No amount of healthy food can quell old haunting memories

Life is so fragile. Here in an instant and gone in an instant. Appreciating it should be an easy enough thing. Life can be filled with a lot of pain though, and confusion.

How to seek out what makes us happy and how to hold onto it? Maybe it comes easier for some than others. It hasn’t always come easy for me. Perhaps my brain is just too damaged or something. Perhaps I’m destined to always be some kind of victim, despite my best efforts.

Tunapunas Market—TT—JoAnn Ryan

As I wrote about last week, old memories have been resurfacing lately—haunting and bothersome—my own failures coming back to smack me in the freakin’ face. Humiliation, feelings of ineptitude, of letting “the system” win, and worse of all, seeing the ripple effect it’s had on all the people around me. This is what shames me the most.

How to unravel it? What happens after it gets unraveled? What do I do with it then? Perhaps it will all sound minor and trivial to some.

In 2005, I completed a BA degree in English. In 2009, I was supposed to have completed an MA degree in English as well. I had the lofty intention of teaching.

Believe it or not, working on the master’s degree wasn’t all that difficult for me, at least not as far as coursework was concerned. It was a subject I loved after all, as opposed to all the extra crap you have to take as an undergrad.

It’s not all about coursework though, unfortunately. It’s also about fitting in. I never fully realized the dire importance of this until it was all over.

Even though there were a couple of professors who were fairly nice to me, many of them seemed to hate me, intensely—like to the point of being near hostile—and I have to say, I found their pretentious attitudes pretty nauseating. For instance, I remember telling one of my professors that I felt like I was a slow, methodical writer when it came to writing essays. I was attempting to explain why I tended to have trouble with timed essays. She mocked me and made me feel as though I were merely slow, sans the methodical part.

What I really hate to admit is how much they were able to intimidate me and I suppose I let it happen in a lot of ways. I accepted that they were better than me. What was I, a first generation college student, even doing to dare enter their world?

By the time I was getting ready to finish my MA degree, I had something like a 3.8 GPA (can’t recall exactly now). I had also passed several exams that were considered moderately difficult, like the Praxis and the GRE, of course. To complete the degree though, I was also required to take two more, a general literature exam and a Set Test Exam.

I passed the general literature exam, but not the Set Test Exam. I didn’t take it just once either, but twice. It’s only offered once per year, so imagine failing two years in a row!

Grading for the final exam was supposed to be anonymous. I’ve had little doubt in my mind though, that it didn’t stay that way. Though it may sound crazy, I’m positive it was purposely sabotaged. The Set Test Exam was no more difficult than any other I’d taken. I knew full well, at that point, how to study and pass an exam of that nature.

Now, I fully realize what I should or could have done at the time—filed some kind of an appeal or a grievance with the University—demanded that my exam be graded, or taken yet again, independently.

Much earlier than that, I could have taken my credits and transferred to another university, where, hopefully, I would have fit in better.

I should’ve done something, but I didn’t.

I just felt defeated, ashamed and exhausted. I pushed it all down and buried it like a cat buries it’s poop in the dirt—so far down it was almost like it never even happened.

Since that time, I’ve lived my life like a high school drop-out. No joke. It’s embrassaing to admit, but it’s the truth. All that hard work for nothing. All my hopes and dreams, gone.

The real question is, now that all of this has come back to me, what do I do with it? I feel like I need to do something, but it’s been well over ten years ago.


Back to the present, it’s been rainy off and on for weeks now, which hasn’t been too good for the mood. There are a lot of other personal problems plaguing me at the moment, aside from all those crappy old memories coming back. Perhaps I should try and find a new therapist—those aren’t easy to come by either though. I’m fully aware that I’m wallowing right now, too.

The photos are from the farmer’s market in Tunapunas, we went crazy buying carrots, coconuts, tomatoes, apples—everything laid out in the photos above. Later in the day, after getting so much healthy stuff, we ordered pizza. Pizza Hut is very popular here. We don’t get it too often though, and always kind of regret it. It’s pretty heavy on the stomach.

