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Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Week Recap

Well, it's been over a week since my last post, and I really had intended to post more often. As it turns out, however, even though I'm only taking nine credit hours, that's a lot when you've been away from school for a year. And as I settle into my schedule, I expect that I will be able to blog more often. But for now, I can only promise once a week. So here is your weekly blog post (and I promise they won't all just be weekly recaps):

Monday: my first class on Monday was History of the Peloponnesian War at 12:30. I arrived on campus around nine o'clock, and pulled right into a spot near my hall. I had heard that it's hard to find a parking spot on campus, so I took it as an auspicious start of the week (as a Classics major, I now have to pay attention to such thing as auspices and bird signs). The Peloponnesian War class is going to be really fun. Instead of just using a textbook or a history book, we're going to be looking at actual classical texts, such as ThucydidesPlutarch, and Aristotle. After the Peloponnesian War class, I had Latin. The subject matter, Latin letters, seemed very interesting to me, but it was clear was going to take a lot of work.

Tuesday: I arrived a campus hour before my first class, which again was at 12:30. I am really excited about this class, because we'll be translating Plato's Phaedo. I immediately checked the parking lot where I park yesterday to see if I could find another good spot. There weren't any, which didn't surprise me so I circled around and checked some of the street parking. Still no spots. I circled not one, not two, but three parking garages looking for spots, and still didn't find one. At this point it was 12:15, and I was getting nervous. I drove up and down all the streets around campus, and finally found an open parking lot. I pulled in, how to ask where I was (it turned out I was at the law school), and get directions back to where I need to be.  I ended up being a good 10 minutes late the class. Like the Latin course, I was excited about the subject matter, but worried about the workload.

After the Plato class, I have the class I TA for, Myth East and West. There are there are over 200 students in the class, which is absolutely crazy to me, who's used to there only being 20 or so students in a class. I won't be teaching, but rather helping the professor grade all of the tests and papers along with the other TA.

Wednesday: after spending almost all of Tuesday translating Latin, and realizing it's going to take me just as long to translate for Greek, I realized something was going to have to be done. I arrived a campus before eight, because I had an early class/seminar on how to be a graduate student. I got a parking spot and good lot again, and happily made my way to class. After class, I spoke with my professor for the Latin class, and decided to move down to a lower level course, where we'll will be translating Horace.  I think this was the right decision, and will let me spend more time focusing on the Greek course, with the added bonus of getting to translate one of my favorite Latin authors. After my new Latin class, I went to history of the Peloponnesian war class.

Thursday: Thinking I had finally figured out the parking situation, I arrived on campus  with two hours to spare, and promptly circled all the good parking spots. All were taken. I circled all the parking garages -- twice. Still no spots. Still not concerned, I drove over to  the law school parking lot, only to find it was closed. I circle all the lots again. Still no luck. By now, I was starting to get worried, as the time buffer I built and was running out. As I circled the streets around campus, I suddenly saw a familiar building. It was the office building of my dad's cousin, whom we visited when I came out to look for an apartment. The sign out front said no unauthorized parking, but I parked in there anyways, and knocked on the door to ask for permission to park there.  Permission received, I headed to class.

Friday: on Friday, I didn't play around, but arrived a campus before eight o'clock, still had the circle to different parking lots and garages before I found a spot, found one after 45 minutes, then spent the rest of my free time studying while I waited for my classes start.

So, that's my week in a nutshell. Hopefully, I'll have fewer parking adventures next week, but other than that, my schedule be pretty much the same. Keep an eye out for a new post next week!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Making a Home

 While this week has been spent taking care of such things as registering for classes and taking care of paperwork, the main part of my week seems to have been the process of turning my small apartment into a home.

 Whilel it's still not finished, I've made a lot of progress. My kitchen and dining area, which is also where my desk is, has all been put together and organized, as has been my living room. I think the moment for me that everything really came together was when I finally hung up my pictures. I say pictures, but really most of what I have are framed posters and artwork.  All of them have meaning to me, and many were bought from the different places that I have lived and visited.  In adding them to the decor of my little  apartment, I seem to be adding a little bit of myself to it as well.

