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Prioritizing Homework- The Numbers Game

28 Sep

If I had time I could probably figure out a formula (thank you statistics,) and run it through to determine how I should properly prioritize my homework and studying. As of now, I’m too busy hating the fact that I’m having to pick and choose which homework to do, to have much time to do anything but mandatory homework. As fun as systematizing my studying habits could be, I’m afraid extracurriculars will have to wait.

I hate the fact that it’s already come to this. We’re barely six weeks in, (five weeks, six weeks? I’m not sure,) and I’m already playing the game of which homework to do, which assignment to study for. Well, I have two quizzes and an exam today, not to mention the lab homework that is not completely finished, and the chemistry homework that I’ve already written off since it’s 80% finished. For a few moments I was actually wondering which to study for the most in the limited time I have left before each one occurs. Then came the obvious answer-

The exam! Study for the exam since it’s weighted so much more heavily than the others. The quizzes are sometimes dropped, anyway, so make sure to study for the exam, which will count regardless of how poorly I do. Exam study, hooooo! (Of course that meant I took a few minutes to come and blog about how horrific all of this is.)

Next time I should write about the fact that my best friend is getting married in TX this weekend and that’s why my schedule has suddenly become so much more hectic. Pushing assignments up early so I can not have to worry about wasting more time working on them instead of traveling. Wedding this weekend. I’ll be in a much happier mood when all of this is done!

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

Trials, Tribs, and Trig

18 Aug

READY for school to start. School. University. Potato, potahto?

I had a near melt down this morning when financial worries all started piling together. By the first day of classes, it will have been six months of waiting for…. something. The waiting place is not a happy place. Or rather, it doesn’t start out a happy place. It’s very easy to get bogged down in thinking about the way you feel things ought to be, or should be.

Some background, that maybe I have not posted before, is that I already have a B.A. I actually managed to find a job related to a degree most people think relegates one to working in a coffee house. The job was “well-paying,” though I think most people would have rather slept in a ditch than accepted it.

The problem in the job came down to cultural breakdowns. Cultural expectations on both sides that were not stated, and were therefore never met.

Short story, I left. After five months. Granted, I tried to leave after three weeks into the position when, after a snow storm, it took me three hours to get to work (as opposed to forty minutes), I had a car wreck on the way in, and my employers didn’t give a shit. It’s not an exaggeration to say that that attitude was par for the course.

So, before my irregular heart beat (that started at that job) could develop into full blown arrhythmia, I left. As soon as I found another job. Working in a coffee house. Oh, karma.

I have a boatload of residual guilt. Guilt that I’m not fulfilling my potential, or my BA’s potential. Guilt that I was making decent money and left. That I’m living with my parents when I should be standing on my own two feet by now. This is what our culture and society says, isn’t it?

The question I have now, the guilt-ridden question, is whether overcoming my guilt means buying in to an entitlement mentality, even in a small way. Is it truly justifiable to claim recession as part of the reason my financial status sucks? Without going into too much detail, that is.

Maybe my problem is just too much self-flagellation?

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 :)

Trials and Tribulations

13 Mar

Originally written on 3/12:
We had our first “crisis” since my stay here. No, not my dad leaving unexpectedly for Iraq. Technically, that bombshell occurred before I came here.

Yesterday, I left the house to get dinner. I came back and used the garage door opener to get into the house- we only have two keys between the four of us and my brother has one but he’s a few hundred miles away. So until a spare can be made, I’ve been using the garage door opener. I got inside and hit the switch again to shut the door. It started making the most awful racket, and one side was lowering more than the other side. Pretty soon, the upper leftmost corner threw one of its wheels and dropped out of the track.

I stopped the switch, fairly freaking out that I had managed some large scale destruction half a month into my stay, halting the door mid-close. I called Dad, currently in Texas before he flies over to the ME, and told him the details of the bungling. He said we could try to call my uncle to come over and fix it- the same grumpy uncle who suggested I do a two-year PT program. Fortunately, he wasn’t upset at all. I guess when you break news with, “This is really bad, and I hate to tell you, but…” parents’ minds tend to go to the worst case scenario. Just a tip for future reference.

When Sandy got home, I recounted the particulars to her as well. I had texted her beforehand not to use the door since she was out at dinner with her family. She was alarmed about the door, but not upset with me, fortunately. When I apologized she brushed it aside, saying if it had not happened with me it would have happened with her or Dad. That was a big relief.

The problem came when she announced that we would try to fix it tomorrow. This is fairly rational seeing as most people don’t leave their garages open when they are asleep and vulnerable. However, we live in a very, very small neighborhood, with about twenty houses, not all of which are even occupied. We all know each other and it is very safe. More importantly, I am a seventh day Sabbath keeper. From sunset Friday to sunset Saturday I don’t do any work, unless it constitutes an emergency- ox in the ditch, if you will. An ambiguously broken garage door in my mind does not an emergency make.

