Tribulations

May 24, 2011

Fact: I have ADHD.

Fact: I didn’t find out until late Fall/early Winter quarter.

Fact: I didn’t get treated at all until about a month ago, and nothing effective until a week ago.  Not because of me, but because of the processes and red tape involved in an adult diagnosis.

It didn’t just “pop up”, either.  I’ve dealt with it all of my life, but I always chalked up my symptoms as personality traits.  Or I assumed that what I was going through was normal.  I wasn’t really having problems in school, and any problems I had, either in school or socially, I didn’t link to anything.  Losing attention in a one-on-one conversation?  Must happen to everyone, no big deal.  Unable to focus in lecture?  It’s just me, or the class is boring.  Serial and problematic procrastination?  Everyone procrastinates.  Can’t plan anything, forget important things, no impulse control, etc? Wait, those are problems?

Well, yeah, they are.  And they killed me this year.  OChem raped me the first quarter, even though I studied as much as anyone else, if not more.  Other intense classes (like physics, calculus, etc) gave me similar problems.  I still had no idea why.  I stressed, I worried, I assumed that I just wasn’t cut out for school, biology, medicine, science… you get the picture.

It’s funny how you don’t put two and two together until you learn that two and two might be related, or that they may have a singular cause.

And there’s not much else to tell, honestly.  It’s been a struggle to even be diagnosed, much less to be taken seriously by most doctors.  And it’s very difficult to communicate the feeling I get when I take my medicine to other people.  It’s both satisfying and literally amazing to actually have the motivation to work for once.  To want to work, and to be able to do work when I want to do work.  And I came here to say that; life isn’t suddenly perfect, but it’s better.  And it’s easier to get through my day-to-day and my work.

Best of all, I have some confidence back.  And I needed that, desperately.

Red Panda

January 27, 2011

It’s that time again.  The doldrums, or whatever you want to call them.  You know, that period of time in which I can’t stop analyzing and over-analyzing and thinking and whatnot.  In a nutshell, I’m not as happy as I could be right now.  But that’s more or less my own doing, and I’ll have to deal with that and see if I learned from last quarter.  Nothing like a good academic crotch punch to really put you in your place.  Anywho.

I was in Bio lecture yesterday, and this guy gets up to talk to the class before the professor starts.  Older gentleman, well-dressed, very professor-y (white hair, thinning, kind face, tweed jacket, elbow pads, etc).  He’s there to tell us about this program over the summer for academic credit.  Students can go to South Africa (he leads with this), Big Sur, Alaska, Australia… and China.  Why China?  Well, there’s this animal in China that’s endangered.  Very endangered.  Maybe you’ve heard of it: The Giant Panda?  Yep.  10-12 weeks in China, working with Giant Panda’s, helping with conservation efforts, learning about their ecology and behavior, all of that.  Cool, right?  Well, I said to myself “It’s too bad they aren’t working with Red Pandas; I’d be all over that.” After class I go up to get the information, because it is something to do for the summer, and who knows, maybe there’s something in there that I could do.  I’m not too keen on going to China for Panda research, or to South Africa to work with Elephants, but Big Sur is cool.  So I grab the brochure, or whatever it can be called.  It’s more like an informational magazine on the different programs.  Anyways, I grab it and start walking out of the lecture hall.  As soon as I get outside I open it so that I can peruse it on my sojourn to Starbucks to work.  I open to page 2, and what do I see smiling back at me?  A Red Panda.  A very very CUTE Red Panda, mind you.  Where? Where is this Red Panda? I can work with Red Panda’s?  I look to the top of the Page.  China.  Panda Conservation.  10-12 weeks.  Giant Panda AND Red Panda.  WHY DIDN’T THEY MENTION THIS IN CLASS?!?! That’s the selling point! All of this flys through my head.  Wait, maybe I’m mistaken.  They’re just including it because it’s endangered and in the area.  Nope, Red Panda’s too.  Red Panda’s too.  Since I started here I’ve often thought about and considered taking a quarter in Washington DC to hopefully try to work at the National Zoo.  I would love to work with Red Pandas.  Outside of my field, but that’s besides the point.  They’re Red Pandas!

