That Weird Feeling…

It still hasn’t sunk in yet.

Even though I’m moving in a little less than two weeks and looking at things for my new job (seriously, making one’s own healthcare decisions is HARD!) and stuff like that, I don’t know that reality is going to sink in until July 8th. Heck, maybe not until September… oh… whenever university starts back up again for the boyfriend. Or when I get my diploma—whichever comes first.

I think part of this has to do with being put under earlier this week to get the wisdom tooth surgery; I’ve been kind of muzzy the past several days, and when that hasn’t been the case, I’ve been escaping by reading. It’s really easy to lose track of time when one is reading. Time, space… the whole kit’n’kaboodle, really.

So, that’s why I haven’t been sticking to my schedule. Again. I’m kind of glad readership isn’t way the heck up there for that reason, but maybe that would give me the incentive to write more? I dunno. I just don’t know.

But apparently I know computer science, so there’s that…

I also know a few other things. A quick rundown:

–A year of ASL (I haven’t been using it as much as I should, though, so my production is… not so awesome…)
–Two quarters of calculus (integrals and 3D calculus)
–A quarter of atmospheric sciences (takeaway: weather prediction is inexact at best)
–A quarter of Shakespeare (a quote from the professor about Hamlet: Anyone who’s skipping class, I’m just going to assume is helping someone avenge their father.)
–A quarter each of computational biology and computational linguistics (yay, Hidden Markov Models!)
–Two quarters of Greek and Latin roots (my dad’s a biologist—take a guess as to what my grades were for those classes)
–A quarter of art history (helped greatly by a similar class in high school)
–A quarter each of surveys of psychology (The prof, at the end of every class, as flatly as possible: Okay I’m done g’byenow), philosophy (pious pancakes!), geology (yay, rocks!), and linguistics (fascinating)
–Intro to Judaism (I was asked, “Wait, you grew up Catholic? Why are you taking this?!” no fewer than 5 times. Um, maybe because it’s interesting!)
–Two quarters of phsyics: motion (ahh, memories of building a functional—if miniature—trebuchet in high school!) and electromagnetics (ahh, memories of my high school physics teacher frying everyone’s homemade speakers…)
–A quarter of physical geography (like the atmospheric science class and the geology survey rolled into one!)
–A quarter of the history of my area’s geography (soooooo much logging…)

There you have it. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot. And it’s gonna keep on going, if I have anything to say about it. I guess that determination is a lot of why the “school’s out forever” feeling hasn’t sunk in yet. And I’m kinda hoping it never does.


The Last 4 Years: a Contemplation

Well, I’m done.

It’s strange. I feel like a mix of an a-bomb, the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s Messiah, floating just under the surface of a body of water, and David Tennant’s heart wrenching “I don’t wanna go” as the tenth Doctor are all going off in my head in turns, but I’m more or less utterly calm on the outside.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve freaked out about it so much over the past few weeks—the past year, really—that I’m more or less done. I’ve come to accept it: I’m a big, important computer scientist, and soon, I will be unleashed on the world to wreak utter havoc with your online retail experience. I won’t be a student anymore.

Well, not really. I mean, I won’t be attending a school, but you can bet money, food, or various parts of your body that I will keep on learning. That’s who I am; I love knowledge. If I could just walk into a library and soak up all its knowledge, I would. So, I guess that nothing’s really going to change, other than what I do during the day. Like I said, your online retail experience will never be the same. And now, you’re going to be forever paranoid. (This is probably going to be made all the worse by the recent Big Brother leaks that have rocked the U.S. news. I’m sorry.)

Looking back, I can’t say I have many regrets. A few, but none that keep me up at night. If nothing else, I do what I feel comfortable with—that was one of those lessons I learned early on—we’re talking kindergarten, here.

I’ve been a student for the past 17 years. 19-ish, if you count pre-school. I did learn a lot there. Like how to make paintings with colored shaving cream. And how to duck and cover during an earthquake. And that I really, really hate fire alarms. REALLY.

In many ways, college is supposed to be the culmination of our learning. But, thinking back on it, I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. We start general in grade school and go specific in college. Sure, there’s distribution requirements, but it’s easy enough to mold those into what we really want. Not that that’s a bad thing—we need to come into who we are as naturally as possible, and focus on what we want. These four(-ish) years are incredibly crucial, but then, you could make that argument for almost any other moment in your life. I am who and where I am today because I went to college, and a lot of things would definitely be different had I not chosen this path. But I didn’t learn what life is all about. I didn’t learn everything I wanted to—there’s just no way I could do that in four or even ten years.

What I have learned (on a more serious note than a few posts previous) is this: Life is learning. Life is scary. Life is exciting. Life is experiencing ups and downs. Life is unexpected. Life is constantly changing, and even when it isn’t, the world keeps on turning.

I think a lot of this can be summed up as follows:

Des’ree–“You Gotta Be”

Letting Your Kids Watch Disney Won’t Ruin Them, I Swear

Watching Disney movies in college gives you a rather different perspective on them than you had when you were little. Or, at least, the movies are a lot more understandable in light of the knowledge you gain as you go through school.

Some people are okay with this. It makes movies more enjoyable and easier to watch multiple times when you going, “Hey, I never noticed that before!” But I’ve also heard friends say, “Oh my God, these movies are horrible! I’m never letting my child watch them at a young age!”

When remarks like that are made, I’ve often said, “Hold on just a second. How much of that can you honestly say you understood when you watched that at five?” and about as often gotten back some stuttering about how it’s still in there and that’s not okay before the eventual grumble of “None of it…”

Often, it’s that people don’t want their children to learn bad behaviors. There’s also a protective instinct to shield young ones from scary or sad scenes. Honestly, I remember being upset at Mufasa’s death in The Lion King. I remember being scared out of my wits at Aladdin’s escape from the cave of wonders. I remember the Beast teaching me that anger can be a scary, ugly thing. I remember Gaston teaching me that being arrogant can get you your way, but it will make a lot of people think you’re a tier-1 jerkface.

See, the world isn’t perfect, and in those movies, no matter how dark they get, there is happiness. Often enough, the ending is happy. That’s the reward to the viewer for sticking with it. And when you think about it, things are happier now than they were when fairytales by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson were what children were expected to read or listen to. (We get such watered down versions of them today; if you read the original versions, there’s some REALLY dark stuff in there!)

Then, there’s also a huge feminist argument against a lot of Disney movies. I completely understand where that’s coming from. Really, I didn’t want to watch Snow White or Sleeping Beauty because I thought they were really, really boring.

Then again, with two older brothers and no sisters, I also grew up watching Star Wars and The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest and playing with Legos and Hot Wheels. I played Star Wars at recess with the boys, and I enjoyed my fair share of rough-housing, but I also loved to watch the pretty Disney princesses. It never occurred to me that society thought any one of those activities was “wrong” or “right” for little girls to want to do—I was just having fun! I invented stories with my dolls and stuffed animals, and I had fun dressing up in a tutu just as much as those activities I mentioned that are more thought of as boys’ activities.

Disney didn’t teach me how to be a girl, and that’s definitely not for lack of exposure. I freakin’ loved those movies and would watch them every chance I got. Heck, I don’t think I ever actually learned how to be a girl, which explains a lot, if you know me. What Disney taught me—what everything taught me when I was little—was how to be me, and to accept myself for who I am, and not let some Gaston mold me to his will or some Scar try to intimidate me into doing things I did not want to or should not do… you get the picture. (Side note: Disney also did not give me body-image issues. I came by those long after I stopped watching a Disney movie a day, and even now, I’ve never cared about how “fat” I am relative to an animated character. Or a live-action one, for that matter.)

I’m okay with the color pink. I like princess stories (though the princess can’t be a damsel in distress for half the book, or I just give up). And there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the kitchen that keeps me in there probably far more often than is really healthy for me. But I also like the color blue, watching things explode, and working with power tools. Disney never said I couldn’t do both. But if they—or anyone—were to say that? I’d have a few rather rude suggestions for what they should do before continuing on my merry way.

So yeah, when I get around to having kids, they’ll totally be allowed to watch Disney movies. In fact, I might make them, even if they don’t want to.


Sort of…

Anyway, these hypothetical children will be allowed to watch and ask questions and form their own beliefs about what they can and can’t do, and I really hope that they, like me, don’t do things just because “that’s what girls/boys do—and the other gender doing them is wrong”, but because they want to. And I will try to keep my laughter at the less appropriate jokes down until they’re old enough to understand, then watch them possibly go through that same phase of horror/shock when they realize there’s a reason why adults find these things funny, and THEN watch them realize that it’s okay because they didn’t get it, and Disney didn’t ruin them, either.