10

Final Paper of the Semester: This Is Not A Drill

So many potential titles for this post – “Final Countdown,” “The Last Night of the World,” “It’s the End of the Semester As I Know It,” “One Midnight Left,” “I am going to finish this paper tonight, dammit, part II” – but here’s the deal. I have one paper left, 15-20 pages. It’s due tomorrow at 1:00 PM, and as of 8:57 PM, I have exactly one page written.

So, game on.

Ride or die.

No sleep until Pune.

It’s all or nothing.

And during writing breaks, I am going to be live-blogging my progress, so stay tuned. I will probably be doing a pilgrimage up and down State Street. I’m currently at Michelangelo’s, with a sugar-free almond iced skim latte and a cheese sandwich.

I am shaking already.

UPDATES:

10:11 PM. One hour later, 1,011 words written – most of them probably crap – and only 6 sticky-noted pages covered out of about a million. Sigh.

11:19 pm. On my second latte. The coffee shop closed at 11, so I have migrated elsewhere, to the library. My laptop does not like being on campus and does not agree with the campus wifi so I might migrate again soon.

12:59 AM. Somewhere on page six or something. Took a night walk. Bad idea. Four more pages at least before I can think about sleep.

4:00 AM. Why the hell am I still awake? I’m typing like a madman to make up for the time I took off to take a walk. Probably none of what I’m writing will make sense tomorrow morning. Speaking of which, someone please wake me up in 4-6 hours so I can finish this thing. Around 2700 words at last count, so that means I’m just about at the bottom of page 9. 8 pages, not too shabby for one night’s work.

10:48 AM. Four hours of sleep, wake up to a fresh start, and probably too much of a Buzzfeed break = only about 10-11 pages. Gosh, could I go any slower? GAH. This next hour needs to be flawless.

Aftermath: 

So, all in all, I did not finish 15-20 pages. I got up to page 12, barely, but I did turn it in on time. I texted a classmate about it, and asked if it would have been a better choice to turn in 12 pages or nothing at all, and she said that she herself had once done something similar for the same professor – not a great option, but better than nothing. It’s only a first draft anyway, and I attached a note to it saying that even though I fully acknowledge that it’s only 12-ish pages, I did a lot of research and backing up of said research, and proofreading for grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and clarity, all things that have been issues, anyway, so I hope she doesn’t fault me for trying to get it right the first time. Hopefully it’ll result in feedback along the lines of, “…it’s short, but well researched.” Is that so much to ask? I would rather get that than have submitted 15 pages that were terrible.

But it’s been a six-continent day, so at least that’s happening.

Welcomes to North America (Canada and USA), South America (Peru and Brazil), Europe (UK, Switzerland, Germany, Albania and Finland), Asia (India and Saudi Arabia), Africa (Mozambique) and Oceania (New Zealand)!

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4

Dropout: The All-New Word Game!

So, last night as I was trying to get to sleep (spoiler alert: it didn’t happen), my curious and hyperactive mind created a brand new word game, which I’m calling DROPOUT.

How to Play:

1. Start with a 7-letter word. For example, dropout.

2. Drop the first letter of the word and replace it with another. Using the example word above, I would drop d and replace it with to get outcrop.

3. (Here’s where it gets tricky). Take the second letter of the original word (which is r), drop and replace. From outcrop, I would drop the and add an to create copouts (or octopus, actually).

4. Keep dropping letters of the original word, in order, until you have a completely original 7-letter word. Then, congratulations! You win!

Here’s the chain I made for dropout:

DROPOUT – D + C =

OUTCROP – R + S =

COPOUTS – O + A =

UPCOAST – P + N =

TOUCANS – O + H =

STAUNCH – U + E =

CHASTEN – T + G =

CHANGES. (Ironic!)

And voila! There you have it.

