Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Echar de menos la universidad

Pues...aunque me graduó de la universidad, a veces echo de menos (extraño) la universidad. Cuando estoy caminando  en el campus de mi trabajo, pienso de las clases y de cómo fácil lo que para obtener conocimiento. Fue muy fácil para aprender información. Porque yo no tengo notas para las materias, no tengo motivación para aprender. Por eso, yo deseo volverme a la universidad. Solo quiero aprender y hacerme inteligente. No quiero las notas. Las que son un exceso de estrés.

Pero hay una cosa que yo no echo de menos. No echo de menos a las estudiantes. No echo de menos las fiestas tampoco. Estoy muy contenta que no encargarme con este lío. Es un poco triste que yo no me gusta a las estudiantes, pero muchas veces, pienso que las estudiantes son ofensas. Yo trabajó mejor sin mis compañeros de clase. Una vez, es muy triste que yo no quisiera estar alrededor a las estudiantes pero muchas estudiantes no compartían las mismas convicciones conmigo.   

A veces yo quiero volverme a la universidad para aprender pero no quiero volverme a las estudiantes quienes aprecian las fiestas más del conocimiento. 

English translation:
Well...although I graduated from college, sometimes I miss it. When I'm walking on my work's campus, I think of classes and how easy it was to learn things. It was very easy to learn information. Because I don't have grades for subjects, I don't have motivation to learn. Because of this, I want to return to the university. I only want to learn and become smarter. I don't want grades. Those are too much stress.

But there's one thing that I don't miss. I don't miss the students. I don't miss the parties either. I am very glad that I don't have to deal with this ruckus. It's a bit sad that I don't like students, but a lot of the time, I think that the students are obnoxious. I worked better without my classmates. Again, it's really sad that I didn't want to be around students, but a lot of students don't share the same beliefs as me.

Sometimes I want to return to college to learn, but I don't want to go back to the students who value parties more than knowledge.

Side note: I wish my Spanish was more fluid, like my English. I guess I need to keep working on that.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Showing Off Status

It never occurred to me that people judge you based on what you drive. It should have when I saw people driving "ghettomobiles" and I thought they came from a lower-income area. Until now, that bias didn't really click.

He may drive a ghettomobile, but he's actually a millionaire. Don't let him fool you. Source.
Lately, I've been taking the bus to work since I don't have car (thanks to the monster puddle). My coworkers have remarked, "Hannah, do you want a car? I can let you borrow one" and "Oh, I remember when I used to car pool and had to ride the bus." While I do think my coworkers have good intentions, it slightly infuriates me that I can't ride the bus in peace. It's as if not owning a car makes you seem poor and unfortunate. In fact, when I told my supervisor that I got a bus pass so she didn't need to worry about bringing me to work, she asked if I was doing that by choice and asked if I really wanted to do that--multiple times.

In college, I rode the bus all the time. My college had buses that specifically went from campus to  the students' apartments and back. We paid for these buses with our one-time parking fees (at $165 for a year for a commuter) and didn't have to worry about paying the fare every time we boarded the bus. It was really convenient and saved me a lot on gas (I only had to fill up once a month). We had a few people who used our buses that weren't college students. Sometimes they were going to work at the college or were going to campus to catch the public CATS bus. Some of them seemed poor because of the clothes they wore.

Now, I have a bus pass from the university I work at, so I still get to save a lot on gas and I don't have to pay $37 a month for parking. I think the bus pass is a great deal and more people should use it. It also helps our environment, too. Yet at the price of saving money and the environment (nearly $100 for parking and gas a month) people would rather drive their own cars.  It's at this point that I realized that cars mean a lot to Americans. It's probably why people awe at Lexus and Audi cars. It's also probably why people look down on Fords and even Chevys (except sports cars, such as Mustangs and Corvettes). Oh, you have a Ford? Tch. That's not fancy. Oh, you're driving a 2000? Lol, man, get with the picture; it's 2014.

