Archive | school RSS for this section

The things that make us different make us the same.

Yesterday was remarkable.

The fact that yesterday was so amazing leaves me with an interesting conundrum–I’ve been trying all day to organize my thoughts and feelings about what I experiences in a way that feels not preachy and interesting. The problem with these life-changing revelations is that they tend to apply only to the life of the person who experienced it.

So, yesterday, my local NPR station broadcast an extraordinary interview with a man who is both openly gay, and a faithful member–and employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can hear it here. This interview led me to Wilcox’s pet project–beyond the film discussed in the interview–The Empathy First Initiative. The EFI Facebook page had this video of a TEDtalk linked to it.

First off–why had no one told me about TED? It’s amazing.

Second, I realize I just linked an hour and twenty minutes of media that, while I found utterly fascinating and life changing, others may not.  What follows is what I found apropos, if you don’t want to watch and listen to those links.  Or, even if you do.

So, here’s how I understood all of this. In Randall Wilcox’s discussion on what it means to be a gay Mormon, he talked about embracing his whole self. When he accepted who and what he was, he became more spiritual–contrary to what Orthodox Mormons tend to believe about homosexuality, and what it means to be gay.

The other thing Wilcox discusses beautifully is empathy.  Rather than looking at a person as an object–oh, he’s gay, or she’s a democrat, or their poor–he encourages us to look beyond, to see the person who has thoughts and feelings and ideas. To not dismiss someone as an abomination or a bigot, for instance, but to try to understand their thought process and the life-experiences that led them to those conclusions.

Brene Brown’s talk is on similar lines, in that she discusses empathy as well. But what stood out to me in her talk was the notion that when we numb the negative in our lives–the pain, the depression, the vulnerabilities–we numb everything. I think I’d subconsciously come to the same conclusion, at least in regards to my depression.  When I started to open up about the fact that I am depressed, and stopped pretending that everything was fine, I started to feel better.

Brown also talks about vulnerabilities–we are all vulnerable. Everybody has something that makes them vulnerable, but it’s the people who embrace their vulnerabilities who thrive, who can love and be loved, while those who try to hide their vulnerabilities struggle, blame others, and spend their lives searching for meaning.

This makes perfect sense, and it’s something that I’ve begun to put into practice.  I’ve been dredging up those deep, dark places within my soul and mind, examining everything and–and I think this is the important bit–not reburying those imperfections that make me vulnerable. I’ve realized that all the self-destructive things that I do are because I feel vulnerable, and I’m trying to either hide the vulnerability, or the shame that comes from being vulnerable.

But, by embracing who I am, the dark scary parts and all, I can become a better person, one who has the capacity to love herself, and by extension, others. I feel like I’m taking the first steps on an important journey.

Now, I do understand that this is all shiny and new, and in a couple of months, the shine will probably have worn off–this post is as much a reminder to me as anything. By getting the words down, it cements the way I’m thinking or feeling. I also know that it might be too much to ask that these few words might help someone else. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Right now, me becoming a better person is all I can ask for.

Advertisements

Writing Creatively

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...
Image via Wikipedia

So, first of all, I’d like to fully acknowledge the irony that I’ve been neglecting my blog because of all the work that has been required from my creative writing class.

The good news is, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer.  For instance, I’ve discovered that I like to write creative non-fiction, which should be good news if I continue with this blogging thing.  I’ve also discovered that I have a hard time with plot, especially when it comes to endings. Which is probably why I struggle with fiction. And probably the most important thing, I’ve discovered that when I’m hashing out an idea in my head, I need to sit down with a notebook and paper.  The computer is great for the actual writing process, but, let’s face it, it’s a giant box of distraction.  If I can find a quiet corner, and organize my thoughts before I sit down to the computer, my writing will be, well, written. And I’m not going to be distracted by Wikipedia or TVtropes or my favorite blogs.

So, anyway, I’ve put a few of my stories from this class in the “Stories” tab.  But here they are in link form, for your convince.

