Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day #8012 - When Sleep Won't Come

Maybe this post should be labeled as Night #8012 instead of day. My sleep schedule has been nice and normal pretty much all summer, so I can't figure out what's going on right now.

I went to bed shortly after 11 and have been not sleeping now for the last 2 hours. Of course if this were a normal night, I might not care as much, but since I am supposed to be waking up at 3:30 (aka 2.5 hours) so we can go to the airport, I'm at a loss of what to do. I have washed my face, been doing push-ups, tried clearing my mind, but so far, nada. It's even raining right now which usually results in me having a deep night's sleep that rivals being in a coma.

With this awkward time span, I'm not sure what to do. Well that's not true - I'd like to be able to crawl into bed and fall to sleep immediately, but for reasons passing understanding I'm just not tired. Which leaves me with the option that I like to refer to as the "Last Night in Italy" option. If you click back through this blog to a post sometime in early June 2008, I posted an entry around 3am (Italy time) my last night in Verona before flying home. We went to see the opera Aida at the Arena which didn't end until about 1:30 in the morning, and the bus taking those of us going to the airport was due to pick us up at 4am. So after the opera and saying our goodbyes, I went back to my apartment and packed, staying up the whole night. Of course that plan backfired a little bit when a bunch of us planned on just sleeping on the plane but none of us were able to as we crossed the Atlantic, but it's still an option.

I'll try more push-ups for now (or maybe crunches?), and if that doesn't work, hello YouTube...

oh, and happy birthday to JK Rowling!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day #8005 - The Write Stuff

One of the many things that drew me to being an English major so many moons ago was my love of stories. Well that and wanting to learn all the rules of proper grammar so I could correct people, but I never got around to that. But ever since I was little, I have always been captivated by a well told story. Great written works like Hop on Pop and of course the Disney (and later Pixar) Classics that so many of us have come to know and love.

However reading hundreds of stories and being able to write a good one yourself are two very different things. Lately I have been trying my hand again at writing stories and so far, not too terrible. It's been fun getting some of these ideas down on paper and playing around with them in my head, and there's so much more to think about than I ever really appreciated before. Will my stories lead to anything? Most likely not, but in the meantime, I like having a project that makes me think.

Sorry, readership. I was definitely planning on going somewhere with this topic, but I guess I lost my train of thought. Keep it classy and keep on reading!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day #8003 - Institutional Memory

Wikipedia defines the term "institutional memory" as "a collective set of facts, concepts, experiences, and know-how held by a group of people. As it transcends the individual, it requires the ongoing transmission of these memories between members of this group." The definition goes on to say that elements of institutional memory are often found in corporations, professional groups, goverments, religions, academic projects, and in some cases entire cultures. The idea of memories and anniversaries has been on my mind today since today is an anniversary of an event. I'm not going to discuss the event here, only how I remember it.

Though this memory goes back several years, I remember exactly where I was. Heck, I even remember the exact outfit I was wearing. I remember most of the people I was with, too. But I have hardly any recollection of what was said. I was surrounded by people and I know we were talking, but I can't remember what. And while I have this very clear picture in my head of that day and those events, I'm drawn back to this idea of institutional memory - how do the other people from that day remember it? It was a collective experience, we were all there, but we all felt something different and each responded differently.

Back when I was student teaching, I had a similar conversation with my students. For some reason or another, bringing up the events of 9/11 tied into our discussion of the day. I asked my room full of 15 and 16 year olds where they were on September 11, 2001 - what were you doing? Where were you? How did you respond? Did you know what was going on? And then I told them my answers - that I had been in my 3rd week of 8th grade at Mead Jr High School and was on my way to 3rd period band when me and my classmates were ushered inside a classroom where we sat for hours with our eyes glued to a television screen as we watched the Twin Towers fall. Another day in my past where I remember exactly where I was and exactly what I was wearing, but on that day I still remember what was said and how I felt because my Language Arts teacher insisted that we write about it because on that day, the course of American history changed.

