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Mar. 20th, 2010

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Update on the Ides of March (plus 5 days)

Wow. It's been entirely too long since I wrote in this thing. I used to keep a daily journal years ago. Then it became an occasional journal that I wrote in a couple of times a week, then a few times a month, then a few times a year, and then pretty much never. When I joined LiveJournal, I intended to use it as an opportunity to practice writing on a daily or at least weekly basis, but I've been doing good to post a few times a year.

So, what's new with me? Well, let's see.

Since the last time I posted, I've survived six months now at the insane new job (and I thought working at Citrus was hard work). I'm still working long hours, but at least most days are less than 12 hour days now.

I'm STILL working on the infamous dissertation. Back in November I was completely done except for updating my reference list - but then because of feedback I got from my dissertation chair I basically had to go back, recode my data, and redo my main analyses. I have drafts of all five chapters and am done re-re-re-re-analyzing my data, but I still have to finish re-writing up Chapters 3, 4, and 5.

Christmas was unexpectedly nice. I had to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and couldn't go home to Indiana (it was the first time ever that I have not gone home for Christmas), so instead I spent Christmas with Nicole, her parents, and my grandparents (who have a winter home in Lake Wales, FL). I was worried I would feel really homesick, but instead I felt perfectly at home with my new family and grandparents (who I haven't seen for Christmas for a decade).

Nicole is now well into her second semester of graduate study. She is pursuing a Masters in English Literature and is finding grad school demanding but rewarding -- and she enjoys it much, much more than teaching middle schoolers.

Nicole and I are now engaged. I got her the engagement ring of her dreams (which I'm still paying off), and on Sunday, December 20, 2009, I took her out to Houston's in Miami where we had our first date, recited a poem to her I recited on our first date, and asked her to marry me. "'Til I found it to be true, I never thought it possible or likely. But see, while idly I stood looking by, I found the effect of love in idleness, and now in plainness do confess to thee, that art to me as sweet and as dear as Anna to the Queen of Carthage was... I burn, I pine, I perish... if I achieve not this young, modest girl." (Taming of the Shrew) She cried and said yes.

My brother Scott and his wife (who celebrate their one year anniversary today) are having a baby. They are due in September. I am excited to be an uncle, and Nicole is very excited to be an aunt, since she has no siblings.

And I'm looking forward to Spring. It's been unseasonably cold here in south Florida, with high temperatures in some cases only ten degrees warmer than the high temperatures in Indiana this time of the year, and it actually dropped below freezing for several nights in a row back in February. So I can't wait for beach weather to return.

So that's what's new with me.

Nov. 7th, 2009

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LJ/FB Tweet

  • 03:31 used the park tool chain cleaner for the first time today, nice little gadget. I never thought dish washing liquid could clean a chain. #
  • 03:37 @ssanj not too bad. Works sucks as usual. How are things with you? #
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Oct. 31st, 2009

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Happy Halloween, by the way.
Me, Userpic, 2007 Picture

Hard Week at Work

I have just had the hardest week at work ever.

I'm working a new job now, at The Watershed, one of the nation's best private residential substance abuse treatment centers. I'm doing important, life saving, life changing work, getting to know my patients intimately and making a real difference in their lives. It is very rewarding.

But *#&%*^&$%& it is hard work. I've been there for less than a month and already I've been yelled at, cursed at, insulted, had my family insulted, told I am a bad counselor, and accused of being a liar. It's incredibly difficult, working with patients who are often irritable and irrational while detoxing, who want our help but don't want to accept the rules, restrictions, structure, and loss of control that go along with successfully treating something as difficult to treat as an addiction, and who react to their feelings of helplessness, fear, and vulnerability by showing anger towards others (often me). Plus the hours are insane -- to meet the needs of my demanding patients and do all the paperwork required, I've been working from 8:30 AM to 8:00 or 8:30 PM every day, plus I have an hour long commute each way, so I've been leaving home by 7:30 AM and I don't get home until after 9:00 or 9:30 PM. Nicole has been pissed because she never gets to see me. I feel the same way.

I am so tired!

Sep. 28th, 2009

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Moving and Unemployment Update

I can't believe it's nearing the end of September already. As usual, it's been awhile since I've written in this journal. I really did intend to write in it more often, if for no other reason than for the writing practice (which I definitely need), but I think I've dreaded writing lately since all my writing for the last several years has been academic writing.