Some auxiliary rules:

1. You do not have to use all new letters. You can replace a letter with one you’ve already used or dropped.

2. You can use the same letter more than once in a word.

3. Proper nouns are not allowed, but plurals are.

4. Your final word can share letters with the original word, provided they’ve been dropped and readded.

To all you word gamers/procrastinators out there: it came from my brain, and you’re welcome.

Have a great morning.

 

2

I will finish this paper tonight, dammit.

I am done procrastinating.

…Okay, no I’m not.

But for weeks now, I’ve had FIVE PAPERS FIVE PAPERS FIVE PAPERS looming over my head like a black cloud, wherever I go.

And it needs to end.

This coming week, I’ve got two presentations to do one in theatre and one in history. Both are only ten minutes, but I can’t just sit there, or stand there, as the case may be, and convert oxygen into carbon dioxide.

Bad news first: I haven’t started my history presentation yet, but that’s Wednesday, and I have a table full of sources, plus my own prior knowledge.

Now the good news: I am almost finished my theatre paper. Not the presentation, but the paper. The whole thing. As in, I returned most of my source materials to the library. Meaning they are no longer taking up space in my mind or my apartment. It’s been like chipping away at a big hunk of marble, but I actually sort of have a paper. In terms of length, I’ve got 3,986 words out of a minimum of 4,500, and I still have a few paragraphs left to write plus an introduction and a conclusion, so I’m not worried about that; it’s just getting my ideas out coherently and in an acceptable order is the taxing part, especially for a constant second-guessing editor like me. The end is in sight.

So here’s the deal. I am going to stay up until I finish this paper. 

I am so serious.

I am going to finish this paper, press save, close it, put all the books aside, read something for fun, check it in the morning for errors, and send it in. And I will not worry about the ten-minute presentation until ten minutes before class on Tuesday. Or something like that.

I’m not playing around this time; this ends tonight. How determined am I? I swear on Mean Girls.

In other news, I just found out that I got a small acting gig in the fall that pays, so, yay for me! Also, though my stats have been (unsurprisingly) flagging over the last few days, I still got hits from new countries Belize and Mauritius, so welcome to you!

2

The Worst Best Day of the Week

That would be today. Thursday. My classes this semester are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Friday, I have Shabbat, and on the weekends, I do weekend-type things like shopping and sometimes being social. So that leaves Thursday. Most people would enjoy the fact that they have one day a week with absolutely no regularly scheduled commitments, but I am not one of them. From Sunday to Wednesday, I pull out all the stops, reading like a fiend, writing responses, taking notes and taking names. By the time Wednesday night rolls around, I am exhausted but relieved that another academic week is done. I make a promise to myself that I’ll get a jump on next week’s reading this week by starting first thing Thursday morning…and then it doesn’t happen. What does happen?

  • Wake up.
  • Remember that there’s nothing in my plans today, so sleep a little more.
  • Get up, make a leisurely breakfast, and a hot or iced coffee drink.
  • Head to the couch to catch up with Mental Floss, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jenna Marbles.
  • Promise myself I won’t waste the day.
  • Proceed to read twelve BuzzFeeds, stalk some friends on Facebook, play a round of Word Strips, check my blog stats (welcome, Uganda!), do the New York Times crossword puzzle.
  • Promise myself that I’m done.
  • Remember that I never get to watch Survivor since I’m in class while it’s on, so catch up on that.
  • Convince myself that if I don’t leave the apartment now I won’t leave until dance class (By this time, we’re in the late afternoon).
  • Head out for “lunch” since I “just ate breakfast” (at 10 AM).
  • Do I have enough time to get to the gym? Maybe I’ll go.
  • How about the library? But I have too many books. Oh wait, I need to do some research for that paper. You know what, I should just write the paper. Let’s go home and think about that.
  • Dance class.
  • Get home, unwind after a busy day of nothing. Contemplate studying but usually opt for YouTube.
  • Look at the time, frantically make dinner, call parents, and think of a blog post.
  • Compose and post said blog, and promise self that it’s early bedtime tonight.
  • Proceed to stay up all night (well, 3 at the latest) doing – guess what? – nothing but the Internet, and usually end up feeling bad for myself.
  • Head to bed with a book, and read about five pages before telling myself that I need to get some sleep.

