Weekly blogging turned out to be a BUST when grad school rolled around. (Who would have thought that squeezing a semester into a month would have been hard? Certainly not this girl…
So, here is my month in review! It was quite a hectic one. But I’m going to try to sum it up as best I can and as best I can remember.
Columbia School of Social Work
I arrived at Columbia all bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to start my new career and learnings and experiences.
But by the end of orientation, I was already a bit bored. (Shocker, I know.)
The next few days were more intimidating. These teachers. Oh my goodness. They were very hypocritical. All at once telling us that they are our peers (which is just not so), then telling us how we were wrong in our thinking.
The more time I spent in grad school, the more I became thankful for my undergraduate experience. Our professors at Belmont encouraged our open thinking. They encouraged us to be radical but look at all sides. That’s not really how grad school works. Our professors wanted us to have one streamlined way of thinking, but called it “dialogue” so it seemed like a learning experience. (I may seem snarky here, but it’s really hard to describe the atmosphere of this class.)
Another thing: the professors just wanted us to jump into the water without a lifejacket. WHICH IS FINE. But they basically told us they would not answer any questions about the assignments, nor would they give us feedback until we had gotten a grade. I get it. You don’t want 77 students emailing you at all hours of the day, but, but, but…I’ve never written an OpEd in my life. Some of my peers had never written an annotated bibliography (THANKS, DEB)! And the weirdest of all, they graded us for how we asked a question. You could have gotten a “B” for asking the wrong question!
Grad school is not a place to disagree. I lean on the somewhat conservative side of being a liberal. So much so as at this point in my life, I’d have to call myself a moderate. (But I hate politics. ‘Tis why I am a clinical social worker. Let other people handle that ish.)
These classes attacked conservatives with not a lot of evidence to back it up. I GET IT. Republicans help the rich, promote capitalism, and drive the margin of wealth deeper and deeper. (Dad, I can hear your argument here. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call later.) But at the end of the day, being a Republican does not mean you are synonymous with Satan. I disagree with a lot of conservative policies, but does that mean I think they are bad people? No. Not at all. Zero. You cannot just lump people in together and say they are the same. And maybe I take it too personally because the majority of my family proudly represents the GOP, and I think they are amazing people. But at the end of the day, my anger comes back to not looking at both sides of the argument.
But then again, there are some things that I just disagree on and don’t really look at the other side of the argument. (Insert notion of hypocrisy and biases here!) So, at the school of social work, I assumed we were all on the same page. We all have a bachelor’s in social work. We all have the desire to help others. We should all be on similar pages, but there are some things that I heard throughout the four weeks that were just shocking to me. Shocking.
But at the end of the month…Nope. Didn’t really learn much. But fear not, I am not discouraged! I am very excited for my real grad school classes. I’m taking electives about the corrections system and addictions. Two of my favorites. It’s going to be good!
What Would Carrie Do?
I wish HBO would redo Sex and the City for this day and age. (Don’t argue that that’s what Girls is. I love Girls. I adore Girls. I try to be Jessa, even though I am TOTALLY a Shoshana type. But it’s just not the same.) As mentioned previously, this girl has jumped on the online dating train.
And. It. Stinks.
Okay, that’s too broad of a statement. I have met some true gems. (A man who has turned out to be one of the most intelligent I know; A truly kind high school math teacher.)
But this is not a time to talk about the gems. This is a time to talk about the FAILURES.
I had a rough week. I decided I wanted to date. Just date. So I had a week of really, really, really bad dates. One guy took me on his lunch break to a small cafe and proceeded to never speak to me again after I told him I was not interested in casual sex. One guy lied about his age and ended up being much older than I expected. But the true icing on top of the cake was, let’s call him P.
P is a video game designer, and he doesn’t let you forget it. When I told him that I wanted to be an addiction counselor, he told me about the cocaine he does to stay awake while finishing up a game. P also thinks he is the smartest man to ever walk this green earth. (A 28 year old, still bragging about his SATs. Cute, right?) To top off everything wonderful about P, he smelled. And I don’t mean a faint musk. I mean the body odor of a man who has just finished the Appy Trail without the rugged appeal. Oh, this date was terrible. So terrible. He took me to this loud, tiny bar where we couldn’t even talk. He kept telling me that he knew how much I wanted him. No. Not the case. But here’s the crazy part. I’m nice, so I went out on another date with him a few days later. (Instaregret.)
I’m not trying to find a boyfriend. I like being I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T. But at the end of the day, it would be nice to have, you know, have a guy that wants to have intelligent conversation with me over wine on a semi-consistent basis. Is that too much to ask?
Sweethearts are Everywhere!
