Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's Up, Doc?

The past few weeks have been a little bit crazy. Between The Killers concert (which deserves an entire post all of its own) and Christmas shopping madness, as well as an attempted road trip, it's been rather busy. In the midst of all of this, I also ended up with the most amazing (and awful) hay fever last week.

It all started in the middle of the night on about Monday, when I woke up with a sinus headache and couldn't get back to sleep. It got steadily worse from there, and going to work with a streaming nose didn't really help (it's hard to answer the phone without sniffing and I feel really awkward about coughing over people's credit cards). Not even the doggy antihistamines helped (they're exactly the same as the human ones, and the vet and I both take them whenever our allergies kick in). I eventually gave in on Thursday and decided to go to my GP. Without a second thought, I called his office, expecting to get an appointment that morning, and so you can imagine my disappointment when the phone rang and when through to an answering machine message telling me that he was away until January and that I should go to another doctor, who is just down the road. A little irked, I called my old GP, only to be told by his receptionist that he was also away until January. Still feeling like hell, I decided that the best option was to go to the office of the doctor that the first GP had recommended - the argument for this approach was mainly based on the fact that there was no answer when I called the practice to make an appointment. I should probably also point out that my old and new GP's offices are on the same road, and about a block from one another, and that the GP who was recommended by the original one also had his offices on the same road! It's Glenhazel - we have a surplus of Jewish doctors! Anyway, I pulled myself together and drove down the road to the offices, which, lo and behold, were closed! At this point, I drove back up the hill to the original GP's office, because I knew that there was another GP there (see what I meant about the surplus?). Amazingly, they were open, but could only schedule me an appointment for the next day, so I took a business card in case I needed to call them, and drove to the Bagleyston Clinic, cursing the fact that all the GP's in Jo'burg appeared to be sitting next to each other on a beach in Umghlanga!

I got to the clinic (and I swear that the guy who parked next to me was the same guy who I had seen in the waiting room of the GP who was actually open!) and located the offices of one of the GP's. Naturally, it was packed with people - I vaguely suspect that this doctor was the last remaining one in Jo'burg. I tentatively approached the reception desk and asked if I could make an appointment. The receptionist responded by telling me that the doctor was very, very busy, but that, if I didn't mind, I could see "the lady doctor". Happy to see anyone with a medical degree at this point (I was seriously debating just driving to work and seeing if the vet had any ideas about what I had!), I agreed! I feel a lot more comfortable with female doctors and the only reason why my GP is male is because he's the closest one to where I live (expect when he's tanning on the beach, obviously). I filled in their form and saw the doctor 15 minutes later. I was a little mystified as to why the receptionist had given me such a meaningful look when she had mentioned the "lady doctor" - and it got me a little worried, because in my mind, a lady doctor is a gynae. It turns out that she wasn't just a lady, but also a very nice Chinese lady, who was only about 4 years older than me! This got me wondering why I hadn't been asked in I wanted to see the "ethnic minority lady doctor"...

In any case, Holly (the GP), was very nice, and checked me over and concluded that I merely had severe hay fever, and that the exhaustion which had caused me to suspect that it was 'flu was merely incidental and a result of the heat. She gave me a script for some more exciting antihistamines and sent me on my way. I am feeling quite a lot better - aside from the coughing, which kind of causes people to look at me with concern. I'm mostly okay though, and might actually be able to enjoy my holiday, now that I'm no longer feeling sorry for myself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sleepless in Seattle

The past few weeks have been rather crazy, hence my lack of blog activity. While varsity term is finally over, it's taken a while to recouperate from the stress of Honours. I really hadn't realised how exhausted I was. Through most of October, while I was writing up my research and studying for exams, I was functioning on about 5 hours of sleep a night - a bit of a problem for someone who usually gets 8 hours in order to be somewhat sane! I caught up on most of my sleep after my psychopathology exam, and had a lovely 2 weeks off in order to study for neuropsychology, but I ended up going from exhaustion to holiday mode in 1 easy step, so I still ended up studying furiously the night before the exam, woke up and revised at 6am and was far more stressed than I needed to be!

Even with exams over, I still haven't been getting terribly much sleep. Actually being able to relax at last has sent us Honours students into a socialising flurry. The week after exams was pretty crazy, with our post-Honours party and Pam's wedding. The Honours party was held at Mailie's house in Westcliff. Despite the utterly miserable weather (it poured the entire week!), we all had fun exploring her enormous house (it's worth a couple of million rand and has the most amazing view), discussing our holiday plans (holiday - what a beautiful word!) and eating far too much!

Pam's wedding was rather interesting - and a lot of fun! It was raining, so the photos that she'd arranged to have taken with all her friends ebfore were moved from a park near the shul to Melrose Arch Shopping Centre. I wore black - *shudder* - and it was utter chaos, with us running around the shopping mall, dodging Christmas trees and being shouted at by the photographer! Anyway... I got changed into my red dress at Melrose Arch, and drove to the shul. The first part of the wedding involved all the women standing in a room, and then the men coming in with Daniel (the groom), so that he could lift Pam's veil to check that it was her, and they could say some blessings. Pam's dad led the procession, and he was in tears from the instant he saw her, and so was her brother - and then so was I! Lame, I know, but I usually cry at weddings. Anyway... The rest of the service was downstairs in the shul, and it was very lovely. The reception was in Sandton Shul's hall, and it was amazing! I knew a couple of people (as aquantainces), but the girls were very sweet. There was tons of food, and the dancing was so much fun! Girls and boys danced separately (there was a screen across the dance floor), but it was so much fun! And the dessert was incredible - every dessert known to man was spread out on a giant buffet table! I'm seriously considering doing the photography for Jewish weddings as a possible career option - if only for the dessert! I did manage to have a fashion faux pas though. I was chatting to 2 other girls outside the bathroom (turned out they'd never been to a Jewish wedding either, and so they were also lost), and after I came out of the bathroom, I got my dress hooked in my petticoat. We were just standing in the passage, and someone told me, but I might have flashed 1 or 2 Jewish boys, who aren't allowed to hold hands with girls, let alone be flashed some knickers! Oops...

Aside from the party and the wedding, I've also had a surprise 30th birthday party, a couple of DVD evenings, a visit to the theatre to see "Cats" and an awful lot of time with He of Many Sports Injuries. My efforts to reestablish my sleep patterns keep being thwarted, because I'll catch up on my sleep, feel better and then have a late night and be back to being a zombie. It seems to be getting a little bit better though - and I'm really enjoying seeing all my friends again!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Apologies for having abandoned my blog for the last month or so - things have been rather chaotic! In between the end of term, essays, finishing data collection, doing data entry and battling my stats program in the hope of one day being able to finish my research project, there hasn't been too much time for blogging!

There has been rather a lot to blog about though! Firstly, the World Wildlife Fund ( hosted an initiative a couple of weeks ago, in which they asked people to blog about climate change. Now, I could write a really heart-wrenching post about the melting ice-caps, but instead I'm going to write about recycling - with a difference. I'm not talking about recycling glass or paper or making compost (all of which are really good ways to recycle). Instead, I'm talking about recycling intellectual property. I don't mean plagiarism though - 4 years of lectures on referencing will put the fear of God into you should you ever decide to neglect good ol' APA format referencing. Basically, I discovered that my Honours neuropsychology essay topic this year was almost identical to last year's 3rd year essay topic. Since I was rather stressed and short on time, I decided to "recycle" last year's essay into a new, slightly updated essay - not a bad idea, considering that I got 86% for it the first time round. It didn't go particularly well - I wasn't too motivated about it, and the electricity went off twice while I was typing it, which meant that my computer switched itself off and I had a small nervous breakdown. I got my mark back though - 90%! If I keep handing in this essay, I should eventually get 100%! Hurray for recycling!

