It was my first time in Germany, and I had a great time.
The architecture, the crisp air (without the humidity of DC), the delicious cuisine and bier.
So this week was a crazy one. Between work, my internship, and classes, I have been unbelievably busy, and I cannot wait until next week at this time when I will finally be back home in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving Break!
As a second year graduate student in MU’s Forensic Psychology program, I am required to complete an internship, and that is what I decided to talk about during my first blog post. I am currently working at the American Association of Suicidology, whose office is located in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of D.C. (which is a cool area by the way, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you totally should!) As an intern, I have been responsible for a variety of tasks, but by far the most interesting has been when I have been able to assist on projects that AAS is currently working on. Our most recent project has dealt with the US Department of Transportation, looking at individuals who die by suicide via railroads. While it’s not always the most pleasant work, it is extremely interesting reading up on the cases. I have helped a lot with the coding and organization of the data we have collected, and the dork in me can’t wait for the project to be finished so I can read the final report and the suggestions that AAS makes.
As the only graduate intern this semester, I have been given the opportunity to be more involved things this semester, and am solely responsible for the Youth Advisory Board, which is a group of 20 high school and college aged students working with the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide, which is a sub-division of the American Association of Suicidology. This program was just launched in July, and thus far they really haven’t worked on any projects as a group. While I spent most of my time struggling to get the students to respond to my emails, we are officially up and running, and have launched our first project. “Messages of Hope” is a campaign being ran via Instagram, and encourages users to post photos using the prompt of “What do I Wake up For” as inspiration. We have had some great involvement thus far, and the campaign is still in the early phases, so I cannot wait to see the photos that people continue to post! If you have an Instagram, and want to get involved, just search for ‘@preventyouthsuicide’.
And now that I have successfully avoided writing my paper for the past hour, I must get back to my homework! Thank you guys so much for taking the time to read my blog, and I cannot wait to update you on my life again post-finals!
A little over two weeks ago, my Mom flew to Washington, D.C. from Albuquerque, New Mexico to run the Marine Corps Marathon with me. Can I get an “Oorah”?!
I love running. Until recently, running was the only form of exercise that I truly enjoyed. As I pounded pavement, I was able to re-gain perspective and re-organize my priorities.
While running still provided an outlet for me for all of the stress that accompanies graduate school, I found I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the parking situation at Marymount. For those of you who have classes in the “blue goose,” you know that the parking situation is horrendous. Granted, ideal parking situations are nonexistent regardless of campus. However, I believe Marymount students are due additional pity when it comes to parking given the nature of the area what with Northern Virginia (NOVA) traffic and all. After my first year, I realized I was spending a lot of money on gas on top of what I had already spent buying a parking pass. Worst of all, I was spending my time waiting in a line with fingers crossed that there would be a spot before 6:30 p.m.; time that could have been spent reading a few more pages or running a few more miles.
There had to be another way. And then I realized there was: biking. While we give the “blue goose” a hard time for her appearance, you’ve got to admit, her spot is golden. She sits only a few blocks away from the Ballston Metro and right off of I-66. Even better: directly behind her, running alongside I-66, is the Custis Trail. While a history buff, I’ll spare you the lecture of whom the trail is named after (Martha Washington), but I will not spare you the lecture of the amazing bike trails NOVA has to offer.
In Arlington alone, there are 36 miles of multi-use trails (biking, running, walking) and 50 miles of connecting bike routes that can pretty much take you wherever you want to go! But the perks to biking to class do not end there, my friends. Here are a few more:
You save money on gas.
You save money by not purchasing a parking pass.
You save time by not searching for a parking space.
You protect the environment.
Your commute also becomes your 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise for the day.
Want to give biking a test ride? Check out D.C.’s bike share before you buy! And keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a fortune purchasing a new bike. Lots of bike shops offer used bikes or new models from last season for much less!
Virginia is for lovers. runners. bikers.
6:25: Wake up, realize that I am up before my alarm, and debate getting up.
6:30: Wake up again and hit the snooze button.
6:34: Get up and turn off the alarm before the snooze is over. Go take a shower.
6:50: Get dressed. Try to pick out a tie that will be tidy but not noticeable. The day has just started and I know I don’t want to initiate any conversation.
7:15: Kiss my girlfriend goodbye and remind her I have class this evening. I fill up a jug with water on the way out the door. The recently remodeled federal healthcare facility I work in has brown water come out of the tap regularly. I am not in the mood to take chance.
7:35: Arrive at the building. It is raining and a security guard is visually checking badges and parking passes instead of using the automated swipe activated gate. He then signals another guard to raise the barrier. After fumbling to find and show my parking pass, the second guard indicates that I now need to swipe my badge on the RFID pad. Having pulled far enough away to avoid hitting the first guard with my car, I have to lean out my window up to my waist in the rain. I contemplate turning around and going home.
7:40: Get to the building and think about breakfast. I debate between the place with good coffee and mediocre food and the place with good food and mediocre coffee. I decide good food is what I am in the mood for today.
