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30 October 2002 @ 05:27 pm
When It's Cold I'd Like to Die  
So - I complain a lot about Real Analysis. About how I put a lot of work into it, and nothing happens. As of today, my grade for this class is within epsilon of a D. This is taking into account the notion that I aced the make-up portion of the mid-term. And there's no way in Hell anybody did that. Except maybe Ian. Damn you Ian!

(but I'm actually not mad - I envy your mad analysis skills, yo)

I have never gotten a D before in my life. For those of you who have never known this pleasure, it's not exactly a liberating kind of feeling. In high school, I was a hardcore straight-A kid. And not to sound like somoe pretentious elitist asshole, but high school was easy. I didn't have to study - none of the classes were challengin. I never had to stay up all night unless I was uber-procrastinating again. In college, I learned that the world of post-secondary education is bound there were more important things than grades. But grades still matter. Especially when it's a fucking D. This is not the long-dead uber-perfectionist in my head who threw a pissy tantrum when I got a B in Phy Ed sophomore year from that Swenson bitch. This is the superego of Doc wondering just how badly his abilities have crashed and burned, and what the likelihood of a salvage operation is.

Yes, I stayed up all night again last night. Yes, I know I'm getting too old for this shit. But you know what? I actually think better when my ass is on the line. My mom always says - if it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done. I learned a lot of things from my mom - and this is probably the least useful right now. Procrastinating, for me, is my worst vice. See - right now I'm trying to get in touch with a bunch of people when what I really should be doing is homework. For Real - due Friday. Yeah - see, the class never ends. And I don't know how much more I can keep up. My mental energy level is not where it's been in years.

Granted, I've been through some pretty harrowing shit in the last three years. I had just started feeling the pressure of the Math/CS double major thing when I had a small bowel obstruction. (i.e. peristalsis stops in your small intestine from irritation, so you can't digest food, and your intestines fill up with undigested food until you can do nothing but puke) I had to leave during finals week to go to the hospital. I was in the hospital a week - with no diagnosis as to why I had an infection perfectly typical for a life-long drinker of 45, or, somebody with Crohn's disease. So, chalk up mental anxiety number two (number one being the depression - but that's another story). WIsdom teeth out, then pneumonia - so chalk up another 2.5 weeks of bedrest. I slept on a bunch of people's couches while I was back in the Cities, finishing up finals crap. It was near the end of August (the 23rd, in fact) when my family, in our Dodge caravan, collided with the ditch-digging machine on Highway 8. My brother Mike fractured his arm and spine - my mom had broken ribs and scarring from the seatbelt - my brother Pat had internal organ damage and bleeding. My dad was driving - both of his ankles, right knee, left hip - pulverized. He walks with a cane now. Probably will for the rest of his life.

And me? Except for the bruised joints, I was fine.

And I hate myself every day for that - every god damn day of my life.

And I carried all of this into Fall semester - whereby I dropped Real Analysis (taught by Saxe) for the first time, and Adv. Symbolic Logic. I didn't take more than three classes a semester after that - because even when it was only two and some independent studies, I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't think hard enough. I didn't have that will to go on that I see in so many of you.

Waking up for me is hard - every day. Sometimes, I want somebody to mug me and kill me - it would all be so much simpler that way.

Oh, and again - I'm not planning on committing suicide, for those of you who are thinking what I know you're thinking.

I am, once again, seriously considering withdrawing from Real Analysis. If you have something to say, I'd highly suggest you say it now - I need input, because I don't have the energy to solve this all by myself.

PS- The usual reaction to any one of these stories is, "I'm sorry." It's okay if you're sorry - I'd rather you said something than bide your time in silence. I think everybody on LiveJournal could use some of that right about now.
Jennyguipago on October 30th, 2002 05:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know if this'll help any.
My "sob" story.

My freshman year of college I went berserk. I was no longer myself. My best friend was dying before my eyes, I had overworked myself in high school to the point of no return and I craved contact with people. I made it through the first semester okay. I got my first F ever in my life though. In Chemistry. I was crushed. Through high school I was an honor roll student with a few B's thrown into the bunch. I left high school my senior year to go to college and the lowest grade I recieved was a low B-/high C+.

Then there was that damned F in Chemistry I got my freshman year. I ranted, I raved and I became insanely depressed over it. It only got worse the next semester. I put my best friend to sleep (my dog.). She had been with me for 13 years and through most of the hard times.

I went crazy with grief and guilt. Spring semester I failed all but 2 classes, literally. The depression hit me hard, I knew I was smarter than that, I just didn't really care at that point. I couldn't see past my own fingers. I clung to everything and let my brain rot.