I've had a lot of changes in my life lately. As I have managed to write before, I met a girl. We recently had our six month anniversary and have since then moved in together. It was more of a practical decision than anything, since my lease was up and there was no way she could continue to make house payments on her own now that she's gone back to school and started a Masters program in English. (Plus we like being together.) But I'm not used to sharing my space, and not counting sharing a room with my brother when I was 13, I've only once had a roommate previously (when Markov and I shared an apartment). This is different, though. We've already had a couple of blowup fights, and we get on each other's nerves more, but I take it as a good sign that we still like each other most of the time.

It's also been a big adjustment for Ciara. She's never had to share an apartment with anyone else, and she's never been around any other cats before, so moving in with a human she previously seemed to hate as well as with three other cats has been a huge adjustment for her. She's doing surprisingly well, though. My predictions for what would happen were (1) she would try to dominate/bully the other cats or (2) she would have a heart attack from the trauma of moving, living with a strange human, and being around three cats. Instead, she suddenly started being nice to Nicole (whom she used to hiss at, hide from, and swat at), and after spending a few days hissing at and hiding from (but not swatting at) the other cats, she calmed down, they seemed to work out their own hierarchy, and Ciara adjusted. As I write this, Ciara is resting on the back of my chair, another cat (Mittens) is resting by my feet, a third cat (Abigail) is resting on the armrest of a love seat across the room, and I hear the tag of the other cat (Fenway) rattling against the food bowl.

Nicole and I have quite a menagerie now. Mittens is her oldest cat, about 8 years old (the same age as Ciara) and our only male cat. An orange tabby cat, he's the alpha male of the bunch; the other cats defer to him. Apparently he doesn't usually like men -- he still only tolerates Nicole's dad -- but the first day I came over he crawled into my lap and fell asleep, so he seems to like me. Fenway is the next oldest of Nicole's cats. (Yes, her name is Fenway, as Nicole is an avid Red Sox fan.) A big fuzzy gray cat, she is clearly the fattest and none too bright. Nicole says she didn't know how to be a cat until Mittens took her under his wing and showed her how. For example, she used to pee on the floor next to the litter box because she'd go halfway in, feel litter under her front paws, and think it was okay to go, and she still drinks out of the water bowl by dipping her paw in and drinking out of her paw (I've never seen a cat do that before). Abigail is the youngest and spunkiest of Nicole's cats. Dark gray on her top half and white on her bottom half, she has a stubby 3-inch tail and was born blind in one eye. When Nicole first adopted her, she tried to dominate the other cats, but Mittens and Fenway shunned her. She's a shy cat (it took her awhile to warm up to me), but she's also probably the cutest, taking off running for no apparent reason and begging for attention with her tiny high-pitched mouse-squeak of a meow. Now we've added Ciara to this bunch, my 8 year old but still very energetic and slender spunky black cat ("the bitch kitty," as Nicole calls her). Ciara spent a lot of time hiding from the other cats her first two weeks in the new house, but she seems to have adjusted very well and appears to have established her place as the alpha female; Abigail and Fenway defer to her, while she defers to Mittens. (I happen to find cat social dynamics fascinating -- and very cute.)

This is also my first time living in an actual house since moving out of my parents'. Well, technically it's a duplex, but it's close enough. It's a large, 2 bedroom, 2 bath duplex with an office, dining room, enormous kitchen, attached garage, and patio. We had to get rid of my futon, her couch, and a couple of other things, but it was big enough to accommodate pretty much all of my stuff.

My parents came from Indiana two weeks ago to help me move, so they met Nicole's parents for the first time. They had already gotten to know Nicole pretty well, between me talking about her, Nicole flying to Vegas after my brother's wedding to spend a long weekend with my family, and Nicole and I coming to Indiana last June to visit, and they had heard good things about her parents, but they hit it off really well. The day they met, our dads were even coincidentally wearing the same outfit (black polo shirts with khaki shorts), which was kind of funny. Right away, our parents were warm and genuinely comfortable with each other -- not just making polite conversation and being nice but seeming to actually like each other. That was nice.

