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Staying In and Getting Real: Current Events Roundup, Part One

It seems like I’m always doing “part ones” of series. But anyway, enough about me, so how are you?

I had a pretty productive day, I guess, but instead of going out tonight (it’s a Monday, so it’s par for the course, but whatevs), I decided to stay in, watch TV, and do laundry.

And of course, what is all over the news is pretty shocking. In case you’ve been off the grid for the past few hours, there was an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in England, with 19 people dead, most likely all teenagers or preteens. It’s shocking and troubling, and all over every news and social media platform out there.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that this week was a gigantic victory elsewhere in the world that no one seems to be celebrating – 82 of the 200+ girls who were kidnapped while taking exams at their school in Nigeria have been found and returned to their parents. When I heard this news yesterday, I was truly elated. I can’t imagine what those families must have been feeling, and the relief that even though the girls endured much horror, they seemed to be happy and healthy to be back with their parents. I couldn’t stop clicking through YouTube videos of the happy reunions. I’ve always thought that if what had happened in Nigeria happened in the USA or Canada or England, the entire world would be up in arms, and not forget after a few days like they did when it happened 3 years ago. I’ve actually been thinking about it since it happened, I even remember where I was when I first found out about it, getting ready to embark on my first Summer Odyssey back in 2014. It was shocking then, and it’s stayed with me consistently ever since. Although I’m really happy that those 82 are back, in addition to the 50 or so others who’ve escaped/been rescued over the years, there are still around 100 unaccounted for, which is way too many people to just forget about.

And just like the parents of the kids who died, were injured, or are MIA in Manchester right now, the parents of the Nigerian girls haven’t forgotten, despite the world seeming to do so.

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Still Hanging On…

It’s been some time since I’ve posted an update, but I’m still hanging in there. I proctored my final final exam for my Theater 120 students yesterday morning, and got a little sunburned walking around town afterwards. Most of the past 48 hours have been spent catching up on chores and getting some reading done. I finished a book and I’m close to finishing another. The one I finished wasn’t that great, but the ones I’m reading now are definitely review-worthy, so stay tuned.

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Oh, Passover…

About 48 hours to go, and although I haven’t quite hit the signs of “too much Passover” yet, I’m getting there.

Literally, I’m thinking about food 24/7, waking up in the night hungry, and pounding down the matzah just wishing I had some hummus. And I can’t even remember the last time I ate hummus.

Anyway, I should probably go and get some reading done for fun in this brief break between writing deadlines.

Keep the faith, celebrate your freedom, and chag same’ach, y’all

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Undergrads These Days

So, this weekend I’m heading up to Eau Claire for the APO Sectionals conference, where I’m teaching 2 workshops on varying topics to (hopefully) a bunch of undergrads.

What’s really getting to me, though, is just how busy these undergrads are. Or seem to be.

I know that college students are at that age where they don’t yet know the meaning of commitment, or how to balance a cost/benefit ratio in life, but I think that it’s somehow gotten worse. Initially, 33 people from the chapter signed up to go to the conference this weekend, and now I think we’ll be lucky if even 15 make it. And there are some other groups that are not going at all, somewhat due to drivers/cost but mostly because of the all-too-vague “I’m busy.”

I mean, seriously. Too busy to take a weekend to have fun, learn, get a change of scenery, and study if you have a spare moment.

I know that school comes first, but usually, the phrase is followed by “I have an exam this week.” Only, it seems like I hear this from someone every week, for one reason or another. In the course I teach, we have just 2 exams – a midterm and a final – and I don’t think that either of them would require a student to spend 48 hours studying. But it seems like all these undergrads, whether they be in APO or students I teach, are constantly having exams in all their other classes, usually math and hard sciences. I constantly get emails from students who were absent that week saying that they had an exam right before and were tired after, or had an exam right after and studied all day right up until the exam started. One student emailed us saying that he had 3 exams in one day.

What is with all these exams? Why do they need to exist?

At this point, I try to put myself in the shoes of an undergrad, thinking back to my undergrad days, which were almost a decade ago. Granted, I did not have much of a social life, but I don’t ever remember having a constant barrage of exams, or a weekend where all I did was study. In fact, to this day, in my ten years of being a student in higher education, I have never even pulled an all-nighter. I remember doing some homework on weekends, but I usually spent at least 1 weekend a semester out of town, like the time I flew down to Baltimore for a play premiere, or when I drove to New York City and back in 48 hours to go to my aunt’s wedding. I worked a lot, and I worked hard, but I managed to have down time in there, which is why I did get down on myself a lot.

But that’s beside the point.

To this end, I look back even further, to my freshman year. I was leaning towards majoring in theater, but I still took the requisite English and Math courses. At the same time, my sister was a junior, majoring in early childhood education. I still remember talking on the phone with my parents my second semester, and my dad told me that I seemed to be working harder as a freshman than my sister had in her three years thus far. Granted, she didn’t graduate with a 3.5 GPA like I did, and she had this thing where she wanted to see how long she could go without going to the library (turns out that she never even set foot in the campus library, in all four years). Still, she got a job offer in her field, right out of college, and has had it ever since. Even though I only graduated with a 3.5, and granted, I didn’t get my dream job, I still somehow managed to muddle through, get my master’s and into my Ph.D. program. Both of the above outcomes, working world and higher ed, were feasible without constant studying or an all-nighter.

