Three Things

Three Things:

1.  A 24-pack of Coke, when dropped from the height of an average person’s clutching arms to the waxy white linoleum, can spray sticky pop astounding distances. (For once, I wasn’t the one who dropped it)

2.  Grades are in.  Grades should not be shared in public places.  Thus, I will not do so.  (But hallelujah I did better in Grammar and Language than I could have ever imagined)

3.  It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me yet.  I don’t know what the problem is: the tree is up at home, I have most of my shopping done, and I work at Target, where an entire corner of the store is roped off that guests may toss rolls of wrapping paper at each other and elbow each other out for the last box of discount Christmas cards.  I think the stress of finals stunts holiday enjoyment, but hopefully things will pick up soon.

 

In Which I Abandon Virginia Woolf in Pursuit of a Career in Retail

I am done with that dratted paper, I am home, and I just finished my first Target shift of the year.

Retail–particularly department store work–has always struck me as rather bleak.  I don’t mean to insult anyone’s work, but I’ve actually had nightmares about spending the rest of my life folding sheets in the same two aisles of Macy’s.

But there are high points, too.

Like the lady who stopped me and said, “I remember you from the speech team!  You had a lovely voice!”

And the child who saw me tiredly shuttling Triskets from one cart to another, and asked if he could help (how I wanted to say yes).

And the couple who, reading from their granddaughter’s Christmas list, asked me to explain to them what Webkinz are, and what Maximum Ride is, and what the purpose of a sock monkey is (I was stumped there).

The best high point of all, however, is that I am now home, tucked into bed, and gleefully getting ready to watch an episode of the John Adams HBO miniseries.

Confessions

1. Today, for the first — and hopefully, last — time in my life, I used the phrase “butt out” in an essay.  It was my Latin American History final exam essay question, to be exact, and the more I wrote, the angrier I became at the way the U.S. has treated Latin America throughout the years.  I wanted my conclusion to be some sort of heated statement about how the U.S. needs to clean up its foreign policy, and for some reason, the only way I could think to express that was to essentially say that the U.S. should “butt out” of Latin America.  I debated writing this, sitting in a classroom at 9:30 a.m., flipping through the scribbled-on pages of my blue book.  And then I decided that the rest of my essay was solid enough that two words of the conclusion wouldn’t affect my grade, and that my professor was young enough and lighthearted enough to appreciate a little coarse humor, and that it was 9:30 a.m. and I was past caring about niceties anyway.  So I laughed to myself, turned the darn thing in, and went home.

2. Although I use both frequently, I honestly don’t think I have a firm grasp on the difference between a colon and a semicolon.

3.  Sometimes I buy people gifts that I actually want myself.  Sure, I only buy them when I know the recipients will actually enjoy said gifts, but beneath all of that holiday spirit is a selfish desire to give a gift simply so that I can be in close proximity to said item without the guilt of having bought it for myself.

4.  My room is a disaster, tra la tra la.  It’s actually become hazardous: I slipped on a scarf a few minutes ago and was sure that my left wrist would not survive.  Luckily, I grabbed on to my drying rack at the last second and regained my balance.  It should also be noted that said drying rack has been “drying” the same five red shirts for about a week now.

5.  I’ve been on a serious grapefruit kick lately.  I don’t know if the stress of finals is making me crave immunity-boosting citrus or what, but I swear I could actually feel myself going through withdrawal yesterday when I ran out.  Is drool a sign of grapefruit withdrawal?  Okay.  Don’t answer that one.

6.  As soon as I go home for break (I’m aiming for Sunday afternoon or Monday morning), I plan on diving into the most sentimental, comforting books I own.  Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, etc. I saw a quote the other day that said, roughly, “Life’s too short to read the same book twice.”  I couldn’t disagree more wholeheartedly.  I say, “Life’s too short to force oneself to read a new book when one really wants to read Little Women for the twentieth time.”

7.  Finals update:  Only one 10-page paper left.  Yes, that’s a lot of pages.  No, I haven’t started the actual writing yet.  Yes, I will be locked in the library tomorrow.

What Went Down

I want to talk to you about Wednesday and Thursday, as I’ve been building up those two days since the dawn of time (or since last week, at least).

