767

“I’m really doing this.”

I gave quick side glances to either side, half expecting my cohort mates to hear my thoughts. I thought it again.

“I’m really doing this.”

I was sitting in the malformed semi-circle of desks in my ECPY 767 class, the research methods course. That’s the research methods course.

About 6 months earlier I was in Albany, New York for a Counseling Psychology PhD program interview. I was slowly (and I mean slooooowwly) sipping a glass of wine during a pre-interview get together hosted by the current students. I was doing my best to just be myself while gleaning as much information on the program as I could. And it was all good as far as I could tell. However, there was one curious detail. The 767 class.

“I was traumatized by it.”

“I think I still have PTSD from that class.”

“The 767 class? Yeeeah, about that . . .”

Apparently it was a doozie of a course( yes, I said doozie). And my take on their reactions? Bring it on. Of course I didn’t actually say that. I mostly just made the half-frown-with-wide-eyes-wow-that-sounds-serious face. In way, I was jealous, wishing I could have a doctoral level course to complain about. But I was also hopeful. I wanted to pass through that difficult threshold. I wanted to put myself through the wringer. I wanted to be the best I could be.

Later on, after I was accepted into the program, I didn’t quite trust it. I wondered if I was really supposed to be here. Do I have what it takes? Maybe I just tricked everyone. Maybe it was the greatest con of all time. Maybe even the longest con of all time, traceable to my second semester as an undergrad, listening to an adjunct professor explain that if I ever wanted to do anything with psychology I needed to have a PhD. Period. I remember taking a deep breath and thinking to myself, “PhD . . . I think I can do that.”

And here I am, doing it. I’m a doctoral student. Sitting in a doctoral classroom. Holding my doctoral pencil. Taking my doctoral notes. Watching our doctoral faculty give a head-exploding lecture on the philosophy of science and statistics. Having a meta-moment, suddenly feeling the vibrations of a connecting thread that weaves together so many of my past experiences.

The other day this nice guy stepped into our office. Another student introduced him, explaining that this nice guy was visiting as a prospective applicant. He asked me what I thought about the faculty, the other students, and the program in general. Then he asked about the classes. I got this kind of wry smile on my face.

“Well, there’s your classes. Then there’s 767 . . .”

-ASG

Disappear here

It’s been quite a summer. I’ve moved across the country with my wife to start a PhD. I’ve quit my job. I’ve taken on a new identity- doctoral student. Progress.

Before I delve into the maelstrom of academics that is a doctoral program I decided to catch up on some pleasure reading. I wanted to remind myself that people do read for pleasure.  I read three books within the last 3 weeks:

The Catcher in the Rye- J.D. Salinger

Less than Zero- Bret Easton Ellis

Lunar Park- Bret Easton Ellis

If you know anything about the above books/authors then you know I am probably in a weird head-space right about now.

I picked the above books at near random- The Catcher in the Rye was given to me for free by a friend in Athens just before I moved, and I have the two Ellis novels as leftover Christmas gifts that I never read. Despite the lack of purpose in my choosing to read them they are all connected by a similar theme: Identity. In each of these books the main character is trying to identify himself. And, in all three, the main character is at some point of transition- either flunking out of school, returning home, or trying to transition into fatherhood.

The Catcher in the Rye and Less than Zero are the most similar. Being lost. Lonliness. Self isolation. It’s clear that, reading through these novels, Ellis has taken his cues from Salinger. Similar styles, stream of consciousness at times. Colloquial language. They both write in a way that draws you in. However, they both have a tendency to come off as entitled. Scenes of private prep schools, private liberal arts schools, excessive materialism, lack of value for relationships. Where Salinger is whiny, forever searching for some deeper meaning from a highschool dropout, Ellis is loquacious, often giving erroneous descriptions of a luxury car, household décor, names of people at parties.

Lunar Park, while tackling some similar themes, is different. It’s quite a strange novel, to say the least. I’m not even sure if it is a novel, or if it is a memoir, or some kind of horror filled yet hopeful wish.  Whatever label it should fit under is irrelevant as I’m sure the real purpose is to help Ellis work out his own inner demons (no pun intended) with his deceased father. It was a good novel to end the trio.

It’s poignant that my life, my identity, is also changing, is changed. In a way, I identify with all the characters here, I am these characters. Yet, I am not. In Less than Zero the antagonist, Clay, says all that matters “ . . . is I want to see the worst.” I don’t. Okay, I do, but that’s another blog post. Right now I want to see the best. I want to see the best in myself.

