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Farewell, Olde Reed

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reed college seal.jpgAt the beginning of my senior year in high school, I put together a list of colleges to which I wanted to apply. I'd always assumed I'd go to college far away, but once I actually had to start applying, I surprised myself by wanting to stick close to home. My list, if I remember correctly, was comprised of University of Oregon Honor's College; Stanford; Reed; Lewis & Clark; and The Evergreen State College. In the fall, before the early decision deadlines, my mom and I went to Portland to visit Lewis & Clark and Reed.

And on that day I fell in love. I spent about 10 minutes on Reed campus before I knew that was where I wanted to go. I applied early decision and was accepted in January. I withdrew my other applications. My decision was made.

That was in 1996-1997. If I am remembering correctly, the total estimated tab for a year at Reed (including tuition and fees and room and board) was about $30,000. In what I can only consider an irony, $30,000 was almost exactly the same amount as my family's total annual income, as per the endless financial aid forms I filled out.

But it was OK. Because, back then, Reed had a policy by which, if they accepted you, they offered some sort of financial aid to cover your estimated need (given, of course, that estimated need is calculated in a very different way by an admissions counselor than by an actual family with other bills to pay). With a family at home living under the poverty line, my estimated need was complete, and my acceptance came with an offer of complete financial aid. They covered everything--tuition, fees, room, board, and even some living expenses. There was a letter along with my acceptance letter outlining the funding I was being offered. Part of it (I think about $4,000 that first year) was a federally guaranteed Stafford Loan, and part was a Pell Grant, but most of it was just a big fat grant from the college itself. A new version of that same letter cam every semester I was at Reed, and while the loan amounts did increase (I left with a total of about $30,000 in loans), I never had to make a hard decision, or scrounge for tuition.

Things have changed. As per an article in the yesterday's New York Times, more than 100 students otherwise deemed good candidates were dropped from Reed's accepted freshman class for next year, due to financial need. The total cost of going to Reed is now estimated at about $50,000 a year, and students are not only not being offered all the help they would need to pay that amount, some of them are simply not being accepted if they can't pay it.

Reed has for now cast aside its hopes of accepting students based purely on merit, without regard to wealth, and still meeting their financial need. Only the nation's richest colleges do that. What's more, when Reed turned to its waiting list this year, it tapped only students who could pay their way.

To say I am disappointed would, I think, be an understatement. I understand that the recession is taking its toll, and that the money has to come from somewhere. I'm skeptical that Reed couldn't find a better way to come up with some of it (the article mentions that plans to build a new performing arts center on campus are moving forward), but I do get that cuts have to be made. The thing that infuriates me is not that Reed can't offer aid-as-needed to all accepted students, like they could when I went there. It's that the response to this, rather than accepting those students anyway, offering them the aid that is available, and letting them decide how to proceed, is not accepting them at all.

That is simple discrimination. Leaving 100 plus students off the acceptance list (and everyone off the waiting list) because of their income is, to my mind, exactly the same as leaving them off due to their race, gender, or religion. While it is not Reed's responsibility to offer aid to everyone (and aid can be reasonably based on merit as well as need), how can it not be the college's responsibility to offer admission with a blind eye to money? How can it possibly be justified to have "ability to pay for it, based on our analysis" be an admissions criteria?

It is true that if I hadn't been offered the aid package I was at Reed, I wouldn't have gone there. It simply wouldn't have been possible without taking out huge unsubsidized loans, and I wouldn't have been willing to do that. But shouldn't it have been my choice? Accepting me and not offering me aid would have been harsh, but reasonable. Not accepting me based on my perceived ability to pay, though? That's just wrong.

I loved, and still love, Reed. I got the best education I can imagine there. It was absolutely worth the loans I'm going to be re-paying until I'm 40, worth the four years of too many books and too little sleep, worth the class-based chip it wore into my shoulder, worth the guilt that comes with being over-educated in an under-educated family. I've spent quite a bit of breathe in the last few years defending Reed from the critics who find it both too pompous and too permissive. I believe in the way Reed has historically conducted itself, at least by and large. But this isn't the first time since I graduated that I have been massively disappointed in my alma mater. Just a couple of years post-graduation, I wrote an incensed letter to the Board of Directors about Reed's shoddy treatment of their non-faculty employees. (The letter, by the way, was met with an extremely snarky and disrespectful reply from one board member, against whom I hold a grudge to this day.) Looking at the students chosen to profile in the most recent Reed magazine, I'm left wondering what, exactly, they are trying to become (Why is everyone so normal looking? Where are the freaks?). And now this. Not just a choice to put buildings and keeping the endowment up ahead of students, but an actual policy of exclusion of low-income attendees. People like me. People like some of the best friends (and most dedicated students) I knew while I was there. If they are looking for a fast way to destroy the good in what Reed has historically been, this just might do it.

3 Comments

so here's my issue: i liked that reed only accepted people they could support, but now that really good idea has gone bad. I oscillate between thinking that they should accept people even if they can't pay (under the idea that those people could just take a ridiculous amount of loans out if they wanted), and sticking with the idea of only accepting people you can support.

I find this very interesting. I live right up the hill from Reed, and my 6 year old has it in her head she will be going there some day. This won't even be a consideration for our family with Reed's new policies. I am disappointed with Reed too.

