Last Day of Twenty-One

It’s a glorious day to be twenty-one.  Winds are high, the air is sharp with cool, and Friday seems to have shaken itself out over campus, draping everyone in bright cheeks and worn-in jeans.

Tonight will contain the last few episodes of Game of Thrones (season one), perhaps striding the streets of Morris, grinning under flickering lamps, and pausing at the Met Lounge to see friends who have come into town for the weekend.

Tomorrow, unbelievably, I’ll be twenty-two by the time I wake up.  There is a promising pile of packages sitting by my bed; I will attack those first.  And then I’ll likely draw up my knees and think about the enormity of being twenty-two.  It’ll feel enormous, I suppose, because I remember being eight, and fourteen, and (heaven forbid) sixteen.  I remember all those years and yet somehow now they’re all lodged inside me like little bundles I only draw out for nostalgia’s sake.  And I’ll be forced, beginning tomorrow, to trudge forward into the age that means the end of school, at least for a while.  That means leaving my friends and my professors and all the wonders of college.

After a few minutes, I expect I’ll shake my head and begin getting ready.  There’s a parade tomorrow morning.  It’s not in my honor, but I’m pretending it is; I’m marching in it in support of a local DFL candidate.  I don’t know said candidate, but I’ve been bribed with a free t-shirt.  That’s really all it takes to make me happy.

Tomorrow night is the enormous birthday gathering I’ve planned for myself.  It seems sort of vain to throw a party for oneself, but as I haven’t had a ‘friends’ party since I was eight, and as it’s my last chance to throw one with my UMM friends, I’m going for it.  I tried to think of a theme: something about the Beatles, perhaps, or something literary.  But then I decided that the important thing is to have all of my friends under one roof.  And to have a potluck so that said friends can eat and be merry.

The Madness Begins

And so the madness begins.  This week is debate week.  It’s election week.  It’s also culmination-of-two-weeks-of-stress-week.  On one hand, I’m happy that the elections will soon be over, and that I’ll be able to relax.  On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve done enough campaigning, or reached out to enough people.

The three presidential/vice presidential teams gathered at UMM’s radio station this evening for our first official debate.  It wasn’t a debate, really; more like an interview.  I could tell the DJ wanted us to be more contentious, but I think we all wanted to save it for the real (podium) debate, which is tomorrow night.

It was interesting, being on the radio.  Mostly because it didn’t feel like anything.  We all just sat in a room together and talked into microphones; we couldn’t hear ourselves, nor could we know if anyone was listening.

In other news, here are my classes for next year:

Senior Seminar: Renaissance Romance

20th Century British Literature

Grammar and Language

East Asian History

Can you believe that I’ll be finishing up my English major?  Then next spring, I’ll just have my Honors final project, a science gen. ed., the last class for my history minor, and SHAKESPEARE (which I’ve been wanted to take since freshman year; it’s about time I got some comprehensive insight into the dear man’s work.)

Support the U Day

It seems that every story I tell begins with me waking up obnoxiously early.  Since I guess I’ve only heavily hinted at it up until now, I should say straight out that I am not a morning person.  Far from it.  You would know this if you’ve ever talked to me before nine a.m; I may have been incoherent, or I may have been mean.  What I’ve come to learn, however, is that although they start sluggishly, and usually with little natural light, early mornings often lead to fantastic days.

Today was Support the U Day.  A three-hour bus ride during which I managed to pour people’s OJ without sloshing it all over their jeans, teach the Minnesota Rouser to everyone (while possibly singing/chanting out of tune; ask the guy who stood in front of me), and accomplish nothing homework-related.

Then we arrived, and despite attempts to be everlastingly blasé, my mouth hung open just a tad.  I’ll never fail to be impressed by the state capitol building.  It’s marble and murals and an echoing rotunda and an inspiring portrait of Jesse Ventura in the basement:

In the standing-around-and-gaping stage before the rally began, (Support the U Day, I must explain, is when students of the University of Minnesota bus down to the Capitol to talk to their legislators about the importance of funding the U), President Kaler (of the U of MN) came up and shook my hand.  Well, we all know how I get around famous people.  I stuttered something about us being from Morris, while wondering if my handshake had been limp.  Everyone hates a limp handshake.

We pause for a moment in order for the writer to mention that she is currently blogging in her apartment stairwell (for lack of a better place to go), and that the RA just came by on his rounds.  Your friendly blogger scared him half to death, which was fairly entertaining, especially paired with the fact that it’s awfully difficult to explain yourself when you and Mac are sitting in a stairwell on a Friday night.

