Insane Courage

Monday, October 22, 2012

POTUS, Nightmares, and My Entire Career

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hello there..

Before we get started, please be sure to read the required pre-reading for this edition of {the ivy project}.  Yep, seriously.

Those Manhattan Mini-Storage ads?  Awesome social commentary on life in New York City.  There are some others that are even less blog-appropriate.  You can google if you want.  It's just funny people.  But the latest seen-on-the-subway pitch to store your stuff with their company that has nothing to do with storage?  It kind of struck a chord with me...

Now, you should also know that I waited almost an entire week after the last presidential debate before writing this blog.  I needed to calm down a bit, and anything I wrote about it last week would have been just as annoying as all those political Facebook posts that cause you to unsubscribe to "friends" statuses.  Because last week I was kind of mad.  So here I am, calmly discussing it.  It's not about who I'm voting for or who you're voting for.  I don't care who you vote for...but I do care that you vote.  

I'm quickly approaching the end of coursework for my doctorate at Columbia.  In June, I'll (hopefully) officially be ABD...all but which point I can move anywhere and do anything and just write that pesky little 400-page paper.  And the topic of that pesky little 400-page paper?  How campus leaders respond to and make sense of tragedies like mass shootings on college campuses. 

There are several reasons why this topic is important to me, and we don't really need to get into it all right now.  Something about helping people who have to go through it handle it, even if it's just a little bit.  Even though I can tell you all the strategies and tactics and best practices for how colleges should respond to campus tragedy, my heart still stops every time I actually hear about something awful happening.  I can read the official report of a campus crisis and tell you what they did right or wrong, but it doesn't change the fact that it happened again.  Somehow I've kind of become an expert in the subject.  

Which makes me say, with a good amount of confidence, that it is going to take more than just creating more "two-parent families" to stop crazy people from taking automatic weapons into safe places and killing people.  There, I said it.  Education reform and parental involvement definitely helps.  But single parents do not lead to mass violence.  I'm also pretty confident about that one.  It is going to take gun control enforcement and mental health awareness and people speaking out when they think there might be a problem.  And maybe even this guy who has been riding around Columbia's campus all week...

So I will keep on with my 400-page book that no one but my advisor will ever even skim through, and I will pray for every campus that finds itself qualified to be a part of my research.  

Start of Something Good

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  (Hebrews 11:1)

I have lived in New York for 17 months now.  That's a lot of days in the city that never sleeps and considers Sunday brunch one of its most religious and sacred occurrences.  Love me some good eggs benedict and french toast, but still...there are more important things.  And when I realized that I was spending more time than I would like to admit on Facebook or other people's blogs and more money than I want to admit on Amazon books, I started thinking maybe I should be more intentional about the things I say are more important.  I'm thinking that it is no coincidence that my Bible study topics for the next two weeks are peace and patience.  Nice work on that one, God.  The last two weeks were about love and joy, both of which I am feeling a lot of lately with all the visitors and other good things happening.  But peace and patience?  Good lessons for a more or less full-fledged New Yorker on the brink of some big things.  

First of all, peace for a New Yorker is just a foreign concept.  The local nightly news is scarier than any crime show on prime time television.  And I generally believe that living in New York develops a kind of unparalleled resiliency and feeling that I can handle anything, but then I occasionally have dreams about bad things happening to major landmarks in this city.  Living in the number one targeted city in the world does not come without a degree of fear.  And every time I turn on the TV I hear about some strange thing happening to some flight somewhere or see that new preview for the scary Flight movie...and it makes me want to road trip long distances rather than board an airplane.  I was never scared of flying until I moved to New York.  Too bad I fly...all...the...time.  In the next three weeks I will be on six flights, and then eight more by the end of the year.  Peace.  Good timing. 

And patience.  I've never been so good with patience, but really, who is?  I always want to know what's right around the corner...what's coming up next.  For at least three quarters of my twenties, I job searched like it was a hobby.  Even when I had a good job that I liked, it's just what I did.  I haven't really done that since moving to the city, because I (sort of) firmly believed that I was exactly where I needed to be.  But I know that there is a time limit on it, and I'm already starting to feel the desire to know what's next creep back in.  I finish coursework in June and don't plan to stay in the city.  But where will I go and what will I do?  I would much prefer to be around people I care about, rather than just move somewhere for a job.  I kind of could care less about the job part right now.  But still...Oklahoma?  Good old heart of Texas?  Someplace else new and exciting?  I don't really need to know right now.  It's just sort of strange to know I won't be here, but not know where I will be.  Patience.  Good timing. 

