Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Telephone and Why I (expletive) Hate It....and Spring Break

Spring Break has finally arrived! As Young Jeezy would say, "YEEEAAH!!!" And how am I spending my time? Getting a tan? Checking out a wet T-shirt contest? Anything fun with these two girls on the left?...Nope: morphosyntactic analysis. Christ, even last year's expedition to Colonial Williamsburg and the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta had more pizzazz than this. I'm not too coherent right now and I don't feel like editing, so deal.

I figure I might as well get as much work out of the way as possible with the time I have off. I called my boss yesterday and he told me that he can't have me back at the golf course until the first week of April, so I have to ration whatever money I have left until then. That way I can work as much as humanly possible and start to rebuild my checking and savings accounts. If I get my homework done now, I figure I can work more than the 30 hours a week that I was working in the fall. I'm always happier when have something to do and have money in my pocket.

One of the other assignments we have this semester for Diagnostics is to give 4 different stardardized tests to different age groups (preschool, school-age, adolescent/adult, and one more of our choice). I was smart and got two adult tests done the first two weekends of the semester, which has left me with the two youngest age groups left to finish before April. I finally reserved the tests I need for this coming weekend and I intend to borrow a couple of my younger cousins. I've had the phone numbers for their parents and I have been avoiding making the calls all semester.

For most, if not all, people who stutter, the telephone is probably the most frightening part of life. Not to get all pitiful, but not much hurts more than being hung up on because the person you called didn't realize there was someone on the line or thought it was a prank call. It's damn frustrating and after years of avoiding the phone, using it regularly becomes difficult. In my field we often talk about the benefit of visual aids to auditory information, especially for people with hearing loss. If they can look at the person speaking, they can pick up visual cues to help them understand the message. I think that often works the same for me. If I am speaking to someone in person and I stutter, at least they can see that something is going on and maybe gather what I'm trying to get across, whether it's at a restaurant or line to order something and I can point to something on the menu (I always come back to the food-ordering), but when I am on the phone, especially with someone I don't know, I don't know what they are thinking and the situation becomes very awkward. I've gotten past some of those things, especially with ordering food. I often refer back to the unspoken agreement between Ethan and I about weekend pizza delivery: he would call, I would go downstairs and pick it up. Junior year I was forced to do it myself once when he was out and I've been able to since.

My cell phone is the single most useless piece of electronics that I own. I have the cheapest plan Verizon offers at 300 minutes per month and I bet I barely touch 30 of them. I will literally go weeks without making a phone call. Granted, I don't have as many phone calls to make that most people do. I try not to order food anymore (in the interest of saving money), I talk to my mom over instant messenger a few times a week and I go home often to see the family, I don't have a nightly call with a long-distance girlfriend, or anything else that most people use their little folding silver blinky things for. This past weekend I left my phone and jacket at Dan and Karen's, and I was debating picking it up whenever the next time I happen to be there. When I came to get it, Karen said "That must have been horrible, a weekend without your cell phone." Until Dan called my house on Saturday, I don't think I even realized it was missing.

Sometimes people will call me and leave drunk voicemails or just to chat, and instead of picking up, I often let it ring and call back later. A more likely scenario would be that I wait until they are online and IM them. It's not that I am afraid of the phone, it's that it's a pain in the ass. I'm not afraid of calling my friends and family, but it takes so much effort that I get no enjoyment out of the process of talking to them.

Calling a girl for a first date has always been hell, too. When I get numbers I try to get their screenname as well, just because it's easier, and I don't care if it seems unorthodox. If I want to make a good first impression, it tends to go better through typing, despite the fact that girls prefer talking on the phone. I have a better chance of coming off well over instant messenger than I do on the phone. I think I'm playing the percentages. I tend to get the third degree from girls when I say I wait a week before I'll make that first call (because 2 days is normally industry standard, according to Swingers), but the truth is, I wait so long is because it usually takes me that long to work up the balls to go through with it. Like I said in the past, it's hard to seem cool and confident when you can't get a word out. I know girls will say "it doesn't matter if you stutter, if she likes you, she'll like you no matter what" and I've found that to be true, but when you are in the situation it feels different, especially when you are just meeting someone. Other guys can at least act the part, but if I'm nervous at all, it will show big time. I'm trying to think of a time when I just made a call in a reasonable amount of time without really hesitating (maybe Jenny?) but I know they are few and far between.

Personal life and woman issues aside, my biggest problem is going to be making phone calls in clinic to make and confirm appointments. I find it funny that the parts of the job that other people probably won't give a second thought to are the ones that scare me the most. I will be practiced and prepared in the future but I don't know how those will go, especially if I know I'm just going to rile myself up by getting worried. I've been reading more and hearing through different people about how antidepressants and anxiety medications can be used to reduce stuttering and I'm curious about that. I took Lexipro for a few months junior year and I don't remember how that affected my stuttering. If I don't remember it probably didn't help much. Though, I don't really think I got any benefit from that medication considering I was on the lowest dosage (other than being able to get drunk off one beer), but perhaps I would have better luck with another kind. I'll have to talk to my doctor about that, because I want to make sure things go well. The mood boost and improved focus couldn't hurt either...

In other news, my NCAA Tournament brackets are toast. I had a good first round, picking 72% of the games, landing me in 4th place. But one by one, upsets occurred and now I'm left with 8 teams left in the Sweet 16. I'm stuck in 50th place and no money in sight. Ohio St., one of my Final Four teams, was upset by Georgetown. I was wrong about BC and Gonzaga, and even though UConn is still alive, they are playing without a "sense of urgency" as the analysts say and will lose in the Final Four. Rudy Gay will be a lottery bust, I can tell you that. LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis is immediately one of my new favorite college players (in addition to J.J. Redick and Tyler Hansbrough) with an even better nickname. Big Baby! My revised, non-binding national champion pick is Villanova.

Till next time.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Recent Transpirings and March Madness

(Note: The date says 3/9 but I started writing the draft then.)

I wanted to update some things that have been going on, and just for kicks and the fact that I had pictures laying around, a picture of Cadbury my trusty guinea pig, Greta thinking about eating her, the man-child known as Tub Cat, and if you haven't seen the Mustang yet, that, too.

I've skipped the last three Toastmasters meetings because of midterms, papers, and projects (supplemented with Tiger Woods 06 and NBA Live 06), and considering I should be starting work soon in the next week or so (provided Rob calls me), I'm not sure if I'm going to go again for a while. The meetings I went to were nice, but because of my schedule and my dire need for money (and they started asking for dues), it might not be worth it. If I have a Monday off here and there I'll go, but it probably won't be a consistent thing. It's a shame but in a sense it wasn't really giving me the feeling I thought it would. I guess speaking in front of people was not as frightening as I thought. It's the little things like introductions and phone calls that bother me. In any case, I had a nice time, met some nice people. I know a lot of people who stutter are so afraid of speaking in public, and the people I told about it seem to be very impressed. At least I'll always have my "Best Speaker" ribbon and trophy pictures. Hopefully I'll be able to stop by in the future for a brush-up.
Other things:

One of our assignments for Diagnostics was to administer a standardized vocabulary test to someone in front of Dr. Larrivee for her to grade our skills as a diagnostician (to the layperson: someone who gets money to give and grade standardized tests). Since we were not allowed to give the test to someone in our program (we are supposed to be familiar with the test and would throw off results), I had my dad drive up. I was happy that he was so eager to come up, and my mom came also and we went out to lunch after.

I was surprised with how well I did. I prepared for hours earlier in the day memorizing the difficult words (especially "terpsichorean"). I had a couple of small blocks, though my major problems were that I pronounced a couple words incorrectly (namely, "indigent" as "indignant") and that I let my dad know which ones he got wrong by telling him "good job" when he was right and saying nothing when he was wrong. Dr. Larrivee gave me 10 out of 10 (which is great because I heard she makes most people do it over) and she told me overall I did very well. But the thing about Dr. Larrivee is, even though she always seems to give a decent grade, she will still criticize the hell out of you (I am still having my Vietnam flashbacks of last semester when she told me one of my literary reviews was filled with "good points, marred by bad writing, poor grammar, and terrible organization." She gave me a more-than-acceptable 83). She told me that my stuttering worries her because she has noticed more problems lately--which there certainly have been-- and that by the time I get into clinic in the fall I need to be better prepared because, as she so delicately put it: "I don't want there to be any reason for you to fail clinic." ....Are you friggin serious? Fail clinic?! That was something that hadn't crossed my mind as a legitimate scenario. I figured it might aggrivate my case manager and confuse parents from time to time, but I didn't think my clinic grade would be affected. Even with my perfect test administration score and the fact that I know when I apply myself that I can control my stuttering, I left that day feeling like shit. Later that evening I ended up going home for the weekend to spend time with my family and Greta and see if I could get back to feeling normal. Sometimes I feel like I can take criticism, and other times I cannot. I'm going to have to have a thicker skin by the time I'm in clinic. I don't want to be shaken easily, especially having to deal with an additional obstacle that the other grad students do not.

Needless to say, I talked to Ann a couple days later and had her put me in the pool for summer clinic sessions. She said she wasn't sure if there were open spots and she couldn't guarantee me anything. I'm gonna be scared shitless of not being prepared so I know I'll work as hard as I can whether I'm getting therapy or not. I never really thought it was weird to have a grad student clincian when I was at UMass, but to be getting therapy from a girl in my program who is in the same classes as I am might be an awkward experience. Whatever they want me to do, I'm down with. Just don't fail me in clinic, for christsake.

My last midterm is Thursday, 4:30-7:30, so once that is over I'm heading back here to get hammered and watch the start of the March Madness. I've been filling out my brackets and I have high aspirations. Two years ago I ran roughshod over everyone in my dad's office pool and had the damn thing won before the Final Four had even started, and this year I expect to do the same. So far with my first draft my Final Four is UConn, Duke, Memphis, and Ohio St. with UConn over Duke in the championship game (I think you can pencil in Ohio St. for national champions next year once Greg Oden gets there. Yikes, he is one large 18-year-old-who-looks-like-he's-pushing-40). I have Gonzaga losing in the round of 32 because that's just what Gonzaga does. Adam Morrison is a great player but the Zags never do anything in the tournement. I don't take Boston College seriously in the tourney either, because they always lose in the round of 32. Those two teams seem to be fashionable picks, and whenever everyone leans toward a team like that, go the other way. I don't have a lot of big upsets other than those two and a couple 9's over 8's, but it's still a first draft. There is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a 12 over a 5, and this year my pick is Kent St. over Pitt. I'm gonna need that $250, so let's go Rudy Gay and the Huskies!

Remember, when you're right 52% of the time, you're wrong 48% of the time.