Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why I'm in College

Besides the literature class I'm also taking a public speaking class and I just thought I'd share a speech we had to do about why we're in college.  That's pretty much it... there's nothing else I really feel the need to explain.

My journey through college has proven to be a very interesting adventure. I graduated from high school in 2007 convinced that my future was in nursing. I had completed the health occupations class at my county BOCES, successfully passed my C.N.A exam, and found great joy in being state senior vice-president of Health Occupation Students of America.

I started my freshman year excited about being away from home at SUNY Delhi. I found my place in a great group of fun loving Long Island girls (My friend, Lindsay rocked the hair bump long before Snooki ever did) and I enjoyed my classes. Halfway through the semester I ended up with pneumonia and missed 2 weeks of classes. Having missed clinical I was told I had to either drop the program or fail and the anatomy teacher made me take 2 tests and 2 lab practicals within a week and a half. At the end of the semester he smirked at me while he said “You know, I’m surprised that you didn’t fail.”

Two years and a failed community college session later I decided to move to Buffalo. In that time I floated between a few majors ranging from biology teaching to dental hygiene. The rest of my time was filled with taking care of my grandmother and not being able to find employment. I also struggled with my father’s illness and surgeries. Between the ages of 17 and 21 my dad had a foot of his colon removed, cancer cells removed from his bladder, 3 months with a temporary ileostomy, open heart surgery to replace a valve, and 2 twisted bowel surgeries. Overall I was stressed and just needed to get away. Six weeks after moving to Buffalo I had a job and an apartment, and I was loving being at ECC. I love being in the business program, and my grades reflect this. I’m excited to transfer and hope to have my M.B.A. completed within the next 3 to 4 years.

I could have just given up and not gone back to school. Right now I could be working as a C.N.A, perhaps working on my L.P.N. It’s much easier to quit. Really, how much effort does it take to say “Well, maybe someday I’ll go back” or “School just isn’t for me”? If that’s the case why didn’t I quit?

First and foremost I owe it to my parents to build on and improve the life they gave me. Neither of my parents have college degrees. After high school my father joined the air force and is lucky that in his line of work Vietnam veterans are given priority to stay on. Many of his coworkers have lamented how great of a worker he is and how he knows so much about the line of work, but he can only advance so far without a degree. If he hadn’t been a veteran my dad would have been laid off from his job at the age of 64. Because my mother is 9 years younger than him he needs to stay on with a job that has health insurance. What jobs are out there for a 64 year old man with no college degree?

My mother attended Alfred and ECC and chose to drop out to pursue a job as a seamstress when she was one year away from completing her R.N. degree. She deeply regrets not completing it even though she had no interest in working as a nurse. 30 years later her credits are worthless, and even though she had more credits than an associate’s degree required the lack of completion keeps her from getting jobs that require an associate’s degree.

Both of my parents always pushed my sister and me to, at the very least, get a degree in something. Employers can argue experience, knowledge, or qualifications but they can’t argue with your degree. Secondly, I felt the need to prove to others that I can do things, and do them right. It would be great to go to my 10 year reunion and “stick it” to a few of the jerks who treated me poorly and acted like they were so much better, but that’s just a small and cynical part of me. Most of me proving myself is to make the people who had a positive impact on my life proud of my accomplishments. My health occupations teacher will matter-of-factly state that I was both her smartest and her laziest student. I know this because when I went back to talk to her class about the importance of staying in school she felt the need to point that out to them. I coasted through high school with the ability to be at the top of my class, but no motivation to be there.

Now that I’m almost 24 I’ve had time to mature and realize that I can be and deserve to be where my capabilities can put me. It’s not about potential, it’s about actuality. People can have the potential to be a doctor, or physicist, or president,… or criminal, or mass murderer, or drug lord of a feared cartel. Your potential doesn’t mean a damn thing if you don’t act on it, whether it be for good or for bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Literature Class

So this semester I am taking a class titled "Composition and Interpretation of Literature."  So far the professor's picks have been a bit stuffy and I am not finding the class interesting, but this week has at least given me the excitement of being able to "bash" religion.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Current Projects

So I'm pleasantly surprised that I actually got a Saturday off from work.  I took the opportunity to stay up late and watch Pitch Perfect and Bully.  If you haven't seen either one I urge you to go out and do so (for differing reasons, of course).  As a big girl I love seeing Rebel Wilson in the roles she's gotten, and I find myself noticing traits and deflection in Fat Amy that are also present in me.  She's a genuinely funny and passionate woman and I hope to see a lot more of her on the silver screen.

