Non-Traditional As Possible

When I signed up to join student organizations at the beginning of classes, I’d thought I’d have the time to do to. This was several months ago. I’ve only been to one meeting. I still keep getting emails about events and activities, but these occur when I’m in class or in the evening around dinner time.  I’ve managed to attend a few lectures in order to supplement my education, but they are once in a blue moon, when Cutie is well enough to wait for me to come home late.

Non-Traditional means “life complications + academics”. As in, if I am not studying, I am at home with Cutie. If you are single, there is more time for other activities such as work or volunteering. Great resume boosters with recruiters. But with students with families, life is constantly a balancing act. The “I can’t be an over-achieving student because of family responsibilities” just doesn’t bode well with recruiters.

Parallel Worlds

While my classmates are busy preparing for their sorority or fraternity activities and moaning about lack of time to complete anything, I am busy trying to plan dinner, paying bills and trying to fit in doctor’s appointments. As some of them even complained about their parents giving them crap about issues they are trying to handle, I chuckle in silence. It’s not as bad as it seems. Life will throw worst things in their way so parents are one of many headaches that will be the least of troubles.

The Blow

Whenever Cutie gets sick, my world falls apart. I was having a hard time concentrating on anything and would trudge along just to get some work done. This is something that I have no control of whatsoever yet when I come home, I have to face it full-on and find a way to cope and do the best that I can to help Cutie. Sometimes I have to work on my Plan B in case Cutie’s health deteriorates and would be forced to quit school.  To me, that would be a blow to me for if I were to become a full-time caretaker I would be 1)unable to work 2) not able to contribute to society and be one medical emergency away from homelessness.

Is there any hope at the end of the tunnel? I’m still trying to figure it out. I could use some suggestions.

By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

Pulverize your SIM Card: changing the way you see the world

I am taking a break from schooling to talk about how the way you view the world changes through the process of education. I will explain further by showing an example of changing fields:

When I was studying business and working through my internship, I started to see the world differently: I saw dollar signs on EVERYTHING. This was due to years of studying macroeconomics, microeconomics, accounting, finance, etc. Not only was I able to see things are they are from an economic perspective, but was able to read through language that people would pay other people to sort through. By the time I started working full-time, this vision I developed not only helped me professionally, but personally:  I was able to tackle the dreaded month of April each year without sweating an eyebrow, and developed the ability to read through every STUPID credit card offer that came through the mail and know exactly what it said (and crunch some numbers). I even developed a super-power of detecting coins on the ground within a hundred feet on the streets, in spite of having poor eyesight.

A woman showing my weapon of choice


Once I switched to studying in the STEM field, my vision changed. It was not limited to seeing the world with dollar signs on them: that vision was downgraded (but still existing)  in the personal finance realm and has the same urgency as getting laundry done.  I accidentally developed a new vision this week while studying trigonometry for hours. I began to see every square corner as a damned right triangle and could not turn off this vision before I entered my communications class.  While my classmates were giving boring speeches, I tried to avoid looking at square and rectangular shapes in the room by looking at their shoes.

Converse All Star Black Lo

Thankfully no one was wearing heels that day.

Once that faded, my next accidental vision was brought upon by a lecture I attended at the university. A visiting professor (who shall remain anonymous) is a Computer Science and Chemical Engineering professor that gave a lecture on case studies on how to extract data from every digital device from mp3 players, drones, credit card scanner to cell phones. The cases he and his students worked on ranged from national security cases to criminal cases that you may or may not have read about. Since I do read the news, my heart stopped as I recognized each case in spite of the professor using vague terms like “unnamed retailer” and “White House drone”.  Since this lecture will be used as part of my paper, I took as many notes as possible. By the time the lecture was finished, I looked at my old cell phone and was thankful I did not take any self-incriminating pictures of myself with it. Once I arrived in art history class, every time I saw a smart phone I shuddered. I had the picture of the SIM card the professor showed in the lecture stuck in my head and saw every computer and cell phone as piles of other peoples’ dirty laundries waiting to be sorted out by snooping underwear thieves.

Pictured above: a cuter comparison provided by

The more I studied the realm of mathematics and science, the harder it was to shut the vision developed and saw the world DRAMATICALLY different. Since the society I live in based on consumerism, the vision from business school could fade in to the background of every physical object that surrounded me. But with math and science, it is becoming harder and harder: you start to see more numbers and if you had a background in chemistry, what things are made of (damn you chemistry!).  And every technological device I touched made me wish I were a Luddite. This is why there should be a warning label to each dreamy-eyed high school student who wishes to pursue a STEM education in a university: your vision WILL change and it will be hard to shut that vision off.

By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

A Quick Post Amid the Chaos


Both leaders listening to the Canadian Anthem on the South Lawn at the White House (CNN)

As I was walking through the student union at the university, a large screen TV showed the CNN channel displaying the News Conference that President Obama and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau held at the White House’s Rose Garden. I stopped and looked at the screen for a long while in disbelief.

