Reading

•January 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’d forgotten how intellectually stimulating it is to read regularly. I’m sad that I’ve left it for so long, but as I’ve been having a rather rough time the last year or two, I’ve been afraid to leave myself alone with my thoughts for too long. I buried myself in other people for distraction, or spent hours on the internet, favoring things like Pinterest and Tumblr for the constant stream of new distractions. Being able to read again is such a relief.

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Feelings Dump. Trigger Warning: Heterosexism, Racism

•April 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As I mentioned the other day, I am now in counseling. I think it helps, but I’m starting to feel that I am a real piece of work and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to figure it out. I suppose I’ll start with the issue that’s been upsetting/depressing me most consistently: Racism, heterosexism, and the inability to recognize the impact of privilege.

It has been incredibly difficult to bring myself to write about this publicly, or even talk about it with someone who would be experienced because I don’t want to make these issues about myself, and I don’t want to make anyone I could potentially talk to feel tokenized. But I need some sort of outlet here before I explode again, if only to clarify my thoughts. To anyone reading this who might be wondering why I have to write this publicly, it’s because it’s the only way I can bring myself to write about it at all. For some reason, trying to journal privately just makes me feel ashamed and frustrated. I guess this is me trying to reach out.

It takes a lot of effort for someone as shy as myself to speak up about racism or homophobia, but I’ve managed a few times when I thought that I had a receptive audience. If the person I’m talking to recognizes that there are other valid perspectives, and that they were saying or doing something that made assumptions about what is “normal,” then it’s a lot easier to get through. The real struggle right now is that my closest friends here at school are white males who have never really had their culture and its inherent beliefs about what is “normal” questioned. They are not stupid, and they are not immediately bigoted–it’s only when these things happen to come up that I realize their real beliefs. Unfortunately, it took a while for these things to come out–long enough to develop a strong friendship based on other factors. I suppose you can say that they are tolerant, but not accepting, which is incredibly hard to deal with. I’m constantly torn between my beliefs–I want to try to show them the error in their perceptions, but I have never believed in telling people what to think. I sometimes want to leave and try to find other friends, but at this point they have done so much for me and I know that it’s only the easiest way out–leaving would allow them to continue and there will probably be no opportunities for them to hear about these issues. At worst, I might end up confirming their beliefs that people who talk about oppression in US society as whiny blowhards who can’t handle “reality.”

Let me give an example–I’ve heard this many times: “If people are offended, then that’s their choice to be offended. It’s not my fault that I’m telling the truth and there’s no reason for me to feel bad about offending them.” How the hell can I respond to that kind of belief? They are so certain that they are right and taking the most logical route, that arguing with them will only result in them taking my opinion less seriously, and remaining silent is practically agreement.

Trigger Warning below–Racism, anti-Native American, heterosexism, general assholery.

That is only the tip of the iceberg, however. I cannot believe some of the conversations I’ve been having lately, where they complain about a Native American class because they think their professor is stupid for trying to show them that Native Americans aren’t “savages, even though they fail to meet any of the criteria of a civilized society–they’re uneducated, stupid, prone to alcoholism, and all of their societies have failed. And we’re blowing millions of dollars to help them continue to fail.” I am still at a loss for words.

Even my boyfriend, who I thought could pretend to be sympathetic, really can’t. When he asked me what we did at an ally meeting, I started telling him about how we’re trying to develop a program to educate people about some of the basic facts and challenges involving being an LGBT person. At first he seemed receptive, then made some offhand comment about only knowing people in high school who “pretended” to be gay, and said that he couldn’t really understand the issues facing them because “there just aren’t any.” He claims that there are no challenges facing LGBT people, basically implying that they should just get over it. I tried to explain that feeling rejected or unacceptable is very powerful, and even if they weren’t discriminated against directly, the psychological pressure of these feelings should not be disregarded, and really needed to be worked against. He basically conceded that he had never experienced anything like this and would never understand how this feels (which I think is probably true), but really didn’t seem willing to try to understand in the first place.

