March 21, 2008

Fresh Start/Broken Ties

Before the appeal today, I had a quiet personal ceremony in the woods on campus. I thanked the place for all the knowledge that I'd gained there over the past 4 years, and I set my intention --to do the very best for the world in the most effective manner. I opened myself to the fresh start that was coming soon. I was excited for the new beginning either way: the opportunity to do well in school, live with Ben up here, and become an awesome vet with an ecological conscience; or the opportunity to begin a new, unknown life.
The appeal seemed more adversarial to me today than the one 3 weeks ago did. It seemed as if people had already made up their minds (and I supposed they already had, as I WAS officially dismissed last month) and were intent upon making any point of mine seem moot. Still, I presented myself with integrity, poise, and every bit of strong intention to continue the program.
As I left, I heard myself making continuous tones and I felt my teeth chatter uncontrollably. Tears ran down my face. I was overwhelmed. It was very intense, but I reminded myself of the joy I was about to experience of knowing what future I would have.
Bless my good friend Jessamyn for taking me in her arms, letting me make my weird siren sound as my teeth chattered, and making me tea and bringing me tasty food to ground me.
Soon after I'd calmed down, I got the call. "Hi, Alyssum? This is Angie Warner. It's not good. The Board is maintaining their vote for your dismissal. I'm sorry."


....*this is where you imagine the sound of whipping wind at night over the desert*....


and so, I am in a strange place in my life, a place, I think, many people never experience. Strange, indeed. Throwing away the 4 paper grocery bags full of syllabi feels cathartic, but wasteful (and I'm not talking about literal waste). Throwing away the JAVMA journals doesn't feel like anything at all, but I nearly started sobbing as I considered throwing away Wool & Wattles (the small ruminant and camelid newsletter...I kept them). Telling my V'08 friends with whom I began vet school that I finished 8 weeks before they graduate ("I finished before you, we didn't expect that, did we?!") was funny, ironic, and depressing. Exploring ideas with my friends of some possibilites for my future felt liberating and uncertain--I could see their envy, but maybe just a tad of gloating deep down too (or maybe those are just my own demons). Thinking about leaving my dance students seems absolutely unreal. Thinking about doing something else seems limitless, boundless, and also a little bit like a white light vacuum where my limbs and body will fracture into a million pieces without the rigid structure of a single goal keeping me together.

I am okay. One thing will happen and then another and I will be okay. I want to enjoy this moment of relief and freedom for as long as I can, but I also want to find something eventually that will feel as worthwhile and meaningful as what I originally set out to do by going to vet school. I am mourning a great part of me that was put to rest today. That's not easy. But I'll be okay.

March 20, 2008


I had a crapcrapcrap day yesterday, just as confused as ever. But I woke up this morning with resolve and energy. I collected myself out of bed to shower (for the first time in days...), put on some Yo-yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin to calm and clear my head. Now I'm printing out my material to share with the Board about how I will try my very best to improve my grades next year. I'm going to get my hair cut to start fresh. One way or another, this is a huge jumping off point for my future. Today I am ready.

Thank you all for such loving support. It makes me feel like, though I run this race alone, I have people cheering me on as I go.

Did I ever tell you about the best foot race I ever ran? I was on the track team in high school at Powell County, and I was the 3rd baton carrier in a 3200m relay. As I grabbed the baton from my teammate, I managed somehow to step out of my shoe. Half way around the track, I hear from across the field, from the stands, "SHE'S ONLY GOT ONE SHOE!" and people started freaking out and screaming for me! I was never a very good runner, so I wasn't very exciting to cheer for, generally. Now, as my gait sounded lopsided--tsch, fWAP, tsch, fWAP, tsch, fWAP--with one sneakered and one socked foot, the crowd was incredulous that I didn't stop. As I passed them the first time around the track, everyone was screaming my name, everyone was laughing in an encouraging manner, everyone was standing and yelling, "GO! GO, Alyssum, Go!!!" I went! I ran my second lap faster than I had ever run a lap.
My coach fondly tried me out in a new position in the team each week, sure that I'd do well somewhere. I think he was a little bewildered that I was never particularly good at any event, but he was even more surprised that my best race was somehow due to a distinct handicap. In retrospect, I think I'm not a very competitive person, but I do like to perform for people and give the audience a reason to get excited. Maybe that had something to do with that day. Mostly I don't have the raw talent to be a natural champion. But I have stick-to-it-iveness, and any sense of failure usually subsides quick enough for me to get back on my feet.
And keep running.
Even without a shoe.

