Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dreams do come true!

Ok, so....... it's been a while and there a lot of catching up to do. Hmmm, where did I leave off? Oh, right, yes. Let's jump right in then, shall we? I have been dating a wonderful, generous, sweet, handsome, smart, funny, sensitive total package of a man for coming up on two years now. About a year ago he got a job offer to work in the DC area. Upon taking this job, he packed up and sold his house in Durham leaving me behind in NC. OK, ok, that's not fair. He didn't leave me behind. He would have liked for me to follow but I am a dedicated professional and I didn't feel that I could leave my job in the beginning of the year, especially given my role. So, we did the long distance thing, which wasn't easy, but we made it through. I applied for jobs in the DC/Northern VA area in April of this year. I interviewed with two systems. One I wanted to work for and the other I desperately did not but given the circumstances I would take what I could get just to get my foot in the door. I took the latter part of my spring break being interviewed by these school systems, after having moved my mother up to NC from AL (a long awaited and needed move for her). Continuing to look for posted positions, in the very end of May I found another open position in the Fairfax County School System. There were two openings in fact; one for a general psychologist and the other for a senior psychologist. Having had eight years of experience, supervised three interns, been a mentor, and worked at all levels of needs and grade I felt, why not apply for the senior psychologist position? I never thought I would get the job, let alone an interview but low and behold about a week after I applied for the job I got a call for a telephone interview for both positions!!!! Now, I knew that for the higher level positions, people are typically hired from within due to familiarity with the system, not always, but more times than not. Regardless, I was taken aback when offered that interview. Long story short, I was interviewed on a Tuesday and offered the general psychologist position on Friday!! Now, to put that into more perspective, this week after getting to know some of the other newly hired psychologists, I have not run into one yet who was offered a phone interview, let alone have such a short turn around time for the offer! Yeah, feeling pretty good about myself.

So, present day, I am temporarily living with my boyfriend until I find a place to live in the Northern VA area. I have a place on hold, if you will, but there are other possibilities in the mix. My boyfriend, as I mentioned, sold his house less than a year ago and he and I have been hitting the roads attending open houses in the nearby areas because he would like to buy. Can't blame him, rent here is OUT-RAGE-OUS! So, after about three weekends of "hunting" he was made aware of a property in Alexandria, an area we were both drawn to and that has a lot to offer. It had just come on the market and through the online website we used to search for listed houses, we took a look at it. It didn't take long before he was calling an agent to set up a showing for that weekend. It was the first house we saw last weekend and needless to say we both got in the car and had an "OMG" moment. A great kitchen was on the top of both of our lists but I really wanted a back yard for the dogs (honestly, because I am lazy and don't like hopping on an elevator, walking through a lobby, double doors, and then up to a green area to take them out - do you feel me people? Open back door, let dogs out, dogs finish, open door to let them back in. That's about my speed). After looking at a few more properties that day, we talked about it and he decided to call the agent and discuss putting in an offer. Offer was made on Monday night and accepted on Wednesday (which just happened to be my birthday!)!! So, enjoy the little video I put together of Seth's soon-to-be new AWESOME house!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 1st is not always April Fool's

Twice a year I perform a magic trick and disappear from the world as we know it. Over seven years of practice, I have perfected this trick over time and have it down to a science, or is it a religion, whatever, it is something else. In the months of October and November and then again from the end of January to the end of March I tend to disappear from the face of the earth! Just ask my friends and family they will tell you that when I reappear again in December, just in time for the holidays, and then again in April, they are happy to know that I am still alive, a comment I have heard quite often over many years now. Ladies and gentlemen, come one, come all because not only do I disappear but sometimes I will become someone else right before your eyes instantly as well! I perform this trick so well that sometimes I do not even recognize myself. However, I am not the only talented person who is able to perform this magic trick. No, there are many around me who have learned, some perfected as I, this art form. I am sure you are wondering what it is by now. Have I whetted your appetite enough?

It is a beast of a thing that, when it comes around, wreaks havoc on those within it's reach bringing about such anxiety, such stress, and, for some, such panic that it can leave a path of professional and, again for some, personal destruction. This thing, this beast is called headcount and for people in special education it comes twice a year, 12/1 and 4/1. It is for this reason that my stress levels sky rocket and my personal life can become sucked up into this beast not to be seen again for months. If you ever want to see adults scramble like eggs in a pan or on a griddle come to where I work during these times in the year.

