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omnia vanitas
all is vanity
So less than a week after my "you can expect the best outcome" epiphany, I had more wonderful news.

My program is not one that guarantees funding. It's possible to get tuition remission and a stipend if you get a research assistantship, but they're careful not to promise it. When I visited a few months ago, I was told that my chances were very good, simply by virtue of the low enrollment this year. Actually, that was a big factor in my decision to join this program. The funding opportunities were certainly more promising than the other two schools I was seriously considering.

The impression I got was that the assistantships were pretty much a given for the second year, but not necessarily for the first. Tech skills were a big plus, meaning programming geniuses certainly had a leg up on me. It also sounded like you really had to hustle and hobnob with the faculty the week prior to registration. Being terrible at that kind of thing, I sent my resume to the department administrator, as requested, and honestly just pushed the issue to the back of my mind for the last month or two. It was one of those things that was just quietly stressing me out. Every so often I'd think "hey, we are really getting somewhere with this to-do list," and then I'd remember that I had a 40K sword hanging over my head.

If I got an assistantship, I'd have tuition remission and a stipend. I might be able to get by with NO loans. If I didn't, I'd be hugely in debt in the blink of an eye. With my BF starting his own business and figuring out what he wants to do with his career, taking out huge loans now would just really set us back.

Well, today I got an email offering me an assistantship! And the craziest part is that the work doesn't require me to fake any tech skills that I don't have. The job is planning events. My job for the past five years? EVENT PLANNER. That's right, I'm going to be able to use my skills in a part-time gig that will pay my tuition, offer cheaper health insurance for me and BF, and give me a nice little stipend to pay the rent. In short, I couldn't imagine a better scenario.

I'm not one to praise Jesus when good things happen to me, but if I did, I'd be busting out some of the songs I learned in Lutheran summer camp. I just feel so lucky and totally relieved. In addition to the financial boon, this development has:

1. Immediately crossed off the three most difficult items on my to-do list.
2. Provided clarity on my class schedule.
3. Given me a big dose of confidence because there's a big psychological difference between paying for an advanced degree and having it paid for.

This is honestly the best news I've had since the acceptances. I feel so incredibly at peace.
give me snaps
At therapy today I told a story. You see, I have this problem where I really focus on the worst possible outcome for any unknown. I assume the worst will happen and then I dread it.

There are a ton of unknowns in my life right now...like, most of the things in my life are big ol' question marks. So it's so tempting to just think myself into a spiral where the worst possible outcome is my future. Why the hell is that tempting? I don't know. I don't know why humans enjoy that churning pattern of thought where we scare ourselves until we're seriously freaked out.

But those of us who are prone to take our thoughts immediately to worst-case-scenario-freak-out without passing "Go" don't bother to consider the less frightening outcomes. If you think back to situations that worried you, isn't it true that at least some of them, ultimately, had a good result? That's right. Sometimes things turn out all right -- or even great. No one's life is 100% full of terrible results. (At least, I hope not. That would suck for that person.)

One thing that's been helpful for me is to come up with examples of times when I've been really worried about something, that eventually turned out better than I could have imagined.

Here's the example that I told my therapist:
I had two checking accounts, one of which I used only for quick ATM cash because it was next door to my office. Over a year ago, while trying to access that account online, I forgot a password and got locked out. I couldn't access the ATM anymore, so I just stopped using it. (More accurately, it was somewhere on my to-do list, but for some reason I just forgot about it since I didn't keep that much cash in my account.) Actually, I'd been penalized several times for keeping under 50 bucks in that account. I just didn't maintain it since it wasn't my primary bank account.

This bank doesn't have branches in Atlanta, so I figured that it was time to take some action and close the account. Problem was, I was afraid that I'd had less that $50 in there when it was locked out. What if the bank had been penalizing me, sending me notices to my old address...what if I owed them money by this point? And if I owed them money, would that affect my credit score, and would that mean we couldn't qualify for an apartment, and on and on and on...

I was really freaked out about this. I was practically shaking as I walked into the bank.

And I walked out with $1,300.

