Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Year, New Start

There's a lot on my mind as we approach the new year. For me, this isn't "New Year" so much as it is mid-year. I'm halfway through my first semester of graduate school. For most of my life now, I've been accustomed to the start of summer feeling more like the new year than New Year's does. 

But this year feels more like New Year's than it usually does.

Earlier this year, I was in a pretty crappy living situation with some people who turned out to be bad roommates. Things were fine at first, but as the weeks wore on and the "shiny" of being in a new place wore off, they basically started to care less and less. The risk of rooming with two other people is, of course, that they will gang up on you, which is pretty much what happened there.

The house itself didn't really help us get along. It was bigger and built so that we could go for days without even having to see each other. There was a lot more to it than that, but basically, they did everything they could to shut me out and drive me out -- but got all pissy when I wanted to move out because they still wanted me there paying my part of rent; they just didn't want to live with me.

Anyway, I'm not someone who's easily intimidated or hurt or cowed. I knew I needed to move before my semester was over or it would wreck my school and job performance. So I reached out to family, friends (yes, former roommates, I DO have those), and people at college and got myself out of there and into a better house with better people.

But all my things weren't out of the old house until Thanksgiving. And financially this was also a giant pain because I did double bills one month, and then had one of the former roommates try to rip me and my mother off to the tune of $100. (We did get the money eventually).

And.

I didn't have TIME for that shit. I didn't have time to try to be a graduate student, read the entire Shakespeare canon in a semester, work a job, play cello for money, write, have friends, run this blog, be ME while I was dealing with these people. This was incredibly stressful and also time-consuming. It was so stressful that I actually reestablished speaking terms and a functional, if distant, friendship with my ex.

I knew my roommates would go out and misrepresent the situation, misrepresent me, to all my friends, to people in the graduate program, and that's exactly what they tried to do. They are more outgoing and chatty than I am, and they have no problem airing all their dirty laundry. Last I heard, they were whining to our mutual friends about me and telling everyone they were going to hire the family lawyer to force me to stay in the house. 

I am a private kind of person. I was worried that this incident would affect my reputation in the graduate program, that they would deliberately paint me as the villain to people whose good opinions I value. That didn't happen, but my schoolwork did suffer. My job performance suffered as well, though not as much. Mostly, my health suffered. They created an unsafe environment where my nerves were wracked and I was sleep-deprived most of the time.

I got off to a terrible start to a first semester of graduate school. I think I did pretty well for myself, but I know that I could have done better. When I'm functioning at my best, I'm better than this. But because of those people, I couldn't function at my best, and my performance suffered. I will always resent that. 

So that's why this feels more like a New Year. I'm out of undergrad, and out of that house. Last semester felt almost more like a trial run than anything. I'm ready to start graduate school in earnest, at my best, not holding back. For real this time. It feels more like New Year because it's a new start.

Now let's see: my hair still isn't long enough to cut and donate as per my resolution from a while ago. I'm going to resolve to be better at managing finances this year. And some other things, but mainly I'm going to approach this upcoming semester with my head in the game. Finally. 

If nothing else, it couldn't be worse than fall semester of junior year. *knock on wood* It helps to have a litmus test of "How bad is it?" This roommate fiasco makes the list, definitely. But it's still not as bad as some other stuff. It's helpful to know I've come through worse.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Now What?

So, Ferguson.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened there. Or rather, didn't happen. A grand jury didn't charge a man who shot down a teen. 

Though I think it's misleading to call it a lack of action or something that didn't happen. It was a choice that people made, a clear choice not to pursue justice. 

I don't often write about these things. I am made uncomfortable by the reactions afterwards, the cultural quagmire I have to sift through in my Facebook feed, the racism, the self-righteousness, and the confusion as to what is supposed to be my reaction. I am made uncomfortable by writing about my own emotions and reactions to these kinds of events.

I don't know what the right reaction is. I don't know what is acceptable for me to express or admit. Today I saw several posts on Facebook. One status: "If you are white and you are not angry about Ferguson, you are the problem."

I had an ex who constantly criticized me for not being open with my emotions and sharing my feelings. True, I'm not the most touchy-feely of people. But it's more difficult to be "open" with my emotions when I have trouble identifying what those emotions are. And here, I'm trying to identify what this is. I don't really have any deep emotions to share in this post because mainly I just feel blank.

Blank, or empty, because "dead inside" is a little too melodramatic. But there is some kind of numbness or deadness to this. Blank; that's a good word. Compartmentalization? Maybe.

I understand on an objective, intellectual level that this is not the correct, good way to feel about Ferguson. I ought not to feel blank or numb because that leads to cynicism, and cynicism doesn't enable change; it impedes it.

I don't think feeling blank necessarily has to lead to acceptance of "the way things are." It doesn't have to be this way. I'll keep following and signing my petitions and voting and doing the things that I do. I still want change in race relations in this country and I believe that that is possible and I can do my bit to help that happen.

And do all that feeling sort of blank. Like when you try to run a program but it's too big so your computer just quits and gives you the blue screen of nope. Maybe there's just too much here for me to process.

Oh, look, it's another white person twisting Ferguson to be all about herself.

But it's kind of misleading to say that this isn't about me, isn't it? That this isn't about all of us, all of America? Because every time a white person denies that Ferguson has anything to do with them, they abdicate guilt and pretend their privilege doesn't exist, and that is wrong.

Anyway, I wrote this post because I couldn't get away from the need to express something about police brutality. I am tired of hearing about these "he-said-corpse-said" scenarios. Tired also of the talking heads on Fox News claiming that police brutality or people's reactions to it have nothing to do with race. Tired of how invested America seems to be in sweeping shit under the rug. 

Tired. Tired, tired, tired. Fed. Up.