Also, I'm just pretty excited for some upcoming trips and such.  Good, fun, hopeful patience on that part for sure.  I kept this one particular verse on my refrigerator for most of college and grad school, in the form of a postcard from the good old days of college life at Highland and awesome worship with the one and only David Crowder at UBC.  I'm not really sure that I knew what it meant at the time, but I like the postcard and it seemed like a good idea.  Seems like an even better idea now.

"Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your law, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."  (Isaiah 26:8)

And now just for fun, one of my new favorite, listen on repeat, happy songs...

One Step At A Time

Friday, October 12, 2012

This pretty much sums it up...

This whole doctoral business?  What kind of crazy idea was this?  I mean, really.  Insane.  My head is full of stuff I do not understand.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  It's only the statistics I do not understand.  The rest, as I am learning, I am either brilliant enough to understand and argue...or I have become established enough in the Ivy Leagues that it's ok if I choose not to understand it.  It's my call...well, sort of.  But at least I am one step closer, as of this week.

Remember that big giant scary certification exam I took in August?  Just to catch you up, I spent the whole entire summer studying for it.  Here's a blog recap if you care to flash back.  They told us to expect results in November.  I spent the first month post-exam stressing about it and waiting anxiously for my scores...then I just kind of forgot about it.  Seriously...I barely remember what I even wrote about on the exam.  So anyways...flash forward to this past Wednesday.

I had a meeting scheduled with my professor to discuss my qualifying paper, the second step of doctoral certification along with the exam.  Now, you should know that this professor is everything you would expect from the Ivy League.  Older, brilliant, East Coast accent, incredibly sarcastic, may or may not drink in class.  So he gave me some really good feedback about my progress on the paper and then asked if I had checked my email that day.  I had...and there was nothing all that exciting from anyone school-related.  And then he proceeded to make me sweat it out for about five minutes.  But then he proudly told me that I passed my exam!!!  So yeah, I'm brilliant.  Rocked it.

Actually, I don't know my scores at all.  I just know that I passed, which is all I need to know.  And in true Columbia University fashion, he proceeded to open a celebratory bottle of ____________ (please choose one: diet coke/sparkling cider/wine) and we just sat and talked for an hour.  So you know you've arrived when you can sit and your processor treat you like you're the expert on something.  

Yep.  I'm kind of a big deal.

Actually, that's not true at all, but I felt like it for a little while.  Next step?  Finish that qualifying paper and I'm officially certified as a doctoral candidate, not just a plain old doctoral student.  Just one more step on this crazy journey.

And then you will all be forced to call me Doctor.  At least for a little while.

Call Me Maybe

Saturday, October 6, 2012

So here's the deal.  Not to brag or anything, but it's not often that I feel stupid.  I am a pretty smart person.  I generally can handle just about anything academically and hold my own in these Ivy Leagues.  I usually feel like the hardest part was getting in.  And it was really hard to get in.  Columbia is a pretty big deal.  I wrote a killer essay on Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, in which I read and cited the original works (well, you know...the translated ones).  It was impressive people.

(Sidenote: I went on a date last weekend, and the cab driver who took me downtown told me I looked brainy.  Um, thanks?  Not exactly what I was going for mister.)

But then we got to statistics.

People, it's bad.  Real bad.  Worse than bad.

Yesterday, I read seven chapters of my statistics textbook and spent about seven hours attempting to answer four homework problems.  After three hours and a few tears, I went for a run through Riverside Park.  I may or may not have listened to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack along the way.  I used an entire eraser and almost a whole notepad in my attempt to answer these four questions.  

That last one was the worst.  I erased that page and started over at least six times.  And I know that I could have called friends or a tutor or something, but I felt like I should at least give it a good effort before I called for backup.  Math just never has been my thing.  I can write essays and argue theories and be philosophical all day long, but give me a basic math problem and we're all screwed.  Luckily my class is pass/fail.  But that still means I have to pass, you know?