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Mastered

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The same month I started this blog (August 2003), I began my master's degree in public affairs.

Today, I finished it. I just got back from turning in my final paperwork and a copy of my final report (sort of like a master's thesis). My i's are all dotted, my t's all crossed, all the signatures gathered. I'm finished. Once everything is checked off on somebody's list, I will have a master's degree.

It's been a long road. I went full-time for a year, did my summer internship, and then...scattered. I took a job and started taking classes part time, and then not at all for a while, and then part time again. I put off calculus for as long as humanly possible. I dallied on my final report for two semesters. I really disliked a lot of it, thought numerous times about just quitting. But as much as I procrastinated, I didn't quit, and today I legitimately finished.

I'm proud of myself.

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congratulations!

As you should be! Congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment.

Congrats. I prefer Mistress to Master. However I enjoyed walking around like Frankenstein yelling "Science! I HAVE MASTERED YOU!" Yeah Science just hid....science is such a coward.

I shall show you the secret handshake.

Yee haw! Congratulations!

Congratulations!

Congratulations, Grace!!! :-D

Congrats - i'm sure that's a great feeling!

Wahooooooooo!!

(guitar riff)
"Yooou are the master, mah fri-ends
(nah nah nah, nah nah nah)
And yooou kept on writing
till the end
(nah nah nah nah)
You are the Master,
you are the Master,
no time for losers
'cause you are the Master
of publicpolicee."

(Now imagine me in a polyester pantsuit playing air guitar...)

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Weekend extension

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Can I just say how wonderful it is that it's only Saturday morning and I feel like I've already had a full weekend? Extended weekends are possibly my favorite thing ever.

I do have a good bit of work to do this weekend--revisions on my PR--but I can't even get worked up about that, since I feel like I have plenty of time and I'm still faintly interested in the project and I know it will be completely done forever in just a few days.

My blogging guru The Princess upgraded us to Movable Type 4 last night, so as I'm posting this, everything looks totally different. It's kind of disorienting, actually, and I think it's causing me to write in a semi-disoriented way, so I apologize. I have already noticed a couple of excellent-seeming new features, including post auto-saving. So I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Today we're making turkey pot pie. Doesn't that sound good? It's all rainy and nasty outside--what could be better than a pastry crust to deal with that?

I had fantastic luck thrifting yesterday. Not much for myself, but several cool swappable things. I also shopped some excellent online Black Friday sales at small shops yesterday, which I shouldn't have done, but couldn't resist. I should be set for bath products for some time. And a few gifts as well. I love Etsy. Speaking of, have you heard of the Buy Handmade Pledge?

I suppose if I am going to be typing, it ought to be on the PR. Or I could nap...it will be very convenient, as I've not changed out of my pajamas yet.

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In uniform

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I wrote my first anti-uniform piece when I was 16. I was a member of a local newspaper's teen team, and I fought to be assigned the anti-uniform stance in a point-counterpoint article (front page of the section!). As a picture to accompany the article, the girl who wrote the pro-uniform side was given a small budget and told to go to Target or Wal-Mart or wherever and buy clothes she would consider an appropriate uniform for high schools. I was told to come in my own clothes, whatever I thought best reflected my typical style. Then they took our pictures back-to-back and printed our pieces. She came in navy pants with an elastic waist, a plain white polo shirt, and plain dark shoes. I came in jeans I inherited from my stepfather, a hand-tooled leather belt from the 70s (with someone else's name on the back of it), a striped v-neck, and Birkenstocks. We were equally comfortable and able to move around. We were equally "covered up." We both felt, I assume, that what we were wearing said something about ourselves as individuals.

More than ten years later, I have no idea what my "opponent" (whose name I've forgotten) thinks about dress codes and uniforms. As for me, though, my stance hasn't changed much. Now, as then, uniforms make my skin crawl, and I abhor dress codes. It's not so much about the mystical ability to "express myself" through my clothes as it is about control. The way I see it, dressing is an extension of body autonomy, and I don't want someone else telling me what parts of my body need to be covered, by what, etc. It irritates me in employment situations (which are, mostly, voluntary) and it enrages me in schools (which are, mostly, not).

I spent much of high school pressing the dress code issue. My high school did not have a particularly stringent code, but certain things (midriff tops, shorts or skirts that were too short, spaghetti strap tanks, hats, etc.) were not allowed. I wore all of them at one time or another. It wasn't about being sexxxxeeee, or about showing off my body. It was about testing boundaries. It was about exercising my own autonomy, and seeing how far I could push.

Interestingly, when I moved to college, where there was no dress code (literally none, we had naked students at Reed), I started caring a lot less about my clothes. I had my own uniform, of a sort--baggy cargo pants or BDUs, a t-shirt, a hoodie. I did a few wild things with my hair, pierced my navel (not allowed in high school), got my first tattoo (also not allowed), but basically, I kept myself covered up and didn't think much about it. As an adult, working in professional environments, I wear clothing that is, by and large, appropriate. I do wear sleeveless shirts and dresses, which some people find inappropriate (particularly because it shoes my upper arm tattoo), but none of my employers have had any problem with this, so I guess it's fine. Having the freedom to dress the way I see fit hasn't turned me into some kind of monster. If anything, it's let to me chilling out about the whole situation.

