Dallas & the Seasons of My Life

I’ve spent the last week decompressing from being in Dallas, Texas for much of last week. I was there for my final doctoral residency. Once I got out of the Dallas Fort Worth airport, I was immediately reminded of what I hated about Texas the most: the heat and humidity.

The last time I had been in Texas was when I went to La Porte, Texas to visit one of my little sisters from my sorority. I loved the openness and the relaxation that it brought. It was so different from NJ.

This time though, the residency was at the airport hotel and I didn’t get to see much of Dallas which was disappointing because I had never been and they have a pretty cool art scene. The point of this final residency was to, by Sunday night, have an approved DRP plan to submit for SMR and IRB approvals. Mine got approved the first day of “classes” which was Friday and it happened early in the morning. I then had to sit there for the next three days and work on my presentation and a paper for another class. I was so bored, but since these are considered to be “seat hours” I literally had to stay, in my seat….for hours.

Sitting around not doing a whole lot, to me, is more exhausting then even my most trying days as a teacher. By the end, I was extremely happy to go home to NJ to Phil and our tiny zoo. I am officially set to enter comps (doctoral comprehensive exam) in January. I probably could do it this next term, but with the wedding I just don’t think it would be a good idea. Better to let us settle into married life before I go crazy with another exam.

This spring was all about taking the School Leadership Series exam. ETS charges…are you ready for this? $425 PER TRY! How crazy is that??? I was so thankful when on the day, I got in the day before the 16th anniversary of losing my very cherished and much loved grandfather and was put on computer 16. I definitely felt like he was there with me that day and I finished with an hour to spare. It was a long 16 BUSINESS days of waiting, but when it came back that I passed I ran around our bedroom dancing.

In my personal diary, I talk a lot about seasons of my life. I firmly believe that women age in seasons, each one not like the one that came before it. A couple years ago, my more carefree season of my 20’s ended when I made a larger commit to my boyfriend at the time and we bought our first house. I remember how sad and excited I was to be leaving my life in Bordentown with my small apartment and my three cats. Even looking back professionally I was just a middle school teacher then with some publishing credits to my name.

Then I moved and I had finally made it to my life at the Jersey Shore, only 10 minutes outside of Point Pleasant where I had always dreamed of living. Then I started my PhD program and worked really hard to become a college professor. Then we got engaged and now, we’re going to be married in 5 months. I just don’t know where that time has gone, and lately, I have begun to have that feeling again…the one you get at the end of seasons as the new one starts intermingling. 2017/2018 is going to be a year of a lot of change: I will have tenure, I will be completing my doctorate and we might even be starting a family. All of those things, will push me into a new season of my life one where I will be settled, grounded and making huge leaps in my career.

And that’s just the stuff I know about, there’s still all the surprises that have yet to come and the very real idea that we could very well be leaving our little house at the shore to start a family life in my hometown. When I was just out of college and moved home to figure out my next move, my friends and I who were all in similar circumstance at the time, would joke…”All roads lead back to East Brunswick. Every last one, eventually we all come back.”

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It’s Gonna Be May

Anyone else think the Justin Timberlake meme from his N’Sync days with “It’s Gonna Be May” sprawled across the bottom was hysterical? It’s probably the best one that I have seen in awhile.

And here it is, MAY! I don’t know where this year has gone, I feel like it has been on fast-forward ever since I came home from Chicago last summer. I blinked and we were engaged and since then, it’s just been fast-forwarding to November and our wedding. We have almost everything done, and now it’s just working to save and pay for everything. We’re having a relatively small wedding, under 100 people. I am floored at what it costs! I can’t imagine financing one of those HUGE weddings where you invite 500 of your closest friends and wear a Kleinfeld’s gown. Crazy town!!

What I am looking forward to most, is giving the final in my college class tonight because as of next week, this means that my 12 hour days are done for the year and summer will be here before I know it.

I registered for my LAST class for my doctorate, come September I will be considered a doctoral candidate and not a student anymore. I don’t know where that time has gone either. I leave for Dallas in a couple of weeks for my final residency. I have already gained topic approval, and now I am hoping to come home with a mentor-approved research plan, committee-approved research plan AND scientific merit approval which will set me up for IRB approval and thus, the real writing of my dissertation will begin.

Then this summer is clinicals and I am teaching one college class. I’m extremely excited for clinicals.

I also start my certification to become an arts integration specialist. I think this will really help me in being better prepared to set up my case study for my dissertation. Our first class begins in just a few weeks. I am hoping I can juggle it all.

