Tuesday, September 21, 2010

on lethargy

I'm losing all motivation to do well in my graduate school classes, which is a weird feeling for me.  Especially considering these are literature classes.

Well, sort of.

My "Gospel Music and American Literature" course has turned out to be a pretty thorough waste of my life.  Instead of reading literature and supplementing the course with music, it's a music class cleverly guised under a literature course number.  When we write papers, it's on music.  When we discuss things in class, it's about music.  Never mind the fact that most people in the course don't have the foggiest bit of musical training--we still discuss music, exclusively.  We did read one novel--just one--and when I tried to parallel a certain scene with elements of gospel music, my professor flat out admitted that the novel didn't have much to do with the music at all, and wasn't relevant to the discussion we were having.  (This is where the "waste of my life" part should be repeated.)  I love music as much as the next person--even gospel music, which can gets pretty irritating after listening to 1,000 "different but not really" songs--but honestly, I'm in a literature program, I signed up for a literature course, and I expect you to teach me about literature.  I could care less about the book you're writing, professor, or how you're using our class as test subjects for music analysis.  How about you teach me something that's going to be useful when I'm an English teacher?

As for "Literature, Language, and Society"...it's undergraduate literary theory all over again.  Same readings, same authors, same topics.  I don't look forward to going to class, and I don't enjoy doing the homework, and I don't feel like I'm learning much.  That being said, I know 99% of gaining new insights into things is from taking an active part in the learning role, which I've never struggled with much before, but now I feel like I'm pulling my own teeth out trying to enjoy these classes!  My SVU professors were much better at asking the "right" questions and leading me to understand the broader purpose of what I was learning.

It may just be a matter of adjusting to a new way of doing things.  Maybe next semester I'll have classes that spark more of my interest.  I hate to be such a whiner, but it's just so disappointing!

Now that you're all thoroughly depressed, I have to tell you that life really hasn't been going badly!  I still don't have a job, but it means I get to bum around the house all day and watch The X-files and Doctor Who on Netflix while I wait to get called for interviews.  Ricky and I have almost been married for 8 months, which is incredibly hard to believe, both because it feels like we just got married and because it feels like we've been married forever already...which is a good thing.  Being married has been a huge, enormously delicious piece of cake.  I'm grateful to have a husband who's so easy to get along with and ridiculously fun to be around and supports (most of) my crazy whims.  I know there isn't just one "Mr./Mrs. Right" for each person, and that I could be just as happy married to someone else, but I feel like I would have to work at it so much more than I do with Ricky.  In fact, I hardly have to work at all!  Our lives blended together so nicely when we got married that it felt like Ricky had always been there, living in my apartment and doing the grocery shopping and drinking milk out of the carton.  It's not just easy being happy with the guy, it's easy living with the guy, which seems to be a big hurdle for some relationships.  That isn't to say that those relationships aren't just as awesome, but only to say that I'm really, really grateful for Ricky and everything that he is and how lucky I am to have found him.

Also, it's his birthday tomorrow!  Hence the long, totally not-interesting-to-you monologue about how cool he his.  He's going to be 25, which I'm fairly envious of, because I feel like age 25 is probably around the time when society stops telling you you're too young to be married.  Shove off, society!

I hope you all are doing fantastically well, wherever you are.  And update your blogs, dang it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

on my potential as the carrier of the plague

I think that if biomedical warfare ever needed to be started, I would be a good candidate for the initial carrier of the disease.  Why?  Because my immune system is perhaps the wimpiest part of my body and I'm 99% guaranteed to catch it, and catch it good.  Or bad, depending on how you're looking at it.

My immune system used to be a champ!  I would stay up all night, wake up early, eat nothing but ravioli out of a can, and never take vitamins.  Good old IS didn't even bat an eye.  Every fall and spring, he would remind me that he and Allergies were still in cahoots, leaving me with the equivalent of whooping cough for about a month.  About once an academic year I would catch a virus from a roommate, what I always took as routine exercise for my faithful IS.  I didn't mind it so much because he had kept me out of the hospital my entire life.  I hadn't even thrown up since age 12!  If there was an award for solid, reliable immune systems, mine would definitely be a candidate.

Until 2009.

You'd think that three years in college, with roommates continually in close proximity and late nights a routine, would have been the worst time for my immune system.  It wasn't.  In fact, looking back, I'm pretty sure IS was feeding off the antibodies produced by said roommates and maybe even classmates, because as soon as I graduated and spent a summer away from classes, he started sleeping on the job. 

