I found this video earlier today while on a Dashboard Confessional revival kick:
I think it is hella nifty!
I found this video earlier today while on a Dashboard Confessional revival kick:
I'm not surprised that ABC cancelled Pushing Daisies, but even so, I am still upset. The show was so unique, inventive, and downright charming that I was drawn to it. Its stark juxtaposition between light and dark and illustration of life, death, and life again was unlike any other show I had ever seen. It's whimsical whodunnit world and fantastical feel made we want to see more.
Still, I had the inclination that the show would go. Bryan Fuller's ingenious shows have a tendency to disappear as quickly as they appear. They are too different, too strange and abnormal for most people to grasp. Perhaps even too intelligent and sarcastic. Dead Like Me only survived two seasons on Showtime, dying out before fans like myself were able to see what happened to Georgia Lass and her families (both real and reaper).
What's most upsetting to me, though, is that the shows that are so trivial and similar remain on air. If it isn't about promiscuous and pompous doctors, one-line wonder crime sleuths, or over-sexualized "real people", then it apparently isn't worth air time. Ultimately it is insulting because it shows the arrogance of Nielsen and the mundanity of the general American public. It's a shame, really!
Since it is winter, I am guessing that the blue ones are going to be more popular. Therefore, I only submitted the left and right ones to my consultant. I personally like the one on the left because it is more fun and lively. It is also seasonal! I still like the right one, but I feel it is too conventional and, therefore, somewhat boring.
What do you think? Any suggestions on anything I should change, delete or add?
You know it has been a bad day when you return home exhausted and agitated. A growing sense bitterness toward the world bites at you. If it latches on, tenaciously clamping down, it drains you from one day to the next. You begin to dislike the ordinary day-to-day tasks and you begin to have a strong distaste for the ongoing stories and excuses that others make. The anger makes its way through your body. Affecting each organ like a poison, it retards your thoughts and thins your blood. Your patience grows thinner and you feel as if there is nothing truly worthy of your time. If resuscitative action isn't taken soon, it will consume you whole.
Lately, I've been more angry than usual. While school has been fine, I've noticed that my patience for my students in one of my classes is incredibly thin. Although I have tried to be positive with them, I can't help but feel embittered by their manipulative attempts to slips assignments past me or to try and talk their way into a better grade. While I have taken action to combat this in the form of dressing up and returning to a strict demeanor, it doesn't seem to be working. They don't seem to understand that when I say something is meant to be turned in on time, it means when I ask for it. They don't understand what my schedule is like and instead think I must conform to their time frame.
It is mostly frustrating, but it is also alarming. One the one hand I am upset by the fact that I can't seem to manage this one class as well as I have managed classes in the past. On the other hand, I feel like this is part of a growing trend in education. As I look at this class of mis-matched students from all walks of life, I can sense a growing belief that not only should 100-level classes be incredibly easy, but that every 100-level class should grant an "A" to everyone. It's a growing belief that, quite honestly, agitates me beyond belief. However, as much as I have tried to combat it in this class, I have failed. The students somehow feel entitled to a better grade and because I refuse to "give" it to them (because they have not earned it), many of them are ready to negatively evaluate me.
In all honesty, the negative evaluations do not bother me too much. This evaluation will, most likely, coincide with many other professors' this semester and it is ultimately not going to affect me that much, if at all. It's the disrespect that bothers me. It's the lack of personal responsibility that annoys me. It's the fear that this sense of entitlement is the future of education and, therefore, the future I will inevitably inherit as a problematic in education.
I am trying to be positive. I am trying to be hopeful. Ultimately, I am trying to remember that this is just one of many stages and phases I must go through. Yet, I can't help but feel that this is something I will continue to encounter, again and again. I want to know how to deal with it. I want to effectively combat it. Most importantly, I want to feel better.
Today, for a class project, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a box of legos. This week we're exploring micro and macro structure in the sociocultural tradition and I thought it would be a near perfect way to examine how we create structures. What I forgot, however, was how much I love legos.
I haven't played with legos since I was
seven, err nine, err... thirteen. Hell, I could be wrong about that too! I am, however, confident that the last time I played with my legos was before middle school because only socially-handicapped people who were on the debate team or card-holding members of the mathletes continued to play with them. Of course, I was on the debate team; but not until high school. So, ipso facto, I could've still played with them up to high school, but I assure you that I did not. At least, that's what I want you to think!
So, today, after spending thirty dollars on a three-in-one set of legos, I totally couldn't resist the urge to bust open the box and break into the plastic bags to build a house. In fact, I could hardly contain myself while working on serious grad school work that needed to be completed. It was almost like the inner child in me was crying for release or, perhaps, I met the threshold of my sanity for the day. Either way I ripped into the box when I got home and spent the next hour and ten minutes making one of the three options. As you can clearly see, my beach house design is freaking amazing. Large open windows. A balcony. Cobblestone walkways and a grill.
Of course, I did rely on the guidebook. What? It's not like I had a whole collection of sets to make my own house! Although, if I had more lego sets I totally would've gone crazy and made my own little abode!
Who says you can't relive the childhood you have within you? Either that or grad school really has pushed me over the edge. I'm siding with the good nature of release and creativity, though. I have to for my own sake!
Lately, in our building, there has been a piss perpetrator. He has pissed on the seat of the bathroom almost everyday for the last month and half and nothing was done. The GTAs, including myself, were highly concerned, but afraid to post a flyer for fear we would lose our bathroom privileges. Some of us even cleaned up the messes so that we wouldn't get blamed for the piss perpetrator's nastiness and lack of cleanliness and concern for others.
Fortunately, we shouldn't have to worry about it as much now. The former debate coach (one of my favorite professors) and smart-ass extraordinaire posted the flyer linked above.
Hopefully the pisser finally hits the can, properly.
The cosmic forces of the universe have thrown something new my way again. Life has been good, albeit busy; but yesterday was a cause for some concern.
Yesterday was like any other day. I woke up early and I went to work as usual. I conversed with faculty and friends and got my work done. The highlight of my day was my haircut appointment, which was in the early afternoon. I got there on time and, as usual, I shared random stories with my stylist.
My stylist usually asks about some of the more random things that have happened in my short teaching career. Ever since I told her about the student who wanted to bring a gun on campus as a visual aid, she has had a good-natured curiosity about how students are behaving at college. Often times she asks out of concern for me. After all, some of the student situations have been strange and I think she simply wants to make sure I am doing well.
