Thesis is going fine, still working through it. The last couple weeks have been rough. I was dealing with my own personal family stuff (all resolved, no need to worry!). However, over this past weekend, there was an unfortunate and tragic accident that involved people I care about. My enthusiasm for this project and anything in general at this point is almost non existent. I guess perspective does that to a person. I’ll see you all tonight.
Oh boy, say it ain’t so! I can’t believe this will be the final blog post of my academic career. I can vividly remember the dread I felt when I first learned we had to create our own blogs. I was certain I couldn’t do it. Convinced I was too old and that this old broad could never learn new tricks. But I was mistaken. Not only did I create multiple blog sites of my own, I also learned how to use Twitter and other important social media platforms, that helped showcase my various writings and musings. It’s been a wonderful and enriching experience. I plan to continue on in creating my very own website and my own blog after our thesis journey comes to an end. I’ve been inspired by all of you and everything we have learned together over the course of these last two years in the Writing Studies program.
I wanted to thank you all for laughing with me, crying with me, listening to me and most of all, for believing in me and my story. I couldn’t imagine going through this wild ride with anyone else. We all came into this program from different walks of life. and at crucial parts of our life’s journey. Now that I look back at our time together and all that we have shared, I realize we are all a lot more alike then we are different. Through our story telling, earnest reflections, open class discussions, and feedback. Even just the casual talk among friends and classmates about life, it became clear to me, that we’re all flawed human beings, carrying a burden of our untold stories within us all. And I swear I mean that in the most beautiful way possible. We’re all broken beings, myself included, and yet we came together at exactly the same time, the right time, the precise time, to meet and have all our compelling stories and lives collide.
As far as The Seashell I’ve made great progress. I was stalled out at times. I felt like a car that just wouldn’t start. It was like my old yet reliable 1999 Honda Civic. My very first car, that stalled out only twice, in over twenty years that I had it. It was old but reliable and it got me to where I needed to go. So having said that I know that regardless of how many times I may lose some steam and stall out, I will continue to push through to the very end. I will indeed get to where I need to be. I’m not finished yet, my story is still unfolding. It’s yearning to be told, and I’m eager to tell it. I know that when I finally submit the final product I will be pleased. It will also be a relief, a emotional cleanse and catharsis. It’s been unsettling at times, having to relive past hurt, pain and shame. It’s even harder when you choose to include your own flawed and fractured family in the telling of a already difficult and harrowing story.
This has been a highly sensitive journey, for a overly sensitive girl like me. But I know that the little, sweet, quiet Nives, or Nivey as my parents affectionately would call me. I know that the little girl who was confused by what was haunting her as a child, the young adult who was riddled with panic and unrelenting fears, and now today, the grown woman who is still cautiously walking her way through the fire, all of them, all facets and parts of me would be proud. Humbled and in awe of how far I have come and all the work I’ve done to get to this very moment in time. I remember days when I felt like I had fallen into a deep, dark well. I was at the very bottom, looking up, no rope to climb, no rocky ridges to help hoist myself to safety. Nobody was there to help me, I was all alone. I was just stuck, at the murky, lifeless bottom. But if I close my eyes tight enough and exhale long enough, as hopeless as my days and nights had been, I can always remember seeing even the slightest bit of light, shining down on me, from the very top of this dark, and dreary well. I’m thankful and blessed that I could always see at least some of the light.
Big virtual hugs and kisses to you all! I’m so very excited to walk with you all at graduation, even if its six feet apart. I’ll take it! We deserve it damn it! I’m counting down the days I get to cheer you on, as you each take that proud walk across the stage! WE DID IT! THANK YOU for trusting me with your tears, your fears, your laughs and most of all with your heartfelt stories. I will take what I learned from each of you with me, forever, throughout my next journey. I love and respect you all. BRAVO for all your hard work and dedication. Xo.
Sage advice from a dear friend. These last few weeks I’ve been very open and honest about the wall I’ve hit in my writing journey. I’m not exactly sure why? Maybe I’m trying to prolong the inevitable? That this journey will soon be coming to an end (oh, vey!). Maybe to try and stop my story from being told? I don’t have the answers, but I know that, this sound advice from my friend: “Just write it for you…” came at the most perfect time. Before the panic and the dread of having to complete my story within the next two weeks set in. Or before I had a total meltdown or existential crisis (whichever came first) that would hinder my writing. This simple sentiment was impactful and spurred me into the direction I needed to go in to reach the completion of my thesis. Sometimes a simple word from a friend, that may seem benign, is all the inspiration you need to just keep going. I would be nothing without my support system. I thank God for them everyday. Having said that, below I attached images of The Seashell. My idea was to make it look as much as an actual book as I possibly can. Below I included the cover, a dedication, a important quote that I believe speaks to my overall story and finally the Table of Contents, the parenthesis will be removed soon. I will also include an Acknowledgements page at the end, which I’m currently working on. Thanks again for all the encouragement along the way guys! I’m so very proud of each and every one of us! Xo.
