Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This is the happy dance I've been doing since I found out I received an A- in Historiography. I wasn't surprised by the A's in kiddie lit or Ozarks history, but this one threw me for a loop. I was hoping for a B and when I saw the A- I just kept staring at it, wondering if I was seeing things. Though I have received a reprieve this semester, I probably should go ahead and get the book Nicki suggested, "Dare to Get a B". I figure it is bound to happen sometime so I might as well be prepared.

Overall, I am satisfied with the results of this semester. I found something worthwhile in all three classes, and though I'm still struggling with a new style of writing (new to me, anyway), I have hope that I can learn and improve my skills. My historiography professor said that failure is part of writing, and with each attempt we should try to "fail better" next time. His encouragement seems somewhat backwards, but it is helpful nonetheless. Learning something new can be difficult so I shouldn't expect to do it perfectly on my first try. Writing is hard work and involves a lot of editing and rewriting, even for professionals. I'm excited to keep learning more about the craft.

The most enjoyable aspect of the semester was the opportunity to take part in the meetings and activities of the PAT (Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society). It was the first semester in which my schedule allowed me to attend the meetings and it was nice to finally meet some of the members and become better acquainted with those that I met at the Dead Day party last May. We had the opportunity to volunteer at a national park a couple of weeks ago and will hopefully be doing even more volunteer work next semester. Participating in this group has given me the feeling that I am at last part of college experience, something that has long eluded me.

It's hard to feel connected when my time at school is all about rushing from work to class, then back to work again. This semester I stopped going back to work after every class and thus my stress level has gone down and my overall disposition has improved. Next semester I will be working a few less hours which ultimately means I will be working myself out of a job since the time I am gone to school uses up my vacation time. Presumably, I will be booted out the door when I run out of vacation time. How I long for that day to arrive.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Knowable or Constructed

I'm currently suffering miserably while attempting to write an analytical paper. I used to think I knew how to write; now I know better. I have recently discovered that I only know how to write narrative papers, not analytical papers. Actually, I had no idea there were different kinds of papers or writing, and I am now paying the price for this woeful ignorance. I received a 79 on my primary source paper, with an extra 5 points added to everyone's grade because the professor knows he is an evil grader. So I came out of that fiasco with an 84, which I guess I should be grateful for, but as I always get A's on my papers I'm not feeling terribly thankful about it at all. It took me a couple of days to suck it up and look at all the notes he had written on the paper. I could not dispute any of his comments, but is was quite difficult to look at. Since receiving this grade I have been terrified to begin the analytical paper that is due on Tuesday. I have no confidence that I know how to write this paper. I have to write as if I am testifying before a court about whether or not history is knowable or constructed. No citations, no quotes, and no outside research. Well. Just my own reasoning based on the material covered this semester. It has to be done so I will do it, but I'm sure not looking forward to my grade in this class.

So, with two more weeks of school I have two papers to write and three tests to take, then I am home free! Looking forward to relaxing and enjoying Christmas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marx and Parks

Not so that you would notice, but all I do these days is write. I write about book censorship and I write book reviews (which I sincerely hate) and I write about Rosa Parks and the bus boycott. I shouldn't complain; at least I understand these topics. My next writing project doesn't even have a topic, we are allowed no direct quotes in our paper and we can use no research from other sources besides our existing historiography book and boycott source documents. We are to write a 7-8 page paper about whether or not history is "knowable". I can answer that with a big fat "NO", but somehow I'm stretch it out a little longer. it could be worse; the paper was originally supposed to be 12 pages, but he has apparently tired of our whining about the length so he kindly shortened the assignment. Thank you, professor!

Also, after exploding our brains with postmodernism and deconstructionism, we have not moved on to Marxism. He assured us that we could not possibly understand current historical writing without an understanding of Marxist theory. He is also never happier than when he has completely fried our brains; he says that's when he knows he has done his job. Actually, I thought Marxist theory was quite interesting, and if I ever have a chance to read something instead of writing, I would like to investigate his theories a little further.

We have spent the last three weeks doing what he calls "writer's workshop". We had to submit an outline for our Parks paper, as well as one paragraph, to peers for critique. The next step was to submit a rough draft (which, of course, is not rough at all but completely polished and ready for review, as real historians never submit anything less than their best for peer review) for our peers to review. I didn't enjoy this process as I don't feel qualified to judge someone elses paper, but I have new sympathy for the professors who have to read our papers and who hopefully restrain themselves from telling us how horribly we write.