Let's look at it this way: a car costs nearly half or more of someone's annual income. To demonstrate this, I'll pick a Chevy car since I'm lucky enough to own a Chevy. The cheapest car, the Spark, is about $12,170 for a new 2015 model. That's a little more than half my annual gross income, meaning the income I take home after taxes and costs of benefits. However, because I'm a tree hugger, I'd like a Chevy Volt (I'd actually like a Nissan Leaf, but let's just skip that for now). The Chevy Volt is $34,170 or 1.4 times my annual gross income. Considering I'd have to pay 0.5-1.4 of my income for a car, purchasing a car is a big deal. Completely paying it off is an even bigger one. Besides, a car is like a pet. You're not just buying a car but also all the upkeep, such as oil changes, headlight changes, windshield wipers, and more. Plus, you still have to pay for gas. To be honest, I couldn't afford a car note and car insurance on my income. I'm privileged that my parents pay that for me.

I don't see myself as poor even though I don't own a sofa yet, but other people may view me that way because I'm taking public transportation. Yet I think public transportation is a great deal. It may take longer to get somewhere, but at least I don't have to pay for a car loan, car insurance, gas, and all the other important maintenance issues. Plus, I don't have to deal with traffic. Sounds good to me. I think I'll keep my bus pass for a while even if I get my car back.

P.S. In case anyone is wondering, I got a bus pass so I wouldn't become a burden on people, and I could get around town on my own. When one of coworkers volunteers to bring me home, I offer gas money, but she always refuses.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Swallowed by a Monster

About a week ago, I was driving a friend to the airport on a rainy day. It was just a rainy day, not very stormy. However, it had rained so much that some parts of the town were starting to flood. The Louisianian in me said, "I got this."

So, off I drove until I came up to a monster puddle. Did I say monster puddle? I mean I came up to a puddle that went up to my knees, so it had to be about one to two feet deep. Since there were cars behind me and my car was pretty tall, I told myself, "I can make it." Except...I didn't make it. Every car around me made it, even the smaller ones. Pennsylvania puddles are not Louisiana puddles. I repeat. Pennsylvania puddles are not Louisiana puddles. Pennsylvania puddles have a vengeance.

As my friend and I sat there in the monster puddle, the water began to rise. Pretty much my worst nightmare was coming true. One of my biggest fears is to end up in a lake and not be able to escape my car. I seriously thought the water was going to rise high enough to go over my windows. At first, I hyperventilated, which made my friend fuss at me. "Hannah, calm down. You're making things worse." I apologized a million times, but that did not stop my reaction. My car, my first and only car, was stuck in water and I was about to be in my worst nightmare. It's pretty similar to watching your baby drown and not being able to do anything--except maybe not that bad...

He called 911 and had me speak to the lady because he had no idea where we were. The lady asked me why I was crying and also told me to calm down. All she said was that she was going to call the police to get a tow truck. There were no instructions about whether to stay in the car or get out. There was no, "It's not raining hard enough to drown your car completely." There was not even a "You're going to be ok." In fact, I really wanted to scream at this lady, "I'M NOT CRYING. I'M HYPERVENTILATING. THERE'S A DIFFERENCE." I also kind of wanted to punch her...I understand why 911 operators keep their voices calm to keep people like me calm, but her tone was very degrading. It sounded like she thought I was making a big deal out of nothing. Excuse me, lady! My worst fear is coming true here! It's true that there are much worse situations to be in, but I don't think talking down to me will help me get over it.

We sat in the car, in which I eventually ended up crying. But at one point, I thought, If I'm going to survive, I need to get out of the car before water gets in. So, I got out of my car and my friend followed. After that, I calmed down a lot. However, when a young man popped up beside us and started taking pictures with his phone, that made my crying worse. Here I was having an accident and I was becoming a "kodak moment." Seriously? SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE?! He said he was sending the picture to the weather service. Yes, well, that's just what I wanted--my misery for everyone to see.

