The Student-Blogger: A Life

Kate here.
It’s been absolutely ages since I had a place for more personal blogging, so some of this may happen occasionally. Most of you readers don’t know me or much about what I’m up to outside of this little space, so here’s a bit of why my posting has been a bit haphazard. Currently I am:

  • Writing here
  • Writing very occasionally for Friendly Atheist and Teen Skepchick (a few times per month)
  • The Volunteer Military Campus Organizer for the Secular Student Alliance
  • The Communications & Marketing Intern for Foundation Beyond Belief
  • President of our university’s Secular Student Alliance
  • The teaching assistant for a weekend astronomy class for gifted children.
  • A third year double major in Human Development & Psych Services and Psychology

I’m really not sure how or if I’m managing to make this work. To some extent, I survive by knowing that my internship and TA position expire at the end of this quarter of school. There’s simply no way I could keep this level of constant productivity going. I also got really good at packing meals. (I’m actually writing this post over Indian food I packed for dinner, eaten quickly and while still too hot in the grad student lounge between class.)

I like to pretend I still know how to wake up early, but I usually stop snoring around 9:00. Over coffee and fruit, I plow through the stuffed inboxes of four email accounts. I read every comment on my posts, respond to student group issues, co-coordinate planning of Carl Sagan Day Chicago, figure out what articles and chapters I have to read for the day, submit a proposal for a required three-month internship, deal with payments and rent for the house I live in with 11 other students, and talk to everyone on the Teen Skepchick back channel (best people. Ever.)

Two hours later, my coffee is cold and I’ve done most of the fiddly little things on my to-do list. I’m impatient and have too much energy, so I walk into town to grocery shop and find a different location to set my computer.

Laptop open, and back to work. I usually write two or three pages of essay assignments and read a few book chapters and research papers for various classes. Northwestern runs on quarters–three ten week sessions in the time most schools have two semesters. While it’s wonderful to be able to double major without taking on extra courses, in practical terms, quarters mean that every three weeks I have two weeks of finals or midterms. Stresstastic.

My classes are in the evenings, so by the time I finish, its getting dark and I want nothing more than to curl up in bed. I do, quite happily, but spend the first hour of communing with my pillows in intern work, transcribing or writing.

I love all of my [volunteer] jobs. There’s not one I would give up for more free time. This movement is a glorious one–one that doesn’t demand years of experience or anything but a will to make something change. So it takes a little less sleep, a little more coffee to make this work? It’s worth it.

Great White Sharks: Verdict? Adorable.

I know I’ve shown great love towards otters and sea turtles, but I think we should talk about the one creature I love best of all: The Great White Shark.  When I was three, I walked in on my mom and some friends watching Jaws, which I was not supposed to see because it was too scary.  Instead of being scared I thought it was probably the coolest thing I’d ever seen, I decided then and there that I wanted a great white shark as a pet, like Flipper, but significantly more awesome.  I mean, we lived right by the ocean, why couldn’t I have a shark that would follow me around whenever I went to play on the beach?

Perhaps you have a sense now of what a weird little freak I was.


Young Ashley Pets Invisible Shark

Want

Awesome T-shirt

Made of win

Great White or Greatest White?

Om Nom nom

:B

5 random things I’ve been thinking about

1. Toilet seat sheets.  If you’re too grossed out to sit on the toilet, is a sheet really going to make it better?

The show I’m working on, these two women who were otherwise not like high maintenance said they would never use a toilet that wasn’t their own without a toilet sheet.  What?  Seriously?  Was I raised by weirdos because they never said don’t put your butt on the toilet?

2. Ableism and online dating.  Particularly in the mental health department, but also in general.

Now I appreciate that online dating attracts a somewhat skewed group that has the semi-anonymity of the internet to make unusual demands, but I have seen so so many guys profiles where they say they don’t want to date “anyone who’s ever been on anti-depressants” or “I don’t want to date anyone who has had any health problems”.  These are not necessarily guys who, in my opinion, have girls knocking down their door and they’re just trying to filter out some people by being picky.  And I realize we’ve all got things where we aren’t able to have a nuanced viewpoint, but here are guys lumping in people with asthma with people with cancer, or people with well-treated depression with untreated schizophrenics.  I get how taking on a significant other with terminal cancer or an untreated illness might be difficult, but are we going to scratch out every one with a health quirk?

At first I thought, oh it’s just this one guy who had a bad experience, but I’ve seen it so many times I just don’t know what to think.  Is it really that awful to date someone who at some point in their life was depressed or has some other chronic illness that’s well under control?

3. Also related to online dating, why do guys who are super Christian message me advertising their good Christian morals when I state that I am an atheist?  I mean, I know why, they don’t read, but I mean really.