Meanwhile, as I'm writing a history paper with no real topic, I will be writing an analytical paper for kiddie lit about, well, I don't know what about. I should be thinking about that, but I really can't because I have several pages of the Ozarks journal to write, plus tweak the Parks paper before I submit it for grading, etc....

Only five more weeks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Postmodernism and Desconstruction

These are two words that I don't ever want to hear again. I plan to forget I ever heard them at all. Even my professor said he tried to study these concepts but eventually gave up because his mental health insurance wasn't that great. Also, my infatuation with historiography is over. This is unfortunate because I have finally learned to spell it.

Tonight the professor told us that writing is about failing. I was glad to hear this because I am no longer able to write; my brain has become useless for the purpose of writing about history. I think part of my problem is that I am used to writing narrative and now I have to write analysis. I'm having trouble with this concept and I think it is mostly because I'm scared silly. Ever since we discussed these bizarre ideas (to me, anyway) in the title, I have been absolutely out of my mind. I can't think straight at all anymore when it comes to writing the primary source paper that is due very soon. I'm afraid to write a single word because I'm sure I will be doing it all wrong.

On a more positive note, I made A's on my historiography test and my book review, as well as on my kiddie lit mid-term and my Ozarks history mid-term. So, all is not lost. At least not yet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Primary Sources

Last week I had my first test in historiography and my first book review was due. Thank heavens the history test was not essay, but objective only. History students hardly ever get that kind of break. Anyway, I think it did well; at least, I know I aced the extra credit section. I'm not sure about the book review.

In historiography (I have finally learned to spell it!) we are deep in the study of primary sources. According to the website Historical Thinking Matters, the methodology for studying historical documents is as follows:
1. Sourcing - Consider the documents author and its creation. To me this means who, what, when, where, why, and how.
2. Contextualizing - Situate the document in the appropriate time and place. What is going on here?
3. Close reading - Read carefully and consider what the document is saying and what it is trying to say. What does the source say and what language is used to say it?
Corroborating - Compare and contrast the document with other primary sources. Check important dates and details to determine the reliability of the document.

I am enjoying this immensely. I feel like a detective searching for clues and I love it. I only wish I were looking for clues about Latin American history, which is my true love.

In Children's Literature last week we read Skellig by David Almond. Loved this book! Part fantasy, part reality, we discussed how authors help the reader suspend disbelief and believe in the fantastical. I believed everything!

In regards to my previous post, I added a link to the author's website, which includes information about the controversy over her book, as well as information about banned book week (which was actually last week).

This is the first semester I have had time to attend the meetings of the history honor society and it has been a nice addition to the overall school experience. Most of the time I don't feel like a real student because I'm always rushing back and forth to or from work, so it is good to have the chance to meet with other history majors and get to know knew people. I'm really excited about some of the upcoming activities with the group, which includes possible work days at a couple of national parks in the area. Finally, I feel like I am getting to the meat of my degree and I have hope for some future possibilities that involve history in some way. It has been a long time coming. I hope change is in the air.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak Up

In my Children's Literature class (I fondly call it "kiddie lit") this week we are reading Speak, a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is a dark story of the rape of a young high school girl and her emotional response to the horrifying event. The book is the child of the New Realism movement in children's literature.

Emotionally, the book is at times difficult to read, but it is well worth reading regardless of your age. In addition to the topic of rape, it covers such issues as depression, underage drinking, bullying, and parental alienation. Not once while reading Speak did it occur to me that the book might be pornographic or inappropriate for young readers.

I bring this up because a local professor wrote a letter to our newspaper decrying the use of the book in high school English classes because it is pornographic. The school district in question has recently banned another children's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a book which I have not read.

While I respect a parents right to monitor their children's reading material, I don't believe that right should extend to other peoples children or to an entire school district. It is my hope that people will read the book and decide its value for themselves rather than take someone elses opinion as gospel. Censorship should not be an option.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On rainy days like today the campus is a sea of umbrellas and colorful rubber rainboots. The girls wear them with jeans, sweats, skirts, and shorts. Nothing is off limits with a pair of rain boots. What I want to know is, am I too old for these?

