Tag: support system

Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails

27 May 2017

I love roller coasters.  I’ve always loved roller coasters.  There’s something to be said about the unknown, especially as a first-time rider.  Whether the ride is on wood or steel, the adrenaline rush of being whipped, zipped, cork-screwed, and turned upside down and around is thrilling.  It begins with the anticipation, standing in line, watching the carts working with and defying gravity.  You are getting closer to the front of the line.  Do you ask to sit in front, to be the first witness at that 90-degree plunge, or do you ask to sit in the back, when you are the last to see what unfolds in front of you as you are slightly lifted from your seat?  Or do you stay within the middle?

A few summers ago, I was at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio.  Their claim to fame is being the roller coaster capital of the world.  Rollers coasters are the only rides in this park, so if you’re not a fan, it’s not worth the trip.  It was an overcast, turned rainy day.  I was standing in line for the Millenium Force.  I was under shelter for a bit, but as I got closer to the front of the line, it started to rain hard.  I watched the cars ascend the track at a vertical pace.  You are not harnessed in; you have a lap bar.  I was seriously doubting whether I wanted to get on this ride.  A vertical ascension with just a lap bar?  Um…not sure.  I have never doubted a ride, but at this moment I was voicing my doubts, recognizing a fear.  Still, I wanted to know what was beyond that ascension.  Where was the drop?  What was going to feed into the adrenaline rush?

I was drenched and cold.  It was my turn.  I stepped into the car, and pulled the lap bar down as far as it could go. It locked me in.  I pushed up on the bar several times, assuring me I wasn’t going anywhere, but the fear remained.  The ride began, and I went up, followed by going straight down.  Then began the adventure of careening through tunnels, around corners, back up (a progressive incline) and down, at well over 90 miles an hour.  The rush was back, and the ride was over in a matter of minutes.  I walked off…completely dry.  I was all smiles, reflecting on what a great ride it was, but my day at the park was also ending.  The line was long; there wasn’t an opportunity to ride it again.

I am looking at the last three Saturdays and Sundays, the last two Monday-Fridays, of my education.  It’s crazy that I’m nearly done!  I don’t think there has been a single moment in my life when I haven’t felt the waves of emotions that I have been hit with this term, this year, this past week and a half.

I began my ride of anticipation, seeking an adrenaline rush to end with smiles a week ago Wednesday.  The ride wasn’t what I envisioned it would be.  It felt more like the small coaster ride in Toon Town at Disneyland; there is a single moment you’re at the top and can see the Sierra Nevadas before they disappear the moment the coaster drops.  I got to see out, but was reigned back in.  This has been my ride for a week.

The next ride I’ve experienced mimics a combination of Space Mountain and the Millenium Force, beginning last Thursday.  From a brief moment of life, I sped into the darkness, unable to see anything but the stars and black “sky” in a vast abyss.  As I exited, I realized I had to finish the last 5,000 words of my thesis/novel.  I spent the entire weekend and Monday in darkness.  I shut out the world, closing in on the dark hours.  By Tuesday, I was preparing for the next ride, and struggling to get 500 words in.  I was around strangers on Wednesday, and felt a need to be with friends instead.  I was on my second day back at the gym, and still walking with Duke every night.  The gym erased the darkness and drowning feeling; I had some clarity.  I wrote Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough.

I got up early Thursday to write some more before I returned to work (first day since the beginning of May).  649 words.  By 9:10am, waiting for my number to be called at the local motor vehicle office, I was anticipating a fear once again: I was not going to finish the story, and get it turned in before midnight.  Especially not with other matters I was dealing with all week, and knowing I had one other assignment due that same night.