The magic trick I referred to earlier is also known as survival mode and it is worse from January to April because we are well into the school year by that point with our plates already full beginning to topple over or the plates we are balancing on sticks begin to slow their rotation and wobble because there are so many going that it is nearly impossible to keep them all spinning. My colleagues joke, well it's more like a "what else are you gonna do other than" kind of laugh, that their signifiant others must think they are ignoring them or they have done something wrong. They wonder why we snap, why we are so tired, why we are so touchy, and for some can change personality from one day to the next. Gosh, kinda feels like describing a really long period. My colleagues feel awful because they know they are neglecting their friends and family often during these times in order to fulfill their responsibilities at work. In addition, the pressure at times feels insurmountable because you are getting it from everyone, everywhere. For the first time this year, while empathizing with some of my colleagues, I suggest that we needed to form a support group for our significant others so they will know that they are not alone in having to deal with us during these times.

So, now that I feel I am able to remove my invisibility cloak and reappear to the world, this is my way of apologizing to my friends and family in hopes that they will understand, to not find fault in what looks like my lack of friendship and care, and to realize that I have been practicing the perfection of prestidigitation that I feel pressured to perform twice a year. All I ask is to please forgive me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It was written on the wall...

Sitting in the bathroom of my high school, I was looking around in the stall and reading what was written, which inspired to write a blog about walls, physical and virtual. Yes, we all remember the graffiti written on the walls in our respective bathrooms.... varied from: 867-5309 <--- Call for a good time (extra points to those who caught that reference!) to things I cannot write on here but you know what I am talking about. In this specific stall it was written that Mary Jane is my home girl. Now, I know that Mary is my home girl (high five Mary!) but I don't know about Mary Jane... does she even attend that high school? No people, I am actually not that naive as this was followed underneath by Happy 4/20 everyone! But this is the lighter end of the conversations held on these stall walls. I will have to get the quote, but I recall last year I frequented one particular bathroom more often as it was always on my way between here and there. This was the love lost, betrayed, unrequited love stall. Oh the things these high school students lament upon, if only they thought so deep about their studies, but alas, weren't were all in a state of romantic insanity in high school?  

I digress. However, now in this world of cyber stuff and virtualness (how's about that new word Colbert?) we find different walls upon which to write.... enter Facebook. First, let me begin by playing off my previous post. On Monday, upon logging into my desktop computer at my high school a screen popped up forcing me to read the new Employee Acceptable Use Policy (regarding use of the internet at work) and Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct for my system, which basically said, "Remember... whatever you do is a reflection of this system so be cautious and presently aware about how you (and others) conduct yourself at all times in all situations because you never know who is watching!" Hi ya Big Brother!! It specifics that, "This policy applies at all times and locations where the employee’s conduct might reflect poorly on the school, the school system, the employee’s status as a role model for students, or to the extent otherwise permitted by law." Well hell, as my grandmother would say. So this brings me back to my blog and how no matter what I write I must be ever so vigilant about what I write, who might read, and how it might be used against me in some way ending in my termination. Enter my cousin. On my Top News Thread on Facebook, I found the following post by a this family member (mind I even give pause before reposting this given what I just typed": "im breaking up with you via wallpost. doesn't get much worse than that. CUNT." Now, I have found out that this is a personal inside joke, if you will, between my cousin and one of her friends. Ok, fine, but did you EVER give thought to posting something like that on a public forum bright child? More than likely not given that they are a freshman in college. I mean did you think about the future implications of your actions at that age? Ok, so maybe I am an outlier b/c I did and still do. But then again, bathroom walls were about as public as it got when I was growing up and if you were smart you didn't sign your name to your work. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Third time's the charm.... right?

They say competition is healthy, competition can be motivational, competition initiates drive and thus can lead to inspiration.  My best friend has a blog, as does her sister. They have created and maintain very good blogs that are informative in many ways, thought provoking, and often times down right entertaining. You find yourself wanting to check back each day to see what they have posted next. While reading them it seems they wrote them effortlessly, as though the words flowed from their brain through their fingers onto the screen. Then there is me.

