Going Dark & Moving Space Friday, Jun 29 2012 

I’m hitting the reset button. I’m starting from scratch at a new blog, Adventures in Research. If you would like to see what I have to say that’s new, join me over there. It’s my new professional blog, and the more personal Shadow Boxing is going completely down in 7 days. Thanks for reading the little I posted. I hope you join me in my new endeavor.

Back in the Saddle Again Thursday, Jun 30 2011 

                I’ve been nervous about posting because of the rapid merging of my online personae. My other persona is my “official” one, and this is my “personal” blog. I was going to use this blog to work out frustrations arising from the last semester while the other blog presented a sanitized version – because I was seriously nervous about ranting too much on the official blog. Then I realized just how much I’ve been ranting on this blog, and as the two come together I was running into a potentially devastating connection between Shadow Boxing and Officialdom. So I locked it down over here. My ranting is in my little word document, and while I found comments so helpful, I ended up boiling the worst of it down to a short FB-ready status update and got support there.

                But semester is over, grade is in, and I can move on. I feel, now, 6 weeks later, my grade can’t be changed without major drama and publicity, which protects me from retaliation. Maybe I was paranoid to be thinking that way, but when my final grade did come in, I saw I was not as paranoid as I thought. So there it is.

                All that being said, it’s time to bring Shadow Boxing back online. Maybe someday I’ll put up my full on rants that I wrote the last few months, but maybe not. I have reason to keep it private. But I also can express the same feelings without the anger, rage, frustration, and crazy. At least, that’s the goal. It’s time to move forward.

Sick Sunday, Feb 20 2011 

I am just tired of being sick.  I can’t get work done.  I have days where I can’t get out of bed, or if I do it’s just to go throw up.  I’ve been sick for months and it’s getting worse.  I don’t know what to do about it.  I have these major assignments due and I just can’t handle it.  And I just realized I’m not asking for help when I clearly need it.  I don’t know if it’s pride or if it’s a stubborn refusal to admit that I’m in over my head.  Either way, I need to stop and ask for help.

I can’t get my work done if I’m sleeping most of the time.  I slept a full 24 hours a few days ago, only waking up long enough to throw up.  I know it’s partly stress related (at least).  What concerns me is the part that isn’t stress related.  If I’m stressed I get nauseous, I don’t throw up.  But I’ve thrown up more in the last few months than I have in years.  I’ve gotten sick twice since the semester started – sick enough that I’ve missed class, and I started out behind because of it.  And there are the other, side effect things that come with it.

My sides ache.  My muscles are sore from so much vomiting.  I’m woozy a lot – also from all the vomiting.  It hurts, it actually HURTS.  It’s like I’m getting hit in the back of the head with a board at the same time.

But then there is the stress problem.  Because I get upset about the sickness, which makes the sickness worse, so I get sicker, and it just keeps feeding itself.  The incidents are getting more violent and more frequent.  I don’t know what I’ll do if this keeps going.  I feel like I’m only a few weeks from not being able to STOP.  And then I’m in the hospital, because this last time around I threw up water.  I’ve always kept water down.  Not happening anymore.  If I can’t stop to eat, or if I keep losing my appetite to nausea, my diabetes is going to go out of control.  Hell, it already IS out of control.  Which pisses me off more – I KNOW I can control this condition if I can JUST EAT.  If all I can stomach is graham crackers, of COURSE my sugar is going to be through the roof.  Argh.

I just can’t win.  I feel like a complete failure.  My body is NOT working the way it’s supposed to.  Hell, it’s not working at ALL right now.  And even with my history of my body rebelling and failing me, this is nothing I’ve experienced before.  This has me more depressed than anything.  There are times when I just want to sit in the corner and cry.

I have no strength, no stamina.  I can barely get around my home, let alone campus, with any sort of speed or vigor.  I’m just dragging ass all over the place.  And I spent last semester dragging ass because of my knee.  I just can’t freaking win.  I just want to feel GOOD again.  Able to eat what I want, when I want, in the amount that I want, without fear of it coming back up in a few hours.  I want to be able to walk from the parking lot to the library back to the student center without being exhausted.  I want to look at a week’s worth of work and feel confident I’ll get it all done in good time, instead of anxious that I get somewhat close to the deadline.

I used to handle the stress just fine. What happened?

Angry Monday, Feb 14 2011 

I am SO ANGRY right now.  May I express my frustration with this method of learning?  I am paying for an in-class learning experience.  Why am I spending the same amount of time as class watching a movie of someone teaching the class?  Also, the opening statement has specific requirements.  We’re supposed to have “extensive experience” with CSS.  Four weeks does not equal extensive experience.  It doesn’t make me anything other than a rank amateur.

