Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Swiftly Everything Flies

I see Lu's been here in my absence. Excellent!

Even though we've been maintaining a geographic distance measured by a minimum of eleven hours, our lives have been moving in parallel directions. We both lost our jobs. We both had some pretty important decisions to make. And we both undertook rather sudden cross-country moves.

I didn't end up moving to the city I mentioned in my last post. I moved back in with my parents, and intended to be here only briefly. But within a week of being in my hometown, I realized how much we both had changed in the intervening years. And it took less than a week for me to start up a much-needed roller derby team here, and decide to stay for the time being.

It's been less than a month now, but the team is going great and getting a lot of local buzz. Most of my energies have been devoted to this, since it's pulled me out of the rather awful, non-productive funk I had been in. It puts me in the position of teaching others how to do something that I love, and has thus become something of a full time job.

It's also taken me nearly a month to actually get a job-- well, at this point I've only scored an interview, but it's very promising. I'm taking a pay cut from my job at the clinic of nearly $3, but I'm not too concerned as I don't have to pay rent/utilities/insurance/cell phone bills just yet. The real kicker? It's at a sex toy store/porn shop. That's right, I'm going from the clinic to the porn store! I like to stay sex-positive.

In this time of massive changes, I've found that the healthiest mindset for me to have is a devotion to leading an interesting life. If I hold myself to those standards, instead of outwardly-imposed expectations of success and professional progression and What I Should Be Doing, I find that I am happier, and better able to handle those curve balls that life throws. When I die, I want people to be less impressed with the strength of my resume, and more impressed with the contents of my (auto)biography. If I'm going to be memorialized on paper, I don't want it to be bullet points, I want it to be prose, I want it to be musical. I want it to be an epic fuckin' poem.

I'll update you more later, and discuss things that have been in special bookmark files for months, but for now I need a nap.

Until next time, live awesome.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

That thing I haven't talked about before

I decided to break up what was going to be the previous post into a few posts. This is about something I've never talked about before here. I volunteer on a website (Fluther.com) as a moderator. I love it. It's great.

The purpose of the website is asking questions and answering questions. But we aren't Yahoo! Answers or anything. The questions and responses are held to standards outlined in a set of guidelines. The guidelines are a living document, which is part of what I like. There is a lot of judgment the moderators have to use to decide what to do. And even once we make that call, if another mod disagrees, we hash it out in email. It's cool. Everyone in charge cares about the site. And so do most of the members.

This is me on the site:

My profile on Fluther

I'll work on getting it to actually show the nifty new badge later, but for now, that's me. I've been a member of the site for almost a year now and a moderator for a few months. I kind of want to talk about the whole process of becoming a moderator -- the emotional process -- especially as it came just when I was being fired from my real job, but I don't think now it *quite* the time yet.


Moving, working, and something I haven't talked about before

Well, when last I wrote you I was busily trying to put together my life. Swiftly. Since then, I've got a lot to talk about.

Finding a House.

The first task of any moving adventure is to find a home dwelling. It doesn't have to be glamorous. It just has to exist. Sometimes there are steps to that. In this case, I found roommates. Quickly. Wonderfully. And through them, we found a fabulous apartment that a friend of theirs ran. It was a dreamhouse. Everything you could ever want and more in a place -- inexpensive, but with all sorts of luxuries. Wonderful. In fact, so wonderful that on the day we went to mail the security deposit, he signed a lease with someone else. After no communication beyond the previous notice that if we dropped a check in the mail (which we were doing) it was ours. Great.

We were two weeks away from moving, literally moving, and suddenly had no place. And the guy in charge was not returning our calls. Because there were two guys in charge -- a friend and the guy who screwed us, we wondered if perhaps the lease wasn't actually signed yet. He successfully avoided all communication until we decided we didn't actually care, we weren't putting up with him. And started the process of trying to find a place to move to in two weeks.

