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The Second Step: Deny Some More

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

As a seasoned blogger for this program (kindly, catch all of the sarcasm in my tone - thank you), I am well aware of the fact that we are assigned one specific day to post a blog. It’s a fine line between responsibility and hobby, in my opinion, as each prospective blogger willingly submits him or herself to an application process of sorts, when selected accepts the commitment to write for the school for an entire semester, weekly, on one assigned day.

Wednesdays are mine.

It is now Thursday.

As I write this, consider the fact that I am both mentally and physically exhausted. I am experiencing profound flashbacks of the Fall 2010 semester, when I worked two jobs and took on a relatively heavy school work load, finding myself in a state of perpetual tiredness and on an endless commute loop. I gained respect for anyone who has told me that they put themselves through college. Better yet, I constantly wondered how many MC students were facing the same challenges I confronted daily, and I hoped to honestly write something that would speak for them, touch them.

I don’t quite work two jobs any more, but I am not even remotely opposed to the idea of picking up extra hours whenever I can. I will never forget the concerned look an older co-worker gave me on a slow afternoon at the children’s salon I worked at for three years.

“Once they start working,” she said wisely, “they think they all that.”

Young people. Once they make their own money, they lose focus.

I laughed at the time, but somehow knew she was partially right. I am sitting here, writing to you after an eleven hour work day, one of many in both past and scheduled future, because I have been too busy, too tired and (truthfully) too uninspired to prepare a blog I could post on time. And if writing on this platform is what I consider a hobby, then my classes, which I would consider responsibilities, have been equally neglected.

It was a bit disappointing, for instance, to realize that I hadn’t been on campus for an entire week when I finally made it to my poetry class on Tuesday. Look no further than my online philosophy class, which I have yet to officially drop in order to avoid the mental discomfort I know this action will provoke in me, to understand just how much I have fallen behind. And though I can do all of the complaining I want, and I can rationalize my choices as much as I’d like to, the failure of any of my academic endeavors this semester fall squarely on my shoulders.

Resting in the back of my mind, as well, the possibility of there not being a Fall 2011 semester for me, as I grapple to accept the focus I have lost, wonder on what exactly it is now beaming its hard intensity on, simultaneously denying that I seem to, indeed, have missed a step or two.

I have become all that, somehow. But I'm working on it.

Cheers.

Exams, Classes and "I don't think it's Hamtaro Time"

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

Whew. Three exams and one project are done in my evening dyad class.  Tuesday was the test on the Agricultural and Soils section and this time none of my family members got a concussion, like my older son did right before Exam 2, or have any other sort of exceptional trauma. There were a lot of interruptions, kids needed rides and other things that needed doing, so I could still have used a bit more peace and quiet for reviewing my notes and the reading. But I hope that I did OK. 

After the first hour and the exam, we started the section on water and learned about estuaries which are semi-enclosed places where rivers meet the sea.  The enclosed part is important.  We have one very close by: the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States.   Dr. Sagasti told us about the layers of fresh and salt water and the food chain and a lot more.  It was really an interesting class, but unfortunately I started to get a bit tired near the end.  I managed to get a lot of notes written down, but apparently my eye-lids were drooping.  I'm thinking of getting an extra strong cup of coffee and take it with me to class tonight.  I wonder what students ran on before caffeine because widely available.  

The class didn't get to go on a field trip to see a water treatment plant last Saturday but this week we're going to a farm to survive the stream and water conditions.  It's going to be chilly not to say cold and the professors warned us to wear layers and high waterproof boots if we have any and gloves.  It should be interesting but I hope that it isn't raining or snowing or anything like that.  Right now it's grey and raining again and it feels like Spring is taking a vacation.

This last item does tie in with class in a peculiar way.  Part of the Agriculture section was on the idea that clearing lots of land for farming and then planting only one kind of plant can have a bad effect on the local wildlife.  There is a case that illustrates this going on in France right now: that of the Great Hamster of Alsace.  And no, this is not some kind of early April Fool's Day joke.  To quote Dave Barry "I swear that I am not making this up." 

In parts of Europe there are wild hamsters.  They grow to be about a foot or so long, have dark fur on their bellies and are quite fierce when they feel threatened.  In the Alsatian part of France there are large fields of just corn (according to an account that I read.)  Well the hamsters eat all kinds of greens and roots and the corn fields have taken lots of that away.  Here are some  reports and videos:

Wall Street Journal 

 BBC 

A French site 

Hope On the Door

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

Five forty-five on Saturday morning is a brutal punishment by most standards. Yet on Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed, promptly at quarter of dark – of my own free will. Nearly three hours later, I was climbing hesitantly up scaffolding behind a bearded AmeriCorps volunteer so he could show me and three of my friends how to put siding on a house.

            If you were viewing the movie of my life, this would be the part where you rewind for exposition. So:

            The sun had yet to make its daily entrance, but judging from the pink sky stretched like a blank canvas over the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, full daylight would soon be upon our huddle of sleep-deprived teens. After a few false starts, we eventually piled into two vans, one piloted by the sponsor of FYE (First Year Experience).

            Fortunately avoiding the national marathon, we wound our way downtown. But we weren’t there for the marathon. We weren’t there for the amazing museums, galleries, or monuments. We weren’t there for the theatres, restaurants, or nightclubs.

            We turned onto a trash-strewn street, lined with derelict, graffitied buildings. That was when the sadness crept over us like shadows crawling on the east side of a building after noon. We surveyed our sordid surroundings, feeling at once grateful to be who we were, coming here with our specific purpose. One back alley door in particular summed up the order of the day. Someone had carved the word “hope” on the door.

            Crossing our arms against the morning chill, we passed through a fenced in compound decorated with a white sign: Habitat for Humanity .

            As part of the First Year Experience, I joined fifteen or so other MC students on a Habitat for Humanity build in Ivy City – an old, industrial neighborhood in Washington DC. Habitat had bought several houses in the neighborhood. Some were only being refurbished, others, almost completely rebuilt.

            Our work was at times frustrating: the nails almost always became bent beyond recognition when we hammered them in, and it often took all four of us on that particular project to pull the nail back out before we could start anew. At the end of eight hours, we had hung a grand total of three planks of siding.

            Of my achievements thus far in life, there are few I am prouder of than those three planks.

            I had the honor of meeting an Ethiopian woman who would be living in this house. She was there working as well, putting in her “sweat equity” – one of the requirements for owners of a Habitat for Humanity home.