I love you all, thank you for supporting me and cheering from the sidelines. It helps!

March 19, 2008

What Happened?

I remember getting up early, going to a yoga class with Mom, getting a smoothie, heading over to my Honors class at UK, going to a couple other classes, spending a few hours doing homework and then going to a dance class. I remember having time and energy for creative endeavors as simple as spray painting a cardboard box silver and turning it into a toilet costume for halloween. I used to like school. It used to be enjoyable and the challenge suited me.

Now, I've spent all day in bed, aching for no reason, looking around my room at some books to read "when I have time," some creative projects to undertake "when I have time," the mess I need to tidy up "when I have time." I have time right now. I am not in school. And yet I have spent all day in bed, unsure of my future, unsure of most things. I spent the day not writing my appeal that I have to give tomorrow.

Depression is what happened I guess. How does one disentangle one's self from depression that has lasted 4 years? It's crippling my abilities to be a good student. It's crippling the rest of my life as far as I can tell, too.

March 17, 2008

Epiphany. (in the nick of time!)

I have been planning on appealing to the school to allow me to repeat 3rd year and continue my vet education. I've been planning to do that on a very pragmatic level (makes sense, I already have so much time and $ invested, I'd probably regret not appealing). But I was sort of expecting to either let them make the decision (You're out anyway), or to make the ultimate decision myself over the summer if they allowed me to stay (should I really continue? or should I walk away?).

I had an epiphany last night that settled the unease. Here's my thinking.

There are two ways that I have been thinking about the situation and what I should do.
1. I am exhausted. I need a break. Having a job of any sort sounds good right now. I've been miserable up here in so many ways, and being given the opportunity to stop sounds like heaven. Starting fresh would be so nice.
2. I want to be a vet and I believe in my reasoning for becoming a vet (ecology! conservation!). It won't be easy, but working on figuring out how to do well academically here will probably have positive influence on the other parts of my life (ie, being more organized would help in many facets)--it would be a growing experience.

I think the problem for me was that I was flip-flopping between the two ideas. People keep telling me that I have to listen to my heart/what my soul is telling me. I finally figured out last night that
a. these are both TRUE statements for me. (my soul/heart have 2 truths!)
b. these are both VALID ways to go about making the decision at hand.
Hence, my confusion.
c. (here're the main points I was missing!) thought #1 is based on my experience of the past and thought #2 is based on a potential version of the future.

CLARITY! all of a sudden, it all became clear. One of the things that has been so upsetting to me is that my progress in school has been altered/decided by the fact that they look at my transcript (past) instead of my knowledge and potential (present & future). I don't want to make the decision for myself using a method that I don't think is particularly helpful in the long run. I have always made decisions from a place of optimism, drive, and some idea of how I want things to be in the future (improved). I have never made a big decision from a place of being beaten down or stuck in the past, and I don't intend to start now!

So, now, I finally know that I will not only be appealing on thursday, but that I will know WHY I'm appealing on thursday. I know that I want to continue bettering myself and the world around me. I know, too, that whatever decision the EFB comes to, it'll be okay. I will have gone in there with pure intentions to continue. If they decide they still want to dismiss me, I know that I can still work on bettering myself and my planet in some other fashion, and that will be okay. If they decide to accept my appeal and allow me to repeat 3rd year, I will have a challenging but rewarding year ahead of me.