Anything Can Happen Thursday… on a Friday

Hello. It’s been a while.

The word, “tumultuous” doesn’t really seem sufficient to describe the chaos of my life in 2016. I started last year unemployed and struggling to finish my thesis.

My thesis.

Those words have been the bane of my existence for far too long. In 2013, put myself on the path to PhD. I was firmly committed to that arduous journey, and had no doubts whatsoever that I would achieve that goal. A thesis would make that even easier, make me  a more desirable candidate. I would show these schools that I could roll with research and they would want me as their student.

Fast forward to 2017. I went through 2 (well, more like 1 1/2) rounds of soul crushing rejections for PhD programs, watching literally (yes, literally) every other person I knew who had applied get accepted. Every. One. I won’t discount all those very talented and lovely people, and I’m so proud of all my friends. But I was left behind, and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to overcome. All the while, sitting in the corner was all that stood between me and a master’s degree.

My. f**king. thesis.

In addition to the PhD blow, which felt like it blew in on the wings of a hurricane, 2015 brought unemployment. And depression. At that point I had lost all motivation to do pretty much anything. Finding a job was hard; I wasn’t technically qualified for most jobs I could do because I didn’t have the degree, and there aren’t many jobs out there for someone with a BA in psych. I even looked for office work. 75 WPM and still nothing. Hell, even Barnes & Noble turned me down. All the while I kept telling myself to use the time wisely. Get the paper done. You’re almost there, I told myself.

When I got a job in April of last year, the excuse became work. Adjusting to work. Tired from work. I told myself, no new books, no new Netflix, no blogging until you get it done. But just thinking about it made me ill. My faculty advisor called it negative valence. And I was really damned negative. But still it lingered in the back of my head. Work on it. Just for an hour. Ok, maybe tomorrow. Maybe this weekend. It was always in the forefront on my mind

Then things took a bad turn at work, and I resigned immediately. Another three months unemployed. Another Christmas without being able to afford gifts. I kept beating myself up each and every day, but at the same time, I couldn’t stand to even open to books or read an article. Pure hatred is what I felt.

I’ve been rambling a lot. And so far it seems like Heather Bee is having herself a pretty elaborate pity party. I can imagine, my dear readers, that you’re dying to RSVP this bitch.

But 2017 has given me a huge gift.

 

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to return to my original degree track. You know what that means…

Thesis, no more!

If I’d known this was an option, I would have changed things a long time ago. But I suppose there are reasons why things happen when they happen, so I’m going along with it.

It’s not quitting. Not really. I no longer have immediate aspirations to get my PhD. One day, down the road I may reconsider, but I’m 35 years old, and I’ve spent all but 9 years of my life as a student. It’s time for me to step away. In addition to that, my thesis, which served a purpose at some point in the past, has lost its value for my current endeavors. I’m back to work again, and I’m a practicing counselor. By returning to my original track, my final degree requirements align with my current goal of getting out there and being a helping professional. It just makes sense.

And, more importantly, I am elated. How’s that for some positive valence? I came home yesterday ready to work. I’ve organized my space and gathered my necessary materials. I am finally ready to work. I feel so relieved and free; I don’t feel guilty about taking this time to share my goings-on with you all. It’s a beautiful feeling, and one I’ve greatly missed over the last year or so. I am not in the place where I wanted to be back in 2013, but that’s completely and totally OK. I believe the choices I’ve made that lead me here serve a purpose, and while I seriously hated life, I am here today, ready to work. Ready to move forward. Ready to finish my degree and graduate, to practice this craft I’ve been honing for several years now.

I am ready. Let’s go.

Anything Can Happen Thursday is a series of posts where I ramble about whatever tumbles out of my head. It may be books, but more likely, cats.

Sunday Salon: Where In The World Is Heather Bee

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Currently// relaxing, watching HP4 on the tele, and doing laundry. Oh, and actually blogging! I’ve been away for quite some time now mainly because I’m….

Working// all the time.

About six weeks ago, I started my job as an addictions counselor at the state prison. With an hour-long commute each way and having to be at work at 7:00, I’m pretty whooped by the time I get home each day. It’s cutting deep into my reading time, too, damnit. But I’m slowly getting used to the grind and to working with inmates.

Watching// Doctor Who (or, rather, rewatching).

In the evenings when I get home, I’ve been too tired to do anything else but sit, nor had the mental fortitude to read much. So I’ve been hitting the Amazon Prime hard lately going back through Doctor Who. I just started season 7, and I have every plan to start some form of exercise plan when I’ve finished. Cant’ use the “getting used to the new job” excuse for much longer.