Every day, she will walk out of her door, beneath a porch overhang to which I contributed eight hours. She will gaze across the street and see – as I saw from my perch on the scaffolding – the community gathering in the street on Saturday morning to exchange pleasantries. As she walks down the brick sidewalks, she will see – as I saw – children racing in the alley behind their houses, so immersed in their fantasy world that the harshness of life disappears for an hour or two.

            For them, Hope is carved on the door.  

THE DRUMMER: Part I

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

Chances are I've had many more jobs than the typical person, from Long Island where I grew up to Virginia, Florida, and presently Maryland. I started off mowing lawns in my teens and worked my way to the Whopper station at Burger King by my junior year in high school. My last gig in New York was at a beverage facility stocking cola, Heineken, and pretzel rods. I then moved to Virginia for ten years where we will begin to examine my so-called career path which brought me to Florida and back again.

This is the story of my employed life so far.

I've always been a drummer. I was that lucky kid whose parents allowed for their child to actually have a drum kit in the basement. It also helped that my pop played and had a sparkle blue Gretsch set from the 60's. Drums have always been a part of my life, which has played a major role in deciding where my priorities were at a crucial point in my life. (More on that later) Anyways, my first job when I moved to VA was at Pier 1 Imports where I organized colorful pillows and used the store loudspeaker to work on my comedic accents of the day. I was attending Northern Virginia Community College at the time not knowing what I wanted to pursue. In the back of my head I always thought I would meet some musicians and hit it big. While selling The Washington Post over the phone I tried out a couple of guitarists but was unsuccessful at a match. It was when I was working full-time at Lansdowne Resort that I saw an ad outside my bookstore at school.

DRUMMER WANTED

Influences: Ramones, Beatles, Pavement

Was this destiny? I wasn't even supposed to go to the bookstore that day but for some reason I decided to go at the last minute. I tore the number off the ad and gave this guitar/bass duo a buzz. Little did I know at the time that this would be the beginning of a 12 year relationship that had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Before I knew it we were jamming twice a week and getting better every day. I stayed at Lansdowne for four years and eventually dropped out of school. My priorities at the time were quite clear. Play music and stay young forever.

We played shows in and around the DC metro area as I began my summer of unemployment playing golf, going to the movies, and partying. For all you Seinfeld aficionados out there, I refer to this period as "The Summer of George." By August of 99' I got a gig at a music store which was right up my alley. For five years I sold guitars, drums, amps, and the occasional piano. I was always around music. After work I would go to my band mates house to jam and plan our next move. After we moved in together for my last two years in Virginia, we signed a two song contract with an agency in New York City. Things were looking up despite having a lazy bass player. Low and behold, an opportunity came along for us to move down to Gainesville, FL to hit the college music scene and make a name for ourselves at the University of Florida. 60,000 students were waiting for our full attention. I put my two weeks' notice in to my employer and prepared for what I've been waiting for my entire life.

The sunshine state part of the story will have to wait until next week my friends. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

To be concluded...
 

 

Advice to a Traveling Son

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

My oldest son, who is 20 years old, is taking a road trip with some friends down to South Carolina this week. They’re visiting Mike, another friend, who is a sophomore at the University of Charleston. It’s spring break, and Mike has been tempting them for months now with stories about the loveliness of Southern women.

My son is a nice guy. You probably think I’m just saying that because I’m his mother; but really, it’s true. I’d like to think that this comes from exceptional parenting. But honestly, he was just born that way: he was a good baby, then a good teenager, and now he’s a good guy.

So no one was happier than me to hear that he and a couple of buddies were planning a road trip over spring break. He’s worked hard both in school and at his job this past year, so I figured a little sunshine and R & R would do him good.

But that was before I made the mistake of falling asleep on the sofa. When I awoke a few hours later, dazed and confused, they were showing an infomercial. You know, the one that airs at 3 a.m. It’s called Girls Gone Wild: Spring Break Edition.  

It occurred to me that the usual refrain of reminders that I rush to call out to my son as he heads out the door, such as “Don’t forget the sunscreen!” is just not going to be of much use to him on this particular road trip. At least not if his trip even remotely resembles Girls Gone Wild: Spring Break Edition. Because, let’s face it: he’s 20, it’s spring break, and he and his friends are all taking this road trip hoping to hook up with lovely Southern women.

With this in mind, I decided to put together a list of reminders. I’m calling it “Advice to a Traveling Son.”

  1. Always use a condom. In fact, you might consider using two.
  2. Don’t ever have sex with a stripper. I’m really, really hoping that this won’t come up, but after seeing that infomercial, who knows? For the record, strippers are usually women who have been sexually, emotionally, or physically abused—very possibly all three. (I’m basing this on having watched all six seasons of The Sopranos and possessing, therefore, an intimate knowledge of the Bada Bing strip joint.) By having sex with a stripper, you are only perpetuating her pain. Don’t be that guy.
  3. If a girl says no, she means no. Occasionally a girl might start out saying “yes” and then change her mind halfway through without warning. For instance, as the alcohol begins to wear off, she might suddenly realize that having sex with you is definitely not what she wants to be doing, and a “yes” might turn into a “no.” Casual sex has its downsides and this, along with STD’s, is one of them. You’ll just have to deal with it. Remember: no means no. There are NO exceptions.
  4. Trust your instincts. If you’re out somewhere and you get a bad vibe from someone or something, pay attention. I learned this from watching both Oprah and The Sopranos, but mostly Oprah.
  5. NEVER drive drunk. NEVER get in a car with anyone behind the wheel who is not legally sober. ALWAYS use a seat belt. And NO texting while driving.

So…. buckle up, drive safely, and enjoy. And, seriously, don’t forget the sunscreen. Nothing ruins a road trip as quickly as having to sit in a cramped, overheated car for 12 hours with a blistering, burned back. I wish I could say I learned this from watching Dr. Oz, but unfortunately, this was something I had to learn the hard way.


What I learned this week

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

Rather than doing a traditional post, I thought I'd do a list of what I learned this week...because I learned a lot informally.

