Sunday, November 28, 2004

Procrastination

So tonight I made Jesse talk to me about all the potential other career choices I could pursue. I think I was trying to procrastinate and avoid facing my real life and current career path. I decided that I might be good at running a dog rescue or something. Like, I could be one of those people that goes undercover to puppy farms and then frees all the dogs and finds them loving homes.

Or maybe I could be a lifetime coach. I've heard of these people. They act as encouragers and life organizers for other people, trying to help them find their passion. The sad thing is I probably wouldn't be good at it because, well, look at my life situation! They wouldn't want to take advice from a person who is so unsure of herself.

Okay, enough of that crazy talk. Obviously, I'm going to finish up my program. But don't you just get those doubts sometimes? Like, maybe you're not really good at the things you thought you were good at? Maybe you've fooled everyone else too and soon they'll realize that you're just a fake? I know it's ridiculous, but really, sometimes you can't reason with yourself.

On another note, I did have a good thanksgiving break (the times I wasn't stressing about GREs or my thesis proposal). I got to see tons and tons of old friends (and meet some new friends too!) and I caught up on sleep.

Geez, the doubts are back...even about this blog! I just re-read what I wrote and thought to myself, "Oh, I shouldn't publish this post because it's so dumb. I should really think of something interesting or insightful to say about the world or something bigger than my own little worries."

It's tiring to live in my head sometimes. I can't wait for the semester to be over. Maybe I am not cut out for this grad school thing afterall. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Help me?

Okay, I'm begging you to help me. It's sad, I know. But, I want a free ipod.

Basically, there's this website freeipods.com and if you complete a promotional offer and get five friends to do so too, then you get a free ipod or $250 gift certificate to itunes.

(Apparently, they also have freehandbags.com if prada is your passion. But who wants a designer bag when I can go for hours of digital music entertainment?)

So, if you're interested in helping me out and/or trying to get a free ipod yourself, then go to this site. I only need two more people to complete offers and I'm golden!

http://www.freeiPods.com/?r=11630145

Thanks! I promise to post no more of these annoying pleas. :)


Monday, November 22, 2004

I'm still alive!

Well, I have definitely been slacking on writing lately. But, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I've just been sick. Really sick.

Thankfully, I'm finally feeling better this week. Last week it honestly felt like my brain was moving through molasses or something trying to think. I couldn't form sentences, articulate words, or think straight. I was totally fatigued and just completey out of it.

Anyway, so now I'm trying to play catch up. It always seems like that though, I guess.

I wonder if there is any way to feel like you're actually on top of things while you're in graduate school. I constantly feel like there is more I should be doing. This drives me crazy because I never stop feeling guilty or anxious. Not healthy, I know.

Jesse and I talked about it this morning. He tried to help me put things into perspective, which I needed. I am taking the GREs this week, which seemed like a good idea when I signed up a month ago. But now, it's just another thing that's completely stressing me out. I already have one score from when I took it 2 years ago and that score is just fine. But, silly me, decided that I should see if I could do better. Anyway, Jesse convinced me to just take it and not have them send it to any schools until I see my score. That way I have a little safety in case I bomb it completely. That made me feel one little bit better.

I just need to relax and realize I can't be super duper productive all the time. That's why being sick made me all the more frustrated. I was annoyed that I couldn't focus on anything or get anything done.

Luckily, I'm going home tomorrow for Thanksgiving "break." I'm hoping that admist all the work I'll be doing during that time, that I can stop and realize for at least a whole minute that life is not all about school. I'm sure once I see my friends and go out for a few drinks, it won't take long for me to realize that. I just need to get out of my own head for awhile.

Anyway, so as not to talk about school for this ENTIRE post, I do have other things to say about my week.

I watched *three* movies last week while I was sick. That's definitely some kind of record for me. Mean Girls, The Stepford Wives, and Shrek 2. All of which were entertaining and fun and exactly what I neeeded. OH wait! I also watched ELF yesterday...that makes FOUR. ELF was also really cute.

I watched it while hanging out with some friends and eating a pre-thanksgiving thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious. And I didn't miss the Turkey one bit. Jesse seemed to have a great time, which made me happy. I think he is feeling like he is really making some friends here. And I am too.

