Sunday, June 3, 2012

a transformative semester

I'm writing after almost two months and I don't know where to begin. A lot has definitely happened, but I'm questioning exactly which memories make the past few months special. Without question, this year (counting in semesters) was transformative. After being a part-time student last Fall 2010 and taking a medical leave of absence during the Spring 2011 semester due to surgery (read previous posts if you're confused), I began Fall 2011 part-time but continued Spring 2012 as a full-time student... and though I was hesitant and anxious about whether or not I'd have to drop a class or two because of Lupus-stress or the random pains, it all worked out. This is a blessing. I didn't have to drop any class...the only thing I dropped this semester were pounds. 45 in total. But this post isn't another weight rant. 

Before and after my left hip replacement and right hip core decompression, my orthopedic surgeon (the hip/knee specialist) strongly advised me to be home-schooled because of the severe Avascular Necrosis (AVN) on my major bones/joints (shoulders/elbows/ankles/hips/knees). AVN is a degenerative condition, meaning my bones are progressively deteriorating/dying with time. Time is a scary concept. This is the reason why I never plan for the future because really, how can I? I don't know which days I'll feel extremely well nor do I know when I'll be in bed all day. I'm forced to take it one day at a time. This is how I live and it's beautiful. Going back to Dr. Sinha's advice, I remember crying, but more importantly while crying, I told him home-schooling is not an option. I don't know if it's because I have a chronic illness that makes going to school and completing college so important or my love for knowledge (the second option makes me sound like the illest nerd, I know). It could be both... But I think it's the mobility and the ability to take the train, transfer to the bus, and walk to class which keep me moving and make this crap of a degree worth it. I didn't listen to him then, and I don't think I'll ever take his advice. If I'm going to be in school, I'm gonna be in a school -- which is definitely not at home!

There's not much to write in terms of what's been going on in my life, but I think this post will revolve around some of the greater motifs of the Spring 2012 semester. 

I'm still undeclared, but I've been taking Women's and Gender Studies and Broadcast Journalism classes. Clearly, I'm not thinking about my future (lol). Joke all you want, it's okay. I've become more of a feminist this semester. And with it, I feel the need to involve myself in women's issues and in all-women settings (will explain this in my next post)... I don't know if this is extreme, but I love it. This doesn't mean that I hate men or that I'm a lesbian. For me, feminism is about loving, accepting, challenging, empowering, and being the best woman I can be. I don't know what it is that pulls me closer to gender and sexuality studies... I really don't. But what I know is that these classes have helped me to become a very tolerant and perhaps a liberal individual in trying to understand what makes us the way we are -- I'm talking in terms of sociology, not biology! A different approach, but it makes sense. With that being said, I'm addicted to patriarchy and rape! Okay that came out wrong... This semester I took two very contrasting classes -- Core History and Sociology of Gender -- both of which inspired me to study and research global patriarchy and wartime rape of women. What's more exciting though is the fact that I know I want to pursue a PhD -- most likely in some gender and sexuality concentration!!! I know I don't plan for the future... but this is something that will happen.

"What's the most amazing thing that has happened to you in the past week(s)?" Think about it. Because this is a question that my classmates and I had to answer in my Sight, Sound, & Motion class. The question has nothing to do with the class or the day's lecture. Every week, the professor would ask some crazy-ass, random question. It's sad that this is what I remember from the entire class... but each week was a life lesson. Do you ever stop and think to remember what amazing thing happened during one week? What do we account as amazing? Maybe I'm looking too deeply into this, but on the real though, isn't it a great question? In response, after much thought, the only thing that came to mind for that week, was my stolen phone. Being without my baby for that one whole day was actually amazing... We all know I can't live without it, but I felt so light and unburdened. After that incident, I decided that each week I'd turn off my phone for a day... that hasn't happened yet. Fail. But the moral of the story, for me, amazing was more of a feeling than tangibility. It's weird, but I like it. 

For some other question he asked, I shared what is probably the craziest thing that has ever happened to me... it still freaks me out. While on my way to school on morning, I was accompanied by a bunch of art students with their sketch pads and pencils. I didn't think anything of it until after looking around the cart I realized everyone was sleeping or acting asleep... except for the art students who were coincidentally sketching these people... Just imagine everyone on the cart sleeping except for you... it's freaky as fuck, completely out of the norm, made me all jittery. I legit thought I was going crazy. Professor Jannone, because of you I'll always remember these and many other small moments that seem to have taken over my life. Thanks.

Throughout the entire semester, I wasn't on good terms with my best friend of 8 years. Many years and much depth. I won't go into the details of the fight but what I've learned is worth sharing. Yes, we've rekindled our friendship and it's one that will be stronger and better. While trying to solve and fix our friendship, we initiated several conversations via text and Facebook messages. A big NO. A big fail too. Texting and FB messaging made everything worse. We're both very, very stubborn people. She with her essay-long texts... and when mass texts come in, they're usually jumbled and hard to comprehend. I was never able to keep up. And me, I love to jump to conclusions. Upon trying to unscramble her texts, I'd give up and write something like, "That's it, we're done!" or "You don't need a friend like me. Take care of your life. Good bye." These messages via text sound dramatic and were definitely not the way to go. I ended up un-marrying her on Facebook and she ended up unsubscribing from my page... yup, hilarious, but reality. One day we finally decided to meet and talk. This was the best thing. Our friendship was saved by one face-to-face conversation. We were finally ourselves. Talking things out in person is so important and something we had never really done in the eight years. Our previous fights would ease with time. And with my other friendships, arguments would fade, a phone conversation was suffice, or we'd go our separate ways. This time we both took the initiative to talk and work on our shortcomings to strengthen our friendship. Change is possible only when you look within yourself (and of course you have to admit that you have a problem). I justify some of my behaviors as genetic or cultural... "This is the way I am". But what I've realized with her help is that if I try I can change some of the things I've brushed off as something rooted with my personality. We all have the ability to change our harshest characteristics. At least I believe so. 

I'm not letting you go anytime soon. Lesson learned... we're re-married and subscribed! 
Junior year of high school. Fashion show.
Noticing small details, observing surroundings, altering obstructive opinions, becoming passionate about women's research, identifying as a feminist, and accepting love. That's what this semester was about. 

I'll end with a very important quote by bell hooks, one of my favorite feminist writers:  

"It's in the act of having to do things that you don't want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego."