Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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Everybody Does This, Right?

Posted by Lucille on September 14, 2011 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (0)

I went to another yoga class, a refreshing work out, but afterwards I realized I had a problem. I'd changed into a workout bra before I went in, but it was a heated class so I was all sweaty and I didn't want to put my other bra back on because I'd just washed it. (I planned ahead. Before I went to Africa, I bought new bras and underwear, and stashed them away so when I came back and got out of the shower I had brand new clean clothes to wear. It was awesome.) It was a molded bra, too, so I couldn't shove it in my bag without hurting it. I wasn't sure what to do. So, what the heck, it's only an article of clothing, right? I set off across campus with my bag in one hand and my black, lacy bra in the other, smiling serenely as though people do that every day. It worked well until I ran into people I knew. :P

Friends in Unexpected Places

Posted by Lucille on September 14, 2011 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (0)

As I was leaving chem lec the other day an international student from China came running after me. "Hey! I see that you are never taking notes. You must be good at chemistry. Can you help me?"

         Whoops. That was me being lazy.

         We walked together for a ways, and it turns out he recognized me from our lab section. At some point I thanked him for starting a conversation and admitted that I can be shy around new people. "Yes. I see you in lab, sometimes quiet but always know what you're doing and seem like nice person, so I decided to say hi."

         I had no idea I was being watched. That's a strange feeling.

         We ended up walking all the way back to the dorms together and exchanging numbers so we could organize a study party. He texted me later, and it occurred to me that I might have been a little too friendly. For a second I was tempted to use the sorority trick to correct that impression, but then it kind of bothers me when I'm talking to guys that might be future objects (in the grammatical sense, not the dehumanizing sense) of interest when it comes up in conversation and they look disappointed and go talk to someone else. I guess I'll stick to straightforwardness. But hey, I made a new friend. And a study buddy. Win-win.

The Cellar Door

Posted by Lucille on September 14, 2011 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Protecting anonymity with this one is going to be a little hard, but I'll do my best. A person with whom I've been having issues has been spreading rumors about me to the other people in the house. In a moment of self pity I lamented that it was like being trapped in sixth grade. But that's not actually the case. One, because now I know not to let myself get sucked into it. No matter how tempted I am (and there have been some delicious opportunities) I won't indulge in the same passive aggressive behavior. Civil at all costs, and friendly to everyone else. I won't get defensive, or otherwise acknowledge the rumors, just continue being friendly and hope people accept that for what it is. Two: it's different because this time around, it doesn't spread like wildfire. For the most part people have been treating me the same way, and a few have even gone out of their way to talk to me, as if to show me that they weren't taking part in the gossip. I'm continuing to look for a new place to live, while making friends with the other people here, exercising every moment as a choice. A lot of things have changed since sixth grade.

Murder Mystery

Posted by Lucille on September 14, 2011 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

GRL had its first social on Saturday, a costume murder mystery party. Word went round that it would be set in a Western brothel, so I went as Saffron Reynolds (think Firefly). Unfortunately, due to the nature of the sorority, I can't post pictures, so you'll have to take my word that it was awesome. Everyone got super into it. There was a script, but there ended up being a lot of improv. There were a couple extra murders, I got involved in a squirt gun shoot out, and imaginary horses kept randomly showing up in scenes... All in all, a very good night.


Posted by Lucille on September 10, 2011 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

After some discussion, round about communication, and misinterpretations, it was determined that my roommate is not, in fact, moving out. I'm bound by my contract for this year, so I've been making an effort to get to know the other people in the house. When I was trying to figure out if there were other options, I learned about Berkeley's co-ops, which are similar to the house except that they include work shifts, are half the price, and are a closer community because they have house movie nights, dinners, etc. It was too late to get into a co-op for this term, but the waitlist carries over, so I applied.

