graduate school, sober lifestyle

Performance

Imagine a precocious little girl in a homemade, red plaid dress with matching ribbons in her shoulder-length, sandy-blonde hair (she has bangs, so clearly this is a flashback from long, long ago), and white anklet socks and brown top-siders on her feet. She is marching in the door with a good — in fact, near-perfect — report card, her whole body tingling in anticipation of that intoxicating hit of parental approval she knows is forthcoming.

That girl is me. Did you guess? It’s funny I chose to paint that exact picture, because the outfit was from first grade, when I had…let’s just say, “social adjustment issues,” that led to regular trips to the principal’s office and my teacher installing a special study carrel in the corner of the classroom to keep me from being disruptive.

Legend has it I was doing somersaults one day on the carpet in the back of the room that was supposed to be for, like, naps and storytime and docile 💩 like that. 😳

Explains a lot, right?

I ended up killing it in all the academic subjects, to the point they put me in the “gifted” —sorry, “enrichment” — program, but my conduct left something to be desired. Read on to see just how much has changed! 🤣

Continue reading “Performance”
graduate school, sober lifestyle

Compensation

This week has been all about making up for lost time. I don’t know if one can actually do that, without injuring themselves…but dadgummit, I’m trying!

It’s like every moment I’m awake, I want to cram it to the brim with activities I enjoy. I want to take full advantage of my freedom and experience life on my terms!

So, I’ve basically been walking/running around Bucks County like a madwoman for days on end.

When I entered Tyler State Park on foot Friday afternoon, eyes fixed upward at the pure blue sky (when they should’ve been checking the path for those little round ankle-killers that fall from the trees 😬), I’d already run from Washington Crossing to Bowman’s Hill Tower on the canal path earlier that morning, then flowed through my usual yoga program on my deck shortly after breakfast. On Thursday, I walked in the park twice, in addition to working out in my basement and doing another hour of yoga. On Wednesday…

OK, Jen; they get the point. 🤐

Continue reading “Compensation”
sober lifestyle

Regression

I started weighing myself again.

This is dangerous territory, where someone like me typically dares not tread. I mean, for one, who wants to look at their gnarly, mutant, never-been-pedicured toes? And secondly, when you’ve struggled most of your life with body image issues, to the point of eating disorders and exercise addictions, knowing that number can…(understatement alert!) royally mess with your head.

And yet I marched into the bathroom last weekend and stepped up onto the dreaded measuring device — and into a substantial collection of dust — as if pulled by some irresistible, mystical force.

You know shit is 🤬-ed up when a former anorexic/bulimic starts seeking solace in the scale.

Continue reading “Regression”
graduate school, sober lifestyle

Education

The last thing the professor asked us to do in our orientation session Thursday night was go around the room and share one word that described our feelings about the upcoming semester — our first as “Cohort 9” in Delaware Valley University’s three-year MA in Counseling Psychology program.

It’s actually my first as a student, period, since the start of this century. 😳

Anyway, the other noobs were like, “Nervous!” “Overstimulated!” “Ready!” And your trusty wordsmith over here blurted out… “Summit.”

It wasn’t an adjective (still isn’t, actually). It made no sense outside my own head. So, true to form, I took up more than my share of allotted time, explaining myself to the group.

All I could think about during the 3+-hour session was the slow climb to the top of the big drop on a roller coaster — clickety clickety clickety 😳 — and that crazy-making anticipation of the terrifying free fall to come — clickety clickety clickety 😰.

You can’t turn back. You can’t get out. You have no control whatsoever. And you know you’re going to get thrown completely, wildly, out of your comfort zone. 😱

I’m so afraid of this exact scenario that I rarely even go on those coasters.

Continue reading “Education”
sober lifestyle

Reality

I was “running” — I have to put it in quotes; that’s how far I’ve fallen from my own standards — so slow on Saturday morning that I was able to take the attached, crystal-clear picture in mid-stride.

Not sure if that’s a sufficient illustration of rock bottom, or if I should tell you about the time a few weeks ago, when I huffed and puffed my way to the top of a hill in the park, and I felt so awful that I stopped “running,” and doubled over and grabbed my knees. I was wheezing so loudly that a dude walking his dog stopped to ask if I was OK.

I’m not proud to admit that I took my frustration out on this poor Good Samaritan.

“I’m fine,” I snapped. “It’s hot out. And I’m not in good shape.”

I turned in a huff and started back down from whence I came, my descent mirroring the trajectory of my physical fitness over the past three months.

Continue reading “Reality”
sober lifestyle

Victory

I put on a pair of jeans to go in to the office.

They fit.

That is the biggest news in my life, lo these past few weeks.

I’ll give you a moment to yawn, because if you’ve never had an eating disorder or grappled with obsessive body image issues — or, on a deeper level, a lack of self-esteem that manifests itself as obsessive body image issues — you have no idea how intense a love-hate relationship with denim pants can be. You don’t understand what it’s like to have your whole day ruined by that snug feeling in your hips and thighs, which in your head means you’re gross and unattractive and lazy and worthless, when in reality nobody else on Planet Earth notices nor gives a 🤬 about bunched-up fabric around your ass.

You think it’s NBD, or maybe a symptom of batshit insanity, but to me, the simple act of putting on said pants, then feeling comfortable enough to leave the house in them, really does evoke enough emotion to inspire an entire blog post.

Maybe I should’ve called this one “Vanity.” 💁🏼‍♀️

Continue reading “Victory”
sober lifestyle

Punctuality

Gratuitous nature pic, Day 475.

“If I’m ever late, alert the authorities; there’s been foul play.”

They could put that on my tombstone. I mean, hopefully they won’t; I’d much prefer natural causes, but you know what I mean. If I have anything close to a catchphrase, it’s that little nugget of brilliance. 😏 You might’ve even heard me say it, back in the days we used to go places, when I showed up somewhere like an hour or more early. (Thanks for humoring me with the polite chuckle, BTW.)

Punctuality is actually listed among my professional skills on my resume. It should probably have a “hyper-” before it.

Come to think of it, hyper is putting it mildly, considering the intense physical reaction I had those two or three times in my life when I thought I might be late for something. Still have nightmares about driving to the Atlanta airport on the early morning of Christmas Eve 2000, that fateful day the alarm in my Macon apartment didn’t go off and I ended up with only 15 minutes of wait time at my gate. 😱

Continue reading “Punctuality”
sober lifestyle

Recommendation

The biggest news in my life right now, other than the tatt and what’s going on every week in Season 4 of “Fargo” (Timothy Olyphant 😍…that’s pretty much it), is my quest to study psychology in grad school.

We’re officially in Phase 2 of that quest; I just received an email from the admissions office saying they reviewed my application and they’d like to invite me to a formal interview with the program director and other high-ranking school officials.

🥳

I learned a few things during Phase 1:

  • Openly identifying as an addict isn’t a professional death sentence;
  • My GPA at Northwestern was lower than I thought;
  • Probably the best decision I made in my (pre-sobriety) life was to move to Bucks County, PA, to join the local newspaper community.

Like most things you’re immersed in day after day for years, I didn’t really appreciate what — and who — I had in that community until I left it. I had a surrogate home/family, both in the company buildings and out on the sports beat, even if my loner personality made me, like, the distant third cousin twice removed in that scenario.

(Here’s where I am obliged to mention that I met my husband at the paper back in 2002.)

Most of us who moved on from the Bucks County Courier Times/Doylestown Intelligencer in the Gatehouse era did not do so voluntarily, so we didn’t really get to stop on our way out the door, look around and get proper perspective on our careers there and all the relationships we built over the years.

Continue reading “Recommendation”