Wednesday was my senior seminar presentation.  Basically, having cut down my twelve page research paper about fortune’s role in Pandosto down to eight pages, I proceeded to read those eight pages to an audience of professors, classmates, friends, and (bless them) my parents.  It sounds boring, doesn’t it, to read an eight page literary analysis to a crowd of people (many of whom were not, nor had any desire to be, English majors)?  Well, it sort of was, but I tried to use everything that I learned in high school speech.  I stood up straight, I used my clearest, loudest voice, and I tried to put feeling into my words.  I care a great deal about my topic, and I viewed my presentation as a chance to make the audience care as well, at least a little bit.

My legs were shaking for the first few pages, but then I began to enjoy myself (as I always do), and when I would look up from the page, I would see my advisor listening carefully in the back, or my friend Ben grinning, or my Dad enduring nobly.  It felt a great deal like my birthday party in that I felt supported and celebrated and (I’ll admit only to you) a tad teary.  Then there was applause, and it was over.

A few days later, I got an email from my professor containing my presentation rubric: I got a 99%.  The 1% deduction, she explained, was because I had pronounced a word wrong.  I’m not overly upset about that one, however, as it was spelled strangely in the citation I read it from, and thus I didn’t recognize it to be the word it actually was, and thus pronounced it the way I saw it, and not the way I knew the word it actually was should be pronounced (whew).

Thursday was my Teach for America final interview.  I’m not going to go into detail about this one, as we’re under an oath of confidentiality, but I think I can tell you that I rocked it.  That sounds arrogant.  I know it does.  But honestly, there’s no other way to describe how well I feel I did.  Despite having gotten five hours of sleep both Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and despite having had to navigate to/through Minneapolis at the crack of dawn, I was at the absolute top of my game.  I was confident and energetic in every step of the interview, and am now even more convinced that Teach for America is what I want to be doing a year from now.  I won’t find out until early January if I got into the corps.  If I got in, further, the same email will also tell me which region I’ll be teaching in, and which grade/subject I’ll be teaching.

It’s a long wait, but I’m not anxious about the results.  I’ve done my best, and have sought to represent myself accurately and positively throughout the admissions process.  It’s nice to know that if I don’t make the cut, then there must be a qualification or trait that I don’t possess.  It won’t be because I didn’t perform as well as I could have.

Those were the “biggies,” if you will.  I still have one five-page and one ten-page paper to write, my senior seminar paper to turn in (after some fairly minor editing), and two final exams to take.

I also want to mention that I’ve noticed more and more people have been following my blog lately.  Thank you!  I get excited with every single new follow I see, and I encourage you to comment on a post if you have a question/opinion or want to say hi.

Last Week of Classes

You know it’s that time of year again when…

1. You spot a student toting around a liter bottle of Mountain Dew and a styrofoam cup.

2.  There are suddenly no open seats in the library.

3.  Facebook whining abounds.

4.  Pajama pants are the new jeans.

5.  Procrastinating on one paper consists of working on another.

6.  You cannot talk about everything you still have to do without the seven people nearest to you jumping down your throat, bewailing seminars and presentations and cumulative exams.

7.  The line at the coffee shop is a mile long, especially after 9 p.m.

8.  The library begins to offer free five minutes massages, and turns the poetry room into a sanctuary of meditation and smelly oils.

9.  The expressions on people’s faces, once you get past the red eyes and pale cheeks, are identical: a healthy combo platter of frenzied, weary, and grimly resigned.

Also:

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Everybody pray.

Trucking

It’s been a shaky day.  I’m overtired and stressed and feel generally that my mental health is hanging by a thread.  I’ve also been struggling to write that darn Woolf paper, and when I went to talk to my professor about it, he was so kind (he told me that he knows that I’m responsible, and that I want my paper to be good, and that he’d give me more time if I needed it) that I almost burst into tears.  I had to make a quick exit and cry in the stairwell because this has been such a hard week, and there are two more hard weeks ahead, and frankly, I don’t see how I can possibly get everything done.

I’m sorry that my last few posts have been so piteous: I know that everything will be fine, and that I’ll manage in the end, as I always have.

It will be another late night tonight, but tomorrow I’ll be attending the UMM Concert Choir’s annual Carol Concert, which is held in the Catholic Church in town, and which is always festive and candlelit and beautiful.  And I’ll probably forget, temporarily, about all the above.