I still have a lot of learning to do, like how to cook in the kitchen small enough for me to touch both walls, and get dressed in the bathroom where my hands hit the ceiling. But I think the name Hobbit House truly does suit my new little home. After all,  Tolkien says "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." My house may be small, but it is also a place that is comfortable.

I still have one more room to finish putting together, and will hopefully finish tomorrow so I can put pictures of my apartment up for you. In the meantime, I'd like to leave you with another quote from Tolkien. "It is the job that is never started that takes longest to finish.”"

More information on hobbits:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Defense of Apples

The idea for this started as joke between my college roommates and I. It is, of course, meant purely as a piece of fiction, not as any sort of academic speculation.  

Sometimes, a lot can depend on a little thing. And sometimes, a lot gets dumped on a little thing. Take apples for example. As far as I’m concerned, no fruit, no thing, has taken so much blame  for something it didn’t do.

Original sin, no less! The poor apple gets blamed for being the fruit that brought sin into the world. I don’t know how the rumor started. Maybe because the apple’s taste is deceptionally both sweet and bitter at the same time. Maybe it’s because in Latin mãla (apple tree) is just one long mark short of mala (evil). Maybe some non-too-scholarly monk translated God’s warning about the “tree of good and apples” instead of the “tree of good and evil.” I don’t know. Whatever it is, the poor apple has had a bad rap ever since.

I mean, really, apples? Tell me, where do apples appear in the Bible? The answer would be: nowhere. If you’re looking for Biblically significant fruits, I’m afraid you have to look somewhere else. Like figs for example.

‘Figs’? you ask. Yes, figs. Did you know Jesus once cursed a fig tree? No really, you can go look it up if you don’t believe me. He was walking by this fig tree (out of season, of course,) and wanted a fig. But of course, there weren’t any there. So he cursed it. And the next day the tree was dead. So if you’re looking for a bad fruit, I figure a fig might just be it.

Of course, if you’re looking for a really significant fruit, you probably can’t do much better than a grape, what with water into wine, vines and branches, and laboring in vineyards. It seems to me the Bible is just chock full of grapes, and what with them becoming wine and all, they strike me as a bit more devilish than your plain run of the mill apple.

But if you really want to know what fruit is to blame, you don’t need to look any farther than the architectural descriptions that litter the Old Testament. They are there, carved in to wood, covered with beaten gold, and quietly decorating almost everything built in that time and age. I am speaking, of course, of pomegranates.

It seems to me that if a fruit is to be blamed for original sin, it must be the pomegranates. Why else would they decorate everything from tent poles to engravings? It’s I reminder, I think. I reminder of sin carved even in the Holy of Holies.

So how about we give the poor little apple a break, and start putting the blame where it properly lies – on the pomegranate.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Already Learning

Well, school hasn't even started yet and I've already learned lots of things.

1. Decorating the apartment is a lot harder to do by myself than it was with my roommates to help.

2. Getting lost on campus in 97° weather is a good way to make new friends.

3. Knitters and fiber lovers will always find each other.

4. Anyone who can successfully complete a graduate school application should automatically deserve acceptance.

5. There are limits to what 3M hooks will hold.

6. No matter how many times you make your list, or how many times you check it, you will always forget to pick up something from the store.

7. Learning to cook and a new kitchen can be challenged. Especially when said kitchen is small enough that you can touch both walls with their arms outstretched.

8. My Garman GPS is amazing.

9. I really think of going to like graduate school.

10. A bit unrelated, but I thought you'd find it interesting that I wrote this entire post without touching the keyboard. My carpal tunnel syndrome is doing much better, but still gives me pain when I type. So, I bought a software called MacSpeech Dictate. It converts speech into text, and I used it to write this entire post.

