To My High School Self:

Hey kid.

I just thought I’d write you and let you know to keep up doing what you’re doing. You made some bad calls, and some good ones. But those calls contributed to who I am today, and I’m pretty certain you’d be proud of me, even if what I’m doing goes against some of your beliefs.

Your idea to travel after high school – great idea. You’ll be in for some really rough patches, but it will pay off in the end.

I know that you desperately want to drop out of high school and not play into the system – I get and respect that. But even if you finish with piss-poor grades, do yourself the favor and keep at it. Keep skipping class too – I promise it doesn’t make the difference in the long run, if you play your cards right.

You don’t believe in going to college to get a degree to write – and I still agree with that. Why on earth should we spend thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that says we can be creative with words? But, believe it or not, I, a month shy of turning 28, am enrolled in College – well, the community college –  and I’m going for an English degree. Can you believe it? You hate writing essays and that was the whole reason you didn’t want to go for an English degree, and that’s actually the thing that made me want to go for it. Out of nowhere I discovered a love for writing essays.

But things are different now. None of this 5 paragraph structured crap. It’s just a matter of ensuring that your ideas are somewhat organized and flow. You got that one in the bag, but you kind of acquired that skill from Hubpages. It’s a writing platform online you get into when you’re about 24 or 25. It really shaped the way you write. It’s a good thing to embrace.

Not only are you going for an English degree, but you’re a tutor in the Writing Center. To get that you have to have some decent grades – and you do. You have passed every English class so far with more than a 100%. In fact, you have a 4.0 GPA. Yes. You. You, who skipped classes, smoked copious amounts of pot in high school and vowed to do whatever it took to be a writing (starving writer, even). You manage to get and maintain a 4.0.

Here’s the kicker. Here’s the thing that’s going to make your jaw drop. As of today, November 28, 2014 – You are enrolled in an Honors Program at the college, and you’re in Phi Theta Kappa, an Honors Society as well.

Yeah, you might be disappointed that you wound up back in Bellingham. But I promise that it’s a good thing. You need it, as you’ll see as the journey goes on. However, you’ll find your way back out of the Bellingham bubble and out into the world again. I have plans to study at a University in England. Who knows, maybe that plan will change with the advancement of my French and I will study in France, or Belgium, or Morocco.

But I wanted to say thank you, you little snot-nosed punk. Everything you did and will do got me to where I am today, and so I say keep it up. Keep doing what you’re doing. Make wise decisions, but don’t forget to keep living. Remember to experience, but don’t be reckless. Get your energy out so that you can focus when it counts.

Keep up the good work you wanna-be high school drop out. Just don’t drop out.

Sincerely, Present Self

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Studying For Finals

This for some reason is a lot more stressful than I recall for the last two quarters.

Really the grade that I’m most concerned about is my French grade, as I can’t actually see it, so I don’t know what it is before my Final. However, the test that I’m dreading the most is my Math test. All these One-to-one functions, logarithms, natural logarithms, and trigonometry is freaking me out. While I barely grasped the concepts enough to get my through the weekly quizzes and tests, my brain is absent of any inkling of how to do any of it, and I don’t think I have enough space on my 3×5 notecard for all the helpful hints I need.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and for this week our school was kind enough to give us Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off. However, this comes on the eve of Finals week. The good news is that we have a 5 day weekend to study, but the bad news is that it’s a time we’re meant to be spending with out families.

I’m quite annoyed at this new schedule they’ve decided for us for the winter. Next week is only three days long – well, for me, any way – just enough to complete our finals, and then we begin a 5 week break. That is entirely too long of a break to have over Christmas. We live in Washington State, it’s miserable here in the winter. Why not let us start two weeks later in the fall like the rest of the colleges and have longer Summer break?