There's a catch to the waitlist. It gives priority to people who have been involved in the co-ops before, through a point system, which makes it hard for new comers to get in. The secret is that you can board at a co-op without living there. You get points, a small number of workshift hours, and you get to be a part of their community, events, etc. I signed up to board for five meals a week. On a whim, I chose Kidd House, even though it's the furthest one from me, because it only has seventeen people, and I figured that if I'm only going to be there a few times a week, I want a house small enough that I'll actually get to know everybody.

I went there for the first time yesterday. Only a handful of people were home, and not all of them actually live there. There was another boarder, who said he'd been lonely and decided to board at a co-op for the community. He went around to all of them and chose Kidd, so I guess I ended up at the right place. An exchange student was cooking that night, so we had some kind of rice dish and then made chai ice cream. Everyone was so welcoming. I talked more with people in the two hours I was there than I have at the house in the last two weeks. I can't wait to go back.

I Got A Job!

Posted by Lucille on September 10, 2011 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (2)

In addition to trying out every club that sounded interesting, I've been applying to every job/internship I can find. (I'm really tired.) I interviewed for a number of positions, and was even offered a couple spots, but my first choice was the campus childcare center. It's close to the house, is something I'm interested in, and pays $12.75 an hour (!). I was asked to interview for the infant center. I was pretty nervous, especially because I needed to give a final answer to the Gender Equity center about the internship, and I was afraid I would turn them down hoping to get a job at the child care center and then end up with nothing. I walked into the office and sat down, and the woman asked me to tell her a bit about my childcare experience. So I started talking, and before I even got to babysitting--the bulk of my childcare experience--she interrupted me and said, "Okay, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to hire you. Now unfortunately I've already hired some other people, so I can only offer you six hours a week, but I'll put you on the sub list and if you come back next semester I can promise to get you more."

       I really wanted to get up and dance and give her a hug, but I kept it professional (though I'm pretty the giddiness showed in my smile) and thanked her, and she invited me to come meet the staff.

       I get to play with babies. AND GET PAID FOR IT. I am the luckiest person in the world.

I Know How to Walk, Really!

Posted by Lucille on September 10, 2011 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I fell down the stairs at one in the morning. And no, there was no drinking involved, I legitimately fell down the stairs. It didn't hurt very much, so I went into my room and got in bed, and then realized my elbow was bleeding. Luckily people were still up and someone found me a bandaid. Falling is not something I do very often, so I thought it was funny. No going down stairs in socks this time!

Pre-Nursing Society

Posted by Lucille on September 10, 2011 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I'd given up on the doula training because getting residency is nearly impossible, so I decided to save money by graduating in three years, which wouldn't leave me enough time for anything outside of school. A lot of clubs are having their first meeting this week, and I decided to go to anything that sounded interesting with the intention of narrowing it down later. So this week has been insane. But anyway... Berkeley has a Pre-Nursing Society, a club for people interested in nursing. I didn't expect it to be much more than a study group, but I went for the heck of it, and it was amazing. They're organized and do tours of local nursing schools, have guest speakers, and stuff like that. We did introductions and a slide show, talked about events we might want to do this semester, and played assassin (a pretty essential nursing skill, as I'm sure you know).

       Not only that, I learned that Yale calls their accelerated master's program by a different name than most schools, and there are actually a lot of schools that offer it, including OHSU. OHSU would be awesome because it's in Portland (I know a lot of people want to live somewhere other than where they grew up, but I love Portland and can't wait to go back), and it's close to my family, and a third the cost of Yale. If I can save that much on graduate school, that means I could stay at Berkeley for four years, so I spent the last couple days trying to plot out a four year class schedule that will satisfy the college requirements, the major requirements, the OHSU prerequisites, and the handful of miscellaneous classes that I really want to take. And I succeeded. For the record, it's not a rigid plan. If I change my mind and decide I want to be a firefighter in New Zealand, that's okay. I just like having a plan at any given time. After the meeting, one of the seniors (who volunteers as a doula during the summer) sort of took me under her wing, talked with me about my goals, and encouraged me to stick with becoming a doula and told me about ways to balance it with school. It was great being able to talk with people with similar interests, with experience in figuring out the best ways to balance them. I registered for the training that night.