Yes, turns out, I must have deposited some checks just before I was locked out. Instead of owing money and having my credit ruined, I had a wonderful sum of money just waiting for me. Sometimes the best case scenario is just around the corner.
give me snaps
Today I made the mistake of spending some time reading about MARTA. Or rather, reading the words of some batshit crazy people anonymously commenting on MARTA. The rhetoric freaks me out. Between this stuff and all the Redditor proponents of concealed carry on the GaTech sub-Reddit, I am seriously wondering where the hell I am going.

Here's the thing...(and I'm writing this even though I know I come off as pretty naive)... Before I visited and researched Atlanta, I honestly assumed it was a place of relative racial harmony.

So when we visited the first time, I was somewhat surprised that we saw mostly white people in the neighborhoods that were suggested to us. On our last day, we had the chance to talk to someone who'd lived in ATL for a few years and she told us that the city seemed a bit segregated to her and that "bad neighborhood" actually meant "black neighborhood." I tucked that bit of info away, but didn't give it much thought until we came back to find an apartment and found that the safest, most-desirable neighborhoods were the ones where we mostly just saw white people out and about.

I noticed that many people online and in-person talk about MARTA (the public transport system) as being terrible and something they'd never, ever use. This was concerning because being near a train stop was tops on our wish list, since BF doesn't drive yet and I didn't want to commute to school in a car. We are train people. The idea of not using the train as a transportation option just seems weird to me.

So after asking a few people, bluntly, "what is the real deal with people saying MARTA is horrible?" a couple people came out and said that, for some people it's a race/class thing. The train is something that poor black people take. I have a car so I don't have to deal with that. And so on. The online commenting is really bizarre. So many people are just against the whole idea of public transportation. They literally do not want trains going to their suburbs. They equate it with welfare. It's just mind-boggling. It makes me not want to live there.

It's hard to tell just how "unpleasant" MARTA is. Unfortunately we didn't get to ride it yet, but we did walk around the station near to our apartment. It seemed pretty clean actually. Not as smelly as NYC. I can't imagine that it'll be dangerous during the daytime/commuting hours. I don't know. Maybe once I try to use it, I'll understand. It just makes me sad.
give me snaps
We sold our first piece of furniture on Craigslist today. We've listed about a dozen things, so we have such a long way to go. It feels good to let things go, though. It seems impossible that all of this will fit into a moving truck. I'm already fretting about how to get the couch out of the apartment, since it's a massively heavy sleeper sofa and I don't see it fitting in the elevator. As if I didn't have enough to stress about now, I'm stressing out a couple steps ahead. Oy.

Unfortunately, I can't get too much more packing done until we get more bubble wrap. The stuff I ordered won't be here until Tuesday, so I can't pack the kitchen appliances or anything remotely breakable. Not to mention the game systems and DJ equipment. It's all just so much in my head. And I've moved like 7 times. It really doesn't get easier.

Okay, enough about packing. I'm boring myself just talking about boxes and bubble wrap. Damn you, Scotch corporation!

So it's kind of weird that, at work, I really only get asked about when I'm leaving and my last day. I guess because I don't have too many responsibilities anymore. The fact that it's my last month is really the main thing about me at this point. I don't mind people asking, but when that's all you talk about with people, it gets wearying. (Not that I want to talk about work, but any other topic -- weather, sports, gossip -- will do!)

It's a little like being a ghost there. I'm there, but I have so little work to do that it's like I'm not really an employee. I guess that's what happens when you have a long lead time before leaving. It's not like a two weeks notice type of thing. More like a long, slow fade out.
give me snaps
There is some serious packing and selling of furniture happening now. This is actually our last "free" weekend before the move. We'll have a goodbye soiree next weekend, and I have a wedding to attend out of state during the last weekend in July. And then, two days later, we move.

I cried on the plane coming back from Atlanta. I thought about how it will feel to leave our apartment for the last time and to drive away from Astoria not knowing when we'll be back for anything more than a visit. I'm not sure if I'll miss New York all that much, but I really love this apartment. It's been a great spot for us, even though I just moved into it when my BF had already lived here for 4 years. I never really put my stamp on it, but I didn't really mind.

