Holy hell, where is this year going?

Sooooo I haven’t updated since January.  And I don’t know how that happened.  But you can have bullets!

I am mired in thesis hell.

Yes.  This is pretty much summing up my life lately.  I’ve done three drafts of my introduction/literature review.  I’m hoping this was my last draft.  I cut it from the original 35 pages, to 23, to 17.  My adviser, Dr. LW, is on her way to Ireland at the end of this week (the lucky duck) and we won’t meet again until the end of the month.  Which is when the edits to the body of my thesis are due.  My actual thesis is due to Dr. LW on April 10th, then any corrections and the COMPLETED thesis are due to my editor, Dr. W, on April 14th.  The anniversary of the day Lincoln was shot.  Let’s all pray that’s not an omen.

– I am sick.

I talked briefly before about having chest pains and shortness of breath.  I thought it was pneumonia or bronchitis, one doctor even thought it was asthma.  Imagine my shock, kiddies, when I went to the hospital on February 25th and discovered that it wasn’t bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma, but a pulmonary embolism!  Yee haw!

So I’m on Warfarin (Coumadin) and Arixtra (shots in my stomach, what joy is mine) until further notice.  I get blood tests every three days (joy!  Rapture!) and I’m seeing a hematologist next Friday.  I have difficulty sleeping at night, the gym is out of the question, and my lungs hurt.  But the good news is, I’m not dead!   Hopefully we’ll find out the cause of the embolism next week, or shortly thereafter.  Fingers crossed.

I finished Book 1.  No, seriously this time.

As in, I printed out the complete manuscript yesterday, complete with the cover art and illustrations that Jess drew, and bound it.  I sent it to beta readers last night.  Guys, this is terrifying, and amazing, and exhilarating.  My baby — OUR baby — has finally seen readers, has seen the light of day.  And I am so, so proud of it.  And scared.  Holy crap, this is our baby and now I wait and see what other people think.  I mean, I love it.  And I know not everyone is going to.  But…I want them to!

I am not going to June Wildfire.

Due to the aforementioned blood problems, I’m paying $40 a week for the great honor of putting those shots in my stomach.  And with ticket sale date for June Wildfire in a little more than two weeks, there is no way I can scrape together the $120 for a ticket right now.  I’ll be going to the one in August, if I have to take money out of my tax refund to buy the ticket.  As one of my friends said, Wildfire is my thing.  And I want to do my thing.  But it’s not practical or affordable right now.  So I will do the adult thing and suck it up.

 

All right, that’s enough for today.  Going to try and write more than once a month!

I want the world to know I burn for you

OK.  So here we are, almost a month in to 2014, and I feel quite behind.  Not behind where it counts, on my thesis (157 pages and counting) or on my books (finished the rough draft of Book 3, Book 1 is almost finished and ready to go to beta readers, and Book 2 is in its first round of edits), but on self-care, and setting my goals for this year.  Last year, I made a list of 10 goals, and I achieved six of them.  Not too shabby!  In the last month or so I’ve realized that I’m definitely a person who needs something to strive for, something to drive my nature.  2013 was SUCH an amazing year.  As soon as I got over the hump of my divorce and setting massive goals for myself, I went on to hit most of them — and feel really good about myself in the process.  So without further ado:

Goals for 2014:

1. Graduate.  Well, this is a no-brainer.  Right now I’m slated to graduate on May 15, 2014.  I’d say “fingers crossed”, but I don’t believe luck has anything to do with it.

2. Complete my Master’s thesis.  Obviously this goes along with 1.

3. Get a second job.  Ah, this is the toughie.  My hopeful plan is to start shopping my resume even before graduation, in the hopes of getting a summer job.  I’d love to be teaching this summer, and hopefully I’ll score a teaching position by fall.  But even if I don’t, I’ll need to find a second job to pay for my student loans.  Even if I have to work retail, I’ll have to grab something.  I’m fortunate enough to have a really great, secure day job right now that pays enough for me to live on (but probably not enough when the student loans start rolling in, come June).

4. Finish C25K.  I was doing SO WELL with this last year!  I made it all the way to Week 7 before arthritis sidelined me, and between school and the book, I gave up on it.  I restarted C25K this week, this time with a 1.0 incline, so I didn’t feel like I was completely back at square one.  So far, so good.  I’m doing Week 1, Day 3 today.  We’ll see how this goes.

5. Climb Bear Mountain.  I climbed Mt. Washington in September of 2013, and it was an amazing, amazing experience.  And one that I will never repeat.  In hindsight, with my physical issues, it was dangerous and foolhardy and I was in no way prepared for it.  But that doesn’t mean I want to stop climbing in general.  Drea suggested Bear Mountain in CT for this summer, and I think I’ll go for that with her.  Could be fun!  And at 1/3 the height of Washington, it isn’t nearly as dangerous.

6. Work out an adult budget.  *sigh*  I am so bad at this.  I’m great at paying my bills, I’m great at putting money away, I’m not so great at avoiding skidding into payday with minimal money in my checking account.  This needs to stop.  ESPECIALLY with the possibility that I very well may be living on my own come May, with student loans rolling in.

7. Stop having kittens over it and send the book out to more beta readers. Drea read Book 1 and she loved it.  She keeps asking for more.  I need to get over my ridiculous fear and send it to other people.

8. Get over my fears and ship the book to a publisher.  Damn right.

9. Work on my fire spinning, get more prolific with staff and flow wand.

10. Lose at least 10 lbs.  I’m on MyFitnessPal and I’m back to three times a week at the gym.  Hopefully this sticks this year.

I think that’s quite enough to be going on now.  Obviously I’m allowed to add goals as I go.

 

Not how I wanted to start off the year…

I’m manic today.

Two of my books are missing for my thesis.  Two.  I ordered them from Barnes and Noble a week and a half ago, and as of last night, I hadn’t seen them.  They were delivered by #$(#&$*(@&$ UPS to the BACK door of my apartment building, which is someone else’s private residence.  Usually, when this happens, they put the packages on the back steps leading up to my apartment.  Not so much this time.  I fucking hate UPS, I really do.  And they didn’t even really respond to my complaint, just said that I had to be a registered UPS user to file a complaint.  Fuck you very much.  I’m hoping that one of the boys who live downstairs is home this afternoon and that they have my package.  If they don’t, I’m well and truly screwed for my deadline for next week.

I have double- and triple-booked myself for this week, which is also bad.  I don’t want to spend every waking minute doing thesis but that might just be exactly what I end up doing.  I’m on my fourth cup of coffee today, that should carry me at least until 1 AM.  Lunch was nonexistent — the soup that I had in my car apparently froze and then thawed into sludge and was inedible.  So I’ve had toast and coffee all day, whee.

I have to spend tomorrow afternoon at Verizon (my phone contract with David is up as of today and I need to go on my own plan) and Wednesday afternoon at the DMV (have to register my car in my own name).  What joy is mine.  Yes, I would love to spend something like $1000 this week.  I don’t even HAVE that money in my account, I’m going to have to chip into savings, which really upsets me because I have more in savings than I’ve ever had and I HATE chipping into savings, but at the same time, I knew I would have to do that when I got the car signed over to me ANYWAY, so it’s not the end of the world.  Hoping that I can get a decent phone with my free upgrade through Verizon and that I don’t have to pay for anything really up front.

I do have SOME good news.  After a fruitless six weeks of trying to have my lung issues diagnosed, I finally went to Urgent Care in Newington and they took care of it.  All of my tests (EKG, chest x-ray) came back negative, and I apparently have the heart of an 18 year old (which is awesome), but my cough is horrible, really raspy and hacking, and I’m having trouble breathing.  So the doctor is treating me for pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma.  I’m on prednisone, a z-pack, and an inhaler.  And I’m happy to say that this battery of meds is working.  I made it through the night on Saturday without choking or gasping for air, and my lungs don’t feel quite so heavy.  So SOMETHING is working.  And that’s great.

I am nine days away from the deadline for my lit review and my perfectionism has resulted in procrastination which has resulted in panic attacks.  The three p’s of being a Virgo.  Amazing.

Work is insanity.  My boss’s email got hacked, and we’ve been inundated with phone calls all day about it.  One of my coworkers is even more manic than I am, and I just got sniped at by a woman who misunderstood me on the phone.

Is it Friday yet?

Nope Nope Nope

Well, that was a kick in the teeth.

My adviser was stunned, and pleased, when I dropped the final 62 pages on her desk yesterday. Work clocks in at 122 pages (two more than necessary, how about that?) and I was kind of…thrown? I mean…don’t give me an assignment that you don’t expect me to finish. I am a force to be reckoned with.

