Monday, April 22, 2013

Take the GRE


So, it's been a few months since I've taken the GRE and it certainly has been a few months since I've last posted on here. Life got in the way of Sure. Nevertheless, I've been busy, but I still rememberenough of how I felt from the GRE.

Let's begin with, I'm just NOT a test-taker. I like learning for the sake of learning and I can't perform well on these standardized tests. Well, I'm sure I could given the time and practice but it wouldn't be as easy for me as others. So, as I'm studying and taking these tests, I'm thinking to myself is this exam really an accurate reflection of how well a person would do in a graduate program??? Really? The answer is: NO. And if anyone disagrees with me, please I ask that you state your case.

If, for the sake of argument, you say that  like the MCAT and LSAT, the GRE isn't really a test on what you know but by getting the answers right it shows how you think, comprehend, analyze etc., which is fine, then I beg the question: Why Math and English as the grounds for testing? Secondly, how can a person's math and english skills foretell how they would do in a program for visual or performing arts? Just saying.

Then there is the debate of age v. experience. To put a recently graduated 21-year-old Math major up against a 32 year-old social worker both applying for a program in Education where taking the GRE is a requirement of the application process. Who is going to have retained the math skills (and maybe English too) necessary to score well? But, who knows more ABOUT people and has the skills to teach?! Which would be reflected by taking the GRE? Exactly. It's almost as if to say, if you want to get into grad school, just major in math and english as an undergrad so you can do well on the exam.

And to be fair, yes, I believe that more programs are realizing that the GRE is nonsensical and they ARE putting less weight on test scores. But for the more competitive programs, it does come down to test scores at times. And I guess it just sucks for that really qualified person whose vocabulary isn't the greatest.

So, I''m griping for the sake of griping. I didn't do horribly, nor was my performance phenomenal. I learned a good bit of new words, refreshed on my triangle properties and geometric theorems and sat in a room for four hours staring at a computer screen. I was actually doing really well until the break when I forgot my key to my locker in the testing room so I couldn't get my snack. Well, hunger set in during the second half and it was a done deal. Not only were the questions harder (a result of doing well in the first half) but I was starving and no longer able concentrate.
SO, the moral of taking the GRE- learn it for the sake of learning and eat your snack during break time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Attended an AA meeting - 8/4/10

Hi my name is Diana and no, I'm not an Alcoholic but I did attend an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting to see, to feel, to understand what goes on at those gatherings. We all have images of AA meetings, courtesy of movies and television but I've always wondered what it is actually like to be around people battling addiction. And that's the key word: Addiction. To be considered an alcoholic, alcohol really must consume one's life and to those of us that don't know anyone that is an alcoholic (or a recovering one), we don't always understand what that looks like. Neither do we understand what it feels like to be a recovering alcoholic where everyday is a battle, where everyday you must say no, where the smallest sip or drink feeds that addiction no matter how long, where even the smallest sip knocks your days of sobriety, be it a few days or several years, back to zero.

The most impacting aspect of that meeting was the diversity of the people. Recovering alcoholics can be anyone! Male, female, young, old, short, tall, well-built, fat, White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, corporate businessman, hourly worker. They were ALL represented at this meeting I went to. And while passing each other on the street they probably would not speak to each other or run in the same circle, here at this meeting, they were sources of support and a reflection of oneself in the name of sobriety. Their testimonies were given with intent to inspire and encourage others but I suspect to also remind themselves how far they have come in recovery.

An emotional moment occurred at the end with the giving out of the sobriety coins/chips. White chips, known as the "desire" chip, represent those that make a vow today to quit drinking. One man picked up that chip. A huge chip was the 30-day chip, which when you think about it for you or I to abstain from some things for a month may not seem like anything but for a person who went from night and day thinking about or drinking alcohol, 30 days is HUGE! The 6-month chips were very emotional for two men and like I said, I found it hard not to get caught up in the moment. Clapping for these guys weren't enough, I wanted to get up and hug them and tell them how great of a job they were doing and how much I admire them.

And let me tell you, alcoholics, they face a hard challenge socially. I don't drink alcohol, coffee, soda, or diet products but I can say on a day-t0-day basis I am inundated with one of those products on a social manner. My friends ask to, "catch up over coffee," or "meet after work for drinks," and what do I, a non-alcoholic say to that? Sure, but I'll have herbal tea or just a seltzer water with lemon instead of the coffee or cocktail. And I, a non-alcoholic, have moments of discomfort where I'm in situations where everyone is drinking something, and I am not, and for me it's by choice, knowing that if I were to partake, I wouldn't spin out of control. Imagine what it must feel like for a recovering alcoholic.