When I was little I kept a diary, Of course it held my deepest thoughts so it was easy to write. But this. This. THIS is another thing. I finding it super challenging. I find myself constantly rereading and in the background of my thoughts my editor is in overdrive wondering if what I want to write about is something that I can post on a private blog? Would my employer or bosses ever happen upon this and find something they thought a poor reflection of me as their employee or a representative of where I work? Could I be terminated because of my thoughts/opinions? What if I ever find myself in a litigation, will the opposing side's lawyers use this against me? What if one of the parents I serve found this, would it be leaked out or would something be taken out of context and spread about me? Does this seem a little paranoid? Yes, it does but these are things I constantly have to consider each and every time I write something. So, therefore, writing a blog to me is uber difficult. What can I write about it? How personal can I get? Does anyone even want to read this? 

I realize the main reason, at least I assume, that my best friend and her sister began keeping a blog was because they had a family and it was an easy way for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to keep up with their life and the growing little ones. I don't have a family. Well, that's extreme and not true, I have Piper... the world's most cuddly, spastic, lovable, cutest dog around! She sometimes sleeps with her tongue just barely hanging out.... so unbelievable cute! 

See what I mean?

I have a family, just not one that I created. I am either left to talk about my dog (which would be boring and am not the typical "Oh my life is my dog" kinda person - you know the kind I am talking about), my wonderful boyfriend (which I would have to get his permission to write about him since we are still new - 4 months and going strong!), or my job but the things I would want to write I fear would get me fired most times - fun reading I guarantee but I like getting a paycheck (would have to speak in vague terms and hypotheticals and you know details are the sauce that makes everything better!). So I am left with my life, which I think is pretty boring and ppl wouldn't want really to read about it but that is your choice right? I have come to this conclusion. I like reading about my friend's life and her sister's. I like reading status updates on FB and let's be real, they are just snippets of daily mundane. So, I will offer up my life and try to maintain the daily mundane. 

As a good start I will leave you with this: *warning* Adult content ahead!
  I was talking to one of my co-workers today about another co-worker who drives me nuts and practices what I like to call chosen incompetence. For those who need a definition: Chosen Incompetence: 1.) v. the act of faking stupid when you have been trained, taught, re-taught, shown, and provided resources as reminders of how to do your job at the most basic level. 2.) Chosen Imcompetent: n. a person who had the prerequisite academic and life skills to be accepted into some type of higher education college or university, put forth the effort, knowledge, and organization to such a level that they earned a degree in their chosen field of practice and knows how to conduct themselves as a responsible adult but chooses to coast by feigning ignorance of all such skills sets and knowledge base so that other's will basically do their work for them. So..... this person is a good 'ole boy type who can't read social cues to save his life. I can't count the number of times that I have been sitting at my desk or a conference table surrounded by files with my head buried in my computer and something about that scene just calls to him to come over and engage me in a conversation. No matter how many times I don't look away from my computer, no matter how many times I shuffle through the papers I am working on, no matter my lack of responding with either a head shake or an "uh huh" he keeps talking. So, while talking to my co-worker about this person and my most recent encounter with their lack of "getting a clue" he gave me the perfect phrase for this person's incessant verbal meanderings.... verbal masturbation!! It's so true because it seems as though he gets so much pleasure from just talking to ppl, who regardless of their participation or engagement in the conversation or encouragement to keep the conversation going, he will just keep talking! It was the belly laugh I needed after a bit of a long and stressful week. Verbal masturbation... the phrase of the day. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It's Thanksgiving! A day set aside for the gathering of family to sit 'round a table and share with one another; food, drink, memories, stories, and best of all love. I have a big extended family. My mother is the eldest of six and there have been few opportunities I have had to gather with them all over the years. Every once in a while this day falls on my brother's birthday, like today. In fact, I think the last time I was with my whole family on Thanksgiving was when my brother's b-day fell on the same day, more than 20 years ago I'm sure. Gosh, it's hard when your family lives 3 states away. Like I said it's my brother's birthday today. I bought him a card about two weeks ago because I knew that I would get busy and not have the time. Well, Piper got a hold of it. When I realized she had I was able to save it and was going to send it anyway adding with love from Piper. I went upstairs later that night and when I came back down the card was in shreds. So, a new, belated card will be sent.

