Saturday, October 20, 2012


We're back online here at chez steph, after a week hiatus from internet while we tried to afford it.

Going without internet is a lot more stressful when I'm actively participating in two online classes. I'm so lucky that my neighbors are generous with their wifi, and tolerant of my driveway-lurking behavior.

I've managed to keep up with my coursework, by downloading everything I can when I can get it, getting work done offline, uploading my work when I have have access again, downloading, and repeating ad nauseum. It's tedious and tiring, but workable.

My poetry teacher has provided text for all of her video discussion content, as promised, but I still haven't gotten any captions from the disabilities people. My counselor and teacher decided the one video we've had so far that wasn't auto-captioned well wasn't really pertinent to the curriculum. So, that's how we deal with that, apparently. I'm just glad my teacher is being so helpful, even if the department assigned and funded specifically to help me access my classes won't.

Otherwise, school's great! Poetry is interesting and engaging, I'm liking it a lot more than I thought I would, though I'm still intimidated by some upcoming projects.

And the photo class is fun; it's easy enough so I'm not panicking, and I can complete assignments well enough with my little point-and-shoot, but it's still a little challenging. At least, I'm making it challenging for myself by not submitting any "easy" shots, so nothing I've shot previously (which some of my classmates are doing, and I don't get that at all. Isn't the point to learn and practice?), and I'm trying to branch out of my normal creative processes, so I'm experimenting with new angles and techniques as much as possible. My textbook is great, I actually feel like I'm learning something about the technical side of photography, after years of trying to drill it into my thick skull. Overall, I'm loving all the creative stimulation.

I picked up an extra course at the beginning of the quarter, unsure if I'd be able to keep poetry, with its caption drama. The first assignment for that course was to do a fairly complicated personality and career assessment on myself, and the results were fascinating. See, I'd always weirdly pegged myself as a worker bee, an office jockey doomed for accounting or some such horror. The idea was to have a practical career, something I'd nearly always be able to find work in, in a relatively stable environment. I lived in Silicon Valley, there's rarely a shortage of corporate-type jobs. I never thought my creative side was worth exploring, and I really can't tell you why that is. It's been in my head as long as I can remember that creative careers weren't for me. Being a writer isn't a practical job, can a photographer even make money? A painter? A designer? I scoff, there's a reason for the term starving artist. Would I be a failure my whole life if I pursued artistic endeavors? Better instead to find myself a nice, safe career that doesn't rely too much on creative talent. Enter accounting.

The why of this self-defeating inner monologue remains mysterious to me, which is irritating, but that'll be something to navel-gaze about with a therapist, one day.

Anyway, I took this career assessment profile thing and it told me I'm Investigative and Creative, which means I'd enjoy a career that requires problem-solving. I had to drop the class once I'd decided to keep poetry, but I plan on taking it next quarter, and I'm excited for what the rest of the curriculum will reveal about my inner workings.

My head's been about the same. I woke up with a headache this morning, which set the tone for a rough day, with not a whole lot of activity and frequent breaks during what I did manage to get done. Then, the tractor showed up to do some dirt moving around the property, in anticipation of putting in a septic system, so yay! But also, it was much too loud for my tender head, so I made a vegan spaghetti bake to cope and it turned out better than I expected. Eggplant, mushrooms, and homemade tomayta sauce baked over spaghetti; even migraining, it was hard to mess that one up.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall and Other Stuff

The weather's turning!

We had a (hopefully) final heatwave last week. It was miserable, as expected, but now the weather's perfect, temperatures in the 60s and 70s, cloudy in the mornings, with at least an hour or two of warm sunshine in the afternoons, and the nights aren't too cold yet, just barely dipping into the 40s. I love fall.

To celebrate, I got a little pumpkin to put on the mantle. I'm not really a holiday decorating type of person, but it felt necessary to have a little bit of autumn in the house this year. It's not practical to do a jack-o-lantern out here, the animals, bugs and mold would make it disgusting pretty quickly, but I love the ritual, and the seeds! So, I also plan to get a big fatty misshapen pumpkin to do something fun with. I have a weakness for the misshapen ones.

We had a thunderstorm yesterday and are expecting some more activity today. I was just about to type out that it hasn't affected my head yet, but then I realized that it's rather early in the day to be feeling this nauseated and achy, so I guess I'm just getting better at ignoring the lower-level symptoms. Yay?

My neck has been really stiff lately, it's been getting slowly worse for months, and I've been doing some gentle stretches to try and loosen it up, but nothing's working. I feel like I'm losing range of motion and I think it's time to ask a doctor for help.

