Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The lack of quality is astounding, really.

If I have to read one more paper where the student discusses findings from a study by quoting a paragraph from the original article, I might cry. TAing for a writing intensive course this semester is beginning to put me over the edge. Aside from the sheer workload of grading anywhere between 40 and 80 exams/assignments/papers (depending on how the other TA and I split the particular task), having to read some incredibly... lacking... papers is starting to get to me. I don't understand how students can graduate from high school without the ability to put a sentence together. What's more, I don't understand how they can be half-way through college and still not have learned adequate (let's not even hope for *good*!) writing skills.

In previous semesters, I have TAed for our department's capstone course that seniors have to take in order to graduate. You would think that by the time they get to their last semester in college, and are about to graduate with a psychology major, they would know *something* about how to write a literature review. Or a coherent sentence. The number of students who don't is absolutely shocking. So at that point we are faced with the dilemma of whether to give them As and Bs for D or F- quality writing because it's not fair to punish them when no one else taught them? Or do we start to fail them (as if we haven't been failing them all along...) for the first time in a class that will keep them from graduating with their major?

Really, the solution is a complete revamping of the educational system in our department But that also requires revamping the university's system, and the high school's system, and... it goes on and on. It's too depressing to even think that carefully about because suddenly the educational system in the country gets implicated too. Is this a bit of an over-dramatic statement/post? Probably. But you read some of the papers that I've been reading tonight and then we'll talk.

Bonus points if you manage to get through the paper with a sentence about "30 states that have of programs on X" that then goes on to list all 30 of those states. (Yes, someone really did that).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mind Your Busy-ness.

It's October. How did that happen? I mean really, I know time flies and that the beginning of the year is always crazy but I literally am beginning to feel like Rip Van Winkle here. This last month has been really busy. That's it. Just busy. Sure there have been fun parts here and there, but above and beyond anything else is the busy-ness.

I realized recently that 9/10 (or maybe 10/10) of the times I've been asked how my semester is going the answer starts with "busy." On a good day, I'll temper it with something to the effect of "but I like what I'm doing because____ ." On a bad day I'm "busy" and everything is a waste of my time.

I don't like it.

I had a conversation with my advisor a couple weeks ago about how busy all of the faculty are and how insane everyone's lives have become. She asked me if we, as students, notice this. The answer is yes, not only do we notice, but we talk about it. Mostly in the context of "I don't want that to be my life." But nevertheless, here it is, a few decades earlier and it IS my life.

I'm ready for the busy-ness to end. Being busy all the time and having so much going on really just has this way of making nothing I'm doing seem appealing/interesting/exciting anymore.

Sigh. On with the year. Yay grad school.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dysfunctional Eraser Syndrome.

At practicum, I do these assessments which often require us to give the child a pencil without an eraser. The instructions go something like "you'll be using a pencil without an eraser, so if you make a mistake, just cross it out and put the correction beside it." The idea is that we want to be able to see their thought process if they do end up changing their mind about an answer or step in a problem. It's fascinating to me, however, that the kids completely ignore that sentence in our instructions. No matter how worn down the eraser is (and trust me, they're nearly -- if not completely -- flat, because that's the point!), the child will try to erase anyway. Usually it's not very effective, but something about that ability to make even part of the incorrect answer go away is enticing to them.

This may be reaching a bit, but I started thinking about this and came up with the idea that it is sort of an allegory to our need to cover up our mistakes. People tend to be embarrassed by things they do wrong, and would much rather obliterate all evidence than have to face what they did each time (especially if they, in the end, were able to correct it!). When given a choice between crossing things out and erasing, most people choose erasing (admittedly, this is also because it looks neater). So, do kids pick this up from us early on? Is that was the erasing as much as humanly possible with these sad, meant-to-be eraser-less pencils is all about? Or is it just one of those childhood quirks that I find so great? Well, either way, it's entertaining...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just Say No.

I have this problem with saying no to people, which I have always known, but lately, it's become more and more obvious to me (perhaps because it has also been more frequent??). In my head the words "no" form loud and clear, but some how the signal from my brain to my mouth gets confused and it comes out as "no problem" instead. This is specifically a problem with many of my friends, but the problem also extends to advisors and other people in authority positions (e.g. practicum supervisors). In most cases, it's not a big deal to help out or do whatever they've asked, but it's more of a principle thing. And training, if you will, for the bigger things, which I am still often unable to say no too. Enter my problem of getting myself over committed in projects and extracurricular activities.

So, I turn to my faithful readers to ask for suggestions... graceful (or even just effective) ways of saying NO! to people who ask for my time, energy, work, and anything else I don't really want to give.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Be Careful What You Hypothetically Decide...

A while ago, I had a conversation with a friend that was part of a series of those random hypothetical questions. "If you could only have one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?" Of course, this is a near impossible question to answer for anyone who has any remote interest in music. And for the two of us, who are both quite into lots of different types of music, it was definitely hard. We both like various songs/genres depending on our mood at the time! But you can't factor in moods in a question like that. So, I finally decided, if really pressed, I would have to choose "Collide" by Howie Day because I often listen to the song as I am going to bed because it helps me fall asleep.

Yesterday, I went out for a bike ride and discovered that my ipod mini was broken. It will turn on, but the 'menu' button won't work and since I had my ipod set on repeat, it is stuck on one song. The song? Collide. It struck me as funny that the song I identified as the one that I chose really is actually the only one I can listen to now! I was annoyed at first, but I decided if it was going to be stuck on one song, I guess it really is good that it was this one... at least I can sleep!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I find myself seeking inspiration for various things on a fairly regular basis -- research projects, motivation for my classes, decisions in my personal life, and just day-to-day existence during those rougher weeks. Since it is beginning to look like this semester is going to be one long string of "those rougher weeks" I figured it would be a good time to stock up on some inspiration. Of course, whenever I actively seek out inspiration, I almost always come up empty handed. What I always forget is that when I stop trying so hard (looking for inspiration as well as pretty much anything else), it seems to magically fall into my lap. Even knowing that doesn't make it easier to just let go, be passive, and wait for inspiration/change to arrive. But I am inevitably rewarded when I least expect it.

Today's dose of inspiration comes in 2 parts. Neither are particularly earth-shattering, but both managed to strike just the right chord at the right time for me.

