excited to find out.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

They say that all's fair in love and war...except there's absolutely nothing fair about either.

In my last entry, I promised that another update would be soon to follow...but it's been 2 weeks. My apologies. It is simply a testament to how things have been this semester and how they will continue to be. And honestly, I have to be in the mood to write. Sometimes, I just don't feel like dealing with all the emotions that are stirred up when I write. I don't divulge everything here but, even so, it's usually just easier to avoid it altogether. Everything has been sort of nuts so I'll just touch on the most important things from the last 2 weeks, starting with this weekend.

It seems just crazy to me that today is Valentine's Day. Where in the world is 2010 going? Has time always gone by this quickly? I've been told that time passes more quickly the older you get and I'm really beginning to believe it. After James and I broke up, I certainly wasn't looking forward to this day. It was to be the second Valentine's Day in a row for which I would be alone. I realize that some people don't care about the holiday or don't even believe it's a holiday at all...that it was just created to make money for card, flower, and candy companies. That's likely very true but, nothing draws more attention to your singleness than being alone on Valentine's Day. And when you're recently single, it's that much worse. However, this weekend has gone really well and it's hardly even bothered me that I didn't have some romantic date planned. Yesterday afternoon, Molly came into town. We've been planning for a while to spend this holiday weekend together, seeing as how neither of us had official Valentine's. She surprised me with quite possibly the best surprise ever. She specially ordered mini cupcakes, in red velvet (my favorite) and vanilla (her favorite) from The Cupcake Shoppe in Raleigh. On the top of each was a letter and they spelled out "Happy V-Day to my BFF". I was really...touched. It just seems like I'm always the one coming up with things like that to do for other people. How nice it was to have someone think of doing something nice for me. I told Molly yesterday that she and I probably have the most reciprocal relationship I've had with anyone - friend or boyfriend. In the majority of my relationships and friendships, I give way more than I get. Not that I give with the expectation of getting something in return but I like to know that someone thinks of me, wants to do something special for me just because I'm special to them. My amazing Valentine's Day cupcakes from Molly.

Last night, Sam, Molly, Leah, and I had dinner at Chico's, one of our favorite spots in town. Afterward, we met up with Jodi and saw Valentine's Day. It didn't phase me that the theater was filled with mostly couples. I was just glad to be seeing a sweet, feel-good movie with my girls. What better way to spend Valentine's Day? The movie actually was better than I expected. Sam and Jodi weren't crazy about it because it's not their kind of movie but I think the rest of us enjoyed it. Movies like that make me feel hopeful that there is someone out there for me. There's a song too, "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble that makes me feel that way as well. I'm hanging onto those things. It would be easy to just give up and tell myself that I'll never find "the one" (if there is such a thing and I hope there is).The ladies at Chico's.

Today, Sam, Molly, and I went to church. I wanted to introduce Molly to Discovery because it's another one of those things that makes me feel hopeful. I don't think she was crazy about it as church isn't exactly her thing but, as my best friend, I needed her to see that part of me. Being a Christian is something that I've never really embraced until now, mostly because I didn't grow up attending church as most kids did. I wish I would have because now I feel like I'm playing catch up. As much as I enjoy going to church, I've let fear of being ignorant stop me from getting more involved. I worry that I'll embarrass myself by how little I know of God and the Bible. It's something I'll have to work on and be ready for. I would also like to be baptized because I never have been and I could certainly stand to be forgiven for A LOT of things. But again, I guess that's something I'm not quite ready for. Today was part 2 of a series called "Where Are You" about actually hearing what God has to say to you. Jason (our pastor) said today that, when those little ideas pop into your head and you're not exactly sure where they came from, that's God. This struck me because that happens all the time! And usually, it's not the most appealing thing that the voice is telling me to do. By appealing, I mean comfortable...and it usually involves reaching out to other people or doing something I may not want to do but know is right. It never even crossed my mind that that could be God speaking. I'm going to try harder from now on to not only listen, but to do what God is telling me to do. For me though, I think the hardest thing is just listening. I get so wrapped up in being busy that I don't allow myself to just stop and listen.