Scout

The assignment for this story was to write in someone else’s voice. I was thinking of Mom when I wrote it; it’s her story after all.  I don’t know how well I succeeded in separating my voice from hers. And yes, Mom, I know I didn’t get all of the details right. It was for a creative writing class. I was writing creatively.

Pet Store

This assignment was to write about what my character does for a living. This exact incident never happened, but I was influenced by my time working at PetSmart.

Catch and Release

This was simply an assignment to write a piece of fiction. The first line was one chosen from a list–and I have to say, it kinda feels like I shoehorned the story to fit.

Also, I don’t know anything about fishing. But, my narrator doesn’t, either, so I suppose it all works out.

Hmm, that doesn’t seem like a lot for the amount of work I’ve done for my class, but, at the same time, it’s not everything. There’s stuff I’ve written that I absolutely hate and am not sharing with anyone I don’t have to. Also, there are stories that I’m working on revising for my final project that will go up, well, after the final.  But for now, just know that I haven’t forgotten about you!

New semester, new drama

It’s currently a quarter to three. I have successfully avoided going to bed by cleaning house, doing homework and now writing a blog post.  It’s not that I don’t want to bed, it’s more that in the past few weeks I seem to have lost the ability to sleep. But, as it’s not affecting my daily activities, I’m more annoyed than concerned.

I survived last semester, despite what the frequency of my posting may have implied. In fact, I thrived. I got a 3.90 GPA for the semester. My GPA is now high enough that I can get a job on campus–you know, if there were a job opening on campus that I was qualified to do–and I have started summer semester.  I have two blocks of classes–Fit For Life (a health/exercise class) and 2D design first block, and then at the end of June, I’ll start stress management (stressed? who me?) and creative writing in the second block, with an online math class all semester long.

I’m beginning to think that the start-of-semester drama might just become a regular thing. I don’t know how what happened this week compares to what happened last semester–I suppose it’s worse, but I’m not as emotionally torn up about it.

Okay, so Monday, first day of class. Minor freak out because I’m the largest and most out of shape person in my Fit for Life class–even though that wasn’t really a surprise. Fat folk would tend to avoid that class, and get the required credit from a health class that would allow them to be sedentary. My 2D design class turned out to be nothing at all like I was expecting–and will require much more work. Slightly bigger freak out about that. After spending a lot of money on books, I came home, and began working on my online math class (I am NOT going to let myself fall behind) and then…blue screen of death.  A couple of hours trying to get the computer to restart, followed by a couple of phone calls to my computer engineer of a brother-in-law, and my hard drive died. Completely.

Yay.

Granted, it was much better to have this happen on the first day of the new semester rather than, say, three weeks ago when I was finishing up my final English paper and studying for finals, but it still left me in tears. Fortunately, the Brother-in-law has a several unused computers lying around his house and he (or, more properly, Sis) offered me use of one of them until I can get a new hard-drive.

So, Tuesday, no school, I went up to Sis’s house to trade computers (eventually, I was having car trouble on that day as well) and because she wasn’t feeling good, to keep her from killing her kids (it wasn’t QUITE that bad, but I did see some spectacular tantrums). This included several very educational games of “I Spy” to wit:

me: Is it a stoplight?

G: nope

me: is a go light?

G: YES!

It’s a little scary that I’m learning to think like a four-year old.

Then home, and more time and trips to Best Buy to set up the loaner computer than should have been strictly necessary. But, it works, I’m on line, and once again stressing over random story problems with no real-world application. But, once again, I hope that this constitutes all of the drama alotment for summer semester–or even just first block–so I can concentrate on my studying and getting through school as quickly as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t lose the receipt.

The bus stopped for me this morning, which automatically made today a better day than yesterday.  The amount of people on campus, and more specifically, in the book store lessened this to a certain extent.

I made an effort to avoid having to buy books from the bookstore this semester.  However, after comparing bookstore prices to several different online booksellers, I discovered that I wouldn’t be saving any money by buying online, so I figure I might as well face the hassle of the crowds and lines to avoid the hassle of shipping and waiting.