Why am I laying out so much cash?  Will I get this money back? Of course not.  I have already discovered that the “recommended” are in fact required – just no one will admit it.  So I shelled out a lot of cash for the program, the latest editions of books, web-hosting, and now a monthly subscription to a training site.  I am already in a class – doesn’t that count as FUCKING TRAINING?

So far, I’m getting better instruction on CSS from this video than I have in 3 weeks of class. That’s SAD.  Since I’m supposed to already KNOW this before i watch the video.  Grr.

The teacher is interesting, but my wonky internet connection made this an extremely frustrating experience.  As far as I’m concerned, he drops syllables randomly and teleports from facing me to facing his example screen behind him.  Anger does NOT enhance the learning experience.  I would like to hear complete sentences please.  (After 2 hours, I have watched 75 minutes of movies.  After 3 hours, I still have over an hour of movies to watch.  Unacceptable.  I have yet to figure out how to pull up more than one window to load one movie while I watch another.  I must reiterate – I am ANGRY.)

We’re supposed to be innovating, and the method chosen is embedding fonts.  At week 4.  With 4 weeks of CSS training, we’re doing this advanced technique while still learning about typography itself.  Oh, yeah, that’s working out SO well.  And one of the options for embedding fonts is to BUY a font, or using a service plan to pay on a per-use basis.  More money laid out.  I am SORRY but this fucking site is getting a GODDAMN FREE FONT.  I am A GRADUATE STUDENT.  I AM FUCKING BROKE.

Although I do understand the utility of different fonts in this post – I would really love to use some font that’s bold, dark, heavy – something to express just how ANGRY* I am.



Happy Birthday Shadow Boxing! Monday, Jan 24 2011 

Well, it’s 9 days late, but Shadow Boxing is officially a year old!  Yay!  I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I think I can do more.

Here’s the deal.  I went to the doctor last week and we talked about ways I can reduce my stress and anxiety so I stop making myself sick.  I just ended up creating an internal feedback loop   where I felt sick from being sick and from stress, got stressed and anxious about being sick, which upset my stomach further, and so on and so on.  The upshot being, I need better coping mechanisms.  I might have found my limit last semester, but that doesn’t mean I want to go that far every semester.  Nothing is worth sacrificing my health for, even finishing the dissertation as soon as possible.  I have to include down time in “as soon as possible” and make sure that I arrive at my defense not just done and sane, but healthy, too.

So, as a way to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Shadow Boxing, I’m reminding myself of the purpose of the blog.  This was a way for me to work out my shit privately and relatively anonymously.  Even if people know me in real life, we can all pretend that we’re all internet friends only.  I’ve mostly accepted that people I look up to and aspire to be like have found the blog.  If I need to work out some issues I’m having in class or with a professor, I need to make sure I maintain everyone’s anonymity.  Meaning the only way someone would know who I’m writing about is if they had a conversation with me personally, in real life, face to face about the same issue and recognize the story.  I think that’s where I’m at now, but I have to make doubly sure from here on out.  If I am going to use this blog to fight the monsters hiding the dark corners of my mind, I need to be completely honest, truthful, open, and realistic.  Names will be changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.  And me.

This is my safe space on the Internet, my place to be me.  If I need to talk about someone else, and it’s not flattering, I need to cover everyone’s ass.  And that protocol extends to people I talk about positively, too – sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Two pieces of maintaining my sanity and managing my anxiety will be clear to the Interwebs: this blog itself, and tracking my walking regimen.  Another piece is regular contact with friends (or really cheap therapy).  I have standing plans for lunch once a week, work/study group once a week, and will get together with non-school friends to talk about NOTSCHOOL once a month at least.  I am also building in craft time to my schedule.  If I can schedule exercise for my stress relief, I can schedule two hours to crochet or cross stitch as a less tiring way to bust stress.  I think I have a plan: walk two to three times a week at least, lunch once a week, work group once a week, hang out and talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer once a month, and a few hours for crafting a week.  I can do that.

And while it may seem odd that I’m scheduling my relaxation, I have to remind myself that part of my job is to stay healthy in mind and body.  Therefore, it’s all part of my job.  Tomorrow, I will sit down with my calendar and a hard, honest look at how long everything actually takes and schedule myself for the next several months.  We’ll see how it goes.

On a related note, I am already able to walk the distance necessary for the Komen Race for the Cure in June.  I think I need to officially put a half marathon on the goals list for this year.  There’s a walker friendly half marathon/marathon in the area in November.  That may be my next goal.