Househunts are stressful. Always. It's the nature of the beast. With a deadline like ours and the need to move in immediately, they become more so. Forunately, one of our group was in Pittsburgh already. She could go and look at houses. Less fortunately, ninety percent of all the listings that were in our range were absolutely horrible or scams. The other ten percent were not available for an entire month.

At the last moment -- really, the last moment -- a listing went up. Available immediately. Basically everything the previous place had minus one luxury I desperately desired (gas stove) but will have to live without (hmph). It was about the same as the previous place cost-wise. It was in a good location. Our agent saw it and like it. And just like that we were in a race to fill out applications and get a deposit in before the others (and there were quite a few others) who saw it did. But we won.

That was on Wednesday. On Friday we got the keys. I didn't actually know my move was "go!" until two days before it actually happened. Thank goodness rental reservations are very cancellable. Not that I needed to in the end.

It worked out okay, the place was great, but the extra stress... well. Get your security deposit in fast. Even if everyone assures you it's a done deal.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Pink Slip Party

I see Lu's been here in my absence, and it makes me a little sad that I have to read our shared blog to catch up on some of the details of her life.

So I've not posted since April, which is fitting considering that's when the year took a sharp turn downhill... well, that's not exactly true, June has been the culmination so far, but things are looking up. I think Lu and I can agree that 2009 started off as one of the worst years, but has immense potential for turnaround.

As Lu's ambitions turn more towards grad school, mine have by necessity been deferred another year. While accepted into my own prestigious programs, I did not receive funding. This would not normally be a problem, I would simply get more loans and go back to school in the fall.

But then I lost my job. There were some personal reasons for this unexpected occurrence, but I've come to the conclusion it was less about me and more about a number of situations going on at the clinic-- within one month all of the employees had either quit or were fired, with only one new hire. I had just gotten certified on performing ultrasounds when I was fired, so the rather pathetic "cause of termination" they gave me said less about me, and more about them.

I'm trying not to be bitter, because it remains the best job I've had to date, and I still feel very strongly about it. I still love the work I did, and would like to do again.

In the immediate aftermath of my firing, I do what many seem to do when faced with the impossible to comprehend-- I fled back to my parents. The timing happened to coincide with a trip to San Antonio to see one of my sisters for the last time before she re-deploys to Iraq, so on the whole I cannot complain about being given the opportunity to see her one last time for well over a year. Had I kept my job, I would not have been granted that chance, and she is the sister I look up to the most.

A fourteen-hour solitary drive also allows for a lot of thinking, and spending that time in motion, ruminating, helps you to let go of a lot of things. The depression and shock that set in Fired Tuesday were gone by Long-Drive Thursday night, San Antonio was wonderful, and I got to re-evaluate my options. I had been planning on leaving this town in mid-July (I'd given notice already when I was fired), but now I felt like I was being forced out. And while I may run away short term, I do not take well to being told what to do in such an abrupt fashion.

I had such high expectations for this year, so to have the first half be so thoroughly rubbish was disheartening. But I realized while driving that humans are essentially a rootless, mobile type of creature. So because I had no claims on my time but a rain-checked date, I detoured to New Orleans and remembered something long forgotten-- I am young. I am flexible. And there is no better time than now to move to one of my favorite cities.

Every other option had become stifling-- I have too many bills and memories in this town to be fully happy here again. I cannot run home to my parents, though it would eliminate a number of bills. I cannot couch surf at friends' homes until I get my proverbial shit together. I could not bear the thought of going into so much more debt for grad school, when my original intention was to incur no more debt. So I'm going to defer my enrollment for a year, and this September I'll be moving to the Big Easy, getting an apartment with some dear friends from whom I have been absent for far too long.

