Second Snow

I’ve been grinning like a fool all morning, ever since I opened my eyes at 8:15, when my alarm sounded.  I didn’t get out of bed right away; my legs were curled perfectly under mounds of blankets, and my arms inside my sweatshirt and my toes inside my thick socks were warm.  But I knew right away what had happened.

A trip out to the hall window confirmed it.

Snow changes everything.  Even our gravel alley lined with garbage cans looks sufficiently magical.

I was stopped by two trains on my walk to campus, but how could I care with slush at my feet and heavy clouds hanging promisingly above my head?

And then, and then, I walked into work.  Sharon handed me, as she does every few mornings, signs to be posted on specific classroom doors.  The signs announce that a class has been cancelled, and I always imagine this task of mine to be a noble one, for what other announcement causes so much joy amongst students?  But on this particular day, as I posted the signs, I read them: “Cancelled: Latin American History, 2:00-3:40.”  It was my class.  My only class for today has been cancelled.

I suspect I don’t have to tell you that I squealed with delight and jumped up and down and bounded outside to make a snow angel, and then wasn’t even disappointed that there’s not quite enough ground coverage for that kind of joyful expression.

I still have a paper to write today, friends, but Thursday has come through again.

Savage Weather

The weather, my dear friends, has been savage today.  It’s been raining, but what’s more, it has been cold and windy and raining, which makes everything so much worse.  It’s gone past the romance of rain slapping window panes, has skipped over Brontean moor weather.  It is officially savage outside.  You get one step onto your doorstep, pause to hear the inhale, and are almost blown backwards by the exhale of water and wind.  Clothes wrap soggily around ankles and wrists and knit hats droop against heads and it’s worth an extra look to the left and to the right at every cross walk because the cars never seem to slow.  I’m not the kind of person who minds bringing up the weather, as trivial as it may seem to everyone else.  In fact, pulling together a mental tally, I’ve probably made a variation on the same comment to five separate people today: “I don’t mind the rain, but when it’s rainy and cold I’m just miserable.”  I tried to say it with the lightest touch of wry humor, as if, oh dear, I’m wringing out my sweater, but it’s all very funny.  It is all very funny, but I’m careful to make it seem so, because worse than the girl who talks about the weather is surely the girl who complains about it.  As I clipped home in my boots-while heeled, they’re the closest to waterproof I’ve got-I passed the place where the railroad tracks cut across my street.  And there, on the ground, was the candy-striped beam that flashes lights and blocks the tracks when trains come by.  Its wires were still connected to the post, and it lay so peacefully that I wasn’t sure if it had fallen at all; perhaps some men had come to work on it before the rain started, and set it down when the rain came.  Perhaps they were in the coffee shop on the corner, dunking scones and watching me ponder their half-finished project.  I stepped carefully over the beam and continued home, briefly considering calling the police to make sure it really was all right.  Its wires were still connected, after all.  Now I’m in bed, and my blue Christmas lights are on.  The storm windows are continually crashing against the house, and I keep mistaking the sound for the sound of someone climbing the steps, or slamming the front door.  It’s funny, this house, because while we don’t often see each other, and while I’m not sure if we’re all even friends, there’s a comfort in knowing that every one is home at the same time.  Grace will be studying in the breakfast nook, or playing Zelda while Jordan looks on.  Jordan, when not watching Zelda, has Latin music turned all the way up, and is making squash soup or pumpkin pie (like he did on Tuesday).  Joey likes to know what the rest of us are doing, and grins to be part of it all.  But otherwise he strums his guitar in his room, and takes a running leap down the stairs, which crash and echo the same way my storm windows do.  I’m often not here, but when I am, I’m studying on my bed, or considering the mound of laundry rotting in my closet, or crying over a Keats movie (like I did on Wednesday).  We’re all here now; I hear voices from downstairs.  It’s still savage outside.  But we’re all home, you know?

