Category Archives: School

The Artist

“T.T., I want to talk to you about something.”

I stop in my tracks and turn around. This happened maybe 4 years ago now, but I still remember this part clearly. It’s the secretary at work, who I’ve always gotten along with very well–and yet she sounds concerned. Maybe even upset.

“I keep hearing you tell people that you’re just an aide. You’re not ‘just’ an aide! You’re not ‘just’ anything. . .”

I don’t remember how she finished her thought. Something about me being valuable or something. I don’t remember how I responded; I think maybe I kind of laughed it off, at least in my attitude. The conversation niggled in and stuck in my craw, but the point–I told the niggling thought–was that patients were asking me clinical questions, and I was appropriately clarifying that I wasn’t a clinician: I was “just an aide.” Why was the conversation getting stuck in my head, then? Because–I knew she was right. I knew I said Just all the time about myself. I knew she was picking up on my attitude. I belittle my role, and she was right to call me out on it.

And now, 4 years later, God is reminding me I wasn’t listening hard enough, as Emily P. Freeman says almost the exact same thing, word for word. I was so startled to find Emily’s writing because it so neatly coincided with my own (I thought) private world of thoughts. One of the things I was thinking about this summer was art: about how my actions showed that I devalued it–threw it out the door in favor of “responsibilities” and “duty” and “things that had to be done.” Now, my mind was being prodded into remembering another facet of who God was: The Creator. The Artist.

In my mind, responsibility and duty superseded art. But was this God’s construct, or mine? Was God more concerned that I finished my homework than engage in creative endeavors? Was God more worried about the unswept floor than the rich form of expression we call “art”? I found that it was my construct. What I was worried about. What I was afraid of. I found that in creating, I better understood God. I would look at my art, my unique and peculiar expression, and feel so fondly about it–and in a moment that comes suddenly but lasts longer than the clock would claim, I understand God looking fondly on His creation. I found that God had a joy in creating, a joy which He was pleased to have us share in.

I dismissed art, because it was fun. It was pleasurable. Therefore, somehow, it must take second fiddle to the things which are odious, burdensome. Work before play, right? It seemed so virtuous. But God made fleeting lilies of the field, Just to be beautiful. Just to be Art. What I thought was important was not necessarily what God thought was important. What I thought I had to do was not necessarily what God wanted to do through me.

Emily writes about living art. Emily writes about turning everything you do into art. Emily writes about acknowledging art–and about not sticking a “Just” in front of it. Emily and I, I think, are talking about the same thing, even if we are finding different words for talking about it.

We are art, because we are the creation of The Artist. And that means we are not “Just” anything. You can try to cram that “Just” in there somehow, but if you ask me, “we’re Just made in the image of the Living and Holy God” sounds like a pretty lame use of the word “just.”

But somehow, we think we can. We think we can say that our declared list of things to do is more important than responding to reverberating Voice within us that says “Create!” We think we can use the word “Just” to refer to ourselves, somehow forgetting that what we are really doing is using the word “just” on the handiwork and design of God, the Alpha and Omega.

And I am sitting quietly under this rebuke, because I have been again speaking “just” over myself. But in the quietness that remains, there is now room for hope to grow. I am not, my situation is not, life is not Just. And I do not have to labor or work hard over being “Not-Just.” I am Not-Just because of the One who created me, and continues to pour through me His vision and His delight. I don’t need to make sure that I’m being properly and dutifully Not-Just in whatever role I’m in; I need to quietly sit back and recognize that I am Not-Just in those roles because He is the one who called me to those roles, to show a reflection of Himself through the expression of putting me where I am. I need to delight in what He is pouring through me, not think that I have right to dismiss my existence as Just.

One of the problems I had transition from work back to being in school was the Just. When I was working as a physical therapist assistant, I could see, I felt, so much more clearly, how God was using me. He was using me to pour out His healing, His comfort, His expression of love on His creations. But when I went back to school, I became “Just a student.” What was the point? What was I doing? What was I accomplishing? In effect, I was promoting the opinion that God had no use for students. In effect, I was saying that God could make anything beautiful out of academia. In effect, I was saying that since I had declared the whole system a farce, God must not care about any of it or any one in it, either. I was declaring it all a waste of time to be Just a student, and then despondently asking God why He had called me to such a worthless position.