My wading in to get the keys from my ignition just in case anyone decided to steal my car...though I highly doubt it was going anywhere.
The worst part of this was that about five people had gathered on the outside of the puddle and were pointing and gawking. If this was Louisiana, those five people and more would have been in the puddle, helping me to push my car out. That's what happen the last time I got stuck in a puddle in high school in Natchitoches, LA (I wasn't driving that time). In this situation, people here just seemed rude and uncompassionate. Maybe they were just a bunch of city folk afraid to get a little dirty.

At least the cop had a cheery voice when he called. He said that people get stuck there often, and there was nothing to worry about. A tow truck came to pull my car out about ten minutes later, and the driver took us back to my apartment and took my car to the Chevy dealership. Water only got onto my floorboard, but my engine is alright. I'm really glad I don't have to get a whole new car. I couldn't afford it anyway. But I learned my lesson--Don't drive through monster puddles. The monster is gonna win that fight.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mourning a Closed Heart

I've been sitting here reading and crying because of all the feels in my heart and maybe even my soul. The blogs I've been reading are Her Effervescence and Untangled. Both of these writers strive to open their hearts and become better people. I used to be like that. I used to want to live with an open heart that touches people, but I've found that I don't have the strength to touch people. Only those who open their hearts to you are the ones that let you touch them.

I've changed a lot since I began as a freshmen in college. I wanted to help the world, and I wanted to be good and love others. Then I got hurt and shut down. Those people who genuinely wanted to help you with good intentions but didn't follow through were the worst ones, and they're abundant in college (aka--professors and other students). At this point, I'm not sure how I emotionally made it through college, but a lot of it had to do with shutting down.

I've shut down a lot. Things that I used to care about can be thrown at me, smack me in the face, and I won't blink an eye. You might see a finger twitch, but then I'll just ball my hands into a fist. For the past year, I've tried to live on the surface because what was underneath felt like more than I could handle. However, something still remains the same.

Frequently, I've found myself wishing that I wasn't me or that I could get rid of a few of my quirks. More than often, I find myself thinking it would be better if I was never born. You can think I have depression if you want and definitely low self-esteem, but for someone with these qualities, I'm functioning pretty well. How do I do that? Oh, ho! That's right. You've guessed it--the shut down.

By closing my heart off, I "can't be hurt anymore." But you know who hurts me the most? Me. Within the steel walls of my prison, my heart bounces off the walls and ends up with bruises. It ends up bleeding. I sit and I cry. I thought I was better. I thought I had gotten over this phase in my life. But because it's all kept inside, it's still there, screaming to get out. How much longer do I have to hurt over something so stupid, over something that I thought had a very clear solution?

I may sound arrogant, but I know why I closed myself off. I know why I'm killing myself, and I've tried to escape it. I recognized that I didn't have the power to say no to those who took me for granted me, so I took myself out of that environment and I moved. Yet I'm still not healed yet. Sealing myself up was false comfort. Our world is filled with discomfort and we can try to avoid it or complain and run or we can try to adapt to it, to find people to help us through it.

I don't know where to turn to find healing, to finally escape the last throes of someone who doesn't love me but pretends to want me for selfish gain. As the psychiatrists say, "It always gets worse before it gets better." Maybe I just need time to rest so I have energy to delve deeper again. Maybe I can become connected to me again by getting out there again and experiencing the world. I don't want to be locked within myself. I want to share the world with people. I have to learn all over again that hurting is ok. It's ok to be hurt, to be sad, to not be happy, to not be perfect. It's ok to not be loved by some people because then it weeds out those who don't care to those who do care. Being surrounded by caring people is better than being surrounded by those who don't care. Yet this all takes time. People say that when you get older, it gets easier to handle the negative things in life. I'm waiting for that to happen. It's not here yet.