This time I told my stylist about a strange student I had last semester. This student was an awkward and anxious young woman who e-mailed me incessantly. The problem was that she also found my personal e-mail address (which most of you know) and instant-messaged me once. The instant-messaging incident was strange, not because she found my personal e-mail address, but because she made me feel uncomfortable. It totally violated the student-teacher boundary and I let her know that. I soon blocked her from instant-messaging me and thought nothing of it thereafter. Although, as I noted to my stylist, she was still a bit strange with the e-mails until the semester was over.
Make that "strange with the e-mails" up to the present.
Yesterday night, around 5:30, I received an e-mail from said student with the title "An Formal Apology." I was uncertain, but I soon clicked it open. The e-mail basically read as an apology from a jilted and somewhat deranged individual. In it, my former student told me that there were things I needed to know about her before I "wrote her off as a basket case". She then went on to detail that she felt I had "developed a soft spot" for her and other women with sensitive body issues and eating disorders, and that she "felt drawn to me" because of it. Ultimately, though, she felt like she needed to apologize because she "needed to relieve the tension from her conscience" . She concluded by telling me that she had withdrawn from the college to seek rehabilitation and a less disordered perspective and wanted to apologize for making me feel awkward only because she felt that I was a kindred spirit.
Suffice to say, I was freaked out. It seemed beyond coincidence that I had gotten the e-mail the same day I had mentioned her to my stylist. In my state of shock, I immediately called a good professor of mine and talked to her about the issue. I read her the e-mail and listened to her feedback. She told me, in a jocular manner, that what I went through was basically a rite of passage for all teachers, instructors and professors. She detailed some of the weird experiences she had dealt with and reassured me that this was similar. In particular, she told me not to reply to this student because she felt that this student was "grasping for straws" because she wanted a renewed connection with me since she had not heard from me in months. I appreciated my professor's advice and I heeded it with great concern.
Perhaps too much, though. In light of the e-mail, I decided to remove my MySpace account, privatize my blog, twitter, and facebook (to the extreme), and archive all of the e-mails from this student with the label "Odd Student Issues." I know it is a bit extreme, especially since the e-mail really was not stalker-ish, but I wanted to be safe. I don't want this student to find me, to follow me, or to try and get to know me. Removing or hiding my presence from the places she could find me makes me feel better. It makes me feel further removed from her, and I need that to feel secure. I've had some weird instances in the past and I simply do not want to have to similar instances again. Therefore, "privatized" is the modus operandi from here on out, and I'm more than fine with it. Hopefully you are fine with it too.
I think it is evident by my lack of posts over the last three months that I have been either insanely busy, incredibly lazy, mysteriously abducted, or found dead. Given that I am writing to you right now though, I think the last option isn't realistic. I'll let you decide, though.
I will not bore you by delineating the details of what has happened since my second year of graduate school, nor will I post a litany of random happenings. Instead, I'll let you assume that it has been similar to the previous year with one clear exception that you may or may not believe: I am actually less stressed and less emotional than last year.
This semester has been an amazing source of struggle and devotion, and I've been having a blast! As geeky as it is, I retook the GRE for the third time and rocked it! My verbal and quantitative scores were some of the best I have ever had and I got the average I need for all the schools I am applying to. To add to that, I also found out that my paper got accepted into a regional conference to be held in February! I was one of only seven people to make it into the organizational communication panel, and I am positive that the competition was intense, so it means even more to me that I made it in. Not only do I get to jet away from Idaho in February, but I will also have the chance to meet various scholars from other colleges, some of which I am applying to! I'm most hopeful that I'll get to meet a few professors from UC-Boulder as that is the top school on my list, but even if I do not get to, the experience of presenting at my first conference will be enough for me.
Aside from that, I've been meaning to post pictures with my entries, but I don't have a camera. Unfortunately my digital camera is still broken, so I can't take pictures and post them on here. I have, however, requested that I get a new camera for Chirstmas. If I am lucky, I might just get one. Otherwise, it is going to be a while before I can afford a camera. Naturally I'm a little disappointed that I do not have a camera because I love taking photos and I miss snapping shots as a past-time activity. I'll keep you posted. Although, I guess you don't have to worry about the vanity shots...unless I re-discover photo booth on my MacBook.
In the meantime, I'm going to continue to stay devoted, motivated, and relaxed. I've found a way to maintain the balance of school and life, although it is thrown off at times (especially during grading speeches, the bane of every COMM 101 professors existence). However when the balance is in motion, I am a machine, a scholarly stud, and an all-round alacritous, erudite, guy-natured guy ready to take on anything that comes my way. I'm looking forward to getting back to the balance and back to everything that lies ahead.
I have so much to write about and so much to say, but I don't have enough time to put these thoughts and words down. With any luck, though, I'll be out of here--this town--soon enough to write about the series of events I have had to be party to.
In light of my impecunious status as of the end of the spring semester, I've decided that it would be best to start sharing some of my "tips" for survival. These will not only be hilarious insights into my life, but also clear lessons to learn from should you ever end up being broke.
That being said, there are a few clarifications to make.
First off, all of these tips will assume that the individual in question has at least $500 (or a relatively similar amount if you live in a low- or high-cost of living area) to live on for almost three whole months. Secondly, that said individual knows how to budget the limited amount of funds, especially when he or she does not have a job. Next, that said individual has access to local resources such as parents, friends, and public spaces (e.g. your local library, your office [if you have a job and if you have one!]) for a variety of reasons to be explicated later. Finally, that said individual has a great sense of humor and manages to wake up everyday (whether in the morning or late afternoon!) knowing that he or she will, in fact, be alright.
With that settled, I introduce Strapped Summer Survival Tip#1
OFFSETTING YOUR ENERGY BILLS
In the absence of a job and any sort of accountability to anyone else, it is likely that you are home most of the time. While this may, in fact, be enjoyable after a strenuous semester, it is also potentially expensive. Whether you are playing video games, watching television or movies, cooling off with the air conditioner, or reading a good book at night, chances are your energy bills will be on the rise. While most bills are lest expensive per rate during the summer, it is still likely that your bills will be more expensive in terms of energy usage (per unit) during these months. Therefore, I recommend the following:
- Unplug any electronics not in use or unnecessary devices. Not using the cellphone charger? Unplug it. Leaving the TV and DVD player plugged in when you aren't home? Unplug them or buy a phantom powerstrip to cut the power when they are not in use. According to Diana McLaren of bankrate.com, these electronic devices (specifically TVs) can "cost your almost $80 in wasted electricity." While that cost is an annual average, it figures out to about $20 over three months. And while that $20 may not seem like a lot, it will buy you three to four small bags of rice or two big bags of rice (enough to survive three months on). Plus, unplugging unused and unnecessary devices contributes to increased conservation of natural resources. You can be a hippie AND be cheap, who knew!
