The Human Animal

Destiny’s Path.

I just finished reading Animals in Translation. It’s an informative and insightful view into how the animals in our lives may be thinking, and how to better address their needs. The focus is on livestock, but the author’s personal experience with her own pet animals poses some neat questions about our relationships with our companion animals. There’s some science in there, but I don’t know why I feel like I have to post that as a disclaimer?

Science is fun!

A long time ago, I made the decision to switch college majors from biology to political science and philosophy, not because I didn’t like science but because science and engineering degrees usually have courses taught where students are graded on a curve. As a poor brown girl whose scholarships at an expensive private school was based on her keeping a high GPA, and whose first semester put her dangerously close to losing said scholarship, it made sense to switch to a major with less curved grading.

Curved grading is scary. Which is something that gets overlooked in the discussion regarding how and why women, especially women of color, don’t pursue careers in tech and engineering. High school aged me spent a lot of time stressed out because I knew that my family didn’t have the wherewithal to afford the price-tags on most college campuses. The first time I had to deal with reading through an acceptance letter that included my proposed financial aid package, I cried.

Not tears of joy, but the awful hot tears of disappointment, because you’ve spent your whole life hearing your parents push you to go to college but know behind closed doors they worry about how they’ll ever afford it, and no matter how hard you pray several hundred thousand dollars just aren’t going to miraculously drop from the sky. So when a school does offer you a full tuition package, you take it without really reading the fine print (believe you me I read it all the time now).

That was my reality, and while I probably could have figured out a way to have a better GPA in the sciences, I was too scared to risk losing my scholarship since without a way to pay for the education, I would have had to drop out or be forever in debt. Not a fun way to live, and of friends I’ve made throughout the years, the ones that were able to stick through the sciences and engineering were the sort of folks who didn’t have to worry about paying their way through college, too.

I’m not sure what a solution would be to encourage women to stay in the sciences, to encourage women to commit to careers in engineering. There’s something about conservative fields and curved grading, the justification is that the schools are separating the wheat from the chaff and employers get their pick of the top notch students, and somewhere in there is baked in the idea that everyone learns in the same manner. Which science has shown us isn’t true.

Maybe a solution would be for more employers to invest in their employees’ education? I know I’d be happy to stay with any employer that paid either for me to get a science/engineering degree!

I never learned to sew

A friend of mine posted this article and has an amazing story about what it’s like to be female in this world for so many of us, and why it’s important to learn to come to peace with one’s flaws if one is to have any hope for happiness.

Between that and the usual wave of regrets that hit every new year, sort of along these lines, I want to come to peace with this fact about myself. I’m not sure if it’s the result of growing up in the waves of feminism after first-wave feminism, or whether it has anything to do with my background, but this is fact: I never learned to sew as a girl-child.

It was less because I didn’t want to, than a mix of my family pressuring me away from domestic tasks and reinforced the idea that as a person who was left-handed, I ought to not try to tackle this particular endeavor. To be honest, I’m not sure why I listened, I only know that I did. If you grow up hearing a thing told as if it’s true about you, it’s only natural to want to believe it.

It’s not like my family wanted to stifle my passions, it’s just if your line of work involves that of what the traditional stereotypes of my people (by this I mean housecleaning and landscaping) then you have certain notions that are taken as Truth. For example, educated folk like doctors (and lawyers) are able to afford your services. They’re usually going be of a certain ethnic background. They’re usually also going to then be used as inspirational motivational talking pieces: if you go to college and beyond, one day you’ll live like this, is how the promise goes.

Only in this life there are no guarantees, and come May I’m still not sure if I’ll ever be entirely convinced that gambling on myself was worthwhile. It’s a process of staring into the void, reinventing yourself. Which I’m starting to think I’ll have to do, because even though I’ll graduate with a J.D., I’m nowhere near certain I’ll be able to be a lawyer in this golden state. Or in any state in this nation.

I’m not trying to freak out about it, but i am trying to be honest with myself so that I don’t fall to pieces should life just decide to send me elsewhere. It’s why I always prided myself on not owning more than I could stash in my car, the lighter my load is the easier it is for me to move along and do the Lord’s work.

