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Archive for January, 2008

I Am What I Eat (or Read)

To give you some idea of the type of writing I’ve been gorging on lately, (by way of Medieval History and Critical Reading) today I said the following aloud to myself:
Why cannot my coffee keep its heat?
And then I rolled my eyes.

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Mary Rocks

My friend Mary is awesome – smart, versatile in her talents, visionary, and creative. I’m so proud of her and what she’s done with her life, especially considering the ordeals she’s overcome to accomplish it all.

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At least then I wouldn’t have to admonish myself for the excruciating jealousy that choked me when I read this.

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You’re It!

I was tagged by Jessica. I didn’t know this was a “thing” people did until just now…
I’m late in my response to being tagged, since it happened nearly a month ago. But here I go anyway.
The rules:
Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

The 7 things:
1. I have a severe weakness for cheesy Christmas movies and romantic comedies. Despite the contrived plots, shallow characters, and insipid dialogue, there is something appealing that I can’t identify. Sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and a movie like Sweet Home Alabama is my idea of a perfectly comfortable hour and a half.
2. Price stickers on the front covers of books make me homicidal. There is nothing worse than a glaring orange 40% OFF sticker obscuring half the title. I want to slap the people who do this. Not to mention, ripping it off is always a crap shoot; you might leave behind some of that disgusting sticky crud that collects dust and fuzz and sticks to the book shelved beside it.
3.I can’t sleep if my bed is not made before I get in so that the sheets and blankets are straight and even on both sides – even if that means I make it right before I go to bed for the night.
4. I love to sort, wash, dry, and fold laundry. There are few things I find more tedious than putting the clean folded laundry it the proper drawers. For this I have no explanation.
5. I am possessed of several latent artistic talents. The immature state of these abilities provides an endless source of guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and general mopiness.
6. I am fascinated by Johnny Depp and Ellen DeGeneres.
7. I love to bake goodies and listen to other people tell me how great they are. (They are usually great, but not always.)
The 7 People:
1. Karen of Kaos
2. Rob of Obviously Rob
3.Teri of finding my niche
4. MaryBeth of Bonita Dias
5. Casey of Casey West
6. I don’t have enough friends
7. with blogs to fill in these spots.

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PSA

Don’t shop at your campus bookstore for your college books until you search and compare prices elsewhere. All of the books I would have purchased from the bookstore were only available new and the total came to $287.40. And I’m only taking three classes. I can’t imagine what it costs for a full course load.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement: I used Campusi to search for textbooks and compare prices from loads of booksellers. Smartest time I’ve spent so far in college. You can search by ISBN, title, or author. Then it will display the results in ascending order of price including shipping costs. There are often coupons available for discounted shipping on larger orders or for new buyers from a given site. When you click your chosen item to purchase, you are then redirected to the site hosting that item – half.com, Alibris, Amazon, etc. Then, you can search that seller for the rest of your books because sometimes it’s cheaper to buy more from one seller (shipping is usually discounted) even if the initial price of the book is more. It’s not always better that way, but often combining at least a few of your books to one seller will get you better rates for shipping which of course lowers the total cost of the book.
Shipping prices are where you can really get screwed. If you’re not careful, you’ll think you’re getting a great deal, but then shipping on your $7 book costs $10. So the important thing to consider is the total price of book and shipping. It’s for this reason that I’m actually purchasing one of my books through the campus bookstore. Turns out, even if I can only buy it new, it’s still a better price than what I found online. Plus, I won’t have to wait for delivery.
So thanks to the convenience of Campusi, I’ve spent $169.53 on 11 books, and I saved $117.87. This is a great deal for me because I plan on keeping several of the books that are pertinent to my major and other interests. So it’s money I won’t be making up later.