- Replace your light bulbs with energy efficient ones. This works best if you already replaced your light bulbs when you had money! Energy Star certified light bulbs "use about 75% less energy than standard lighting, produce 75 percent less heat, and lasts up to 10 times longer." Again, the costs are minimal in a three month period, but it is likely you'll save around $20 to $60 by making the switch.
- Use your resources! That is, use your family, friends or public spaces. When it comes to family and friends, don't be a pest and demand or request to use their resources for your gain. Rather, use them as they allow you to. Chances are your family and friends will allow you to plug you laptop in, surf the Internet, and hang out at their place. Therefore, don't overstep your welcome.
Given the limited amount of offsetting you'll get out of your family and friends, it is best to use public spaces. Public libraries, the opiate for the public and the poor, allow you to not only find a quiet place to work, but typically allow you to plug a laptop or cellphone into an electrical socket for free. This way you can get work done and not have to worry about the cost of energy! As an added bonus, you'll likely be in a cool location where you don't have to worry about adjusting the AC for the right temperature.
If you think you can afford it, you can cruise to your local coffeeshop and use their internet (if it is free), but you'll probably have to pay for a cup of joe and suffer through the local noises.
- Get outside! When everything else fails, make sure to spend more time outside. If the weather is nice and you know of a few places where you can sit and read or enjoy yourself, then go there. Staying at home only increases the chances that you'll use energy when you do not need to. In fact, it is likely that you'll use more energy because you will try and find things to do if you are at home all day.
Of course, it is evident that these little insights will not make you rich nor save you massive amounts of money. However, in all frugality, they will save you some money that you can easily use elsewhere. In fact, the money you save on electricity in two months can be used to pay for the electricity of the third month if you manage it appropriately. Or you can use the money for something lavish, like a pizza. Either way, you'll feel better knowing that you have a little extra cash through conservation and the cost of someone else. It is a bit selfish, but, then again, I didn't say the tips would be virtuously moral!
These days run together with little interruption and slight aberrations. Not much changes and I find myself doing much of the same work day after day. Fortunately I have been able to mix things up a little lately, but there nothing too terribly novel to report except, perhaps:
- I recently started watching Torchwood. For those of you who don't know, it is a sci-fi/fantasy series from the BBC. It's sort of like The X-Files meets Roswell (when it was good [i.e. only during Season 1]). So far I have finished the first two discs and I can't wait to see the rest of the series.
- I downloaded Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes for the iPod nano. It was a well-reasoned impulse buy that I can, fortunately, afford (it was only $5). Since it was designed by Square-Enix, it naturally follows that it is a strategy-RPG similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, except it uses your music to make troops. It's highly addicting! In fact, the first night I had it, I played the game for six hours straight! I have since, of course, recomposed myself and restricted my playtime to a few hours a day.
- Half.com officially sucks! While I have sold about 40-50 items in the last two months, I have only received feedback from half of them. Moreover, half.com's new policy regarding feedback for buyers is completely biased. Instead of allowing the seller to have any sort of recourse or compensation, the new policy does not allow sellers to give negative or neutral feedback to buyers. Yet buyers are allowed to give whatever feedback they want and both neutral and negative feedback lower the seller's rating! It follows the maxim that "the customer is always right," when the customer may, in fact, be particularly persnickety and a complete douche bag. As you may have guessed by now, I got a neutral rating from a seller. Apparently the book didn't arrive fast enough, even though it arrived on time. Instead of talking to me, though, the buyer gave me a neutral rating which lowered my perfect score down to a 97%! What is worse is that I had already given him positive feedback, so I couldn't do anything about the situation. Well, given the new policy, it is not like I could do anything anyway. I could've abstained from leaving feedback, but that doesn't do anything.
- It is likely that I'll be headed out to South Dakota at the end of the month. It isn't a vacation, though. Rather, I'll be helping my family out for a few days. It will be nice to see my family again and, I suppose, hit the road. The travel time does not bode well, but I will manage.
- Today marks the one month mark (or close to it, anyway) until I get my loan money! Internet, you know how big a deal this is for me! Of course, I am still getting by considerably well, but I am looking forward to the arrival of funds. I have already drafted a list of the things I need to do with my money (including paying back a few people!), so I'll be set to jet once I am financially sound. Hopefully I receive the full amount I have requested for this year, otherwise there could be problems down the line. And, in re-reading that, I realize I sound like a loan-leech, but, honestly, what else can you call the majority of college students these days? Indebted dorks? Impecunious indolent individuals? Educated bums?
Until then, I am counting down the days, line by line, because, as Destiny's Child said so, erm, "eloquently": "I'm a survivor. I'm gonna make it. I will survive. Keep on survivin'."
"Everybody knows it sucks to grow up, and everybody does...Let me tell you what, the years go on and we're still fighting it. We're still fighting it." — Ben Folds, Still Fighting It
So far I've survived one week after my hasty voluntary termination of my "cold call" job that clearly was not for me. I know it isn't much, but it means a lot to me, especially when you factor in the severe lack of money I have in my bank account at the moment.
In so many ways, this week has been a true testament to my survival because I have abstained from spending money on anything remotely frivolous. That includes lavish items such as pizzas and coffeeshop pastries and lattes (which, you know, Internet, is a big deal for me!). It has not only taught me to be fiscally responsible through budgeting, but also through cost-benefit analysis (yes, I just said CBA!). I've found that I have reduced the amount of money I am spending on things I do not need (anything new or shiny) while devoting more money to things I do need (like rice, lots and lots of rice!). Plus, I have learned that I can get by on less when I need to (I mean, thousands of generations of rice-based dieters can't be wrong, right?1).
If anything, though, this last week has helped me realize, more than ever, that I am more of an adult than I have ever been before. That my seem strange at first glance, especially in light of my jocular nature towards this situation, but it is increasingly apparent to me.
You see, Internet, this last year has truly kicked me around. I came back from a summer where I thought I had grown up, but soon learned that I had more growing up to do. In fact, the first semester of graduate school disabused any thoughts I had of truly being a confident self-motivated and inspired adult, let alone a Master's student. And yet, I survived.
However, as I inchoately transitioned into the next semester, I found that I still wasn't where I thought I was. Sure, I had gained some experience, but I had not learned the lessons I needed to learn from the mistakes I had made before. In fact, I repeated many of the same mistakes, only to find myself in a rut of my own construction. I felt empty, alone, and increasingly apathetic. I continually contemplated why I was in graduate school and I could not figure out why life generally sucked. I even thought I was depressed for a while, but realized that I was just being hard on myself for my shortcomings. So, I struggled though both the assignments and mental setbacks, all the while eagerly awaiting this summer.