Was is possible that amid the political chaos that there is a ray of hope that sanity will be restored to this Republic?

I actually felt like crying. It was as if somehow in spite of the hateful lunacy that is tarnishing the reputation of this country, somehow someone is willing to visit this place to talk. Having lived in both countries, I can truly say that is takes bravery and a sense of conviction to continue with the duties assigned as representatives of their countries.

The students in the union, sitting in their couches and chairs ignored the news cast because the political media has been too much of a circus to bear. But I didn’t. For once I had a positive experience from watching the news.


By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

Preparing for the long life


Above: Two Women on a Boat. Artist Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

More than once, I have gotten a few head bumps with Cutie about why I care so much about money. It is not about greed, I countered. But it doesn’t help that I did study Business for 5 years and used that knowledge professionally and to manage our personal finances (so far, so good!). I consider the gain of knowledge successful because it has helped aid in our survival in a industrialized society. However, such successes are short lived because like farming crops, there will be times of harvest and times of drought. This is why I care about money: to survive the droughts.

Some of my single friends have told me how lucky I am to be married because I have someone who will financially have my back in case I lost my job or some catastrophic economic event that would occur. Their views are in hindsight: they don’t realize that all married women at some point or another, will end up living without their husbands because they mostly outlive them or divorce them. They think about the times of harvest but not the times of drought, when you’ve only planned for 20 years of retirement but end up outliving that by more than 20 years because well because nature hates us.

Above: A monthly reminder

I have seen first hand the family history: all of the women of my family outlived their husbands and once they have became widows, they have scrambled for low paying work because they didn’t qualify (experience or education wise) for decent paying ones. Or found themselves penalized for being out of the job market for too long because of their child-raising and family obligations so they try to seek support from their grown children or from the government in the form of welfare or Social Security payments.  Some got lucky when their children were able to help, some weren’t and were forced to sell their houses and move into public housing.  I don’t want to share such fates. That is why I go to school and switched to a hard field (Computer Science).

In honor of International Women’s Day, we should all celebrate and acknowledge that as women we have many gifts but we also have a major drawback: the longer we live, the more we have to prepare for that long life. We women have to acknowledge that if there are gains in science that will allow us to live longer (men and women alike), we women will more likely out live men even more and with that brings the necessity to plan ahead.  And planning ahead includes financial literacy, continuous education and continuous participation in the workforce.  Because the awful truth is that we are all in the same boat in life and we women will be the ones left sailing after the crew has passed on.



Trying to quit coffee: the Eternal Struggle


After I got sick from eating an Organic Vegetarian TV Dinner, it was decided out of caution to try to quit my consumption of coffee. Since coffee is one of those highly-acidic foods I consumed on a daily basis, it is probably a wise choice for the sake of my stomach.

There is plenty of evidence that there is thing as a physical dependence to Caffeine Dependence. I know so because of my symptoms:

Headaches, low energy and a shorter fuse are among the symptoms I have to cope with. Sometimes when I REALLY get desperate need to concentrate, I drink the paper-filtered ass coffee from the dinning hall to try to wake my mind up.  Every time I passed near a Starbucks, my heart whelped.

(sobs silently)

This, I fear, will be one of the things I will have to reduce to the point of completely giving up some day due to a health issue/getting older. I’ve had stomach problems since in my early twenties and now they are catching up to me even though I have avoided spicy and fried food.

Green Tea is my Methadone

Instead of having my morning coffee, I am drinking large amounts of Organic Jasmine Green Tea ( regular non-organic Green Tea makes my stomach hurt😦 ). The tea helps, but the caffeine is so slow-releasing that by the time I am finished with my large mug, I only feel half awake. This effect is worst on days where I go to the gym.


Waiting for my energy to return….someday








By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

I gave my own eulogy


I think this is one of the most messed up speeches I had to give (apart from giving corporate speeches at my last job).  Since my Communications Class counted this speech as a test grade, there was no way to get out of this assignment.

Part of my assignment involved critiquing other people’s eulogies. You could tell the eulogies given by my classmates had long laundry lists of accomplishments and dreams (as required). They all shot for the moon and stars in their lives.

I, however, wanted to shoot other people’s pimps as one of my accomplishments.

For a person who suffers from depression, this was a bad idea. It did, however, brought out my creative side:

1- During my lifetime, I beat up a pimp named Fernando and helped his ex-prostitute, Nadia Burns, start a new life. Nadia was the character I had to pretend to be in order to give my own eulogy.

2- I lived my life with a similar eccentricity as Bilbo Baggins.

3- My last request was for my urn to be placed in a liquor cabinet next to a good bottle of sake.  It did not matter whose liquor cabinet it is.

At the end of my speech, I tried to evoke the ethos required to give a good speech. I tried to cry a bit, but ended up sounding like I had a frog in my throat.  In short, if it weren’t for the fact that I need to study for a test tomorrow, I would go home and hit the bottle. Or eat my weight in food.