So, I don’t know what today’s college students’ excuses are. Unless my sister and I had the world’s easiest majors (which we probably did not) or were complete slackers, it seems to me that undergrads are working harder, and with the way this economy is going, probably for even less satisfying results.

I’m almost at that age where I say “kids these days…” with a dubious look, but something is definitely going on with today’s college students, whether it’s a lack of study skills or just a generation of vindictive professors.

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On Being Needed

The last 48 hours have been among the most tumultuous in my life. Probably in most people’s lives, unless they lived through World War II or the Cuban Missile Crisis or something. In less time than it takes to get a jacket shipped to you from an online retailer, the United States of America has spun out of control. Mostly in its leadership, but also in its media, who can’t make heads or tails of anything anymore, and its people, who have become more divided than ever before. The last 48 hours have basically been a giant parade of insanity and inhumanity, from many different areas but most importantly from the highest office in the nation, which has now been turned into a colossal joke. I mean, it had to happen sometime. I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

What makes a difference is being needed. All weekend, I was off duty. No work or class, so I was free to mope about, play Pong between bed and couch, hide out at Colectivo or Hubbard Avenue Diner. Days spent on social media, eyes glazed over with saturated images, videos with digitally inserted sound bites, nights awake in fear and regret. Today, I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I had to. I didn’t know how I could teach, but it happened. I barely made it to my first class on time, but once I had put my stuff down, I was ready to get my teach on for 2 sections in 2 hours. Then, riding high, I got a tuna melt and a drink at Espresso Royale, hosted office hours (no students visited, but I got some other work/writing done), and trudged through the snow to APO. I gave Cindy a packet of stuff I’d been holding onto for her for a month, and she was so happy to get it. And the chapter prez and I had a long and fruitful conversation on our walk home.

And I felt…needed.

It was a good feeling.

When you are needed, or when someone else needs you, things change. You become more acutely aware of your surroundings. You are given tasks sometimes, and the tools to complete them. Most of all, you get to make a priority out of someone that is almost unknown but just as deserving of attention as any other human, and that is you.

Just being able to feel needed came me to willpower to get through the day.

Here’s Anne Murray

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Ten Things I Don’t Understand About Myself/Things I Do But Don’t Know Why

I haven’t made a good list in a while, and it’s like having a good cry, so here goes.

Ten Things I Don’t Understand About Myself/Things I Do But Don’t Know Why

  1. I do laundry, but I cannot fold it until I know that there is something online or on TV that I want to watch so I can multitask. I can’t fold laundry without doing something else at the same time, and since laundry-folding requires two hands, TV just requires my two eyes.
  2. I wash dishes…in the morning, while my coffee is being made. Yep, that’s the only time I will hand-wash dishes. Usually I am still in pajamas so if I get splashed it’s not such a huge deal. That’s somewhat logical, but why not just wash them right away? And today I got Starbucks before going to work rather than making my own coffee, so…sorry, sink full of dishes.
  3. I can’t play Words with Friends while walking. Doesn’t work for me. Must be either seated, standing, or lying down.
  4. I never have any clothes, and then when I go on shopping sprees and spend a lot of money on clothes, they all seem to disappear. Currently, I’m down to two pairs of khakis, two pairs of dress pants, and ONE pair of jeans. Jeans don’t seem to last long, especially if you have an active life and are walking around campus all day.
  5. I tell everyone that I keep my car clean, but it’s really not clean. I mean, the front seat is okay, sometimes has some papers or pens on it, and the backseat isn’t bad, but I throw stuff in the trunk and have no idea how much has accumulated back there until I have to squish things to get my groceries in.
  6. I can’t ever have just one piece of gum. Right now, for example, I’m chewing four pieces, like some kind of barbarian.
  7. I have an order of how I read books, but I’m constantly forgetting it/changing it.
  8. I have shows I watch religiously online, but I’ve never seen an episode of said show live/on TV. Yep, the Late Show, Colbert Report, Late Late…and I’m usually awake, too. Watching clips on YouTube.
  9. I never use anything handicapped, except bathroom stalls. I feel like it’s just a bad omen, from parking spots to using ramps instead of steps. I think I walked up the ramp to get into my building once, because I was talking with someone, and I had a split-second anxiety attack. Handicapped bathroom stalls are fair game, because it would be quite rare for me to be using the stall when an actual handicapped person might need it, and if I’m in there, I’m usually out pretty quickly.
  10. I wait all day to post something, just before midnight. Even though I sometimes come up with multiple ideas a day, it takes me until the witching hour to get it down. It doesn’t matter whether I have a free hour for lunch or something, it doesn’t get from brain to blog until this time of day, when I’m already tired and stressed.
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Some Goals for December

Hey y’all!

Okay, so now that the hellish month known as November is dunzo, and school/work is tapering off as winter break gets closer, and other stuff, it’s time for a comeback, and instead of lamenting my lack of quality ideas for posts, I’m just going to make this goals list for December and see how it goes:

Goals for December 2016

Blogging

  • Write something every day, or at least as close to that as possible.
  • Think of a new blogging project/game/blogsperiment for 2017.
  • Update/fix up some half-finished posts.

Real-Life Stuff

  • Work on finding new place to live.
  • Go through closet and determine what clothes need replacing.
  • Deep clean kitchen/bathroom.
  • Read more books, especially library books.

Finish strong!