Yes, this is my Final Answer…

166696_10151441891358872_563138313_n…for the million dollar question in the game of What the Fuck Am I Doing with My Life?

Anyone who’s been following my blog this summer knows that I’ve had some back and forth thoughts about whether to start school in the fall or to attend a training center for the visually-impaired in Denver. But what you don’t know unless you’re one of the unfortunate people to have spent a lot of time with me in recent months is how intense and unending this indecision has been. I thought for sure I would go to school no matter what. Then I was unsure. Then I was certain about the center. Then indecision. Then school. Then the center. Then back and forth again and again, ad nauseam. And each time, I was SURE that I had come to a final decision.

And I mean really, I feel sorry for those who have been around me most. I was telling a friend she should shoot me (she declined of course but I think she secretly wanted to, she’s heard every nuance of every rethinking of the decision process and all my worries and calculations and meanderings). I can’t overstate how freaking crazy I drove myself and those around me. I feel bad that every time my friend Willa from India called me this summer, it was always when I was reconsidering and in indecision, and every time we talked I was like, “My head just hurts, I want this all to stop!” And I feel bad for my friend Kelly, who got revised emails of my plans every week or so. But for all my friends who I drove crazy, I guarantee I drove myself CRAZIER!

There have literally been times I’ve avoided going places on Orcas b/c I didn’t want to deal with people asking me how my plans had changed and I got tired of explaining myself and going back and forth. I can’t remember ever feeling quite so mentally exhausted. And I’m happy to say (and how truly do I hope I’m really for real this time). I have finally come to a real decision that I don’t think I will go back on.

I am going to school!

A few major factors affected this decision. First was a DVD I watched the weekend before last about the Colorado Center – it turned me off. There wasn’t a single thing about the science training (which would be the main reason that I would be going), and as part of the program students have to wear sleepshades (aka blindfolds) so that they learn to rely on other senses to learn the skills, which makes sense but also bothers me some (also it was one thing to know about it, but seeing it in the video was pretty unsettling). That and a lot of the skills taught don’t really apply to me. I mean, yes my vision sucks, but it’s also stable. My condition is not degenerative at all, and so my eyesight is not likely to change much, and so I will probably never need to know how to do things like put together an outfit by identifying my clothes with braille, b/c I can see my clothes, see the colors and all that. Watching the DVD really made it clear that this and other similar things are a huge part of the program. So all in all it felt like, the more I learned about the center, the more it felt like I would go through a lot of training I don’t really need, just to get some science skills and I began to doubt if the investment of time and energy would be worth the payoff, especially as I’ve been anxious to go back to school and have been trying to make that work out for the last few years now and feel reluctant to put it off.

There were a lot of other little things in the DVD that also bugged. Individually, they’re nothing, but taken together, there was an effect. One of them is that there’s an NFB (National Federation of the Blind) philosophy class that students have to take, so that they will “fully believe in the NFB’s philosophy of blindness.” Okay, that sounds a bit creepy in itself, but add to that that I’m fairly familiar with the NFB’s beliefs, and being a critical thinker, there are parts I agree with (and I definitely appreciate what the NFB does), I don’t agree with all of it. I have felt at times that members and events of the organization aren’t very welcoming to people with partial sight. And a friend of mine had a friend who had a horrible time at the Denver center because of that very reason, which sad to say, doesn’t terribly surprise me. I also got the feeling from the DVD and some of the literature that was sent with it that there are a lot of rules and a lot of emphasis on students looking super professional at all times. And that stuff just got all my individualistic, expressive and rebellious tendencies all riled up. I mean physically I was getting all tense. I could already imagine myself getting in all kinds of trouble. I don’t even know what they’d make of me, a girl with purple hair and a visible tattoo (if I’m wearing short sleeves). Plus, like, I’m an adult and have been living on my own for years, I don’t need inspections and rules about whether I can drink in my own place or have boys stay over or whatever. All of that just really brought up memories of being a super sheltered teenager, and I don’t want to revisit that. And there were a string of other little things that all left me feeling pretty uneasy after watching the DVD. Little things.

Oh, plus, my astrocartography told me I would get fat if I went to Denver. For those who aren’t astrology geeks, astrocartography is basically looking at maps based on your birth chart. It’s pretty complicated with lines everywhere, and I don’t know how to actually calculate it (even the thought seems daunting) but you can look it up for free at I don’t put real stock into it, but I did out of curiosity look it up for me in Denver, and while most aspects seem to relate to more esoteric intangible energies, my astrocartography for Denver literally did say I would gain weight and that if I didn’t want to, I should move somewhere else, which made me laugh, like, seriously?? Too funny.

But what actually is a much bigger deal and dealbreaker for me than any of the above put together, is the uncertainty about the center. To be able to go, I have to go through a process with the local low-vision agency, to justify my need to go to the center and then get approval, and it was very uncertain how long that would take, and if by the time it did, the center would still have openings and I would have enough time to complete the program before classes start next fall. And there was no way in hell I was waiting past that time to start school (plus it would have messed with my admission/student status/and on and on if I took off any more than a year). The uncertainty was eating me alive, the not knowing when I would go, or if I would get to go and not really being able to make any plans in the meantime. I mean how could I get a job if I might be leaving soon for Denver? But then again it could be months. And it might not happen. Same thing with my apartment, I didn’t know what to tell my manager, especially after having worked everything out with her (or so I thought) over the phone while I was in Portland, then I came home to find lots of not so nice letters from her on several topics, and one of them being she has a new tenant waiting for my place. I felt totally locked in limbo, unable to make any kind of concrete plans of any sort when this whole process was so up in the air and I had no idea if or when I’d get to go to the center. I felt trapped. And that feeling, especially after getting back to the island, was only adding to my mental craziness. All I wanted was a sense of security in knowing what was going on, and that felt so elusive.

After watching the DVD, I felt like the uncertainty and all that bs just really might not be worth it and started looking into school again. I crunched some numbers and realized I could do it if I took a more minimal amount of credits (basically my intro biology class, plus one other credit, and I’d still get financial aid and feel fairly comfortable with my money situation even if it takes me a bit to find a job. It could be doable. And there were still spots left in the bio class.

I started reading the class descriptions again, and professor reviews and anything I read just got me so pumped to be in class and be learning this stuff. I got animated and excited and so wanted to be there. I have felt that way any time I have done that sort of stuff. Months ago, before the financial aid curveball came up, I had my classes all planned out and scheduled and felt super excited for them, long before I could even sign up. And each time I’ve been on the school side of this debate, I have felt this way. I was reading reviews of classes with such longing in my heart. I really don’t want to put off school another year is what it comes down to. And I am really, really attracted to the idea of starting part time this year, to ease back into the whole idea of school and studying and classes, and then going full time next year, and being able to take more advanced classes sooner. I’m almost afraid that if I do put it off, I’ll lose my drive some, when it’s so potent right now. It’s hard to describe exactly, I just can’t wait to be really immersed in everything, feeling like I am progressing towards something, learning, intellectually stimulated, and the desire is so strong that EVERY time I read anything like these class descriptions or prof reviews, I feel overwhelmed with wanting to be in class and learning. In my incessant indecision, I feel my heart has always been on the side of going back to school. That is what I really want to do.

So I did more research, and found out that my school, Portland State, a school that is known for their disabled student services being awesome (actually when I was touring campus last winter I saw a few people there with guide dogs and when I took the bus there last month I saw a blind guy, always good signs as I’ve been to schools where I feel like the only person w/a disability, so this was a marked improvement on that) offers lab assistants if needed for disabled students taking lab science classes. That is amazing! I feel like with that option, and with taking the intro class, I’ll really be able to see if I’m going to struggle with science stuff b/c of my eyesight, and if I do maybe I’ll reconsider the center, but I also came up with all kinds of other resources and possibilities, at the school, through the NFB (they have a science division, and a student division, and the woman who is president of the student division majored in biology and is totally blind), and more. So I feel better about things having done that research. And I’m a determined kind of girl so I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to rock it.

So, all this is to say, I’ve come to my final answer, I’m going to school. I accepted my student loans, signed up for my bio class, did entrance counseling for my student loans (definitely made me think how different this is from last time I went to school, and how all the responsibility is on me in a whole new way that I welcome), and just landed a studio apartment near campus. I’ll be leaving in a few days.

It definitely scares me. Moving scares me. Leaving Orcas scares me. Being in class again scares me. I want all of these things, but they also really freak me out. I haven’t been in a college class in over seven years! Oh yeah and my textbook for this year for bio is 1300 pages! Talk about daunting! I have never really learned how to study. I was always one of those annoying people who did real well in school without studying at all, so I never had any discipline. And I’m sure I could still be that way, just go to class and pay attention and ace classes without opening a book, but, I don’t want to half-ass it. Also, I am definitely out of practice at this point, and have no doubt gotten rusty. So yeah, going to school, studying, taking exams, having homework, trying to get into a more disciplined student mindset that I have really never had, really, really scares me. It’s one of the reasons that the idea of easing back into school by going barely part time so appeals to me.

Scary as it is, it feels right, and I’m excited, and I really mean my decision this time. Sometimes you just gotta go with that.

I also want to say I am very thankful to have good friends to bounce ideas off of. I am super grateful to my friend Claire, aka Silver Lining, b/c she is a very grounded, balanced person who could offer an objective opinion. I talked ALL of these factors out with her and that was really the turning point. I get so lost in my head sometimes I lose perspective and have a hard tie sorting things out, especially when there are so many factors. She was so great to talk to and really helped me with the sorting out. And after that I felt so much more clear. And ever since I decided, friends have come out and told me they felt like all along, this is what was really the right decision, and what I truly wanted. It felt so affirming, b/c like I said, I get all jumbled up. And now that I’ve let the decision settle for a bit, I feel very sure. Now the thought of not starting school for another year is kind of unthinkable. But what felt the most affirming to me was when the person I work with from the local low-vision agency, the same person I would have worked with to make the Denver center happen, told me she really felt this was clearly the right decision for me. And for the first time in months, it really feels like everything is coming together (FINALLY). I better not totally count my chickens yet…

All right, gotta get back to packing.

Currently Listening:
Okay, I’m listening to a cover Tori Amos recently did of “Baby One More Time” yes, the Britney Spears song! Tori can really pull off some covers I tell you. This one is sort of hysterical, I have to say I never in a million years ever would have thought I’d be putting this song on my “currently listening,” but when Tori sings it, it’s hot and kinda sultry and almost ironic. She puts in some ad-lib too.

Oh baby baby, how was I supposed to know
That something wasn’t right here
Oh baby baby, I shouldn’t have let you go
And now you’re out of sight, yeah
Show me how you want it to be
Tell me baby cuz I need to know now, oh because

My loneliness is killin me (and I)
I must confess I still believe (still believe)
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign, hit me baby one more time!

Oh baby baby the reason I breathe is you
Is you, yes it is you
Oh the reason I know is not a reason for living
But I’m living for you
The reason that I breathe, is for you
And boy you’ve got me blinded
Oh pretty baby, there’s nothin that I wouldn’t do
That’s not the way I planned it

Show me how you want it to be
Tell me baby cuz I need to know now, oh because

My loneliness is killin me (and I)
I must confess I still believe (still believe)
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign, hit me baby
You always do
Hit me baby one more time!

Like I said, hysterical! I still can’t get over finding this, like, seriously??? Wow. Hahahaha. Oh I had another song competing for this spot on my blog but I may be too embarrassed to fess up to it. I will just say, it’s all House’s fault.

4 thoughts on “Yes, this is my Final Answer…

  1. Whew! That is a long post.I understand. I have been trying to decide, what to do with my life, since 2002. Where can I get my hands on that DVD you mentioned? I could use some dark humour and amusement.

  2. How far is the island, you live in, from the mainland? I immedieately think of Pitcarin Island whenever I hear the work 'island'. I have always had a fancy of living on an island, probably steming form all the Famous Five stories I read as a child.

  3. Story Teller – I think they only send the DVD to prospective students. I got it as part of a package with brochures and other such material. I am not trying to say the program wouldn't be great for someone else, just not for me. Most of the students on the DVD were people who had progressive eye conditions, or I mean degenerative, or those who had lost sight later in life and were going through a MAJOR adjustment obviously. It just seemed like it iddn't even apply to me so much. Awww Silver Lining, I hope you are right! Going to Powell's in a bit, for a booksigning by David Cross, a comedian I love. BTW it was the God of the Eleventh Hour all over again. All summer trying to plan and things going awry and then! last minute everything comes together! I walked by my apt building yesterday while on campus and wow, it is so close, literally a block and a half from where I have my lab class. Closer than some on-campus housing. I'll move in in the morning.

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