Anyway, enough of my complaining. Back to my attempt to study and retain math, back to my regurgitation of verb conjugations in French, and back to my contemplation over what the hell I should be writing my final essay on in my British Lit class (It can be on anything we have read over the quarter – which I’m fairly sure is some 100 poems, a hand full of short stories and of course Frankenstein and Hamlet  – and I don’t think I can get away with writing on the latter two again).

Wish me luck, and to all of those facing finals this week and/or next, good luck!

Nearing the End of the Quarter

The days are coming to a close on Fall Quarter.

For some odd reason I consider Fall Quarter to be my first “real” quarter – which of course makes absolutely no sense. I think it’s purely the programming in my head that the school year begins in fall, and thus the two quarters previously have just been a warm up.

Somehow, I am surviving my online math class –  how, I haven’t a clue, and I suppose I shouldn’t speak too soon seeing as I haven’t taken my finals left.

Our school is the only school that decided to alter their year by a week or two. As a result, this week, the week of Thanksgiving, we are only in school today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday), then have the rest of the week off for the holiday, then next week is finals week, and we only have school for three of those five days – and then five weeks off. Five weeks off – that’s far far FAR too much time over these dreary winter months. I’m certain I’ll become an alcoholic during that time out of sheer boredom.

The antibiotics are helping my tooth a lot. I hardly need to take the Hydrocodone – if at all (and I prefer not to as it makes me clench my jaw…guess why that’s a bummer). Plus since I get all loopy, I can’t take it while I’m at school or work any way, so it’s just easier to stick to the over-the-counter pain killers any way. I don’t think I have every looked forward to a dentist visit so much – especially knowing they’ll be removing part of my face! Well, granted, half the tooth is already gone any way (hence the pain), but it’ll be nice knowing the rest of it will be out. After that, I get to pinch my pennies to save up for the other three wisdom teeth to come out to prevent any more of this nonsense.

This is really just a quick update to relieve some of my stress. This quarter has been infinitely easier than last quarter – aside from the logarithms – those were painful, and for that I am grateful. I am shocked at how quickly I’m finding French creeping into my daily vocabulary and thoughts. Introduction to British Literature has been something that I’ve enjoyed, though rarely when I’m in the class proper. It’s more of after a good mull of the day’s discussions that I appreciate it. My teacher is lovely, and clearly has a passion for what she does, and is great at what she does as well. I would like to consider her as a potential mentor along with my formal English teacher.

That’s another thing – I do have to pick a mentor. I am officially in the honors program at school, and next quarter will be taking four classes to fulfil my seminar requirement. In a few days I’ll get up the gumption to sign up for Pi Theta Kappa as well (I have to put the fee on my credit card due to my dental expenses, and I’m trying so hard not to use that thing), which will qualify me for scholarships for which I’ll begin applying for shortly after.

Some good news, along the lines of my wanting to get into my top-pick school – I finally found out what the requirements are to get in for Americans, and it almost makes me want to laugh for all the effort I’ve been putting in – they just want a 3.3 GPA. That’s it.

Well, it says that’s it, but I’m not certain that I trust it. So, I will continue doing my best, making my grades sparkle as well as my resume. That way I can apply to a few different school and hopefully have my pick. That there is a shocking notion to me. But that is a musing for another day.

For now, I need to take my next antibiotic and go to bed. For some unknown reason I am resigned to rise at 5 tomorrow morning – perhaps to get in some French practice, perhaps to start on my final essay. Or maybe I’ll give those infuriating logarithms a gloss over so that I am more mentally prepared for my final in a week.

Adue

Dental For the Struggling College Student in the United States of America

I have a bone to pick with you, government. Mostly this joke of a health care reform we have going on.

I have been suffering from a bad tooth for a couple of weeks now. When it was really getting bad, I started looking into a dentist.