A Journey of A Thousand Miles. Or Thirteen. Monday, Jan 3 2011 

I made a commitment in November to begin a walking program.  I need a lot of exercise to keep my knees in good shape.  I was doing alright, making small gains every few days.  Then I got the plague.  OK, not the plague, but the flu and bronchitis at the same time.  Then the antibiotics caused a secondary infection…yeah.  Plus I went on Prednisone for the first time and got to experience the jitters, the scattered thoughts and the insomnia.  OK – I will go through every other part of the sick just to avoid taking Prednisone EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE.  But the upshot is that I didn’t get out of bed for a week, and for another week, the most effort I put out was getting from my car to the elevator at the doctor’s office.  So, no, I haven’t been walking.

And now, it’s a new year, and New Year’s Resolution time.  The gym I have free sessions at will be PACKED.  Sigh.  I need to limit how much I’m around crowds right now, as my immune system is still pretty battered.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have almost no stamina right now.  But the other option is walking outside.  Right – in 30 degree weather having just recovered from a lung infection.  Can we say RELAPSE?

So.   I’ve been too ill to walk at the gym, with all those people, and too ill to walk outside in the cold.  However, I’m going to a conference and I’m staying at a hotel a mile away.  I have the opportunity to walk over 2 miles a day – to and from the conference and then AT the conference.  I don’t know if it will help or hurt, but the good news is that I’m driving and will have the opportunity to DRIVE from the hotel to the conference center if I need to, especially if it snows.  (I understand intellectually WHY the conference is in Boston in January, but COME ON.  Boston?  In January??)  The other side of it is that if I do decide to walk, I will use my knee braces and they’ll keep my joints nice and warm while I walk.  Of course, that affects the clothes I’ll be able to wear – pants that have enough room to get over the straps and stays of the braces.  So I’m also doing laundry at a frantic pace just to make sure I have the proper trousers.

I’m not complaining.  I’m just a bit overwhelmed with all the preparations that go into traveling for me now.  Not only do I need to take all my medication (and properly pack it when I’m flying) I have to bring braces, pants to fit over them, shoes that will handle the walking, and several contingency plans.  The knees aren’t even my biggest problem – I’m more concerned about controlling my diabetes while I’m traveling.  But I’ve gotten used to that.  The new problem of trying to exercise while traveling has me a bit…flummoxed.

What I’m looking at is the (re)start of my walking program – if the weather holds and the creek don’t rise.  I’m actually excited about it.  I’m signed up for the Komen Race for the Cure in June here in DC, and I’m searching for a walker-friendly half-marathon to complete by the end of the year.  I’m thinking Richmond.  Some say we need to start with small goals, but I KNOW I can walk the 5k of the Komen – I did it in October, while I was still in PT.  A half marathon is 3 times longer.  I can do that, I KNOW I can.  This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution, and it’s not related at all to weight loss.  It’s about keeping my knees in good, functional shape while getting a tiny bit of the thrill I got from running.  And that’s exciting.  Even if I have the plague and have to dodge three million resolution-ers.

Year in Review Tuesday, Dec 28 2010 

Radio silence again – this semester kicked my ass in more ways than one.  I’ve been sick since mid November (before completing physical therapy), and I haven’t yet finished the semester officially.  But following my third trip to the doctor in as many weeks, and my fifth new prescription in less than a month, I am actively not stressing about it.  I have some time, I only need to do a few days work to finish the last paper, and I need to be healthy before I can do that.  So I’ve been watching old episodes of Mythbusters and movies on basic cable.

Since it’s New Year’s at the end of a decade (please no arguments about when the decade actually ends and/or begins), all those year-end lists are coming out, and also the “Decade in Review” lists.  All kinds of lists – movies, plays, concert tours, books, recipes, terrible reality shows…A friend of mine put up his top ten Science Fiction movies of the decade.  I thought I’d do my own: the Decade’s Top Ten Movies You’ve Never Heard Of.  It’s in no particular order, just some random little movies that are really well done.  Not all of them are indie flicks; in fact, I think most are big studio productions.  But still, these are movies that get blank looks when I bring them up.  (Although the real prompt for this was that several have appeared on cable the past two weeks.

1.       Four Brothers

2.       Something New

3.       Children of Men

4.       Triplets of Belleville

5.       Adam and Steve

6.       D. E. B. S.

7.       Lucky Number Slevin

8.       Shoot ‘Em Up

9.       Winter Passing

10.   Assault on Precinct 13

I  might update with trailers or even descriptions.  Or I might not.

Well, what are you waiting for?  Go put them in your movie queue!

Words to Live By Saturday, Oct 16 2010 

Today’s Poetry Saturdays post at the Pursuit of Harpyness was Jorge Luis Borges’s poem on how he’d live if he had another chance at life.  The opening section really struck me:

If I could live again my life,
In the next one – I’d try to make more mistakes,
I wouldn’t try to be so perfect, I’d be more relaxed,
I’d be sillier than I’ve been,
In fact, I’d take things much less seriously.

And it’s similar to some of my favorite pieces – words I live by.  I’ve always loved “When I Am Old” by Jenny Joseph.  “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/with a red hat that doesn’t go/and doesn’t suit me/and spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves/and say we’ve no money for butter.”  She talks about the freedom of being old enough for no one to care what you do, but then makes the leap to being herself now rather than waiting: “But maybe I ought to practise a little now?/So people who know me/are not too shocked and surprised/when suddenly I am old/and start to wear purple!”

Then there’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” by Mary Schmich, who wrote it as the commencement speech she wished she’d gotten.  It’s full of tongue-in-cheek but really useful advice: “Stretch.”  “Dance.  Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.” “Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.”

But here’s the kicker: “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.  The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.”

And trust me on the sunscreen.

New Look Friday, Oct 15 2010 

I decided it was time to change things up a bit.  I was having a hard time reading the old format, but I really like the darker backgrounds.  Maybe it’s my own eyesight, but I don’t like black on white or white on black – it’s just too harsh.  I like the color schemes in varying shades of similar colors.  Plus the new background is pretty nifty.

I wouldn’t consider this to be anything to post about except that I’ve been thinking about style in general for a while now.  Style is subtle, individual, and important.  Certainly few people read a site that’s black text on a white background with no images anymore.  It’s just too stark.  I’m all for contemporary clean lines, but not starkness.  The new layout also makes better use of space.  It didn’t matter so much when I only had a few posts archived, but now that I have several, it’s getting unwieldy.

No one really needed to know that, but it’s good for me to articulate these decisions.  It helps me get a handle on me.

Busted (Sorta) Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

I just had a fairly sharp reminder that my blog is, in fact, on the internet and visible to anyone who comes looking.  I’ve been commenting on a lot of my favorite blogs (see blogroll for fun times!) and leaving my website address so I can track the comments from my dashboard.  It’s become a habit: Name, email (with identifiable user name), and website.  So I left a comment on a blog written by someone I’ve never really met, although zie works at my university and I do actually know what zie looks like.*  Well…said blogger followed me home, as it were, and has since commented on a post.  And was actually insightful and helpful and made me think.  This is all good, right?

Nope.  CUE PANIC MUSIC.  Because.  HOLY SHIT THE REST OF THE WORLD FOUND ME. So now I’m reviewing my older posts, maybe I should make some private, because I sound like a complete idiot, or totally insane, and I really don’t want people who KNOW WHO I AM to read this blog and, when they see me at these common events, think, “Well, Shadow Boxer’s a complete and total lunatic online so I’ll just stand over here and pretend to be fascinated with the fruit selection.”  !!!

Here’s the twisted and really, kind of sad part.  I used Shadow Boxer as my name on the comment and posted my web address fully aware of all of this and with the understanding that my two online personae are very steadily becoming one.  At the point of that comment, I realized that the time had come where I simply couldn’t keep them separate any longer.  It’s ironic, because the initial point of this blog last semester was to avoid using my highly recognizable and unusual other screen name; and to create a space for me to work out my own issues without wondering if one of my professors is reading this.  The individual whose comment started all this is NOT one of my professors or my advisor, just for clarification purposes.  Although, honestly, I think it helps that I don’t actually KNOW New Commenter.  It introduces me as Shadow Boxer to my intellectual community.

Maybe this is a good thing?  Maybe we can all pretend that even if they know me IRL they’ll continue to separate the two identities?  And it’s not that it’s a different identity or a different persona REALLY.  My “public” screen name is based on my given name and a nickname I got many years ago, and it was designed to make me more “findable” to people I’d lost track of in the years since. This name “Shadow Boxer” is really based on the purpose of this blog.  Not to get too over the top or dramatic, but I’m really fighting the monsters that live in the dark corners of my mind: my insecurities, my self-esteem issues, my trust issues, and all kinds of other things that I haven’t begun to touch here.

It’s funny, some of my friends have reposted some of these on Facebook without identifying me beyond Shadow Boxer, and I’ve never had a problem with it.  In fact, I found it totally awesome that my feminist rants are getting out to the wider world.  My introspection about school, life, the universe and everything?  Not so much.**

I had another post working, and it’s one of those really introspective ones that are super scary to post.  I hope I’ll have the guts to finish it AND POST IT.  Because it’s something I need to figure out, and it turns out the best way for me to figure things out is to put them up online.  I just hope I won’t scare anyone with just how fucked up I really am.


*I don’t know why “what someone looks like” is a criterion, but it seems that knowing someone entails being able to create a mental picture of some kind, and mine involves what they look like.  Maybe it’s sketchy (my height, brown curly hair, wears lots of scarves) but it’s something.  So “knowing what zie looks like” is actually a fairly significant indicator that this individual is a part of my own corner of the universe.


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