Last First Day of School

It’s happened.  My last first day of school.  Class roster:

Civil War and Reconstruction

Shakespeare: Studies in the Bard

Feminist Theory

Honors: The American 1950s

Honors Capstone (project of my choice)

It should be a fun semester.  There isn’t one class on that list that I’m not taking by choice/because I’ll enjoy it.

Additionally, I think I should tell you that I didn’t get the Teach for America position.  Extremely disappointing, especially because the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that I could excel at leading a classroom, but I’ll survive.  I’m thinking now (in a rapid, Holly-esque turnaround) that I might like to intern in a MN congressperson’s office.  It’s a pipe dream, but I’d like to get into politics someday (even just the minor leagues), and this seems like a good place to start.

How about those Golden Globes, eh?

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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.

Rain in November: A Brief Story

“I’d forgotten that it rains in November,” Holly said profoundly, leaning chin against palm and gazing out the window.  The neighbor’s plump yellow lab was crouched under the lilac bushes, as usual.  The bushes had lost their leaves over a month ago, but Francis seemed unaware that his cover was blown.  Anyone who walked down the sidewalk was greeted with what Francis considered to be a surprise attack.  It always ended up being mostly slobber, and some hardly menacing woofs.  Satisfied, Francis would then slink back into his prickly cave, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching.

Holly was supposed to be writing her Grammar and Language paper.  She was supposed to be doing an online activity for Teach for America.  She was supposed to be researching Virginia Woolf, researching fortune in Renaissance romance, cleaning her room.  Instead, she had freshly painted toenails and about a thousand new recipe ideas from Pinterest.

The rain was hypnotizing, it was dulling.  Droplets of it splattered Francis’ exposed yellow nose, which was, to his great chagrin, turning grey at the edges.  Fat, wet globes grazed the Carnegie library across the street, flattening out before slithering down the brick walls.  Cars went by in slow motion, their drivers rendered sweaty and sleepy from seat heaters.

And inside, Jordan and Natalie studied in the breakfast nook, their woolen feet propped on the bench opposite.  A small fly threw itself again and again at the exposed lightbulb in the bathroom, which someone had left turned on.  Holly considered rearranging her bookshelf: classics at the forefront, popular fiction shoved behind.  Jordan pulled off his tam, ran his hand against the back of his head.  The fly grinned in delight as its papery flesh sizzled against the fluorescent.  Holly applied lipstick slowly, filling in every pink groove with red wax.  It tasted like those little bottles of juice Mom used to buy for her and Amy every so often.  Once the neon liquid was gone, one could bite into the soft plastic.  Natalie typed a few words into her laptop, considered Jordan, considered the window, considered the cupboards and the paper bag full of recyclables.  The fly rested on the toilet seat, staring up at the white-yellow globe, felt its rapid heart swell with adoration.

Below, Francis tucked his tail more securely under him, felt the rain let up.

Grendel Cometh

I folded brochures at work today, lining crease up to crease and chatting with Sharon about dark chocolate versus milk.

I walked to Humanities, after, sat down in my professor’s office (although I would have preferred to stand), and gave my Beowulf recitation.  It was the scene where Grendel comes up from the mist, and spots the wine hall where men are drunk and sleepy and cannot prevent an attack.  Here’s the thing: I had to recite the passage in Old English.  Ergo, this is what the text looked like.  It sits forward in your mouth when you say it properly, rounded like a German umlaut.

I researched my first and last name for an onomastics paper due Monday.  “Holly,” as I already knew, means “plant with red berries” (fascinating), but my last name means “valley dweller.” My persona, then, the very essence of my being, is a prickly Christmas plant growing at low altitude.

Flocks and flocks of geese were qnacking overhead as I walked home from campus.  V’s overlapped against the sky, almost blocking out the sun.  I considered putting my hat on in anticipation of free-falling feces, but instead plodded onward, bare-headed and bold-hearted.

There was an email in my inbox when I got home.  Teach for America has selected me to participate in a final interview.  Which means that they must have really liked my application, because usually, they require several interviews/activities before the final.

My gentleman caller and I had our second intramural badminton match, and were victorious.  There was a moment when I dove for the birdie at the same time he did, and I thought all was lost.  We were both on hands and knees and writhing in agony over floor-burned shins, but somehow, somehow, we kept up the volley and won the point.  Even now, I can’t think of how we must have looked without laughing out loud.

Night, friends.

Orlando

It’s just past 4 p.m., and I, most blessed of women, am reclined beneath quilt, reading Orlando.  He frolics about Elizabethan England, writing poetry and serving the Queen and staring curiously at peasants frozen in the cold (which, Woolf tells us, we don’t have anymore).  And I listen to the sound of Grace’s mother arriving downstairs: “Here’s the living room, here’s the table, which is actually worth about $3,000 (we have to be careful with it).  Here’s the kitchen, which was clean yesterday.  Here’s my room.  The clothes on the floor are clean; I don’t have drawers, so I have to keep them there.”  Her mother replies that it’s okay, it’s okay, she’s not here to judge our quality of life.  There’s a ring around the bathtub and the floors grit a little underfoot, but she won’t say anything, because we’re in college, and because all she wants is to take her overworked daughter out to dinner.

I, dutifully, line up my tasks: annotated bibliography, Orlando, Urania, Lexicon, OED worksheet, MLA worksheet, Teach for America application.  I’ve accidentally left my Christmas lights on all night and all day, and slowly they are winking from blue to white.  Like dying stars, I don’t realize until it has already happened, and then I run my eyes up and down the string, counting the changes.  Seven whites so far, four light blues.  The rest shine steadfastly on, lighting the corner while I read Orlando.