Finishing my research proved to be a bit of a disaster too! I eventually finished data collection (54 proved to be close enough to 60 to be an acceptable size sample), did my data entry (the joy of reducing 8 months of work to a bunch of 1’s and 0’s on an Excel spreadsheet) and started data analysis. Analysis lasted all of 10 minutes, because the stats program remained grumpy, and I eventually ended up at the house Granville was house-sitting, from 18:30 to 00:30 on a Tuesday night, running my stats on his laptop! And after a week of very little sleep, multiple drafts, sending my supervisor 40 page drafts via fax and discovering that in 8 months, I actually found nothing, it was handed in on the 30th of October, all bound and shiny. I’ve set up another blog for my research findings (or lack thereof), so got to, if you’re interested (or bored).

Having handed in on the 30th at 13:00, I then invigilated a 3 hour exam with Granville and Bronwyn. Granville had also just handed in, and had pretty much pulled an all-weeker (rather than an all-nighter), and so we were all rather exhausted. I had bought everyone a packet to sweets from Woolies (the gelatine-free ones) to get us through the afternoon, and by the end of it, we were all hyper, and were all head-banging to whatever music we were listening to on our iPods. Between all this, we escorted students to the bathroom, read a little bit, chatted to the psych lecturers (who all think we’re nuts) and watched Granville twirl his moustache (surprisingly fascinating). It was actually a rather fun afternoon!

As exciting as all of the above has been, there are 2 rather huge pieces of news. Number one is that I’ve been accepted for Research Masters for 2010, which means that I get to do another degree, get an office and don’t have to join the real world for at least another 2 years! I also get to figure out what I want to do with my life, etc. The second piece of very exciting news is that I have a boyfriend. And it’s not the Crush or the Potential Potential. It is, in fact, someone who has been mentioned a couple of times on this blog (see my posts entitled "The Beach", "Casino Royale" and "Brokeback Mountain"), and who Helen has named He Of Many Sports Injuries (which I quite like, and which I will now adopt). We've been together for about a month or so, and he's very lovely. I won't bore (or nauseate) you with the details though. Fair to say though, I think my inner romantic cynic is slowly dying... ;)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Drop Dead Gorgeous

I've been debating this blog post all week, and regret to inform my readers (or anyone else who has randomly stumbled across this part of the interweb) that I have very little going on in my life at the moment. In summary (yes, I can actually summarize the absence of action/excitement in my life at the moment):
  • I am finished data collection and the grand total of people tested is 54. 6 people have been excluded because they either met my exclusionary criteria, because they were outliers or because they matched people who were outliers or who met said exclusionary criteria. I have just realised that I could've cut myself some slack and tested 40 or 50 people and my supervisor would never have known, because she doesn't remember how many people I intended to test in the first place. Why have I only realised this in the last 5 minutes, after 2 months of insanity??? Why? Anyway, I am now moving onto data analysis...
  • I write 2 exams - one on the 2nd of November and one on the 16th of November. The less said about those, the better!
  • I still have no idea what I'm doing next year. MACC haven't let me know if I'm in their programme yet, I'm still waiting to find out if I got into Research Psychology Masters and I'm running out of backup plans.
  • Things with the 2 potential potentials are still complicated. I'm seeing both of them this weekend - separately (obviously). I'm still not sure what I want, but I don't want to lead either of them on while I figure things out.
  • My dog is currently at the vet, on a drip for kidney failure. This makes me feel really sad.

Anyway... A couple of weeks ago, Helen tagged me to do one of those "10 Random Things About Me" lists. It's taken me a while to get around to it, but here goes, I guess!

  1. The movie character who I most identify with is Natalie Portman's character in "Garden State". No idea why, but it just kind of feels like watching myself on screen. Maybe it's the hair. Or the house filled with the hamster mazes.
  2. I'm at least slightly OCD about cleanliness. The less asked about this, the better.
  3. I have a list of movies that I refuse to watch with other people, because I simply adore the movie too much to let anyone else potentially ruin it for me. The list currently consists of "City of Angels", "Romeo + Juliet" and "The Matrix" trilogy. Weird, I know!
  4. Whenever I hear a song on the radio at the moment, I find myself mentally picturing how I would dance to it. It's called "spontaneous musical imagery" according to my friend Bronwyn, who is studying this for her Masters. It's really weird and has just increased exponentially in the last 3 weeks. I have a theory that it happens more when I'm happy.
  5. I'm currently organising a party at a friend's house (or rather, at the house which he's house-sitting). It belongs to some crazy Germans who appear to be into some fairly kinky stuff. I don't know how I ended up being the chief organiser. Oh wait... I do. I volunteered. Oops.
  6. I am very bad at flirting. Or rather, I am very good at flirting with boys who should not be flirted with, and very bad at holding a normal conversation with a boy I like. The Crush is definitely proof of this.
  7. I am seriously debating whether I should be a psychologist, or whether I should be doing medicine instead. Or joining a Buddhist monastery.
  8. I don't think that I'll ever be able to bring myself to eat meat ever again.
  9. I spend far too many Saturday nights in front of my PC, either doing assignments, blogging or messing around on Facebook.
  10. I love public speaking, but having to approach small groups of strangers (like at varsity or at a party) terrifies me. I'd rather speak to a room of 400 people.

Thanks Helen! In return, I'm tagging Luke, Leia and Helen.

And in case you were wondering about the title of this post... It was inspired by an interview I saw on TV yesterday while I was channel-hopping. Some TV show was interviewing a group of the girls who were contestants in the Miss Teen South African pageant, and the girl they were speaking to described meeting the other contestants as "the most utterly traumatic experience of my life, because they were all so pretty". Um... Yeah. It just reminded me of the movie "Drop Dead Gorgeous" - it's in incredibly poor taste, but unbelievably funny. Watch it, but don't say that I didn't warn you that you'd probably feel at least slightly uncomfortable afterwards.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Uninvited

This post isn't really about anything more than the song that I've had in my head for the last 4 days. I'm hoping that by blogging about it, it might just disappear (and be replaced by "I am the Walrus" by The Beatles or something that makes equally little sense). Fair to say, the song is pretty apt, considering my current romantic situation (which has been made a little bit less complicated, because I had "the talk" with one of the parties last night).


Like anyone would be, I am flattered by your fascination with me
Like any hot-blooded woman, I have simply wanted an object to crave
But you're not allowed
You're uninvited
An unfortunate slight

Must be strangely exciting watching the stoic squirm
Must be somewhat heartening to watch shepherd meet shepherd
But you're not allowed
You're uninvited
An unfortunate slight

Like any uncharted territory, I must seem greatly intriguing
You speak of my love like you have experienced like mine before
But this is not allowed
You're uninvited
An unfortunate slight

I don't think you unworthy
I need a moment to deliberate

Okay. Enough. Please let this song go away now. Please. Thanks. Bye. :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Beach

It's official - a change is as good as a holiday. 5 days at the beach, however, is the best sort of holiday to have (except for maybe 6 or 7 or 8 days at the beach)! After all my sleepless nights, early mornings, weekends of general antisocial-ness and seriously hard work, I got my weekend away at Warner Beach, and it was undoubtedly worth it!

The week leading up to leaving was pretty frantic, and I didn't get to pack until about an hour before we left on the Wednesday! This was mostly because of a small problem that I encountered in the Wits postgraduate parking area as I was trying to leave campus at 10:15 on Wednesday morning: due to the ICC Champions' Trophy cricket tournament, the Wits cricket field was being used as a practice ground by the Indian cricket team, and I got parked in by the team bus! And the driver had disappeared, the Wits parking guards were unable to leave their post (because it takes 2 people to stand and swipe people in - yeah right!) and the team manager was nowhere in sight! I eventually got some police officers to help me, and the bus driver was found and the bus was moved pulled. It was pretty funny - I might even have laughed, if I hadn't been in a huge hurry!

