Sunday, 28 September 2014

Missing me.

Is it weird that I miss being myself?

I miss feeling like myself, with my gregarious appetite and bouncy energy. Pneumonia is the longest illness I've ever had, I think, and even though it's not even a serious case -- it's only "mild pneumonia" I still feel like I'm running on 60% battery all the time. It's a strangely unpleasant feeling.

I went to the doctor for my second x-ray and he said that I'm doing great: on the mend, and I should be myself again in a few weeks.
"The body takes time to heal," he told me, when I asked him why my voice was so hoarse and weak.
So yeah. I miss me. I know I'm being a big baby, it's not even a serious illness compared to the really serious illnesses some people have, but I feel so alone and far away from Darren and my parents that it just makes me feel like crying because nobody can hug me and bring me soup. (And there have been times, embarrassingly, when I did lie in bed crying while I had a fever for six days... just because I felt sick and alone and missed my mom, dad, and fiance.)

On the bright side, going to the Engemann Health Center so often gets my blood pressure checked a fair bit. And the nurse told me that my blood pressure is great! I felt really happy and hugely relieved because I thought I might have developed high blood pressure, what with the stress and poor eating habits over the last year, but maybe my newfound appreciation for fruits and orange juice made me healthier again.

It's ironic that it took getting sick to make me take steps to get healthy. I don't think I'll ever be thin, or even slim, but I sure don't want to be in a position where I have a crap immune system or can't walk up the stairs at 40.

Part of why I'm blogging my heart out right now is to spark a part of myself that will make me feel like me again. Also, one of my blog readers tweeted me congrats on my engagement, which makes me feel like there are actual humans reading this blog and I'm not just talking to myself. I like sharing my experiences in my life, and this blog also helps me remember things that I otherwise would forget.

This weekend I'm staying home to work on my assignments, particularly getting started on my midterms because I'm taking a mini-vacation for the Red River Shootout in October. And the only way I can get away for a weekend during a semester at grad school is to work extra hard before the trip. I see my classmates in grad school going to Vegas a bunch of times during the semester and I can't help but envy them: they must be doing something I'm not in terms of time management. If I had more weekends off I could be in Austin more and not feel so wretchedly lonely and transportation-deprived in LA.

Speaking of transportation, the crime rate in the USC area is spiraling to a level that scares me. I literally have moments where I feel frightened while walking home from class at night - just last week I heard a woman shouting (at nobody?) down the street I was walking, and it was deserted. There are supposed to be campus security guards (we call them "yellow jackets") stationed at high-traffic corners, and sometimes there's one on my street but more than half the time there's nobody there. And it scares me, because a few days ago someone tried to rob a girl on the street next to my apartment, even though it was 8:00 a.m. and she was walking to school. So I've been taking the school bus/USC tram/shuttle service to and from class whenever I can, just to reduce the risk of being harmed. And the bus service really disappoints me sometimes, because the wait is long - it's supposed to come once every 30 minutes but most of the time it takes way longer - and during all "peak hours" the bus is always full and has to tell waiting students to wait for the next bus. That means another 30 minutes' wait. All my classes end late at night, then I end up waiting 40-60 minutes for the bus, which means I get home really late. It's tiring and contributes to worse health, imho.

What USC should do is invest more in security guards so students can walk home safely. And/or invest in an extra bus for peak hours... which can be identified just by asking the bus drivers. Overall, I find the transportation and security provided by the university to be better-than-nothing, but still disappointing because such a good - and expensive - university should be able to do better. Maybe there are internal issues it's facing that I don't understand, but from a student/consumer's point of view, I think the students' safety should be their number 1 priority. :( I feel bad that my parents are worried about my safety everyday while I'm here at USC:
"Just nine months to go," my dad said at the start of the semester. "Hope everything will be ok." 
On one hand, he could just be hoping everything will be okay in terms of me being able to graduate and get my Master's degree. Especially since I have a haunting failure of dropping out of law school at the end of second year, which comes back to worry me every now and then whether I'm a quitter or if I have it in me to finish what I started. But when he said it, I read it as "nine months to go, hope you will be safe in a high-crime area."

I should preface this concern about crime in the area by mentioning that over the summer, a USC grad student was killed while walking home from a study group. He was assaulted by a group of people, and then he died from his injuries. He was an international student from China, so the incident really struck a chord among the international student community - who tend to live in campus housing near the university. My Chinese friends are furious because they said the "yellow jackets" were practically nonexistent over the summer break, which is frustrating because many international students actually attend summer school over the break. So it's not like there are no students around to protect.

Two years ago, a pair of Chinese USC students were shot and killed in their car near campus. Same outrage happened... and then over time, I guess people forgot about it. I didn't even remember it when I applied to USC. And I figured the school would beef up security after something as tragic as that happening. I feel like they did improve security, and it's hard to control bad things that happen when there are so many poor and homeless people in the neighborhood... so the least they can do is provide an extra school bus during rush hours so students can take the school bus instead of walk.

I always try not to blog about negative or depressing issues on my blog, but I think it's time that I speak my mind about matters close to my heart. Do I regret choosing to study at USC? Of course not: it still has the top public relations graduate program in the world. Do I regret that the environment is like this? Yes, but it's pretty much wound in red tape and out of my control so the only thing I can do is take active precautions to lower the risk I put myself in.

That's all anyone can do, really. :(