  1. The week after Spring Break is the toughest is survive. Maybe Professors have a grandiose expectation on how productive students are over Spring Break, so they assign huge assignments to be due right after the break.
  2. I've successfully jinxed Finals Week by posting #1. Just to prove me wrong, the forces of the universe will conspire to make some other week in the near future total hell.
  3. Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility applies to caffeine. Marginal Utility is the amount of satisfaction you get from each additional good. The "law" states this satisfaction gets reduced with each additional consumption (Law is in quotes because the Econ police won't arrest you if this law is broken). So say, you're eating chips. The amount of satisfaction you're getting from each additional chip reduces. Same goes for caffeine. It's ability to stave off sleep reduces after several cups of tea.
  4. I make everything overly technical when I'm tired.
  5. Some people can survive on 4 hours of sleep per day. I'm not one of them. In fact, if I sleep less than 8 hours a day, my body forces me to catch up the very next day. This hasn't changed after 4 years of Magnet school and likely won't change soon.
  6. Lectures in Core and the insights of my fellow classmates, which were pretty awesome to begin with, keep getting better every day.
  7. This is something someone else told me - my analysis skills (analyzing skills?) are apparently much better when I'm sleep deprived. Thank you?
  8. Sleep deprivation is a recurring theme in my posts...just like it's a recurring theme in my life.
  9. We have an Ethics Bowl team. I found out this week after I was invited to join the college's "Gold Team". I could be reading too much into this but I think it's a reference to Plato's myth of metals (where philosophizing souls are "Gold"). The other team is called the "Red Team". They're all probably Communists.
  10. There's a biological protection against too much procrastination. When work is piling up, my productivity kicks into overdrive and makes me crank papers out in record time.
  11. Miracles do happen - 3 future major papers got reduced into 1 (sorta). India beat Australia to go into the Semi Finals of the Cricket World Cup.

It Might As Well Be Spring...But I'm Not Putting Away the Heavy Coat Yet.

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 Halfway through the semester. I'm not quite sure where the time has gone...except for that one hour that we lost with the time change. I'm very clear on that bit of lost time.

 

I think everyone has mostly gotten used to it by now, though our youngest still isn't sure about it being dark again when I take him down to his school bus at 6:30 A.M. He's in a Special Ed. Class at a Middle School in Gaithersburg and we live in the eastern part of the county. So he and his father and I are up and ready to go earlier than his teenaged brother and sister, (who sometimes are still in bed then their brother's bus comes. Their powers of slumber are amazing.) He leaves before the high schoolers and gets home after they do as well; it makes for a long day. I'm not sure how long it takes the bus to get to his school what with picking up other children and early rush hour traffic, but it takes me about 40 minutes or more in the middle of the day.

At least it's trying to be Spring. I was surprised yesterday to suddenly see a patch of daffodils glowing by the road as I was driving home from work. Then there was a mass of pink blossoms on a tree that was mostly sticks a couple of weeks ago. But just so we don't get too excited, I heard that there might be some snow this weekend. Enough already! We need some sunshine and mild warmth and some green around here.

But for now it's cold and rainy and grey and I'm sort of pottering around with some reading to do for tonight's class and a bit of homework to write and any number of things that are waiting for me to get to them. Or maybe it's more like “lying in wait”. Have you ever had the feeling that chores and assignments are lurking in corners and behind doors like small tigers waiting to spring out and attack? “Ha! I'm due in two days!” “Surprise! I'm the phone bill; pay me!” “Grrr! I'm a pile of socks that need to be sorted!” ….Now that last image is definitely disturbing. If my kids' socks growled I think I'd get a broom and whomp them a good one.

I wanted to use this last bit of my blog to let people know about a student organized drive to gather funds to help the people in northern Japan who have been devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. There are going to be white paper covered boxes to put donations in and from what I remember from Tuesday it's “Everyone Give One”. The organizers are hoping that as many people as possible can give just 1 dollar. With as many students as MC has on all of the campuses that would help a lot of people.

 

The First Step: Denial

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

Spring Break has come and gone, a testament to the hungry voracity of time.

I spent a lot of time stressing about my online philosophy class during this off-week; I was somehow under the impression there was work to be done, but was too intimidated by the possibility to actually log on to WebCT and check. My relief was inexplicably profound as I realized there had been no assignments when I finally peeped into the platform yesterday. In any case, the week was enough to show me that I positively (and not so shockingly, almost) lack the discipline to handle a class I have barely been getting through.

We are on the verge of breaking up, her and I. And the conversation would go something like:

Me: It’s not you, it’s me.
Class: *silence*
Me: No. Actually, it is partly you. You…
Class: *impassive silence*
Me: You are so relentless. And unfun. Is unfun a word? Well I don’t care because it describes you completely; you are unfun. No fun, you are.
Class: *silence*

Allow me now to point out a few details about this scenario.

First, this is more or less how conversations play out in my head.

Second, notice the silence on the part of my soon to be ex-love, because it is symbolic on several levels. Online classes, in my opinion, are too impersonal. They are silent, cold. They have one final purpose (to impart their content onto your palate of knowledge) and the process is relentlessly rigid. 

Apart from the weekly discussion questions I dislike responding to and the required e-mails to the professor I've mostly neglected sending, there's the idea that unfun, to me, is defined as the requirement to write four midterm essays on four different schools of philosophy, crisscrossed at some point with a total of nine “moral issues” and two different political theories, as well as a succinct summary of the several philosophers we have discussed “in class.” 

Not that I expected zero commitment work and minimal work, but I want my engagement ring back. Or my money (not possible as I the refund drop date has passed). Mostly, I just want my happiness. I legitimately consider this process so uninspired and so recklessly dull that I might actually throw in the towel halfway through. And give a standing ovation to the many of you who have managed to make online classes work for you.

Heartfelt props. I admire you.

Awww...GEEK OUT!

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

Stairs. I love them. I especially love that MC has so many of them. In lieu of real exercise, climbing three floors to physics discussion and three floors to my preferred perch in Macklin Tower has added a semblance of physical activity to my otherwise sedentary existence. It’s especially beneficial for my ego that every Monday morning after Health class I have to traverse campus and hike to the top of Science East in five minutes. Exercise: check….sort of.

            On Mondays, after Physics discussion, I significantly decrease my potential energy by travelling down three flights of stairs for Physics lecture on the first floor. Physics has the potential to be incredibly depressing when the terms imbue your everyday life. In Physics, for instance, work is equal to force times displacement. Every night when I crawl into bed, I am disheartened to know that no matter how hard my day has been, I have ended up in the same place I started ergo my displacement is zero and according to Physics, I have done no work.

Yesterday’s lecture discoursed on momentum and impulse. Since everyone’s brain is drenched in pollen and homework, I’ll spare you the physics definitions of these commonplace terms. I only bring it up because of a revelation I had while drawing a curve relating force to time.

            “The area under the curve,” explained my professor, “is impulse. But suppose you don’t know the function but want to find impulse. You start by finding an average value for force…”

            Here, she drew a horizontal line across her graph. She made the line into a rectangle by drawing vertical lines connecting it to the desired start and end points on the x-axis.