Dress codes and uniforms, in most cases, are about control. They generally come about through dictates rather than community processes, coming down from a superior as rules for inferiors. This is the case in schools, in places of employment, and in prisons. I object to this kind of control. I buck against this kind of control, and I think a lot of people do. And moreover, I think we should, particularly women. Because in truth, there's not much difference between someone with power over you telling you to cover it up and telling you to take it off. Either way, someone who is not you is exercising control over your body decisions, and I think it's right to fight that.

My basic premises are as follows:

1. People should be left to dress as they see appropriate, with the exception of dress codes needed for safety reasons and uniforms needed for identification purposes (i.e. police officers, fire fighters, etc.);
2. If left to their own devices, people will generally dress in a way that is deemed "appropriate" for whatever their position/station is;
3. If left to their own devices and not dressing "appropriately," people generally aren't hurting anyone or anything anyway.

I honestly don't understand what is so hard about that. It seems to me that uniforms and dress codes are just unnecessary rules in nearly all cases, and I don't see any point to restricting people unnecessarily. The so-called benefits of dress codes seem mostly invented to me (safer? less distracting? less classist? really? are you sure?), and the drawbacks are much larger than people realize.

1 Comments

A few things:

Schools-
Kids are in a learning phase - understanding themselves, the world around them, and require guidance, RULES, and understanding. Better than a dress code is regular discussions about what it means to "express yourself" via your fashion statements and what "appropriate" really means. I found it fascinating that you choose the word appropriate to describe the way you dress at work, yet shun dress codes, since the dress codes are all about defining appropriate.

Work -
In many employment situations, the customer sets the standard. Not many people are likely to drop $60,000 on a car from someone with tatoos on their face and assless chaps. The business needs the customer to exist, so they deem that inappropriate for work based on what the customer's expectations are.

There are also dress codes in the work place that relate to saftey that I agree with.

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Final batch of book reviews

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These are the first three books we've read in my U.S. Policy History course this semester, and once I get this review up, I'll be all caught up!

On Capitol HIll book coverby Julian E. Zelizer
Cambridge University Press, March 22, 2004

Don't read this book. It's boring. I'm interested in policy history and how Congress works, and I was bored out of my mind. It's also a lousy primer, because it skips around in time and doesn't spell things out clearly. It's a book all about Congressional reform written for people who already know all about Congressional reform. With that audience of around 13, Zelizer ought to be rolling in dough.

Friends in High Places book coverby David McKean and Douglas Frantz
Little, Brown; 1st ed edition, September 12, 1995

Clark Clifford was a powerful Washington insider/lobbyist/lawyer/Secretary of Defense for LBJ. He reigned in Washington all the way from Truman's administration through Clinton's, and pulled all sorts of tricks without getting caught until the late 80s in a shady banking deal. This book is a fairly sympathetic biography of him, and it's a fun read if you are in to political scandal, especially as it has changed (or not) over the years. I didn't come away from the book liking or respecting Clifford (who was a liberal Democrat, or at least supposed to be one), as I think the authors may have wanted me to, but I did come away from it amused and aghast, and there was definitely some political dirt in it worth knowing. It was also interesting to get an idea of the old-school cronyism that went on to mediate my feelings about W's brand--he's not doing anything that wasn't perfected before he was even born. Maybe thinking things never actually change makes me a bad historian, but if the shoe fits...

LBJ book coverby Robert Dallek
Oxford University Press, USA, January 8, 2004

If you thought the Clifford book was scandalous...

LBJ liked to show his penis to people. 'Nuff said.

This book is a shortened version of Dallek's much longer and more complete LBJ biography. If you are going to read one of the two, I suggest this one, because the other one is just way too much LBJ, though the editing isn't very good and there are things he leaves out that I would have kept in and visa versa. That being said, it's another fun read, because LBJ was a political dynamo, as well as being an absolutely appalling human being, and the things he did and said leave you both laughing and seething. And, weirdly, sometimes respecting him (especially when he was in the Senate). Sort of the way you'd respect Madonna as a businessperson but not a musician, I guess. Also like Madonna, it's worth a look at LBJ's early work--we think too much about how his career ended up and not enough about how it began. Anyway, it's an entertaining book, if presidential biography is your thing, but it's certainly not the best one I've read.

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Tropic of Calculus

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Nods to Sofiya for the brilliant title.

I have a problem, and that problem is calculus.

See, it's like this: I am approximately 2/3 of the way through my Master's degree, or will be after this semester. I presently have no reason to think that this semester isn't going just fine and won't end with my having 6 more hours of credit on my transcript. My plan is to continue taking 2 classes/semester for three more semesters, while continuing to work, and then be ready to graduate in Spring 2007. Brilliantly easy, right?

Not so much. See, my requirements are done and I can take whatever I want for those remaining credits, except...

except for my quantitive requirement. I have to take two quantative classes to get away with my degree. And in order to enroll for the first of those to classes, I have to have either:
A. taken a college course each in statistics and calculus
or
B. pass a validation exam each in statistics and calculus

I suffered through a statistics course while I was in Portland (in between Reed and here), but I have never, ever taken calculus.

Well, that's not strictly true, either. I've enrolled in and then dropped an online calculus course, because it made no fucking sense. But I've never completed a course in caclulus.

My math education ended in the 11th grade, with a not-particularly-impressive Algebra II course. Not only have I not taken calculus, I've never learned, or at the very least forgot, several steps leading up to calculus. I'm at somewhere around calculus-minus-3.

But the fact remains that I need to either take a course in calculus (business calc counts), or learn enough to pass a validation test. And, in order to graduate in time with my plan, I need to do it no later than this summer, so that I can take my first quantitive course in Fall 06 and my second in Spring 07 and then graduate.

I am so, so fucked.

I've explored my options. Self study? Hardly going to work, both for lack of discipline and because I truly have no knowledge base. Similar story with the online course. So I need to either find a tutor (horror of horrors), or enroll in a class and hope I can magically catch up with everything in between where my math knowledge ends and where calculus begins.

Or I could blow off the rest of this degree. But I really don't want to do that, since I'm 2/3 done and working and going to school simultaneously seems to be working out alright.

Fuck.

7 Comments

you could audit it, learn everything, and retake it for credit if you have the time/inclination. i took calc in high school. i enjoyed it. i'm a nerd.

Personally I'd say a tutor is the way to go, if you can find one that knows what they are doing. That may be the most challenging part, because its more important that they know how to tutor than that they are aces at the material.

Take business calculus this summer at ACC, and use their tutoring/student services or we can find someone to help you if you have problems as you're getting started. As I recall, what you would have taken post-Albegra II, like trig or whatever, wouldn't have done a damn thing to get you ready for calculus. So I don't think you'll be that far behind anyone else taking the course.

If you need a tutor, you could ask my long-suffering former roommate. He was an engineer before ditching it to become a violinist, and is a total whiz at calculus and physics and all that stuff. Just scream at me if you'd like me to ask him.

How badly would it bring down your grade average to do this? Probably not enough to quit the degree for. I agree, though, that having to do that sort of thing sucks if you went into a field where it isn't obviously necessary.

The title is by Tom Lehrer, not a Sofiya =)

Did you complete the calculus or the degree? This is an old message and there's no point in my reply if you're done or past it somehow. Please reply if you are blocked or have problems.

Thank you,

D

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Home

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It has not escaped my attention that the extreme majority of what I have posted here lately has been silliness, song lyrics, and pictures of my pets. It's not that I'm brain dead--really!--I'm just...dulled, recently.

That being said, I have an interesting exercise. In my Family Policy class a couple of weeks ago, we were asked to list all of the families (or, if you prefer, households) we've ever lived in. Basically, just make a list of all of our living situations. The point that was being illustrated was about lack of family structure stability, but I sort of found making the list useful in and of itself--I hadn't realized how many situations I've been able to call home.

So here's my list:

ELKTON:
1979, for a few weeks (months?) post-birth: Lived with my mother and my grandparents, at my grandparents' house
Fall 1979-Summer 1983: Lived alone in a house with my mother.
Summer 1983-Spring 1985: Lived in a house with my mother and stepfather.
Spring 1985-Summer 1997: Lived in a house with my mother, stepfather, and brother.

PORTLAND:
Fall 1997-Winter 1998:Lived in a college dorm room with a roommate, C.
Winter 1998-Spring 1998: Lived in a college dorm room alone.
Summer 1998: Lived with mother, stepfather, and brother again.
Fall 1998-Spring 1999: Lived in a college apartment with two roommates, J. and M.
Summer 1999: Lived in a duplex with three roommates, B., S., and K.
Fall 1999-Spring 2000: Lived in an apartment with my then-boyfriend, S.
Summer 2000: Lived in a college apartment with my then-boyfriend, S., and another roommate, J.
Fall 2000-Spring 2001: Lived in a single dorm room by myself.
Summer 2001: Lived in a duplex with two roommates, J. and N.
Fall 2001-Winter 2002: Lived in a duplex with two roommates, J. and N., and Mark.
Winter 2002-Summer 2002: Lived alone in an apartment.
Summer 2002-Summer 2003: Lived in an apartment with Mark, a roommate, E., and a cat, Potter.

AUSTIN:
Summer 2003-Spring 2005: Lived in a house with Mark and Chance.
Spring 2005-Summer 2005: Lived in a different house with Mark and Chance.
Summer 2005: Lived in a house with Mark and Leo.
Summer 2005-present: Lived in a house with Mark, Leo, and Atticus.

So what does this all tell me? I'm not sure, other than I haven't spent much time living alone. I've moved around a good bit. In 26 years, I've lived in three "cities" and 15 different locations, by my count. Two boyfriends and eight roommates. Two dogs and two cats, not counting my childhood pets (which I don't count because they lived outside and weren't really pets). Some of these living situations were good, some had big problems. A few had really big problems, mostly on the neighbor frontier (see Won't You Be My Neighbor?). I'm sure they all taught me something, though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what.

Actually, maybe I'm not so hard pressed. I think what they've taught me, and what looking back on them is teaching me all over again (because, you know, I can't just learn something once and be done with it), is that there are many, many ways to be home. I still miss Portland, and refer to my upcoming visit there as "going home," but in truth, Austin is home now. Specifically, Mark is home. The house we're buying together is home. My dogs--first Chance, and now Leo--are home. Atticus is rapidly becoming home. And all three stanky dorm rooms I lived in where home, as were both even stankier Reed College Apartments (TM). The studio apartment I rented by myself, so proud and my mom so scared of the "bad neighborhood", was home. And the falling-down house in the little town where I spent my incredibly painful formative years will never be anything but home.

