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Being Okay with Being Sick

15 Sep

It probably should not have surprised me as much as it did that I would succumb to sickness. After all, this is a mid-sized university with thousands of students. People have been blaming the changing season for the trouble, but I’d be more inclined to moving between 70F classrooms to 85F outsides and back again, or at the very least- stress.

Being one of those annoying souls who “never gets sick,” I was a little distressed when I finally acknowledged this for what it is. Thank you, karma. It’s not as bad as it could be- not the flu or anything so dramatic. ‘Tis but a common cold, I believe. Soar throat, swollen lymph glands in my throat and lots of drainage.

It remains, though, that because I really don’t get sick very often, it was mildly distressing. I won’t go as far as to say I panicked, but I did a lot of mental cataloging as to what could have led to the pain I faced laying in bed Wednesday morning at 3:30, wondering when the fire in my throat would be quenched. Had I eaten something bad, or a series of bad somethings? Did I fail to properly wash my hands after lab sometime last week? Then as I briefly met with a professor, who enlightened me to the fact that he too was sick, I realized it was probably just circumstances.

We’re in a setting where, it’s probably fair to say, students don’t always practice the greatest hygiene, and certainly don’t consider their overall health (if the number of sodas I see guzzled each day is any indication.)

So, no need to search for retribution. No one to blame in this case, not even myself. It’s just a cold. A common one, not the first and probably not the last, but definitely part of the education experience.

http://grooveshark.com/s/The+Lark+Ascending/3QnpIo?src=5

Laughing at Panic and Adding More Food!

25 Aug

So I had a little bit of anxiety Tuesday before classes began on Wednesday. I was nervous and unsure, which you can read about in the second post before this one. I am happy to report that my near-panic was, as I hoped, blown out of proportion and mostly unnecessary!

The most stressful part of classes was/is not having my books yet. There’s nothing I can do about that until I get my financial aid, but the professors, since it’s the beginning of the semester, are coming down pretty hard about… well, everything. It’s a good rule of thumb, I know. Lay your ground rules, be a necessary-jerk at the beginning and be lenient later as opposed to being nice from day one and reining in behavior later. Still, it is added stress to have to internalize their expectations on top of already well-known necessities.

In a segue, here are some pointers for financial aid. My first time around in college, federal loans (subsidized or otherwise) were handled by private banks. After the 2008 financial crisis, the Department of Education took over the handling of student loans, subsidized, un-subsidized, etc. It’s a little scary given the current debt situation in the United States, but I guess it’s better than floundering banks having students by the (fill in your choice of anatomical description) while students have any kind of loans from them; this even though the US now has a AA+ rating. The DoE handles student loans, the loans go directly to the university and whatever is left over after tuition, fees, and other expenses, the university gives to the student in the form of a check. I thought beforehand, even with loan entrance counseling, that the check would be coming from the DOE. Not the case. This is very good because I’m pretty sure that it would be coming about a week later than it already is. So! When you’re signing up for student loans, be sure to check your campus mail or with your FA department about how they will ensure that money gets to you. That way you can get your school texts, or replace that car tire that keeps going flat instead of feeding 50 cents every day to the air pressure machine.

Also! Just in case you did not know this, if at ALL possible, do NOT buy text books in your university bookstore. Good-condition, used books, and earlier editions are almost always available at suppliers like Amazon (or ebay) and there are other providers online. Brand new books, especially when from the bookstore, tend to be marked up 200% or more. Why pay 100 for a text you can get used for 20? Even with shipping, paying 30 is better. AND, I have yet to meet a professor who is not understanding on this point. They are people, and what’s more, they were students at one point. They don’t want you to pay more than you need either. So just don’t do it.

One of my professor’s is an unrepentant mumbler, which adds a little bit of charm to his overall persona, but only a little, and only because I finally tuned my ear to listen to him fluidly. Otherwise it would be downright frustrating. Another professor speaks quietly and nasally so that when he said “kidney model” I thought he said, “kidney bottle.” The class was becoming very advanced very quickly with that misunderstanding.

I have to admit that my 200 level A&P class, which was the most intimidating in some ways, has become my favorite class thus far. It’s challenging and demanding, but I LOVE what I’m learning. And the material IS intelligible. I’m not going to be able to skate through easily without a lot of studying like I did in humanities courses, but it IS doable, and there is something immensely satisfying about learning things with diligence and proper study time. It’s also a big relief that we’re not being assigned any research papers. None at all. It makes me want to ask what the deal is.