But God did not call me to be Just a student–and indeed, I cannot be Just a student, even if I wanted to be, with God pouring out His own idea of how He would choose to express Himself through a student–and not even “a” student–through me. He could use any student; He chose me, knowing how He created me and how He would use me. And He was busy making me Not-Just a student, whether I was going to open my eyes to that fact or not.

This is a curious thing, because it means, among other things, that it’s not about you. Trust me, I have plenty of prayers about what I think, what I want, what I need. What I think I want or need. But God didn’t make only me, and, even curiouser, I am not the only person on the campus, either. So self-absorbed I can easily become, that it seems quite odd that God could have sent me where He did, when He did, not because of me. I could have the teacher I have, not because I need the teacher, but because the teacher needs me as a student.

One might think this idea could have crossed my mind before–or at the very least, that I would not be so caught off guard by it. No; it is a testament to my narrow-mindedness that I have been much more busy thinking “Dear God, please have mercy on me in the teachers that you send my way” instead of recognizing that there could be teachers He is having mercy on.

Those who know how very frustrated I can and do get with certain teachers are probably thinking that my teachers do need prayers for mercy shown them; well, I don’t blame you (that is another can of words, my friends, and a topic not to be addressed at already 10pm and 13,000 words. A little focus is needed, here). What I have been struck with in the last few weeks, though, is the utter discouragement of my physics professor. He seems to have such a desire to teach and to be making such an effort to teach–and it is seeming to be so lacking in effecaciousness and so utterly vain. His posture, his voice, his expression–all of it speaks of being so weary of fighting this battle.

I have seen it all change, in flashes, in bits and pieces, glimpses here and there that go by so quickly that it only increases the wonder of having seen it at all. Did you see what you thought you saw? That flash of light across the heavens? It was unmistakable, what you saw, but it’s gone already. I haven’t been often able to put into words what it is that I see, and yet it lodges within me like the words of my co-worker 4 years ago. I wasn’t sure what what it was, when he said of course he remembered me. I was totally caught off guard by the evident relief and–was it pride?–in his voice when he said that my exam was the last one he’d gotten in his hands, but the first one he’d graded–and that I’d done quite well.

I kept trying to find the words for it, and I would draw up blank, set the matter aside–and then come back to it again. It wasn’t until last Friday that I finally realized what I was seeing. I told him that I’d taken him up on his recommendation to be a tutor for one of his other classes with many struggling students, and now–there was more of a spring in his step, he was standing a little straighter, his eyes were a little brighter, there was more of smile on his face. He had the demeanor of a man who’s had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and the realization was so sudden I lost my train of thought and had to start my sentence over. This teacher is nearly at the end of his rope.

That seemed so much like the role of a student, not the teacher–but then, when had I considered what it was like to try to reach row after blank row of students? It never occurred to me that God could look down and say, “Oh, teacher, you need the encouragement of a student who actually wants to learn. I will send one.” Not Just a student; the one He sent. Or say, “Oh, teacher, you need someone to help you bridge the chasm between you and your students who say, ‘you can tell he wants to help you learn and that he’s trying to help you and trying to be accommodating, but he can’t explain things to you, because he’s just too smart!'” That’s what she said, when she came to me for help on Friday, and I laughed, only because I could see the picture so clearly in my minds eye. Her, floundering, overwhelmed; him, aware she was drowning but struggling to find any possible way to make it any simpler than he already had. Both of them, frustrated.

It’s a rather odd sensation when you realize that while you’ve been preoccupied about one thing, God has been merrily going about something else in a steady sort of a way without you ever realizing. It makes you just a tad more aware of how unaware you are. I certainly did not return to school with the intent of finding professors to help; indeed, the idea never crossed my mind. But I walked off of campus on Friday thinking, with some wonder, that I really am not Just a student. Not because of me, but because God has been busy scheming things I didn’t know needed to be schemed. I was looking for work, not art. He was saying they were one and the same, and He had every intention of making something beautiful here. The “just-ness” that I was clinging too was dissipating in the face of design of God, who created rocks and trees and me; who set course for the water, the path of flight for the birds, and me, here. It could not be “Just” when it was God who ordained it.

I can neither dismiss the work of The Artist, nor undo it. If I stop and consider, I may catch of a glimpse of the colors He is painting out through me, and in that is joy. And hope. And beauty.

I Hate TV

I had to watch an episode of House for my school work.

I hate TV.