And so to end, I challenge you all to two things. First, attend an AA meeting if you get a chance. Go to a meeting where there is a speaker and listen to the person's battle with alcohol, see the actions of the people at the meeting. Observe the structure of the meeting, the respect and solidarity that exists. Second, try getting sober: Give up something you find yourself not able to live without or something that you do everyday for 30 days to understand the challenges faced. Give up that morning coffee, after-dinner dessert, Facebook, fast-food, driving, etc. And let me know via comments how it goes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Make a Wedding Cake.

When an opportunity presents itself, you've gotta take it! Who woulda thought that someone would have actually ASKED ME to make their wedding cake. I figured one of two things for this bucket list item: a) I'd be asked to make this cake years down the road after a few classes or something or b) I'd end up making a wedding cake just for snorts and giggles (and have a whole lot of people over to eat it!)
But, when my roommate was in wedding planning mode, she and
her now-husband, sampled my cream cheese chocolate chip cake with cream cheese icing and nonchalantly said, "Do you want to make our wedding cake?" I think at the time I thought she was kidding and maybe she even thought I was kidding when I said that I would.

And it certainly was a true opportunity presenting itself because to my knowledge she didn't even know that this was an item on my list! Knock knock, it's me opportunity!
So finally the days withered down until wedding time and my kitchen was bustling as were the dining room and my mind. Everything was planned out: baking days, ingredient layout, utensils, etc. The cake was white cake, homemade dulce de leche, and Italian buttercream.

A couple of things: Italian Buttercream ROCKS! Fat-free dulce de leche is good, but not as great as the regular stuff and Betty Crocker white cake mix is TERRIBLE, never use if must use cake mix...Pillsbury all the wayyyy.

I had originally made a white cake from scratch that the wedding party had liked but to replicate that recipe to make a three-tiered cake that fed 150 people I realized could not happen with my awesome but household KitchenAid stand mixer. We decided to go with cake mix and I mistakenly chose Betty Crocker. Gross.

Wedding day: Cake made. Cake safely transported. Cake assembled. Cake presented. Cake Cut. Cake Success. And here's to happily-ever-after.
Bottom line: I felt extremely honored to be able to make a cake for someone's wedding. It's a testament of their confidence in you and their appreciation and enjoyment of your work. I'm no Ace of Cakes and it's a ton of work. But I'd DEFINITELY do it again. Just not anytime soon.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Run the Monument 10K

Picture this: Me. Running. and Running. and Running. Running for 6.2 miles. And in all actuality, I don't think 6.2 miles are that much to run, I mean it's only for an hour or so (unless you are some speedy-ass people and run it in oh 24-46 minutes). I'm sure you can find other ways to mindlessly spend an hour and forget about those wasted hours weeks, months or years later. However, I don't think I'll easily forget running the Ukrops' Monument 10k.

So..I signed up in February for the race, thinking that'd be plenty of time to train...oh about 6 weeks until race day.

5 weeks till race day: Still haven't run.
4 weeks until race day: It's cold man, no running.
3 weeks until race day: a 3 mile run. That's normal.
1 week until race day: 1.5 mile started to rain and I had to turn around.
2 days before race day: hmm...I should do some running, 4.5 mile run. K, that's it until race day.
Race day: Amazing what adrenaline and determination to finish will do!

It was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful race. I had my playlist bumping, the spectators were awesome, the weather a little chilly but sunny and the turnout grand! It took me a while to get in the groove but I was dead set on never walking, never stopping. It wasn't until around mile 3 that I'd gotten into a rhythm and as I crossed the finish line, I felt as if I could have kept going.

I'm not runner. And I can't say I enjoy running. But I do enjoy crossing that finish line. Over 37,000 people signed up to run that race, and I was one of the 30,000 that showed up on race day. It was wild and most enormous feeling.

So, I think I'll start signing up for other races, 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks..leading up the next race on the list: A Half-Marathon. BRING IT!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Move Back to Richmond

Passion. My favorite word. It only makes sense that I live in the state whose saying is LIVE PASSIONATELY. And so I think I will.

I was trying to wait until all things were official but after 3 months, I just can't wait anymore. YES, I have moved back to Richmond within the year of making this list! Richmond was also the 4th resolution I'd made for 2009 (I'm 4/5 so far). Not only did I move back, but I moved back pretty much to the year that I'd decided to leave. And I'd say in that year I have grown immensely. Through travels, thinking and well life, in many ways, I'm not that same person that left a year ago.

