Image courtesy of Gotardo. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
While out at a Local Watering Hole with friends this weekend, there was a brief moment of discomfort when my friends realized that the folks standing nearby were a former middle school classmate and a former middle school teacher. My main reaction was one of delight: for once it wasn’t me running into someone from middle school! I am all about looking on the bright side.
The rest of the evening passed in a pleasant, uneventful way, but the run-in got me thinking about my K-12 education. Despite being a grade-a nerd, I had a perfectly pleasant time of public school. Because my memories of that time are mostly fond, it’s easy for me to forget that public education is occasionally completely bizarre. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that I spent 8 hours a day locked in a building where I had 22 minutes to eat lunch and the bathrooms were locked during that period to prevent people from having sex in them.
Which, by the way, did not ring any bells as weird during that time.
The moment that came to mind last night, however, came from high school. As a wee adolescent nerd, I was bussed over to a local science facility with others of my kind to learn about a variety of sciences for two periods a day. It was a good program, which allows for the best science teachers in the district (many of whom had been research scientists at some point) to talk to kids who actually cared about the subject. Continue reading →
In the Venn Diagram of things that are both terrifying and true, the fact that I just meandered through my first post-graduate week is pretty firmly in the middle of the circle. And it wasn’t even like I had a boring, quiet week to help ease the transition–I managed to attend the (lovely, tasteful) wedding of a (lovely, tasteful) friend, pack the vast majority of my belongings, and haul my life across town.
So that’s been fun.
But in between assembling furniture and crowding six to a hotel room in south Georgia, a weird thing has happened. I’ve begun to gather glimpses of my looming adult life. The end of moving is in sight, and that means that soon enough I will have substantial free time in the mornings. I could take up running! Or sit in my local coffee shop and flirt with baristas before work! My tiny studio, which seems Parisian if you click your heels together three times and just believe, is within walking distance of Atlanta’s largest park, most famous art museum, and (to my knowledge) only botanical garden.
By the time this post is published, I will be in the middle of the long, bagpipe-filled process of graduating from college. I am not particularly excited about the ceremony. I checked out from school a month ago, and even at the best of times I was never particularly connected to Emory College. And, of course, it’s been a difficult semester.
However, attending my younger sister’s graduation from Oxford College (my other alma mater) over the weekend reminded me that two years ago, I went into graduating with a very different frame of mind. I was excited to celebrate my time at Oxford. In the pictures taken during my graduation, I look happy (and slightly sunburnt from spending some day of the previous week drinking mint juleps on a beach).
Going back to Oxford reminded me of why. Walking around after their own long, bag-pipe-filled ceremony, I was greeted by professors and staff members and lookers-on who remembered me, and asked about what I was doing with myself. They were pleased to see me, and they remembered me well. Perhaps most startlingly, the way that they remembered me lined up with the way that I remembered me (with, of course, the polite gloss that someone else will give when describing someone to their face).
So, I was just delighted to find myself with my two classmates and professor on a Saturday morning, heading out to Cartersville to hang with people who like to make their own arrowheads, and–in the case of the primitive bowhunter side of the festival–their own arrows and bows, and then shoot deer with them. We rolled up–one of the few cars that wasn’t a truck–around 11am, and headed on in. Continue reading →
This was a weekend of highs and lows. I will, as is my way, start with the lows:
First off, the actual temperature. It was snowing on Saturday, but–this being Atlanta–none of the snow stuck. So basically what happened is that small pieces of freezing rain made it hard to see and unpleasant to be outside. Y’all, I live in Atlanta. The social contract that we have with Our Lord Weather Jesus is that in exchange for living in a place that is pretty much going to give you asthma is that in does not snow in March. So, basically, ugh.
