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Archive for January, 2015

50 Page Cram

Yep. 50 pages.

It’s 3:42 a.m. and it’s been a hell of a night. I can’t fully disclose the details here in my blog (and I ask myself at this point, what’s the purpose of my blog, if not to dish out the juicy bits?!) – after all, merely explaining the situation would be painting a certain someone black, so I’ll spare the tale.

That said, the events of this absurd situation have caused me precious time – two days in fact- and now I have 30 pages to go with a quick deadline racing down my throat. To my credit, throughout the entire ordeal, I’ve managed to take 25+ pages of hand-written notes (genotypes, phenotypes, phyla, australopithecus and segmented chordates- let’s not leave out bilateral symmetry!) but this isn’t enough. I’m grateful that I do have a great memory; I’m still able to shove way more than is healthy in there- to the brim!

When I first began this major (in Psychology), when I was still working on my A.A. in Behavioral Sciences, I semi-read my work. I crammed (big time) and flew over the material without much care. I justified it by acknowledging that I didn’t understand much of it anyway: it didn’t hurt anything. But that was years ago. I’m getting up in my major and am a senior now. I hold myself way more accountable academically and I want to feel like I’ve earned my Dean’s List placing. So now, I memorize most of what I read and still choose to take hand-written notes over typed ones. It helps me to bond more with my work. (Much like my photography, which is why I still choose to shoot in all manual. Not unlike childbirth- I want to really work for my stuff so that I can truly reap the rewards with a greater appreciation.) So there will be no cutting corners here, in any part of my work.

I’m sleepy, I’m cranky…and I don’t remember wanting to crash out in my bed more than now. But, I have to press on! 10 pages left in Behavioral Neuroscience and 15 in Cognitive Psychology. Incentives and rewards are so necessary when mushing away the years in college. If I didn’t set up a reward after each assignment, I wouldn’t be so inclined to finish.

My reward after these two exams (merely hours from now) will be going to see Heidi, my oldest daughter. My other two kids (Brian and Brianna) will be going too. We’ll go to the Olive Garden or some other similar place. That’s a pretty strong incentive! These days, we’re all spread out across two states- they’re all just growing up so fast!

Back to the grind. (I’m pretty sure I got all the rant out.)

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The First Toy has Arrived

So after an insanely strong cup of espresso and 12 pages of morning note-taking on mentalism, dualism, and materialism (and many more behavioral isms), a most necessary distraction has arrived: my Lensbaby Composer! It’s only the most awesome lens in the world because it bends the sides of the frame outward- stretching it in a really trippy way. It makes for really wild images, but done subtlely, it can be aesthetically pleasing yet mild.

I’m off to go give it a spin.
Back later.


My Beautiful Life

Money isn’t the answer to life’s problems, but it sure does help.

Josh and I are in a really good place right now. We’ve been doing some deep work on our relationship. What would have ruined us emotionally a year ago, we’re able to talk through and make emotional compromises and sacrifices. It’s amazing what a few well-placed rules can do for your relationship!

We’ve integrated a few, simple rules into our relationship that we hold in high regard. Our first one is: never interrupt. Before I began studying psychology (5 years ago), I was unaware of how much I interrupted people. I would focus on their subject, and before long, without even realizing it, my thoughts would bounce around like popcorn- and I was jumping into their sentences with similar experiences or something “pertinent” I thought would add to the conversation. And not to excuse myself, but this is not an uncommon thing for many people. Few people have the mental and emotional restraint to hold back their thoughts until there is an empty space in the conversation. And not to be sexist, but men do seem to be able to master this artful skill more successfully than women.

I guess my son, Brian, helped me also more than he’s even aware of. In an argument once (our only “email battle” that we’ve ever had), he accused me of being a narcissist. These days, this is a common slag against parents. I’ve read kids saying their parent is a narcissist many times lately. At first, I was angry when I read it. But then I came to the conclusion that in his anger or not, he still made the statement for a reason. Would he ever accuse me of being a kangaroo if he were angry? Of course not! it’s not on the radar because I’m not a kangaroo and it’s obvious. But the very fact that he did call me a narcissist- even in anger- and the fact that it made me angry to read that tells me that there was some level of truth to it. It wasn’t my truth, but it was his.

When he stated that, I immediately dismissed it as youthful arrogance on his part. What does he know? He’s all of 18! But then later, in the quiet chambers of my mind, I dissected myself. Do I try to make things about me? When he’s talking about his life, do I try to make it about my life suddenly? How often do I talk about myself? How often do I mention my own situations and experiences when he’s discussing his? And how often do I interrupt others?