So, I took a semester off. When I finally went back it was because I felt the need to continue. I wanted to study and to make something of myself. But I was still having problems.

My grandma died in a routine operation that spring through neglect on the hospital's part and the attending doctors'. Completely unexpected it was a blow that I didn't need. I barely made it through Chemistry II (Yes, I finally passed chem 1) and the other classes I had that semester. I didn't do near as good as I could of.

That was less than two years ago. I still have problems concentrating. I look at the pile of homework in front of me and the number of classes left to take and it just never seems to end. Because of my asthma I'm drugged up or exhausted half the time I should really be working and in class and unable to concentrate. Which means I have to force myself to study even harder. Which sucks.

Last semester (spring '02) I caught a nasty nasty virus that would not leave me alone. The virus itself left me beddridden for 5 days where I could not move. I should have stayed in bed another two weeks. Then the expected affect on my lungs surpassed anything I've been through before. I would wake up gasping for breath three hours before class, struggle to breathe and when I finally could breathe again I'd pass out and not move for hours.

I had doctors' notes and sick days called in. I studied twice as hard as I could, but it didn't help for two of my 6 classes. I couldn't learn Biochem on my own and I couldn't be there for Lab Experiences to help out.

That's when I had to make my decision. I could take the F's I was recieving in those classes or I could drop/withdraw. There was no way I could ever catch up, none at all. So I made the decision to have a W put on my transcript for both of them. It doesn't look good on there, but it looks a hell of a lot better than an F.

Basically, I guess, what I'm saying is you're not alone. I'm not sorry, because damn it, it's good to know that I'm not alone either because it's gotten really really lonely up here above this pit of boiling lava and I'm getting sick of telling myself to buck up.

The other point I'm trying to make is that if you think that you can catch up on your Real Analysis class do it. Talk to your prof, do whatever it takes, but do it. Take the damned D work it up to a C. But if you don't think you can do it this semester then chill and drop it. If you can get a better GPA without it don't feel like a loser because you aren't.

You aren't the only one who's had difficulty in school. That's something it took me 3 years to realize. Some of the people I admire the most have failed classes and dropped out of them. It's not just you, it's not just me.

Cheers and grins,
Do You Wanna Be Free or You Wanna Be Right?malcubed on October 30th, 2002 05:51 pm (UTC)
Whenever you're down, you should try to...

Do what I do...

Start singing Porcelain to yourself with the Swedish chef voice. It produces a state of mind in which active depression is too much a fashion statement.

Not that there's anything wrong with fashion. Now that Versace's dead, anyway.

I would have more useful things to say if it weren't for my lack of useful things to say. Tough shit. You have my sympathies. I'd say, "Let's go to Cheapo," but everyone else keeps saying that to me which is why I've spent something like $50-60 on 8 CDs in the last week. And I've still only seen one of the dozen or so new CDs I desperately desire to have. Sigh...

Back to your problems. You should try going on a crazed rampage. It's easy. Just find someone you don't like, then rip their throat out with your teeth. After that, separate and burn their organs in order of mass as a sacrifice to the math gods. It's how I made through Calc. 2 in High School.
atelierlune on October 30th, 2002 06:46 pm (UTC)
For You
I would hug you, if you weren't somewhere other than Here right now.

I believe strongly in finishing what you start. I also believe in you. Doing poorly sucks rotten, infested balls. But giving up? No. That's worse.

If it matters, in the same vein as Ian's sentiment, I won't like you less, no matter what.

The thing is, you have to survive this. You know Pellowski, that senior who got hit by a car last spring? I had to pull up some of his obit information at work. He was something like 2-3 months away from walking out of school and leaving the whole burning house (as the Heian poets called it) behind. So bloody close. There is a reason why you're here. I say that strictly from looking at the facts you have laid out before me, all the times when you could have just folded up like so much paper. I think you do have the will to go on. It's just buried under a lot of stuff.

It is a testimony to your own personal growth that you have stuck things out thusfar. And if that doesn't count for anything, this school is more baka than previously imagined. I felt ashamed when I went from an effortless A-student to a B and C person here similarly, but hey, it's a different world. And that's what I had been aching for in all the years prior. At the end of the day, the grades can go straight to Sheol if the rest of you isn't right.

I'm not seeing it all from your eyes, but I've always thought you were awfully strong and brave. And I hope you never stop being that way. But I've said so so many times now, it must be getting old.

That's my two cents. You know how to reach me.
Abra SWcloudscudding on October 30th, 2002 07:07 pm (UTC)
Well, I did flunk out of college...but it was my own damn fault, and not because I lacked brains. (honestly)

The crucial question is:
Do you think you can catch up to a C by the Final (assuming a decent grade there)?