Anyway, I guess the long and the short of it is that it's interesting to me the things that our minds choose to remember and in particular how anniversaries and discussions have a way of bringing them back up to the surface. May our memories serve us well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day #8001 - The Power of Great Oratory

Over the last week, I have been re-watching my dvds of The West Wing, starting with Season 1 and am now about halfway through Season 2. In addition to the genuine characters, interesting story lines, and a unique setting, one of the things I am finding myself appreciating more and more is the great writing that made up this show. The dialogue is smart and fast, the patterns of speech are strong and pleasing to the ear, and the sentiment is strong. Especially in the early seasons, I feel like Aaron Sorkin really raised the bar for viewers, challenging them to watch a show where highly educated people didn't dumb themselves down for the sake of ratings. After seven seasons, I was sad to depart with these characters, but even still, the show has been off the air for nearly four years and I still quote some of it's most memorable lines.

Though I have a dismal vocabulary (especially considering I have an English degree) and my ability to deliver understandable oratory has only moderately improved thanks to my semester of student teaching, it is still a trait I value above all when it comes to story telling. Anne Lamont in her book Bird by Bird stresses that for new authors, the biggest struggle is often developing realistic or believable dialogue. I can attest to that in my attempts at writing fiction. But I also think that this can be a double-edged sword - there are many people (right now, politicians come to mind) who are capable of great writing and oratory, but aren't actually saying anything. You have been warned, readership, to try your best not get lost in flowery language unless there is a point to it.

That's all from here. Keep it classy, readership. Comments and suggestions for blogging topics are always welcome :o)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day #8000 - Me and John Mellencamp

It's become an interesting practice to measure my life in days with this blog rather than just years, and to realize that I am 8,000 days old has been interesting to say the least. When I realized this day was coming up, part of me instantly thought that I should try to make it unique somehow. Memorable. Special. Then I remembered how when I've tried doing that in the past with birthdays, Hallmark Holidays, and New Year's Eve, it's never lived up to the hype and I always end up disapointed. I also thought of the title I gave to this blog over two years ago, "Just Another Day," and it actually did shape the way I chose to spend this, my 8,000th day of life.

I wasn't being apathetic when I came up with the name for this blog. In fact, a lot of careful consideration and thought went into the decision and it all comes down to John Mellencamp. In 1997, he released the song "Just Another Day" and I remember always finding the tune incredibly catchy. The lyrics talk about how days can go by so quickly and the idea of living in the now because it'll be over before you know it. We spend so much time thinking about the past and the future that the present is easily forgotten. That message combined with my decision to label every entry with a day number fit well together.

And so today really was just another day. Woke up listening to Eric & Kathy on WTMX, ran on the treadmill and did a short workout, did laundry, cleaned my room, went to Michael's to get a frame for my latest needlepoint project, practiced my guitar, and have been drawing while watching my old West Wing dvds. In the grand scheme of things, was today especially memorable? Not at all. But it was still a good day and I think all of us should take the time more often to step back, look at what we have, and be grateful for it.

I blink my eyes and the moment is over. I guess another day has passed...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day #7997 - Finally

Well I can feel a little...different, yeah we'll go with different, now when I say "Hello readership!" because as it turns out, there are really some readers out there! Finally! Granted, this one reader who did take the time to leave a comment was anonymous and accused me of calling vegans unhealthy (which, to be clear, that is not what I said! As with anything in life, I just believe people need to make educated and informed decisions), but hey, a reader is a reader and the more, the merrier! Though for the future, I guess I wonder if I'm allowed to be a little picky and request that you at least leave a name (even if it's not your real one) - anonymous comments still feel so distant. Anyway, so that happened today!