So what’s the issue?  It’s China.  It’s Summer.  It’s 10-12 weeks.  I have to pay a little over 3 grand to do it.  It’s worth 18 units, sure, but still.  I would love to do it.  It’s a great opportunity.  But I’m really not sure about it right now.  The worst part is that I have to apply soon or not get it at all.  I’m already staring down the possibility that I might not be doing anything this summer yet again, much to my chagrin, and not for lack of trying.  I have bio professors who won’t even email me back about a meeting for a letter of rec, and one letter is one short of what I need for just one summer program.  Jobs aren’t looking good for me at the moment, what with not having enough lab experience or a 3.5.  I need something where I’ll get paid even just a little bit so that I can stay in my apartment over the summer and cover bills and, you know, eat.  I’ve considered applying to be an ER tech at UCDMC, or even looking into an ambulance shift or two, if it comes down to it.  But the point is, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.  I don’t know what I’m doing with myself, I don’t know where I’m headed, I just don’t know.  And most people here would say “But you’re in college, no one knows what they want to do!” No.  I’m almost 23.  I’m a sophomore.  I want to be a doctor.  But I may have screwed myself out of that, at least for the time being.  I mean, there’s still my backup plan, which may just become my plan, assuming I can manage to bring my GPA up from out of the depths of hell (bear in mind, this is pre-med GPA hell, so just a hair below a 3.0).  But really, where am I going?  Moreso, if I can’t get into these research programs over the summer because of my GPA, or even, apparently, because of where I go to school (Thank you, Stanford HCOP, for giving preference in a 25 person class to people from Bay Area schools), how am I supposed to get research, which roughly translates into shiny bullet points on Grad/Med School apps that show that even though I may have had a bad quarter, I’m a good student and suited for their school?  And because I love to think ahead, what if I just get burnt out trying?  I feel like I’ve struggled just to get where I am now.  I don’t think I’ve had anything handed to me.  What if halfway through Grad School I just say “Fuck this, I’m tired and I want to be done already”.  I’m not sure if I want to be a professor, much less a researcher, for the rest of my life.  I want to be a doctor.  But can I put up with that much more school, stress, and bullshit?  I think it comes down to can I deal with knowing that I’ll never be what I want to be and that I had to settle over can I put up with stress, school, and bullshit.

At this point I really have no idea. And as this goes on, I’ve slowly come to the realization that I’m in a persistent outgroup.  I don’t really hang out with anyone besides people I’m in a club with, or friends of Lucy or friends of friends.  What the hell happened to me being social and always having close friends?  And why do I insist on being “best friends” with someone who can’t even reciprocate.  I’m not really sure if it was ever smart for me to go down that road.  And so instead of dumping this all on a close friend and being able to talk it out over coffee, I’m left with writing it out as my only means of true outlet.  Because anyone else I tell really doesn’t know what to say.  It’s either “You’ll be ok”, or “Oh, Pshaw”, or silence.  And I think I prefer the silence of my blog on my computer screen to the silence of someone I actually know.

One step closer to just saying Fuck It and becoming an introverted and anti-social English major.  Then at least I’ll have a good excuse to write and read novels, and maybe I won’t care so much about what happens in the future.

Death Toll

December 10, 2010

This past week I was preparing for finals, and as I’ve related to a few people, I definitely consumed enough caffeine to induce hallucinations.  I probably wasn’t at the LD50 for caffeine, but I had to have been close.  Maybe I’ll do the math and figure it out.  Anyways, this is the body count for finals preparation:

4 large black coffees

5 5 hour energy extra strength

10 Arizona Herbal Energy Tonics

20 Monster Imports (both low cal and regular)

15 (at least) Nos Energy (in the 22 oz bottles)

2 liters of Mountain Dew

1.5 liters of Coca Cola

My Sanity

 

And when I say hallucinations, I mean hallucinations.  I have a poster of The Dude in my room, and his forehead became a window.  During my Calculus final the floor started moving and patterns appeared in colors.  OChem?  The pages had rainbow edges.  I’m now going to lay off caffeine for…. three weeks.  But at least I’m done.

Ongoing

March 8, 2010

I’m mentally drafting an opinion piece for The Aggie.  I don’t know if I’ll get it in in time, or if they’ll even publish it.  When I do happen to get it down on paper, however, I will make it available to be read .