I hate how everything is broken up into tiny clips, chopped up by ads.

I hate how they build each clip to a roaring emotional rage, so you will stick to the channel even through the ads.

I hate how the roaring emotional swells make you glad for the commercial breaks to let your adrenaline come down.

I hate how every sound, every camera focus, every facial expression is design to jerk at primal emotional reactions. Pain. Rage. Lust. Fear. Danger. Grief.

I hate how well it can work.

I hate the subtle or not so subtle ways they say that living by raw, unrestrained emotion is okay, normal, good.

I hate that it can be so hard to tear one’s self away from a very vivid game of emotional puppetry, and yet there is never anything worth taking away from it.

I hate that it always pounds on the most primitive reactions of the body, and never goes deep enough to stir the soul.

Why don’t they just use bigger print?

Use less words and make them bigger. I don’t care how many syllables you use, but use less words.

This request is directed at textbook writers. Srsly. I used to tease my brother that he just went to the library and picked out his books on the quality of height and width, but it appears that textbook writers are confused about the fact that this was just a joke. Quantity does NOT equal quality. Once you reach a certain number of words on any given subject, you are not “exploring in depth.” You are “obfuscating”.

It’s bad enough writing a tedious book on a tedious subject, but do you have to obfuscate on top of everything else?

My school trip. . .

So we had a school trip to Atlantic City for a PT conference. I think I was the only one who found my course to be the real highlight of the trip, but that’s me!! Summary in lists:

Things that made me absurdly happy:

    The sign for the Children’s Hospital Of Philly, saying “Hope lives here. Right here.” I felt like maybe I should hang it over our doorway. Or on my forehead. Or something.

    The old architecture of Philly. People useta know how to build stuff.

    People singing along with the radio. Signing = happiness.

    Being on the beach. We weren’t there for long, but I discovered I really, really, really like the sight, sound and feels of the ocean. I need to go to the ocean again sometime.

    Someone else driving and the exceedingly low stress environment of people who weren’t stressed by traveling.

    Sleeping on the way home. Sleeping is always a good thing, but the more difficult the sleeping environment, the more irrationally pleased I am with myself for having accomplished it.

    Starbucks half-caf mocha frappicino. I don’t remember how much it cost, and I’m trying hard not to, but if you’re going to drink caffeine, that’s a pretty good way to do it. Even if it was more like a shake/smoothie/icy dessert.

    Cherry limeade. Among other attributes, it helped get rid of a lingering headache.

    The really, really, really dark curtains that made the bedroom darker than my room at home, even though Atlantic City never turns the lights off.

Things that annoyed me/made me unhappy:

    Fighting a headache the entire time. This led to me unilaterally decreeing to my roommates they had to be quiet for 5 minutes. Whispering was enforced for said amount of time.

    The peculiar habit of my roommates to sleep with the TV on. Seriously??? This totally obliterated the point of really, really, really dark curtains. I guess they still needed a night-light, or something, because it was BRIGHT. Either that or the modern person is so addicted to stimulation of sound and noise they can’t go without. However, it didn’t work at keeping them asleep, because they still woke up as soon as anything went bump in the night. (It’s a hotel full of people; of course things go bump in the night!)

    The fact that Atlantic City let it’s tallest buildings be built right on the ocean front. I know, I know, you get expensive shore frontage and you want to make the most of it. But, from a non-selfish point of view, it would make more sense to build progressively taller buildings the further you went inland so more people could get a shot at seeing the water. Instead, even though we were so close to the water we were practically sitting in it. . .all we saw was buildings. Gaudy, tacky buildings.

    Be dragged through a couple of casinos. I wanted to stay on the beach all evening, but I was out-voted. For some absurd reason, people wanted to walk through casinos even though we weren’t going to gamble. Casinos, generally speaking, ignite in me a general loathing for human-kind.

    Paying way more than was decent for crappy food. I decided just to pretend that everything I spent on food was really the $$ necessary to cover food AND transportation AND a place to sleep—wot a deal!!! (All the other stuff was actually paid for by club funds. Sans the 14 hundred million tolls.)

Peculiar things that may or may not have been mildly disturbing, but in any case I can’t quite figure out:

    The appeal of Atlantic City. Having already opined on the the merits of casinos, that leaves stores. The stores fall into two categories–the same ones we have here (payless shoe stores? Yankee candle?), and stores that are wwwaaaaaaaaayyyy out of normal mortal price range. The whole place struck me as tacky and un-noteworthy.