"Pneumonia?!" I exclaimed--or I would've if I hadn't been a dishtowel lying pathetically on the couch for days on end.  "Who gets pneumonia in the summer?!"  (Which is also the question that everyone else posed, as if I had chosen a really bizarre time to have my lungs fill with fluid.)  For the first time in my life, I was in the hospital for myself.  My deathly fear of needles drew a few tears when they put in the IV--I had never had one before--but I was so desperate to feel better that they probably could've cut off a finger with no complaints from me (and at Stonewall Jackson Hospital, I wouldn't have put it past them).  A few hours later, I was back home, too weak to sit up long enough to change my clothes.  Obviously, it all ended well (thanks to Sam, Kirsten, and Ashley, who bought my groceries and made me soup), and I even made it to Robin's wedding that weekend, even though I did feel a bit like Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after he hasn't set foot outside the bed in years.

That was my immune system's first treachery.  I made it through the fall without major incident, leading me into a false sense of security, and then a few days before my wedding in January I started feeling weird.  Naturally, I wrote it off as stress, and even a definite fever in the hotel room the night before didn't tip me off to what was coming.  My wedding day went without a hitch (thankfully--can you imagine a feverish bride in the middle of January?) and I had about five days of Costa Rican awesomeness before my appetite disappeared.  I would feel ravenously hungry, and then take two bites of food before feeling full to the point of discomfort.  (Ricky wound up eating double for a few days!)  I attributed it to sun poisoning, and stayed off the beach for a while.  Long story short (most of you already read the honeymoon story), I wound up having mono.  And strep.  And an excruciatingly long, painful flight back to America, where it took me a week to feel strong enough to open a wedding present and another week before I could stand up long enough to make a sandwich.

That was the second blow.

Since mono/strep ended in March, I've had a hospitalizing kidney infection (delirium at 104 degrees, anyone?) and a UTI.  Ricky caught a virus recently, and it took me a whopping three whole days to catch it, and catch it better (worse?) than he did, leaving me powerless against the productivity of normal life and schoolwork.  I think my white blood cells have just started throwing down their arms at the first sign of illness.  "We surrender!" they cry pathetically. "Take the red cells!  The red ones!"  If I could shrink down to cell size and enter my own body (a la Magic School Bus), I would definitely give them a good talking-to.  Maybe even some well-placed punches.  Maybe then Immune System will straighten up and remember who's boss.  (Me.)

As a side note, I feel the need to say that I'm very fortunate to have avoided life-threatening illness, unlike so many friends and family members.  I'm not trying to demean their sicknesses in any way.  Instead, I'm just making myself feel better about my own by adding some cool mental images of me punching blood cells like a beast.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

on lots of things

When I have a lot on my mind and need to organize it, I would like to say that I refer back to one of those handy Venn diagrams and/or flow charts that I spent countless hours of my grade school life trying to understand.  As we all know, they actually have some use in 1% of real-life situations, none of which I have ever found myself in, so I resort to something that is obviously much more primitive and appeals to most species of mammals...specifically, a list.  So this is what you get, all you mammals out there.

1. Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Rally

If there's one thing that irks me more than radical liberals, it's the banking-so-hard-to-the-right-you're-going-in-circles conservatives.  And circles, quite honestly, are what I feel like a good number of conservatives have been going in.  I hear a lot of griping and not a lot of game-planning.  Yes, from everything I've seen, the country has taken a conservative turn since the Obama administration, but that doesn't mean the Republican party can just point fingers and dump figurative tea all over the place without giving me some answers.  Saying "Obama hates God and once he's gone the country will be better" is not enough.  Also, while you're on the subject of actually coming up with solutions, can you please remove Sarah Palin from your agenda?  I've heard her speak a few times before, but this rally was the last straw.  She said zero useful or pertinent things--which doesn't surprise me, because I don't think I've ever heard her say anything useful or pertinent--and is about as motivational as late-night infomercials.  Hillary Clinton may not be someone I want to eat at my dinner table--EVER--but I at least have confidence in her ability to get things done.  I barely have confidence in Sarah Palin to tie her shoes.  Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but can you imagine if the president died and SHE were our first female president?  I would probably die from shame.

Also, Glenn Beck, I pretty much rank you with Stephanie Meyer.  By that, I mean that when people say, "Oh, you're Mormon!  Like Glenn Beck, right?" as if you are part of our theological canon, I grit my teeth a little and say something like, "Yes, I am...and no, I'm not like Glenn Beck.  No, I do not like Twilight.  No, I do not support Mitt Romney solely because he is a Mormon.  But thank you for asking."  Don't get me wrong--I agree that our country would benefit from tapping further into its religious roots.  This is, after all, a country founded by (and majorly occupied by) a God-fearing people.  However, I feel that holding your rally on the day of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march was wholly distasteful and inappropriate.  I also feel that giving your remarks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the site of "I Have a Dream," was conceited and, again, inappropriate.  I listened to you speak, desperately trying to find out what the heck "Restoring Honor" even means, and all I got from you was a call to pray more fervently.  I probably don't need to remind you that faith without works is dead, and that God expects us to act on our prayers; however, I didn't hear much advice on what those actions are supposed to be.  We have brains and bodies for a reason.  Another reminder: the Founding Fathers were pretty set on separation of church and state...obviously.  So what exactly are you trying to restore America TO?

