We’re in the middle of exam season so I’m trying to not read much else, because I lose too much time at once, hahha. I have the bookshelf of high fantasy books I want to read when sometime maybe finally vacation comes around.
Added to TBR:
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. Memoir.
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. Thriller, crime.
I Don’t Want To Kill You (John Cleaver #3) by Dan Wells. Exactly the type of horror/thriller book it sounds like
Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Nonfiction, memoir, true crime. Recommendation by Naty’s Bookshelf made me want to read it!
Comradely Greetings by Slavoj Žižek and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Nonfiction, philosophy, politics. Based on letters between philosopher Žižek and pussy riot member Tolokonnikova as she was in jail in Russia.
Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Peter Hand. Nonfiction, science, astrobiology.
Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #2) by Tamsyn Muir. Queer fantasy/sci-fi.
A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson. Fantasy, horror, vampires. lgbt; bi/pan characters.
Let’s start with a light-hearted, fun thing. I’m looking into which science communicators and scientists (within math and physics mainly) to bring into our university’s science festival. And we already have a list to take from, but I can message whoever I want for the most part and that’s one of the reasons I suddenly found more science books to read again.
I’m kind of tired of myself lately.But life doesn’t stop being weird, and I’ve had some of the most surreal days. So many hospital visits, so little studying in comparison even though exams are just around the corner. Doctors who can’t keep things straight, like the one medicine I was put on and there to talk about? My mom, on the other side of the country, had an allergic reaction and no one would treat her for too long?? Had she not have extensive medical experience with two sick kids and the help of a very frightened young doctor, her anaphylactic shock could have gone very badly. It’s all been very strange and nervewracking. On the bright side, I will get to see a very nice nurse every month moving forward. Also, as I’m writing this I might have circled into my strangest sleep schedule yet with falling asleep at 7pm and waking up numerous times before giving up around 3 am, for the last three days in a row. It’s better than waking up at 4 pm in some aspects, until you realize that the grocery store doesn’t open until 10 am and you’ve ran out of food. I’m so hungry right now, hahha.
*Trigger warning for anything bad mental health and suicidal ideation* Have any other college students taken surveys about mental health during the pandemic? Because our massive one just dropped and 1/2 of students reported major psychological symptoms and around 1/4 of students had seriously considered taking their own lives. What maybe surprised me most was that while other symptoms had a massive jump, suicidal thoughts were already close to that level in 2018. Seems like there’s both an accute problem and an underlying one that never was discussed enough. There seems to be some money being thrown at the problem, but from what I’ve heard lately any mental health programs dealing with those more serious symptoms have issues getting to everyone within a decent time. It isn’t like this wasn’t a predictable result of a year of pandemic? It’s so concerning, because for students we’ve had these low-entry “are you experiencing exam stress?” type of help, but very little else. I was in the system pre-covid and has had therapy throughout it, only online, but everyone should’ve had that chance at any point.
The Shadow and Bones tv series is – well, a thing. I have seen it, after much back and forth about whether I wanted to. I’m not sure what I think other than that I didn’t originally connect with the Grisha books so it could only make that part better for me and they didn’t have enough of the Six of Crows gang to ruin anything bad for me. So would watch again, I guess? It is pretty great to see certain parts in such a visual way, but I feel I have to rewatch it a second time to not just sit there nervous that the show runners will ruin something. Also I’m still worried about the potential second season? But also want to see what they would do? Would love your thoughts if you got any on whether you like the series or not! One thing I’m certain of; I’m loving all the new content about the crows because of the series.
Have I scoured etsy for christmas gifts for my nerdy friends? And other literature-related ones for me? Of course, so why not make a lists of them. I’ve gotten so many good-spirited, but ultimately useless book gifts over the years – reading lights are on top of that list as “seems practical, but so many bad designs”.
Fighting invisible battles pin from fairycakes (also available as a charm) for the chronically ill or those otherwise fighting invisible battles. I want this so badly. There’s a similar one with the text “coping admirably” for a cute, heart-warming gift as well. They also have a very cute “feminist killjoy” heart-shaped charm and several trans rights and rainbow ones.
This I just bought! It’s space rainbows from ProudScience, and they’re just as lovely as the photo. Great as a physics/stem student, but also if you simply are a space-loving queer person. They also have a very popular rainbow chemistry glass set.
College / university
And finally what’s on top of my wishlist of practical book gifts; a book support for heavy textbooks (and other books of course). Also honestly, if you’re looking for a gift for a college/uni student in particular, I would cry for a gift card for a medium-fancy grocery store at this point, we’re poor and think way to much on how to limit food budget.
