How To Cope With the Fallout 4 Wait, Without Going Entirely Crazy (Kind Of)

19 Oct

Miss Fitting

The release of Fallout 4 in November couldn’t come fast enough. Every day is slogging by and I feel like a turtle stuck in peanut butter as time moonwalks past me. To put some jam in my life, I’ve decided to cope with the Fallout wait by crafting Fallout props. Lately I’ve been working on a Fallout 4 advent calendar, which counts down the last 20 days until launch. I thought I’d share these photos with others to help cope with the pain (or entice it).

Miss Fitting Fallout 4 Advent Calendar (Front) Etsy Shop: Stockpile Underground Miss Fitting Fallout 4 Advent Calendar (Front)

I found this drawer at a thrift store and decided it would make a great advent calendar. I washed it (I think) and removed the drawers and spray painted them a few times with yellow primer and then for the body I used a brilliant blue hue. Pictured above is what the front of the calendar looks like. Its measurements are…

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I was never one for boxes.

19 Jun

Sex is a basic human instinct. It’s on the lowest wrung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as one of the fundamental human experiences necessary to accommodate higher-order concerns, such as belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

It’s something we share with animals. Males and females have sex in order to reproduce. Simple as that.

Some species have sex for pleasure, but far and wide, its purpose is to carry on the genetic line for survival.

What I argue — and what’s born out of this whole frustration I’m reconciling with my family and “what I am” — is that to define a human experience by something as basic as sex limits the potential for growth, not only individually, but as a collective consciousness.

My mother and sister — and I’m sure other members of my family who are trying to “cope” with this “crisis” that is my sexuality — have verbalized that they “just don’t think I’m a lesbian.” So “what are you” is where this conversation ultimately leads. And each time, I say, “I never said I was a lesbian. I’m in love with a woman. That’s it.” Still, it turns to categorization and associated meanings with that terminology.

What does it mean to be a lesbian? There are the stereotypical attributes of adopted masculinity, Birkenstocks, flannels, and unshaven legs. On the opposite side of what’s allowed on the lesbian spectrum are the “lipstick lesbians” who can still dress pretty and embody what it means to be “woman.” But that complicates this whole idea of lesbianism, because what does it really mean to be “woman”? I suppose it can be defined as simple as “not man,” which then calls into question what it is to be “man.”

Judith Butler builds her phenomenological viewpoint of sex/gender in “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” (1988) in part on Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex which claims that ” ‘woman,’ and by extension, any gender, is an historical situation rather than a natural fact.” The distinction de Beauvoir makes is discussed by Butler as an underscore of sex; that is, a separation between “female” and “woman,” with “woman” operating as an historical situation, distinguishing “female” to be what Butler calls a “biological facticity.” Gender is a project to cultural survival, which calls to it a performance to survive “because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender create the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all.” To fail to do your gender right, according to Butler, would elicit punitive responses.

The punitive responses are the objectification and isolation of those who challenge their gender performance.

I am not performing according to my gender. Therefore I am being punished by rejection. Which throws off my quest to achieve self-actualization (which is going splendidly, really, because I feel I’m not reliant on the biological, physiological, and safety needs, and aside from the acceptance by my family — who insists they love and support me, and I truly believe them — the social and esteem needs of mine are finely balanced and fulfilled, purely and simply, through my healthy and mutually supportive relationship with Smiles).

In an interview with Rosi Braidotti and Judith Butler (can you tell I’m a fan of Butler?), Braidotti discusses the linguistic challenges that arise in discussing feminism and gender studies internationally. Braidotti notes that “the notion of ‘gender’ is a vicissitude of the English language, one which bears little or no relevance to theoretical traditions to the Romance languages. This is why gender has found no successful echo in the French, Spanish or Italian feminist movements.” What is curious to me — and will likely be a further point of research — is how this is reconciled in the scholarship of Romance languages.

Why does this have to be a bad thing? To not perform to my gender? To not be “woman” because I’m not in love with “man”? To, perhaps, be “less than woman” because I’m not in love with “man”?

Why does my person have to be defined by a romantic relationship? Or better yet, why does my person have to be defined at all?

The impetus for this entire post came from a conversation I had the other night when my sister and I finally talked about my “phase,” which, I pointed out, I hate labeling as a “phase” because it wholly minimizes the very real feelings I have for Smiles who is, officially, my “girlfriend.” I asked her how she felt when her fiance wasn’t readily welcomed into the family. She said it’s different because he’s a guy.

