Don’t call us, we’ll call you

April 24, 2012

A new story of my life, part II

Click here for part I.

I usually don’t write about something until I’ve mentally determined its structure, figured out some semblance of a beginning, middle, and end.  But this new story is so full of different threads, and so far from its end, that I am still only guessing at what its “parts” might be.  But I think the next part is about my miscarriage in December 2008.

When I think about it now, I get a good chuckle from the way I suddenly became a computer-game-playing, Reality-Steve-reading Bachelor junkie.  But at the same time, I cannot downplay the fact that I was in a pretty deep depression for many months.  I had wanted to start trying for a baby as soon as we got married — my “biological clock,” which only started gently ticking around 25, was clanging by 27 — but I was still in the middle of a string of neck surgeries, and the two situations were mutually exclusive.  I think I always had a sense that I was in a race against time . . . my health was probably not going to get better with age, so I needed to get some babies here as soon as possible.  I was hoping for at least 3, maybe 4.  I think the thing that surprised me the most when I did miscarry was how fiercely I was grieving for that baby, the one that I had never actually seen or held or heard.  It wasn’t about setting my timetable back, or running out of time, or wondering if I was capable of having a healthy pregnancy.  I just wanted my baby that I already felt this undeniable connection to.

Oh, that longing was fierce and persistent — even during my pregnancy with Addison.  How I finally moved past that feeling is really just a side-note to this broader story I’m trying to tell, but since I’ve never recorded it, this seems as good a time as any.  The turning point for me came in October 2009 when I was discussing labor and delivery techniques with my friend Kjell.  She said, kind of off-handedly with no particular gravity, “Do you think this baby is the same one you miscarried?”  Perhaps I said maybe or I don’t know or I’m not sure.  Of course, the thought had occurred to me as I contemplated many questions related to perinatal loss.  But for some reason that day in early October, the suggestion struck me in a different way.  Neal had felt that our first baby was a girl.  And we had just found out definitively that we were now expecting a girl, and so I just let that possibility sit with me.  Maybe this new baby girl is the same spirit, coming to a body that can sustain her life in a way the first one could not.  Now, I should make it clear that I didn’t know if that was the case, and I still don’t; but there was enough comfort there that I was finally able to let go of that baby I had tried so hard to hold on to.  So thanks for that, Kjell (I don’t think I’ve ever told you that).

But let’s back up a few months, back to the central story.  After six months of heavy grieving and depression, I was finally ready to try for another baby.  It didn’t take too long to get pregnant, but things weren’t looking too good from the start.  By eight weeks along, I had already been to urgent care and a doctor and my midwife, trying to figure out if the problems I was having were pregnancy-related or just coincidental new health problems.  Just before we took off on our blockbuster summer vacation in July, our midwife told us to prepare for the worst.  We mostly tried to relax and have fun on our trip, but we also made the decision that if this pregnancy didn’t take, we would shift our focus to adoption.  The midwife had told us that she thought I was capable of delivering a healthy child, but that it might take three or four miscarriages to get there.  And when you’re still in the middle of grieving a miscarriage that happened eight months before, you just know you can’t do that three more times.

Needless to say, our adoption talk subsided when I didn’t miscarry and Addison turned out to be a miraculous fighter.  We had our hands full trying to manage the pregnancy, and then a newborn, and then postpartum depression — adoption was no longer on the radar.  I can hardly pin down when the shift in our discourse came about, but eventually we were questioning whether adoption would ever be a good idea for us.  The new conventional wisdom was this: if I had such a difficult time accepting the loss of a baby that had only barely been present, how would I handle losing a baby or child I had held and rocked and soothed?  (Something that does not always happen in adoption, but is common enough that it must be considered.)  We would talk over different types of adoption (I had a decent amount of foundational knowledge from my work at CORE and the fact that I have four adopted cousins) and weigh the possibilities, but it was starting to sink in how emotionally difficult that path might be, and whether I was capable of dealing with it.  Combine that questioning and self-doubt with my still-clanging biological clock, and I became convinced that we should shoot for another biological child.  I felt that it could work out, that the pregnancy wasn’t as bad as Neal remembered, that maybe we could ask for another little miracle and get it.  In short, I bargained.

It’s actually interesting for me to go back and read my bargaining and acceptance posts because I can see just how dichotomous my thinking was only three short months ago: have another biological child or have only one child.  The idea that I wasn’t cut out for adoption, that I couldn’t endure its risks with strength or sanity had become so firmly rooted.  Which is why it was nothing short of miraculous when just a week later, I had this little glimpse of the future and I knew that we would be adoptive parents.

I will have to get stronger before that time comes.  Learn a lot more about the process.  Assess our parental capabilities.  Create an income stream.  Shed some emotional baggage.  Start getting out of bed again (not depressed, just still in a tough place health-wise).  But there’s a child or two coming our way (maybe already born) — I’m certain of it.

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September 21, 2009

“O then, if I have seen so great things…”

I almost wrote a crazy, ranting blog post at 4 a.m. yesterday (since Nikki assured me that she would not leave any life-affirming comments afterward 🙂 ).  But you were all saved by the fact that I was ridiculously tired because it was FREAKING 4 A.M.!!! (Okay, I guess I had to get in a mini-rant…)

If you read my blog with any regularity, you know that I have spent way (way way way) too many middle of the night hours awake over the last 4-5 months.  It does crazy things to the mind.  Sometimes those crazy things are really funny: like the night I woke up, skin painfully on fire, thinking that Neal had intentionally let thousands of little bugs into my room and they were eating my flesh.  I have never been more furious with Neal (except maybe once when he disturbed my rhythm while I was on a roll in Super Mario Bros. 3–he made me lose the cute froggie suit and I could never get it back [I may have just discovered that I’m still mad about that day 3.5 years ago, yet another thing to work out in therapy perhaps :)]).  Or then there was the time I thought Neal had let some strangers into my room to drape a suffocating canopy over my bed.  Now you know, I tend to blame Neal when I wake up suddenly (thank heavens for the separate bedrooms!).

Unfortunately, most of the other crazy things are not funny at all.  I cry A LOT.  I get mad at the world.  I get mad at myself for getting mad at the world (repeat, again and again and again).  I want to feel sorry for myself.  I do feel sorry for myself.  I think how weak and ungrateful I am to feel sorry for myself (repeat…).  I think, an itch seems so stupid and trivial…why is it ruining my life and my sanity?  I think, this is the worst experience of my life.  Then I think I have no accurate way of assessing that (and go back over all these thoughts on the relativity of suffering).  Mostly I just grieve for things lost.

You’ve heard about one of those big things, the miscarriage, and it turned out to be therapeutic in ways that I hadn’t expected (thanks to those who shared thoughts, experiences, and good vibes), and so I decided to share a few more in the hopes of finding some similar sense of meaning and comfort.

So I’m pregnant again.  I thought this would be a happy time.  I thought that I would be ecstatic to tell people (I had a whole plan for how we would announce it involving my uber-talented, animating friend Lindsay).  I thought I would take pictures of my belly growing and we would spend a lot of time debating names (let’s face it, I’m a girl, I’ve had a list since I was like 11).  I even naively thought I might feel better than I do normally, since some people with fibromyalgia find that the pregnancy hormones decrease their usual pain.  But things haven’t gone as planned.  It’s been a messy business from the start with the midwife telling us at 8 weeks that we should prepare for the possibility of another miscarriage.  I just don’t have the energy or willpower to give a play-by-play of all that’s gone on and the attached anxiety, but suffice it to say that my body does not “do” pregnancy well.

I know that if come February we have a healthy baby and I am okay, so many of these thoughts will fade into the background.  I know, too, that we don’t know how things will play out in the long run.  But I’m still grieving…the fact that motherhood will not come the way I hoped; that whatever the outcome, this may well be our last journey down the path to biological parenthood; this very imperfect body that has shaped my life in so many important ways, but I just hoped so much would not exert its influence in the area of child-bearing.

Despite how hard it’s been to do much of anything, I have felt impressed to go to the temple more often (in addition, to the Saturday shift we work).  During one of those visits last week, I read this scripture from The Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 4: 26:

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

It just spoke to me because truly I have seen great things in my life.  I have been visited in so much mercy on so many occasions.  I have literally been delivered…from the captivity of a broken body and a troubled mind.  And so I ask myself, why do I linger in this valley of sorrow?

I thank God for 30 years and so many experiences that have taught me that this too shall pass.  And I’ve recently learned to pray for something more fundamental than understanding: that my heart and mind will stay open and teachable so that someday I’ll understand why things were meant to happen the way they are.

