Thursday, December 30, 2010


I'm reading a really good book right now. I know I'm late to the party with this one, but it really is a very good, engrossing book with several discussion points. And I'm not even through the entire trilogy yet. By the end, my book club is going to be BEGGING me to shut up, but it's totally their fault that I'm reading these books in the first place.

The Golden Compass has several areas that I would love to discuss in detail, but the one that strikes me the most is the idea of 'daemons.'

I'm torn on how to say the word to myself. Is it "daymon" or "deemon?" Since the idea isn't an evil one, I usually settle on "daymon."

In the book, everyone has a daemon. In a nutshell, daemons are an animal form that is sort of a physical manifestation of a person's soul. I would compare them to a witch's familiar, but that's not quite right. The way the link between the human and their daemon is described is deeper than that. It's described in such a way that the two can not live (sort of) if separated. The animal form that your daemon takes is a reflection of the sort of person you are. You feel each other's feelings and hear each other's thoughts.

I am fascinated by this idea. Fascinated. Think about how much easier life would be if there was no need to pretend? If who you are and, to some extent, how you feel were on display all the time? zlionsfan is much more cynical than I am and says that the world wouldn't change much if daemons really existed. People would still try to pretend to be something they're not. I choose to believe otherwise. Because so many people behave in a certain manner based on their insecurities. (I'm not excluding myself here.) And all that energy is just...wasted. There's a passage in the book between the main character and an advisor where main character asks what happens if a person doesn't like the shape their daemon takes. The response is:

"Well, then, you're discontented, en't you? There's plenty of folk as'd like to have a lion as a daemon and they end up with a poodle. And 'till they learn to be satisfied with what they are, they're going to be fretful about it. Waste of feeling, that is."

I LOVE this. I think it would be so much easier to accept who you are and how people see you if there was a physical manifestation that couldn't be hidden. Because you can always tell when someone is acting out of insecurity. When they're so sensitive to criticism or attention because they're so afraid of being seen as something other than what they want. And that makes me sad every time. It takes a long time to learn to love yourself. I know I'm still working on it. It would be so much easier with a daemon.

I mean, it would suck if your daemon were a... shrew, for instance. And you thought that you were a... Persian cat, maybe. But still, there are good points to being a shrew. I can't think of any right now, but EMBRACE your shrew-ness. It will make you happier in the long run*.

But enough of the serious stuff. The point here is that Candy, zlionsfan and I spent a better portion of Christmas return trip home discussing what our daemons would be. It was fun, and I won't reveal theirs, but I will say that I didn't get far from the bulldog that the boy already said I was. I was upgraded slightly to a pit bull, and I think I'm okay with that. I mean, can I choose which pit bull? Because Casey and Blue are like night and day. And realistically, I'm pretty sure my characteristics would mirror Casey, but boy, is Blue pretty.

Slightly related - the boy and I did our annual Christmas letters again this year, and in his letter, he rescinded the bulldog analogy and upgraded (??) me to a pit bull as well. And this was without knowing the conversation that had occurred on the drive home from Christmas.

Well, at least I don't have to worry about having an underbite anymore.

I'm curious to know what you would think YOUR daemon would be? I don't usually solicit comments, but if you read this and you know, tell me. I would love to hear.

*For any shrews who may be reading this and don't know me personally, this paragraph was written completely in jest. I am well aware that there are good characteristics to shrews and I mean no offense.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


So I'm still alive. And as predicted, the entire situation resolved itself approximately four hours after the blog was posted.

My boss had left for the day, and it was only my co-worker and I wrapping up the remaining business issues for a Friday. Since I had no plans for the evening, I was taking my time in getting stuff done, and stalking my new favorite website.

Backstory - a friend of mine applied to veterinary schools last cycle. There's a website that is a forum of pre-med students of all types, with forums dedicated specifically to each different profession. Pre-vet students will go to the veterinary forum and share hopes, fears, and, more importantly, rejection/admission/interview invitation information. My friend told me about this website last year, and she would come to class with stories like, "this person got an interview to Tufts! I didn't get one yet. That's not good news." I distinctly remember admonishing her, "You can NOT check that website over and over! You'll drive yourself crazy."

Flash forward to this year when I'M applying to vet schools. Do you think I can take my own advice? Negative Houston. I was perpetually checking that site, hitting refresh, and reading every thread in case someone posted information in the wrong place. I dutifully posted my first (expected) rejection when it came through, and I was sad when invitations to that school came through a few days later.