So it’s anatomy, really, that makes this such a difficult thing to grasp. Because although he did not meet our familial “expectations,” he allowed her to perform in accordance to her gender.

Which is perfectly fine.

As is my difference.

My mother has always instilled in us that people are born gay, which I’ve always accepted, until I started to think about the limitations even that puts onto people. That very notion maintains that there is no fluidity to the human experience. You’re born as you will die. While you may learn things along the way and grow as an individual, your fundamental core can never change.

And that I absolutely don’t buy.

As humans, we like to categorize things. We like our boxes. We like organization. We like order. Aristotle’s “The Polis” outlines what it is to be part of and apart from a society. To abide by social norms and expectations is to reside within the polis, granting those the protection and safety of the society. But to be cast out of that is to reside with the beasts — gods and godly figures — those who are apart from the rest of society, and consequently the benefits of being within a society.

We also know from ancient rhetorics that the ethos, pathos, and logos are fundamental aspects to appealing to an argument. The very word “logos” is derived from the Greek word “logo” which translates into “word.” That designation itself creates order. It creates organization. It categorizes what is and what isn’t.

So as much as we try to legitimize sexuality differences as genetic “mutations” and can — while still somewhat anecdotally — serve as indicators of homosexuality, such as the notion that lesbians’ ring fingers are longer than their index fingers (mine are, if that means anything to you) that order is still limiting. There can — and I’m sure are — lesbians whose ring fingers are not longer than their index fingers. Should they be cast out of the lesbian world, strewn into the streets of heteronormativity, expected to survive on rain water and toe nails?

What I have difficulty understanding is why this should matter to anyone. If, at the core of the polis, is the requirement and standard for morality and ethics, isn’t character what matters? For isn’t that what “ethos” really is? And aren’t the restrictions and limitations we place upon one another based on sexuality (or gender or race or socioeconomic status or shoe size) contradictory to a moral character?

While I was performing to the expected cultural norm of heterosexual conquests, I was confronted with asshole after asshole, but it was okay because they were men, and because I was fulfilling my gender performance role. I was living in accordance to the ethics and morals predetermined by my polis.

What if we allowed people to live to their own potential, without judgment or the minority placating the majority? What if we stopped defining a person’s character by their associations? What if we opened our hearts to see the potential for the expansion of our own experience by welcoming the experiences of others into our realms?

If the relevance of the human experience can be whittled to appropriating relationships with the asymmetry of gender/sex difference, I’m not entirely sure I want to be included.

But on the flip side, the Hegelian notion of the self/not-self is how I sleep well at night, acknowledging that my existence is allowing those around me to experience their not-self, if only vicariously.

That, and knowing I’m in love with the most beautiful woman in the world — who actually loves me back — helps me sleep at night and start each day with hope and conviction.

— AM.

Mighty morphing body changers.

6 Jun

Smiles is, among many other things, an incredibly talented artist. She’s in an art show this evening which is accompanied by a reception for the artists. I’m not entirely sure all the details, but I do know that tickets are around $100 and because she’s an honored guest, as her “significant other,” I get to be her honored guest.

Win.

This will be our second major get-all-fancy-and-dine-with-people-who-have-loads-of-money event, and I’m ridiculously excited. We go to a lot of events together, but I live for the fancy ones.

So naturally, I went shopping on my lunch break.

I already have the outfit planned — an off-white pleated maxi dress with a black blazer and gold sandals; hair up in a bun, natch — but I needed to pick up some lady support to compensate for the extra padding that comes along with being in a relationship with someone who loves to cook delicious food.

I walked into the mall and catch myself smiling at all the shoes. Because shoes. I already have a whole room dedicated to shoes, including a high-heeled shoe chair. I also already have shoes planned for my outfit tonight. But I can’t help myself. Even as I engage in an angry conversation with myself, I can’t not try on a few pairs.

However, I do listen to my inner voice the second I brought up money, and decided not to buy the turquoise sandal wedges.

I then meander over to the wobbly bit section of the store to get what I need because I really only have twenty minutes to reasonably make my purchases and head to work on time. I grab the stomach-sucking-in-panties and buy-one-get-one free bras (now with more coverage!) and make my way towards the cashier.

But then I see jewelry. And I smile. Because jewelry. So I rush through to find a necklace that’ll match the earrings I have at home that I want to wear, only to find another pair of earrings on sale and a necklace that’ll go with that. I gather my things and head to the cashier.

But then I see purses. I do love a good clutch. Because purses. I spot this adorable emerald green clutch, also on sale, and seeing that I now have four minutes to check out and head to work, resign to the cashier.

The first checkout area I go to has a ridiculously slow worker and an even slower (but mighty adorable with her stark white hair — I’m totally serious; I hope to have hair like that when I’m old) customer. So I head to the other customer service counter, where I’m cut off by yet another slow (and adorable) elderly woman.

This may come as a shock, but I’ve always been fairly conservative. I still hide my tampon box underneath bags of apples or boxes of cereal when I go to the store. And my underwear purchases — especially the mighty morphing body changer ones — I prefer to be checked out by a woman who is older because chances are, she totally understands.

Behind the counter was a young man. If I wasn’t running so late, I would’ve walked around until I found my preferred cashier, but since time was a-ticking, I settled for the uncomfortable encounter.

As he’s ringing up my purchases, I reach into my purse (to avoid eye contact, mostly), only to realize my wallet isn’t in my purse. It’s back at the university, tucked away in a drawer. Because that’s where wallets belong. I explain to him that I’ve left my wallet at work, and he asks if I’d like him to hold them for me.

I think I have a shopping problem because while others might’ve considered this a sign to not make these unnecessary purchases, I said, “Yes, please. I’ll be right back,” knowing full well I had to get back to work. I scrawled my name and phone number on a piece of paper — effectively marking my territory on the to-be-purchased items — and head out the door.

I hurry back to the office to grab my wallet, then I hurry back to the mall.

When I walk in, there’s not one elderly woman, not two elderly women, but three elderly women standing in line at the checkout counter where my underthings are hanging out and about in the open, my name stamped on them.

I couldn’t not laugh.

At any rate, we’re going to look fabulous tonight. She is the Mexican Ellen to my chubby Portia.

— AM.

 

Well that wasn’t what I expected at all.

30 May

I’m in love with a woman.

And the best part about it is that she’s in love with me, too.

Surprise couple!

I’d say I never thought I could be with a woman but 1) that’s clearly  not the case and 2) I’ve been living on a happy little island called “Denial,” population: me and a liter of wine. I know I talked about a square peg and a round hole before. It all makes so much sense now why I’ve had so much trouble finding someone.

I found land — and struck gold — with her. It’s like fighting an icy cold current and succumbing to the acceptance that this is my life, and then suddenly I can stand on my own two feet on solid ground.

We met on my birthday last November. Barista Boy #2 brought her with him. I distinctly remember the second I met her because she has the most amazing smile. She calls it “malleable” and I think that’s a pretty fair description of her face. I was standing at the bar in my silver dress, several shots and a couple cucumber vodka waters into the evening, when they walked up. She wore red and has short, black hair that changes shape every day. I adore it.

She added me on Facebook a few days later, and I would catch myself feeling jealous when she’d post about going on a date with a girl, or post about someone flirting with her. It drove me insane. Then I finally realized that I wanted to be on the date with her.

I didn’t see her again until January when we had a writer’s meeting. We both write for the same local magazine, and I tend to write feminist prose pieces (surprise?) while she writes the horoscopes and video game reviews. We laughed through the entire meeting — which is why there’s a “no eye contact” rule our publisher bestowed upon the two of us — and exchanged numbers. Over the next month, we’d text periodically, but those messages started gaining frequency.

We’d go out to lunch, strategize about articles we collaborated on, and get drinks together. We even explored the tunnels under the city we live in. We never run out of things to talk about. She speaks in puns.

Next thing I know, it’s mid-March, and we’d spent nearly every day for two weeks together. I went to Las Vegas for a conference with BFF, and she was all I thought about. Her birthday was the weekend I got back, so I told her I’d cook for her. I made her Guinness beef stew and brownies from scratch. We went out and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and took our first picture together from a friend’s phone. He sent it to me so I sent it to her in a text and said we looked good together and should take more pictures; we’re painfully attractive. She agreed.

The first time we held hands was after we compared the sizes of our hands — the exact same size — despite our height difference (I’m about 5 inches taller than her and have freakishly small hands. Seriously. It’s abnormal and hilarious to watch me play the piano. Or type. Or do anything people with “normal” sized hands can do).

I can honestly say without a shred of doubt in my mind that this is by far the healthiest, most beautiful, most supportive relationship I’ve ever been in. She’s beautiful and brilliant, and we can laugh for hours about nothing. Nearly everything we say is an inside joke that we both find delightfully hilarious. She loves my goals, and each day, we both end up pointing out one more thing about the other that we love.

She told me she loved me first. We hadn’t become official — and really, still aren’t “official,” although we have agreed to not see other people — but it just fit so seamlessly into our conversation. I told her I loved her, too. I realized it the night I picked her up from work and took her out to the lake to watch the sun set. I brought a bottle of wine and two glasses. We laid on a blanket, watching the stars come out, listening to the water lap on the cliffs and the crickets chirp. I wanted to tell her then, but I didn’t know if I was rushing into things or if I was making this into something more than it was. It wasn’t even a week later that she told me she loved me.

The hardest part with us is that I’m moving. I was accepted into a PhD program a 15-hour drive away. I have to go, and she has to stay. We both have commitments here, so we’re spending this summer loving each and every moment together, and hopefully, paving the way for something down the road. Who knows where we’ll be six months from now. Hell, who knows where we’ll be tomorrow.

I hadn’t planned on telling my mother when I did. I spoke to my younger sister about it all — about Smiles and how happy I was — and she was ecstatic for us. Then our conversation turned to telling the family. What do I tell them? How do I tell them? When? Who all can know? Certainly my strict, southern Baptist family wouldn’t approve. Would my picture be taken off the family wall? I was indignant. I am indignant. I don’t care if they choose to disown me. My mother is having a tremendously difficult time with it all. She has it in her head that I’ll never marry or have children. I told her before I even met Smiles, I wasn’t convinced I’d get married or have children. I don’t know how to help her cope, and I’m not entirely sure it’s my job to do so.

Little Sister’s focus — and what’s been the primary focus for my immediate family who have since been informed of my “life decision” — is what am I? They want the label. Am I a lesbian? Am I straight but just experimenting? Am I going through a phase? Am I just so lonely and desperate that I’ll jump into the first relationship that comes my way? My mother’s never believed in bisexuality, that much I know. I wasn’t ever convinced until I started realizing little things in my past and letting myself accept it.

Like when I was in the fourth grade, and my friend held my hand when we watched a scary movie. I felt the same way, lying in our pajamas in the dark and holding hands, as I felt holding the hand of my first “boyfriend” who ran for class president in the third grade (I was his “first lady.” How fucking cute was that). I kept it out of my mind because girls like boys, and boys like girls. I learned later that sometimes girls can like girls, and boys can like boys. But both? That’s just being greedy.

To be honest, I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if it really even matters when it comes down to it, because at the end of the day, we’re all just a conglomeration of atoms somehow interacting with other chunks, all whirling around on this tiny planet, in this tiny solar system, in this great big universe.

The only thing I know is that I love her. And that’s enough for now.

— AM.

7 Mar

This.

Thought Catalog

  1. You can’t date a jerk and expect to turn them into a good person. Jerks are fully committed to being unpleasant. Those brief moments of tenderness they give you are designed to trip you up and give you false hope. It’s best to stay away altogether.
  2. The rumors are true: your metabolism does slow down as you get older! That means if you’re still eating whatever you want, there’s a good chance you’ll start to gain an awkward amount of weight. It won’t be too drastic but your clothes will start to hang differently on your body and you’ll feel an overall feeling of unattractiveness. Start to be conscious of what you eat and strive to live a healthier lifestyle if you want to get your teen body back. (Let’s be real though, that might not ever come back.)
  3. You’re going to lose touch with a lot of your friends…

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Wait, where am I?

28 Feb

Freshmen are precious little gifts from the academic g/God(s). While I empathize with (now more than ever) the individual challenges and personal issues each student has that I’m blissfully unaware of, I can’t help but find it funny — and maybe a little bit of offense — in the things that come out of their mouths.

I recently gave a lecture on Salvador Dalí to prepare the class for their evaluative essays on art, thinking that they would enjoy writing about pretty paintings and sculptures more than books (plus it forces them out into the community to actually look at local art). A student who’d been absent for the last two weeks looks at me and say, “I thought this was English class.” Confused, I looked around the room, and replied, “Wait, where am I?” Then gave my best really?! look and proceeded with my (Sur)really awesome lecture.

Puns!