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In All Fairness…

The University didn’t tell him he was teaching the course this term, so he didn’t know he was supposed to show up last week.
But days 2, 3, and 4 more than made up for last week’s blunderous lack of substance.
On Thursday, Intro to Critical Reading has me farther through Gulliver’s Travels alongside Reader Response Criticism, on which I am to present – with the help of my group – three or four major principles, what I like about my chosen critical approach and a quote from the text to illustrate it; then apply this critical approach to either Part two or three of Gulliver’s Travels. Next week there is an exam on Gulliver’s Travels and all five criticisms we’ve covered in the past two weeks.
Monday’s online class wants a discussion board introduction and completion of Unit One from Becoming a Master Student.
Tuesday’s Medieval History is requiring lots of reading, which is difficult without the books. I may not even get the books for this class until after next week, so I probably won’t be completing this on time.
I’m not sure what to make of any of this.

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Too Grown Up for College?

My first encounter with higher education has left something to be desired. I felt the doom of Medieval History when I learned three days prior to the first class that the professor still hadn’t assigned a book; at the same time, I discovered that book assignments were due to the book center by mid-October. Two and a half months late – indicative of a chronic problem? I rolled my eyes and figured it wasn’t a big deal for the first class.
I arrived 15 minutes early, forgetting my water bottle in the car and realizing that there was no way I had enough time to go back for it before class started and also realizing there was no way I could concentrate with the dry burning drought overcoming my throat. I made three trips to the water fountain during those 15 minutes.
The class is small which is fine. The professor was late which is not fine. The guy in the row next to me looks just like the principal from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Incidentally, he was the guy in Howard the Duck too. I don’t remember anything about that movie except that my parents watched it when I was young, the name stuck in my head, and so did Jeffrey Jones’ face – a.k.a. Ed Rooney.)
Class was scheduled to begin at 7 pm. At 7:10, I remembered why I was always so annoyed in Jr. High school: Correlation? Our first “class” was held in a middle school. It’s because I could never sit back in my chair to be comfortable because my hair would get wrapped around the head of that screw on the chair back that held it onto the frame. EVERY TIME. If I for a moment forgot or ignored this simple requirement for perfect posture, the second I tried to lean over my school book or scoot forward to write some notes, I received an abrupt and tear-inducing reminder. Somehow, even hairs from the front of my head, like just in front of my ears, managed to get tangled on that mean screw. Seriously, grab a pinchful of hair from your hairline just above an ear and yank them out. HOLY SHIT!
And people wondered why I never smiled back then. Pain…lots of pain.
That memory came screeching back as I ripped out about 12 hairs from the base of my skull. So I have to endure this professor’s tardiness and apparent incompetence while suffering some weird Chinese hair-pulling torture.
At 7:20 the proctor person who directed us all to our proper rooms – since we were meeting at a different building than we will henceforward – informed us that she hadn’t heard from Professor MIA and that we were free to go or we could stick around another 10 minutes if we so desired. Everyone in the room too immature to vote this year wooted, attached cell phones to ears, and ran out. The rest of us discussed the inconvenience momentarily only to discover that none of us had any more information regarding course materials or the alleged instructor. So class dismissed.
Seems I had enough time to go back for the water bottle after all. Thus concludes Day 1 of College.
Status: Confidence in institutions of higher learning is waning. Hoping tonight’s class inspires a bit more.

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I have an assignment! Read Part 1 of Gulliver’s Travels for Thursday night class. Woo Hoo!