I checked online, and made a list of the books that I thought I needed.  A few hours later, I was sitting in my English class, and discovered that the books I bought for that class were, in fact, not the books that I needed.  Which meant, another trip to the bookstore.

So for some reason, the UVU bookstore is the only place left in the universe that can’t look up a purchase with the credit card that was used– and they wouldn’t accept my return without a receipt.  And, guess who, in the few short hours between buying the books and trying to return them, lost her receipt.

Obviously, you’ve been following my blog, and fully understand the mess that is me.

After tearing my backpack apart in a futile attempt to locate a small piece of paper, I gave up and just bought the correct book, frustrated that by the time the end of the semester rolled around, I’d be selling back a book that was still shrink-wrapped.   On my way to find my last class of the day, I passed the slatted bench where I put the original books in my backpack, and noticed–wait for it–a small piece of paper that had fallen under the bench.  I picked it up and gasped loudly enough that the girl sitting on the bench correctly identified what it was.  By some miracle of poor janitorial services, I was able to recover my receipt that had been on the floor in one of the busiest hallways on campus.

So, drama over the books settled, I headed off to my last class.  I got there early enough that I had to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  It turns out that there was a scheduling mix-up, and the instructor who we all thought was going to be teaching didn’t know she was supposed to be teaching.  But I didn’t find this out until hearing a lecture on Nikola Tesla from some random student, and successfully staving off a migraine by sheer force of will.  And Advil.

I don’t want my random janitorial and scheduling issues to dissuade anyone from UVU.  The start of a new semester is always hectic, and, as annoying as my two little mini-adventures today were, I’m feeling super lucky and blessed to have found the receipt, and as for my art class…well, it’s frustrating, but I’m going to chalk it up as one less thing I have to think about this weekend.

In other news…

Mom had a doctor’s appointment today, to check on her after her surgery, and to get round two scheduled.  A month after the fact, her surgeon wasn’t shy about telling her that as far as he could tell, the repairs he had done on her leg had never been done before.  By anyone, anywhere.  She’ll be going back on February 4th for her sixth and hopefully final hip replacement.  Again, it’s not really the surgery that is worrisome, it’s the recovery.  But, the hospital was very impressive the last time around, and I know she’ll be in good hands.

Somewhere out there, there is a person who can’t help but to catch every break that comes his or her way, to balance out my life. I think this person owes me a check.

Bus company De Lijn in Belgium promotes public...

Image via Wikipedia: This isn't the bus that failed to stop for me. This bus is in Belgium and has a car on top of it.

My class schedule for the spring 2011 semester goes something like this:  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I have my stress management classes.  Tuesdays and Thursdays is everything else.  Today was the first day of the new semester, and so I just had my stress management class to start things off.

I made sure to get to the bus stop in plenty of time, but the bus seemed to be running late.  Just as I was getting ready to head to my car and try and find a parking spot in the pay lot, the bus came around the turn…and just kept going.  It didn’t even slow down.

Great.

After my mouth managed to close, I stood there for a bit wondering what the hell just happened, and what I should do about it.  I didn’t have time to walk to campus, so I decided to go the pay-lot option.   I know I was perfectly visible, because while crossing the street to get to my car, I slipped on some ice and fell–in front of an oncoming vehicle, of course.  The driver of the vehicle was kinder than the bus driver–she at least acknowledged my existence by stopping her car and asked if I was okay.

So, off to convince my car to start so I could fight traffic on campus.  When I got there, the pay lot was full. (except, I just looked up a map of parking, and discovered a lot that I assumed to be employee parking is actually another pay lot.  So, next time, I’ll know.)  So back home, fighting both traffic and tears this time.  And, frankly if not having the bus stop (I didn’t miss the bus, I was where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there) and then not finding a parking spot left me in as big of a wreck as it did, It’s evident how badly I need that stress management class.  You know, the one I missed today?

And that is the story of how I missed the first day of my second semester back at college.

I’d be much more amused by it if stuff like this didn’t happen to me all the time.

Deconstructing the bad day

Last week was one of the worst of my life.  Since then, I’ve been thinking about what makes a bad day, or a bad week for that matter.  Is it that the events of said day are truly horrible, or is it that we focus on the horrible, but ignore the good?