What stunned me, and upset me, was when she told me that, even though I am AHEAD of schedule, that wonderful six week Christmas break she promised? Not going to happen. Because in order to STAY on schedule, I need to have the 10-20 page literature review finished by January 15th.

Which is BEFORE Christmas break ends.

That six week Christmas break? Is going to be about one week.

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I’m all right. I’m disappointed, but really. In the great scheme of life, is this really that bad? No. I’m dog-tired and I’m frustrated as all hell, but…it is what it is.

I thought about starting today, but even looking up sources made me want to flip my desk, sooooo figured that was a bad idea. I’ll start on Saturday. The good news is, I already have part of it done because I needed to write a lit review for my prospectus, so that’s a good thing.

The OTHER good news: I no longer have to pay tuition. To stay as a continuing student, working on my thesis, I have to pay a $40 “matriculation fee” (translation: please give us more money and we’ll continue to provide you access to the computer lab and parking lots. Dickbags) per semester until I am done. Which will be one semester. It will be. I refuse to believe that I will be doing this a year from now.

Class of Spring ’14 or bust.

 

In happier news, once I got over my frustration and rage yesterday, I had a lovely evening Christmas shopping with Ryan and Jess.  We went to Blueback Square in West Hartford, ate at Cheesecake Factory (and yes, I have a whole lunch in the fridge at work because damn those portions are ridiculous), went shopping (I got two presents yesterday, one for Drea and one for Christina, and I am done shopping for both of them now), went to Meriden Square to get cheap wrapping paper, and then to Hubbard Park to look at the Christmas lights.  It was a fun evening, which was just what I needed after the disappointment yesterday.

Today: more Christmas shopping (I have switched from debit to credit card, not necessarily thrilled with that but running out of options) and tomorrow is just going to be a nice, easy wrapping and tea evening.  This weekend we’re supposed to get a blizzard, so I’m planning on bunking down wherever and getting some knitting done.  I have only one real Christmas knitting project left, so there’s that.

Sure, it’s not going to exactly be the relaxing Christmas break that I thought it would be, but…it’s STILL a Christmas break, and it’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me this year BY FAR.  So there’s really not much to complain about.

So this is Christmas

As of 4:30 PM (approximately) today, I will be on Christmas break for six weeks.  Six lovely weeks.  And they are already jam-packed with excitement and plans and I just know it’s going to fly by as if it never was.  But I don’t care, because it will be delicious, every minute of it.

The funny thing is, I love Christmas, but I can’t remember a time when I was less in the Christmas mood than this year.  And it has nothing to do with my mood; I’m happier than I’ve been in years.  I just have my brain going in every single direction lately, and it is impossible for me to pin it down and turn it into a Christmas mindset.   I can pretty much chalk that up to two things:

Time: I haven’t had any.  I’ve been so incredibly focused on thesis and just GETTING IT DONE, I haven’t even thought about Christmas or the fact that it is now two weeks away (*shudder*).  I haven’t baked, I haven’t even played Christmas carols in the car, I’ve seen two Christmas movies (“The Holiday” — which was okay — and “Home Alone”, which I love), and my Christmas shopping?  Well, I made a list today.  That’s progress, I suppose.

The book.  Or books, really, as there will be five eventually.  Two are finished.  Well, finished in the rough draft sense.  Book One has had two thorough edits done by me, and is waiting for Jess to get through it with her own editing.  Book Two is on the shelf for now until I finish Book Three, which is in progress.  Book One was written from August – October, Book Two was written (in part) for NaNoWriMo, though I had some chapters done already when I started (that I didn’t count towards my word count, lest any of you think I cheated at NaNoWriMo — I will assure you, I won on my own merits).  I am so thoroughly wrapped up in this series, it has become a massive part of my day-to-day life, and I’d much rather listen to the “book soundtrack” on my iPod than Christmas music (do other people have this?  I’ve heard it’s a thing, but I definitely do it — pick out “perfect” songs and put them on one playlist).

But I am seriously behind on Christmas and that ends today.  After the thesis meeting I am doing some serious Christmas shopping.  And I am doing more tomorrow.  And Christmas crafting is also happening.  Every year I tell myself that I am not doing Christmas knitting, I am not, and somehow, it always ends up happening.  I have two projects, both about three-quarters done, that need to be finished by next weekend.  Piece of cake, really.  And then a couple of other projects that need doing.