September 10, 2009

“I will weep a while longer”

I’m weeping even now as I post this, though I wrote it days ago.  It’s some of the stuff I’m working through (or some days, not being able to work through). It’s quite lengthy, probably depressing, and I still don’t know if I even want to post it or not.  Neal and I have been debating how to work through my grief, more praying (probably never a bad idea), maybe another round of therapy (some people don’t know this about me, but that would be round #4 in my adult life), more talking about it, less talking about it.  I guess I’ll try this and see what happens and go from there.

***

I remember my first few phone calls with my mom after my roommates and I were in a big car accident in the summer of 2003.  Despite surviving what could easily have been a fatal crash, I felt no real fear.  I told her, probably too matter-of-factly, look at it this way, no one is in two crazy car accidents in their lifetime.  Now I’ve gotten it out of the way, you don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Statistically speaking, I still think I have some sort of ground to stand on because it is very unlikely that a person would be involved in two cataclysmic accidents (particularly if they are a passenger in both, as I was, meaning it has nothing to do with their driving ability).  But the older I’ve gotten the more I understand how unhelpful my “insights” were.  Probably first and foremost because this happened less than 3 years later:

(So much for a universe where you could accurately compute probability)

(So much for a universe where you could accurately compute probability)

But also because she understood better than I just how uncertain this life is, and how having children intensifies that feeling with these beings that are both part of you and separate from you.  You can’t control them, or what happens to them, and the illusion we create that we do have control over this uncertain world vanishes, sometimes over long periods of time and sometimes in these earth-shattering, life-changing moments.

This is actually a post about miscarriage; I just didn’t know how to get it rolling.  A couple of months ago, I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting and I felt this intense spiritual prompting that I needed to talk about my miscarriage during a Relief Society lesson I was teaching that day.  It was both a dramatic and traumatic experience because I had never spoken publicly about it, and really not very much privately either (at least in comparison to just how much I’ve thought about it).  I sobbed through the rest of Sacrament Meeting, and surprisingly (that’s a joke in case anyone doesn’t know that I cry pretty much every. single. day.) I still had tears left in Relief Society.  I’m honestly not sure what people heard me say because I felt like I was completely unintelligible through all the weeping.

Afterward a sister asked me about how recent the miscarriage was, thinking that it was in May (this was June).  And it struck me how out of proportion my grief must seem since it was quite a few months earlier.  I thought that some sisters who didn’t ask probably thought it happened yesterday with the way I could barely speak about it.  Since then I’ve been wondering about my grief, wondering if part of its length is just how little I’ve talked about it.  All I know for sure is that it is raw; some days I feel like it is still happening.  I’ve read a lot about other people’s experiences with miscarriage and I’ve talked to people I know, and I can’t help feeling some difference there.  I mean, most of them felt so eager to try to have another baby while for months I felt completely guilty to even consider it (of course, I also felt an opposite pull based on the fact that my body is sometimes not-so-slowly breaking down and the window for bearing children seems brief).  I’m ultimately unsure if I wanted to feel like my suffering was like theirs in order to make some sense out of it, or if I wanted it to be uniquely mine.

I remember reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl when I was 18 or 19 and beginning to wrap my mind around the fact that suffering is relative.   Thank goodness he understood this better than I do because can you imagine a therapist who survived the Holocaust not being willing to accept the truly subjective nature of the human experience—I have been in many therapy sessions in my life and thank heaven none of them included the phrase, “You think that’s bad, I remember the first day in the concentration camp . . . .”  Of course, the ultimately mind-bending part of this concept for me is that even our own suffering is relative.  It’s not just that we can’t understand other people’s subjective experience, but that from one minute to the next we can’t really accurately interpret our own.

I’ve had this internal monologue with myself at least once a day for many months now: you’ve suffered much worse than this.  This is nothing compared to, say, the whole of 1999 and 2000. And at face value, I agree; at that point I was completely lost mentally and emotionally, and physically I couldn’t really get out of bed most days.   But that’s where this whole relativity issue comes in because on many days I feel like the sorrow now is both so acute and so unending that I could never possibly have felt worse.  So am I really suffering more now than I ever have before, or do I just feel this now and so it feels worse even though it isn’t?  And here’s that uncertainty again because I’ll really never know.  It’s entirely possible that even though my life was demonstrably worse back then, my capacity for feeling has grown to such an extent that both joy and sorrow are deeper now.