So on Friday, I was refreshing my favorite website, and I noticed that the thread for my in-state vet school option showed up with a new post. Sure enough, someone had posted that they had gotten an email with an interview invitation.

The words that came out of my mouth were not pretty. I copied the post and went to my email account to send it to my two therapists during this difficult time.

There was a new email waiting, and it was an interview invite.

I flipped out. Literally flipped out. When I called my mother, she didn't initially know who it was. Z also admitted later that he understood the word "interview" but not much else. My cousin was the one who finally helped calm me down with the words, "Honey, I can't understand you when you're sobbing like that," and she got to talk to me AFTER the screaming had subsided.


The biggest thing that I feel is a sense of relief. Even if I don't get in, I got an interview. I'm not crazy and vet schools might actually be interested in letting me become a vet. Because for all this time, the nagging thought in my back of my mind has been that I'm wasting all of this time and money on something that's never going to happen. This invitation? Helps. A lot. It brings back all of that clueless optimism I felt about this journey before things like organic chemistry happened.

So to anyone who's considering this sort of life change? I suggest you not give up. You never know what will happen, and I would HATE to have anyone sitting at home saying "What if?"

So now I'm off to prepare for the first interview I've had in about six years (and probably the most important interview I'll ever have.) Oh, and to buy a suit. Because, you know, I KEPT my suits from job interviews, but, um, they seem to have shrunk. Hmmm.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Did you get in?

It feels like my entire life right now revolves around that one question.

Did I get in?

(For the record, I don't know yet.)

Last week I called my mom and dad to tell them about the fantastic company Christmas dinner I had just gone to. I started the conversation with, "Oh my gosh, mom, I have GOT to tell you something!" It wasn't until I heard her intake of breath and the pause after my statement that I realized my mistake. "Oh, sorry. No, not THAT yet. I still don't have any news on THAT."

This morning, after an evening filled with fantastic conversations with two of my favorite people, I called my boss on the way in to work and said, "Good morning! I was just heading to Subway for a breakfast sandwich and I wanted to know if my FAVORITE boss wanted one too?"

His response was "You're in a good mood! Did you get in or something?"

It took me a moment to understand. Get in? Like, to work? I mean, the roads aren't THAT snow covered. And I have 4WD. Of course I would get in.

And then I understood. "Oooh. No. I don't know anything yet."

Waterboarding has nothing on this kind of psychological torture.

Rumor has it that acceptance/rejection letters were coming out this week. I woke up on Monday just KNOWING that I didn't get in. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would take my last final on Thursday, and then drive home to a rejection letter in my mailbox that afternoon. I was so certain that when I saw the letter in my mailbox from a credit card company, my brain was CONVINCED that the return address read "Purdue University."

The relief that I felt when I realized it was a Chase logo literally made me weak in the knees.

Originally I thought that this weekend would be a weekend of drinking. Regardless of the outcome of my veterinary school application, I would be drinking to celebrate the end of the semester, and to drown my sorrows/celebrate my acceptance. Now? I've decided that this isn't an alcohol-inducing situation. It's more along the lines of a Ben & Jerry inducing situation. When I told my boss this with an air of acceptance, my boss likened my changing emotions to the stages of grief.

You know what? He's kind of right. You know...minus the whole death thing.

1. Denial"I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions and individuals that will be left behind after death.

Whatever. This isn't happening. What application? Am I waiting on something? I am not avoiding my email. I just don't check it very often during the day.

2. Anger – "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.


3. Bargaining – "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."

If they let me in, I'll go to church in thanks every Sunday for a whole year! I'll be the best vet ever! I'll save all KINDS of homeless animals!

4. Depression – "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect oneself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

There's no point. I'm never going to get in. They're just going to reject me. My hopes and dreams will be crushed. My GPA/GRE score/personal statement/qualifications isn't/aren't good enough. I was stupid to even think of trying this. My life sucks.

5. Acceptance – "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.

Whatever, dude. I'm totally going to Sicily if I don't get in. And I'm stocking the freezer with Ben and Jerry's for the inevitable crushing blow. Do your worst, admissions people! I am ready! I am prepared! You don't run my life! It's all going to be okay!! (just please let me in, okay?)

The hardest part for me (for reals, yo. This is like real emotion-type stuff right here) will be having to tell people that I didn't get in if that is, in fact, what happens. I know that pride goeth before the fall...yada yada yada. But if I could TELL the pride to go away, I would. What it does right now is make it very very difficult to admit weaknesses. It's not that I want to appear perfect. It's just that I don't like to fail. So generally, if I want something a whole whole lot, I make DAMN sure I get it. (If there was a dislike button on failure, I would click it over and over.)

My other coping mechanism? If I want something I can't control, I don't talk about it to many people. Because if I don't get it? Meh. I only have to deal with the crushing blow myself.

But this? This wasn't something that I could really keep to myself. I mean, people were going to ask why I went back to school. People have asked how I'm doing. Friends have kept close tabs on where I am in my journey, and right now I'm at the point where the situation is literally out of my control.

It's awful.

If I don't get in, I'm not sure how people can react that wouldn't be terrible. The pity? The awkward, "sorry I asked, here are some token words to make it better?" The hug? (FYI - that one will make me cry. Don't do it unless you want your shirt wet.)

And what can I say? "Oh well. There's always next time. I knew this would happen. No big deal?"

Problem is, everyone KNOWS it's a big deal. Including me. And honestly, I'm terrified right now. Ugh.

(I am fully aware that by writing this blog, the universe will make sure the situation is resolved in one way or another within 24 hours so then I have either post a retraction of all this freaking out, or a depressing "my life is over" blog. Be prepared.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


I'm a storyteller, have no doubt. Nothing makes me happier than when something ironic or hilarious happens to me, and I get to tell the story to my friends complete with hand waving, dramatic pauses and maybe some exaggeration - all for comedic effect. I love to make my friends laugh and to achieve this, nothing about my life is sacred.

But I'm stumped when it comes to getting others to talk.

Not about the weather or about day-to-day life. No, nothing like that. When put in a situation where I feel someone may be uncomfortable or left out, I am compelled to engage almost anyone in a conversation that will make them feel more comfortable and involved. I can almost always find a common thread with someone if not with myself, then with one of my very diverse and extraordinary friends.

I mean getting someone to tell the stories that everyone has to tell.

During the Thanksgiving weekend, my father talked about his past in a greater detail than I had ever heard. It was awesome, eye-opening, hilarious, and so so interesting. I wish I knew what perfect storm of conditions occurred to prompt this storytelling because I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Was it because I had friends there? Friends who could keep their heads about them and ask questions that I surely wouldn't have thought of? (And assuredly would have KICKED myself for not asking once the moment had passed?*) Was it because of the martini he had to drink? Was it because of the late hour of the night? Was it because we had all just shared such a spectacular time together? I don't know that I'll ever figure it out, but I'm so glad I was there.

And yet, I keep coming back to the question of how to get that to happen? How do I go about following the recipe for that perfect storm of conditions? I mean, my father discussed events that I had no idea had ever occurred, so it's not like I could have asked specific questions about a time in his life that I didn't know anything about. Maybe I just need to ask questions like, "What was high school like for you?" more often. Because seriously? Fascinating.

And by the way - did you know that parents had these whole other lives before their children were born? True story. I've examined and enjoyed this new dynamic of interacting with parents as an adult before, but I'm not sure I'm completely over the fascination of it. Maybe because it has happened so suddenly and maybe because it has nothing to do with me having children. (Isn't that usually the rite of passage that changes things between the new parents and the previous generation? Or is it marriage?) More often than not when I ventured back into the land of my childhood, I found myself frustrated and upset by falling back into the role of teenage-Emily. Lately, I've made more of an effort to express myself more clearly and remain the "adult" I know I am when living on my own - and to interact with my parents as that person. I think having my friends around (who never knew teenage Emily) helped make that change permanent.

Totally worth losing 3-5 mpg taking that gigantic suitcase to Southern Indiana, btw.

Also, this post by Candy made me really appreciate having my parents and enjoying every second I have with them. I did, in fact, take pictures of us playing Mexican Train dominoes. Unfortunately, being Emily, I left the pictures on my dad's camera to be retrieved on a subsequent visit.

So do yourself a favor and call your parents soon, if you can. Have a drink with them and just talk - as a friend, not as a parent. How often does that happen? If it feels different, just ignore it and push through. The rewards are so so worth it.

* Shout out to Candy for her fantastically detailed questions!