4. Equating religion with race.  There’s a super long thread over at Pharyngula where people are accusing PZ of being a Nazi for posting a picture that a cartoonist drew of Muhammed because there are people in Europe who are racist against Muslim immigrants.  I’m just not sure “racist” is the right word.  “Religionist” maybe?  Anyway, critiquing a religion isn’t a violent act, no matter how crudely done, and I don’t understand how blasphemy is racist.

5. How difficult or impossible it is for the religious to understand that there is value and meaning to life regardless of whether there is an afterlife.

Useful Links:

Dirty Toilets

PZ

Sully on Tragic Atheism

The most horrifying thing ever:

(((:~{> Muhammad approves this message

Tuesday, April 20th

I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did. - Marilyn Manson

I don’t like April 20th.  All day long people are telling me to have a happy 4/20 and making jokes about pot and stoner culture.  Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I hate that it’s on this day.  Every time someone says “4/20″ I feel pained.

It’s hard to believe that Columbine was as many as eleven years ago, on a Tuesday not terribly different than this one.  It was nearly the end of the school day when whispers started going around.  Not a lot of access to news in a high school, but people hear things.  I know they addressed it the following day, I can’t remember if there was an assembly or it was over the announcements, I do remember there were tears shed.

I was a freshman, and I’d very nearly survived my first year, only just over a month to go.  Of course, in high school time that’s eons, but there was a sense that I could make it.  High school is a horrible place and going to school was always a bit horrific.  I’d switched school districts, not made many friends, and dreaded the start of every school day.  That was, of course, about to get much, much worse.

Looking back, I’m torn between thinking the reaction to Columbine was completely absurd and totally understandable.  It hit a raw nerve.  For adults, it confirmed their fears that high schoolers were monsters and criminals; for high schoolers, it confirmed their fears that adults treated them like criminals and monsters.  It turned high school into a waking nightmare.

For the remaining month of school everything was topsy-turvy.  Parents were afraid to send their children to school, the students were afraid of the administration and each other, and the administration came down hard on anyone who seemed different.

Even I, one of the academic untouchables (people with scores the school needs for prestige/funding reasons), got called into the principal’s office for having been seen talking to someone who had worn a trenchcoat before.  I was terribly shy and hadn’t quite gotten the hang of being a smart ass in person rather than on the computer, but I was furious enough to tell them they were being ridiculous.

It would be hard to exaggerate how much high school felt like a prison.  Rumors always spreading.  Next year there would be metal detectors, see through bookbags — no bookbags.  Random locker searches, random pat downs and strip searches.  Don’t bring a birthday cake with a plastic knife or a utensil with your lunch.  Be well-behaved, be afraid and they might still punish you.  No one is safe.

They shortened lunch to just over 20 minutes, not actually enough time to get through the lines and eat.  They shortened the time between classes to 4 minutes, not enough time to pack your bag and get to the next class, much less go by your locker.  And woe upon you if you had to pee.  The hell of having your period while attending public school still gives me nightmares.  Mandatory pep rallies, the principal saying “Have a blessed day” over the announcements, nice kids getting expelled for no reason, back pain from the number of books we had to carry, you couldn’t leave if you didn’t feel well, you couldn’t leave if you needed something, you couldn’t leave to get lunch, you couldn’t give an Advil to someone else.

The people who graduated high school my year, 2002, had a unique experience — high school was bookended — Columbine our freshman year, 9/11 our senior year.  Both were collective experiences, we shared in the terror and catharsis of the rest of the country, but we were also unified in our resentment of the backlash from the administration.

I try to imagine how much different it would have been in college — where we would have been allowed to go home and watch the news instead of getting it in bits and pieces throughout the day.  How different it would have been to be too young to notice how much those two events changed the way the students were treated.  I wonder if those two events could have been less traumatic, if high school could have been less traumatic.

I don’t know.  I know that I will always hate high school, I know that I’d be incredibly reluctant to send my children into the public school system, and I know I will always try not to treat young people with contempt for the crime of being young.

And I will always owe a debt of gratitude to my chemistry teacher, Mr. Nance, who let us watch CNN instead of trying to have class the afternoon of 9/11.  It was an awful day, but it was a relief to see what was actually going on, instead of guessing which rumors were true.  We all watched, we all cried, and we all felt bad for Mr. Nance.  He couldn’t go home either.

Perhaps there’s something life-affirming about the fact that the largest celebration of 4/20 happens some 30 miles from Columbine High School, at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

How I feel today

Reminds me of the first time I saw Star Wars, which was when it was re-released in theaters.  I went home and cried afterwards because I was overwhelmed with how awesome it was as a film and how tragic and awful it would be to be any of the characters.  It was that movie, and my emotional response to it that first really got me interested in film.