I think I'd be more excited if I didn't still have dozens of questions about school and Atlanta. It's the uncertainty that's really bothering me. In the past few years, I've become much more of a preparer/planner type, so when I just have to trust that something will work out, it's a serious struggle. On the other hand, I know that this "before" time is probably the hardest it'll be. In a few months, so many of this questions will be answered. I hope that will make it easier.
give me snaps
We had a lovely Independence Day celebration at the apartment of a dear friend, surrounded by other dear friends. It was happy, but also a bit sad. I have some social anxiety and I worry quite a lot about making new friends in Atlanta, where we know basically no one. It's just so comforting to go into a room and know that you know everyone there. You don't have to worry about making a fool of yourself. These are people that have seen me at my best and worst, who have thrown me parties and then carried me home from the bar after I blacked out (ah, Brooklyn).

I won't have that in Atlanta. Most of my close friends here are from college, so I've known them 10+ years. I haven't really had to make new friends in awhile. So the idea of having to start from scratch, of not having a built-in support system, of going through the awkward early stages of new friendship (which is kinda like dating)...it's daunting.

Luckily, I'll certainly meet people in my grad program. I'll have my boyfriend to take me places. But it might be awhile before I have some girl friends to hang with and talk boys and drink wine. Or a circle of people to play yard games in the park, or have a barbecue. My friends have been my family here. Even though we've all grown up and coupled off and some have moved on to procreation, they're still there for me.

I know I'll need to basically force myself to "get out there" and meet people. I'll need to go to parties and gatherings where I definitely don't know everyone. I'll have to get better at opening up to strangers and not worrying so much about what they think of me.

give me snaps
I have to learn some computer programming basics before I start my classes at the engineering college where I'm getting my Master's degree. I'm not an engineer. I'm no computer programming expert (that's why I use a Mac). Anyway, all the tutorials start off with a program called "Hello World" that simply outputs "hello world." It's the simplest thing you can do. Unfortunately, despite being several levels into coding exercises, if someone sat me down in front of a blank screen and told me to write a Hello World program, I doubt I could do it.

I'm a little under a month away from moving to Atlanta and it's finally starting to sink in. Our apartment is a mess and filled with boxes, most of which we haven't gotten around to packing. We just got back from a trip to Atlanta ("we" includes my boyfriend/"domestic partner" of 2.5 years), where we tried to find an apartment. We fell in love with one, but we're not sure it's ours yet, so we're still in limbo. I'm trying to sort out a million things with the school (including whether I'll be paid a small stipend to attend or have to take out thousands of dollars worth of loans for at least a semester). Whee!

My BF has never lived anywhere but NY and is probably more freaked out than I am. But since I also have to worry about attending a tech school and not even knowing how to write a Hello World program, our worries might just be about even.

I'm trying to get back into journaling as we make this move. I've heard it's helpful. And also, I'm leaving my therapist here in NY, and who knows if I'll find one quickly in Atlanta, so venting on LJ will be just as healthy, right?
4 snaps or give me snaps
just got home from a long weekend in wisconsin. emily kimberly wants my full attention NOW, even though i'm trying to write and listen to NPR.

tuesday is back to work :( and neko case show :)
give me snaps
got tix to see animal collective at prospect park in august. victory!
give me snaps
The last few weeks of anti-social behavior and lugging around heavy prep books to various neighborhood Starbucks definitely paid off. I took the GRE on Saturday and I surpassed my goal (which was basically not to score so low as to embarrass myself). I bagged a 680 quant/740 verbal, and I promised myself that I wouldn't retake if I score at least about 600 on each. I'm not tossing the prep books just yet, in case there's a disaster on the writing (and I did run out of time on the first question, so I'm not terribly confident), but overall I'm satisfied and glad it's done. I've been putting off this test for 5 years.

Thanks to the long weekend, we were able to go apple picking on Sunday and today I used my day off to completely decompress and cook applesauce. It's shocking easy. I just peeled and coarsely chopped a few of the more sour-tasting apples, dumped them in a pot with a bit of water, the zest and juice of one lemon, apple spice spice and a bit of brown sugar. I brought it to a boil and then reduced to a simmer and covered for 20 minutes. At that point, the apples are easy to mush, or leave chunkier. The first batch was a bit too sweet, so I made a second batch with no sugar and added it to the first batch. It's still a bit sweet for my taste, but then, I'm used to unsweetened applesauce from the jar. Anyway, it's super easy and a good way to get rid of a lot of apples at once.

Tomorrow, it's back to the grind and the beginning of Docfest.
give me snaps