Also a reusable flask or thermo cup is likely the most used school item of mine that sometimes need to be switched out. I didn’t think about how much I drank the free coffee at school either, before I had to buy coffee myself, and currently I’m at least thinking about buying a better coffee-setup than my one-cup aeropress (no matter how practical it is to bring with me places), so I think many coffee-lovers would be interested in some kind of gift card there as well; either for equipment for coffee or the actual coffee.
When I come to think of it, with home-office, I suspect many students have pretty shitty setups for working, so if a family member is currently sitting on a non-office chair, that’s the gift to begin with. Even if it’s used, it’s so worth getting an office chair if you spend any time working from home as a college student.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk
Paper Girls vol. 1 – 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll
Added to TBR:
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (urban fantasy with anti-heroine)
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (horror with mermaids, f/f)
Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway (science, climate change)
Enchantée by Gita Trelease (set in Paris 1789, historical, witches)
Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth, same as the author of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (horror, boarding all girls school, sapphic dark academia)
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft (short stories, witches, queer characters)
Kingdom of Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (young adult fantasy with witches)
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, same author as Mexican Gothic which I would like to read as well (horror with vampires, set in Mexico City)
Three things on my mind:
Maybe rewatching two seasons of Hannibal in two days are not what you should do when you’ve been sick (with a sinus infection, not corona, I’ve done two tests) the whole week and only just gotten good enough to walk out of the house for food, but it did feel worth it at the time. I’m going to have to reconnect with the outside world and actual people again now, so wish me luck there.
I have since starting writing this rejoined society and I wasn’t aware of how much I was missing (of course my friends but more specifically) older students and the motivation they bring by just existing and being passionate about their degree or certain physics fields. This semester I’ve found myself constantly questioning why I’m doing this and not just taking a year off, because the constant struggle between hospital visits, bad health and trying to complete my second year during a pandemic is tearing me down. I feel I’ve reached some kind of personal conclusion now, but I do think we need to remind each other than no matter what one person is going through right now they’re also going through a pandemic. It’s difficult to support one another when we’re not supposed to socialize outside of friendgroups, but I think it’s something we need to find creative solutions for fast.
Speaking of it; Corona has made a comeback here this week. I’m so deeply tired of it, as we all are of course. We’re again stuck in the middle of not knowing how bad this outbreak is right now before it’s been another ten days or so. Motivation is sinking among the student body, or at least my friends. I have a whole lot of hospital appointments for chronic illness this fall and I’m worried that they’re going to be postponed, but at the same time I’m passed the point of worry for much of this. I’ve lived in such a heightened state of awareness as a young person in the risk group that I don’t know how I’m going to react this time around if (at least partly) lockdown happens, but it will definitely be different, because it’s become our new normal to such a degree.
Just one post this time. I’m trying to manage my health & catching up to this semester’s workload … seeing as I’m 1/4 into the semester and was so behind bc of reasons outside my control, but I’m truly starting to catch up with my readings & weekly sheets of problems to work through.
Other books I’ve been reading:
One goal this year is to spend less money on books by using the library a lot more. I’ve figured out how to “order” books to my local one now and also which one’s they have semi-regularly in stock, so I just got the Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman and I’m so excited, having just begun to read them.
Added to TBR:
This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang (young adult): I truly can’t remember how this book got on my radar, it’s baffling, it just suddenly was on my TBR and I’ve lost all thoughts around why
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (magical realism): I’d never heard about this Murakami book before, seems promising.
The Legend of Korra Turf Wars Part One (graphic novel, lgbt f/f): from the creators of the Avatar Last Airbender spin-off about Korra, this continues where the animated tv series stops and hopefully will motivate me to actually finish the tv series.
Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction by David C. Catling: I also am on physics/stem tiktok and someone recommended the oxford’s very short introduction series to people who want to get into something and Astrobiology is definitely one of those things I would really really want to know more about. It’s also like 160 pages.
Kant: A Very Short Introduction by Roger Scruton. I’m forced to take philosophy (science-related) as an obligatory class next semester and hopefully over the christmas I can read myself up, so I can actually focus on something else instead. I like diving into philosophy ocassionally, but not this “obligatory” aspect.
Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace by Ronald J. Deibert (nonfiction about tech and safety): either Edward Snowden recommended this book or I found it while reasearching more around one of the themes he talks about.