Well, that's about all I have energy for today. Time to head to bed early and get ready for a day trying to navigate the halls of academia.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Moving Tomorrow!!!

See above.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

String Theory

Everyone who knits has experienced it at one time or another. Inexplicably, in the middle of a row, through no fault of your own, a stitch disappears. It's a bit like that one sock in a pair that gets eaten in the dyer. This conumdrum was briefly discussed at the knitting group I go to the other night, and I thought it would make a good topic for a piece of flash fiction. I've never written any flash in the fantasy genre before, so I also thought it would be a good writing exercise. 

Initially, my idea was to write about a mischievous little elf (or fairy) who stole stitches from innocent knitters. But I just couldn't get the idea to go anywhere. Instead, I discovered a story completely different from the one I wanted to tell, but I went a long to see where it would lead me.

In making my lists the other day, I forgot a very important one. What I've learned from knitting...and my knitting group. And what I've learned is this: knitting is an act of creating, and when you create, you put something of yourself into the work. So this post, this story, is dedicated to the members of Not You Grandmother's Knitting Group, for what they've taught me about being comfortable in my skin, and about loving my craft. 

The woman, girl really, sat upright in her chair, arms folded in her lap. Before her eyes a pair of needles hovered, knitting a thin black yarn. The rhythm of the needles was broken every few stitches by the appearance of a coloured stitch, sliding onto the needle as if from nowhere. The knitted material dangling off the needles was riddled with these stitches, each one different.

The door to her room opened, and the man entered. Her needles stilled as he approached, but remained suspended in the air.

“Why are you stopping?” he demanded.

“Is it done yet?”

“Why are you stopping?”

She looked up at him. If she was younger, she would have stuck her tongue out at him. Had she ever been younger? Yes, she remembered. It had been a game once. Seeing the stitches. Stealing them. Watching the women desperately counting the remaining stitches. But it wasn’t a game. Not any more.


She’d done it again. Gotten lost in her thoughts. “I’ve told you before. I can’t focus on the stitches when you’re in here.”

He fingered the fabric, and the coloured stitches glimmered slightly.

“Is it done yet?” She asked again.

“It’s done when I say it is.” What he always said. He turned to leave.

“Why? Why do you need the stitches?”

He stopped but didn’t turn around. “To see the world in a grain of sand.”

She thought for a moment, remembering. Or was she looking forward. It grew more and more difficult to tell the difference. But she had it now. “William Blake.”

He didn’t answer. Just left.

Her hands stayed trembling in her lap, and she brought her needles down to them. She was scared of him. Or did she hate him? She couldn’t remember anymore. His power was strong. Strong enough to bind her to this room, to this task. Beacause he couldn’t do what she did. Couldn’t ‘see the world in a grain of sand’. But she did. She saw all the threads in the world, all the stitches. Not just the ones made out of yarn. The tiny, invisible ones made of atoms. The thin, reaching thread of time. She could see them. And some of the bigger ones, she could touch. And steal.

She fingered the cloth in her lap. Cloth. Clotho. Lachesis. Atropos. The Greeks had understood all those years ago (or would they figure it out- did it matter?). Each life was a thread. Spun. Measured. Cut.

Gently, she laid her finger against one of the coloured stitches. In a flash, all that was contained within it filled her mind. The woman who had spun the yarn. The woman who knit it. Everything she had touched. Everything she had made. Each stitch a life, bound into the cloth as surely as she was bound in this room. Cloth. Clotho.

She wondered if the Greeks had understood how each life was bound together. Not like in her cloth, no, her cloth was a mockery of the world. Little lives bound together for a lesser purpose. But the real world. All those lives, all those stitches, bound together. Woven.

There had been a woman, once, who had weaved to save her life. No, that wasn’t right. It wasn’t to save her life. It was to keep from having to marry a man she didn’t love. But perhaps it had meant the same to her.

What was her name? It was rich. Had a coppery sound. No, not yet. That was in another time. In her time she was Penelope. Yes, that was right. Penelope who wove to save her life. But that wasn’t right either.

