Back Home (Again, And Again, And Again)

This is the eighth time I’ve come home from college and it still hasn’t stopped feeling weird. I do think it feels less weird now than it used to. I mean, the first time I came home? Thanksgiving break of freshman year was WEIRD, you guys. And now I really need to think of a word to use other than “weird” because I’ve typed it so many times that it doesn’t even look like a real word anymore.

Anyway.

Whether I’ve been home for a whole month or just a few days, it never stops feeling weird to be back home. Iowa City feels like my home now. All my friends are there and I feel disconnected from them even with the ability to call and text and Skype them whenever. My bed doesn’t feel as comfortable as it once did because I’ve gotten used to my dorm bed. And the smell of my house is completely different from that of the building I’ve called home these past nine months.

It’s too quiet here. My ears are ringing! Without the sound of buses whooshing by and footsteps on the sidewalk and my next-door neighbor laughing with her boyfriend, there’s just not enough going on.

The more times I come home, the easier it gets. I was super disoriented that first trip home, but it’s not so bad now. I still feel out of place, but I’ll have plenty more times to do this.

I guess it just weirds me out – oh look, there I go using that word again – to think about how this isn’t really my home anymore. I just finished my sophomore year of college. Soon enough I’ll finish my junior year. Soon enough I’ll be a year, and then I’ll have graduated, and then really and truly move out. Who knows what order things will happen in next? Grad school, marriage, various jobs… and this will always be a strange place to return to, because I’ve begun to carve out a place and a future for myself elsewhere.

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#AmCurrently | Reading Comic Books, Packing, Hugging

Hello, everyone. With the semester nearly over, today was a very relaxing, even lazy day. Toward the end of it I got some bad news that I don’t really feel like talking about right now, but for the most part it was super happy and I am grateful for that. I absolutely love the #amcurrently format for life-y updates, so you’re getting another post written that way. Deal with it.

Check out my previous #amcurrently posts here.

#amwriting

With four final projects due last week, I’ve been incredibly busy. I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d written, what, three thousand words that day? Something like that. Well, I’ve written even more since then. Maybe six thousand all added up.

  • An investigative article about my school administration’s treatment of trans students for Writing Across Cultures
  • An essay dealing with a mock Supreme Court decision about free speech on college campuses for Foundations of the First Amendment
  • A portfolio of stories and poems for Literary Retelling & Impersonation
  • Awebsite about Moonlight for Black Fiction Now

Whew. It’s been a lot, and I’m glad it’s over. I’m proud of everything I turned in, but ready for a break! My fingers have been flying over my laptop keyboard these past few days.

You can expect to see posts about at least a few, if not all, of those projects within the next few weeks, as I’m hoping to blog about them sometime before my study abroad program begins.

#amstudying

My philosophy final is scheduled for 7:30 tomorrow morning. Luckily, the testing location is only like a block away, so I’m planning to get up at my usual time of 7. I rewrote all the notes I’ve taken for that class since the midterm, condensing them and clarifying things when needed. I had a review session with one of my friends yesterday where we did a practice test and it was honestly SO helpful because it showed me that I’m more prepared for this exam than I thought I was.

#ampacking

It’s hard to believe that the end of another school year is almost here already. Although I’m leaving the bulk of my packing for tomorrow after my final, I did start puttering around my room this evening, tidying up the place and packing up some clothes and stuff. Ahhh, this room will look so bare and weird so soon!

#amwatching

As I said above, I spent the past week buried in final projects, so I didn’t really have time to watch TV. But I had time for Doctor Who today, ahhh! I’m still not caught up on the show, but I’m really enjoying this series (and Bill) so far. Yay for semi-legal means of watching…

#amreading

Free Comic Book Day was YESTERDAY so of course my roommate and I got some freebies! We’ve been looking forward to it and talking about it for a while since I got her hooked on Marvel and DC movies last fall.

Here are the comics I got:

  • Colorful Monsters
  • Hilda’s Back!/Garbage Night
  • Doctor Who
  • Malika: Warrior Queen
  • Steam Wars: Strike Leader
  • Wonder Woman

Have you read any of these? Let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

#amplanning

Last summer, I made a bucket list. Checking things off that list was SO much fun and I definitely think it helped me to make better use of my time. I’m going to repeat that this year… with different goals, of course! Since I’ll be home for two weeks, then in Dublin for six, and then home again for about four, my summer will be kind of weird, not to mention busy. So when I’m daydreaming about stuff to do in these coming months, I’m making sure not to set too lofty goals.