Maybe as we get older we collect concepts of home. Maybe this helps us be more at home where we are, or at home with who we are. I hope so.

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"Maybe as we get older we collect concepts of home. Maybe this helps us be more at home where we are, or at home with who we are. I hope so." I like this idea, and I think you're on to something there!

My concept of "home" is intensely rooted in geography. It is the "island off the coast of America" where I was born, where I have spent the past 23 years on one block, in two apartments. It is where I learned to walk, where my heart has been broken, where I have become who I am.

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Be true to your school

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Though I have always liked school, my excitement about it has waxed and waned over the years. I think I liked early elementary school, probably less so as I got older. I hated the great majority of late elementary/junior high, and I despised high school, though high school at least taught me something occaisionally. I adored college. My first year of grad school had it's moments, but mostly felt like mediocre job training.

But things are looking up.

I am only taking two classes this term, and neither one of them seems, so far, to be bullshit. This is a great improvement over my first year. One of them will be challenging. Really challenging. Challenging like Reed. The other will probably just be not so bad, but the not-so-bad will culminate with a final project on subject matter that is interesting to me, so I'm not complaining.

The challenging class, though, has me thinking thoughts I had assumed were behind me for good. Thought about going back to real school after I finish my Baby Beaurocrat masters degree. Thoughts about having those three magical letters after my name that mean I can force people to call me doctor. Thought about classes that would take me back to the way things were at Reed and even help me move beyond that. Thought about reading thick books with colons in their titles and slaving away on a dissertation.

When I pull my head out of the sky, I realize that that stuff comes at a really high cost. Years more of being broke, for the final result (if I'm lucky) of being given a piece of paper that only qualifies me for jobs I don't want and couldn't get it if I did want them, at least not without moving to BFN. Ending up with a career that competes with Mark, with none of Mark's passion for the career. It is just not responsible to get a Ph.D. for the sake of getting a Ph.D. After I finished my bachelors-for-the-sake-of-a-bachelors, I promised I wouldn't do it again. Why do I want to do it again, and on an even larger scale?

And for what? Why can't I be satisifed with reading the books on my own? Is it really necessary to sit through classes and write papers in search of a degree that I don't need? I'm 26 years old. I have a mortgage. I have a family. I am too old to be in it for the journey.

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Always good to have classes that aren't bullshit, especially if you manage to get a full set sometimes. Heh, you're never too old to be in it for the journey. Neither are you ever too old to decide you could be more fulfilled elsewhere. I have a friend who gave up microbiology in favour of social science when in his late thirties, and doesn't seem to be regretting that. Anyway, onto the important bit - AAWWW!!! KITTY!!! :)

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Sporadic

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I haven't been much for the blog updating recently. I'm not sure why--it's not that I don't have anything to say, it's more that I don't have words to say things in. I feel strangely mute recently.

My birthday has come and gone. Through no fault of anyone's but my own, it was less than I had hoped. I had a very nice dinner party the night before, and my friends were great and the food was good, but my heart just wasn't as in it as I'd have liked. Part of the problem was that Mark and I spent a large part of the weekend arguing (arguments for which I am probably mostly responsible). Part of was just...me.

I did get really fabulous birthday presents, though. The greatest thing was that they were all from local/small businesses, which I think is great. I got some beautiful earrings and a book from Siobhan's family, a spa gift certificate from Mark, and a donation to Blue Dog Rescue from The Princess. Then I got a package from my mom, containing soaps and pottery from my home town. So that was all very nice.

The next big thing is that classes start tomorrow. From here on, I work four days/week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) and go to school one day (Wednesday, in case you couldn't do the math there). I don't actually have class Wednesday afternoons--just Wednesday morning from 9-noon and Wednesday evening from 6-9. So that should be an OK schedule--I'm looking forward to having an afternoon off every week. Of course that will just give Mark one more way to foist all errands and chores off on me (this was the subject of most of our weekend arguments, and I guess I'm still sore).

I have never been ambivalent about starting a new school year. Always, from first grade up through my first year at LBJ, I've been excited. I'm really not very excited this time around. Mostly, I just want to get it over with. Partially I guess I'm not excited about anything right now (it may, perhaps, be safe to say that the Wellbutrin isn't working so well this time around--damn), but partially it's that I know I am going to school for something I am not the least bit interested in. That being said, I got the syllabus for my Family Policy course this morning, and it looks to be both extremely intense (several hundred pages of reading a week in a lot of sources, plus a 2-3 page memo every week, plus a hardcore sounding final policy research project and proposal) and fairly interesting. So perhaps all hope is not lost. We'll see.

It has taken me a long time to get here (four years since I graduated, and it seems like longer), but this fall I really, really miss Reed. Acutely. I wish I were there. I mean, I know I don't really wish that--I've been through it once, and it wouldn't be fun a second time around--but I'm very nostalgic for it, both in terms of looking forward to real academic classes that I can guarantee are going to kick my ass and make me think, and in terms of the comraderie and friendship of the folks I was surrounded by. It's ridiculous, really--I know intellectually that I hated living communally (the mess!), that Reed's pretention annoyed me to no end, etc. But I miss it right now.

