Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Got An Award!

I was thrilled to wake up this morning and find that Amie at A Meaning of an Optimist had given me an award! My very first blogger award! Yay!

No, not that kind of award. It's the Versatile Blogger Award!

I would first like to give a BIG thanks to Amie for giving it to me! I'm so thrilled! The rules for this award are as follows:

The rules for after you have been given this particular award:
- Thank the person who gave you the award :)
- Share 7 things about yourself
- Pass the award to up to 10 other versatile bloggers
- Let those other bloggers know you gave them the award things about myself...
1. I'm graduating college in 2 months.
2. I have an overweight dog named Maggie.
3. My all-time favorite musical EVER is The Phantom of the Opera.
4. I was an only child for seven years until my darling little sister, Laura, was born.
5. As stated in my last post, I was born in Florida, and my family moved back and forth between there and Michigan three times.
6. I'm terrified of bees.
7. One of my biggest goals is to learn to speak French fluently.

I would like to pass this on to the following bloggers:

Biohazard at My Confusion Theory
The Outspoken Introvert
Angela at To Put It Simply, It's Quite Complicated
Taylor at Penned By Taylor
Kristen at Confessions of a Graphic Design Student and,
Alicia at Hopeful Misanthrope

Thank you all for creating blogs that I'm excited to see new posts from, and I look forward to reading more! :)

Update: Ok, so like many of my blogger friends, although I've only been handed two awards thus far, I'm feeling a little like the "rules" of the awards could potentially get tedious. So, that said, any future awards given to me (if that happens) will just be posted straight to my "Awards" page, and the person who passed it on to me will certainly have their blog linked to under the award in question. I have a hard enough time keeping up with a posting "schedule" without having to worry about also playing by the award rules. I hope this doesn't make me sound ungrateful, because I sincerely appreciate the awards I've been given, but as this is my blog, I feel a bit like following rules kind of defeats the purpose anyway. :)

I suppose there could always be exceptions where I do pass an award along, and I would be perfectly fine if the recipient didn't follow the "rules" either. So, thank you again to Amie and Borderlinegirl for the awards they gave me, and I have them proudly displayed on my "Awards" page if anyone wants to take a look at them. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Can't Swim. No...Seriously.

At the risk of becoming the biggest loser on the internet, it's sad confession time: I can't swim. Yes, I am a 21-year-old who would most likely drown if she were dropped into a lake of indeterminate depth. No, I am not proud of the fact that there are four-year-olds who can swim more proficiently than me.

As sad as this is, there is a perfectly good explanation as to why I have made it to the age of 21 without ever learning to swim properly. I can swim on my back. A little. But, like I said, if I were dropped in the middle of a lake, I'd most likely drown.

This problem all stems back to when I was about four years old, and my family lived in Florida. I don't remember a tremendous amount of my life there. I was born in Florida, we lived there for about a year or two, we moved to Michigan, then moved back to Florida after about a year.

I do remember making "lemonade."

It wasn't great. Don't make lemonade using water and yellow colored hand soap. Yellow and lemon-scented does not equal lemon flavored. I was maybe three. I didn't know. Now you do. You're welcome.

I remember having the Chicken Pox.

But mostly, if only because of the impact that still hangs on to this very day, I remember the pool.

There was a time I liked the pool. I would wade around in the shallow end with my dad, happily splashing around like most children do when introduced to water.

I would ride my Big Wheel around the pool, carefully avoiding the edge, but still feeling pretty dang cool.

So for a while, the pool and I were friends. 

This would not last.

One afternoon, my family hosted a get-together at our house. People from church came, friends were there, a good time was being had by all. Some of my friends and I decided we wanted to play with my wagon. One friend and I piled into it, while another, older friend, began pulling us around the pool.

It was going great. We were having a blast riding around the pool in that wagon. Suddenly, at the deep end...disaster struck.

One wheel slipped off the edge. What was once a carefree joyride around the pool had turned into a plummet into the deep end. Wagon and all.

Next thing I knew, I couldn't tell which way was up, and everything around me was blue.

All hope seemed lost. I was going to die, upside down (or something) in our swimming pool. I had resigned my little body to death, when next thing I knew, I was lying on the patio beside the pool gasping and choking for breath, flopping around like a fish, while several concerned adults stared down at me.

Turns out a couple of quick-acting teens at the party had jumped in and hauled my friend and I out before we inhaled too much chlorine water and died. My parents hauled me inside moments later, and I was relatively unscathed. At least physically. Mentally...well, that's why I still can't swim to this day.