I don’t know that many people have found A New Hope to be a heartwrenching experience, but I really did.  I guess a lot of things are profound when you’re 13, but as much as I’ve managed to block from my teenage years, that inconsolable sadness is something I think I’ll never shake.

Back in L.A.

First day back from my extended vacation.  Thanks to my surgery, it was nice and long and relaxing, although there are several days that I can’t quite remember most of.  For those of you worried, it was Breast Reduction surgery, so not particularly dangerous, though scary with the frankenboobs.  But it’s cool.

They removed 1320 grams, which is just shy of three pounds.  Which is a lot.

Desperately trying to get through a rewrite for ScriptShadow by the 11th.  I’m only a third of the way through the script.  So… yikes.

Update

Hey people who may be reading this, sorry for the long absence.  Recovering from the holidays and surgery.  Don’t worry, I’m fine, but not quite up to blogging yet.  Still having my every whim catered to by my family, so I’m just going to milk that for a while.  Only came back to mark some Eddie comments as spam.  Because they were kinda gross.

See you in a few days, promise.

Weekend Recap: Nominate me for Awards!

I am still sick, I have been sick for so so long.  I mean, I’m 87% better.  Which is to say I’m not totally exhausted but I’m still coughing and my nose is still icky.  I finished my course of antibiotics, so I’m guessing there’s nothing to do now but hope.

My posting is probably going to be erratic at best starting Tuesday — I’m going to be in South Carolina for a week.  I’m hoping to start getting some feelers for raising money there.

I was on set all weekend, shooting two different things.  I was script supervising the pilot for Alice and the Monster, which is from the same creative team as Gold: The Series, and then I “starred” in a makeover shoot from which I got a super cute dress that I wore to my company’s holiday party.  So, huzzah.

Also, you can nominate Gold: The Series and/or my editing of Gold for the Streamys.  They’re pushing for Gold to get Best Comedy and Best Ensemble.  Under individuals, you can nominate me for Best Editing, and you can nominate the super awesome Frederick Snyder for Best Director.  The site address is www.goldtheseries.com

That’s all for now!

Hollywood: Not for the weak

I very rarely get into anything particularly personal on this blog.  One, because it’s public, and two, because it rarely seems relevant to my career, which is the focus here.  But sometimes the personal and the public are a bit intermixed, and that’s what I want to talk about.  My health versus my career.

I have for the last few months been really struggling with extreme fatigue, dizziness and nausea.  This isn’t totally out of the norm for me, I have several chronic conditions which often take the wind out of my sails: allergies, asthma, depression and hypothyroidism.  Any of those on their own is usually manageable, but they pack a bit of a wallop all together.  On top of this, I’ve been to the doctor a half-dozen times since this started and they’ve tested for everything they can think of and they can’t find anything wrong.

This last week has been totally lost.  I was so fatigued that I cannot actually remember most of it.  It is extremely frustrating.  I manage to go to work which fortunately is a very low energy sort of job, but I struggle even there.  I haven’t managed to do much editing because I stare at the project and get overwhelmingly tired or motion sick.  I basically come home and lay down.  Last night I went to bed at 10pm and got up today at 1pm; it’s not yet seven and I am barely awake.  Obviously it is quite difficult to be productive, in writing or in anything else, when you’re that exhausted.

Film and TV are not careers for people with low energy.  If your personality doesn’t naturally exude the sense that you’re on speed, it’s a really tough business to be in.  It is probably a miracle that I got through the two years of film school with as little collateral damage as I did — one broken bone, one major case of bronchitis, three total emotional breakdowns, and three months of vomiting for unknown reasons that led to my current state as a vegetarian.

I could imagine nothing worse than letting my health dictate what it was I could and could not do with my life.  But sometimes, especially after weeks like this, it’s very difficult to believe that it’s not going to do just that.  Sometimes it’s hard not to go to the dark place and wallow in self-pity.  Hard to remember that this is just my struggle, and, though it’s different for each of us, it’s never easy.  I want to be able to offer advice to others, to make it and say, “See, my health didn’t stop me, and it won’t stop you!”  But all I know is that right now it’s really hard and sometimes fighting to survive in the film business just sucks.

But here is something nice, from a fellow writer at myothercareer.wordpress.com

Makeover

I’m going to probably be in a makeover show that “airs” online.  As in I’ll be getting a “style makeover” on air.  So that’s interesting.

Sam Saboura is the host apparently.  I don’t know much about him, if anyone has thoughts, let me know.  Though I’ll probably have thoughts as of tomorrow.

Yes, the show is about people with problematic body types.  Hooray being problematic enough to get cast?

The other thing that I thought was funny was that the show is for AOL productions, but the producer type in touch with me has a gmail address.