Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
—Naomi Shihab Nye
To add another topic to the two that seem to be consuming my every waking moment is exciting. I'll be traveling, first to visit my parents, and then to Stanford to conduct my research. Being away from home for so long is going to be difficult, I'll be gone for almost 3 months, but I'm looking forward to buckling down and doing some actual academic work. I'm glad I'll be leaving NYC for awhile because about this time of year I start to get the travel itch.
School is also going well. I received the Kaye scholarship this semester, which pays for my tuition for the remainder of my three semesters. It's on top of the other scholarship and the fellowship aid, which means that for the first time in a year and a half, I have an income, albeit, a small one. It's gratifying though, to know that after such a long period of absence I'm not only doing well in school, but being recognized for my hard work. (and boy howdy this semester was a rough one.)
The next two years will be busy ones.. I return to class a week after I come back from Stanford. Then over winter break I'll be up at Yale doing some archival research on my fellowship thesis. Classes again right after that, and then another summer program, hopefully to Harvard or Cornell, and then applying to graduate school and graduating. Um.. holy fuck!
In health related news, the pain? Yeah, it's still here. At 18 months post accident my neck pain isn't any better, although the tingling down my left arm has decreased, the strength to that arm hasn't returned though. However, the lawsuit seems to be wrapping up as the other insurance company finally has all my medical documents. I can't wait for that part to be over... what a headache.
In non-health related news, I was accepted into the Stanford summer research program. I'm terribly shocked, but proud of myself.. It took no small amount of work to get here. Graduation is peeking around the corner of the year and I feel gratified to finally work on my own research. I'll also finally be able to visit San Francisco which has been on my top 10 place to visit since I was a little kid.
I was accepted into the City College Fellowship! Unbelievably excited about this! It really opens a lot of doors for graduate school, including a summer exchange program with Stanford. YAY.
Other than health related issues, which continue to plague me, life has been interesting. We had to move a few weeks ago due to my loss of income from the insurance company, but which we had made a plan for and are thus, ok. It's not the best of circumstances, but given my state of health, the status of the lawsuit (still pre-trial), and lack of access to any physically accessible jobs, the move had to happen.
In good news, school is going fabulously. I received a 4.0 on a 17 credit workload including the dreaded statistics course which I received an A+ in. It's gratifying and humbling to know that a course that caused 1/3 of the class to drop it was something I passed extremely well. It was very difficult, but I set my mind to pass and I did. As a four time pre-algebra failure, it was uplifting.
This last semester I made good connections with an important professor who wrote me a letter of recommendation for a fellowship. I should find out sometime this month if I will receive it. In addition to the scholarship I have school would then be completely paid for. It practically almost is, minus $300 of techno fees and the additional $300 or so for books. Most importantly though the fellowship would help me in my goals of achieving success in my quest for graduate school.
This semester is going to be very busy. I applied and was accepted into the honors program of English, which really just entitles attending a couple graduate level courses and a 30 page research project. I also qualified for honors study in Psychology, which I took as well. This involves a seminar and a research project as well. In addition I need to study for both the GRE (graduate record examination) general and the GRE Literature tests which I registered for and will be taking in August and April, respectively. I'm nervous about the GRE general, because lets face it, it has math on it. I have purchased a study guide and plan on attending a seminar for it, but it's still a little nerve wracking. Fortunately I'm not a poor tester so at least this can be a measure of my knowledge and not my nerves.
This semester also entails the application to two more scholarship programs. Both would alleviate some of the burden of being a full time student and allow me to continue that course of action without working. So far I have been really blessed, despite the accident.
Then come October time frame I will start applying to graduate schools. I won't lie to say I've set my sights high. When so many professors tell me that I have what it takes, you bet your bottom dollar and you apply for top tier. I will also apply to some more in reach schools, but it would be a dream come true to get accepted into one of the ivy's.
My planned graduation from my BA program is next Spring which is unbelievably close. I can't believe I've made it this far or done so well. I started college 10 years ago as a high school dropout. I had vague goals without any hope of every achieving them. I find myself now staring down the barrel of my future, the one I've always known I've wanted (to gain a PhD in any field) and I'm terribly excited. I can't wait to meet that future and run full long into it, knowing that my potential and my motivation will carry me through.
Coming up on 11 months since the car accident. It's still a daily problem in my life. Every day is a struggle between my disability and the things I want to do. Every action has a parenthesis around it. (If I can keep hold of it) (If I can lift it) (If it doesn't hurt)
The other ifs in my life are what I try to stay focused on. It's better to imagine a productive existence rather than one filled with either mind-cutting pain or mind-numbing drugs. Instead I work on my French, my art, or the process of getting into graduate school. I map out choices, design diagrams, file systems, layout plans, build foundations. It's the only thing keeping me sane. The idea that somewhere on the other side of X amount of time I will be well. I will feel fine. I will be able to live and breathe again in all the ways I used to take for granted. I will pass all five classes this semester. I will get into honors courses, both psychology and english. I will perform research, make connections, get letters of recommendation. I will score in the 90th percentile of the GRE. I will go to a good grad school. I will get through this.
Pain - has an Element of Blank -
It cannot recollect
When it begun - Or if there were
A time when it was not -
It has no Future - but itself -
Its Infinite contain
Its Past - enlightened to perceive
New Periods - of Pain.
760 by Emily Dickinson
I forget what it's like to not be in pain all of the time. The accident was 7 months ago. The surgery was one month ago. Sometimes it's really very hard to keep positive, I'm naturally inclined to be anxious and pessimistic. I just want one day where I'm not in agony.