After church, Molly and I dined at IHOP (Sam was doing pre-marital therapy and couldn't join us) and it satisfied, as always. Then we went to the mall which didn't satisfy, as always (I just really don't like the Greenville mall). Upon returning home, we both took a nap. There's something really great about a Sunday afternoon nap. I used to take them quite often but, nowadays, my Sundays tend to be so busy that I feel guilty for falling asleep. Molly being here, though, seemed like a good excuse to nap instead of getting schoolwork done. We were both hungry after waking and grabbed some dinner at McAlister's before she left for Raleigh. It's always sad to see her go but we realized today that we'll be seeing each other for, at least, the next 3 weekends. That made parting a little bit easier. When I was complaining about Greenville earlier (as I do often) she brought to my attention that I could be in Maryland or New York (where I also applied to grad programs). That was a good point. I really would be miserable then (maybe...probably).

Speaking of school and whatnot...things have been going pretty well so far this semester. Right now, my main focus is accumulating the hours that I've been lacking since we started doing therapy. I've even joined the other two teams so that I can pick up more client contact hours (and gain experience, of course). I thought I would hate it but it's actually been sort of enjoyable having all three supervisors instead of just one and being able to see all of my classmates work instead of just the 2 who are on my team. It does take up a lot of time though - my Monday and Thursday nights are dedicated to team in addition to Wednesday afternoon for my own team. I've also started seeing two separate families for in-home therapy, one with Jamie and one with Marina. I really like doing co-therapy with Jamie because I feel like she and I are on the same page most of the time. And our family is very cool so that helps. I've just been trying to grab hours wherever I can and it's running me ragged. I have to keep my eye on the prize though...May 7th...GRADUATION. Hallelujah.

As for life in general... I'm trying to really work on myself. What I mean by that is learning who I am and accepting what I find. That has been my biggest obstacle in life, I think. Loving myself unconditionally. And that's what I'm working toward now. I bought these 3 books on self-esteem and I have high hopes for them. My task now is just finding the time to read them thoroughly. I know that I'm my worst critique and much harder on myself than I am on anyone else. I'm not sure where that comes from but it permeates every aspect of my life. I am literally my own worst enemy, the biggest block to my getting what I want. So now, I want to move toward changing that. Breaking up with James helped me to realize that I've already changed in some ways. Someone pointed out to me that, a year ago, I would have taken so much more before ending the relationship. And that's true. Somewhere along the way, I've gained self-respect and a knowledge that I deserve more than what I was getting. I know that, right now, I need to be alone. As in, I don't need to be in a relationship. I have a million other things to focus on, too many other things that would be taking my attention away from being with someone. There's school, of course. And, the other night, I realized just how concerned about James I still am and, as much as I want to, I can't just turn that off because we're no longer together. He's still in Afghanistan. He's still in danger. And I won't be able to breathe easily until he's home - hopefully in July. Until then, it just wouldn't be fair to date someone else. How can I date a person while I'm still so worried about my ex-boyfriend? In addition, I have a lot to figure out about myself before I can commit to another relationship. That needs to be my mission right now. The only problem is that I can't stop myself from looking for "the one". Every time I meet a new guy or even so much as see someone I could possibly be interested in, I find myself this him? Of course not. I just have to trust that he's out there somewhere, wondering where I am too and that, someday, we'll find each other.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Where to even begin!?

