May 5th, 2011

Rainbow || Rainbow northern lights.

(no subject)

I'm still alive.

Last night was absolutely terrible, hands-down one of the worst nights of my life. I hoped for 5 hours of sleep, made into bed for 4...and couldn't sleep, so possibly 2.5 terrible toss-turning hours, which is to be expected for my first exam of the session, sadly.

Woke up and pledged my allegiance to my McGongall hat. I put on my lucky thong and decided I wouldn't let anything go wrong. Unfortunately the universe doesn't always agree with my underwear.

Walking onto campus I saw CJ walking the other way, to where everyone else from the course was taking the exam. I had tears in my eyes as we hugged. I revised more on my way to campus but didn't get through all the information for one of the sheets I had. I just wanted to dive into the lake and sink to the bottom for a while, be in a place where I wasn't supposed to breathe...and then swim back to the surface, and truly appreciate my next replenishing breath.

I arrived at the building to find my name wasn't on the list. Asked someone nearby and he kindly told me someone would surely be out in a minute - but we're allowed into the exam 10 minutes early to look at our paper, and I knew at that point that if I had to speak to someone I wouldn't get that full 10 minutes. And I was still reading my notes. Cue tears.

Eventually a woman came out and explained the process of exams in HumSS. After everyone was headed in I spoke with her and told her I wasn't on the list; she brought me back to one of the staff rooms and asked a colleague. They saw I was upset and comforted me, got me a tissue. The first woman asked if I was a first year; I laughed. They complimented my teddy bear, which I had brought with me in my bag so her head was sticking out; they both threatened to steal her, haha.

Got into the room and had to hold down a panic attack. (Turns out I was down as a 'wheelchair/mobility' case and there was no seat for me; they brought one around.) I had Rupert (my giant squid figurine from ubiquitousmixie with me and held him as I read the questions. Rachel Carson's named popped out at me and some hidden part of me was so pleased with that, to see my (s)hero's name down on an exam paper...but it was a bit overwhelmed. I chose my first question.

4. Discuss the influence that a single individual (Rachel Carson, John Muir or someone else of your choice) has had on modern conservation.

So very different from the essay I had planned out. Stress was still eating at me, though, and I kept having to remind myself to breathe. My essay was pretty weak despite my love of Rachel Carson, though hopefully my background with her will make it evident that I did some extra reading. I'm not positive, though. I'm disappointed in myself regardless. I'm sorry, Rachel Carson. (But at least she came up. Thank you, lucky thong! I didn't mean to imply that my wearing a thong brought Rachel Carson around. Sorry again, Rachel!)

The invigilator had to come with me into the loo and stand in the room while I was in the stall. That has never happened to me before with regular exams, when not in with the medical people. For my 'break' (the whole reason I'm in with the medical group now) involved the invigilator walking up and down the corridor with me...which was useful, I'll admit is good for my hip. Altogether definitely not worth being away from all my friends as they take the same exams. Plus today they were on London Road campus, which has always been my favourite because exams in the Great Hall make me feel like a Hogwarts student taking OWLs or NEWTs! *Sigh.* But I made my bed, so...

Came back and chose my second question out of the two I could potentially answer.

3. "The botanic garden is an ark to save the world's plant diversity." Discuss this statement.

Ultimately another weak essay and I forgot to mention my favourite example (Brogdale Farm, which won't be far from me when I'm at DiaCon Alley - and it's curated/managed by Uni. Reading). Stress does terrible things to my brain. Finished the essay just in time and packed up. Thanked the invigilator and left.

Texted with friends. I also brought my ukulele, so I settled down under one of the trees outside and played a few songs to calm myself down. Many passers-by looked at me strangely but I don't mind. Started walking home. Watched the six ducklings on the lake, then the coot on the lake-side nest. Admired all the pollinators and other insects I could see. Loved and inspected the trees. Saw an old woman in front of me stop to check out some of the plants along the road (both of which I had previously stopped at as well) and smiled to think of myself as someone like her a few decades down the road. For a moment I had a little voice remind me that down the line what I'll be remembered for is being the sort of person who brings teddy bears and giant squid toys to exams, delights to see the name of Rachel Carson and plays ukulele after the exam is complete. Many of my course mates tell me they knew as soon as they saw the exam what question I would certainly be answering. That feels good, the short moments that thought can stick to my mean mind.

Home and napped. Not particularly peaceful or with much sleep, since it's exam time and sleep doesn't work well for me then. Chatted with Roberts about his exam. Watched a little Glee. Made pizza. Lora was here so we chatted and it was nice to have her around again.

But now I am back in the place of acknowledging tomorrow's exam. If today's was difficult because I knew what I should be revising and to what level, tomorrow's is terrible and difficult because I have no idea. The class was made up of student presentations (the whole of it) with handouts. There is no BlackBoard for the course, so we can't see the student presentations again. Most of us thought we would so many of us put reference lists in our presentations and not on our handouts (myself included). Some of the handouts aren't very good. All the past exam papers have very specific questions that most of us wouldn't be able to answer at this point. Ross Cameron (module convener) told us he would be changing the questions to be more general, so we can incorporate a number of topics - which means we just have to trust him, because he didn't give us any examples. (Usually if we don't have or can't go by past exam papers, we get a few samples and possibly some hints about what's likely to show up on exams.) The whole thing feels like a mystery and it's 10 to 9pm and my exam is at 2pm tomorrow and I don't know where to start beyond what I've done (copy up notes/print them out, write list of topics, decide which ones I wouldn't/might/would probably bring up on the exam). I guess I'll go check the news for current events. I don't even. Ugh. I'm so frustrated and angry but that doesn't help me revise.

I also hurt where my fibula is missing, and where my hip is fake, and in a whole lot of other places. I am a Debby Downer today. I'm angry at random crying bouts. I'm hoping that I am too exhausted for full-blown panic attacks. I'm thinking I actually will fill out an extenuating circumstances form, because my panic is worse than it has ever been for longer periods than ever. Even if it gets rejected.

Dear Rachel, I don't know how you managed to stand up to Congress in 1963 even as you were dying of breast cancer - or how you wrote a world-changing book in the same condition! I've just got a replaced hip and a wonky skeleton and I can't even get through my final year exams with a tenth of your grace. You were a remarkable person, Rachel. If I can be a quarter as great as you in my lifetime (in person, not in deeds or impact), I will have lived a successful and enriching life. I'll make it through this so I can finally drive up to Maine, where much of my heart lives too, and see your special spots. Would you help me search for a fairy cave on an August moon and a low, low tide? I'm not Dorothy Freeman but yes, Rachel, I would - in less than a heartbeat. I don't believe love is confined to ages, generations, time lines or the living so I can firmly say I love you, Rachel (always) and thank you - thank you - for inspiring me to live with integrity, rigour, compassion, wonder and a wholesome view of nature. You have pulled me through nearly six years of schooling and I am so close to finishing, but I know you'll stick with me for longer than that. Love, Kiwi


Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
[Rachel Carson]
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