Sarah, Garrith and I eventually left Johannesburg at 13:00, and I spent most of the trip updating Sarah on the madness that is my life, helping a tutling with his essay via sms and comparing weather reports with the Potential. I also managed to do a fair amount of my course reading before it got dark and cloudy. By the time we got to Pietermaritzburg, it was raining and foggy, which made visibility problematic, and we got rather soaked running from the car to the mall where we stopped to have supper (white t-shirt = bad choice). We arrived at Warner Beach at about 21:00, and sat and listened to the ocean that we couldn't see (thanks to the rain and the fact that it was dark) for a while. I woke up at 5:30 the next morning (and every single morning for the rest of the weekend, in fact. The joys of my body clock!), and did some reading. Once everyone else was awake, we went exploring, and took a very long walk on the beach. It was cloudy, but warm, and there was just something lovely about walking on beach sand and having the waves lap at my feet every so often. Once we got back, we went shopping, and after lunch, I wrote one of my mini-essays, and went for another walk on the beach.

Friday was pretty miserable weather-wise, since it was very cloudy and drizzling slightly, so Sarah, Garrith and I did what all Jo'burger's do at the coast in such situations - we went to Gateway. This was an excellent way to kill time - we wandered around for ages and then had lunch. We also did a fair amount of wandering around in an effort to find the car afterwards - Gateway is enormous and terribly confusing, despite the fact that we had a map (this should be an indication of how many people do get lost there - how many malls actually give you maps?!?). We fetched Graham from the airport at about 19:00, and spent the rest of the evening catching up and watching DVD's, and fighting about vegetarian food.

We finally got to swim in the sea on Saturday - it was nice and warm, and not particularly windy, and I didn't get dumped by any waves or injured, which is pretty miraculous for me! We went swimming on Sunday too, but is was incredibly windy - to the point that we were about the only people on the beach! In between all of this, we played poker (I won!) and Risk (I got annihilated) and watched some more DVD's, and I had a huge fight with my data, finished my course reading and completed the final mini-essay. We also went for a couple more walks on the beach and I took lots of photos, especially of the beach at dusk.

We all got along really well, which was nice (especially by comparison to my last beach holiday, where at least 2 parties weren't speaking by the time we drove home). I do, however, have my suspicions as to whether some matchmaking was going on, because Graham and Sarah seemed to leave Garrith and I alone on the beach an awful lot (and we kind of assumed that they were doing the "romantic walk on the beach" thing, so we wandered along and took photos). This isn't really making the situation with the Potential any less complicated, and I'm rather confused about things at the moment, and will probably be writing somewhat cryptic and dramatic blog posts in the near future. What will be will be, I guess (although if it could be simple and lacking in drama, that would be really nice)!

In any case, we drove back on Monday, in more nasty weather, and I'm now back home, experiencing beach withdrawal and enjoying my slight tan (just dark enough to make me look less pale, but not dark enough to arouse suspicion from the psych department, who probably wouldn't endorse my mini-holiday). The really good news is that I have received a 2 week extension from the department for my research report, which means that it is now due on the 30th of October. I am so relieved. And I now merely need to finish my neuropsychology essay and all my hand-ins will be complete! Win!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm not sure if I'm losing my mind, or if I'm being punked. I'm seriously beginning to think that it's the latter. Along with my weird dissociative episodes (which are probably due to low blood pressure) and my serious bouts of productivity, this week has been its own shade of strangeness!
I've made quite a bit of progress on the potential weekend-away to-do list. I've written 2 mini-essays (and I'm planning on doing the other 2 in the car on the way down) and a first draft of my research report (although I need to reshuffle the order of my methods section). I'm also more than halfway through my data collection - and seriously beginning to think that I'm going to reduce my sample size to 40, instead of 60, because it's just becoming ridiculous now! I have got a load of scuba divers and mountain climbers lined up for the weekend, which is making me feel a bit better. I'm still not sure whether I'll actually be going down to Durban though - it's really dependant on how much further I get with data collection and whether I can run my stats on my laptop (which isn't looking too promising at the moment, since Vista refuses to run any other software other than itself. Grr...).
I have at least started running and swimming again. The swimming has been great (aside from the creepy old guy who was suntanning in his Speedo) and the running was okay (except for the bizarre near-fainting moment where I started seeing auras). I'm feeling a little fitter, but that might just be from carrying my laptop bag up and down the stairs of the psych department.
On to the serious strangeness though... I did some data collection on Sunday afternoon at a friend's house, and tested my friend and his girlfriend, who are both scuba divers. They disappeared off to his room, and I was left chatting to his brother, who is 21, and has always had a bit of a thing for me. I ended up sitting outside with him while he had a smoke, and we got chatting about things. Somehow, we got onto the subject of friends with benefits - I think he was trying to figure out whether I was interested in being beneficial friends with him. When it became apparent that I wasn't that kind of girl, he changed tactics and asked me to dinner and a movie (which is probably proof that you should always ask for more than beneficial friend status). I was feeling fairly awkward about this, but he was kind of cute. I compromised by saying that I wouldn't be free until after the 16th of October, which he more or less seemed to accept. He didn't have my number though, so I figured I'd have the opportunity to think it through a little more before I saw him again. Sadly, this failed somewhat miserably. I spent Tuesday evening testing a friend (who is actually the other potential potential) at Mugg & Bean in Rosebank. The evening was fairly normal, aside from:
  1. Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" being played as background music in the coffee shop (which was then balanced out by Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies".
  2. Paul calling me to ask what goes with apples
  3. the fact that I was doing psychological testing in a coffee shop.
It went downhill on the way out of the coffee shop though, because I got a phone call. The number looked somewhat familiar and the voice on the line sounded an awful lot like The Crush. He wanted to know if I wanted to go to Doors with him and his brother's friends. I then discovered that he actually wasn't going to Doors, and wanted me to come over, because his parents were away. At this point, I still thought it was The Crush and said yes, but that I needed his address, which confused him, since he was convinced that I knew where he lived, since I'd been to his house before. He then realised that I clearly thought he was someone else, and I then realised that it wasn't The Crush, but was in fact Dinner and a Movie Guy. Naturally, I felt like an idiot, and was so flustered that I quickly refused, said it was too late at night, that I had to be at Wits early the next day and that I would see him at varsity sometime (preferably in about 8 months' time!)! I was so mortified - especially since The Potential Potential was right there. I spent the next 2 hours with him, explaining that I wasn't the kind of girl who went to boys' houses late at night when their parents weren't there. He actually proved to be very good at calming me down and it's now become a running joke between us - thank goodness! I did tell The Crush about the incident, which he thought was spectacularly funny. Fair to say that the entire incident felt like a bad joke - or an episode of "Punked" - though!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Amazing Race

Why does time fly when you're having fun? And when you have 3 textbook chapters to read, a research report draft to write and 40 peoples' brains to test? Sigh... My research break has been fairly productive, but I feel like I could've got more done. That said, I didn't have too much free time, since I worked an extra shift at the vet (which involved wet paint, 3 dachshunds, dozens of cats and the most impossible customer on the planet) and had to go engagement present shopping as well. I did have a fun week though - I went to movies with friends, may or may not have been on a date (I'm still not sure, but I'm going to pretend that it was) and bought new jeans. I don't feel particularly rested, which is probably a good thing - the sunny weather has at least increased my energy levels and improved my mood dramatically.
I do need a proper holiday though - or at least a change (which might be just as good as a holiday). I was invited to go down to Sarah's parents' place at the coast in 3 weeks' time, over the long weekend. I initially thought that I couldn't go because I had far too much work, and even if I took my laptop with, the prospect of sitting on the beach, reading a journal article, was pretty depressing. Somehow though, after my bizarre emotional roller coaster of a weekend, I have changed my mind, and have decided that going away for 5 days would be fantastic and just what I need. The proviso, of course, is that I get all my work done (or at least most of it, so that I can just spend the car trip reading journal articles). As such, I have a list, and I'm in a race against time. In the next 3 weeks, I need to:
  1. finish data collection (also known as "test the brains of 42 more people")
  2. write my neuropsychology essay
  3. write a draft of my research report
  4. do data entry and data analysis
  5. write 3 more mini-essays for psychopathology
  6. lose a bit of weight (it is the coast and my bikini has been in hiding for 6 months)
  7. start running or swimming again

It actually seems manageable. And strangely do-able. So, I'm hoping that I can get leave from work and enjoy 5 days of sunshine, beach sand and good company!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Mexican

A couple of months ago, the fabulous Being Brazen posed an interesting question on her blog. It was based on a scene from "The Mexican" and asked the question "When is enough enough?" ( for the full link, go to ). I was in a situation which was begging that question at the time, and didn't really have an answer, but it was a thought which has stuck with me for the last few months. Basically, to cut a long story short, I've been debating getting involved in a relationship with a friend of mine and we've been thinking about it and thinking about it for the last 2 years or so. He's a great person and I love him, but there were lots of factors which made things difficult and we never really managed to get over them. Everyone thought we were perfect for each other and that we should just give dating a try. The last 6 months were somewhat strained though and our friendship took a serious knock. We were completely honest with each other about our feelings, and, for the most part, it was like we were dating, because we'd generally see each other on weekends and talk during the week, and all that was really missing was the label which marked it as an "official" relationship. Eventually though, I started wondering whether enough was enough - was it time to make it official and be a couple, even with all the drama which it would create in our circle of friends, or were we just making each other miserable and wasting our time? I really wasn't sure, especially since I didn't want to let him go, because I love him. I wasn't sure that I could accept us just being friends, and that losing him (even if we weren't really dating), would make the bottom fall out of my world. But, eventually, enough was enough. I don't quite know when it happened, but it did. I had seen him out with his friends, and I just felt as if that was his life, and it was completely separate from mine, and that that was okay. And the sun still came up the next day, and I was happy. I was no longer drained and I felt free - free from all the stress of the "what if" game and all the uncertainty that came along with it.
It's been about 6 weeks now, and I'm still feeling great. I saw him for the first time about a week ago, and then over the weekend again, and I was okay. In fact, I was more than okay. Our friendship is still there, but I don't have the burden of having to guess what's going on between us and wondering if we'll ever figure things out. I didn't wonder what he was thinking and I didn't feel sad or confused when I left. What's even better is that I feel free to move on with my life - flirting at the party on Saturday night was part of it, and I've been feeling a lot more confident about myself. It feels a bit like I've found myself - and that I've turned out to be pretty cool! Life goes on. I even met a really nice guy at movies last night, and while I don't know if anything will come of it, it felt good to just spend time with someone new and completely different. Maybe I'll end up dating him, and maybe I won't. I don't know and I'm not going to have sleepless nights about it. I'm just enjoying this feeling of freedom and discovering who I really am and what I want.
As an aside... I woke up this morning with this song in my head. I love Matchbox 20, and the lyrics seemed somewhat appropriate for my state of mind.

"Waking up at the start of the end of the world
But it's feeling just like every other morning before
Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it's gone
The cars are moving like a half a mile an hour
And I started staring at the passengers who're waving goodbye
Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time?

I believe the world is burning to the ground
Oh well, I guess we're gonna find out
Let's see how far we've come, let's see how far we've come
Well, I believe it all is coming to an end
Oh well, I guess we're gonna pretend
Let's see how far we've come, let's see how far we've come

I think it turned 10 o'clock but I don't really know
And I can't remember caring for an hour or so
Started crying and I couldn't stop myself
I started running but there's nowhere to run to
I sat down on the street, took a look at myself
Said "Where you going man? You know the world is headed for hell.
Say your goodbyes if you've got someone you can say goodbye to."

I believe the world is burning to the ground
Oh well, I guess we're gonna find out
Let's see how far we've come, let's see how far we've come
Well, I believe it all is coming to an end
Oh well, I guess we're gonna pretend
Let's see how far we've come, let's see how far we've come

It's gone, gone, baby, it's all gone
There is no one on the corner and there's no one at home
It was cool, cool, it was just all cool
Now it's over for me and it's over for you
It's gone, gone, baby, it's all gone
There is no one on the corner and there's no one at home
It was cool, cool, it was just all cool
Now it's over for me and it's over for you

I believe the world is burning to the ground
Oh well, I guess we're gonna pretend
Let's see how far we've come, let's see how far we've come
Well, I believe it all is coming to an end
Oh well, I guess we're gonna pretend
Let's see how far we've come, let's see how far we've come".

Monday, August 31, 2009

Casino Royale

If there's one thing that I've learned in the past few weeks, it's that sometimes things are a whole lot easier than I thought they would be. Masters interviews were one example, and Saturday night was another. For the record, I hate being set up with people. I despise the expectation that goes along with the whole scenario, and I'm usually the victim of terrible judgement on my friends' part, and end up praying that my mom will phone me and beg me to come home immediately because the dog has run away or something. So, when I received an invitation to Graham's birthday party and was told that I would be meeting my "date" there, I was a tad reluctant. I was really excited about every other aspect of the party. The theme was "Casino Royale", and guests were required to dress up as James Bond or Bond girls. So, on Saturday night, I set off to Sarah and Graham's house, dressed in my little red dress (black is so last season, dahling!), stiletto heels (yay! My ankle has healed! I can wear pretty shoes again!) and makeup (gasp!)! I arrived to discover that the house had been converted into a casino and everyone was looking very glamorous. After chatting to Duncan, Sarah and Graham, and the other guests, we got down to some serious poker (which wasn't all that serious, considering that half the table had never played before). Everyone joined in for the main poker game later in the evening, and I spent most of it admonishing Duncan for having folded when he had good cards. Then, it was off to the lounge to watch "Casino Royale" (which, incidentily, has the silliest dialogue). After the cake had been cut and coffee was served, everyone except Duncan, Garrith, Sarah and Graham left, since it was about midnight. For some bizarre reason though, we decided to start another poker game, which ended up lasting until 3am (at which point my mom really did call me to find out if I was ever coming home)! It was a lot of fun - having only learned to play poker about 2 months ago, I was quite impressed with my abilities! And looking glam and girly all evening (and wearing a new dress that I paid far too much for) was quite fun!

So, I know you're wondering who my James Bond blind date was! Truth be told, so am I! I'm not sure if it was Duncan or Garrith, and nothing was said about it (which, considering all the worrying I did about potential awkwardness, makes it feel like a bit of a waste). I did flirt with Garrith though, so I'll nominate him as my James Bond - although, truth be told, it's a little hard not to flirt when wearing a red dress and stiletto heels. It was fun though, and there was no pressure and no expectation about it - it just felt like we were a couple of single people at a party. In the spirit of Monday blog posts though, here are the 10 things that I learned this weekend (and mostly from Saturday night):

1) I should wear eyeliner more often.
2) I like playing poker and might actually be good at it.
3) Never play poker without glasses if your eyesight is a bit dodgy. Hearts and diamonds and
jacks and kings all look very similar.
4) Never leave your chips unattended, because they tend to disappear.
5) I like eye-flirting with people across tables. And mirroring their body language. Psychology is
6) Even if you have no serious intentions about someone, flirting with them can still be fun and
an ego boost.
7) You don't really have to pay that much attention to the plot in James Bond films. Someone
wants money or weaponry, there's a girl involved, shooting and explosions ensue, Bond gets the
girl. Simple.
8) Playing poker until 3am is fun. But it gets silly because everyone gets tired and starts betting
9) Performance on the Iowa Gambling Task can predict performance in poker. Hurray for
reliability (and don't worry if this makes no sense)!
10) There is something very nice about the confidence which older guys have when flirting,
because they aren't afraid to let a girl know that they're interested in her.

Friday, August 28, 2009


This was probably the longest week of my life. Most of it was spent driving to UJ, because week 3 of the dreaded Masters interviews took place this week. I started out on Monday with my first interview, which began with the usual "So, tell us about yourself". I did a little better on that one this time, and the interviewers were extremely nice. My favourite question was undoubtedly "If you were a piece of art, what would you be and why?". I made it through the interviews, research exercise, psychometric assessment (193 questions about myself) and the role play, but sadly got cut on the second last day, which was pretty crummy. So, it looks like I won't be at UJ next year. Luckily, I've got a back-up plan, which I'm feeling optimistic about - I'm planning to do research Masters at Wits and work at the Sleep Clinic doing neuro stuff in my spare time, and maybe be able to integrate my work into my research. I'm also debating doing some sort of neuroanatomy/physiology course, just for the fun of it!