And I have to say that all of the attention here in the past few days because of the protests definitely lifted my spirits.  I would love to see traffic like that all of the time.

Ok, time to go pull an all nighter and see what I can get done!

Aftermath

March 4, 2010

From what I can tell so far everything has died down here at Davis.  Sadly, what happened today across the campus, state, and country has only proven my last post right.  I didn’t want to be right.  I wasn’t at the protests.  I stayed in like I said and I did work.  However, I followed the events via Facebook and Twitter.  So what I’ll be doing is running down the events of the protest via The Aggie’s Twitter Feed.  They were kind enough to post pictures and minute by minute updates, so I have a pretty good feel of what happened.  In doing so, I’m going to try to demonstrate how this can only hurt us as students, not help.

“RT @lesliemb Idiot #UCDavis student spray-painted on back of our building: “Defend Public Education.” & tuition hike to pay for clean-up”

“RT @Cory_Golden #UCDavis quiet so far. Lots of chalked msgs. Banner hung at Olson reads: “If you don’t walk out, who will?” #March4

“RT @lesliemb: …and now a migraine-inducing false fire alarm Happy #March4 Day of Protest everyone! #UCDavis

“Fire alarms pulled in Wellman, Olson, Chemistry, Storer Halls at #UCDavis today, per @VPChrisDietrich #March4

So to kick it off we have graffiti on a school building, followed by students pulling fire alarms in classrooms as well as at the MU. Why?  Can someone explain how pulling a fire alarm accomplishes anything? It only disrupts EDUCATION, the very thing that these protesters were supposed to be in support of.  Instead of defending it, they were advocating and causing a disruption to education and found it something to be proud of.  Very mature and intelligent. Before I move, I want to address the sign of “If you don’t walk out, who will?”.  No one needs to walk out! There shouldn’t be any walking out. There should be a walking into classrooms, to take advantage of the education that tens of thousands of students came here to get.  If the protesters don’t want their education, that’s on them.  But please, don’t get in the way of those that are here for an education.

“RT @laurenbehold Protestors stopping the buses at #UCDavis. Lots of contention between students. #March4

http://twitpic.com/16lvzl – #UCDavis protestors blocking bus terminal at about 12:30 p.m.”

“Protestors now blocking Russell & Howard, main entrance to#UCDavis & main Davis thoroughfare Pic:http://twitpic.com/16lwnj (@egghead95616)”

“We’ve heard from students who are missing midterms because their bus lines aren’t running. #UCDavis #March4

Blocking buses? This, in my opinion, is worse than the fire alarms.  Fire alarms can be turned off.  They can be ignored.  They can be avoided.  But blocking buses? CAUSING OTHER STUDENTS TO MISS A MIDTERM? Yet again, this protest was supposed to be in defense of education, in support of education.  And yet again, here are the protesters INTERFERING with other students’ educations.  What happens to those students? Do you blame the professors if they refuse to give a makeup exam?  One would hope that a makeup midterm is given, but what if they don’t? Some professors refuse to do so under any circumstance.  And here especially, why should they?  The blame for any student failing a class because of this should be placed squarely on every protester who took part in blocking the buses.  And I hope that they carry that with them forever.

“Protestors are headed toward the I-80 onramp south of campus, it’s about 1/2 mile away”

“350+ protestors are on the move, linking arms, headed toward CHP blockade near I-80 onramp. #March4 #UCDavisCHP chopper circling.”

“Mob is pushing up against 12 man police blockade, still moving. CHP + UCDPD. CHP is going to reposition closer to onramp, still .25 mi away”

http://twitpic.com/16mc7j – Students face police, push through, no arrests yet”

“They said they’re prepared to use reasonable force. Pellets being shot at the ground. Group is inching forward.”

Let’s hold on here for a moment.  Why block an onramp to the I-80? Who’s brilliant idea was this?  I’ve seen this type of thing before, but done in a different way.  When it is done properly it is done as civil disobedience, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached.  As Ghandi preached.  Protesters sit down and block an intersection or an onramp.  Sit down. There is no going face to face with the police. There is no breaking through barricades.  Why break through the barricades?  Why go face to face with the cops?  At that moment, any action ceases to be civil disobedience.  It ceases to be peaceful, and it is no longer a protest, but a mob presenting a show of force.  So of course the police use reasonable (non-lethal) force here.  Put yourselves in their shoes.  They have no idea what to expect.

“It’s tear gas. Group is dissipating.”

http://twitpic.com/16mez8 – Police are ready with batons, tasers, shooting rubber pellets right now”

“People are fucking pissed, some are still moving forward despite cloud of tear gas. This stuff is hard to breathe in; it stings.”

“About 100 protestors pushed up against line of about 30 cops. We’re about 30 yds from on ramp. #march4 #ucdavis

“Cops are beating people in the front. Arrests being made. Holy shit. Looks like tasers being used.”

http://twitpic.com/16mh3e – About 150 protestors facing police now, things are not looking good”

“Beating, movement has stopped for now. CHP: “Unlawful assembly. Please cooperate. Our intention is that no one gets hurt.””

Tear gas. Rubber bullets. Batons. Arrests.  Tasers.  To the police, it has turned into a riot.  They are trying to get this group under control.  They are trying to get them to stop what they are doing.  And what do the students do?  They keep pushing forward.  They go face to face with the police again. So students start getting beat.  Should the students have been beat in the first place? No. Should they have been tased? No.  Should tear gas or rubber bullets have been used? No.  But that is purely the students’ fault that it was used.  Do not confuse this with the police “being bored”, as I read in a comment on an article, and deciding it would be fun to shoot at students.  No.  The students very overtly crossed the line, and the police took appropriate action.

“Someone with a megaphone said they’ll release Laura Mitchell, who was arrested, if people move back toward campus.”

“There are now over 100 cops here. Probably about 200 students and bystanders. People are beginning to turn around.”

http://twitpic.com/16mwgk – Protest disbanded but over 100 police still present”

“About 150-200 now marching around to different #UCDaviscampus buildings trying to draw more support. #march4

This last one is not from The Aggie’s twitter: “plumaslaker RT @MelodyGutierrez Group has agreed to head back to campus. Will they take over a campus building again?#UCDavis #March4

Students finally left the onramp after the police negotiated the release of one of the more prominent protesters.  Instead of going to the dorms and doing something productive, however, they decide to keep marching around, and talk about taking over another campus building becomes prominent (I saw pretty much the same message about 10 times on Twitter).  Will it happen?  I hope not.  Enough damage has been done.  The fact that they are still trying to draw more support bothers me slightly, though.  Do the protesters feel as if they haven’t done enough?  Because in my mind they have sullied our reputation and the cause of lower tuition and more priority given to education.  Excuse me, it hasn’t been sullied; it’s been irreparably damaged.  And I’m not the only one.  Anyone who saw this on the news could not give their support to this cause.  Yesterday I was afraid of us looking like hooligans.  Now people are going to hear UC Davis or UC anything and think of us as an angry mob, as a bunch of riot happy, racist, vandalizing students with nothing better to do.  Did they make the cause visible? Yes.  But there is visible in a good way and visible in a horrible way, and I don’t think I need to say which of these today’s occurrence was. And from what I’ve been able to find on the internet, it seems like Davis has beat every other campus in terms of “activity”.  Almost every other campus managed to be peaceful, at least, and/or productive, but we get gassed and shot at and arrested.  We pull fire alarms.  UC Davis: We act like high schoolers, or worse.  These protests will now be linked to this forever.  Nothing is going to change that unless an immediate reversal is made.

Before closing I would like to make one brief mention of UC Santa Cruz: they seem to enjoy overturning cars.  And some not UC schools (and some UC’s) got a little rowdy.

So where do we go from here?  How is this fixed?  How do we repair what the protesters have damaged? My only thought is through casting off those that are willing to protest like Davis witnessed today.  Those that are willing to lock themselves into a building, those that think that smashing windows and starting riots is the way to change things.  We need to get eloquent, mature, well-reasoned people to stand up for us students.  We need students who are willing to go through every channel, who are willing to petition every level of the state and federal government.  We need students who will show the Universities, the State, the Nation, and the World that we truly care about education and that we will not act immature and unintelligent when fighting for it.

