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Life Update

I need to stop neglecting Livejournal. (This post is being made in lieu of a proper response to a comment, which LJ doesn't feel like letting me make.)
Life is being pretty good to me. I'm still going to school, with less than a year to go. Right now, I'm in the thin break between my Group Therapy class (which included actual group therapy) and Existential Therapy (which probably won't involve actual therapy, but it does have a professor who has written a lot about kink, so I'm looking forward to meeting him.)
Next month, I start my internship at the YWCA. I'm a little nervous, but also looking forward to getting real experience. I worry my anxiety attacks will return, but I can't know until I try.
I might be getting a part time job. I haven't heard back, but I got some stuff straightened out with the student loan people, so I'll have more than enough money to live on. The choice is basically "more debt vs. more stress." I'm inclined towards the latter.

My roommate (Keffy) is off in Europe for a month, leaving me alone to hang out in my underwear and take care of our friend's cat. We've got Taco the Cat until about the end of the year. I'm doped up on loratidine, but I'm enjoying her company for the most part. Earplugs are often required at night, though, and she did get herself banished to the bathroom briefly when the boyfriend was over.

Things are going well with the boyfriend. It no longer feels weird. He's met my parents, and soon I'll be meeting his dad.

Today, my goal is to do dishes, walk to campus where I'll read stuff for next week's class, ride an elliptical for at least 30 minutes, and buy a friend's debut novel.

Last night, I did a solid brain flush by watching a couple fluffy movies while playing Alpha Centauri. I may do the same tonight if I can't get out to Lake Forest Park to see my friend read from the aforementioned novel.
Geology Field Trip Report
Last week, me and the boyfriend went backpacking in Garibaldi Provincial Park, a few hours north of Vancouver, B.C. I love this place, not just because it's beautiful, but because it illustrates the intersection of two of my favorite geological processes: volcanism and glaciation. You know where else there's volcanoes and glaciers? Mars. And a lot of Mars may look like this area.

To start: way, way back when, in the Triassic (200 million years ago. Dinosaurs were just starting to show up.) there was an island arc, much like the Aleutians or the Leeward Caribbean islands. This got smushed into the continent, and then, in the Jurassic (150 million years ago. Full of dinosaurs) magma pushed up from deep in the earth--not breaking the surface--and crystallized into a granite batholith, which eventually became exposed to the air. Eventually, thanks to plate subduction, volcanoes erupted and created the Garibaldi Volcanic Field.

To get to the trailhead, you pass through this zone the government as designated as a landslide hazard. They don't allow any building, and recommend you don't stop your car there for long. This is because just upstream of the aptly named Rubble Creek, is...The Barrier. It's very dramatically named, and it is pretty dramatic looking. Certainly its origin is exciting.
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Garibaldi trip report.

A while back, I finally got my passport renewed. As a result, the boyfriend declared that we should go to Canada, since he's never been to B.C. My parents were going to be at their timeshare in Whistler, so it made sense to overlap the two trips. All this resulted in he and I spending three nights in Garibaldi Provincial Park. I'd been there once before on a day hike with my dad, since it's just half an hour south of Whistler. I've been itching to get back there with my new camera, and to show the place off to Andrew. (I love sharing places I love with people I love.)
You can see the bulk of the pics I took over on Flickr. It's an amazingly gorgeous place. Full report behind the cut!
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Turkey Toss at the zoo

So last weekend, I took the new boyfriend to the zoo. It so happened that this was the day they celebrated Thanksgiving by throwing raw turkeys at the animals. We got a great view of the bear, who dragged his turkey over to the window we were standing by. Mind you, this was in a viewing cave primarily intended for children. There was just enough headspace for a few adults, but it was pretty much us and a dozen children crammed in there. I didn't get particularly good shots, but there is something pleasant about sitting in a dark cave surrounded by happy kids. I may have talked before about how I'm able to connect with complete strangers at the zoo. We're all there for the same reason, and it's nice to be able to point out to your fellow viewers where the animal is, where's a particularly good angle to look from, and I get to spout animal facts at kids. (I probably should volunteer at the zoo someday.)
Anyway, this is all to say I totally manhandled other people's toddlers by lifting them up onto the ledge where they could see the bear better.

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Life update

Life is still going well. I love my classes, and I even enjoy writing the papers. I'm not doing great, I'm not doing awful, and I'm fine with that since I'm learning tons. My cohort is amazing, and last night, nine of us had Thanksgiving at the house of one of our professors. One of my classmates, a woman from Bosnia, brought homemade falafel, and played the accordian. (which, btw, horribly embarrassed her twelve-year-old daughter. :-)

As much as I love my cohort, they're not quite family. I don't yet feel comfortable being my awkward, pervy weirdo self around them. I <3 you my weirdo friends!

I started dating a guy, and that's also been great. It's been a bit strange, as all my relationships seem at first (there's so few!) This is the first time I've decided I wanted to date someone, noticed that a particular person could be a good fit, and asked them out. It feels very intellectual, but the emotions are coming in quickly, as I figured they would. Plus, he loves road trips and photography...and has a car! So there may be more photos from farther afield in the future. Which reminds me, I've got some zoo photos I can make a post on.
This is also the first time in thirteen years that I've dated someone who lives within walking distance. I'm used to relationships requiring train rides. This means that certain boundaries and limitations which I'm used to aren't there, and it feels vaguely...I dunno...agoraphobic.

Still no writing, which I've come to accept. I am however, going crazy with the camera, and also crafty things. I've made a couple beaded necklaces, and am itching to teach myself crocheting.

