No Faculty, No Students

​As a student at Edinboro University,  I want to start by saying that I really do love this school. I love the people I have met, I love the environment, and I love (most of) the professors that I have had the honor of sharing a classroom with. 

With that being said, I do not feel like I am receiving the education I am paying for. Edinboro is one of the cheaper schools in the area, but I am still left paying an outrageous amount of money for the education I am getting. After three years here, I truly still do not feel as though I have learned anything I didn’t already know, and a contributing factor is that many of the tenured English professors do not care about their students, only the paycheck and the furtherment of their writing careers. As it stands, I am already paying too much money, this not counting room and board or food. 

For me, I am sorely disappointed by the fact that our university does not honor and respect the faculty as the students do, and I am severely put out by the idea that the university does not honor and respect us as students, only the money we provide. 

I am not here for a lesser education,  and I will not sit idly by while the university raises the cost of our tuition while lowering the standards of our education.  

I stand with EUP’s faculty. 

No Faculty, No Students.

Moving In With Lupus

I’ve spent a few hours now thinking about how I want to word this. In the last two and a half years, lupus is nothing new to me. I’ve become familiar with it, and I’ve learned to recognize when my body does things that it (normally) shouldn’t. I can recognize swelling before there’s even any visible signs, and I’ve gotten pretty good at determining whether or not I have enough spoons for an activity.

I am almost 22 years old. I have had to change my degree from a BA to an AA, and even still, I probably will not be getting that AA, despite the fact that I have just one semester left. Lupus is hard. Lupus as a young person is harder. My grades have slipped almost entirely beyond me, no matter what I do to keep them up. Brain fog makes that 600x worse. My University, while wonderful in many ways, claims to be one of the most disability friendly Universities in the state of Pennsylvania. I will argue that statement until I am dead. They are only disability friendly if you are visibly disabled. And even then, that could be debated, too.

I am almost 22 years old. I live my life in constant pain. Some days are better than others. Some days are not.There is no pain management for me. I am almost 22 years old. I should not feel that kind of pain. “Take some tylenol and target the areas with icy hot.” How does one target the inside of their bones with muscle rub? I am almost 22 years old. If I use it sparingly, a bottle of tylenol might last me longer than a week.

I am almost 22 years old. The world is supposed to be at my feet, my great playground for all the good I have the potential to do. Instead, the world is at my fingertips, with help from the internet, because I am literally trapped in a body that does not know how to function the way I need it to.

I am almost 22 years old. Sometimes I use a cane because I can’t walk on my own.

I am almost 22 years old. Sometimes I don’t shower for days because I can’t stand that long, let alone get out of bed.

 

I am almost 22 years old, and I am disabled. I work a part time job, two days a week, as a secretary for a private investigator. I like my job. It does not require strenuous activity. But I get tired easily.

“Y’know what, I don’t want to hear you’re tired. You only work two days and it’s only for four hours. You even get to sleep in.”

You’re right. But I am almost 22 years old. I cannot do the things that you can do.

I am almost 22 years old. And I am hopeful.

Because at almost 22, I live with the man I am going to marry. I love him more than I could have dreamed of loving anything, and he loves me in return. He is patient and kind, even on the days where I am not. He is everything I wish I could be and more, and I am honored that he calls me his.

We have lived together for over a year now. We are moving again in five days. To what will hopefully be our forever home. There’s a dishwasher in the kitchen. Which means no more excruciating pain while trying to do the dishes. Just loading them up and running the dishwasher.

There’s also a flight of stairs, but at the top of those stairs? A bathroom with a tub.  But before things get a little bit easier on me, they’re going to get harder. Because we still have to pack. And move. And unpack and settle in and clean. There aren’t enough spoons on earth to provide a spoonie with the energy to make that happen in a timely fashion. But I’m going to do it anyway.

 

Because I am almost 22 years old. And lupus is not who I am.

What To Do When All Your Dreams Are Dead (February 10th, 2016)

We all came to college with dreams. That’s why we’re at college, to fulfill our dreams. Whether it be making a difference in our own lives, or making a difference in other people’s, we all went to college with a particular end goal. Some of us are gradually working our way towards those dreams, and others have found that all their dreams are dead.

And it’s awful, it really is. Because at this age, when you wake up and realize everything you ever wanted has crumbled, fallen away from your fingertips, just out of reach, it’s usually your own damn fault.

Some of us came to school and were overwhelmed by the freedom of it all. No parents? Great! We don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, we don’t have a curfew and we’re living on our own terms. And it really is the most wonderful feeling in the world, living for yourself. But sometimes, as humans (as young humans), we always think we have more leash than what we actually do. It’s okay, I think we’ve all been there at one point, lost in the moment.

Some of us sort of wander back on track, while others lose sight of everything they once hoped to accomplish. Maybe they partied too much, got too into the party scene and let it consume their free time. They traded in the school work for the alcohol and watched their grades slowly slip away from them, beyond saving. Maybe they just felt lost in the world of academia, maybe they realized this wasn’t what they actually wanted to do with their lives, and stepped away from it all to find themselves, only to realize that they had no dreams.

It does happen and I’ve watched it happen to many people I know. Only when it happens, nobody ever wants to admit it’s their own fault. They’ll blame professors, their friends, their parents; they’ll blame everyone for not being supportive enough. They’ll blame the financial aid office or their advisors, but not one has ever stepped up to the plate and admitted it was their own fault.

In the last two years, I’ve watched my own dreams crumbled around me. I’ve watched as I lost the things I thought I wanted, and I’ve watched as things I dreamed about for years went right down the drain. And it was my fault, but not by any choice.

Mine was a result of health issues. My dreams were stolen, but it was still my body, so it was still my fault. And I was upset for a very long time. I blamed everyone I had ever encountered for my plight. Then I started using it as an excuse for why my grades weren’t great, why I didn’t intend to keep on with my original goal of obtaining a PhD.

What did I do to put myself back on track? What can you do? Like I said, we all had dreams. And sometimes we screw that up for ourselves, and we don’t ever bother trying to find new dreams. But that’s it. That’s the secret that I’m going to share with you. No matter what, the flames will keep getting higher, and you’ll find yourself in a fiery vortex of regret and maybe even shame. That’s okay, but you have to get back up. Walk through the fire and rebuild from there. If it’s a personality flaw that’s put you where you are, change. Work to better yourself.

Start dreaming again, set new goals. Go small first, day by day, and then slowly build them bigger. Week by week. Start going bigger until you have new dreams to achieve. Maybe it isn’t career oriented like you had planned, but you’ll get there again someday. Be the person you’ve always wanted to be, do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Dream.

I call it “the Gatsby Complex.” If you live for one thing and one thing only, whether it be your partner or your job, if you only have one dream, what happens next? What happens when it’s unattainable, or when you actually get it? You’ll be miserable, either way you look at it, because that’s the only thing you’ve ever wanted out of life. People change as they age and there is absolutely no reason that your goals shouldn’t, too. So as you change as a person, change the things around you. Expand on them, build them to something worthy of you. And if you find that you aren’t worthy of your dreams? Expand on yourself, build yourself up.

So when you wake up and find that everything you’ve ever wanted is gone from you, and it’s your own fault, change it. You’re in control of your own life. Take responsibility for your mistakes, take charge of making yourself happy. Don’t rely on others for it.

A man can change his stars, he just has to have the courage to do so.

 

This article was originally published in the Spectator, Edinboro University’s student newspaper. It has been backdated properly. 

Punk’s Not Poor Anymore (January 27th, 2016)

The late David Bowie said, “It’s not politicians who will end oppression. It’s the radicals, with the stink in their clothes, rebellion in their brain, hope in their heart, and direct actions in their fists.”