The biggest news of late, though, has been my unemployment. I've never been unemployed before, but my job ended at the end of August, and I've been drawing unemployment since then. I was really worried I wouldn't find a job in this economy, especially since I now live in a small town of about 16,000 and have to drive at least 30 minutes to get to a city of any size, plus I really can't afford to be unemployed for more than a few weeks. Fortunately, I just accepted a job at The Watershed, a private residential substance abuse treatment facility in Boynton Beach about 45 minutes away. It's going to be hard work, working long hours with a difficult client population, I'll be driving 90-120 minutes a day (depending on traffic), I have to work holidays, and I won't get any vacation for six months. But I'm happy that I'm employed, and that I'm doing something in my field instead of loading boxes or waiting tables. In name, it's a postdoctoral position, but it's basically a job that I can keep until I defend my dissertation and accrue the 2000 hours of service I need post-defense in order to get licensed as a psychologist in the state of Florida, so it's a pretty good opportunity for me.

I also just got a brand new 2010 Mazda CX-7 (my first new car) after my 1993 Buick Skylark with more than 200,000 miles on it finally bit the dust, so life is pretty good for me right now.

On to finish my dissertation! (More on that soon.)

Jul. 2nd, 2009

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Another Insane Work Day

Today was an insane day at work. I made the mistake of scheduling 4 intakes last Thursday, and I was out sick on Monday, and June 30 was end of the fiscal year, so I'm still playing catch-up from these things. Today I got up late, quickly swung by my Hialeah office to drop off paperwork from last week on my way in to see clients at my Kendall office, when my supervisor caught me and told me he needed my paperwork from this Monday and Tuesday right away -- like, now -- for the end of the fiscal year. So I had to take an hour and do paperwork. Never mind that I had clients scheduled starting at 9:30 across town and it was 9:20. So I did the paperwork and ran across town to Kendall to see clients. I didn't get there until 11:00, but fortunately my 9:30, 10:00, and 11:00 clients didn't show up and my 10:30 client didn't show up until 10:50, so it worked out. Then I saw clients constantly, ending the day with a particularly complicated intake that took me 3 hours -- a kid I ended up giving no less than 9 diagnoses (no kidding -- check this out: ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Polysubstance Dependence, Cocaine Dependence, Cannabis Dependence, Xanax Dependence, Ecstasy Abuse, and Alcohol Abuse (poor kid)). Then I did paperwork until 8:30 in an effort to catch up. I'm still not caught up yet, but I've made some headway. That was my day -- just another typical day of insane paperwork (and, oh yeah, seeing clients, too).

I'm looking forward to a long Independence Day weekend -- I'm heading up to Stuart to hang out with Nicole and her parents, watch fireworks, go snorkeling at Bathtub Beach, and work on my dissertation. After the week I've had, I'm actually looking forward to working on my dissertation.

Jun. 22nd, 2009

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A Quick Update on My Life

I really need to post in this thing more often.

Let's see. What have I been up to? (Am I really beginning a post with a series of questions to myself? I guess it's been awhile since I've written. Either that, or I'm rambling.)

My doctor is an idiot and I don't have diabetes (or hepatitis - apparently some liver test was off a bit). I was supposed to go back for a follow up after a month (and that was about two months ago), but I haven't followed up on that, and since my doctor didn't even bother to schedule an appointment, I'm not going to bother, either.

Work for the JETS Program is still insane. One of my bosses (who some people have taken to calling "Prada Lady" after Merrill Streep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada") has made my work environment a little uncomfortable by occasionally yelling at me (I think she thinks I'm incompetent), but I've managed to avoid meeting with her for several weeks, plus I've been managing to work less than 50 hours per week, so work is going okay. I've also gotten some compliments lately from clients, parents, and probation officers who are happy with my work, so that feels nice. Now I just need to find a job to start once my current position ends at the end of August.

Things with Nicole are still going well. Her parents adore me, my parents love her, and even though we've spent only two days apart during the past three weeks, I'm not getting tired of her in the least bit. Her mom keeps making me food, and her dad offered to loan me his car last week when mine was in the shop -- that's a pretty big deal. Nicole and I visited my family and friends in Indiana earlier this month. My friends all seemed to like her, and she got along famously with them. She met my extended family, and they were all very warm and welcomed her with open arms. Nicole particularly liked my grandma. Everyone seems to like the idea of Nicole and me as a couple, so I take that as a good sign.