Three things on my mind:
We’re all struggling in this mid-corona university daily life, even though my friends in other cities are struggling with a lot more cases. Fortunately my city have barely any at the moment, meaning we’re starting to find an altered normal to get back to. But Thursday was a strange day. So many things went wrong this day that you’re just going to have to take my word for it, but let me explain that until dinner time I had been on campus for the first time in a while getting nothing done because anxiety, taken three annoying calls, half-hour bike ride to an important appointment that got cancelled, was nearly blown off the road with the bike as a storm was passing nearby, got lost on the small roads trying to get home through an unfamiliar, safer way. Oh, I forgot the part where a half-naked very nice man opened his curtains to find me tearing up my fingers trying to remove a baggage strap from my gears as I was running late and lending me his scissors. And then we’re back to the truly interesting part where three roommates found an unopened, old, 200 kg safe being given away and decided to get it. I sat there, truly exhausted and cold, as they discussed it. I had yet to eat anything but a piece of cake because I was supposed to have gotten home a long time ago. Still, I quickly grabbed something to eat and joined several long walks as it’s not every day old & new roommates bond together to get equipment to carry that safe up a staircase and home, through multiple busy roads. It got opened over the weekend, it wasn’t an easy task. It was empty in the end, but the adventure felt worth it. I love living where I do, a year later it is as exciting as ever, even if we also had a frying pan thrown against our very sturdy door yesterday. I’m suspecting the floor above us, and that we have to prepare for a more long-running war. We might have showed up at their door last week investigating the loud noises that had been increasing tenfold lately.
I’m finally committing to actually read the books of my small uni book club now that we’re not spending way too much time on Lolita, meaning I have to re-read “The Trial” by Kafka and read “Dune” by Frank Herbert. Yeah, I know I already should’ve read Dune as the fantasy geek that occassionally goes into sci-fi territory that I am.
I’m stressed. We’re all stressed. Go buy an more expensive or interesting coffee type than usual and watch the autumn leaves fall like raindrops from the trees if the wind is blowing. It is what I did today, as my hospital visits won’t get less stressful in the near future and I need to decompress afterwards. It’s gotten so difficult to divide what is free time and not as a student during corona, especially if you like me have hospital appoinments (or equivalent) randomly during the day that keep you from having a schedule that looks anything similar every week. I do need to learn to see this type of activity as of the same value (because it’s actually more valuable) as studying or schoolwork, especially as it’s more taxing. It truly isn’t that easy to be kind to oneself.
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (classics, short story, horror)
Pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Freire (nonfiction, pedagogy, politics)
Chilling adventures of Sabrina vol. 1 by Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack (graphic novel)
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt: not that excited by this book synopsis or the lack of knowledge I’ve got of it even while being a big Tartt reader, but still – I got to give it a try
Lanny by Max Porter (magical realism, small-town)
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis: because my deep down on him, Donna Tartt and their time at Bennington College has interested me enough to actually read his book even though I do believe he’s a high grade idiot at his older days from the clips I’ve seen.
Three things on my mind:
I always know I’m going to be offline when starting a new semester, but this time a lot was thrown at me in a row. Do you ever get the feeling that if you knew beforehand how much you would have to go through in a short amount of time – you would just not be able to? I’m not so sure I want to be able to tell the future, is what I’m saying. Anyway, I’m leaving those two massive physics exams, then writing a majorly important letter of complaint bc of misdiagnosis (in hopes of an apology or at least that the doctor not make that mistake again) the last possible day before it would be out-dated like its own “statue of limitation” kind of thing. It was then followed by a week filled with every major hospital appointment at once (bc everything was postponed until now that corona is less of a problem here) and an abrupt total worsening of my autoimmune disease. Also during those three weeks I had signed up to welcome new students, so I went to a couple social gatherings, which made me even more tired, but also might have brought the break of normalcy to save my brain a little (well, a lot).
Ahh, a book blog this was supposed to be. Well, there’s been a lack of book blog posts, but it’s coming. Until then I would highly recommend writing some of Mary Oliver poetry on a sheet and hang it on the wall, reciting each one as many times you want until you feel comforted enough to sleep. My favourites recently has been “Wild Geese”, “I go down to the shore”, “An old story” and “Dogfish” (link here!).
