I went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. The hospital has a dress code for women but not for men (my male cousin went in a basketball shorts, and an oversized sleeveless underarmour shirt) . Women must wear pants or a dress that goes past their knees. It is a hot dusky dry heat of about 100f (38c). I am not putting on pants in this heat. I went to the hospital in shorts and a t-shirt, with family scolding me that I wasn’t going to be allowed in. I kept insisting not to worry “I got this and have a dress packed away”. We got off the combi outside of the hospital, I opened my drawstring bag and pulled out a dress and threw it on over my clothes. It reached my knees. Security stopped me and the officer explained that he might not be able to let me in with my mini-skirt as my legs were getting his attention. I think I made a face. Actually, I am pretty sure I made a face. I wanted to give a smart-ass response but I knew this wasn’t the time and I am not good at containing myself. He let me go in. The moment we walked out of her room, I pulled my dress off and my cousin reacted “Ah the feminist is back now”.
A little more than two months left until the half-ironman. I am scared.
However, two weeks ago on Tuesday May 31st rode 85 miles with Andy and Ben to Yellow Springs.
June 8th did a Sprint Tri (1/2 mile swim, 21 mile bike, 3.5 mile run) with Ben, Ela, and Ellen. Ben and I have trained together but I think this maybe the first time we’ve competed together. It was a really fun race and one of the best parts was there were sample wetsuits you could borrow for free. I am short and fat and when I’ve tried on suits in the past, they always ended up putting me in a men’s suit for those 6 feet (1.8m) tall. I am 5’4 that is an extra eight inches, and while I do appreciate an extra 8 inches and manly cut in other situations, this is not one of those. It also sat weird on my boobs. Anyway, at this race they had Athena suits and it fit perfectly! Now, I actually want to get a wetsuit—some day when I have a disposable income or a sugar daddy.
June 13th rode 85+ miles with Antonio, John McPocho, and Jessica. John and I have ridden a lot together, and Jess and I have trained and done triathlons together—they both know how to ride and came prepared. Antonio is a totally different story. You may remember Antonio from Shark Week. Antonio is the kind of dude who is very much “Meh, why the fuck not? Let’s try this” kind of dude. Antonio showed up on a mountain bike with no support for his bottom bits, no gloves, no long rides or any training under his belt, and with a backpack full of water. The man is a beast. We had a good ride from Columbus to Yellow Springs most of it on the Rails to Trails path. I am in love with that path because it is well maintained, has water every 10-12 miles, is quiet and my favorite flat!
I have good friends, who are a great support in my training.
I’ve another Sprint Tri (same distance as above) in less than a week and Andrej and Ben will be doing that one too, and Matt C. will be joining me for an Olympic in July.
This is exciting. I am thankful my body is letting my attempt all this, thankful this is how I get to spend some of my time.
I got a really nice email saying nice things about me. I doubted it, so I closed the email, cried a bit, took a shower, and then re-read it. I guess the email is real.
I feel a bit like an academic imposter. In fact I even contemplated emailing them and saying, “you do know I got a ‘B’ in a class, right?”. Well, I didn’t do that instead I emailed a thank you response and told them the truth, that I hope to give back as much as they have given to me.
I was awarded the GAANN fellowship. For you non-ivory-tower people, this means, I am getting paid to study and to top it off some really smart people think I have potential—this latter part scares the shit out of me. Here is some of the letter:
I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a GAANN Fellow for the 2016-2017 Academic Year under the OSU Spanish and Portuguese GAANN project…
The purpose of the OSU Spanish and Portuguese GAANN project is to assist students of superior ability in obtaining a PhD and preparing them for emerging areas of national need in the teaching of Spanish and Portuguese including heritage language teaching, technology-enhanced teaching, and language teaching for the professions.
The letter states I am going to be developing work on courses dealing with health professions especially as they pertain to heritage learners (those who grew up with the Spanish language at home). This is exactly what I want to be researching and creating. If it were not for a post-secondary program that allowed me to study Spanish at the university while still in high school, I am almost certain I would never have thought university was possible for me. I want to give other students like me, those same opportunities and more skills than I was given. TL;DR Yay! I got a fellowship!