I suspect that most mothers would agree that our capacity for feeling actually does grow, at least that seems to be what many are trying to articulate when they first have a child and feel internal changes taking place.  Of course, that comes back to part of the rub: to the world I am not a mother.  This doesn’t really bother me because it is the only rational way to view my current situation, but it does underscore why I think it’s so difficult to communicate what I’ve been feeling and experiencing for many months.  The way I’ve sometimes articulated it is that I feel like I’m walking around a totally different person than I was a year ago, but no one can see it.

It’s not as if I have a grand answer about how the world should act differently but I just know that I am often left feeling that there is no place for dealing with miscarriage, particularly early miscarriage.  The further along you are the more people acknowledge that you have, in fact, lost a baby.  I don’t begrudge people the things they say to try to be helpful because I know it is an impossible situation to be really helpful in, but it is hard to endure the implications that there was barely the seed of a baby, not really a baby at all, almost like a wish that never materialized.  Because, at the risk of being too graphic, you are physically passing real things out of your system, and at least for me, it was truly and deeply distressing.  And then came the real surprise that those days were the easy days compared to what came after: the trying in vain to figure out how to say goodbye to someone that you just absolutely were not ready to say goodbye to.  Someone that was real to you, but didn’t exist for anyone else.  Someone that you miss everyday, but no one else will ever remember, save God himself.

It’s been many months now and I’m moving on with life (I can’t adequately express how guilty I feel when I say that.  Even though I know that’s how life works—it moves, whether we move with it or not—it still feels like a betrayal to the ones that we have to let go of, even if temporarily, in order to move forward).  I’m trying not to lie in bed watching TV and movies or surfing the internet all day long everyday (maybe someday I will try to go a full day without escaping to one of these things, although truthfully that day seems a very long way off).  I’m trying not to stay awake all night thinking and grieving (tonight is clearly not a good example of that effort).  But I guess I wanted to capture something of how I’ve felt before time passes and I forget how intense and painful it all is/was.

May 11, 2009

Have you ever thought of starting an anonymous blog?

For those times when you want to say something, but you don’t want anyone you know to think that you are talking about or responding to them.  For times when you want to talk about sad things, but you don’t want people to think that those sad things define your life.

I’ve been having a pretty fabulous Spring term…mainly because INSTEAD of a Spring term, I’m having a 4-month-long Spring break!!  Oh I’ll get to doing some work eventually, just not for the foreseeable future.  I’m basically lovin’ life, watching Cary Grant movies

Charade, one of my faves!

Charade, one of my faves!

dying my hair for the first time ever

This is probably not the best shot from my photo shoot with Auds, but I dig it for some reason.

This is probably not the best shot from my photo shoot with Auds, but I dig it for some reason.

and reading books for fun

Ok, so this isn't really a fun read, but for this one-time history major, it is quite a fascinating gem.

Ok, so this isn't really a fun read, but for this one-time history major, it is quite a fascinating gem.

Having offered proof enough of my good humor, can I also say that today was not a happy day?  I’ve never wanted to avoid the words “mother” and “mom” more than I do right now and it’s impossible.  Freaking impossible!!

I’m sure part of this raw feeling is spurred by my visit to the doctor this week.  A visit in which he spent an hour trying to convince me that all my symptoms (most of which were congestion-related) were pregnancy symptoms and was even referring to “the pregnancy.”  Until, of course, the pregnancy test came back negative and he decided it was an upper respiratory infection.

I think I’ll wrap it up there, hoping that I didn’t say anything that would have been more appropriately said anonymously.

April 4, 2009

Good vibes

I must take a moment before sleeping (don’t tell Neal–it’s already past my 10:00 bedtime) to thank everyone for the good vibes sent my way today.  It really worked!!!  I can’t say that I’m done yet, BUT the part that I was having the most difficulty with finally came together today.  Hallelujah!  Tomorrow I finish the results/analyses and then tackle the dreaded discussion section.  But I’m feeling more hopeful and upbeat about this paper than I have in many weeks.

I have no doubt that this progress was truly a tender mercy of the Lord because in other areas of life, this was an extremely difficult day.  I probably spent about 2-3 hours weeping and mourning for life’s tragedies and losses, some mine, some others’.  But making progress on this once hopeless paper really makes me feel like I can keep going.  This youtube video (must watch until at least 1:22) and these pictures also helped:

tigers-tiny-babies

Asian otter babies

Asian otter babies

Orangutan baby in a diaper

Orangutan baby in a diaper

Cuddling leopard cubs

Cuddling leopard cubs

March 2, 2009

2008 Holiday Letter

That’s right, we’re still calling it that even though we’re 1/6 of the way through 2009.

