12/29/2010 08:40:00 PM

Smart doggie, trouble doggie

Mom, how could you do this to meeee???

There are advantages and disadvantages of having a smart dog, and I am totally getting a crash course on why Shiba owners say that raising a Shiba is like a full-time job.  At the end of the day, there is this lingering suspicion that in a Shiba's eyes, they own their handlers, not the other way around.

I will be honest and say that I would rather much prefer a dumb dog that just wants to be a lazy lapdog all day (Japanese Chin?).  Being mentally challenged at work, I am not prepared to be mentally, emotionally and emotionally challenged at home - by a puppy no less!  When Katsu's good, he's really good.  And when he's bad, well... in the past week there's been a couple of times when I found myself looking forward to going to work to see some of my most difficult, borderline, Axis II patients. ;)

In the meantime, through these ups and downs, Eric and I have mutually decided that he would take Katsu for now on the weekdays.  Having the threat of the bloodcurdling Shiba scream always looming close by makes it hard for me to consistently train Katsu in an apartment setting (especially in one where I can hear my neighbors talking on their phones upstairs - I can only imagine what they are thinking when they hear Katsu's bratty yet epically operatic wailing).  The plan is to intensively use the weekends to socialize Katsu to people and other puppies as we get set up with a private dog trainer (more on that later).  

Now I understand why Shiba owners are so crazy about their pets... it definitely isn't a hobby, but a lifestyle!

12/23/2010 10:47:00 AM

The Katsu Diaries: Day 6

Do not let this picture fool you.

Cratetraining Katsu for housebreaking has been a roller coaster ride.  Generally, Katsu's been a very good boy in terms of doing his business outside.  Leaving him in a crate though while I'm away or going to bed is another story.  He employs what Shiba owners label the "Shiba scream" - a mix of whining, high-pitched shrieks and agonizing barks.  This morning, it was very very bad and (I am ashamed to say this) I got mad at him.  If I were raising him in a house, I would not be so anxious, but since I am in an apartment I'm always worried about his barking and screaming becoming a nuisance to the neighbors.  Moreover, I feel like people who don't know about the "Shiba scream" misinterpret those sounds as proof that I'm somehow abusing or neglecting Katsu, when that is not the case at all.  Shibas are drama queens, and Katsu in particular is very good at it!

My theory about why he was so bratty this morning is probably because I'm giving him too much freedom to run around in the evening. It will be a relief when the bigger crate comes in.  As hard as it will be for me, I will have to limit his freedom to the bigger crate until he is more well-trained.  I think if he's used to being in a more confined space, he may not resist so verbally when I do put him back in his carrier between my work hours, lunch, and getting home from work.  Also, he's starting to bark at strangers when he's out - for now he gets away with it because everyone things he's "oh so adorable" - but that's not going to be the case when he grows up to be a bigger fox-wolf hybrid. :P

If anything, the silver lining in this is that I am really starting to see my own deficits as a "strong, firm, and positive" leader.  Nothing like a rambunctious puppy to test the limits of your patience.  Please pray that I can positive reinforce Katsu to not be so "dramatic".  He's a good puppy, but obviously he doesn't know how much trouble it will cause if the neighbors complain!  I am planning to start puppy kindergarten with him in February (can't do January as I will be away the last week in Taiwan), but there's still a month to go in which I should have lots of opportunity to address his behavior.  If anyone has any tips for me, I would appreciate them!

12/21/2010 09:34:00 AM

The Katsu Diaries: Days 1-4

Hi everyone, I'm Katsu!

Eric got me a puppy on the 28th (duh statement).  Right now, Eric is fostering Carmen while Katsu and I adjust to living together in CT (I also didn't want to deal with a new puppy and a potentially crazy cat in the same car).  Katsu has been an affectionate puppy; I took him to my coworker's house, and he seems like he's more bonded to me now since he stays close to my side.

Cratetraining has been tiring, but not as stressful as I thought.  My main concern is leaving him during my work hours.  I have had to pleasure to hear Katsu's version of the "Shiba scream," and it ain't pretty.  I don't want my neighbors complaining, because that would most likely end up in Katsu not being able to live with me.  Good thing these two weeks are holiday weeks, so things are slower and I can spend more time with Katsu.

I can't wait to bring Katsu back to New Jersey and meet everyone.  He's a very shy boy and having lots of socialization will do him good!  If you have a dog, please bring him/her to meet Katsu!

11/19/2010 08:56:00 AM

Am I your friend? Really?

I took 28 (and counting) people off my Facebook friends list for "National Defriend Day" on Wednesday, including people whose names I don't recognize, people who I have not spoken to in 5 years for no good reason (other than that we mutually didn't care enough about each other), and people who post things that annoy me because they are so crass, foolish, and rude.