If so, go for it. I put off all the extra-credity stuff, the realization that I was well-and-truly screwed, until a week before the final. There was no way in hell I could have recovered enough extra credit by that point to pull out of it.

You've realized it now. That puts you a giant step ahead of me.

If you want to withdraw because you're tired and worried and feel like you're sinking in quicksand, but you have the nagging feeling that if you really tried, that if you sat down and laid it all out for the professor(s) and asked for help, you could make it...well, listen to that nagging feeling.

Choosing to listen to the nagging feeling that tells you (not you specifically, just the impersonal "other" that 'you' means) is a valuable lifeskill.

It could save you many years of being a temp before getting your head straightened out and yourself on the path to what you want.

I believe you have the intelligence to figure out what steps to take and the will to take them.

Bon voyage.
Hillarysusanofstohelit on October 30th, 2002 08:17 pm (UTC)

1) all nighters are stupid. you know that. but I'm telling you again anyway

2) if you don't need the class to graduate, stop it if it's that much stress. And since I know you don't need it for your cs major because it's an upper level math class...

3) most importantly, *big hugs* I just went to your place to give you one but you'd already crashed.

chesh on October 31st, 2002 06:48 am (UTC)
So this damnable thing
I think you can do it. However, I may be wrong, as I tend to think of you and Ian as being some sort of wacky math gods. Therefore, my assessment of your abilities may be flawed.

But you know what?
I am not the one deciding what you do with your life. You are the one. (Yes, big duh here.)
And while it's a nasty decision between staying and feeling like an idiot and possibly a failure versus withdrawing and feeling like an idiot and possibly a failure, I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out what the right choice is for you. But before you do, it might be wise to go see Bressoud and talk to him about this long and hard.

You can get mercy. You can get one-on-one help. You can get a heartless assessment of your talents and abilities. You can get an idea of where you stand vis a vis the rest of the class. You can get your heart wrenched out and stomped on. At least you'll be getting information.

Yeah, I went through this same crap already in "Pagans, Christians and Jews in Late Antiquity" (try saying that three times fast). I got lucky, though. I nearly choked on my pride and terror, but I finally got myself to go talk to Prof. Overman, get a couple extensions, some help, a lot of shoving in the right direction and some opportunities for extra credit, and I passed the class. C- is a passing grade.

Here's hoping Bressoud is feeling like a nice guy. Here's hoping that it's just a function of how hard the class is initially, not permanently, and here's hoping that Bressoud can clear a few things up for you relatively easily.

And if nothing else, while it may be a big fat W on your transcripts, I'll bet you money that most grad schools will be very understanding of one W, especially with the explanation you've got.
*hug* It'll all turn out fine in the end. If it's still ugly, it's not over.
masui on October 31st, 2002 12:30 pm (UTC)
i called you last night, but you were asleep.

um. there's so much more to say than i can type.

but maybe it all boils down to this.

if you are going to grad skool. grades are important...but they can be bypassed. acceptance is really a very arbitrary thing. GRE scores and recommendations can make a crap GPA look like a trifling matter.

if you aren't headed in that directions, jobs just care about the diploma, not the points.

what i really want to say, and don't have the time to develop, is...

Do you really want to do math? I really don't get the feeling that you do. In fact, I think you would really rather be doing something else but are stuck. That doesn't mean you don't *like* math. Look. I like Bio, I wish to hell that I'd majored in something else.

Finish this thing, or don't, but then walk away from it and move on. Look forward to what you want to be, want you want to do, what you want to live for.
i know, easier said than done.

but you've got fricking options.
(Anonymous) on October 31st, 2002 10:01 pm (UTC)
from kat
hey, there's no shame in pulling out of a class if to stay would mean to sell your heart and life and soul and energy to get nowhere; it's just not worth it. I'm sure you're tired of hearing other people's stories. Just suffice to say, if it's killing you and it always does then don't. If that means walking away, then that's fine. If it means coming to grips with just squeaking by too, then that's fine. moral of the story? you'll be fine. i guarantee it and if I'm wrong, well, you can slap *me*
XCorvisxcorvis on November 1st, 2002 12:11 pm (UTC)
I can't say much that hasn't been said already, but I will say this:

We are your friends and we will stand by you, no matter what.

And if you need anything - ANYTHING, we will try to help. You could probably call any of us at 4 am and ask us to bring you a coke. And we would. I would.

But I don't know anything about Real Analysis - sorry. Maybe a tutor?