The first few weeks of the Spring Semester

In my last post the new semester had started, but I had not actually made it to class due to having a stomach flu. That first week I made it to class two whole days – Wednesday and Thursday. I at least got to meet most of my professors, but did not meet my professor for Introduction to 2D Design until the following week as she was out due to having, you guessed it, the flu. There seems something rather symmetrical in that, actually. Just to round out the fun of the first week, I ended up going to the emergency room on Friday with gastro-intestinal issues related to the flu with which I though I had finished.

I can recall with clarity my youth when I loved to be home sick instead of at school, especially when I had something as iron-clad as a trip to the ER to back me up on my legitimate absence. Now I find myself somewhat resenting my body for getting sick and I’d really much rather be in even my least favorite class than at home sick. Around the time I arrived in the ER, I was actually supposed to be interviewing for a on-campus job with technical services. I think it’s more than fair to say that I really would rather have been at the interview!

Fast-forward a few weeks and I’m firmly settled into my new routine, including that tech services job. (Yay for Semi-gainful employment!) Monday and Wednesday are my ‘long’ days – starting with my first class at 10:00 with my last class ending at 20:00. The new job has me here a few extra hours, but for some of those hours I was just hanging out in the LGBTQ center chatting with people anyway. (I do still get one day a week which I get to do that. This makes a good balance between being social with other students and getting a little income.)

Being here in Wisconsin it should come as no surprise that we’ve had several days of very hard snow. Thus far, I have only had one class canceled due to snow and that was a decision by the professor, not the school. While the school has closed due to snow twice this semester, both closings were for evening classes and neither affected me directly. The one canceled class did allow me time to catch up on some non-school related activities, although to be honest I kind of wish I had not already been dressed when I saw the email about the cancellation — I could probably use the sleep!

I should also post thoughts on individual classes, but I’m not going to do so right now. (I’m writing this during some down time at work and I’m off to do a walk around before I go home for the evening.)

Now may be better than Then

Although going to college now presents many challenges to me, I’ll say that there are absolutely many advantages over going at an age when I traditionally would have gone. If I had entered college straight out of high school, it would have been in the fall of 1988 and most likely would have been a state college in North Carolina. Both of these bring up several issues on a personal level and some relating to my chosen field of study.

As I said in my introductory post, I am majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Web Design. The field of computers and programming has advanced so much in the last twenty-four years that it’s difficult to know where to even being with the changes. There were certainly programming classes back then and even personal computers, but they were pretty different than what’s offered now. My minor absolutely did not exist yet. The Internet did exist in 1988, but Tim Berners-Lee had yet to write his proposal for  HTTP and the first ‘webpage’ wouldn’t be around for another three years or so. The concept that businesses would one day not only actually pay people to code these things, but really wouldn’t even be taken seriously as a business if they didn’t have one, was as incomprehensible as a business routinely advertising by skywriting.

Speaking of things that (mostly) didn’t exist in 1988 …

After my first actual meeting with my UW student advisor, I was wondering around the student service area – taking care of financial arrangements, making sure I was properly registered, that sort of thing. There was a sign pointing to the different student service departments available and one of the listings was for the Student LGBTQ resource center. I happen to be bisexual, and I’m very comfortable with this fact, but I didn’t come out to more than a very few friends until I was 21 … which would have been about  my third year of college if I had gone in 1988. While I know there were some LGBTQ organizations in the NC area in the late 1980’s, mostly they were at private schools (Duke University being a noted example) and were certainly not officially endorsed by the school! Some histories of such organizations talk about how progress was when the school administration moved from a policy of unquestioningly expelling a student for being gay to “only” strongly suggesting counsellings and other cohesiveness to “correcting” their behavior.

OK, make no mistake, I’m going to school to further my education and to get my degree. Assuming I’m not being actively discriminated against, I don’t think I actually need such a center anymore than I need one for any of the many other subcategories which could be used to describe me. Unfortunately my orientation is one such category which has been used to discriminate against people … including myself. Having such an organization – and one recognized and actively condoned by the school – means a great deal to me. Also, although I didn’t exactly enjoy the discrimination I’ve encountered in my life, I’m glad that I can talk to my younger fellow students and tell them about how things really have changed for the better! (This doesn’t mean we should rest comfortably now, but that whole It Gets Better thing isn’t bullshit. It may take time, but it really does get better!)

I may have waited a long time to get started, but I really do think this was a better starting place; “Now” is better than then.