So I don’t have a lot of ingredients right now. Or, at least nothing for something heavy, but I’m HUNGRY. So what I DO have is rice, egg, some lettuce, some parm cheese, and some lemon juice. This sounds like the makin’s of somefink GOOD.

So here’s what we’re gonna do:

What you need:
one egg
one cup of rice cooked
a small, small head of lettuce (I am using ONE of an artisan, four-pack, which, when chopped is a TON of lettuce)
1/8 cup of grated parm (this is about three or four T)
1 T of lemon juice
garlic powder
EVOO

Heat about one T (or half a T) of EVOO in a skillet on med-high heat. Scramble your egg and cook it in a thin, tortilla-style crepe. Have fun flipping it over XD (I recommend a wide turner). When it’s fully cooked, cut it in half through the diameter. Then cut the two halves into half-inch wide strips.

Set the egg aside, and toss the rice into the pan to heat it up (unless it’s already warm, in which case, go to the next step!) Add the strips to the rice, and toss it with your lettuce. The lettuce might wilt a bit due to the heat of the egg. Toss in the cheese, lemon juice, and garlic powder to taste.

This is quick, quick, quick, and healthy. There’s a fair amount of protein in brown rice (about 5g in a cup) and this is a pretty low fat.

All told, the calories come to between 600 and 700, but it’s a VERY healthy 600-700. So for a meal, that’s pretty low. Also, I think that the greens would probably perform better as either kale or, maybe spinach, but I didn’t have either of those, and I’m going for honesty. However, I’m eating it right now and it’s pretty good. Give it a try!

Orientation for Transfer Students

28 Jul

So.

Four months is probably plenty of time to go without a blog post, but really there was not much to say.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Lots of things happened. Dad came home for nearly two weeks before shipping back to TX. Since shipping back to TX, he’s already gone to Amman, Jordan, and as of 5/31 has been in Baghdad, Iraq. There are probably things that could be said about his time over there. Obviously, none of what he tells me is confidential, but it’s not that exciting. Really.

He goes for weeks at a time with nothing happening. It’s very hot as a norm, about the same temperatures that are putting the US in a panic, though the reasons for both are understandable. His dog verges on overheating and has to take a rest. Dad remains bored and blissfully safe. For days.

Then in a matter of moments everything turns upside down for him. A bomb goes off somewhere a few hundred meters away and shrapnel is flying through the walls, taking out sheetrock and studs and he has left his kevlar helmet strapped to his backpack and by the time he gets it unclipped the warning is over. Yeah, that happened a few weeks ago. Stuff like that doesn’t make the news, because though Americans desensitize themselves to violence, they can’t handle this kind of news day in and day out.

Religion-wise I feel like I’ve gotten sunstroke; floating in a stagnant pond in some place comfortable until I can no longer function. Rather, I felt that way. I’ll let you think about that one.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking, a lot of running. The two are probably countering each other in some sort of polar chemical reaction. The last baking experiment was a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter, cream cheese frosting (it was actually quite good) and the last running venture was a five miler yesterday in 92F. Also quite good. I think I’m about 25% mentally committed to the idea of running the full Mercedes Marathon next February. This is a good thing.

Orientation for classes was today. I felt very good about the whole idea of class registration and meeting other students- confident, self-assured, but not snotty or arrogant. I had to tone it down a few times when asking questions to avoid the latter, though. It kind of stinks when the people leading a group discussion lead in such a way that doesn’t present confidence. Not to say that they aren’t comfortable with their position, but I don’t like feeling like I am overrunning someone when I am just giving a detailed question. And even writing that seems a little jerky.

UNA strikes me as a pretty conservative university, especially for a public uni. Normally, I consider myself a pretty conservative person as well. Taking those two facts into consideration, I feel like I am one of the more liberal people on the campus. Socially, that is. We’ll see.

This assumption is amusing because of all the new people I met today, and the new (hopefully) friends I made, the one to whom I best connected was a Buddhist lesbian. This is probably the last person I would socialize with if given a Venn Diagram. She, however, was quite lovely. We had a few good, emotionally-invested discussions. At lunch time, I almost started tearing up because of some experiences she shared with me about her family and the reason she, too, was returning to college. We’re going to be in the same college and even in the same program.

Relating this news with my mother was what jump started my blogging again. This stuff is too good to not record. It’s going to take some practice writing in an organized fashion again, which leads me to the next info dump.