I. A friend of mine is a high school English teacher, and this morning (over one of the most amazing dishes of French toast I have ever had!) she told me about the first assignment she gives to her kids: Write 50 things that are true about you. Then she has them turn those things into a "rambling autobiography," in which no sentence can have anything to do with the one before or after it. The idea is that she can teach about sentence structure and the different ways to make words have an impact in a fun way. The bonus is, it also serves as a way to get to know her kids without having to do the trite ice-breaker activities. I loved the creativity of the assignment and it also made me think about what I would write in my own rambling autobiography... suddenly, inspiration! I want to write again... not just journal article-style methods, results, and discussion sections, but real creative writing.

II. A friend of mine posted this fantastic poem on her blog that was given to her in a class. Ironically, it goes right along with the autobiography theme. She says "The poem talks about having the self-awareness to recognize the reality of the situation, the humility to admit your own mistakes, and the fortitude to change your behavior as a result." Again, the timing was just perfect and struck a chord with me. Love it, love it, love it.

Autobiography in 5 Chapters
by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost...I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But still, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in...It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sunk costs: revisted

A friend of mine and I got into a discussion the other day about sunk costs and my use of it in my previous post. Basically, she told me that her business-major boyfriend told her that economically speaking, I used the term incorrectly (which I realized at the time -- those darn societal figures of speech never seem to be quite accurate, huh? :-) ). Anyway, it sparked some interesting discussion all around about decision-making theory. The funny thing is, even using the correct definition and the critiques that came up in these discussions makes it seem all the more applicable for me. The idea of sunk cost, it seems, is kind of stupid because regarding an investment as a sunk cost basically implies that previous actions have no bearing on future actions. In smart decision-making, you take into account the history when making your decision about the future. To regard everything that has happened as a "sunk cost" and stick with the endeavor anyway because you've invested "so much" in it is basically akin to throwing good money after bad.

So, as a New Year's Resolution to myself (and all of you reading!), I'm making it a goal and a Priority to stop throwing good money after bad. So to speak.

(P.S. Yes, I did say New Year's Resolution... being the perpetual student that I am, I tend to re-evaluate things based on the academic calendar, rather than -- or really, in addition to -- the new calendar year. Like I said, it's the perpetual student in me :-)).

Ethics by Spiderman.

"What gives you the right to change people's lives?"

This question was posed to me (and others) in my Ethics class this morning. It's interesting because one of the answers was that psychologists have societal prestige and assumed competence. Even as graduate students in training, people often assume a lot about our abilities to assess and practice. At practicum, we often question whether we know enough or are trained enough to really be doing what we're doing (this is especially true for placements where we are doing treatment -- read: therapy -- in my program), but clients rarely question our competence.

Basically, the message boiled down to a favorite line of mine (yes, from none other than our favorite superhero - Spiderman!) "with great power comes great responsibilty." The message was not a shock, but the idea of how much power we really have as psychologists was something that really started to hit home. I've obviously considered it before, but I think that this Ethics class is going to actually make me think about a lot of things more deeply than I have before.

Let's just say this is a welcome opportunity at the moment and really couldn't have come at a better time...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Separations. And sunk costs.

When you think about couples getting divorced, you hear about what happens to the kids and the effects, etc. But one thing that you rarely hear about is the extended family of the couple. Presumably, both members of the couple have established some level of relationship with each others' parents, siblings, and even close friends. So what happens to those relationships when the couple breaks up? (The same questions apply to a regular break up, not just divorces in married couples). Do you lose those close relationships with the people your partner is close to just because you are no longer with the person? I would say, the natural answer would be yes. But that's easier said than done I think. How do you just cut ties with people who you have invested time, energy, and love for any number of months to years? I wonder this with regard to separations of friendships too... I've had this experience a few times now where a close friend and I have a fight. In many cases, I was also close to the person's family, so naturally I no longer got to see those people when my friend and I were fighting. But then, not only did I miss seeing my friend, but I missed seeing their family. Obviously, I couldn't just call up my friend's parents and show up at their house. But I wanted to... it has been experiences like this that make me wonder (and a little... no, a lot... scared) about divorce.

Sunk Costs.
This is actually on somewhat of a related note... but another question on my mind is about sunk costs. I started thinking about it in terms of friendships/relationships, but I've realized it applies to a lot of other areas of my life too. First, the friendship/relationship aspect: if things are going badly with a person you have invested a lot of time/energy/emotion in, when do you draw the line and give up? The natural inclination (at least mine) is that I've spent X years on this friendship/relationship, so the longer I have spent, the less I want to just throw it away. The more I want to try, even if it continues to not work. But when do you stop trying, and consider all the time and effort a 'sunk cost?' When are you losing more than all of the time/energy that you have already invested is worth?

Like I said, this also applies to other things. I'm thinking specifically of a few projects I am involved in. I've devoted months to analyzing data and working on various aspects of various projects. After so much work, some of the projects have turned out to have very little in terms of findings. But there is still the possibility of something IF we continue to work on it. I am so sick of working with some of the stuff, that I have no interest in working on it more now. BUT I have already invested all this time, and currently would have nothing to show for it if I walked away. On the other hand, if I invest MORE time, I might end up with something useful. But it'll require even more time and energy on something I don't want to be involved in anymore. Where do you draw the line and chalk the time up to a sunk cost, and scrap any future involvement? Or when does that sunk cost become worth sticking it out... potentially endlessly??

I have no answers on these matters, only questions. So, opinions are welcome.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My life in a nutshell (or a comic)


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random conversations...

... with children.

In the span of about 20 minutes this morning, I had a conversation with a seven-year-old that covered the following topics:
- cabins 'up North' and fishing at the cabin (he taught me about different kinds of fish in the lake at his cabin)
- the difference between a mountain bike and a road bike (I explained)
- climbing mountains (vs. falling down one) (a mini version of ''would you rather...'')
- race cars (and possibly monster trucks? he was trying to explain a particular type of car to me, and I still have no idea what he was thinking of)
- DUIs and why drunk driving is dangerous (in all seriousness, he asked why it was bad.)
- things a kid could be arrested for (again, he asked how a kid can get arrested -- presumably because it is much more common for an adult to get arrested)
- bullies
- paper airplanes (complete with a lesson in making them)
- siblings

This kid was probably at least some level of ADHD, which would partially explain the randomness of the topics (and the often illogical links between them!), but it was still really entertaining to realize all that we had covered in less than a half an hour. The things kids come up with never cease to amaze me. But more than that is what they teach me, even when they're not trying.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The World Traveler Returns.