#amlistening

Hayley Kiyoko’s EP Citrine when I walk to class.

Nicholas Britell’s film score for Moonlight got me through that final project in Black Fiction Now. IT’S SO GOOD AHHHH. I finished the project late last night after listening to the album all the way through probably six or seven times.

Last but not least, Javier Navarrete’s score for Pan’s Labyrinth has been my other staple when finishing all those final projects. Definitely one of my favorite scores (and movies!) of all time.

#amhugging

I’ve hugged SO MANY PEOPLE these past few days. Some of them have just graduated, so we’re not sure when or even if we’ll ever see each other again. Others I won’t see until the end of the summer. Either way, I’ll miss them all, so a lot of hugs have been going on.

-~-

What have you been up to lately? Leave an #amcurrently list in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

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Final Thoughts On My Spring 2017 Classes

It’s that time of year again, people! Since the fall of my freshman year, I’ve taken the time to recap each semester of college once I reach the end of it, talking about what I most enjoyed (as well as disliked) about my classes.

Because I had a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday schedule this semester, my last day of classes was actually yesterday, so today I’m working on a project for Black Fiction Now and studying for my philosophy final. (My filosophy phinal? Yes.) Hopefully, it will be a productive yet relaxing day, since I’ve already turned in three out of the four final projects I have due.

Enjoy!

Black Fiction Now

Don’t let the name of this class deceive you: We read and discussed nonfiction just as often as we did fiction, and the assigned texts were a mixture of the modern and the classic. Which I loved! In fact, there wasn’t quite enough time to get to everything my professor listed on the initial version of the syllabus.

I love my professor’s teaching style! I’ve taken some lit classes where the teacher definitely had a checklist of things they wanted to bring up in each discussion, but BFN class sessions were far more freeform, with the professor asking us what thoughts and questions we had about the reading.

I’m super excited to take a writing workshop course with her this fall!

Literary Retelling and Impersonation

AHHHH I HAVE SO SO SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS COURSE AND THE PROFESSOR WHO TEACHES IT. (I’m taking an honors lit class with her next fall, as a matter of fact!) I love retellings A WHOLE LOT, and we focused on some of my favorite specific types – those based on fairy tales, ancient Greek classics, and Shakespeare. It was so cool to try my hand at writing retellings in addition to attempting impersonations of various authors’ works!

Foundations of the First Amendment

Yikes. YIKES. I have to take this course if I want to graduate with a bachelor’s in journalism, which is the only reason I took it. I thought it would be easy because my brother and I studied government and civics pretty thoroughly in middle school and high school, but I don’t think having that background made a huge difference. There are soooo many legal terms and Supreme Court cases to memorize and it all makes my head spin.

Writing Across Cultures

I ADORED this course and have nearly a perfect grade in it. It’s honestly so important to know how to report sensitively about communities other than your own and I feel like I’ve learned so much this semester. I think all journalism majors at my school should be required to take it!

My journalistic skills have improved by leaps and bounds due to my professor’s fairly demanding expectations for us, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She’s clearly very passionate about the course (which makes sense, since she was the one who created it years ago) and when I heard that this is apparently the last year she’s teaching it, I was sad because she’s so good at what she does.

Principles of Reasoning: Arguments and Debate

I’ve worked my BUTT off in this class these past few months. It really stresses me out! Probably half of my study sessions are devoted to reading and taking notes from my textbook, doing homework, watching tutorial videos, et cetera.

I took this course to fulfill the math gen ed requirement and was super nervous about whether or not I would even pass until yesterday afternoon, when I went to my professor’s office hours and we reviewed my grades… well, they’re higher than I thought!

-~-

Has your last week of school already come and gone, or are you still stressing out about finals?! Tell me all about your classes this past semester – the good, the bad, and the in between.