Low point number two is that I woke up on Sunday morning fresh-and-ready to do some Major Thesis Writing, which I had put off on Saturday in favor of grocery shopping with my dad, because a) I am a good child and b) there were almond horns to be had. This would have been fine except that–much like last Sunday, when I also tried to do some Major Thesis Writing–I woke up with a debilitating migraine. (It’s like my body knows what I’m about to do.) Trying to soldier on, I ate some cheese and drank some orange juice, at which my body pulled a walking octopus and “nope nope nope”d my string cheese right back out of me.
Is there anything better to start your morning with than freshly-regurgitated breakfast cheese, while blinded attempting to do something you don’t really want to do anyway?
This was written a few weeks ago in preparation for my trip to Boston, where I am at this very moment ringing in the new year while being terribly, terribly cold. Enjoy!
In the shower today, I was thinking about this past year. There are some years where you can’t really remember what happened in them–they’re a pretty standard accumulation of the component parts that make up most of your life. This was not one of those.
This time last year, I was preparing to go to Dakar. I spent January through May of 2012 in West Africa, with a stopover in Barcelona and Paris. I had never been out of the country for that long, and I had never been to Africa or to Europe.
While in Dakar, I got used to taking cold showers and malaria pills. I sweated a lot. I drank in parks and was mopey and climbed inside a baobab tree and on a termite mound. I learned how to carry money, ID, and my phone tucked away in my bra after I had my phone stolen on my birthday. I was homesick. My dog died.
It’s nearing finals week, which of course means that I spent most of the weekend the hell away from campus. Currently, campus smells of dispair and freshmen who are freaked out since they didn’t do any of the course readings. Given that the only final exam that I have is during the very last slot, a week away, this is not anything that I need. So instead I experimented with having friends and hobbies and a social life again, which was exciting.
Friday morning involved some unusual (for me) on campus time. One of my final research projects for the semester involves measuring tiny pieces of rock to learn about cognitive evolution, so I spent most of the morning in an on-campus computer lab, using very expensive software to make very accurate calculations of just how statistically insignificant my sad little undergraduate rock measures are. These are things that I am fairly certain are significant, so I got to have the always-fun experience of writing a paper conclusion that basically boiled down to, “next time, maybe don’t have undergraduates do this.” The glamour of science!
Y’all, yesterday was not a good day for reasons that a) you already saw on Facebook if you know me in real actual person life or b) will not hear about right now because I am maintaining an Air of Mystery.
Hahah, ugh, being kindly let down and still kind of disappointed? The worst! We’re trying round two today, so fingers crossed.
But I will not leave you hanging, readers. Instead, I’m going to tell the story of how I remembered why I cannot be in departments other than my own for more than like 20 minutes.
This past week has been a great example of something that I find utterly… itch-inducing about college: the simultaneous dragging-on and obliteration of time. I spend most of my time worrying about things that are far enough in the future that I cannot do anything about them (family health issues, my post-grad employment prospects, registering for classes in six weeks when the course atlas isn’t even out) while also freaked out about the things that are approaching faster than I want them to (the timeframe to write my 100-page thesis, the end of the weird cocoon of the last few months, registering for classes in six weeks because the course atlas isn’t even out). Time–at least for me–never, ever passes normally in college. As a result of my particular cocktail of neuroses, this means that I’m pretty constantly anxious about projects that exist in the collegiate timeframe.
I realize that this is a weakness, but I really love short-term projects where I control a large part of the process. I like having a clear beginning and end date and am happy forging a path to connect the two. But when we get to something like my honors thesis–a 100-page document of original research which I have to have written and defended by mid-April–I’m at a loss. It’s a huge project! I want to be working on it so it can be done by February!
I am back in Atlanta after spending a week in the hills (near where FDR died in the arms of his mistress) with some of the other folks in my scholarship program. Though I’m not totally sure what that particular retreat is supposed to accomplish other than making all of Emory’s merit aid recipients tremendously fat on southern food, I am in no way complaining. There was muscadine ice cream! And viking bocce!
It’s called kubb. No, really. It was insane, as games invented in cultures that don’t have balls are wont to be.