The protests aren’t over yet, but I fear that any drive the cause had before them is over because of them.  I’ll update this as things develop.



Update:
Students staged a Sit In on Russell between Sycamore and Anderson around 6.  I haven’t heard anything else since then, so I am assuming that they went away or were forced away by the police.  I do know that traffic was diverted.  That is more civil disobedience than was the near-riot on the 80.  Why couldn’t they have just done the sit in from the beginning and avoided everything else?

When I first came to Davis, I was immediately surrounded by a flurry of activity.  Namely, the student walkout the first day of classes.  My approach to the walkouts was this: I was determined to read as much as I could about the issue of the fee hikes and then make a decision about whether or not I would walk out.  After a lot of self deliberation and attempts to stay away from the very visible propaganda coming from both sides (because I was trying to be swayed only by reason, not passion and half-truths), I decided not to walk out.  I was going to go to my classes despite the fee hikes and the problems on every UC Campus.  If you are a student at a UC and are reading this, right about now I’m sure you’re saying something along the lines of “What the hell? Why don’t you want to support students like yourself?” That is probably mixed with some more colorful language that I’m going to try to avoid here.  Before I go on, let me address this: I am firmly against the (already in place) fee hikes and the California Budget that caused them.  I am against the consequences of such fee hikes.  I’m even more against ridiculous administrator salaries at every campus and at all levels.  So why didn’t I walk out?

I came here for an education.  End of story, end of reasoning.  And if you’re a student at a UC or at any other school, I imagine that’s why you’re where you are as well.  You came for an education.  If that’s not what you’re looking for then stop throwing Mommy and Daddy’s money (and government money as well) down the drain.  I had to fight to be able to go to school because every time I tried my Army contract told me I had to go someplace else.  So after three long educationless years I finally found myself at UC Davis, excited to begin what had been kept from me.  And then I was promptly told to walk out of my classes.  I’m sorry, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose?  We want to show the UC Board of Regents, Mark Yudoff, our administrators, Deans, Chancellors, and the citizens (and taxpayers) of California that we are serious about getting our education and will not be screwed out of it by… walking out of classes on the first day.  It seems antithetical to me.  It’s like protesting the drinking age being 21 instead of 18 by not buying a 6-pack on your 21st birthday.  It’s like protesting a violent dictator in a Central American country by flying all the way down there and then sightseeing for a day.   How do you show people that you are serious about a cause that is near and dear to your heart if you walk away from it?

That same week there were protests at various campuses.  We had a large protest the same day as the walkouts on our Main Quad.  Am I against protests? No. Did I go to the protest that day? No, but only because I was in class.  I happen to love protests, and I think that they are a great way to go about raising awareness about an issue.  They also are great for visibility.  If you have 500 angry students, 1000 angry students, 5000 angry students… people will notice.  People will see.  People will pay attention.  I love using the Prop 8 protests as a paradigm of protesting and a cause being fought the right way.  There were rallies, protests, marches, speeches, sit-ins; people were peaceful, even while being arrested.  But people saw how much the cause impacted those that were at the rallies.  The signs, the numbers, the dedication, the commitment; all of that was visible.  People were AT the Supreme Court in San Francisco last year when a decision was handed down.  There was no one walking away, there was no avoidance of it.  So yet again I ask, why the walkout?

In class that quarter, a professor of mine talked about strategies to get the UC’s to notice us, to respect us.  Ways to protest the fee hikes.  The two that were brought up as the most powerful, as the way “to bring the UC’s to their knees” were for 10,000 students to not pay tuition for a quarter, or for 10,000 students to PELP (Planned Educational Leave Program).  That’s 10,000 at one campus.  It could even be done by 1,000 on every campus.  What would that do? Why, deprive the University of California of funds for that one quarter.  If done correctly, enough to cause the University to be deep in the red.  Basically, break the UC System.  The budget of the UC system alone is $20 billion. California gives the UC’s approximately $2.6 billion.  The state has cut $637 million from the UC’s this year as opposed to last year.  Think about that.  The UC’s are already hurting for money because of the state’s budget problems and students are talking about denying the UC system even more money.  How smart is that?  Why, even smarter than walking out of classes! I really hope you detected the sarcasm there.  Yet again, how do you show people you are serious about your education when you are more than willing to destroy the University that is supposed to provide that education to you?  They want to raise your fees 32%, so you refuse to pay them whatsoever.  “That’ll teach ’em!”, right?