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is Historiography

A few semesters ago I took a world history class at the community college. Our first assignment was to write a historiographical paper about an event in history and how it relates to something in our life. Unfortunately, I didn't know what historiography meant and had no idea how to apply it to my own life. I got a big fat "C" on the paper, even after a re-write that didn't impress her at all.

A couple of years down the road now and I am taking Intro to Historiography at what Caz and Student Mum call "Uni". I'm learning terms like historicism, historical awareness, periodization, antiquarian, and social memory. The list goes on. This week we are reading about the different subjects historians study, such as political history and economic history. And, finally, historiography. Simply put, it is the study of how history is written. It is how historians do their work. So now I know what it means, but I can still barely spell it. Hopefully this deficit will not hold me back.

One thing I appreciate about the History department is the varied age group of the students. I was the only non-trad in the Spanish department, but I can always count on a few people who are my age or older being in my history classes. It's a nice break from being the oddball in class.

I'm not very hopeful about the Ecuador trip. My husband doesn't think he can do without me for four weeks. I guess I should be happy about that, right?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well, I don't know what happened to summer but it is gone, gone, gone. I'm afraid to look at my summer to-do list for fear that I will be disappointed in myself. Maybe later.

As for school, my impressions so far are that I will not care for the Children's Literature class; my Ozarks history class is going to be a lot of fun; and my historiography class is going to be my most difficult undertaking to date.

Quite frankly, I have a hard time even spelling the word "historiography" and I'm still not sure what it means. I was hoping the professor would tell us what it means, but after one evening, I have decided he is not going to tell us much of anything. We are going to tell HIM. Turns out we have to speak in this class or we fail 20% of our grade. Yikes. I usually sit on the back row and don't speak unless spoken to. Now I'm going to have to find my voice. Finally.

For Ozarks history, in addition to two book reviews that I could live quite well without, we will be keeping a journal about how the people of the Ozarks are represented in film, print, and in the media. Also, we have to take a road trip through several sub-regions of the Ozarks and record our impressions of the land, people, cities and towns, etc. I'm very excited about this project.

The Children's Lit. class has as interesting book list and I enjoy reading children's books, but I'm just not a literature person. Right now we are looking at how to determine who is the "implied reader" for children's books. Not my cup of tea, but no doubt I can learn a few things from this class nonetheless.

All things considered, I expect this to be my most interesting and intense semester so far!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I have no idea where my school journey is going to take me. I started school to get an education, not to learn a trade. This leaves me in a bit of a quandary when people ask what I plan to do when I graduate, because I don't have an answer. At least, not an answer that most people would find satisfactory. I could go to grad school, but that still leaves the question open as to what my intentions are after yet another graduation. Why doesn't anyone seem to understand the value of an education unless it is immediately going to produce a lucrative career upon completion? The education itself is the goal, the end result, the reason I go to school. I don't have to know where it will ultimately take me.

Right now I am hoping it will take me to Ecuador next year. The Spanish department takes a group of students on a four-week trip each spring. This year they went to Spain, next year is Ecuador. Students stay with a host family and go to school each day, with three weekend outings planned. I'm dreaming of ruins and food and foreign adventures! I'm constantly thinking about how I can make this happen. It means my husband will be on his own for four weeks, which will not make him happy. It means I will be unemployed for a month and probably in search of a new job when I return. It means I need to save now for the expenses of the trip and I will need to have at least a month, or more, of expense money saved to cover my period of unemployment. Oh, and I also have to be accepted into the program. That part is actually the least of my worries. I have the prerequisites as far as the grades and the classes, I just need to apply before the group is filled. In fact, I think I'm going to need to apply as soon as the fall semester begins, even though the trip isn't until next May. I'm trying not to get too excited, just in case I don't get to go. But if you really want something, why not do try to imagine all possibilities that could make it happen? Just like going back to school as a non-trad. Make it happen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It is way too hot to go outside these days. "Lost" is over and "House" is repeats, so here I sit with no motivation to do anything except be lazy and indecisive and eat chocolate ice cream. I registered for the fall semester over two months ago, but part of it was tentative. The two certainties are Intro to Historiography and The Ozarks in American History. I also signed up for Hispanic Cinema, not because I wanted to but because I thought it would not be in my best interest to have a semester with no Spanish. I was hoping I could muster some interest in this class, but so far I have been unsuccessful. So, today I registered at the community college (from which I graduated last year) for an English class on Children's Literature. Now, I'm not all that interested in this subject either, but I have to take something. If I'm going to graduate next year I have to take at least three classes each semester and my choices are limited. All the classes I take from now on need to be upper level classes. Also, I need one more class to complete my fine arts requirement and the literature class will take care of that, but the cinema class will not. I do enjoy children's books and I look forward to once again experiencing the convenience of an online class. Although this is not my top choice for study, I feel confident that it will nonetheless be a worthwhile learning endeavor. At least, that's what I am telling myself.