So after the terrible date with P, I went ahead and gave into a good cry. Not because of anything he said or did, just sort of one of those pitiful “WhYyYyYyY MeEeEeEe” moments. That good cry just happened to be on the Subway when I was headed home. At first I was in a car that was pretty abandoned. Not anyone sitting across from me. I was letting the hiccuping sobs fall where they pleased.
Then the earth mother shows up. That’s really what she was. She had this uneven hair cut, soft eyes, wearing a hemp necklace and a warm, earthy yellow dress. She let me cry for another stop. Then she stood up, and I knew what was coming. The lady (Megan), bless her, just came over and hugged me until I had to change trains. Didn’t really ask me what was wrong. Just told me her name, and then she said that no one should be alone, crying on the Subway. She also said she has done it more times than she could count.
Then, no more than a few days later, I was in the Subway, sharing a pole on a very crowded afternoon. The girl I ended up talking to (Stephanie) was SO nice. She told me about her life, a cool place to run in the city, places to avoid walking at night. She also, funnily enough, designs new stuffed animals from previously loved ones. (And they are the best things I have seen. CHECK THEM OUT. Frankenstuffs on Etsy.) After a day by myself, it was nice to have a friend on the commute home to just share in life with.
I’ll Be There For You
Speaking of friends, I’ve made some pretty stellar ones in my month of grad school. I never understood what people meant by saying they wished they could go back and do undergrad with certain people, but now I totally get it.
So first, there’s Sam and Kayla. I sat next to Sam on the first day of orientation. At first I thought she was part of this cliquish group, but I was so wrong. We became FAST friends. And when I was telling Sam I went to Belmont, Kayla piped up from behind saying she knew a girl from Belmont. Turns out, it was a girl from my study abroad trip. (Cue “It’s a Small World” Theme.)
And we have been pretty inseparable ever since. (And I love it.) Sam and I are a little crazy, and Kayla keeps us level headed it. So it works out perfectly. They are both truly wonderful and gorgeous girls, inside and out. I’d be lost without them, this much I know for sure! Plus, we spent the first weekend together sipping on WAY too many mimosas at brunch.
Then, at this terribly awkward Personal Development and Self Awareness seminar, I bonded with Laura and Sammi. Laura is hysterical. She could probably tell you the name of any nail polish color you could ever dream of. Plus, this girl is just one of those hysterically honest people. She’ll tell you whatever she is thinking and feeling. Sammi is such a soulmate of mine. I found a fellow grandmother. Plus, we may have bonded over unlimited margaritas. (Which I will never do again, parents, I promise.)
I’m glad I have met such a good little bunch here. It makes New York feel like home.
But it’s also great when old friends come to visit! Melissa came to see me when I very much needed to see her face. We spent a lot of time cuddled up in the bed. Reminicisng. But we also went to High Line, Chelsea, West Village, tons of delicious food places, Broadway. All the stops. It’s hard to say how much I miss her. Some people you are not meant to be parted from. Of this I am now sure.
So, there was a mouse in my apartment. It was 1:30am. I am (obvi) watching Netflix, and I see something run along the baseboards. At first I think, giant bug. (Which, in retrospect, probably would have FREAKED me out even more.) So I turn off the Netflix and stare.
About five minutes later, when I’m sure I have gone insane, I see it. It’s tiny little head pop out from behind the radiator.
And I lose my everloving mind.
I start sobbing. Uncontrollably. Shaking. Calling everyone in my phone that I think lives remotely close. No one answers.
But I CANNOT be alone in the room with this three ounce TERROR. So I take every ounce of courage I possibly have in my body and RUN out of my room to get my doorman.
Now, I know it’s not in my doorman’s job description to help with mice. He knows this, too. But at this point, I’m nearly hyperventilating, and I think he’s afraid of me actually passing out if he says no.
So he comes to help me find the mouse. And nothing. Can’t find a thing. And I KNOW I’m not crazy. So I stay up all night because, well, terror.
And yes, the tears were partially out of fear of this small, harmless creature. But also a little out of loneliness. I know exactly what I would have done if I ever saw a mouse in Nashville. I would have gone and gotten Allie, and we would have put our heads together, called everyone we knew, and then somehow managed to deal with it on our own. Then, we would have had a sleepover and really just ended up staying up talking all night.
It just sort of set in for me that I don’t have that right now. Maybe I will when my new roommates move in. But it’s just a little lonely having no one to share the random roommate aspects of life with. (Miss you, Als.)
Other Random Happenings
But mostly, I’m keeping my heart open. New York City is an amazing place.
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
― Langston Hughes
I’m trying to blog about my experiences as much and as often as I can, but the days are quickly blurring into one. I think that is what happens when you don’t have much going on and your days blur from one spin class to a netflix binge to a restless sleep and back again.