    When my roommates demanded to straighten my hair. I let them, because (1) it was temporary, and (2) it kept them quiet. (See above about managing headaches and roommates who are afraid of silence.) When they were done, they said it looked beautiful. I said I looked like Mrs. Munster.


    Alternatively, I felt like maybe I should be singing “I’m here for the party” a la Gretchen Wilson:


    What do you think?

    wilson hat


    The barely-speaking-english rickshaw people on the boardwalk. Um, the board walk is flat and the easiest walking in the world. Why would anyone have the need for riding in rickshaw? But people were. I found it demeaning, I think.

    The people on the trip (all over the age of 20) who took along stuffed animals. Um. . .okay.

    The appeal of trying to get tractor-trailer drivers to honk. The students in the car harassed the assistant teacher in the front seat to open her window and wave madly at the tractor-trailer we were passing. She complied; he didn’t even notice. She was charged to try again on the next one. He waved back. Students’ windows opened, arms were flailing, everyone was hooting and hollering. He honked the horn. Everyone was happy. Um, what?

    Dutifully trying a sip of someone’s margarita. It tasted like alcohol. Duh. No appeal there for me, thanks.

    The collection of “Miss America’s” shoes at the hotel. They looked like they had been made by a 6th grader with a hot glue gun and access to a dollar store.

Verdict? Atlantic City, thumbs down. Beach, thumbs up. Traveling–only if with people who like doing it and the opportunity to sleep on the way. Conferences? Thumbs down to the vendors. Two thumbs up to the teacher I had. Casinos? Two thumbs down.

That about covers it!

On Learning.

I found this while doing research for a school paper. It was non-applicable, but I was pleased to find someone else saying what I’ve often wanted to express. It is written to therapists on the topic of motor learning, but it is obviously much more applicable.

Learning is a process. We deny that process if we attempt to provide the solution. We must view learning as a process of coming to terms with a task in a self-referential fashion. It is the understanding of the all the elements involved in the task that enables the product (ie, the movement) to emerge.

Our goal, as facilitators of learning, is not to get the learner to perform a movement, but rather to facilitate the understandings that produce that movement. Our goal as therapists is to facilitate the learning process in a way that is suited to the unique characteristics of the learner and to respect the product for all it has to tell us. Too often we view the product as deficient and wrong, rather than as an evolving reflection of the learner’s current level of understanding and control. In this sense, it is never wrong. . .

With learning, there is a generalizability. With training, there is a memorization of solutions that are nongenerlizable and of limited value. If we teach solutions, rather than encouraging discovery and active generation of strategies, we short-change the learner. In order for the learner to become fully functional, he or she must engage in teh learning process autonomously–independent of us.

Our ultimate goal is to help the learner become autonomous as a learner, with teh most effective set of resources possible and with the means for self-enhancing those resources. We wish the learner to become a competent problem solver whose movements are effective in a achieving his or her goals. Our role then is to assist the learner in understanding, amassing, and refining the resources that serve as the “raw material” for skill expression and learning. We wish to assist the learner in the development of his or her abilities to both analyze tasks and develop effective, personally suited, cooperative relationships between the body and the environment for any task he or she may encounter. In essence, we wish to assist the learner in exerting control over the factors that influence the detailing and progressive refinement of movement–self-understanding, environmental understanding, and self-as-agent in teh environment for the task at hand.

Susan Higgens, “Motor Skill Acquisition.”Physical Therapy/Volume 71, Number 2/February 1991.

I’m Scared

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 5
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces; 10
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

(Gerard Manley Hopkins, who lived 45 years.)

Some times we pray the oddest things, we really do. A few months ago, I remembered a prayer I prayed right before I started college. I prayed that he would use me to help some other struggling student. I guess I figured that while He was handing grace out, it might be nice if He handed some out through me. I figured–well, I don’t know what I figured; I’d never been to college before. But I figured that I’d be okay, I’d be able to hold my own acceptably. But there was bound to be someone else who needed a little extra, that little line that gives you enough to keep going. It seemed like a safe prayer, to be honest.

So come a year later, and this is what we see: I have tutored more students than I care to count; nearly every student in my class studied off my notes; there are reports of people I don’t know using my notes; my physics teacher recommended me to his entire class as a tutor; I have coached people through more pre-test anxiety than I can measure. . .in short, yeah. I forgot I prayed that, but I guess I was the only one.