If I’m being completely honest and transparent, which I believe is a very important element of our thesis work, I must say I’ve hit a writing wall, or an emotional wall this week. I had to take a step back from my work. Why you ask? Hmm? Good question! I’m not sure I have the answer. I just know every time I put my fingers to the keyboard keys, it was crickets. I just couldn’t type. It was as if some imaginary being was pulling my hands back, preventing me from typing. Silence, deafening silence is all I heard. I tried to change my settings and scenery by heading off to my local Starbucks and B&N. It helped in that I was able to create a cover for my memoir, I inserted the table of contents, I also put a dedication in my memoir as well as a special quote that one can read before starting my story. I must say seeing The Seashell start to look like a actual book, rather than just some stark, white, google doc pages, gave me the chills. The good kind! It started to, for the very first time in over a year, started to look like a actual book, a publishable book. I don’t talk about it often, maybe because my negative inner dialogue stops me: “Nives, this is great work, but not good enough to ever get published.” This negative, self defeating sentiment seems to be stuck on repeat in my mind. But the truth is, what I don’t speak into existence, but speaks to my heart almost daily, is the fact that I dream and ache of the day my memoir gets published. I just pray as our journey together comes to an end soon, that I start to believe in my own work, and start to explore the possibility that my memoir, my story, is in fact good enough, that I’m good enough as is. If I’ve learned anything throughout my graduate school voyage, it’s that I need to learn how to have, even if it’s just a little bit, I need to learn to have a little bit more of FAITH!
So you’re probably wondering what the above image is and why it’s in my blog post. Let me explain. This past weekend after finding myself in a writing rut, I needed an escape. Something to shake up all my senses. So I ventured off to NYC with a friend and went to of all places: The Museum of Sex! Ha! (My poor Catholic school nuns are cringing I know!) You’re probably wondering what’s wrong with me!? But it was exactly what I needed, without even realizing how much I needed it. I had heard about this museum over the years, and I was always curious. Sure it had it’s raunchy and over the top elements just as I had suspected. But it also had some really thought provoking and provocative exhibits, that made me appreciate the evolution and the deeper meaning of what sex, and sexuality is really all about. Again, you’re probably wondering what the heck this has to do with my memoir or thesis, so here goes. One of the featured exhibits was a ode to Betty Dodson who recently passed at the age of 91 in 2020. She was an American sex educator, artist, and a pioneer in the pro sex feminist movement of the late 60’s. I was surrounded by all her colorful and explicit artwork, some of which I must admit made me blush. And as I explored further with one eye closed, I came upon her own very own memoirs!
I was excited to see that this dynamic woman had in fact written not one, but two memoirs. Betty Dodson’s memoir: From Monogamous Wife to Sexual Explorer to Feminist Revolutionary and My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir is the story of one woman’s struggle to liberate female sexuality while enjoying her own. In the 70s, as the feminist movement evolved, focusing on various platform issues including equal pay and voter registration, Betty latched on to sexual liberation as a symbol for self empowerment. She quickly became the leader of the sex-positive feminist movement. And the rest is history. This was inspiring work! Although my thesis isn’t sex related, there is a chapter about how I lost my virginity, fell deeply in love and lost my way in life due to the intoxicating and toxic first love I experienced as a teenager and young adult. So I guess in many ways, sex does play a crucial role in my story, and the direction my life ultimately went in. I thank feminists leaders and icons like Betty for their bravery and the courage to speak out about women’s issues. Especially delicate ones such as sexuality, pleasure and sex. If it wasn’t for women like Betty, my own story may have never been told. Xo.
Excerpt from Chapter 6: Degenerate…
“She’s a nice girl, just here because she’s a little depressed. Go talk to her.”
