Potential First Tattoo

So I’ve come up with a design for my first tattoo – which I really badly want, but am not sure when I’ll actually get.

Last night, my temporary tattoo kit came in the mail so I decided to test out the design, and the placement. I wanted to see what it would look like before I actually getting anything.

The tattoo ink is made from the pulp of a fruit called Genipapo, found in Panama. It is similar to henna in how it’s used – the gel-like liquid is squeezed out from a needle-point bottle the way henna is piped out like icing on a cake. I’ve used this product several times before so I’ve gotten used to drawing the tattoo freehand.

I feel like I did a pretty good job, except I got the arrow all crooked because of the angle I was drawing on. The temporary tattoo has developed overnight and it should get darker in the next half a day.

The tattoo design represents many things. Essentially, it’s the story of my life in a few symbols.

The semicolon (made from an enso, and the Fibonacci Golden Ratio), represents my lifelong recovery from mental illnesses; the enso (circle) representing “a moment when the mind is free to let the body create” which also represents strength, enlightenment and life while the Fibonacci Golden Ratio reflects my interest in art, as well as math – this I find beautiful because not only does the Golden Ratio helps artists create beautiful art, it also helps mathematicians do math. I like the intersection of the sciences, and the arts because of how much conflict there is between the two fields (especially coming from the sciences who claim that anyone who can’t do, are artists…). 

The curly brackets represents code – most codes are encapsulated with “{ }” which tells the computer to execute a function from what is in the middle of the brackets. It is a reflection of the field that I’ve chosen to put myself in.

The arrow signifies my strength and resilience because an arrow is useless unless you string it to a bow, pull it back, and let go. This reflects my life because of how all the struggle I’ve been through has caused me to grow stronger, and more resilient – like the arrow speeding forward after it’s been pulled back, I am also moving forward in my life. The arrowhead is the Star Trek TNG symbol representing my nerd/geek side.

I chose the Pi because of how despite it being an irrational number, it is also a constant. It reminds me during my dark times, that despite everything that could happen to me, that the world is still revolving, and Pi is still Pi no matter what happens. 3.14159, always.

The message “Don’t Panic” comes from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and it gives me a message to read when I’m anxious. It’s a directive, pretty simple and powerful for 2 mere words. The “42” is also from the same book, and in it, the number is considered the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. I believe in the theory that the number is actually not a joke as most of us have believed, but rather an asterisk (*)  (since the ASCII value for an asterisk is 42) in programming. The asterisk is actually used by programmers as a wildcard when searching for something, deleting something etc (Example, if you type rm *.* – it means that you’re wanting every file to be deleted from your computer). This means that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is what you decide it to be. 

Lastly, the equal sign is a nod to my struggles as a queer person seeking understanding and acceptance in society. It’s a subtle enough symbol for my sexuality that anyone who knows what the equal sign means, will know how I identify. 

So far, I like the design, and if I can find a tattooist who is okay with using my design (I hear that most don’t like to do that), and who can do good black and white tattoos with clean, crisp lines, I think this might be the first tattoo I’ll ever get. And since I’ll be getting it while I’m in my thirties, I wonder how many people will think this is a mid-life crisis. Haha…

Eventful Day

It has been an eventful and moderately overwhelming day – both for good and bad reasons.

I woke up this morning and discovered that I was low on both Zoloft and Strattera. I was very tempted to let them run out and just quit my psych meds cold turkey. I don’t think that would’ve been a great idea but I’m just sick of taking the medications that I don’t feel like are working. I was contacted by an old co-worker who was worried for me – she suggested that I seek help from an inpatient facility to help me cope. I thanked her for her kindness and unexpected messages because I hadn’t talked to her in maybe a year and a half. The fact that she cared enough for me to reach out warmed my heart.

My day started proper with my first Peer Educator duty of the day where I had to sit in on a presentation done by one of the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion (HWP)’s Assistant Directors. The topic was “Alcohol and Personal Choice”. As it was a presentation that I hadn’t seen before, I was very attentive through it all.

As I listened and learned, I also felt guilty for my drinking last Friday when I was feeling extremely disappointed, and depressed. This was because the presentation was about making healthy choices such as limiting drinking to less than 4 drinks per day and a total of 7 drinks per week (for women) or 14 drinks per week (for men). Last Friday, I had consumed 3 drinks and a shot of cinnamon schnapps (which tasted terrible btw) in an hour with an empty stomach. The result was a drunk me relatively quickly.

I made the worst decision ever to drive home. I was convinced I was okay. Somehow, I managed to park my car straight, and shower without falling down and killing myself. By the time I got to bed, I had actually just collapsed without realizing that I had fallen asleep until 2am when I got up abruptly because I needed to pee. The next day, I realized what I’d done and realized how easily I could’ve been arrested for DUI as well as how easily it could’ve been for me to cause someone harm. I was very regretful of my choices.