These were some troubling questions that actually scared me when pondering. I couldn’t deny that he was right- to some degree. Looking back, I’m so glad he said that to me. I needed the reprimand. What it caused me to do was to become more aware of other peoples’ experiences and each person’s unique “voice”. I’ve worked very hard at this since he’s pointed it out. I’m mindful- always- of not interrupting others and I’m more careful now.

So, back to Josh and I. We’ve been working on some potential land mines that had the power to rip us apart. Through our careful navigation, we’ve been able to better communicate and show care and attentiveness while the other is talking. And again, it’s amazing how that one little rule (to never interrupt) has transformed our relationship- entirely. We seldom argue any more. It’s a beautiful thing. :0)

Also, for the first time in many years, we’re in a really good financial place! We’ve been able to pay off all of our credit cards and put back more than $1,500 in savings. We only use one of our credit cards actively, the rest are 100% payed down and we’re choosing to simply “garden” them- leaving them untouched. We may live in a mobile home, but darn it- we own it. Our home and car are payed for. Also, being home owners comes with additional perks.

We picked up a 40 inch flat widescreen for our bedroom wall, so now we have this enormous queen sized bed with a gajillion pillows on it and a really awesome widescreen on the wall at the end of the bed. Also, I’ve just ordered a new Lensbaby Composer (kit) + a Super Tak SMC 28 MM/3.5 and a Carl Zeiss 35/2.4- 3 new lenses! Life is pretty damn good right now.

Brian is spending the night here with his girlfriend, Amanda, so I’m off to make some ribeyes and collard greens + toasted whole grain baguettes (with EVOO + pink Himilayan sea salt and assorted fresh cracked green, pink, and black peppercorns, of course!).

Yeah, life is really good right now. 🙂


Psych on Psych

red

I’m in the best mood in the world today. I’ve dropped Social Psychology (as I’ve already taken it on the 200 level last year) and have replaced it with Cognitive Psychology. Therefore, my two courses this spring will be Cognitive Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience.

I guess I’m in such a good mood because I found out that I’m only 8 courses away from receiving my B.S. in Psychology. EIGHT. This changes my “take two years off” plans just a bit. I thought I was still 20+ classes away but dang. I’m almost there.

So then, I’m still going to be taking a break this semester (for me, that means going half-time rather than full-time) and then this fall, after having the entire summer off, I’ll jump back in full-time (4 classes) and do the same thing in the spring of ’16 and then voila! I’ll have my bachelor’s. As I’ve already stated, I made the Dean’s List last semester, so if I’m able to maintain that throughout the next year, I’ll have my pick (pretty much) for my Master’s program. Making the Dean’s List is not just about ego! It’s “academic security”. Why would anybody want to work in a factory line when they can have an office?

Another thing I’m considering is Anthropology. I was raised on Nat. Geo.’s and so that stuff is in my blood. I’m a closet sociologist so I’m entertaining the idea of working on a Master’s in Anthropology with a concentration in Sociology. Either that, or I’ll stick it out in Psychology and work on my Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, specializing in OCD neuroses and perhaps choose to freelance- working with hoarders and other OCD-based disorders or even “Skype-therapy”. Here’s my personal theory: going in to a clinical environment (i.e. therapist’s “office” with motivational posters on the wall) will produce “clinical results”. It’s comfortable to the therapist, because he or she spends a great deal of time there. They eat there, they write there, they chart the patients there. But for the patient, or “client” (so very 2015 and politically correct), it’s a foreign environment and it makes one feels as if they’re sitting in their Aunt Ida’s bedroom, being uncomfortably interrogated. Why not spend an hour of that patient’s time in an environment where he or she is comfortable and better able to express themselves? These days, the average person spends much of their free time either on their cell phones or laptops- which means- the average person spends much of his or her free time in any area of a social media platform: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. or texting.

My last 3 visits to the doctor proved my theory (sort of) in that 75 % of all people were on their cell phones for the duration of my wait in the waiting room. 75! Those people won’t likely be reading a book or putting puzzles together in their spare time. They’ll be on their cell phones or laptops at home too. So why not focus on a therapy program that allows people to log in on Skype for an hour? I know that this type of therapy does exist already, but it’s in its infancy. People need face time with therapists- I agree. But going to meet a therapist, whom you’ve never before met, and sitting in a sterile environment is very much like going on a blind date and going straight back to the date’s house; it might be pretty uncomfortable. People like to “build up” to that stage. Why does therapy have to be different? We’re dealing with psychologically and emotionally fragile people (for the most part). Being a former patient, I can tell you it’s damn uncomfortable going to a therapist’s office and her asking straightaway, “Why are you here? What do you expect to get out of therapy?”

Future therapists: Don’t ever say this to your clients! it’s pretty off putting. Better to tell them that you’re glad to see them and explain what YOU hope to gain from meeting with them (so that they might feel welcome and comfortable) and it also gives the client an idealistic outline or shape of what they can expect. I digress.