I really don’t know how much longer I can stand being in a group of people who will, at best, just blow off other people’s problems because they are not their own and at worst…well, entirely justify racism and think that they’re being logical free-thinkers for doing so.

And again, back to my conflicts. I don’t know what the right thing to do is. I can try to put myself first and leave the group, but that isn’t fixing anything. It feels like the cowardly way out. I would like to change their minds, but I don’t think I can. I can break it off with my boyfriend, but that just feels like attempted emotional blackmail, and again, will probably just reinforce their beliefs about people who get offended. I just feel useless as an ally, and weak as a person.

Again?

•April 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I’m slipping back into the depression, it seems. I finally sought out a therapist, provided free of charge at my university, so hopefully I’ll start to work through all of these feelings and underlying beliefs in some sort of meaningful way.

This is what is happening in my life right now.

Snow Daze

•February 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well, the school year is just getting underway for me, and now we’re having two consecutive snow days due to the blizzard that hit Chicago. Don’t see me complaining.

I’m really pretty happy with my classes so far, but I can’t help but worry about how I’m going to keep it all together. The problem I have is that there are only two classes that I really care about, while I kinda let the other ones slide. Luckily, they’re very entry level classes in a community college–which means that anyone with a moderate level of intelligence can do pretty well for themselves in them. Not that I’m knocking the community college. I quite like it here, and I wish that this was what high school was like. I seem to fare a lot better with more freedom. Go figure.

I really should go to sleep and maintain my precarious circadian rhythm: I have to leave at 6:20am three days of the week to make it to school at 8:00, and possibly I’ll have to leave later because of the egregious amount of snow that has fallen. But I’ve gotten a sudden burst of energy, courtesy of Death in Vegas.

I have this perpetual problem of juggling all the things I want to do, and constantly accumulating more ideas for hobbies and activities. Such as, I really should be drawing all the time, or perhaps painting, but I haven’t got the time because I should always be studying biology all the time. I would like to continue bellydancing, as I’ve kept it up for a year, but now I’m poor. And why am I poor? Because I just paid for a trip to Egypt (which may or may not happen now). So I should also be studying Arabic all the time. Or I should be cleaning and organizing all the time. Oh, and I’m a student, so I should be generally studying all the time. I kinda want to start taking care of my nails and stop biting them, but I’d need to be painting and filing them all the time. I should cook healthy stuff for myself. I should pack a lunch everyday. I’ve also got deadlines for essays, applications, financial aid, taxes, assignments, research, mandatory school activities, and so on. It’s troublesome. It’s hard to be well-rounded.

Particularly when you have time management troubles as I do. My one saving grace is that I work and read and write pretty quickly. At least I think I do, but it could simply be that I get so absorbed in what I’m doing that I lose track of time. Very possible. I’m an artist, it’s in my nature.

Unfortunately, it is also in my nature to be a perfectionist, as well as a total slob. These are indeed related! I never clean anything or get much done in a timely manner because it won’t be perfect enough for me. I have FlyLady to thank for that realization.

I am NOT going to promise to start blogging every day, or every week, because I know I won’t. I do enjoy the luxury of having a sounding board, and somewhere to dump my thoughts idly. Have a good night.

#%$&%^*

•August 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Evidently, I’ve been stressed of late. Never have I been so regular about posting! Well, I suppose the only way to move is forward, and the best way to do that is simply to indulge myself and purge my worries.

I’ll start with my email being hacked this morning. Not sure how it happened yet, but I’m trying to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, at the expense of my own convenience. Thankfully, this is probably cleared up now. I suppose I wouldn’t complain if someone sent me a few thousand pounds, anyway…

I hardly really want to write about the thing that’s weighing on my mind the most right now, but I know that if I want a decent amount of sleep before the lengthy weekend ahead of me, I must.

J**** B****** IS A BITCH.

Ahhh…much better.