I'll just admit it. I have to learn to love myself. Because people have hurt me, I learned that if I want to be loved, I have to do it myself. I can't expect others to love me because that would be asking too much. I have to learn and accept that I am worthy of love. Then, my heart will be filled, and then I'll have gifts to give. At least, I hope I will. Maybe it starts with self-acceptance and then grows into bigger links of love.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Toto, I'm Not in Louisiana Anymore

Within a month, I applied for a job, did two interviews, got the job, and moved to Pennsylvania. PENNSYLVANIA?! Yep, I'm definitely not in Louisiana anymore. I took a huge plunge that, apparently, most people don't do. I moved 20 hours away from home at the age of 22 for my first job. I have to say...it wasn't easy.

Most of the people that I work with are from Pennsylvania. Only a few of us are from out of state. There are around 28 of us working in the system. In case you're wondering, I now work for a university press in the acquisitions department. I help the editor-in-chief collect manuscripts and get those puppies into production.

To describe the whole process would require multiple blog posts, which will be posted in due time if I ever stop being a lazy bum. However, let me begin with my overall impression of Pennsylvania.

When someone asks me to describe Pennsylvania, I say, "Hills and trees." Legitimately, I have never seen so many trees and hills in my entire life. The only real hill around my Louisiana hometown is that one random hill in Grand Coteau (bwahaha--it's a Louisiana joke--"Grand Coteau" means "big hill" and it's not a very big hill. Cajuns just have a sense of humor.). Pennsylvania is very gorgeous. Looking at it from the sky was very impressive. Very. There were patches of brown and patches of green everywhere. There seems to be more farmland here than in Louisiana. In fact, local farming is a really big deal here. We have at least one or two farmers' markets where I'm from, but here, people create markets in their yards. My co-workers took me to a blueberry orchard behind a farmer's house. I was able to buy a quart of sweet plump blueberries for only $2.50. Wal-mart ain't got nothing on that.

All my delicious blueberries~ Picked from the twigs.
The biggest difference between Louisiana and Pennsylvania has to be the issue of sustainability. In Pennsylvania, you actually get to choose what kind of electric power supplies your house. They offer 100% renewable energy, and I'm not talking about those companies that go "Yeah, uh, we support renewable energy. That's why you should put your thermostat on 68 in the winter." No, these companies provide 100% wind renewable energy. Pennsylvania also has regulations about the emissions from your car. It's like environmental friendly heaven up here compared to Louisiana. Sustainability is a much more prominent issue here, and companies actually give you the choice to be economically friendly. When you think about that, it is actually quite hilarious, considering that Louisiana's coastline is disappearing extremely fast. You'd think Louisiana would care a little more about the environment.

Another big issue is money and maybe even class status. Up here, roads are better kept, and I haven't seen any run-down neighborhood houses yet. For example, if someone asks me to describe my hometown, the first word that would come to mind is "ghetto." When you drive into my hometown, you're more likely to see houses with peeling paint, broken foundations, and old cars that look like they're on their last wheels. It's not that my hometown is a bad place to live. I think it's that Pennsylvania has more money. Believe it or not, non-processed foods are cheaper here in Pennsylvania. We had a pleasant surprise here when we first shopped for fruit. My parent told me it would be more expensive, but it's actually cheaper to buy fruit in Pennsylvania than it is to buy it in Louisiana. On top of that, the sales tax here is lower in Pennsylvania than Louisiana. So, tell me how that makes sense; why does a state with a higher poverty percentage have more expensive food and taxes? Pennsylvania makes it look like Louisiana is killing its own people.

Finally, another huge issue here is that Pennsylvania is completely white-washed. By that, I mean there are a lot of white people. When I first got here, I looked around and noticed something strange. I immediately thought to myself, "Where are all the black people?" I've seen less than 10 black people here. I am not lying. I counted. Pennsylvania has a diversity issue. When I look around me, all I see is white rich people and a few Asians, and honestly, the Asians are probably richer here, too. I haven't seen any sign of poverty anywhere, not like in Louisiana. The reason for that could be the location I'm in, but I wouldn't doubt it if Pennsylvania just has better standards of living than Louisiana.