Somehow I had gotten it into my head that this summer would be the panacea for all the ills I struggled with and endured during the year. I imagined that I would take a carefree vacation that would clear my head of all my worries and prepare me for the rest of the summer. I assumed I would land a job within weeks of my return from said vacation and that I would be able to easily continue my studies at a leisurely pace that would actually allow me to enjoy the process. In short, I believed that the Fates would somehow spin me a new thread that wove away from personal responsibility and difficulty into relaxation and ease.
To be sure, it was sophomoric, simplistic, and a tad bit selfish. To think that everything would just fall into place without much effort on my part! And yet, it is exactly what a broken, yet hopeful person would assume and hope for—a break, a pause, a let up from all the letdowns.
It is what I assumed.
However, in light of the shocking disappearance of last month (June seriously flew by), my lack of steady income (lets face it, half.com doesn't shell out the big bucks for old books, DVDs, CDs, and video games), and my dwindling funds (because of all those pizzas, pastries, and lattes), I have come to realize that the "beatdown" of this year has actually been the culmination of the growing pains of adulthood—the realization that I must become responsible for all aspects of my life. No longer can I leave this life up to faith, fate, chance or good hope. No longer can I naively assume that there is a fail-safe for everything. No longer can I rely on "easy outs," life lines or a resurrection of the spirit.
Instead, I am finally realizing that I am becoming an adult. I am joining the ranks of the thousands upon thousands who have been fighting to get by. I am fighting for myself amongst others. I am fighting an uphill battle for my stability, happiness, and security. Most importantly, I am becoming more of myself through my struggles—my losses and gains.
Indeed, I am figuring out the game before I am lost to it. The terrain is uncertain, but I refuse to simply jump from one point to another. I refuse to move forward on blind hope. I refuse to let it all go on the assumptions that "I'll have it down later" or that "I'll feel better in due time." I refuse to back down from my dreams. Most importantly, I refuse to surrender my potential to the unknown because it is too easy to fall back on doubt and uncertainty and the possibility of "what could have been."
From here on out I am going to suck it up and give it my all. I am going to survive, persevere, and fight with all I have through thick and thin until I get "there"— until I am—or until I can no longer fight2!
1: It also worked for all those contestants on Survivor too!
2: Or whenever the rice runs out, whichever comes first.
Alright, I admit it! I could not hack that job. Yes, seriously, I quit the job I JUST got hired for.
While I have never quit a job so hastily, I knew I had to quit this one. Calling a couple hundred people in a day and getting hung-up on or ignored the majority of the time just did not work for me. And while I realize I was doing good work for a good cause, I simply dreaded another day of going through the lists.
The redundancy and un-engaging nature of the job ultimately got to me. It was so bad, in fact, that I had a horrid nightmare during my nap yesterday. I dreamt that a group of black phones were chasing me down, buzzing and zapping me as I screamed, "I am only doing this for GOOD!" They blocked me into a corner behind a desk and continued to buzz and zap me until I finally woke up in a light warm sweat.
Talk about a impetus for leaving!
On the positive side, though, I did learn something in this short-lived experience. While call center work is CLEARLY not for me, I have a new found respect for the people that can and do this in order to survive or make extra cash. Either they have nerves of steel and nothing truly phases them or they simply don't care what gets thrown their way.
I also learned that, in job selection scenarios, "when it rains, it pours." In other words, had I been more realistic with myself, I would've declined this job on the mere notion that I couldn't hack it. While I didn't feel like I couldn't manage the job during the interview and training, my perspective completely changed once I got into it on the first day. In retrospect, then, I would have taken the chance on waiting for the call from the other job I interviewed for and rolled with either accepting the position or not getting it and moving on.
In the end, I am thankful that my best friend was able to help me with this job, but I should've been more honest with her and told her that it wasn't me. I didn't know until I tried, though.
So, now I have to figure out how to get by for the next six to seven weeks. While I have enough money to tide me over until the end of July, it's going to be a penny-pinching stretch. My parents have offered to pay one month's rent, if needed, and a best friend has offered to help if I need anything; but I hope it doesn't come to that.
For now, though, I think I am going to have to sell myself as candidly as possible. The title "educated bum" was always a joke, but now it is my reality. Who knew!
After two interviews and a lot of running around and applying for multiple jobs, I finally landed a job for the summer. The job isn't particularly glamourous, but it is worthwhile and manageable. I'll basically be on the phone all day from 9 to 5 sort of telemarketing, except that I am not selling anything. Instead, I'll be asking businesses to donate money to our non-profit organization.
I can already tell that I will do well with the job, but that it will require a great deal of disassociation on my part. In this light, it is going to be a challenge because I will have to avoid becoming too invested in the work that I do. However, given the nature of this job (mainly, the non-stop calling) and the fact that it is a temporary position, I should be able to slide on by for the next six weeks (or more, if I decide to stay a little longer). Plus, the job pays a great deal more than any of the other positions I applied to. It will give me the extra and necessary cashflow that I will need for the rest of the summer.
Aside from that, the next six weeks will also involve continued training for the 10K and half-marathon I plan to race in within the next two to four months. Although I thought I was improving on my time over the last few weeks, my Nike+ seems to think otherwise. Apparently the treadmill runs do not produce near the same mileage as they claim to. Either that, or my Nike+ calculates distance with pace and stride so precise that I am going to have to avoid the treadmill for my remaining runs. Either way, I was planning on kicking curbside over the next week anyway. Still, it is a little annoying to not know my exact pace. Also, I need to figure out how to stop my shin splints from flaring up. Although I do not run too intensely, I typically mange to upset my shins enough that I have to ice them down. It's painful and time consuming because it throws off my running schedule for at least two days. With any luck, though, my change of terrain will help me get stronger and run longer. Plus, my Lance Armstrong workout will totally help me kick my ass into shape.
So, six weeks (or seven) weeks to the finish. Think I can manage?
11.5 months. The items are in place and the reverse calendar is set. Each date is a milestone, a benchmark of completion that will will keep me going and push me further. My life is planned and I plan to stay organized and on task.
In a zen-like way, my life is balanced. Although it is far from certain, the balance will hopefully be maintained and I'll be able to enjoy whatever comes my way. My academic goals will run alongside my personal goals, each enriching the other. It's exciting and promising!
For now, I am continuing my work while enjoying my free time. In between my readings and writings (and applying for jobs), I have been training for a wicked 10K that will occur in a month! I am also getting geared up for my Ph.D. applications by finalizing my personal statements, CV, and resume. In the next three months, I'll be applying to schools all over the nation and, hopefully, getting accepted to many of them.
