Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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Posted by Lucille on September 1, 2011 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Chem is in a lecture hall. It's a huge class, close to three hundred people, but our teacher is great. After an engaging power point, he said he likes to end class with a bang, and lit a hydrogen balloon on fire, making the screen shake. Yep, that's definitely the way to do it.


Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I went to my first yoga class at the studio next to campus. I was lucky because I got in a class with a lot of new students, so the teacher slowed down and focused on basics for a while. I didn't really feel like I was working because it didn't include the cardio I'm used to, but when we left afterwards I was more sore than I can remember being in a very long time. It kind of sneaks up on you, but yoga is hard work!

       I really liked the feeling of the class. It's a beautiful space, with soft music playing, and I felt peaceful and connected with the people around me. At some point, we took a minute in child's pose to relax, and I started crying (this actually not something I do a lot). I was shocked. I felt fine, wonderful in fact, and there I was, tears falling onto the mat in front of me. The teacher touched my shoulder to ask if I was okay. "Yeah, I'm fine, I..." I didn't even know what to say. I couldn't explain the tears streaming down my face. I could feel it in my whole body, but it wasn't the wrenching sensations I knew from trying not to cry, it was a serene, connected wave, a gentle flowing. I felt relief. It was a wonderful cry, the kind that is spiritually healing.

       "Don't worry, it happens," she said with a ready ease that told me she's seen this before. "Take your time."


Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

During the day I am calm, alert, and go about my business. At night, in the stillness just before I fall asleep, I feel like I'm going to burst. It starts with homesickness, then fear about the changes in my life, excitement about the changes in my life, and then these lead to memories and other stories and so many emotions: irrational joy, grief, love, terror, so much that I cannot possibly express, rolling through my still body until I feel like I'm going to explode, and I worry that when I do it will wake my roommate, sleeping across from me. And then the numbness, the emotional fog rolls in, and I feel nothing, and fall asleep.

Berkeley Student Food Collective

Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The BSFC is a little shop directly in front of campus that sells local, organic foods, with friendly staff that are passionate about the Real Food movement. I signed up to volunteer on Mondays. For my first shift, I cleaned out the back room, swept, and ran up to the bank in my very official looking apron to get change. There's a membership meeting Wednesday (including such cool events as a night hike and sandwich making) but unfortunately it's during my chem lab, so I will add more information about the group later as I learn.


Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 2:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm trying to hang on to my momentum in trying new foods.

I'm so grateful for the community I have back home for recognizing these steps forward as significant, something I have hoped for my whole life and doubted would ever happen. I don't know why I can suddenly (in baby steps) try new foods. People have joked that I should have gone to Africa ten years ago, and although that's possibly true, I want to be clear that this started before I left. I don't know what triggered it, I guess the time was just right.

I can remember clearly as a child trying to describe the texture of lettuce, trying to come to terms with knowing that my reaction to it was irrational. I remember trying to explain, in tears, that it was like nails on a chalkboard--I didn't know why, I couldn't explain it, but it produced acute pain. I examined my response again and again, trying to see if it was psychosomatic, to change it, but I always stopped in tears. It hurt. I still don't know if it is just in my head, I have no proof to the contrary, but I know that if it is, it doesn't make it less real. I remember people not understanding, and knowing in my heart that there was something else going on. I am so grateful to my parents for empowering me to break through these challenges at my own pace. Some people humiliated me, and on occasion, tried to force feed me, or shame me into eating by telling me it was my own selfishness and I was going to die of a heart attack at forty. I remember promising myself that if I am so lucky as to one day have a normal diet, and if one day I develop any kind of health condition for the diet I had when I was young, I will remember that I was not stubborn, or lazy, or selfish. There was something else going on.

       And whatever it was, it is finally, miraculously, releasing its hold. I'm not going to miss my chance. For lunch, I've been making cheese, spinach, and turkey sandwiches, and no, I've never had spinache or turkey before in my life. Out of curiosity, I took one of the spinach leaves out and ate it alone, to isolate the texture. I knew again and with certainty that something powerful and uncontrollable affected my reaction to it. It sent shivers up my spine, gave me goosebumps, and made me nauseous, but there was not the acute pain I remembered from before. I took another bite of the sandwich. The mix of textures was enough to subdue that reaction. I had never imagined that I would enjoy the taste of meat, but it was very good, and I wished I'd bought more.