Then, before I know it, it will be November and I’ll be married.

I also added Stephen King’s IT to my 100 Book Challenge.

So far, my 30’s are going a lot better than my 20’s!

Big Little Lies

This is one of the few times where I watched the show/movie before I read the book. I was about half way through the HBO limited series namely because of my celebrity doppelganger, Reese, was starring in it when I picked up the novel at Target.

I read it within two days. That is, after long hours at both jobs while preparing to present my research for my dissertation next month. Oh, and, take that crazy $400 praxis exam. Life has been a little crazy lately especially when you add in our wedding and selling our townhouse– we’ll recover next year..right?

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Anyway, despite the insanity, I found myself reading Big Little Lies on my lunch break, in my car waiting for my next class to start and even in bed after these crazy long days. Last night, I read until I literally fell asleep. It’s been awhile since I was just so into a book.

I liked how you knew someone was going to die, but you didn’t know how or why. You learn fairly early on that is it going to be Perry or Celeste because this is the story of domestic violence, wrapped up rather nicely in its white-bread vanilla topping. I was just shocked by the ending, of which one was to die and more importantly, who the killer was and why.

It’s a shock, but in so many ways, it is that shock that up-heaves the vanilla topping and underneath it, you find yourself exposed to the raw chunky violence that as Celeste herself says, “This can happen to anyone.”

It’s a powerful book. I think any young woman needs to read it and then watch the limited series on HBO. It made me think of my own time within an abusive relationship.

I can’t even really say it was a relationship, it was a fleeting moment in my life, thankfully. It was after that big love that I shut down after. He was the first guy I really attempted to date. In many ways, he was the first person I attempted to care about, to actually try with. In the end it lasted only a couple of months. I ended it, I totally cut him out. It took me a few tries to get to that point though, because much like Celeste, it was like I was dating two different people: there was the over indulging side who appeared protective and kind, going out of his way to me and my friends, but then there was that time alone where like a switch that person went away and in his place was someone who enjoyed hurting other people, especially when he felt wronged or embarrassed or betrayed. All of which seemed to happen more in his head than in reality.

There had been hints leading up to his eventual full-turn, but he was good in that he was so manipulative that he would have you second guessing. Was that real? Did he just say or do that? No, he had to be joking because look how sweet he is now, every relationship has its bumps, but maybe this is worth that bump? [it’s not] Abusers are great like that, they are excellent liars because I think to a point, they believe what they are saying and feel entitled to whatever they can steal from someone– materially, physically and emotionally.  It’s almost like they know that they are doing these awful things, but in their minds, they make up for it because they are so amazing for the next week or two before the next bout of abuse. One thing he was always good at, was how quick to tell you what a wonderful, giving person he was even to those that wronged him which largely were women from his past.

When Celeste visits a counselor, she tells her that is takes someone six or seven times before they leave an abusive situation. I believe that. While my experience was relatively short, within that time it took me about three times before I finally did. When I did it, I didn’t even tell him. We had parted ways earlier that day, I knew it was important that he think he still “had” me. He kissed me on my check and asked me if everything was alright, I knew he knew that it wasn’t and that he had taken it to an entirely new level that morning. This was the calm following the storm.

I assured him how wonderful he was, and how wonderful we were, trying not to gag the entire time I did so. He has already revealed himself and I had already found out his other secrets, he was done but he didn’t know how far I knew or how much strength I really had. My next stop was to AT&T where I blocked him from all contact. Then I went straight home and followed suit on social media. I hadn’t even thought about e-mail, because who in 2011 e-mailed anymore? Apparently him. It began so nicely as always, then when I never responded they got nastier and nastier until he dumped me. That was the one piece of humor I got out of the entire ordeal. I had cut all contact, ghosted him for lack of a better word and here he was, after calling me all kinds of names, after threatening me and the like, all he had left was to tell me how it was over and it felt so good to be single. I burst out laughing at that point, because dude, you’d been single for awhile by then.

The next stop was to the printer to print off all of his harassment and then to the police station to finalize my report that I had started several days before.

This really can happen to anyone.

Love is, actually all around.

I make no grand illusions towards my 20’s and dating. Point blank: they sucked. I was often lost, broke and dating some wannabe. That was the majority of my 20’s until I wised up and held true to my standards.

