Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

When I thought about doing P90X a few months ago I wanted to write out the routines on a calendar so I could cross them off as I completed them. Basic behavior modification. I asked my wife to pick up a calendar for me and when she asked what I wanted on it I told her “whatever is fine.” And so I have an “Extraordinary Chickens” calendar upon which I track my progress.

It now has 7 X’s on it ๐Ÿ™‚

I made it through the first week of P90X and did pretty well. I’m still getting used to eating differently. I generally eat lots of carbs and not enough protein in any given week. I’m good with veggies and fruit though (thanks to my wife). In order to really have enough energy to do this program I need more protein. I don’t do any of the supplements or drinks. For one, they’re expensive, and for two, I’m not trying to build myself up to be this awesome bodybuilder or anything. Yes, I know I’m missing out and my body is probably missing out, but I take my multivitamin and now a glucosamine supplement (recommended by a friend since I’m having knee trouble this week). My nutrition and vitamin intake are in the spirit of the program and for now that is good enough for me.

My biggest hurdles so far in the program are yoga and abs. Abs are just plain brutal. I’m doing 12-15 reps for each exercise (instead of the 25) and it’s all I can do for now. As for yoga, I’m just not all that flexible and I have a belly, which gets in the way and has more than once caused me to fall over. Plyo isn’t the monster I thought it was. I can mostly keep up and I try to push myself a bit more each time. I’m getting better at pull ups and, honestly, I’m doing mostly adjusted versions of many of the exercises at the moment to get some benefit and learn the routines. It does me no good to do 3/4 a pull up without a chair when I can do 5-10 with a chair (and I always try to do at least one without the chair each time). That’s my best right now and I’m not sad about it.

Kempo X is probably my new favorite thing. I enjoyed the punches and kicks when I did P90 back in the day and this is a high pace version of that. I’m still learning form, but I can keep up intensity, which is something I can’t do on any of the other programs.

In other news, Fantasy Football starts up soon. I’ve tinkered around a bit this weekend and plan to read up on the guys this year during the week. I’m hoping to find enough people (read: people I know) to start my own league this year. I’m sure I can cobble together 7-9 people to make it happen. Updates on that progress later.

I finish my internship in <1 month. After that I will be finishing my dissertation and hopefully finding a job. I’m applying to a lot of places this weekend and next week. I hate not having a plan and feeling like I have little control over what happens to Maggie and the cats and me for the next 3-4 months. All I know is that by the end of the year I will be graduated. There’s also a small chance that we’ll all be homeless. Now accepting donations.


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A lot is going to happen in my life in the next 90 days. I will complete my internship year at Coatesville. I will be extremely close, if not finished with my dissertation. I will almost be graduated with my PsyD. Maggie and I will be packing to move or have already moved to…somewhere. I will tackle P90X.

Internship has been a great experience overall. I have grown so much this year and learned a lot about myself professionally. Admittedly I was slow to adapt to the program and had to relearn a couple of things, but my professional confidence continues to grow and I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of many veterans.

My dissertation is stressing me out. I need 4 more participants and I am working to find them wherever I can. If you are yourself or know a gay male college student in the Philly area who might be interested in participating in my research on the coming out process, send me an email (jschwenker@spalding.edu) for details. Once I have the last 4 I can pull all my data together, analyze it, write it up, and get on defending to my committee. I’m ready to move this process along since my proposal was accepted by ISTSS for discussion at the 2012 conference in Los Angeles. Yay!!!

I’m not sure what our future holds. Everything is once again up in the air (or perhaps it has always been there). We’re currently stuck in PA paying really high rent while I scour the nation for a job or post doc that will take me ABD. Looking forward to a time when I can count on just a little bit more stability.

Finally, I have decided to tackle P90X. After 2 years of consideration and a lot of procrastination, I will begin the program next week. I’ve been auditioning the workouts the past couple of weeks, doing one to the best of my ability and taking a day or 2 off to recover. They’re difficult. No question. And I don’t think I would have made it through Plyo without having spent the last 90 days running and building up my stamina and leg strength. Plyo was rough, but I think the real challenges for me are going to be Abs, pull ups, and yoga.

I plan to approach this the same way that I did my running and, to borrow a phrase from Tony Horton, “do my best and forget the rest.” My goal is to complete the program. Do each routine from start to finish. Do all of the exercises. There are some exercises where I can keep up with Tony and the gang. There are others where I absolutely cannot, and that’s fine. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I may not be able to do 25 of each type of crunch, but I am sure I can manage 10 and work my way up. The same goes for other exercises. I can do more than half of what they’re doing and work toward matching for the moment.

