30 September 2011

Slight freakout ahoy!

I'm thinking I  may just have to call this "The Continuing Travails of Our Graduate School Experience".  That sounds kinda nice and old-timey...or, considering I just read the quoted title again, like I have several personalities just yearning to burst out.

We, uh, I'll never tell...

Got an A on my literature review so yay me :).  I spent yesterday morning working on my part of our first group project and I think I have a decent handle on my portion of it.  I'm part of the Federal Highway Administration and part of a group concocting a memo to our director re: a several-billion-dollar multi-year project.  My part is to highlight the positive way this project can have an effect on our relationships with our lobbyists.  We're all meeting online tomorrow night to discuss/show what we've come up with so far for our separate taskings.  And, of course, someone brought up in class how when you work in groups there is always someone who doesn't pull their weight and blah-blah-blah, it's not fair and how is that going to be dealt with?  I did love my professor's answer - which was essentially welcome to the real world.  Apparently we do get to all grade each other at the end of the course but, hello, not everyone in the work world pulls their weight so...suck it up, buttercup and get on with it.

My research project is approved!  This is good but also scary since this will evolve into my thesis over the next two-three years (depending on how many classes I cram in each semester and if I end up moving or not).  I'm researching gender equity amongst faculty at four-year state universities using salary and promotion as my focus.  Considering my annotated bibliography is due next month, I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time stuck in databases and then at Guillermo's trying to put all this in coherent form.  It's a proven formula from my undergrad days:  laptop + coffee + iPod = completed paper.

So, you know, slight freakout but  more in the "Aaah!  Paper writing!  APA style again!" versus the full and complete Kermit the Frog arm-waving freakout I was having just before classes started.  Improvement! :)

21 September 2011

At the tone, please leave a (new) message...

Continuing on over here in my little corner of the world...

Had a wee bit of a financial setback when the Spousal Unit's car blew up.  Say hello to a new head gasket and goodbye to...well, a good chunk of change.  It isn't like we haven't been here before but, still, there was that bit of holding my breath and waiting for the next shoe to drop as had been happening pretty regularly over the past few years.  Sometimes it's a lot more work to remember my brain needs to be more on the "God has provided and will continue to provide" side of things and less on the Chicken Little in the back of my brain yearning to break free and declare DOOOOOOOOOM.

(and while my brain tends to hear "DOOOOOOOOOM!" in a more stentorian, Darth Vader-ian voice, Chicken Little looks more like this:
and that tends to make the Darth Vader voice start sounding like Foghorn Leghorn.  It's a vicious cycle, I tells ya!)

The first semester of grad school is going pretty well from what I can see to date.  I got my first assignments back and received an A- and a B+, which was where the old messages hit the fan.  I can be somewhat hard on myself although I've improved over the years and, while I was bummed they weren't both A's, I was pleased that I'd navigated the assignments well enough to get good grades and I can see where I can improve.

Where I really got smacked in the face was when I talked to my mom.  I try to call her regularly and was just chatting with her about school and told her I'd received my grades.  She asked what they were and I told her.  Her immediate comment was "Well, there is always room for improvement."

Cue me getting smacked upside the head with the Two-by-Four of My Childhood.  In my family, it was always time for comparison shopping and I usually came out on the losing end whether it was me being compared to my brother, to other kids of my parent's friends, about my weight, or...pick anything.  Through much of my life, I have never been good enough.  There has always been something "wrong" with me and my family has been only too happy to tell me what it is - sometimes in excruciating detail.

What's the upshot of all that, er, feedback?  God became a performance-based God.  Love was conditional, based on how close I was able to come to the standard someone else believed I should aspire to.  It took me years to work my way out of that and to understand that God loves me regardless of what grades I get, what my weight is, or how often I mess something up.  I mean, yes, there are rules and I don't get to tiptoe through the daisies while setting off nuclear warheads a la Lyndon Johnson's famous commercial...

But.  But God loves me and sees me as someone of worth to the point He came to Earth and died an excruciating, humiliating death to take away the need for a relationship based on performance, on law while daily running the risk that I (or any of us) could decide, eh, this is too much trouble and just turn our backs.  And, like the prodigal son, if I did turn away and then come back, there wouldn't be any recriminations or lectures.  It wouldn't matter what I'd done.  He would throw a party.

So I sat in my chair after hanging up with my mom and thought about all that and I remembered a friend back from my old church.  It was shortly before we moved and they had prayed for me in the service.  As we were walking back to our seats, she said something (I don't remember what) in a teasing tone and I jokingly responded with "God likes me."  Her response was.  "He likes you a lot."

Yes.  Yes, He does.

01 September 2011

Catching Up...

I have been out of the habit of blogging for a few weeks and have missed P365 submissions as well.  It hasn't been anything major - no surprise trips to the ER (because I think the SU has maxed out on those thinking back on the past few years) or anything like that - but daily life seems to just get in the way sometimes.

The SU's car blew up about two weeks ago.  Thanks, Mr. Head Gasket!  We're still waiting on how much it will be to get it fixed.  I, myself, am firmly in favor of ditching that car since they don't even make them in the States anymore but since the loss of the business and the foreclosure of the house, it isn't like we have the additional cash or the credit rating to really go look at any car (new or used).  So we are a one-car family for now and it's not worked out too terribly bad.  I get to work much earlier than I might normally but our departure times are about the same minus the 30 minutes he has to drive from his job to pick me up.  And at least we have a car and can make it work so that's all to the good.

Grad school has started and it's been interesting - and busy!  There is a pretty even division between those of us older-type students and those that just got their undergrad degrees recently and went straight into grad school.  It leaves me feeling very "get off of my lawn!" sometimes, most recently when one of the younger students was telling me that she needed to remember to check her mail to see if her textbook had shown up yet.  Ummm...it's three weeks into the semester and we're supposed to have read the first two chapters by this coming Monday, and you don't even have the book yet??

Why, yes.  I am anal-rententive.  Why do you ask? :)

The instructor was talking about the MPA as a professional degree the first night of the class and brought up the stat that 70% of mid-career, in-service people (such as myself) will drastically change their career during the three years of this program.  I spent the rest of the night thinking about that because, honestly, I have never seen myself as having a "career".  I have always had a job.  In large part, it has been due to my following the SU around; move to a new state and find a job to make up the difference/allow us to do some of the things we want to in addition to paying bills.

To be fair, the SU has also always said that he doesn't mind moving for *my* job should that become a possibility but that has never really been on the radar.  I only had a high school diploma for many, many years and although I spent ten years at one company working my way up from part-time data entry to executive assistant, it was still just a job; something to help ease the monetary pain of living in Southern California.  Even when I quit that job, it was still pretty easy to get a secretarial job 'cause people always need those.

Now that we've moved three times since and I've spent a fair amount of years in defense contracting and higher education, I find myself wondering if I even want a career or what one would look like if I did.  What will I be when I grow up?

Huh.  Stay tuned, I guess :P.

Other than that, the cats are good if piteously crying about being starving and if someone can tell me how a 17 pound cat can starve in the space of eight hours while sitting next to a full cat dish, I'd be forever grateful.  My car runs, we've paid rent for another month and God continues to provide.  Even though He may not give everything I want, I definitely have all I need.