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY WEAPONS! Why hadn’t I heard of this fanedit of the first hp movie that turns every wand into a gun along with more clever & fun additions to scenes? I had doubts, thinking it would be overwhelmingly much, but it’s just far enough between the altered scene that it’s just easter-egg kind of surprises to a movie you (hopefully) already love. (I realize after some research that I didn’t know about it until now because it came out a month ago … in which I was as mentioned prev. very offline.) Here’s more info.
Because I’m not going to pretend I can give advice, especially not as my circumstances will be vastly different as my first year was cut short because of corona, but now everyone is dealing with it from the start. Since the world is in widely different stages of having been through corona, this list is mostly unrelated to that.
I’ve made many “mistakes” this first year, but at some point you realize you just didn’t have the knowledge to make the better decisions at the time. But I have accomplished the things I was most worried about not being able to going into university, especially as a queer woman in a high-percetage male STEM program that is physics; to get a good group of friends. And we have reflected on and discussed our first year a lot. So here’s me summing up the conclusions we’ve arrived at for hopefully someone else to find some use of, or at the very least I will as I go into my second year.
1. Expect to do everything perfectly, already in the first semester you will achieve absolute balance
It just won’t happen. I’ve not talked to one person that’s got their whole life together and means it, you always feel lacking in one area or another. Think about what you need in your life to function, then what you would like to achieve and then whatever extra you could do to improve your life. You might have achieved really good grades in high school, but recognize that you need to find friends or another form of support network (or both) to be able to get through a whole uni programme. You might be neurodivergent or disabled or have mental health issues that you should dedicate time to get acommodation for or get a new doctor/hospital doctor/therapist/contact at disability office and figuring all that will take its toll and new coping strategies. New routines! Making food! It’s not as stressful if you go into it mentally prepared and not already overwhelmed.
What you can do; go into the first semester very aware of your priorities, observe how much time everything takes in a week, reconsider your plan & priorities the second semester. Understand it’s a learning process and about personal growth. Have compassion with yourself.
2. Change who you are to fit in or fit with an idea you have an uni student of X program
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Because I and many others realize that we got the chance to reinvent ourselves going into uni. But the whole dark academia aesthetics reminds me that some first years come into physics ready to “fake it ‘til they make it” in shaping their life and style and persona and I would advice – no matter how much you love the idea of academia or any other aesthetic – to let that aesthetic/goal compliment you as a person instead of trying to show yourself off as some (WRONG and honestly toxic) idea of a physics student/professor. This goes for any area of study. Don’t change ur clothes, dress more modest in every setting, hide questioning of sexual orientation or gender, not ask dumb questions, pretend you’re more introverted or extroverted, change ‘not mainstream’ interests or shame people for anything like this just to fit into this perception of an aesthetic necessary for success. I’ve seen all of those happen this year. Most common one is to drink to feel less socially awkward; it’s not worth it! Do it because you want to, not feel pressured into it.
3. Hang on to only the first people you meet and not spend time with a wider array of people.
This particularly includes starting to date someone the first week/month and not attending any social gatherings. I’ve seen people do this and reappear three months into the year or more being like ‘oops I got a boyfriend’ and having to reintroduce themselves only to disappear again. Take into consideration how dependant you’re going to be on your partner (or bff really) for a while as it might be your only friend, and whether they’re also spending time with friends and creating a network or if you’re spending all free-time together. It’s okay to state those concerns out loud to someone before you two getting involved at all.
The new people I find easiest to talk to is a smaller friend-group that is trying to be inclusive because the flow of a conversation, teasing and topics of interests are already known. But where I come from people usually all move to the same place, as a friendgroup, and never learn to really include others that way because they don’t need to and it’s a sad thing because so many potential people you might love to talk to and you’re basically shutting them all out before they get a chance. If I hear one more ‘so hard to date’ I will punch them bc the problem is so obvious, they only know other people from back home.
What you can do; wait to date and state concerns or remember to spend time with possible new friends as well, maybe especially in a group with the potential partner if that’s natural. don’t hang on to one person, but try to decide to split up and find potential friends to introduce to each other or go make friends together.
4. Believe that you’re going to find your eternal friend group the first week.
Maybe you had a good group in high school, maybe you’re finally ready to discuss interesting things with like-minded, interesting people. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out as quickly as hoped.
What you can do; see it as a way to get to learn to speak with many different types of people, seeing who you vibe the best with. Become casual friends with a couple people only increases the chances of having a familiar face in a lecture or someone to ask for help when stuck or simply study side by side in a room.
5. To shame people hooking up. Or who dress less or more revealing than you. And to not keep an eye out for others experiencing unwanted sexual advances.