Well, perhaps not. It all started when I was running the center while my boss was away. She came in, complaining that her son wasn’t doing multiplication yet, and wanted him to start. She had already sent my boss two emails, the second threatening to leave. I tried to reassure her with the information that my boss had left me for her–her son would move up to the next level by the end of the month–two weeks away. She was not completely satisfied with that, but I told her there was not much that I could do as my boss was away for two weeks. I offered to make sure that her son could at least do multiplication flashcards. With that, she left. Four days later, they were back in again. She complained that one of her sons (or both, I don’t remember) didn’t get their reading homework. Acknowledging to myself that it was quite possible that I had made a mistake, I apologized. She went on to complain that she was paying for both subjects, and I wholeheartedly agreed with her. She, however, was on a roll. Despite my reassurances, she cut me off with an abrupt “When is [your boss] coming back?” Though taken aback, I tried to assume that she didn’t mean to be rude and simply answered her. After she left, my coworker approached me and asked if she was trying to diss me by asking when our boss would be back. I tried to shrug it off, though honestly my feelings were rather hurt.

The following Thursday, she came in complaining that her sons were not in long enough. I had already made sure that they had all their work, and I asked them if they had done it. They said yes. She was not satisfied, once again. I asked my coworker, who said with certainty that they had. Next Monday, she was back in again, telling me that she could not wait a week for her son to do multiplication. I tried telling her again that there was nothing I could do within the franchise rules. I tried looking for ways to work it out for her, but I really couldn’t devise anything. She asked again when my boss would be back, and left in a huff.  My boss was back that Wednesday, and somehow managed to work it so that her sons could take tests to pass to the next level. She wrote them a very polite email, and Mrs. B***** finally seemed satisfied. For about a week.

Which brings us to yesterday, Wednesday. She had apparently called. My boss took the call, but mistook her for another parent calling to say that they would come in that day instead of Thursday. Expecting the other parent, we were surprised when her sons came walking in a day early. My boss and I asked them to wait a couple minutes while we got their work ready for them. Mrs. B***** came walking in after them. With only good intentions, I advised her to call before coming in early. When she told me she did, I was surprised and asked her boys to wait just a second. I asked my boss, who realized her mistake. I asked the boys if they had their work that we had assigned for the day, but they had already done it. This complicated matters further, but eventually we got it worked out. Later, when they were ready to leave, Mrs. B***** came in, apparently complaining to my boss about payment. My boss had given her a printout of what was due, as she was $100 short. Mrs. B***** protested, not understanding what was on the sheet. When my boss tried to clarify, Mrs. B****** kept saying that it was annoying, and yet again threatened not to keep coming to Kumon.

Later that day, she sent my boss an email essentially insulting the both of us and the center as a whole. She claimed that I had copped an attitude with her, and that the center was very disorganized while my boss was away–and that she was not the only one who thought so. She went on to claim that I had tried to stop the boys from coming in that day, and that my boss and I had treated her like she was an idiot. So on and so forth. It appears to me that she is extremely over sensitive, felt that she was an idiot on Wednesday, and decided to take out her insecurities on us.

To be fair, I do hope that this is not really the case, and this is all merely due to circumstance–a strange chain of misunderstandings and mistakes. On some counts, I can understand her being upset, however, not to the unreasonable extent that she became so. I wish that when problems arose that I could actually assist her with or rectify, she would have said something. For example, if they boys were missing pages, she or they could have alerted us later so that we could leave it out for them–if not at the center itself. However, I do take responsibility for that, simply because I do not know what actually happened to those worksheets. There really isn’t anything else here that I truly feel responsible for, though. I’ll take the fall for my boss misunderstanding who was on the phone–it was probably because of my suggestion that another family would call that she made the mistake. However, J***** consistently tried to bully me into bending franchise rules that I was not qualified to bend. She misrepresented my attempts at helping, reassuring, and assisting as “attitude.” (When my boss told me that she said I had copped an attitude, I laughed with disbelief. I am a remarkably patient person, and no matter how much any parent has tried my nerves, I have never raised my voice or said anything rude to them). Perhaps the center was a bit more disorganized than usual on my watch–I was doing the work of two people, one of which is much older and more experienced and trained than I am. Perhaps I didn’t hang over their shoulders as much as I should have, or something. I’m not sure. If someone was being rude or copping an attitude there, though, it was not me.