Today I spend the day with my dog and chinchilla because everyone in my family lives in AL, save my brother who is in NY and paternal uncle in AZ. My best friend Mary and her family invited me up to spend the time with them but visiting dogs aren't allowed in their house, plus I knew I would have to work. My wonderful boyfriend invited me to come and spend the day with his family but I declined to his relief because, although his mother extended the invitation she, and he, didn't think that it would have been the best of introductions.
I don't mind spending the day by myself. It's not the first and might not be the last. Working for the school system and having the day before through the weekend off still makes it hard to plan and get to AL. Flying is the best but it's over an hour to Raleigh to catch the flight to AL and upon arrival it's over an hour to have me picked up in Birmingham where I would land. That would be the cheapest way. I could fly out of Greensboro but I have never found cheaper flights there. Taking the train is a 12+ hour ride, would be more expensive, but would take me from here to Tuscaloosa where the majority of my AL family live; however no dogs allowed by flight or train. Enter the cost of boarding here. The final option is to drive and that's a 9-10 hour drive. Bonus is that dogs are allowed.

To be honest I am a bit bitter, and anyone who knows me, knows this. I am bitter because I was born here, I was raised here, and then, as I feel at times, I was left here. Are there choices behind these feelings, sure. I chose to stay in what I think is the best state in the country. It's my home but my home is split. My father chose to leave because he was going to return to his hometown, which oddly enough is Greensboro, AL, to live with his mother, who ended up passing away before he retired and had the chance to move back. I can't blame him because he had the opportunity to live in a "free" house and a town where I don't know if anyone could live cheaper, which is right up his alley.  My mother chose to move back Tuscaloosa to take care of some personal things, but as I drove her down, every fiber of her body and heart didn't want to leave NC which was evidenced by the tears rolling down her face as we drove over the NC line. My brother left after he got his B.A. Degree. Now, could I chose to live in AL? Sure I could and be close to my family but #1 Who would want to if that were your choice? and #2 Would I be happy? No and no. So I chose to stay here where I am happy but sometimes, typically times like these, am a bit lonely. Again, not the first time but I am hoping it's nearing one of the last.
Despite these feelings I get around the holidays as an adult, and sometimes as a child, as this is Thanksgiving, I do have a lot to be Thankful for: That I have a family to complain about from time to time; that I still have two living parents who love me unconditionally; even though we don't have a relationship a brother who I know loves me; supportive, understanding, and fun-loving friends; a boyfriend who I am so lucky to have, the world's most loving and adorable, sometimes mischievous dog; the opportunity to have and live in a lovely townhouse where I feel comfortable and safe; a career that allows me to live in my lovely townhouse, a second job that I enjoy the majority of the time (not when I have to be there at 6:30 am on Black Friday), my overall health, and the ability to know that all of this is a blessing. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm a SCHOOL Psychologist/Don't believe what you read

Yep, I didn't study adults and their problems. I didn't study personalities and their various presentations. I didn't study relationships and the intricacies of them. Therefore, these things are not obvious to me. I studied how disabling conditions effect children and their learning and how to identify disabilities. I studied statistics, IQ tests, achievement assessments, behavior rating scales, adaptive behavior measurements, childhood development and theory, the brain and how it functions, and learning theories. See, that's the school part ppl tend to not recognize/acknowledge. I am frustrated. I am frustrated that in interactions that I have fairly often ppl think just because I have the word psychologist in my job title that I should be some well adjusted paradigm of psychological embodiment. Ppl, please stop assuming that I am going to analyze you and uncover some deep dark secret upon meeting you. BTW, Dr. heal thy self doesn't apply here either.