Anyway, I hope all of you are doing well! I’ve been so self-involved lately it’s just been disgusting!

20 thoughts on “No amount of healthy food can quell old haunting memories

  1. The market looks lovely, especially since it’s rainy here, again. I live in one of the rainiest towns in Canada – the sun deprivation is real 😉

    It’s hard when flashbacks punch us in the face. Suddenly, we’re back in the feelings, as though no time had passed. I find that it quite throws me off and if I don’t take care of myself, I enter into a cycle of them.

    I’m sorry you had that experience at university. Pretentiousness is so egregious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh sorry to hear about all the rain. I think that much rain would probably not be so good for my mental health. How do you handle it?

      Glad to know that someone understands what this is like although I’m sorry that you too have had to go through it. I understand the cycle part as well. I really have to do a lot of brainwork and mindfulness practice to not let it get the best of me! Glad that we are both strong enough to do it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The rain and the dreary-ness can be dire. In fact, the local libraries lend seasonal affective disorder sun lamps so people can get light. And, as soon as the clouds break, everyone is out.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh no JoAnn, it’s just horrible that these horrible people made you feel this way. You’d think having to pay all that money to get degrees they’d treat you a whole lot better especially knowing that you’re more educated and all. Maybe it was just that you were too smart and made them feel intimated in some way or another. What idiots? But there is a God and everyone will meet their Karma in due time! I think you should give it another shot Jo – don’t you already have the credits? Can’t you start from where you left off? Please try – get vindication for yourself!

    As for Tunapuna Market – Wow!! You took me back to childhood memories of going early on Saturday mornings before sunrise with my grandmother walking from end to end to get the best deals! Can I please have your camera?! Those pictures made reach out and touch everything – the color are so vivid and alive and all the produce looked so rich and clean and healthy!!! I miss all this good tasty REAL ORGANIC FOOD!!! – and the doubles man by the main road in front the market – 🤣🤣🤣!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. iPhone cameras really are awesome… that’s how I shoot all of my photos. They always come out so great and capture so much detail. Thanks for sharing your memories of the market. I’m sure it would have really been something to walk through there as a kid. So magnificent and fun!

      I do love me some doubles. Might have to send hubby out to get some in the morning! Haven’t had any in a minute or two.

      Yes, vindication is 100% right. Hopefully it will come soon. Thank you for your kind encouraging words. I really appreciate it!
      🙂🌈🙂🌈

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes please, I’m all in for the vindication – I’ll be your loudest cheer leader!!!

        Please don’t post no doubles pictures – I’ll cry !!! 🤣🤣

        But I do have an iPhone and my pics are not as incredible as yours – Well, after all, I’m not in Trinidad 🇹🇹!! 🤣🤣 Paradise.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You achieved your goals, JoAnn, no matter whether a few select people at the University were too petty to admit it. Exulting your GPA, acing just about all the tests, and above all, pursuing an advanced degree in the first place – all testify to your aptitude, to your drive and to your compatibility with your dreams.

    Much, if not most, of your coursework may be transferred to another institution. For example, I’m sure T&T has at least two or three universities, right? All of them thousands of miles from those, um….misdirected, souls who made your first attempt miserable. Fortunately, they don’t have the last word in this story, you do.

    Now, aside from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? In that spirit, I’m going to comment on the photos. The foodie in me must. Therefore…

    Those are some awesome snaps of the local markets. Far more extravagant than are most of the farmers; markets I frequent. Amazing, too, you have access to all the fresh tropical produce, and to temperate favorites too. Usually, it’s one or the other, but you have both.

    Well done, and I look forward to seeing what you create with some of the bounty. (That’s a hint, Jerome.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha, seriously the worst thing about going to that market, which isn’t a bad thing at all actually, is the problem of wanting to get too much stuff… one of this, one of that adds up. They do too great of a job of presentation! Everything looks too delicious. I’ve frequently been making variations of your coconut milk curry soup from a few weeks ago. It makes a great lunch!