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a Punk. No, not the kind that steals your lawn ornaments. Punk, with a capital “P”. Think Iggy Pop. I’m the kind of Punk who strives to make you uncomfortable, who asks too personal of questions, sitting somewhere on the cusp of androgynous. Once upon a time, the entire Punk movement was like that.

No, you read the correctly. The. Entire. Movement.

Look at the political situation going on right now. No, I don’t mean the upcoming election. I mean the unrest that can be found in the working class. That unrest is what punk has always been a frontman for. Whether it was a need for change in the working class or youth, punk was there, symbolic of it all.

You had kids cast out by their families for their appearance, for their beliefs, for their plans for the future (sound familiar?). To these ostracized kids, they found a family with other punks. You didn’t use to see wealthy folks in the scene. If a kid from a rich family went punk, chances were they had denounced their parents and their funds. That was the entire point of punk — to break away from the mainstream, to challenge social norms.

One of the biggest ways this was accomplished was through clothing. Punk got a lot of inspiration from the glitter rock scene and artists like Bowie, so androgyny and eccentric clothing became the calling card for the movement, alongside loud music. Go into any mall now, or do a random Google search. Punk clothing costs money now, and not even a bit of a money. A lot of money. More money than the target audience of average-paid working class and rebellious students can afford, that’s for certain. The only way punk clothing is affordable is through NOT denouncing wealthy parents or making enough money — the opposite of what punk had always stood for.

“Change through education, not revolution.” That’s what punk teaches. Yet, if punk appeals to the poor, how do we educate ourselves with the price of college what it is? Are we truly challenging norms if almost every student goes on to college? Are we doing this to change our lives, to educate ourselves, or are we doing it because we were told this is what we had to do our entire lives?

So what happened to punk? What happened to the earth-shattering movement that shaped a generation of youth and musicians? Where did things go wrong and when did it stop meaning everything it once did? Honestly, I think punk got big, that’s what happened. Punk sold out, just like everything else. The Ramones, Iggy Pop, The Dead Boys, right down to CBGB & OMFUG. It got famous and it sold out. Punk became the mainstream; punk WAS a social norm. It got famous and it became the cool thing to be, no matter how you actually viewed it. And maybe punk, in its truest form, was always doomed. Courage to be yourself, living a truly free life, pushing back on societal restraints and the lines of conformity; maybe it was doomed to be a glamorized fantasy from the start.

One thing’s for certain, punk’s not dead, but punk isn’t poor either. Hell, punk isn’t even punk anymore.

 

This article was previously written and previously featured in The Spectator, Edinboro University’s student newspaper

The Entitled Generation

I am all about respect. I really am. I hate being disrespected, I think it’s safe to say that everybody does. Do you know what I’ve realized about respect, though?

My generation is a hell of a lot more aware of how it’s supposed to work. Look at it this way. How many millenials do you know who actually disrespect someone for no reason? For the most part, we’re pretty respectful of everything.  Waitresses, cashiers, bus drivers, fast food employees. Seriously everything.
We respect those who deserve it. If they are respectful of us, we are respectful of them. It makes sense, it’s logical. Basic rule of alchemy, right? You can’t get more out than what you put in. It makes fucking sense.

Yet it seems like we’re the ones who get the bad rap for being disrespectful. All the while “real adults” (let’s go with anyone over the age of 32) think they deserve respect simply because they’re older. They’re older, they treat us like garbage, and yet we should respect them. I have never felt this way about it, I wasn’t raised like that. You respect the people who deserve it, and you don’t respect the ones who don’t.  Surprisingly, this went on to include family and elders.

I’m not initially rude or anything, don’t get that twisted. But I have a very set belief system and I’m unwilling to bend it because some crotchety old biddy thinks I should respect her just because she’s older.

We’re  the entitled generation because we want answers to things like, “Why is the housing market ruined? Why are black people still being gunned down in the street? Why is the LGBT community still considered less human? Why did you guys fuck everything up?” But at least we understand that you don’t get what you don’t deserve.

Talk about entitled.