            “The area of the rectangle,” she gestured to it, “is a equal to impulse.”

            Jumping ahead of the curve, I wondered how to calculate the average value of the curve when a wee voice in my head exclaimed proudly: we just learned this in Calc II!

            Here’s the punch line: we is the perfect pronoun for this situation since the bulk of my Physics class is also in my Calculus II class.

            Is that cool or what!?

            For those of you who answered “or what”, allow me to illuminate: there is a fairly large group of students who all have an hour and a half break at the same time. This time can be (and often is) used to ask for peer help in two subjects that are – by the way – inextricably connected.

            Now, I ask you: is this cool or what!?

            Yes, for the record, I know I'm a total geek.

It's Time to Stock Up on Energy Drinks

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

Are we relaxed? Reinvigorated? I know I am, are you?

After having off for the last week from my usual weekly duties as a student present in classroom on campus, I find myself not believing that spring break is already over. "Where did it go?" I ask myself. And in a subtle yet clear voice my subconscious tells me "out the window brother." For all you curious readers out there in the internet atmosphere I shall answer your anticipatory question that you're dying to ask me.

Have I gotten ahead of the game during our recess?

The answer quite frankly is hard to come by. You could say that I did not do anything to get ahead of the game yet I utilized my mind in other ways in order to keep it sharp and ready for the second half of the fall semester. Did I do as much as I possibly could have? The answer is most definitely no but I will say that I received a well-deserved break from busting my hump while working full-time for the last two months. I needed it badly. And to top it off I've been working like a madman all week at work due to business getting busier. I barely had time to take out the trash, never mind please my teachers with reading assignments! This break could not have come at a better time.

And now, it is Sunday night at 10pm. On my first day off since Monday I spent seven hours at Ikea with my better half. One-thousand dollars later I'm a beat blogger readying my brain to go full steam ahead this week. My route to success has been carefully planned out and calculated for the next five days. Without going into any details I will only say that Safeway will have to keep up with my bagel demand in their kitchen. And in my kitchen, my wife is laughing at me as I read this entry aloud with high spirits, giggling at my own words of witty wisdom.

It's time to say hello once again to our dear friend Monty. I know he has sorely missed us as we have enjoyed our time away from him to regain our strength. Don't take it personally Monty. I know you won't. And if you do, please accept this apology in the form of poetry and prose.

I was happy to have,
Some time to myself,
As I kept my 3 books,
Up on the top shelf.

I've dusted them off,
And made my big plan,
To conquer this week,
For dear Monty, my man.

But I'm eager to get,
Right back in stride,
And take my sweet brain,
Back out for a ride.

My cell is on vibrate,
I just parked my truck,
I just had my coffee,
Time to wish me "Good Luck!"

 

How I Spent My Spring Vacation

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

I am sitting beside my mother on the piano bench. She is playing the piano, mostly old Frank Sinatra tunes, from memory without sheet music. She plays beautifully. When she finishes a song, her hands rest lightly for a moment on the piano keys as the last notes fade away, and then she turns to me and smiles sweetly.  

She doesn’t remember who I am.

My brother and I are visiting my mother here in California where she has recently moved to the Alzheimer’s division of an assisted living facility. When it’s time for her to rest after lunch, he and I make our way back to the guest room we share located in a distant corner of this modern, maze-like complex. The two of us fall easily into our familiar and comforting childhood roles: he becomes the capable, dependable brother leading the trusting, younger sister through a confusing web of identical corridors and elevators.

We are both mentally tapped out. Our mother’s decline is hard to process. Although she can still play piano, she can’t seem to bring words together into meaningful sentences any longer. Our conversations with her have begun to resemble lively games of charades.

When a loved one’s physical body dies, there are rituals that we follow that are designed to bring us comfort. Family and friends join together; we have prayers, wakes, memorial services, and funerals to help us find closure. But when a person’s mind is slowly expiring, even though their physical body remains unchanged, it’s bewildering.

Since we have no internet access in our guest room, my brother and I spend our down time sitting on the sofa watching CNN in resigned horror. Image after image of the tragedy in Japan unfolds. I find myself envying my mother, who has spent the morning upstairs playing picture bingo, blissfully ignorant of the unfathomable pain and suffering taking place across the ocean.

In earlier times, these are events that would have kept my mother awake with worry at night. But now, the thoughts and concerns that enter her mind are like a hazy mist that evaporates before taking foothold. All that she is able to hold on to is the moment, and even that seems to be slipping away.

As we gather our things to leave for our afternoon visit upstairs with our mother, my phone rings.  My older son’s voice on the other end can’t contain his excitement as he tells me his good news—he’s been selected for a much-wanted summer internship. “I’ll tell Grandma,” I say, “She’ll be so happy.” But then I realize that this isn’t true; in the same way that my mother isn’t able to comprehend the pain taking place in the world, neither will she be able to share in the joy of her grandson’s happiness.

I tell my brother that I am done watching CNN for today. Secretly, I worry that my heart might try to steel itself and then harden to form a crusty shield against the horrific torrent of human suffering we've been watching. And I don’t want that to happen. Because when it all comes down to it, the ability to feel empathy—to feel another’s joy as well as their pain-- is something to be cherished.

My mother is waiting upstairs. She has most probably forgotten that she has promised to play “Where or When” for me on the piano after her nap. But I will remind her.


Of time changes, time zones and helping others who need it

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 I apologize for posting this so late.  I was taking care of various things and didn't have a chance to write at dawn like I've done before.  Now I'm feeling rather at loose ends over what to write, but it is Spring Break, after all, and this afternoon was sunny and mild and really felt like the seasons are turning. But there wasn't a lot different about this week compared with the last few. 

I did manage to take a nap on Tuesday afternoon, but I think that was more due to the effects of the time change on Sunday morning; I was just dragging, so along with the lie-down it was a very nice thing that I didn't have to drive up to Germantown that evening. I really enjoy the class, but this week it would have been hard staying up that late. 

I had forgotten that the time change now happens at least 2 weeks earlier than it used to, so it kind of sneaked up on me.  I really wonder if there are people who can spring from their beds all bright-eyed on the Monday after "Spring-forward".  It sure doesn't happen around here, let me tell you.  Everyone has to be pried out of bed for several days after it happens.  Saying that we're not a family of "morning people" is an understatement.  Sometimes I think that the teenagers' internal clocks are really on Pacific Time since there are days when they could sleep until 10 and stay awake until 2 AM if we let them.  It's such a contradiction: fight going to sleep and then resist waking up.  We humans can be very contradictory.  At least the youngest doesn't fight going to be too much.  He mostly delays because he wants another story read to him and then another and another until we finally say "That's enough, time for lights out."