Bully hit home, but for different reasons.  I found myself ugly crying during a lot of it and it brought back memories of my own childhood bullying.  The level these kids take things definitely tops my own experiences.  Luckily, I was able to cope by becoming quite the snarky lady, but it's clear adults need to step up and put serious effort into protecting and fulfilling the needs of the kids who won't develop that coping mechanism.  The most poignant moment was the vice-principal stating that the kids on the bus were "As good as gold."  When I was being bullied on the bus, to the point where one jerkhole decided to try and slap my glasses off my face (cutting me scarily close to one of my eyes) the principal at the time had a similar reaction.  She changed her tune when my parents put everything in writing and slapped it on her desk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Because You Haven't Heard Enough About the Pope

I know my parents love me very much.  We have a great relationship and I am very thankful that the odds were in my favor when I was born to them.  However, they have never been very good at the mushy stuff and procrastinate about it until the very last minute.  One example of this is the letter my father wrote me for my confirmation preparation.  He referenced waiting for a new pope and the man hadn't even been dead for a week.

Our retreat that prepared us for our confirmation was the week John Paul II died.  I was 15 and I was just seeing my doubts become cemented as confirmation drew closer.  Like many other young people JPII had been the only pope we had known in our lives and we didn't know any other way for the church to present itself.  Child abuse allegations were really beginning to snowball, but the extent of the cover ups was still a ways off.

In his letter my father described the Catholic church as a living body that changes and adapts to what happens to it, and in a way he is right.  I see now that each pope paints the church a different way.  John Paul II had a way to get people to respect and be positive about aspects of the church even if they disagreed.  We know now that a lot of it was a steaming pile of shit, but the man was pretty good at public relations.

In 8 years Benedict XVI has managed to completely destroy any residual good feelings people may have had for the Catholic church.  He has revealed the church for what it really is:  a child abusing, criminal protecting, social justice preventing, death aiding institution based on the hateful myths of desert dwelling thugs.  I'm not sure it's damage that can be reversed even if they picked the most liberal pope out there.  People are catching onto them now, and I know I am not the only young former Catholic who felt the election of Benedict was a strong force in their deconversion.

I will watch the selection of a new pope with interest.  How it plays out is going to impact the path of not only the church but of secular organizations.  A conservative pope that pushes the anti-gay, anti-condom, cover up child abuse agenda is going to chip away at the faith of many.  There will be those that cling to the hardcore or cultural catholic angle, but I don't see numbers or donations to the church headed in a good direction.  A more liberal pope, while not shaking people's foundations so hard, will hopefully still make people question how the church can justify swinging different directions so quickly.

I'll end with a video from CNN I found rather interesting and highlights many of Benedict's mistakes (not that I find the breaking of faith a bad thing ;P)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Road to Atheism

It seems like a tired and overdone story, but each person's journey to reaching the conclusion that they are an atheist genuinely does color how they view the world and in what direction they will try and shape it.  For that reason I believe a good starting point is to explain my journey and where I am at now.

I was raised in a religious family, but that was never the center of our lives.   My mother spent her childhood roaming from protestant church to protestant church and, despite being a theist, doesn't hold one version of the dogma above any other.  My father oftentimes seems like a reluctant Catholic.  My grandmother takes things very seriously.  I doubt my parents would have had a church wedding if she hadn't complained about it  nonstop for months until they complied.  If he had not had children I doubt my father would have spent his Sundays in church.

We went to mass every Sunday and church school was a must, but my parents never put "the fear" into my younger sister and me.  My mother in particular encouraged us to question and was quite sure it was perfectly alright for us to disagree with what the church was teaching.  Of course it was known to never air those out for my grandmother, but we were otherwise free to talk about our concerns.

As I moved through my teenage years I began looking into religion more and more.  Each discovery chipped away at my faith, though I fiercely held onto the title of "Christian".  I debated intensely on a Christian teen forum, going so far as to find myself banned for calling out the more unsavory beliefs and opinions.

 I conceded belief after belief, from the divinity of Jesus to whether or not the bible is an accurate and useful tool in life, but I desperately wanted to cling to the idea of being a Christian.  At first I was just a liberal Christian, then UU, just spiritual, and lastly admiring of the philosophy of Jesus.  Christians blasted me for not "really" being Christian and the atheists I encountered mocked my crumbling faith.

By the age of 18 I finally admitted to myself that there was no point in calling myself a Christian anymore.  I had discarded too many things to make the label worthwhile and the thought of being associated with some of the people who were in that category made me uncomfortable.

It took a while to really get involved in groups about atheism.  Previous encounters left a bad taste in my mouth, so I wasn't in a hurry to expose myself like that again.  Even now I don't find myself terribly active in groups.  It's one thing to watch youtube videos or read blogposts and either agree or disagree while sitting alone in your apartment.  It's a whole different monster to tackle when you put yourself out there for others to criticize, be it justified or not.

But I think those concerns are better left for another post.

"And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."

I've never been very good at maintaining a blog.  My life is of a decent quality, but doesn't consist of adventure, deep musings, or a lot of drama.  I suppose the purpose of this page is to be a catch all in my life.

 I will be sharing my thoughts on things, including religion, skepticism, atheism, politics, current events, and everything we're told to not talk about in polite conversation.  I'm also a casual video game lover, so expect to see at least a few progress updates and comments about what's going on in the video game world that interest me.  Crochet, sewing, and other craft projects may make an appearance as well as commentary on what's going on in my life.