And back to the story…

Note: there is no snow in Minnesota currently. This picture (along with the one of Jesse) was taken last year, when I brought my camera to Support the U Day (and remembered to use it).

The rally was kicked off (as all rallies should be) with speeches.  We heard from President Kaler, from Governor Dayton, and from various student leaders.  Then Morris folks, at the count of four, began clapping out the Rouser.  We ended up singing alone (despite, I must add, the number of other U of MN students in the vicinity), but it was fun and it got everyone revved for some lobbying.

Unfortunately, and unlike last year, students were not able to meet with their legislators (from their home districts) individually.  Instead, because both the senate and the house were in session, we had to send notes into the forums, asking certain legislators to come out and chat with us.  Most of them were kind enough to do so, and we huddled around them in vaulted hallways, listening to them defend their votes with regards to the U.  They all said, of course, that the University is important, and that we (the students) are the future.     Yes, yes.  But then why are you cutting University funding down to 20% of our budget request?  How do you expect us to live up to the high standards we’ve established-technological innovation, top-notch research, sustainability, global outlook, academic excellence, etc.-if you won’t provide us with the means to maintain them?  How do you expect our generation, and the next, to lead the state someday, when we consistently feel that the state doesn’t value our education?  What do you have to say to the first generation college student who works three part-time jobs while at school, and will still graduate with $30,000 worth of student loans?

Those are some of the questions we had, and will continue to have, as the state continues to hole up in the Capitol and ignore the needs of its most valuable resource.

The bus ride home was quieter; most people snuggled down into their jackets and slept.  A few Disney singalongs floated up from the back of the bus, but I was too far gone to think about joining in.  So far gone, in fact, that when I finally awoke, I had a spot of drool on my sweater.  Attractive.

Tomorrow, I am happy to report, has the makings of being just as powerful of a day.  At 10:30 I’m going to a creative non-fiction writing workshop led by Michael Perry (http://sneezingcow.com/).  Having read an excerpt from “Coop” in class, and having attended his reading/concert earlier this evening, I can safely say that I will be learning a lot in this workshop.  And that I want to read all of his books, and will do so the minute Amazon delivers them to me.

The Rest for Rest

What I want to say tonight is that I loved The Hunger Games last night/this morning.

In all honesty (and you won’t hear me say this often), the movie was everything I’d hoped for.  It stuck to the book as much as it possibly could have.  The casting was magnificent.  The acting superb.  The special effects were nice, although I don’t talk about that.

It’s been a long week, as I’m sure you’ve noticed (given the increasing desperation/decreasing length of my posts).  My running mate and I (sometimes alone, sometimes together) went to a total of fifty meetings this week.  Meetings with faculty, staff, students, etc.  And they’ve all been enjoyable, of course, but there have been many of them, and I’m so grateful for the weekend, which features one afternoon of campaign stuff and the rest for rest.

Sorry about all this election talk.  It’ll be over April 6.

Story Departing

Besides pitching our platform to so very many fine people, guess what I did today?

I finally turned in the darn story.

12 pages long.

Officially the longest (by far) story I’ve ever written.  Actually, the longest anything I’ve ever written.

I have yet to reach the 20 page research paper stage of college, but oh my, it’s coming.

Now to bed.  I really should start studying for Friday’s quiz, but sleep is much more important; I’m still recovering from Monday’s almost-all-nighter, and it’s difficult to be charming and persuasive whilst campaigning when one is only half-conscious.

P.S. Hunger Games premiere tomorrow night (technically Friday morning).  Who’s excited?

Gone Caucusing

Rick Santorum won Minnesota.

Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Believe it or not, the caucus I was at last night was the Republican caucus.  I thought it would be a little more interesting, and I guess I was curious about how the other side operates.

They operate normally.  Water was served.  And coffee.  And an opaque red liquid that we assumed to be fruit punch.  People were wearing scrubs, and jumpsuits, slacks, and other just-got-off-work apparel.  A toddler wearing a shirt that said “I am fiscally responsible” ran around the room, doling out waves and blown kisses.

I took note of all this, sitting at a table with others from Politics and Film.  Most of us were Liberals, and thus denied name tags and banished off to the side.  We exchanged some humorous eyebrow wiggles when the old “how many Democrats does it take to change a lightbulb” joke was told.

When the actual Straw Poll began, we slipped out one by one, stealing redwhiteandblue mints as we passed the check-in table.

I hitched a ride back to campus, traipsed up to my room and my bed, and that was when I clicked to Huffpost and received the delightful news about a certain land of 10,000 lakes and a certain candidate who once said:

“Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?”

Way to pick a winner, Minnesota.  Let’s try to get our act together by November.