I plan on tracking my progress here for each of the phases (tracking my measurements anyway and maybe a few pics). I will be tracking my daily progress on Fitocracy now that I’ve managed to translate the P90X exercises into Fitocracy’s language. I have my calendar marked and my worksheets printed. I take my initial measurements tomorrow (Sunday) morning and I start fresh on Monday after work. All that is left is to do the work and stay focused, which applies to more than just my exercise.

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I need to write more frequent blog posts so that I can cover these things individually. That being said, here we go.


Things are going smoothly at the VA. I’m getting into a bit of a rhythm and I’ve almost completed my first assessment. Just today I updated Time2Track with my hours. It looks like I’m going to get my first individual inpatient PTSD client, which simultaneously excites and terrifies me. I really want to work with people who have experienced trauma, but I’ve never really done it for real. I have a decent level of anxiety surrounding me about future sessions. Will I do or say something that makes things worse? What do I do once my client has opened up? How do I avert a crisis? These are some of the thoughts I have about working with trauma. They don’t deter me. In fact, I’ve taken a more assertive approach to the whole thing. I’m a student. A professional, yes, but a student. I am expected to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Now is the time to do so while I’m under supervision (and while it’s not my license on the line). I can do it. I will do it. But I’d be a liar if I said it was easy or it came naturally. Maybe after I’ve done it for a few years it’ll be more natural. For now, it is most definitely work. And don’t get me started on how to document it. I did mention I work for the VA, right?


It just keeps on raining here in PA. The locals swear it’s an anomaly. I’m not sure I believe them. I feel like I’m in that scene from Forrest Gump where the rain is coming from every direction. Hmm. Given my previous paragraph, perhaps that’s not such an appropriate metaphor. Still, Maggie and I were out on Friday and it rained pretty steady. And then it rained a lot. So heavy so quickly that visibility was horrible. So heavy you’re soaked before you can close your car door. So heavy we took shelter in a store and got shakes and malts to wait it out a bit. So heavy our apartment flooded. Yup. It finally happened. A big damn hurricane came blasting through last month and we got puddles. One heavy heavy downpour was apparently enough to turn our sidewalk and porch into a pond. There was no drainage. There was 2 inches of standing water at our door. The cats were riding in a sailboat. Ok, I made that last part up, but sailing cats? Cute, right? Anyway, two moldy smelling days later the landlords have replaced the padding and shampooed the carpet. Now we’re waiting for that process to dry.


I’m a gaming dork. But you knew that. This website was created by gaming dorks in an effort to make exercise fun. It plays on the addiction and competitive nature of games and gaming to get you to exercise. You gain experience based on the exercises you do and you gain levels. You can join groups and enter weight loss challenges. There are even quests and achievements, though I haven’t experienced any of them yet. I’m enjoying it so far, though I’m reverting back to my rules-lawyering nature and documenting all of the walking I do at work. Granted, I do a lot of walking at work, but I’m only documenting the walking I do from building to building, which is enough that I think it counts. I’m so far away from the other interns that it’s a 5 minute brisk walk through the tunnels to get to their building. That’s 10 minutes round trip. It adds up. Anyway, I just gained a level after hitting the elliptical machine at our complex, so I’m now level 3.


Maggie brought an article to my attention that I have to share since it eloquently describes how one of my fantasy teams is doing right now: God: Human Body Not Designed to Play Football. I have changed the name of my Philadelphia Noobs team to “Bangup Job” because so many of my players are out due to injury. It’s not enough that 3 of my players are out for the season, but everyone else seems to be injured as well. I even had a player I drafted as a backup for one of my injured players become injured himself. You can’t throw a dart at the injured players list without hitting someone on one of my teams.


Who has two thumbs and needs to sleep? This guy. I’m tired when I don’t need to be and I can’t fall asleep when it’s time. I wake up tired and I’m drowsy all day long. I nod off when I shouldn’t and it’s becoming more and more of a problem. I got a nice, new, comfy pillow, which is nice, comfy, and new, but isn’t doing anything to help (other than being comfy). It is time to schedule an appointment for a sleep study. I’m 99% certain I have apnea, since everyone and my brother has it, and now that I have government employee health benefits (read: plain ol’ health insurance) I can afford to take the time to go do something about it. The time is *yawn* nigh!

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Internship: Day 1

Well, I survived my first day of internship. As I expected, it was mostly about getting me access to lots of VA stuff. I got my ID badges and we signed a lot of paperwork on everything from taxes to insurance to proof that I’ve been briefed on policies. We also got an introduction to orientation, which basically says “here’s what you can expect over the next couple of weeks.” We get our computer codes tomorrow morning and start CPRS (the VA’s medical record system) training at 8:30 sharp. We also got a safety overview talking about fire procedures, codes to call, all the emergency numbers, and a brief history of hostile events that have happened at VAs across the nation over the years and what the VA cops have done about it (they’re pretty good at their jobs, fyi).