My classes are going pretty well. I'm not doing great on the poetry quizzes, but the discussions are a lot of fun and I feel like I'm contributing something to the conversations. The photo class has been good, it's only a two unit class but I'm really trying to use the opportunity to learn more and break out of my creative shell. As far as accessibility, I still don't have captions, and that's all I'm saying about that. For now.

I tried Vernon's Ginger Ale last week and it was disgusting. Not gingery at all, it tasted like perfume to me. My boyfriend suggested because the ale is barrel-aged, I'm tasting the wood. Ok, then. Thanks, Canada Dry, for not tasting like wood!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

My School Might Hate Me

We went into the city, which is a minimum 45 minute drive on winding roads of supreme nausea and groaning, to get my school books. It did not end well.

By the time we got down the mountain, I was already ill. My period started the day before and I'd had to take ibuprofen for some awful cramps (I was hoping yogurt would be safe. It's not.) and it had brought on some very intense and thankfully short-lived depression that pretty much sucked my soul out. I would have loved to lay around and rest, but I needed my books. So, I dragged myself into the car, suffered the motion sickness, and was sloughing off the rest of my depression by crying most of the trip.

We got to my school, went in and waited for the woman at the front desk to free up. When she no longer had students in front of her, I asked if she had a book voucher for me. She said no.

I was baffled. I'd signed it digitally several days ago, and my new counselor was supposed to be on top of things. She stonewalled me, my counselor wasn't available, and there was nothing she could do, even though I'd traveled all this way and was falling to pieces before her eyes.

This woman showed no sympathy. She couldn't have cared less. And when I started crying, her face slipped into a disturbing smile of smug detachment, and I pretty much ran out of there. People like that scare the hell out of me. Not that I think my tears should change everything, but a word of commiseration, or any effort at all to rectify the situation would have meant a lot in my fragile state of mind. But she did nothing, just smiled at my sobbing face and repeated that there was nothing to be done.

So, we drove all the way back home, bookless.

My boyfriend called my counselor a few times while we were still in town, hoping he'd be able to change something, but he didn't call back until we were home. He apologized, which I'm sure made him feel better. I'm just pissed off and tired and I feel humiliated and disrespected. I understand that mistakes happen, but why do they keep happening to me, EVERY quarter?

I went back on Monday after verifying with both my counselor and the horrible woman at the front desk that the voucher was actually there. So, it was another torturous drive to the city, on close to the hottest day of the year, AWESOME.

And then, the bookstore only had one book for one of my classes, and it's the class I picked up "just in case" and was hoping to drop once we (hopefully) got my captions straightened out. (I'll get to that.) So, I have to get at least two books online, out of my own pretty-much-empty pocket, and I'm SO FRUSTRATED I COULD SPIT. Why would teachers assign a text and then not have it available in the bookstore?

One of my teachers scanned the relevant pages of the assigned text and posted the pdfs online to save us money. Unfortunately, I can't read pdfs online (OW) and printing them out is costing us money in ink. I also looked for this text in the store, hoping it would be assigned for another class, but it's not there and it's at least $43 w/ shipping on amazon. I already have to buy another book for this class online, at $10, which isn't terrible, but combined with my other required and not available text, which runs at least $34, I'm digging into the necessities budget.

And captions are still up in the air. The teacher with video content told my counselor that there isn't any, but the entire discussion forum, that I'm expected to participate in at least weekly, is based on audio and video! We can respond in text, but to know what I'm responding to, I have to watch a video that my teacher uploads, and it's HORRIBLE quality video and audio, so I start twitching within moments of it autoplaying. UGH. It's not good.

So, after going back and forth with my counselor a few times, I finally emailed my teacher directly and she said she'd caption the videos herself. WHY couldn't my counselor have just found that out/told me that?

She also has a few youtube videos up this week, and when I brought them to the attention of my counselor, he said that they were captioned (by youtube's auto-captioning) and I'd be fine. One of them was ok, but the other is a man who speaks quickly and had a thick british accent, so the captions are hilariously WRONG WRONG WRONG all the way through. I emailed my counselor with the link two days ago and haven't heard anything yet.

I just need a new school, this one is obviously inadequate for my needs, but I don't even know where to start with that. I chose this school because it was the one I went to when I was actually college-aged, and I have no idea what I based my decision on back then, school ratings in the state, maybe. What I need is a not-for-profit school with a huge online program and decent disability support and financial aid departments. There has to be one, somewhere.