My parents have taken to calling me the world traveler since I keep going on these trips to different parts of the world for conferences. I kind of like the sound of that, because really, that's what a part of me dreams of being. Especially after returning from amazing trips like this one. There is so much to say, and I know I won't cover it all, but I'll try to give the general thoughts and impressions. [pics will come in future postings or at my photo-site here].


A preview in photos:
Barcelona was great. Definitely up there on my list of favorite places in Europe... The architecture was so cool and colorful. It's known for the Gaudi pieces (colorful mosaic style pieces) that are all over the city. I decided have three favorite places: the Palau de la Musica Catalan (the stained glass picture above is the ceiling of the hall, the center drops down over the audience), Park Guell (a huge park with a big Gaudi bench that twists around and other Gaudi architecture), and the beach (so warm and beautiful and relaxing :-)). The tapas and the people-watching and getting to use my Spanish (even though they speak Catalan there, most people understand Spanish too) were also fantastic. Traveling with Aaron was fun... good to have time to catch up with one of my closest friends. It was kind of an intense three days, running around to fit everything in, but it was great.

A preview in photos:

Wurzburg (aka ISSBD aka the actual work portion of the trip) was also amazing! The preconference on peer victimization was really cool -- I've been to preconferences before, but they've been on general peer relations. Having one this specific to my interests was different, and it was nice to have a group of people (especially since it included some of the leaders in the field!) all focused on such a narrow topic. The general meeting had some good sessions and some not so good sessions, which is fairly par for the course. I had a chance to make some professional contacts, which was, of course, great. I have to say, the best part was by far the people I met. This conference was unlike any other in that most people there were the only ones from their programs/departments. So, that meant there were a lot of people kind of floating around on their own. Not only did I get to meet people from all over the world (e.g. Netherlands, South Africa, Zambia, Camaroon), but everyone was so incredibly friendly and welcoming. On several occasions, we were about to go to lunch and then someone else would come up and start chatting with one of the small group that had formed. Then, that person would just invite the new one along. I have never seen such inclusivity. It was definitely a detriment to the whole efficiency thing, since it often took half an hour to get out the door. But it was nice.

Personally, it was a great trip because gave me a chance to remember how much I like being on my own at times, meeting new people, and just generally being a competent, friendly person. These last several months here have often made me forget that. I lost some parts of myself, and it was great to rediscover them on this trip away. Another "personal growth" moment, shall we say, was the fact that my cell phone didn't work in Europe (neither did most of my new friends'). Consequently, most of the planning to meet up for dinner had to happen earlier in the day or on the fly. Of course, things came up and people were late. Normally, if someone wasn't there after a half an hour we would all leave. So my little "control freak" nature got to take a break and I was forced to go with it. And it was good for me. It worked in my favor too... everything just worked. I don't even know how else to explain it, but the theme of this whole trip was that the universe was conspiring with me instead of against me for a change. I was a half an hour late to meet people one night, and sure I was going to miss the group, but they ended up waiting for me and others as well. My new friend Lucy was going to meet us too but was no where to be found when I go there. Just as I was about to run back to my hotel, she got there. Perfect timing. Like I said, it all just worked. So, overall, great conference, great people, great experience.

Frankfurt (in approximately 12 hours)
A preview in photos:

I was only in Frankfurt for an afternoon.... I decided to spend the morning in Wurzburg so I could do some shopping and last-minute sight-seeing with Lucy. She was supposed to be coming back to Frankfurt to get to the other airport in town, but miscalculated the time so she ended up missing her flight. It was actually nice because we got some more time to hang out together and I had a buddy to explore Frankfurt with for a few hours.

The architecture of Frankfurt was really interesting in that it was full of contrasts. There were a lot of modern, skyscrapers mixed in with older more traditional architecture (man, where's Jill when I need the technical terms to make this make sense?)
Anyway, Lucy and I went to get dinner and to wander around the city a bit. On our way to find the cafe area of town, we walked through this park near the Opera house. Apparently there was some kid-fest going on. It was like a mini-carnival, but all totally kid-friendly games and activities, including a long ramp that kids were riding down in little plastic tubs (picture above). It was really funny to see -- very unique! After I dropped Lucy at the train station, I wandered around the city some more. Got myself a little turned around, so I ended up wandering around for longer than I planned. I was looking for the Main Tower because they have an observation platform. When I finally found that, I got there just in time for the last lift up to the top. So glad I made it... it was a gorgeous view of the city! Back to the hotel to pack and then collapse.

So, this post ended up being quite a bit longer than I initially planned. But to encompass the last two weeks, I guess it had to be. Feel free to check out all my pictures (they should be posted soon!) to see more about my European adventures.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Things I Used to Know

Tonight I have been going through my old notebooks and papers that I wrote in undergrad and for my Master's. I came across such things as Brain and Behavior, Cognitive Neuroscience, Introduction to Clinical Psychology, Personality Psychology, and Cognitive Development. I enjoyed most of those classes and thought I learned a lot at the time. But going through these things several years later, I'm left wondering how much I actually retained. In these notebooks I found terms like "crystallized and fluid intelligence" (something I learned about last fall in my clinical coursework. I even found the terms "nomothetic" and "idiographic" -- two words I learned earlier this spring (or so I thought). It is sort of frightening to me to realize that at one point I knew things that during these past 2 years of graduate school I believed I was learning for the first time. It would have surprised me less to have this experience with notes from a year ago, because throughout grad school, I have found it harder to retain the things I learn. But in undergrad, I thought it was getting engrained a lot more solidly in my brain. Apparently, I was wrong :-p.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Another ode to the Internet.

I've been meaning to write this post for a few weeks, but I'm glad I waited because now I have even more to include in it. I must sound really redundant and completely out-of-touch when I say this for the zillionth time, but I am just constantly amazed by the internet! Here are a few reasons why:

Blue Garlic.
Last night my roommate was making dinner. She pulled the garlic lemon chicken out of the oven and was shocked to find that the garlic had turned blue! I came out to ask if I could help just at that moment. She was completely perplexed because it hadn't been blue or moldy or anything before she put it in. She told me there was nothing I could to do help unless I had answers for her. So, I went to my trusty old friend Google and typed in "garlic turning blue in the oven." Lo and behold I had several hits and got an answer right away! [It turns out there was some interaction between the acidic lemon juice and the garlic that resulted in the blueness].