As for my summer to-do list, I don't think I've made much progress. I have watched a few movies and read a couple of books. I've done some work in the yard and cleaned house. I haven't disciplined myself enough to keep up with Spanish like I should. But I have done a few fun things, just because I could. I'm enjoying my time off this summer, but I'm also looking forward to the beginning of a new semester this fall and all the new adventures it will bring. Someone please remind me of this when I start complaining about school this fall.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just a few things I've noticed since school let out for the summer:

  • blue skies
  • clouds
  • wind
  • trees-green trees, pink trees, white trees, just so many trees everywhere
  • the sound of the wind in the trees
  • gray hairs
  • my husband
  • books
  • my weight - uh oh
  • my house - yikes, what a mess!

I can't describe the astonishment and joy I feel while noticing the world around me. Have the skies always been so blue and the trees so green? I don't remember. School has been my world and everything else has been crowded out. It is such a luxury to actually see things. I want to soak in every minute I can and enjoy every experience I can before school starts in the fall. And once I'm back in the daily grind of homework and papers and tests, I want to remember how to see, even when I don't have much time to look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Bucket List

As the spring semester slowly came to an end, I made a list of things I would like to do during the summer. Free of school obligations for a whole three months (and suddenly it feels like a very long time to be out of school), I realized that I would have a lot of time on my hands and I wanted to make the most of it. Here is what I have so far:

1. Read as many books as I possibly can for both entertainment and enlightenment.

2. Work in the garden. My tomatoes usually do not get the attention they deserve. This year I will have no excuse for not having a bumper crop. B. S. (Before School) I made colorful garden charts and elaborate plans about what I wanted to plant and where, complete with seed starting charts and planting dates and companion planting guides. Nowadays, I start the seeds in March and if they survive until May, we will have fresh vegetables. If not, there is always next year.

3. Cook healthy recipes. When school rolls around, I just throw things together and call it a meal (or my husband cooks). I have a subscription to Cooking Light Magazine and this summer will be a good time to eat healthy and try new recipes.

4. Watch movies. I will watch The Lord of the Rings as many times as I want to and not worry that there is something else I should be doing.

5. Spring hiking trip. Well, it is probably too late for this to happen. March through May are the optimal months for hiking in these parts. By June, it is too hot, humid, and insect-ridden to be worth the trouble.

6. Clean house. The down-side to no summer school is that I will no longer have an excuse for not cleaning house regularly. I wonder if it is too late to sign up for a summer class?

7. Organize files, paperwork, school stuff, etc. Again, is it too late to sign up for summer school?

8. Read through the two foot stack of magazines that have been accumulating for the last two semesters. So what if it is all old news by now.

9. Write resume. No comment on this subject just yet.

10. Go to the park. We have a park with a small lake and numerous gardens. A botanical center is currently under construction. The entire park is staffed by volunteers only, and if I ever have time I would like to join the effort.

11. Have a tapas party. I have wanted to do this for a long time and if it doesn't happen this summer, it probably won't happen at all until I after I graduate.

12. Learn to speak Spanish. I know, this is a big one. I don't mean that I will be able to speak all that well by summers end, but I have to get over the fear of opening my mouth and allowing Spanish words to come forth. I just spent sixteen weeks writing in Spanish constantly. There is no reason why I shouldn't be able to speak a little, as well. I just need to get over my inhibitions, make the effort, and let it happen.

So, where should I begin? I have so much time on my hands that I don't know what to do first! I was so relieved when school ended last week, but now I'm a little overwhelmed by my freedom.