Well, a few moments ago, that’s exactly what we did. We went into the garage and I held the door up while Sandy put the wheel back in its track, after taking off the plate that held the wheel in place and reattaching it in that order. After about thirty minutes of this, we tried closing the door with the switch, only to find that it did exactly what it did last night. It closed unevenly until the wheel popped off again. We ended up closing it manually, which is probably what we should have done in the first place.

I had conflicting emotions about the experience. For one, I really enjoyed doing something bond-worthy with Sandy, just the two of us. Teambuilding exercises are great! Plus I really like fixing things, doing hands on stuff. The higher priority for me, however, was to uphold what I believe is a sacred law.

When it comes to maintaining my religion, I have always struggled with my dad’s side of the family, who are mostly mainstream Protestants; Sunday keepers who eat pork and celebrate Christmas.

My problem is how do I express to a woman whose house I am living in, who I barely know, who is religious herself but doesn’t agree with my religion, that I don’t want to help her in what she considers a valid time of need? I say “want” as opposed to “can’t” because I understand that I have a choice here. What is the obligation that I have and what is the greater priority? God knows the ins and outs and expects me to do the best I can, but this is a really sticky situation.

I would probably still be reeling from the experience, trying to hide in my room (am I really almost thirty?) to avoid the confrontation it would bring had I not just spoken to one of my roommates from Ohio.

Ruthie is a long-time friend. We met years before I even left for Ohio, during my original time in Alabama, and we lived together almost the entirety of my stay there. She shares my religious beliefs and knows the pressure I am feeling. In addition, she is significantly older than me and has a dearth of experience.

Here are some of the pieces of the scenario she pointed out that were great for perspective. Sandy is under a lot of stress right now with Dad leaving, therefore:

o Be helpful in any way that I can when I can, which is proper, given that I am staying in her home, and comforting
o Wait for her to bring up the door and then explain how I feel about addressing a non-emergency on the Sabbath
o Doing what I did at the time, in the given situation, was probably the right way to handle it, reflecting on the above reasons.

Ruthie also made me remember the reactions are sometimes delayed, and that I probably won’t see any real stress from Sandy until a few weeks down the road. When it comes out it might not have anything to do with me directly. Maybe something I do reminds her of my dad, or maybe it’s just something she’s dealing with. Be prepared for it. (I should clarify that reactions happen right on time, but sometimes it takes our brains a while to really process what has happened, for everything to finally sink in.)

I’m not saying the whole thing doesn’t bother me. This particular situation is over, but it still does. But, Ruthie was able to ease my conscience by saying that God knows the details of the situation and she didn’t think He would condemn me for my actions. From here on out, though, I know that I have to be more consistent, and I have to be firm, but polite.

It’s clear to me what my priorities are, and I want to stand by my convictions.

Hey, didn’t I say this was going to be interesting?

Best Intentions

10 Mar

Sandy, my stepmother, called me this afternoon while I was at the library. This was after a series of text messages about where I was and if I was able to take a call. In hindsight this was pretty polite of her, but at the time I was slightly confused. I told her she could call, which she did, only to ask me whether I had heard of travel nursing or not.

Sandy had not heard of this profession and was very impressed by the hourly rate that an acquaintance’s daughter was making for a job in Connecticut. I listened patiently, thinking I understood where she was going with the discourse. Sure enough, after a minute of talking, she trailed off, wanting me to say something.

I thanked her, both for the information and for looking out for me.

The entire conversation was interesting in the sense that Sandy never calls me. We’ve spoken on the phone at times when I’ve called my dad. I’ve called her at times, when we’re low on garbage bags, when it’s her birthday, etc. She does not call me. As soon as she was done talking about the travel nurse job, that was it. We both got off the phone.

This follows on the heels of my uncle suggesting (perhaps also trying to be helpful) that I attend a two-year college for a physical therapy degree. Besides the fact that you can’t get such a degree in two years, why are people who have little to nothing invested in my life be pushing for me to settle for something so… small?

It was annoying, I admit, since I’ve told her and my father both that I’m going back to school in the first place for physical therapy. I don’t want to be a traveling nurse. I don’t want to stray from the path that I have decided. It took several months of prayer, meditation, and counseling (AKA serious consideration) to make this move at all. To change my mind for a different occupation, even if it is in the same location, feels like betraying myself and the work that I have already put into this journey. Too many people in my generation are wishy-washy and I don’t want to be one of them.

I was talking to my former roommate last night who suggested I create a timeline for them; something to give them some comfort should they start to feel antsy about the amount of time I’m staying in their house. I did not think I had been ambiguous about it, but it’s possible. It’s not a bad idea, a clear timeline. I will prepare one, but I also live in a family whose motto is “Si suus dog noli id reficere.” Until they ask, I will keep the information to myself.