Sunday, March 14, 2010

514. Though I'm Not Religious... There Are "Angels" in My Life....

"Wendy the Angel." An essay that I wrote when I was 17 years old, applying for the Regents Fellowship program at UC Davis.

Just this last Thursday, I believe had encountered another "angel" in my life. It's quite shocking, and I'm not sure if I'm really processing it yet. The question is, how to define an "angel." Especially if you are a secular person, or "graduated" from religion, like myself. I had this conversation with my Question Reality manuscript mentor, Hugh Marsh, over lunch at a very nice hotel called the Upham, in downtown Santa Barbara.


Hugh and I came to some form of agreement that an "angel" is someone who helps you, gives you hope, and transforms you in an anomalous way that you would have not otherwise been transformed or helped otherwise. He stated that given all my talents, I will ultimately one day meet an angel--a moral and financial angel--who will be willing to help foster my artwork and creative projects and let it grow, inside and outside--but I haven't met that angel yet. I was shocked he said that.

Hugh Marsh himself has been an angel in my life. A moral angel, a cheerleader of the long haul. He was the first (and for a while, only) person to encourage me to write my Question Reality book when my main advisor Armand discouraged it, when I was mostly discouraged otherwise. He saw me to the end of it... and now new outgrowths... attempting to translate my old works into novelties that is easy for society to mentally consume.

I have a parade of other angels in my life as well. Wendy the Nurse was my first and most prominent one. The nurse who served as a role model for me when I hit the bottom of bottomlessness of anorexia, and needed to find a way out. And she was a living proof. A case of survival and health. She battled anorexia as a kid. All Wendy had to do was be there, and she didn't have to do much, but just be there, and show herself and her life as a long-term solution to my black hole problem.

I have my academic angels as well. The College of Creative Studies clan, Armand, Bruce, now Barry.... As an anonymous undergrad, Armand rescued me from drowning in the cow herd of university bureaucracy. I felt he pulled me out of this lifeless black hole torrent and set me aside with a few others to go re-investigate the world and run around the university as if it were a play ground, a garden maze, rather than a set of prison doors strapped in red tape rules and regulations. Once you have a few people who believe in you outside of your family, your confidence starts to pick up, and slowly you pick up a new family, a new intellectual, academic family, a family that is somewhat closer to you than your actual family, because in the vast ocean of human flesh, suddenly you are treated like a unique, stand-out person, a story, to someone else's eyes.

I also feel a few folks at the Bren School are like angels. They are giving me a third stab at graduate school, things are going well... or at least I'm surviving. Maybe I can officially call them "angels" after I graduate... but as for now... I'm under the gun. So, they are my authoritative support group, I'd say. I do say I was shocked that Bren provided a one-quarter grant in the Fall of 2009 for me (see Blog 477); that was most certainly angelic! Even some more financial support in the winter, drastically eliminating costs of tuition.... I've been expecting nothing from no one. I have received financial support from National Science Foundation, but it's a massive administration, and I haven't been able to pin down a face, a personality, a singularity of humanity within NSF, to exactly say thanks for the help.

Then just this past Thurday, out of the blue, another angelic sweep knocked my mind out of place. My dentist, Dr. Dart, has been very concerned about the patchwork, piecemealed dental work of my mouth over the years (my mouth is the perfect analogy to fragmentation of law and management of the global oceans, perfect analogy), plus added decay, and he is extremely concerned about the long haul of my mouth, something I do not have a solid grasp on in my mind. But of course, Dr. Dart has been around the block much longer than I have... and he knows and has probably experienced "the long haul." He proposed that I spend some time next quarter in his downtown office to help me with my dental work... but with relief of financial burdens. I'm honestly speechless about such an offer. As my dad says, "I don't know. It sounds too good to be true." And I don't know, I don't understand. The generosity is... overwhelming.

It's like I'm living through a happy moment in a movie, you know? Of course I'm crying. I'm crying because in this world I'm trained to expect nothing from nobody... and then this brutal null hypothesis is rarely overrided by the alternative... I'm shocked that someone else out of the pool of six plus billion singles you out--this time me--and stretches out a hand of help, waves a wand of hope and generosity, sees you as a human, like takes you under your wing as family.

I left the dental office stunned. I didn't understand. I was numb and dizzy. So was Dr. Dart, the dizzy side. I didn't even get a chance to give him a hug of thanks. I didn't know what to say. I just stumbled out into the main office, paid $200 for some fillings, and bumbled to the car as if I just drank a six pack of beer. My mind numb, from the numbness in my mouth, the heavy brick.

Well, so far, it's just an informal verbal agreement. We'll see what happens. We exchanged information. I was trying to figure out what to do. What to do? How to say thanks?

Well, I figured right now the first step, in this act of hope, the first step is to email him a thank you, and draw Dr. Dart a dentistry cartoon, which I did.

This is what I plan to write in my email:

Dear Dr. Dart,
I guess I can say the only state of mind I'm in right now is shellshock. It's been three or more days, and I still am shocked, awed. The least I can do is draw a cartoon of appreciation--see attached! Usually I don't draw toothy smiles on my characters (who keep my sanity through graduate school), so it's amazing for Terra the Biogeek to bust out a full smile! I will be out in the desert March 18 to 24 or so, but I will be on the lookout for your email and plan of action. Down deep I feel like a hypocrite--in some ways, how can I be so well trained to see the long run of landscape change, whether ocean or terrestrial, when I can't even see any form of long run for my own health? Thank you for helping me see the seriousness of the long run. I hope you have a great spring break! (Do you get a spring break, I hope?!) See you soon, Victoria

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