P.S. I’ll post about my final projects in Black Fiction Now and Literary Retelling & Impersonation for sure! And possibly the final article I wrote for Writing Across Cultures, an in-depth investigative piece, but I’d have to get permission from those I quoted first. I look forward to sharing what I’ve been working on with you!

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A 2.5-Month Medication Milestone | Thank You, Escitalopram

Trigger warning: This post includes mentions of suicide and suicide ideation.

Two final projects down, two to go. And then a final at 7:30 on Monday morning. (I’m so not looking forward to that one, especially since it’s for philosophy, my least favorite class this semester.)

I’ve written several thousand words these past few days, at least three thousand of which were produced today in a frantic effort to meet deadlines. I wrote so much today, in fact, that I feel if I were to set my hands down on any flat surface my fingers would immediately begin to move as if typing, rising and falling and stretching over an imaginary keyboard. That’s how much I’ve written.

On one hand, it’s late and I’m tired. On the other hand, I’m in a Writing Mood™ now and want to keep going, so that’s what I’ll do. I wanted to see if I could fit in a post tonight anyway, if I still had time left after writing a horrendously complicated final paper for Foundations of the First Amendment.

So tonight’s blog post is about to be about BRAIN THINGS because May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I’d been meaning to write about that here anyway. Specifically, this post is about meds.

I’m currently taking escitalopram, 20 mg daily. I’ve mentioned before that writing this blog is my alternative to keeping a physical diary, so I wanted to record my thoughts about where I’m at with this particular med now before any more time goes by and I end up forgetting.

SO. I started taking this med around the middle of February. Don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember that I increased my dosage from 5 mg to 10mg as my psychiatrist instructed me to the morning I left for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in Chicago along with other students from my school and proceeded to get absolutely no sleep for the next two nights at our hotel. (A not-so-fun side effect of escitalopram is insomnia.)

About a month after that, I had a follow-up appointment with the psychiatrist and we agreed to try increasing the dosage to 20 mg this time because the 10 mg didn’t seem to be having an effect. I was nervous about this because I LOVE SLEEPING AND AM CRANKY IF I DON’T GET ENOUGH REST, but my insomnia surprisingly wasn’t as bad the second time around.

And since then… well, it’s May now. Wow. How did that happen? Not only was the end of the semester here before I realized it, but so was the two-and-a-half-month mark with my meds. That may not seem long to you, but it is to me: It’s the longest I’ve ever taken an antidepressant, because I tried two others before and both gave me horrible side effects.

It’s a small milestone, but I’m pleased with it.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week.

In March I wrote that I thought my meds were giving me more energy. That’s definitely still the case. I still seem to tire out more easily than most, but I have way more energy to, you know, LIVE LIFE.

I also wrote that I wasn’t sure if the meds were making me any happier yet. That, too, is still true. I’m glad that I’ve been more productive, and productivity equals a less stressed college student, which is nice, so… I mean, in some ways, my mood is definitely better. But I don’t know that I’m any happier just yet.

Not that I expect to be wildly happy all the time. That would be unrealistic. That’s not how antidepressants work. They’re supposed to level out your mood, so that the lows you reach aren’t quite so low anymore. (And in the case of bipolar disorder, so that the highs you reach aren’t quite so high. Emotional stability and all that.) I feel like maybe my lows are a little less low than I’ve been used to these past few years, but they’re not quite where I’d like them to be yet.

That’s OK, though. Time will tell. Since the escitalopram isn’t giving me any weird side effects but does appear to give me more energy, I’m going to keep taking it.

And that brings me to the third thing I’ve been thinking about and wanted to discuss here, which is that I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in a very long time! I mean, there are definitely times when I have a lot of self-loathing, but it’s nowhere near as dark as before.

At a group therapy session a month or so ago, one of the other members mentioned that he’d been watching Thirteen Reasons Why and went into a pretty dark mental place as result of being faced with material that is triggering to him. My therapist agreed, saying that she’s had more conversations about that show than she can count in the last few weeks because it deals with the topic of teen suicide.

And it led into a discussion that I’m not going to repeat here because it would be revealing super personal details about the members of my therapy group and I’m not supposed to do that, but I will say that I realized then that I hadn’t had any thoughts like that in a long long time. Well, since late December or early January, which I again admit isn’t a very long time to most people. BUT IT IS TO ME. Because when you go from having those thoughts basically all the time, prompted by even the littlest things such as forgetting your dorm room key, to not having those thoughts at all, it makes a huge difference in your life. Because you actually want to have a life.