Energy Service Corps

Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 2:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The energy service corps is a group co-sponsored by CALPIRG and Americorps that does energy efficiency education and 'weatherizations' (going into a building and making it more energy efficient). I volunteered to go to their first weatherization of the year, at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house, and I got to run around climbing book cases with a caulking gun. So much fun. I hope they hold another one soon. Plus, the representative from the fraternity is in my EEP discussion class and shares my major. I hope they have another weatherization soon.

Amnesty International

Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 2:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I went to an Amnesty International screening. I really liked the group of people that were there, and I even liked the video, though it was about the death penalty and included a lot of graphic descriptions of rape and death that made the walk home in the dark afterwards kind of scary. I could tell it was the kind of thing that would have really affected me before, but right now I just felt kind of detached. They passed around a petition for saving the life of some innocent person in the Midwest, and although it may sound heartless, I just couldn't get into it. I saw so many people in life or death situations and never learned their names; just the fact that I know about this guy in the Midwest is amazing. I care about the death penalty, but it just wasn't the right project or the right time for me to get passionate about it, so I'm going to keep looking around at other volunteer opportunities.

EEP (Environmental Economics and Policy)

Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The teacher is amazing. He always comes into the lecture hall in hiking clothes and a sun hat like he's just been strolling through sunlit fields. I'd taken one economics class before, but my teacher was terrible (people would smoke weed in class and climb out the windows without him noticing) and the main thing I learned was that it's possible to fail an open book final. My teacher at Berkeley ran through everything I thought I'd learned in econ in the first 50 minute lecture, and this time it made sense. He's funny, too. I may change my mind by the time finals roll around, but for now I'm really looking forward to class.


Posted by Lucille on August 31, 2011 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

My French class is in a little dungeon of a room (underground with no windows) in Barrows Hall. The room itself is depressing. Because a different teacher is in there every class, there's nothing on the walls, and (it took me a few days to figure this out) they don't bring supplies like staplers with them, so I made a last minute run over to Walgreens to get a stapler so I could staple my homework. Aside from that, the class is great. The teacher is not a native speaker, but she learned French doing study abroad in high school, so her accent is almost perfect, which is very important to me because I'm more interested in learning street French than mastering the imperfect subjunctive (which is what we're working on right now). A lot of the students are graduates (there's one other freshman) but they're very nice, and stumbling through conversations in French is like a built-in ice breaker.


Posted by Lucille on August 30, 2011 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Ten days was not enough time. I knew it wouldn't be, so I won't complain about it. There are so many things I wanted to process and incorporate into the context of my old life. Too soon, I left to start my new journey, the Berkeley journey. It's possible that if I had had more time to integrate everything I've experienced with my home life, leaving for Berkeley and having to start over again would have been even more jarring. This way I get the stressful, but nonetheless exciting adventure of integrating everything as a whole.

That's a lot of processing to do. The temptation is to blend making sense of my experiences with trying to build a new life here, and to some extent that will eventually happen, but it's important for me not to jump in too fast. There have been a few times I've been chatting with someone and it's come up, and no matter how hard I try to avoid it, it makes me intimidating. It closes people off. Later, when I have close friends here, I will talk about it with them. For now I will process it on my own.

And that's where this blog comes in. This blog has been a significant part of this adventure, so much so that I am now (you got it) blogging about blogging. I have treated this blog like a journal, with very few exceptions. It was my outlet, my way of synthesizing everything, my way of keeping myself grounded. It kept my experiences from isolating me. If everyone back home knew what was happening in my life, then I wasn't alone. I want to thank you for being a part of it.



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HIPAA Disclaimer

Sometimes I have the privilege of being a part of intimate, powerful moments in other people’s lives. I cannot and would not share these stories, because they are not mine to tell. However, they touch my life and become part of my own story. When I share these moments here, you can trust that I have not broken anyone’s confidentiality. The characters are invented. They are not real, but could be. I take creative license to communicate the essence of my experience while respecting the privacy of others.