Posted by Lucille on September 10, 2011 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I joined a sorority. The first bid is basically an invitation to apply, so I showed up, still viewing it as an experiment, thinking that if at any point I didn't like it I could leave. Gamma Rho Lambda has only been at Berkeley for a semester, so it's technically a colony, not a chapter, and three women from National flew out to lead the induction. We gave them a tour of campus, which was pretty fun because I learned a lot of things about campus that I didn't know before, like that double doors only have one handle to keep students from chaining themselves to it in protest. One woman said that every term she's had a class in Wheeler Hall, there's been at least one day class was cancelled because students had occupied the building.

       Then the women from nationals wanted to talk to the Alphas (the women that started it last year) for a couple hours so the beta recruits went out to lunch at an Indian restaurant. This was possibly the best two hours I've had here so far. We had so much fun, just talking and telling each other stories about our lives, and I felt like I belonged without trying. It occurred to me that I really wanted to spend more time with these people and learn more about them, and suddenly I really really wanted to get in. Perfect timing, because at that point we went back for the interview process, something I hadn't been nervous about before. Of course I was called in first. There was a semi circle of more than a dozen chairs and one empty chair in the middle, for me, a pretty intimidating set up, but I felt like the interview went well. Next there was a black out period, when you go home and don't contact anyone from the sorority for a couple hours while you wait for a call. They said it would be around five, but I didn't hear anything until 7:45, when I got a text asking me to be at Sproul fountain in a white shirt and dark pants for the induction at eight. I didn't even have time to celebrate, I just changed clothes and ran to campus.

       All the other betas were there already. The black out period was still in effect, so we sat evenly spaced around the fountain, not looking or speaking to each other. It must have looked really creepy to people walking by, eight girls, dressed alike and sitting in a circle around a fountain, all staring straight ahead. I entertained myself by thinking about how cool it would be if all of our cell phones rang at the same time and we all stood up in unison and walked away in different directions. After about half an hour, it had gotten dark, and one of the women came and asked us to follow her. I won't describe the entire induction, simply that it included women in cloaks and white masks, a ring, Lady Ivy, and being led through the forest by a bear. I found it to be a creative and empowering process.

       And then we all went out to ice cream.

       It still surprises me that I'm in a sorority. I don't think of myself as a sorority girl in the stereotypical sense of the term, and when I tell people I'm in a sorority some of them raise their eyebrows a little and glance away the way I might have a week ago. But I definitely think this is one of the best things I've ever done. I guess it just shows that the people make all the difference.


Posted by Lucille on September 10, 2011 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I got into a discussion today about the language used to describe female genitalia. The basic premise was that the etymology of 'vagina' is 'sheath for a sword', which defines the object and its value by what goes in it. The article suggested favoring the word cunt, because although this is more commonly used in a derogatory way, if you trace its history back you get a lot of old English poetry about holy passages and bearded groves. This seemed like good reasoning for using the word cunt instead, but I couldn't shake the impression that cunt was a harsh, blunt sort of word while 'vagina' just sounded more feminine. So we went back to the history of the word cunt and agreed upon one of its earlier forms: cuna. I've always been fascinated by the connection between language and thought, and I loved finding someone else interested in talking about this sort of thing.

       Walking back to the house, I started wondering about what word I use, in my head when I'm not adjusting my language to any audience, and I realized that I don't actually use a word. I'm a fairly linguistic person, so this surprised me. This is one of the few things for which I don't use a name, no articulated language of any kind, just pure thought. I think this is good. I certainly like the word cuna, but I don't think it will or should become mainstream, because any word that's used a lot will lose it's sacredness. If you think about it, aside from people in the medical field, most of the people that refer to that part of the body on a daily basis will be using the word in a derogatory sense. I would prefer to keep the conventional word for most conversations so that I can invoke the old language when I need to, to allow one word for mainstream conversation, and keep cuna as the secret word, the word whispered between women to remind us of our bodies' sacredness and power.