I am mad

Standard

As in previous posts mentioned I am currently attending a Community College in Massachusetts. I have a little over a month left until I graduate and then I am off to a four-year institution. In my second semester due to my exceptional grades I was invited to become a member in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which is an international honor society for Community College students whose academic achievements are outstanding. The society encourages and supports students in the completion of their degrees and assists in transfers. Every year they organize national conventions for people to meet, greet and take care of business.

Cut to a couple of months ago when the chapter coordinator for my school announced that my College had approved funding for a fully funded trip to this year’s PTK convention in Orlando, FL, for one lucky student and the chapter coordinator. While it was obvious the coordinator would go, the PTK chapter of my school decided to organize an essay contest to determine the lucky student candidate. The essay was supposed to outline how my academic achievements will help me in my future. I handed in an essay and felt pretty confident about it. I did in fact win the trip – so to say. My glorious victory was announced one and a half weeks ago, and next week I was supposed to pack my sun screen and my flipflops and head down south .

As you might anticipate given the title of this little story, my coordinator sadly told me today that the administration had decided to pull the funding due to some arbitrary insurance rule. Duh-dum. What do I say to that? What the hell? I am obviously disappointed, mad and frustrated. This contest and its prize were sanctioned last fall by the administration. My coordinator did not come up with this in her head and decided to screw her students over. This was legitimate. And I won fair and square.

I received the news a few hours ago, so my fury has settled just a bit. And it is not so much about the cancelled trip. For me this is more about the fact that my own school administration has decided to diminish my effort and the work I put in. Granted my essay is not the Iliad or Odyssey. But I did make an effort and used my spare time to pursue my education. I don’t write essays in between classes. I take time and thought to create a product that I and my audience can (hopefully) be satisfied with. Community Colleges and the Phi Theta Kappa stand for academic achievements and pursuing one’s personal dreams and goals. They stand for touching the students and inspiring them to seek more, reach for more.

Taking this away from me now is like flipping me off, laughing in my face and telling me to shove my dreams up my butt because no one does really care what I do or don’t do. And that is just despicable. Obviously I am not going to allow this to become part of me but the message, my College is sending, is flat out wrong.

Rant over.

PS: To make this disappointed up to me and my professor, the provost of my College suggested he could take us out to lunch instead. Lunch or Orlando? Hm, hm, hm.

 

A year later

Standard

Today marks one year since the Boston Bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. I reflected on the event immediately after the attack and the subsequent man hunt for the attackers (http://givemethepopcorn.com/2013/04/24/boston/).

I felt it was necessary to acknowledge this sinister anniversary. Questions still float. How? Why? And the most torturing, what if? Mysteries in the background investigation have popped up. Charges have been filed and read. Has normality settled in? Kind of, possibly – maybe. I don’t know anyone of the dead and injured. This makes it easier. For those who weren’t so lucky time and strength will hopefully do the trick.

I don’t know what I did last year on April 14th or even April 16th. I do remember ever little detail of the day. I wasn’t at the finish line, I did watch the marathon in Newton. I had ice cream and enjoyed the sunny day completely oblivious to what was happening less than 10 miles away from my home. I phone call brought me back to reality, and then CNN and the local news became my best friends.

I am not going to pretend that this tragedy threw me completely off the loop. I am not going to claim this tragedy and turn it into a personal pity party having no connections whatsoever. I don’t want to lessen the pain of the true victims and survivors – it wouldn’t be decent.

While the act in itself was a despicable, cruel dent into human society, the many, many heroes who stepped up and took charge are the ones who reinforced my belief in humanity.

What I also remember from this day is that people, friends, acquaintances reached out to one another trying to ensure that their loved ones were OK. In a strange, cynical way it brought people closer who had mange to drift away. It sounds horrible to even say that but the community pulled together – strong and resilient as ever.

Overheard on the elevator

Standard

I am on the elevator this morning heading to my classes when two professors come on as well. They start chatting.


Professor 1: Oh,yeah, I now have a bunch of your old students in my class. (Rolls his eyes)

Professor 2: I know. Students this semester are just getting worse and worse. They don’t want to do    anything.

Professor 1: Oh my god, yes. I told one of the girls, she really has to start reading those chapters to be able to keep up in class (keep in mind the semester is ending in 5 weeks).

Professor 2: Oh?

Professor 1: And you know what she does? She starts crying. Crying! Because I told her to do her work!


Then they both quite down because they noticed I am no longer pretend-playing on my phone but actually paying attention to them.

Hm, so college students, who voluntarily attend a higher ed institution, cry because they are expected to do a bit of work? I wonder if they know what they sign up for when they register for classes. I mean, college is not a prison work camp but it is also not just ice cream and butterflies.So, if showing up is 80 percent of success, I guess the remaining 20% would actually giving a damn and cracking open a stupid book.

Honestly, at a time when mommies of 21 year old students call professors to complain because little Johnny got a C on an essay even though “he worked so hard on it”, why am I even surprised? Should I start to pity professors because they have to deal with crying ninnies while still trying to stick to a syllabus? I guess it only makes sense to dumb down material as much as possible to satisfy students, parents, employees, and the neighbor’s cat. No wonder, this college generation is in the midst of major grade inflation. What is now an A, might not have even been a C 30 years ago.

So, yeah,  crying is the only logical option when being asked to actively work on that college education. And yeah, if you are looking for me, I will be handing out tissues in the library.

Rant over.

 

 

“Can’t we just all get along?”

Standard

On Monday Lena Dunham was honored by the Point Foundation in New York for her advocacy in LGBTQ issues. The Point Foundation is a scholarship fund that helps LGBTQ students, who have trouble finishing their education, to actually empower them in their academic dreams. Their work is admirable. At a time where this country prides itself to be so advanced in Human Rights issues compared to other countries, there are still enough people here in the United States who would like to push all sexual minorities back in any available closet.

For those of you who may not know who Lena Dunham is: First, shame on you. Second, she best known for creating, staring in, directing and writing the HBO show “Girls”. Personally, I have seen all three seasons. I am still on the fence though whether I like this show or not. The four main characters, in my opinion, are too pretentious in the way they speak and behave. Apparently this show is just showing the “normal” life of twentysomethings in New York City, who are trying to find their paths. For me it is like watching a completely different species. My mind is sometimes baffled when I see them react to situations, or how they treat each other.

Nonetheless, “Girls” is definitely refreshing. I call it sometimes “Sex and the City – The poor version”. And even though I don’t really enjoy the execution, the core beliefs, values and thoughts it is trying to deliver are in fact at the heart of every mid-twenties person – I am no exception to that.

When Lena Dunham was presented her award, she said among many other things also this:

lena

Now, obviously Ms. Dunham embraces the LGBTQ community immensely, not just because, but she has closer ties to it through her sister. I applaud her parents and her for their open-mindedness and their unconditional acceptance of the homosexual community. There have to be more people like her family in the world. Nonetheless, her statement about being disappointed not to have turned out a lesbian raised my eyebrows just a tiny bit. I might come off ignorant because I only have second-hand knowledge of the movement and fight for equal treatment. But as far as I understood this whole time, the LGBTQ community never wanted to be put on a pedestal. They might have been put there with a bunch of ugly stereotypes by unknowing freaks. But the fight is for equality – not to be celebrated as a marginalized group.

Isn’t the intention this whole time to just become part of the norm? That people don’t gasp and run into walls when they see a homosexual couple holding hands? That a show like “Looking” doesn’t get backlash for being not gay enough because they are not fulfilling the gay stereotype? That when you hear that someone is part of the LGBTQ community, you don’t instantly look for the parade and the glitter – possibly a marching band?

And by that I mean that the inclusion of all sexual minorities should be aspired, and not have people be “disappointed” that they can’t join an outside party. Even though she means well, this I believe, she manages, in my opinion, to make sure that there is strict distinction between two things, where there shouldn’t be any. Neither one is worse or better. Equal. Or, “Love is love.” With increasing research in this issue we find that there is a much higher fluidity when it comes to gender and sexual identity. There are no “teams”. It is just a big ole mess, and trying to find your place in it can be hard and difficult.

Somehow, Ms. Dunham glorifies being gay because of some misconstrued image in her head. Granted I can only imagine myself, but I never assumed that one’s sexual orientation can impact a life so entirely that it changes everything. What I am trying to say by this, is that the identity of a person is not just made up of straight or gay. There are so many other aspects that make a person who they are (family, passions, hobbies, friends, job, education, values, morals, etc.).

Reading out loud to myself what I have just wrote, I realize that you can either go away from this post saying that I have no clue, or hopefully get the my message somehow in between the lines, that whatever one might turn out to be (gay, straight, lesbian, asexual, demisexual, pansexual, transgender, etc.), it is all good.