That and some swimming lessons at the YMCA that traumatized me even further. Note to anyone who's reading and might be a swimming instructor: When you encounter a child who says they are not ready for you to dunk them under the water...don't dunk them under the water. They will panic and suck in a lungful of water. Especially if they've already got one near-drowning-experience under their belt.

Needless to say, I did not complete my YMCA swimming lessons, therefore, I still cannot swim.

Yes, it's lame. No, I do not like that I can't swim. Yes, I should take lessons. But that would involve getting in a pool. And putting my face in the water. And that leads to a panic attack.

I know I have a problem. And maybe someday I'll actually do something about it. For now, I'm good, thanks. Just don't invite me to your next pool party.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Curse of Medical Students' Disease

There are often situations that arise in my life that make me stop and think "Why in the world am I like this?" Usually I am forced to admit that I have no idea.

My Abnormal Psychology professor once warned our class about "Medical Students' Disease." This is the phenomenon that occurs fairly regularly in med school students where they begin diagnosing their friends, family members, neighbors, cashiers, taxi drivers, pets, and themselves with whatever horrific illness they are currently studying. Twinge of stomach pain? Gastrointestinal bleed. Mild cough? Tuberculosis. 

A psychology student can fall prey to this "disease" as well. And I'm inclined to think it's even easier to "diagnose" someone when you're a psychology student. That girl in class who always has something to say just to hear herself talk? Histrionic personality disorder. That guy who just gave you a funny look in the hall? Paranoid schizophrenic. Any little behavior can be misconstrued as something it's really not.

I'm not so bad about making snap diagnoses of others. I tend to diagnose myself. And this is exactly what my professor warned us not to do. I actually began making diagnoses for myself two years before I was ever warned of Medical Students' Disease. It started in my Intro Psych class.

We were talking about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I'm sure most of you are well aware of what that looks like. A&E has a show about it, very aptly named "Obsessed." Apparently A&E loves to spotlight mental disorders, because they also have "Hoarders" and "Intervention." Oh, and I think "Heavy" is also A&E. But I digress.

Pulled the image from here.
So my prof is trying to get all of us intro psych students to think about what daily life is like for a person with OCD and a severe germ phobia, since the two often go hand-in-hand. He does this by asking us to do a thought experiment.

He says to us: "Imagine your hands are covered in dog poop..." and my inner turmoil has already begun.

My notes swirl in front of my eyes into a mass of scribblings, and all I can think is "NO PLEASE SPARE ME!"

But my professor was unrelenting. Of course, he was also blissfully unaware of the turmoil I was feeling. "Imagine it's really caked on there. There is dog poop in every little nook, cranny, and crevice of your hands."

"It's under your fingernails."

"Now it's drying, and I'm not allowing you to go to the bathroom just outside the door to wash it off. You just have to sit there and deal with it."

My arms felt useless, and my hands felt like they were literally crawling with bugs. Germs. FILTH! Then, calm as can be, prof says "Who would really like to go wash their hands now?"

Slightly ashamed of myself, I timidly raise my hand, along with just a few others in the class of about 65. My friend sitting next to me kind of laughs, then looks at me and says "That bothered you?"

Now feeling even more like a weirdo for wanting to bolt to the nearest bathroom and scrub the skin from my hands, I just say "Well...*timid laugh* Yeah. I'm...I'm pretty uncomfortable right now." *more timid laughter* My friend smiles and says "Huh, that's funny," and goes back to listening to the lecture.

Meanwhile, I'm lost in my own head trying to remind myself repeatedly that there isn't actually any dog poop on my hands. It was a thought experiment, that's all. The poop isn't real. There's no poop, and no reason to wash my hands.

I suffered through the rest of the lecture, while my professor talked about how the dog poop scenario is how many OCD sufferers feel all the time. For those in the class who weren't phased by the thought experiment, I doubt they truly understood the horror of what this would feel like. Me? I left the class with one thought in my head: I'm a germaphobe with OCD.

Fast-forward two years, and I have a different professor lecturing my class on how it's common to start diagnosing yourself, but to try not to do it. Failed that task two years ago, thanks, but I appreciate the warning.