I'm not too ashamed to admit that I was really struggling with deleting people from my friends list, as if having 511 is "ok" and having "483" friends is "loserish."

The actual process is strangely liberating and enlightening - I realized through doing it how easily I crave approval from others and just how precious true friendship is.

The hardest part was deleting (yes, being honest here) old crushes or fake "just friends" relationships... not that I still carried a flame for the person per se... but I think it was more of an active illustration that I was really "letting go" and not going to allow myself to be tempted to do the crazy girl stalking thing, waiting for some glorious and dramatic "closure" to ambiguous endings that I think I need, but I don't really truly need.

I feel like by doing this I am really valuing my privacy more, and holding sacred my life and just how much of it I share with others. Also, strangely enough, that I trust God with my relationships - that if He really wanted me to reconnect with people in the future, He'll put them my way, in person, live in the flesh, and not through some pseudo-acquaintance on the internet where clicking "accept friend" is the furthest we'll ever go in terms of communicating with each other.

So, if you're still on my list: ta-da! I value you (or I value your farm on Farmville, so we can still be neighbors and I can get free gifts from you). Heh.

10/11/2010 10:39:00 AM

So, what have I been up to?

Mostly, interacting with people I thought I would never interact with.

  • Ex-convicts
  • Domestic violence perpetrators
  • Parole officers
  • Drunkards and druggies
  • Rape and abuse survivors
  • Suicidal vets
  • People who hear voices
  • Clients with frontal lobe injury which leads them to say/do inappropriate things
  • Trauma victims (not "OMG, I saw Saw 2 and I was traumatized" and more "I saw my buddy's arm tearing off from his shoulder, and I couldn't do anything")
I have really been smacked in the face with two facts:
1. I have been extremely sheltered, which is both a blessing and a curse
2. Human suffering is universal and much darker, sorrowful, and tangible than I cared to acknowledge previously
3. Being a female in an extremely male-dominated work culture is a double-edged sword

It's been a wild ride, and while I don't enjoy every minute of it, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

As a Christian, once my eyes have been opened to the extent of good and evil, joy and suffering in this world, there's no way I can go back and live in my little cocoon where I think going to a soup kitchen once every other month is an acceptable offering to God. I'm not slamming those who have dedicated themselves to this since I think what God requires of each person is different. I'm just saying that isn't for me.

Most important, I have learned to value the gift of my salvation, and understand much more fully what my life might have been like without it. I am in awe that God has chosen me and it is a privilege to be in a profession where I can serve Him in some of the darkest places: in people's hearts.

That's what I have been up to, since my internship started.

8/27/2010 02:38:00 PM

Competent in Christ

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't starting to feel stressed about the start of my pre-doc internship. I have been a student for +10 years and now I find myself for the first time in full-time work as a professional... sure, I am an intern but to my veteran clients who will be coming to me with schizophrenia, with depression and anxiety, with post-traumatic stress, with alcohol and drug problems, they're not going to know me as Grace the grad student but 'Dr.' Yan, their psychotherapist who is going to help them with their complicated, messy, sobering problems.

I definitely feel my knees buckling under the fear that I'll be found incompetent, lacking, disappointing my supervisors, disparaged by my peers for my lack of professional knowledge.

So, it has been a great comfort to me to read and re-read this, written by Paul to the Corinthians:

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I'm no theologian, so I won't attempt to go into the other things this passage addresses, but I will say that I take great comfort in this verse, because while I have always pictured Paul being this macho man of spiritual steel, in this verse I can almost hear the vulnerability in his heart, that he too sometimes buckled under this longing for approval, this fear of incompetency. It's one of the first times where I felt I could connect to Paul as a person, rather than a great, remarkable figure out of my reach. His assurance and reminder of what we should worship and what is the true measure of success really hits home.

I will be reciting these verses when I go in for hospital orientation Monday morning.

5/20/2010 11:50:00 AM

"Imagine a violinist. If, without having learned the least bit of music, he were to take his seat in the orchestra and right away begin playing, he would not only be disturbed but would disturb others. No, for a long time he practices by himself, alone. As far as possible not a thing disturbs him there; he sits and beats time etc. But his aim is to play with the orchestra. He must be able to tolerate the profusion of the most varied instruments, this interweaving of sounds, and yet be able to attend to his violin and play along just as calmly and confidently as if he were home alone in his room. Oh, this again makes it necessary for him to be by himself to learn to be able to do this–but the aim is always that he play in the orchestra. It is the same with faith and the task of living it out."

I love reading Kierkegaard.