And of course most of all, should go without saying; never make unwanted advances when someone is saying no or clearly uncomfortable or too drunk. Actually, even if you think of yourself as a good person, get a very clear ‘yes’ to any sexual advances. If it’s one thing I’ve learned it is that you should never underestimate the trauma a person can already be carrying with them around sex (and then how they react in certain situaitons), and so thread carefully and be on the safe side.
It’s a time for people to start experimenting in all aspects of their identity, keep your judgement to yourself pls. I heard a guy make a critical comment on an older female student’s low neckline and I wanted both to kick him and it struck me how much it just emphasizes my idea of him as insecure, no matter if that is true. Don’t be that person.
6. Forget the due date for signing up for lab partners or times.
Ours was at 7 am the only free day we got! The first two weeks our schedule was insane because we didn’t have normal lectures yet, so my program the day before went from 8 am to 8 pm, I have to make dinner and am deeply tired getting to know roommates and go to sleep at 1 am, then remembering I need a lab partner for the day afterwards. I sent so many texts at 1:30 am, waking up at 6:30 to see if anyone had responded. A lab partner you know don’t matter that much, but it truly was good to have one I didn’t know, but knew I could at least be civil with. This year it was the same damn thing only we had to choose the people of our corona-friendly groups to be with the whole year, without warning. It was one stressful hour.
7. Feel like you need to participate in all aspects of student culture or be on your own. Or go the other way and think you need to focus too much on studies the first month, which is very busy.
Clubs! Interest groups! Sports! Volunteering! Each uni program’s society. I don’t know what your university offers, but you should after the first week! They’re all there to be a support and a place to meet people, spend the first month wisely by trying out which places of the university/college you feel like you are most comfortable and like. But also don’t feel like you need to drink, or that you need to drink to attend parties. It’s okay to be sober in any situation, do you think college drunk people notice your potential higher awkwardness? Mostly not. Personally, I went into the physics programme from the real world being considered someone who liked the occassional party, but not really. But I just don’t like that many people around anyway. The moment someone started talking about physics stuff at an after-party, I was in love with that aspect of the culture. If you find your people, you might find that the ‘parties’ and their conversation is a lot more interesting as well. Or not, and then you might want to do some daytime activities with a club/sports team. And again – you don’t need to drink.
8. Not look for one older, very active student’s name that you write down, (befriend on facebook) and is ready to ask if you got questions which needs to be answered quickly. Or elected student representative.
Often councellors are inaccessible in the beginning of the year and even through they’re supposed to be there every mail seem to go missing. Not to mention the professors. Usually a STEM class will have layers of people with responsibility and even knowing someone to ask who to turn to or where to look it up is truly valuable. Cue me trying to reschedule an obligatory lab time for a Germany trip and not realizing there’s one certain person resposible for all the labs among the many names of ‘lab assistants’. I had time, but if say you’re ill and can’t join – especially in corona times – have that name and a plan ready.
What you can also do: Generally familiarize yourself with what to do if ill or not able to attend obligatory work and the consequences. You think you won’t need it and suddenly you got a fever. Or just need motivation to get your hungover self out of bed and get to that 8 am thing.
9. Feel like you don’t belong in certain rooms.
I have a strange background (school-wise), making me feel like I definitely do not fit in with all these smart people I’m surrounded with. You just have to be uncomfortable sometimes, of course that’s a long way away from unsafe. Looking back there’s certain people I’ve met & gotten help from and actually courses I’ve switched out because I went into those rooms; I once joined a group of guys arguing loudly in a room only to find out that they were discussing how awful matrix calculations are by hand are with older students and I joined in after some truly shy thirty minutes. I joined a party the first day where I wanted to leave the first five minutes, near panic, but a girl took my hand bascially and introduced me – making me take inspiration from that the rest of the year. After a few weeks two older girls, separately, noted that I was the only other girl in the room (kind of like a break-room, but at 1 am and filled with older students, it’s fun & weird) and if that bothered me – at that point I’d gotten enough familiar faces that I was surprised it didn’t. (Like obviously in a working for gender equality kind of way, but not in a personal anxiety level way hahha.)
What you can do; fake a bit of courage if necessary, stay in a room for ten-fifteen minutes before fleeing, don’t do anything that’s actually unsafe, but not let anxiety/self-confidence hold you back. Only you know what you want, only you know where you belong and not let anyone tell you otherwise.
