Hello Again

Please listen to the provided Neil Diamond while reading.  It’s the theme song of this post.

The funny thing about this blog is that when I’m not posting, it feels like I’ve been cut off from an old friend who I’m used to chatting with regularly.  And all that’s complicated in my life, or hard, or sad, or unbelievably happy, seems to build up inside of me until I’m running around campus holding my chest as if it’ll burst open if I don’t.

What happened to make me stop calling and texting you were the MCSA (student government) elections.  I’m Election Commissioner this year, which didn’t seem like a very complicated job at the onset, but which escalated until I was spending all day every day policing Facebook and Twitter, planning debates, editing videos, sending reassuring emails to the student body, dealing with illegal spray painting incidents (still can’t believe that happened), and near the end, checking the online polls every ten minutes to see who was ahead.  The worst part was that MCSA doesn’t have detailed rules outlining the powers of the Commissioner, so when “disciplinary” situations came up, I had little guidance, and mostly had to wing it.  As is natural when a leader is “winging it,” there were quite a few shouts of “unfair!” and “dictator!”  It got old really quickly.

The elections ended last night at 11:59, and by 2:00 a.m. this morning, I had sent out emails to all the winners and losers.

The high point was that I got to call the winning Presidential/Vice Presidential team to tell them that they had won.  Hazen, who was running for president, is a dear friend of mine, and asked me beforehand to call her with news, whether bad or good.  When I told her last night that she was the 2013-2014 MCSA President, she didn’t believe me at first.  And then she screamed with excitement, and I could hear her running mate, Andrew, screaming in the background.  It was the best call I’ve ever made.

And how can you be bitter about a job that ended like that?

Besides elections, I’ve been spiraling toward my last month of college.  Lots of paper writing (I have two big ones to finish this weekend), graduation planning (bought my cap and gown and two dresses (one for the awards banquet and one for commencement)), and nostalgia.

You know, as sad as it’ll be to leave this dear place, I’ve been slowly realizing that I’m ready.  I’ve taken in Morris completely, I’ve had wonderful experiences and made wonderful friends and learned how to be a grown-up, analytical thinker.  But there’s not much more for me here, now, and that means it’s time to move on to the next big thing.

What is “the next big thing,” you ask?  I have no idea.  Does anyone want to offer me a job?

Reflections on the GRE and Neil Diamond

A Haiku in Fifty-Seven Parts.

Just kidding.

Reflections on the GRE:

It was much more high security than I thought it would be.  The ACT, I remember, was most of my high school senior class packed onto tables in the cafeteria.  We were allowed several breaks, during which we could stretch and chat and wander freely.  The GRE was me in a cubical with a computer and some scratch paper.  No interacting whatsoever was allowed, and entering/exiting the testing site meant a security scan and “turn out your pockets.”

The test itself wasn’t so bad.  I’m glad I took those practice tests, because I generally knew what to expect, how to use the provided calculator, etc.  Right off the bat was the Analytical Writing bit, which I, admittedly, had been dreading even more than the math.  Writing I have no problem with.  Writing under pressure, however, having to make coherent, organized, snappy arguments in a short amount of time, is not always my strong suit.  It went really, really well though.  I had a lot to say, but I had sufficient time to say it, and even to read it over a few times for good measure.  That made me feel confident heading into the rest of the test, and I have to say that if my Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores aren’t up to snuff, I’ll be crushed to have to retake the test and lose those beautiful (if you’ll allow me the presumption) Analytical Writing scores.

Reflections on What Happened Afterward:

Immediately following the GRE, after I breathed a few long sighs of relief on the sidewalk, where the sun was beating down like nothing had happened, Mom picked me up and shuttled me downtown to the St. Paul Grill.

Now, when my Aunt, who is the only other person in the family who was excited at the prospect of seeing Neil Diamond, said that we’d have dinner at the St. Paul Grill, I thought of outdoor seating, sandwiches and salads, paper placemats that we could doodle on if our meal took an hour to arrive.  What I didn’t think of was this:

Possibly the best restaurant in the Twin Cities, stationed inside the St. Paul hotel, which was built in 1910 and features the likes of crystal chandeliers, roses, tuxedoed men, and darkly-papered rooms lined with rich wood.

People like Gene Autry, Lawrence Welk, James J. Hill, and Charles Lindbergh have stayed at the hotel.

That pales, however, in comparison to the person whose picture was hanging unassumingly on the wall of the Grill.

I know you’ve guessed it.

