Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: April Check-In

Since my last post, a term of school has ended and another has started. I’m mostly recovered from “the Glutening” (which I just realized I never made a post about here, so y’all still probably don’t have any idea what I’m talking about), but I’ve managed to have a bunch of other problems, so my health is definitely still an issue.

I’m still using Dave Seah’s GHDR Tracker Form, and I made a customized points rubric for my own use, which made it a lot easier to determine how much I’m getting done. Previously I was eyeballing the somewhat abstract (for my own purposes) rubric that Dave made and haphazardly assigning points to things, with almost no standardization from day to day. I’m having a slight problem with maxing out some of the points levels some days, so I may have to sit down and think more about it. Anyway, here’s the points for March (I apologize for the wall of text):

2016-03-07 02.25.16 HDR 2016-03-14 00.17.28 HDR 2016-03-21 12.38.52 HDR 2016-03-28 01.05.06 HDR 2016-04-04 01.09.01 HDR

Tracking my effort in this way has revealed some interesting things to me. Mainly, some of the days I feel the worst about my ability to get things done are the days with the highest points. I think this is probably because self care and self love are one of my goal areas, so the days I feel least productive, I am taking care of my body or mental health, but my guilt about taking time off to do so means that physical downtime is often used to do things on my computer that I’ve been putting off, such as respond to emails or make graphics in Photoshop or make lesson plans, and so on.

For example, the week of the 21st, I came down with a sinus infection on Monday (somewhat conveniently, as it was the start of my woefully short spring break), and felt miserable on Tuesday, but also managed to do some graphics work and promotion for the poetry workshops I’m running this month, and finish applications for various components of study abroad; my points for the day came out to 63. The week of the 28th was the first week of classes, and the first week I used my custom rubric (though the sheet still shows the old one). On Wednesday of that week, I found an Islamophobic poster on campus that really rattled me. I pulled it down, and then had a panic attack. Despite knowing I should stay home, I went back to campus in the morning, because I didn’t want to miss Spanish (still my worst class), and proceeded to have possibly the worst panic attack I’ve ever had — I spent two hours squeezed into a corner in the Queer Resource Center’s back office, crying and obsessively watching the office door, until a friend brought me a tranquilizer, and I was able to function more normally; I have 80 points for that Thursday, some of which are for taking care of myself and some of which are for getting other homework done and sending emails and talking to school staff about the poster. I’m not sure exactly what this means about me — and it’s important to note that last week I was unusually productive, because it was the first week of classes, so I had a lot to be doing — but I’m going to keep tracking things and adjust my rubric as needed. If nothing else, tracking what I’m doing has helped me be more compassionate to myself in some ways, which is totally worth it.

 

Anyway, this month’s resolution review is below the cut:


Goals:

  1. Build up my small press
  2. Consciously love and care for myself
  3. Continue learning and expanding my skill set

Month in Review:

What worked? What didn’t?
1) I’ve been doing a lot of work on getting folks for the poetry workshops, getting a space, writing a facilitation outline (I’m really big on those), and nailing down days and times. I’ve got a small group of folks, and the first workshop is planned for this Saturday. I’ve been combing through my poetry books for poems to share, and thinking of activities and prompts. It’s all coming together, and I’m very excited.

2) My sleep schedule got ruined again, because I’m really bad at making sure to keep a firm bed time. After I got that sinus infection, I spent a couple days sleeping for 12-14 hours, and completely threw everything out of whack. Ugh. At least I’m feeling much better now, except for the whole low on sleep thing…

I’ve been doing pretty well at getting my physical therapy exercises done every day, but I’m also struggling with not feeling like they actually help much. In fact, the biggest impact on my mobility continues to be sleep. When I sleep and eat enough and don’t have gluten, my pain levels tend to be low, and my mobility fine, so I’m not sure it’s worth continuing the PT appointments. Every appointment, they push me to do more, even though I’ve expressed that I can barely move the day after. Setting boundaries here is not working out, so I don’t know what else to do.

On the plus side, being gluten free continues to be less difficult than I imagined, though it definitely requires planning and more cooking than I’m used to. I talked to my doctor and was tested for the antibodies, but at that point I hadn’t been eating gluten for about a month and a half, so it came back negative. My blood glucose and A1C are both great, but I have some worrying results that may indicate liver damage — my ALT and AST numbers both increased (AST most dramatically) after the Glutening, and my ALT was already high. I have an appointment to follow up on Friday, and the internet indicates that it’s common for gluten intolerant folks to have some liver damage/”leaky gut” as a result of the gluten damaging their body, so I’m going to bring that up with her. Besides those two results, all of my test results from the metabolic panel a couple weeks back are in normal ranges, which is pretty good to know.

3) After some careful consideration, I realized it will not be possible to complete PhD applications by the end of this year, which was my original plan, because these programs appear to only admit for fall terms, that means I will be completing applications in December 2017/January 2018, for programs to begin Fall 2018. Given that, there is much less urgency, and since I had already planned to continue at PSU in the fall (studying abroad at the University of Ghana as a student enrolled here), I have decided to finish out the 2016-2017 year.

Continuing on at PSU will give me the chance to complete an in-depth research methods course through the History department, and generate the kind of focused writing sample my PhD applications will require: a 20-30 page paper in my focus area that demonstrates my ability to find and analyze historical sources. It also takes the pressure off of me around getting into the study abroad capstone, something which has been causing me a small amount of stress.

In the past month, I have been working on my study abroad application, but have stalled because of an unforeseen complication: I don’t actually have a certified copy of my birth certificate, only a photocopy. Since I’m from California, I had to request a copy through the mail, and my request had to be notarized (that cost me $10, which seems ridiculous to me). I sent that request form out last week, and now I’m waiting for that, since I basically can’t do any of the rest without it.

Another reason to delay my PhD applications (besides the whole “realistically won’t finish them while completing finals in Ghana” thing) is that many of the programs want you to be able to show competency reading languages you may need for research. That means I potentially need familiarity with English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. Hopefully not all of those, because that would be a mess, but the more time I have to work on that, the better. I will have to refine my research interest for my applications, and the region I choose will impact which languages I need — I’m currently thinking of a focus on music of the African diaspora in the Americas, which would mean I’d need Spanish, French, and Portuguese, at least.

Planning the Next Month:

What am I working on going forward?
1) Poetry workshops! The first one is days away, and I’m nervous, but looking forward to it. I also need to figure out the timeline on the book stuff for that project, and prep promo for the book launch event. More generally, I need to check in with some bookshops about carrying books from the press, take more books to the shops that carry our books already, and figure out how to do some marketing.

2) I need to get my sleep back on track (as usual), and talk to my doc about liver stuff, and gluten-related next steps (biopsy? other kinds of tests?). Also, may try to bribe a friend into giving me a massage or something, since my back is really unhappy right now. Need to go grocery shopping and make a couple things I can eat fast and easy. I also need to ask my doc about a small supply of tranquilizers for that panic thing. If I get more sleep, the lingering anxiety and fear may go away, but this kind of thing is 100% unpredictable, especially since I can’t stop hateful people from posting threatening fliers on campus… She might say no, but it can’t hurt to ask.

3) Whenever my birth certificate comes, I will set an appointment to go get my passport photo taken and submit my passport application. Once I have the photos, I will take my application to the University of Ghana to my PSU study abroad advisor for her sign-off, and send that in.

I’m teaching myself to sight read music, so that’s going to take some work. I need to figure out a time to do that every week, so I make sure to get it done. And I’ll need to focus more on learning the music for choir, since we have a bunch of pieces this term, and most of them are not in English.

As a component of my grade in my East African Cultures class, I will be learning the basics of Kiswahili, through independent study and with a tutor. This is in addition to studying Spanish through the school, so I’m going to be spending some time figuring out what study tactics work best for me, and then move forward with them. So far, listening to news and music, making flash cards and vocab sheets, and practicing speaking seem to be working well for me, but it’d be nice to have a couple other solid strategies to work on my language retention.

 

See all of the Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.

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