Listening// a lot. Between a recent road trip and two hours each day driving to and from work, I’ve been devouring audiobooks in rapid succession. The latest of which is Maestra by L.S. Hinton, which may warrant some form of review; it’s been…. interesting, but not necessarily in a good way or in the way the author intended. But I like the narrator’s voice, so that’s something.

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Reading// a little. I finished Thursday, 1:17p.m. by Michael Landweber about two weeks ago, which was load of timey wimey fun. I’ve got a review brewing for that one that’ll be out soon.

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Writing// even less. I’ve gotta few ARC reviews that I need to write up, and I’m slowly progressing on that. Again, stupid work is interfering with my blogging and leisure reading. How rude!

So, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. Keeping this as bookish as possible. How are all of your readers doing????

Sunday Salon: It Was A Great Week Edition

Currently// in my jammies, but about to switch on Uber so I can schlep folks to and from their Super Bowl festivities.

Celebrating// the fact that, after three months of applications, interviews, and rejections, my husband got a job!!!!!!!!! I know it has boosted his self-esteem and self-worth, and taken a little of the financial pressure off of our situation. We are also celebrating my invitation to interview for the Combined-Integrated Clinical and Counseling Psychology PhD program at University of South Alabama. I interviewed there last year, but wasn’t selected. Here’s hoping second time’s the charm!

Watching// Hail, Caesar! I love the Coen Bros, but this movie just felt like butter scraped over too much bread. There was a lot going on and the story felt thin. Having said that, it was very entertaining, and I LOVED the musical number with Channing Tatum (and I’m not on Team Channing or anything).

Not Watching// the Super Bowl. Or anything on television, for that matter. I’ve been too busy reading all the books!

Reading// several Tournament of Books selections. I finished The Sellout by Paul Beatty and Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf, both of which were very good. I also tried to reading The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak, but it wasn’t working for me, so I DNF’d it and moved on.

Listening// to lots of books. I am doing the 14-day trial subscription to Scribd right now, and used it to Listen to The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (also TOB and fantastic), and then, on a whim, I started Brief Interview with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace. I still don’t know what to think about that book, but my dog, Pearl, was unimpressed with the author’s narration (everyone’s a critic?). I have started The Danish Girl, and hope I have time to finish it before my trial runs out.

Attempting// to BookTube. I recorded myself talking about all those aforementioned books I’ve been reading, but now I have to edit it, and it just seems like a lot of work. Maybe I’ll just write it down instead. 😉

Feeling// the Bern. 😉 Not for any particular reason, it just felt right for the SS format.

Well, that’s about it for this week, readers? How was your week? 

Sunday Salon: Birthday Edition

Currently// coming down from finishing The Library at Mount Char and waiting for my next Uber rider.

Zroom zroom…

Celebrating// my birthday!

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I turned 34 29 on Tuesday of this week. I was fortunate enough to spend time with my spirit nerd, Allysia, and she was so kind to give me a copy of Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, one of her favorite books. I also got to spend time with my family, as my sister and her clan were visiting. It was a lovely day full of fresh seafood and laughs.

Watching// Star Wars: The Force Awakens… finally! I have a tradition of seeing all the Star Wars movies with my mom, going back to the re-release of the original trilogy in the 90s. With the holidays and her work schedule, it took a couple of weeks to get to the cinema. We loved it! Well done, JJ!!! This week also blessed us with new episodes of Sherlock and Downton Abbey. These are two of my favorite shows, and I’m so glad to have new episodes!

Reading// I just finished The Library of Mount Char just before sitting down to write this. That book was so Heather. It had fantastic beasts, revenge, interesting characters, and a library. What’s not to like?! Up next is The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, which is an e-book re-release coming out in a couple of weeks.

Listening// to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Both are great fun in their own ways. I love the Outlander narrator, Davina Porter, and I’m glad I chose audio over print because I don’t have to stumble over the Gaelic. And, well, Amy is just awesome. I definitely recommend her book in audio format, but I also think I may need to own a print copy one day as well.

Well, that’s about it for this week, readers? How was your week? 

Sunday Salon: Research and Readathon Edition

Happenings// This was a full week! In addition to midterms, research, and readathoning, I’ve finally decided what I’m going to do re: graduate school applications. While I would prefer to apply to schools all over the country, I must also consider my hubby’s career, and he currently works for a geographically limited institution. So, I will be applying to only one PhD program this year. Fortunately, this happens to be the same university where I interviewed last year, so I’m hoping second time is the charm.