That got me thinking: I don't know how early classes start at MC.  I read something last year that over at Northern Virginia Community College there were classes starting at about 6 A.M., due to a high demand for more openings.  I wonder if Spring Break is scheduled to go along with the time change… 

The big news since last week was the enormous earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  The films of the wall of water coming inland are just stunning and it's hard to comprehend just what is happening.  A group of MC students is organizing a drive to help people who have had their homes destroyed and one of the suggested ways to help is called ShelterBox .  This is an organization that prepares and sends materials to meet basic needs packed in a good strong crate, things like a tent and bedding and metal tableware and a small stove that can use almost anything as fuel.   They also pack things for children like crayons and coloring books.  Little things can make a real difference.   

 

The Art of Multi-Tasking

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

My skills as a multitasker are generally limited to singing while taking a shower - and why not? The acoustics are great in there. Over the past two days, however, I have discovered another way I can do two things at once.

            On Sunday afternoon, enticed by warm sunshine and clusters of blooming crocus on the front lawn, I unrolled my sleeping bag on the brick patio and settled down with my history book and Chief of Station Larry Devlin’s account of his time as a CIA agent in the former Belgian Congo.

            “I’m multitasking,” I informed my dad. “I’m soaking up vitamin D and doing homework at the same time.”

            Despite the warmth of the sun, the breeze remained chilly, so I wore one of my many hooded sweatshirts (For those of you who don’t know, I love hooded sweatshirts like moths love flames). Eventually, as the sun started to sink and the trees cast long shadows like skeletal arms over the yard, my purpling toes informed me it was time to go inside.

            On Monday I resumed basking – again, while doing homework and occasionally pausing in awe of how many more crocuses (or is it croci?) had popped up overnight. Too soon, it was time to go inside to encourage blood flow to resume in my feet - but I was cheered to know that the sun wouldn’t fully set until 7 pm.

            Winter can be great fun, but enough is enough. I want to run barefoot, play in the mud, and plant flowers and vegetables. I want to do my homework outside. I want to spend my breaks between class playing Scholar Ball – which is far more fun and constructive than being a pain librarians’ collective derriere.  I’m ready for Spring - my favorite season!!! (This is the part where I do a jolly little jig).

            It’s only been a few days of break and already I feel revitalized. I’m catching up on my Physics and Calc homework, whittling away at my German Hausaufgarben and making marked progress on my Congo project. And it’s not all work. I take little breaks to make bracelets, do yoga and read for fun. (I finally started reading Geraldine Brooks’ Nine Parts of Desire which has been taunting me since I bought it last summer).

            But most of all, my cat, Igor, is thrilled that it’s spring break because that means my feet stay home so he can sit on them all day long. So, from Igor to MC, a heartfelt thank you for the week off.

             

Coffee: the drink of champions

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

My average day during midterm's week went something like this.

Class/shave/shower/coffee/work/bagel/study

Throw in a few meals and another cup of coffee per. day and you have a recipe for success my friends. I had a paper due at 9:30am on Thursday and finished it an hour before class. And on Friday I put my nutrition book down at 9am before my 10am midterm along with my last sip of Cafe Pilao: super strong Brazilian coffee straight from South America compliments of my mother-in-law. I'm only taking two classes while working full time which seems pretty alright in the universe we know as Dennis. Balancing schedules and juggling everything life throws at you makes for one hectic schedule. I truly feel like Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter. Down by 2 with 3.1 seconds on the clock I say,"Gimme the damn ball coach."

That's not to say that all of my fellow Montvillians (Did I just coin yet another term, this time to describe Monty's student body?) do not have it more difficult than I do. I know of full time moms who coordinate soccer practice with pre-calculus. I know of single dads who work full-time and take night classes. I know of students who simply have not started a family yet and have the opportunity to either not work at all or work part-time while attending Monty full-time. All the power to each and every one of you. No matter what walk of life you are on we are all striving for that one golden ticket. You'll have to read the fine print on the bottom of that ticket sometimes due to its tiny font size but I assure you, it's there and it says something like this.

"Upon receiving this golden ticket, you are taking a giant step towards bettering your life and the lives of people that surround you, thus creating a happy life for your current or future family."

During my spring break I'm definitely going to unwind a bit. I'll play a little more guitar and watch a movie or two. From a married perspective I'll lay out two to three bath mats on aisle 16 of Target to decide on best color options for the upstairs bathroom, which I did late Saturday night. The key to this break is to take one long deep breath. Granted, some student's deep breath will only last a day due to getting a head start on next week's assignments and some will have no time to breathe because of families, children, etc. Let's all at least take a moment to look back at what we accomplished so far this semester, for your families, friends, and yourself.

The day of the golden ticket shall arrive.

 

Familiar Sights

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

I came home to what is increasingly becoming a familiar sight around breaks. Empty cups with tea bags firmly fixed. Paper everywhere - the floor, the table, and the even on the bed. A rigid and somewhat complicated organizational system that was in place at the beginning of the semester reduced to "Due this week" and "Everything else". Books everywhere and a large pile of clothes greeting me. An unshaven stubble that's on the verge of turning into a beard. I think my subconscious mind is trying to recreate a college dorm room to make up for the fact that I'm currently living at home. If so, I hate you subconscious mind! I should be able to just collapse on my bed without worrying about a book poking me or the clothes I'm sleeping on. Seriously subconscious, totally inconvenient.

And of course there's that overwhelmingly feeling of tiredness and disbelief. Tiredness because I've been operating on very little sleep this week. No matter how many times I've practiced getting by with little sleep, it's always hard. I think someone somewhere colluded to make sure evolution didn't care of this need to sleep...anyway, disbelief because I can't believe I just made it through several exams, various tests, and a huge paper (in one week no less!) with the main aspects of my sanity still intact.

As someone on Facebook noted, Spring break has never been so timely. But since I'm greedy I'm going to complain about Spring break being only a week. That's not a bad idea by itself because if the break were longer, I'd get out of my academic mode and get into lazy, couch potato mode. For me at least, there are so many assignments due the week right after Spring break - I'm counting 4 major papers off the top of my head. Though to be fair, there's nothing due the Monday after the break's over. So I thank my Professors for giving us the time to enjoy the break and happily procrastinate the night the papers are due. I'm also assuming that mythic college Spring break was just a lie. Hollywood colluded to make us believe it exists so that we'd finish high school and go to college. Even if it did exist, I'd probably do one of those "Alternative Spring breaks" as I'm not really into heavy partying. I think I was going somewhere with this whole rant (?) about Spring breaks, but I'm not sure anymore. I'm going to pretend it was all an attempt to illustrate what tiredness does to me. Ya.