I feel like my grammar here is fractured, but at least you've received an Eli update. Also I have the excuse of lortabs-- I had never taken pain medication before, but I injured myself pretty painfully in a roller derby accident night before last, and the kind doctor at the urgent care center had me disinfected and bandaged properly, and dismissed with a prescription to take the 7.5-8/10 pain down to a relatively mild 4. This experience has made me re-calibrate my pain scale-- I generally have a pretty high tolerance, and while I did not cry at any point during or after my attempt to absorb asphalt through my, well, ass, I did hit a pretty solid 9 when a friend attempted to clean it.

The pain was enough to make me uncertain as to whether or not I was actually sexually assaulted by said friend, or if the incident was a fabrication of my pain-riddled struggling-to-awaken mind. But if I think too much about that right now I'll be wracked with nausea, which is to be avoided.

There will be more posting soon, because I have much to discuss: public assistance, the short-term job search, BDSM, and more. I'll get on that as soon as I get more sleep and am less high-as-a-kite. The pain is still too much to actually remain sleeping, unfortunately, as I am one of those women who cannot sleep on her stomach.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Selfish Post About Iran

The Iranian election is disturbing for reasons almost anyone mentioning it at all will cover. But to me, almost the worst part of it is the idea that a leader could just shut down the information network. No cellphones. No internet. Nothing. Can't reach out and touch the world in just a moment's thought. To me, that is terrifying. The power of the Internet is used for good and evil all the time, but to have its massive power simply missing is horrible.

It's something I associate with the worst of disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, things where you don't know if someone isn't online because they are dead or because they simply lost power. And it's exactly the same thing -- we don't know what is going on because they've lost power. But it could also be something worse.

I know it is selfish to think about it like this, but it's so scary that a leader can just throw citizens into darkness like that.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

While I'm here anyway

"This Week In Congress" has kind of consistently blown since the first few. That's why we never post or discuss them anymore.

Also, it wasn't really noted in my previous post, but yes: I'm moving about five hundred miles away from the boyfriend I was planning on moving in with this fall. And that also blows.

Gone, but not forgotten

Wow, life has gotten hectic here. You may have thought I was gone, that I was abandoning my co-author to this world of blogging, but you were not entirely correct. I was, you see, fired. Laid-off. A victim of the recession. I was then, of course, re-hired at significantly reduced hours and reduced pay. Not exactly a job offer I was jumping at, but this was always meant to be a stopover on the way to business school. And there was the chance that I wouldn't be fired. My official notice was that there was an 85% chance they needed to reduce my hours or fire me. I took that to mean "start applying to business school, you've got to get out of here!"

So I did. The process was, to put it kindly, grueling. My original ambitions weren't very much. You see, this fall I was supposed to move in with my boyfriend. I basically live with him now, but we were going to live together for real. It was perfect. So my original ambitions for business school were to take the GMAT, then apply to the two very good schools in the area and the one not good at all school. Well, I took the GMAT, but it was too late to apply to one of the good schools. I had three days after getting my GMAT results to apply to the other. I worked on it all weekend and all day Monday and got my application in an hour before it was due. Then I waited.

In the mean time, I started the application for the local so-so school. I was told I'd be notified 10 days after submitting my application. This, I would find out, was only kind of true. About a week later they admitted getting it, then in another two weeks, pointed out a problem (a missing transcript), but eventually everything was in. By the time I submitted the application to the so-so school, two interesting things had happened. One: I was no longer working full time. Two: I was being head hunted.

At first, I thought I was simply getting the same kind of junk mail I got before undergraduate application. You take the SAT and suddenly every college on earth knows who you are, where you live, and sends you crap. It wasn't until I got the first email from Carnegie Mellon that I realized this was different -- schools, very good schools, were asking me to apply and waiving application fees. Considering the first school I applied to cost $250 simply to send an application to them, this was huge.

I looked through the schools, I choose a few to apply to, and I put together a system. For the next month, I applied to one school a week. To say the process was tiring is an understatement. I wrote essays. I rewrote essays. I wrote essays again. My boyfriend edited them. My boyfriend re-edited them. We had fights until I cried from stress over single words. But in the end, I got it done. (He still doesn't like the word "manpower" where I used it in two essays. We fought about it both times. Extensively.) No school I applied to asked for less than three essays. Most wanted four.

