Fourth Semester

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This semester I took English 102 which was an amazing experience.  I wrote a 15-page research paper.  My question was, “Can a resident of North Kansas City lessen her ecological impact on the Missouri River over the next six months?”  Interestingly, the answer is no but I learned so much along the way.  I visited the KC Water treatment plant which was really interesting.  I’d like to tour the other utility facilities in KC now (and will). My instructor is now one of my mentors.  She is an amazing person who really inspired me.

I bearly passed intermediate algebra with a C so that destroys my 4.0 streak.  That’s ok because I know where I went wrong and I’ll try harder in Pre-Calculous.  I’ll have to! I’ve found I really enjoy math.  It’s so meditative and I love the feeling of working a big puzzle.  It’s like learning another language, in fact, I found learning Arabic was easier than learning math at the same pace.  I really have to study in my free time this summer to catch up.

Environmental science was awesome.  Another of my mentors was the instructor for this class.  I’ve had him before in the Foundation of Western Civ and Biology learning community class that I loved so much I am now an SI leader.  That means I get eight bucks an hour to sit in on the class again and play learning games for an hour on Friday to help cement what they learned which is so much fun.

I also took an online Library Resource class to help me learn how to better use the library to conduct scholarly research.  Between that class and Eng.102, I really am better prepared to conduct organized research projects.

Things are great at home.  My son is now 16.  I take him with me to school every chance I get so that he may be as familiar with college as possible.  He’s sat in with me in classes and participated in events.  It was really fun for him to see what a typical day in college is like.  I didn’t know what that would look like until last year!

All in all a good semester.  With the challenges of the first three semesters, I thought I would take this one easy.  (Last semester I did 16 credit hours and held two jobs while undergoing the HepC treatment that made me so tired.)  That, looking back, was a big mistake in attitude that cost me my 4.0.  I did B or C work the whole time and then woke up at the end and pulled it together.  It’s funny, without a crisis to escape into (or out of) I didn’t have the same drive that had propelled me before.  I had to motivate myself just for the sake of doing it.  I’m glad I did.

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3rd Semester

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I’m on my third semester. My second year of school. I should graduate from my community college with Associate of Arts then transfer to one of the local universities. There is one that is a little farther away that has programs that I am more interested in than the one right here in the city.

When I first entered school I thought I would major in Anthropology. It has everything I love… looking into the past, the study of culture, a chance to travel. I also love history and think the two would support each other. If I went to the nearby college it would look perhaps like a double degree (or double major) in both history and sociology with a cultural anthropology focus. But what do I do with it afterward?

I’ve been saying that I would make finishing school my first goal and mental priority but be aware of and take advantage of opportunities along the way.  I took my first job at the school this semester as a Peer Mentor and I’m so happy have accomplished the goal of taking one more step away from the service industry. As of now, I would love to work in academia forever. I would be perfectly happy living out my days in collage.

However, when I think of my aspirations as a kid and search my personal values I remember that there are really interesting Peace and Conflict Studies programs around the world. What if I used the eventual anthro/history background to master in peace studies? What if I used this life for something greater and not just to retreat into a comfy campus office somewhere? There is a college with a PhD program in Costa Rica that was founded by the UN, for example. Notre Dame has one of the leading programs in the country. What if, just to try, I just sent out those applications and see what happens??? I have a 4.0… I’m involved…I’m learning Arabic…. why not right?

A lot can happen in the next four years.

In the past year my mother survived breast cancer, my father prostate cancer, my son was diagnosed with Berger’s Disease, and I started treatment after years of trying for HepC. It’s been a huge year and we’ve settled into life in our new neighborhood. Life is exciting and peaceful and real. I am… so happy and grateful.

My Second Semester…. and breast cancer

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My second semester will always be associated with my mother’s chemotherapy. Yes, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and finding out was like a tornado ripping through the end of my first semester but it’s the treatment that is terrible now.

She’s lost her hair and she’s sick. She’s sick with something new and in a different way every week. Every treatment gets worse in some new blindsiding way.

I’m watching from a distance… she’s to sick to have us over all the time. We have a household of our own chugging away over here. My son is a teenager with all the drama and irritation that comes with that. I have school, we have work, errands to run, dogs to care for. I feel like I can’t get close enough to work my way into their lives. When I try to get closer they move farther away like a dream. I wonder why it is that I happen to live so close to her for the first time in my adult life but she is still so far away. Perhaps I’ve been gone to long and the damage is done. The wedge is permanently stuck there.

Underneath this is my father who doesn’t call. We don’t talk unless it’s a holiday or I call him. I don’t think he knows mom is sick and it’s not my place to tell him. I wonder why he doesn’t call…

Mom’s cancer is like a full time job, she says. There is no any one thing that can make it better or change it. There is no speeding up the process or giving up on it. It seeps and snakes it’s way into everything. I’m helpless to watch and it goes on regardless.

