Monday, January 31, 2011

Paper

Grad school?  Pff, whats that?  Apparently I'm not good enough...haha, no, that's not really it at all.  I'm good enough.  I'm competitive.  Just not competitive enough for the slim pickings of positions that are out there.  I'm going to be graduating in an absolute rut.  I have applied; I have polished my experience to the best of my abilities since I've been in college; I am a master at writing cover letters now.  Transcripts were paid to be sent, GRE scores paid to be sent, letters of recommendation written and sealed, cover letters and CVs were printed and mailed.  So much paper, a couple trees I'm sure...but all of this?  Not enough to cut it in today's society with funding being what it is.  Bah.  Money, you are the bane of my existence.  I wonder almost daily why we have to have money?  I mean look at it, just pull a dollar out and really look at it for a moment.  Feel it.  Bend it, crinkle it.  Its just a silly piece of paper (and other such materials).  Paper.  We get all bent out of shape for pieces of paper.  It seems silly when I think about it so in depth, and yet, there it is, money.  Can't escape it...

So, I'm coming to terms with where I'm gonna go, what I'm gonna do after May 15th.  May 15th.  Man, that's scary.  The official end to my undergraduate career.  Dawning a gold robe, tassels, and the like, strutting across a stage *without falling embarrassingly*, taking a[nother] piece of paper from an individual I likely have never met or interacted with in my four years at WVU (the bane of a big school).  And this piece of paper?  Its gonna tell the world that hey, look at this chick, she did college.  Really did it.  Y'know?  Bachelor of Science (hopefully with honors) in Biology.  And that piece of paper?  I'm sure my parents will frame it and add it to the growing wall of accomplishment in my bedroom at home.  Safe-keeping it with my HS diploma and swimming achievement plaques until I find a place of my own some day...

A place of my own?  I don't know where or when that will take place.  After May 15th I don't really know what I'll be doing.  I have more papers to compose undoubtedly.  Cover letters, CVs, and any other possible nonsense required for me to attain a temporary position somewhere.  I'm thinking I'll try for a summer position lasting 3 or so months somewhere near-ish.  I plan to take weekend classes to get my OEC certification requirement (aka another little piece of paper saying I did something) to become a national ski patroller this winter.  After three-ish months of some (hopefully fun) job, I think I'd like to return to Morgantown.  Find another silly job for awhile doing something I don't want to do forever.  Hang out.  Bide time.  Enjoy friends.  And then, then I'll try to snag a job of significance.  Another temporary one undoubtedly, but by this time I'll be a certified ski patroller (and that comes with more than just a piece of paper, I get a fancy red jacket oooohhhh yeeaaahhhhh).

With time I'll be somewhere doing something awesome.  I've got five years before my GRE scores expire.  Five years to get back and complete a Master's.  Five years to play.  Five years to add more pages to my CV.  To add more ink to paper.  All this paper though?  All these words that claim I did something, achieved something, got somewhere?  Its more than just words on paper.  Its experience.  Its memories.  Its priceless skill I have gained with hands-on experience.  Its building me into me.  And you know what?  Its gonna be a blast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Climbing

So check the video out!  I'm in it toward the end.  Ooohhh yeah girl climbers!

Building Character

Building character, that's what they call it when you're going through a hard time.  Its the positive outlook way to see things.  I'm trying to be positive, but, man, am I tired of building character.  Its tough stuff.

Going through this break up has been really rough; worse because I'm not even certain why it happened.  The "how to fix this" conversation didn't even occur.  He just kind of bailed out.  And I'm working on moving on.  And all things considered, I really think I'm doing a stand-up job.

Today was my "big" interview.  I suppose it was a grand experience to sit and talk to said professor.   But he had absolutely no interest in me as a graduate student.  He just told me about the process and gave me ideas on where to apply and how to go about it.  I'm grateful, but I knew most of that stuff already.  I've already applied places.  No one has interest in me.  Wildlife is difficult that way.  You can't simply "get into" a school.  You've got to find a professor that likes you, they've got to already have a position in mind, and they've got to have it fully funded.  Makes life difficult.