While I've never seen a psychologist and been given an "official" diagnosis, I'm pretty sure I really am mildly obsessive compulsive. I don't like touching doorknobs or door handles with my bare hands, and if I have to, I always wipe my hand off after. Among other things. But if I tried to list them all, this post would end up so long that even I wouldn't want to read it anymore. 

I suppose things could have turned out worse though. I could have diagnosed myself during a lecture on psychopathy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Today A Holiday? Does Anyone Know?

Is there something special about today? I'm wracking my brain, because I keep getting this nagging feeling that for some reason today is supposed to be special, I just can't put my finger on it...

Ah yes, Valentine's Day. Or "Singles' Awareness Day" as I've heard it called by embittered single-folk. I'm not embittered. Not yet anyway. Sure, I'm 21, and only once in my life have I had someone to call my "Valentine," but really that's fine by me. 

I don't need to be caught up in all the hullaballoo of Valentine's Day to feel loved or complete. I am a single girl, and I'm proud of it! 

Not that I'm completely anti-Valentine's Day either though. I think any reminder to love one another is a good thing. Also, I'm genuinely happy for all my happy couple friends out there. Especially my amazing cousin who just got engaged to an amazing man. I'm even happier that he didn't propose on Valentine's Day. That would just have been way too much cheesiness for me to handle. I understand that Valentine's Day is cheesy, but I prefer chocolate to cheese in this situation.

You should know that sometimes cheese is my choice over chocolate. But if someone were to say "Joanna, would you rather be given cheese or chocolate as a gift for Valentine's Day?" I would choose chocolate. Preferably truffles or caramels. Roses are good too. Red roses are my favorite.

But I digress. Valentine's Day is what it is. Couples are what they are. Singles are what they are. I am what I am. single. And I'm ok with that. Some people get so caught up in the pink and red madness, that they think they need to have someone to share the day with. Someone to go eat a meal with, get some flowers from, hold hands, share a kiss, a hug, whatever.

Personally, I liked the days of elementary school where everyone gave everyone else a card and maybe even some candy. It was always fun to read the cards and see what character you got on yours. Because without a doubt, you knew a lot about how the giver felt about you based on the character and message on the card.

Nowadays, I don't usually get cards or anything. Mostly because I no longer have a teacher telling all my classmates (and myself) to give one to everybody. My parents always get me something though. This year, I got an iTunes gift card and some truffles. Also, they got my sister and I both some...wait for it...PajamaJeans. Yeah, those PajamaJeans. The ones from the infomercial. I was skeptical, but they actually are super comfortable. Only downside is they're a little too big for me in the butt region, so we'll see what happens after a washing.

In addition, my mom got clever and typed up personalized poem cards for my sister and I. They were adorable. Printed on pink paper and cut into a heart shape. Aww... :) My parents rock.

All of this is really just to say I'm a single girl who can still manage to find some value in Valentine's Day. I love my family, I love my friends; I love that some of my family and friends have spouses/fiances/significant others and are in love. I want that for myself someday. But for now, I'm content being single. I'm content with the fact that my only Valentines are my parents and my sister. (Even if she did give me a Jabba the Hutt card today.) I know I'm loved, and I love others. Isn't that really the point?

Besides, after today, stores will be full of Valentine's chocolates that didn't sell, and they'll probably all be discounted hard core. I might just treat myself to an after-Valentine's Day sale.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sometimes Mondays (And Mornings) Just Suck

Apologies for not posting anything in about a week. I've been totally slacking, and I admit it. I hope to do better in the future. I'll try very hard anyway.

Despite the high likelihood of feeling even more like a moron after writing this all out, I'm going to tell this story. I think it's important to have the ability to laugh at yourself. Hours after this incident occurred, I was finally able to laugh about it. Though I am still a little bitter...

Monday morning was, first of all, a Monday. Which is bad enough as it is. The end of a weekend is one of my least favorite things. Mondays make me want to crawl into a cave and sleep until Friday rolls around.

Secondly, I had to get up at 7, because I have my practicum Monday, Wednesday, Friday every week, and I have to be there at 8. I'm not a morning person, so being up at 7am is just not high on my list of happy things. Practicum is great, and I love what I'm doing, but the whole 7am thing just kills me sometimes.

Mornings and I have never been friends. I'm such a night owl. I work better at night, I'm more creative at night, I'm less irritable at night...just all kinds of reasons I like the evening hours better than morning ones. Conversations with me and my roommates in the morning tend to go like this:

Roomie: Good morning, Joanna!

Me: ...morning...

R: How are you?