10. Not explore early on what modules/classes you want to take, even if two seem very similar
Here the older student advisor comes into good use. I briefly mentioned how I changed one of my courses the first week, it was a difficult, but good decision. There’s always the ones that take too many classes or have already taken some in high school (an offer I never got??). You don’t need to know what you want to do or which special field you like the first year, but perhaps ask anyone in your major what they would’ve done differently. My physics friends mostly agree on how we should have had one year of pure maths before then going into a physics bachelor course, because it would’ve gone pretty seamlessly at my particular university, but we didn’t know about that possibility. It’s still not something I would recommend randomly, but if you do really care about getting good in a programme, the A4 solution given might not be the best way for everyone. Or it might be a good reason behind the set-up, but now you’ll know.
11. Not go to lectures
This is straight off the press (tongue) of my math major roommate who was ahead of all of us even as first years; “my first advice to new students would be to go to lectures, even if I barely did.” I had a laugh, because if someone was way worse than me to show up; it was him. Give it a good two months’ worth of trying. Even if the lecturer is terrible, you can bond over that with other students and find out a strategy to create some kind of plan together. I didn’t attend lectures at all after the first few times in two courses; first semester’s intro programming course because it was truly annoying to sit through (but I should’ve stayed even if doing something completely different, just to pick up on possible exam questions) and second semester’s wave & fluid mechanics. The second one I had learned my lesson, but I had a weekly appointment I had to go to and it was the only day I could – let’s just say I recently retook the exam and it went better this time :)))
I hope this was useful to someone, it was at the very least useful for me to think through new students arriving! Stay safe in the corona season we are suffering through. Think about the people in the risk groups (like me) that have to be super careful, and will suffer greatly for you not participating in that work of being careful. Wish you the best of luck and please feel free to add something!
I don’t know why I’m doing this either, it was a 2 am idea I might still want to reverse if that helps. Have this fun (or not) thing while I’m hopefully studying for after-summer exams and please comment honestly on if I shouldn’t have posted this. In chronological order from oldest to newest.
that’s it, kind of. i had so much fun spending time with new friends, working hard and spending so much time trying to understand concepts, occassionally writing this book blog with updates. my home-situation living with 15 other people, but in a more fancy apartment and each having our own space, turned from a scary decision into something very interesting. I found two of my best friends in the two math and electrical engineer students living with me. We became a trio of sorts; sometimes cooking together, watching the engineer do smart shit while trying to guess what the fancy circuit boards were, everyone cursing at our computer code (different levels, to be fair) while drinking a beer, staying inside during the weekends for movie nights, all of us already being too familiar with insomnia and stress. If anything I truly realized how much I’m always in the middle of them and enjoyed that; on everything from cooking-knowledge to whether an abstract or practical smart person and the scale of how social you are. definitely also in the middle of the more unusual scales of “how likely are you to drunkenly show off your soldering skills?” and “how likely are you to resteal a shopping cart for a good cause (like cheering up your extremely-stressed-with-school friend that looked forward to motorize it)?” then corona happened sadly and we return to regularly scheduled programming aka back on the internet ranting ❤
Next post is based on a similar post based on two people finding each over staying up doing their obligatory reading for literature classes and I was like … oh I actually had this very similar thing happen in real life & also why make everything romantic?
A bonus one from pre-uni, showing you that my doubts in myself did not mysteriously appear during university. For the record, I’ve learned so much this first year, that just doesn’t quite come through here.
Also, if you need a new zoom background for the new semester, this one of a larger than average black hole has been my go-to lately (along with an actual photo of my dorm just weird-looking enough to confuse people when I was away);
I also have this one to-go for more depressing times like 8 am (it’s the bleakest picture I have of my home pre-uni basically):
This one is to show some slight self-awareness as I sit down with a cup of tea and give life-advice to my friends like they should listen to me (which you should know by now is not true at all):
And finally the zoom background I’m excited to use next semester (from debbie-sketch on tumblr, check it out for other hogwart house dorms):
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green (it was so awesome)
Added to TBR:
Starlight by Richard Wagamese (ownvoices for indigenous)
The end of everything (astrophysically speaking) by Katie Mack (science, physics): I’ve followed Mack on twitter for a while and she’s this great astrophysicist, so I’ve been truly looking forward to this book
The winter duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett (YA fantasy, lgbt; f/f & nonbinary characters)
Spellbooks of the lost and found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (magical realism, lgbt; bi): I do truly love good trios, especially if they’re witches
Mexican gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (horror, historical fiction, gothic, set in Mexico)
The city we became by N. K. Jemisin (urban fantasy, lgbt)
Burn by Patrick Ness (dragons!!!, fantasy)
Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas (fantasy): because I should give up on her by now, but everyone seem to like this (finally) adult book and I can’t help being interested/hopeful
Kingdom of souls by Rena Barron (fantasy, set in West Africa)
A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini (historical fiction, Afghanistan)
Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji (historical fiction): I’ve actually wanted to read this for a long time, but never added it to my TBR somehow?? I’ve seen some amazing quotes/paragraphs from here out of context.