Copy Editing

Last night, although it held on until 2 this morning, was glorious.  There’s so much more to copy editing than quiet and the flick of thumb or pen against paper, even more than the good-natured debate about the merits of the Oxford Comma.

Copy editing, at least in the context of the University Register, of the University of Minnesota, Morris, means piles of musty papers leaning against one another in all corners of the office.  It means the smell of stale popcorn and the occasional crunch of the occasional SweeTart underfoot (leftover from the Activities Fair).  Copy editing means an office like a sauna; it means the main office and the smaller one take the fan in shifts, grudgingly lugging it back after two hours have passed.  It means ordering a pizza at 10 pm because we’re hungry and because all of E-Quality’s extra pizza was eaten before we knew it had been offered.  It means trooping to Higbies for coffee, for smoothies, for fresh air.  It means barely stifling moans of anguish at the appearance of another NASCAR article.  It means AP is God.  It means the combination of people’s surnames, scrawled across a whiteboard to uproarious delight.  It means actually finding an earring that, lacking a back, slipped onto the floor of the Student Center without my knowledge.

Eventually, perhaps, if you care to wait up until the tired paperboy walks the campus, depositing a pile of newspapers at every building, copy editing means a publication we can all read without cringing.

Like Nancy Drew

Thursday has come through once again.

I had an epiphany in statistics this morning, which meant that I gasped and reeled back in my chair and ignored the stares of my peers.  And then I looked to the heavens with the glorious realization that Tuesday’s midterm may leave me alive after all.  Because, my friends, I understand confidence intervals.  And p-values.  And how to write conclusions without assuming you know more than you actually do.

It’s a miraculous thing, especially coming from the girl who frequently struggles with basic arithmetic.

Next was Gender and Sexuality in Literature of the American Tropics, which I’ve come to enjoy immensely.  We finished reading “Down These Mean Streets” last night, and did a sort of wrap-up in class today.  And I had a heck of a lot to say.  I may have been a bit annoying, actually, but the ideas just kept coming: homosexuality as being portrayed as institutionalized at Comstock, Christianity as both creating opportunities and limiting them, the fact that ‘heart’ in the book is ironically externalized instead of internalized…

Here’s one of the things I love about being an English major:

There’s a moment, whenever you read a piece of literature, when suddenly all of the content falls away, and you’re left with historical context, form, literary theory, etc.  And you begin to see the work not as a mere story, but as a conglomeration of elements put together just so to create many greater truths.  It’s a Nancy Drew when she solves a mystery and rides off in her baby blue convertible sort of feeling.

And I can’t think anything better.

Midterms

Five hours of sleep is all I have right now.  Five hours of sleep, and two days until Spring Break.

Heaven help me.

I’ve been dozing all day, it seems; on desks in the library, on my bed when I stupidly allowed myself to lie down for a few minutes, slumped in hallways during passing time.  You know things are out of control when your head hits your chest and you’ve already begun dreaming before you can rouse yourself for the end of your history prof’s famous Industrial Revolution Lecture.

To hit the finer parts of my day, I applied for two jobs, met with a group of extremely nice girls for a tour of their off-campus house, attended two meetings, wrote an article for my school’s newspaper about last Thursday’s Student Senate meeting, and spent about five hours total in the library (welcome to midterms).

And now, for bed.

Of Course it was a Thursday

As promised:

It took four hours to drive to the Twin Cities on Thursday.

Four hours because we had to stop for coffee, and because my Google Map trailed off into “and follow the signs from there,” and because two people in the vehicle had to pee and absolutelycouldnot hold it, and because there was a detour, and because I am generally and (I suspect) permanently hopeless at navigation.

Finally we were in Dinkytown, but then came the shameless part: the rolling down of windows, and the yelling to pedestrians, “Can you tell us where Coffman is?”  A few of them tried to help.  Most just hunched into their headphones and walked on.

I’m sure they were just in a hurry.

