A Study In Life:

"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant."

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Broken

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on December 18, 2013 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (1)

I feel like I need an outlet of sorts, but I also don't want to open up to write a post about how I'm feeling and what I'm going through.  Suffice to say that I'm not doing well, and I'd rather just post these poems to speak for me right now, because they express better what I'm simply not able at the moment:

Heavy Mask

Don’t say a word

lock it away.      

The truths you can’t face

in a box will they stay.

Secrets unknown

to all but your self.

In a dark hidden place

on the back of a shelf.

Things like one’s doubts

one’s fears and one’s tears.

Things that would shame you

if any one hears.

All others know

what only you show.

A mask that you wear

hides the insecurities that grow.

Oh the weight of the mask

grows each and every day.

As you continue to pack

all your secrets away.

Until the day comes

when there’s too much to haul.

Try as you will

you still stumble and fall.

 


My Mask

Sometimes i go to school

wearing a heavy mask.

I can be lots of things

a person without any scars or stings.

I can be a normal girl

as normal as can be.

Sometimes I'm invisible

where my feelings can't be seen.

I pretend to be someone else

I perhaps might not know.

But what i feel inside

I fear I'll never show

My mask stays with me

in darkness and in light,

in the sunny warmth of day

or in the cold loneliness of night.

So who you might see now

be careful it might not be me.

My feelings so hidden

never let out to be free.


Alone

A littlegirl sits in a closet,

Lonely andafraid.

She’s in thedarkness hiding,

She’ll staythere all her life.

 She knowsthat she’s unworthy of love,

Her mothertold her so.

If yourmother cannot love you

Then whoelse would ever do so?

 The bruiseson her skin will fade,

But thescars inside will stay.

They’ll keepher locked up in the closet

For all hergloomy days.

 And so shesits lost in the dark,

No one knowsshe’s there.

The dirtylittle secret in the closet,

She’ll staythere all her life.

 


We Wear the Mask

    We wear the mask that grins and lies,

    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

    This debt we pay to human guile;

    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

    And mouth with myriad subtleties.

    Why should the world be over-wise,

    In counting all our tears and sighs?

    Nay, let them only see us, while

            We wear the mask.

    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

    To thee from tortured souls arise.

    We sing, but oh the clay is vile

    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

    But let the world dream otherwise,

            We wear the mask!

 




Greek Life

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on September 27, 2013 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

An Untraditional Student’s Greek Experience


A little basic info on me and why my Greek recruitmentexperience is different; I’m a 26 year old transfer and returning student.  I had about a 5 year gap between me droppingout of high school and getting my GED and starting at Community College.   I’m definitely what would be termed anuntraditional student.  Even though I’man older student there are a lot of aspects of the Greek system that appealedto me, so I signed up for rush deciding that it would be better to try it anddecide I didn’t like the experience than to always wonder.  There were still so many points before rusheven started that I debated whether or not to go through with it, it was not aneasy decision for me at all.  I’ve feltso unsure of myself due to my age and my self-esteem issues, and generalintroverted nature.  While I have nowfinished the process I’m writing this as I experienced it day by day so that itshows some of the emotional ups and downs that I experienced through theprocess.   


Orientation


The first event of rush is orientation, and all day beforethat started I went back and forth on whether or not I should do it.  My brain went through so many issues from myage, to the cost, and the time that recruitment would take out of myschedule.  In the end I was so stressed aboutthe whole thing that I had to sit down and ask for higher guidance on the wholething.  I won’t go into the whole processof what made me decide to go, but come Wednesday night I was sitting in a roomsurrounded by freshmen and listening to the run down on what recruitment wouldentail. 


Unity Day


The first real day of recruitment is called Unity Day, it’swhere you go around to all 13 houses and spend about 20-25 minutes in eachone.  It’s a long day and it starts at 8am.  I live on the opposite side ofcampus from all of these events, and so the long walk to get there by 8 am andgetting up so early nearly made me decide not to go again.  I finally decided that I would probablyregret not going, and I was already up anyways. By the time the first house was finished I was already glad that I hadgone.  There were a lot of nice women,and I found myself getting out of my shell a bit.  That’s not to say that I enjoyed all thehouses, there were some I didn’t feel like I clicked with and some that I justfelt uncomfortable in.  By the end of theday I knew which 3 I wanted to list as my bottom, and even though we don’t rankthe rest I still had my top three laid out. I was so excited by the end of the day, and I had my favorite houses andI thought that it went really well.  Someof my top choices were actually pretty affordable cost-wise as well. 