It seems like a long way from here, but competing in races and completing sections of my thesis will quickly turn into commencement. The applications will become letters of acceptance and rejection, and, in due time, I'll be in a new place. It is all in front of me and I am excited by what tomorrow brings.
I hate applying for jobs. You have to fill out so much information over and over again. Attach a resume. Attach references. Discuss why you left your other jobs. By the end of the application, I am usually so tired of the questions that I start questioning how bad I actually want the job.
Unfortunately, this summer I am in desperate need of a job. While I have enough money to hold me over for the next month, my funds will soon run out. Also, it would be nice to have some extra cash to save and spend. While I have applied to fourteen places total, I have only heard back from four. The first place called me and left a message, but when I called back and tried to get a hold of the employer he wasn't around. He also never called back. The second place called to setup a meeting where we would discuss job openings, but it turned out to be an information session on how to apply for a job (as if I don't know!). It was a waste of my time and it agitated me to be lectured on what to do and where to go. The third place set up an appointment for an interview almost immediately, but it isn't until next week. It pays well, but I don't know how crazy I am about doing call center-like work. The last place called and set up an interview with me for Monday next week. The hours and pay are a little less than the third place, but I could continue the job into the school year if I wanted to.
At least I sort of have some options. If the interviews go well, I'll have my pick of which job I want to do. If not, then I'll probably have to phone the parentals and ask them for cash. I hate having to do that, but I also do not want to continually struggle to get by everyday either.
Wish me luck!
Alright, I've been away for a little over two months and some of you (if anyone still reads this) are probably wondering what happened. The short of it is that graduate school took over my life once again. I know, I know: "Does he ever stop talking about graduate school?" and "Oh, it's always about how challenging graduate school is," and "You would think that either graduate school killed him. . .or he offed himself."
For the foremost item, I must apologize. I honestly dislike talking about graduate school so much because I know that when people talk about the same subject over and over again it becomes annoying. Therefore, part of the reason why I didn't write on here was because my blog was starting to become a "venting board" of sorts. Sure, it helped me relax through cathartic release, but it was probably boring and/or annoying to read. Not that that is bad, but, in truth, this blog was never intended to be a venting board. So, if you've been turned off by that, I am sorry. I am going to try my best to mix it up more with random thoughts and decrease the graduate school drama. This isn't Greek, after all!
For the second comment, I must extend my apologizes. Although, I must also qualify this by stating that graduate school has been exceptionally challenging for me because I've never had to take on and balance so much in my life. At the end of this year, though, I have learned that I am capable of doing all of the things that are required of me. I primarily thank "The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore, Ph.D. for this refreshing outlook. Still, as I said above, I will try not to detail the convoluted nature of my life in graduate school because, while some stories are interesting (and merit posting and discussion), a lot of them don't. Therefore, the intricate nature of my life as a graduate student need not be so exposed.
Finally, for the last comment, it is obvious graduate school has not killed me nor have I offed myself (although, due to my dark and often morbid sense of humor, I have joked about this). In truth, graduate school has not only helped me grow, but allowed me to truly question if what I am doing is what I want to do. Each day is a test, and each semester is a trial. Yet, at the end of it all, I am able to count my accomplishments and learn from my mistakes. It is this perspective, as well as the support of great friends, faculty members, and family, that has allowed me to solidify my resolve to become and educator. I know I will continue to question this, to continue to struggle with my decisions, but I will always affirm my decisions and continue forward. Graduate school certainly will not be the death of me; rather, it will be the transformation of who I am into who I am capable of being. So, please, quit keeping bets!
Now that that's settled, I'd like to list a few things I have accomplished, enjoyed, or partook in the last two months or so:
- Niel Fiore, Ph.D. and author of "The Now Habit," changed my life! I feel revivified and ready to take on the next year.
- I ran my first 5K in May and did well for timing. I ran the race in 24:37!
- I survived my first year of graduate school and, therefore, I am half a Master of Communication (Ok, not really, but I like to think so)!
- My advisor/chair has helped me figured out where I want to go for graduate school and is pushing me to crystalize my conference paper.
- I visited with my best friends in Southern Idaho, met up with my awesome cousin, and went to a Margot & The Nuclear So and So's concert in Salt Lake City. The concert rocked, although the venue wasn't particularly amazing.
- I found a new band I highly enjoy: Cameron McGill. Check him out, he's going to be big one day.
- I drove 1,700 miles in a week (and, contrary to some unnamed individuals' opinions, I did not speed that bad [Also, who has a better driving record? That's what I thought!]).
- My aunt, uncle, and cousins were fun to hang out with, even though the weather sucked.
- My family in Colorado survived the tornados of doom!
- I began studying for the GRE. . .again (even though I don't really need to).
- Neverwinter Nights 2 (NWN2) took over my life for three days. I became a level 9 warrior with an awesome party that has yet to fight orcs. Yes, geekiness I am proud of! Haha!
- I am training for a 10K in July and a half marathon in October!
- I am still searching for a part-time/temporary job for the summer.
That has been my life in short. Since I do not have a job yet, my days are filled with running, reading, writing, studying, light cooking, and the occasional video game (when warranted). In truth, running has been the key to the balance in my life. I run to know that I can go that extra mile, literally, and to remind myself that I am strong, capable, and fallible, yet constantly improving. It has been the key to the balance and peace I have seen in the last month and a half. Although it was somewhat difficult to manage and grasp at first (in terms of scheduling time for recreation OVER my studies), I have become more comfortable and dependent on it. It keeps me focused, relaxed, and striving for more. With any luck, I'll become an elite athlete. . .at least, my cousin and I like to joke about that!
As I seek employment this summer, I keep pushing myself on every front I am capable of handling. Whether I am running, working on my paper or thesis, (hopefully) working, or playing that video game on the side, I am staying strong. Although I do not have full control, I am capable of doing enough with what I have and that is all I need.
It's always hurry up and wait; behind the barrel or under the gun. I can't seem to find the happy medium. I can't seem to find the place that will allow me to feel at ease as I progress forward.
Perhaps I am being stretched too thin? I have so many projects to take care of, so many organizations I lead or take part in. I am here. I am there. I am in-between. I am everywhere and nowhere.
Or maybe it just seems that way.
The truth is, this semester has made me feel more bipolar than I ever thought possible (and I am not even clinically diagnosed!). One moment I am excited and motivated to continue working, studying, researching and writing. The next, I am vexed, tired and uninspired. Unfortunately I can't figure out the source of these oscillating emotions and moods. I suspect a great deal of it comes from stress, the ebb and flow of assignments to do and to grade. One day I am ahead, and then the next day I am behind.
