Portsmouth, NH | Durham, NH
Adult Things

Grad School, Not Death

“C’s get degrees!” -everyone.

It’s official, guys. We’re seniors. It’s our last year, and it feels like we’re slowly watching our lives crumble into the end of the world. Seriously. I tell people that I’m a senior like I’d tell people that my kidneys are failing.

But there are some serious perks to senior year, too. You can walk into the bar on any night of the week and run into a sea of familiar faces. You can bake cookies every Monday night, because you have your own apartment with a kitchen now. You can really focus on the relax and enjoy it part of college, because you have a legitimate reason to. There’s only a year left, after all.

     

(We’ve made time to have fun, too).

A lot of my friends are starting to realize that after this, grades don’t really matter. So there’s less focus on nailing that presentation you’ve got on Friday morning or making it to every session of your econ professor’s office hours. Because C’s get degrees, and degrees get jobs. So who really cares anymore?

I care. Compulsively, actually.

I’m applying to grad school, which has been made out to be the worst/scariest/most bleak process that’s ever plagued a human soul.

It’s not that bad of a process, truthfully. But it is a process that generates a lot of hype. When I started my undergraduate speech therapy program as a first-semester freshman, I was given more doomsday predictions than you’d find in the trailer for The Day After Tomorrow. I’d made it into college, but apparently graduate programs were infinitely more selective. Impossibly selective. I was told, “Like, no one gets in. No one. You need like a 4.0… You have to like invent a language or discover a new planet or something…”  

So that brings us to this year, when we finally start to apply. And we’re terrified.

I’ve known the girls in my major for more than three years now. (Seriously. I met four of them the summer before our freshman year at orientation, and we signed up for all the same classes for our first semester. Iconic friendships in the making.) They’re all badass neurology-mastering, child-wrangling, and sometimes world-traveling ladies.

In addition to 98% of this major being female, the majority of us are also pretty organized, type-A students. So being told that we needed to keep a 4.0 or we were doomed did not sit well with us.

It seems like all we talk about is grad school, exchanging whispers at the beginning of classes.

Have you taken the GRE yet?

Who’re you asking for letters of recommendation?

Does this entire process make you want to throw up too??

It all feels very secretive, and very negative. No one’s talking about how they’re going to knock their applications out of the park. No one’s excited about applying to a school they’d love to go to. No one’s optimistic about taking the GRE.

But why not? If we don’t deserve to go to these programs, then who does? We’re the ones who’ve been studying the anatomy, volunteering with screaming children, and generally kicking ass in all things speech-and-hearing-sciences. We’re hardworking. We’re smart. We’re organized. And we’ve learned so much during these few short years, both in classes and in life-lessons. I think we should have a little more faith in ourselves.

Because grad school isn’t the apocalypse; it’s the beginning of something really exciting. The beginning of our professional careers, and the last step to becoming real-life Speech-Language Pathologists. (How fucking exciting/scary is that?) It’s clinical experience that goes beyond memorizing lines of a textbook. It’s new friends, and maybe a brand-new place. And so much more to learn.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed about the whole grad school process, ask yourself this. So if not us, the ladies who’ve been killing it these past three years, then who? Who else are they going to accept? Is there a secret community of super-human future SLP’s with 4.0 GPA’s and 6 different internships out there somewhere hiding? Hopefully not.

We don’t have control over the people who will read our applications, but we’ve been working hard for the past four years, and I think it’ll pay off. (This goes for anyone applying to any type of grad school, not just my speech people).  

Last week I took the GRE, and people treated me like I was going off to war. I got nice texts, hugs, m&m’s, and encouraging notes left on my pillow. When I’m overwhelmed or spent, I tend to talk at a mile a minute until I run out of breath, and Hannah usually just laughs at me. That night after I word vomited on her in our apartment, she sighed and brought me downstairs to the bar to buy me a beer. We laughed into our glasses about grad school and jobs and real life and how everything is going to be okay.

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Some Other Things

Got Skeels?

The first thing you need to know is that Sarah Everhart Skeels is the coolest. (If you try to capture how cool she is in one really strong opening sentence, you will be unsatisfied with the understatement all of your word choices and eventually just settle on the coolest.) The second thing you need to know is that she’s probably going to the Olympics, and we’re going to help her get there.

When I think of Sarah, I imagine her parked in her chair next to the huge grey couch in my family’s ski condo, wearing a puffy green jacket and a black hat. She laughs a lot and moves her legs around with her hands. I always try to stake out the spot on the couch closest to where she’s sitting, because I only get so much Sarah time nowadays and I really want to hear her opinion on every single one of the conflicts going on in my life. Never let a boy take your power, she always says, or anyone for that matter. But don’t be afraid to trust. (Seriously, she just throws out gems like that over dinner. Sometimes I wish I could take notes.)

I guess Sarah is technically my parents’ friend—they met about sixteen years ago teaching adaptive skiing at Loon Mountain—but I really like to think that she’s my friend too. More than a friend, even. (Does that sound romantic? So be it.) She’s like an aunt and a guidance counselor and a well-timed kick in the ass (as needed) all rolled up into one. I’ve been able to talk to her about boys and existential crises in various corners of my family’s ski condo for as long as I can remember, and she is wise as shit, guys. She’s wise and she’s funny and she’s strong and she has so many cool hats.

Sarah experienced a spinal cord injury in 1990, and she started sailing in 1994. I was just texting with her to figure out how exactly to describe her mobility. (My mom always says that Sarah does more with 1.5 fully functional limbs than most people do with 4, but I always forget which 1.5 limbs are the most mobile ones.) In Sarah’s words, she has “pretty limited movement” in her right shoulder and arm, full movement in her left arm, and no movement below the waist.

These details are important to her story, I suppose, but writing about the “limitations” of Sarah’s injury feels more than irrelevant. They simply don’t exist.

If you’ve been following my blogs from the beginning, you may remember that Sarah took my mom and I sailing on a particularly adventurous leg of our 2013 yoga road trip. If you weren’t one of those twelve readers, here’s the short version: my mom and I went out on a sailboat with Sarah, her husband Brian, and her daughter Ellie. (Brian and Ellie rock really hard too. They’ll get their odes next week.) My mom and I were terrible at sailing, Sarah and Brian were fantastic at sailing, we all managed to duck in time when the wooden-pole-thing swung from one side of the boat to the other, and now Sarah has a very real chance at sailing in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Ehem, let me repeat that last bit in case you missed it. THE SUMMER FUCKING 2016 OLYMPICS. SARAH IS PROBABLY GOING TO SAIL IN RIO.

(Apologies to both of my grandmothers and all readers under seventeen years of age for the language, but something about that statement just demands expletives.)

Sarah and her equally cool sailing partner, Cindy Walker, are the only all-female team competing for the Olympic bid. They have the least physical mobility of any team in the competition. Their non-profit organization, Good Karma Racing, aims to promote the participation of women with disabilities in sailing—and what better way is there to do that than to help two kickass women take their talents to the top of an Olympic podium?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miG6nLdUFkc]

Before I started writing this post, I Googled “Sarah Everhart Skeels.” (Sarah—have you done this lately?! Kind of creepy, I know, but the first six pages of hits are actually positive articles about you. I don’t even think Jennifer Lawrence has that kind of PR power.) With the help of this comprehensive research strategy, I’ve compiled a list of hats (metaphorical this time, but still cool) that Sarah has worn:

Lecturer at Tufts University Boston School for Occupational Therapy
Professor in the Behavior and Social Sciences Department at Brown University
Research Consultant with the New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System and Health Disability Institute (based at Boston University)
Member of the RI Governor’s Commission for People with Disabilities, Chairperson of the Employment Committee
2nd Vice President of the Board of Directors of New England Disabled Sports
Member of the Board of Directors of the Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Regatta
Chairperson of the US Sailing Committee for Sailors with Disabilities
Hilarious and down-to-earth mom, wife, and friend
OLYMPIC MEDAL CONTENDER

In addition to the coolness of both her literal and metaphorical hats, Sarah tends to speak in unpretentious proverb. (See: “Never let a boy take your power,” “You can’t change the wind but you can adjust your sails,” “I’m actually really tall, you know,” etc.) When polled via iMessage, a group of her closest friends also wanted our readers to know that Sarah is supportive, witty, and above all, humble. She is an immensely powerful advocate and ally. And we all would’ve said these things before she got all famous and close to the Olympics, I swear.

My family is hosting a little soiree with Sarah and Cindy on Thursday, November 5th to help raise money and awareness for the Good Karma cause. If you live in the Greater Nashua area and are interested in attending, check out our event on Facebook. (Unless you’re a creepy cyber stalker. I realize that there’s no real way to prevent creepy cyber stalkers from reading this, but if you do or ever have identified as a creepy cyber stalker, please don’t come to our party.)

If you love the cause as much as we do but are unable to attend a fun and informative soiree that will definitely involve cookies and beer, you can check out Good Karma Racing’s website and Facebook page. (You won’t regret it.) You can also donate directly to the team here!

Sarah—I know you’ve probably hated the Sarah-centric nature of this post, but you’ve earned all of this praise and then some. Thanks for always reminding me how powerful I am.

Brian, Cindy, and all others involved with Good Karma Racing—sail on. I’d tell you to make us proud, but you already have.

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College

The Monday That Got Away

So yesterday got away from me. I closed my laptop at the end of the day and it was already past midnight. So here it is, a day late:

You guys,  this Monday might actually last forever. I think it’s been Monday for several years already. It’s almost 8pm and this is the first time this blog post has crossed my mind all day.

Now that’s not to say that I’m not totally prepared to deliver a witty, ingenious, and definitely coherent blog post to you guys. Because I am. I was born to do this shit. I speak in blogs, basically.

Just kidding. I’m as unprepared for this blog post as I am for everything else in my life. My Mondays start at 7:00 am and don’t stop until 8pm. I am consistently late to things all day. Anyone who runs into me looks mildly concerned and asks, “are you alright?” And I am alright. Just slightly in over my head.

But it’s okay, because I will never be as in-over-my-head as I was this past Friday, when I went to visit my friend Meg at MIT. Meg is a smarty-pants engineering graduate student there, and on Friday I took the train to Boston to go see her in her smarty-pants world with all her new smarty-pants friends.

You guys, MIT is nuts. There are underground tunnels that can get you pretty much anywhere on campus. There’s a really long hallway that’s called “the infinite corridor” and when I whispered it sounds like something you’d find at Hogwarts! no one laughed or nodded. (I was among engineers. Go figure.) Some buildings are grand and beautiful. Others, according to Meg, look like turds.  

We were eating lunch with some of Meg’s classmates when she told me that I’d be joining her for her Orgo class at 2pm, and only one thought occurred to me:

This is going to be hilarious.

I guess I looked pretty stoked (because how often do you get the chance to sit in on an orgo class at MIT?). Meg’s friend turned to me and warned, “he’s going to ask you questions.”

Cue terror. Meg explained that her professor was a great guy with a sarcastic sense of humor, of which I’d likely be the victim in class. This was definitely going to be hilarious.

I scurried into class on Meg’s heels and took the seat next to her. There were only about six of us, and I’d met most of them, so it was comforting that I’d be going down amongst friends. The professor walked in, scanned the room, and stopped dead when he got to me.

“Oh great! We’ve got a new one!”

Now I may as well have blacked out for the next 55 minutes for all I understood. Meg answered questions like a rockstar, and I stared at the mile-long equations on the board until the numbers blurred. At the end he asked if there were any questions, and I answered simply, “so many.”
So that was pretty much the most overwhelmed I’ve ever been. Today takes a close second.

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College, Goofy

Homecoming, Basically

I’m not exactly sure when being “basic” became a thing. Every now and then, someone mentions basic bitches in front of Julie and me, and we’re always just a little bit perplexed. Who is basic? What is basic? Are we basic? Is basic starting to sound funny to anybody else?

I bring up the basics because it is now officially fall in New Hampshire, and when the leaves start to turn, people basically go nuts. I mean they start to say the word basic, like, all the fucking time. Julie and I have done some extensive research on the subject. By that I mean Julie once interrogated her guy friends in Ireland for an entire afternoon about what they considered to be “basic,” and I sent a Snapchat with a vest pun in it about ten minutes ago. We also both have Twitter accounts. So we’re basic sociologists, basically.

From what we’ve gathered, basic is an adjective assigned to most females between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two. If you’ve never been called basic, but are interested in conducting a relatively basic social experiment, consider wearing/buying/borrowing any of the following items:

     Yoga pants
     Leggings
     Dark-wash jeans
     Regular jeans
     A black vest
     A Northface jacket
     A black, Northface vest (double points there)
     Boots from L.L. Bean
     Ugg Boots
     Knock-off boots from Ugg or L.L. Bean
     Brown or black boots of any kind
     A Starbucks coffee
     A non-Starbucks coffee
     A pumpkin spice coffee
     Any coffee, really
     An Instagram account containing any combination of two or more items listed above

  

The “basic” label irks me at a very basic level. Julie and I have talked about the phenomenon at length, and we both agree that the whole thing just leaves a sour taste in our mouths. (But then again, that might just be the pumpkin spice coffee.) My favorite clothing store ever is actually called Basics—I am a firm and forever believer in cotton grey t-shirts—so I was surprised when I started hearing the word used as such a backhanded insult. 

There’s an inferiority to it, really. When I think basic, I think beige walls, empty rooms, and cable packages that definitely don’t include HBO. Basic is the minimum. Basic is in need of an upgrade. Basic is less. And when it comes to basic bitches—or, as I sometimes like to call them, girls—that’s just not true.    

This past weekend was Homecoming at UNH, and along with being the most magical and beer-filled weekend of the entire year, it is also a fantastic opportunity for thousands of drunk people to wear more or less the same outfit in a relatively confined area. If I had a quarter for every time someone in my general vicinity looked out and commented on how “basic” the entire tailgating field looked, I’d have four quarters.

In the group of five kickass girls that I hung with at Homecoming, three of us wore vests. Three of us wore boots of the L.L. Bean-esque variety, although Julie’s were this weird green waterproof kind that she got before she went to Ireland, so I’m not sure if that counts. One of us wore a flannel, but she’s Canadian, and can you really be basic and Canadian at the same time? I’ll have to check the manual.

Basically, being basic isn’t a real thing. You can have your pumpkin spice coffee and drink it too and then spill it on your vest, and no one really gives a fuck. That’s how the old saying goes, right?

Basic or elaborate or whatever the hell we were this weekend, we were all definitively twenty-one. So do you know what that means, future employers? Beer pictures! So many beer pictures!    

     

Happy Homecoming to all, and to all, a black vest. Stay toasty, my friends.

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