I guess today was just another one for the books.  But it's ok.  I'm getting used to this let-down thing.  Its getting easier at least.  Building character.  Yeah, I can do that.  Why not.  I'm sure I'll be better for it in the long run.  Its just hard right now.

One thing is for certain though.  I have the MOST amazing and supportive people around me anyone could ever ask for.  And I guess you don't really realize how great of a fan base you have until you go through things like this.  Its hard going through everything all at once, but the support I have?  Unbelievable.  The moments I don't believe in myself, when I doubt, when my confidence waivers, someone gives me the lift I need.  Phenomenal.

Now...if only the weather would cheer up a bit!  This dreary winter thing?  I'm over it.  Mr. Sun and I are long overdue for a date.  Until then though I have puppy therapy.  This is my new nephew:


Silas, a long-haired Weim.  Pretty boy.  His mom is a super hard worker and is in school.  Tuesdays and Thursdays she can't be home with him so I've volunteered to babysit him those days for the first month or so.  He's only 10 weeks old.  Hard to believe the little chunker is gonna reach 90lbs one day!  Kenai likes him so far, wishes he was a little more rambunctious though, I think.  But that will come with time.

I had lunch today with an old friend, Tim.  (Weird that I can say "old friend".  I feel old...gah.)  It was REALLY good to see him.  Its been awhile since we got to sit down and talk.  He got married to his dream girl back in May and they're expecting their first, a little girl, at the end of June.  I'm super excited for him.  He was really hoping for a girl, probably one of few guys who would admit that.  I'm really excited to get to knit super cute little girl hats.  Did the boy thing already, now for little girl hats.  And knitting with ribbon, and fluffy-fuzzy yarn.  Ooohhh excitement.

For now...watching the few minutes of Gilmore Girls I've NEVER EVER seen!  My season two disc four skipped when I owned it before, so I finally emailed WB before break and now have my replacement season!  Its PHENOMENAL.  I'm super excited.  The first minute of never-viewed footage was really good, I have high hopes for the next bit too.  Its little things like this that are getting me through.  Haha, pathetic.  But man, I LOVE Gilmore Girls!  And my love for them is going to lead me to finish this post with one little phrase:


COPPER BOOM!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Working my way back up the ladder of happiness

I'm out of my state of most-awful misery.  Now is time for being busy, making decisions, and bettering myself.  Getting the worst out of an awful situation.  And so far?  Its been good.

Tuesday night was a turn-around for me.  I haven't cried since Tuesday morning/afternoon sometime.  My appetite is back.  I'm constantly with friends, and I'm even talking cordially with the boy (and I think we might hang out this weekend).  I'm seeing old friends I haven't seen forever.  I have TIME to do this though, which is different from last semesters.  Not because of the lack of boy in my life, but because my course load has drastically decreased.  Its, well, pleasant.


  • Tuesday night was great.  I went out with my friend Dave, a fourth year dental student.  Needless to say, he's usually pretty busy.  So getting to go out to the bar with him and talk about random things in our lives was really fun.  I hadn't laughed so much in a really long time.
  • Last night I went over to my friend Sara's house.  She has a pup about Kenai's age.  They're best friends.  So while the pups played we made dinner and then watched "The Invention of Lying" or something like that.  I REALLY enjoyed the movie...but fell asleep near the end.  Just couldn't do it.  So I came home early and really got a good night's sleep.  First in awhile.
  • Today I swam a mile in the morning.  Had lunch at a little Japanese place with my friend Shawnna and talked about life's stresses and how they suck.  At 4p I met my buddy Mike at the wall (where boy was on shift working) and we climbed some laps.  Definitely good stuff.  I'm currently making dinner for myself (Tortilla Espa├▒ola) and then I'm off to visit Tay.  We plan to have an evening of wine, cheese, knitting, and a good movie.  Bring it.  I've been meaning to knit myself a hat for AGES and its time it got done.
  • Tomorrow I'm having lunch with my freshman year roomie and another good mutual friend of ours who is a first year med student.  I haven't seen either of them in a really long time so I'm really excited.  I don't have plans for the evening yet...but I hope to find something fun to do.  
  • Saturday night I'm headed to see Donna and the Buffalo with Shawnna at a local music joint.  It promises to be a night of crazy hippie dancing.  
  • Sunday is the WVU men's game vs. USF.  Hopefully we will play like real men and win this instead of pussin' around on the court like last night.  So frustrating.  Let's GOOO Mountaineers!