House Tours


House tours days are a bit dressier and so I was up the nextday for class and I got all ready and felt absolutely great.  I had my favorite houses, and I knew I lookedadorable dressed up so I was super excited to go back to my favorites.  As it came time to meet up with ourrecruitment counselors to find out our schedules, my happiness completelydropped.  I only had 4 call backs out ofthe possible 10, and none of them were my favorites.  On top of that 2 of those 4 houses were onesthat I had missed going to the previous day because of work.  Only 2 of the 10 houses that I had seen theday before had called me back.  I don’tthink I can even properly explain how big of a self-esteem drop that was.  I had thought that things had gone so well,and here I was with most of the houses apparently not liking me.  I was so tempted to just go home rightthen.  I definitely didn’t feel confidentto go and talk to a bunch of strangers with my mood so low.  I had a break before my first house of thenight, so I took that time to get some coffee and chat with a recruitmentmate.  That helped a bit, I decided togive these houses the chance that they had given me. 


Going through my 4 house tours I loved my first house, onethat I had missed on Unity Day.  I reallyliked the house, the fact that so many sisters seemed to have gone abroad andliked traveling.  It was overall a verynice house, and I had a lot in common with one of the girls that I talkedwith.   I left the house smiling andhappy that I had gone through with the house tours.  The next house was another that I hadn’t beento, and they were also really nice, but I didn’t really seem to fit inthere.  My last two houses of the nightwere ones that I actually had been to, so I felt a bit more confident becausethey had actually met me and liked me enough to call me back.  Both of those went really well, and I likedthe girls and had fun.  I left that nightfeeling more confident because I liked 3 of my 4 houses and I thought that ithad gone well. 


Two Days Off:


The next two days were kind of hell for me honestly.  I spent most of my time feeling unsure if I’ddone something wrong at the houses and terrified I’d be dropped from those aswell.  I kept going through my headwondering why I was putting myself through this.  I think that I’ve spent so much time stayingin my shell and not joining groups that I had buried my insecurities ratherthan actually getting over them.  Reliefcame with a text from my RC late Saturday night.  She let me know that since my first eventwasn’t until after lunch I could sleep in, and she also gave me my schedule onrequest.  I’d lost the house I didn’treally like, but had kept the other 3 that I did like.  Feeling much better about myself I actuallymanaged to sleep a bit that night and be prepared for Philanthropy Day.


Philanthropy Day:


Philanthropy went really well.  I liked the houses I went to, but I also hada clear idea of where I ranked them.  Ionly had the three houses, so it was a much shorter day than everyone else had,which ended up being nice.  My firsthouse was after lunch and it was really great learning about the differentphilanthropies. 


The philanthropies of a couple of the houses I went to werepretty emotional for me.  One of thehouses dealt with being strong role-models for girls that may not have positivefemale figures in their lives.  Assomeone who didn’t have a good relationship with my mother, I know how muchthat has left me at a loss in life. 


There was another one that I got really emotional readingabout over the weekend.  I was doing someresearch into my remaining houses when I found out that my favorite housesphilanthropy deals with helping abused children get help with dealing with thesystem.  When I first saw that it openedup a lot of issues for me.  The issue ofchild abuse is a very touchy issue for me as a survivor of it.   I definitely know what it’s like to feelthat the system is not there to help you. I never did trust the system, and I just dealt with things on my own,but I know that for a lot of kids that is not an option. 


My past has always been something that I’ve kept hidden likea dirty little secret, and so this being the philanthropy of my favorite housekind of left me feeling ripped open for the world to see.  It made me really start to deal with my pastin a way that I’ve always tried not to. It left me realizing that if I just stopped trying to ignore who I am,that maybe I can heal better and possibly be a force for good in other kidslives. 


Philanthropy day itself was much less dramatic than myweekend was as I dwelled on my past and the meaning of my favorite house havinga related philanthropy. (I guess I’m a signs person) The day went well and Imet more great women, and I continued to be glad that I had joined recruitment.


