One of the final ways I memorialize the previous year is by recapping almost everything that happened to me over those 12 months. I felt like I lived multiple lives in those short 52 weeks, which saw some of my favorite moments (yay for winning poetry contests and graduating!) and truly difficult changes (I’m suddenly depressed all the time!!) so here’s my annual recap, this time as 2019 in words (here’s the 2018 version).
Whereas my first semester of senior year saw some of my favorite classes I took at Baylor (looking at you, Creative Writing Poetry and Race and Ethnicity), my class load for the second semester was horrible. It’s no secret I’m not a fan of the traditional Canon, so imagine my suffering when I had to take American Realism and Naturalism, Shakespeare, and 18th Century English Literature along with a creative writing class that focused on alternate histories. Ugh, I cringe when I even think about these courses. The worst of the bunch was undoubtedly American Realism and Naturalism where I not only had to read stories about bear hunting and Tom Sawyer, but also was berated by the loud ass white boy in my class who found opportunities to argue with everything I had to say. My favorite moment in that course was when we talked about the Civil War, which I acknowledged was about slavery, and the boy yelled at me and said I was wrong!! Even though it!! was!! about!! slavery!! And my professor sat and listened to me getting yelled at by this kid who will eventually go to law school and probably become another type of Kavanaugh and it was a grand old time in that horrendous room. I somehow read only two of the 15+ short stories/books we were assigned for the class and still got an A+ on my final 30 page paper so that was fun! I wrote about racism and slavery (hats off to the white boy for the inspiration) for the paper and my professor commented “I don’t agree with a lot of your points, but you wrote an excellent argument and paper.” Job done. Remember when I slept through my Religion final during my sophomore year and I swore I would never be so irresponsible again? Well ya girl lied. Or I was just a giant dumbass. Both are probably true. I procrastinated the hardest ever on my final Shakespeare essay (as I naturally would), which was a 20 page one that required countless citations and comparisons between three different plays (none of which I read in depth) for the oldest and most difficult professor in the English department. Seems like an easy task, no? Instead of planning ahead and writing the essay in chunks during the weeks leading up to finals week, I was an idiot and saved it all for the night before. And let me tell you. I had no idea at all what the hell Shakespeare was saying in any of his plays. So I stayed up all night, half asleep, obnoxiously complaining/crying to my mom on the phone about how tired and frustrated I was (even though I literally forced myself in this predicament), eating ice cream, avoiding writing by walking up and down my stairwell, cursing my roommate for always being out and never having as much work as me, and somehow crafting a damn good essay until 7:30 am. To reward myself before my 9:30 final period, I thought I would take a 20 minute snooze and wake up and leisurely get ready before I had to leave and turn in my essay. NOPE. I THOUGHT WRONG. I WAS WRONG. I slept through every single alarm and woke up at–get this–11:30 AM. 4 HOURS LATER. LIKE F*CK ME RIGHT. So I brushed my teeth while putting on some going out pants, didn’t give a shit about what my face looked like, and ran to my class where obviously my professor wasn’t. I ran up and down the four floors until I found him, sitting in his 85 year old self while eating a little sandwich on the top floor and basically dry heaved/sobbed/apologized/begged for him to accept my essay while he’s just trying to enjoy his ham and cheese. I’m a monster, I know. Somehow, this grumpy racist grandpa told me not to worry about being late even though his policy says he never accepts late work and he gave me an A on the paper!! So I guess slow and steady does indeed win the race, eh? Just kidding I’m truly an awful student. The shining academic star of my semester was my Writing for Social Change class where I learned from one of the most brilliant and brave professors in our department. We read pieces by Fannie Lou Hamer and Gloria Steinem while arguing about different issues for which we deeply cared. We touched on topics like prison abolition (by me, obviously), colorism in the entertainment industry, wild animal refuges, police brutality, and basically everything that was going on in the news. My most proud moment was finishing my essay on prison abolition, which I often use as a reference whenever I need answers for questions I’m asked. In the spring time right before graduation, I debated whether to submit my poetry to Baylor’s annual Beall Poetry Festival– a 3 day celebration of poetry where highly prominent poets and educators attend events and perform readings of their pieces. I decided to submit my piece “Dear George” after my mom convinced me to try and I won second place! I found out at the award ceremony and I had to stand up in front of everyone and read it out loud. It was the most afraid I’ve ever been, but I also felt incredibly alive after I finished. I obviously couldn’t talk about school without mentioning that I somehow graduated with a BA in English after four years! During my junior year where I was spiraling into scary depression, I failed two classes and thought there was no way I would graduate, but I worked my ass off my entire senior year and accomplished one of my greatest goals. Even though I almost fell down the stairs in front of everyone at the ceremony (a classic Noelle mistake), graduation was one of my favorite days ever.
My initial goal last year was to stay in Texas for one year after graduating, get a job and save enough money, and move to New York in June of this year. I thought I had it all planned out as I already had an apartment, a car, and my best friends Jonathan and Lo with me in Waco, but when I spent months searching for a job in town and couldn’t find anything, I started to get really anxious and depressed again. I didn’t know what to do and didn’t think that coming home would be an option. One night in March, I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life and my parents decided that I should come home for the year before the city. So I packed my entire life up and said goodbye to the family I created with my different groups of friends and came back home. The first month was fun and exciting to reunite with my best friends here, but after I applied to over 100 jobs and had countless interviews and still had no job in September, I spiraled into my worst depression ever. My face started breaking out, I had no appetite, I didn’t want to do anything besides sleep, and I wanted nothing more than to be back in Waco. Everything was confusing and I hated myself for not being satisfied or happy at home where I should have been. I felt extremely lonely and lost and like a failure because no one would hire me. The post-grad blues were incredibly devastating and I’m just lucky that Legal Aid hired me when they did. One bright spot in the darkness was that I started writing about high school football games for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawai’i Prep World! I covered two games a week from September-November and I loved every single second of it. I also wrote a few freelance articles for Go Kapolei/Go Kailua Magazines as well as Wasabi Magazine. I’m so thankful for all of those opportunities! Back in November, my depression started to act up again and I think the worst part was the turbulence it caused my parents. I hadn’t fully dealt with the suddenness and brutality of depression while I was at home, so not being able to explain what/why/how I was feeling was difficult for all of us. Thankfully, my new therapist has helped me talk more about my issues and open up about the darkest parts with my loved ones. Near the end of the year, I decided I needed a new job because my current one didn’t feel right and thankfully the Office of the Public Defender (where I was initially dying to work) contacted me and offered me a job as a Legal Clerk! I was excited but also scared because I had to quit Legal Aid after only a few months, which was my worst nightmare because I didn’t want to let anyone down. However, I left Legal Aid on December 31 and started this new job last week and I love it so far! I know this personal section of 2019 in words seems too sad and also happy and it’s confusing that they’re able to be felt simultaneously, but I guess that’s a metaphor for what my life was like in 2019.
In 2019, This Is Noelle turned seven years old and I can’t believe how the time has gone! I’m forever thankful for a space where I can write about everything I care about– incarceration, music, poetry, policing, injustices, fashion, football, and everything in between. Hopefully in 2020 I’ll have more original poems to share and the blog will feature as many football recaps and essays about prisons as possible. Here’s to shameless oversharing and a brand new year!