So if you know statistics and want to help, call me maybe?  I mean, I don't know who you would be...who knows statistics?  Why is that even a thing?  And why did God invent Z scores?  Except that I'm pretty sure God did not invent Z scores, because He loves me too much for that.  But me maybe?

Heart and Soul

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Did you know that my favorite childhood movie (and one of my favorite grown-up movies) is Big?  It's a classic.  Epic.  Defined my childhood.  Seriously, if you haven' seen it, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Go watch it...right now...then come back and continue reading.  I'm serious.  But if you have seen it and just need a little refresher, here's a great one...

And one more, just to seal the deal...

Seriously.  Classic.  So for part of Staycation/Vacation 2012, Baby Sister, Just Matt and I headed to the far ends of the Earth (or, you know...Brooklyn) to relive a bit of our childhood dreams.  Half a dozen Doughnut Plant donuts...

And an hour and a half long subway ride later, we finally (skeptically) arrived at the legendary Coney Island!

And people, it was completely deserted.  Turns out no one goes to a boardwalk, beach, and amusement park on a random October Tuesday when the weather looks more like Seattle than the beach.  It's ok though.  I like Seattle.  And even though we were pretty much the only three people in sight, we had a great time...

I mean, what's not to love?  Boardwalks?  Ferris wheels?  Love.  But really, it started raining pretty hard, so we had to take cover in the aquarium.  We also like fish (and Finding Nemo).

Last stop?  The 4D theater for a special showing of Happy Feet.  And as it turns out, I could not manage to get the glasses on straight (really, no one told me?).  And also as it turns out, I did not know what 4D involved.  I got really freaked out when things started poking me and shaking me from the back of the seat.  Not cool people.

So all that was missing was the Zoltar machine.  I'm pretty disappointed we didn't find Zoltar.  If you don't know about Zoltar, watch Big (and google it).  I've got some wishes to make...

Kevin Costner and Billy Crystal and Patrick Swayze and Some Yankees

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You know how people are always talking about going on vacation in your own city?  How this whole staycation thing is all the rage now?  Welcome to New York City Staycation 2012.  

Well, staycation for me.  Actual vacation for the rest of my favorite people.  Please don't be offended if you thought you were one of my favorite people and were not actually in New York City this week.  I really like y'all too.  But when you live in New York City and your favorite people show up, good things are bound to happen.

Here's what happened.  The Chief decided to hop on over to NYC after a Chicago business trip.  Well, when Baby Sister and Just Matt got wind of this, they didn't want to miss out on the fun.  They like us a lot.  So The Chief arrived on Wednesday, Baby Sister and Just Matt arrived on Saturday, The Chief left on Sunday, and Baby Sister and Just Matt are here until tomorrow.  Hotel Katie is hopping!

So you probably know by now that a lot of my visitors want to do the same things.  No problems with that...they're attractions for a reason.  But you know...I do a lot of Empire State Building and Phantom of the Opera.  Just saying.  So it was really fun to do some different things. 

Like the Central Park Zoo...

A Greenwich Village Food Tour...

And Live with Kelly and Michael.  So much fun people...

Especially when Michael and Rachel Bilson reenact the final scene from Dirty Dancing, complete with The Time of My Life soundtrack.  "Nobody puts baby in the corner."

We revisited the Canfields' Riverside Park proposal bench, just for old times sake.

Yep.  They're still adorable. 

Next stop?  Yankees versus Red Socks.  So much fun much fun.  My very first Yankees game ever.  Sister and I spent the whole time quoting For Love of the Game.  Because I love baseball movies.  And Kevin Costner makes excellent baseball movies.

"The cathedral that is Yankee Stadium belongs to a Chapel."

And one day when I quit a job, I'm going to say...  "Tell them I'm through, 'for love of the game.'"
Oh my goodness, guess who we saw at the Yankees game?  Billy Crystal!  Apparently he is a huge fan.  Rudy Giuliani was also there.  He's pretty cool too.  But back to Billy Crystal.  And just because I can't resist, my favorite Billy Crystal quote...

"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

True story people.  True story.

So Staycation 2012 has been pretty spectacular.  

Because the absolute best parts of the last week and the two greatest dates this city has ever seen aren't even part of the blog.  Because those stories are just mine.  But friends, life is good.