      As far as the degree, I really need to sit down and establish some goals or I will continue to do nothing about it and the thing will never stop coming back to haunt me! Thank you for the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the wonderful affirmation on the coconut curry soup! We’re not done yet, either. More to come – not just variations. but whole new directions. That said, a coconutty theme unifies them all.

        Speaking of which, is there enough room in your yard for a coconut palm? What a great opportunity you have now, being just off the South American coast. I like your life’s trajectory – from the sub-arctic (Idaho), to the sub-tropical (Florida), to the You-Can’t-Get-Much-More-Tropical-Than-This! (T&T)

        I also like your determination not to give up your dream of picking up that Master’s. You’ve done the work already, proving to yourself (for a great start) you have what it takes.

        The first time left a bad taste in your mouth. A pity, yet understandable. The second time’s a charm, though, and your mind soon will obsess over infinitely more pleasant things. Like whether you want to put a doctoral diploma on your wall too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, need to keep my momentum up. It’s all too easy for me to fall into apathy. Terrible to admit but it’s true 😕

          Coconut milk curry soup is soul-saving! I believe anyway. It must be the spice blend… turmeric is supposed to be great for the body. Last time I made it I added fresh grated ginger as well. Wow! What a difference it makes.😋
          I left out the peanut butter though. I wasn’t sure how well that would go with the fresh ginger but I might experiment with that next time 🙂

          It’s so nice to be able to talk to another foodie fanatic. I know people who can eat the same stuff all the time and be happy. Seems so boring!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Definitely, it is so nice to have found someone equally enthusiastic about good food!

            Adding grated ginger is amazing, isn’t it? Fresh ginger is to the dried stuff in jars as first-class air travel is to rolling around on the ground. The former pair both are ginger, and the latter two are means of conveyance, but they couldn’t differ more.

            I definitely would give the PB a shot the next time. After all, Southeast Asians have been enjoying it with ginger for ages now. Before that (peanuts still being tucked away in the New World until the 16th century), they used other kinds of nuts. That particular combo, ginger and nuts, has a millennia-long pedigree.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Ok, you gotta tell me. Are you some famous writer moonlighting as an “terrified amateur”? Your writing is just too good, not to mention your culinary skills. I promise it will be our secret! 😉

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Ha ha, forget about Elvis and Hitler conspiracies. I’m just sure Shakespeare lives on in South America somewhere. Or perhaps Idaho. A lot of famous people have hidden out there without no one noticing. “My Own Private Idaho” is for real!

                  I knew Pennsylvania was just a ruse. Thank you for sharing your secret!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. “Pennsylvania” is Latin for “Penn’s Woods,” and where are there more trees than just about anywhere else?

                    That’s right – the Amazon! Apparently, the thick forest climbing the Andean foothills hides more than just uncontacted tribes. Maybe a writer or two as well.

                    As for the “Penn” part, as you suggest, it’s just a ruse. It kept the secret for all this time, though. That is, until you took up the case.

                    Liked by 1 person

  4. It has been ten years. If you really want that MA. I’d suggest going back and doing the test again. Take it independently if you can. Transfer your credits to another institution if you must. Get angry (but not obsessed) if it helps you get motivated. If it is important, pursue it.

    It is a good thing to have a goal that is important to you, independent of whether you actually get there. Life is about the trip and not the destination.

    If it is no longer important or if it is factually impossible to follow up on, let it go. It is what it is and you are where you are.

    Every moment of my life that I’ve ever spent wishing my past were different is a wasted moment I could have spent enjoying what I have now or working on something better for the future. When I was younger, there were a lot of those. Letting the past poison the present is always a losing proposition.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think I’ll probably end up writing a letter or an email to someone at the university but outside of the department. Just need to figure out the best way to do it. It really is something I need to deal with though, if not it will always haunt me now… that itself is a waste of time! Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it. It’s been making me feel better just to talk about it and start addressing it 🙂

      Like

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