So here has been what has been remarkable about the past week.
Friends in Strange Places
On Wednesday, my Ikea dresser finally arrived! (Yay for more space to put tshirts!) So I open the box, and I want to feel like an adult. I get my screwdriver my dad bought me, borrow a little hammer from my roommate, and lay the pieces together by their category.
Then I look at the directions. LOL.
The directions are all pictures. All pictures. Not a word in sight. (Though, Ikea usually gives their information in Swedish, right?)
No matter. I still think that I’ve got this. Adults put together furniture! I’ve moved to New York! On my own! If I can begin to conquer the world, surely I can begin by putting together a dresser.
Two hours later, I have stripped down to a sports bra and underwear, and I’m laden in a puddle of tears and sweat.
My talents in life are not going to include building dressers.
On the other hand, using Google is a big talent of mine. (I’d go as far as to say a big talent of many Millennials.) So I quickly call a company that promises they can put together the furniture in the next two hours. I even haggle the price down! (Dude wanted 85 bucks for dresser assembly. That was more than my dresser cost. So I turned on the thick Southern accent, and said something about how I could not see myself paying any cost above sixty dollars. We bargained at 65.)
So, I happily await my handyman’s arrival. Now, I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting what I got. An attractive, 26 year old, Spanish man arrives at my door to fix my furniture.
And it turns out, he is potentially the nicest person I have talked to since arriving in New York. He asks me about why I moved, he gives me some advice for living in the city. He only makes fun of me a little for having put the dresser pieces on backwards. He tells me about his girlfriend. His nieces and nephews. (We share a love of our respective nieces and nephews.) He tells me about his girlfriend Jasmine. I tell him one of my best friend’s name is Jasmine. He asks me if I’m single. He’s shocked when I tell him I am. (Me too, buddy.)
All in all, he was a stellar dude to talk to. And it was nice to laugh. And have company. All brought together by the power of the very difficult to assemble Ikea furniture.
Social Social Workers
Around Tuesday of this week, a girl posted on Facebook that she would like to meet up with some people before school starts. Within seconds of her posting that, I jumped with glee, and promptly responded.
(There were some girls that were complaining about how it was too early, and they would rather get together in September. NO. NADA. NO. They were trying to crush all my HOPES AND DREAMS.)
Luckily, the girl responded to no such criticism, and we all met at a happy hour on the Upper West Side.
And it was SO FUN.
Social workers are such like minded people. We all immediately clicked. Talking, laughing, sharing stories, swapping numbers. There was one girl who had me laughing so hard I was clenching my side.
And it’s crazy because I began to feel less and less alone. One girl moved up from Idaho knowing only two people in the city. One from North Carolina. One from Arizona with a similar story.
By the end of the night, we were planning sleepovers and wine nights. Being thrown into this crazy experience can really just bring people together. I’m getting more and more glad that I chose Columbia.
So here’s the thing. In Nashville and Atlanta, you throw on some shorts and go to the store. Hair in a bun. Flip flops. What have you.
Well, I basically have to put full length pants on to walk down the street. I needed to run to the pharmacy to pick up something, and I didn’t feel 100%, so I threw on my Nike shorts, an oversized tee, some flip flops and headed on my merry way.
And I don’t look cute. At all.
(Here’s the thing. I’m a sweater. And New York is humid. So not only am I pouring sweat from what seems to be every pore (even places I did not know had pores), I am watching these little baby hairs that I have spring into action to form a lovely frizz crown atop my head.)
And I don’t mind. Judge me.
But as I made this trek to Duane Reade, I have to walk past the social work building. And as I do, twenty some odd girls pop out. I wanted nothing more than to say something about how I was so excited. I wanted to talk and make friends.
But as I see a sweat stain forming down my stomach, I can’t bring myself to do it.
I hear my mother in the back of my head: “Dorothy Ann. You need to put your best face forward. You never know who you will meet.”
She was right. (I shoulda put on a bra.)
Who Needs a Man?
So I have been doing a little dating in New York. I have never been the girl who dates, and I just want to! It’s fun. It’s meeting new people. It leads to an adventure. And some fun stories.
So this week, I had a couple of dates set up.
The first, I cancelled. It was about to rain. (So, I had held off on eating, and then sprinted to the store that is LITERALLY a block from my apartment. And the sky opened up right as I was about to leave. Once again, I was the girl drenched. I need an umbrella attached to my neck.)
But there was another guy who I was supposed to see on Friday. And I was SO excited. Even if nothing more than friendship came out of it, I was really wanting to meet this guy. We have the same taste in music. He’s a writer. He appreciates art. He likes Indian food. He’s a fan of French wine. I was beyond excited to meet him.