So, Happy Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (21 Feb)!

Merry Donkey Races Day (22 Feb–in the Virgin Islands)!

Happy National Don’t Utter a Word Day (25 Feb–did not get the memo on this one until too late)!

Merry Public Sleeping Day (28 Feb–this one I can really get behind)!

Since I haven’t managed to get out proper holiday cards since 2006, I decided this would be a good start toward getting back on the wagon.

2008 brought us some amazing HIGHS:

  • Our first niece, Ayda Ellie, was born in March!  Neal was quite disturbed to find that she looked EXACTLY like my brother…not that he finds my bro repulsive but Chris is quite a big, beefy guy and it would just be a shame if Ayda missed out on her gorgeous mother’s genes completely.ayda-1100_8645100_8693
  • After about 5 more or less unsuccessful neck surgeries, I had a miraculous one is April.  Miraculous…there is no other way to explain how my life went from approximately 20 hours in bed everyday to…well, much less (can I help it if I love my bed?!)
  • We moved to Illinois for the research study of a lifetime, interviewing men in jail and their family members.  For more information, see…pretty much every other post on this blog.
  • I squeezed in an all-too-brief trip back to D.C. to see the people I love and miss, most especially Zoe and Aaron who are ridiculously grown-up now but as beautiful and loveable as ever.
  • Neal’s older sister Robin-Elise moved to Utah in October, directly leading to many wonderful weekends of “House”-watching, stimulating-conversationing, and first-Christmas-tree-decorating (Neal would have bah-humbugged his way out of this if not for Robin’s deep and abiding love of Christmas decor!)

picture

There were also some lows, starting with a horribly painful and unsuccessful neck surgery in January; a sewage flood that took out, among other things, my shoes, our wedding gifts, and most of Neal’s paintings; neck pain and other health problems re-emerging in December.  Indeed, December was easily one of the toughest months of our lives as we faced some stark realities and spoiled plans.

Thankfully, those times also offered great opportunities for growth as Neal gave me blessings and gracefully became the spiritual center of our home.  He reminded me during the worst moments of 2 Kings 20: 5

I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold I will heal thee.

The emotional and physical healing is still in progress, but 2009 has already brought new things to be grateful for: I’m teaching my first course at BYU, Marriage Enhancement, which is awesome due to the truly good, trying-to-be-better students I have.  Neal’s business (Valley Educators) is having a banner year so far, which just floored us in light of the economic situation.

Truly, we have a blessed life.  And we hope you all feel the same about your 2009!

February 25, 2009

Okay, so we won’t ACTUALLY call you

Filed under: Family, Incarceration research, Miscarriage, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , , — llcall @ 10:28 pm

Neal reminded me yesterday that we aren’t actually very good at calling people at all.  True, but we’ll email, and that’s very nice too.  It’s just not our last name.

And if you were wondering what prompted this exchange…Neal read my blog for the FIRST TIME!  It only took 8 months!  It’s really taken our relationship to a whole other level.  Now if I could just get my parents to care… 🙂

I feel I must briefly address my incarceration-loving audience since this is the 3rd non-jail-related post in a row.  Since this weird spiral (at this point, it feels like a downward spiral, but I’m willing to consider that it may just be a VERY SNEAKY upward spiral, so I’m withholding judgment) I’ve been on since December began, I’ve devoted very little time to my jailed men.  I still love them and they’ll be back in my life very soon…as in next week, since I have a paper to write that I’m presenting at a conference in San Diego in April.

Neal wants me to give up the conference on account of said spiral and how stressful it will be to write a paper in two weeks, but I just can’t because:

1.

Duh, it's San Diego

Duh, it's San Diego

2.

It's a chance to see my adorable niece

It's a chance to see my adorable niece

3.

It's the discussant for my paper who knows where I live

It's the discussant for my paper who knows where I live

January 5, 2009

Are you kidding…it’s 2009?

Filed under: Incarceration research, Miscarriage, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 3:41 am

So the last month and a half is kind of a crazy, messy blur in my head.  Oh well, I’m sure someone would have told me if something really important slipped by me.

So a resolution for the new year: must blog more.  And this is more than a hobby goal because when I work on my thesis, I usually add a post.  And when I don’t work on my thesis…you get the idea.  There has been far too little working on my thesis considering I’m halfway through my second year now.

Good luck to me in 2009.

