How My Good Days Work

I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it several more times:

When I have good days, I never have good-all-the-way-through-from-sunup-to-sundown good days.  I have no-sleep-last-night-zit-on-my-nose-could-this-get-any-worse days that magically morph into good days.

This morning, for example, all signs pointed to a bad day.  Well, by my above logic, I suppose that when things were dismal I should have suspected that a good day was on its way, although just because I’ve identified a pattern doesn’t mean I can make predictions…  Come now.  Who do you think I am?  (insert name of famous scientist/mathematician here)?

Back to the signs, though: I got six hours of sleep last night due to (I’m ashamed to admit) some last-minute wee-hours studying that was altogether unbecoming of someone in her last semester of college.  The temperature read -17 degrees when I awoke, and didn’t rise any while I ate breakfast, showered, and swathed myself in as many layers as I could find.

Long underwear, wool socks, fleece socks, Underarmour mock neck, sweatshirt, neck cozy (made up name.  It’s like a fleece headband for your neck, only about 6 inches wide instead of three), hat, mittens, winter coat, boots.  And so forth.

Once I had trudged to campus, thawed out a bit, sat through Feminist Theory and Shakespeare, talked a panicked anthropology candidate back from the cliff after he learned his application hadn’t been received, and eaten a very underripe pear, I received two pieces of news that turned a Bad day into a Good one:

1.  An important publishing company has asked the head of the history department (and one of my favorite professors) to do a review of a to-be-released tome.  They also asked if she could select a few students to review it as well.  And the professor asked me to be one of those students!  It’s a grand opportunity that will not only be enjoyable (we all know I go nuts for history), but that will also look rawthur snappy on a future resume.

2.  I’ve realized that for my Honors Capstone Project, I am allowed to use an existing project as a jumping-off point.  This means that I can combine my beloved Virginia Woolf with some extra research and, as the nasty saying goes, kill two birds with one stone.

This also means another semester of Woolf talk.  I hope you can handle it.  I suspect you can.

P.S. Just ate some cereal for a snack.  Just spilled said cereal all over Mac’s keypad.  Milk and technology don’t mix very well, for the record.  I’m trying not to view this as punishment for bragging so much about my good fortune.

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Cheering Up

It’s been a hard week.  I think I’ve already explained about the workload, but what has reduced me to my current state has been five straight days with less than five hours of sleep per night.

When I was a little girl and I didn’t get an adequate amount of sleep, I would have tantrums.  I would yell and scream and cry until my throat hurt and my eyes were puffy.  Then I would fall asleep, and wake a few hours later, of saner mind.

Now in college, all I can do in times of exhaustion is keep plodding on.  I chair meetings, I organize file folders at work, I discuss Woolf in class, I edit law school letters of intent.  And tonight, although I presently have absolutely no desire to spend more time in a public place, I’ll be attending the Improvised Shakespeare show on campus.  Because it’s Improvised Shakespeare.  And I’ll regret it later if I skip.

To cheer myself up, I’ve been doing the U.R. crossword.  Check out 10-across:

I’ve also been continuing my tradition of writing poetry on random whiteboards in the Humanities building.  I don’t know why I do it, exactly, except that it seems fitting, and that a pristine whiteboard is just too tempting to pass up.

(My favorite poem: “God Speaks,” by Rilke)

Excuses, Excuses

I’ve been failing with this project lately, and I want to let you know that I am very aware of it.

I’m busy, yes, incredibly so, but I was busy last spring running a campaign, and I managed to post then.

I’ve been having trouble thinking of things to post about, yes, but isn’t that the entire point of this blog?  That by writing even when I have nothing to say I will be forcing myself to move away from the idea of writing as glorious inspiration, and toward the idea of writing as mostly hard work, with spurts of glorious inspiration?

So here’s what I’ve been busying myself with when not blogging:

1. Learning to diagram sentences for my Grammar and Language class.  I always suspected that I’d enjoy this class, and thus far I’ve been happily right.  Learning the finer points of grammar is like math for people like me who are miserable at math.  Grammar has the structure, the right-or-wrong answer, the tidiness, the rules that math does, but without the general headache that seems to stem from crowding numbers together into an equation.  Additionally, as we talked about last week in class, much of grammar (unlike much of math) is instinctive.  We’ve all been using it since we were two.  We know what’s up.  Sure, some of the official names for things (predicate, adverbial, etc.) are unfamiliar, but the arrangement of sentences is innate.

2.  Gathering copy editing minions to do my bidding.  The first edition of the year of the UMM school newspaper (The University Register) comes out Thursday.  As I have been voted Head Copy Editor, tonight I will be huddled in the copy editing dungeon from 8 pm to 2 am using my red pen all over submitted articles.  So far, I have about 30 people willing to join me in this task, which is quite encouraging.

3.  MCSA.  Always and forever.  Besides my secretarial position, I’m currently in charge of planning the Fall Retreat, am serving on the election commission, chair the Student Services committee, and am the head student representative on the larger Student Affairs Committee.  Luckily, I’m passionate about this stuff.

4.  Work: Higbies (coffee counter on campus), Social Science Division Office, library Writing Room.

5.  Socializing.  Of course.  I mean, I haven’t seen most of these people all summer.  Plus, it’s senior year; I plan to leave UMM with as many friends as possible.