If this was all about the fact that Obama pulled troops out of Iraq just days later, save your breath.  That was long overdue.  And for the record, Ricky and I just registered as Independents in Florida.  No, seriously.

2. Ricky is cheating on me with law school

Ok, ok, I expected him to be studying all day, every day--I really did.  The only problem is that I have about 1/2 a friend here in Florida, if you count Zelda the cat.  I would seek refuge in befriending my grad school classmates, but they all live a good distance away and most of them are older with grown-up jobs and backyards.  All the couples at church have 2+ children and are subsequently never, ever available to do things like jump off a bridge or play Catch Phrase. (We did find one young, married, childless--YMC, for short--couple at church last week who seems hip and cool.  Friendship pending.)  You'd think that being home by yourself all day with no responsibilities would be awesome, and it is...for like, a week.  Then you lose all motivation to do anything and sit around in pajamas all day.  I'm the kind of person who needs structured days to function, because once I start feeling productive (like at school or a job) it's easy to steamroll through all my other tasks and feel super awesome about myself.  If I have nothing to do all day but load the dishwasher, I'm going to waste a lot of time playing Super Smash Bros. on the Wii.  And I do.  Does anyone else feel like that?

3. The cat is still alive

Go me!  I can't grow plants or keep fish alive for longer than a month, but it's been two weeks and I have been a model cat parent.  I even bought her a hugely giant scratching post online because the one we bought her from the pet store was so pathetically short that she had to lie down to use it.  She likes to climb up said giant scratching post and cling to the side, reminding me of King Kong and Ricky of Spiderman.  She doesn't bother with her cat bed (I should've known better than to even buy one) and instead likes to sleep in the bathtub, under the bathroom sink (she opens the cabinets with her head), and in our boxspring.  Yes, IN the boxspring.  Apparently there's a little flap of fabric that opens into it, and once she discovered it she would disappear for hours before we discovered where she was hiding.  Zelda is the weirdest and most awesome cat I've ever met.

4. Rich people in Florida give a lot of practically new things away

If I thought living near W&L was awesome for thrift store shopping, it was because I never dreamed of the extravagance of southern Florida.  Yesterday, I bought Kenneth Cole NY heels for $5.  A few weeks before that, it was a pair of Marinelli heels for $7.  Before that, the 2nd season DVD set of Seinfeld for only a couple dollars.  See what happens when I have nothing to do all day?  I bargain shop.  It's not as expensive as regular shopping, but just as addicting. 


We pulled up the carpet, found nothing, sprayed mold killer on every crevice, and steam cleaned the heck out of the corner area of carpet.  After (very) periodic checks, we're still mushroom-free!  Yay!  (Elizabeth, I will grudgingly admit that you were right and I was over-reacting, but I don't care because there was fungus in my house and it was super gross.  So there!)               

6. Grad school is not the same as SVU

And by that, I mean it is not as awesome.  One of my professors is great, but the other one never asks the right questions for discussion and I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to be learning.  Plus, most of my classmates say things like, "I don't think this is right, but..." and "I don't really know, but..." before they answer a question.  It drives me crazy!  You can tell they weren't fostered in a discussion kind of environment, so hopefully they'll grow into it.  In the meantime, I munch forcefully on Cheez-its and try not to lecture anyone on giving assertive answers.  You're all judging me right now for being a huge jerky snob, but I'm not going to pretend like you don't expect a certain degree of classroom elitism from me already, so here it is.  I don't even share my Cheez-its with them or anything.

7. I'm super uncomfortable around extended family that I hardly know

I know this because Ricky and I spent last Friday and Saturday at my grandparent's house in Miami for Labor Day weekend, and there were a lot of people there (whom I did not recognize in the slightest) who kept saying things like "You look the same as you did 12 years ago!" and "You're 21?  You look 17.  You're married?!" and "You have the same hair as your Aunt Rachel."  I know that everyone has these relatives, so if you've come up with an appropriately polite response for these remarks, please--I beg of you--share them.  As it stands, I throw out something like "thank you" with a slight rise in inflection at the end to indicate that I'm straddling the offended fence and flash a smile just genuine enough to appease but not full-blown enough to signify pleasure.

I probably should've warned you that this post would have no pictures and probably nothing to interest you, period, but disclaimers take all the fun out of everything.  Plus, aren't you impressed by my list-making?  It's not a Venn diagram, but maybe next time if you're lucky.