4/26/2010 06:46:00 PM

#35, 41, and a Solid Rock

Done and done. I enjoy gardening more than I thought I would, and Stephen Colbert's a nice guy. I went back and read my list again and I have since lost interest in a good number of those things that are still undone. Oh how fickle I am. :P

There has been a lot on my mind since March. I went to Hong Kong, ate a ton of good food, met up with friends, but also had to process my grandfather's aging up close and personal when he had a stroke at the airport while receiving me from my flight. Not really going to write about my personal feelings about that, but I have thought a lot about death, dying and loss since that trip and also learning about my aunt's death and other 'losses' I am going to experience soon. And it all culminated in a very clear reminder that I have nothing to fear, because everything I have gone through and will go through - experientially, emotionally, spiritually - Jesus has been there. Everyone dies alone, but those who love Christ do not really die alone. I think the process of dying will only draw me closer to Jesus and it may be the most intimate moment I will have with him in this life, and that is great comfort.

3/01/2010 09:18:00 PM

The dust has settled

Now that I know where I am going in August for pre-doc internship (VA hospital [whoo-hoo!] in West Haven [blegh]), I'm trying to cram all my traveling & seeing family in before I depart Dirtee Jerzee for at least a year (or two).

Spring break: Fort Lauderdale
Spring break 2: Hong Kong
Sometime between spring break 2 and summer break: Dissertation
Summer: Originally Malawi, but on second thought, not such a good idea since I'll have to focus on moving. Maybe someplace in Europe for two weeks. Germany? Italy? Or maybe a cruise to the Caribbeans? If I have time & money then.

I can't believe I'm leaving Jersey. Mixed feelings.

2/04/2010 11:01:00 PM


1 in 5 applicants do not match.

A total of 45% of all applicants who obtained a position matched to their first choice internship program, approximately two-thirds (66%) received one of their top two choices, and nearly four-in-five (78%) received one of their top three choices.

What this means for me: Do not end up the "1 in 5", then roll the dice and become part of that 45% who get their first choice.

If I don't get my first choice, but match, most likely that will mean I will either have to move back to Bergen County or Connecticut, and I don't really want to do either. My first choice is my first choice by a lot.

2.5 weeks of waiting... we'll see what happens.

1/06/2010 03:22:00 AM

The worst is over?

The last few times I've been in Vegas it's been full of crap.

No, really. Either I got into fights with my "parents" (read: my mother), or my sister, or my romantic/relational life/dreams/hopes get destroyed into smithereens.

I actually really enjoyed my time in Vegas this round.

It could be because of one of many reasons...
- I purposely kept the trip short, avoiding the holiday season by coming right after 1/1.
- I only saw my parents this time. No other complications.
- I am more mature.

Yeah, it's probably 1 and 2.

But seriously, I don't want to go back. Who wants to go back to cold depressing Jersey where I actually have to wear a winter coat to not die outdoors, back to work and internship interviews and dissertation. But I guess it's ok since the faster I get those things done the faster the next chapter of my life can start. Even though I'm really starting to think I will miss being a full-time student. I probably won't have this type of schedule ever again in my life. Sigh.

1/02/2010 10:07:00 AM


Happy new year!

As dumb as I think resolutions are, it is nice to make some achievable goals so there is something to shoot for in the coming year. When you think about it a new year really doesn't mean anything, but it's probably nice to have the feeling that everything gets a new, fresh start. Insert that cheesy quote about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars here. For me it's more like shooting for the moon and at least lifting two inches off the ground, never mind the stupid stars. I'm not that idealistic. So I understand the feeling of hope and anticipation people have this week. At least until they start to epic fail their resolutions, then the feeling of motivated excitement gives way to disappointed disillusionment. But I digress.

2010 goals:
1. Finish my interviews in one piece and make a match rank list that is to my liking
2. Figure out why the heck God wants me to stay in Jersey (or East Coast) for another 2 years
3. Become more selfless in relationships. Man does it hurt to be selfless. I never realized how psychically painful it is to humble myself, especially when I feel like I'm entitled to something and even when I know I'm in the wrong
4. Start running/exercising routinely again. I'm staring at my gut as I speak. It mocks me, knowing that it'll reign supreme at least until the 6th, when I come back to Vegas. I glare and it blinks back, immovable and unfeeling as the mountains that resisted Mohammed. Sooo disgusting.
5. Read more books
6. Find a ministry
7. Write in my personal blog more (not this one... a private one)
8. Re-visit that bucket list
9. Defend my dissertation
10. Refine my cooking skills. I feel like this goal has been here forever since I started living on my own. But the fact that I managed to bake cinnamon oatmeal cookies for NYE and people actually liking them has given me encouragement to do this more intentionally.

I think that's good enough. 10 goals for 2010, some quicker to achieve to keep up my morale, others requirement more diligence and patience. Any more and I'm definitely setting myself up for failure. Anyway, if you have resolutions/goals for the coming year, share them for the sake of accountability.

Happy new year!... Again.