Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year in Review: 2015

2015 is the first year the entire duration of which I was in college. I'd say I feel old but that's a lie.

What's this year been? Winter and Spring Quarters of freshman year. Indonesia for the summer. Autumn Quarter of sophomore year. A few indolent weeks of break (got back from vacation this morning, which is why there have been no posts the past week). Lots and lots of stuff.

I talked about race with white people. I came out as asexual and nonbinary and so began thinking more about LGBT+ issues. I continued working on Ubermadchen and am getting closer and closer to the end--although I need to step up my game if I'm going to finish before going to Berlin. I'd like to think that I grew a lot this year, and am less afraid now than I was at the beginning.

This is a self-centered post, as I'm going to talk about my own experience of the year.

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Winter Quarter was probably the most difficult quarter of the year, or so my health at the time would suggest. I took a life-changing class on environmental literacy, having a lot of great conversations about environmentalism and sustainability and meeting people whose love of nature inspires me.

At the end of January I broke up with my then-kinda-boyfriend, which is something I haven't really discussed here because it involves feelings and how they just disappeared. It's not a good story. The relationship wasn't really anything--we did not so much as hold hands--but the ending of it was important because failure to do so would be gross cowardice and representative of an inability to let go of the past.

I started contra dancing and learned some swing and waltz as well, figured out that I way prefer to lead, and am working through the ramifications of that.

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Spring Quarter was also very busy and yet I think I did a much better job of taking care of myself. Having determined to go to Indonesia, preparing for the summer took a lot of time and energy, and although I definitely could have handled the process better I did handle it. For me, confidence comes from a track record of doing things.

I started learning German this quarter! Which means I've been learning German for about nine months. It is a really fun language. My professor has been/will be the same for all three classes in the first-year sequence, which is nice.

Declared my major, too. Civil engineering = <3. We're going to build a better world.
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Summer: I went to Indonesia for two months to work on the project that I'd been a part of for both winter and spring quarters, and I certainly learned a lot. I was not as adventurous as I could have been, and didn't really see a lot of the country. But I did gain my first work experience, met some amazing people, and saw and learned a lot.

I also realized, belatedly (as in, I should have figured this out in third grade at the latest), that I am nonbinary. In terms of what I "feel", agender is probably the most accurate, but I'm still trying to figure out the border between gender identity and presentation, and if gender is anything but performative, so for now let's just say nonbinary.

The summer also alerted me to the fact that I need to open my eyes and learn more about issues in the world. In particular, living for two months in a Muslim country has made me more aware of the need to fight against Islamophobia.

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Autumn Quarter was the quarter this year where I took the fewest number of units, although I did also TA a class and work as a peer advisor for the public service center on campus re: summer fellowships. I started in on real engineering classes, and did all right, but have lost illusions of brilliance. If I've ever going to be worth anything I need to work hard.

I love my dorm. I also love being in positions of authority and think that when I have power I become kinder. I'm trying to hold on to both kindness and critical thinking at the same time. Being out in my dorm and certain other places as nonbinary and figuring out the repercussions of that, especially with my rise in aggression and the coming to light of dysphoria. Talking to more people about more real-world problems.

Writing poetry, and not as much UM as I should. Switching over to keeping my journal auf Deutsch.

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The past year, I've only been home for a couple of weeks at a time, and it's somewhat more difficult than I expected. I am bad at keeping in contact with people when I don't see them in person, so I am mostly responsible for the disconnect between how people see me and how I am, and the corresponding treatment. I'm on a trajectory toward greater competence and I want to control as many aspects of my life as I can--while still facing uncertainty and the ever-present fear that I can't in fact handle things.

Being in the closet with people who knew me before college is something that I haven't properly thought of a strategy for. There are people who know I'm ace but not that I'm nonbinary, people who know I'm nonbinary but not ace, and people who know both. It is still embarrassing that it took me almost 19 years to become one of the latter.