The presentation was definitely an eye-opener for me and I resolve to – if I even drink – to never drink so much so quickly. I was after a Peer Educator so I need to practice what I preach. I’m just glad that I get a second chance to never repeat this mistake again.

After the presentation, I was supposed to go to the Cube, where the office for the HWP Peer Educators’ was located. My office hours were from 11am to noon. As soon as I reached the Cube, I got a text from one of the Lead Peer Educators that I could skip my office hours today to help one of the other Assistant Directors (we have 3 ADs) with tabling. So off I went to help her set up the table – we were at the Campus Center to promote October as Domestic/Relationship Violence Awareness Month (yes, I’m aware that October is also Mental Health Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and National Coming Out Month).

14522708_10157624632585002_4423510020562352860_n-copy

It’s On Us to Stop Sexual Violence!

I pasted a sticker on my skateboard to promote the campaign to stop sexual violence on campus and in the community. I figured that with how I carry my skateboard everywhere, it’s a good way to raise some awareness.

I had a good time tabling – I always do – because I not only had the opportunity to speak to the Assistant Director, but also another Peer Educator and be able to connect with people who stopped by the booth. It is one aspect of my job that I really enjoy.

Doing my job as a Peer Educator really makes me happy because not only does it make me forget all my woes for a while, it also allows me to help people with theirs. I realized today that I’m only happiest when I’m doing something Peer Educator related lately.

After my Peer Educator duties, I had to go to the MAC to perform my Mentor duties there. It was extremely busy at the section that I had to tutor at so it was hard not to get a sore throat by the end of my 3-hour shift. I was exhausted – socially, and emotionally by the end of it. Tutoring is always an exhausting affair because sometimes you could be dealing with students who have no clue what you’re talking about or students who have a hard time grasping concepts. I do enjoy helping people solve problems though so that is definitely one aspect of tutoring that I enjoy.

In the middle of the MAC shift, I went outside to the courtyard to find the Westboro Baptist Church members spewing hate towards the LGBTQ+ community and the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Center. They were there to protest the Center.

I’m proud to say that my university was not only prepared (they put up metal barriers around the area where the protestors were), the staff and faculty were also there to prevent students from engaging in the hate-mongers by forming a human shield between students and protestors. The CAPS staff were there as well to provide psychological aid and counseling if needed. I was so impressed by the staff and faculty because of how much they care for the students. They voluntarily stood outside in the sun to protect the students.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was very surprised by how many people showed up as well in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t think we would fill up the huge courtyard but we almost filled all of it. While the WBC protestors were screaming their hateful words, the students had a dance party instead – the speakers were blaring loud music and it drowned out the protests.

As there were only 7 of them, you could barely even see them in the sea of people. I was saddened to see 2 children amidst the protestors. I wondered what they were being taught. While I agree with Biblical teachings and getting children acquainted with the Bible, I can’t say I agree with teaching hate to children. It’s so disgusting.

While the counter-protest in the form of the dance party by the students was going on, the whole place was just abuzz with energy and movement. I looked around and realized that it was like I was back at the Pride day again back in May. It really looked and felt like a Pride kind of event. Unbeknownst to the WBC protestors, their action had made all the LGBTQ+ community and allies come out together and have a good time. It was definitely an unexpected win in my opinion.

I spent about 10 minutes finding some of the people I know, taking photos, taking selfies, and talking to people before I resumed my shift at the MAC. It was a good event – what was supposed to be a negative event turned into a very positive one.

I was also able to meet the Director of CAPS at the LGBTQ+ Center. She was there to provide CAPS’ support. I introduced myself and told her that I wanted to thank her for the services that CAPS provide. I thanked her for all the hard work that CAPS is doing and how all the staff that I’ve ever met are very professional and have been really helpful. I told her how much I utilize the services and how I’m glad that CAPS exists. I told her that I didn’t know how much thanks she and CAPS get but I wanted to make sure that at least I say something. She told me that people don’t often thank them and that it’s rare to hear a note of gratitude but that she appreciates getting them all the same. She thanked me for bringing my thoughts to her attention and she seemed genuinely pleased that I had stopped to talk to her. Despite having been at CAPS for a year and a half now, I had yet been able to talk to the Director herself so I felt honored that I was able to do so today.

On a less than stellar note, I wrote an email to the management of the new restaurant that I had just joined about 3 weeks ago. I told them in my email that I was unable to continue employment with them because I am struggling too severely with depression and suicidality. I told them that even being around the work environment gets me down. I made it explicit that I would be suicidal every time I was at the restaurant. I apologized for letting the team down, for not finishing my shifts, and for not providing ample notice.

The truth is, I was just done with the place. I was done with all the management issues and how little the managers care about the employees. Besides not caring, they were also uptight about a lot of things – for me, they were upset with my dyed hair so I had to dye it back to my natural black.