I heard the doctor from the ER whisper outside the door of my hospital room. I was laying on my back in the lumpy, stiff bed. The kind nurse had given me a blanket to keep me warm because my lips were quivering. But the blanket felt itchy and rough. I so desperately needed something soft to touch or to fall into at this very moment. I pushed the blanket aside horrified at the thought of how many other patients before me had used it. It also had the faint odor of bleach or ammonia. Bleh. I continued to lay there staring up at the white sterile ceiling. The fluorescent lights were twitching and tweaking. As I squinted and started to see the blue and purple blobs form before me eyes, I wondered if this is what it would be like to look up from my own coffin. Before I could ponder that thought any further a young woman appeared by my bedside. I was semi startled and after a few quick blinks she slowly came into focus.
“Hi, there. Sorry if I startled you. I’m a case worker with the hospital. I was called in to talk to you today. I hear you’re depressed? She smiled sweetly.
I wasn’t sure if it was a question. Depressed I thought to myself? I guess so, maybe? But I was more amped up and out of control, like a meth head on a rabid binge. Depression actually sounded real nice right about now. The numbness, the void, the not caring. At this point I still cared, I cared too much. But if I had to pick my poison, depression it would be. I would rather be in a sedated state of being rather than the hyped up crazy girl I had become. The sounds of various hospital machines beeping and the squeaky wheels of the beds as sick patients were being pushed to and from, was unnerving. I started to lose focus on the lady at my bedside and became hyper focused on all the ominous sounds. But I slowly snapped out of it and sat up more in the bed. I smiled faintly and cleared my throat.
“Oh, um yes I guess depressed but more anxious. I have OCD. I’ve been diagnosed and lately it’s been spinning more out of control. I can’t eat or sleep. I’ve become angry and confrontational. That’s actually what landed me in here. 24 hours of no sleep, a vicious fight with my Mother that turned physical.” My voice trailed off.
I looked down at my lap as my tired and overly used tear ducts began to fill. My lips quivered and I started to tremble, but I couldn’t finish the rest of the story. It happened only a few hours prior to me getting to the ER but the events of that evening in the kitchen with my Mom was to hard to even think about, let alone to speak into existence. The young case worker must have felt my anxiety and pain rising so she quickly pulled up a chair next to me. This was like the twentieth time or so I’ve been to the ER due to my unrelenting panic attacks, but it was the first time I had ever spoken to a social services worker. Shit, this time must be bad. I thought to myself. I let out a deep sigh. She gently explained to me that she just needed to ask a few questions. Probing questions might I add. Like was I suicidal, how many days within the last thirty days did I feel hopeless and depressed? Try ALL thirty lady.
The endless questions continued on: Did I abuse illegal drugs, pills, or alcohol? Was I ever sexually or physically abused or neglected? The questions began to swirl around in the vortex that was my mushy brain. I couldn’t comprehend much of what she was asking or saying. I had already been asked these very questions by numerous therapists and various doctors over the years, about any suicidal ideation I may have had. I guess unless you’re deemed homicidal or suicidal by the law and or the state, you’re deemed to be a fit, and normal human being. An accepted, functioning member of society. What a crock of shit. Just because I never seriously contemplated suicide, (trust me the thought did cross my mind many times) doesn’t mean I was normal, fit or that I was even close to being okay. Why did it take me jumping out of a balcony or slitting my wrists, cutting or shooting myself in the fucking head for anyone to realize how very sick I was.
If only this pretty young lady sitting there beside me knew why I had brought myself into the ER in the first place. She and the doctor who saw me wouldn’t think I was so normal and functioning after all. They would probably think I’m a degenerate fuck up like I knew I was.
Thanks guys I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. I’m looking forward to work shopping and peer reviewing our pieces together during our next class! Take care. Xo.
Okay, so my title may be a bit dramatic. Or is it? Honestly, it’s how I currently feel in the final month of our thesis journey! I feel as if I need to write, write and write some more. I mean at this point it’s do or die! The above meme spoke to me because when you’re working on a creative project in particular, all those thoughts and feelings come at you full force during the writing and revising process. I can bet every single one of us have had one or more of the above thoughts at some point during the last two semesters! And guess what? It’s OKAY!