Aside from the interviews, I also had an essay due this week, which I managed to finish about an hour before it was due. I was incredibly sleep-deprived, to the point where I was actually starting to feel sick, and found myself wondering if I was going to die or pass out before I finished the essay. Melodramatic, I know, but I was exhausted - so much so that Helen had to stop me from driving home without having first had a cup of tea. So, after handing in the essay, I spent an hour chatting to Helen about swords, the joys of working at a vet and boys. And make-up and hair-straighteners.

The rest of the week was spent trying to get my data collection done (13 people down, 47 to go) and avoiding my supervisor. Work wasn't particularly great this week, owing to my constant state of exhaustion and stress, and the fact that the fax machine/phone line was broken, which meant that people would keep calling and I would be able to hear them, but they couldn't hear me. I suspect that I may have further broken it, because it just got increasingly frustrating, and I keep slamming the handset down. Bear in mind that this was mostly just after I had found out that I was out of the UJ interview process!

The weirdness of the week peaked on Friday, when I was offered beer at 10:30am and spent an hour sitting in a dodgy clubroom at Wits, talking to some very strange boys. I went to visit Helen and Leia and the mouse, and then spent an hour chatting to one of my ex-tutlings, who reminds me of Duncan, in some strange way. He ended up playing me some music he thought I would like on his i-Pod, and is now making me a CD of said music, which turned out to be an Icelandic band who sound like a combination of David Gray, Coldplay and something else. I also gave him my number, which I'm probably going to regret doing when he turns out to be a psychotic stalker. I then spent the rest of the afternoon doing data entry before getting stood up by one of my test subjects at 4:30pm. I didn't really mind - aside from the fact that I had waited an entire afternoon for her. If I hadn't, I suppose that I wouldn't be getting an Icelandic CD though!
I should probably answer the question about what piece of art I would be. I chose a picture of a ballerina which I saw at a small gallery, which basically showed her pirouetting, and really captured movement, which I thought was very beautiful. After this week though, I was seriously tempted to say Manch's "The Scream"

or Salador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory", mostly because time seems to be melting away right now!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rules of Engagement

In order to distract myself from the current disaster that is my research (and the fact that I have to test 56 more subjects by about 3 weeks ago), I am currently concerning myself with something slightly silly: engagement parties. More specifically, engagement party dates. No, I haven't been proposed to, since that would require having someone to actually ask the question. Rather, I've been invited to my boss's engagement party on the 6th of September and once again, I'm up the creek without a paddle - and worse still, without a date.
I really don't think I need a date for the sake of taking a date. I don't mind going to parties by myself. In fact, I was feeling quite confident about going to the party by myself, and enjoying the "I'm single and confident and don't need a token date" vibe. Then, as the result of a serious lack of sleep and a serious lack of sanity, I had a late night moment of panic, because I only know about 6 people (out of 100) who are going to this engagement party and what happens if I get separated from all of them?!? What will I do? Who will I talk to? Will I be the strange, lonely girl standing all by herself next to the crepes?
I've since come to my senses and caught up on my sleep and I'm feeling slightly less irrational about the whole thing. The creeping sense of anxiety hasn't completely vanished though and I've found myself hypothesizing about potential dates. This is far from being my favourite activity, because the prospect of having to ask a boy to an engagement party reminds me far too much of the Great Wedding Date Disaster of November 2008. I have thus flipped through my phone book and debated my options, which are starting to feel severely limited already, thanks to all the engineers having got girlfriends (who knew that this was possible when they weren't really sure what girls were!), the serious lack of boys in my psych class (I think we have 5, maybe 6) and Luke being in France. Even the bad options are out, since I discovered last night that my ex has a new girlfriend, and asking him would be really weird. Really, really weird (especially since hearing that he was dating someone made me feel kind of odd).
So, my current options are:
1) go alone and hope that I don't end up alone next to the champagne
2) swallow my pride and ask someone I don't really want to ask because they seem to
misinterpret us spending time together as me expecting us to start dating
3) ask The Crush (which is kind of scary, because he might notice that I like him, which might be
a good thing or end really awkwardly)
4) ask... Um... Well... Someone. Preferably someone who is willing to be awake at 10:00am on a
Sunday morning for free food. Based on the struggle I had to get a wedding date, this doesn't
really feel promising
This has led me to 2 conclusions - either I really need to get a boyfriend, or I need to find a convenience date, who will agree to go with me to all these weird social functions that require "plus one's". Alternatively, the Great Engagement Party Disaster of September 2009 looms...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Never Say Never Again

I have had the weirdest day - and fortunately, it didn't involve punching anyone (*gold star* for me!)! The weekend was pretty mediocre as weekends go, involving my wretched social constructivism presentation and a lot of procrastination, staring into space and general aimlessness. I felt a lot better by Monday, and managed to get some of my work done, which was rather helpful, since I had to do my presentation this morning. It wasn't fantastic, but the topic was kind of dull and there was no real way to spice it up. Fortunately, it was all over by 10am, and after that, the day got pretty exciting. In summary:

  • I went for coffee with my friend, Lizelle, who gave me a fantastic pep-talk about doing something amazing and cool next year, instead of doing research Masters or some other random degree if I don't get into Clinical Psychology. It made me think about what I actually want to do with my life and how much I don't want to put my life on hold while waiting to get into Masters. I'm seriously considering going overseas or doing something in the medical field. Who knows? Maybe I'll be working at the Sleep Lab next year...
  • I ran into my least favourite tutling from last semester's tutorials. He used to annoy the hell out of me because he didn't work and then gazed into space while sitting in the front row. Somehow, he's grown on me (like fungus, I'd say) and we had a long chat about Russian literature, Star Wars and the mystery that is Angela Carter's writing.
  • I was productive! I read an entire journal article in about 30 minutes and I'm actually motivated to do my academic work, rather than feeling like I have to do it out of obligation or necessity. My passion seems to be back!
  • I had a really nice chat to Luke, Helen and Leia, which involved Helen and I giggling about guinea pigs, high-fiving each other over the people I had shouted at (long story), me explaining the EEG thing (again), Jenny and I doing the "we're so happy that Richard and Kath are getting married" clapping/jumping up and down and scaring Luke thing, and some other random stuff.
  • I was supposed to get a book that I lent to Joe about a year ago back from him today. I waited and waited outside the psychology building, talking to Granville and Charles, and then eventually sms'd him. 30 minutes later, he walked past, on the way to get lunch, and I almost dive-tackled him. Turns out that he hadn't got my sms and had forgotten the book. We will try again tomorrow. This is why it's taken us this long to return each other's stuff!
  • I went shopping and bought a belt that doesn't look like it was stolen from a goth (sorry Helen) and my "Peanuts" t-shirt. Behold!

