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I yodel, therefore I am

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May 25th, 2003 10:17 pm - Pacific Time Journal
Travel Lite-Now with 10% Fewer Calories!

For those of you who don't know, I'm in my fourth year of college here at UCLA.  I'm done, done, done with one of my majors, history, and I'm four classes away from being done with my second major, sociology.  

Now, I could do the practical thing, take summer school, and graduate at the end of this scholastic year, but instead I have decided to take my last requirements abroad.  To this end, I signed up through the university's study abroad program for one year at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.  Yes, mom, I know that four classes is a bit under the norm for a full year's course load.  That's why I'm taking Latin and Greek in addition to my required course load. It will help make my application to graduate school look all the more impressive, and my street credibility as a hard core nerd will easily increase ten-fold.  

I actually first decided to study abroad in high school.  Up until I reached French 3 there was only one French teacher at my high school, and then when they did hire the second one, she only taught the first two levels of French.  As a result, I had the same French teacher through all four years of high school.  She was an eccentric woman, strange and intelligent.  Of all of the teachers I ever had in my pre-college career, I believe that she alone I would have been friends with had we met later in life, as equals, two adults.  I respected her a great deal, and I respect her still.

Like most teachers, she gave very little advice that didn't pertain to the day's lesson.  In fact, I only remember two pieces of life-advice that she ever gave the class:

1. Don't marry a leo
2. For goodness sakes, if you don't do any thing else in life, study abroad.  

The first piece of advice hasn't come in handy yet, but the second I definetely took to heart.  

I entered college knowing that I would study abroad at some point.  But then college came.  It was an adventure, always fun and exciting.  I made more friends of more types than I ever thought possible, and I thought, why, why would I want to leave this to start over somewhere unknown, where I would miss all of my new friends, where I might not fit like I did in LA.  

I had planned to study abroad my third year, but when it finally came, I made the choice to not put in an application in order to embark on the new adventure of sharing an appartment with three of my college friends.  Of course, as most of you know, the friend with whom I shared a room and I fought.  She stopped talking to me.  We quickly grew to loath each other.  Another roomate and I started picking at each other for small things and then for larger things.  Trust me, you simply can't harbor the same warm feelings for someone once they have yelled at you for the umteenth time about your habit, unnoticed by any one else, of closing the refridgerator door too hard.    

By the time I realized that these friends were not worth giving up my original academic plans, the deadline had passed again for study abroad programs.  As a result, I was forced to stay at UCLA for my fourth year.  However, still in my third year, I realized that I had to go abroad.  I had regreted having given up the opportunity before, and I felt that I would regret it again if I did not take an extra year to study abroad.  I put in an application this year for next, and now I'm going to Madrid.  

Now, I'm trying to decide how completely to immerse myself in the culture.  Of late, I have conceived of the idea to pack light.  Really light.  As in, just what can fit into the backpack that I take to school every day light.  Three changes of clothes (maximum), a sweater, necessities, toiletries, two guide books, one or two little trinkets from home, and that's it.  That way, when I get to Spain I'll have to buy Spanish clothes and Spanish accessories right away.  It will force me to explore the city, and once I have Spanish clothes, I won't look like a foreigner.  It's just something that I'm mulling over.  Perhaps, I'll think about it some more and post again.    

Updated May 26th, '03 10:28am ( 1 ) Comments

May 21st, 2003 5:33 pm - Pacific Time Journal
As I was saying...

So anyway, the lost journal entry, retold for your amusement...

I was just sitting at a computer here at one of the UCLA computer labs, feeling a little bit guilty about monopolizing precious technology for other than productive pursuits, when I realized that the person in front of me was playing solitaire.  Good use of your time there.  At least I can justify updating this journal as a good pre-writing warm up, but playing solitaire, what does that warm up? Your gambling skills?  Furthermore, you don't even need a computer to play solitaire.  Get a deck of cards, man!  

I carry a deck of cards with pictures of the "Catalina Express" with me wherever I go to remind me of summers past, summers to come, and to use as a conversation piece should I decide to indulge in some solitaire between classes.  

During the seventh and eighth grades, my friends and I would actually play cards every morning before school.  We would drag our nerdy, atypical selves out of bed about an hour early so that our slightly disturbed, thoroughly mystified parents could take us to school in time to play a solid two rounds of canasta, three if we played a modified version of the game.  Sometimes we would even continue the game after school if for some reason some marathon of tricks was left in mid play.  

It was the best part of going to school everyday, but looking back on it, I'm sure that it was in large part responsible for making me the dork that I was and am today.  I mean, my friends and I, at the age of 12, 13 were playing old lady card games instead of talking about cute boys, the mall, and looking so good.  However, having accepted my dorkdom since the old middle school days, I must place myself squarly on the side of those who say that the best part about waking up is a little cuthroat competition in your cup.  