I sure do have a lot to be thankful for. And when I dwell on all those things and people that make my life rich, stupid things like the GREs and grant applications seem a million miles away.

Here's to keeping things in perspective!


Monday, November 15, 2004

My Return

Yep, I'm back from Chicago. It was a whirlwind trip and I didn't see much of the city, but a lot of comical things did happen (i.e. becoming best friends with all the locals in a pub near the hotel). The conference was pretty good, but also crazy with 5,000 people there. Some panels were worthwhile and the time spent there was definitely worthwhile. Especially since I got to meet the scholar whose literature I am using to write my thesis.

The meeting with her was a great affirmation that I'm headed in the right direction. She even offfered to talk to me on the phone about it as I'm writing if I need to bounce ideas off of someone. So I was excited about that.

But on the way home yesterday (9 hour drive!) I started feeling sick and now I think the flu has officially set in. Damn flu shots we never got. Ugh.

I have been having these horrible anxiety dreams and not sleeping well. But I think that is largely due to the stress at this time in the semester.

There are lots of happy things going on though. First, Dave finished his marathon in an amazing 3 hours and 57 minutes. Awesome!

Jenn quit her sucky job and told her boss exactly how she felt about him and the *real* reasons why she quit.

Court and Suse kicked butt on their GREs.

Meghan is back from Europe.

Other friends are moving on and starting new chapters in their lives.

I have two days to finish my theory paper, a week till GRE's, and two weeks till my NSF application is due. But that's okay. Because today is a gorgeous day. Jesse has been so supportive and my mom even offered to drive up for a day sometime this week to take care of my sick self.

So, more funny stories later. For now, I'm taking lots of meds and pushing onward in theory land!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Lost the will to work

I am so completely BLAH right now. 100% BLAH. Ever feel that way?

There's not even that many good reasons to be blah, especially since Jesse brought me bright red Gerber daisies today for no reason. And they are my favorite flower. I like them because they are so happy and bright and big and cheerful. And yet even those sunny flowers aren't lifting my gloominess.

As I've explained before, us "Perceivers" (Myers Briggs talk again) are procrastinators in many ways. But once we get that spurt of energy, we can get a lot done. So once again, here I am, hoping for something to inspire me and get me going.

The task at hand is constructing an axiomatic communication theory. We can build off of one that has already been created or propose a whole new one. Since my thesis is on hurtful communication, I want to write a theory about that. But, ummm, where do I start?!

You would think that in class we would have discussed how to go about accomplishing such a task. But we didn't really. We talked about what makes a good theory and a bad theory and what components we needed.

Oh how I could use a muse right now. That kinda rhymed. Ha.

The deadline is next Wednesday...Which leaves a little more than a week. The thing is that I am going to Chicago this Wednesday until Sunday for the national communication association conference. I'm really looking forward to this. I haven't been to one yet, nor have I been to Chicago. But, this also means that I won't be getting much done there...So I should be doing it tonight!

One cool thing that is happening there is I am meeting with a professor whose research I am basing my thesis on. She started the whole vein of research on hurtful messages and does a lot on family communication and emotions and attributions in general. She seems very friendly over email and one of my other professors called her a "superior human being" so this makes me even more excited to meet her.

Since I am going to the conference, I missing two things though:

1) Dave's marathon! He came out to cheer for me and I wish I could go to cheer him on at the Richmond marathon. I'm sure he'll do great though and I'm sure his family will give him plenty of cheers and encouragement.

2) Friend's wedding. Weddings aren't always that much fun, but hey, I feel bad I have to miss it.

Okay, it's like 7:45 right now...Maybe I should just MAKE myself go to the library. Even if I fall asleep on the desk there it might make me feel better.

Seriously, since the marathon a week ago, I feel like I am in a daze. I'm SO tired and out of it even though I'm getting enough sleep. Hopefully this will end soon and I'll be back to my normal peppy self.

Thanks for listening. Back to staring at a blank screen in need of 15-20 pages of theoretical brilliance.

Sigh.

The Youth Vote

So, there seems to be some confusion about what role young voters played in this past election.

Here's parts of an article that gives some pretty compelling evidence to show that the youth did come through in this election - more so than any other time in history. Read on...

"If there was one group who really came through on Tuesday, it was the young people of America. Their turnout was historic and record-setting. And few in the media are willing to report this fact.

Unlike 2000 when Gore and Bush almost evenly split the youth vote (Gore: 48%, Bush: 46%), this year Kerry won the youth vote in a LANDSLIDE, getting a full ten points more than Bush (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%).

Young people were the ONLY age group that voted for Kerry. In every other age group (30-39, 40-49, 50-59, etc.), the majority voted for Bush.

In Michigan, observers noted that it was the record youth vote that helped to put Kerry over the top in the state (AP: "Young Voters Played Big Role in Kerry's Michigan Victory")

Contrary to all predictions and to tradition, MORE young adults (18-29) voted in last week's election than in any other since 18-year-olds were given the right to vote in 1972.

It was the first time that a MAJORITY of all young adults came out to the polls: 51.6%.
Young adult turnout was UP more than 9% higher than the 2000 election ("Big Voter Turnout Seen Among Young People").

4.7 million MORE young adults voted in this election than in the last one. All these numbers are likely to go up when the millions of provisional ballots (and absentee ballots) are counted later this week (it is believed that young people were among the hardest hit in being forced to vote provisionally and students away at college make up a large bulk of the absentee ballots).

Rock the Vote and MTV's "Choose or Lose" had set the seemingly unattainable goal of getting 20 million young people out to vote. In the end, nearly 21 million youth voters cast their ballots last Tuesday -- A RECORD.

In the day after the election, the pundits were spewing their hot air about how the youth vote didn't matter this year. I wonder, even though they have the same facts available to them as I do -- the ones I've cited above -- do they just chose to ignore them because it doesn't fit into their tired old routine they call "conventional wisdom." I guess it is easier to simply repeat the same broken down clich├ęs than it is to find out what the truth really is.

And it's even more important to kill what smells like teen spirit to them. God forbid if young people ever realized their true power and used it. Maybe what young adults need to continue to do is keep creating their own new media and news sources on the Internet and through other new technologies. Just bypass the old farts on Fox and CNN and all the rest. One thing's for sure -- by never challenging this president on his lies that sent our young off to war, they have proven which side they are on and it isn't on the side of the young or the future.

Congratulations, 18 to 29-year-olds -- you rocked. "

I think that pretty much says it all.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I finished!!

As I write this, the glow from my victory of completing my marathon has been diminished because I am so frustrated and disgusted at the results of the election. I wish I had written yesterday about my marathon experience so that I could express the full excitement of it all. But today I just feel so BLAH and upset and disappointed about the prospect of living under Bush for another four years that it's hard to get excited about anything.

But, I'll try.

OK, deep breath.

Onto the marathon!

It was wonderful! It was difficult! It was thrilling! It was agonizing! It was worth it!

Tons of people came out to support us including my parents, sister, friends from PSU (Jill, Jessica, Chris, Nick), Casey's mom and best friend from Mississippi, Dave and Madaleine, Meghan, Courtney, Vickie, and 100,000 other spectators! It was such a boost to see them throughout the race, even if it was only in passing. They had signs and words of encouragement and just seemed happy to be there.

My dad said it was more exciting than any sporting event he had been to. And my mom said she couldn't believe how many people were there running. It is quite an inspiration. What was also inspirational were the spectators and the Marines. Everyone was so encouraging. And since we wrote our names on our shirts, we personalized encouragement which was awesome. "Rachel, Casey, Jesse...you're doing a great job! Keep going!" Another guy I saw at the 20 mile mark said "Rachel, what is this? A walk in the park? You look great!" People kept telling Jesse he had a nice smile. And on the 14th street bridge (which was killer) there were people with signs that said "YOU'RE HOT!" At the 22 mile mark, spectators were handing out cups of cold beer, which made me laugh, but I didn't take any.

The marines were at all the water stations and they were so sincere in their encouragement, too. They took really good care of all of us runners. At around 18 miles, this one marine was yelling out "3 miles - that's all I can do! And look at you guys...you've already done 18!"

