Archive | August, 2011

The One-Eighty

29 Aug

It’s good to take time to put down the things that are great about this return to college, since the past few weeks have been trying at times.

Before that, though, I’d like to take a moment to expand on visualizations. I realize now that I really did not do that at all in the post which mentioned them. How very absent-minded of me! I think I might have been watching Tangled at the time (can’t say I recommend it, though Flynn was a fun character.)

Visualizations are basically lucid daydreams. One visualizes where they would like to be at a reasonable, predetermined time in the future. I want to be a physical therapist. Often times I imagine myself sitting next to a patient who is laid out on a table, and I am bending their leg over said patient’s head. They are enjoying the process. We are laughing.

Maybe visualization could be called the happy place people go to when they are under duress. Haha.

I know it’s going to take years to get to the point where I am sitting with a patient of mine (even thinking of this as a reality gives me happy chills), but it’s my goal. It’s where I want to be, helping someone improve their quality of life in direct relation to their body and indirectly with their mental state. And getting paid decently to do it.

That’s visualizing. I first picked this up from marathon training, but that was a few years ago, and as such is a different story.

The great things going on right now in college are the fantastic materials I’m learning. Really, I’m enjoying it all so much! What is truly exciting is how even though I’m only four days into classes, and even though they are very different in terms of disciplines, ALL of my classes have overlapped in material. Statistics, biology, and chemistry. Literally ALL of them mentioned standard deviation today. I also found another classmate in my chemistry class who is also in the Stats class. We had a polite giggle over standard deviation and the fact that we both just learned a convenient formula for it in stats, but ignored it in chemistry. “Teehee, maybe we should go write it on the board?” We didn’t.

A GREAT bonus today was that Alex came to visit. His family lives an hour or so away and he spontaneously came to visit them from Chicago for the weekend. Even though his flight back is tonight, I bribed him into coming to have lunch with me today. Lunch and coffee. He proceeded to order a large coffee. Jerk. I have to admit, having him here even for an hour or so was a huge emotional balm. Being alone, or the feeling of being alone, really sucks.

Alex and I both have the advantage/disadvantage of having grown up in the Southern USA. Even though we have had different experiences, we come from a similar socioeconomic background and have similar enough values to give us similar perspectives. The fact that we have both lived out of the South for years a time and have returned to it for other large chunks of time give us some perspective that not all of our peers in the South share. Nothing in particular, or perhaps too many things to mention in brevity- race, religion, politics. The usual. We don’t agree on everything, and we won’t. Ever. But we are grounded enough in our beliefs to respect one another and to challenge one another. It’s a very comfortable friendship. And it was excellent to see him today.

Already Pulling Out Visualization

28 Aug

Homework is such a drag. It is, and there’s no getting around it. Homework, itself, or the fact that it’s a drag.

So I’m already pulling out the visualization to remind myself exactly WHY I am doing this and why I need to do my homework above par, instead of just doing enough to pass.

1. Homework IS an effective study tool.
2. Homework happens to have significant weight on my grades, at least in my science classes.

I don’t have the luxury of screwing around. No one in college does, and if you think you do, you’re kidding yourself. Okay, no one on track for grad school does. I’ve got a year, and my grades have to be STELLAR by the time I start applying. I can see myself next year turning in shoddy grades (ha, why even bother?) with the intent to graduate in the spring, and that parenthetical expression is exactly what the admissions team will think. Why bother applying if this is the best work you’ll do? Why, indeed, madam?

In happier news, I have a lunch date with an old friend tomorrow! Hurrah! Boo, that I had to bribe him with lunch to come visit.

Laughing at Panic and Adding More Food!

25 Aug

So I had a little bit of anxiety Tuesday before classes began on Wednesday. I was nervous and unsure, which you can read about in the second post before this one. I am happy to report that my near-panic was, as I hoped, blown out of proportion and mostly unnecessary!

The most stressful part of classes was/is not having my books yet. There’s nothing I can do about that until I get my financial aid, but the professors, since it’s the beginning of the semester, are coming down pretty hard about… well, everything. It’s a good rule of thumb, I know. Lay your ground rules, be a necessary-jerk at the beginning and be lenient later as opposed to being nice from day one and reining in behavior later. Still, it is added stress to have to internalize their expectations on top of already well-known necessities.

In a segue, here are some pointers for financial aid. My first time around in college, federal loans (subsidized or otherwise) were handled by private banks. After the 2008 financial crisis, the Department of Education took over the handling of student loans, subsidized, un-subsidized, etc. It’s a little scary given the current debt situation in the United States, but I guess it’s better than floundering banks having students by the (fill in your choice of anatomical description) while students have any kind of loans from them; this even though the US now has a AA+ rating. The DoE handles student loans, the loans go directly to the university and whatever is left over after tuition, fees, and other expenses, the university gives to the student in the form of a check. I thought beforehand, even with loan entrance counseling, that the check would be coming from the DOE. Not the case. This is very good because I’m pretty sure that it would be coming about a week later than it already is. So! When you’re signing up for student loans, be sure to check your campus mail or with your FA department about how they will ensure that money gets to you. That way you can get your school texts, or replace that car tire that keeps going flat instead of feeding 50 cents every day to the air pressure machine.

Also! Just in case you did not know this, if at ALL possible, do NOT buy text books in your university bookstore. Good-condition, used books, and earlier editions are almost always available at suppliers like Amazon (or ebay) and there are other providers online. Brand new books, especially when from the bookstore, tend to be marked up 200% or more. Why pay 100 for a text you can get used for 20? Even with shipping, paying 30 is better. AND, I have yet to meet a professor who is not understanding on this point. They are people, and what’s more, they were students at one point. They don’t want you to pay more than you need either. So just don’t do it.

One of my professor’s is an unrepentant mumbler, which adds a little bit of charm to his overall persona, but only a little, and only because I finally tuned my ear to listen to him fluidly. Otherwise it would be downright frustrating. Another professor speaks quietly and nasally so that when he said “kidney model” I thought he said, “kidney bottle.” The class was becoming very advanced very quickly with that misunderstanding.

I have to admit that my 200 level A&P class, which was the most intimidating in some ways, has become my favorite class thus far. It’s challenging and demanding, but I LOVE what I’m learning. And the material IS intelligible. I’m not going to be able to skate through easily without a lot of studying like I did in humanities courses, but it IS doable, and there is something immensely satisfying about learning things with diligence and proper study time. It’s also a big relief that we’re not being assigned any research papers. None at all. It makes me want to ask what the deal is.

So I don’t have a lot of ingredients right now. Or, at least nothing for something heavy, but I’m HUNGRY. So what I DO have is rice, egg, some lettuce, some parm cheese, and some lemon juice. This sounds like the makin’s of somefink GOOD.

So here’s what we’re gonna do:

What you need:
one egg
one cup of rice cooked
a small, small head of lettuce (I am using ONE of an artisan, four-pack, which, when chopped is a TON of lettuce)
1/8 cup of grated parm (this is about three or four T)
1 T of lemon juice
garlic powder
EVOO

Heat about one T (or half a T) of EVOO in a skillet on med-high heat. Scramble your egg and cook it in a thin, tortilla-style crepe. Have fun flipping it over XD (I recommend a wide turner). When it’s fully cooked, cut it in half through the diameter. Then cut the two halves into half-inch wide strips.

Set the egg aside, and toss the rice into the pan to heat it up (unless it’s already warm, in which case, go to the next step!) Add the strips to the rice, and toss it with your lettuce. The lettuce might wilt a bit due to the heat of the egg. Toss in the cheese, lemon juice, and garlic powder to taste.

This is quick, quick, quick, and healthy. There’s a fair amount of protein in brown rice (about 5g in a cup) and this is a pretty low fat.

All told, the calories come to between 600 and 700, but it’s a VERY healthy 600-700. So for a meal, that’s pretty low. Also, I think that the greens would probably perform better as either kale or, maybe spinach, but I didn’t have either of those, and I’m going for honesty. However, I’m eating it right now and it’s pretty good. Give it a try!

Easy Coconut Carrot Soup

23 Aug

So I was griping the other day about lack of recipes and mentioned I might try adding some. I don’t have pictures, but hopefully you’ll trust me. Anything I’ll publish will be worth attempting.

This is a soup of my own making. It also happens to be very delicious, very filling, and very healthy- and low calorie to boot. I know, it sounds impossible, but it’s true! Here’s how it goes…

Equipment
one largish pot (if it can hold half a gallon it’ll be tight, but should work)
a knife suitable for chopping
a cutting board for chopping
a regular capacity blender

Ingredients
8 large carrots
half an onion (red preferably, but use whatcha got.)
1 t of minced garlic (or two garlic cloves)
half a can of coconut milk, unsweetened. not lite.
one T of butter (can be skipped!)
two T of EVOO
4 sun-dried tomato bits
salt
and water

Heat the oil and butter in your large pot on medium heat. When it’s hot, toss in your chopped onion and garlic. Listen to the pleasant sizzle. Give them a good stir and while they are a softening, mince your sundried tomato and chop your carrots (if you haven’t already). Add the tomato and give it a good stir. Add the carrots once the garlic and onions have softened, but before the garlic can burn. Swoosh the carrots around so that they are coated in the oil and opening up their flavor. I also added one T of salt at this point. It turned out to be pretty salty until I tempered it with the coconut milk, but I tend to like things less salty, so it might be perfect for you. Let it all simmer for three or four minutes.