I am trying to plan my trip to Europe (conference + a little traveling) and keep coming up against yet another detail just when I think I'm getting close. The other day I sent an email to the email address given on the conference website to try to book a hotel. The conference is in Germany, so I really shouldn't have been surprised to receive a response entirely in German. (I guess I assumed since the conference is all in English and they put up this email address that the hotel reservation company would also have English-speaking staff. Bad assumption.) Anyway, one quick trip to Babelfish and about two clicks of my mouse, I had the entire email translated for me!

About a month and a half ago, I started some follow-up data collection for a study on Teacher Perceptions of Aggression that I began last year. The original study looked only at kindergarten teachers and I wanted to expand my sample across the grade levels in schools around the Twin Cities. Because time was short, we wanted to find a way to recruit teachers quickly. We found out that we could get a list of principals in Minnesota from our bookstore, so we did just that. Then we sent an email to all the principals asking if they would be interested in forwarding our survey to their teachers. To be fair, they are getting compensated a nice amount of money to complete the survey, but still... we weren't expecting a great response given that it was May and a crazy time for educators. But it was minimal effort on our part. The result? 40 questionnaires returned so far! AND (here's the kicker), we received an email from a teacher in ARIZONA who was interested in participating. She said her mother is a teacher in Minnesota who participated in our study, and now she and her staff want to complete it too! We've gotten responses from at least 6 of her colleagues so far. It's incredible how word can travel around the state and teh COUNTRY so easily. It almost makes me tempted to conduct a national study on relational aggression. Almost.

I'm sure there will be more examples to come. We do, after all, live in the age of technology. But even having grown up with it as a regular part of my life, it never ceases to amaze me... and that is kind of amazing in and of itself!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The best way to build karma

A friend of a friend told me one time about how she has this theory that helping people move is the best way to build up karma in the world. It was such a little thing but it totally stuck with me, and it's something I've come to believe is really pretty true. But it's become more than a "karma building" thing for me. This sounds silly, but the process of helping people move has, to some extent, restored my faith in people and acts of kindness. I've helped several friends move in the last year or two, and each time I have been so impressed at how easily and readily people come together to help each other. With moving, it's exactly the kind of task where it goes about a million times quicker if you have several people doing it. So, really, the more people who volunteer, the less time and energy everyone has to put in. I mean, it's kind of fun too once you get into it. But let's be honest - I'm sure there are at least 10 things most people would prefer to do before carrying heavy boxes and furniture up and down stairs. It's exactly for that reason (yes, I realize how seriously sappy this sounds!) that I think there's something sort of 'moving' (really, no pun intended, I swear!) to see a group of people filing in and out of a house, carrying things, and helping out. It's sort of the epitome of coming together and teamwork and all that stuff that teachers try to instill in you in elementary school. And it's a very concrete way to demonstrate support and the fact that you would be there for a friend.

(Obviously you can help someone move without having deeper ties to them, but let me have my moment of sappy friendship-ness!).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Being the 'bigger person'

Rising above it. Taking the high road. Being the bigger person. Call it what you will. Deciding to do something you know is right or for the best even when it is not what you would prefer to do has many different names. What is never reflected in any of these phrases is the feeling that goes along with it. To put it very eloquently: it sucks.

Knowing that there is so much you could (and want to!) say, so many points you could make to put the other person in his/her place (or even just to make him/her aware of what you are thinking/feeling), and still not saying *any* of it is HARD. Might be one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life... and it takes every last ounce of self-regulation I have to really keep it up through the end. But I did, and I'm better for it.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Decisions, decisions.

I am generally bad at making decisions. Right now, I have two fairly major decisions to make. Both involve travel, and both really needed to happen, let's say, yesterday. As much as I hate making big decisions, I hate being put on the spot for big decisions even more. With each passing day, each passing moment it feels like, the consequences (financial and otherwise) of *not* making the decisions become greater. Regardless of what I decide, I need to make plans accordingly, but I just can't decide yet. I don't have enough information. In one case, I don't know that I'll ever have any more information (other than an extra opinion, I suppose) and in the other, I may have more information but by that point costs will have gone up. It's a trade-off.

The worst part is, these are both situations where the decisions -- and plans -- were already made. The changes are last-minute, and not within my control. The upshot is that I feel very trapped at the moment, and it is very quickly becoming a lose-lose situation. Gah.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Loyalty: If you're not with me, are you necessarily against me?

The concept of loyalty is something I have always struggled with, both personally and philosophically. I'm speaking specifically in regards to loyalty in friendships. Trusting that someone is loyal is one thing that has proven difficult for me in many different situations over the course of my life. This is largely because in many cases where I have trusted someone, my trust has been betrayed. This is not to say that there aren't some people who have stuck by me regardless. But the number of cases of "disloyalty" far outweigh those. Personally, this is something I am still dealing with. But philosophically, my thoughts have changed a bit -- perhaps to a more muddled state than it was before.

When we were younger (think junior high and high school) it was generally pretty clear-cut. "If you're not with me, you're against me." The idea that my friend dislikes someone so I dislike them too was very common and acceptable - especially among teenage girls. As we grew up, we realized that this isn't necessarily a good way of operating in the world. It *is* theoretically possible to be friends with two people who are not friends with each other. It is even possible (albeit often difficult) to remain friends with two people who are fighting or very decidedly do not like each other. But when is such a case not okay?

Consider this scenario: I am friends with Lily and Daisy. Lily does not like Daisy and has not treated her particularly nicely. Consequently, Daisy also does not like Lily. What does it say about my loyalty towards/friendship with Daisy if I continue to be friends with Lily? Am I supporting her negative treatment of another friend of mine by continuing to maintain my own friendship with her? Is it enough to state to Lily that I don't agree with her and I don't like what she is doing? People are responsible for their own actions. We cannot control what other people do. But when and where does that line fall in friendships? And how can this be done without being viewed as 'taking sides'?

We are taught that all evil needs in order to take over is for good people to sit by and do nothing. So what happens if we do speak up to the friend who is not being particularly nice -- if we refuse to be a bystander and intervene, but the 'evil' (yes, I realize 'evil' is a bit of a stretch from 'not nice') still continues? How do we show our approval/disapproval for someone's actions, and what constitutes supporting (or not supporting) said actions?

Personally, if one friend of mine is treating another friend of mine crappily, I wouldn't feel comfortable continuing to be friends with that person because I would feel like an enabler. But then again, how much control would I ever have over that person's actions anyway? If I said something and it still doesn't stop, what more can I do? Do I sacrifice my own friendship with that person as a statement? Would it do anyone any good?

I guess a lot of it just boils down to maturity. And the sad reality is that even post-adolescence, it is often difficult to find two (or three) people who are all on the same high enough level of maturity to handle difficult social interactions in an adult manner. Sometimes the "mean girls" just grow up into mean women.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

On Liberals and Feminists.

A few conversations in the past couple of days have gotten me thinking about two things, liberals and feminists. One might argue that I'm being somewhat redundant here, as most feminists are liberals, and quite often the reverse is also true. But for the sake of my points, I'm considering them separately.

So, first, on liberals: the common conception about people who are liberal is that they are very open-minded. While I agree with this, generally, I've found in recent years that some of the liberal people I know are also some of the most closed-minded people I've ever met. How can this be, you ask? Well, the fact is that these people are open-minded in their views as long as you agree with them. Heaven forbid you should express a more conservative viewpoint in the presence of "diehard" liberal... they look at you like you're stupid and everything that subsequently comes out of your mouth is disregarded or at least taken with a grain of salt. This was especially true in undergrad. Being liberal was clearly the thing to be at Stanford, and although there were a handful of Republicans, they were looked down upon in many ways. Their thoughts were laughed off, and their arguments were disregarded by most people. This is not to say that I agree(d) with most of their views, but the thing is, if we are truly as liberal as we claim, then we should at least be "open-minded" enough to acknowledge others' points of view.

This came up recently in a discussion about a woman's decision (one who happens to be a friend of mine) to take her husband's last name after they are married. One of the other people in the conversation (a very liberal, feminist woman) basically flipped out when my friend said she was changing her name. [Incidentally, this second person didn't really know my friend, so I thought her attacking of the idea was especially out of line]. However, while it was not something I would necessarily do or even have expected my friend to do, I was taken aback by the strong (and rather condescending) reaction that this woman had to the decision. It seems to me that as long as we are not trying to make a rule that every woman has to give up her name, then why should it matter whether one woman makes the choice to keep or change her name? It's a personal thing, so why should one be looked down upon for making that decision for herself?

This is where the feminist part comes in as well. Part of the argument was that it was going against feminism to give up her name. Why should my friend give up her name? What was her fiancee giving up? etc. etc. The discussion thankfully did not go on too long, but it left me feeling rather unsettled. In an age where so many women are "pro-choice" it seems odd and a bit disrespectful to put down the choice that someone makes. If you really are "pro-choice" then you need to be willing to accept either choice that any given individual makes.

I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies, The American President:

"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.

I think that we forget this a lot of the time, especially as "liberals." Of course, when the conservative viewpoint involves restricting the rights of others (e.g. banning gay marriage), that's a different story. But if you are creating a situation in which there are multiple options, you have to be willing to accept the option you may not agree with as an equally valid choice for a person to make.

On Feminism:
I already alluded to the feminist part a bit in the thoughts about liberalism. But it also came up in another way, which is the idea of a sisterhood and female energy. In the last year I've experienced these things in a way I never have before. First, was actually my internship last summer. There was a moment where I was sitting in a meeting with the rest of the Education Team and realized that it was all women. Some of the most high-powered, influential people in the city, the people who outlined and set important policies, were women. That was an incredible moment for me. Then, joining choir in the fall provided a more personal (as opposed to professional) realization of a similar nature. The experience of 100+ women in a room, joining their voices into one sound, and creating incredible music gave me this huge sense of energy unlike anything I have ever experienced. It's not like there's any talk about it, but you just feel accepted and supported in being who you are as a part of this group.

So, when a friend of mine was discussing the merits of having a women's group to fill the need that "some women" have for a "sisterhood," it got me thinking. She was questioning whether that was really a good way of accessing feminism, because she felt like she almost needed to be in the presence of men, proving herself, in order to really be progressing women forward. But to me, these are sort of different ideas... the idea of having a place where it is all women and you feel accepted and supported feels like something very different than fighting to be considered an equal with men. To me, the former is more about an affirmation of what you are and being supported in that. Whereas, when surrounded by men, or when in a traditionally male setting, women often feel like they need to prove themselves. But being in a community of women sort of takes away that pressure to be the poster child or the educator. It allows you to just experience the company and support that other women can provide. The baseline is that you're all equals, so you get to experience a feeling of empowerment that comes from within rather than from conquering a stereotype or breaking a glass ceiling.

It's really a unique kind of energy as well. There's something about it that is difficult to explain, but it just feels empowering to be surrounded by other women who have the same focus or goal as you, to know that you can all accomplish something together. It's just different somehow than being on a mixed-sex team.

Anyway, just some thoughts that were on my mind this weekend. How's that for hippie crunchy liberalism? :-)

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Window to Your World

In the last several months, I've been lucky enough to be able to visit various friends of mine from high school and college. Even though I've known these people for years and years, I've realized that one thing is substantially different now than it was when I knew them at those respective times: the fact that many of them have their own places. Seeing how my friends choose to decorate their spaces (better insight when they have a whole apartment to themselves, but even just a bedroom and living area is illuminating) and how they live in those spaces has really given me some new insights into my old friends. One friend who I would have expected to have a fun and trendy bedroom went completely "grown up" and classy. Another friend who I expected to be more on the classy side went for fun decor (not that fun isn't classy!). One of my best friends who I would have expected to be on the messier side keeps her apartment pretty immaculate ("Everything in it's place" as she puts it) and another who I would have thought would be pretty laid back is really anal about dishes in the sink, etc. Who would have thought?

It's funny to realize what new contexts and situations can show me about friends I've known forever and thought I knew nearly everything about. Learn something new every day, I suppose. I would have thought I'd be a little weirded out to discover things so contrary to what I would expect of my close friends. But it's actually kind of fun to learn about these new sides of people... adds to the mystery of life and our friendships!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

To Sing is to Fly and Affirm.

This weekend marked the official end of my first choir season with the Twin Cities Women's Choir, so in honor of that, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on my year with the TCWC. For those of you who didn't know, I joined this wonderful community choir back in September in hopes of finding a bit of a sanity break from the craziness of grad school. I hadn't been in a choir since high school and was really missing it, so when I found the choir it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

TCWC is a non-audition choir that requires no previous musical theory/education experience. At first glance, you would probably wonder how in the world this works. Well, to some extent it's a self-selecting group (most people have at least some experience in a choir or with music in some way). But the rest is pure magic and we wind up having an amazing sound together as a group. The songs we sing are mainly contemporary, but there is a good mix of upbeat, fun songs, and more serious, slower songs. It's exactly the type of music I enjoy singing most.

Anyway, I was hooked after the first night... the energy the director and all of the women in choir give is incredible. The director has a way of giving enough musical theory information to understand the piece (and for those who have some background in it), but not going overboard for those who don't read music. We work hard and take a break only for announcements, but our director mixes in anecdotes about her day job as an elementary school principal (cute kid stories always win over a crowd!), and we laugh and joke between songs, so the two hours fly by. I have always loved singing, but I've never enjoyed choir rehearsals as much as I have this year. In the past, rehearsals have felt largely arduous, but I stuck with them because I know I'll like the end result of all the work. This year, rehearsals have truly felt like a break. I come home feeling happy regardless of the day I've had, on some nights I border on giddy.

We have had three big concerts this year -- a holiday concert (Illuminations), a Winter concert (I Am Beautiful America), and our Spring concert (Divas and Desserts) this weekend. Each has been completely amazing in its own way. The holiday concert was the first time I felt a true outpouring of support from my friends. A group of about 10 of them came to see the concert... in as many years as I've been singing/doing activities, I can think of only one other time (my Honors Thesis presentation) where I felt that supported. It was an amazing feeling to look out into the audience and see a little cheering section for me! At the Winter concert, I again had some great supporters. But it was also possibly the most amazing concert I have ever performed in. The songs were all wonderful and fun to sing (they all really came together at the end!), and the energy of the audience was like nothing I've ever experienced. It was fantastic to be a part of that energy... our last song became an unplanned encore because people were on their feet cheering and singing, so the band re-started the chorus and we just joined in. I have never felt so elated by singing before in my life!

This weekend, at our Divas and Desserts concert, I was again privileged to have a full table of supporters! One of the best parts was that two of my closest friends from college were able to see the concert this time... neither one of them had seen me sing before, so it was a real treat to have them there. A couple of newer friends also came, which was fantastic as well (not to mention my more "established" but equally awesome grad school friends who came out to the concert!). Overall, it was great. But the concerts were a little bittersweet for me because I knew. To know that I won't get to have this feeling (and the choir nights themselves) every Wednesday night -- we don't rehearse over the summer -- is really sad. Of course, I know I'll be back in the fall (it's hard to imagine my life without choir now!), but it will definitely feel like there is a big space in my life for the next three months.

The title of this post comes from one of the songs we sang this weekend, entitled "To Sing is to Fly." It sounds cheesy, but the song is really pretty and the lyrics couldn't be truer:

To sing is to fly and affirm. ...
To fly and soar, to fly and soar.
To coast in to the hearts of people who listen.
To tell them that life is to live...
That nothing is a promise.
But that beauty exists and must be hunted for and found!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Live Your Dream?

One of the things I love about Facebook/Myspace is the fact that you can check in on what everyone you used to know is up to these days. Something I've noticed lately is that a lot of people from my high school class are "living the dream." That is to say, many of them basically decided to up and move to the state/country they want to be in or to go after the job that they really love. Although I know none of the details surrounding most of their decisions, they strike me as the "starving artists" type. Most of these people are classmates I don't keep in touch with, who I was never very good friends with in the first place.

What strikes me is the vast difference between those people and my close friends who I *do* keep in touch with. Nearly all of my close friends are in graduate school, or taking time to decide which type of graduate school they want to go to. I never cease to be amazed by my brilliant and talented friends, but in my Facebook/myspace browsing, I wonder how many of us would describe ourselves as "living the dream." Sure, we want to be doing what we're doing because it will (theoretically) get us to where we want to be... our dream perhaps? But are we missing out by choosing to spend the bulk of our 20s in school when we could be off traveling the world, taking low-paying jobs that we love (oh wait, I guess that kind of describes grad school too! :-)), meeting new people, exploring new places, working our way up the ladder of fame/fortune?

I don't necessarily regret choosing grad school (and I don't mean to imply that any of my friends should either!) because I know it is the road I want to go down to get me to where I want to be in the end. But I do often wonder about these things... Really, what it boils down to is that I think I play the "what if" game far too often for my own good.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Magic of the Interwebs.

The amount of information available on the internet never ceases to amaze me. This has come up several times in the last few weeks... there is the obvious (and sometimes scary) fact of how little information you need about a person in order to find a way to contact them. But there is also the really cool fact that I can find out nearly anything I want to -- from the answer to a question on my take-home final about the MMPI to how much postage for my teacher perceptions survey will cost (weight of a piece of paper + USPS postage calculator). The latter is the thing that is entirely amusing to me at the moment, and what inspired this post. Really.... I Googled "the weight of a piece of paper" and came up with my answer! It was fantastic :-).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

All Good Things Come to an End.

In the last few days, I've realized that along with this crazy semester (although admittedly not quite as crazy as last year) a lot of things will be coming to an end soon. I always seem to forget that even when things are really nice and coming together, it tends to be short-lived. Maybe that's the pessimist in me talking, but it just feels like a lot is ending right now. And really, only a couple of new things are beginning. Most of it just keeps going, and I'm not particularly excited about anything in that "it" category at the moment. Choir ends in two weeks. Two close friends are moving away (albeit to a different area of town, but when they both live so close now, it feels pretty far. And I know it won't be quite the same when they live across town rather than a block or two away). A few less close, but still important, people are moving away/dropping out of my life in various ways.

The one thing that doesn't seem to want to end is Winter. It's supposed to be 45 with a possibility of snow tomorrow (er, today I guess). On April 25. And it's been rainy and icky all day today. Let's just say this doesn't help matters any.

I'm trying to stay positive, and to remember that change doesn't have to be bad. And it doesn't mean that the parts I like about the way things are now have to disappear with the changes. But I never claimed to be good with change. So, add a lot of changes together and... well, there you have it. All good things come to an end.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to Encourage PTSD.

The idea of "encouraging" (I use the term facetiously) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that people don't think about much. How can anyone who wasn't there encourage a disorder based on some traumatic experiences? Well, I remember reading some pieces post-9/11 about traumatic stress and people's reactions. Often similar pieces were covered in news shows. The big difference being that the news shows usually included clips from 9/11 of the Twin Towers collapsing or some such image. Not having been near NYC at the time, but being affected on 9/11, those images have a pretty serious impact on me even now, nearly 7 years later. Now, take those images and imagine that you saw the Towers collapse in person, or that you had family members in those buildings. You see the induction of the traumatic stimuli?