You’d have to be on crack to do this type of assignment. And I did it sober😦 .



By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

It’s hard to have travelled the world, then read books about it




I wish to stop the flow of emotions emanating from my Art History Class. Every time my art professor posts online lectures about Ancient Art, my heart sinks. The pictures about these places do not do justice.  I might was well have been revisiting these places, looking through the peep hole from my front door.

It is hard to read about places you have visited then be forced to read books about them.  When you have seen more than what a text book can provide, it feels pointless.


I now understand how Cutie felt whenever he saw pictures about the places he has visited.  The hint of sorrow behind his voice-sorrow is how I feel whenever I have to see pictures of these places again. The sorrow  hints that maybe I am mourning a time in my life were I lived and did not know about it.

I guess this means that the time to travel again is getting closer than I think.

By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

Diffuse Mode

I took advantage of the winter break in order to diffuse mentally and emotionally from the Fall Semester. Reading the book “A Mind for Numbers” by Barbara Oarkley kept giving me hope that I will improve my math skills, as long as I did not gave up.

Drooling for Motivation

At one point, Cutie and I went window shopping at a posh housewares shop and gawked at flatware and dishes that looked like a million bucks. That, in a sense gave me more motivation to try my best to finish my degree, as hard as that is going to be for the following reason:

-Seeing Cutie’s eyes widen with awe at stuff is like seeing your significant other behave like a happy kid at Christmas.


Pictured above: Noritake Crestwood Platinum.


Pictured above: Zwilling J.A. Henckels Bellasera Set

Looking at my degree plan it would probably take me 2 years or so before I finish, find employment and earn enough money to afford these items. I am not going to hope for ridiculous events such as large windfalls (lottery winnings, tax refunds, etc). Those are pipe dreams, at best. It doesn’t cost anything to dream except when you have to spend money to make them come true.

By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life

Breaking Even

That is what I did academically and financially. Did not get a high GPA but did not fail the semester either (and avoided academic probation).  I was feeling pretty down until I was given this book by my in-laws:

mind for numbers

This is the book to read in case you suck in math (including me).  It shows different techniques on how to learn math and why traditional methods used by math teachers are counter intuitive. SPOILER: There is an anecdote of a highly-rated math professor who got a 0.4 GPA during his first year of college.

Redefining Success

The fact that I was able to keep my financial aid in spite of the god-awful semester was a success itself.  Rounding up the numbers I turned out to break even (sort-of):

Educational Break Even

I didn’t include a $25 gift card I got as compensation for taking notes for one of my classes. I am considering signing up as a note taker for more of my classes next semester since I don’t qualify for federal work study.  While others felt guilty about how well off financially they were in the year, I am just glad I didn’t had to borrow money for school.  I was a slave to that debt once and I won’t become a slave again.

Still a Grasshopper

I have been searching for internships, but have determined that I did not qualify for them (yet). This year has been a bust for Computer Science majors: a lot of the companies that wanted to hire students wanted Engineers of all types. Maybe next year there will be more internships.


Spent the holidays with Cutie’s in-laws, where there is plenty of snow.  I participated in traditional Scandinavian Christmas Activities such as eating lefse, lutefisk, oyster stew, and a smorgasbord of meats, cheeses and veggies.  Cutie convinced me to build our first snow lantern in front of my inlaws’ house:

First Scandinavian Snow Lantern


2016 Plans:

I need to improve my math skills and get my GPA high. And I keep my fingers crossed to see if the classes I need will be offered for the summer and fall. I also want to make time to go to the gym or to ride my bike.  I miss doing those activities.

Le Quick Post from the Journey

I will never sign up for 14 credits again. EVER.

This semester has been brutal and every time I go into one of my hard classes I feel like I am walking into a mine field. And every time I walked into taking a test it was like walking into a firing squad.

I have been trying to come up with a plan B in case this fails but I haven’t come up with any. I am not the entrepreneur type (which is rather ironic because I have a Business Degree) and do not have an idea for a business.

Financially, I’ve managed to break even: an important aspect of not having to borrow money for school. And hopefully this will be useful once I file my taxes in February (yes I file early!).

My priorities have changed: I don’t mind wearing my sneakers with holes in them (even though I patched them twice) when going to campus nor I care much about going to a party or to concerts as much. The pursuit of knowledge in order to enter the STEM field has consumed my free time and mental energy.  Speaking of which, I am learning to work with UNIX and it is a pain to work with since I don’t have a compiler to check for errors. So I am programming the old fashioned way and hoping I don’t crash the university servers when I submit my homework. I haven’t ridden my bike or gone to the gym in months because my laptop wouldn’t handle the bumps (and at 15lbs it would hurt my back while cycling uphill). The time I spend working on my homework and studying has affected my relationship with Cutie: I won’t be able to get a good work-life balance until this semester is over😦

By arianaauburn12 Posted in Life