I think this internal interaction with my supervisor explains the differences between Pennslvania and Louisiana pretty well. She said, "We have plays, concerts, and art shows, so it's pretty cultured up here." I thought, "Yeah, we're cultured, too. We've got ethnicities." Pennsylvania might have more educated views, more support for the arts, and more money, but that isn't the same as Louisiana's people.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thesis Complete!

As a part of the Honors College requirements to graduate with Honors, I wrote a thesis. When I began the thesis, it was purely for the sake of achieving awards. The whole process ended up being more than I could chew, but I managed to do that and shallow somehow.

It started off simple enough. All of us planning to write a thesis in psychology were required to sign up for a research class with Dr. Janet McDonald. Eight to ten of us signed up. It was one of my smallest classes in college.

On our first day, Dr. McDonald introduced us to psychology research. She began by saying, "I am a psychologist. Not a psychoanalyst." In her mind, being a psychologist meant doing research. Lots and lots of research. There was no talking about feelings or pulling episodes from our childhoods. We read articles, learned to summarize them, and eventually wrote our own pretend research articles. We slept, breathed, and ate research.

Towards the end of the semester, we were required to pick a professor that we'd like to work with, someone who's research we thought was interesting. I struggled to find someone to work with. Did I want to study nutrition, motivation, decision-making, memory, or language? I honestly could not pick a topic. At the last minute, I chose language since I liked to learn languages myself. Who was that professor who studied language? It was none other than Dr.McDonald. I was a little worried at first. Dr. McDonald might require great meticulous details and more than I could do. Welllll, I was right. Sort of.

I had no idea what language acquisition was about. To create a foundation, we began with an article by Johnson & Newport, the most essential article anyone will ever read when they study language acquisition. Then we branched further, reading articles about aptitude and the SPIN test. What would I like to explore? That was the main question. Eventually, we settled for something similar to the SPIN test.

I thought it would be simple. I just had to create a few sentences, maybe 20 and move on with my life. That 20 turned into 128 in one task and 72 in another. Everything was highly controlled. We controlled the number of words, the placement of the error, the type of error, the construction of the sentence, and aw, man, there goes my head. It's rolling down the street, excuse me while I go catch it.

At one point, I wanted to give up. No matter how many different sentences I made, I couldn't please Dr. McDonald unless I strictly controlled everything--EVERYTHING. It came to a point where I told my professor I couldn't come up with anything else, and so she helped out a bit. A part of me scoffs when people tell me "Oh, for an undergraduate thesis, this is great! You did such a great job controlling the stimuli." That wasn't me. That was Dr. McDonald. I really am thankful that she insisted on controlling everything. Otherwise, the thesis would have been a bigger mess than it was, but I can't take credit for all of the controls. It wasn't my idea. I just implemented what Dr.McDonald insisted on.

I won't lie...I procrastinated a lot towards the middle. I avoided getting into the lab to create the experiment for almost a whole semester. The project felt like it was to much too handle. Besides, it didn't even feel like mine anymore after I implemented everything that Dr. McDonald had insisted on. I actually spent three weeks of my Christmas break, and then a month after that setting up the experiment.

All of my experiments, all 43 participants, were run during the month of March. I spent 3-5 hours three days a week in the lab, running participants back to back. I was lucky I got as many as I did. Despite a few participants that didn't show up, I'm proud of myself. I had a total of 17 bilingual speakers and recruited about half of those participants by myself. I sent about 10-12 e-mails out to clubs and personally contacted multiple people. I didn't think I would do any of that since I have a bad tendency to be shy and avoid people. But I didn't avoid it! Brownie points to me from me!