I was looking at what other careers/jobs that my skills could apply to and this is what I happened across from US News and World Report online in the article Best Careers 2009- School Psychologist:
"A Day in the Life . A teacher wants Johnny placed in a special-education class, so you make a classroom observation (if it were only that easy - thanks red tape!). You see something different, however (Ok, this part is true b/c I typically do) If the teacher provided some individualized instruction for Johnny, he probably wouldn't need special ed (This is how I see my job to keep them from going into or exit them from special ed, if possible). The teacher isn't pleased with that assessment, but you have the final say (Final say, hardly, like I have power, funny.). Next, you test another child's eligibility for special education. This time, you administer an intelligence test, an achievement battery, learning disability diagnostic tests, and personality instruments (personality assessments don't really play a role in learning disabilities and this can't all get done in a day and the rest of this take place too), and write the results and recommendations in a three-page, single-spaced report (They must have observed a REALLY green practicing sch. psy. b/c good reports that actually tell you something useful are on ave. 7-10, my longest was 22 - with graphs). The most stressful part of your day is a meeting to agree on the annual individualized education plan for a severely disabled child—most of the time, he rocks back and forth (ROTFLMAO!!!). The parent and teacher demand more services for the child, while the principal argues they're not cost effective (Not so far off but minus the $$ part). You facilitate the decision-making (I try but sometimes ppl like the sound of their own voice). Next, you and a teacher show a parent how to help her dyslexic child improve his reading while coping with his "depression" about it (I would love more of this in my daily routine). The final activity of the day is illuminating: your weekly Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll discussion group with seventh graders."(Ok, you don't need a psychology degree to know this isn't Illuminating in the way I feel they mean it)

If this were my typical day then I don't know that I would ever complain. My favorite part is their claim that the most stressful part of my day is a meeting on an IEP. In my world most times that is the easiest. I wish that I could walk into a classroom and observe a child but where I work we have to get parental permission. I understand why but it doesn't always make logical sense. Oh the looming fear of the lawsuit which is the driving force behind most of education, heck in my opinion, most of America. Don't get me wrong, I chose this career, I am passionate about what I do, and I like to think that I am very good at what I do given the parameters in which I have to work, again which I chose. There are typically two times during the year when I reconsider my choices and I find myself in one of those times, however, this time it isn't a vent, it's a serious consideration of when did my job become ruled by a by-product of a tree instead of concern for a child? I knew that paperwork was part of the job when I sought it out and I don't mind filling out forms, I kinda like it actually, but I feel it's to a point now that is beyond ridiculous. The amount of time it takes is literally day-filling and mind numbing form completion for the sake of completing a form. No piecing parts of a puzzle together, no collection of data to address a reason for referral, just filling out a form. My other, underlying, problem is that to completely fulfill my responsibilities I have to perform at a lower level than my best and, for me, that is a great challenge because best practice is my standard and anything less is unacceptable. Oh yes, I am a frustrated SCHOOL psychologist.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Notes of a wanna be singer

On Thursdays I take voice lessons. I have been taking lessons for about a year now and due to flu/cold this year I was not able to perform at my first recital. Honestly, I wasn't upset. Yes, I put a lot of hard work into my pieces and I felt that I grew a lot from day one up to performance day. However, I wasn't upset at not performing because I wasn't invested in any of my pieces.  This go round I am! I am excited to perform for my next chance at a recital. I am singing Danny Boy which is such a beautiful Irish Air. It requires more control than my other pieces and I will be given a chance to sing at the end a cappella! I am challenged to sing Italian piece. The one I was going to perform I grew to like. It was airy, sweet, quite pretty. The one that my teacher chose for me this time feels more like a harsh German piece. I am hoping this one will grow on me. My final piece is very jazzy, showy, and just what you would expect from a Broadway piece complete with asides of dialogue. That one is going to be really fun!
    I decided to take voice lessons because I have loved to sing all my life; in the car, in the shower, around the house, in the backyard listening to my walkman trying to belt out one of Whitney Houston's first hits, you name it! Yeah I aimed high! I have performed on stage at multiple times in my life. I sang on stage for Pittsboro's bicentennial. I think I was 8-9. I was in a summer drama camp where we performed songs as well as put on plays. When I was a freshman I somehow found the courage to perform in the talent show. I sang "Part of Your World" from Disney's The Little Mermaid, a cappella and having never taken voice lessons before! How I survived that, I don't know considering how VERY sensitive I am about my voice. During my performance, the microphone went out and people who were sitting in the very back of the auditorium told me they could hear me clear as a bell. Thank goodness for friends or else that could have been a really bad night for me and had the potential to shut me up forever.
    So, I share this because it's probably not something many people know about me. I have dreamed of being a jazz singer in a smoky club with my name is lights on the marquis. Of course I have also dreamed of being a singer on Broadway as I love to dance as well. These childhood dreams may never come true and that will be ok, but it is fun taking the first steps.  However, if I am lucky enough to have children at some point I would trade those dreams for the chance to sing my children to sleep in the hopes that one day they may tell me that I have the most beautiful voice in the world. Don't think anything could ever top that!