And that’s how I spend my Thursdays, including today. My sad life is sad. And even though I got nine hours of sleep last night, I’m still exhausted. Get it together, Jacob, because your palm is going to have a date with your face come Sunday night.

0

Equal Rights

Classes are over, and all I have left to do is one paper that’s already 17 pages long, and I’m going home in 4 days, so I think it’s safe to call the semester just about over.

That, and I had such a boring day that I couldn’t think of anything to post.

So here’s a list of equal rights. Or equals that seem right. Or rather, things that are equivalent to one another. Whatever, I’ve been writing all day…

Equal Rights

  1. Being descriptive = fail, but throwing a bunch of ideas at a computer screen like so many strands of wet spaghetti against a refrigerator = the way to go.
  2. Diet Coke = food group.
  3. Cheese and crackers = Wisconsin’s chips and salsa.
  4. Elevator rides = karaoke time.
  5. Einstein Bros. Bagels = always a bad idea.
  6. Reading everything that’s required = not required.
  7. Friends reruns = required.
  8. 3 AM bedtime = 2 AM bedtime.
  9. NYT crossword = nightly regimen.
  10. Blogging = writing, which = practice.

 

1

Masterpiece Youtube: “Winter Song,” Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

That’s So Jacob presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 6: “Winter Song,” Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, 2008

I never thought I could ever feel this cold in my life. Never in two years of living in Massachusetts did it ever drop this low on the thermometer. It’s in the single digits here in Wisconsin, but it feels like negative double.

This music video is a quaint animation piece I’d expect more from someone like Zooey Deschanel. But it’s from Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. Bareilles is known for her one mega-hit (or meta-hit), “Love Song,” which come about presumably after a producer told her to write a love song and she turned the tables with a “fuck you I’m going platinum.” At the time, Michaelson’s career hadn’t really taken off yet, but she’s picked up plenty of steam in the past five years.

The lyrics of the song are rather simple, and the story it tells is of two young girls in a snowy environment. An old-timey cuckoo bird brings us to a cute little cabin with two girls with hearts on their cheeks. They are presumably sisters, although one’s a brunetter and one’s a redhead. Their cabin is adorable, but oh so very isolated. They go and pick up small objects from the ground, and then WHOA THEY’RE FLYIN’ ON A LEAF. And then it dumps them conveniently next to their cabin, using their dresses as parachutes, as I’m sure no dress in the world does. Their home is full of old, dead plants. They go to bed, and the next morning they drag a huge sled out to play with and go on an epic sledding adventure. Far from home,the girls keep walking on their search for something. It gets dark. All seems hopeless until a ray of sunlight peeks through and a flower blooms. The scenery changes, the snow melts, and things bloom. They run, and even though they just took a several second long sleigh ride quite a distance away, somehow they’re merely feet from home. They get home, and seeing their former snow fortress transform into a lovely little blue bungalow. Brunette jumps in the air, and despite the fact that the weather has now greatly improved, they run inside their house, but not a moment too soon as a tree bursts through from beneath their foundation, and now they live in a treehouse. I hope they zoned for that.

In short, this video is a flashback to simpler days when gathering fallen hearts, having awesome leaf and sleigh rides and attempting to grow plants was all there was to do in the world. The isolation is countered by the sweetness and homeyness of the cozy cabin in the woods, a place I’d love to escape to, snow or not. For some reason, I can’t deal with the cold but I spent all day gazing at a snowfall instead of doing work, which was probably not a great idea, but it just felt peaceful to me. To me, falling snow doesn’t mean shoveling, falling, and driving in it – it means hot chocolate, fuzzy pajamas, and bracing walks to town in awe of the beautiful, even blankets of snow covering the earth. Everyone in Houston said I was crazy for choosing Wisconsin and its snow over Texas, but all in all the cold eventually goes away and spring will come, more beautiful than ever. Until then, you can be warm and enjoy the snow anyway. Plus I’ve got plenty to entertain myself with in my own apartment.