Today has been one of the most difficult days of teaching so far, probably because everything seems to be culminating all at once in every aspect of my life.

Academically and professionally, I’m completing my thesis, still waiting to hear back from PhD programs (any day now!), preparing to organize and present at a conference next week, staring at stacks of 100+ student papers and annotated bibliographies to grade (which I’m constantly reminded of during each class when a student asks when they’ll get back the papers they turned in last class), and preparing to go to a huge national conference in two weeks which adds more work because now I need to figure out alternate assignments for the days I’ll be gone.

Romantically, (hah! I say that in jest, of course) there’s not much going on aside from realizing my selections keep getting more and more outlandish. I did, however, write a long, heart-wrenching letter to Red Ranger who I’ve loved for years, telling him exactly how I feel. He wrote an equally long letter that explored the philosophical underpinnings of romantic love vs. universal love. It’s probably the best written, most philosophical “it’s not you, it’s me” piece of bullshit I’ve ever come across.

Personally, and the impetus for my complete love of all of my students despite the nonsensical things they say, I found out last night that a long-time family friend committed suicide.

He was 20.

To write about it and see these letters come together to form that sentence is bearable, only because I’m not entirely sure it’s real. But to say it out loud destroyed me.

Teaching today was damn near impossible because in every one of their faces, I saw his face. He was a student. An RA. He sat in classes, made excuses for not having his work done in time, rushed home to finish the assignment before the extended deadline. He laughed at corny jokes made by desperate professors.

And as much as I wanted to be a hardass on them because they had annotated bibliographies due today and I knew a lot of them still weren’t following directions, I couldn’t. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s okay to be more human and forgiving in classes, because it really should be okay to be more human and forgiving in the “real world,” where second chances are given and we don’t have a set formula for how to deal with circumstance. All too often we take this prescriptivist approach to teaching or simply being citizens in this global community, rendering in “Situation 1, Action A correlates with Consequence B,” rather than taking into account the thousand, tiny multipliers to the human element.

I wanted to give each one of them a hug and tell them that they’re important, because they are — to me, to each other, to this entire experience of life. I wanted to tell them that even though I know very little about their lives, they’re all going to be okay. They’re allowed to make mistakes. They’re allowed to be hurt or disappointed. They’re allowed to be human.

What today reminded me is that while I have all of these extracurricular issues going on in my own life, I put my business face on and be the most helpful, cheerful, positive teacher I can be.

And so do so many of my students. I forget that sometimes.

So I hang onto their witty quips (“Look who decided to show up” when I’m exactly on time rather than ten minutes early due to a snowstorm), random statements of truth (“Snow makes me believe in the possibility of unicorns”), and grateful emails (when I am made aware of their circumstances and make arrangements to help them successfully complete the coursework) to tide me through and remind me of just how human they can be.

–AM.

10 things more interesting than writing my thesis.

22 Feb

My committee chair needs a completed draft of my thesis tomorrow. I have approximately twenty pages. I need approximately twenty-five more. I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure I’m fucked — and not in the way I’d like to be.

To force my procrastinating ass to actually write it, BFF and I have locked ourselves in our office to write. (She had me hand over my phone and turn off my wi-fi. I’m sitting across from her, furiously typing. She doesn’t know it’s not for the thesis. Withholding snortles at my own humor might make me explode.)

I spent the last ten minutes doing yoga and counting fibers on the carpet. I’ve also compiled this list of things exponentially more interesting and appealing than completing my thesis:

10. Combing through employment contracts to determine the legality of the tiny bottles of wine we have surrounding research and what exactly constitutes “working hours” since this definitely counts as “working hours” for prostitutes — the most logical occupational option I have if I do not complete my thesis.

9. Tracking menstrual cycles in relation to the moon as well as environmental hygienic habits.

8. Using the fluorescent lights on the ceiling to work on my winter tan.

7. Turn the area rug into a tortilla and make like a burrito.

6. Take an online quiz and self-diagnose as moderate to severe adult ADHD.

5. Vacuum the cat.

4. Bathe in a tub of spaghetti noodles.

3. Penguin-dive down a waxed linoleum hallway.

2. Naked snow angel.

1. Hedgehog bowling.

0. Get into a bar fight.

— AM. (Okay, I know that was technically eleven. But I have an English degree. So.)

Post-publishing edit: we finally took a bathroom break. Here’s the conversation:

Me: Synchronized peeing!