3 Comments

aaaggh! i missed your birthday. and i even knew when it was...i just forgot. happy (late) birthday! i send lots of love, and maybe something else when the fuckers in the financial aid dept get their act together...

happy belated birthday! sorry you were arguing with mark - i love my SO very much but sometimes i find living with him a big pain in the butt (still - after three years!). i definately tend to overlook the stuff he does around the house and feel like i do more. i'm not looking forward to him going back to school for this very reason (he'll have less time). and good luck with your class - i often find that the classes that sound the most boring end up being the most interesting (natural resource beauracracy ended up being great). (Josie from Ph)

Happy birthday!

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More

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Once again, I am struck by the overwelming urge to do more. I am not doing enough. Not doing enough to better myself, not doing enough to better the world around me, not doing enough to help people, not traveling enough, not loving enough, not living enough. I want to do more.

But it seems so difficult just to do what I must to get by, doing "enough" would be impossible. There is never enough time or enough money or enough energy. The whole situation is very frustrating.

This is stemming from a wonderful class I had tonight. My last class of the semester, and it couldn't have been better. I put myself on the line a bit and took a journalism class this semester--the subject was coverage of international crises. As one of the (many...I still have 30 pages left to write...) requirements for the course, we were to do 20 hours of volunteer work somewhere in the community and report back on it (write a field report and do an little informal oral presentation). Today, our last class, we had those presentations. And the organizations people worked with were so fascinating, so vital, and so in need. I ended up wanting to volunteer for all of them. And I ended up feeling really, really bad, because I just used the non-profit job I already had to fill the course requirement. I wasn't cheating or anything--the professor OK'd it--but I feel like I should have done more.

So I'm trying to figure out how to do more. Now is the absolute worst time to be thinking in these terms--I've got PLENTY to do in the next week or so, thanks! But I am thinking about the summer. Yes, I have to take a calculus course, and yes, I have to work full-time, but what else can I do? My reasons are fairly non-philanthropic--I want to contribute because I don't feel like I am pulling my weight, and that makes me feel like ass. But whatever my reasons are, one more volunteer body is one more volunteer body, right? And it's about damn time I got involved in something beyond myself.

That being said, I move on to the subject of friends and my not having any. It's quite strange. I went out to lunch today at a campus place (between work this morning and class this afternoon), and I ran into a group of acquaintances from school there. I talked to them some, but sat by myself and read my paper for the most part. I go to lunch by myself often enough now that I don't really think of it as weird, but today I was very much aware that these people were thinking "Poor pitiful Grace, doesn't have any friends to have lunch with," or something of the sort. And it's true. There isn't a single person at my school that I would call a friend. There are a handful of people I say hi to or am happy to have class with, and I'm doing better with school-oriented social events (such as going to Happy Hour after class yesterday), but basically, I have no friends.

The really surprising part, though, is that having no friends doesn't bother me at all. I feel like I have lots of friends. I have my online friends, and I have my real-life friends, most of whom happen to be far away at this point, rendering my relationships with them very similar to those with my online friends (although really, reading my blog and being in my internet community are the only ways to communicate with me from afar on anything resembling a regular basis--I don't even talk to my mom on the phone more than once or twice a month). I absolutely adore the friends I have and hope they will always be my friends, geography be damned. But not having friends at school here just doesn't bother me. And it's not that I don't think tere are people here I'd like to be friends with--I'm sure there are--but I don't know how to form friendships intentionally, and I can't be bothered to figure it out.

Is that severely misanthropic? Maybe it's because I have Mark and we spend a ton of time together, but I honestly don't think that's the bulk of it. I just don't consider geographic nearness to be a particularly important factor in friendship, I guess. And at this point, I don't even consider regular communication to be that important a factor--as seeing Howell and Melinda and Ron and Sandy in D.C. the other weekend demonstrated to me, we fall right back into the same friendship no matter how recently or not we have talked. And to me, that's what it's all about. If they need me, I'm here, and if I need them, I trust they'll be around.

Still, I should probably attempt to be at least marginally social here. I'm really not an anti-social person. Just lazy, I guess. Or guarded? I don't know. Mostly I think I just don't have the patience to develop friendships over a long period of time--I love hanging out with good, close friends, but I'm not exactly enamored with the first date-esque stages before that. And making new friends really does remind me of dating, another activity I would never be good at and I'm kind of glad not to engage in.

This all reminds me of how strange it is to meet people IRL whom you have interacted with for a long period of time online. The idea that you are just now "meeting" them is so strange, because chances are you know more about them and have shared more with them than is true of most of the people you see quite often in your everyday life (at least in my circles, this seems to be the case). So it's not really meeting them. Ani has a line that goes, "I have only just met an old, old friend," and I always think of that when I meet someone whom I already know I like. It's a strange dynamic. On one hand, you wish you could just brush away all the preliminary getting to know you stuff that is inherent in meeting someone, but on the other hand, you don't want to be too familiar with someone who you "just met." And I know that I am far more open online that I would be in relationships with people in person, so it's weird to meet someone and know how much they already know about me. It's this strange feeling of not knowing what face to put on, because they are going to recognize that your public face isn't you--after all, they've never seen it before.

Actually, that makes it sound like it's a really excellent way to meet people, doesn't it? No pretenses that way. Why doesn't it actually work like that?

Or maybe it does.

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Exciting News!

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I found out today that my abstract on HPV and cervical cancer in lesbian women has been accepted to the Working Together to Create Healthy Lives 2004 lesbian health conference in Chicago. I'm so excited! Huge thanks to Frog, who made this opportunity known to me in the first place.

So, between now and May, I've got to get my shit together. Actually, I have to do it before that, because I have a trial run presenting the same paper at a UT conference in late March. Basically, I'm talking about HPV as an example of a health risk that lesbians are very often misinformed about (by their doctors, no less) and how this is one example of the necessity for lesbian-sensitive health care policy in this country. Anybody want to read and critique? Next week is Spring Break, so I plan to do most of the work then.

Also, I have to figure out logistics. This conference coincides very nicely with a trip I was already planning to make to that neck of the woods (to visit both online and RL friends), so that's cool, I just have to figure out how to shuttle myself back and forth between the three relevant cities in question.

Ah! I'm so excited!

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Tough call

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I got some interesting news today. I was accepted as a member of the 2004 class of Oregon Performance Interns. It sounds like a great opportunity--training, good work, possibility of making a lot of connections, pretty decent pay, etc. The downside, of course, is that it would mean spending the summer in Portland, with Mark and Chancey staying here.

So it's a big decision to make. Not mine alone, of course. Mark doesn't seem to keen on the idea, which doesn't much surprise me. I feel selfish as all hell for even considering it. But on the other hand, if it's a good opportunity and it's only 11 weeks...11 weeks really isn't that long, is it?

As of right now, I don't have other offers, but I am hoping to have a summer offer from the great organization where I currently work. It would be less money, but it would be here...

Ag. I'm probably going to be obsessing about this for awhile. Feedback much appreciated.

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A joke from my management textbook

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Rene Descartes walks into a classroom. The instructor asks if he would like to give a lecture. Descartes replies, "I think not," and vanishes.

What does it say about me that I find that amusing?

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Classes start back up

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Classes start back up tomorrow. I'm not even a little bit excited, but I'm sure I will be once my schedule gets straightened out. Tomorrow I take the validation exam to see if I can take AQA I--I'm not expecting to be able to, and I'm really excited about my "back up class," so once that's all done I'll be a lot happier, I think. I know it is irresponsible to put AQA off until next year and all that, but I don't see how I am going to learn calculus tonight, so that's just how it's going to be.

Tony and Susan are here! Pizza and movie time!!

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Thankful

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I am so thankful.

This has been an amazing Thanksgiving. Mark and I did a great job with the food and we've just had a wonderful day. I'm really really happy we decided to stay home and just have it be us. We even gave Chancey a big plate of food, which he demolished in 30 seconds or so. It was hysterical. And Mark and I both conked out for like two hours after dinner. We're going to be eating leftovers for a month.

In a more general way, though, I am very thankful for my life. Things are going well. In general, I am happy and healthy and stable and secure. Mark and I are doing wonderfully and we feel permanent to me. I'm worried about my mom's back, but there is really nothing I can do about that from here, so I should try not to worry about it more than I have to. Hopefully she can have the surgery while I am in Oregon over Christmas. I want to be able to help her...

My presentations this week have stressed me out, but things are going very well. I am really happy with both of my groups. Group work experiences have been so up-and-down (mostly down) for me in the past, group work was something I was really worried about at LBJ, and I these experiences have made me feel much better about it. This is good.

I'm attempting to get my internship requirement for the summer waived. I'll try to do an internship anyway, but if I do it for credit, as is required, I have to pay out-of-state tuition on it, which amounts to about $2,000. That's a huge fucking waste. So hopefully they will waive me on the basis of the work I am doing at Texans Care now. I doubt they will, but it's worth a try. That will mean I have to take one more class next year, but that's really no big deal, especially since it won't change my tuition costs (and I get a waiver on the out-of-state portion for the academic year). If I get the waiver it will also allow me to be more creative in what I decide to do for the summer. So I'm going to finish the waiver app this weekend and hope for the best.

It's amazing how cold it feels in here when it's 53 degrees outside. My feet are like icecubes.

Mark is doing better this week with work/school stuff too, which is really nice. I worry that he'll resent me if he doesn't like it here. I know he likes Austin, but the school thing is so mixed. I have high hopes for Hitoshi's lab, though. Hitoshi came over the night for a few minutes. He's really funny. Japanese James Cagney is exactly the right way to describe him.

I haven't been writing in my blog as much lately because I have been busy, but there has been another reason as well. I have blog-envy. I read Flea's blog and it's so damn good--interesting, funny, well-written...makes me wonder why I bother with it when all I do is blab on and on about my not-very-interesting life. Then I feel really stupid for my envy, because honestly, I don't want a kid that puts shitty underwear in my coffee pot*. And if I had one, I don't think I'd find the energy to write about it like Flea does. I really admire her.

Anyways...blabber blabber blabber. Mark is on the phone with his parents. Chance is curled up on the floor. All is good.

But I need to go put some socks on.

* Actually, I just don't want a kid. The shitty underwear and the coffee pot are side issues. And I don't even have a coffee pot.