People tell you, “you can do it, you can do it!” Well, three semesters into school, I guess I ‘did’ it. 4.0, 4.0 and 4.0. Including the tutoring and the hours of worked crammed in somewhere. I was also a complete and total Basket Case. Yes, with capital letters. Waking up in the morning feeling like puking and crying by the end of the day, and not really having a reason for any of it. The next school year was rushing toward me, and I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to pick up the pieces before it started all over again. One thing I had learned from the first year:

I can’t do it.

Around then was when I remembered my “let me help someone else” prayer, and you know what? Ha, ha. It was funny while it lasted, but the joke’s getting kinda old now. Never mind helping someone else. Help me. Prayer for the new school year is “Let me see You.” (Which, yes, also sounds like a safe prayer. Most do, before retrospect.)

The thing is that the first step to trusting Him is to stop trusting yourself. And it’s one thing to say that you realize you can’t, and another thing to stop desperately and frantically trying anyway. . .just in case, I suppose. But that’s not trust. Trust is realizing that it never did depend on you, and it wasn’t really you that did ‘it’ last year, either. It’s remembering that walking through the water except only on dry ground and marching around a city while blowing horns was ludicrous and far-fetched and didn’t make any sense toward achieving the goal either. It’s remember that God is the Author of all knowledge and the maker of my very being. It is all of that, and yet it is none of that.

Because something happened. When this all got started, it was God’s idea, and I never imagined any of it. And so I knew that since He had gotten me into the mess, He had to get me out, too. And somewhere along the line, it some how turned into my idea, and I was imagining too much of it. And now it’s my mess, and I don’t know how to get out of it.

Before my most recent exam, I got to school about 2 hours early, as usual. I went to the library; it’s one of those new-fangled ugly buildings that puts windows in weird places, including right in the corners. So if you turn your chair to face the window-corner, you can’t see the library; you can only see outside. . .the red trees and the pines, and the morning fog getting thicker before it burns off. All my school stuff was in my knapsack, but I didn’t get any of it out. I tucked my feet underneath me and looked out in the world it didn’t feel like I was a part of, and I plumbed the depths. There was utter apathy due to complete loss of respect for my teacher and the superficiality of both the subject being taught and the test that would soon be administered. And there was rising panic due to the fact I hadn’t studied at all for the test and I still couldn’t bring myself to even reach into my bag and do a last minute review. And if I could keep the panic and the disappointment at bay, there was a part of me that kinda really liked just sitting there and knowing that God was, and nothing else mattered.

And suddenly you could hear Him say, “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things. But Mary has chosen that good part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

And that lasted until through the test, and then everything went to crap again.

If the lovely, lovely facebook is any indicator of the rest of the world, all the other students are doing the ‘sensible’ thing, and freaking out and studying like crazy. I feel like I should be. Because if I did, I could go into those tests with confidence that I knew my stuff and was going to do well–self-confidence. Instead I am sitting here, trying to keep down my rising panic. Because, as last year will attest, so-called ‘self-confidence’ also leads to curling up into the fetal position and trying not to cry and hoping it will all be over soon. I can’t do what I did last year again, so this year I have to do something different.

Do you know the Sabbath? The Sabbath pre-Little-House-In-The-Big-Woods, or whenever it turned into some scary awful thing, instead of a beautiful, blessed chance to rest? Actually, it is kind of scary. Because you had to trust that God would make it all okay. That even if it looked like it would rain and ruin your hay, you rested anyway, ’cause you believed God would take care of it all in the end and that He wanted you to have a chance to put your feet up. God was so set on this resting thing, He even went so far as to create left-overs the day before, because who wants to cook on their day off? But if you don’t believe that whole ‘resting in God’ thing, then it’s stupid. Who lets their hay get rained on just because of some arbitrary 7th day? And what kind of idiot doesn’t study for her exams?

I don’t know; but I’m trying to find out. Didn’t it say somewhere, “Your father knows you need all these things, but seek first the kingdom of heaven?” I would so badly like to see Him, but I think first I have to stop looking at my stupid test scores, and that’s very hard for me to do. I want to stop speaking ‘myself’ and I want to be one of those ten thousand places.