Now, the example that brought all of this to mind was semi-related... the War in Iraq. I was at the VA earlier today doing an interview for my assessment class. I'm working with dementia patients, so they are elderly adults. The two I've interacted with for this assignment were both WWII vets. The patient I interviewed today, however, finds himself experiencing flashbacks/hallucinations more recently than he had in the years since he returned from combat. Part of the reason is likely to be his increasing dementia (when the long-term memories are all that you can remember, and those memories also involve trauma, suddenly trauma that hasn't been there in years also resurfaces). But another likely reason for this trauma to be resurfacing is all of the media attention on the War in Iraq! All the graphic images and clips shown in the news these days bring up memories for these Veterans. It's horrible, when you think about it. They have had no direct involvement in the war that is going on now -- they've served their time and have moved on with their lives. Then the media comes along and dredges it all back up for them. It feels unethical and irresponsible for them to cover the War with such a cavalier attitude towards such things, with so little recognition for the pain they may be causing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture??

I'm not sure if you can quite read it, but just in case, the picture above is a screenshot of a "Winter Storm Warning." In April. April 10 to be exact. What the heck??? Also, it was sleeting/snowing a few minutes ago and then there was thunder and lightning. Again, what the heck?? I think someone is a little confused up there! So ready to move back to Cali now!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feeling Minnesota.

I went to see the play Third tonight with some friends. It's a great show, and if you have the chance (and are in the area) definitely go see it before it closes next week! Anyway, you can check out the website to see the description, but basically it is about a professor who accuses one of her students of plagiarism and the way that it causes her to ultimately question some things about her own beliefs/world view. Obviously, it seemed relevant to me given the academic context. But it also had some really good messages/struggles that can apply to people in general. People sometimes forget to re-assess their beliefs and views as they get older (something I've been realizing in various people in my life lately). It was cool to see that idea expanded in a way that applied more generally.

More than the actual messages of the show, though, was the feeling I got sitting in the Guthrie watching the play. I love the feeling of being a part of an audience that is really excited/moved/responsive to something we're watching. It works the same way for me with big concerts in arenas where everyone is screaming, close football games where fans are cheering, etc. etc. Tonight was that, plus the fact that I got to remember what I like so much about theater. And what I like so much about Minneapolis. I got to feel like a real person, a real adult going out in the world and taking advantage of cultural opportunities with friends. I got to appreciate a really good play. And I got to appreciate a city that offers such opportunities, reminding me why I like being in such a city. Nutshell: nights like this make me happy :-).

Once an RA, Always an RA

I got an email today about one of the students I'm TAing for. She hasn't turned in the latest assignment and hadn't responded to any emails inquiring where it is. It didn't seem like her, and I'd started to get a little worried. I told myself that I was just being my usual "jewish mother" self. But the email today was from one of the services that the health center on campus offers. It was basically indicating that there was some very stressful/traumatic event that happened to her recently, which was why she was missing class/not turning in assignments. I'm not really sure what my official role is as a TA, but my heart immediately went out to her and I wanted to help. My RA instincts kicked in... actually, my RA instincts kicked in about two weeks ago and now I feel really badly for not pursuing the issue further. I just knew something was wrong but what more could/should I have done? Likely nothing. So, to now have my instincts confirmed makes my inclination to be the RA/guidance that she needed even harder, because I know that wasn't my role.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm going on a trip and I'm taking...

Have you ever played the game "I'm going to grandma's house/on a trip and I'm bringing ___ in my suitcase" ? I don't know what the official name of that game is, but I am making up a variation of it, inspired by one of my best friends.

I'm going backpacking through Europe and I'm leaving behind...
- friends who betray my trust; who are fake/exclusive/catty; who don't value me as a person; who don't make time for their friends; who make me feel bad about myself
- parents who can't see that I'm an adult, or treat me on that level
- classes that are a waste of my time
- useless assignments that are a waste of my time
- professors who assign more work over spring break than they do during a normal week
- advisors who can't be bothered
- organizations/departments who keep throwing work at me because they think I have all this extra time
- last-minute meetings/assignments/requirements that I don't have time to fit into my schedule
- weeks upon weeks of sleep debt
- nights of cooking (or lack of any motivation to cook) for one person
- friends who are coupling off
- exams, papers, presentations of all kinds
- prelim exams
- colds
- pointless errands, phone calls, random tasks that take up so much time
- emails that never cease
- forgetfulness
- unhappiness/loneliness

I'm going backpacking through Europe and I'm taking with me...
- my choir
- my true friends
- my grandma
- my real research interests (once I find them??)
- books to read for fun
- music that makes me happy
- time to enjoy new places and the important people
- new memories that I make along the way
- inspiration and guidance from the few who are giving it to me
- hugs
- pictures
- smiles of little kids
- happiness
- friendship
- belongingness

My "Core."

I did an interview with an undergrad student today to practice my clinical interviewing skills for my assessment class. The point of the interview is to get a complete picture of the person's life -- school, family, friends, life history, etc. In the discussion about friends, the girl kept talking about her "core" group of friends -- 4 girls she is close to and who she hangs out with on a regular basis. It was timely because it is something I've been thinking about a lot lately (and by lately, I mean for about the last two years).

In high school, I would say I had that "core" group of friends. There were definitely certain people I was closer to than others within the group, but we always had this group that would go to parties/movies/dances/etc. together. In college, I had a group like that freshman year and into sophomore year thanks to the draw system. I didn't necessarily hang out with all of my wonderful drawmates all of the time, but they were my closest friends. Junior year, we all went our separate ways a bit and to some extent grew apart. But we also all found other groups that we became close with (e.g. co-staffers, new housemates, etc.). Senior year was kind of a mix for me -- I didn't feel like I needed a core group because I knew so many different people across campus. But there were usually groups within those people (e.g. psych friends, staffer friends, etc.), and my drawmates were always there to come back to (sort of like a secure base, if you'll pardon the nerdiness). I don't know if I realized at the time how much I value having that core group. But I certainly do now.

Since coming to grad school, I have found my world shrunken a bit. Most of my friends come from my department, with the exception of a few friends from high school/college who are in the area (and their respective friends). Those friends are by default, to some extent. It's like the friendships of a freshman dorm, where you all become friends because you live together. It isn't until the year after when you realize who it is that you truly connect with and share interests with. Only here, there isn't that "year after" to meet new people who you really click with. Consequently, I often feel like I don't quite fit into any of the somewhat established groups. I miss having that "core" group. I have a few close friends, but they are not necessarily the people who are friends with each other. And although there are groups that exist, I'm not really a part of them. I get along with most people, and I'm even close with some. But there are no people I can refer to the way my interviewee referred to her friends.