We found the right building after a tense half-hour of driving in circles and running stop lights (sorry, Mom).  We were late, of course, but then we walked into the theater-turned-Student-Senate-Chamber, and everything was fine.  Because our own Josh from Morris, newly appointed chair, was speaking, and because everyone from the other van was sitting in a row holding up homemade signs.  We slipped in beside them.

On the agenda for the meeting, among other things, was a rather monumental resolution, reading as follows:

RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT THAT DEFINES MARRIAGE AS BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN

On November 6, 2012, the men and women of Minnesota will be voting on whether or not to amend the state constitution to “provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.”[1] Because the approval of such a provision would directly discriminate against (and thus perpetuate the stigmatization of) those who identify with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community by depriving them of same rights and recognition under state law as heterosexual couples, the Student Senate of the University of Minnesota believes it must take a stance on the proposed amendment. In making its decision, the body has considered three points:

(1) The mission statement of the University of Minnesota, which states that in the exchange of ideas it is imperative to “provide an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance”[2]; and,

(2) The responsibility of the Student Senate is to deal “with any issue that affects the academic mission of the University or general welfare of … students” while still working “for the betterment of the University as a whole”[3]; and, lastly,

(3) We believe GLBT students who are denied the full rights and recognition by state law that heterosexual couples enjoy are more likely to leave the state upon completion of their degree. As each student’s education through the University represents a significant investment in Minnesota’s future by the state itself, we believe the state has a vested interest in retaining those it has helped educate.

For these reasons, the Student Senate of the University of Minnesota believes the amendment is neither in the best interest of the University of Minnesota nor its students, and the Student Senate therefore rejects it. In addition, this body urges citizens – students and non – to stand with the GLBT community and vote against the proposed constitutional amendment.

The resolution was the reason for our four hour drive, and the shameless yelling, and the signs.  We were all there on Thursday to support that resolution, and to support our GLBT friends, who are just as smart and driven and kind and beautiful and loving as ourselves, but who are in danger of having their rights taken away.

After some discussion; after person after person, straight and gay, liberal and conservative, stood up to speak; after I wiped my sweaty palms on my dress and stood up to speak; it came time to vote.

23 voted in favor of the resolution.  1 opposed.  Several abstained.

And then I cried.  Because there were friends on my left and on my right, and we were smiling triumphantly at each other.  Because it was the first time that I had ever fought for something so important on such a large scale.  Because it was a step toward equality, toward acceptance and respect.  Because the University of Minnesota had become the largest institution in the nation to publicly denounce such an amendment.

We had pizza in Dinkytown, marveling at the “big city,” and how very many toppings they offered.  I got pepperoni and balsamic.  Not bad.

Then we drove the four hours back, not stopping until we could see the wind turbines on the horizon.

Our resolution is currently being published in newspapers and webzines across the nation.     It is being discussed in University offices and mayoral offices and state legislative offices.  It is being bolstered by thousands of students who refuse to let it dim.

Churn on Thursday

We pause to appreciate the loveliness of a Thursday that allowed me to loathe a coworker one moment, and think that perhaps she wasn’t so bad the next.  That allowed me to drive home humming oldies, and later spend a good half hour rolling around on the floor with a Nerf Gun humming “Mission Impossible.”  We thank the Thursday gods for dogs who appreciate such silliness, and who didn’t laugh when every single dart I fired missed the target by six inches.

Nerf guns, I warn you (while we’re paused like this) have quickly become a theme in this blog.  A theme that will likely continue; even Tom Cruise needs target practice.

As for Inheritance:  since I haven’t finished, I will only say that I’m happy the book is here at last.  I was first handed Eragon in 6th grade, by my reigning favorite teacher.  Not being one for fantasy, it took me a few tries to get into it, but when I finally did, I loved it.  This love has risen and fallen since then, mostly due to Mr. Paolini’s tendency to take three years to write one book.  Still, Inheritance is here now.  I coveted it all over Europe, and now it’s finally in my hands.  Excuse me while I get back to my reading.

Happy Thursday.