Additionally, I believe that the drama—the rumors, mumblings, and uncertainty—is eating away at everyone. While it may start of as a contained thought or concern, the drama often manifests itself in new ways. It becomes aggressive. It swoops into conversations and thoughts and holds them hostage. In the end, we end up discussing things to death out of concern and worry. And in those discussions we lose sight of what we believe in, what we have been working towards. I think we let that drama consume the best of us not only because it is so overwhelming, but because it is so easy to sink beneath the turbulent waves of it. We are inundated with these confusing messages that negate all we've been fighting for and, instead of pushing towards the surface or paddling harder and faster, we let the waves crash down.
Don't get me wrong. It is hard to push, to paddle, to swim instead of sink. I know that I have a hard time doing it. I know that I have let many waves crash down around me. Yet, at the same time, I keep trying to push, to paddle and to swim. I am not going to let uncertainty and fear guide my actions and lead me into inaction. I know better. I am stronger than that. I am better than that.
My thoughts of graduate school have been increasingly better as of late. This semester has gone progressively better than the previous, and I am starting to feel as if I have carved the groves of my niche. Still, these thoughts are constantly changing depending on the day and the news.
Graduate teaching assistant (GTA) positions are up in the air again, and I am excited to have the chance at securing my position for another year. However, I learned earlier this week that a person I knew from the debate team applied to be a graduate teaching assistant in the department. Obviously it would be sheer folly to speak ill of this person, especially since it reflects poorly on me. Still, I feel justified in saying that I do not support this person's presence in the department or as GTA. Indeed, I would hardly say this about anyone else, but this person warrants and elicits this response from me.
I have known this individual for five years and he/she has never been honest, authentic, compassionate, or concerned for anyone. Instead this person has been consistently selfish, unkind, dramatic, and unapologetic in all of his/her actions. He/She never even felt bad about the damage his/her words inflicted when spoken. There was never repose nor reflection; no broad insight into the damage done.
When I heard that this person was highly recommended by certain people, my heart sank. Flashbacks from three years ago instantly flashed through my head. Each moment filled with intensity, drama, and disdain. I remembered the words this person spoke, telling me and others that we weren't worthy. I remembered the malicious actions this person took to hurt others and to feel better about their place in the world. Mostly, I remembered how much I disliked this person, but not on principle. I remembered that I disliked this person for what he/she brought out in others, for what he/she made others do, and for he/she made others feel. When I think about it in this sense, I worry about what he/she will do if they get the position. I worry about the way he/she will shake the stable foundations in place. I worry about how he/she will try to make everything a personal issue and cause pain in others.
Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about this. As much as I believe this person is not qualified nor deserving of the GTA position, I do not decide. Instead, I can only sit back and observe the action the department takes. I can only wait and see.
In the event that he/she receives a GTA position, I'll accept the actions taken by the department. However, I will not accept this person as a friend, colleague, or peer. Perhaps if this person had been apologetic or reflective in his/her actions, I would feel somewhat better about lending a helping hand. I cannot justify helping him/her, though. He/She sowed the seeds of his/her discontent and unraveling a long time ago. Now it is time for him/her to reap what was sown.
I turned 23 on March 9th and it was a blast. I must admit that I was apprehensive about my birthday, hanging out with new people, and getting old. However, it was, without a doubt, one of the best weekends and birthday's I ever had. I enjoyed great food and two wonderful movies with a great friend on Friday. On Saturday, my newer friends and I stormed downtown and had a picture/video scavenger hunt and barhopping fiesta (there are pictures on facebook if you are interested). Sunday concluded the festivities. My brother and I had dinner at a local Japanese Steakhouse and joked about getting older.
I couldn't have asked a for a better birthday!
Lately, though, I haven't been feeling too well. Unfortunately, I think I picked up the flu or food poisoning. Hopefully it is the latter of the two. In the meanwhile, I am sort of "relaxing" at home while working on school work.
I've been taking time to reassess my current situation and, so far, it has helped me feel better. I am still not sure why these existential questions keep lingering, droning out my usual thoughts, but I am taking them as they come. If anything, though, they have helped me rethink what I am doing, what I want to do, and where I am going. In this regard they have been a bit of a blessing, albeit a tumultuous one.
As I have struggled through these times, though, I have been thankful to ask myself, "Where are you?"
"Where are you?" has served a reminder that I am here, in the now—I cannot be in another place nor in another time. "Where are you?" has guided my actions, focusing my movements and intentions, letting me know that I can only move forward from where I am. "Where are you?" has made me see that the past the collection of events trailing the present. Most importantly, "Where are you?" has made me positively refocus the haunting thoughts of chaos/uncertainty/crisis.
It is a fragile defense. A mere stream of words accented by a question mark. Yet, though it is frail, it is an idea—a progressive thought—that has helped me power through. And if I can just recall it—if I can just feel the burning fire within me and the air of hope around me—I know I will be alright.
I am almost twenty-three and I feel lost in the world around me. I know where I am and what I am doing, but I feel like I have more to learn about myself and my place in the world. Moreover, it is a feeling I cannot shake. I keep returning to it, wondering why I feel uncertain about where I am.
I know part of my uncertainty comes from the instability I feel within the department. Yet, I also feel a longing for something more, something entirely novel and beyond myself. I want to feel that sense of joy and adventure again--that feeling like I am experiencing life in the fullest. I want something beyond what I know and do well.
I suppose it will happen in time. I know I will continue to grow and figure out more about myself. Still, I long for adventure and new challenges.
Perhaps, one day not too long from now, I will find that adventure. Until then, though, I will continue to be where I am in the present. I will try to find the joy in each new day while I continue to hope for something better down the road.
I am so glad that Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova won the Oscar for "Original Song." Hear their live performance below and their acceptance speech.
Lately I've noticed that my undertakings haven't driven my motivation as much. As I continue to struggle with this, I can't help but wonder when the fire will burn enough underneath me to move me.
This semester's coals haven't enkindled much of anything. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize my drive has less to do with graduate school and more to do with my personal state of being this semester. Unfortunately, though, I can't figure out what will ignite the latter to set fire to the former.
For now, though, I am continuing my studies, albeit somewhat begrudgingly. Until I can find the reason—the spark to the match—I won't be able to feel burn that pushes me forward.