In other news, LIS502 will finally be over after tomorrow's lecture in the morning and final exam in the afternoon. The words "totally psyched" come to mind - not that I haven't enjoyed the experience, because I really have and look forward to the things to com, but it will be nice to be back in my own house and let my brain decompress a little from this information surge that has been underway. Intense, but in a good way. Tomorrow I really would be okay with getting a B! haha

Well back to the grindstone, I suppose. Keep those comments coming!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day #7996 - New Recruits

I really need to remember to post here in 4 days when I will now be over 8000 days old! wooot!

In other news, I will be very happy when this class is over with in a few days. Everyone who is here for the first section is completely wiped, and it was just funny today when we left lecture this morning and saw all the people who are here for the second session. I feel like a high school sophomore - we just want to warn the newbies and tell them "Start studying for the final now! Memorize the readings as soon as you can! You're not going to sleep for the next week and a half!" But then I see that they're so smiley and excited and I just don't want to be the one to ruin that haha.

Focusing has been a bit of an issue lately, and it's only becoming a greater challenge as the desire to sleep is growing. We had lecture this morning, we're about to have a discussion section now, a break before another lecture around dinner time, and then a short break before having to give group presentations tonight until 8pm. Then we have a paper due tomorrow morning at 8am, lecture, study study study, another lecture Saturday morning and then my final that afternoon. And THEN I'm done!

Keep it classy, readers!

***5:42 Edit***
Just got my paper back that I turned in two days ago. I got a B, which maybe I'd be more okay with if I wasn't such a perfectionist. Feeling good about the presentation tonight, it'll be hard to mess up the paper due tomorrow, and scared to death about the Final Exam on Saturday. Can't wait to be DONE!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day #7993 - Intellectual Property

Good afternoon, my few but faithful readers! Hopefully the number of people actually reading this will someday increase, but for now, it's just a small group discussion. Works for me. Keeping it cozy.

I'm currently camped out in the GSLIS building (that's the Graduate School of Library and Information Science) here in Champaign and after this afternoon's lecture and tonight's discussion group, I will officially be halfway through this class (in terms of time, not necessarily in terms of work)! woot! I really am enjoying getting to know the other people here and have officially decided that right now, I'm a fan of this whole "being a grad student" thing. The 60 of us are bonding everyday over living in the dorm, needing to jump up onto the lofted beds, and the general information overload that's freaking everyone out. It's hard to put off thinking about the final exam because there's so much other stuff to get done first, but when it's less than a week away, in a normal semester I would have started studying for that already.

Anywho, it's our lunch break now until 4pm and I'm working on my paper regarding "the intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples" and basically what are museums supposed to do if, in this case, Native Americans walk in and ask for their stuff back. This paper is all I have really been able to think about for the last four days and it's already due tomorrow. Now the English major in me hates this - normally when I get a paper assignment, I like to mull it over in my head and think things out for a couple days before jumping into writing. No such luxury this week, though. I got a B+ on my first paper which I know isn't bad, but still. This is me we're talking about. I think though, with this paper due tomorrow and the time constraints on top of the 80 other things we LEEP students have going on right now, what I have written for this assignment is honestly the best I can do given everything else. So hopefully that'll be enough.

That's it for now. Not terribly exciting, believe me I know. I'll get my swing and sarcasm back soon, I promise!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day #7991 - The Long and not-so-Winding Stacks

Every year in the back of the iBook (the assignment book that U of I sells that's all school themed) there is a list of things students should do before they graduate. And let me tell you, when I was a freshman I thought this was the coolest list ever. Like an undergraduate Bucket List. Some of the things were more common ("Play frisbee on the Quad", "Attend a barndance") while others were a little more out there ("Attend a lecture that isn't one of your own").

(On a sad note, "Ring the bells at Altgeld" isn't on this year's list, which is a bummer because that was seriously one of the coolest things I have done on this campus. Also gone is "Get free condoms from McKinley." - what is this public school coming to??)

Another item that was cut from this year's list that I had always wanted to do in the past was "visit the main stacks in the library," but for whatever reason, I just never got around to it. But today, that changed. As further part of our orientation (and we didn't even really start the class part of our class until 3:30 this afternoon), we got to take a tour of the Main Library building including going into the stacks. Awesome? I think YES!