I finally got off my butt and started having fun with my hair. (I'm not working at a job where I have to have normal-colored hair!) I rebleached my blonde streak, and started playing with colors. Right now, there's a red streak, which looks good with the gold, but I want to find some good silver toner so I can turn my streak into a candy cane.
There's a mediocre pic behind the cut. The red is really much more red. Plus, you get a bonus shot of one of the necklaces I made.
Keffy says I look like a My Little Pony.
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Thoughts on therapy

After a couple experiences at Orycon, I have a new question to ponder: How does one run a therapy session with a self-aware person, versus someone who just needs to talk? (With the caveat that these aren't mutually exclusive categories, of course.)

I met a man who talked about his heart-wrenching experiences with a mentally ill family member. All I did was sit with him, listen, and say things like, "that is a terrible thing to have to deal with" (and it's a good thing I didn't need to do more, since it was towards the end of a party, and I was smashed.) Another friend had a similar experience with this guy, and as she said, "Clearly, he needed to talk about it." Did I help him? I don't know, but I don't think I hurt him.

I also talked with a friend who has had difficulty finding a good therapist, since he's very self-aware and doesn't need insights he's already gained parroted back at him. I can sympathize, since I've often had that experience myself.

But I have had good (informal) therapy sessions that I think managed to combine these. So I'm thinking about what made those sessions effective. In all of them, the therapist's presence is really the big thing. The people who have helped me have this very solid sense of wisdom about them, and it's pleasant just to sit with them, because it really does feel like they can hold and comprehend all this pain that I've been burdening myself with.

One of those times, I think my friend was telling me things I already knew, (You make everyone's problems your own) but the fact it was _him_ telling me was relieving. Someone I trusted and respected and carried a lot of authority both in his demeanor and experience. (I think he might have actually said, "_WE_ make everyone's problems our own.") There is validation of a path I've been walking, until then, alone.

Maybe it's a matter of being able to stop my brain dead in its tracks and force me to sit with my own pain, rather than thinking about it in an abstract manner. I mean, I do think that peering at my issues from every angle possible is useful, but in the end, I just need to stop and metaphorically hold in my hands the leaden, velvet-lined casket that is a statement like, "I make everyone's problems my own."


Giraffes in the Mist

Yesterday morning, I went to the zoo. I was lucky enough to spot the new baby giraffe, Misawa, just as I got there. Right when the fog was thickest.

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A journey to Bob Ross Land.

So last weekend, my parents and I went to Montana to visit my Uncle in the Bitterroot Valley. I took the opportunity to get in some alone time and drive down the valley to Lake Como, which I haven't been to since I was a kid.
Now, I've usually been to the valley in the summer or during the winter holidays. I didn't realize exactly how gorgeous fall is there.

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Life update

Class went pretty well yesterday. This particular class is basically How To Be A Therapist, in the sense of relationships and self awareness and such. We're reading the play Agnes of God in class (or, Agnes of G-d, as our Jewish professor writes it.) I already read it a few weeks back, and I'm glad I did. I was taking care of Mom at the time, and some of the things in the play resonated extremely closely with my experiences in those very days with Mom. It was kind of traumatic, and reading it again is class is still traumatic, if less surprising. (The story, if you don't know, is about a court psychologist assigned to evaluate the sanity of a nun accused of murdering her just-born child.)

At the end of each scene, the teacher asks us to talk about what we are thinking. So naturally, I babbled about my mom, and realized my voice was possibly trembling a bit. I sort of feel like I'm letting my neuroses spill out messily. But I also know I shouldn't worry too much about what my classmates think of me. Eventually, I'll get to hear about all their neuroses, too.

I really didn't get any time to process my experience with her, not that I really know what "processing" would consist of. I'd probably go on with my life until something triggered me into a messy bout of introspection--just like what's happening now!

Bleh. But at least I have most of the zillion errands I had to do under control. I should be able to finish up the important stuff today or tomorrow. Also, the nice thing about going to a Catholic school is that there are a bunch of chapels scattered around campus, so I have quiet places to retreat to. The main chapel, in particular, is almost completely free of religious iconography, and is the kind of space I grew up with--lots of light and simple, golden wood.

But hey, I get four day weekends! which, at the moment, aren't filled with homework and crap!
Sunday night, my appendix decided to do its annoying thing, and get all ouchy. It wasn't as bad as it's been in the past (no throwing up this time) for which I guess I'm grateful. Given that it seems to be connected to stress, it seems like the razor thin time between taking care of Mom and starting Grad School seems like an appropriate time.

Well, my appendix (mostly) no longer feels like someone punched me in the gut. I got a lot done yesterday; lots of running and bussing around. A morning of errands was followed up by the Graduate Student Orientation. I got there pretty early, and sitting in the auditorium, reading the brochure on Jesuit values, I realized I really wanted to cry. Crying was, in fact, exactly what I needed to do, given that I was wound up so freaking tight.

Crying in an auditorium didn't sound appealing, but I'm at a Jesuit college, and so there was a beautiful chapel just outside the doors. I didn't cry, but I did get in some quality meditation, and burned off some excess emotion.

I won chocolate and an umbrella at the general orientation. Woo! Then came the MAP orientation. (MAP=Master of Arts Psychology) There are 26 people in my cohort, which is unusually large. They all seem pretty awesome. (duh!) There was dinner and talking, and afterwards a bunch of us went out for drinks. Even though I was tired, I went for a drink, and I'm glad I did. I need to build up my social safe zone.

Still too tightly wound to even relax properly. Hopefully that will change by next week. There's still a lot to do.


Elizabeth Coleman

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August 2014



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