We, Mario and I, have been friends since childhood. We were trouble-making friends, frequently tinkering on the line of suspension from school, often being called out for our shenanigans and being told que nos llevábamos demasiado pesado. Yesterday, he picked me up from the airport and we haven’t seen each other since December (when this picture was taken) and he asked,
“So, you are in grad school full time now?” “Yup,sure am.”
“And you are getting your doctorate?” “Yes, that is the plan.”
He began to laugh one of those fully belly laughs, where you laugh so hard and so much you can’t quite breath. Confused I asked why it was so funny that I was getting my doctorate and when he caught his breath he responded. “I have my doctorate, you are going to get yours. We both will be doctors and no one caused as much shit (fueron tan desmadrosos) as us, were as much class clowns as us, got into trouble like we did and yet we are going to come out with the most formal education of anyone from our graduating class (generación).” The idea had him almost in tears and made me feel good to be home.
I first met Adlet on the soccer field. In the beginning, he was the only one, on our college campus, in China, who would pass me the ball and would treat me as a real teammate. I was excited to finally have a male friend that viewed me as an equal—so I thought. His English, especially at the beginning of our friendship was limited but still better than my ability to speak to him in one of his other three languages (Kazakh, Russian and Mandarin).
I tried to explain to him one day before going out to play soccer in the city that I was cramping and had my period. I tried the words “period”, “menstruation”, “menses”, “monthly cycle” but nothing seemed to click and so I simplified and said “I have blood coming from my vagina. Blood between my legs.” He was horrified and told me I was dirty and that I should stay away from him for one week. This of course upset me and I very directly let him know I was angry, and not dirty and that I didn’t want to talk to him. Aldet, not understanding, why I was so angry or how he should respond, consulted with some Nordic European male friends of mine about if and how he should interact with me when menstruating. Being products of their culture, my dudes told him that he didn’t need to do anything, just be nice as always and see if he could do anything for me. A month later while again on my period Adlet asked me “Do you have woman time?” I answered that, why yes, I in fact did. He smiled and responded “I be nice to you! What you want?”
I had a lot of respect for how much he had changed but we of course were still learning lots from each other. Months later we went to the beach with our mutual friend, a French woman, Claire and because there were three of us, we took two motorbikes. Adlet drove his with Claire on the the back and I drove mine.
When we stopped for dinner at the end of our beach day Adlet told Claire he was not used to having to drive carefully because he had a woman with him, that he only ever drove me around and that I was “strong like man”. I questioned him, what did he mean that “I was strong long man” he explained he meant it as a compliment that he was a feminist (I’d recently taught him the ‘f’ word). Again, I shared my viewpoint and that it was different than his and that I understood he meant well. He now says things like “Elena, is strong like woman!” I’ve also overheard him say that before he met me, he had been raised to think that you always trust what a man says over a woman, you listen to the woman but if it contradicts what any man says, the man is right. I was shocked because I never knew that he’d ever thought that way. Thing is though, I learn just as much if not more from Adlet. He grew up in rural Kazakhstan, a firm follower of Islam, and is like all of us a product of our environment. Adlet, is intelligent and non-judgmental, a tool and a virtue that make him very open to change. I am giving all of this back story because something amazing happened recently and Adlet surprised me once again.
This week, I found out that a health clinic that provides abortions had been vandalized with red paint. I contacted my friend who was working at the clinic as soon as I saw the news and asked her if I could take her for drinks at the end of her shift. She said no that she was exhausted and more than anything wanted to go home but that if I wanted to help, I could come help paint/clean the building. I headed out and invited friends to join me as well. Pictures of us cleaning and a group photo post-clean up was on facebook and Adlet “liked it”.
I figured he hadn’t understood what were doing or what he was “liking” and so I had a discussion with him, sharing what had been done, and what we did to address the situation. Turns out he fully understood and he responded “Yes i understand, good job !
And it’s good idea put photo on Facebook, it mean u guys together never give up))
I mean u a together more strong”. I have infinite respect for this man, who can change his views based on logic compassion, I need to do more of that myself.
I am so humbled and excited that I got invited to be a part of conversation with two men I admire very much. They are intellectuals, activists, pensive with an acumen that I aspire to have. I hope you enjoy listening to this with half of the enjoyment I had being a part of the conversation. Activism Within the Academy