Well, it’s been quite the week for me. I went from having awful seasonal allergies, during my favorite season no less, ugh super unfair! To getting a upper respiratory infection with a fever (COVID NEGATIVE!) God is good! My apologies for leaving class early during Emily’s presentation, but now you know why. Then within the same week, I got ghosted by a really nice guy I have been dating for a month. Ouch! Well, I thought he was nice. So my poor little heart was semi broken and I had lost all hope in ever finding my perfect mate. I had a good cry shesh throughout the weekend. Well multiple cries, in the shower, in bed, in the car, in my Mama’s arms. Although I’m still fragile and sad, I know I will overcome it. It could have been way worse. If my biggest current stressor is a broken heart and failed relationship I consider myself pretty lucky, considering the chaos our world is in. I thank God every night and day for keeping me, my family and my friends heathy and safe throughout this messy year. Also, Medea filled me in and told me what a fantastic job Emily did! We both agreed, after reading some of her work, that this is her best writing yet! I’m so very proud of my friend Emily. I’m also excited to hear from the rest of the class as we close out presentations. You guys and your contributions all inspire me more than you will ever know!
Alas, time to talk about WRITING! Excuse me for the above rant. As you all know, I’m a very emotional writer. I tend to write whatever it is I’m feeling and thinking, so I guess for this blog post it was no different. Plus I felt it was important to share some of the personal stuff I’m going through so that if anyone else is having a crappy week, or day, they can read it and not feel so alone. Oh my, I can’t believe we have only one month left! I feel confident that I’m on track and I know I will finish strong. I’m speaking it into existence damn it! I’m currently still revising the work that Professor Sisler suggested. I took a bit of a break when I was under the weather because it’s hard to concentrate on writing your life story when your constantly sneezing, sniffling and your head feels like it was just hit with a large brick. No easy feat I tell ya! But I’m back on track for this week and my plan is to continue to revise my work. I also plan to dedicate the entire weekend, well most of it, to finishing the revisions and working on my final few chapters. The story, my story is within me, I can feel it calling to my spirit and tugging at my heart. It’s brimming and ready for it’s end. So I’m excited to put pen to paper, and to start typing away on my keyboard keys, to see where my story takes me next.
I also hope you all have a blessed Holy Week and Passover! For Catholics it’s a important week of reflection and prayer. The good ‘ole Catholic school girl in me can’t help but feel a sense of peace come over me during this week. I’m excited to celebrate Easter Sunday with my family, and despite the personal trials I’ve gone through this week, I’m forever grateful and blessed by God’s mercy. See you guys in class! Take Care.
I’m so sad I missed last weeks class. I’m sure Linda did an amazing job as always and I look forward to being back in the mix soon! Two weeks without you guys has been too much, I need ya! As far as my progress goes, this week has been very eye opening for me! I say that because I reached out to Professor Sisler who some of you know. She has been a mentor for me throughout graduate school and in particular, with helping guide me through my revision of The Seashell. She got back to me with detailed feedback from some of the chapter’s I sent her. When I opened the google doc I was surprised, but not really shocked at all the work I still had to do. The sensitive, overly critical and unsure part of my writer self, or maybe of my self, self. I felt a bit dejected. Did she not like it? Did she think I can’t pull this off? Is this thesis even worthwhile? I soon had to check myself and realize this was my own all too familiar negative inner dialogue. Something that has become so ingrained and automatic in my brain that I sometimes I forget that I need to check myself, or else. If I don’t, I can easily fall into the dark rabbit hole. And at this stage in the game I refuse to let that happen. So after carefully reading and re reading all of Professor Sisler’s comments and feedback , I realized one very important thing: SHE DID BELIEVE IN ME, AND THAT I COULD DO THIS! Her comments were important, thoughtful and specific. It really helped me see the deficits I had throughout my Tangled Roots chapter in particular. I posed the questions that Dr. Zamora asked of me for this chapter to Professor Sisler in my initial email to her. Like how do I symbolically connect these harrowing stories of my family’s past troubles with my very own journey? There is no easy answer to this important question but thanks to Dr. Zamora and Professor Sisler, I now feel like I’m one step closer and more confident in answering it and figuring it out.
This feedback will make The Seashell soar and become the authentic, and moving memoir that I so desperately want it to ultimately be. So a very big THANK YOU and virtual hugs and kisses to both Dr. Zamora and Professor Sisler for all their guidance, support and encouragement along the way. I couldn’t have made it this far without you, really and truly. Lastly, for the remainder of this week I plan to work on the specific revisions that Professor Sisler suggested. I also plan to take some of that same feedback and use it in the revision of some of my other chapters as well. Looking and listening closely to the words that I wrote and the way it connects to my overall story is what I’ll be looking into in particular. Hearing constructive criticism, especially for deeply emotional and personal work like a memoir, is not easy. Even if the words are made with good intentions, it’s still hard to hear that what you wrote still needs work or may just not be good enough. But this is a necessary part of my thesis journey. I also believe it is a necessary part of my life journey. Learning to hear harsh truths, and learning to accept what others have to say, the good and the bad. While trying my best to embrace my own talents and shortcomings. It’s a tough but transformative process that I think will continue on for the rest of my life’s journey. But I’m coming to terms with it and I’m ready for whatever comes next. See you all in class! Xo.