Let's reminisce about Christmas for a moment. Going home these last few times has been an interesting experience, especially since both of my parents are still unemployed. In fact, it's quite depressing. I've been praying for a good while now that something will come along for them but it hasn't yet. It's hard to see your parents so down and out. Christmas is even more tough because, unfortunately, it's turned into a holiday of such excessive spending. And despite what I told them, my parents still went overboard with me. I wish they didn't feel they needed to do that. Christmas Eve was a good time. Sam was supposed to visit (since she wasn't able to fly home to Iowa) but she ended up coming down with something and couldn't make the trip. I was sad that she would be spending Christmas sick and alone in Greenville but there wasn't much I could do. Trish, Robbie, and the kids came down, bringing their new Chihuahua puppy, Fancy. If only Rubie could have made it, they might have been the best of friends. Grandma was there too, of course. We ate dinner, opened gifts, and played Wii. I was having such a good time that I momentarily forgot about everything that was on my mind. James had recently told me that guys were having a difficult time getting flights when trying to go home on leave. Of course, this terrified me and my mind instantly went to the worst case scenario. I pictured him being delayed so long that I had to be back in Greenville before he finally made it home. So that fear had been weighing heavily on me. In fact, on Christmas Day, it was all I could think about. I'm ashamed to say that I was quite the Scrooge. It didn't help that it was pouring rain. All I felt like doing was lying about and any bit of Christmas cheer was wasted on me. Very unlike me, I was happy when the day was over. Then, I didn't feel guilty about being in such a bad mood.

Fast forward a few days later... My mom's side of the family was over. That evening, James called me on Skype and, thanks to borrowing my mom's computer speakers, I heard the call even though I was in another room. It's a good thing too because he ended up asking me if I'd pick him up at the airport when he arrived on January 29th. I was THRILLED. This was way earlier than I'd expected to see him. Not to mention the fact that, a couple months ago, he wasn't keen on the idea of anyone picking him up at the airport. Now, he not only wanted me there, he wanted to stay in Raleigh that night, just the two of us. I was on a cloud for the rest of the evening.

For the next two days, I was a ball of nerves. Excitement too, of course. All these scenarios kept running through my head about how it would be when I first saw him. And as it turns out, I didn't have to pick him up at the airport at all. That Sneaky Pete took an earlier flight and was at a hotel in Raleigh (the Clarion, at which we have much history) before I'd even left my house. When he called to tell me, I flew out of there like a bat out of Hell. It took all I had not to speed the entire way. And when I saw felt like I'd just seen him yesterday. He stepped off the elevator in a white t-shirt and shorts, the only clothes he had aside from his uniform (too bad it was freezing), and it was as though the last 5 months didn't even happen. I squealed and ran at nice it was to kiss him again and feel my arms around him. It just didn't seem real. The whole night was like that. I just kept looking at him because I couldn't believe he was actually there. We both agreed that the time he'd been gone was a blur. It was a very special night...I wish we could have just stayed in that moment. Because after that night, everything began to change.

The next day, we left Raleigh for Denton, where his parents live. That's where we'd be staying for the following 2 weeks. A lot took place during those 2 weeks and it just isn't feasible for me to record everything here (or I'd be typing forever). So, for the highlights... I did some things I never thought I'd shoot a rifle AND a pistol, throw a tomahawk, and go squirrel hunting (though we didn't actually see any). I was pretty much one of the boys for 2 weeks, spending lots of time with James and his two brothers, Michael and Jason. I also got to know his parents much better and realized how amazing they both are. Unfortunately, things weren't going so well between James and I. For the sake of his privacy, I won't go into much detail here but I'll suffice it to say that he had changed a lot over those 5 months. It's funny because, that first night he was home, I was relieved that he was just the same old James. But that was just because the changes hadn't had a chance to reveal themselves. Practically living with him for 2 weeks, however, allowed plenty of time for me to see them.

To make a very long story short, James and I broke up a few days after he returned to Afghanistan. It was a decision I struggled with day and night until I was confident enough to take action. I weighed the pros and cons, I talked and talked and talked with friends...but part of me thinks all that wasn't even necessary because my gut knew what needed to happen. I haven't been the one to end many relationships and this one was especially complicated. There's a lot involved when your significant other is in Afghanistan, even after you do break up. Regardless of what happened between James and I, I loved him (intensely) for 9 months. That doesn't just stop. And, unfortunately, neither does the worrying. Even though he and I haven't talked much during the times he's been online since the break up, it still soothes me to see him on because I know he's safe. I still care about him very much and I wish things could have turned out differently. He's a good a bad situation.

And that should bring you up to least in the realm of my romantic life. I'll be writing again shortly about school issues, my general take on life at the moment, and the like. ;-)