I can’t do it, and I kind of know that. What I struggle so much with is believing that He can–or rather, that He would. It is not enough to simply say, “I am exhausted, I can go no further,” and collapse into a heap. That’s not rest, not rest in the truest sense of the word. You don’t go into the Sabbath saying, “Well, I guess I will observe this here day, seeing as it is physically impossible to do anything else. Might as well; nothing else to do.” It is voluntarily giving up the striving in the confidence it is God that provides, almost, one might say, in spite of your striving. To acknowledge that what one is doing is a chasing of the wind, the wind that some One already owns.

And it’s a really good theory, but it’s one thing to say “He’ll catch you!” and another thing to actually let go and fall. And I’m scared, because I can feel my grip weakening, but I don’t have the trust to let go. My head says He’s there, but my heart won’t believe me. If I really knew He was there, it would be nothing but a relief to let go. It hurts to hold on. But falling seems terrifying; holding on impossible. I try, by force of will, to make my fingers uncurl, to demand the motions. That makes another war, but it doesn’t fill me with peace. Peace doesn’t leave you with black circles under your eyes in the morning.

Love, it is said, casts out all fear. Fear I know. What is love? And can loveliness play on my features?

well said

‘what you think is the point is is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness.’

–Flann O’Brien, a la Policeman MacCruiskeen

Ow. No wonder it hurts

[Editor’s note: okay, so yeah, even I find it kinda disturbing to see a picture of someone’s insides any time I happen to go to my site. I still have the picture if someone wants to see it, but really? Once is enough.]

That whole big red follicle thing-y ruptures out of an ovary wall once a month. No wonder it’s so dang uncomfortable. Everybody seems to act like it’s such a microscopic-type process, but it’s more like having a parasite burst through an organ. (After it releases its egg, the follicle goes back inside the ovary. Really truly. It goes back inside, turns itself into a ‘corpus luteum’ [lit. body yellow], and secretes estrogen & progesterone like crazy until it finally gives up and dies.)

Yes, we covered this in bio this morning. It was very educating.

God has mercy

I didn’t work last weekend, or this weekend, and provided nothing comes up unexpectedly I won’t be working next weekend. And I refuse to work the weekend after that, if the tests are going to pile up like it looks like they will.

That means I have been sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. Every time I think I’ve caughten up on my sleep deficit, I amaze myself by sleeping in for another several hours.

Next week is relatively quiet; I have a few papers to finish and a first aid test. The two weeks after that look very yucky, with more tests than I care to count. The week after that, I have two finals and then a few days reprieve. . .before I start my very first clinical. I can’t help but be nervous about it, because I have no idea what I’m really getting myself into. I will also be starting two online classes (a history class and an english class), which means I basically will have no time off this summer. But it’s a good thing, because it means that next fall, instead of carrying 20 credits, I will only be carrying something like 13 credits, and I feel a huge wave of relief just typing that. March and the first half of April were so incredibly stressful and wearing on me that I do not want to come anywhere near repeating that level of workload. Sacrificing my summer for saving my sanity next year seems like a good deal.

I also managed to change my schedule so that my hard days next fall will be at the beginning of the week instead of Wednesday/Thursday. That was another brutal set-up I didn’t want to repeat.

The extra days has not only allowed for more sleep and less stress, it has also allowed for enough quiet, still time to hear myself think. I can’t say that I’ve come up with any particularly grand conclusions or deep ponderings, but I do feel almost as though all my senses have been cleansed–not that I can literally hear or see better, but that I am noticing things I should have noticed before, both internally and externally.

Nothing is free; everything comes at a price, whether we at first notice it or not. In some ways, I am happy that so much of the cost of the path I’m on now is so blunt and obvious and unavoidable. I welcome the honesty, even if it is uncomfortable.

Touching base

This has been a difficult semester for me, emotionally.

I think some of what I’m struggling with is disappointment. Consciously, I don’t think I expected much. Subconsciously, I think I was expecting a lot more than what I’ve been getting.

See, I never wanted to go to college for the sake of going to college. I only wanted to go if I wanted to learn something in specific. And I, in specific, wanted to learn to be a Physical Therapist Assistant. I didn’t realize exactly how much I was looking forward to learning until I realized how little I would be taught, reminded once again that the only thing college is really good for is a piece of paper that said you went, and the line on your resume saying so.

