Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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Like The Twilight Zone...Sort Of

Posted by Lucille on October 13, 2011 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Walking down the street yesterday I heard a freshman saying to her friends that she thought college was like an alternate reality. They kind of made a noncommittal answer and changed the subject, but it stuck with me for some reason. I think she was right. Squeeze 35,840 students on a 200-acre campus with 9 Nobel laureates and drugs for every color of the rainbow...sounds like an alternate reality to me.

I'm Trying To Eat Here

Posted by Lucille on October 13, 2011 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Today at breakfast a housemate of mine was describing in detail his hookup from the night before. Apparently he was quite enamored with her. "No, I'm serious, guys!" he said to the table of giggling women, "I really liked this one!"

       "Aww, look, he's smitten!"

       "I want to like...try to hang out with her or something...I don't know, do you think that'd be weird? I don't want to seem clingy...and what if there were a bunch of awkward silences?"

      So you have sex, then decide if you like them, then try to figure out if you can carry on a conversation? Not the order I usually go about things, but to each their own. It must have been quite an experience though, because he kept returning to the subject and going over every phase of their long night together in lovesick detail. Dude, I'm eating breakfast! I don't really want to know about what kinds of sex you had in what order! The conversation ended when the girl whose boyfriend just got deployed to Afghanistan started crying.

       College is weird.

Sex Tally

Posted by Lucille on October 13, 2011 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

There is a tally in the corner of the whiteboard in the kitchen. Given that it had two marks for a house of seventeen people, I figured it was the number of people who paid their bill on time. Then the morning after a party (that I slept through), the tally jumped to eight. When I passed through the dining room today there was an energetic discussion taking place.

       "What if it's in the living room? That's public, right? I think that should get two points."

       "No way! It has doors. Private, one point."

       "The doors are see through. I vote semi-public, point and a half!"

       "So wait a minute, if it's in your room, it only counts for one?"

       "I think that would depend, is your roommate there?"

       "Is it with your roommate?"

       "What if you're in the triple?"

       "Ooh, am I invited?"

       Cue food fight.

Post Mono Syndrome

Posted by Lucille on October 10, 2011 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I'M SO HUNGRY. It doesn't seem to matter how much I eat, I just always want more, I feel like I have to have food on me all the time. A housemate was walking down the hall and glanced into the kitchen. "Oh my god, you're eating again? Are you PMSing or what?" Yep. It started with this overwhelming craving for comfort foods, pastries, pasta with olive oil, and then after a few days of that I started craving more nutritious things like those turkey sandwiches and omelets. My clothes are starting to fit a little better.

       Oddly enough I find it reassuring. I was so adamant when the doctor first pressured me to gain weight that my body would get back to whatever weight I'm supposed to be on its own, that when instead of gaining back those ten pounds, I dropped ten more in only a few weeks, I was scared and very confused (and sick, obviously). So I was very relieved to see that when I don't have a virus messing with my appetite and staph causing blisters in my throat, my body really does know what it's doing. I'd make this longer but I want to go eat. Toodeloo!


Posted by Lucille on October 10, 2011 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Wednesday is my drop dead day. I have to be at work at 8 and my chem lab ends at 10 at night. Normally I have a couple breaks during the day, but today it was going to be nonstop. Later in the year this might be easier. Right now I'm still fighting a virus and needing around twelve hours of sleep a day. I maybe got half of that, because my roommate thought it was okay to come into the room, turn on all the lights, put music on, and talk on her cell phone (about how the other people in the house are crazy and she's stuck in 'freakville') while I'm asleep. When she's sleeping I grab my stuff with a flashlight and stay in the common areas until I'm ready for bed. But...letting go of some anger. The point is I was very tired.

       In my one o'clock chem lecture, I was literally falling asleep. I wouldn't let myself put my head down, but I kept suddenly coming back to myself, realizing with surprise that I was in the lecture hall, willing myself to focus, and then finding myself in the chemistry room again five minutes later, with a different slide up on the board and with no idea what had happened in between. I used everything I had, and probably looked like I was paying attention, but I was mentally not in that room. My eyes closed again. Suddenly, I smelled blood and heard a woman screaming. I leapt out of my chair to see if there was anything I could do to help, but there was nothing behind me except rows of annoyed-looking students. Someone made a disdainful comment about students coming to class high and told me to either sit down or leave. My heart was pounding like I’d just run a marathon. I left. I found a place behind some trees to sit down, tried to cry but couldn’t, and just breathed for a while.

Later, I don’t know how much later, I heard a distant voice I recognized. It was an old friend, the only other person from my high school who came to Berkeley (though we’ve been too busy to meet up so far), my stage partner in more than a few musicals. I could hear his voice from all the way across campus, singing. So I took the harmony line. And sang. I sang myself onto my feet and all the way off campus to my room, long after his voice faded.

       After class I resorted to coffee. For a couple hours I actually felt pretty good, got some work done, had dinner, went to chem lab. And then in the first half hour the caffeine wore off and my full tiredness crashed over me. I looked up at the board and tried to focus, and then the minute hand of the clock on the wall leapt forward and the board said something else. I'd try to decipher it but it made zero sense and I didn't even know half the words. I'd missed about two weeks of class by this point, and because they'd started a new unit, I didn't even know the basic vocabulary of whatever we were studying. And then I'd come to again, and discover that I was in lab, and the GSI was writing something on the board. The minute hand jumped forward again.

       Now the board was blank, and the GSI was flipping through a stack of note cards. Oh no. He has this stack of note cards that each have a student's name on it that he uses to randomly select people to solve problems on the board. Not me! Notmenotmenotme...


       Oh god. I raised my hand. "Could I pass just this time? I just got back, and honestly I'm barely managing to follow this..." There were snickers around the room. It's a big class, they don't know I was sick, it would be unreasonable to take it personally. But even though intellectually I knew that, I was in a different state of mind and, emotionally, it got to me. I wouldn't laugh at you.

       The GSI kind of leaned back and looked at me with that look I hate. "No..." Slowly and disdainfully, as though that would be absurd and I was crazy for asking. "Come do it." Firm, weighted, daring me to object again.

       I sat frozen in place. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even have the slightest clue what the question was, and they were all watching me...

       My study partner reached over and scribbled a few lines of calculations in my notebook. I read it, went up to the board, and copied it out as well as I could.

       "Perfect! Well done, that's very good. Now, as you can see, the conjugate base of the Bronsted-Lowry acid..."

       I wanted to give my friend a hug.

       Finally we got into groups to do lab and he grabbed what we needed, showed the rest of us how to set it up, and explained everything as we went. We ended up with great data. On the walk back we joked a little about how when he introduced himself, it was in the hope I could help him in chemistry. Thank goodness for kind nerds.

This Guy's Name Is Like A Bomb

Posted by Lucille on October 9, 2011 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (1)

I interpreted 'everything's excused' as 'everything can be turned in late' and went up to my GSI at the start of lab with my stack of make up work.

       "Hi, sorry I wasn't in class last week, I've been really sick. This is all the work I missed..."

       He looked at me like I must be kidding. "I have a very strict no late work poli-"

       "I talked with Dr. So-and-so."

       "Oh! Oh, my goodness, umm...Well then. Absolutely, yes, thank you. Let me know if you need anything else."


Chemistry Credit

Posted by Lucille on October 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The all-powerful head of the chemistry department has the ability to allow you to turn in homework late. I emailed him a week ago when I started missing class, never heard back, and made several attempts to catch him in his office unsuccessfully. Finally he was there.

       "What do you need?" he said. I started explaining about how I had missed class because I was sick, and my GSI had a no late work policy, and he waved his hand distractedly and said, "Just tell him everything's excused, and if he gives you any trouble about it tell him to come talk to me."

       I love college.


Posted by Lucille on October 4, 2011 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

First day back in class. I've gotten a number of greetings, including:

       "Oh my gosh, you're tiny!"

       "Well, you look better."

       And, "Whoa! Your eyes are like...normal looking!"

       Flattering...I guess?

       As I was walking to my next class, a complete stranger stopped me in the street and told me I was beautiful. She was walking by, presumably on her way to class, and then stopped, looked me in the eyes, told me I was beautiful, smiled and went on her way. I think I managed to mumble thank you as she left, but it made my morning. I feel like I need to pass this along by finding a stranger to compliment later today.


Posted by Lucille on October 4, 2011 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

My chemistry GSI is terrible. For example, when we were going through last year's midterm, one of the questions asked you to rank chemicals in order of electronegativity, something we'd never covered in class. He wrote the answer on the board and started reading the next question, so I raised my hand.

       "How do you estimate a chemical's electronegativity?"


       "No, I mean how do you know what the electronegativity is?"

       "Are you serious?"

       "Uhh...yes? This was never gone over in class (a couple students murmured their agreement) and if it could be on tomorrow's midterm... I mean, is there any kind of pattern, or..."

       "No, there's no pattern. You just have to memorize it."

       So I asked my teacher the next day and he said, "Of course! It's how close it is to fluorine." Good to know.

       I got my grade for the midterm...D. Technically it was 69.8%, so only 0.2% from a C, but still. On the one hand, I very much dislike having a D. On the other hand, everyone at Berkeley came here with an A average, and the majority won't leave with one. The standards are different. and the grading is different: no points are awarded for effort. If you solve a long problem and make one tiny mistake (even if you demonstrate full understanding of the concepts, and even if you get the right answer, but include the wrong number of significant figures) it's wrong and that's that. With that style of grading, I'm proud of my D. That was a hard earned D. I'd like to turn it into an A, but still. I talked to two people who took chemistry last year and they both said they got Ds on the first midterm and ended up getting As, so I won't give up hope.

       The email with my chemistry grade included a link to answer a survey about your GSI. I found it very satisfying.

Fruit Loops

Posted by Lucille on October 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (1)

When I first came home I found a box of fruit loops in the cupboard, wondered aloud who had bought them for my brother, and made some comment about their nutritional quality. Over the next few days I ate the said box of fruit loops. Before I check into hypocrites anonymous I should probably buy my brother another box so he doesn't notice.