The runners were really in the spirit, too, especially since it was Halloween. We had the Madonna lady with the pointy boobs, the kermit the frog guy (his 12th year running the MCM in costume), the fireman (in full gear, including an oxygen tank on his back), and many other memorable characters.

People had lots of things written on their shirts, too. Things like "Running from the bus!" Or "I'm not getting on no bus!" which were referring to the bus that picks you up if you don't get past the 14th street bridge in time. If they have to open the road and you're not done, the bus takes you to the finish line.

The first few miles were so hilly and my IT band was definitely in pain. I didn't want to tell my teammates, but I was worried. Luckily, I had taken 800 mg of IBProfin and took another 800 at 9:30 and then Tylenol around the 15 mile mark, which luckily Dave had in his bag!

The scenery was beautiful but it was HOT. I think the high was around 79 degrees that day and it definitely affected everyone. They had 4 times the number of heat related injuries (including one guy who passed out on the 14th street bridge and split his head on the guard rail). People were even passing out in the metro stations afterwards. ("They're dropping like flies" said one metro station employee).

I was trying to soak in all the beauty, especially when we went around the golf course near the potomac. Leaves were blowing off the trees and all around us, we were in the shade, and the breeze was making little waves on the top of the water.

We all had our challenges during the race. My knee hurt at the beginning. Then Casey's head cold started moving to her chest, making it really hard to breathe, so she slowed down. Then, Jesse felt nauseous around mile 18 and started walking. So I kept going since I felt okay. I was worried that the pain meds would let up any minute and I'd be doomed.

Although I felt bad that we split up, I also enjoyed those last six-seven miles to myself. I mean, I wasn't really alone, because there were tons of people, but it was just me and my goal of finishing and the road in between. Jesse and Casey weren't there to tell me to keep going and encourage me. They weren't there to help me keep the pace. It was just me and whatever motivation I could muster up inside myself. My muscles started cramping up around mile 22, but I knew I could finish, so I just kept telling myself to go as long as I could and then walk when I needed to. And I just kept doing that. I was just in the zone and although it was very intense, it was also very calming. When you're that focused on something, it doesn't leave room for anything else. It's cleansing in a way...and it's hard to explain. Luckily, I never felt like I hit the wall...at least not until the last .2 miles.

The stretch between mile 25 and 26 seemed to go on forever. And when I finally saw the mile 26 marker, my legs were burning. Unfortunately, the last .2 miles are up a hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. With such a short distance to go, I didn't want to stop, despite the pain and cramping in my legs. But when I made it up the hill, there was still .1 mile to go...and I must have looked like I was about to cry or something, because this AIDS Marathon coach who was on the track ran up to me and said "You're almost there! I'm going to run with you for a minute, okay?" And I needed that! She ran with me around the bend until I could see the finish line. "You're going to make it!!" And so I pushed on, and stumbled across the finish line. Five hours and twenty-four minutes. Wow.

Meghan, Courtney, and Vickie said they saw me run up the hill and tried to get my attention when they were cheering me on. But they said I was really focused and didnt' see them. At that point, I couldn't be bothered with anything else.

I thought the finish line was a little anti-climactic because you don't even see anyone you know. But a Marine put the medal around my neck and then I wandered through the hospitality tent through some gross looking green juice and bananas and then eventually found my friends and family.

I've been riding high on that feeling for the past few days, through the soreness and then limping. But you know what's amazing? My knee DOESN'T EVEN HURT! I mean, other muscles are in pain, but not my knee. I have no idea what did it. Maybe it was Casey's mom who did this acupressure point crystal thing on me on Saturday night. Maybe it was the medicine. Maybe it is a miracle. Either way, I'm psyched.

So, bring on more marathons. Now that I'm done one, I can't wait to do more. And if you're interested, next year's Marine Corp Marathon doesn't even have a lottery...you can just get in. They want 30,000 runners for their 30th anniversary.

This year, the total number of registered runners was 22,666, the highest in MCM history. 16,987 runners crossed the start line and 16,499 runners made it to the Iwo Jima Monument to finish the race.

You can see my results here. I finished number 11,710. Yikes. And you can see some pictures here.

Okay, back to being depressed about the election. More on that later.