I read a lot during that period in my life. In college, I was obsessed with Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife because I largely envisioned Colin Firth and all of the hot things that occur throughout that insanely long novel. More importantly though, it was the sort of relationship I envisioned for myself when I found the right man to have it with. It was passionate, loyal and brave with such a dedication to the other person that throughout the pages, many dramatic and daring things occurred to keep Lizzy and Darcy together. Though, Phil and I aren’t having dagger fights with scummy period men and riding horses bareback…or really riding horses at all, the sentiment is still there within our relationship.

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Mr. Darcy a la “Lost in Austen.”

When we became engaged, I had no doubt in my mind that yes was the answer and that this is the man I would stay with until death. Having that realization though, made me think back to my past and I became nostalgic for things, people and places that were no longer a part of my life. I also would get sad over some pretty stupid stuff like when my toaster oven from my apartment finally went. It was cheap and we use it a lot, but I was sad that that was another piece of my life before now that was gone. I know, it’s a toaster, get over it, but I did have a couple minutes of mourning over the toaster.

I picked up Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and thumbed through it. Out fell papers from my first teaching job where I somehow became a french teacher. I laughed, and turned to the front, eager to re-read and picture my new Mr. Darcy courtesy of Lost in Austen. That’s when I saw it. The dedication page. I had never realized it before, because why would I ever have a need to? The author had dedicated it “to Phil.” Years before, I even knew Phil it seems that I was waiting for him.

I made note of it and put the book down, thinking it was just too weird of a coincidence. Fast forward to the weekend where we’re sitting at our church with our priest, formalizing all of the initial paperwork for our marriage. We’re getting married in the Byzantine church so Phil had to have all of this documentation from his Roman catholic church including his confirmation papers. I was half listening because it wasn’t my turn to speak when Phil got to the point of his confirmation name.

“Matthew,” he says to the priest. All of a sudden, I was listening again and laughing to myself.

Of course it would be. I spent so much of my early to mid-20’s subconsciously dating idiots because I had loved someone named Matthew. I told Phil about it later, over lunch. And just like Phil will always do, he took my hand and told me,

“You were just waiting for me like I was waiting for you. See, you knew it would be a Matthew, you were just wrong about which one. ”

Living the life and the love I have now, just makes me realize how much of us was actually already all around me until the universe knew the timing to finally let us meet.

 

 

Molly Bags

Back in the tumult of my 20’s, I remember looking at happy couples and thinking, how do those people get like that? How, in this crazy world do you possibly find someone that compliments you so completely that it almost becomes like you exist in your own world with them? It really was something that was so foreign to me. In my 20’s, my relationships were often drama-fueled and with men that I never felt comfortable with. They didn’t get me and largely, I didn’t get them. I actually really hated dating and I went through large spans of time where I just didn’t.

I met Phil 3 years ago on a blind date, and pretty much ever since, we have been together. It was almost like that date was only a formality too as we had been talking continuously for days before we actually met. It was an effortless click.

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Since then, we have become the sort of people I used to people watch in my 20’s. The sort of couples that would move around the world in their own time, in sync with one another. I hadn’t realized that we had in fact become those people over time.

It started out innocently enough. We came up with silly names for one another, and then pretty soon, names for other things. Before we realized it, there was the voice. Do you the voice? If you don’t, I firmly believe you have not found the right person yet. What is the voice? It is quite simply, the voice you use only with your person. It’s probably softer, more high-pitched and your person will usually respond back to you in the same voice. It’s the beginning of the language used only between the two of you.

From there you begin to name other things. Of course, these things already have common names like phone, remote, bag, etc. However, the two of you will begin to rename them and again, these things will only really make sense in the world that you are currently in.

For us, I realized we had reached this point when Phil had come home from his mom’s house. He was so excited, she had given him all of these plastic shopping bags. Now, in our house these are all “Molly Bags.” So, when she had given them to him, he exclaimed something like, “Oh thank god, there are SO MANY Molly bags now,” without so much as a thought as to the fact that his mom would have no idea what a Molly Bag was. I imagine there followed the confused face from his mom along with a “what the heck are you talking about?” Phil then explaining that we call them Molly Bags because we use them to pick up her giant poops when we walk her.

I would put money on the fact, that now, whenever Phil’s mom sees plastic shopping bags, MOLLY BAGS will forever be popping into her head. Phil was a little embarrassed after this exchange, when he came home, he told me “I forgot. I was just so excited that we have so many know! I forgot that not everyone speaks us. My mom probably thinks we’re nuts now.”

I smiled to myself, I think everyone should speak “us.”