She looked at the cloth that lay across her lap. So long. Miles and miles of it. Or was it just a few feet? Had she been knitting for a lifetime, or a couple of days? She couldn’t remember. Did it matter? So much work, so much labor, for him. So he could bind the lives she had stitched into the material.

Penelope. But Penelope didn’t weave to save her life. That wasn’t it, was it? Almost without thinking, she slid the needle out of work. Tugged the yarn in her hand. The black stitches slowly pulled apart. When she came to a coloured stitch, it quietly disappeared; it was simply not there. Gone. Released. Freed. Because she had it now. She remembered the story. The weaving had been a guise. A distraction.

A pile of black yarn rested limply beside her. Penelope hadn’t weaved to save her life. She had unraveled.

Some references, if you're interested: 

Monday, August 9, 2010

(approximately) 100 Lessons

I've been told that taking a gap year between undergrad and grad school is a good thing. That you can learn a lot from it. Well, this is my last Monday post during my gap year. Next Monday is my first day of graduate school orientation. If you've followed my blog, you know it hasn't been an easy year for me. A voluntary gap year is one thing; an involuntary one is completely different. But I have learned a lot, and wanted to share some of those lessons with you. Instead of one list of 100, I've broken it down into lists of 10.

10 Things I've Learned About Myself
1. Even my greatest strengths can fail me.
2. I can't let my fears make my decisions for me.
3. According to one of my students, EMMA stands for: Educated, Mad skills, Magnifacent (her spelling) Amazing. That's right, I have mad skills :)
4. I'm a better teacher than I am a student.
5. I feel completely at home in Academia.
6. You can learn a lot by listening and not talking.
7. I can't always change my situation, but I can change my reaction to it.
8. It's okay to have to depend n someone else.
9. I have the worlds greatest parents. Hands down.
10. Some days, I am going to feel sad. And that's not a bad thing.

10 Things I've Learned About Teaching/Middle Schoolers
1. Middle schoolers really aren't that scary. And they really do want to learn.
2. Care about your students. There is no other way to reach them.
3. I'm way cooler as middle school teacher than I was as a middle school student.
4. Middle schoolers will believe just about anything an authority figure tells them. So be very careful what you say.
5. Middle schoolers notice how you act more than what you say. Make sure your actions don't contradict your words.
6. Sometimes an off topic conversation can lead to a better teaching opportunity than staying on topic ever could.
8. Respect only works mutually. You have to give it to get it.
9. Middle schoolers want responsibility, but don't always understand the consequences.
10. There is such thing as a stupid question- but it's always safer to assume that there isn't.

10 Things I've Learned About/From Social Media
1. Don't shout: talk and listen.
2. Never estimate the power of an immediate response
3. I can turn a 3 page press release into a 140 character tweet.
4. You have to shift through a lot of chaff to find the wheat. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes its not. Learn to tell the difference.
5. People want to be heard. It's okay to be quiet and let them speak.
6. I f you believe what you're saying, others will believe it too.
7. Honesty really is the best policy...and can save a lot of backtracking.
8. Don't be annoying.
9. There is a fine line between paying attention and stalking. DO NOT CROSS IT!
10. Be yourself. Really.

10 Things I've Learned About/From Being an Office Assistant
1. Always, always be nice to the person who answers the phone. What ever the problem is probably wasn't there fault, but there's a good chance they know who to forward you to in order to fix it.
2. I can fold a piece of paper so it fits perfectly in a business envelop every single time (it's the little things that count).
3. The UPS/Fedex delivery guy always asks your last name after you sign a delivery form. Even though you just wrote it down.
4. If you're the person who works from a're the person who has to move desks when there's a leak.
5. Unattended Post-it notes will be "commandeered" by co-workers.
6. The best way to deal with an upset person on the phone is to be calm, and try to be understanding.
7. Don't take things personally.
8. I can use one of those strapping tape things to package a cardboard box.
9. When you buy a bag of M&M's to refill the office dispenser...don't keep the bag where you can reach it.
10. Keep your e-mail organized. Disorganized e-mails=disorganized office.