I miss having that "core"... those people to fall back on, the group to gather together to share good news/get moral support/have fun nights out/diffuse stressful times. As much as I appreciate individual friendships, it just isn't the same sometimes. To feel like you belong, like you have a whole gang of people backing you up, holding you up... that feeling is incredible. And I miss that too.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Time is Relative

In the last few months a lot of people I know have gotten in engaged. More specifically, a lot of people have gotten engaged after relatively little time together. It's gotten me thinking... some friends of mine knew each other 5-10 years before getting engaged. But in a lot of these recent engagements, the couples have known each other less than 2 years when they get engaged. They've been dating anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half. To me, that seems like relatively little time to be able to determine that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. If I started dating someone now, I don't think I could picture that relationship ending in marriage a year from now. But if you think about it, a lot of movies and such show engagements happening after 10 months. Some of these people are a few years older than me, so I suppose that makes a difference too. But as a concept, it seems like that is such a small amount of time. I guess there is an argument to be made for the "when you know, you know" feeling. I have no idea what that would be like... I guess that might fall under the category of "you don't understand/believe it until it happens to you."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Can it hurt to ask?

The phrase "it never hurts to ask" is a fairly common one. I never thought much of it until a couple of years ago. I can't remember the circumstances off-hand, but I distinctly remember a series of (fortunate) events that basically happened only because I asked and got a 'yes' when I didn't expect one. Suddenly, I took to heart the corollary to the "it never hurts to ask" phrase, which is that "the worst they can do is say no."

Lately, however, I've been wondering if that's as true as it seems. There are all kinds of obvious possible ways that asking can go awry, not least of which is how it comes across to the person you are asking (e.g. if you are asking someone to take on a task you were originally assigned, does it seem like you are trying to shirk your responsibility? what does it say about you if you ask someone for a given thing or a particular question?). What I'm wondering is related to a situation (which I think may be more common than you'd initially expect) where you ask someone to do something and you know they may not want to but probably won't say no. In most cases, the person is someone who hates to say no to friends/bosses/etc. So it seems to be to be a bit manipulative to ask in the first place. One could also argue that the person needs to get better at saying no if they don't want to do something. But if you know that they are bad at saying no, is it taking advantage of that to ask anyway?

For what it's worth, I'm writing this having been on both sides (the asker and the askee who can't say no), and I'm not really sure how I feel about either side.

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's all about relationships.

I thought this would be an appropriate topic in honor of Valentine's Day (albeit a little belated at this point). But don't get disheartened... this isn't going to be a sappy diatribe about romantic relationships (or an angsty post about a lack thereof). Instead, I thought I'd share somethings about relationships that I've been thinking about lately. In fact, it's hard not to think about it because it's come up at least three times in the last 24 hours.

Instance #1: My choir director Wednesday night spoke briefly about a conference she attended (she is also a school principal) about education reform. The keynote speaker spoke about the three R's "relationships, relevance, and rigor" needed to transform a classroom (and the education system). But she stressed the point that it's the relationships aspect that needs to be built first. Her school is choosing to do this through the arts (as was suggested by the speaker), which she was pretty excited about. It's an interesting idea to think about... inspiring/teaching by beefing up the arts programs. Especially during a time when so many of those programs are suffering due to budget cuts.

Instance #2: Yesterday during a lab meeting, one of my professors talked about the importance of relationships in establishing community partnerships for our current and up-coming research projects. I thought this was a rather unique perspective to take, because so many researchers DON'T think about this aspect of their projects. First it's data, data, data. Then it's publish, publish, publish. But the truth is, none of that would happen (or at least it would not happen nearly as successfully!) without putting time into the relationships necessary to conduct the research. And in fact, those same relationships are often really worth the time because they come back around to help you out. It really does pay to have the people you work with invested in the project and to have those relationships built because they can provide insights into the research that only they, as people who are directly involved with the program/kids/etc. could know.

Instance #3: I had a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago about how friendships are formed, and how a lot of it is just seeing people and establishing routines because those people are on your mind and you want to see them. Last night, that all sort of came together for me. I hosted a 'Girls Night' (which a couple of boys ended up crashing) as a sort of anti-Valentine's gathering for myself and my single friends. On a whim I invited a new friend who I hadn't gotten to see much outside of school. We've connected several times on busrides but then go our separate ways to our respective buildings. But she was on my mind, so I invited her, and it was a great addition to the group. I guess the point of this is tangent is to say that suddenly the line of thinking my friend presented makes sense to me. And I sort of see more now than before how the line of intentional invitations and just wanting to see people because they're on your mind blurs into a friendship. That's one thing I've learned in grad school -- out in the real world, outside of college bubbles, you have to work harder to meet people. And you have to work a lot harder to make those chance meetings into friendships.

Incident #4: This is probably the most Valentine's related incident. First a little background: I frequently tell a particular friend of mine that she seems to know everyone in the world, because every time I am out with her, we run into someone she knows. I also frequently find out that she knows someone that I just met. Her connections to these people aren't in one consistent way... she has a lot of networks that just happen to overlap with mine. I was a little envious for a while that she seems to know so many people in a place where I know relatively few. But I think that is part of the transition process... in time, I will get back to the place I often find myself, which is a "connector" of sorts. In life there are some people who just know a lot of people, and I've realized for many of my friends I am that person. Not something I set out to be, or even necessarily want to be. But nevertheless, I am the person that makes connections between people. Lately it seems to happen related to certain friends being interested in romantic relationships with other friends. But it's not only limited to that... I didn't realize it at first, but when I stop to think about it, I recognize that in college too, I definitely knew a lot of people across campus in various different ways. I tended to introduce my friends to each other, although on a relatively small campus, many knew each other too. Here, I feel like I have a lot of different networks that aren't really related except when I bring them together. And within the psych world, I think that's often true too. For more about what I mean, check out the Malcolm Gladwell article below. I don't think I'm quite to 'Lois Weisberg' level, but I can suddenly see how that might be me someday, which is kind of a fun thought!


Inaugural Entry

I have had blogs in the past but have always gone back and forth between wanting to use it as a journal of sorts (i.e. keep it private) and wanting to share my thoughts with friends and family. Well, these days I find myself thinking enough thoughts that I want to share (if for no other reason than to have a sounding board for ideas/random observations), so here I decided to create a new blog. Feel free to leave questions, comments, words of encouragement, and anything else that comes to mind!