Grades were posted yesterday, and I made A's in both classes. I was so excited! Even though I only had two classes this semester, both were extremely time consuming and challenging. I learned how to write in Spanish and how to write book reviews for history, both important skills for the remainder of my classes. I've been feeling quite burnt-out for a while now, but I believe the success's of this semester have helped in keeping me motivated to continue the journey. I'm already looking forward to what the fall semester will hold, and hopefully my summer break will leave me rejuvenated and ready to jump back in and finish the race.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dead Day Party & Initiation

This is my version of Aimee Semple McPherson at the Dead Day Party last Friday for Phi Alpha Theta. It was the Friday before the party when I found out it was a costume party, so on Saturday I rushed around to costume shops only to find they were closed. Luckily, I found an old clothing store downtown that had a preacher's robe, so come Friday afternoon a asked a co-worker to put my hair up in a bun and I was all set to go.

This was the first activity of the history honor society that I had been able to attend and I was quite nervous because I knew it was likely that they would all be strangers to me. And they were. I met Amelia Earhart, Lizzie Borden, Al Capone, Annie Oakley, Amelia Bloomer, and Audrey Hepburn, to name a few. I'm not sure of most of the real names of the attendees. The party was hosted by a history professor who is also a sponsor of the club. I was a little disappointed that none of the professors that I have taken were at the party, since it would have been nice to have a few familiar faces at the party. It was not to be, but nonetheless I'm glad I finally had the time to go to an activity. I met a lot of interesting people and hopefully I will have opportunity to get to know them better. The most exciting thing for me (besides being initiated into the honor society) was meeting students older than I am!

Today I took my last final. It has been a hectic few weeks and I haven't had time to do much of anything except study. So now the verb test is over (50% improvement over the first one), all the papers and book reviews are written, and finals are over. It is such a relief, and I'm so excited to be free for the summer that I feel like doing a happy dance. And yet, somehow I feel a little down. I'll miss my Spanish professor, who has been nothing but encouraging to me all semester. I'll miss the young girl who I have now had two Spanish classes with and will probably never see again as she is off to another city to go to school in preparation for medical school. So many people pass through our lives never to be seen again.

This was meant to be a happy post about going to a party and meeting new people and successfully completing another semester, but instead it has turned a little maudlin. I will return when I recover from the post-final crash.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekends never turn out according to plan. We took care of all the errands Saturday morning so I could have the entire afternoon to study. Instead, we spent the afternoon taking care of the baby. I'm not complaining, mind you, it's just that every time I think I have things under control, it turns out that I don't.

I spent today reading the last few chapters of our history text book, then began reading the book for my next book review. Somewhere between rounds of Spanish homework, I have to get this assignment finished, preferably by Saturday so I can move on to worrying about the verb test that I have to take shortly after the book review is due.

I feel like I'm babbling. I guess that's just how I feel with only three and a half weeks remaining in the semester and so much to do. I'm counting the days till summer break!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Well, I can finally come up for air. The essay, the article synopsis, and the final Spanish composition are all complete. Now I can breathe. Not that the game is over; I have five more weeks to go, and there is still Spanish homework a-plenty, four more tests, and another book review to complete. But summer break is in sight and I am thinking about taking absolutely NO classes. My last break was summer 2008 and I think I am due for a rest so that I can have the stamina to continue for another year and a half. I can't stop thinking about all the things I can do during the summer!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things I Did During Spring Break

Thursday - Last day of school before spring break. Made it through classes despite loss of sleep due to baby arriving at 3:44 am. Turned in Spanish composition and took history mid-term, which was blue book. Note to professor: 40-something hands don't like to write for 1 and 1/4 hours. It hurts.

Free to spend time at hospital staring at baby, no homework worries, total freedom (almost, because Spanish homework has to be done sometime before the end of spring break. But not now.)

Friday - Visit baby. Don't think about school. Eat. Play on facebook. Begin Happy Aquarium competition with my stepson, who has his computer at the hospital so he can post baby pictures and feed his fish.

Saturday - Beautiful spring day. Still not thinking about school. Can't remember any Spanish words. Went to the little boys gymnastics, went shopping, went to see the Corpse flower, ate, shopped some more, ate some more, went to see the baby, all without once saying to my husband "I can't, I have to go home and study". Sigh. It felt absolutely wonderful.

Sunday - Another beautiful day. Tried to read a book just for fun. Couldn't concentrate. Beginning to think about history paper. Ate. Played on facebook. Completed mastery of peppers. Fed the fish. Worked in the yard for the first time this year. Took the shears and trimmed the lilyturf plants so that the crocus's would be visible. Weeded the garlic. Husband found flower bulbs in the garage (didn't have time to plants them last fall) which were sprouting in the package, so planted 70 bulbs. Don't know how if they will bloom, but at least they are in the ground now. Worked up an appetite so I ate some more. Could no longer stand not doing homework so I read the next chapter of my history textbook and took notes in preparation for the final exam in May.