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Creation:

I did not write all that much in UM this year. Finished the Innsbruck section, got them from Innsbruck to Salzburg, wrote Salzburg, got them from Salzburg to Graz, began writing Graz. 2014 took them from the Dutch Republic to England to Scotland to France to Switzerland to Austria, and this year they've just been in Austria. I was without my computer for about two months, but I also have not been good about writing during the school year.

I need to be smarter about my writing during the school year and set aside unimpeachable time to do it. Consistency matters. My Monday/Wednesday/Friday mornings are free for the first time next quarter (that's another thing--in all of the 2015 academic quarters, I had straight 0900/0930s), and I will try to get up at consistent times. So there's hope.

Representation in media has been only infrequently on my radar since my consumption of books/films has been very low. But I have friends who do think about it a lot and have got me inspecting my own works more for representation. The UM main five were pulled together with an eye to diversity, and coincidentally follow the demographics of my group of five that I've lived with both years of college--2 ace (of which 1 nonbinary) 1 bi 1 gay 1 straight, 2 (different) minorities 3 white. This probably seems like I'm trying too hard.

What did I write besides UM? I've done some thinking about other stories that are on the back burner, especially Shadow Fissure. I also know that I need to do a major overhaul of Orsolya, because the ending doesn't actually work for me at all and the plot has all sorts of holes and I don't understand politics very well but the events that occur would definitely have a wider effect than they are shown to.

Lesson: Work smarter/harder, be diligent, be ambitious, be aware.

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Some lists.

Best posts:

Playlist:
  • Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars //Don't believe me just watch.
  • The Good in Me - Outline in Color //It's raining bricks all over this glass metropolis.
  • Squid - InnerPartySystem //Don't worry now.
  • Laughter Lines - Bastille //I'll see you in the future when we're older, when we are full of stories to be told.
  • Can't Go On - Evans Blue //I can't go on forgetting what I'm made of.
  • Fairly Local - twenty one pilots //It's the few, the proud, the emotional.
  • I've Been Thinking - The Narrative //Baby you've got faith in a smile I think others would kill for.
  • The Real You - Three Days Grace //If you're the one to run (to run) I'll be the one you run (you run) to.
  • Anna Sun - Walk the Moon //This house is falling apart.
  • BLKKK SKKKN HEAD - Kanye West //Middle America packed in, come to see me in my black skin.
  • Doubt - twenty one pilots //Don't forget about me.
  • Volle Kraft Voraus - Eisbrecher //Volle Kraft voraus!
  • La Differenza Tra Me e Te - Tiziano Ferro //La mia vita mi fa perdere il sonno sempre.
  • Burning Out - Thomston //I'm really new to this, I realize that I'm fortunate.
  • Ohne Dich - Eisbrecher //Was ist die Sonne, ohne dein Licht?

Books:
I haven't used my Goodreads account at all this year, which means 1) my control freak self is irked 2) I may be missing good things.
  • Kabu Kabu (Nnedi Okorafor) - Nnedi is amazing and the stories were mind-blowing. Loved it.
  • The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years (Chingiz Aitmatov) - very well paced, masterfully combining a lot of disparate threads.
  • Godel Escher Bach (Douglas Hofstadter) - a huge book full of interesting ideas.
  • The Iliad (Homer) - I slogged through it in freshman year but rereading it astonished me by its power and depth. Patroklos is the best.
  • The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (Heinrich Boll) - read it for Deutsch Zwei and really, really liked it. Such a well-structured book.
  • Sherlock Holmes stories (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) - during break I reread a lot of the stories. Hound of the Baskervilles is incredible.
Closing out the year with All That is Solid Melts Into Air, by Marshall Berman. I want to get back into reading and thinking about what I read. Senior year I read a lot of short, dense, masterfully-crafted books (Frankenstein, Steppenwolf, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) and I want to get back into that. So help me, I want to get back into literature.

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2015 was pretty good. Let 2016 be even better.

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