BFF: Well after as many years as we’ve been friends, it’s not surprising we managed to synchronize that.

Sacrificial goat, anyone?

16 Feb

I suspect that at the end of this life, I’ll find out that I’ve really just been living in a simulated reality controlled by a failed Lifetime movie screenplay writer.

Or an angry teenager.

But I guess that’s probably the same thing.

(“I’ve heard it both ways.” Name that show!)

The last three years, I’ve been Valentine-less. So I usually just drink. But yesterday I had to teach, so my tradition had to wait until the evening. About half of my students showed up which crippled the lesson plans I had so we watched Harlem Shake and Bad Lip Reading videos on YouTube. And we ate candy.

I would’ve tried to be a little bit more productive, but about twenty minutes before I went to teach, I received an email from one of the PhD programs I’d applied to. They would not be accepting me for admission for the fall 2013 semester. I’ve spent the last five years postponing really trying to have a relationship (aside from the comedic adventures I find myself in to keep things interesting) in order to put everything I have into school so I can have my doctorate well before I turn thirty. So on a day already riddled with being emotionally rejected, I was now also academically rejected.

Yes, it’s just one school — and one of the most competitive in the nation — but I still couldn’t help but notice the irony and sadistic humor my comptroller has.

The YouTube videos helped.

And the candy. And the coffee that Barista Boy #2 made me that had “Olive Jews” written on the cup. And the donuts.

During “class,” I made a comment — within the context of our video watching — of how someday, when I have kids, I’d love to move to England so they grow up with accents. One of my ridiculously attractive black students (who’s on the football team and has dreadlocks) said “Do you want your kids to be in your own race or do you want mixed babies?”

In hindsight, there are so many ways I should’ve handled this. In the moment, my response was simply “I just want happy babies with British accents.” And skin like caramel.

To continue the excitement of my Valentine’s Day, I decided to tell my parents that I got a tattoo the day before. My whole life, my mother has been vehemently against tattoos. And for the last twenty-three years, I’ve never disappointed my mother. Well, at least not to her knowledge or in any way that I’d ever feel comfortable revealing to her. At any rate, she was silent angry. Which is the scariest. My father thought it was pretty. My seventy-eight year old German grandmother looked at her wrist and muttered “I want one…”

I then went to a pathetic concert at a small, local venue with approximately six patrons who weren’t in the band. The Chemist invited me. He wore a bow tie and an argyle sweater.

Last week he showed up at my door wearing sea foam green pants from the 1970s, a turtle neck, and a fedora. He then came in and made me a drink with his homemade limoncello. He also wore this outfit in public later in the evening. My younger sister was in town for a visit and kept remarking how much my life resembles a sitcom. She doesn’t even know the half of it.

Today the Pastor messaged me about a show at a coffee shop tonight, asking if I’d come out, and said he hoped I didn’t find it weird, but he’s been praying for me. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or insulted. So I’m going with contentment.

I’d go to the show — which starts in ten minutes — but I’m about to go explore abandoned tunnels under the city I live in with one of The Boys, the Quizmaster, and this really great girl I write with.

Seriously.

Here’s to hoping I don’t die or stumble upon death. I have a night vision camera and heat sensor camera app on my phone.

And a six-pack of Rascal’s Wild Red in my trunk.

— AM.

No velcro for me. Only laces, buckles, or straps.

7 Feb

I almost threw my shoe at a woman today.

(And by “woman,” I strictly mean anatomically.)

But literally. My shoe was in my hand — not on my foot — and I pulled my arm back and began to throw it, only deciding at the last second that having to explain to future employers that the assault charge on my record was for beaming a colleague in the head with a loafer simply wouldn’t be worth the explanation.

The others in the room flinched, fearing that I was actually about to throw a shoe.

As a child, I always took my anger for my younger sister out on her by throwing things. I take full credit for her quick reflexes and our collective ability to reassemble remote controls, hair brushes, and Barbies.

We had a follow up meeting to last week’s meeting (See “Meet me at the flagpole. It’s going down.”), and after the official meeting, a few of us hung around to have a general chat — nothing secretive, just teaching logistics — and two of the anti-side came back in to further discuss things from the meeting.