  • And finally, my research appears to have been saved! The psychology department are actually letting me use the people I wanted to use in my research, which, simply put, means that I have a sample!!! And I got an email from someone who actually wants to participate in my research!
I'm off to complete some more work now - I'm making the best of my motivation while it lasts!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Anger Management

I have never been so glad to see the end of a week! I'm not usually one of those people who counts the seconds until Friday afternoon arrives, but I arrived home today feeling incredibly glad that this week was over. Part of the reason behind this is that varsity is really stressful at the moment. The other factor is that I am suddenly, bizarrely, angry. This is particularly strange for me, because I don't usually get angry. I usually get sad and then feel guilty about whatever has happened, even if I have just cause to be annoyed. I'll usually cry, rather than punch someone. But, it appears after all those weeks of telling the psychology department about my ability to deal with anger, that I'm being tested on it. Instead of sublimating (the healthiest defence mechanism, according to Freud), however, I've actually been letting people know how I feel. It's been weird, but oddly good. I still feel somewhat angry right now, and I'm really glad that I didn't run into a few select individuals this week, because I would probably have punched them (which is rather strange, especially for me!) or told them exactly what I think of them. I have stood up for myself this week though, which has felt pretty good. Just to be on the safe side though, I haven't made any plans for this weekend, aside from house-sitting. I think it's probably safer for me to be away from the rest of the general population.
This post was originally intended to be a rant about how much I've wanted to punch certain people this week and how angry I've been, but as annoyed as I've felt, these sneaky little moments of happiness keep floating across my mind, kind of like clouds parting and the sun coming out on a rainy day. So, instead of ranting, I shall make a list of these things. Far more psychologically (and karmically) beneficial, I think!
Happy thoughts and things that have made me smile this week
1) It's a long weekend! (which really means extra time to do varsity stuff, but what the heck!)
2) I got invited to UJ Clinical and MACC interviews
3) I spoke to my supervisor and I might actually be able to make my research project work
4) I finally decided that enough was enough in a certain relationship, and that I'm tired of putting
my life on hold for someone who doesn't seem to know what they want. It was tough, but I
feel lighter and freer than I have in ages!
5) "I've got a feeling" - Black Eyed Peas
6) It's getting warmer! Summer is on its way!
7) "Airstream Driver" - Gomez
8) I have a crush on a boy. Enough said. :)
9) My boss and his girlfriend got engaged, and I'm so happy for them!
10) My crazy kitten, Darcy
11) Cake Wrecks - the greatest, most amusing website of all time!
12) The adorable "Peanuts" t-shirt that I saw at Mr Price. It says "Trade your boyfriend for a
musician". I have good intentions of buying it!
13) The prospect of my Wits stipend being paid into my bank account (which should help item
number 12!)
14) Being able to not take sides in arguments between friends this week.
15) I can wear heels again without my foot and ankle aching!
16) I have fantastic friends who have put up with my somewhat psychotic state this week
17) I'm reading "Atonement" by Ian McEwan at the moment, and loving it!
18) Sharing vet stories with Helen over coffee (there are things that only vet receptionists
understand, like the constantly disappearing pens)
19) Driving. I love driving at the moment!
20) Being EEG'd. Yes, I'm still going on about it. It was awesome!
Have a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I have reached a new, amazing level of nerdiness - and it rocks! While most people spend their Saturday nights at the movies or getting drunk in clubs or making out with their significant other, I spend my Saturday nights making valuable contributions to science. No, really - I do! Last night, at 19:00, I drove off to Wits Medical School to have my brain waves measured on an EEG machine.
The context of this is probably important. My friend Granville is also doing his BA Honours in Psychology. He's not a real BA student though - he's actually a BSc student, but you can only do psychology as a BA subject at Honours level, and thus he has crossed over to the dark side. He hasn't been deterred though, and thus his research project is seriously science-oriented - none of that "social constructivism- heteronormativity-tell me about your mother" stuff for him! He's a scientist at heart and really fascinated by brains, which is why his research project is based on how the brain interprets music and the extent to which it recognises sounds, harmonies, rhythms and metre as "music" rather than noise. He's also comparing how people with musical training , as opposed to people who have no musical training, experience music.
I have no musical training - I went for a year of keyboard lessons when I was 7 and my cousin tried to teach me to play the guitar when I was 15 (and that lasted about an hour). I can play "Chopsticks" on the piano and that is the sum total of my musical experience! Having explained my lack of musical background to Granville, I arrived at Med School, in the pouring rain, and wandered around the campus (with my cellphone, camera and wallet, might I add. Not a good move!) in the dark, looking for the physiology department. Granville finally came to find me, and we set off to the Sleep Lab. The lab is definitely not the usual sort of laboratory - instead of petri dishes and microscopes, there's a kitchen, bathroom, computers, the EEG, some couches and a coffee table and 4 rooms with beds! After some fighting with the computer, he ushered me into a room, where the EEG electrodes were set up. An EEG (electroencephalograph) essentially measures brain activity using electrodes attached to the scalp, which measure potential difference in the brain. An EEG reading shows brain waves, and EEG's are generally used to measure people's neural responses to stimuli (for more, see: For my EEG, I had to sit on the bed (it is the Sleep Lab, after all!) while Granville rooted through my hair and measured the distance between my ears (apparently, I have funny ears. No comment.). Once having found the right spot by feeling my skull (a skill known as "phrenology", which was a forerunner to neurology and neuroscience and basically consisted of determining people's personalities by feeling their skulls), he removed the layer of dead skin cells on the spot on my scalp and then smeared some conductive gel onto the area, and then attached the electrode. This process was repeated over the rest of my head, and really required a lot of control on my part because I really wanted to giggle. There's just something about having a close friend digging through your hair and sticking electrodes to your scalp which really does something to a friendship. His complaints about my incredibly thick hair didn't help though!

Once all the electrodes were connected, he checked them on the EEG computer and then gave me a pair of headphones. The rest of the process required me to lie down on the bed, in the dark room, with the headphones on, and listen to the assorted pieces of music he played me. It took about 20 minutes and it was a lot of fun! It was really calming - in fact, I'd pay money to go lie in a dark room and listen to music! I was so relaxed that I could've fallen asleep - which sent Granville into a mild panic, because sleep brain wave patterns are different from wakeful brain waves!

After answering some questions about the music and then washing the gel off my head (I wasn't told about this prior to the experiment, and still had goo stuck in my hair this morning), I got to see the EEG recordings of my brain waves! I also got a chocolate muffin for my trouble and spent the rest of the evening chatting to Granville about brains and boys and stuff. It was an awesome evening - if a little unorthodox for a Saturday night!

Me, connected to the EEG machine (hair-styling by
Granville). Yes, I do have electrodes attached to my head!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Analyze This