I don’t remember what happened (perhaps I simply blocked out life), but I was back to writing at noon.  I took a couple small breaks in the afternoon to wrote some more.  I left work before 5:00, tossed a turkey burger patty in the microwave, added a heaping helping of spinach and shredded carrots to my plate, grabbed a small glass of Chardonnay, and sat at my computer to write.  I wrote for two and a half solid hours.  By 7:25pm, I had 5,040 words, and was on the Millienium Force after the first initial drop.  I took a moment to celebrate with smiles and tears; add in laughter as I looked at Duke and said, “I can’t believe I did it!”  He celebrated with me, wagging his tail, allowing me to give him a big hug.  The first draft of my novel was complete and submitted. I grabbed a special bottle of wine, and visited with some friends for a few hours after.  It was the perfect ending to my week. And…I got to know a little more about Red Nose Day, and told I need to watch “Love Actually.”  (It’s on my list, ladies!!  You’re always welcome over for movie night.)

The ride, and writing, is not over yet!  I’m on a new coaster, a new segment for the next 8 days, working on revisions: from the very beginning to the very end.  This isn’t the coaster ride I have been waiting for, but it’s new as I try to finish up.  There will be new waves of emotions, but I hear my cheering squad, from all over the globe, behind me.  This will be a book many are excited to read.  I am simply excited that I can say I have begun to revise my first draft…after I offer two peer critiques on their final 5k words, and provide two more critiques on our literature research papers.  Still, I’m revising!

If you’re curious about the Millenium Force, check out the coaster video Cedar Point has on their website.  If you’re a coaster fan-this should be on your bucket list.

Have a great weekend!

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Milestones

Milestones

4 April 2017

Week 9 was a difficult finals week for me, but I made it through.  Week 10 followed and I swear I was being sabotaged.  Every moment I had to work on two assignments and my final projects was thwarted by someone whose only concern was for themselves.  I placed more boundaries up after Mr. Not Relevant returned after another (more than) two week fling this time.  He didn’t like these particular boundaries.  This was the same person who recently told me, “You have to finish school,” as I have been trying to use those damn lemons to make a drink worth savoring.  (I’m still working on it, by the way.)  I think Mr. NR forgot saying this to me the first two months being under the same roof.  My focus was my thesis.  His focus was flaunting and tormenting.

I have turned my life into an all-about-Karen because I resolved to focus on me and my education.  I wasn’t going to let this ‘someone’ take the last remaining hours of 17TW3 away from me.  I was too close to finishing.

Week Ten.  Here we go.  Two reflective essays (2nd final project) had to be written, carefully following the rubric, and turned in before 11:59pm Sunday.  I focused on the essay for my English/thesis class.  Finished, proofread, revised, re-read, revised, polished, saved and submitted.  I stared at my computer screen.  Submission complete.  Whoa.  I reminded myself I had one more essay to write and the clock was still ticking. Following the rubric for my Seminar in Writing Instruction, I drafted a three-page essay.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Save.  Upload.  Submission complete.

10:30 pm, I became very still in my chair.  Then cried.  Hard.  I did it.  I got through ten weeks of the most challenging days, weeks, and months of my life.  How the hell did I do this?  How did I survive all of this?

I still had to wait for my final grades.  The day arrived.  I ordered my transcript and read the letters inked into the paper.  ENG 549 Thesis Writing-A.  ENG 670 Seminar in Writing Instruction-A.  Proof of determination and survival.  That sticky note, “YOU CAN DO IT,” remained on my monitor through this nightmare, and still remains.

I thank my family, friends: my entire support system, and professors for being there, especially during the dark days when I couldn’t focus; I couldn’t put my head into my assignments, or even my thesis; the days when the crazy mind took over and wouldn’t let anything else in; the moments when the emotions hit me like a brick wall and the tears just fell; the days when I reacted to someone’s behavior, or words infiltrated my mind, putting me on an emotional roller coaster once again.  Everyone played a part in me getting to this point.  No part was too small.  This was so critical and I needed every moment, every word of encouragement, every hug, every smile, every heart-beat that also felt the stabs I endured-everything.

Thank You!!!

My journey isn’t quite over yet…