I’m inclined to believe that it’s the former.   Something happens to put us in a bad mood, and consciously or subconsciously, we focus on the things that will reinforce our bad mood–we notice the jerk who cuts us off in traffic, but not the person who lets us in.  We gripe about forgetting our umbrella, but don’t notice how wonderful the rain is.

Sunday, things turned around for me.  I made it to church–I’m claiming all three meetings, but that might be stretching it–I had what amounted to a therapy session during Sunday School.

I’ve been trying to focus more on the positive in my life, and let the stress go–something that’s nigh-on impossible for me.  I know that it’s foolish to worry about things that I can’t control.

For now, all I can do is focus on my schooling, and know that whatever happens, happens.  I’m trying not to stress, but that can always lead to stressing because I’m stressed out, which just turns into this whole big mess…

Life and more

Oakland California Temple Grounds

Image by B Evershed via Flickr

It’s currently 6:51 am.  My alarm clock is going to go off in ten minutes, but I woke up an hour ago, and was unable to get back to sleep.

I started my intermediate algebra class this week, and am feeling overwhelmed.  Math–well, I understand why people like math.  I’m not one of them.  I could be, but I tend to be careless with things like negative signs and distinguishing the difference between, say 34 and 43, then get frustrated when the problems I’m working on don’t turn out.

Because it’s a second block class, we have to move at double-time, which, at the moment is more than a little overwhelming.  I got back from class at about seven last night, walked the dogs, had some dinner, then worked on my math homework for three hours.  How did you spend your Friday evening?

I know that the feeling of drowning in a sea of integers is, like when I started school at the beginning of the semester, stemming from me being in a rut for so long, and not dealing with change well–as well as having to re-learn how to think in math again for the first time in more than ten years.  I think I’m getting the hang of things, though.

Maybe.  I’m behind on my homework, and it could be that when I get to the stuff that we talked about yesterday, I’ll be just as lost as I was on the first day.

It’s been a momentous week–one that feels like it’s lasted much longer than seven days, and I’m trying to think of the best way to segue without turning into a travel log (is such a thing possible if I only travel between my house and campus?)

Tuesday, upon checking the mail, I found a check from the federal reserve.   Upon opening it, I discovered it was for…wait for it… $37.

Yay?

Okay, so it was significantly less than what I was expecting, but obviously, I made a mistake on my taxes or else I would have gotten them back in May or June.  Which also explains why my grant got hung up on the “how much did you pay in taxes last year” question…

At any rate , while I was disappointed in the amount, thirty-seven dollars is thirty-seven dollars, and, upon combining that money with the money I’d been saving for weeks, if not months, gave me enough to buy a nook–which I absolutely love.  And I love that I only had to pull three dollars and change out of my bank account to purchase it.   The books to go on the nook on the other hand–

No, that’s not really fair.  While I have purchased books, most of the ones I’ve downloaded came either from the library or public domain, and thus were free.   I’m limiting the amount of money I can spend on books each month, and am going to have to force myself to stick to my very small limit–I could easily go way overboard when I can buy books from anywhere with just a few clicks.

On a more serious note…

Back in May, one of my uncles was in a serious car accident.  While undergoing surgery to repair the damage, it was discovered that he had terminal cancer.

He recovered from his injuries, and began treatment for the cancer.  For a while, he seemed to be doing quite well, but last week, he went downhill, and quickly.  Last Sunday, he enrolled in hospice care, and Thursday, he passed away.

How do I put this?  I’m sad to have lost George, but at the same time, I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore.  There’s a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants: (Section 43: 45-48)

Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.

And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.

And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.
I hope to be able to go to the funeral, but I also need to be realistic about the struggles I’m having in school–I don’t think I can afford to miss a class.
Things seem to go in cycles–a couple of weeks ago, I had one of those weeks when everything went my way, this week, it seems that everything is going wrong.  I guess the best I can do is muddle through, and know it’ll get better, eventually.  Right?
%d bloggers like this: