New Year, Get Your Act Together

love hands

Well another year has passed.  This one was pretty difficult, especially towards the end.  I’ll get into why in a moment.

I know a lot of people I know think resolutions are dumb or manipulative, but I really want to set some goals for the new year, and stick to them.

This is the year that I learn to respect the body I live in.  I’ve got to deal with how I eat, increasing my physical activity, and loving my transgender self.  I have such a case of self loathing it’s not even funny.  But lets take these issues one at a time.

DIET

I’ve been saying for years I need to change my diet.  I’ve failed every time.  I’ve been gluten free for a while now, which works for the most part – I still sometimes eat bread if I take a gluten enzyme first.  But I need to respect the body I’m living in, and in that regard, I need to give it healthy food to function properly.  No more junk food or soda.  I want to eat vegan during the day, and non vegan for my last meal of the day.  I need to figure out how to make water palatable enough to drink in volume.  Because of my lack of cooking ability, most of the recipes I’m working from are raw, which I’m really looking forward to.

EXERCISE

I talked to someone recently about my self image issues, and was told that if I needed to appear more masculine, I need to lose weight.  Now, I originally took this to be a load of fat shaming bullshit.  But it did make me realize that if I want my body to look the way I feel it should (less boobs, less gut, etc.) I really need to take control.  I haven’t really worked out regularly since I took the weight training class last year.  I have tons of research material on bodyweight and dumbbell workouts, so I have plenty of information with which to put together a routine.  Now I just need to buckle down and DO IT.

SELF-IMAGE

I left the important one for last.

I’ve done a lot of introspection the last couple months.  It’s been bouncing around my identity as a transgender person, my gender identity, my physical transition, and my emotions surrounding the whole thing.  I’ve dealt with feeling like completely abandoning my transition, forcing myself to live a false life as a woman.  I’ve considered going on testosterone, and fully transitioning to a man.  I’ve come to the realization that I can no longer live my life as it stands now.  I can’t pretend to be a woman anymore.  I need to express who I am.  I need my top surgery. I need people to respect me as a non-binary transgender person.  This is going to involve a great many changes, and I’ll be documenting them online – by blog, twitter, facebook, youtube…

That sums up New Year’s 2016.  I’ll need to take things one day at a time.  That’s how habits are born.  I hope you all have a fantastic 2016. Namaste!

 

 

Good news (Finally!)

I got my final grades back today!  Here they are:

  • Biological Anthropology: B+
  • Biological Anthropology Lab: A
  • Environmental Anthropology: A-
  • Anthropology of Food: B+

My gpa is now up to a 2.83 – slowly but surely getting an acceptable gpa.  I checked with financial aid, and my Standars of Academic Progress (SAP) is above a 67%, which is AWESOME.  This means that I’m not under “warning” anymore, I’m listed as “good academic standing”.  This lets me receive my student loans, my book money allotment, and the deferment I need to pay for the Spring semester.  This is the best news I’ve had in ages!

I also got to take a look at the syllabus for Magic & Myth in Pop Culture.  Looks like a ton of interesting reading. The semester starts off with vampires, then werewolves.  We get to read a few of the works of H.P. Lovecraft.  We’ll look into religions like The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Jediism, and Matrixism.  It looks like it’s not going to be an easy ride, but it sure will be interesting!

Now we just wait til the other syllabi post.  I put together an excel spreadsheet of my class assignments, and I’ll add the rest of the course materials from the other classes as I get them.  I’m really fighting to be organized this semester.  Hopefully it’ll be a success.

If I don’t post before then, everyone have a happy holiday (whichever one you celebrate).  My birthday is on the 27th.  Hopefully it’ll be fun. Ta!

End of Semester – now what?

Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t keep posting through the semester.  I kind of blame that on being completely bogged down.  I wasn’t expecting the university experience to be quite so intense!  But I finished, in some instances barely.  I ended up dropping my ASL class for medical reasons, and completed the rest without incident.  Hopefully they accept my medical paperwork or it might negatively impact my completion ratio, and none of us want to deal with that again.  Cross my fingers, I just want to be able to come back in the Spring.

I don’t have my final grades, those will probably post sometime in the next week.  My presumed grades are in the B range, but I’ll post again as soon as I get them in concrete.

I also realized over the course of the semester that taking three or four Anthropology classes is going to cause some major league burnout if that’s all I’m studying.  I picked up a Religious Studies minor, so hopefully if I split the classes up I won’t burn out quite so easily.

I had registered for my classes on the first day of registration, but apparently (and I just found this out today) my Archaeology class was cancelled.  Good thing I noticed!!  I registered for a replacement class.

schedule sp16

I’m taking…

  • Magic & Mythology in Pop Culture (REL)
  • Anthropological Linguistics (ANT)
  • Introduction to Religious Studies (REL)
  • Exploring Cross-Cultural Diversity (ANT)

The last one was what replaced the Archaeology class.  I’m not accustomed to having a schedule start and end so late.  Including those big study gaps in between?  Useful, if I can buckle down and accomplish something with it.

In preparation for Spring classes, I purchased a new 2016 planner.  I’ve been reading up on how to better organize myself, how to focus more on my studies, etc.  I really think I didn’t reach my full capacity this past semester, I was scattered and disorganized.  I didn’t do the reading, I did very little homework, I wasn’t all together on my papers.  I really can improve.

So plans for break are thus:

  • Painting, painting and more painting
  • Planning – get my planner organized and a system in place
  • Studying – studying how to study, that’s how I roll
  • Try out some new recipes
  • Blog regularly!

Short and to the point.  Hopefully this’ll get me through the next four weeks.  I’ll try and post more often.  But until then, everyone have a great holiday!

Continuing Education…

rush-hour-on-middle-path-1558575-640x480

It’s a Thursday night, the school week is over, and I’m super tired.

Tonight I had to get some ASL translation work done, and I had a bit of difficulty.  There were signs that I just didn’t recognize, and in the third video there were signs I was convinced we never covered.  I’ll have to see what happens when I get my grade.

Took my first test in Biological Anthropology and I got an 89.66%.  I find that terribly frustrating, as being THAT CLOSE to an A is just crushing!  Maybe if I’m lucky she’ll round up, or I got some of the extra credit questions right (I doubt it). We shall see.

Environmental Anthropology and Anthropology of Food both have field learning projects, which will tie up a ton of my weekend time.  Not to mention all four classes have a TON of reading assignments.  Now, lots of people online have said “don’t worry about the reading”, but the reading is the core of these classes.  There are discussioins and tests on the materials.  Oi.

I’m having a really difficult time keeping focused this semester.  I’m terribly rattled – by schoolwork and home drama – and I can’t seem to shake this constant confusion.  I’ve decided to start seeing the counselor at the school, hopefully they can help me get my head on straight?  My first appointment is tomorrow.  I hope it goes well.

That’s about it for school stuff.  I’ll try to get myself back on track and keep my grades up.

Until next time!

Week One Over at University

USf Bull

Hi all!

I know things were pretty quiet over the summer.  Most of my time was spent painting or volunteering at the art gallery.  But now the summer is over and school has started up – my first semester at a 4 year University, University of South Florida.

My first week at USF was long and confusing.  I had to try and learn where all my classes were, and luckily the three buildings that my classes are in are around the same general area.  The classes I’m taking are pretty high volume, with dense material and tons of homework.

Biological Anthropology is tons of new terms, and the accompanying lab starts with biochemistry.  If you recall my posts from Spring semester, I don’t do well with biochemistry.  Anthropology of Food will require an out-of-class assignment involving the interviewing of Burmese immigrants about their food choices.  Environmental Anthropology involves an out-of-class project where we have to volunteer 15 hours at a community garden.  Finally, my Intro to ASL online course is scary to say the least, there’s so much work!

I need to get my head organized.  I don’t really have my homework schedule organized, and it’s difficult to figure out what’s due when.  I know there’s a ton of reading, and I’ve been trying to keep up.  I’ve got a great planner, I just need to figure out how to organize what I need to get done in it.

In other news, I’m thinking about changing up my diet (again!).  Since my doctor didn’t want me to go full on vegetarian because of my IBS, I was thinking of trying to go half-vegan.  I’d be only eating raw vegan while at school, and going back to my normal diet once I got home in the afternoon.  I’ve been collecting a great number of recipes on Pinterest!  I’m really looking forward to trying this out, hopefully I can make it work?  Fingers crossed!

So that’s it.  University week one over and done with.  Hopefully I can manage the heavy course load, and I’ll try to update the blog with greater frequency.  Ta!

Apps for the Fall Semester

Hello!  As most of you readers know by now, I’m starting USF’s Anthropology Program this fall, and just like I did in previous semesters, I’m taking the time to re-examine my studying and time management techniques to see if I can find an easier or at least more efficient way of accomplishing my goals.

I’ve been scouring the annals of the internet – including news sites, blogs, .edu archives, and youtube – looking for new and interesting ways to track my time, take notes, and study.  I’ve found a few apps that will prove useful!  I’ll share the apps I’m using this upcoming semester, including ones that I’ve used in the past.  Here we go!

MyHomework

my homework app

This app has been the most valuable thing I’ve downloaded onto my phone to date – and now it’s on my tablet too!  When I get my syllabus fo the semester, I plug in all my homework assignments, tests, and important dates.  There’s a widget that lists your upcoming assignments that I have sitting on my home screen, right below Sunrise calendar (more on that later).  If not for this app I would have missed so many assignments!  Available for Android in the Play Store.

Sunrise Calendar

sunrise app

I have had such a time with synching my calendar data between my phone, my tablet and my computer.  PAIN I tell you!  This week I made the switch to Sunrise Calendar.  It can synch up multiple user accounts (for example, my google mail, and my USF mail, which is also google based…).  As an added bonus, you can add in accounts from other apps, such as I’ve done with Todoist (see below).  So far it seems to be working great.  The only downside I can figure out is that I’m still getting alarms on my phone from my old calendar, and I can’t seem to make them stop.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  Available for Android at the Play Store.

Todoist

todoist

Todoist is another new one for this semester.  It came highly recommended on quite a few time management websites, so I decided to give it a try.  It’s also one of Google Play’s Best of 2014.  It’s a to do list that’s syncable between computer, phone and tablet, which is great.  It has widgets listing upcoming notifications – and I loves me some widgets!  It also syncs with Sunrise, so that your to do items that have upcoming deadlines will show up in your calendar and on your calendar widget as well.  It seems super versatile, and I’m hoping to get some real use out of it.  Available for Android in the Play Store.

Study Timer

study timer

This one is simple enough.  The StudyTimer by Bumbling Solutions lets you enter how long you wish to study in total, how much time you’d like to study for, and how much of a break you’d like between each study session.  Pretty self explanatory?  I wish it had the option to save your settings, but sadly no.  Still, if you’re looking for a barebones timer for your study sessions, this looks like a good one to try.  Available for Android in the Play Store.

MyMail

Just a quick one here, and my apologies for the lack of picture.  I couldn’t get my phone or tablet to check more than one google account at a time (tried tons of tutorials, none worked, and were a major headache), and since my school email is google based, I had to find a solution for checking my school mail on the go.  Enter MyMail.  It’s your standard mail app, and it’s been working really well for keeping me on top of my school email.  ‘Nuff said.

I’ve also downloaded Canvas, since that’s the online system the school uses to keep track of classes.  I find it SO much more versatile than Blackboard, and the app is FREE (unlike Blackboard).  There is also the USF specific app, MyUSF Mobile, which has the awesome benefit of tracking the school transit system, so you’ll know when the shuttles will be arriving via GPS.

I’ve also downloaded a free Excel Spreadsheet from Vertex42 – their “Weekly Schedule Template“.  It also comes in PDF, OpenOffice and Google Sheets formats.  The one I downloaded is the second one down, with the hours broken down into 15 minute increments.  A lot of sites have suggested making a schedule of your study time versus  your free time, so I’m going to give that a try with this spreadsheet.  I’ve already got my school schedule plugged in, and study hours around and in between classes, now I just need to figure out the rest of the schedule!

Wow – that’s a pretty long post!  I hope you fellow college students find this information useful.  Take the time to research ways that you too can be a more efficient student.  Catch you on the flipside!

The Creative Process

painting 4

In case none of you knew, in the off season, I’ve taken up painting again.  My artwork can be viewed at ArtPunx Studio.

Right now I’m working on a 30″ tall by 40″ wide canvas, painting conjoined Dia de los Muertos skulls and it’s taking me a while to get it done (see above).  I tend to work with small brushes in order to get very crisp edges and corners.  Needless to say that means something of this size is taking me longer than usual.

I was taking a break and loitering in one of the chat rooms I frequent, and someone brings up that “art should be fun”.  This got me thinking a lot about art, why I do it, and the creative process in general.

Simply put, I don’t find art “fun”.  Something with as much stress, frustration and exhaustion as the creative process is not fun in my opinion.  This is not to say that art isn’t satisfying.  It’s very much so!  But “fun” is not a word that I would use in relationship to the creation of my art.

Let me see if I can put this in better terms for you…

Let’s think of creating art as childbirth.  You choose to create something beautiful, a joy for yourself and the world around you, to make manifest your vision.  That process is going to involve a lot of stress, anxiety and joy. There may even be pain.  But in the end, you’ve produced something memorable to enrich your life and the lives of others.  Sure, it can be an enjoyable journey.  A lot of times it’s a downright pain in the ass.  But in the end you have the satisfaction and joy of creating something – a tangible extension of yourself.

I wouldn’t call that “fun”.

Creation can be necessary, an essential in life.  I know I get very agitated if I can’t create.  Idle hands and whatnot?  I’m not sure.  Regardless, there are those artists out there who live, breathe and bleed their art.  I can’t imagine it being lumped into the single frivolous three-letter word called “fun”.

The destination getting to my final piece of art to be deeply satisfying and fulfilling.  I do not find the journey getting to that point “fun”.  End story.