The story of the song’s inception is an even better story – apparently it was crowd-sourced by Twitter. I don’t have a Twitter account but I’d make one if I could get Sara Bareilles to write me a love song out of it.

Oh, right, she won’t.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by procrastination. Procrastination: Make Big Things Go Farther Away and Become Scarier, and Small Things Become Bigger, More Immediate, and More Comforting.

0

Limited Brain Capacity

I think I’ve uncovered the secret to how I’m surviving these days.

Or at least an excuse for forgetting/slacking on things.

I’m going with…Limited Brain Capacity.

Someone, somewhere, said that we only use about ten percent of our brains on a daily basis. Someone somewhere else called that person a big fat liar. I say that they’re both wrong.

These days, my brain feels kind of like an iPhone. Once you have so many apps, photos, videos, songs, etc. on an iPhone, it gives you that “memory almost full, delete some stuff” message. For me, that’s how I’m getting by.

For instance, lines. Last week’s rehearsals were pretty disastrous and I totally blanked on lines, several times. So much so that I was given the option to do the whole show on book. The day of open dress (Wednesday) I took my car to get it fixed, and in the two hours I was given to wait for it, I basically blocked out everything from my mind – state capitals, shopping lists, possibly even the names and ages of all my cousins – and just focused on sweeping out those megabytes of info and sweeping in the lines. Effectively making me a line-bot, or in layman’s terms, an actor. By the time I got to rehearsal that night, I was feeling confident. I did a quick line-thru spit-back thing with Marc, and we managed to get almost all the way through the play with me messing up only a handful of times; and by messing up, I mean completely losing focus, not merely getting words transposed, which happens sometimes to the best of actors. Kat asked me how confident I felt in doing it off book, and I answered affirmatively, and that night I managed not to screw up too badly. Before the next night’s performance, I hadn’t had much time to look over the script, and at two points got completely stymied – not enough to slow down the whole show, but so much so that I needed some saving. Friday afternoon I had a bit of time to look over lines, and that night I believe I gave my best performance, only screwing up a line or two in scene three. There was also another factor that was keeping me on my toes, but that’s for a later post. Saturday night kind of got lazy, with one of my (very few) line flubs causing a whole page of scene one to be skipped, but other than that, a near-perfect acts two and three.

Since then, I’ve not thought much about my lines, but I’ve been extremely careful in managing where exactly my brain is, given that we’ve got a pick-up rehearsal scheduled for Wednesday and three more performances until we close on Saturday night. After that, I will be free to forget. But not until then.

Due to Thanksgiving travel and general play fatigue, I’ve been missing both of my regularly scheduled dance activities, kabuki and ballroom. Ballroom’s kind of a lost cause for me this semester – I’ve resigned to saving it for next semester – but kabuki, one of the things I thought I was doing pretty well in, has become a victim of my Limited Brain Capacity. Seeing as that I’m auditing the class, I can really pick and choose exactly what I want to do. I’ve chosen to do no written work at all, seeing as I don’t have the extremely hard-to-acquire out-of-print textbook, and only focus on studying the performance and improving my own. The final will consist of:

  1. Sword cadence
  2. Fan dance
  3. Bannai
  4. Combat sequence
  5. Monologue (Sukeroku or Agemaki)

The easiest thing for me to remember is Bannai, since it’s basically a short monologue with gestures. I was present in class for the majority of the sword fighting and fan dancing, so I’ve retained most of those. I did miss a few classes where some new moves were added. Today I did the fan dance and I was surprised at how much I had forgotten. Like, even some of the beginning moves, the easier ones, and the sword cadence as well. For the combat sequence, I learned everything up to the final two moves, but since there’s an odd number of students and I’m the only auditor, I’ve been sitting out. The professor, however, told me that if I want to try for the final, I’ve got my pick of partners. Depending on how many people want to go twice, I might be very popular. However, I haven’t practiced it for a while so my memories of the combat routine may have fallen out of my brain along with the rest of the fan dance. As far as the monologues – I’m not even going to try. Lines for the play plus Bannai plus…all the other academic and non-academic stuff I have to remember and use on a daily basis have pretty much caused me to defer any other new information up to the Cloud.