Add some water! I only add enough to cover the carrots. Bring the water to a boil. When it’s burling set it to simmer on low-med heat. Let it go for about 20 minutes.

Pour the liquid and veggies into the blender- liquid first and then scrape the veggies if you like. The first time I did this I strained the liquid first to avoid being burned, but if you use caution, you can avoid being burned in one go.

Blend all the goodies to the consistency you prefer. Depending on how much water you added it will be thicker or thinner. Don’t forget you still have to add the coconut milk, so it’ll be thinned out. In the blending process the veggies might get stuck. If you intend to shake the blender or dislodge the contents with a spoon (while of course the blender is NOT RUNNING) then please be careful. I got splattered with hot soup today because of unforeseen air pockets in the blender. Not fun.

After this, you can pour the blended stuff back into your pot and add one cup of coconut milk. Feel free to add the whole can (since you’ll have coconut milk left over) but as much as I love the creamy, richness of the coconut milk (I have eaten the whey with a spoon before) I wanted the soup to have more balance.

This recipe makes about 7 8oz cups. Each 8 oz cup has 177 calories, that’s with the butter, so it’ll be a little less if you go vegan style. If you like carrots and coconut, you’ll love this. Go nuts!

The First Days of Middle School and College Get the Same Speeches

23 Aug

It may not seem like it, but it’s true. My first day to return to classes is tomorrow. Up until last night I felt fine about everything. For six months I have known this was coming, and never until last evening did I feel the amount of anxiety I have started feeling in these last 22 hours.

What if the other kids don’t like me? What if I can’t do this work? What if after giving it everything I have I still don’t make it to grad school?

So, maybe only the first one is the really similar concern between middle schoolers and second-time college students, but hey, it’s valid. I want to be liked by my peers. The age gap between us is not *so* substantial. Though the college tweeted today that Ferris Bueller could have been the dad of any of the freshmen. *sob*

If the work is beyond me, it’s going to make things even more difficult than they already are. I don’t have a job, and that weighs on me, but my main concern is making stellar grades so I can get accepted to a proper grad school. Science has never been my strong suit. Or, at least it hasn’t since high school. People are my strong suit. This is why I want to go into PT. There happens to be a lot of science between me and that DPT, though.

Grad school. Ha. So many thoughts come to mind. I start applying in a year. I have my list of schools, but I don’t know if in a year my resume will be exactly strong. I’ve got to have REALLY good grades between now and then. I’ve got to get to know my professors really well so I can get good letters of rec, and I think I might not have done so well in the first place on that one….

All of these concerns start quickly spiraling into something that resembles chaos.

This is the point where I eat an ice cream drum stick and CALM. DOWN. In the time that it takes me to eat my drum stick, I’m going to assess these worries.

Maybe the kids won’t like me. Yeah, maybe, but no one’s going to beat me up for my lunch money. I’m good with relating to different people, and respecting the time and circumstances they have come to in life. I have a measure of wisdom, that I don’t mind sharing, but for the most part I will leave people alone if they want to be left alone. I’m friendly, but I don’t want to be overeager, which is probably the cardinal sin of secular society these days. Or at least, when it comes to the Canon of Cool.

The main point is that I know who I am. I don’t have to worry about impressing people. I have enough faith (and enough memory from my previous college experience) to know that there WILL be people I will connect with. I won’t be alone the whole time. It’s going to be pretty much impossible to avoid people. Haha, that’ll be a post for another time (not).

So what if I can’t do the work? What if I’m no good? Well, during orientation one of the declarations made during our campus tour was exactly how far the student retention service center is willing to go to help students. Tutoring, for free, in any subject. I’ve already promised myself (and now I reiterate it to myself!) that day one, if I have problems in any courses, I am going to tutoring center. If I can’t learn from a professor, I’ll have another student break it down into baby-sized bites until I can digest it all. I will CRUSH MY COURSES.