It's official - you really DO have to be crazy to be a psychologist! People have always asked me whether a certain degree of insanity was necessary within my field of study, and I can now say that the answer is a resounding "Yes!"
Perhaps a little explanation is required. Last week was the first week of interviews for the Masters psychology programmes at Wits, and it began with selections for Community-Based Counselling Psychology (generally referred to as "MACC"). I applied for MACC and Clinical Psychology and somehow made the cut for both interview processes. This probably doesn't sound like a major achievement, but over a hundred people apply for each degree, so being on a short-list of 45 for MACC means that you're part of the 50% who the department liked, based on their application forms. The Clinical shortlist is 76 and each degree only takes 12 people to do the course because of the limited spaces available for internships. The maths is a bit scary - about 120 people apply and only 12 are selected!
The other scary part is obviously the interview process itself. Selections begin with your application form, which no longer merely requires your name, ID number and matric marks. The story of your life (in 2000 words or less), a justification for why you want to be a psychologist and why you'd be good at it, 2 letters from people who know you (like lecturers and employers and definitely not your psychologist!), information about your community service work and an ID photo are all required! Having proven that you are capable/exciting/crazy enough on paper, the interview process begins with an individual interview, where each candidate meets with 2 members of staff from the department for a 30 minute interview. I wasn't really nervous for my first interview, but I got increasingly anxious as the process continued and so by the time they asked me to describe myself, I went blank and mumbled "I like swimming. And painting. And the outdoors". I wish that I was joking, but I'm not. Admittedly, the interview was supposed to be unnerving, mostly because of the good cop/bad cop game that the interviewers play between themselves. My second interview went far better - it was almost like therapy, in fact! Some of my favourite questions from the interview process included:
  • "What are your strengths?" (*long empty silence* Seriously. All I could think of was that I'm good at academic stuff)
  • "What are your weaknesses?" (shoes? Chocolate? Not those sorts of weaknesses, I assume)
  • "Do you have a sense of humour?" That was followed by "Well, you look very serious right now." My response was "It's a Masters interview. Surely I should be serious?". They ended the interview by asking why I was smiling - I said it was because I was glad it was over! They looked unimpressed. I conclude that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't!
  • "What makes you angry?"
  • "What makes you sad?" (my answer was "When bad things happen to good people who I care about" and the only example I could think of was Luke getting robbed and having his nose broken)
  • "How do you deal with anger?" (sublimation, of course! Any Freudian could tell you that that's the right answer!)
  • "Tell us about your anxiety..." (I have an anxiety disorder. Pity I managed to get over 99% of my issues with a bit of therapy and one big realisation about being able to have fun and still be responsible and get all my work done!)
  • "So, tell us about your relationship with your parents..."
  • "Tell us about your anxiety..." (yes, again!)
  • "Are you in therapy?" (um... No. My therapist doesn't want to see me every week (I'm dull) and so I only make appointments when I need to see her)
  • "Would you be willing to be in therapy?"
  • "So, tell us about your anxiety..."
In between the 2 interviews I also had a research exercise in which I had to write a mock research proposal and a role-play where I had to meet and speak with a "client". I was incredibly nervous for the role-play, especially since it's done in front of the entire selection panel - all 14 of them - and I had never done a real role-play before. It went surprisingly well though - my client was an immigrated American lesbian who was feeling depressed and anxious. It was over in 5 minutes and really felt like the panel were just checking that I could interact with a living human being. The final part of the interview process was the group exercise, which involved a group of 7 of us students having a group discussion in front of the dreaded panel. We had to discuss what would make a good psychologist and then who each of us would choose to be in the MACC programme (I got 2 votes!!!). Finally, we had to say what we thought of the process, which was pretty funny, because the panel tried to get us to be nasty about each other when there was nothing to be nasty about, since no one had dominated the discussion or remained completely silent! And there wasn't even a controversial edge to our topic, so there wasn't much to disagree about!
Sadly, I didn't make the final 12. I am on the waiting list though, which means that if someone drops out, I might be offered a place (there are 2 other people on the list with me). I'm really happy about this, because Clinical selections didn't go nearly as well. I wasn't nervous for either of my interviews because I was so used to the process after the previous week. Unfortunately, they were expecting me to be nervous, since interviews are supposed to be anxiety-provoking. So, I only made it to Wednesday and got cut from the selection process. I'm disappointed because I want to do Clinical, but I've applied to UJ and I'm holding thumbs for that. Failing getting into MACC or anything at UJ, I'll do my Research Masters in Psychology and reapply to Clinical. I'll end up where I'm supposed to be and, having survived the interview process, I know that I'm crazy enough to be a psychologist!
PS - I have a sneaky suspicion that I got cut from Clinical because I mentioned that I didn't want to counsel rich, bored depressed housewives from Sandton. Darn.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Road Trip

I love road trips. The prospect of going somewhere new or different, away from the humdrum of everyday life; the excitement; the mix CD's of road trip songs; the pit stops at Ultra Cities and the long, random conversations. There's some truth to the cliche of the joy of the "freedom of the open road".

I'm not quite sure if my road trip this week met any of these criteria, aside from the Ultra City. Allow me to explain... Because I am somewhat (i.e. completely) insane, I decided that just doing my Honours degree this year didn't provide me with nearly enough to do, and hence enrolled for a short course in logotherapy through the Applied Psychology department at Unisa. It seemed like a really good idea, until Honours actually started and deadlines began looming and the Great Battle of Candice and her Supervisor commenced. I pretty much ignored the Unisa stuff until the last moment because I was so busy with work for Wits and I thought that I'd be okay, since I had a 3 week break in which to do the assignments during the mid-year vacation period. Somehow though, I still ran out of time these holidays and the assignments proved to be less about regurgitating theory and more about self-reflection and "Think of 3 instances in your life when..." I did manage to get everything done in the eleventh hour and then realised that I had to mentally prepare myself for 3 days of driving to Pretoria for the practical (and compulsory)workshop aspect of the course.

For the record, I have never driven to Pretoria before. I used to have anxiety attacks about driving to Midrand (in fact, I still do, if I have to drive there at night), so the prospect of driving even further up the M1 was pretty daunting. That said, on Wednesday morning, map in hand and directions stuck to my dashboard, I set out at 6:15am. Yes, 6:15am, because I had no idea what traffic would be like, and in my mind, driving to Pretoria is almost equivalent to driving to another country (albeit a small, Afrikaans-speaking one). A tad dramatic, I know. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was almost no traffic most of the way, which I attribute to either the schools being on holiday or divine intervention. I was driving along quite happily and looking for the M1/N1 interchange when I realised that I was actually further along the N1 than I had thought, and that I was thus nowhere near the M1, having taken the interchange by accident! Luckily, I still knew where I was and managed to take the Lynnwood Road offramp and then navigated my way through Pretoria. I then had to find Unisa, which should, strictly speaking, be easy, considering that it's huge and on a hill. Somehow, I completely failed to do this, and ended up driving through the city and down its numerous one-ways! I eventually found Unisa and discovered that my mistake was somewhat glaringly obvious, in a "turn right instead of left" kind of way! Determined to not make the same M1/N1 mistake the next day, I succeeded in once again taking the wrong interchange, and again had to drive the long way round on the N1! I finally got it right on the Friday, but also ended up taking a rather scenic (and terrifying) detour down an already detoured route, which took me through farmland, past a military base and eventually through the less scenic parts of industrial Pretoria!

All my journeys home were somehow without event, because I managed to stay on the right road! The traffic was too bad and the only real traffic jam that I encountered was due to the M1 being closed for blasting for the Gautrain for 15 minutes. The entire highway was closed off and traffic was at a standstill, but everyone just sat and waited patiently, which is very uncharateristic of Johannesburg drivers! People turned off their cars, got out, went for a walk, ate their lunch or made phone calls!

The course itself was quite interesting - mostly due to the quirky (albeit slightly annoying) lecturer! Having been exposed to logotherapy for the past 5 years, I didn't quite agree with everything that she had to say, but it was still worthwhile and I can add it to my CV. I met some interesting people too. I have to say that I'm extremely grateful that I don't have to drive to Pretoria again - in fact, I'm looking forward to driving to Wits! I also look forward to some better road trips, with nicer scenery than my dusty pictures of Pretoria provide!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Something's Gotta Give

Enough is enough! I have so much to do! Yes, despite it being “holidays”, I am somehow swamped. And I don’t know where the last 2 weeks went! I know that I spent a weekend on a workshop, and I spent another entire weekend baking for my birthday picnic, and the birthday celebrations themselves took up quite a lot of time, but other than that, I really don’t know where the time went! I haven’t been out partying until 2am, or staying up all night reading murder mysteries (I never read murder mysteries anyway), or being a social butterfly. In fact, the only reason why I’ve seen my friends in the past couple of weeks has been because of my birthday party outings!

I’m really starting to worry now, because I have 7 application forms to fill in for my Masters applications. Gone are the days when application forms asked for your name, ID number and first year psychology marks. Now each form requires an ID photo, a statement about your current mental health, your life story and a justification of why you want to be a psychologist. And a R50 handling fee. As if that weren’t enough, you also have to get 2 referee reports for each application, in which other people have to justify why you would be a good psychologist! So far, I have harassed and bribed 3 people for reports (and will be baking biscuits for 2 of them!).

I am so tired of filling out forms now. And for some weird reason, the clinical psychology departments seem to like getting us to hand-write our applications too! And so I have decided that this must end this week! Even though the University of Johannesburg applications only close in 2 weeks, I am determined to get everything done by Wednesday of this week. I have actually decided that I’m going to go work at Wits this week, so that I can get both the applications, my Unisa work and some of my research project done, and then hopefully have some time to relax (and hopefully go to some art galleries with Paul). I will be a nerd, and if I can start reading through my neuropsychology textbook before term starts as well, I will consider myself as actually having achieved something and this holiday as being worthwhile!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Prestige

It’s official – I’m a snob. A cinema snob, that is. I’ve always suspected this, but it’s finally been confirmed. Allow me to explain. I’ve always liked art house and indie films. I love their creativity, their off-the-wall humour, their use of colour (think Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the master of colour) and their messages. They get me thinking and most of the films that have changed my life have actually been art house films.