Where the characters of the aforementioned novels are filled with hopelessness, I am filled with hope. I am ready for this next stage of life. I am ready to achieve my best.

I appreciate all the readers who follow my blog. This was a heavy post, but a needed post. My writing may diminish in the coming months as much of my energy will go back into school. But I will be sure to post, I am trying to adhere to a once a month minimum, even if that once a month is just a photography post.

I hope you are achieving your best. If not, I hope you are on your way to it.

Thanks for the read.

-ASG

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

So, I’m in the process of moving to Albany, New York and my life is getting crazy. I haven’t had time to think about anything else, much less write anything. But I happened to see that the photo challenge of the week is purple. can do that.

These photos are a few weeks old, but they get the job done. They all come from around the Athens area. I guess this is like a good-bye Athens post, though I won’t really miss it too much (I will miss some of the people though- Rachel & Adam, The Barrys, Olivia & John, Kate, my UGA folks, my work folks). Thanks to everyone who has followed me thus far- be reassured that I will soon be back to posting on a weekly (er, at least semi-weekly) basis.

I took this on UGA’s North Campus when we first got our camera. It was my first attempt at utilizing a shallow depth of field.
I took this on Level G (duh) of the North Campus parking deck. It looks like a font, but I swear it is a photo.
Purple wall. Purple-ish wall.

Thanks for the read,

-ASG

Do the anxiety (fixed version)

*quick apology: Sorry to anyone who experienced any errors the first time this went out. I was trying a new offline up loader and made a mistake.

Anxiety. It’s what I do.

To the people who know me this might not seem right. I don’t usually appear too anxious, apart from the fact that I talk pretty fast (but that’s also a relic of my childhood stutter) or sometimes I may seem busy. But those who know me really well know I can be a very anxious person.

I hid it well. Actually, I don’t really hide it at all- it’s similar to someone who gets overwhelmed and zones out. That’s how I deal with a lot of anxiety. I zone out. As an unintended side effect I appear to be cool.

There is a secret to doing anxiety well. That secret? Be anxious about things you can’t change. It’s perfect! By worrying about something you have no control over you will be perpetually worried, perpetually occupied. Plus, 99.9% of things in your life you have no control over anyway, so you never have to worry about running out of things to worry about. Also, shallow quick breathing does wonders for destroying any sense of calm. Try it! No, seriously, don’t.

I am in one an anxiety vortex as of late. I am stuck in a moment in time where I have huge changes coming (leaving my job, moving to start grad school again), any number of things to worry about, and essentially zero influence on any of it (at least at this moment). It’s the doldrums of anxiety – no movement in our out. Just sitting.

Sometimes I can simply recognize this happening. At that point I try to jump start myself out of it by visualizing things working out perfectly, by just focusing on doing something else that I can have control over (writing a blog works perfectly there), spending time with others, and meditation (that really works- it’s like Drain-o for your brain). But sometimes, despite my best efforts, my brain won’t listen. It’s like muscle memory movement, but instead of muscle it’s my neurons repeating the same paths over and over again. Or, sometimes I just don’t realize what is happening. Despite the familiar surroundings I just don’t recognize how much anxiety I am holding.

Then, like a curtain being thrown open, the anxiety is dissipated by an outside force. Usually different things can cause this, but a majority of the time it is music. Just a few simple notes and I am grounded. Add in a few deep breaths and it’s all good.

Today, I had one of those brain Drain-o moments where everything was un-clogged, and I was suddenly relaxed, okay with how things are going. So I will share it with you.

-ASG

Technology vs. memories

“Remember when we would get picture prints and the first print off of every roll was your ‘goofy-face’ test picture?”- Angela to me.

Yes, I do. And I miss them. A lot. How did I forget about those? It’s weird how some of the details of your own life can fade over time yet you don’t recognize that they have faded.

Wait. They didn’t fade. They were replaced. By this.

Fun destroyer.

Thanks to technology, I don’t need to take a goofy first-of-the-roll-test-pic to make sure the film is advancing properly. Bummer.

I wonder what else I am going to miss out on? Yeah, goofy pics aren’t a huge thing to miss out on, and I won’t miss the pics themselves (at least not too much). What I will miss is the 30 seconds of laughing with my wife over how ridiculous I look.

I also miss photo albums. Real photo albums. With actual photos. Sure, I have a gigantic collection of pics on my PC, and I can view them anytime. But, I never clean them out. They’re unorganized. There are just too many. Plus, I have to be logged on to my computer to have other people view them. It would be kinda weird for a friend to just pick up my laptop and start looking through my digital libraries. But somehow it would be okay if I had a photo album filled with all my personal memories and people could thumb through that.