There are 5 interns total: 3 general psych and 2 neuro. They’re a great bunch of people so far. Everybody’s pretty laid back and we gelled pretty quickly. I can see some similarities between us and we’ve found common interests and things like that already. Leave it to a group of psych interns to quickly learn about each other. I’m also getting a bit better at navigating the maze of a campus. It’s a big figure 8 and it is connected by basement level tunnels that navigate most of the main buildings, which is pretty cool. The campus is a mental health campus, which is different from my past experience at the Louisville VA, which is a full blown hospital. There are medical personnel on site, but it’s not a truly functioning hospital like many other VAs. In Louisville you could get your prescription filled, see a dentist, and have your appendix out all in the same building. Here they ship veterans off to other hospitals in the area.

Tomorrow is a bunch more training. Our schedule isn’t terribly clear what we’ll be doing, other than CPRS in the morning, so I’m not sure what they have in store for us. Still, it’s one more day of training before a 3 day weekend, so I can’t complain. I have mixed feelings about this whole process right now. On the one hand, I’m sad to be losing all the free time I’ve so enjoyed these past few weeks. On the other hand, I’m excited to be working in my field again. I’m also not sure how I’m going to handle a 40 hour gig. I’ve never truly worked full time like that before. Sure, I’ve worked lots of part time, sometimes exceeding the 40/wk thing, but never a straightforward j.o.b. like this. I could use some structure in my life and it won’t hurt me to get a regular sleep schedule going. Getting up at 6am isn’t the end of the world, though I’m not terribly excited about going to bed at 9 or 10…

I’ll update again soon. Maybe tomorrow if anything worth writing about happens, but prolly next week instead.

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Maggie, the cats, and I have been in PA for just over a month now. It’s been kind of an adventure.

The move was much more expensive than we planned so we’ve been eating a lot of ramen noodles this month. Since we’ve been here we’ve experienced an earthquake, a hurricane, and over 14″ of rainfall (a PA record). We’ve been to downtown West Chester several times on days where the weather is good and I’ve found a few running spots for whenever I get off my lazy butt to do that again. We found a farmer’s market as well and are enjoying fresh, local veggies for the first time in a while. I’m actually spending a little more time cooking, which is to say I helpย in the kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚

Maggie is applying for jobs everywhere and has had a few auditions with churches and the like. She has an audition today for a teaching gig teaching lessons in people’s homes. She is pretty excited about finding some work in her field. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. She turned down a church job in New Jersey because it wasn’t terribly feasible considering the travel time/expenses. She’s also considering taking a class or two at WCU.

I start my internship tomorrow. The first couple weeks are going to be filled with orientation, VA employee red tape, and “getting to know yous”. I’m not sure when I’ll get to work with my first client, but for now I’m happy get oriented and do something more than dissertate and goof off on my computer all day.

I’m still reading a couple of books, though not as heavily as I was at the beginning of the month. I’m working my way through the Harry Potter books at Maggie’s insistence and I’m on the third Anita Blake novel (audiobook). Usually I’ll read a bit before bed (in this case the Potter book), but Maggie and I have been catching up on TV shows on Netflix in the evenings (we just finished Battlestar Galactica and are nearly finished with Arrested Development). The audiobooks, as you may know, I typically reserve for my runs. I need to run more. Also, when I have run here I have been running with Maggie, so I listen to my iPhone less (obviously).

Finally, I’ve started playing Fantasy Football this year. I stumbled across a friend on FB who started a league and I decided to join. I watched John do it the last two years and I had planned on joining his league this year if there was a spot open (jury’s still out on that one). So I’m in several leagues at the moment, each one different from the next. I’m in a standard ESPN league, a light points per reception (PPR) league, and two autopick individual defensive player (IDP) leagues. I’ve enjoyed the draft process and planning my teams. It’s pretty much my only non-Guild Wars gaming outlet, so I’ve approached it with some fervor. I’m getting more and more excited about Football this year.

And that’s the highlights for the month. I plan on having more regular updates once I begin internship and start getting a paycheck that will allow me to do things around town. I’m not homesick yet, but I do miss everyone.

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Moving sucks. Apartment hunting sucks. That’s essentially the rant. Keep reading if you’re interested in the details.

Several weeks ago I made plans to fly to Philly to rent an apartment. Maggie and I found one on Craigslist and contacted the owner. It was as close to perfect as we could hope to find on such short notice. Two bedroom one bath house with a fireplace, small yard, washer & dryer, dishwasher, partial utilities paid, etc. for $1200/month (before you freak out, that’s a pretty standard rent price for the area–stab me).

In case you’re wondering, a one day trip to Philly, with hotel, rental car, and flight from Louisville, goes for about $500. This makes the second time I’ve made the trip (once nearly 2 years ago for an internship interview). Anyway, I make my connecting flight in Cincinnati and I get an email from the guy saying he’s rented out the place. Not only that, he rented it out THE DAY BEFORE. Ass.

So now I’m stranded in Philly for a day with no leads and expected to have an apartment lease by the time I arrive home the next day. That didn’t happen. I looked at about half a dozen places and called twice that many trying to find something that wasn’t an apartment complex. Several places were out of our price range. Several others were already rented and hadn’t removed their ads. Still, others were happy to accept one cat but refused to accept two (like we would choose one over the other!). I looked at a cottage on a farm that was nice, but it was absolutely farm living with all the little buzzy and crawly critters. We were responsible for most of the utilities and mowing the ~1 acre land it sat on. It was nice, but the cons outweighed the pros.

I narrowed it down to 3 complexes after it was all said and done and took all of their information home with me. I consulted Maggie and we made plans, narrowing it down to one complex. They required I show proof of income to prove I could pay the rent. No problem, except my income was slightly lower than their expectation and they would not accept any other source of income I provided (e.g., financial aid awards for the year). Since Maggie is between jobs, she couldn’t contribute a number to the cause, so we lost that one.

Finally we found a place that is going to work out. They accept cats, have all the amenities we want, and accept my proof of income. We still have a few hoops to jump through (such as getting shots for the cats and working with the VA for a proof of income letter), but we should have a place to live when we arrive in Philly next week.

Currently we are plugging away at the apartment here in New Albany. It is a mess. There are three of us going at it, so we’re making progress, but it looks like we’ve been robbed. Maggie took a carload to Goodwill today and we’ll prolly have another load later. I’ve got boxes of stuff to go through to separate trash from stuff I want to keep and I have started a pile for shredding. It’s hot and we don’t wanna do it anymore, but we should be done by Thursday or Friday.

There’s my update/rant. I’ll post more once we’ve gotten moved. Just thought I’d update since I haven’t in a while and people keep asking about the move.

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This week is already shaping up to be a busy one. Here are the highlights:

  • I have a group project in Multicultural II that needs some TLC. My partner and I are researching Appalachian Americans and learning about history, culture, and implications for doing mental health work with this population. I have acquired 3-4 books on the subject and found a documentary that would be good for the presentation. I’m meeting my partner tomorrow to divide up the labor and implement a serious plan on the subject.
  • I have a book review due next week for the same class on the book “White Like Me.” So far it is a good book and I have a feeling it is one that will hold my interest to the end. I’m kind of surprised by it though. Usually when I read about White Privilege I feel really guilty for being White. This book, however, seems to take the sting out of it through it’s personal story approach and “normalization.” What I mean by that is that the author is normalizing the ickiness that comes with learning about privilege and being willing to do something about it.
  • Keeping with the Multicultural theme, I have an in-vivo experience to participate in. I’m interested in doing one based in the LGBT culture and my current plan, barring disapproval from my professor, is to go to a drag show. This is currently my only idea, so I’m hoping it is approved or something else comes along.
  • Dissertation, Dissertation, Dissertation. I’m writing on this after a hiatus from it for over a month (which puts me behind schedule). Currently working through the “personality characteristics” and “coming out process” sections and I’m formulating a plan for the section on Bronfenbrenner’s work. At some point I’ll have to post more about my dissertation so people will know what I’m talking about. Briefly: it is a look at the coming out process in gay men through the use of Rorschach inkblot variables. I’m comparing positive versus negative coming out experiences and identifying how they may present on the Rorschach. I’m hoping to learn more about the coming out process and how it affects the mental health and personality of gay men, as well as what interventions and supports can be provided for those who are experiencing the coming out process.
  • I’m planning another trip to NC. Sometime in May. I need to get my schedule figured out to determine when I can fly in. I’ve got some time but I’d like to check it off my list so I can make it a date to look forward to.
  • I’m looking for a job and for opportunities for the next year. I need to prepare for reapplying for internship and I need to strengthen my CV in the process. I have more resources in Louisville than I do in NC, but I would rather be in NC with my wife and friends. I really want to have and eat my cake! Currently I’m trolling job sites for NC and looking for opportunities in Louisville as my peers vacate their jobs. I hate everything being up in the air like this, but there is little I can do about it. I plan on defending my dissertation before I go on internship and taking the EPPP to get both of those out of the way.
  • On the fun side of things, I have another disk of Dexter Season III to watch and I will be playing D&D this weekend (in addition to my usual GURPS Saturday night game). That’s more motivation for me to get my work done during the week.

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