Get ready for a long post.
I didn’t go to the hospital this week, or my lab, or the upstate forensic placement. I spent the week doing a sort of workshop, if you will. It’s a selective program….you have to apply for it and be accepted…and then you spend the week attending lectures, networking, going to happy hours, and exchanging ideas. It’s small…only 24 students were accepted this year…so it’s easier to remember people’s names and establish more meaningful connections.
It was so so so incredible.
The speakers were all developmental psychologists and medical doctors who do research in various little niches within the developmental world. I learned more than I could ever begin to describe in any meaningful detail here. One thing I did learn was that short of chartering a helicopter, there is no way to get to the east side of Manhattan on time. You might be thinking that I am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not. It doesn’t matter what time you have to be there or what time you leave your apartment. You will be late.
But suffice it to say that I was rapt the entire week. I learned about genetics, epigenetics, neurobiology and neurodevelopment, behavioral development, psychopathology, cognitive functioning, language, executive control….all from these incredible scientists whose work I have pored over for years. And I was not only in the same room as them, but I was talking with them and having drinks with them and hearing their thoughts on my work. It was totally surreal. I even met a woman whose research I totally admire, and I found out that we have the same alma mater!
And it wasn’t just the speakers who were impressive. The other doctoral students and post-docs in attendance were equally incredible. It was thrilling hearing about all the work that they’re doing all across the country (and also in Canada and the Netherlands!) We had lunch together. We laughed together. We sang karaoke together. And we shared thoughts and ideas about each other’s work. I was the only forensic person there, which was unusual for me since I’m in a forensic program. It was almost bizarre to me that people were coming over to me and asking me about my thoughts on psychopathy, the populations they’re studying, and the work they’re doing as it applies to the forensic world. I simultaneously felt good about myself….these people actually care what I think!…and insecure…they must be insane. Sigh. Brains are weird and silly.
Long story short, I am so pleased that my adviser convinced me to apply and that I was accepted. I was nervous at first, but I really forced myself out of my comfort zone by making sure that I introduced myself to people, listened well, asked questions, talked with people I admire, and made connections to the best of my ability. It was such an incredible experience, and I truly wish that I was allowed to return for another year! I’m hoping that I will be able to do some work with these folks in the future though. And in the meantime, I’m going to spend some time friending all these people on Facebook.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Cecilia and the Satellite
For all the places I have been, I’m no place without you.
I guess I’d better put this here before the announcement. Until somewhat recently, I struggled with thoughts of suicide. I never told anyone. Looking back, I can blame a lot of things and one person (if he can be called that), but it was my recent success that caused real problems. I had made a life out of dying. I ate more than I should have. Drank more than I should have, started abusing substances I shouldn’t have, got involved with people I shouldn’t have, did whatever I could to hurt myself without actually outright hurting myself. Because I fucking hated myself. Because that’s just how it was for me. And the success of the things I made opposed that. Tipped the scales, I guess. So the self-harm increased to match it. And I succeeded at keeping myself miserable. Until one day things got too good. I got on a plane (not this one), absolutely convinced it was going down. That’s another story. But it didn’t. And I had to accept that my life was going to be good whether I could accept it or not. Worse, I had to accept that it had always been mostly good. Well, starting around the age of 19. I stayed sad because I wanted to. Because it was what I knew. But I have now lived that 19-year-old’s life twice. Once through things he could not control, and once through things he could. And I guess I just got tired of hating myself. I got a lot of support online. Mostly because I begged for it through more attention whoring than should be legal, but I can forgive myself for that. For all of it, really. Because the universe and I have come to a sort of agreement. Now: why put this here, or anywhere? Well, somewhere at my core is a man who wants to help people. It’s why I taught. Why I helped people with disabilities. Why I was in the ministry until I lost my faith. Why I love being a father. And maybe someone else will read this, and see that even when you don’t want the darkness to end, it still sometimes does. Just on its own. I can’t explain it, and I don’t care to try. These days I’m happy to just accept it. But what I wish someone had told me some time ago is this: if you make it long enough, one day you’ll actually WANT to be happy. So make it long enough.
Benny, Brussels Griffon, N 4th & Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY
I love any animal that looks like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life.
Pretty sure this was my first full week of the insane schedule I’ve created for myself.
On Monday, I was back to training at the epilepsy center. We saw a few case presentations as well, but it was mostly a day of pretending to like people and pretending to not know things lest I look like a show-off know-it-all. Because, of course, I know everything. Duh.
On Tuesday, I observed an evaluation in the epilepsy center. It was actually quite interesting. It was my first adult case, like, ever, which is crazy enough. Adults are so much more compliant than 9-year-olds! I had a great time learning from my new supervisor and realizing that we are pretty much on the same level of obsessive-compulsive when it comes to report formatting.
On Wednesday, I was back upstate at the forensic site. I love it there far too much for my own good. I am collaborating with a few people on the development of a sexual knowledge questionnaire for teenagers, so I met with one of the other ladies on the project to discuss sex stuff. I’m thoroughly excited about the project. Even though I feel kind of pervy googling shit for it. My search history is alarming.
I also went to the court again and observed a different judge. There were lots of interesting cases coming in. I’m learning so much just by sitting there! And everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. I love it.
Thursday I had a new kiddo at the hospital. Actually, 2 kiddos came in, and I got to choose which one I wanted. I was tired from such a long week already, so I picked the kid who was sitting quietly in the corner. My supervisor laughed and told me she thought I’d go for the one who was bouncing off the walls, since that’s my usual choice. But I just didn’t have the energy that day. Sometimes you just need a kid to sit there quietly and answer the questions.
Then yesterday, I was back in the lab, running some new analyses on my thesis data. I was sort of training this Masters student who joined the lab, but mostly we just talked shit while I did all the work. I don’t mind it that way…it’s easier to just do it yourself sometimes.
Ain’t that the truth!
And today I have a participant for the felon research study! What a busy busy week.