return of the schoolgirl

Now that we have finally secured an apartment, the real work of packing up our lives (after five long years here) begins.  I really should be bubble-wrapping stuff and figuring out what to give to charity, but I can’t help but find myself in dream mode.

I’ve already decided I’m going to join the Buddhist temple that’ll be a short block from our apartment.  I’m so excited to be part of what sounds like an awesome community.  I’ve also decided to go on at least two trips in the spring–one to Oregon and another down south to LA.  I think I’m going to buy my own car since sharing one probably will get a bit cumbersome after a while.  But my mind has really been fixated on what to do about school.

I’m planning on a trip to the four corners area this spring for my last class for my MNM.  That should be wrapped up by June, and I’ll be free to start the long academic journey that’s ahead of me.  Up until now, when we didn’t know where we’d be, I had planned on going to a school that’s in the heart of downtown San Francisco.  The school is a bit woo-woo, and if I went there, I’d be studying art therapy and drama therapy.  I’ve been interested in both these things for quite a while.  A couple friends highly recommend them, and my roommate’s ex graduated from there recently.  It seems like a really intense, fun experience.  If I chose this route, it’s fairly affordable and would give me a whole new skill set that would help me stand out.  It’s also prep for the exam to be a certified art therapist–which is really beneficial.  The school is well-known in the Bay Area.

Now that we know we’ll be in San Jose, right near Santa Clara, I’m aware that the commute to this school will be at least an hour each way without traffic.  My roommate actually thought taking the train in would be easier since parking is so ridiculous and Cali drivers are a bit insane.  Plus, he’ll need to commute to Mountain View, so I’d have to drop him off and pick him up.  They don’t offer online courses, and I’d literally have to be on-campus every day.  I’m probably going to be in the city a lot for my therapy/rolfing/medical appointments since this part of the Bay Area doesn’t really feature the types of healers I’m most comfortable with.  But doing it daily might be a bit much.  I can work from anywhere, so theoretically, I could just work from campus all day without many issues.  But it’s a daunting idea after having zero (literally zero) commute for the last four years.

The only problem with this school is the fact that I’m not planning on staying in California after I graduate.  I am planning on getting my degree and then going out east, somewhere.  I’m leaning toward Boston, though Vermont or even New York might be in the cards.  My plan has been to get my credentialing out of the way and then eventually establishing a small private practice while doing UX/UI design to make ends meet.  I’m planning on doing the UX/UI bit while in MSW school, within the next year or so.  I have to do something flexible while doing my internships.  I figure I’ll be able to wrack up a decent portfolio working in the Silicon Valley during that time.  I’ve found that east coasters are much more concerned about where people have gone to school, so I think it may be rough establishing a client base in the land of Ivy League everything with my little woo-woo school degree.  I may be totally wrong.  I also have to think about PhD school and if that program will respect my education.  It’s a perfectly great school, but I’ve seen a lot of weird bias toward alternative ideas.  It’s really a pretty minor concern, though.  The commute is the big sticking point for me.

I’ve looked at other MSW and MS Counseling programs in the area, and none of them really impressed me that much.  San Jose State is close to us and affordable, but just lacked the things I’m used to–going to a Jesuit school.  Probably a perfectly great program, but I just don’t love it.  I’d rather do the commute to woo-woo.  A while back, I found out that Boston U has an online MSW program.  It’s a generalist thing, so I wouldn’t be doing art therapy–but it would be enough to get credentialed and started with my practice.  And it’s in Boston–where I really want to end up.  Plus, BU has been my first choice for a PhD for quite a while, since they have a stellar Macro Social Work program.  (My second choice is Tulane).  I think, given the commute issues, I probably should apply to the BU program and the woo-woo (just in case).  So, that’s what I’m probably going to do.  I figure I can always do more specific education in art therapy and other areas as part of continuing ed.  I’m going to be in school for quite a while, so I’m not worried about that.  The end goal is getting myself established and practicing.

