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Friday, September 24, 2010

Quick Life Update

*The images pictured are of really random books I found at work...just made me laugh a little!*

So, I'm waiting for my medication to wear off (almost there!) so I can get some sleep, but I decided to fill the time writing a quick blog. I have a crazy busy work schedule this weekend--I closed tonight, I open in a few hours then I'm volunteering for my parents/the dance folk for Dare to Dance from about 6 to midnight, then I work all day on I'm going to TRY to wake up before work in the morning and do a short run (30 minutes or so), but since I'm so NOT a morning person we'll see how this goes. With all the work I've been doing--and I'm so not complaining because I both like work and need the money--I haven't had much time to do much of anything. I cleaned my parents house the other day for a generous compensation and I've worked out twice this week so far. During my few and far between free moments, I've been continuing my progress on Eat, Pray, Love and have found myself rewatching old episodes of Friends--always and forever a favorite of mine--and Buffy the Vampire Slayer--such a classic! Also, the new season of Dancing with the Stars started this week, and I'm already obsessed. Of course, I've also been dutifully studying for the good ole GRE. Oh, the life of an adult.

I've found that when I want to be out with people doing something, it's always fun to go play pool, and often a few of my friends and I from work will meander over to one of a couple of local favorite pool halls to shoot a few games. Both places know us all pretty well, so we either get a major deal on games, or don't have to pay at all. That coupled with the fact that beer is usually about $2 apiece makes it a fun way to get out and blow off some steam. The best way to relieve stress for me, of course, is to run and do crunches, so I really am trying to do that as often as possible...and eat better when my cravings don't turn me into a junk food eating demon of sorts. Last I checked, I've lost around 12 pounds and FEEL so much better, so here's hoping I can keep this up! Alright folks...I know this was random, but I just felt like writing for a bit. Night night!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Books, Movies, Musings

Well, as always it seems, it has been entirely too long since I wrote a blog! Mainly I don't update often because there aren't frequent changes and world altering events in my day to day life. I don't mean this to be taken as I am trying to be derogatory to myself or the goings on in my's just the truth, as I think it is for most people my age. There are always exceptions, of course, but I feel that many who post excessively are just repeating what has been happening since they last posted a few hours or days before. Since I don't care to read blogs like that, it would be pretty hypocritical for me to style my blog in such a way. I find that, in my own life, realizations and maturity comes over time, and sometimes relatively out of the blue. In this post, there are no mind blowing happenings or anything like that, but instead just some of my thoughts and a little update on what I've been up to as of late.

