I came across an article in the LA Times today about a woman in Montana who came to the US illegally and then set up a restaurant.  Apparently, this woman has more complications in the story, but a line towards the end of the article struck a nerve.  In referring to the anti-immigration folks who hang out in her restaurant and like her, the following statement is made.

"Mora said she just wishes that, when it comes to illegal immigration, 'they didn't see me as the exception. There are many like me across the nation. We had to come illegally. There was no other way.'"

Ignore the politics of illegal immigration.  Ignore left-wing/right-wing.  Focus on this one phrase.

The exception.

Like Mora, I'm generally the exception.  I'm the gay guy who doesn't "act gay."  I'm the smart guy who isn't "weird and awkward."  I've been the younger guy who didn't "act like a twink."  I'm now an older guy who doesn't "act 40."  I'm the dyslexic who likes to read.  I'm the ADHD guy with a successful career.

And every time someone around me stereotypes a group I belong to and I point out that I don't fit the stereotype, I hear, "But you're different," or, "You're the exception."

It's some kind shitty no-true-Scotsman in reverse: because I don't fit the stereotype, I can't be part of the group and, therefore, people can like me or trust me or be friends with me and still talk shit about the group to which I belong.  I'm the excuse, the clearance that says it's okay to continue being bigots, even if they only hear it in their own heads.

And it comes pretty damned close to feeling abusive.  It's making me a party to bigotry, even if I don't want to be.  Like some company I hate using my image without my permission to advertise their product.

And to top it off, when I challenge it, I'll get some version of the quote, "It's the exception that proves the rule."  And they'll smirk and continue on as if they've won the discussion.

In that context, to "prove" means to test, assholes, not to confirm.  Exceptions test rules - and often find them faulty.

I guess knowing that makes me yet another exception.

Back and forth

Classes start today.

They did something weird on the financial side - they gave me a credit for the entire amount of my enrollment fees, which is exactly what they'd do if I were dropping all my classes.  Except I'm still enrolled and still have all the classes on my schedule in every way I can view it, so I had no idea what the heck was going on.  The financial office over the phone said, "Oh, it looks like you dropped all your classes," and then couldn't confirm or deny if I was actually still enrolled in anything.

And, of course, admissions is slammed with first-day-of-classes stuff, so they're only taking voicemail messages over the phone with a 72-hour turnaround.  The net result is that I just had to drive over to campus in morning traffic, pay for parking (because my parking pass is at home), and wait in line for 20 minutes to get told, "Oh, it's just a glitch.  Yes, you're still enrolled, and we show your balance as $0."  And it looks like it's all corrected online now.  So, yay for knowing and there being no issue, not-yay for all the hassle.

Also, tomorrow morning at 3 a.m. I get to drive my parents to the airport, which means heading over there after class tonight (I get out at 9:30, theoretically, but since it's the first class, it'll likely be earlier), spending the night there, driving them to LAX, then going home and sleeping for a couple more hours.  Then off to work and my first physics class after work tomorrow.  I will sleep well tomorrow night.

Another wrinkle is the fact that I have to pick my parents up in early March at exactly the time of one of my classes, so I'm guaranteed to miss one day.  I hope it's not the day of something like a midterm, because that would get really complicated.  The fact that it's the week before spring break makes me nervous, but as the labs are on Thursday, I hope most of the tests and such will be as well.  I won't know about that until tomorrow, though.

I need a nap.

Back to work

I had lunch with the bestie on Wednesday, something that is always fun and never happens often enough.

The conversation meandered across topics, like the best ones do, but a couple of important things came up.  One, I helped him realize that some of the mania he's going through is almost certainly due to stress (whereas my ADHD and OCD ramp up when I get stressed out, his mania ramps up) that he wasn't necessarily directly aware of.

Two, we were talking about my going back to school and such.  And he said something that is probably important.  I was going on about the SpaceX landing and KSP and some of the math from last semester.  A few minutes later, he said, "I want you to realize something.  I've seen you display interest in things and ideas and geek out about stuff, but I've never seen you get actually animated and excited about anything.  Until you start talking about going to school."

Bear in mind, this is someone who has been my best friend for about 15 years now.  He's right, of course - I don't really get passionate about anything.  I have a lot of interests, but they're casual.  I'm an information junkie, so learning new things is just something I do.  But I've started shifting from anxiety-freefall about school to actually being excited about it.  I find myself smiling when I think about classes (which start next week).

This is certainly going to be an interesting year.

I have decided, however, I need to get back into taking time off.  Even if I'm not traveling anywhere, just having vacation time when I'm not worried about work is important.  This last week was great.  I didn't get in the car from Monday afternoon until Saturday noon (and that was to go get an oil change).  Now, with school, it's going to get a little weird, but it's definitely something I need to do.

Oh, and today (well, yesterday, really) is my 5-year anniversary at the current job.  Yay for that, I guess :)

Also, renewing my lease (technically, it's up in March), which has me thinking about planning my eventual move.  2.5 years isn't really that long a time, and the next lease is for 14 months, making it come due at the end of June in 2017.  At that point, it'll be a year or so until I'm hopefully off to college.  Weird to be planning for such a thing this far in advance, but it's what we do.