I am in a giving mood, I guess. Or perhaps it is the news I read (ABC News reports that [the American Leadership Project] is seeking 100 Clinton supporters to each give $100,000 to fund its $10 million effort to promote Senator Clinton and "contrast" her positions with Barack Obama's.)?
Either way, I am for Obama all the way. Another donation, double the amount this time, is totally worth it.
Yes. We. Can.
Lately I've been reading more about globalization due largely in part to a course I am taking this semester. Still, globalization has always intrigued me. Ever since I read "World on Fire" by Amy Chua, I've often thought about my personal role in globalization, our nation's role in globalization, and how fast and quickly the world is changing.
As I sat down over the weekend to read my assigned readings, I wasn't surprised by most of the information. I have to admit that Chua's amazing book prepared me for a great deal of the discussion within my chapters from the Globalization and Development Reader. At the same time, though, I found myself wanting to know more than I knew. I found myself reading the information presented to me--not skimming it. I was fascinated! I felt, to put it to the words of Flyleaf (yes, a real reputable and eloquent source, I might add), that I "could feel [it] all around me."
I felt that the world was moving faster than I ever thought it was before.
Now, I have often taken time to reflect on the world around me, questioning where I was going and what I was doing in it; but this was entirely selfish and personal. I honestly haven't taken enough time to think about my role in it and my contributions for a better (or worse) world. As I finished my readings this week, I thought heavily about the future of our world. I thought about the pulse of the world, now beating ever faster. I felt the connections, the gaps of time and space closing. Resources dwindling. Environments changing. Cultures and identities disappearing. Technological advancements bringing (and binding) nations together. I saw the people, each pressing on and struggling to survive what life they had been dealt. I sensed the extremes, the ends uncertain by increasing integration, and their anger and passion to fight the fold. I felt connected, but distant. I felt affected and afflicted, yet fortunate and blessed. I felt helpless, yet hopeful.
Ultimately I felt like the problem and the solution.
Earlier tonight, while searching for resources to aid my in-class discussion for tomorrow, I found a video I knew I had to share. Regardless of what side of the issue you subscribe to, I think this video provides adequate insight into where our world has been and where it is going. It illuminates the cresting conundrum we are facing more and more everyday. It opens the dialogue and asks for you to contribute to the discourse--even in the slightest. Although it is not a lot, it is a simple way to engage people in the discussion.
What are your thoughts? Do you even care?
As for me, I plan on donating not only money, but my time, energy, and future scholarship to working towards a world where people have a say on the changes that are occurring. I want the future to be full of hope, not dictated by the standards that have determined the direction for centuries.
My friend and co-worker, Stephanie, sent me a link about the world's happiest nation. Any guess which nation is the happiest in the world?
It certainly isn't America. We're too busy worrying about violence, Heath Ledger, and Britney Spears.
Japan? Are you kidding me! The suicide rate is one of the highest in the world!
It's not Great Britain, but you are getting warmer.
Check it out here!
Last week I rented "Once" from Netflix. The movie had been recommended to me since November, but I never got around to adding it to my list. I think the movie synopsis initially made me uncertain about renting it. The summary said it was a "modern day musical," which, as many of you know, I do not like. Musicals are generally too joyous and, therefore, too annoying for me to watch (I honestly can't stand the crazy hand gestures and arm movements, okay!). However, I decided to give "Once" a chance because I had read that the movie included "subtle acoustic music rich with emotion and a story of simple, yet powerful depth."
Indeed, "Once" is an amazingly simple yet powerful story about how a chance encounter can change lives. The movie stars Glen Hansard, Irish rocker from "The Frames," as Guy and Markéta Irglová, a Czech musician, as Girl. Guy is a heartbroken shop worker who performs amazing guitar solos on the street for extra cash. He lives with his father and, as a result of his heartbreak over the loss of his lover, is uninspired to move beyond his current place in life. Girl is a recent immigrant to the Irish city. She is poor, but works multiple jobs to obtain cash. One night she encounters guy and changes his life thereafter. She motivates him to win his girlfriend back and he helps her see the strength and beauty in her struggles. The two come together in an inspired connection, performing music together to overcome the mental obstacles that haunt them. In the end, they are empowered by one another and go on to live the lives they were meant to.
At the heart of the movie, though, is the music. While some critics would call this movie a musical, I would call it a subtle romance. Unlike a musical, the music does not facilitate action nor describe a scene. Instead, the music of "Once" is about deep thought and emotion. It's about where each character has been, what they have experienced and felt, and where they want to be. The music characterizes the individuals, guiding and eventually concluding the story. In the end, the movie is a pseudo-documentary local color slice of life. It's a story that transcends what is depicted within and translates to the lives of those who watch it. For, as the title suggests, each one of us has had that moment in our lives "Once."
If you haven't seen this movie and you like romance movies, check it out. If you like the music of Glen Hansard, check it out. If you like the music of Damien Rice or any variants thereof, check it out. If your like me and you like adorable Czech women with talent (Markéta Irglová), check it out! All in all, this movie is the underdog hit of the year. It is amazingly simple, emotional, and powerful. "Once" is worth more than one passing glance.
Also, if you are interested in hearing their music, I recommend you watch the Oscars as Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová will be performing "Falling Slowly" from the movie. Of course, if you can't wait, check out the official movie website or their myspace page.
The NIU shooting is still heavy on my thoughts, just as it is on the minds of many other college students:
"If a shooter came into some of the biggest classrooms at the University of California-Berkeley, recent graduate Scott Alto wonders whether students would be able to protect themselves..."
I wonder if my university or any others will actually take progressive action to at least deter and prevent someone from trying to kill someone else on campus.
- On Wednesday I had a talk with my amazing advisor. We talked about turning in the conference paper to another conference and my lack of motivation and uncertainty about being a scholar and entering the world of academics (largely due to the department). My advisor reminded me that our department is "in transit," even though it seems in disarray. At the same time, she was able to provide me with renewed insight about my studies. She even challenged me to do more with my studies because she knows I am capable of it. I needed that reassurance. Honestly, I don't think I could survive graduate school without her advice and guidance.
- Singles Awareness Day came and went. I received a few valentines from close friends and I was thankful for them. I also received the wonderful valentine of 56 papers to grade while eating said valentines from close friends. All in all, it wasn't too bad.
- Friday and Saturday were research and reading days at the library. I learned I am surprisingly able to accomplish much more at my study carrel than I am at my house. According to my estimate, with a cogent mathematical equation, I am at least 5.3483 times more productive at the library than I am at home. Coffee, on estimate, adds 1.78 to my productivity initially, lasting for two and a half hours; but detracts 2.487 thereafter.
