Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A dysfunctional relationship

This post, Fandom is Broken, on Birth. Movies. Death., has been making the rounds today.

Just as in life, sometimes the things we love end, or change, or turn out not to be what we thought. And just like in life, we need to adjust and deal with that. The current state where fans try to change the thing they love, molding it into exactly the image they want it to be rather than accept it the way the creator made it is kind of a metaphor for relationships, in a way. Broken, controlling, dysfunctional relationship.

Fandom or Dysfunctional Relationship?

  • 'Loving' someone or something so much that you try to change them/it into some perfect ideal rather than accepting them/it as is, flaws and imperfections and all
  • Feeling possessive, a sense of ownership
  • A feeling of rage (not just sadness) when it's over
  • Feeling betrayed when the someone or something changes or turns out to be different than expected
Many shows I have loved have been cancelled, and I've been sad. Sometimes I've wished they could have more time. But the older I get, the more I realize that maybe, sometimes, its good for a show to end 'too soon', when it's still at the top. I have memories of perfection, before the writers struggled for ideas and the show got stale*. 

Sometimes a show, or book series, or whatever, takes a turn I didn't expect and maybe don't particularly like. Sometimes I trust that the creator knows what's best and I see where the new direction will lead. Sometimes I decide it just isn't for me anymore. 

It's great that people are devoted fans of whatever they are fans of. I have my fandoms too. But smothering something you love doesn't allow it to grow, and flourish, and continue. Smothering it kills it. 

If you love it, let it be.

* The more time that passes, the more I realize that, for example, Firefly will always be that one perfect season. There will always be the what could have been. But the show never 'jumped the shark'. It never got stale. It's forever a wonderful memory I can revisit.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stress, exhaustion, and limits

The past two weeks have been very busy and stressful for me. I've been taking two programming courses--an intensive, 2-week Python course and a 6-week PHP course. Programming does not come naturally to me.

I've actually kind of enjoyed the Python course. The syntax is simple enough that I felt like I could concentrate on the logic. Some concepts just made sense while others are still sinking in.

Some of the homework assignments were quick to complete and others took several hours. There was a homework assignment each day plus the lab tasks if I didn't finish them during class. Class met Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday last week and this week.

Simultaneously, I have been taking the PHP course, which meets Monday and Wednesday until mid-June. Once again, there is a homework assignment after each class.

So Wednesdays, when I spent 3 hours in the morning learning Python, grabbed a quick lunch, then spent another 1.5 hours learning PHP, have been crazy, exhausting, and stressful. Also, confusing, as I try to keep the different syntaxes straight.

So as not to fall behind and to keep the concepts as fresh as possible when doing homework, I have pretty much spent each afternoon and evening after class working on the homework assignment from that day (although the Wednesday PHP assignment has been falling to Friday because I just didn't have the brainpower to do both assignments on one day). But, my Python course is now over, which means the next four weeks should be a little easier.

I know I've been stressed trying to keep everything juggled. I was so exhausted last night after the a day of both classes, coming home and doing the Python homework, that I went to bed just after 9. I only made it that late because I had to finish the assignment.

Each semester is its own bit of stress, balancing classes, homework, reading for class, kids, and everything else. I'm only a part-time student. I only take one or two classes each semester rather than a full-time load of three. I know three would break me.

And I'm old enough and wise enough to know that I shouldn't do that. My mental health is worth something to me, and graduate school is not designed with mental health in mind. Each semester there are 'relaxation nights' and 'destress workshops' and whatnot. But really, those are pretty much a joke. Because balancing a full load of courses with the amount of reading and coursework, plus the part- or full-time jobs many students have, plus families..... I have the luxury of taking my time to get my degree, which not everyone can do.

I'm getting better at saying no. Recently I was asked about taking a position on the PTO at the boys' school next year. I told them I just couldn't take anything else on. Despite the assurances that it doesn't involve much work, I just can't commit to it. I can't add another obligation that I'll have to juggle, constantly feeling like I'm not doing any of it well.

It seems to be a female thing, thinking we have to take everything on. I'm not a superwoman. I have my limits. Someone else may be able to juggle more than I am, but I can't. And that's okay.

I'm happier when I'm not exhausted, cranky, stressed. I've had a job that drove me to tears from stress. I occasionally have weeks where I am stressed with school work. But I don't need to add to it. I know my limits. And I don't have anything to prove.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On coeds, sexism, and rape

While doing the NEA crossword puzzle in our local newspaper yesterday, I was struck by one of the clues.

40 Down: Women on campus

Answer: Coeds

Now, this isn't an unusual crossword clue (or answer). I've run across it before. It isn't even unusual to run across the word "coeds" in the news.

But the words we use matter. They have meaning.

I don't know the etymology of coed, but I can use Google. And found this interesting discussion on just that topic at English Language & Usage on Stack Exchange. The logic seems reasonable: when male-only institutions became co-educational, starting in the 1870s, the new female students were called coeds.

Thinking of the implications of this, male students were the default, were educated. Female students were out of the ordinary, the special case. They weren't called students; they weren't just educated, they were "co-educated".

And we still use this term. Or, some people, including the media, still use this term.

So why does it bother me? Why did it suddenly jump out yesterday, while doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper?

Because the big headlines yesterday were about the rapes of some women in conjunction with Little 500, the so-called "Greatest College Weekend".

Only it wasn't so great for some students. Because some of those students are female. And some men see women as playthings, objects here for their enjoyment.

Some students are female, but they are students. Calling them coeds implies that college campuses aren't really their place. That they aren't really students. That college is for men, and women are allowed to attend classes but aren't really there to be educated.

Language matters. Words matter. Words have meaning.

Women on campus: students. Unless they are faculty, or staff, or administrators....