P.S. I was going through my high school philosophy extracts (because that's what all cool people do) and noticed sometime interesting about Philosophers and horses. Plato uses several analogies using horses in The Republic and Phaedrus. Kierkegaard talks about horses in relation to how humans are similar to a horse herd in relation to identity. I think Nietzsche had a mental breakdown and died within a year after seeing a horse being whipped. I just had to share this.

Kittens!

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

When I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian. I also wanted to be a nurse, a zookeeper, a detective, a writer, a nun, and an exotic dancer--the latter after watching a bikini-clad show girl on TV jump out of a huge, chocolate-iced birthday cake.

Slowly, one by one, these childhood ambitions fell away.  A particularly gory nature program, which showed in detail the blood-filled birthing of a baby elephant, abruptly ended any desire I had of becoming a zookeeper or a nurse. Similarly, my dream of becoming a veterinarian dwindled and died after my older brother revealed to me--when dropping off Sprinkles, our dog, at the vet—that “getting fixed” was actually code for puppy neutering. My brother was also the one who patiently explained to me that exotic dancing usually demanded other talents in addition to a love of chocolate cake, birthday parties, and surprises. The nun thing petered out as well, probably because we weren’t Catholic; in fact, we weren’t even regular church-goers. I’m not sure what happened to my dream of becoming a detective. All I know is one day it was gone.

That left writing. At the time, I was especially enthusiastic about the idea of one day writing articles for Cat Fancy, my favorite magazine. It seemed like a good fit, mainly because I liked cats, and writing stories about them didn’t seem to be all that hard. So, in the same way that I assumed—without questioning--that I would one day be happily married, raise three, or maybe even four, beautiful and gifted children, and live on a charming horse farm in upstate Vermont, I just knew that one day, I would somehow become a writer of cat stories. I figured if it went well, I might branch out and include stories about dogs and maybe even people.

I’m not sure when, exactly, it dawned on me that this just wasn’t going to happen.  

Once you become an adult, the world needs you: children need you, spouses need you, bosses need you.  Your own dreams, once so clear and vivid, get crowded out. Time passes. Soon, your childhood aspirations are like muffled whispers that only surface during odd moments--when waiting at a traffic light and glimpsing a lone, crumpled shoe tossed by the side of the road and wondering, “How in the world did that single shoe get there?.... Who walks around with just one shoe?" Then the traffic light turns green, the car behind you honks impatiently, and your foot automatically reaches for the gas pedal, leaving the lone shoe and its untold story behind in a cloud of dust.

But what I’ve recently learned is that our dreams don’t really wither and die. Not completely. It’s more like they’re frozen in time. And, sometimes, if you’re lucky, they can be sparked back to life. Last semester, I took a writing class. My teacher, Professor Davis, would return my homework with encouraging and enthusiastic comments scribbled in the margin in green, felt-tipped marker. He’d write things like, “Nicely done!” and “This may be one of the best responses I’ve ever received!” and later, “What about writing a blog?” And slowly I began to believe, as Professor Davis seemed to believe, that maybe I could write something after all.

So here we are. I am writing something: this blog. It's not for Cat Fancy, nor am I sitting at a table on a horse farm in upstate Vermont. But maybe, in the end, that’s what makes life interesting-- it’s the unexpected twists and turns in life, the lone shoe left by the side of the road, that gives us the stories that are worth telling, the stories that call out to be told.


Ordinary days or we don't always have a crisis, thank goodness

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 This would be a nice day to take a nap wrapped up in a soft quilt what with the chill and the rain and all. But not because there's anything too alarming. It's been a much easier week in the turmoil department.  My older son, the one who was attacked by a pine tree last week, seems to be getting over his concussion very nicely.  My daughter turned 15 yesterday and was delighted with a present of the first season of a Japanese anime, "Hetalia", on DVD. (Then she was weirded out because I liked it, too. I'm not sure if that makes me a cool mom or a strange one.) 

Oh there's been the usual "Life, the Universe and All That" going on, but it's been minor compared to other times.  Right now, I'm looking out the window and wondering if I'm going to need a rowboat or pontoons to get to class tonight.  I also have two out of three children home with something minor that's going around at school.  Since I only go to the Germantown campus two evenings a week and Saturday mornings I don't have a feel for the full experience of being in school for large parts of many days. So I'm wondering if colds and such get passed around there like they do in the public schools.  I've seen the hand sanitizer dispensers in various places, but other than that I don't even know if there's a student health/nurse office on any of the campuses. (campi?  Like octopus/octopi? Probably not and I need to get some focus and concentrate on writing.)

There are the day-to-day chores that need doing like going to the store, figuring out something for dinner that will be in the oven before I leave for class and finishing up some reading for tonight.  I have to remember to take my soil sample for the Geology part of the class, too. Then there's always laundry to gather or sort or fold or whatever.  I don't even want to think about the five different sizes of socks that are around here right now…and just where do the odd socks go so that there are never nice tidy pairs?  That may be one of the unanswerable questions of Life.

I was going to make another pot of tea for the teens when the elder came in just now saying that he feels a bit better and will make some.  In our family the first thing to do when someone has some kind of bug is make a nice, hot pot of tea. Then the patient and the care-giver each have a soothing cup of the brew.  There's an old Irish saying about tea that's "strong enough to trot a mouse across", but I don't think that we need it to be that powerful at the moment.

Brewing Tea 

So next week is Spring Break.  What are other people planning to do?  Maybe I'll get to take that nap. 8-)

 

Word Duel/Duel of Words/Wordy Dueling, anyone?

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

I walked into a packed library today, and marveled at the casual studiousness (shadowed by my own prolific lack of effort) of fellow EmCee-ers until I realized that it is midterm week, which explains the ten minutes it took me to find a suitable place to write words; this corner cubicle covered in ink inscriptions.

Supporters of Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid have sat here.
So have lovers of free speech and powerful expletives (word.).
“Lori is Gay,” apparently. Which makes me happy, the way other people’s happiness always seems to have a tangible positive impact on my own emotional wellbeing.

What is there to report in the not-so-happening life of Besith Pineda?

Things are slowly falling back into a pattern for me. I moved to D.C. about a month ago, which required a massive overhaul of basic survival instincts and knowledge, and has been completely beneficial to me in more ways than one. Days have become learning experiences, and though I have yet to exhaust all possible transportation options (helicopter, flying carpet, unicorn) I now know that the bus gets me to school in about 15 minutes, a number more than doubled in Metro time. This is fantastic.