When they told me that I had to do that, I was livid. I didn’t like them ever since then. I felt like I had lost a part of me when I dyed my hair back to black. I felt upset because the stability that I’m trying to rebuild for myself came crashing down when I lost the ability to express myself. For days, I felt uneasy because my hair was solid black. It is strange but somehow, my mental wellness depended on how I looked or felt on any given day.

Anyway, I hope the management team understands my restrictions and can forgive me for the immediate resignation. Somehow, I can’t see them being very compassionate. I could imagine them judging me and gossiping about me. I’ve never quit a job without giving ample notice before. And I’ve certainly never quit a restaurant after just 4 weeks of working there.

The negativity, whining, backstabbing, and gossiping that happens among the staff of the restaurant is definitely very annoying to deal with. I didn’t need to add more drama in my life – I already have enough to write a book with. I hope the management team doesn’t call me. I contemplated calling them and giving my resignation that way instead but the thought of calling someone and talking to them on the phone made me sick to the stomach. My anxiety was definitely acting up a lot and I didn’t think that I’d be able to speak on the phone without crying very hard. That was definitely a hard part of my day today.

Overall, I am spent. S and I will have a lot to talk about tomorrow.

14495382_10157625781650002_1995025848086831318_n-copy

Representing the MAC, and the Office of HWP while also promoting mental health advocacy.

Mind Boggling Trig Question

I was up until 4.30am trying to figure out ONE trig question…

Mind Boggling Trig Question

Mind Boggling Trig Question

I’ve never ever worked so hard on a math question in my life. The photo above is just one of the many solutions I’ve tried and I still couldn’t get it to work for some reason… I must be missing something.

I have an inkling that the solution is staring at me in the face. And I have this pressure on my chest to find it!

I think my interest in math is now bordering on obsessive. That’s all I want to do lately. Weird right?

Anyway, I’ve gotten a brilliant friend of mine to help and even she couldn’t figure it out after 40 minutes of trial. I’m now asking the capable tutors over at the Math Assistance Center for help and they are a little stumped at the moment so the girl who’s helping me is asking for the other tutors to help too…

I kinda want to try it again but I’ve spent 4 hours on it already. My brain hurts. Haha…

Sorry for this nerdy post. I know how much people hate math and I used to be one of those people too…

UPDATE:

I’m happy to say that we’re not paying our Math Assistance Center fees for nothing because the tutors there have managed to combine their intellects and figure out my question! YES! And yes, it was staring me in the face and I had just missed it. Should’ve just gone to bed. Haha…

Artistic Doesn’t Mean Dumb

That moment when you tell someone whose major is Mathematics (or anyone in the STEM field for that matter) that you’re an Interior Design major and you get the “Ahh… So you suck at math” look. And the follow up question, “Well I think you probably won’t be able to handle Computer Science because it’s really difficult… I mean, you’re in Interior Design. You must be more artistic…”.

Yes. He said all that. I’m wearing my pi shirt today. Why would I wear a pi shirt if I’m not the least bit interested in math? I was also a science student for 5 years in high school.

image

My Pi Shirt

Besides, why does being artistic suddenly make you dumb in anything technical or sciencey??

I am both artistic AND technically inclined! Otherwise, how can I study a program that focuses on the technical aspect of design like drafting, lighting theory, architectural presentation, AutoCAD and the like?

The ignorance that people who are artistic can’t possibly be good at math needs to end.

Just like the stigma against mental illnesses and people who suffer from it! #IAmStigmaFree

That last bit there has nothing to do with my post today but I just attended “Shattering the Stigma” workshop in school today so I wanted to just mention that quickly.

The Night I Realized Who My “Pit Guy” Was

How many of you here are fans of How I Met Your Mother?

For those of you who are, you might remember an episode in Season 8 – specifically Episode 11 – The Final Page – where Ted Mosby was so worked up over his old architecture professor who had told him that Ted will never be an architect. Ted was very upset that said professor declined to attend a momentous ceremony at the opening of a building that he had designed. He decided to confront his professor and rub it in his face that he, Ted, is now an accomplished architect. This episode brought up the concept of the “pit guy” in which there is someone in your life that you’ve obsessed over for so long that you’d throw them into a pit like in the fashion of Silence of the Lambs. In Ted’s case, his “pit guy” was Professor Vinnick, the professor who had invalidated him.

When I saw this episode a year or so ago, I was stunned. It resonated with me. It resonated with me so much that I realized how much I related to Ted. I realized that I had put a bunch of people into a pit and had locked them away there (except in my case, it’s a basement with bars like a prison).

The reason I even bring this up in this post is because after years of trying to find her, I have finally found my high school math teacher on Facebook. It was all a coincidence too. I was just scrolling through my feed on my phone when suddenly the “People You May Know” section popped up and there she was. My high school math teacher. Someone I have thought about consciously and unconsciously for the last 10 years.