M: *grunt*

R: I slept great! How'd you sleep?

M: ...fine...

R: Good. You have practicum now?

M: *nod* Yup...

R: Have fun! Have a great day!

M: Thanks... *walk out the door*

I just don't understand morning people. I don't want to be confronted with this

when I've just woken up and feel like this...

Side note: None of my roommates are actually hardcore morning people who think mornings are magical. They're actually just more bubbly than I am in general. That's what happens when one introvert lives with three extroverts. Weird how that happened. 

Anyway, Monday morning I got up, started getting ready, then at 7:30, I started my car. I have a remote starter, thanks to my parents who had it installed in my car as one of their more ingenious Christmas gifts to me a year ago. It's fantastic for when, like me, you live in a state that gets coated in snow in the winter. You can start your car from the warmth of your room, then go outside to a car that's already fairly warm.

So at 7:45, I bundled up and made my way out to my car. I opened the door, turned the heat up as high as it would go, put my keys in the ignition, then grabbed the brush and proceeded to clear snow off my car. Which was made difficult by the fact that there are still snow drifts nearly a foot deep all around thanks to the "Snowpocalypse."

I finish clearing off my car, walk back to the driver's side door, give the window one last swipe for good measure, and...*click* I stare in abject horror as my car locks itself.

So there I am, standing in the parking lot, a scraper in my hand, staring helplessly at my car and desperately trying to figure out what I should do. Of course, futilely, I tried to open the door. Looking back on it, I'm not sure why I bothered. Desperation will make you do crazy things sometimes.

So then, furious, I stomped back into my dorm room, slammed my scraper down on the counter, and pulled out my cell phone while Mal stares at me in confusion. She didn't even have to ask what happened: "I locked my keys in my car." I dial the number for campus security, thinking they'll be able to help me out of my predicament, but the answer I got was " ma'am. We don't have the tools for that." 

Panicking, I did the only thing I could think of: I called my mom. I knew my mom wouldn't be able to help directly, but I thought maybe she'd have some advice. As I'm explaining what happened, I'm getting more and more frustrated and angry, and feeling stupider by the second. I hate feeling stupid, especially when it's my own fault, and when I get really angry, I tend to cry. So I'm on the phone with my mom, and I just start bawling. (The fact that I'm PMSing and extra-emotional didn't help at all.)

My mom naturally tries to comfort me, and asks repeatedly if I'm alright. I tell her I'm just crying because I'm mad and I feel stupid and that I'm fine.

She says she'll call my dad and then have him call me, so I go back to my bedroom, sit at my desk, and sulk/pull myself together. At this point, I know I'm going to be extremely late for practicum, so I call and explain the situation. Fortunately they're very nice people, and my duties are flexible, so being late was no big deal at all.

Finally my dad calls and I go through the whole story again, once again bringing myself to tears. The conversation is much the same as with my mom, so again, I'm asked if I'm alright, and again I say I'm angry and stupid and I'm fine. My dad tells me he's called someone to come take care of it, and they'll be to my parking lot in about half an hour.

So, after an hour-long ordeal, the tow truck pulled into the parking lot. I headed outside to find a guy working on unlocking my car. I thanked him and climbed in, and immediately felt like I'd walked into a sauna. After left running for an hour with the heat on full blast, my car felt like it was approximately 159.2 degrees inside. On a more positive note, there was no snow or ice left on my car at that point! 

Finally I made it to practicum. Everyone wanted to know what had happened, then told me they were glad I made it. It was nice to know they had missed me for that hour I wasn't there. They wouldn't have wanted me there in that state anyway. My life was in mortal peril for an hour. I was not a friendly person. 

In fact, my poor roommate Kelsey and visiting friend Sarah were subjected to my wrath at one point. I came out of my bedroom to go out to my car once the tow truck arrived, and they were sitting out there, oblivious to my situation so far.

I told them what had happened, they felt bad for me, I said goodbye, and I left. I feel a little bad about that still, so since I'm sure they'll both be reading this...I apologize for my wrath. It wasn't you, it was me. That was an awful morning, I was in an awful mood, and I'm sorry you had to see that.

Frankly, I'm sorry anyone ever has to see me in the morning, even if it's just an average day not corrupted by something stupid like locking my keys in my running car. It would probably be much safer to leave me in isolation in the mornings. At least until my "it's morning and I'd rather still be sleeping" grump has worn off. That cave is probably a good place for me until then.