School is an escape. Writing, talking, learning, history, growing, changing… I’m in charge and that part of my life is a direct reflection of how much work I put into it. My life is abstract but school is frameable. Milestones seem to happen in hindsight in life but each class I pass, every paper I write, every test I ace is a milestone I climbed over myself.

Does anyone else have an experience like this?

My First Semester

My first semester I took four classes.

I had to take a mandatory College100 class where they taught things like study skills, note taking, and took personality tests. I learned that I have a strong “growth mindset” (after the book by Dr. Carol S. Dweck) and that I like to study in the morning preferably to music (classical, jazz, atmospheric). We took the Holland personality test and I found out that I’m artistic, investigative, and social. The class was about finding out who we are, identifying where we are going and useful tools on how to get there. It was a good college foundation class. If you can’t pass class then I’m not sure how you can hope to complete a degree. I was shocked at how many students refused to turn in their work or participate. I formed a good bond with that teacher and she’s written me a very touching letter of recommendation for a big scholarship I hope to get.

I took an anthropology and history class which changed my life and the way I see the world. There have been countless times that I have been able to apply what I learned in those classes in the way I perceive the world and the people in it. I’m thinking about double majoring in history. I think a lot of the classes would be the same. I’ve heard it adds about a year to my degree plan. I’m in no rush so why not?

I took an American politics class during The election. Taking that class during that period of time was an important thing for me to do. It was a condensed class and there was a lot of reading and the content was frustrating. Our government is frustrating so it’s no surprise I found the subject irritating.

We watched a documentary about Emmett Till. It made my blood run cold and I cried in the bathroom for a long time after class. I’m wondering if perhaps social justice isn’t what I’m really supposed to do here.

What has inspired you in school? Was there anything that you learned that changed the direction of your plan?

 

My Inaguration Day Student Protest

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Today Donald Trump was sworn into office. I attended a protest here in Kansas City with a couple of friends from school. What a strange thing I can say at 39 years of age.  The last protest I attended was the Iraq war under George W.

It was peaceful and I’m proud of the turnout. I’m proud of the show of Democracy that KC displayed. It was nice to be around other like minded people and represent our city. Some of the protesters were so angry, some came with no signs and seemed to enjoy just being there, and all came with different causes to represent. Black lives matter, the women’s movement, the green party, and so many other groups all united sharing the same worry, anxiety, anger, and fear. I think we all share the same hope, love, and compassion as well.

In a way it’s strange that all these different people would come together for this very strange cause. I wonder how divided this country is becoming. Everything is so different than when I was a kid. But the same problems existed then, we just didn’t talk about it. And so now we are talking and we vow never to stop. I say bring it all out in the open. We were wrong before to hid our true feelings. We were hypocrites and we have always, as a nation, been less than truthful.

If we really are to be a great nation we have to be honest, open, and compassionate. We have to admit that we are less than “great” and listen to each other. Then we have to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and walk around a bit with each other.

The thing that I’m most horrified about is that Trump is such a cheesy glittery display of what is wrong with the world. He’s a humiliating representation of America that is more accurate than we care to admit and it shames me. He’s greed, gluttony, aggression, and gloat all wrapped up like an American Dream. He’s every prep school rapist who got away with it. He’s every murderer who would never serve the sentence a brown person would because they couldn’t pay for a decent lawyer. He’s who benefits from the privatization of prisons. He’s the reason for oil pipelines digging up sacred ground. He’s the corporate tax loophole while the rest of us pay. He’s the establishment that everyone had been trained to distrust disguised in a cheap red working class ballcap. He’s the “upstairs” who scoffs at the cries of the 99.

I’m so sad that anyone could think this ego stageman is the answer. I’m sad that the system had let us down. The trust we have given to be governed has been broken so long ago and so many horrific times. I’m sad that there are so many good things in the world that can live side by side unseen with such disappointment. I am exhausted that evil exists in the world. I am mourning for another missed opportunity. For one step forward we take to evolve it seems to me today that we have once again taken two steps backward into hatred and fear.

So I’m spending the next four years reflecting, growing, and learning. I think it’s a wonderful time to be in school where I get the opportunity to research, connect with diversity, and fight for compassion. I’m using this time for self expansion. Maybe I could smell the winds changing and that’s why I felt the unrest to go back to school. Maybe there is somethings I need to know to fight the fight ahead of me. I know that I can’t be of use to others unless I put my head to the books and put what I can do to help into context.

I have always felt that there was something important I was supposed to be doing. Everyday pouring drinks as a bartender it nagged at me. “Your adding to the problem,” the voice said. But when I help others I feel fulfilled. When I’m learning the world lites up and expands and shows me with such great compassion that I feel the need to free pain of the unjustly burdened. How can I lift the whole world up? I am naive, I know. I still hear it, though…. yes we can. Throughout time, we have always had the opportunity.

Yes we can.

Three simple words that transcended the man and our country. But it’s still the truth that is self evident.