As our society progresses, so does the acceptance. And I believe that it is only a matter of time. As of now, it baffles me why people get so heatedly involved in issues that have nothing to with them and would yet deny others simple rights. The little kid in me just wants to scream, “Can’t we all just get along?” I am not going to judge you on who you love or don’t love. I am going to judge you on whether or not you are a nice person. I wish everybody would just follow step and let just people be who they want to be. That being said, in light of recent legislative injustices (or trials of) towards the LGBTQ community, I know that it is necessary for progress to speak out on these issues and highlight what is going wrong.

As for Ms. Dunham, she said what she said. Then I wrote something, and world keeps on turning.

Rant over.

Hating things is boring

twilight
Standard

“You think it’s cool to hate things. And it’s not. It’s boring. Talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don’t.”

When I work out I need my eyes to focus on a screen, so that I miraculously distract myself from what I am actually doing and to prevent giving up after 5 minutes. Today I chose the movie “Liberal Arts” (2012) written, directed and starring Josh Radnor, who many of you might just know as Ted Mosby from the show “How I Met Your Mother” (sniff).

There is a scene in the movie where the protagonist, 35, and his counterpart, 19, discuss the book “Twilight”. Our protagonist absolutely despises the book and calls it “the worst book ever written in English”. He get very riled up and demands from his counterpart to agree with him on the stupidity of this book. She, however, does not want to discuss it because she sees the book as trivial distraction, “fun and stupid”. It isn’t something to get so agitated about. She accuses the protagonist to be snob, who wants to choose what is good and bad taste, instead of just keeping quiet and letting everyone enjoy whatever they want. And then she spits out the quote, which I posted at the top.

I don’t know why I feel this is such a revelation, but for me it is one. Hating is boring. Loving things – no matter what it might be – is exciting and worth talking about. Loving things brings out passion that gives drive for progress. Loving things is positive. Endorphins. And doesn’t it bring people together? Hating is not just boring, it is cynical. It is also the easy way out. It is way easier to bash and destroy, then find the good things in something.

Today, for example a friend of mine received a sweet text message, which she felt was important enough to share with me. What do I do? The cynic in me automatically went and blurted out something mean – just to get a laugh. While I do know that my friend understands my humor, I questioned afterwards whether my behavior isn’t completely bonkers. I could have simply agreed and sent my friend my iconic “Aww”.

But the quote is not just addressing hating in general because – as naive the paragraph above sound- we all have our things that we don’t like and would rather not do/eat/read/see/listen to. I, for example, (absolutely) hate the smell and taste of cooked/fried pepper. And dumb people, I also don’t like dumb people.                                                                                                                                                 The quote is also addressing the fact that we as society have made it our mission to let everyone know what is god awful and should be banned for life. Why is that? I am not preaching here. I have written many, many movie reviews or voiced my opinion on different issues very openly, where I just destroy whatever a person has said/done/accomplished – simply because it didn’t suit me in particular. So, why do we do it? To make us feel better? To draw attention away from us because we haven’t done anything worth hating or loving?

Why can’t we just shut up when we don’t like something? And I am not talking about injustice, corruption or any kind of awful thing happening in the world. Why can’t we just let people enjoy what they want to enjoy? Why is it absolutely necessary that people agree with us?

And why do we have to like things ironically? The “ironic” very obviously hides the fact that we actually do like something. We might think it is cheesy or stupid but we do still like it. Since the majority is “throwing shade” (as the slang goes) at that particular thing, we are afraid to admit true emotions – and then we hide behind irony. I do it too. A close friend of mine once told me that he had analyzed my way of acting with people. The more I like someone, the more irony I throw into the mix – and eye-rolling. I do a lot of eye-rolling.

Should I take a public vow? Here and now? Swearing I will never do it again? Yeah, I don’t think so. I don’t trust myself enough in that regard. But awareness is the first step, admitting that I have a problem. To be continued.

The most important question in this self-searching “essay”, however, is, why did I insist on using “we” instead of I?

“… a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman…”

Standard

Kirsten Dunst is grazing the May cover of the UK Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. And she certainly looks lovely. However, one of her remarks about how to make a relationship work marveled me just a tad.

kirsten dunst

Screenshot taken from Huffington Post. Words by Kirsten Dunst.

My, my, Ms. Dunst, seems like we are all traveling a bit back in time. I feel like you should have let someone know that you have successfully created a time machine. Surely, there is some better use for this than bring back the aprons and spatulas. Let’s talk about this comment for a bit. I understand that Ms. Dunst has her own opinion on how relationships work. She demonstrates her ideas on gender roles very clearly in this statement. And that is perfectly fine.