Earth and ashes by Atiq Rahimi (historical fiction, war, Afghanistan)
PET by Awaeke Emezi (YA fantasy, trans mc, Nigerian author)
Passenger to Tehran by V. Sackville-West (travel, memoir-like, set in 1926): I fell down a rabbit hole reading about her life dating both men and women and this book written as a diplomat’s wife seems very interesting
Honeybee by Trista Mateer (poetry, lgbt, smalltown)
SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson (poetry, sexual abuse)
Rosewater by Tade Thompson (sci-fi, fantasy, set in Nigeria)
It was another quote from an article that set me out on a deep rabbit hole; Esquire’s “The Secret Oral History of Bennington”. It’s about the college in the 80’s, producing a group of famous artists, including Donna Tartt (the author of two of my favourite books; The Secret History & The Goldfinch) and American Psycho’s Bret Easton Ellis. There’s so many good quotes in that article, and I’ve rarely trusted a group of people less to say the truth accurately and not have a skewed perspective because of their heightened sense of self-worth. Doesn’t make it any less fascinating to look into, though.
TODD O’NEAL: The Secret History isn’t so much a work of fiction. It’s a work of thinly veiled reality—a roman à clef. When it came out, Claude and Matt and I got endless calls. Everybody was saying, “Oh, did you know Donna just wrote a book about Claude and you all? And Claude is Julian and Matt is Bunny and you’re Henry.”
Todd O’Neal was another student at the college Tartt attended
I booked my tickets back to university, finally. I knew more people would travel by train because of corona making planes more unsafe, but I didn’t realize 95% of the tickets would be sold out for the next week and a half during what’s still summer! We don’t start up school again truly for another three weeks guys! Seems like everyone is like me and have decided that five months away from my dorm is already too long. The fact that it’s still summer also means that they’re working on the tracks, so instead of eight hours, it’s a twelve hour train trip. And I’m truly sick from an sinus infection (I tested negative for corona, no worries), so that will be hell on earth, no matter how much I love train-rides. I went on a hunch that the earlier train at the end of the week was the right one, and a minute afterwards my new roommate (and friend) texts me, turns out we’re on the same one train by accident.
If there’s something I’ve learned in my personal life this week is the reinforcement of this idea – find your support anywhere you can, trust those people even if it will hurt if they break that trust, create your own family through friends. It goes with the story that I’m leaving earlier than expected because shit went down, that I’m lucky to have a mom that loves me, and that I’ve experienced a lot of rejections from family in the last five months. I miss my uni family, so deeply. Soon I will again use my insomniac nights sending my rants on literature, in this case it would be Bennington College and the type of elitism there, to the other insomniac directly across the hall until we both give up and meet for a nightly snack in the kitchen.
I went into my first year of university knowing that I could count on no one to be there to catch me if I fell. I’m going into the second year of university having stumbled and fallen a lot these last five months, but always having the hope that I would be back home soon, where people are so different in how they show they care – but they all do. Only four days left.
I’ve tried to write this post many times, but the words just don’t look right together. I’ve already missed crohn’s disease awereness day two years in a row, so that says something about my qualms about writing this. But I think I’ve figured out what I want to say, or at least some of it.
Right now, today, my disease should be under control. You can live a normal life with crohn’s disease, they say. I was relieved when I got the diagnosis, because it only put words to something my body had been going through for so many years, so much time spent searching. And yet now, today, I am about to fail two out of five exams this semester. I am in the likely best university in my country studying physics, in my first year. And since before corona started I have been so ill, in various shapes, but of course I couldn’t figure out what was going on because everything shut down because of corona. (I also wasn’t allowed to get an actual corona test.)
Yet, going through so many years with people telling me that my pain, my disease, wasn’t real – that’s what I fall back on. That’s what’s in my head, trying to shame me into pushing through even though I know that’s not true. I know that now, I knew that then. Yet crohn’s is an often invisible illness, I’ve often looked my “best” right before collapsing or having to be admitted to the hospital or spending months bedridden in pain. I was complimented on how I’d lost weight, even as it was harder and harder to keep up in taekwondo class because spinning made me feel like I would faint and as I laid down on my stomach on the floor after push-ups, huge symmetrical blue and purple bruises would blossom on my hips and I had no idea why. I’ve made so many coping tactics, some good, some maybe not so, but I hate it when people critic them as if they know where I’m coming from.
I’ve made so much progress. And it more often than not feels like I regress again, every time I get sick with something new, or my crohn’s gets worse, but that’s not the right words to use. I don’t regress, because I’m not in control of it. And yet, it’s me that have to pick myself up again every time I lose muscle, everytime I have spent a month nearly dying, everytime I watch my brother go through the same fucking illness as me. And up ’til this point, there’s been little help to get compared to the criticism I’ve had to fight through.
Maybe I didn’t manage to figure out what was wrong and fix it in time for these last two exams. I did manage to pull myself together and focus enough that I completed the first three. It’s been a hell of a couple months. The only reason I’m hurting about ‘failing’ right now is that I’ve been in more pain before and still pulled through, but I now realize that I shouldn’t have had to. And with that ounce of compassion for myself I’m going to let that shame go, and not see this as a sign that I will never be able to do this. I will pull myself up again alone, this time as well. Eventually.
Say fuck you to everyone who expects you to have a completely normal life with this disease. ‘You can live a normal life with crohn’s disease’ does not mean you have to live up to that, it’s to not exclude possibilities when you feel most hopeless. And I will fight in any way I can again anyone else feeling as hopeless as I’ve been made to feel about my chronic illnesses.
I made this embroidery staying up too many nights trying to keep sane before my painkillers set in and the stomach pain withdrew enough to let me sleep. Here’s to hoping for a better and more energic summer than spring.
This is not a how-to post and I unfortunately don’t have much advice to give. I would actually love to hear some advice if you got it. But I still want to make a post during this start of university where I just discuss my worries surrounding starting this new, stressful-for-normal-people every day.
To say something about how I got here; I really fought for an education. I think a lot of people with chronic illnesses and other disabilities have to, to a degree, no matter where they come from. Even though I live in Norway with protected rights to education, there was so much working against me to get here. But that is its own story. The thing is; I got here. I’m surprised and relieved.
I love the people surrounding me and how smart they are. I love taking it all it and hanging out with people and barely grasping what is happening in math lectures. I’m on a roll, about to be caught up mostly in different aspects of my life. A balance is reachable! And then my body will shut down. It did this week, for multiple reasons. And while I’ve been able to take a break from thinking about illness until now, even though I’ve had a base-level of pain with me every day (some days worse than other), now I have to call doctors and switch one of the many medicines I’m on and keep this part of my life going with filling out forms and sending letters and … it’s a lot.
Some of my fellow physics students are the cliches of having their head so deep in a book that they forget about the world around them until someone brings them coffee/food/calls and asks them why the hell they’re not meeting them as planned. I can do that as well … for a couple hours. But if I was that person I would probably not survive long, or at minimum – in the short run – suffer greatly. I’m forced to have at least this part of my life, the medical, organized. And it’s something you never can plan for.
How to plan if you’re chronically ill:
Don’t. Or at least that’s what I’ve landed on after many years. I will have plans, and if other people are involved, sometimes you got to attach dates to those plans. But always have a way out, depending on how important that thing is for you. And for the less important things, keep the plan an idea as long as possible (this only works if you communicate well with those around you, and evaluate the possibilities of the individual situation). And depending on that week or day’s energy/pain level, set or change those plans. To sum up; no plans are set in stone.
Know that there will be x amount of days/weeks of school work lost due to illness, try not to be angry or stressed out at yourself when it happens, roll with the punches. It’s so difficult. I’m not doing great at it right now. You’re at least learning efficiency when you get back.
Try to get as much help as possible. To learn things, to get notes. From anyone. Like be honest and reach out and know that you have a good reason. Try to be that person to others when you have better periods and they got issues, if possible.
Always book those hospital/doctor appointments as soon as possible. It’s easier now that I’ve actually got free time sometime during the day, mostly, instead of in high school sneaking out of class and sitting on the bathroom floor of the handicap stall (one of many, I wasn’t in anyone’s way) for twenty minutes while waiting to get through on the phone. It’s still easy to avoid. But it doesn’t get better.