Updated May 22nd, '03 4:48am ( 0 ) Comments

May 21st, 2003 1:15 pm - Pacific Time Journal
Boo, Hiss.

I just wrote a journal entry, but it didn't get posted!  It's lost!  Well, I'll rewrite it a little later tonight.  Hint: it's about old lady card games and looking so good.  Stay tuned.  

Updated May 22nd, '03 12:18am ( 0 ) Comments

May 20th, 2003 5:44 pm - Pacific Time Journal
Tingle fingers.

Coffee is the most amazing beverage on earth.  

I just had a cup, and where I was feeling lethargic, I now feel like I am at the cusp of a great beautiful something.  

Updated May 21st, '03 4:47am ( 1 ) Comments

May 20th, 2003 11:16 am - Pacific Time Journal
Geez, can't I go home yet?

Alright, so I think I finally have hammered down a Summer Plan.  I have to take a language so that my application to graduate school looks prettier, but I was a bit lazy about having to drive up to UCLA from Orange County (in traffic) five days a week to take an accelerated course in Latin or Greek.  So, I've decided instead to take a course in German at a local community college.  I'll call today or tomorow and make sure the class is still open, but the enrollment period lasts until July 2, so I would think that I'm ok.  

The class is at night too, four days a week, so it still leaves plenty of time during the day to work.  Hopefully, Niki and I can get a job together, and then my summer will be set.  Ah, what a lovely summer, just the right mix of work and rest. And some good learning, so I'll be ahead of the game.  One year of German down, who knows how many to go.  Woo hoo.  

Updated May 20th, '03 10:39pm ( 0 ) Comments

May 11th, 2003 8:04 am - Pacific Time Journal
The Home Stretch, The Mind Bogglingly Tiring Stretch

Only one more part of the last chapter to go as far as writing the thesis is concerned.  Think maybe 12 pages.  But it has to get done this afternoon if my advisor is going to have it in time to edit/revise.  That's not really enough time.  I think I'm going to have to submit one half to her and then have her edit while I'm writing the other half.

I'm a little worried about the whole editing process.  Since there's so little time, my advisor says she is doing "line editing."  I'm a little afraid that she wants me to win that award so badly that she's rewriting the paper.  And maybe that's not so bad if I actually do win the award, but I do want the work to be my own.  

I do want to be able to say at the end of this "Look what *I* did with my own bare hands, everyone.  I did the scholarly equivalent of barn raising.  Aren't I amazing?"  Not, "I wrote this crappy thing, and I didn't really learn anything about writing a long work of history because my advisor (read: new mommy) wrote it for me."

I really don't know what to do about it.  Part of me just wants to turn it in and get in the running for awards while another part of me says that the award doesn't mean anything if you didn't learn anything.  Does it help me more for graduate school to have an award on my resume or to know how to write an essay longer than 7-8 pages?  This is not a rhetorical question.  It's a tough one becuase to get into grad school in the first place you need to have cool stuff on your resume like awards, but to succeed in grad school you need to know how to write a scholarly paper of length.

I do, however, already have highest latin honors (summa cum laude), and no matter what I'll end up with highest departmental honors (for the thesis).  The advisor grants departmental honors status, and if she's willing to rewrite my paper herself to get me an award, then she's certainly goint to grant me the highest honors possible.  She'd probably grant me Super-Coolest-Double-Highest Honors, if such a thing existed.  

I'm also trilingual, so I've done the language requirement for most grad programs (require 2 languages other than English).  What else do these people want from me?! Should I find some form of easily curable cancer and add that to my resume?  Although they really only care about curing cancer when you apply for bio or chem grad school.  

This is a serrious quandry, guys.  I mean, I guess I'll just finish the writing make a decision when I see how much editing there really is, but my advisor already told me you can barely see the script for the red ink.  She also told me that I couldn't tell anyone that she had done so much.  To me that screems, I'm rewriting your paper for you.  

And this is not a moral problem.  I am not morally opposed to cheating in any way.  But I am opposed to doing all this work and not learning anything from it.  If I could come out of this thing knowing how to write this type of thing and being able to write (publishable) scholarly works, that would just be amazing.  I'd really like to be able to write at that level; to write about stuff I'm reading about and have it published in journals and such.  

Well, anyway back to writing.  I'm much more awake now after this rant.

By the way, I'm also a moron, an idiot, a crappy friend.  Sorry to my beloved Best Friend Ever, who I really dropped the ball with yesterday.  No matter what happens, I'll see you next week, at your convenience, and make amends.  Maybe with a cookie.      

Updated May 11th, '03 7:33pm ( 1 ) Comments

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