7:45: Reach the fourth floor cafeteria and notice there is no one in line and see that the best cook, Lawrence, is working. I place an order and notice a team of construction worker arrive. When the facility was remodeled, they destroyed a waterway. Now the area is eroding. I feel bad for the construction workers. There must be a dozen of them and the cafeteria is impossibly slow. The last guy might be in line for half an hour. Had I arrived a minute later I would have just kept walking.
7:58: Stroll into my office and say a round of hellos.
8:00: Log on to my workstation and begin my work. Normally no one bothers me for the whole morning and that is nice. My job is mostly boring and repetitive. I work as a defense contractor and we are in our last option year on our contract. That means that soon our company will need to rebid. If we win I will stay and if we lose I may need to find a new job. While it may be boring, it is not all bad. I enjoy the regularity while I am taking classes. My bosses seem to like my work and I am knowledgeable about the work we do.
11:07: Realize that it is after 11 and send out an email to a few coworkers asking if anyone wants to go somewhere to get lunch. While the in-building options are palatable for breakfast, they are below average for lunch. For the most part, the people I email are all amicable to going somewhere but no one else initiates the email. Some days, like today, my email sparks off a long string of replies with jokes and commentary at nothing in particular; all of it laced between whatever we are each working on. We all sit relatively close to each other but the office culture and some of the bosses don’t allow for friendly conversation. These emails serve as a place to blow off some steam without raising the ire of anyone listening in.
11:57: Finally decide with my team to go to a shopping center nearby that has four places to choose from. I think most of us just want to get out of the office and the thirty minutes we get are a reprieve from our dreary windowless basement office.
12:20: Meet back with the others at the car with sandwiches from different places. The high note is the baklava my coworker picked up from the Lebanese place. Their kabob is ok but their baklava is amazing.
12:32: Arrive back in the office and everyone settles back into place.
1:00: Watch my monthly report reminder pop up. It is my job to gather the reports from my team every month, polish the wording and format, and then submit them to one of my many bosses. I set the reminder to go off every month where it will give me plenty of time to complete the report on-time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what deadline I give my team to send me their reports; they always trickle in up until the very last minute. My optimistic timetable prompts the same action every month; I tell my calendar reminder to snooze for 24 hours.
4:15: Watch my timecard reminder pops up and it is almost quitting time. I fire off a couple of emails and then head over to meet my coworker and head-out of the building.
4:47: Reach home and change clothes. My girlfriend tells me she misses me when I mention that I am heading off to school. During the spring and fall parking at Ballston is pretty tight but the summer session has fewer classes and no competition to get a parking space. I have a thesis meeting with my team at 6:00 but I have to do some work before everyone gets there. I relent and spend some much needed time with my girlfriend.
5:55: Park my car to the sound of a text message asking “where are you slackers?” I text back “I am here and on my way up to the lab.” Someone is always late regardless of when or where we pick. Today is no exception. I pop open my laptop to work up a game plan for the evening. I am the team project manager and I liken it to herding cats. My team is quite capable but I think we underestimated what we would have to do going into this. Our compressed summer schedule has only made our project more difficult.
8:30: See that our team is burning out from the constant work and meeting schedule. We have to call it for the night. It is a double edged sword; I am tired and want to go home, but I am well aware of how much more work we have to do. Everything we don’t get done today will have to be finished later in the week.
8:50: Get back home and debate having dinner this late. Normally it would be cause for evening indigestion, but with my stress level it is guaranteed irrespective of a late meal. I decide to skip it and find my girlfriend. She is in bed already. I give her a kiss and tell her I’ll see her in the morning.
9:30: Pop my laptop open again and start working on the team’s next deliverable. This one will be all on me. I’ll send it out to the team for review but I doubt anyone will even look at it.
10:30: Open my cryptography class notes and my eyes start to glaze over. I realize that it is late and I should go to bed.
11:02: Contemplate before I drift off to sleep about how it can’t last but a few more weeks, just a few until a break. After that short break I will start the cycle back over again.
- Chris M
I always heard the slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers” but only truly understood it recently as I have been discovering how beautiful and how much Virginia has to offer. The other week I kicked off my favorite season with my very first hike in the Shenandoah Valley!
I had always heard the Old Rag was a great hike and I have wanted to try this for years now. When my friend invited me to go hike Old Rag I couldn’t wait! I was nervous because I looked up some information on the mountain, and found out that it was a long strenuous hike. I was still excited and could not have asked for better weather. We carpooled to the mountain and tried to get there early since parking does fill up. The drive took about two hours from Arlington.
When we got there we got our things ready for the hike. We had plenty of water for each person, a light long sleeved jacket or shirt, sunglasses, and a backpack with our lunch. It was about a mile to the start of the trail, and then we were rolling! It was such a beautiful day and it was so relaxing to be out in beautiful Virginia.
This hike ends up being about 9 miles, plus the mile to and from the parking lot. On your way up to the summit you see spectacular views, but nothing beats the summit. To get to the summit you go up a few rock scrambles, which had to be my favorite part! You get to climb and act like ninjas through a bunch of boulders. At the top of the mountain we stopped at the summit to admire the beautiful views and had our lunch.
There are plenty of trails and mountains around the area to explore this fall. Hiking is perfect to view the fall foliage here in Virginia. Go out there, get active and do something awesome!