But beyond all of these activities with friends (which do have a considerable boost on my morale), I've made a big decision for myself regarding all things graduate school.  I've decided to stay east.  I thought my dream was to go out west; and the allure is still strong.  But unless they were to offer me a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity I fully plan on staying east.  Stick to my strengths.  Why go out there, where they don't really want me because they don't think I can catch up my flora and fauna identification knowledge?  Why play catch-up for several years and be looked down on just because I may not know as much?  I'll stay here, thanks.  Play to my strengths, exercise my growing expertise of the Appalachian region.  Virginia Tech for coyotes, WVU for bears, or the University of New Hampshire for bobcats.  Those are the opportunities I'm entertaining.  And I'm really excited about them.  I have an opportunity to really wow people over here with my experience thus far.  I really stand a chance to make something of myself.  And then, I can possibly score a job with a government agency which would allow me a lot of leave...to go play out west and elsewhere with.  That sounds good to me.

So, yeah, thats me and my life changing-ness.  I'm excited with my decision to stay here.  I think its the right one.  I have an interview with a WVU professor on Tuesday at 10a, wish me luck.  I hope I can wow him enough to be offered a position...  Goodness knows I need something positive to look forward to right now.

Kenai's really worried about me lately.  He won't leave me alone.  Absolutely HAS to be with me.  Isn't playing with his toys or chewing on his bone unless I'm with him.  And when I try to kick him out to get him to play he constantly looks in on me...

And, to end on an amusing note...my wonderful morning hair yesterday...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Misery (& bears)

So rock bottom.  Again.  And this time I'm going to actually state why.


Cute right?  Together for 2 years and 8 months.  Perfect relationship.  Effortless.  Never had a fight. Arguments of minor significance, but nothing major ever.  And then, out of no where, he ends it.  He says he's "not invested" in it and its not fair to me.  And I know I've been stressed out with this whole graduate school application process and the thought of possibly leaving for school next year is scary.  But throughout all of that...I still love him and want to be with him.  Bottom line.  Period.

So now, its over.  And I'm a wreck.  I've lost 10 lbs. in a week; I can't bring myself to eat.  It nauseates me.  I drink some every now and then.  I cry all the time.  I'm trying to stay busy so I don't think about it.  I'm trying to be as positive and rational as I can.  I'm surrounding myself with wonderful people.  I LOVE my friends.  Let me say that again because I really want to make a point... I LOVE my friends.  They are amazing and are helping me through this.  But you know what?  Despite all of this...I want things to work out with us.  I want to be back together.  I am hurt beyond HURT right now...but I want to be back together sometime.  

This boy has been nothing but amazing to me while we were together.  Nothing but perfect. Textbook perfect.  That boy that everyone wishes they had.  That relationship every girl dreams about.  I had that.  It was amazing.  And I'm so confused and hurt as to why its gone...  And I want to fix it.  I want time to fix it; but right now I HATE TIME.  Oh life, why must you be so hard?

In an effort to feel better I have asked a bunch of my girl friends to send me picture mail throughout the day of little things that make them smile in an effort to cheer me.  Its been really amazing so far.  Mostly its pictures of their pets that are absolutely ridiculous.  I love them.  One of a cat spying over top a laptop made me laugh for a long time.  Just imagine sitting with your laptop and then these ears and eyes, no more, peek up at you from behind the screen... Yeah.  Hilarious.

TODAY, in an effort to stay busy and further my life for the future and for the better I went and did THIS.  





NO, they aren't dead.  Just tranquilized!  Had to process them, get measurements and stats.  My undergraduate thesis, yeah, right here.  Thats just how awesome my life has the potential to be...

So here's to trying to be positive, fuzzy bears, and amazing friends.  (And boyfriend and I becoming boyfriend & girlfriend again...or at least getting on the right path for that...)

Buh-bye!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Learning is fun

Its my final semester as an undergraduate...scary, no?  Its really awesome, and easy, and relaxing...mostly.  But scary at the same time.

I have 12 hours this semester, the minimum allowed to maintain my full-time student status.  These 12 hours breakdown into the following:

Wilderness First Aid (1 hour)
GIS: Advanced Spatial Analysis (3 hours)
Animal Behavior (4 hours + lab)
Honors Investigation & Thesis (4 hours)

The WFA class will be a GREAT certification to have under my belt.  I chose it because it will, obviously, be helpful to my future outdoors jobs and such pursuits, BUT, I also chose it because it was a 1 hour course that was SHORT.  Short as in two days short.  So after this weekend, I will be done with that class!  Sweet, no?

Thesis course is so I can (hopefully) graduate with honors in Biology.  My project is "Using GIS to model black bear denning habitat".  I've got all the raw data, locations of dens and stats on bears that were radio collared for the last 10 years.  My job, is to input all this data into ArcGIS, an advanced cartography program.  This will allow me to analyze the locations of the dens in relation to, well, MANY things (i.e. slope, aspect, elevation, vegetation, distance to water sources/roads/civilization/etc., age/size of bear, # cubs, public vs. private land).  The results I obtain from all this will hopefully aid in land management to better provide high quality land for the bear's denning needs.  As well, I hope to get my results published in a wildlife journal of some sort.  Getting published as an undergrad would be BEYOND amazing.  My only worry with all of my research is that because I wasn't the one to physically collect all the raw data.  Its more of a wildlife-based project, and its for my biology degree.  I just can't be certain how nit-picky my board of advisors will be when I present my work.  Biology, the study of life, right?  Problem is, WVU's biology department is more molecular & plant sciences based.  Granted, there are some animal behavior/ethology courses, but this doesn't involve any of the aforementioned.  However, I will be utilizing the valuable statistical skills I learned from my biometry course, the scientific method I gained from all biology labs, and aiding in the understanding of why bears den in certain areas.  Biology enough?  I hope.

The other two courses are regular go-to-class courses.  Mondays I have a 9:30-10:45a, and a 2-5p; Wednesdays and Fridays I'm done by 11a; Tuesdays and Thursdays I have NOTHING.  Sweet, blissful nothing.  More time to work on my thesis, I suppose.  Ah well, eventually.

This past weekend was PHENOMENAL.  Powder filled skiing at Canaan Valley Resort with my boy and the Ski Patrol.  FREE skiing.  It was so, so, so awesome.  I got some free ski lessons from the patrol guys (as I haven't had a formal lesson on anything in 15 years) and I got to bomb down some great runs all over the mountain.  I'm definitely going to go through the hoops over the next year to become a patroller.  Free/discounted skiing at resorts all over the country?  I think so!  (Even if red isn't really my color...)

So here's to more snow, more skiing, and more learning.  I hope you and yours have a great week!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jerky

So back in November I went hunting for the first time.  And I shot my first deer.


Very surprising, all things considered.  My brother had shot one Monday night of Thanksgiving week.  He offered to take me out Tuesday.  So Tuesday late afternoon I headed out to the stand with him.  I had but two hours to wait and I was given the opportunity for a shot.  I hadn't shot a gun in five years.  I'd never shot a gun so big (300 Savage), nor had I attempted a shot so far through trees and underbrush (85 yards).  [And yes, I recognize that 85 yds. with a 300 Sav. isn't far at all.]  One shot and he dropped where he stood.  Through one lung, the heart, and out the other lung.  A good shot for a first time.