And grad school? Well, there are a few hundred in the US alone. I’m sure that one of them will take me. I’ll be realistic about where I apply. If I apply to ten they won’t be (only) the very best top ten in the country. I’ll be flexible, be aware of my own limitations and their expectations. And if I have to take more courses, I’ll take more courses. The five year plan I have going is flexible. Whew…

Four courses, and fourteen credit hours start tomorrow:
Elementary Statistics
General Psychology
Anatomy and Physiology I (and lab)
General Chemistry I (and lab)

Cooking Up Final Schedule

22 Aug

It took almost a month, but I’ve finally gotten my dream schedule for university classes! Ironic, since I planned out from day one what I needed and I ended up having to move through several unintended drafts/stages/backups before it was finalized. I won’t harp on this anymore since my last few entries deal with this process. Suffice to say, patience and perseverance have prevailed.

One professor I met this morning for my biology class was actually quite likable. I think I was preparing to be soured on the entire experience of non-traditional student life (aka second-time studenthood) when this gentleman made the entire process of squeezing me into an overloaded class bearable and, dare I say, mundane? It’s nice when people act like compassionate people, instead of career professors who dangle your future over your head.

Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to harp on this? *cough*

Classes start WEDNESDAY, which is exciting and dreadful. Exciting for obvious reasons. I’m moving out of the waiting-place and into the doing-place. Dreadful for equally obvious reasons. I’ve been trying (though, not very hard until today) to get on a more efficient sleep schedule, waking up earlier in preparation for all of my 8AM classes. It’s been… Well, it hasn’t been happening. Not even close. This morning the attempts came to fruition, though. I did another trial run for actually getting out of bed (as opposed to waking and lying there for another fifteen minutes) making breakfast, dressing, etc. 45 minutes after waking, I was out the door. After the thirty minute commute, (not including the finding an on-campus parking and walking to class) I’ve decided I’m going to need an extra thirty minutes for walking, traffic, etc. This is an assumption, but from every indication, it’s a good one. Even if I plan on biking everywhere. That won’t happen until I can get a bike rack, anyway. Anyone know how much a car-intended, strap (as opposed to trailer hitch) bike rack costs? I’m hoping to get one around the 30 dollar range. Or less, if possible.

The other thing that has my curiosity up is the general lack of WordPress posts with the combination of “college healthy cooking” tags. Seriously. I just searched and there are NONE. I’ll have to rectify that. It might be a bit misleading since I’m living in a house with all of the normal cooking facilities, but if I can keep it easy, maybe some one will find some of the recipes helpful.

Let’s start with this one taken from Runner’s World: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-303-504-14000-0,00.html?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Nutrition-_-BowtiesTomato One needs the ability to boil pasta and saute some veggies, but it’s super duper easy to make, fast, filling without being heavy, and yummy. I subbed the bowtie pasta for rotini, and subbed parm for the feta. You can easily make it richer with more salt and a little bit more cheese, but considering how easy it is to put on calories in college, it’s probably best left as is :D

Trials, Tribs, and Trig

18 Aug

READY for school to start. School. University. Potato, potahto?

I had a near melt down this morning when financial worries all started piling together. By the first day of classes, it will have been six months of waiting for…. something. The waiting place is not a happy place. Or rather, it doesn’t start out a happy place. It’s very easy to get bogged down in thinking about the way you feel things ought to be, or should be.

Some background, that maybe I have not posted before, is that I already have a B.A. I actually managed to find a job related to a degree most people think relegates one to working in a coffee house. The job was “well-paying,” though I think most people would have rather slept in a ditch than accepted it.

The problem in the job came down to cultural breakdowns. Cultural expectations on both sides that were not stated, and were therefore never met.

Short story, I left. After five months. Granted, I tried to leave after three weeks into the position when, after a snow storm, it took me three hours to get to work (as opposed to forty minutes), I had a car wreck on the way in, and my employers didn’t give a shit. It’s not an exaggeration to say that that attitude was par for the course.

So, before my irregular heart beat (that started at that job) could develop into full blown arrhythmia, I left. As soon as I found another job. Working in a coffee house. Oh, karma.

I have a boatload of residual guilt. Guilt that I’m not fulfilling my potential, or my BA’s potential. Guilt that I was making decent money and left. That I’m living with my parents when I should be standing on my own two feet by now. This is what our culture and society says, isn’t it?

The question I have now, the guilt-ridden question, is whether overcoming my guilt means buying in to an entitlement mentality, even in a small way. Is it truly justifiable to claim recession as part of the reason my financial status sucks? Without going into too much detail, that is.

Maybe my problem is just too much self-flagellation?