- Also on Friday and Saturday night I was invited to two parties that I declined to attend. While I knew the people that were at the parties, I felt like I didn't belong. It's weird. I have been around most of these people before, but I do not trust them just yet. As strange as it sounds, I feel old when I am around some of the people I know. I know this feeling of "oldness" is actually maturity, but, in these gatherings, it comes off as the plight of the wallflower. I guess I either need to relax more or find other friends to hang out with on a more consistent basis.
- After much research, I decide, today, that detoxing the body of toxins might be a good idea. I have wanted to do this for a while, but I didn't think I could dedicate to it. I am not fasting, but I have only drank detox tea for the last 6 hours. It tastes great, but I can honestly say I don't feel different. Perhaps, tomorrow, after noon, I'll feel different. My guess is: weaker.
- Tomorrow begins anew. I plan on reading and writing and enjoying some of my day off at the gym.
I am also thankful we don't have class, especially in light of the NIU shootings. I feel safe on campus here, but it does scare me to think (and know) that there are people that come to my campus who are crazy enough to do the same thing. After all, one of my students last semester talked about Virginia Tech more than usual, wanting to bring a gun on campus, and having a concealed weapons license. Suffice to say, I reported him. How far that goes and if it does anything, though, remains to be seen. I mean, what if my student turns out to be like one of these shooters?
This shooting also makes me feel uneasy about the academy as a site of liberal thought. If people cannot practice patience and tolerance in addition to open thought and expression, how will the academy continue to espouse education? How long will it be before there are metal detectors at every entrance to every building? It certainly makes you wonder.
March is, without a doubt, one of my favorite months. Not only is my birthday early in the month, but the weather is usually starting to change. The snow is melting or gone as the soft sounds of rain hit the windows. The surroundings seem to come alive. The local environment is in bloom and everything seems green. It's serene.
This March will be no exception to that! I recently found a sweet concert to go to and I'll be able to go with friends. I know, that seems odd at first glance. However, when you listen to the indie music that I listen to, it is hard to find a friend to go to concerts with. Fortunately, though, I will be able to see Joshua Radin and Ingrid Michaelson with friends. Even if they aren't as enthusiastic as I am, it will be nice to be in the company of others.
Of course, even if I didn't have friends to go with, I wouldn't have missed this concert. It is something to look forward to after the dreary days of winter.
I always love to hear talent like this. Check out the top three string pieces for the "My Grammy Moment" with the Foo Fighters.
Here's the link. Enjoy!
I especially liked the second and third video. The first one wasn't bad, but it didn't have as much of the action as the other two.
I spent most of the day at my office. I've come to find that I enjoy going in on the weekends when no one else is around. Not only is the office silent, but the whole building is noiseless. . .except for the minor creaks of the floor. It is muted bliss. It is a simple escape in a comfortable and familiar place. Strangely, it has become a sort of solitude. A surreal departure from the distractions that seem to plague me at home.
While I love being home, I've come to find that I simply cannot concentrate within the confines of these whitewashed cinderblock walls. Perhaps it is too confining. Perhaps I feel like I need to have the TV on all the time. Whatever the case may be, I simply cannot work as well I used to be able to in the apartment.
Suffice to say, I was able to accomplish a great deal in my time away from home. I read. I graded. I e-mailed. I wrote. I found some sort of "peace" in the chaos that is my life as a graduate student, a teacher, and club president. Though I feel behind the curve on some of my studies (especially when it comes to writing my conference paper), I honestly don't feel bad. For once, while I was sitting in the office today, I didn't feel hurried or rushed. I didn't feel bothered. I didn't feel empty or alone. Instead, I felt relaxed. I felt like I was working at my own pace in my own time with no one over my shoulder. It was a relief.
I only hope I will be able to continue dropping by when no one else is around. The solace the space provides is slim at best, but it is enough to revivify my waning motivation for the coursework ahead and all around me. And right now, it is something I need to keep me moving along.
I donated money to fund the progression of hope. I donated to support Barack Obama!
Now that I have had time to refocus my energies, I feel better. While I cannot say I am back to 100%, I can say that I have been able to get over some the mental hurdles that appeared over the last two weeks. Most of the confusion has dissipated, leaving me time to recollect my thoughts and refine my actions. In the end, as always, I am marking it down to learning.
I still haven't become fully motivated, but I feel better knowing that I have found something to latch onto to keep me moving. It isn't much right now, but it is all I need to get by. Of course, some of you may think that Prozak would help; but I am not depressed (at least not clinically).
The morose and mundane aside, I have found some amazing music for fans of "Something Corporate" or "Jack's Mannequin". I highly recommend you check out "Making April" and their album "Runaway World." The album is a well-woven symphony of melodic piano rock with various high-note, low-beats, and everything in between. The songs flow together, each, though the vivid, precise, and intelligent lyrics, depict dramatic scenes and stories. I especially enjoy "Jump In," "I Wrote This Song," and "Roses and Butterflies" (don't knock it until you hear them)!
Now, if only I could see them in concert.
I've been meaning to sit down and compose my thoughts here. I've been meaning to return and voice the thoughts that seem to plague my mind. It has been difficult, though. I've been distracted. I've been short on time. I've been up and I've been down. Though writing typically helps me focus, I avoided it by not making time for myself.
Graduate school has made this easy. I feel like I have been consumed by my studies. . .and I have been. Still, it is no excuse for putting my thoughts down.
Upon returning, I want to rid my mind of this apathy I've been feeling lately. I have felt so unmotivated since I returned from Germany. Usually I would chalk this up to my "seasonal affect disorder" (you know, the disorder I don't have), but I feel like I have lost my motivating focus. In my darkest moments I have felt empty.
As I think back on everything, I feel that last semester shook me up. It was so hellaciously strenuous that, when it ended, I felt liberated. Returning home to Germany allowed me to relax and to be with family. In many ways it was the cure for my pain. But now that I am back in Idaho--now that I am back trying to continue on in graduate school--I am starting to believe that my remedy may have been more illusory than I thought. I know I needed the time to be with family and to be away, but I feel like it spoiled me. For the first time since I entered college, I felt so relaxed and so at ease that I didn't do anything. I was at my most apathetic and I loved it.
I guess that's why it has been so difficult to readjust to this semester. I don't want to return to the engaging, but demanding work that lies ahead. While I know this semester will be of great benefit to me, especially if I get a paper finished for a conference, I can't get motivated. I have been trying to find my focus, to find my reason; but I can't.
Voicing this concern has helped, though. Although I do not feel fully reenergized, I feel better. The sense of urgency hasn't hit me, but I know it will. I know I'll feel revivified in time. The question is, how much time will I need?