The week before I turned in my application to my number one choice, I was denied at the first school I'd applied to. It was depressing. I knew it was a long shot, I didn't really even want to go there, but it was still depressing. I had a massively important realization then: grad schools should put all denials in the form of LOLcats. Or at least, not send you an email telling you to check your status on their website. Then make you log in. Then make you click a few buttons to check your status (which now reads "deny"), then click on that, then click something else to see the form letter denying you. It cannot possibly hurt to make it automatically email the letter when they change your status to "deny".

Following that, I just wanted to hear from my safety school. I wanted to get in somewhere. Anywhere. Yet, everything changed one Tuesday as I sat at my boyfriend's house, learning to play bridge online. The e-mails started to arrive. The first was from the school I'd applied to most recently -- they'd offered me a special, expedited application process, waived the application fee and no new essays to write (I'd already covered all the prompts well enough that I could re-edit to make old essays fit). So I'd applied. They wanted to interview me. I was excited! Elated! I immediately told my father. And my mother. And everyone in a ten mile radius. Then my first choice emailed me. They, too, wanted an interview. My safety school called -- they were admitting me to the more prestigious program I'd applied to (a dual degree program). The only other school I'd applied to emailed to let me know they were looking at my application. I figured they were jealous everyone else was getting in touch.

So I planned two trips, quickly, and started interview prep. The interviews were null. I felt like I'd enjoyed my time at the first school but couldn't get a read off the interviewer at all. I had no clue how things had gone. That was Friday. By Monday I was halfway across the nation, exploring the campus of my top choice and getting ready for my interview the next day. I was in my hotel room that night when I got the call: I was in. Not just in. In with fellowship.

Things were going better.

I was not only going to go to graduate school, I was going to have some of it paid for.

My interview the next day went really well. I felt like I really connected with my interviewer over some common interests and was really excited about the school. That did not, of course, stop me from tearing myself apart with doubts. "Oh, I should have said this. I shouldn't have said that. She shouldn't have focused on this so much."

It was several days later that I heard from the last school I'd applied to. Honestly, I had discounted them entirely as a school that might accept me. But apparently without reason, they were writing to interview me. Unfortunately, they didn't want to give me an answer until well after I had to respond to the number two school (accepted with fellowship). But since I wasn't that hot on them anyway, I told them my limitations and set up the interview.

That interview went like the others -- I thought it went well, though it was hard to tell. Looking back, I think I may simply interview well. They were open to responding swiftly with an acceptance decision, and so it was just a waiting game. Less than a week later, they were on the phone with me -- I was in! But they made no mention of financial aid of any sort.

It was not until I got their binder in the mail that I found out I was being offered a scholarship. That made them more interesting from a "where should I go?" standpoint, but I was still hesitant. And I had not, most importantly, heard back from my top choice school.

I knew that on that Monday I would hear. And I would know where I was going to school. And I would be able to respond. I was useless on Monday. Absolutely useless. I twitched and flinched and wanted desperately for my email to come. Around noon I realized that all the other schools had called me and thought that, perhaps, I hadn't gotten an email because they were going to call with good news. I then discarded that theory. And picked it up again. And discarded it.

I also theorized: later was better -- rejections take only a form letter and should have gone out first and easiest, simple acceptances also take only a form letter but may require slightly more work and should have gone out second, individualized acceptances -- those including scholar- and fellowships should go out last, requiring the most attention; they might call me; all of this could be wrong.

Finally, in the early evening, my email came. I was in. With a small fellowship that had perks beyond the financial aid involved. I was going to my top choice school. Life is good.

I will be matriculating with the Class of 2011 at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. Now I just have to get ready, find a roommate, pack, and move in less than 8 weeks before my trip abroad that I return from the day before orientation begins... I'll let you know how it goes.