So yes. Skype therapy for perhaps the first 5 sessions so that the client can feel comfortable before taking that next step of “leaving their house to go to a therapist’s office”. Walking in on a cold call visit, basically, can heighten anxiety in itself. Skyping first would build a structurally sound foundation of trust so that the client would know what to expect to some degree. Why hasn’t the psychological world realized this and integrated it into their practicum/interum already? As I mentioned, it’s in its infancy still, so I’m in a good place to better explore this area academically. I wouldn’t mind doing my own investigative surveys on the subject in the future.

Any way it goes, I’m really close to obtaining my bachelor’s so I’ve got a new found desire to push on, and I’m excited about it. Bipolar Barbie- if you’re reading this, don’t look over your shoulder cause I’m right behind you! 🙂

Another reason I’m in such a good mood is that I’m now sleeping in the most awesome bed in the world. It feels like I’m floating on clouds all night; the mattress is a pillow top, but still firm. It’s pure heaven! And it doesn’t hurt having a human meat pillow that’s as gorgeous as Josh too…

Josh guitar


Spring Semester

You read that correctly. It’s positively confirmed that I’ll be returning within a week to begin my spring semester. BUT- it’s only part time- 2 courses (because I do need a break). I’m used to tackling 12-21 credit hours per semester and so this will be a cake walk. (Sort of.) My two chosen classes are Social Psychology (on the 300 level) and Behavioral Neuroscience. Taking two courses isn’t hectic at all. I’m stoked that I’ve just been inducted into the Honor’s Society at IU East. Hooray! 🙂

HonorsSociery

That’s pretty rockin’. I’m pretty sure I’m only 27 credit hours away from receiving my B.S. in Psychology. I’m also pretty sure I’m addicted to going to school. Some people are adrenaline junkies; I’m a grade junkie. I still have a whole ‘nother week to loaf around and I’m taking full advantage of it.

Hasta luego, amigos.


“My Death Needs to Mean Something”

Those were the words that were found in Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note that was posted on all of her social media accounts shortly after her death. Leelah chose to commit suicide because she felt that the life she was given to live was too painful to bear. Ultimately, she was not allowed to be who she wanted to be.

Leelah Alcorn was born Joshua Alcorn. She was born into a moderately strict religious home in which the gender you are born with is the gender you are expected to die with. Leelah took a great risk sharing her conflicting feelings with her parents as a young teenager. I too am a Christian and come from a tightly-woven Pentecostal family. In families like ours, “gender reassignment surgery” (or the like) would be asking for a one-way ticket to Exile Island where you would be expected to live out the rest of your days with spiritual leprosy as a complete and utter outcast. Sadly, this is the perspective of many Christians today.

Leelah was hoping to find love and acceptance and most importantly understanding when she told her parents that she’d felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body since the age of 4. If your own parents can’t accept you for who you are, then who can? She was shocked and heartbroken to be met with resistance, denial, and total rejection. Her parents told her it was “just a stage she was going through” and that “God doesn’t make mistakes”. They immediately banned Leelah from all social media for the next 5 months, taking away her cellphone and laptop. They also deleted her Facebook account and restricted her social activities to church-related group activities mostly, and when Leelah wasn’t being conditioned in such ways, she was restricted to her bedroom. They also forced her into Christian-based “reparative therapy”, which is, in short, a  “corrective therapy” for homosexuals and and people who identify as transgender.

I couldn’t imagine, as a Christian, somebody forcing me to go to “transgender therapy” where I would be told that I would have to be made into the opposite sex- including sexual reassignment surgery. I can only imagine how Leelah must have felt: She was made to feel like a leper in her own home, school, community, and church.

Leelah pre-scheduled her suicide note to post to her social media outlets following her death with one final request, “Fix Society. Please.” On the early morning of December 28, 2014, she walked four miles in the cold to interstate 71 and at approximately 2:17 a.m., she stepped out into the highway and into the path of a tractor trailer.

Leelah Alcorn

Leelah AlcornMJ

Her family’s rejection of her chosen identity was more than she could bear. It breaks my heart that her mother still lives in denial- still choosing to call her Joshua instead. Even after Leelah’s suicide note had been posted, having begged other parents to never reject their children’s rights- including their right to choose their own gender- her mother posted this message to her Facebook account:

“My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to Heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

They rejected Leelah in life, and they reject her in death. That’s beyond heartbreaking to me.