The dissertation is still unfinished. I am painfully close to being done but other things keep coming up (like getting my car repaired). I have managed to work on it for at least an hour a day for the past three days, though, so that's progress.

My car is finally fixed. I've had five, no six repairs done within the past week. Last Monday I drove back to Miami from spending the weekend in Stuart with Nicole, and by the time I got to work, the engine was smoking. By Monday evening, I had overheated the car to the point where it shut down in a left turn lane and I could not get it restarted. So I had it towed to the Buick dealership. The dealership parking lot was gated and closed (in spite of an after-hours drop), so I then had it towed to a Pep Boys. They wanted $80 just to do a diagnosis, so I just had them replace a burned out headlight and drove the car (two miles, overheating, in heavy construction traffic) back to the Buick dealership, where they replaced my cooling fans. They wanted over $200 to replace the battery, though, so I took the car back to Pep Boys and had them replace the battery. That was my Tuesday. I had to cancel several clients since I had no car to get to work. Nicole saved me, though; she is on summer break and was nice enough to come down to Miami and take me to and from work (and auto repair shops), so I only missed half a day of work (Even so, I still worked more than 45 hours last week.). Then on Wednesday, the car appeared to run fine until I was leaving a client's home up north (nearly in Broward County), when it wouldn't start. Not even the door locks would work. Apparently my battery terminals were rusted near the starter, so I had to have those cleaned on Thursday. That was an expensive week. Then last weekend Nicole's dad helped me reattach my hood release switch to the hood release cable and fixed my broken center console lid by cutting a spring (for free, thankfully), making that six repairs to my poor old car in as many days. I hope she runs okay for awhile now.

My brother just got back from his honeymoon. I haven't talked to him since he got back, but apparently he had a really good time, except for a day and a half long unplanned layover and a really rough plane ride.

I also had a fascinating discussion with my friend Kelli yesterday about hypothesized microbial causes of mass extinctions in the fossil record. Seriously. Yes, I'm a nerd.

That's all that's up with me, I think.

May. 2nd, 2009

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Visiting San Francisco

Well, in spite of multiple attempts, I still can't get LoudTwitter to update LJ whenever I Twitter. So I'm giving up and going to start cutting and pasting my Tweets here from Facebook (at least until I get bored of it).

May 1 at 12:30 PM: Finished an insane work week before noon yesterday: >40 hours in 3 1/2 days.

May 1 at 12:36 PM: In California now, just outside San Francisco, for Nicole's best friend's wedding - my first time on the west coast. :-)

May 1 at 12:40 PM: American Airlines lost my luggage. :-( My carry-on luggage! <:-o That takes real incompetence. >:-(

May 1 at 6:57 PM: I got my luggage back.

May 2 at 2:20 PM: Saw San Francisco yesterday: Golden Gate Bridge, world's crookedest street, Coit Tower, streetcars & electric buses - and the Pacific.

So I'm in the small town of Pleasanton, California, just outside of San Francisco at the moment. I'm here for Nicole's best friend's wedding, in which Nicole is the Maid of Honor - pretty important for her, so she was excited to have me come along. I've never been to California or the Pacific before, so it's been pretty neat for me. Yesterday, I did some sightseeing. I saw the Golden Gate Bridge, drove down the world's crookedest street, went to Coit Tower (a monument constructed in honor of the firefighters who died fighting fires in the aftermath of one of San Francisco's worst earthquakes last century), saw the famous streetcars and electric buses, got stuck in traffic, and saw (and touched) the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I went up to the water and touched it, but didn't go swimming or walking in the surf or anything, as it was 55 degrees F and raining.

I'm still pissed because American Airlines lost my luggage -- my carry-on luggage, no less, on a nonstop flight! It's the first time an airline has lost my luggage, and I think the first time I've flown American Airlines. I won't be using them again. I mean, talk about incompetence! I actually had the bag with me on the plane, but I was one of the last people to board and the overhead bins were full, so they took my bag to put it under the plane -- and then put it on the next flight. Apparently they took it back into the airport instead of simply putting it into the belly of the plane like they were supposed to. I can understand them losing checked bags - that's a risk you know you take any time you check luggage. But losing a carry on? I showed up in San Francisco with only my laptop, my iPhone, a travel pillow, and the clothes on my back. I had to run out and buy a nightshirt and shorts, underwear, and deodorant and borrow a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo, just so I could go to sleep and get ready yesterday. I will be writing a sternly worded letter to their customer service department (and send a copy to the CEO's home, if I can find out who and where that is) asking for a refund or credit on future airline tickets.