Preference Night:


Waiting for preference night was nerve-wracking.  It was a day off from school and work, so Ihad nothing to do but wonder about what houses had asked me back.  By this point I was happy with the houses Ihad been to, and really liked my favorite. The horrible worry that I had was that I’d get my schedule and myfavorite house would be gone.  I’dalready had that experience with house tours and really didn’t want it tohappen right at the end too. 


When I finally got my schedule I found that I had indeedlost a house, but it was my bottom choice. So with an hour to wait I got somecoffee to relax before going to my two pref-night parties, the last of whichwas my favorite house.


House 1:


We went in and there were plates with our names on themwritten in chocolate syrup and there were cake-pops.  I was talking with a girl I’d already spokento before and she was really nice.  Ithink that may have been a disadvantage though because while she was reallynice, we didn’t have much in common to talk about once the basics of small-talkwere covered, so it was a bit quiet. There was a moment that really made me feel that if this was the house Igot into I should give it a chance though: they played a montage of pictures with “For Good” from Wicked play, andthat song has been really personal for me for a long time.  So I took that as a sign that I was doing theright thing being in recruitment, and that if this was the house I ended up inthat I should trust in that.  A lot ofthis whole experience required me to seek guidance from the gods, and so I wasletting myself go with the signs and feelings of the whole thing.  Even with that though, I still felt that Ipreferred the other house.


House 2:


I was so nervous for this event, because it was my favoriteand this night would be the determining factor in whether or not I would be inthis house.  There was a deliciouschocolate cake, then a video and some people talking about their experiences inthe house.  At this house it was just metalking to the sister(I’d been paired with another girl at the previous house)which was nice, it feels more like you can have a personal conversation thatway.  We went up to her bedroom and saton her bed to relax and talk which was really nice.  We got to know each other a little bit, andshe talked about her experiences going through recruitment.  I asked her why she chose the house, and shesaid that she’d always felt comfortable, never felt judged, and that it justfelt right.  I definitely understood thatfeeling because from the first time I’d stepped into that house something justfelt right.  As preference night ended Iwalked away from the house with them singing “I want to linger”, a song thatwe’d sung at camp when I was a teenager. I left smiling and really feeling like that was where I belonged. 


Bid Day:


Having class all day before getting our bids(invitation tojoin a house) was not great.  It made thetime move a bit faster but I was so distracted. I just wanted to know what house I’d gotten, if I’d gotten the one Iwanted.  When I walked to the event I wastrying to be positive about both houses, tried to think about how if I ended upin AAA rather than BBB that it was what was meant to be.  That was really hard though, because all Icould think was that BBB was where I belonged, and that if it felt so rightthen how could it not be the right one? 


Anyways, after some torture from the recruitment councilors,we were able to open our bids.  Mine wasa bit difficult as it was an envelope fashioned out of a bigger envelope and soit took about twice as long to open.  Butfinally there it was, my official bid from BBB. I was so happy, I kept looking again to make sure.

 

So we went to the house, got some presents, went to atrampoline gym and had a blast.  I letmyself go and have some fun and chat a lot. It was nice to feel so happy and so much like I belonged.  We were set up with a sister that is ourgo-to person for the first bit, and as I talked with mine on the bus we had somuch in common that I just felt reinforced in this being the right place forme.  Turns out there are a bunch of nerdslike me in the house, so I’m in good company, and I really love everybody. 


WARNING: It gets depressive and moody after this, so feel free to stop here.


Final Thoughts:


I’m writing this part a few weeks after recruitment, and I’vespent 4 weeks in a house that I really loved, with girls that I felt I couldreally be close to.  As we hit weeks 3and 4 I’ve really started to stress about the money issue because it hadn’tcome up.  As an independent student Ihave no one else to rely on, so the money I have to get by is all financialaid, which leaves me with very little extra money.  As I ended up in the most expensive house,that is a serious problem. 


At the end of recruitment I really thought that it was allworth it, and I was glad I’d gone through it all.  As I sit here tonight packing up everything I’dgotten from the chapter to return tomorrow I’m not sure how I feel.  I think that it’s a lot harder for me since I’mnot close with any of my family.  Sure Italk to two of my siblings, but not close like family should be, and we neverwill be.  I’m damaged goods in a lot ofways.  There are things inside me thatare broken, and the family ties between me and my siblings will never be ableto be mended fully.  They don’t know whatI went through, and they won’t accept it. I was so hopeful that I had found my new home, my new family.  And tonight I lost that. Is it really betterto have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?  As someone that has just lost another familyin a long line of losses, I’m starting to really wonder.

 


Procrastination

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on July 15, 2013 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I don't get around to writing posts all that often, something that I havesworn time and again to work on.  As I sit here writing this one it isreally only another way for me to procrastinate further.  What am I putting off this time?   Packing.  


I have now set a date for moving.  OnAugust 17th I’ll be on the road to Berkeley.  So with a month to get everything settled,why have I yet to pack a single thing?  Becausethe very thought of it is painful. Whenever I sit down to really think about where to start I begin to lookaround and imagine what the room will look like with all of my stuff gone.  I think about watching every trace of medisappear slowly over the next month and it pains me.  Because while there are parts of this movethat I can’t help but be glad for, going to an amazing school, living in theBay area, getting away from the heat and suffocating conservatism of southernCalifornia, as I prepare to actually move the sad parts begin to surface. 


As the reality of moving 8 hours away from the person I love and have livedwith for 4 years hits home, it feels a bit like ripping a part of myselfaway.  I don’t know how I’m going to copewith not seeing him every day, with going to bed alone every night. This isgoing to be so hard to deal with, and I honestly don’t know how I will.  I know I’m being extraordinarily melancholyabout the whole thing right now, and that once I’m distracted with school timewill move by rapidly, but sometimes you don’t realize how much just someone’svery presence affects your daily life until you begin to picture going day today without them. 


So here I sit, procrastinating the packing that inevitably must be done inthe next month, because I just don’t want to look around the room and notpicture myself here anymore.  Childish,ridiculous, and pointlessly sentimental, but that’s what I’m doing. 

 

 


The Story of My Life

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on April 28, 2013 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (2)

 

My life story begins about 8 years ago.  When I was 18 years old(on my 18th birthday to be precise) I got on a plane and flew across the country and across the border, away from everything that I had known.  This decision was the jumping point that has led me to where I am today. Not many people know much about me or my past, whether it was because Iwas ashamed on some level or simply afraid of judgment I’m not sure but I’ve always wrapped myself in a cloak of secrecy and denial, but I don’t want to hide anymore.  The situation at home once I reached high school wasn’t a good one, and most of my family still denies that there was a situation which has continued to make things difficult, and so I took the initiative to change my life. 


 This choice came with sacrifices, a lot of them.  I had to dropout of high school and I left practically everything I had behind, taking onl ya carryon suitcase with me.  For 2 yearsI lived with friends in eastern Canada trying to work my way through immigration.  I eventually got fed up with feeling as though I wasn’t doing anything with my life.  I’d always been passionate about school, and it killed me to leave it the way I did. I couldn’t get any job other than under the table house cleaning.  I was floundering, and I just couldn’t stay.  I had met a lot of people in that time, I had a family of my own making, and this time the choice to leave it all behind was a lot more difficult. 


There is the story of how I came to be in California.  So here I was back in the states and I could work, go to school, live like a real person. I had wanted to get back to school right away, but then I found that it was difficult to afford school when working full time just to meet living costs.  Two and a half years after moving to California, through the help of my wonderful boyfriend Pat and his family, I was able to finally get back to school.  I took some classes and studied for the GED test, which I passed in the summer of 2010.  That fall I began my time as a true college student.


As I’m writing this I am in the final part of my last semester at Palomar College.  My time at Palomar has had its ups and its downs, but my time here has been incredible and has helped me to grow into who I am today. I owe so much to all of the professors that I have had at this school, because without them I wouldn’t be the student that I am today.  My successes in school are ones that I have worked hard for, but I also know that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish half as much without their help. 


I suppose that brings me to the point of this post today.  Over the last month or so college acceptances have been coming in.  The first was UCSD, and then there was UCSB which had been my first choice.  These are both great schools and I was proud of myself for having gotten into them. The third and last school I had applied to was UC Berkeley.  At the time I only applied because I wanted to see if I was good enough, I suppose I didn’t really think I was.  I hadn’t looked into the program, and whenever I started to I would stop myself because I didn’t want to find out that it was something amazing only to be let down. 


Well at this point I suppose the end of the story is pretty clear:  On Friday April 26 at 5:57 pm I found out that I had gotten into Berkeley. I cried.  I hadn’t thought I hadr eally wanted it until I got in.  About 2 minutes after that, I found out that I had been given an $18,877 scholarship.  So here I am, 8 years after dropping out of high school, and I’ve been admitted and offered a huge scholarship from one of the best schools, not only in the nation, in the world.  I think I’m still in shock, and I keep crying and smiling like a loon.  I can’t possibly thank all of the people who have been with me along this journey enough. 


So this is the story of my life, from its beginning 8 yearsago, to the present, and in a few months to my start at Berkeley where I will continue to make the most of the wonderful opportunities that I’ve been given.  

 



Life is a Beautiful Struggle

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on November 26, 2012 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I didn't really have a hugely productive or profound weekend like you would expect for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I've still been in an up and down mood with the things going on at school, but today I woke up feeling different.  I've been productive and in a fairly positive mood all day.  Between that and catching up on some of my favorite blogs gave me to inspiration to make a post talking the things in my life that I am very thankful for. 

I'm thankful that I have so many wonderful friends, that even if I don't see them regularly, I know that I can count on.  I am blessed to have people in my life who love me for who I am.  I know that I can be a passionate person, and that can be either good or bad depending on my company, and I'm glad that there are people in my life who accept me as I am. 

I'm thankful to be in school right now, and to be applying for transfer soon.  I've worked so hard to get to this point, and I value my education greatly.  I'm glad to have the opportunities that I have right now that allow me to pursue my studies. 

On that train of throught, I'm thankful that I didn't give up on my financial aid and that it paid off.  I may not have gotten the full amount, but I am able to stay in school and I'm so very thankful for that. 

I'm thankful that I have been able to travel in my life.  I haven't really posted anything about it, but my last winter break was spent travelling through parts of England, Paris and Switzerland.  I have always had a strong desire to travel and I hope to live abroad someday.  It was an amazing trip, an amazing experience and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

I'm thankful for the amazing professors that I've had that put up with my constant presense in their office.  I've had amazing people that have helped to guide me in furthering my educational goals, and I would be lost without them. 

I could be silly and say how thankful I am for Doctor Who and Firefly, and that is very true.  It may seem odd, but I would feel lost without those things to make my day brighter.  In that way I'm also thankful for Oscar Wilde, no matter how down I'm feeling, I can always watch The Importance of Being Earnest and it makes my day better. 

I'm thankful for tea, and for my friend Athena for getting me addicted to it. 

I'm thankful for my computer, it's a lifeline to me, I am not ashamed to admit that I doubt i could get through a week without it. 

My kindle.  I've got mixed feelings on the impact easy publishing is having on the quality of literature today, but I'm so very glad to be able to have over a thousand books in my purse at any time. 

I'm thankful for rainy days, I love the rain and it's so rare in California that I am very grateful when they come around. 

There are a billion other little things that I could probably name, and I'd go on longer if I didn't need to get to class.  So I'll finish off with being thankful for other bloggers out there that are willing to share their lives with the world.  They give me inspiration and hope when I sometimes feel that there is none.  It takes courage to make your life an open book for the world, and I'm trying to join those people by sharing more of myself here.  So thank you for being there for me even though you don't know who I am.  Shout out to specifically Paris Imperfect and The Bloggess.  Thanks for just being you. 


**Title stolen from another blog that I thought has a good message.  I'll probably start to follow it regularly too.  Life is a Beautiful Stuggle

In Defense of Religion

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on November 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I’ve have many occasions in the last few weeks that I have heard absurd, incorrect, and offensive statements of the LDS faith, or Mormonism as it’s more commonly known. Being born and raised in the LDS church, I know the belief system of it pretty well.  I am no longer LDS, some of my previous posts make it pretty obvious that I am now Pagan.  While I did turn away from the LDS church for various reasons, and I do obviously have some issues with it, especially some of the things that the church as an organization does, I am unable to sit silent and listen to ridiculous lies about the religion.   You can call it a residual defensiveness for what used to be my religion, but honestly I would get just as defensive to hear someone speak offensively about any religion. I simply do not find it appropriate.


There is room for an intellectual discussion about what people consider to be problems with any religion, or why they disagree with it.  I am more than willing to enter into such a conversation and have on many occasions. However, a prerequisite for such a conversation is a factual understanding of the topic, in this case the religion, being discussed.  If you want to have a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of a religion you need to know what that religion really is.  


For example, you cannot have an intelligent and worth-while discussion on the LDS church when one of the parties involved believes that the Mormon church worships demons, prays to Satan, isn’t Christian, and doesn’t believe that Jesus died for their sins. The Mormon church recognizes the holy trinity(although they do not refer to it as such) of God(Heavenly Father as they refer to him), Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  They do not worship demons, and they do not pray to Satan.  They pray to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and occasionally Heavenly Mother(though that’s not a common thing).  If you define a Christian as someone who accepts Jesus as the son of God and their Savior, then Mormons are indeed Christian.  Mormons do believe that Jesus died for their sins.  It is an integral aspect of the whole Jesus is the savior idea. 


If anyone is wondering where these particular examples come from, these are a few of the statements that I had to listen to today.  Of course I was offended, especially when they got their self-righteous attitude of ignoring everything I was saying.  This left me in a state of outrage that had boiled to a head after dealing with weeks of intolerant and offensive comments about the LDS church. In my anger at the mass ignorance that I have been dealing with, I expressed my frustration on my facebook. Now before you start thinking, oh facebook everyone can see what you post there, my facebook is something that I tend to keep very private.  I purposefully have a relatively low friend count, and I have an assumed trust with my friends that my posts will stay with those that are my friends on facebook.  If I post something for friends only, I do not expect it to become a public forum issue outside of those friends. 


I understand that this is probably starting to sound very high-school drama-ish, and unfortunately that is what happened.  My post, which did not implicate any single individual as having been the one who said these ignorant comments(I'm not the type of person that would tag someone with this sort of thing), was then shared throughout an entire room of people whom would not have otherwise had access to this post.  The person that had said the ignorant comments got extremely angry at my comments, and a mob-type mentality quickly developed with me being the monster that needed to be fought off.  I don’t know exactly how this whole situation developed, only that by the time I got out of my history class only an hour and a half later, I discovered that it had been decided that I was to be ostracized from the group.  I don’t know what all was said, as I wasn’t present, nor was I ever allowed to defend whatever allegations were ledged against me. 


The anger that I am now experiencing comes from a couple of different places.  Firstly I am extremely angry with the fact that something that I had posted as private was brought by someone I had considered a friend into the public forum, something that he had no right to do.  Secondly I am amazed that in this situation the person that was spouting offensive lies about a religion has come off as the victim, while I, who was acting as the voice of religious tolerance and honest discourse, have been demonized so thoroughly.  Apparently trying to defend a religion against vicious lies is a terrible offense now.  The kicker is this entire thing played out with the Speech and Debate team, which is outrageous, because if there is anywhere that should be open for honest, intelligent, and tolerant discussion it should have been there.  


So here I stand being demonized and punished for trying to defend the LDS church against mean-spirited lies. This is something that I would do for any religion, and will continue to do despite this situation.  While there are now less people that I can call my friends, at least I know that I stood up for something that I believe in.  It is not OK to degrade something that you do not understand simply because you do not like it or because it is different.  Again, I am no longer Mormon, nor am I Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, or any other of a large number of religions, but I will always stand up to defend any religion from vicious lies, and I will always stand up to defend religious freedom.   Those who don’t want to be around me because of that, well I probably am better off without them in my life anyways.

 

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu--Early Travel Writer or Cultural Anthropologist?

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on November 12, 2012 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)


This is one of those posts where both my English major andmy Anthro comes out.  So if you don’t want to read my intellectual babble about 18th Century writers, then you can skip this one.  But then if you know me, then you’ll be used to this and either enjoy it, or have a grudging acceptance of these moments.  I’ll try to keep this one short though. 

This is inspired from the readings of British Lit from last week.  We read some of the letters written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu(I’m going to refer to her as Lady Mary from here on out, cause that’s a long name) was a socialite in 18th century England.  Her husband was an ambassador, so they travelled a great deal around Europe and western Asia.  Her letters to her sister and various friends have been published since her death, and her writings not only give an internal perspective of British Society, but of the rest of the world. 

Lady Mary’s writings of Austria are quite amusing with the assertions of the aristocracy there that she should take a lover while she was there, as that was common and expected in their society at the time.  She gives a view that is otherwise unseen for the time being a female writer, and the fact that these are letters she gives a more honest opinion of her views of what she sees. 

The letters from Turkey are the ones that kept my attention the most though.  She writes of the bath houses in Turkey, which were only open to women, giving a unique and rare cultural experience for the readers.  It is her experiences in Turkey that make me want to call her ananthropologist.  While she was there she made a great effort to acclimate to the world that she was living in, working with a tutor to learn the language, dressing in traditional styles, and making an effort to really understand the lives of the people of Turkey. 

The one letter which I felt was very interesting, and should be read by people today, was one in which she talks about the clothing that women wore, including the feligree as she calls it.  A feligree is described as what we would consider today a burka.  The interesting thing was the way that she and the women of Turkey viewed this garment.  Today we look to the burka as an example of how restraining and unfair to women Muslim society is.  Lady Mary looked at the feligree quite differently.   She saw it as very freeing to the women, it allowing them to come and go without being recognized or bothered by anyone.   All women wore the same outfit, and so on the streets there was no distinction of class, giving a level of equality to these women that wasn't experienced in the rest of Europe at the time.

Lady Mary’s view of this garment as an example of the freedom that these women had so starkly contrasts the way we view the same garment as being one of imprisonment.  This difference makes me believe that we are unfairly judging some of the cultural traditions of others because we would not want to follow them.  The outrage that the Turkish women felt at seeing Lady Mary’s corset is an example of how horrendous some British customs were thought to be.  They felt that her husband was tormenting her with the device. Each culture has their own customs, traditions, and clothing, for us to judge it without understanding first is shortsighted and ignorant.  The fact that a woman from the 18th Century was more willing to study and understand another culture where we are not, is something that we should be ashamed of. Have we really degraded in our willingness to learn about others? 

In any case, Lady Mary is at the least an amazing travel writer, whose letters give us a perspective of the world that would otherwise be lost to us.  Her willingness to care for the people of the places that she went and to get to know them is something that I highly respect.  I think we could all learn a lot about ourselves as well as the world by following her example.

                                                                                                                             

 

Transfer Goals

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on October 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Getting away from the financial aid school issues, I wanted to take some time to talk about transfer stuff, and what types of things I look for in a 4 year school.  I've been extremely picky about what schools I want to apply to for transfer, and I sometimes worry that I'm being too picky and should broaden my horizons with regards to school choice.  But then I look at other schools, and I feel like I would get a mediocre education there.  Not that they are bad schools, they just aren't specific to my needs.  UC Berkley didn't make my cut and they are obviously a very good school. 


I'm in a much different position from most freshmen or transfer students, be it because of my age or my already fleshed out goals.  I already have an idea of what I want to go into for graduate school, and knowing that am looking for the best option of undergraduate program to fit those goals.  I don't want to waste time taking more general courses when I know what I want to study for graduate school.  Maybe I'm just trying to skip over the BA courses that some would view as the building blocks, but I don't want to waste my time, and a non-specific undergratuate program in Anthropology is simply not what I am looking for, hence my very small transfer list. 


The two options that I have come down to for transfer application of UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara.  All state schools were dropped from the options list as soon as I decided to pursue graduate school immediately after undergrad.  When applying to graduate programs a UC will give me much better chances of both getting in, and possibly getting a fellowship. 


UC San Diego was the only school I really wanted to go to for a good while.  It has a bachelor's available in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology, something that not a lot of schools have.  Recently I reallized that doing a double major in Classical Studies would greatly help my grad school applications, as well as get me a head start on learning an ancient language(2 or more will likely be required for any graduate program).  UCSD has a good Classics program as well, so it stayed at the top of the list. 


I started to do some serious searching to find some other schools to apply to in case I don't get accepted to UCSD, and so UC Irvine ended up on the list for a bit due to its very appealing classics program.  However their anthropology program is simply that.  No archaeological emphasis, something that is important if I want to pursue a graduate degree in Archaeology or Ancient History.  I finally dropped it from the list due to its lack of archaeology, and the fact that I REALLY don't want to live in Irvine again, so I'm going to save myself $70 and not bother to apply.


That brings me to UC Santa Barbara.  UCSB has been on my radar for over a year actually, due to their amazing graduate program in Ancient History.  My interest in their graduate program is actually what kept me from looking into their undergrad program.  I'd been advised that it looks better to do your undergrad and graduate work at different universities.  When the college fair was on campus last week and I took a moment to speak to the UCSB representative it was a huge game changer.  Not only did he advise that such an idea was a ridiculous fallacy, he said that those who do their undergraduate work at UCSB have not only a better chance at getting into their graduate programs, but that the professors are more likely to choose students that they are familiar with and have worked with to give a fellowship to. 


With this new information I began to look into the undergraduate program at Santa Barbara, and after what I've found I'm in love.  I feel so much desire to join this program, that I am panicking about being good enough. I've never really had that doubt about UCSD, which I take to be a sign of how much I want it.  Not only does UCSB have an archaeology degree, it's a Classical Archaeology degree!  The degree itself is in the Classics Department, and it is a merging of Archaeology and Classical studies, the ideal being to utilize archaeology to study the classical civilizations, while not losing the importance and appreciation of the language and how it can help to understand those civilizations. 


Basically their summary on the program is exactly the reason that I want to study both Archaeology and Classics, and it is the reason that am double majoring in both Archaeology and English right now.  This program is practically tailor-made for me!  Their graduate program is already something I've mooned over as being ideal for me, and really the only one that I think would be able to keep me in the country for my grad studies.  The professor's that are in the graduate program seem amazing, and many of them have actually done work specifically with the religions of the mediterranean, which is my intended goal for my own graduate work. 


I haven't even seen the campus, or spoken with anyone, but I just feel like this program is where I belong.  So I'm going to have to do my best to make my essay's amazing, because I don't know when I last wanted something this badly.  I feel like I'm done at Palomar, I've branched out as much as I can here, and it's helped me to full realize my educational goals being here and working with the English professors especially, but it's time to move on, move up, and to become the me that I've been working towards for so long.

Downward Spiral

Posted by Olivia Lawrence on October 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes it seems like you go through life on the precipice of a cliff, and the slightest breeze will push you off.  I feel like I've just fallen off that cliff.  I've been so stressed these last few weeks with my struggle with financial aid, and I've been burying it to try to stay positive, but it's been really hard.  I've struggled through my classes trying to distract myself from the realities of just how little hope there really was for my situation.  All of that built up tension and stress finally broke when I got the email about my Appeal to the Financial Aid Director.  That was my last shot to overturn the rejection of my Pell Grant.  

 I've been living off saving for months since my checks were supposed to start coming in in August, and now they wont ever come in.  It just so happened that this was the first year I decided to put school as more of a priority, and scheduled my classes in a schedule based solely on what would be best for school, not taking into account work hours since I'd been counting on my Pell Grant.  So far I've worked between 20-27 hours per week each semester, so even without financial aid I'd have been ok.  Because of my class schedule and the hours my work is open, I'm only capable of working 10 hours a week, which puts me in a position where my living expenses exceed my income, even without taking school expenses into account.

 When I read that email saying that it was denied I felt like the world was crashing down around me.  I've worked so hard in my life to get to where I am right now, finally back in school and barely 8 months away from graduating Palomar and transfering.  It's this feeling of 'why me?'  Since I read that email I feel like I'm wandering around in a haze of misery and depression.  Keeping a hold of my emotions is extremely difficult.  More times than I can count per day I feel like I need to stop and breath just to keep from breaking down.  

I made the connection this morning that the last time I felt like this was in high school.  Admitedly the situation I'm in now is nowhere near what I went through then.  However there's something about having your dreams just around the corner, and your goal just about met, and then the rug is pulled from under you and suddenly it's all gone, and you don't know how to even continue. To know that the options have all been taken away now, and you're left wondering if you can even keep going.  The hopelessness is so overwhelming that it's easier to try to ignore it, escape from the realities of life because it's simply too much to deal with.  I honestly don't know what I'm going to do right now, everything is up in the air, and I just feel lost and more alone than I've felt in years.  I really don't want to drop out when I'm so close and I've come so far.  The unfairness of it all just makes me so angry, so I try to hold onto the anger, because it's easier to be angry than to allow myself to feel the other emotions.