I’m still depressed. There’s still so much to fix. SO MUCH. And I’m not foolish enough to say or think that the suicidal thoughts will never come back, but it’s progress. It’s proof that my medication is working, must be doing something right. And I’m grateful for that.

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National Poetry Month | Wrap-Up

IT’S GONNA BE MAY. Which means that National Poetry Month is over! Which is weird.

As you know, I read one poem per day in April.You can find my full reading list, read my thoughts about each poem, and take a look at a poem I wrote for a class this semester all in my National Poetry Month tag here!

What started off as something I thought might be lowkey fun to do ended up becoming one of my favorite parts of the day. I looked forward to checking my reading list, anticipating what I would find there today. (I have a terrible short-term memory, so I completely forgot most of the schedule I’d drawn up which meant that looking at it was always a surprise.)

Some days, reading my poem was the first thing I’d do, sometimes even before getting out of bed. Other days, time slipped away from me in a rush of classes and studying and extracurriculars, so poem-reading was the last thing I’d do before going to sleep. (In fact, some nights I was already in bed when I realized that I’d completely forgotten to read that day’s poem.) Sometimes I read my daily poem during a meal, or between classes, or while waiting for the crosswalk light to change on my way to school.

It was great to read something each and every day that WASN’T for school. I’ve had very little time to read for fun lately, so this was a good way to make sure that I read at least a little bit. It feels weird to read far fewer novels than I used to but hey, at least I’m reading.

I discovered so many poems and poets I’d never heard of before. I also finally got around to reading some I’d meant to read for ages, which was nice. I can’t pick a single favorite poem, although I will say that not one of them let me down. Were there some I liked more than others? Sure. Sometimes I had a days-long streak of poems that left me incredibly impressed, while other times there were several poems I loved interspersed with others I merely liked. But reading a poem I hated never happened.

I didn’t end up reading entire books of poetry on Sundays because I didn’t have the time, although I did squeeze in the time to read Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey over the course of several days. (Highly recommended, by the way!) But that’s OK. Maybe I’ll have time for that next April.

Which brings me to my next point: I’m DEFINITELY going to do this again next year. I had so much fun with it – reading the poems, learning about the inspiration behind each one, finding out about the authors and their lives. Also, each poem was a glimpse into the psyche of the person who recommended it to me. It showed me what you appreciate, what makes you tick, what concerns you. What makes you who you are. So that was cool. BIG thank you to everyone who recced poems to me months and months ago in preparation for this poetry binge!

I hope you had a lovely National Poetry Month… I know I did. Did you read any poems to celebrate? What was your favorite?

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National Poetry Month | Days 26-30

This April, I’m reading one poem per day to celebrate National Poetry Month! I asked you for recommendations, compiled a list of the most promising-sounding works, and have been having great fun with this project ever since! This is the last of six updates, with my thoughts about the most recent five poems I’ve read in each post. You can find my earlier posts for National Poetry Month here.

Enjoy!

4/26

Gifts

Juliana Horatia Ewing

Well, this was ridiculously cute. It said so much in so few words! This is the sort of thing I’d write inside a card or something because I am an INSUFFERABLE ENGLISH MAJOR who expresses my feelings for people by showing them quotes that mean a lot to me and make me think of them.

4/27

I Look At The World

Langston Hughes

I’ve never read a Hughes poem I didn’t like. Profound and deeply lyrical as always. The last few lines are my favorite. I REALLY need to find the time to sit down and read a collection of his work because all these glimpses of his genius are tantalizing and I want more.

4/28

Love Is Not All

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Such a beautiful poem by an author whose work I’ve been meaning to check out for years! I hadn’t read a sonnet since the beginning of this month (Shakespeare’s “Sonnet XCVIII”) so it was nice to return to that form. Again, this is a good “expressing my affection for someone” type of poem.

4/29

What If You Slept?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I totally faked my way through this guy’s poetry in Foundations of the English Major last semester, oops. So it was good to actually check out his work.