 

Hang on – let’s get some background going on here:

The last time I went to the dentist was when I was in high school. I was told I needed my wisdom teeth out and I said no, mostly because they said they wouldn’t put me under to do so, and I really didn’t dig the idea of watching people take part of my face out. Shortly after, I graduated, and as soon as I did so, I moved to the UK. I never went to the dentist there purely because of stereo typing. I know, shameful. However, there you have it. When I returned I had on and off insurance but I think it only covered medical and vision, not dental. Any way, up until March and for a year prior, I had no insurance. Then the Health Care reform kicked in, and I got laid off and thus wasn’t making enough money which qualified me for the free health care option. The next option was to pay $250 a month with a $50 co pay and $1000 deductible, or something stupid like that. Of course, being jobless (about the time this blog came into play) and deciding to go to school – of course I opted for the free one, since the next option wasn’t any option at all.

I didn’t put anything to use until recently, when my tooth started getting bad, as I lead in with. I began searching for a dentist to take care of it, missing school and everything because the pain was so much that I couldn’t sleep without taking a few pain killers – and I do NOT do pain meds, or really any conventional medicine if I can help it.

I went into Bellingham’s two different walk-in, low-income, sliding scale health clinics. One said they were not taking any new patients, but if it was an emergency I could call every morning at 7:30 to see if there was a slot open, though it was about a two week waiting list on average. The other one said that they wouldn’t take me because I a) am not under the age of 20, b) pregnant or c) have children. I began calling around, asking around, trying to find ANYONE that would take my Apple Health insurance. No one. Not one dentist in this county or the next one.

As the days went on, my pain eased up and became more manageable and the hunt for a dentist was less important. I got so that it was only once every couple of days I needed some ibuprofen or Aleve. I decided I would resume my dentist hunt until after the quarter.

Except that last night my tooth cracked and a chunk fell out, and I discovered this morning an exposed nerve as I attempted to chew my breakfast. I resumed my search, ditching out on my classes again – and a one on one tutoring session, which I feel really bad about. A friend sent me a 1800-find-me-a-dentist number, which promised to find one. I told them my sob story, my insurance and everything. The guy was really nice, very sympathetic and patient. I gave him a list of towns between Bellingham (which by the way, is a stone’s throw from the Canadian boarder) to Olympia (2.5-3 hours away) to try. Every town I could list that was big enough to have  a dentist’s office. And no where – not one place would take my insurance. Not in Seattle. Not in Tacoma. Not in Olympia. Not in Kirkland, Renton, Redmond, Bellevue, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Everett – nowhere.

I want to give this a chance to sink in: There is not one place west of the Cascade Mountains between Olympia, Washington and the Canadian border – 150+ miles – is there a dentist office willing and able to take the low-income health insurance.

The problem with the health care reform is that it didn’t reform anything. It just made sure every one was insured – which is great in an emergency – the kind where a tree falls on you or you stick your hand in a toaster and fall in the bath tub. But for general health, for general check ups, for dental of any sort, for any non-life-threatening medical assistance you might need, the government allowed practices to chose whether or not they would accept this insurance, and they all opted not to. Well, there is an amendment to that statement: all the practices that were not sliding scale/walk-in/low-income opted out. Those that were already low-income became flooded and are at capacity and can’t take any more patients.

Does no one see how messed up this is???

The end to my story is that my mother found a place that took same-day dental emergencies in the next county south an a little ways east. I’ve been to the hospital there when my ex ran into something and his eye started bleeding (turned out it was just his eye lid, but all I could see was his hand covering it and blood between his fingers) – and I was very unimpressed – and thus was not thrilled to be going to the same location for dental. However, I got in quickly, and they were lovely lovely people, and they’re willing to take my tooth out and gave me a prescription for pain killers and antibiotics. Of course, I had to pay in cash, which my mom helped me out with (Thank’s Mom!). The pain killers helped immensely and I will be one tooth less come Wednesday – right before Thanksgiving.

Get your wisdom teeth out. Get insured. And if you can, go to Canada, Mexico – really anywhere that’s not the US if you want any chance at affordable healthcare.