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Stuff

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The problem with Do Whatever I Want Day is it is directly followed by "Do All The Stuff I Should Have Done Yesterday Day." Damn I wish Mark would get better so I'd have some help with all of this shit.

My current plan is to skip PFM (it's a guest speaker, something about taxes--I feel guilty for not going, but this is the first time I have skipped without a legitimate reason and I just can't go to campus and come back three times today). I have a meeting with my PE group at 2, but I can do housework and get things back into shape until then. Then hopefully I can work on my PFM problem set, which sneaked up on me and is due Wednesday.

Fascinating, I know. I don't know why I feel the need to post the intricacies of my daily schedule on my blog. Mmm...narcissism.

I am tired of Mark being sick. It's horribly selfish, I know, but I was so looking forward to his return because then I would have some HELP, and instead all I got was more work. But at least I am not feeling sick myself. I can handle it.

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Stuff

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So there is something wrong with my shoulder. It's like the pain that I had when Chancey pulled my shoulder out that one time, but a bit less. And it's persistant. Taking a shirt off over my head just about makes me cry.

Great. A health problem. Just what I don't have time for.

Today I am attempting to outline my PD paper, do my research for PFM and PE, and not lose my mind. So far I am failing on all counts, but it's still early. I am also making curried squash and mushroom soup from the Moosewood recipe. We'll see how that turns out. The baking squash smells really good.

I really really want to take a nap. Chancey woke me up every two minutes from 8am on this morning. I finally just got up a bit after 9, I think. Damn dog. I am going to start locking him out in the morning, I swear.

For some reason he really wants to be outside, which is massively inconvenient for me, because it is muddy outside and he's a mess whenever he comes back in. He's not cooperating terribly well with having his paws cleaned off, either. So he's staying in here for now.

Why am I writing this and not doing my damn work?

I attempted to "chunk" my hair yesterday, but it didn't reallyw ork. The chunks are a lot smaller than I wanted them to be, and a lot more bleachy-orange instead of blonde. It's not really all that noticeable. I should probably fix it, but honestly I don't have the time or the desire today. Maybe later in the week.

Chance is panting at the window because he wants to go outside. Dammit. I wonder what his deal is? I think he wants to chase birds and squirrels.

Ug. I have got to get something done...

Or maybe take a nap...

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Sunrise

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I walked Chance into an amazing golden sunrise this morning. It almost made being up at 7:30 when I don't have class until 2 worth it. Almost.

I have a stupid group project meeting at the massively inconvenient hour of 9am this morning. Then I'm coming back here and working (read: coming back here and taking a nap) before 2 o'clock class.

So far, having my schedule split into work week and school week seems to take a lot of pressure off.

I am trying to decide if I want to submit a paper/which paper I want to submit to the Women's Studies Colloquium thing. I am tempted to submit an abstract of the paper I am going to write for PD on HPV, since I would like to get more into women's health policy work, and presenting some would be good for the resume. However, I feel weird about signing up to present a paper I haven't written yet. Hrm...The deadline for abstracts is Nov. 14, so the chances of me writing it before then are pretty low, too.

Still, I think that's what I will do.

I am going to try to have grits for breakfast. We'll see how that goes.

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Monday morning

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Yay. Monday morning. :)

I actually kind of like Mondays. The big chunk of time to myself in between my morning class and my evening class is nice. And it's especially nice this week, because I actually have almost all of my reading for the week (everything except for economics) done, so I don't have to feel guilty about napping instead of reading during those precious afternoon hours.

There was a big beautiful storm here last night. Thunder and lightening and the whole 9 yards. It has faded into drizzly rain today, which isn't so cool, but it's worth it. I am grateful that Chance isn't afraid of storms. He doesn't seem to even notice them, actually. When I get home and the whole house smells like wet dog, though, I'll probably be less pro-rain.

Still, the weather here is certainly nothing to complain about. I hear there are parts of the country where you have to wear a coat! :)

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Sunday mornin' comin' down

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This morning has a very Sunday kind of feel about it. Mark is off walking Chance; when he gets back we'll go on an errand run (grocery shopping, Target, etc.) Then later we have a play date with Chance and Tosca, and Mark wants to make a Sunday fried chicken dinner. What could be better?

The only problem is that my neck is hurting like a mofo again. Dammit. I am trying to figure out if it's better with my hair up or better with my hair down, but I think it would be better with my hair off completely.

My interest in actually doing the reading for my classes next week has dwindled to sort of a sad trickle. I did the reading for my Monday night class, but haven't cracked a book for any of the others, and it doesn't look like there will be tons of time to do that today. Oh well, at least I had four weeks at the beginning of the semester of pretending I am a dedicated student.

I wonder if anyone is reading this thing? I kind of feel sorry for them if they are--it is so rambling and so very uninteresting.

Someone on the Ms. boards called me inauthentic the other day. Is inauthentic even a word? I felt like an imposter Van Gogh painting or something.

Today's shopping delimma: Does (fruit flavored) nonfat yogurt WITHOUT artifical sweetners in it exist? If so, why can't I find it?

Things that say Sunday morning to me:

The Sunday Times
Waking up with the sun streaming on to your bed
Sitting around in pjs or whatever passes for them for hours before you take a shower
A long slow stretch and the feeling that although you should probably do something productive, you don't really have to
The church bell down the street

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