Although we have been tested nearly every time we inhale, we aren’t really learning. At least, we aren’t learning efficiently. The teachers say to us “When you get to clinicals, you’ll be surprised at how much you know.”

But I’ve been working on weekends, and that is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I am still learning so much there. A curse, because I can see how poorly I’m being taught and how little I’m learning at school. A blessing, because it’s one of the few days that doesn’t seem like an utterly futile waste of time. A curse, because I know everything that I am learning right now, I could be learning a thousands times faster on the job, and getting paid for it besides. A blessing, because it helps me keep my sanity in the midst of my non-learning. A curse, because it’s one more day I have to set my alarm, one more day I can’t sleep as much as I want, one more day leaving me just a little less able to handle the emotional load.

I am mad. I am disappointed. I am disgusted. I hate the feeling of judgment every time they hand out another test—another test on irrelevant material. Sometimes I am sad for us all, working so hard at accomplishing nothing. Sometimes I feel like I’m overwhelmed with helplessness. . .how did we get to such a place where we have so much bureaucratic red tape that we have to spend 2 years just to get to the point where we can learn the organic way—on the job. Why do they say we all need to be educated formally first, when they don’t answer the questions, don’t know the answers, don’t explain the nitty-gritty detail or the theories behind what we’re doing. . .When all they do in school is make us toe an invisible line that no one pays any attention to in the real world?

Some teachers are sympathetic. . .but they can’t do anything different, because of the college, because of the accreditation board, because of all of these nameless, faceless people above them on the food chain who have already decreed what is best for us. How did we get here?

I can’t even take the textbooks, teach myself, and take the boards. You aren’t allowed to take the boards until you’ve graduated from an accredited program. How did we get here?

I marvel at the complacency of those around me. . .they too realize that this is busy-work and nonsense, but seem to so easily accept that that’s just the way the world is. It just is. As though they cannot even comprehend of it being different. The world is such a twisted place that people have come to expect it to be that way. They don’t look around at their classmates and hurt, because they know that there are about 1,483 different better ways to learn.

Some of the teachers are rigid. They explain to us how they know how to teach, and this is how we learn. I sit there and think, “Lady, you and I must have totally different definitions for the word ‘teach.'”

Every subconscious hope I’ve held for school has crumbled in this semester.

All that remains is that, if I stick it out to the end, I can take the boards, and then I can participate in real-life. But the here and now is just not worth much, and we all know it.

I’ve dealt with it by trying to do independent research so I can at least learn something. I’ve complained. I’ve occasionally challenged teachers who weren’t earning their paychecks. I’ve ingested quantities of sugar enough to convince some people it’s my form of alcohol. But mostly I’ve become discouraged and frustrated. I feel like I am putting in far more than I am getting out.

The sensible thing to do, then, would be to stop putting so much in. To stop trying so hard. To just make it through and not worry about doing well.

But I can’t shake the feeling that “sensibleness” is the answer to the question I asked earlier. How did we get here? By being sensible. By not trying. By not caring. By just accepting the way things are. By not being angry at people who waste our time. By not challenging people who won’t work. By not refusing to complacently accept whatever was spoon-fed into their mouths. By not making waves and just going along with it all.

So I struggle in between. On one hand, I don’t want the stupidity of this world to drag me down to an emotional break-down. On the other hand, I don’t want to accept the stupidity of this world. It is wrong, and it isn’t okay.

“We have been indoctrinated in political courses, and in just the same way was fostered the idea to live comfortably, and all will be well for the rest of our lives. You can’t escape your environment and social conditions. Everyday life defines consciousness. What does it have to do with us? We can’t do anything about it?

But we can–everything. But we lie to ourselves for assurance. And it is not they who are to blame for everything-we ourselves, only we. One can object: But actually toy can think anything you like. Gags have been stuffed into our mouths. Nobody wants to listen to us and nobody asks us. How can we force them to listen? It is impossible to change their minds. ”

“The circle–is it closed? And is there really no way out? And is there only one thing left for us to do, to wait without taking action? Maybe something will happen by itself?”

“I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.”

“So you will not be the first to take this path, but will join those who have already taken it. This path will be easier and shorter for all of us if we take it by mutual efforts and in close rank. If there are thousands of us, they will not be able to do anything with us. If there are tens of thousands of us, then we would not even recognize our country.

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. let us then bow down even more, let us wail, and out brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

“Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?

“Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.” ”