6 Free Writing Podcasts

This is from Writer’s Circle. As mentioned before, I have been becoming addicted to podcasts, and this feeds it! And of course, the first one you see is Writing Excuses 😉

“It’s rare to come across writing tools that are completely free and actually useful. You can ring up quite a tab attending webinars, seminars and retreats. For most writers, those price tags are far out of reach. On the other end of the spectrum, writing tools and tips that are advertised as free have a tendency to disappoint.

“Enter podcasts. They’re portable, engaging, and free. Want to hear straight talk on how to publish your novel? Listen to a lecture from an acclaimed writing professor? Just pop in some earbuds and hit play. You’ll discover hundreds of free podcasts focused entirely on writing and its various subgenres. No matter what kind of writer you are, something is bound to pique your interest. All you need is about 15 minutes and an audio device. “

6 Free Writing Podcasts

Philosophical Debate

I’m certainly having a problem. I have certainly fallen in love, and it’s s much of a bad idea – yet I can’t help but pursue it.

I think I’m in love with Philosophy – and I blame Frankenstein.

Ok, so it’s not all Mary Shelley’s fault – in fact, it’s not her fault at all. After all, she didn’t make me read her book. However, I did have to write an essay on her story of the scientist that created a human being from dead parts. At first, my idea was going to be the effects of solitude, and examine how it lead to Dr. Frankenstein’s demise while it contributed to the positive aspects of his creature’s growth. I didn’t think I could write a full enough paper on that topic alone – but I did like the idea of writing on Prometheanism.

This was something we actually talked quite a bit about in my English 102 class, and so I went through my notes to jog my memory on the concept.

My god. My God. MY GOD – I nearly broke my brain.

Every philosopher we went over could be linked and woven into Frankenstein. At this rate, I was going to write a novel. While I initially had ideas to tie the book into Meillassoux, Toscano, Judith Butler, and Graham Harman, I was having a very hard time figuring out how to organize it. I did what I always do, and just started writing, deciding to organize it later. I took one portion of Meillassoux’s idea and before I knew it I had 14 pages….so I stopped.

Since then I have been sucked into reading Robert Anton Wilson’s Quantum Psychology, have been listening to “The Partially Examined Life” podcast, and can’t stop seeing philosophical connections everywhere….I think I have a problem. I think I have a love and that love is philosophy.

I knew this would happen. I really did. I always told myself I would never take a philosophy class because I would love it too much and the Gods saw fit to trick me – providing me a philosophy class guised as an english class and I fell for it!

Maybe it is just a phase, a puppy love, if you will. A momentary infatuation. Next quarter I’ll e taking Linguistics, and perhaps – just perhaps, it will show me a better path.

Gods have mercy on my educational wants.

Uninspired Essay – Using the Past to Fix it

I’ve been stuck on this essay – well, I say stuck, but truly I mean uninspired…..I say “uninspired” but really I mean procrastinating. While I have enjoyed the concepts behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and I really enjoyed reading from the creature’s perspective, I’ve been at a loss as to what to write about.

The problem is that I’m too bound up in the idea of something different. I know that she reads dozens of essays a quarter and I would like to provide something different and interesting. So my first thought was the effects of forced solitude vs. voluntary solitude of Dr. Frankenstein and the creature, and how one lead to a brilliant evolution and development of philosophical contemplation (the creature), and the other lead to his own demise. I was even going to start or finish or figure out a way to break the paper up with an Ode to Solitude (an extra credit assignment).

But as I got closer to the end of the book, my idea was having cracks and chipping into such minute pieces that they were falling into nothingness.

However, one of the alternate titles for the book is The Modern Prometheus, which got me thinking about the papers I was writing for my English 102 class last quarter. We talked a lot about philosophical ideas, including Prometheanism and Anti-Prometheanism, and I realized that I could draw from my notes from last quarter and write an excellent paper. I even have the entire thing mapped out…I just have 36 hours to get it written and edited and turned in.

The moral of the story is that it’s very useful to keep notes from past classes – you never know what information you might be able to revisit to help you in current/future classes.