For those of you playing the home game, my lungs are still shit — I woke up gasping in the middle of the night last night, which is new and different — and all tests have come back normal.  Sweet.  Of course, I’m happy that there’s apparently nothing horribly wrong with me, but at the same time, it is frustrating when people say you are “Fine” and you feel anything BUT fine.  I’m on a new anti-inflammatory so I am hoping that does the trick.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the first Christmas tree I’ve had since 2011, and my little Fontanini creche from the early ’90’s.  I’m missing a couple of ornaments, which bums me out, and I need to search the house a little better, I guess.

IT IS FINISHED (for now)

IT. IS. DONE.

120 pages in eight weeks. I never thought I’d see the end of it, but there it is. At approximately 8 PM last night, I typed the last words of Chapter IV of my thesis. It was done with a little less than 48 hours until deadline.

I am exhausted, but I am thrilled.

katy perry dancing

footloose

brad pitt

Let the six week celebration commence. I did it.

Little Victories, Week 47

Welp, we haven’t done one of these in a while!

Reached 75 pages on my thesis.  Over halfway there, with about 45 pages to go before the chapters are completed!  I can do this!

Finished the rough draft of Book II of “Fallen Beyond Salvation”.  Guys, I am so in love with this book series.  You don’t even understand.

– Started hard editing Book I.  Editing SUCKS.  I’ll tell you that for free.  I get myself through it by telling myself, over and over again, that it will be worth it, that after the hard edits are done, I can send it off to beta readers and we can actually START getting feedback.  I’m nervous as hell, but hopefully it will go well.

– Completed NaNoWriMo!  This is something I’ve wanted to do since I first heard of it in 2006, and I managed to do it!  I hit 50,000 words yesterday.  So very happy with that.

– ALMOST finished a baby hat for a shower I’m going to tomorrow.

I’ve done pretty well this week, guys!  I’m getting stuff done, and I’m making myself happy.  And as a nice change from the last, oh, month or so, I’m sleeping a lot more and drinking less coffee.  That realization, a few weeks ago, from Dr. LW, that I was not going to finish my thesis by December (and that it was insane of me to ever think that I would) was really a wake-up call that I could not keep putting myself through this.  I needed to slow down, try to enjoy life and take care of myself a little better.  Fortunately, I’m learning, and it’s getting a little easier.  I’m going to be great.  Gonna get it all done, balance everything in my life, hit every deadline, and make it all happen.

I’ve got this.  In the end, my grandfather was right.  2013 was my year.

Confessions of a Neophyte Historian

I am more excited about the prospect of working towards my Ph.D. than I am about doing research for the M.A. that I still haven’t obtained.

This might be a problem.

My life, summed up in two things.  My adorable “perpetual kitten” Tabitha (Tabby), and my thesis prospectus (submission two of three, there were still edits remaining after this).

It is so hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that today marks the 150th anniversary of Pickett’s Charge.  I am so sad that I wasn’t able to financially or physically swing attendance at the 150th anniversary re-enactment down in Pennsylvania.  I imagine that it must have been a sight to behold.  I toy with the idea of making it down there for the 175th anniversary, but holy shit, I will be 54 years old then.  Damn.

Apparently there was even a rainbow there this week.  How beautiful.

Photo courtesy of mike-generallyspeaking on Tumblr

History is just so raw, crippling, stark, and yet magnificently beautiful , all at once.  This is our heritage. 

If you think it has nothing to do with you, because you were born almost 150 years later, you could not be more wrong.

Rather than what I’ve lost

One of the perks of having a roommate who works in the university registrar’s office is getting to find out what you got for grades the moment they’re handed in.  The deadline was last night at midnight, and Sam was able to check my grades today.

A and A.

4.0 a second time in a row.

As soon as I saw it on the computer screen, I became the total loser who was crying at work.

I kind of knew I had it in the bag.  I mean, Dr. S gave me perfect scores on every paper that he gave back to me.  Granted, the three that I didn’t get back (because it was the end of the semester) were all the biggest, most important papers…but I had a feeling I wouldn’t completely bomb them, which is what I would have had to do to not get the A.

But it never gets old, it really doesn’t.  I can’t wait until I actually see the grade on the website, see what my new cumulative GPA is, and can actually go public about it.