In a recess of my mind, I tell myself that there’s got to be a better lot for me than this perpetual fear of what comes next. Somehow, the things I don’t know are outweighed by the things I do know, and they’re valuable to someone somewhere (I really hope someone somewhere wants to pay for what I could bring to the table). So in 2016, I’ll be honest with myself and admit that while I never learned to sew, cooking is one of those things that I wish I’d have done with my life.

Yeah once upon a time I dreamed of being a chef, but was told repeatedly that Mexican cuisine is not haute cuisine. People won’t pay to eat an expensive Mexican dish, because it’s not supposed to be a luxury dining experience. Which is more a highlight of how despite what culture you grow up in, you have an idea of what is a luxury meal is, and wanting to learn and make my people’s traditional dishes has been a bittersweet experience.

What’s the point in learning how to make home-made tortillas, if no one aside from you will see them for the comfort food that they are? If no one will value the labor that takes? C’est la vie, I suppose. You do things both out of love, but because you have to, to get by.

With that said, this looks awesome:

Back to Boats

I know I’ve mentioned boats before. I figure maybe it’s because I never learned to swim well that I’m fascinated by bodies of water. Streams, rivers, lakes, and then there’s seas and oceans and then there’s the fact that about seventy percent of the planet is water, and I tell myself I should learn to do more than just doggy-paddle.

With oceans and marine life, it’s crazy that as a species, we’re only barely beginning to scratch its surface about how it works and the life it holds. If you haven’t read it, I recommend The Extreme Life of the Sea. The book does highlight sharks, anything discussing ocean life would, and sheds some light on how these amazing creatures exist and how much they need our help. So when I came across the image below, I had to share:

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Photo credit: Von Wong. To see more about this project: http://www.vonwong.com/blog/sharkshepherd/

There’s more images and a video of the process shooting these images, and the photographer has a mission to help bring awareness to shark conservation. If you want to find out more about the project and support it, you can click here.

Which brings me to today’s date, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It seems only fitting to share one of my favorite MLK quotes: “We may have all come here on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Whoever winds up making it to the Oval Office in the next election, I really hope they’re the type of person who remembers that America’s incapable of separating itself from the Earth it shares with the rest of the world.

Feliz 2016

Another year’s rolled around. It would seem like with enough year behind me that it would be easier to deal with them, but instead the older I get the more it seems like the new year is a melding of the years past. Sure, there’s room for growth, but have I really come any closer to accomplishing anything of note?

I guess this year is one of fruition of previous years’ struggles. With any luck I’ll be both getting married and graduating from law school this year. It still feels weird to know I’ll graduate with a law degree, but will still be uncertain whether I’m actually allowed to practice law.

Imagine devoting a greater part of your life to a profession, only in the final hour being told “Sorry, it’s not for you.” That’s basically where I’m at right now, because a law degree alone doesn’t make a person an attorney. Coupled with insane amounts of student loan debt, I’m looking at leaving California altogether, since I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford a home here.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I’ve stopped wanting to live out of my car. It’s a weird feeling, to want to have a place to call home, because it is my own. I suppose I’ll have all year to ponder and come to peace with it, and figure out where on this planet I’ll wind up. Here’s to a year, all right!

Where did the year go?

Somehow it’s almost the middle of December, and it feels like only yesterday this year began. It’s also somehow almost the end of law school for me, too. This should make me happy, but instead I am even more worried than when I started this venture.

It’s almost the end, and I don’t know where to begin. Common wisdom would hold that I should be elated and looking forward to the end, but instead I am coming to terms with a reality that does not seem any brighter than when I started law school. Sure, I’ve learned how to draft some legal documents and I suppose I have a better understanding of how to do legal research, but I have no job prospects in sight and I am getting no closer to passing the MPRE.

I cannot practice in California until I pass both the MPRE and the Bar. It’s been difficult grappling with the process of preparing to take the MPRE (which a lot of people blow off because it’s supposed to be easy) over and over again, because I just feel so ashamed for not getting it the first time. Or the second time. We’ll see if maybe third time’s the charm next year.

Or maybe I should just give up with bothering to go forward with this legal career now, because if I can’t get the “easy” MPRE right, what hope should I have to pass the Bar? I find it harder and harder to look at myself in the mirror and believe I look like a lawyer. Maybe the legal field is not for me, and I’ve been trying to force my way to be something that isn’t in God’s will. When is it time to recognize that a failure is defining you, and so you should give up and do anything else?