I don’t watch art house cinema exclusively though. I do enjoy the odd Hollywood blockbuster, just like everyone else. Recently though, I seem to be becoming increasingly intolerant of mainstream cinema. My friend Kirstan invited me to go watch “Transformers 2” on Tuesday night, and I really felt as if I would rather have my wisdom teeth removed instead. I watched “Transformers 1” a couple of months ago with Duncan, and I suspect that I ruined the entire movie for him (despite the fact that this was the third time that he had watched it). I just can’t take action movies seriously. The plot was as thin as the paper of a comic book (sorry. Graphic novel) and the acting was ludicrous. Yes, the transforming cars were cool and the CGI was flawless, but I really can’t watch an entire film based on the special effects. And so I spent the entire movie laughing at the poor characterization and awful script, and nearly caused Duncan to want to throw something at me by the time the guy had got the girl and they watched the sunset together (while the weird transformed robot/car watched them make out. Creepy!).

I’ve even become fussy about art house films. My friend Granville lent me “The City of Lost Children” a couple of weeks ago. It’s a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, and is thus French. I started watching it and within 4 minutes I felt as if something was seriously wrong. I couldn’t work out what it was, until I realized that I was watching it with the English dubbing on. I had to stop the film and flip back to the DVD language menu so that I could watch the rest of the film in French with English subtitles!

So, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t watch mainstream films. The occasional romantic comedy (as long as it doesn’t have Matthew McConaughey in it) is okay, provided that it’s actually funny and vaguely plausible, and most Dreamworks/Pixar animated films seem to be immune to my disdain. But other than that, I remain a dedicated cinema snob. The problem I now face is that I don't have terribly many friends who enjoy art house or indie films, and so I end up watching "Hell Boy" with Luke and Duncan (although they have been very good and have allowed me to expose them to some art house stuff).

Just for fun, here are 10 art house/ indie movies that have changed my life. Please feel free to add yours!

1. Garden State (the first real indie film that I ever watched. I love every second of it).
2. Amelie (Jeunet is a genius)
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jim Carey doing serious stuff and Kate Winslet being lovely. Bliss!)
4. The Darjeeling Limited
5. Across the Universe (mixed reactions from most people, but I loved it so much that I bought the DVD).
6. Juno
7. Little Miss Sunshine
8. Be Kind, Rewind
9. Hero
10. The Hours

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bowling for Columbine

Exams are over! Hurray! I wrote the monumental 5 (5!!!) hour exam on research design on Monday (and still ran out of time), and wrote stats yesterday. The less said about stats the better – it took me 45 minutes to figure out which statistical analysis to use (fortunately, I seem to have been correct in doing an ANCOVA) and I got flustered. I feel that I could’ve done so much better. Grumble grumble…

Since it was our last exam, our class decided to do something afterwards to celebrate. This was rather unusual, as we’ve been a class for the last 6 months, and this was the first time anyone had suggested that we do anything more *social* than going to buy coffee in the Matrix. But, on Thursday night, I got a Facebook invitation to join the rest of the psychology Honours class at Manhattan on Saturday night (needless to say, I am not going to be accepting this invite). There was also an invitation for drinks at Bowls Club after the exam itself on the Friday afternoon. So, after the exam, a chat to Kirstan and a visit to Luke and Helen’s lab for lunch, I drove off to Bowls Club. I managed to arrive about an hour and a half after everyone else, thanks to my lunch-time lab visit, but this was actually a good thing, because by that stage, everyone had mellowed out after the exam and no one was interested in discussing what anyone else had said about post hoc testing or effect sizes. The rest of the afternoon was thus spent sitting in the sun, with Claire, Taryn, Daniel, Charles, Dani, Amy, Haley and Granville, and discussing our holiday plans. It was actually really nice to see everyone in a different context, generally with a glass of very cheap, very sweet white wine or a beer in hand, enjoying our lack of academic commitments! The presence of a couple of my engineering friends at the next table was also a pleasant surprise – not least because it meant that I could remind them of my birthday party on Tuesday! I actually ended up staying until about 4:30, discussing very arbitrary things with Granville, as he and I are wont to do. And so, I declare my first outing to Bowls Club to be a success – and I can finally tick it off my “Twenty Firsts” list.

I am now officially on holiday until the second or third week of July. I really would like to make some more progress with my research project, but my options are somewhat limited because my sample is composed of students, who are all on holiday! It’s a little frustrating, but I have quite a lot of other stuff to keep me busy! As such, here is my holiday “to do” list:

  • paint. Luke bought me oil paints for Christmas and I am dying to use them!
  • go to Pretoria. I have to attend a 3 day workshop for Unisa in Pretoria for an extra course I’m doing through them. I have my passport ready.
  • catch up on my reading – and by this, I mean reading about something other than brains
  • figure out how to run the tests that I’m using for my research project, and find people to help me test my sample.
  • make some more progress on the “Twenty Firsts” list. In fact, I actually have to complete it these holidays!
  • sort out my Masters application forms. Sigh…
  • watch the rest of the “X Files” DVD’s.
  • find black, knee-length, not-leather boots, in a size 4 or 5. Pretty please?
  • start running again. And maybe start yoga again too.

Drat. I am sure that there were more things that I wanted to do, but I can’t remember what they were now! Updates will follow though, if and when I remember! Have a good weekend - stay warm!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine

The title of this post is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. There is no sunshine at the moment – and not just because it’s 7pm. The last few days in Jo’burg have been uncharacteristically weird, in terms of weather. The 13 degrees Celsius is fairly normal for this time of year, but the rain and cloud cover has been rather strange! I don’t really mind winter and the cold (provided I’ve remembered to wear a scarf and an extra jacket), but I do mind the combination of wind, rain and freezing cold. It’s the one thing that stops me from moving to Cape Town – in fact, it’s the thing that dissuades me from visiting Cape Town in winter as well!

Since the weather hasn’t been great, all that I’ve wanted to do is lie in bed with a good book. Unfortunately, this hasn’t really been a possibility, due to exams. I am determined to not let the weather (or exam situation) get me down though, and so I have written a list of 10 great, sun-shiny things about my life at the moment.

1. I have 1 exam left! As of 12:00 on Friday, stats is over for the year!
2. My birthday party is on the 16th of June, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a picnic/tea party at Zoo Lake, and I’ve invited loads of people, and everyone seems very enthusiastic. A couple of people who I haven’t seen in ages are coming along, and the bizarre combination of psych students, engineers, BA’s, law students and teachers should provide plenty of amusement (or at least an interesting social experiment). I don’t know what I’ll do if the rain continues though – maybe a picnic at Bowls Club is in order!
3. I still have half of season 1 and the whole of season 2 of “X Files” waiting to be watched! I am such a geek!
4. I have a really cool art house film, called “The City of Lost Children” to watch. And I really need to hire “Garden State” and watch it again.
5. I work at a vet, which is fantastic because my kitten, Darcy, is in the wars. He got attacked by a big, nasty, grumpy cat (it was twice as big as him), and then ended up having an allergic reaction to the painkiller or antibiotic he was given. Luckily, my boss doesn’t mind me showing up at work with him, repeatedly!
6. I have a new furry hot-water bottle. Her name is Bolero and she is a very large, very affectionate cat, who I adopted from my friend Claire, who moved to the UK. She keeps my feet warm at night (although occasionally she cuts off the circulation in my feet as well).
7. I’m having a double birthday party! Since Debbie is still in Cape Town when the picnic is happening, we’re doing a second round of partying on the 22nd (which is great, since I’m turning 22 on the 22nd!)
8. I think I know what’s going on in stats (which is good, considering the exam is in 2 days)!
9. My ankle seems to finally be stable enough for me to start jogging again. Now, if it would just stop raining!
10. I went to an art gallery on Friday, with my friends Paul and Jeff. We were very badly behaved. One of the best comments on one of the pieces at the gallery came from Jeff:
“I like this picture. It’s warm and cosy, and everyone looks happy. Oh, hang on. It’s a strip club”.
*cue childish laughter from Paul and I*