December 18, 2008

Ambiguous loss

There is this theory in the social sciences that I have been quite taken with for a while.  It is called ambiguous loss theory.  The gist of it is that a loss with ambiguity is the most difficult kind because you don’t know how to find closure (click here for more info from the ambiguous loss guru).  I first came across it when I was doing some research on young couples dealing with chronic illness, but this theory has been applied to families of  POWs and those missing in action, families experiencing Alzheimer’s, and even those dealing with incarceration of a loved one.  But Pauline Boss, the aforementioned a. l. guru, believes that we all experience ambiguous loss, maybe even on a fairly consistent basis.

Life has got me thinking about this even more lately and tying it to another part of my life and research: history and memory (I was a history major as an undergrad).  I was quite fascinated by the concept of memorials and how and why society chooses to memorialize certain events in certain ways.  I spent a summer traveling the United States interviewing people at various memorials (Oklahoma City bombing, Robert Gould Shaw in Boston, Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., etc.).  One of the patterns that seemed clear is that memorials, whether a national one or a grave marker, give us a concrete place to go and feel  and contemplate the sorrow…and then if we’re lucky, leave some of that pain there so we can move forward with life.  This is a luxury that ambiguous loss does not afford.  How do you mourn an Alzheimer’s patient when they are still there with you…but not?

I’ve been thinking about that second family member interview I wrote about here and how that’s exactly what she was dealing with…an ambiguous loss in which she could see no resolution.  She can’t be with him (only partly because he’s in jail), but she can’t say goodbye to him.  I realized that in a way our interview became that sacred space, that transitory memorializing space  where she could grieve for what she had lost and hopefully, leave some of it there to move forward with life.

I haven’t really talked about my faith or religion on this blog before, mainly because when I think about the issues I am trying to address in my thesis, I need to think scientifically and empirically.  But lately, I don’t feel at all like thinking scientifically.  Weightier matters deserve weighter thoughts than statistics can yield.  And so my thoughts have turned to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and this great hope that they provide: there is no ambiguous loss in God’s eyes.  They have seen and felt and understand intimately what our losses mean for us, even when our finite mortal minds cannot fully articulate or resolve them.  There is unending hope in that, for me, for the people I interviewed this summer, and indeed, for every person that has ever lived, cried, felt, hurt.

Joseph Smith (first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) once said, “All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.”  I haven’t seen this, but I have felt it.  I cling to it.

December 11, 2008

Remembering the blessings…

I have been absent from this blog for too long, partly because WordPress revised the dashboard and I don’t adapt easily to technological changes.  But mostly because it has been a really difficult couple of weeks.  Probably right up there with the most difficult times in my life . . . although now I have Neal, and things always feel a little less hard than they did before I met him.  I say “less hard” intentionally because there doesn’t seem to be a place for the word “easy” right now.

So I just wanted to take a few minutes to think about the good things life has brought me over the last year.  About a month ago, I got an email from another girl in my grad program.  She said,

I can’t believe you actually got to go to Chicago and interview. Isn’t that exactly what you were interested in? How did you pull that off?

It made me smile because she was one of the first people I met in the program.  I remember talking to her in the hall just a week or two into my first semester.  She asked if I had any idea what I wanted to do for my thesis.  I told her that I wanted to interview prisoners about financial issues using a mixed-methods approach, but focusing on the qualitative component (as in in-depth interviews rather than just fixed surveys).  I can’t remember her exact response, but it was something to this effect: “Wow. That’s . . . specific.”

Well, I honestly had no idea that I would actually get to do exactly what I was interested in.  I had not made any of the connections that would soon enable the project.  But with my own passion and determination, the unending encouragement of my advisor, Dr. Day, and the fabulous and brilliant Dyers, who helped us get to Illinois and made it so much fun while we were there, it all came together.  Sometimes I can still hardly believe it . . . Justin Dyer (the doctoral student that I worked closely with) and I occasionally commented on the fact that despite our hard work in trying to put the study together, there was still quite a bit of luck on our side to get things going in less than 6 months time (someday, a post about the inanity of the IRB!).

I know it will always be one of the great privileges of my life, mostly for the people I met inside and outside the jail.  And I know I will always thank God for that opportunity.

And this has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the post, but I am also grateful for cute pictures of kittens and puppies. Too bad kittens turn into cats!

And this has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the post, but I am also grateful for cute pictures of kittens and puppies. Too bad kittens turn into cats!

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