Monday - Unable to lift coffee cup to my mouth due to gardening adventure on Sunday. Still able to use mouse, so fed the fish and harvested the crops. Still could not stand not thinking about school, so I began reading the autobiography of Aimee Semple MacPherson, my character study for history class. And make no mistake, she was a character.

Tuesday - Still so sore I can barely walk. Still thinking about homework, so continue reading autobiography. Came home from work and found a huge box of popcorn on the porch. Ate a bowlful, complained to husband that we need to get it out of the house before we both gain 10 pounds. He said that popcorn is mainly fiber so we will probably lose wait from eating it. Find fault with his reasoning but continue to eat popcorn just in case he is right. Getting really sick of feeding the fish, and besides, I am now a level ahead of my stepson and have begun to lose interest in the game. Not that I am competitive, or anything.

Wednesday - Still too sore to move. Refuse to think about Spanish. Begin reading a gardening diary by John Evelyn, edited by "garden and plant historian" Maggie Campbell-Culver. Decide I want to be a garden and plant historian when I grow up. Played on evil facebook. Utterly sick of the fish.

Thursday - Sold most of the fish in the afternoon. I needed the coins anyway so the little boy can buy whatever he wants for the fish tank (not real money, the line has to be drawn somewhere). Beginning to dread my Spanish homework. Worrying about my minor and my fall schedule. Bought a bunch of fish in the evening( I was so close to the next level!). Quickly regretted it. My stepson and I continually tell each other that we only keep the stupid aquariums for the little boy. Right. Ate some more popcorn. Have not yet lost weight due to popcorn consumption. Husband promises to take the rest of the box to work so as to get it safely out of the house. Remembered I have a blog.

Friday - Took the afternoon off from work and decided not to feel guilty about it. Started my tomatoes and peppers in peat pellets. Pulled two old Time magazines from my TBR pile. Old news by now, but as I am a history major I don't mind reading old news. Picked up the boy for a sleepover. Still not losing weight from eating popcorn, so I moved on to chocolate. Winter has returned, snow flurries.

Saturday - Took the boy to gymnastics, then to a birthday party for twin girls from his preschool (where he proceeded to ask their mother for her phone number so a sleepover could be arranged for him and the little girls), then quickly moved on to Penney's to get his five-year picture taken. Took him back to his father, who had the nerve to ask if he needed a nap. I needed a nap, but no one asked me.
Watched the latest Star Trek movie. Didn't quite make sense to me but I enjoyed it anyway.

Sunday - Worked hard all day avoiding Spanish homework. Finally gave up and spent 2 hours getting it done. Have to admit that party is over, and so is spring break.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm in a big rush now to finish my Spanish homework, write another composition in Spanish, and prepare for a history test, all due on Thursday. The rush is that any day now (or any hour, or minute, whatever), my stepsons wife will be having a baby. At which point I will not be able to concentrate on another language or on another century. I have requested that she hold off on the delivery until Thursday afternoon, as by then the composition will be complete (at least, until the re-write) and my test will be over and I will only have to worry about the next round of Spanish homework and the history paper I need to start work on, and etc., but she just laughed at me so I don't hold out much hope for any consideration in this matter.

This time around, the composition has to be about something that has caused controversy in my city, state, or nation. Nothing large scale, such as abortion or the death penalty, but "puede ser un tema muy sencillo", i.e., a simple theme, preferably something local. This being the case, I've decided to write about second-had smoke. First, this is a subject frequently being debated around town, and second, I learned many of the smoking related words in my Spanish class last semester. Therefore, I will not be starting from scratch vocabulary-wise.

Now, if I can just get it all finished before the baby comes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Is guilt an inevitable by-product of the non-trad experience? I feel guilty about leaving work to go to class, guilty for not having time to spend with my husband, guilty for the money I'm spending on school that could be going toward our retirement. Endless guilt.

In reality, my being gone from work a few hours each week has had little impact on anyone (and besides, I have spent many years covering for people who had sick parents, sick kids, and even sick dogs) and my husband doesn't do anything but sleep on the recliner every evening anyway. As for the retirement accounts, well, I'm younger than my husband so I still have many more years to work and save for retirement.