So Friday rolls around, and I do my hair and my makeup. (Which, my smokey eye was the BEST I have done yet.)
I hadn’t heard from him at all during the day, so I shoot him a text at 4:30 asking where and what time we were meeting.
But it’s New York! People don’t eat dinner here until 9 or 10. (Heathens. Bring on that 5:30 meal time for me!)
So I wait. And wait. And wait. (And I HATE to be made that girl who sits by her phone waiting on a man. I’m not desperate. Or needy. So just don’t make me be that girl.)
So finally, at 8, I send him another text. Casual. Keepin’ it light and fluffy. Made some joke about how I over plan my life, and about how I was really excited to meet him.
Nothing. And at this point, I’m STARVING.
So I order some Thai food, and throw on a comfy sweatshirt and have (another) Netflix night.
At midnight or so, I text him telling him I hope he is okay. I told him I was disappointed because he seemed fun, and that I wished he would have at least given me a heads up. (He was on Facebook the next day, so I’m sure he lived.)
But here’s the thing. I’ve never placed my value, my worth, or my self-esteem in what men think of me. Or women for that matter. Sure, I like to be dressed up and presentable when I meet others, but if you don’t like me, you don’t like me. That’s one of the greatest things I have taken away from my social work education. If someone does not like me for no apparent reason, it’s their “stuff.” They have something going on. As long as I have done my best to be a good, kind, fair person, then I have done my best. That’s that.
And I could sit here and wonder all the “what ifs” and “whys” in the world, but at the end of the day, I am not going to have an answer. And since I have learned to be okay with that I am a much happier person.
So I eat my Thai with no pants on, and call it a night. (I was a little disappointed because this guy promised to show me all the cheap food places he could think of. Would it be appropriate to text him and ask for a list…?)
Besides, the guy that took me to the musical took me out on Saturday, and it was a FABULOUS date. One for the books, really. Great sushi. Great wine. Great conversation. Great company. And that’s what counts.
Here’s a tangent on cat callers. With a little school update sprinkled in.
So, there are cat callers in the South. Duh. It happens. It’s annoying, but it happens. Usually, I just laugh it off, give a wave and keep going.
But since I have been in New York, it has been a BIT excessive. Never in my life have I been so verbally assaulted? (The question mark is because I can’t think of a better term for what it is.)
"Come over here!"
"Come sit on my lap."
"I could make you happy."
"Woah. Dark haired girl like you must be kinky?" (That one was like, WOAH, WOAH, WHAT?)
I just don’t get it. These lines don’t work.
So anyway, I got my Field Placement! I’m SO excited about it. I’ll be leading groups and taking on clients in an outpatient treatment facility. Everyone that works there is super excited to be there. My supervisor is a doll. I just had such a good feeling about it when I went in.
But the problem was, on the way there, was where I experienced the most cat calls since I have been in New York. And it was 2:30 in the afternoon. Now, it did not make me feel unsafe. No one followed me. No one approached me. I just had to walk past lines of men sitting on the sidewalk benches, visibly undressing me with their eyes. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least.
I try to keep my eyes forward and my path straight. (Ha. Sounded like a Biblical metaphor, but I mean it very literally.) The walk from the bus to the center is quick. So I leave my phone in my bag, I don’t let my eyes wander. It’s just hard. And it’s not fair that women have to do that.
Please Sit Here
I hesitate to finish with this post, but it has been something that has been on my mind.
Disclaimer: I in no way think i am better than anyone else for doing this.
So, I give up my seat on the subway. When someone older than me, someone who looks more tired than I do, or someone with a child or bags (etc.) comes on board the train.
This is not common. I’ve seen twenty somethings push people out of the way to get their butts on a seat.
And I get it. The subway is not a lot of fun (especially when the novelty wears off.)
But at the end of the day, I just have to wonder when we lost our compassion for people. My parents, heck, my grandparents, would give up their seats for someone without blinking an eye. They would think nothing of it. And here, I have this inner monologue, knowing that I should do it, but being afraid to stand out.
SO WHAT? So what if someone thinks I’m soft or touristy. If I can make someone’s day better by giving them a seat on their commute home, then dammit, I’m going to give them a seat on their commute home.
And it stinks that more people don’t have this attitude. We need to respect our elders, sure. But beyond that, we need to respect our fellow humans. And that just doesn’t happen too often up here, and it’s a little bit more than disappointing.
Alright. That’s all for this weeks update to the NOVEL of my life.
School starts tomorrow. The syllabus already looks tough. So be prepared for some rants. Tears. Laughter. Etc.