The first draft of the thesis went terribly long. I actually spent my entire Spring Break writing it. I slept for 10 hours, procrastinated for a few hours, and then spent 2-5 hours writing and revising my thesis. Every day of break. Originally, all Honors students were supposed to defend their theses by April 18th, but I got an extension...which was extended again, so my defense was actually on April 28th. Aaaaaaand...I didn't turn my thesis in until May 9th when it was due May 2nd. Let's just say I got lucky the Thesis Adviser remained patient with me.

I was supposed to send the thesis out to my committee members on Monday of Spring Break, but I couldn't get in contract with my thesis mentor to approve the thesis. In fact, there were a lot of edits I had to do after I reached her. Hence, I sent it out late. One my committee members fussed at me for being unprofessional, which I apologized for again and again and again. But the thesis had tons of grammar mistakes and was a nightmare in general. I didn't realize how bad it was until I took time after my defense to go through and make line edits. One person said, "It was rushed." True. It was. I honestly had no idea what I was doing because my mentor thesis sent me off to do analysis after explaining part of the analysis but not everything.

My defense presentation took 2.5 hours. My committee members were probably frustrated. One even pulled out his cellphone. But at the end, I did it! I finished it and passed, pending revisions. They said I did well explaining the background information, but my result section needed a lot of work. I spent a week and a half editing it, going back and forth with my mentor. Eventually, I finished. 'Bout time, too! I bound that sucker and turned it in. NO MORE THESIS. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! The whole thesis issue was a disaster, mostly because I procrastinated and pushed deadlines back. It felt bittersweet and surreal to be done with it after working on it for two years.

Dr. McDonald was an awesome thesis mentor. When I was struggling, she asked if I was okay and offered to write a few of my stimuli. Although she was strict and sometimes "hijacked" my thesis, my thesis turned out better because of it. Most of the compliments I got on the thesis was mostly due to Dr. McDonald's work, not mine. It makes me a little lenient to accept any compliments on my thesis. It really was thanks to her that I was able to survive.

Honestly, I learned a lot from that evil monster from Hell. It's easy to lose motivation on large projects. Larger projects also typically take more time than I think they do. It's much better to work on large projects in pieces, but it's easy to lose track if you're not careful. My thesis definitely prepared me to work on big projects, and I'm not intimidated by them anymore. In my opinion, those projects look likes fleas compared to the monster I conquered.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Texts from the Police

This week we've had three texts about incidents from LSUPD: two about suspicious packages and one about an attempted robbery. Last year we also received a text about a suspicious package. LSUPD even had a robot go in and insect the package just in case it contained a bomb. The "package" ended up being someone's suitcase left in the quad.

After receiving more texts about packages, it was nearly impossible not to make fun of them. I texted my friend, "I know people are excited about Spring Break, but they should keep better track of their belongings." The suspicious package was actually a tool left behind by a construction company

I won't lie. Sometimes my friend and I make fun of the attempted robbery texts, too. The robberies frequently occur on the west side, which is also know as the ghetto side for multiple reasons. One of those being the run-down low income houses and apartments right off campus on the west side. But that's ok. Honestly, I prefer the west side to the east side. The east side tends to be notorious for housing rich students, especially with the Greek system having houses over there and the Honors College residence hall, which is one of the most expensive ones on campus. (And honestly, I've had more problems dealing with drunk sorority girls on the east side than dealing with drunk people on the west side. In our friend circle, the joke goes, "West Side, Best Side. East Side, Rich Side.") We're essentially making fun of stereotypes that, in our experiences, have been proven true. 

Despite the jokes we make about the texts, I'm really happy that LSUPD has a system to alert students about crime on campus. Letting us know where danger occurs helps us to stay safe and avoid the area. The past year or so, LSUPD has been trying to integrate itself more into the community. They do demonstrations, drive students to their vehicles or residence halls late at night, have "adopted" a residence hall, and seem to have a larger presence around campus in general. I think it's a good thing to have such an active police force, and I'm really grateful that they keep us safe.