6.  Sleep.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes I sit in class and daydream about it.

7.  My birthday is next Saturday!  While I’m trying desperately not to think of the implications of turning twenty-two (aka being old, not having any more significant birthdays until thirty, etc.), I am planning a birthday party for myself.  I don’t think I’ve had a “friends” birthday party since I turned eight.  I remember that party fondly, although I’m thinking my twenty-second won’t feature a scavenger hunt with Lip Smackers for prizes.

Snake Watching

This afternoon as I trudged through the Science Building on my way to class, I was tired.  Tired because I can’t sleep in the the summer.  Not by choice, but because apparently something in my chemical makeup decides that it’s more fun for me to lie awake at 4 am, or to awaken suddenly after a dream in which my right hand sports a constellation of disgusting bug bites.  Tired also, from keeping up with four kiddos under 4, all of whom are delightful, but all of whom have seemingly bottomless energy stores.

I paused briefly, as I am wont to do, by the snakes’ cages.  8-Ball the Ball Python was curled snugly in his heated box, but Ramses the Boa Constrictor, who I have rarely seen move, was sliding over and around his faded tree limb.  Old skin was peeling off his muscular body in thin white sheets, and he seemed desperate to be free of it.  Every so often he lifted his head and neck high into the air and peered around in agitation.

I came back to the snakes as soon as the professor nodded us on our ten minute break.  Someone from the biology department had apparently been in to clean, because Ramses’ skin was piled on top of his cage.

I couldn’t resist touching it, and was a little shocked that it felt exactly the way I thought it would; it was crackly and dry, like a piece of your skin peeled from a bad sunburn.

Even later, after class was finished, I plopped right down in front of Ramses to watch him finish the job.  There were still bits of shredded dead skin hanging from the sides of his head.  It took him a few turns around his rock and water bowl to get rid of them.

I’ve Found My Grounds

This morning was the third morning in a row to host a 3 am thunderstorm, and I’m afraid I’ve developed a routine: leap out of bed at the first boom of thunder, frantically unplug all electronics (fan included), get a drink of water while peering sleepily at the sky, and then fall back into bed, grateful to have a few more hours before my alarm goes off.

Unfortunately, said routine leaves me exhausted throughout the day, and when I’m exhausted, I tend to do stupid things.  This afternoon, for example, I was making my way through the tunnel toward the post office (to drop off a package for work).  A man walked by in front of me, and in the nanosecond of distraction it cost me to smile and say hi, I ran straight into a wall, face first.  I know he saw, because I could hear him chuckling around the corner.

And then, making dinner, I left the stove burner on and promptly set and oven mitt on top of it.  I wouldn’t have noticed until the whole kitchen was on fire, but my roommate smelled something burning and came to investigate.  The poor mitt is currently recuperating by an open window, and I’m sure she resents me greatly for the large black char that has taken the place of her lovely stitched holly berries.  Ironic, I suppose.

I just finished reading The Great Gatsby, and then spent a few moments basking in the perfection of that novel.  The beginning and ending mesh together, as if the middle were one tooth of a cog spinning very slowly, until on the last page another tooth fell into place next to it, with an echoing ‘click.’  I sound stupid now, but I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that I still like Gatsby.  I’ve been saying that Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite for years, based mostly on one read in eleventh grade.  I’ve always felt a little guilty about this, as if I’ve had no grounds for my claim.  Now, twenty-one, I’ve found my grounds.

The Great Move Continued

I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I don’t know if it was merely the strangeness of sleeping in an unfamiliar house for the first time, or if I was hot, or if I was simply troubled regarding which book I’m going to begin now that I’ve finished The Summer of my German Soldier. (Yes, I’m twenty-one years old, and I read young adult fiction.  I am not ashamed.)

Having woken up at 3 am, 6:29 am, 6:40 am, etc., by the time 10 am rolled around, I was tired enough to finally fall asleep for good.  That is, to fall asleep until 1 pm, when I finally made my appearance in the living room, to the bewilderment and general amusement of my new housemates.

I took a shower, and then had to face facts: It’s 90 degrees outside, I am carless, and I desperately needed groceries.  When you’re eating leftover Jimmy John’s barbeque chips for brunch, you know it’s time to do some shopping.

So I made a list, drank a gallon of cold water, and ventured outside.  It actually wasn’t too bad; it’s hot, yes, but it’s also windy, and the sidewalks are shaded by drooping trees.

I’ve just returned now, and am sitting on my bed, basking in the glorified neatness that is my new room.  It’s a little bare, but having some of my dear friends arranged on a small bookshelf makes all the difference.

I think a bike ride is in order later, once it’s cooled down.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday, when Mom helped me make The Great Move from home to Morris:

I like Instagram.  A lot.

I’ve had this hula girl since before I could drive.  I bought her when I was fourteen, and we were down in Florida visiting my grandparents.  She’s graced both of my vehicles since then, and seems to have developed quite a cheeky personality; every so often, she’ll drop her skirt, and then continue to sway as if nothing has happened.

Lofty Aspirations

It’s a beautiful thing, really; I have no stats to do, no history, no honors.  I only have a fiction story to finish, and all night with which to finish it.

This will probably be my third night in a row with only a few hours of sleep, but honestly, if I’m going to stay up for anything, I’m going to stay up to write this story.

I’m going to see it through to the end, as they say, and then if what I have in the morning is crap, at least it will be crap that I believed in intensely while I wrote it.

Although I don’t know what that says about me.  That I believe in crap?

No, here’s what I believe:

“From things that have happened and from things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.  That is why you write, and for no other reason.”

Well…that’s the aspiration, anyway.  I’m not quite at Mr. Fitzgerald’s level, admittedly.