Tuesday, May 31, 2011

another mental bump in the road

I feel like I don't have anything to complain about. I am breathing. I have a roof over my head. I have a job. But I also have frustrations. So this is not me complaining, this is just me jotting down my frustrations.

My professor's indications that she lacks faith in my ability to graduate in August plummeted me into three days of self-pity. I could not muster even the slightest energy to write after my long days at work. Looooooooooooong days at work.

So here I sit, with a new motivation to write. I have rewritten 3/4ths of an entire chapter over the course of my first day off in over a week. Go me. But at this moment, I lost my motivation again. I think it is the tedium of this process. And the fact that I think what I am doing is stupid. And that little nagging thought that reminds me "if only you ran with the non-thesis track, you would be done by now!" I don't like being told that my work is not good enough. I expected levels of revisions with my writing, it is part of the process. But a complete overhaul might be a bit extreme.

I also know that I disagree with some of what my thesis advisor wants me to write. So I won't do it. This may turn into a battle of wills, but I am not publishing something if I don't agree with it. That don't make no sense. But I will fight until the bitter end to graduate in August. I can't keep doing this.

So now I am trying to pump myself up. You can do this! You may have picked an insane professor to work under, but you will conquer this road! Soon you will be free to do whateverthehell you want! Come on now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

sunshine for cloudy days

Explore. Learn. Protect. Become a Junior Ranger.

Regardless of how my day might be going at work (busy, hectic, stressful, insane, etc), my sunshine always rests in seeing kids' beaming faces, especially after they become a Junior Ranger. Today, hundreds of boy and girl scouts descended upon the battlefield in order to help place flags in our national cemetery; we had lots of opportunities for kids to become Junior Rangers.

Today my extra special sunshine radiated from two Brownie Girl Scouts-turned-Junior Rangers. One activity requires kids to learn about the cedar glades found within the park. When the girls asked me about it, I took a moment to step outside and talk to them about the glades, plants, and why we have to protect these things. I pull all sorts of joy from experiencing learning moments from kids. It is why I do what I do.

I have to keep that moment in my pocket for future retrieval, especially as I finish my thesis. Having my professor tell me that she did not have faith in my ability to finish in in time to graduate in August shook me up this week. She doesn't know what is coming. I will do everything in my power to graduate on time. As in the words of Queen Victoria: We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist. I know what I want to do. I know that my thesis sits as my last hurdle. I will get this done. And I will continue to do my best to spark kids' interests in things that are not plugged into walls.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

sing. mate. die.

If you live in middle Tennessee, you cannot ignore the cicadas. They "sing" so loud that OSHA has declared 4 hours of continuous exposure to their sounds will result in hearing loss. I went on a 2.5 mile hike around the park today and sometimes could not concentrate because of the the throbbing, mechanical drone broadcasted by the insects. These things sing, mate, then die.

My hour-long hike provided a time for me to ponder this simple life of a cicada. Well, during the time I could actually hear myself think, I pondered. We (humans) do the same thing. But our songs are different. Mine is currently more like a whine, less like a melody. Because I am prone to freak out and stress out. And I think that every little detail of my every little day significantly alters the outcome of my life. But the cicadas remind me of that important thing. The result of each life is death. I can struggle all I want; will that ultimately be what I want to remember in my life?

I met with my thesis advisor today. Good news: my chapters weren't totally horrible. Not-so-good-news: my time is severely limited with the amount of work I have to accomplish. I am all tore up inside about whether to be happy or sad about my feedback. I got feedback in a timely manner, yay! I have a lot of stuff to do in a short period of time, boo! The criticism wasn't the worst, yay! But she nailed my passive voice, boo! Tomorrow will be a new day. I will work then write. Friday will also be a new day. I will work, then write. Guess what is on the agenda for Saturday! That's right! Work, then write. Sunday, too. This has been my song for literally years.

In other news, I am waiting to hear from more than one park about being hired, so that is good news. I used to consider finishing my thesis as the end, now I see it as the beginning. Now my job is making sure that my song matches my attitude and that I keep my attitude positive (so my song reflects a melody, not a drone).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

roller coaster pt. 2

I guess I should also say that I have submitted all of my chapters for review, and have received positive feedback. I have a strong feeling that this will get done by early June (as I had planned/hoped). I am not sure if this is the up part of the roller coaster (you know, that slow, chugging part, when your heart starts beating faster in anticipation) or that really fast downhill part that makes your stomach fly into your chest cavity. I like roller coasters, so either way works for me.

roller coaster

I had a guy tell me today, "Life is a roller coaster. You are strapped in and there is no use being afraid, so you might as well enjoy this crazy ride."

I can agree with that statement.

Monday, May 16, 2011

the hour before the dawn

"And the darkest hour is just before dawn." -The Mamas and The Papas

I feel like I am at that peaked part of the marathon, right before the final surge of energy that pushes me across the finish line. I am so close! But I am so tired! I gotta keep moving my legs.

I have submitted all three of my chapters and have begun making revisions as needed. This will be submitted to the graduate school by the first week of June. I just have to make it through these next few weeks (with the idea that I will be able to sleep and run as much as I want after I finish the darn thing). My family knows that everybody gets a copy on my thesis (bound and signed by me!) for Christmas this year. Don't worry! I will wrap the copies and make sure they each get a pretty bow.

Today I interviewed for a position at Andrew Johnson NHS. Maybe I will get the position, maybe not. I think I am too tired to think about it (it was a four hour drive there and back... my mom was a trooper to go with me and listen to 90s country 30% of the way... driver picks the music, man). Maybe this is the sound of the first bird chirping before the crack of dawn breaks the skyline? Is that my light at the end of what turned into an insanely long tunnel? Maybe the tedious days ahead will be nothing compared to being finished. Maybe I just have to keep going and the end will find me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Artwork to match my last entry

This is what I am talking about.

Right Now

I received word today that I was not selected for the job I had been hoping for.

I was thinking of using this opportunity to write about being hopeful and being excited about my future. I usually operate in a Pollyanna-esque manner, always looking for the silver linings of things. "Don't look behind you, for you might fall over what is in front of you" But then I thought I should probably be thinking more about my todays. I do it all the time: I get so focused on my future that I forget my now.

So RIGHT NOW I am sitting in my dining room, jamming to some tunes on my iPod. My mother and grandmother are in the other room watching "Dancing with the Stars." My lungs are on fire when I breathe in and feel like they get filled with lead with each breath out. I have an imaginary clamp compressing my head. My eyes sting a little from the tears I shed earlier. I am surrounded my opened books and highlighted articles, reminding me that regardless of how I feel, I still have a thesis to finish. I am so close to finishing the stupid thing.

RIGHT NOW I am disappointed in not being offered the job. I am a little disheartened because of how close I was to the position and how confident I felt about the position. I am frustrated because I know I will do a good job wherever I go, I just need someone to hire me. I even feel a little crushed that I wasn't chosen. They call that "pride." I want to shake my fist at the sky. Why? Well, just because. I am allowed to be upset.

RIGHT NOW I think I am also surprised that I am not as upset about the "loss" as I thought I would be. I am at peace with the decision because I trust that my life is in the Hands of the Lord, my God. And if I don't want to be called a liar, I have to actually trust (and not just say it). They call that "faith." This is the hard part.

There is a time for everything. The Byrds sing the passage best, "To everything, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn tun." Later in Ecclesiastes: "He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." I think I sense that eternity right now. I know that in the long run, I will look back over my life and barely remember today's down when I see all the other ups throughout my time on Earth. So I take a minute to acknowledge today's grief and embrace this season of my life. Even if it isn't the most pleasant of seasons.