Many of you know that the minute I left VA I had been trying to return. After a few months of moaning and groaning about NJ, I had a moment of clarity. I'm in NJ, I don't particularly want to be here, but while I am, might as well make lemonade! And was it sweet lemonade...with a few bitter seeds here and there. But the time I spent with my parents, my hermanito, friends, the travels, the new friends I made...they wouldn't have happened if I hadn't left and I'm grateful for that.
My return to RVA was actually serendipitous. Talk about A) Things happening for a reason and B) Timing being perfect. Minutes after accepting my job offer I couldn't stop smiling and reminding myself that I had 2 weeks to gather up and head back! And through finding a place to live, settling into work, attending weddings, registering for classes, and so much more, I apologize for my blogging falling to the wayside.
And so to my beloved Richmond I write: It's so good to be back in your arms, I love walking your streets, seeing your sights, smelling your smells, eating your food, and meeting your people. I still have times while driving through your city with such comfort and ease and familiarity that I have to pinch myself to remind myself that I really am here, living it, doing it, getting it done. These are the moments bucket lists are made of.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Attend 1300's Weddings: Lisa

Somehow I'm not surprised that the one who said she wasn't getting married was the first to walk down the aisle. When I saw a missed call from 7am in the morning one day from her, I knew it meant only one thing. After a text message asking if it's what I think has happened, I received a reply, "I'm getting married!"
Leading up to wedding weekend, all through rehearsal, and even the morning of the ceremony seven months after the proposal, I believed in the back of my mind that Lisa was getting married, but it did not sink in until the pastor declared them Mr. and Mrs. H. and they began walking down the aisle. I turned to the other bridesmaids and declared, "You guys! Lisa is married." So surreal!

One of the cool parts about Lisa and her wedding could 
be reflected in her bridesmaids. There were five of us. And each of us have known Lisa at a different time in her life and in a different capacity. One bridesmaid has been a childhood friend, another an elementary/secondary school friend, one the college roommate
for life, another the cake/frosting eating companion, and another met her towards the end of college and into the transition of the working world as a colleague. Not to say we were talking about her, but one of my favorite parts was sharing stories about the bride-to-be with each other as we looked at her getting ready.

I suppose it would be unfair to talk only about Lisa in this entry and not even mention  her husband, Landon. After I met Landon about two years ago, I told Lisa that I could tell he had it BAD for her. I'm not sure if it was a subtle twinkle in his eye or the way he looked/talked to her, but I knew.  I'm not going into the details of the courtship but Lisa knows I will NEVER let her live down the work Landon put in! He is a great guy and I look forward to great times with the two of them.

It's still scary and crazy that my friends are starting to get married. Exciting and fun and happy but still scary. We are growing older! I look forward to the days of hearing about other milestones in each other's lives. From buying a house, starting a family, moving, careers, I look forward to them with anticipation and cannot wait to sit back and reminisce about the stupid, silly and HILARIOUS things we've done in our days. 
P.S. Megan, Christie and I have taken dibs on who is next, and based on our track record we aren't too sure who it'll be. So maybe this will be the only post on this topic for quite a few years. Let's hope there will still be internet and blogs by the time that comes around.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Write Myself a Note and Leave it in a Book in a Library for 20 years

Actually did this over a month ago. But then life jumped into superspeed gear and I was all over the place, literally. Now that things have settled down (kind of) time to get down to writing.

 It seems easy to knock this quest out, right? Right a note, stick it in a book and cross this one off the list. Well, I wanted to pick a library that I was certain I would return to. Somehow, the Ed. library didn’t seem fitting as I have no connection to that town. So, why not Boatwright Memorial Library? A place that should be standing for 20 years to come, right? A place where I will undoubtedly frequent.  With the opportunity to be back in Richmond a while ago, the opportunity presented itself. Now it came down to writing.

There’s something to be said for writing yourself a letter and leaving it in a public place to possibly be read by another person. Unlike a diary that stays with you for your occasional perusal, writing a letter and leaving it for a given amount of time is like your own time capsule.  What you write, the style of your writing, the emotions you are feeling, what’s going on around you at the time, all play a part in what you write, or don’t.

I know that my note was filled with anxiety, anticipation and excitement towards the future as at the time, my life had reached a crossroad, one that as I am writing this post, I have crossed.

Once I wrote the letter, the next part came in deciding where to put it. I didn’t want a book or section of the library so easily used or accessed that in days’ time someone would come across it. If it were up to me, no one would ever come across it.

So, I picked a section of the library representative of my time at UR followed by a title that I think also represents a lot of my studies. Slipped the note and left the library with a smile on my face and wondering if it will be there when I return. And while I’m tempted to check on it each time I set foot on campus, I’ll refrain because, where’s the fun in that?! Can’t wait until the post where I go back and read it and laugh to myself about what I wrote and where my life has since taken me.

Here's a copy of the cover of the book with the title, call number and other parts erased, just in case you find yourself in Richmond, at UR, in the libes, etc. and want to know what I wrote. Plus, I had to take a pic of the book and the call number so I could remember were I put the note!