Before the end of last quarter there were lock-ins and sit-ins and what amounted to full-scale riots on a number of campuses.  A sit-in is a great method of protesting.  Teach-in’s were also talked about and I know that at least one went forward at Davis.  A teach-in or a sit-in is peaceful and can effect great social and political change through the awareness it raises.  However, lock-ins never seem to do any good.  At least not for the most part.  Stanford University had a lock-in where a group of Latino students took over an administrative office and locked themselves in.  They had a list of demands, many of which concerned migrant workers and showing support for Latinos and Cesar Chavez.  Great cause, bad methodology.  Why?  Well, what happened at UCLA and Berkeley with their lock-ins?  Riots? Arrests? Students being beaten?  Anytime the police must be called in, victory is not on your side.  Ever.  Since then, everytime I have heard the fee hikes and protests mentioned by an adult not on a college campus, it is always in a negative way because of the riots/lock-ins.  It does everything but lend credibility to your cause.  To go back to my Stanford example, it almost delegitimized their movement, and it wasn’t until a few years later when a hunger strike was put on that any real change happened.  UC Davis had students arrested at Mrak Hall.  Not long afterwards, there were signs on campus referring to them as “The Mrak 52”.  A) Those students were not and are not martyrs.  B) What did those arrests accomplish? While I understand remembering that they were arrested and that they are that passionate about this issue is important, no progress was made.  It makes we students look like hooligans, in a way.  That there was fighting back does us no good.

So where are we now?  There is a strike tomorrow at every UC campus.  There will be rallies, pickets, and walkouts.  Classes are being canceled.  While many of the activities and rallies are great, yet again, canceling classes and striking does no good.  The more eager you are to strike and walk out of classes, the less serious you look about fighting for your education.  Please, I urge you to participate if you can in the rallies, in the marches, in the protests.  But don’t forfeit a class for that.  Everything that I have just talked about happened, but where did it get us? The fee hikes went ahead as planned, despite the riots and walkouts and planned PELPing.  Perhaps it’s time to try something different. But what?

Protests, which are already planned, are a great place to start.  Rallies are perfect as well.  Marches are even better yet.  Get speakers to rallies and marches, make signs, and be visible.  Another great thing to do is realize that this is not all The Regents fault, nor is it all Mark Yudoff’s fault.  A lot of the blame can be placed squarely on California’s budget and on the economy.  California’s record of spending for education was atrocious before (47th in the nation on K-12 spending in 2009), but with the cuts being made not just to the UC’s but across the board, I believe we can now begin to call it abysmal.  So what can be done?  Join with the CSU campuses and write letters: Letters to the Editor, Letters to Assemblymen, State Senators, Congressmen, and Senators.  Letters to the Governor and to the President.  Call your Assemblymen and Congressmen.  Call the Governor’s office.  Make your voice heard!  Let your families, communities, and your governments know that this truly matters to you.  There are enough college students in California that are facing the same plight as we; combine and work together to make a difference.  Use the ballot box. Do whatever you can! There are many more powerful and effective ways than walking out of your classrooms when you should be striving to stay in those classrooms.  Get the media involved.    The point is to show others what this is doing to us as students.  We should be fighting for California to put education first, or as close to first as is possible.

I won’t be striking tomorrow.  Or any other day, for that matter.  If classes are canceled, so be it.  It will just give me time to catch up on homework.  But realize that the only thing that canceling classes or walking out of classes or striking does is hurt you and your education, which is what you are supposed to be fighting against in the first place.  You can make a difference, it just needs to be done in a way that shows the people that matter that you are truly serious.

Late Nights and Caffeine

February 10, 2010

And it’s not even finals yet.

It’s times like these I wonder why even bother with school.  Then I realize that without it, life would be infinitely worse.  So late nights and unhealthy amounts of caffeine it is.

Let’s hope it pays off.