Aaaaallll of that said…her sons are very sweet, and I’ll be sorry if she decides to punish them for her own mistake. The son who she made such a fuss about really ought not have gone to the next level, he was well placed. His multiplication will not be up to par if he (she) does not allow the time to learn addition. She also wrote in the email that the our teaching method was one she could get behind. My ass. This whole thing was about her trying to cheat the system. That never ends well for the student when a parent tries to take advantage of our good rates and manipulate them to try to get different benefits. Her continuous threats to leave didn’t help either–it just gives us less of an incentive to bend over backwards for her if she’s going to be gone the next day. Nevertheless, we are still doing our best for her. Her most recent email basically stated that she was not sure if they’d come the next scheduled day, but we have pulled for them anyway. I will greet all of them with a smile if they do, as I have for the past three weeks. I’ll take this moment to note that I have never taken any of this out on her sons–nor will I. Everyone at the center knows that kids really can’t help the parents they’ve got. And they do work hard. I can only assume that they have a very mellow father.

•August 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I think I am finally ready to take control. I will need some help, naturally, but I really want to hold myself accountable for what I do from now on.

I spent a  lot of today trying to be “mindful.” Trying to combat the feelings of duality–the feeling that it’s me against the world. As I’ve said in a private post before, I was beginning to lose faith in myself. I felt unintelligent, incapable. But you know, overall, I’m damn lucky. Perhaps I’m not always going to be the best in the room, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the person who is–or myself. Certainly it would be easier if my coworker didn’t feel the need to point out my mistakes, but in the end, I think he does purposefully and somehow he knows that’s what’s best for me. He’s just one of those people. I do trust him, though he’s annoying at times. But I suppose this is when I answer myself with the excellent quote I just read:

“Remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.  Do the very best you can; & then put up your old umbrella & keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck.” – Dale Carnegie

I am doing the best I can, I will continue to do the best I can, and I believe that if I keep doing my best, my best will get better. If I were already perfect, I would never grow–and stagnation is death.

•July 30, 2010 • Comments Off on

It’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to know what people really think of you, who you really are, what you’re really capable of. I mean, when many people tell you one thing about yourself that you feel pretty good about, you’d think you’d be pretty secure about it. But there are really some things where all it takes is one person to come along and shatter it. And can you really blame that one person? Or is it really yourself?

So many people say that we should live by what other people think of us, we should live by other people’s rules. And to a degree, I agree with that. But when you’re working, or in school, or otherwise interacting with other people, their opinions of you make all the difference. And for all the honorable advice people give, what people think of us really does define part of who we are. There are people who pretend it doesn’t so convincingly, but it’s still there.

I’m generally a fairly secure person. At least I think so. I spend a lot of time being grateful for who I am and my gifts–looks, character, intellect, and luck, for the most part. It’s not unwavering security by any means. I can’t blow off insults from other people immediately, but after I take some time to deal with it–a couple minutes to a few hours–I’m fine. I’ve always had a lot of faith in myself, and that goes along with holding high expectations for myself as well.

But lately I’ve been really…really having doubts. I’ve been repeatedly making dumb mistakes at work. Mistakes no one else seems to make, but everyone else seems to catch. Small, ridiculous oversights. I always thought I had great attention to detail, but not a day at work goes by where I haven’t messed something up. I can’t seem to keep a train of thought going, and my concentration is suffering. I’ve been forgetting words mid-sentence, and I get self-conscious, which makes everything worse. I feel like all my thoughts are coming at me three at a time, and I can’t keep anything straight anymore. I thought multi-lateral thinking was supposed to be a gift. Everything I thought I was good at is becoming so mediocre.

I used to be sensitive to other people’s needs–I could see things from their perspectives, and I could make things clear for them. Now I feel like I’m trying to talk to people through a glass wall–they only see my useless gestures, but my meaning is lost.