Submitted// a couple of abstracts to the Southeastern Psychological Association to present research posters at the 2016 annual conference: one with the health psychology lab and one based on my thesis data. Here’s hoping those get accepted, but since the conference is in New Orleans this year, I’ll be going regardless!

Progressing// on my thesis. The last couple of months I’ve struggled with physical illness and writer’s block, and I’ve had to push back my graduation a couple of times now because I haven’t been able to put cogent thoughts on paper. But something clicked this week and I’m getting going again. It may not be 100% complete by the end of the month, but it’ll be mostly done. And that will be a huge load off!

I also managed to get a couple of blog posts drafted this week! (The writer’s block also affected my ability to write reviews…) It feels really good to be back in the groove!!!

Reading// Because of school, I didn’t get to read much during the week. I’m still working on Packing For Mars by Mary Roach. I wanted to use Dewey’s readathon to finish it, but didn’t quite make it. I discovered two things about myself during the readathon: I am better at binge reading fiction; and reading about astronauts and space barf when you’re queasy is a really bad idea.

Listening// to the Harry Potter series read by Stephen Frey. I finished HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban Friday night as a readathon appetizer, and got through about 160 pages of listening to HP and the Goblet of Fire throughout Saturday. I absolutely adore listening to Frey read these books. Not only does he have a fantastic voice for narrating, his character voices are on point!

It feels good to have a good week! How was yours, readers? 

Anything Can Happen Thursday: Countdown to #Readathon

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Right now, this is my favorite day of the week. On Wednesdays, I have weekly thesis meetings and then class, so Thursdays are for unwinding, and getting ready for the next week. What’s great about this coming week is…. NO CLASS! Thank the gods for a professor who loves Back to the Future so much she cancels class on October 21st!

So, what’s the big deal?

I can do fun stuff without having schoolwork hanging out head!!

So here’s my plan for the weekend… I caught up on my shows tonight (any Haven fans out there?), so Friday will be for adulting: making progress on my thesis, doing some laundry, maybe visiting the grocer. This’ll pave the way for a glorious Saturday spent participating in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon!

Here’s what I hope to accomplish:

  • Read Packing For Mars and Why I Killed Pluto
  • Catch up on some reviews
  • Finish Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on audiobook

I’ll be posting my progress on Twitter, so follow me @beesbookbuzz (I also share great pet photos, IMHO)! Who else is excited for a readathon?!

 
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Mental Health Musings: Do Authors Have to Get Everything Right?

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Last month, I decided to read Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. So far, I’ve read the first four (of seven) books, and while I’ve most enjoyed the first and fourth so far, I have much more time thinking about the second installment, The Drawing of the Three. Admittedly, this has been my least favorite thus far for a variety of reasons, but that isn’t the source of my rumination. What has continued to plague my thoughts in the month since turning the last page was a grossly inaccurate mental health diagnosis.

About a third of the way through the book, the reader is introduced to two characters, O’Detta and Detta. However, these characters inhibit but one physical body. These split characters are supposed to be the result of the very rare mental health diagnosis, dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). However, in the book, the diagnosis King used was schizophrenia. Despite a common misconception that these two disorders are the same or similar, they are vastly different. This is what has been on my mind so much lately. I was so irritated with the misdiagnosis that I almost dropped the book and abandoned my journey to the Dark Tower.

Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about the portrayal of mental health in books (and television and film for that matter). And the question hanging on my mind is this: does it matter if the author gets it right?

I’m currently finishing my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, and one year of that time was spent as an intern counselor. Mental health is kinda my jam, so as a pre-Masters professional and mental health advocate, my initial reaction is to stand on the rooftops and shout, “Hell no! Get your shit together!” There are so many misconceptions out there about mental health and psychotherapy, and such misconceptions can affect whether an individual in need seeks appropriate care.

But…. how many other things are misrepresented in our books?

I recently read that there was a huge scientific error in The Martian regarding windstorms on Mars, which is ultimately what left Mark Watney stranded. I loved this book before I knew about this, and now having that knowledge hasn’t altered my opinion of the book. Are there astronauts, physicists and engineers racing to their rooftops for the same reasons I have? And how many procedural crime shows on TV today are riddled with procedural inaccuracies? I mean, seriously, in what world would the FBI give a psychologist a gun and send him out into the field? How many legal procedures are grossly simplified or outright wrong? (I could go on and on about some psychological aspects of these shows that also make me want to pull out my hair, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Hence my current dilemma. Should writers be getting mental health right, or do the laws of fiction allow some flexibility?

I would love to hear what you all have to say about this subject, readers!

September Reading Wrap-Up: RIPX 2015 and Library Checkout

Reading Wrap-up

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Photo Credit: http://www.abigaillarson.com/

Oh, September! You came and went far too quickly! What a fun month of reading, which I dedicated solely to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril 2015 Readathon! After a 15 year hiatus, I gave The Dark Tower series another chance. I don’t know what changed, but, this time, I’m loving it.

Another thing I fully embraced this month was my local library!! Because I was initially unsure if I’d get through The Gunslinger, I opted to check it out rather than buy a Kindle edition. And all but one book I’ve read this month was checked out!! Why didn’t I start doing this sooner?! I’m really pleased with my local branch (which is a close enough to walk or bike) as well as the main downtown branch. It also lifts my spirits to see how many people who are also using the library system. Every time I go, the place is packed. I love it!!

So, here’s how my month turned out…

Peril the First Reads (“read four books that fit R.I.P)

  • The Gunslinger, The Dark Tower I by Stephen King
  • The Drawing of the Three, The Dark Tower II by Stephen King
  • The Wastelands, The Dark Tower III by Stephen King
  • Wizard and Glass, The Dark Tower IV by Stephen King (still working on this one!)

Peril of the Short Story Reads

  • Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (my favorite was Fair Extension)

In Progress

  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Up Next in October – Library Checkout

  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
  • How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

Up Next on Kindle

  • Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

How was your September reading? I’d love to hear from the Dark Tower fans!!

 

Sunday Salon: July Reading Wrap-up Mash-up

Reading Wrap-up

Happenings:// Thesis stuff. Everyday I spend a few hours either at the library or tucked away somewhere quiet to write. I’m hoping to be ready to defend it in September or October, then I can graduate in the Fall!

Reading:// July was a slower reading month for me. I finished three books this month: The Martian by Andy Weir, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide #2) by Douglas Adams, and Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey (see my review here). I’ve been continuing my spacey theme, and each of these was different, but fun!

July Wrap Up

Currently, I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Part of me is glad I waiting this long to read it because I can see several parallels between Offred’s world and my own. The other part of me is absolutely terrified. I’ve also picked up a handful of galleys that’ll keep me occupied for August (and maybe into September)

Watching:// Mr. Holmes. MB and I caught a matinee this weekend, and it was fantastic. Ian McKellan killed it (because he always does). He was very convincing playing a 93 year old (and the make-up was very well done, too). Definitely a different take on the character, and worth a watch if you’re into Sherlock Holmes.

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Loving:// Health insurance!!! We’ve been without it for a couple of months since MB changed job recently. I’m glad we didn’t need it during that time, and I’m super psyched that we’ve got it back!

Hating:// toothaches… Grr… I’m blessed to still be cavity-free at 33. But my streak may be ending. Good thing we got that insurance, right?!

Anticipating:// my first author interview in the coming week. I’m going to be including in Kayce Hughlett’s book blog tour for her debut novel, Blue (see my review here). Expect to see my post on the interview on August 12!

How was your week (or month), readers? Have you done interviews before? Got any tips???

Sunday Salon: Out of Town Edition

Happenings// Getting ready to head out of town tomorrow for a sort of, but not really, vacation. The hubs has a week of job training, and I’m going to stay in the hotel and diligently write my thesis.

Baking// blueberry and peach cobbler. And it turned out great! I used Ree Drummond’s blackberry cobbler recipe, and experimented with the fruits and spices. And I nailed it! Made me think of my grandmother and how she used to make it for me, and I think she’d have liked my version, too!

Watching// Ant-Man. This was a lot of fun! I’ve been a fan of Paul Rudd for 20 years (GAH!) and enjoyed his performance. I’m a big fan of whatever Marvel releases, so it’s no surprise that I had a good time. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet, heads up: wait until the very end of the credits.

Reading// This week I finished The Martian and The Restaurant at the End of the University (Hitchhiker’s Guide #2) and made some headway on The Planets. Does anyone sense a theme?

Loving// SPACE. My increased free time has allowed me to go retro-nerd and revive my love for space. It’s been a blast keep up with all the Pluto news! My solar system still has nine planets, take that NASA!

I HEART PLUTO

Anticipating (sort of)// the release of the next Millennium  novel, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. I really enjoyed what I thought was a trilogy, and I felt that the conclusion of the The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was very natural. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Stieg Larsson had plans for a total of ten books. I’m very concerned about this new writer taking up the mantle and continuing the series, but, it’s averaging four stars on Goodreads so far. It’s due for release in September, so I don’ have to wait long to find out for myself!

How was your week, readers?