Also! I signed up for the MC Poetry Slam today, to be held on April 28th. There’s an information meeting tomorrow from 1 to 1:50, in TA 153 (RV campus). I highly recommed you go.

Let’s duel it out with words?

Until next.


 


Die Rote Jacke

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

The above (hopefully) translates into “The Red Jacket”. (Those of you speak fluent German, feel free to correct me if I have abused the language). I have recently picked up the (probably) annoying habit of translating as many words as I can into German. It’s my way of learning languages. My playful muse decided that the title of this post should be “auf Deutsch” (in German). Really, there’s no arguing with her when she gets like this. I just have to do what she says and trust it will lead to something.

            Amusingly, my German textbook addresses the phenomenon of blogging and so I can now – auf Deutsch – tell you one of the many things I do at MC: Dienstags blogge ich.

            But I digress. The original point of this post was to discuss my habit of “Geschichten schreiben” – writing stories. It is a time consuming habit. I fear I shall never be rid of it, especially since MC offers such a nurturing environment for me to indulge it.

            This brings me to The Red Jacket, a fabelhaft (fabulous) opportunity for artists of all persuasions. The Red Jacket is a magazine published by MC once annually every spring semester. In the fall, the editors collect submissions of artwork, photography, essays, poems, and short stories. They then have the formidable task of whittling MC’s abundant talent down to a single issue.

            This year’s issue publishes later this month (and includes a story by yours truly).

            As I promised in my final entry last semester, I spent winter break working on the latest draft of my novel (don’t ask for a number; I’ve lost count). Unfortunately, most of what I did was brainstorm, write outlines, read Writer’s Digest, and then stare at the ceiling in an invocative pose, awaiting divine intervention that would result in the completed and published series stacked neatly on my desk.

            Of course, the notion that the series can write itself is almost as ludicrous as the image of books stacked neatly on any surface in my room (which I did not clean over break). At last, after spilling my troubles to a high school buddy she gave the the simple yet profound suggestion: why not cut the characters that do nothing but make a bigger mess of the plot?

            The floodgates burst open. My yearlong writer’s bloc suddenly lifted and I wrote like a maniac, completing 130 pages in two weeks (260 pages standard paperback book). I wrote every spare moment: between doing my winter break homework, converting my grandparents’ slides into digital photos, and helping my aunt make several hundred centerpieces for a UMCP football banquet – through which I sustained numerous hot glue burns on my fingertips. I didn’t sleep much those two weeks, but when I did, I always fell asleep full of endorphins, proud of my day’s work.

            That euphoria is evidence enough that I could write fiction every day for the rest of my life, and be happier than the happiest clam on earth. Thank you to MC and The Red Jacket for the publication opportunities! It is a giant leap forward in my career!

(Now if I could just finish that draft…)

Hey! Ho! Let's Go!

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. Remember, this is only a test.

Have you ever heard this standard operating procedure test that networks run in the wee hours of the night? For some reason it always happens to me right when the climax is about to take place in some  melodrama that I'll most likely never watch again. I'll come in the door after working the super late shift, remove my footwear, and relax a bit with a toasted bagel. Upon completion of the meal I'm in the hunt with David Caruso. Hell, I'm his partner in crime readying myself to solve the crime. And right when the case is about to burst open with a key piece of evidence, CBS will test the emergency system of its airwaves. I've invested 33 whole minutes into this case at 1 a.m. and I want closure! I need closure!

Now that my rant is out of the way, I'm about to surprise you by going full circle.

Spring break is upon us. It's time to rest and relax from the daily exercise of knowledge. However, you could catch me checking out some Da Vinci special on the History channel during my recess but that particular knowledge is not in my curriculum. The path I chose at Monty is Hospitality Management. I am quite hospitable, hence my tendency to gravitate towards this degree. I am forgetting about homework though, aren't I? I'm not completely sure if our teachers will dish us any homework over the break. Can anyone help me please? My last spring break was in 1995 and I have no idea if we as students are expected to commit to our chosen knowledge path during this time. Call me crazy if you will but I don't know. What I do know is that I'm totally trying to catch up on Boardwalk Empire.

In any case, David Caruso will take off his dark sunglasses very slowly. Wait, what I meant to say was "in any case, we must continue our studies throughout this so-called break in order to maintain consistency in our classes". We dare not forget the little details of accounting, nutrition, or that one credit elective. We shall and we must abide by our own rules we set forth for ourselves during the registration process. Do you hear me my fellow students? Can you hear me my studious colleagues? Brothers and sisters in arms: UNITE!

I told myself long, long ago that if I ever sound like William Wallace in one of these blog posts to either end it or go to Lowe's for war paint. So in closing my dear friends, consider my speech a precursor to greatness. After all, this was a test of the emergency broadcast system. Remember, this was only a test.

 

Capstone Colloquium and Relativity Roundtable

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

Monday, we had the "Capstone Colloquium" (colloquium is spelled weirdly, right?) at Montgomery College, Rockville. The capstone project is a research project second year scholars have to do. The Colloquium is where they present their projects. The Scholars professors request that the first year students help out. I'm not sure why. In all fairness, organizing the colloquium is a lot of work. But considering how impressive all the projects were, I think the professors also wanted to use some form of "shock and awe". Overwhelm us with awesome projects and scare the procrastination out of us? If that's questionable logic then excuse me, it's Friday. Anyway, the projects covered a wide variety of topics - everything from how Microfinance is changing people's lives to the psychology of terrorist groups to why the NFL isn't gaining traction outside of the United States. Of course I'm leaving out some great projects, but listing them all could take a while. "That'll be us" next year, some people whispered...scary thought as those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I have nothing to compare the projects with, but the second years set the bar pretty high.

Thursday, we had a roundtable on Relativity and Quantum Physics. Dr. Forrest Hall, a physicist with a laundry list of accomplishments, spoke to us about how Relativity blew the doors open in Physics and completely changed our ideas of many things. A few students, including me, talked to him after the presentation and he recalled how these things have changed significantly since he's started following them. I think I understood much of his presentation but he lost me somewhere around Quantum Reality. He joked it was good if people didn't understand it as much of human logic is thrown out the window to describe everything from here on out. For me, Relativity is where Physics becomes a lot more philosophical. Maybe they're both inherently connected - they both seek to explain the world around us and it wouldn't be entirely farfetched for them to intersect. After all, the early scientists were called philosophers.