Still, there is guilt. I feel like I'm constantly saying I can't do something or don't have the time because I have homework or a paper to write. Always in a hurry. Which is partly why I've been killing myself to take more classes each semester. If I can hurry and finish school I can stop inconveniencing everyone. People are constantly asking me when I will be finished with school. I am still working full-time, people! This means that my education will take longer to complete than it would if I were a typical college student able to focus primarily on school.

What I need, and am haltingly searching for, is a part-time job. Of course, I realize this will be an additional inconvenience. Tough.

I'm feeling a little cranky today.

Spanish is consuming my life right now. I thought I could write in Spanish fairly well, but my professor believes otherwise since he gave me a "C" on my composition. I'm meeting him tomorrow morning to discuss the re-write. I love my Spanish teacher this semester. He has been very generous in allowing me to meet him on my schedule instead of during his regular office hours (which are not compatible with my work schedule). He also doesn't seem the least bit concerned that he has a middle-aged student in his class, which is an incredible relief after my experience last semester.

History is going well. I received an "A" on the book review that I was so worried about. Go figure. Now I'm actually looking forward to writing the next one. Spring break is in two weeks, and it will be spent working on my history paper about Aimee Semple McPherson. I only have to write five or six pages so I'm not too stressed about it.

I can't believe the semester is almost half over and the fall schedule has already been posted. I'm not sure if it is the final version, but it does give me some idea what to expect for the fall semester: Intro to Historiography and The Ozarks in American History. The choices for Spanish classes are not good, so I don't know what I'm going to do about that. Maybe more will be added by registration.

It would be nice if schools would shut down during the Olympics. I find it difficult to study and keep an eye on the games at the same time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, my first book review is completed, for better or worse. No I can move on to my Spanish composition. I think it will be a little more fun. It's like writing in secret code, something that I thought was pretty cool when I was a little girl.

The third class has been dropped. I knew it had to be when I spent all last weekend studying for a Spanish test and no time whatsoever studying for a map quiz in East Asian Civ. So, I dropped it. I feel saddened and relieved. Sad because I failed to listen to my instincts on the first day of class when I could already tell that I was going to be overwhelmed. Sad because that failure to listen to myself cost me half the money for the class, since four weeks into the semester I could only get a 50% refund. And sad because now I will probably not graduate in the spring of 2011 as planned.

Relieved because now I will hopefully have time to do well in the two remaining classes. Spanish is still consuming me and likely will continue to do so for the next 12 weeks.

I have to rethink my graduation plans and I'm trying to get used to the idea. After all, plans are made to be broken. If I can accept that I have to slow down, maybe I can enjoy the school experience more, learn more, and just maybe attend some school activities occassionally. I joined the history honor society and it would be nice to attend some meetings and begin to feel like I am a part of things at school instead of just a visitor.

With any luck I will have another snow day coming up. Extra time to study! We are expecting several inches tonight and tomorrow and we still have snow on the ground from the last one. Bring it on!

Friday, January 29, 2010

I just love snow days. It's been snowing like crazy since about 6:30 this morning, so I got to spend the day at home, drinking coffee all morning and conjugating verbs all afternoon. Every Friday should be a snow day!

Spanish is taking over my life. This is a good thing. It should have been like this from the beginning, but prior to this semester Spanish was always an easy "A" and other classes that were more difficult took precedence. But, Spanish will have its day and that day is now. I met with my teacher yesterday morning in his office to go over a few things before the test next week. I'm not sure I have any better understanding of what to do with direct or indirect object pronouns, but I really appreciate the time he took to help me. And now I have learned why learning Spanish has of late felt much like learning Algebra: the same side of the brain that does math is the side that learns a new language. This explains my occasional difficulties with certain aspects of the language. Rules, rules, and more rules, and they all must be memorized. Just like algebra.

I survived my presentation in American Religious History last week, and the professor very generously gave me an "A" for my effort. For some reason, the question and answer part didn't bother me, but the actual presentation was terrifying. I really need to get over this phobia. Fortunately, he has decided that our class is too large to fit in the other presentation, so we only have to do a one page written synopsis of our other article with no public speaking involved.