My adviser, I must say, at this point, seems rather douchey. Of course, I’m coming from a previous college experience where professors were extremely supportive. When those previous-professors asserted that they were in their offices (literally and figuratively) for the students, they really meant it. On more than one occasion, some of them bent over backwards for me when it came to the inner workings of the college and getting paper work done. Letters of rec., etc.

Today, this would-be adviser consistently apologized for the nature of his own university- won’t speak on behalf of students to other professors for courses they need and was a little on the discouraging side even about graduate programs, specifically the PT system, going as far to promise that a percentage of us (half, perhaps?) will not make it into PT school. “It is a closed system. It is extremely competitive. If you don’t make it in the first year, or the second year, you need to realize you’re just not going to make it.”

I’m not arguing his points. I think anyone going for a doctorate-level program is going to encounter competition (har har). I’ve applied for very good masters programs before and been rejected on more than one occasion. I just expect a little more encouragement from an undergraduate adviser. Don’t borrow trouble. Don’t discourage your advisees before they’ve even started classes. That just sucks.

It makes me wonder about the level of scholastic achievement set as a standard by the university. The level of discouragement he gave, balanced with the practical tutelage of registering for classes, etc. made me think that he either doesn’t believe in the scholastic achievement of his students, he doesn’t believe in the scholastic achieving power of his own university, or he just doesn’t give a rat’s ass. Sorry, but if any of those are the case, please get the hell out of higher education.

Obviously, his manner rubbed me a bit of the wrong way.

Note to self, stop using the word “douchey” so much. It’s gross, and really doesn’t add to the conversation.

The Spirit of Giving and, Unrelated, the Cure for National Problems

17 Mar

Monday, Sandy and I were trying to get license plate renewal done for the year. Well, she was. Since I was still waiting on other dominoes to fall into place before I could make that step, I was pretty much along for the ride. On the way back to the house, she told me to let her know when I was ready to get all of the stuff done and she would write a blank check for me to do the process.

I was a little confused and wary. When I told her she didn’t have to she told me that Dad had been intending to anyway. I explained that they didn’t need to feel like they had to help me. She said they didn’t feel that way, they were just going to do it. It was really weird, and I was feeling particularly paranoid as I do whenever money issues come up. Just short of saying that I didn’t need the money or the help, I protested as much as I could about the offer. Because it WOULD have been helpful, even though I am not yet struggling for money, and I never asked for the help.

It’s weird how hard it is for me to accept help, even from family. I have to be in a pretty desperate situation. This pops up in my spiritual life at times, too, which is a topic for another time. Ironically, on the other hand, at times I have extremely high expectations of people. The scenarios for which my expectations and obstinate refusal manifest overlap, which adds to the confusion.

In this case, my paranoia was tingling because, maybe, it feels like if I take money from someone it will make me obligated to them in some way. It will allow them to have control over me. In reality, I think that “control” is only present when I become eaten up with guilt over accepting help in the first place. Like I owe that person something and they could ask it of me at any time.

I was thinking of something much more nebulous than this when we were still driving home when I channeled my other roommate Izzie, who was always counseling me to be less paranoid and afraid of such things. I asked myself, “What is the deal? Why IS it such a big deal?” This is cool because I’m not usually self-aware until the moment has passed. This time, though, I relented. I reminded myself that I did not ask for the help that was offered, and that it WOULD be helpful.

We were riding along, and I apologized for making a big deal about the situation and accepted her offer. She assured me that things were fine and the next day when my dominoes fell into place, she made good on it. I got my new car tag and title transfer courtesy of Sandy and Dad.

The other stray thought that occurred to me today was how awesome it is that I’ve been able to run and cycle so much. Day before yesterday I rode 7.5 miles around the area. Since I just started cycling regularly three weeks ago, this is pretty good! Yesterday I ran 3+ miles, upping my overall running time and recently I was running 8min miles, which is amazing and definitely PRish. Today I cycled 8 more miles. Even though I recently took a bad spill on the same bike, I’m really enjoying getting my heart going so much.

Afterwards, the thought that occurred to me was that if more people moved in with their family and spent the time they are unemployed not watching TV but out cycling or running or doing some kind of exercise, we’d have a few less problems in our country:
– less strain on government benefits
– less overall obesity in the country (which contributes to the above, as well, since people would not have to rely on so much healthcare!)

It was slightly facetious on my part, since I seriously doubt people would give up their independence on so many levels. It IS a good idea, though. It would work :)