First, I (finally) went to see a psychologist. I was diagnosed with moderate to severe ADHD, as well as Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, with an anxiety component (personally, I think the anxiety is actually the force driving my depression and not the other way around, but let's not be petty). The ADHD diagnosis really didn't surprise me all that much, though I can't say the same for my parents (especially my mom) and some of my friends. The general disbelief doesn't really surprise me, because, as with so many other things in my life, I'm very good at hiding what I see to be underlying problems within my own psyche. Don't confuse this with hiding the symptoms of a lot of things (like all of my behaviors stemming from the depression), but instead understand that I mean the underlying causes. See, I went to a very small elementary school (my graduating class had 15 students), and then a smallish middle and high school (a little over 100...maybe 106?...students in that graduating class). In elementary school, there was pretty much guaranteed one-on-one time with the teacher at least a few times a week, if not everyday (which was the norm). In high school, teachers always had their doors open to help if and when they were able, and there were even designated help sessions during lunch and the activity period immediately following. Whenever something become too trying or difficult to understand, somebody was almost always available to explain the troublesome topic. That being said, I spent a lot of time in high school acquiring comments such as "Kelly has so much potential, but fails to follow through with assignments" and "Kelly is very bright, but seems easily distracted most of the time" and so on an so forth on my quarterly reports..which, as it turns out, is fairly typical of those with ADHD. Part of the issue, of course, was that I was on a hellacious path of destruction that took many, many years to overcome (at least to a functioning degree...I continue to struggle with those issues and always will). I knew then, as I know even more so now, that these issues played a large part in my educational issues. It wasn't until I went to college that I fully began to understand that there may be more to blame that just eating disorders and the like running rampant throughout my mind. As Ole Miss was much larger than either of the other schools I had attended (though it is, by SEC university standards relatively small), I began to realize that learning didn't always come easily to me, since distracting me from my work was a pretty simple task. For a long time, I blamed work and the ever present partying--which I realize both played a part--on my inability to quickly and successfully complete assignments, tests, and other school related activities. The only classes I truly remember having no problems with were my Social Psychology and Introduction to Fiction Writing classes, and that was only because I loved them so much that it never seemed like work. Observing everyday people and deciphering what their actions, reactions, gestures, words, and so forth revealed about each individual and society as a whole? So interesting and applicable that I would actually be somewhat sad when the assigments were complete. Taking personalized and shared life experiences and using them to construct a fictitious story? Complete and utter heaven to a reading and writing nerd. That reminds me--a common question I have been getting since my ADHD diagnosis is how I was--and am--able to read so much so quickly and retain the information if I had trouble with focus, concentration, applying and so forth. I thought it a bit strange too, until I realized that the types of writing I so eagerly and easily peruse all relate to topics that I very much enjoy (true crime, psychology--linguistics, eating disorders, self-mutilation, anxiety, etc., biographies) and therefore, like with Social Psych and Intro. to Fiction Writing, I never considered them work. When I had to take Shakespeare, Cognition and Perception lab, and others that I didn't enjoy, it was a much more laborious task. If it hadn't been for Sparknotes and the mandatory end of the semester assignment of acting out a scene from one of the plays, I would not have faired so well in Shakespeare, just to give an example! As I said, however, I hid my frustration in my studies pretty well, so most people didn't know that I had any issues at all.

I should have known that I may have ADHD after strenuous exam weeks (even more so because in addition to taking exams for 5 classes, I also had work 35-40 hours that week and of course had to actually study for said exams). I naively didn't give a second thought to what this could mean, and continued to struggle the majority of the time. I graduated, though not with the GPA I had hoped I would have, and didn't really start to worry until I started studying for my GRE... and realized I, quite simply, couldn't do it. I finally relented and went to see the doctor, and (voila!) it turns out there was a reason for my struggles. I've been prescribed medication, and am figuring out my dosage this month to see what I will be on long term--and for right now that medication only applies to the ADHD, because my doctor wants to see if the anxiety and depression depend in large part on my frustration with the ADHD. So far, that seems to be the case, but the possibility of beginning a second medication for anxiety/depression still sits on the backburner. Right now, the medication is helping me a great deal, and it seems that I have gotten more accomplished in studying for the GRE in the past month than in the 6 before that combined. Who knew, right? My psychologist also recommended counseling periodically when I think I may need it (feeling overwhelmed, unprepared, particularly depressed, etc.), but those sessions will be few and far between for me and definitely with a less expensive therapist. Also important to note, my diagnosis came with what was deeme a minor obsessive tendency, which I found relieving as I have always found myself to be slightly obsessive when it comes to certain rituals (such as checking an even number of times to see if my apartment door is locked, my lights are off in my car, that the windows in my car are rolled up, etc.)

In other news, I work all the time...and yet, never enough it seems. I hate living paycheck to paycheck and look forward to the day when I won't have to quite as much...however far in the future that may be. For the most part I still enjoy my job, and love the people I work with. I get frustrated sometimes, but I'm beginning to realize this has more to do with my own desire to be working in the psychological field and less with the job or even my life itself. With the work discussion always comes a favorite topic of mine--good books I've read/am currently reading/ want to read in the near future!

One that I thoroughly enjoyed was The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I picked up this book after having at least a dozen people recommend it to me. I either had a day off or was feeling a little ill and decided to read a couple of chapters of it just to see if I would like the style of writing and the story itself...and finished the entire book that day. Walls has a very unique writing style that sucks you in and is most enjoyable to read. Within the story (which is Walls' biography) there are a great number of paradoxical moments and situations, leaving you at times feeling like you have great disdain for her parents and at others like you wish you had been so lucky to live her life as she did with them. I highly recommend this book to those who love biographies and psychology--but also to anybody who just wants to read a very good book. I eagerly look forward to reading Half Broke Horses, which is a fictional work based on the life of (I believe) Walls' own grandmother.

The second book that readily comes to mind is Genie: A Scientific Tragedy by Russ Rymer, which is a scientifically written book about the real life story of "Genie" (her named was changed years ago to protect her identity), the modern day "wild child" who was spent the majority of her first 13 years of life strapped to a "potty chair" (at night, if she was not forgotten, she was moved to an enlarged crib with wire mesh over the top and restraints attached to all four sides). She was not allowed to speak--and was indeed beaten with a large stick or growled at like a dog by her father for vocalizing at all--and she was not potty trained nor could she walk like a normal person (she had a peculiar "bunny walk" with her arms held up close to her chest and her knees bowed inwards). She was only discovered when her mother--also considered a victim...and while I think she was to a large extent, I think she was also abusive to Genie, especially later in life-- escaped with Genie and attempted to receive disability payments for the blind. Social workers couldn't help but ask about the frail girl cowering behind her mother, whom they believed to be no more than 7 or 8 years old and autistic. When they discovered that she was in fact less than half a year away from turning 14, she was taken into protective services and both her parents were arrested. Her mother was found not guilty of neglect, malnourishment, abuse, and so on and so forth because of her own victim status, and her father commited suicide before ever having to stand trial for his actions. Genie became a ward of the state, and in actuality, of science itself. Rymer's explanations of the events, as well as the actions, statements, and beliefs of the different members assigned to Genie's case, fused together an interesting story. Though it contained a lot more science terminology than I was prepared for (but also helped me with some of my GRE vocab words--bonus!), but the story was extremely interesting. I have finishe the book and I'm actually reading it a second time, highlighting phrases and ideas and defining the more difficult words as I go. Genie is definitely not for everybody, but I do recommend it to anybody interested in the human psyche, linguistics, and science in general--but be prepared for a sad, unfair story and "ending" (Genie is still alive today).

For fun, I have read a few books by Lisa Scottoline, and if I rememeber correctly, the one I enjoyed most was Look Again (which was the first book I read by her). Her books are well researched (many have some relevance or connection to lawyers and judges), but mostly just fun, quick reads. After a few of hers, I had to pick up works by other authors, because her books tend to become repetitive (to me of course--much like Jodi Picoult's after a while). This is only my opinion of course, and I definitely recommend her as an author.

A perk of my job is that we sometimes get to read (and keep!) books before they are released to the general public, and at the last meeting I actually got a few good ones, many of which I can't remember right now--sorry! One I do remember is Matched by Ally Condie, which I found to be a quick and relatively enjoyable read--nothing spectacular, but a good light read. Another was The Other Family by Joanna Trollope, which I only read a few pages of but found to have a dull start. Granted, I was on reading overload at that point, and I plan to revisit it in the future. It is now on a National Book Club list, so others seem to have enjoyed it.

Right now, I'm (slowly) reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. So far, I really like her writing style and bits of humor she throws into the mix, and the reading is only going slowly because I'm spending so much of my time studying at the moment. I look forward to finishing the book so my mother can read it and we can discuss it together. After I finish that book, I'm going to start the Steig Larsson series (the first is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo--it is a trilogy, and the 3rd book is currently number one on our Top Ten, as I'm sure it is on others as well). I'm very excited to start the series, though I'm glad I've been told that it is a little confusing for the first 100 pages or so. As of right now, those are the only books I can think of that have made any sort of impression on me. I will try to include my suggestions (as well as those I don't personally care for) for books and also for movies each time I blog--including at least a short, but hopefully not one that ruins the story for you, reasoning as to why I liked the story/film or why I did not care for it.