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New Year’s Observation

Note: I know it’s nearly a week after the New Year, but I started it last week and finished it now and in the spirit of living up to my statement at the end, I felt I had to post despite the tardiness.
On her blog, a friend mentioned that she’s never felt anything particularly new about this time of year, and despite its name and the requirement of a new calendar, I have to agree. I’ve concluded that I’ve always felt this way and just couldn’t reconcile my true feelings with the expected treatment of New Year’s. It’s the time-honored and revered point of origin for innumerable resolutions, the quintessential line through time marking the convergence of then and now, potential and kinetic, before and after.
It’s funny because just this afternoon I lamented the absence of snow this holiday season – and for many past seasons – and that if only there were a white winter to enjoy I might not have to drudge through the next three months of gray dormant tedium. A mere twelve hours later, a fresh and substantial blanket of white fluff silently mocks my pain.
The point, though, is that I’m about to go on about how January 1 doesn’t feel new to me now – and indeed hasn’t ever felt new – but now looking out my window and on the hour’s drive home from over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, my world shimmers under something new as if in rebuke of the earlier complaint.
Except that the complaint remains. The calendar may disagree and I’m sure all the partyers in Times Square can argue otherwise, but January 1 didn’t feel much different to me than December 31. Rather I feel that new things have started before anything else has finished, and I sit in the middle of this no man’s land of incompletion.
The observation, then, is that clearly not much thought went into assigning January the duty of bringing in the New Year. Aside from the ironic timing of the snow and my motivation to write about this, there is nothing new in January. Even the snow isn’t new; there’s always snow in January. I harbor no inclination to make sweeping life-altering resolutions during this month of dreariness that I know I will breach before the close of the month. Most of nature is hibernating in one way or another during January. Why shouldn’t I? Nothing grows or produces life now; birdsongs are silent; even the stray cats are out of sight. I hate January. Everything is trapped.
New Year should begin at an actual point of transition in the cosmos. The vernal equinox makes the most sense because it’s the time when the earth and animals are waking up. Things are new…hm…makes sense.
So I’ve set up a few placebos to provide the newness I’m not experiencing around me. College begins this Tuesday with Medieval History, followed by Intro to Critical Reading on Thursday. Bible study resumes this Wednesday and the new there is my resolution to abandon the skepticism and do the work for real. Also, I’m exercising; for real, I’m sick to death of the poor image I have of myself and I know I can change it and it’s about damn time I stop making excuses and being lazy.
Enough of my thoughts on the New Year because as far as I’m concerned life goes on as usual with out all the fuzzy-wuzzies of self-inflicted higher expectations that weren’t realized last year and likely won’t be this year. It comes down to decision and I’ve decided I’m going to work hard.

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I had an interesting déjá vu this morning during which I concluded that elementary school secretaries often operate invisibly.
I moved to Pennsylvania from Florida in January 1988. It was the second half of first grade and my third school of the year. I knew nothing of overnight snowfalls, salt trucks, or snow days. I don’t remember the date of my first snow day, but I hadn’t been at my new school for very long. Everything was still foreign and I walked to school alone.
I do remember tromping through the snow that morning, not so blissfully unaware of the serene barrenness. It never occurred to me to notice the absence of other students walking to school or the missing crossing guards. The only thing I was beginning to notice was that despite its enchanting sparkly beauty, the snow was cold and melting into my socks. (I didn’t know about snow boots then either.)
I arrived – with sloppy sopping feet – at a dark and empty school; I stood in the front entrance for a long time before I walked to my classroom which was also dark and empty.
There was only one light on in the whole place casting its warm glow on the gray linoleumed hall floor. I guess I walked past the secretary’s office on my way to the classroom. She followed me and met me at the door where I couldn’t decide what to do.
We went back to her office and I imagine she called my mom to explain the situation and clue us all into the novelty of two-hour delays and cancellations and how one becomes apprised of both. I was relieved that I didn’t have to trudge back home through the puddly snow. We laid out my socks and shoes on the radiator and I read books with the secretary for two hours until everyone showed up.
It’s notable to me now because this morning my daughter had her first snow delay and we almost missed it. Casey and Evelina were on the way out the door when the memory seized me and I rushed to the computer searching for delays. And there it was – 10 am start.
But then I was conflicted. Many of the other schools mentioned their special circumstances for Kindergarteners: “modified AM Kindergarten,” “no AM Kindergarten,” and stuff like that, but her school didn’t say anything about Kindergarten and I didn’t know what that meant for her. But I knew who would know!
The secretary. I called her, she was friendly and helpful and delighted to be so.
I’ve learned a lot about living with snow since I was seven. This morning my daughter wore tall snow boots so she wouldn’t arrive with wet feet. I packed her an extra pair of shoes so she didn’t have to clunk around in the outerwear all morning, and we caught the delay just in time.
The circumstances have changed, but after twenty years, it’s still the unnamed secretaries who made these snow days possible.

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