Nonetheless, as a person of public life with a fan base that reads and probably values her opinions, Ms. Dunst also has responsibility. She may not want that but then I would suggest to refrain from giving interviews. Her remarks touch upon certain issues.

First, she makes it sound as if working a job and earning a living are not feminine. Not only that but she underlines that women have to get a job and have to make their own money. Why is being independent suddenly a chore?

Further by implying that a man needs to be man, and woman needs to be woman, Dunst is going back to specific gender roles established by our society. Men are the protectors and providers, and women are the caretakers.  Many people have worked hard to change them and redefine the norm.

Well, it might be a shocker but not everyone – both men and women- appreciates those norms. “Times they are a’changin”, as the saying goes. These norms put pressure on both genders to behave in a certain way to be a “proper member” of society. Believing in these norms and promoting them sets limits to both gender, even though there shouldn’t be any limits. Dunst may have just spoken about her beliefs but the last sentence of her quote points out that relationships (in general) work if everyone plays the part they were meant to play. She is therefore creating a societal rule how things should pan out.

In a world where women are striving to gain equal access and equal opportunity, statements like these are harmful to the female movement. Women are still underrepresented in politics and corporations. It is still common that women earn less than men for the same job. Saying that woman should play along with the norm is basically saying that this imbalance is perfectly fine.

I think I have made my point. Stereotypical gender boxes are so 2008. On a side note, what happens to same-sex couples if ? Both guys will be the knights and stab each other probably to death, and women will nurture each other until one of them throws up. Lovely.

“Tell us the number of abortions you had, please! Also, do you wear a seatbelt?”

Standard

I am an International Student in the United States. I currently attend a Community College in Massachusetts, from which I will be graduating at the end of May. Since this semester is slowly coming to an end, I am in the midst of my transfer process to a four-year institution. While I do have my sight set already on a specific school, I am still receiving acceptance letters or “I am sorry to say that”- letters from College and Universities on the East Coast.

Yesterday, I received an acceptance letter from a very small Liberal Arts College in the Suburbs of Boston. I was delighted to see the letter as it also contained a nice scholarship offer (yep, I am a smarty). As I went through the whole acceptance package I came across a Health Report the College wants me to fill out. I have posted it below. As you can see on page 1 in the left hand corner, there is a deadline for handing this in as well as a penalty threat if I am not on time. Additionally, I am warned that my registration could be put on hold if this form isn’t filled out properly.

Now, let me disclaim right here that I am fully on board when it comes to Colleges and Universities asking for immunization forms. It is a way to protect the parties and I have no issue having my primary physician filling them out. I urge you know to read through page two of the Health Report. Hopefully, you are going to be as confused and put off as I was when I first read it.

The Health and Wellness Center of that particular College apparently really needs to know if I have frequent or recurrent UTIs, an “emotional/mental disease”, HPV or other STDs. By the way, only asking women whether they have sexually transmitted diseases is sexist and gender discrimination. And if that wasn’t hilarious enough, further they ask me to reveal if and how many pregnancies, abortions or miscarriages I had in my lifetime. Whoa! Normally, I would demand at least a dinner and a drink for that kind of information.

As you can further down on the form see, I am also asked how much I weigh (sort of standard) and then disclose how I much I desire to weigh. … Really? Or, a bit to the right, “Are you currently seeing a counselor or therapist?”, and then “Have you ever been to therapy?”. The only appropriate way to respond to any of these questions is with a raised eye brow and a very pregnant pause.

I conferred with a professor and a couple of classmates just to verify that I am not putting an overly cautious, international spin on this matter. Thankfully, they agreed and urged me to email the College and ask for an explanation. I have done this but haven’t heard back – yet.

Why am I writing about this? Well, for once, this is my blog, so that’s way. Second, I just feel that this is incredible invasion of my privacy. Do they really have to know all of this to simply let me register for classes? These are questions someone would ask if they were about to treat me. And not, to simply file away as part of my portfolio. To make my registration process depend on this information is ludicrous. And it is also kind of creepy. Especially, if you take into consideration that I have no reference whatsoever who at the Health and Wellness department of that College is going to have access to this information. By all means, I am not ashamed to disclose my 50 pregnancies and 40 PAP smears, but I want to be the one telling people.

Rant over.

 

Page 1

Page 1

health 2

Page 2