So the work began the Friday of that week.  My brother and I skinned them out, took the hams, shoulders, backstraps, and heads.  The hams and backstraps are wrapped and frozen awaiting consumption, the shoulders awaited me to turn them to jerky.  So much work!  [And I have YET to start working on the skull mounts or tanning the skins!]

I thawed the shoulders out, tore apart the individual muscles, and began picking out fat and fascia and cutting strips of jerky.


Once I'd completed that daunting task I made up two batches of marinade, spicy and not-so-much.


Poured the marinade on the strips and let them set for 30-ish hours.

  

Then I put them in the dehydrator for 6 hours....


And presto!


So I guess its not TOO much labor other than fat and fascia picking, but time consuming?  Very much so.  I dread doing the skull mounts and tanning.  That will be much more labor intensive.  Boiling heads, picking out brains, eyes, tongue, etc.  Hurrah, right?  And using liquefied brains to tan the skins...  I've got quite a bit of work ahead of me in weekends to come!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Nowhere to go but up

I've had the roughest of weeks.  I hit rock bottom and became emotionally spent.  I was broken.  I had nothing left around four o'clock on New Years Day.  Nothing.  But the good thing about hitting rock bottom? You have no where to go but up.

So, I called girl friend after girl friend until I got a voice instead of just a voicemail.  Caitlin was having a late Christmas celebration with family.  I broke my news to her, crying, but told her to please not worry about it.  Carly was 30 minutes away.  I told Carly I needed to horseback ride, right then, right there, and I broke my news, still crying.  While talking to Carly another called back.  I put Carly on hold and answered Erika.  I told Erika what had happened and she invited me to Charleston, a three hour drive.  I accepted and told her I'd leave my house by four.  

Caitlin paid me a surprise visit while I was packing.  She gave me a big hug, a shoulder to cry on, and we talked for a bit.  And then, I went into gypsy mode, and I left.  I drove a little, cried a little, drove a little more.  Sped a lot.  

Upon arrival we let our pups play.  Erika got hers a month before I got Kenai.  Cooper is a year older though, she adopted him.  So we let them play, I told her about everything I'd been through in the past few days.  She sympathized with me, lent encouragement, and then we went into our 24 hours of get-over-or-through-it therapy.  

I showered, our friend Ryan came over and we went to TGI Fridays.  I love that place.  Ryan went home and Erika and I returned home to talk and watch Dexter.  I love that show.  

Sunday was the best.  We went to the mall and had some window shopping retail therapy.  Tried on some ridiculous clothes and RIDICULOUS heels.  Absolutely great.  This was followed with a two mile run with the pups and then showers and leftovers for dinner.  Ryan dropped by for a bit. 

Right after he left the fun began.  Randomly.  Cee Lo Green's song "F**k You".  The MOST upbeat craziest song ever.  I LOVE it.  LOVE it.  Erika and I started into this crazy dance party.  Intense, jumping, spinning, bootilicious craziness.  Just the two of us.  SOBER.  (Two beers each but that's nothin'.)






We played the the timer on my camera some too.  Trying to get our jumps just right.  


And then, after an hour plus of pretty intense dancing in walks Danno.  He owns the house and lives there and had been in Georgia and Rocktown shooting photography and climbing with friends.  He walked into this scene:  Two red headed twenty-somethings bumpin' around the living room, speakers and subwoofer blaring Bubba Sparxxx "Miss New Booty".  Cue: Danno, front door.  HILARIOUS.

So, Danno, lover-of-all-women grins real big, drops his pup, Raina (who looks like a miniature Golden retriever) and flops on the couch until we encouraged him off to dance.  It was great.  Then, we put "F**k You" on and started REALLY dancin' again.  This prompted Danno to run out to his car and bring in all his sweet camera gear.  And then more fun began.










'

And then we all tried our hand with the timer.  Oh, fun.  I love these people.



Hair whippin' good time.

Nowhere to go but up.  I'm going.  And I hope everything will just keep getting better.  And stay there this time.  No more rock bottom for me, baby, no way.  And the dance parties?  And being a gypsy?  Those are sides of myself I'd like to see a little more often.