This guy ate at the St. Paul Grill back when the mirrored bar wasn’t lined with gem-like bottles of alcohol:

And so, of course, my night was made even before we got to the concert.

Neil was wonderful, though, as I suspected he would be.  Not only does he still sound (for the most part) the way he did in the 1970s, but that man knows how to work a crowd.  He would stop in between songs to tell stories, or to say something gracious about the audience, or to voice a ridiculous notion like his mission to ‘earn our loyalty’ through his performance.  You’ve already got it, Mr. Diamond.

Several of the people we ran into, for example, mentioned that they had been coming to see Neil since he first played the Twin Cities over forty years ago. “Some of the old folks have died off since he was last here,” quipped the twinkly man in front of me.

Another thing I’ll say for Neil is that he didn’t skimp on the classics.  “Sweet Caroline” (BUH BUH BUH), “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Shores” (my favorite), “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “I Am…I Said,” and of course…

I couldn’t resist making an illegal recording.  Neil Diamond was singing my song, for heavens’ sakes.

My Room is a Pigsty: An Analysis

My room usually acts as a gauge for the pace of my life.  When I’m relaxed, with little on my plate, my room is clean, save the never-shrinking pile of books on my nightstand.  When I’m busy however, with no time to pick up after myself, my room looks the way it does presently:

Nightstand littered not only with books, but with knickknacks: a miniature fan from last week’s heat wave, two empty plastic cups that once held water, a plastic jewel I saved from Cherry’s mouth and then took home in my pocket by mistake, lotion that doesn’t seem to work on mosquito bites, a compass from physics class, duct tape I accidentally stole from the theatre (I’m noticing a trend here), half a dozen bobby pins, and a watch that still sports the crusty remains of Ponyboy’s “Mud Monster” afternoon.

Clothes on floor, movies on floor, empty oatmeal canisters on floor (who am I kidding?  I will never use them for a craft project), several shoes on floor, sheaf of pages from my Word of the Day calendar on floor.

As I sit on the bed, typing to you in the semi-darkness (so I can’t see the pigsty that is my room, of course), I am surrounded by physics notebook, folder, and textbook, three of my research books, Anna Karenina (current ‘for fun’ read), plus camera, iPod, brush, and (goodness knows why) checkbook.

I’m ignoring everything, however, until after the GRE.  That happens Wednesday.  I took a practice test today, and found out that while I score in the 95th percentile for Verbal Reasoning, my Quantitative Reasoning is dismal.  The thing about the GRE is that if you get an answer wrong, they give you an easier question next (and if you get one right, they give you a harder question next).  Knowing this, the entire time I tested I was distracted trying to decide whether a question was harder or easier than the last.  I probably shouldn’t let myself think about that on Wednesday.

No matter how it goes, however, I’ll have a phenomenal evening in store.  My aunt and I are going to see this beautiful man:

Please tell me you appreciate the classic feel-good sound that is Neil Diamond.  And please don’t ask me if I’m actually a 65 year-old woman in disguise.  I get that enough from my mom and my sister.

Disney World Has Nothing On Neil

Disney World is supposed to be the place where dreams come true.  And for some people, I’m sure it is.  Having cartoon characters follow you around all day, waiting in lines that give you ample time to read Ulysses start to finish, cowering in fear on “It’s a Small World,” and screaming with joy on “Space Mountain” are only a few of the thrills my ten-year-old self took away from the place.

But I’m twenty-one now.  I’m moved on to bigger pursuits, and, more relevantly, bigger dreams.

No, I haven’t read Ulysses yet.

I am, however, going to see Neil Diamond in July.

My aunt and her mother (two of the best concert partners I can think of) heard about my deep devotion to Neil, and we bought our tickets this afternoon.

Can you hear my ecstatic screaming from your house?  Can you hear “Cherry, Cherry” blasting from Mac’s dear silver speakers?  Can you hear my sister moaning in disgust as she tries to counter with some of her modern devil music?

I’m excited, you might say.

Neil Diamond

I’m facing a serious dilemma.  No one, including my family and people I have previously considered to be friends, will agree to see Neil Diamond in concert with me.

What is the world coming to?  Doesn’t anyone like Neil Diamond anymore?

I’ve been listening to the man since I was little, and Mom would play oldies in the car on the way to school.  Then, when I was about fifteen, I discovered that Neil Diamond sings a song called “Holly Holy.”  And that was it.

This, besides my song, is my favorite Neil Diamond.  Listen to it, think about it, imagine how good he would be in concert.

Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

(Sorry I couldn’t post the actual video; I couldn’t figure out how)