 

 

Timing is everything.  And timing might be very fitting, really.  Sometimes, having a good memory can be difficult.  I had a historian’s brain long before I set out to be a historian.  Dates, to me, are very important.  “It’s just another day” doesn’t register.  No, it isn’t just another day.  It is the only day of its kind, it will never pass this way again.  I remembered, Friday night, that Saturday, May 18th, 2013, would have been my five year dating anniversary with David.

On my way to the bar Friday night, for Samantha’s graduation party, I drove alone, and I listened to music, and I thought.  Usually when I’m in the car and listening to music, I think about loss.  I think about the things that aren’t, the things that should have been, and what can never be now.  I don’t usually drive, and think “Yeah, I’m good.”  Except last night, I did.

Part of it was due to a well-timed text from my close friend Kim, telling me how “fucking proud” she was of me for getting that 4.0.  Part of it was because I was thinking about how I had rocked my C25K run the day before.  These are things I didn’t do before.  This is not the person I was going to be, when I was married to David.

Don’t get me wrong.  The years I spent with David, from May 2008 to September 2011, were the best of my life, hands down, at least thus far.  They filled me up in a way nothing had before.  I was deliriously happy with him.  Because he made me happy.  Not because I made myself happy.  And then September happened, and the year and a half of indecision…and then the decision came, and I had to make myself happy.

I found myself.  I found things that made me happy, instead of him making me happy.  I went back to school.  I might have gone back anyway, if I’d been with David, but probably not, because he was never that concerned about it.  If I had told him I wanted to go back, he would have backed me to the hilt, but I don’t think he would have pressured me to do so, and I probably would not have.  Running?  Hell no.  I was good enough the way I was, right?  Overweight, out of shape, I was fine, right?

But look at me now.  Look what I’ve done.  I don’t say this to brag, I’m not trying to be immodest.  But for so long I have been thinking about everything I lost, everything I wouldn’t have.  A husband, security, a family, a house.  And that’s not true.  It will happen.  Just not right now.  Someday, with the right person.  But not right now, because the time isn’t right.

It doesn’t even matter.  Look at me now.  Look at all the things I had convinced myself I couldn’t do, that I am doing now.

Five years ago, I was happy with C’s.  I was just trying to keep my head afloat at school.  Straight A’s?  4.0?  HA.  But I did it.  Not once, but twice.  Two semesters in a row.  I could never even conceive of that when I was 24 years old.  Not even on the radar.  But I did it!  Twice!  And at a time in my life when everything was caving in, everything felt like it was falling apart.  As Jess said earlier, “It was a crap situation but you adjusted and totally BAMFed it.”

Running.  I was never a runner.  And now I go to the gym three times a week and I run my little heart out.  Even though Dr. L told my parents, back in 2005, that I should never do any high impact sports anymore, even though he said my body was prematurely aging because of the trauma of the accident.  I listened way too long, to those voices of doubt, that told me that I was too beat up and broken to do physical activity.  I’m done with that.  I’m going to finish training, I’m going to get to the point where I can run 5Ks, and I’m going to go further.  I’m going to listen to the words my father said to me, when he heard the doctor’s words: “Don’t let anyone limit you.”  

Because there are no limits.

I have looked, way too long, at what I have lost.  It’s really easy to do, in the dark of the night, going to bed by myself, or driving down a long stretch of highway when a familiar song comes on the radio.

But what I have lost is equal to, if not less than, what I have gained.  What I have.  What I am going to be.

And I drove, and I cried, and I thought about everything I have done, everything I have accomplished, since I left David in November of last year.  Look at what I have done.  Look at what else I’m going to do.  I don’t know if anyone understands how much these things mean to me — getting straight A’s, running a 5K, climbing Mt. Washington a third time, graduating with my Master’s.  I look at pictures on FB of my friends who were graduating this weekend, and I thought to myself, that’s going to be me within the year.

It is. I believe it.

Look what I’ve done.  Look what I’ve gained.  Look how beautiful this all is.

woman-standing-mountain-top-16240141

Little Victories, Week Twenty

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

– Finished moving everything out of my apartment.

– Revised and handed in my thesis prospectus.  It got an A 🙂  I’m meeting with Dr. LW on Monday to discuss the revisions necessary for the Graduate Studies Office, and working on my thesis for the summer months.

– Pushed through and finally, on the third try, completed C25K Week 4, Day 1.  It was an uphill battle but I did it.

– Completed Week 4, Day 2 today and felt fantastic.

Plans for the rest of the weekend involve: um…knitting and watching Kitchen Nightmares.  I think this is the plan 🙂