As far as movies go, I have only seen a few recently. The latest one I saw with my parents and Allie (the roommate if you don't recall) a couple of weekends ago, and I found The Karate Kid to be very entertaining, with enough similarities to the original and a couple of small parodies of big moments from the old ones to touch a soft spot with those who remember vividly seeing the first ones in theaters. Jaden Smith is a terrific little actor (although he comes by it honestly to be sure), and he played convincingly both the humorous moments as well as the poignant ones. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, though just for a cuteness factor and not expecting to be completely blown away. Similar in the feelings it brought out in me was Beezus and Ramona. Growing up I read and loved every single one of the Ramona books, so I went into the movie with an open mind so as not to be disappointed by discrepancies and mistakes--I shouldn't have worried at all! Though the movie did differ a bit from the book (for one thing, it combined many of the books), none of the changes were dramatic and were, in fact, to be expected for such an adaptation. Joey King played Ramona wonderfully, capturing her lovable charm and unforgettable antics seemingly without a hitch; Selena Gomez has always been a favorite of mine since as of yet she has stayed true to herself while still being a typical teen, and she played Beezus very well--albeit perhaps a tad bit too sweet. All in all, it was a great movie that brought me back to my childhood (making me want to reread the whole series!)...and yes, made me cry.

The next film to mention is Mockingbird Don't Sing, which I won't go into much detail about because it is about the Genie story I was talking about earlier in my book "section", except to say that they remained pretty truthful to the reality presented in Russ Rymer's book, changing only names and a few minor aspects of the film. Tarra Steele, who played "Katie" (Genie), did such a remarkable job that I was at times speechless. I only stumbled across the movie after discovering Rymer's book and reading into the story, and I was thrilled to discover it was on Netflix Instant (my true love)! It is one of those films that I have watched several times because it intrigues me so....much like how I am rereading Rymer's book. I'm an odd one though, so keep that in mind. Also remember, I view and critique movies like this one much like I do with a film like Schindler's List...I find them first and foremost tragically sad and a horrific view of human capacity for evil, but I also see them as fascinating and a learning tool because they feed directly into my study (and love of everything) psychology.

Probably my favorite movie I've seen somewhat recently (if I had to pick just one, especially a mainstream one) was Inception. Much as I enjoyed Shutter Island, I found the many levels of Inception to be comfortably confusing (meaning they took some pondering but I enjoyed the process of trying to figure them out) and after my Dad and I saw it we stood outside the theater trying to decipher the true outcome of the film and also how many levels into the dream world they truly entered. It was a fun thriller that really made you think, and I was once again impressed by Leonardo DiCaprio (in a much different way than I was when I was 12 and saw Titanic for the first time haha) and also by Ellen Page, who has shown remarkable range in films such as this one, Juno, An American Crime, and Whip It. Consequently, if anybody hasn't seen An American Crime, this is one to watch for sure! Inception proved to be all that it promised to be and, for me, much more. I loved it!

Hmmm...maybe now people will realize why I don't blog all that much? I write a ton of stuff and it takes me what seems like forever to finish all of my thoughts...or at least the ones I don't forget until later. I'm not really complaining, of course, because I love a chance to get everything out (the myself as well as others) so I can better understand and handle what my life is throwing at me at any given time. It is kind of tiring, but a very nice break from GRE studying. So, what's next for me? I have a few ideas of what I'd like to see happen in my life in the next few weeks and months, though I certainly hope these aren't all I do and experience and I doubt all of them will be accomplished as planned.