I clicked on her profile and sent her a message asking her if she was indeed the teacher that I had been looking for for so long. She responded almost immediately and yes! She was the teacher!

At that point, I had thought to myself, “Good! Now I can show her just how accomplished I am now with my math skills! She was wrong to have said all those things about me and to tell me that I was lazy and hopeless! I’ll show her!!!

I was so excited to tell her that she was wrong. That I was misunderstood since no one noticed that I had ADHD and was struggling to keep up with school. That I was not lazy or hopeless. That I received an A+ for Algebra and Trigonometry 1, I’m currently receiving A’s for my quizzes and tests in Algebra and Trigonometry 2, I’m now a registered tutor who is available to teach Algebra and I’m on my way to earning a Minor in Mathematical Science (yes, that’s my goal).

After making sure she remembered who I was, I went ahead and told her of my achievements in Math. It didn’t take long for her to respond with “Wow – :thumbs up: :thumbs up: :thumbs up:” She told me that I no longer have a phobia for math and that I must have had a really good teacher to get me out of that rut. She was genuinely happy for me and we spent the rest of the conversation catching up as she was very interested to know more of what I’ve been up to.

I even told her of my ADHD diagnosis and how that had contributed to my inability to understand her when she taught me math. She then confessed that she often feels helpless to assist students like me – the ones who are clearly smart but have no motivation or interest to continue. It hit me then that I had never considered how she must have felt about my failures in math and all the bad grades I got. I had never considered that she felt bad for me and felt bad that she couldn’t help me.

I had always thought of her as the harsh teacher – the one who was strict with grading, the one who expected a lot from her students, the one who had put me down and said some mean things. I still remember the time that she had scolded me outside of the classroom and that incident had brought me to my tears. I still remember how I could never face her after that and how fearful I was of her. Suffice to say, I didn’t have many positive memories of her. I mean, I like her enough to want to keep in touch. I respect her tremendously as I had always thought that she was a strong woman with amazing math skills.

After our short conversation, I realized that she had tried her very best to help me and her harsh words to my young ears had though been perceived negatively by me were actually words from a frustrated person who was well meaning but perhaps lacked the necessary vocabulary. After all, we were both Chinese and in our culture, we often don’t praise our young.

I had been so excited to contact her to tell her of my achievements and to rub it in her face – essentially to inform her of how wrong she was of me. Instead, I came face to face with the moment in the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted Mosby realized that in the end, the person you threw into the pit was really yourself all along. I had taken all of my math teacher’s negative words, internalized them, convinced myself that I was bad at math and will never amount to anything in life and had replayed negative scenes in my head over and over until all these thoughts became facts of my life. So for the next 10 years, I lived my life with the strong feeling that I was bad at math and was a hopeless failure.

Ted Mosby's Wisdom To His Children

Ted Mosby’s Wisdom To His Children

I had effectively put myself into the pit of my mind to live in hopelessness and despair, to fumble in the darkness and to suffer in lonely silence. I realize that now. I realize now why that episode had resonated with me so much. It’s because at that point in time, I realized that I had put myself in a pit and I think it took an entire year and tonight’s conversation with my ex-high school math teacher to hit home.

I had expected fanfare and a tearful realization from my high school teacher that she had wronged me. I had expected to be euphoric like a boxer who had just given a knock-out punch and is now dancing around the ring like the winner deserves to. I had expected to feel good to tell my teacher that I am succeeding in math the way she had never expected me to. I had expected a sense of peace.

I don’t. Instead, I realize now just how much pain I’ve put myself through. And like Ted Mosby said, there is only one person who can let me out of the pit. And that person is me.

Perhaps now I can stop beating myself up and feeling guilty at every single thing. Perhaps now I can learn to face my shame, my anger, my frustrations, my despair…

At least one of the traumas in my life has now found its closure. Though I didn’t receive any fanfare or overwhelming sense of peace, it did bring about this epiphany which I am truly thankful for.

Of Pi and Math Geekery

image

Pi

image

Pi Vs Tau

These were my #Inktober drawings for today. I have a fascination with Pi now for some reason.

I think it has to do with the fact that I have been using pi a lot in Trigonometry and have a newfound respect and interest for math.

I think I’m beginning to become a math nerd. Wow. Words I never even imagined could ever be used to describe me in the past. I’ve definitely made leaps and strides in changing my life this year.

I’ve done things I never though I’d ever do – like having an interest in math, going to therapy, being more mindful.

It still blows my mind (and I know I’ve mentioned it so many times now in this blog) that a person with no math skills growing up could now learn to not only be good at it but also love it. Math was my arch nemesis in school back when I was a kid but at age 30, I’ve realized that I just needed to be taught differently and have patient teachers. Now that I know that, I realize that I can do anything I put my mind to!