Then there is the paper about William Penn and the two book reviews. I thought only grad students did book reviews, but apparently someone forgot to inform my professor about this, therefore I will very shortly be finding out how a book review is done.

East Asian Civ. is sometimes interesting, sometimes boring. I don't know where to begin in choosing my paper topic because Asian history is so massive (and so far we've only talked about China) and I don't have a clear picture of any of it just yet.

And as for the Spanish composition, escoja un incidente real que Usted recuerde vivamente. Well, what would be an incident in my past that I remember vividly that would be worth writing about - in Spanish? I guess I could write about my Spanish class last semester that made me so miserable that for a while I felt as if I never wanted to hear the language again.

No? Well, I don't know what to write about yet. But I do know that I have to give this class proper attention or I won't do well and I won't learn. No more easy "A". If I'm going to learn this language I'm going to have to spend time with it, get to know it, understand it, have a relationship with it, and so on.

Last semester I had four classes and worked thirty-six hours each week. I chased myself around in circles to get everything done, but I did it and got good grades. But did I learn as much as I should have? I don't think so, not even close. What might I have learned if I had had the time to focus on anything instead of racing through each assignment so I could get started on the next one?

I'm tired. I've forgotten why I wanted to get an education and I no longer enjoy learning. I've forgotten how to enjoy anything because I just don't have the time. Is this the normal college experience and I just need to learn to deal with it, or am I experience burn-out?

I've received some good comments and advice from other on-line nontrads that has been very helpful and thought provoking. Whatever my decision will ultimately be,it has to be made next week. I'm not always good with decisions. Which is why I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

From my textbook "Sources of Chinese Tradition" which is a compilation of primary sources, there is a section called the "Analects" written by Confucius or compiled by students who followed him. I found the following tidbit amusing.

17:25 "Women and servants are most difficult to nurture. If one is close to them, they lose their reserve, while if one is distant, they feel resentful."

Imagine that!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My co-workers keep asking me if I enjoy suffering. I can only surmise that I do. The first day of class scared me half to death. My work load for three classes seems larger than last semesters four classes. Nothing is on-line this time; all the tests will be in class essay tests. I quickly discovered that there are several times that I will have multiple tests on the same day. Don't know how I'm going to manage that. By the end of the first day I was ready to drop a class, but so far I haven't been able to bring myself to do it.

I need to wear a shirt that says "I am not going to be a teacher." Maybe then people will stop asking, and maybe professors will stop saying "...now, if you are going into education...". I am not going into education, therefore I DO NOT NEED TO PRACTICE PUBLIC SPEAKING. OK?

Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Somehow my name landed first on the list in American Religious History to give a presentation about an article of my choice. I am trying to be calm. I really am. He says we just have to teach the class what we learn from our article. The problem with that is, among other things, is that whatever I may know now I no longer know when asked to perform in front of a crowd. It all just goes away and doesn't come back until I leave class. It's true. Just ask my Spanish teacher from last semester.

Speaking of Spanish (I have to speak of it, because I can't actually speak it), this semester I have two teachers that I can't understand very well. Of course, my Spanish teacher is one, although I understand him more often than not since he is American and does not have a Spanish accent. The other is my East Asian Civ. teacher. He is a visiting professor from China that I understand most of the time, but he frequently leaves me quite confused.

I really must enjoy suffering. Someone please remind me why I am doing this.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ready or Not...

My school books are bought and my pencils are sharpened (figuratively), but does that mean I am ready for school? Nope. I have my backpack at hand and a new little laptop for taking notes in class (hand-cramps were too much for me last semester), so by all appearances I should be ready. But I'm not.

My classes begin next Tuesday, but I still don't have my spring garden plans drawn up, the house isn't quite spotless, and I have only read one book since the end of the semester (granted the book was 800 pages long, and therefore should count as at least three books), so I don't feel the least bit ready for another round of classes just yet. Three weeks isn't quite long enough between semesters; four would be better.

Mostly I've been doing as little as possible. I've watched a couple of movies (Public Enemies, X-Men Origins, with Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman, respectively :). Now I'm reading The Princes of Ireland and feeding my new addiction to Facebook. It's too cold to want to go anywhere so here I sit, alternately reading and playing Farmville.

School will start whether I am ready or not, so very soon I am going to have to rearrange my mindset to focus on work instead of play. Studying instead of virtual farming, writing instead of reading for fun . I think I'm going to need a long nap before next Tuesday.