Jesus’ Words have forever transformed my heart and life. When a group of men had gathered around a woman to stone her (having accused her of adultery)- each having a handful of stones- Jesus looked at them and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

One by one, they all dropped their stones. Jesus said to the woman, “Go thy way and sin no more.” He forgave her and loved her. Completely. One of my friend’s once said something to me that I’ll never forget. She said, “The sound of forgiveness is the sound of a stone dropping.” I love that. And although Leelah’s life choices weren’t a “sin” to her, the fact remains in many religions, a transgender lifestyle is viewed as sinful. I think we should stop expecting other people to “live up to our expectations” but rather deal with our own insufficiencies and our inabilities to accept his or her alternative lifestyle. After all, our lifestyle is “alternative” in their eyes.

I do not “support” suicide, but I most certainly respect any person willing to die for his or her cause. Leelah didn’t commit suicide because she was “so depressed”. Not really. She committed suicide because she felt that she had a cause worth fighting and dying for. Soldiers do that every day. Who’s to say that any person’s cause is more important than another’s?

So for Leelah, I’ll do what I can so that she didn’t die in vain. As a parent, I’ve let my kids know (and they all know this already) that I will support them always– no matter who they choose to be. True love is all-encompassing and non-conditional. If my children choose different genders, religions, whatever- I will love them just the same. It’s not my “job” as their parent to love them, it’s my privilege. I only wish Leelah would have received the same support from her parents. She may have chosen to stick around…

It saddens me that Leelah’s parents are wanting to put Joshua Alcorn on her tombstone, instead of Leelah Alcorn. I have just gone and signed the online petition so that her parents might honor Leelah and give her her chosen name for her tombstone. Already, there are over 200,000 people who have signed the petition. If you too think that Leelah should have the right to her own name on her tombstone, you can go here and sign the petition. I think it’s what Leelah would have wanted.

To any parents out there who may read this and defiantly cling to your strong Christian roots- I admire you. I cling to mine too! But let’s do what Jesus wants us to do above all else, and that is to love others- just as they are; not who you think they need to be:

 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1st John 4: 7-8

” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

-John 13:34

In memory of Leelah Alcorn (Nov. 15, 1997- Dec. 28, 2014)
Leelah Alcorn

If you’d like to support Leelah’s right to have her name on her tombstone, you can sign this petition (and/or reblog this post).

Thanks for viewing! x


Fresh Paint- Fresh Life

Josh and I are absolutely ecstatic. We’ve moved into Brianna’s former room and are sleeping like kings and queens! I decided to not go with the brown, multi-paneled section bed that I was going to give Josh for Christmas, and instead, bought him this [not my pic]:

bedmj

It retails for $1,200 (new) and it’s almost identical to the one I bought him- down to the ornate carvings.  I, however, (being the cheapskate that I am) only paid $100 for mine on Craig’s List. It’s in excellent shape! I gave my son, BrianBob, $30 to go and fetch it with me and assemble it in Josh’s and my new (freshly painted Granny Smith Apple green) room as a surprise for him. The posts are so high we had to unscrew the very tops because they went up and into the ceiling. It doesn’t take away from the overall aesthetics however. Josh and i were able to find a mint condition queen sized box spring and pillow top mattress (barely used) for $105. Unbelievable. Lucky for us, Mary and Gerry- the mattress sellers from Craig’s List- had a small lumber yard right in their back yard, as Gerry was a carpenter, so we were able to pick up 3 bed slats while we were there. We threw in an extra $20 because Gerry helped us load it all onto our Rodeo with his twine, out in the cold.

So then, the total price for a like-new queen sized 4 poster bed with like-new queen sized box spring and pillow top mattresses comes to a whopping $205. That’s an insanely good deal. 🙂

Being the smart woman that I am, I know to get my guy something for Christmas that I can enjoy too. (Did I mention the cheapskate thing?) Josh was really happy with his gift. His back had been hurting from our beat up twin–sized bed, so it was long past due.

I just found some brand new, queen sized Egyptian cotton steel blue w/brown accents sheets (still in their original package) on Craig’s list for $15 that we’re going to go snag tonight. I also ordered a microplush (chocolate brown) comforter set and 6 pillows (2 king- 4 jumbo) along with a thick, queen sized memory foam mattress pad + a gorgeous chocolate brown microfiber queen sized sheet set and  pillow cases from Ebay- all new.

Eventually, I’m going to add adjoining bars at the top and canopy drapes on all sides. It’s going to be the world’s most awesome bed when I’m done with it- guaranteed. As for now, it’s so high up that I have to actually jump just to get onto it. Our super fat cat, Meatball, climbed onto it last night and hasn’t moved since. He went to the kitchen to eat and came straight back to this bed. I believe he’s claimed his spot!

As much as I love Christmas, etc. I’m relieved it’s all over and I can begin my new life. I’m going to set up my office in the sunny kitchen area- phone/fax/etc. and give myself another week of lounging around before getting good and busy with my art/photography.

Happy 2015 to all. x