So what else does technology accidentally replace? Hmm . . .

-Face to face conversations. Because, either they’re not face to face anymore (i.e. Facebook, which I try to avoid for many reasons) or if you are face to face with someone, they’re looking at a screen and texting someone else.

-Music. Yeah, music got a lot of benefits from tech, but it also loses something (see this CNET article). Also, anything with ‘auto-tune’ involved should not also be labeled music.

- Your social life. Especially if you are an online gamer. Especially if that game has anything involving dragons.

- Your marriage. Especially if you are an online gamer. Especially if that game has anything involving dragons.

- Seinfeld. Well, not directly, but this should explain it.

- Your memory.

Currently Angela and I are working on re-building our photo albums. I want to have something physical to pass down to my kids one day. Somehow I imagine handing over a hard-drive with a hearty “Here ya go, son.” Just won’t be as meaningful as hard-copies of pictures.

The picture I found that started this whole thing. Circa 2005.

-ASG

No more excuses

I have no problem with heaven. I long for it. But, it makes me lazy, unfocused. It provides a fallback position that undermines my relationships, my loves, my life. Some people think without an afterlife, without a judgment, people will live wildly, recklessly. As if no afterlife would mean our lives have no meaning. This might be true, but it wouldn’t last long. If nothing exists on the other side, it only ADDS value to our lives now. If there is nothing else, then THIS IS IT!!! Take a moment to process that- THIS. IS. IT.

Everything is precious! Everything you don’t tell your loved ones- they will never hear it. What if they are not looking down on us. What if they’re gone for good. What would you change RIGHT NOW if this were the case? Who would you call? Who would you spend more time with? Less time with? I think about times I’ve been with Angela, stressed or angry over some meaningless detail and missing out on our time- missing out on her when she was right in front of me. A rude waiter. Being cut-off in traffic. Being too picky. Just being in a ‘funk’. What terrible excuses those are. Excuses to not recognize the great things right in front of my face. I am changing that. I suggest you don’t wait, I suggest you change it now. What do you have to lose? How much more do you have to lose before you stop giving you life away?

I read somewhere that Buddha said that everything is burning. Coming from my Baptist upbringing this initially reminded me of hell- as if the intention is negative. But it isn’t. Everything is burning isn’t supposed to be a negative, painful, or punishing statement. On the contrary, it is meant to elucidate how quickly everything is changing around us. Even how quickly we are changing – our bodies, our minds. Imagine how rapidly your home would burn up if set on fire. All your possessions, gone in a flash. Our lives are like that. We may not recognize it because we live it every second, but everything is changing.

Is this change stoppable? No. Is it a bad thing? No. Many people would say that it sounds bad, almost hopeless. I think it can be hopeless- hopeless if you do not recognize this change. Hopeless if you resist the change. Hopeless if you ignore the change. I think it is liberating to take notice, to be aware, and really live . . . really appreciate those things we have and the people we share our lives with. How unfortunate for all those souls waiting on heaven to have a better experience. How unfortunate for those souls who set their eyes to the horizon, hoping to reach it. The horizon is unreachable- an illusion. You never get there. Like tomorrow- you never live in tomorrow, only today.

So take a few moments today, look away from the horizon. Look at your feet, then slowly gaze upward. Focus on what is in front of you RIGHT NOW. In THIS moment. What do you see?

-ASG

zensouth:

At the clinic I work at we just bought iPads to help our clients with related issues. I’m not sure where I stand on this article but it is good food for thought.

Actually, I know where I stand. Whatever the patents are that are being argued over should never have existed if an iPad app is infringing on them. The iPad is a completely different delivery device, and the app is a completely different product. No one should be able to hold exclusive rights to assistive technology.

Originally posted on Tech:

Earlier this year, I wrote a story about Maya, a four-year-old girl who used an app called Speak for Yourself to help her communicate with the outside world. Maya’s mother, Dana Nieder, preferred the app over more established augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices because it worked on an iPad, which was easier for Maya to handle, and it was cheaper — $299 plus the cost of an iPad, as opposed to bulkier devices that can cost up to $8,000.

The app is being threatened by a joint lawsuit from Prentke Romich Company (PRC) and Semantic Compaction Systems, which claim that Heidi LoStracco and Renee Collender — the two speech pathologists behind Speak for Yourself — infringed on over 100 of their software patents. LoStracco and Collender fought back, claiming in court that the lawsuit is baseless.

Now it seems that despite the fact that the lawsuit is still…

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