Speaking of academics…

I have finished all assignments for one of my classes, and have blocked it out of my mind completely. For American Drama, all I have left is a final exam, so other than leafing through the plays for the past few weeks, all knowledge from that course has been shifted to the Cloud as well. This leaves me with Cruelty, for which I have one paper due Thursday (which should be in my mind but is not as I have not yet started) and Restoration, for which I have turned in my first draft, so until I get it back tomorrow with comments, is out of my mind. Other things like laundry, eating, cleaning, bathing, reading for pleasure – these familiar fuzzy thoughts are re-materializing, if only for a short while before Cruelty-Restoration-my lines for the play come back to me from the Cloud.

If this isn’t making any sense to you anymore, that makes two of us.

Basically, my point here is that my brain can only take in so much new information at a time, especially info that must be memorized and performed. That’s one of the reasons I don’t miss acting – more on that later.

But in the long run…what does this mean for my brain? Is my ten percent drying up? Am I using more of my brain? Or are my brain cells just having a massive orgy and reproducing at lightning speed?

Because my brain is a curious creature, it went and Google Searched “limited brain capacity finals week.” The first hits were scholarly articles, which I would love to read but my brain does not want to. Next stop on the crazy brain train: Wikipedia. Looking for an simple yet concrete answer, I stumbled upon Baddeley’s model of working memory.

In short, these two guys Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch came up with a system of how our short-term memory works. This model, created in 1974 and amended in 2000, consists of three main areas of focus:

  1. The central executive is the portion of the short term memory that organizes all of the trains of thought; it’s literally the depot. It’s the center in the brain responsible for multi-tasking. Mine is working very hard at the moment, the “notes” function thinking about all the work I have to do and the fact that I have three washer loads that need to hit the dryer and that I need to put on pants and shoes before I can go to the laundry room to do that, as well as playing an mp3 in my brain for a soundtrack (currently, that fan dance song from kabuki class), the video/camera/photos/facetime registering all the colors and symbols on the computer screen, and somehow, through all this, my motor skills, enabling me to type at a relatively rapid speed to put words on the screen without constantly needing to look at my fingers for guidance. Effectively, we’re all multi-taskers by nature.
  2. The phonological loop takes in and interprets sounds and words, so that we may repeat them back. Right now there isn’t any background music or noise, so mine’s got a respite, but reciting lines over and over and hearing them cued to me every night acts sort of like a “voice control” function in the brain. At least that’s how I’m interpreting this concept at the moment.
  3. The visuospatial sketchpad allows us to navigate through our lives, literally. It’s why we don’t have to concentrate so hard on walking, because it can draw internal maps so that we can take advantage of the first two elements of the short-term memory while doing a task such as walking, and not running into walls or tripping and falling over. (sidenote – eight finger knuckle crunch at this moment – this must mean it’s getting serious). This allows me to navigate my apartment, the theatre building, and the stage. At the same time, it helps me go through my blocking, both for the play and for the kabuki dances. This area, my “maps” function, exerts itself pretty heavily these days, with a need for knowing floor patterns essential to my survival as an actor and a kabuki performer.

So what does all this mean?

Basically, I’m not a lunatic. I do have issues to figure out and I’m navigating them to the best of my ability, but as far as me putting things on shelves in my mind, it’s totally appropriate. Right now, my brain is working overtime, but relief will come soon, in the form of tasks and obligations being finished.

But I can’t think about that point in the future too much, lest I drop my internal iPhone in Olestra, causing a need to visit the always helpful-but-not-helpful Apple store and unexpected fluid leakage.

…well that got graphic very quickly.

Eew.