Below I attached a TED Talk that Brene Brown gave that I felt was very powerful and important. Again, it relates to many of the themes woven throughout my memoir. In particular: the power and pain of shame. I hope you enjoy it! Take care.
This weeks blog post will be short and sweet! I feel as if my presentation last week was a good indicator of how far I’ve come. I hope it showed the progress I’ve made and highlighted all the important aspects of my research. I feel empowered to continue to push forward in the completion of The Seashell, thanks in large part to all of your kind words and support. I take great pride in this work. As I’ve said many times in past class discussions and blog posts, it’s my story to tell, so I feel deeply connected and responsible for it. Especially connected to how effectively I convey my story to all who will read it. This writing journey has been one of the most challenging I’ve faced, but also the most rewarding.
This week I took a bit of a writing hiatus. I took some much needed personal time to have some fun this weekend and decompress. I allowed myself this time and refused to feel guilty about it because I know it’s necessary to pause, re charge and continue on in the writing process! However, I did take some time to revise and edit my literature review. And I put some finishing touches on two of my chapters. I know the finish line is near, less than two months! So there is no time to waste! I will continue to write more and more each day, and carve out the necessary time I need to dedicate to my work. Hope you guys are working hard and I can’t wait to hear all the rest of the presentations in the upcoming weeks! Xo.
Hi guys! Above I attached my slides for my FINAL thesis walk through presentation! I didn’t attach my sample reading just yet. I want it to be a surprise reading! I’m so excited to kick off the presentations! I look forward to hearing all of your insightful feedback as always. I also embedded an amazing TED Talk from Brene Brown that I believe ties in beautifully with the themes of my memoir. I thought you would all enjoy it. Xo
PS- I attached it as Google Slides but it was originally created using Power Point. So my apologies if the slides are a little janky. I’ll be presenting it in Power Point mode. Thanks again. Take care.
I had an awesome birthday weekend despite the crazy, snowy weather! I mean it is February after all, the coldest month of the year! #PiscesSeason. My weekend was filled with lots of LOVE from all the important people in my life! I was truly humbled and feel so very blessed to have celebrated another year of life. It’s been a rough year for all of us, some more than others. This harsh reality wasn’t far from my mind as I celebrated my birthday. I just continue to pray and send out good vibes into the universe that all this chaos will end, sometime in the near future. If we never get back to normal, I hope at least, we can get back to a new normal, that makes us all feel whole again.
So you might be wondering what my above Bitmoji means. Why do I need a hug? Well, first off, I mean who doesn’t love a good hug? I do! I feel like as we get older, we get way less hugs then we used to. So I always embrace a good ole hug! It really helps to feed the soul and slow down any anxious adrenaline pulsating throughout the body. So why do I need a hug? Well, I’m starting to feel the crunch of these final two months of thesis. It’s finally hitting me as I try to complete my chapters, and revise as needed. I’m currently trying to piece my chapters together into a cohesive order that works for the overall telling of my story. Ugh! No easy feat, but I’m trying my best! Below I will share my Table of Contents and briefly describe what each chapter will contain. Again, this is a work in progress, nothing is set in stone and I’m looking forward to all of your feedback! Thanks guys, can’t wait to see you all in class and hear all about your progress! Xo.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Riptide (reoccurring dreams, first memory of my OCD, start of therapy).
Chapter 2: In Waves (reoccurring dream, my younger years and bouts with anxiety/OCD).
Chapter 3: Quicksand (the highs and lows of mental illness).
Chapter 4: Tangled Roots (my family tree and long history of mental illness).
Chapter 5: Brotherly Love (my fractured relationship with my brother).
Chapter 6: Degenerate (explicit chapter about self loathing and pain due to my illness).
Chapter 7: Oh Heavenly Father (a look back at my Catholic upbringing and education).
Chapter 8: Echoes (a deep, detailed dive into the complexities of my rituals and obsession’s).
Chapter: 9 Permanent Glitch (learning to live each day with OCD. embracing the permanency).
Chapter 10: The Phoenix (my rebirth, and redemption).