This gave me “The Little Prince” vibes for some reason. It also kind of made me want to go back to bed but I COULDN’T ’cause I had a full day of studying for finals ahead of me. SIGH.

4/30

Then I Learned That Society Is Broken, Not Me

Amanda Lovelace

While I can’t believe that April is already almost over (and feel a little sad about that tbh!), this poem was SUCH a lovely way to conclude the month. It reminded me not to be jealous of what others have! Also, it was reminiscent of Rupi Kaur’s style, although I don’t know if this poem is an accurate representation of Lovelace’s work… for all I know, maybe she rarely places titles at the end of her pieces instead of at the beginning.

Also, just for the record, I keep misremembering this poet’s name as Ada Lovelace for REASONS. (Ada Lovelace is one of my heroes.)

-~-

Have you read any of the poems mentioned here, or any by the same authors? Do you have any recommendations for further reading for me based on these works – a sort of “if you liked that, try this” thing? And how are you celebrating National Poetry Month?

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That Weird End-Of-The-Semester Mood

It has been raining a lot lately, which isn’t altogether unexpected. After all, April showers bring May flowers, yadda yadda yadda. But it’s been unseasonably chilly, which is unusual. Too many days of cold, damp air, and shoes soaked through from trudging through seemingly endless puddles.

So that’s been somewhat disorienting, especially since we had so many warm, dry days back in, like, February and early March. But it’s easily remedied with blankets, fuzzy socks, sweatpants and hoodies, rainy day playlists, tea, lazing about while watching episodes of anime and Doctor Who.

I don’t know how to fix the disorienting feeling that I’ve had ever since the end of the semester was in sight, though. I had the same feeling this time last year and thought I’d be more equipped to deal with it this time around, but I don’t really think that I do.

It just seems as though everything is happening so quickly. It feels as though it were just spring break. Or January. Or last semester, even – wait, what do you mean it’s not October anymore?

I feel as if the last few months have flown by and it’s hard to believe that finals (and final projects) are already almost here. It’s time for me to begin asking for extensions for the first time in my college career, as a matter of fact: Several of my professors have offered them to the entire class, so I think I’m going to take up at least one on that offer.

(Probably Literary Retelling & Impersonation, not because I’m behind in my work on the final project – I’ve actually made more progress on it than I have for anything in any other class – but because I need to focus on what’s due for other classes a few days earlier.)

I’m learning that it’s OK to ask for extensions if you need them, that it doesn’t mean you’re lazy or a procrastinator but that there is so much going on at once and if you need more time to do a more thorough job that truly shows how much you’ve learned in this course, then by all means ask for it.

Despite any extensions I ask for, I still feel as though I won’t be able to really take a deep breath, clearing the clutter and worries from my brain, until the end of the semester. (And then I fly to Dublin for a study abroad program a few weeks after that. I’m excited, but wish I had a little more time to relax at home before setting off.)

And… I also feel disoriented because my living situation will once again change. I’m not even talking about moving back home for the beginning and end of the summer and living in Ireland for the middle of it. Instead I’m thinking all the way ahead to next semester. Not only will I be living in a brand-new dorm (twelfth-/top-floor! river view! ahhh yes!), but I’ll have a new roommate as well.

It’s disorienting to think that my time with my current roommate, hallmates, and RA is drawing to a close. It feels like an eternity ago that I moved into this dorm, and soon enough I’ll move out of it. I thought having done this last school year and last summer would have made me used to this, but I’m not. I don’t handle change very well. Plus, I’m a nostalgic person and I have to admit to frequently wishing that I had more time before [insert time or activity here] ends.

All this has put me in a very weird mood lately. Not a bad mood, that’s for sure. Just… some kind of mood. Truth be told, it’s made it a little difficult to focus when I should be revising my stories for workshop or researching judicial decisions about free speech law for an end-of-semester essay. I’ll get through it, of course. I’ve just been ruminating on this stuff lately and thought writing it down might help me to begin sorting it all out. I think it has.

P.S. Today is Independent Bookstore Day! How are you celebrating? I’m planning to drag my roommate down the street to visit my favorite bookshop to pet the store’s cats and buy some books. 90% chance of rain be damned, there’s no way I won’t show my love for books.

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