I tried to leave because I knew it would not generate a fruitful discussion — which I said — but the guy took that as an opportunity to call me and “my survey” passive aggressive. After a long, drawn out explanation and back and forth as to the contents of the survey, I explained that there was absolutely no malicious intent in the creation of the survey, acknowledging that I did not like him (those exact words because I have the lady balls to tell someone how I feel) and that he did not like me, so I took that into account in the multiple drafts, approved by our advisor, so as to avoid any sort of situation where it could be construed as a personal attack as per his accusation that the survey was a passive aggressive attack to call him out.

I then pointed out that any inference of passive aggressive behavior is something that he needs to own in his victimized interpretation and not pass onto others.

It clearly spiraled from there when I nearly lost my shit.

There was also a statement he made somewhere in the hour long post-meeting meeting where he said he doesn’t believe the school should be relied on as a source of income. He sees being a GTA as a line on the CV. I see being a GTA as the beginning of my lifelong career in academics and first-year composition.

I wonder whose course evaluations are best.

(Hint: mine.)

— AM.

Meet me at the flagpole. It’s going down.

30 Jan

I graduated high school in 2008. I was over high school in 2004. I was a nerd who socialized with my teachers and I was never invited to parties.

Granted, I’ve come a long way since then as far as not being as obnoxiously nerdy (and I’m fun as hell at parties), but the fundamental core of my person hasn’t changed: I don’t do shenanigans and I don’t give a fuck.

A few months ago, I wrote a couple blogs and created a beautiful meme about being a graduate student and engaging with my cohort (See “There’s a story, I swear.” and “The cat says no voting this year.”).

In summation: I hate them. And I know “hate” is a strong word, but I’ve never had to swallow seething rage like this.

It came to the attention of our graduate student organization that some students were frustrated with the behavior of several of their peers in the program, citing the facts that these students admittedly didn’t read the assigned work, showed up to class in sweats and behaving like a pack of freshmen, and outwardly disrespected the professors. If it was one student, it’d be one of those “damn you’re an asshole” situation, but there’s a hoard of them. A hoard. 

So at our last meeting, we brought this to the attention of the members, one of which is a student who is part of the problem. We compromised — much to this student’s disdain who said the idea of coming up with a professionalism/code of conduct document was patronizing (she often removes her shoes DURING CLASS and props her bare feet on the chair next to her) — and sent out a six-question survey to graduate students and faculty in the department.

We (BFF and I) knew there’d be some shitty answers because the hoard actively hates two of our faculty members — both of these faculty members are some of the hardest working, most dedicated, and most helpful people either of us have ever encountered — and consequently actively hates us because in their eyes, our successes have nothing to do with academic or professional merit and everything to do with the fact that these professors enjoy having us in class and have taken on mentorship roles in our lives.

‘Cause we’re fucking awesome. And smart. And work hard.

The responses reflected this hatred accordingly, and also demonstrate a solid need for a code of conduct to be enforced.

While none of the questions or the accompanying email said anything about how clothes or appearance impact professionalism, the initial discussion during last week’s meeting brought up what we thought were basic understandings of how to look and act like a graduate student. A few of the responses were ridiculously reactive to the notion that as a graduate student you should dress like a professional.

Shame was bestowed onto BFF and I, the questionnaire writers, in those responses. (Mind you, we sent the questions to our graduate coordinator for final approval before ever sending them to the students and faculty to remain as professional, poignant, and unbiased as possible.)

The final question: “What do you expect of your graduate cohort — both in and out of the class?” The crowning response: “Just say no to hipster glasses.”

Now, I may be reading too much into this response, but I’m the only graduate student in the program who wears “hipster glasses.” Sorry I’ve been rocking the bottle caps since my blind, nerdy ass was eight.

The thin frames don’t work with my vision because the lenses are about, oh, half an inch thick.

I wish I were exaggerating.

As we went over these responses in the meeting in an effort to be completely transparent and include all responses in the open, I paused at this question.

“I’m not entirely sure who or what this response is referring to,” as I adjust my frames, “but thank you, whoever you are.”

After a feigned smile, “And I’d be happy to meet with you after the meeting is over to present my cock that you can subsequently suck.”

Because I’m a goddamn professional.

–AM.

P.S., any experiences or observations or literature about professionalism in graduate programs would be much appreciated. I’ve been hitting the Google like the finest ass in town for resources to verbally punch these assholes in the face.

P.P.S., I’m well aware that this blog is the antithesis of “professional” which is why it’s in a blog. And has no identifiers of the people involved. And in real life is only spoken to BFF in the privacy of our closed office door or over drinks with nicknames. Again, I’m a goddamn professional.

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