  • For starters, I'd like to take my GRE at the end (but before Halloween weekend, when I will be in Oxford, MS for the Ole Miss-Auburn game and to see some of my precious friends. I fear that if I hold off until after the game, I won't be quite as driven as I am now to study hard, retain information, and apply myself. This means that I'm shooting for the end of the last week in October (probably Wednesday or Thursday).
  • I would like to get a (second) job that somehow, if not completely, relates or ties into my field. Secretarial work or the like is fine, as long as it gets my foot in the door and keeps me thinking about graduate school. This does NOT mean that I want to quit my current job at all, so if anybody reads this and interprets as are mistaken.
  • Speaking of graduate school, I would like to be enrolled and starting in classes no later than the Fall semester of 2011. I would prefer to be in school by Spring 2011, but I'm not sure how that will work out with taking the GRE later in the fall (I'm sure there is a somewhat lengthy waiting period to get results back, then I have to worry about scholarships and loans to go to school, and then getting accepted into school and working all of that out). It would be wonderful if I could complete the program within a year and a half and be out by the end of the Fall semester 2012, but if it ends up being the end of Spring semester 2013, that would be okay (especially seeing as how I will still have to work a substantial amount of hours while in school). A bright spot in all of this is that my parents surprised me by telling me that they are going to pay for the GRE exam! This is a big, BIG relief.
  • I would love to be out and working very closely with a certified psychologist immediately following graduation from graduate school, whenever that end occurs. I will need to figure out how I have to go abou getting certified after I have completed school. I desparately want to be helping people as so many great therapists helped me (don't worry--I had my fair share of very bad ones too--and they've inspired me to treat people exactly the opposite of how they know, life humans).
  • I would like to finish the preliminary draft of my autobiography (the one I've been working on since I was 19), though I don't think I'll try to get it published in the near future....but I want to one day.
  • Similarly, I want to publish my short story from Beginning Fiction Workshop in some sort of psychologically-based magazine, newspaper, or newsletter. Also, I'd like to write several other short stories and see if I might be able to get them published as well. Though a small profit would always be nice, I also want to get at the very least my already written (but yet to be seriously tweaked) short story out for public consumption. I desire this for the feedback, but also in hopes that it will help somebody--anybody--out there who feels a connection to the story. (If anybody cares to see the current copy, let me know!)
  • I would love to begin work on a novel--nothing too serious but more as an intriguing look at life as I see it. Hmm....this will take some thought.
  • It would be nice to get a new (to me) car (I love Dixie, but she is old and not as reliable as she once was) and also a small house to live in within the next few years.
  • I want to save up a little money (haha seems downright absurd right now) and travel a few places; namely right now I'd like to visit my friends in Mississippi a few more times, visit Lauren in Iowa, finally stay for about a week with Karen in D.C., live up to my promise to visit Iz (though not in college like I was supposed to, but in San Fransisco), and hopefully visit Jamie and Erika as well. I'll gain quite the eclectic travel stories if I ever get to go to these places. Also, of course, Ole Miss games at least once a year---gotta hit up The Grove, since it is "The Spot that Ever Calls".
  • Have a little money to help throw some great bachelorette parties for Erika (this December) and anybody else who throws me for a loop and decides to get married.
  • Read at least one book a month, but preferring to make this 2 a month. I want to continue to expand my horizons by reading a variety of genres and authors and analyzing them accordingly.
  • Work out at least a couple of times a week (it'd be nice to say 3 times a week at the least, but I'm being practical) and integrate running back into that schedule--get those bands that support both knees. I miss running and working out in general and I think it will always help me feel a little better, though I don't think it will "cure" my issues as some may believe. I want to say run a marathon, and I do hope to do that in the future, but I'll start small.
  • On a simply fun note, I want to go skydiving (I've been indoor skydiving, and while it was fun, I doubt it compares) and bungee jumping. Preferably both, but if I have to pick one... skydiving.
  • I'm sure I'm forgetting things, as I usually do, but I at least got a good start!

Well, I guess that's it for now. If anybody actually reads this AND makes it this far--way to be a team player! Haha...I'm still always a little bit of a loser...I've learned to embrace this. I'll try--as I always say--to update a little bit more frequently, but only as I deem it necessary to avoid boredom with my life. At the very least, if I read a great new book or see a fantastic movie, I'll try to put just little reviews up on here as well. That is all for now...if there are typos or the pictures get messed up when I actuually post this....sorry. Oh, and here's a picture of my awesome hot pink nails! Just to end on a high note...