Right now, all of this has me spinning a little bit though.  Changing careers from a relatively stable job with a great company to being out there on my own is really daunting–especially given that my chosen degree/field requires that I work for free to get experience–and I don’t have control over when I work for free.  To do it, I really can’t continue working in my field–the hours don’t mesh.  It’s good because it means I’ll be able to really focus.  But living in SF is expensive.  I’m going to have to find the most flexible job that also pays decent or save every penny and hope it’s enough to get me through and hope I can start making money quickly once I am able to be paid to do this work.  This is why I’m working toward the UX stuff.  It’s a job that will allow me to be happy.  In fact, part of me wonders why I’m not just pursuing that.  It also pays pretty well and is something I could easily freelance.  Silicon Valley is the place to build that career, too.  It’s something I plan to rely on while I’m in PhD school as well.

I also want to get my teaching certification–which only takes about a year and also requires student teaching.  I’m not sure if I should do that now or wait until after I’m done with my therapy degree.  It certainly would be an attractive thing to school districts to have both and would likely really help me with the work.  I’ve thought of teaching as my in-between career that I’ll do until I don’t want to or until my therapy practice is booming.

And now, another thought has really been tugging at me.  That damn MFA.  I’ve always wanted to do it–though my focus has changed often over the years and I’ve often hated writer communities.  I even applied to a pretty famous program once and was accepted into another one–that I turned down due to being laid off.  Lately, especially today, I’ve felt so conflicted about it.  A big part of me really would love to study film.  Lately, I’ve really been drawn to writing screenplays and documentaries.  But not just writing–really making them.  It combines my love of photography with writing–and it isn’t that far from playwriting.  The thing is–I’m not interested in doing it to be a Hollywood whatever.  I’m really only interested in learning how to do it–so I can create the types of projects I want to see.  And I think it would be so awesome to know how to do these things when I’m working on my PhD–since my PhD idea kind of is all about this.  I feel like I need to do it–for me–and who cares if I do it for any other reason.  I just want to do these things justice.  I want to learn how to create those things.  And I don’t think I can learn it on my own.  I think I actually need to be enrolled in courses to do it.

The thing is–I can do the PhD whenever.  There’s no deadline.  It’s going to take butthell forever anyway.  I don’t need it to do the work I want to do.  It’s another thing for me.  Another layer to the onion–another road.  The MSW–yes–that should be completed soon-ish because I can’t do what I do now forever.  It’s wearing me down, and I need more than this.  But it’s also not an emergency.  And heck, I sort of need some time to save my pennies to make that happen.

So, do I go for the MFA?  I’m going to be fairly close to three pretty great programs.  Heck, I could even just take a few classes–just to see.  I can do the MSW from anywhere.  Literally, if I chose BU.

I was talking to that guy I’m not seeing tonight, and I mentioned it to him.  We never finished the conversation because he is apparently old and goes to bed at 9 now.  I was kind of annoyed by that.  I admire his boundaries, even if they piss me off and hurt my feelings sometimes.  I wish I was that committed to mine.  I could tell he just wanted me to be practical.  He told me I could always do the MFA later–since it didn’t matter because it didn’t have a real purpose.  And to do the thing that was going to get me a job.  And then he asked where kids fit in–since he knows I’m wanting to tackle that in the next few years.  He said I could just forget school and be a mom.

It annoyed me so much that he said that.  That he didn’t get that it’s not an either/or proposition.  That I’ll be a mom regardless–if life decides that’s what’s next for me.  I’ll work and go to school and comb my kids’ hair.  And I’ll be a better mom because I’m happy and busy.  And my kids will see me working for things I believe in.  And why does everything have to be about making money and getting a job?

He’s practical.  Traditional.  Focused on ordinary.  Stable.  I like this about him, sometimes.  On the other hand, he’s rigid, closed-minded, a bit boring, and heading for a wake-up call.  He’s never lost anyone.  Part of me wonders what will happen to him when what he’s used to falls apart.  I wonder, sometimes, if I like him because the way he is–it’s part of some kind of innocence I can never get back.  My life is complicated, racing, chaotic, full-speed ahead–turning on a dime, always.  I love it and hate it.  And part of me would love to just be a mom.  And I am not using that just in any kind of derogatory way.  I would be a very good wife.  A very good mother.  An outstanding homemaker.  I would love it.

But I have things to say and things to do.  So I will be all those things and these things too.  I’m smart enough to figure it out.  And yes–I will probably go crazy trying.

My life gave me something, and I have a responsibility now.  I didn’t choose it, but I have something special that can help people.  And I can’t say no.  I don’t want to.

So, I’m doing it.  All of these things.  I just don’t know when or how.  But I need to decide on that first step because there are applications to submit, and time is never on my side.


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