10 Things I've Learned About/From Running
1. It's easy to make excuses not to run.
2. The absolute best way to make yourself get out of bed in the morning is to have a running partner depending on you.
3. All the world's problems can be solved while on a run.
4. My mind is my worst enemy on a run. If I can beat my own insecurities, I'll have a good run.
5. Drinking water, eating a banana, and going for a run can solve 99.9% of your problems...according to my Mom.
6. I can't find the motivation to run if I don't have a goal I'm working towards.
7. A long run in the morning leaves you feeling accomplished all day.
8. There is no feeling in the world like crossing the finish line.
9. No pain, no gain.
10. No matter how hard it is to motivate yourself to go running, you always feel better after you run.

10 Things I've Learned From/About Blogging
1. Keep track of what you've blogged about so you're not confused when someone asks you about it.
2. Having a blogging schedule helps me stay disciplined.
3. I've found it nearly impossible to get people to leave comments on my blog (if you have any thoughts on how to do this, please leave them in the comments ;) )
4. Bloggers are, in general, really fun people to get to know.
5. I still can't figure out why people blog...or why I read them.
6. It's very odd to have certain aspects of your life out in the public.
7. Making a commitment publicly on your blog is a good way to motivate yourself to stick with it.
8. My blog readers are amazing, wonderful people. Proof: My apartment was furnished almost entirely from people who read my blog (mind you, a lot of them are family and friends, but my family and friends are amazing and wonderful, so it works).
9. It can be hard to find the balance between life and blogging about life.
10. I always have a moment of fear/apprehension when I hit "publish post" and send my little words out into the big, bad world.

One Thing I've Learned Today
1. Making lists can be hard. And kinda annoying. So...I'm going to stop for now. Maybe I'll give you the  reaming 31 lessons on Wednesday. But probably not.

Have a good week! And happy 8-9-10 Day!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Some Puzzling Behaivor

It's Fibre Friday and I'm going to talk about fibre- sort of. But the important thing is that I'm getting back on my normal blogging schedule. 

I'm now reaching the 3 week point of not knitting, and I've realized a few things about my myself.
1. I really, really love to knit.
2. When I can't knit, I go a little crazy.
3. I no longer know what to do with "dead time". What do I do while watching TV? Just sit there and watch it? What about in waiting rooms? How do people do this?

Anyways, last Monday (week 2 of no knitting) I couldn't take anymore. I had to have something to do, even if it wasn't nice and portable like knitting (I've tried crocheting, but that hurt my wrist too- maybe it's time to get a loom?) So, I went to Barnes and Nobel and bought a puzzle. 5 days later, I had this:

I learned a few things from doing a puzzle:

1. I like puzzles...but not as much as knitting.
2. I'm actually pretty good at puzzles...but not as good as I am at knitting.
3. It's much harder to figure out what to do with a finished puzzle than it is with a piece of knitting. Do you take it apart? Frame it? What? (I've taken it apart, but plan to do it again and frame it. It matches my parents' kitchen).

It is interesting that I feel the need to be constantly doing something creative, be it knit or put together puzzles. Anyone else have trouble just doing nothing?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Home Sweet Home-to-be

This weekend, my parents rented a truck and helped me move all my furniture to my new apartment. I'm still in Orlando for about two weeks, but my apartment is now mostly set up and just waiting for me and my clothes to move in. It's small (my Dad calls it a hobbit-house. I think it's just the right size for my 5'3" build- I can reach all the cabinets), but it's mine. And there is a lovely garden outside. So, some pictures of what I've done.

My little kitchen (needlepoint on shelf done by my friend Joanne)

Desk and bookcase- against a wall in the kitchen. Not organized yet.

Living room. Couch from Bob & Bev :).


There's a few things I don't have pictures of yet, but I will post them once I move in.