P.S. I didn't even plan for the alliteration in the title. They really are named Capstone Colloquium and Relativity Roundtable.

About Will

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

When my afternoon classes are over, I follow the stream of students headed to the parking lot, find my car, and join the flow of cars exiting the campus. A sense of urgency can be felt; everyone is in a rush to get on with it, to rejoin the lives they lead that take place beyond campus.

On most afternoons, I’m hurrying to pick up my younger son, Will, from school. He doesn’t ride the school bus home, and he grows anxious if I’m late. Will is thirteen years old. He is autistic.

If you don’t know what autism is, don’t feel badly. I barely know what it is even though I’ve spent years of my life together with kids like Will, seen them in doctors’ waiting rooms, in speech and physical therapy offices, talked to them, and played with them. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Unlike my older son, whose afternoons were filled with play dates, car pools, and soccer practice, Will spends most of his afternoons together with me. I enjoy our afternoons as much as he does; he is a kind and gentle boy and easy to be with. His favorite after school activity this time of year is walking in our neighborhood park, the one that winds around a creek. The regular afternoon dog walkers in the park know Will by name and will stop and make their dog sit so that Will can stroke his hand lightly along the soft fur of their dog’s back. At the end of our walk, we stop at a wooden foot bridge and throw in the items we’ve collected—sticks and leaves and tree bark—and watch them swirl downstream until they disappear from sight. 

One of the things that you slowly learn as the parent of a special needs child is that your pre-conceived notion of what a happy life is must be redefined.  Happiness for Will is not what happiness is for my older son, nor will it ever be. Nor is it held in the images we see on screens and in magazines: it is not a Ferrari or a hot-looking girlfriend, or even a college education and a six-figure income.

When you start to scale back the layers of what most of us believe that we, too, need to be happy—what we have been lead to believe will give us happiness--something interesting happens. You realize that the only true requirement for a happy life is this: people. People who we can love and care for, and people who will love and care for us.

Will’s future is a vast unknown. But for now, we are both more than content to stand together on the small bridge that spans across the creek—sometimes talking, sometimes not-- tossing in dry leaves and sticks and watching them get caught up in the rush of water and then spin downstream on their journey to the river.

Soon the sky will darken.  At home, dinner needs to be prepared, homework has to be completed, and laundry sits, waiting to be folded.

 

Watch out for that tree!

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 Last week life was wrinkled. This week it would take more than ironing to get things smooth, it might take a “Whack-a-mole” mallet, at least for Monday and Tuesday. But considering what happened, hitting things on the head would not be a Good Thing.


So there I was after a really great geology lab on Saturday morning up at the Germantown campus. It was all about how to identify minerals by things like color, crystal habit, hardness, etc. I loved it. There were metal ores and crystals and micas and more. I used to collect rocks when I was a kid (yes I know at my age my kids might sat “but that was easy back in the Stone Age”) so this took me back. The early hour on Saturday morning is a bit rough, but the professor, Dr. McDaniel, said that she doesn't really like early morning labs either but this way it's not taking up the middle of the day. Anyway, the second exam was on Tuesday night, so I had 2 days plus for a good review, allowing for work in Monday and the usual. It should be fine, I thought.


Well. Monday noon my husband sends an email to work that our youngest is sick at school and he's going to go get him. Since I'm closer to that school I checked with my supervisor and left to get him and take him home. That was during the driving rain and tornado warning. But we made it safely and he started to perk up a little. (There's a mild bug going around that causes about 4-8 hours of fever and a bit of upset). The teens got home and my daughter had hurt her shoulder slightly. OK, no problem: Ice pack and rest and ibuprofen. Then the oldest went to the store and didn't get home when I expected him. He showed up wet and slightly confused. While walking under a white pine a branch had been jostled (I think) fallen, hit his shoulder and then clipped the side of his head. His pupils were the same size, but he was taken to a clinic where my husband was told “We think nothing's broken, but take him to the ER for a CAT scan.” The up-shot is that he has a mild concussion, but nothing is broken. He was home on Tuesday but seems to be recovering well.

So this is an important warning: with all of the storms and stress to the trees that we've had around here this winter, watch out for loose, broken or hanging tree limbs! There's an old-timey name for them, “widow makers” and that's no joke. Branches take out power lines and they can take out people, too.


I did manage to study for the test in between crises, but I hope that Spring Break will be very, very d/u/l/l/ calm. Just because of the wind and trees here's "They Call The Wind Maria"  on YouTube.  

Poetry and Stuff

(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

It wasn’t until I had posted last week’s blog that the loftiness and fluffy-ness (bear with me) of some of the sentences I wrote really struck me.

“I know of the blue I crossed and of the white I flew through on a plane…”

Who writes stuff like that?
Yours truly.

Trial and error method, you guys. That was an error.

But moving on.

Sometimes I have too many feelings about certain things (such as transferring schools and the immediately far future) and I have been granted the privilege of a platform that allows me to write about these thoughts for a relatively substantial audience (which might even, in my wildest dreams, skim over my words), but the sentiments interfere with the simple points I want to make.

Feeling and rationality: it’s a balance I am still trying to find.

Additionally, I am currently enrolled in a poetry class (EN223) led by the wonderful Mr. Robert Giron. Every Tuesday afternoon I spend precisely two hours and 40 minutes listening to words and writing words and analyzing words. I will be typically writing these posts on Wednesday mornings, so that what is directly reflected in my writing is the [badly-synchronized-attempts-at-poetic-brilliance] aftermath of the day before.

The class is totally inspiring, though. Imagine something that means the world to you, but no one cares about, and you kind of understand how I feel about the things I write sometimes. Which, I would imagine, is how anyone who actually takes the time to sit down and rake him/herself for feelings and letters simultaneously probably feels as well. It's a lonely process.

And then Professor Giron will say something along the lines of how writers often feel this inexplicable urge to observe and share and say something that deepens the conversation of humanity (not verbatim), and I am definitively saying “YES” in my head in my usual second to last row seat.

It’s impeccable timing, and so, for the meantime, these weekly poetry sessions suffice. In the second half of class, we all sit in boxed circle of sorts and read our own work. The themes found in the poems shared run the gamut of laughter to heartbreak, play the in between keys of life, so that I often kind of want to bring my drum to class and beat the “inspiring” lines I write into existence and slowly lead the class into a slow but cheerful song of Kumbaya because we are all humans and, therefore, we are all poets... 

Just kidding; I don’t have a drum. Though I would totally share my amazing singing voice. wink

Also, if you ever listen to just one poem… make sure it’s this one.

And remember to Shake the Dust.

 

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