Day #7990 - Bootcamp

Since my second day of LIS502 aka "bootcamp" doesn't technically start for another seven minutes, I figure I can squeeze out a quick burst into the blogosphere! The drive down to Champaign was fine on Wednesday and I had all of the typical "day before the first day of school" jitters. In some ways, yesterday went a lot better than I thought it would, but in others it was really overwhelming and I wasn't able to really calm down until after I talked to Mom and Dad. "Information overload" puts it kindly, but I think that after I'm able to get the stupid printing all set up here and talk to some people about what classes I should take and what I'm doing with my life, I'll feel better. In the mean time, I'll just keep reminding myself to work hard here because at least after this is vacation in August!

Not that interesting, I know. I'll try to come up with something a bit more human-interesting as the day goes on. Hopefully this class will spark the imagination.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day #7985 - Oh Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet Wave

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Well said, Thomas Jefferson. Well said indeed.

While on most any other day I would ordinarily be expressing my frustrations with how crooked the American government has become over the course of the last 234 years (particularly those who hold office in Illinois), I will be doing no such thing today. On this, my nation's Independence Day, I'll admit the fact that I actually really do love this country. Does America have it's fair share of problems? Yes. Is our current condition our proudest moment in history? No, there's certainly room left for improvement there. But this country has also come a long way in 234 years in other ways and I'm very proud of that. This pluralistic society truly was revolutionary at the time of it's inception and look at how it has managed to stand the test of time.

So Happy Birthday, United States. God Bless America and God Bless our Troops, wherever they may be.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day #7984 - Oh me-o, Oh my-oh, Why are we in Ohio?

Well readers, after many many hours in the car today, I am back to home sweet home in Schaumburg. Yesterday was tubing down a lazy river with the family in Tennessee followed by dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.( heck yes, Forrest Gump!! And the food was really good!) and walking around Gatlinburg. Mom and I hit the road bright and early today and I am very much looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. The ride home was mostly uneventful except for the fact that we had pretty much no idea where we were going. The route that the GPS had us take going to Tennessee was not the same one it had us use to get home. We were driving along through Kentucky, crossed the state line into Indiana, and then ten minutes later crossed another state line into Ohio before we eventually got back to Indiana. A little unnerving, but we arrived back home safe and sound.

Almost done with Eat Pray Love - I seriously can't put it down!

The next few days will be filled with working out, laundry, going over articles, and finishing my paper before heading down to school on Wednesday. But more on all of that later - I am positively beat tonight. Keep it classy, readership =)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day #7982 - Love All. Serve All. Save the Planet.

Happy New Month! Sometimes I think that January gets all the new month glory just because it's a new year. So here's to you, July! Live it up until the 4th and then live it up some more!

Today was my cousin's wedding in Gatlinburg. Or maybe it was Pigeon Forge. I'm not quite sure. Anyway, she looked beautiful and happy - a very quaint ceremony. It's been nice the last couple of days getting to see family that I haven't seen in a few years.

So the ceremony was at 2, then there was a short reception and we were back to our hotel by 5:30ish. I got to break in my brand new journal (old school writing felt so good!) before Mom and I headed back into town for dinner. She correctly predicted where I'd want to eat - the Hard Rock Cafe. Hard Rock is kind of my thing - any time I am traveling and find out that there is one nearby, I have to visit (the only exceptions being Rome and Venice because I was studying abroad in Italy and wanted to eat as much Italian food as possible). Even when I went to St. Louis for spring break with my friend Gail, we had dinner at HRC. I love looking at the old memorabilia from rockers past and re-reading the story about the original London restaurant where the collecting all started. It was nice being out with my mom. Then we came back to the hotel, hung out with my mom's aunt and uncle who came for the wedding, and now I'm just chilling in bed watching 27 Dresses on tv. All in all, a pretty good day I'd say.

So that's all from my corner of the universe :o)