Apr. 24th, 2009

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I got this awhile back, and I finally decided to complete it.

1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
     Kelli Gibson

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?

3. What was your 1st alcoholic drink?

4. What was your FIRST job?
     Working as a janitor at my old high school

5. What was your FIRST car?
     A 1981 Chevy Malibu Classic, a.k.a. The Big Brown Boat.

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
     No one yet

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
     I don’t remember. Mrs. Cameron, maybe? I had two, one for regular classes and one for academic/gifted classes.

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
     Disneyworld, when I was 2 ½ years old.

10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
      My first best friend was Brian Hipp. We haven’t really talked since high school, though I worked with his mother during college.

11. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
      At Spike’s

12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?

13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
      Richard and Andrea Thompson’s

14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
      Rolled over and went back to sleep

15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
      A Christian concert in my ultra-Christian days – a no-name artist – don’t remember his name

16. FIRST tattoo?

17. First piercing?
      No piercings

18. First foreign country you've been to?

19. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
      Biloxi Blues

20. When was your FIRST detention?
      I never had detention. I was very well behaved/”square” in school. I was once supposed to have detention after getting three tardies in one semester, but the assistant principal looked at my record, saw that I had never been in trouble (and this was my Senior year of high school), told me not to be late to school again, and tore up the referral.

21. What was the first state you lived in?

22. Who was your FIRST roommate?
      Markov (unless you count my brother)

23. If you had one wish, what would it be?
      To find a good tenure-track professorship

24. What is something you would learn if you had the chance?
      To play the piano

25. Who do you think will be the next person to post this?
      No idea

Me, Userpic, 2007 Picture

Diabetes or Not

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for a simple checkup - I wanted to make sure I didn't have any STD's (since I'm in a new relationship), and I wanted to get a routine checkup (since it's been 9 years since I've been to the doctor). I was expecting to go in for an hour, get my blood drawn or take a urine test, and then get the results by mail or telephone. Instead, I had to wait 2 1/2 hours to be seen, go someplace else for my labs (both blood and urine), go back to the doctor to get my results, go back to have some labs redone, buy a blood sugar monitor, monitor my own blood sugar by regularly impaling myself in the finger (does this count as Self-Injurious Behavior?), and go back to the doctor a third time. Fun.

My doctor thinks I have latent diabetes based on my first labs. He said my blood sugar was high. He also doesn't speak much English. (He said I have "LAT-tint DI-uh-BEE-tees.") Only when I went back to get my labs redone, they told me that one of them had to be done after fasting for 10-12 hours, which no one told me before I did the labs the first time. My doctor (and the lab techs) conveniently forgot to mention that part. My blood sugar on the initial labs was 120, and when I visited my doctor to get the results and he stuck me in the finger, my blood sugar was 127. So I got online and did some checking. Apparently, the normal range for blood sugar for a fasting test is 70-99. So if I had fasted, my levels would have been high. But the normal range while not fasting is 70-150. I had to go get a prescription blood sugar monitor thingy, and I've been sticking myself in the finger to monitor my blood sugar. So far, my highest result is 130. So my blood sugar is a little on the high side but well within the normal range. My doctor is an idiot.

I still plan to have the second labs done and visit my doctor once more to confirm, and because on the labs my Creatinines were high (1.45), my Glom Filt Rate was low (57), and my ALT (SGPT) was high (68), which could indicate kidney problems (or may mean nothing since I wasn't fasting), so I want to rule that out. And I may just have to point out to my doctor that he's an idiot.

Do you know that during my initial exam, he asked me only three diagnostic questions? ("Why are you here?", "Do you have any symptoms?", and "Do you have any family history of medical problems?") He also took my blood pressure and listened to my heart and breathing. But apparently he's relying entirely on my self-report and on the lab results. I ask my patients hundreds of questions on a routine diagnostic interview before I make a diagnosis! I find it disturbing that 6 years of medical school didn't train my doctor any better. He won't be my doctor for long.

I hate it when I'm smarter than the people I go to for specialized services like that. What the hell am I paying them for, then?

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