Monday, September 29, 2008

Blazing Epiphanies in Graduate School

Blazing By
Graduate school has picked up and I'm blazing through each week, wondering some days if I've even eaten breakfast. As the months shoot by toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, I find I can't wait to see my parents and Bear. Life in Richmond is fantastic amounts of fun, but I'm ready to be with people I love. Jocelyn came up to visit this weekend and we had a smashing fun time driving out to Mechanicsville in search of a clothing store. I was sad to see her leave this morning.

Realizations and Epiphanies
I came a realization on something, but don't judge me too harshly. I woke up this morning and realized that all through high school and my undergraduate career, I did what I thought everyone wanted me to do. I made perfect grades, I had perfect attendance and I fulfilled all the requirements to get into graduate school. The epiphany came when I realized I am unhappy doing this. I like being able to read whatever I want, on my timeline. I like being able to write what I want, without fear of being crushed for mild mistakes and I like being able to get to bed at decent hours without stressing about some assignment.

What I realized was this: I was glad I wasted the weekend with my friend instead of preparing for another round of schoolwork. I'm glad we ate noodles and watched sappy chick flicks instead of laboring over some obscure article or another. I know that may sound very childish and very selfish, but I think at some point, you've got to do what you want and stop stressing over what everyone else wants.
Holding the Line.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Suckage and Twilight...Shopping Too

Shopping Spree
The money from the school finally came through, along with two paychecks they’d been holding. That’s the first thing you need to know. Second is that after my money from the school came through, I went on a shopping spree. I bought cute outfits, cute shoes, cute jackets. The WHOLE nine yards. I look classy and adorable. Its amazing what money can buy: it may not buy happiness, but it comes damn close. The only thing that would make this week any better is if Bear could be here with me.
The thing is that long distance relationships suck. The Long Distance Relationship of Bri and Bear is probably not as bad as others. We talk throughout the week. He’s busy. I’m busy. Those are the facts. But it still sucks. Here are three reasons why.
  1. He can't be here to check and see if there are zombies or other monster-esque things downstairs when I hear a noise at night.
  2. He can't be here to say things or make faces or do dances that make me laugh.
  3. He can't be here.
And so it goes. But the thing is that when I do get to talk to him on Skype, or I do see pictures of him on Facebook, it is enough for now.

Twilight...and Feminism

I just lately finished the second book of the Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, when I hear an uproar on the Internets. There is apparently a row about the author being an anti-feminist pro-stalker vampire lover. Honestly. I read the series. I adored it. I chewed through the first two books in days. I'll tell you this. It is pulp. It is entertainment. It is base. But that doesn't mean its not a good book. That doesn't mean that kids shouldn't read it.

I'll be going into Twilight more later this week. I'll just say for now that this sort of book is the reason I eventually picked up the classics. Formula books, books like Twilight are the reasons students stick with reading long enough to develop taste and good sense in literature.

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Notes from a Debate on God - Hitchens v. Turek

Last night, I attended a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek on whether or not God Exists. The debate was handled well, but I felt Frank Turek was a little outmatched. I was relieved that no chairs were hurled or pitchforks and torches brandished. I left during the Q&A because Turek started circling his arguments and I got bored with the dogma. I am a monstrous fan of Christopher Hitchens, so to actually see him debate in person was incredible.

The sum total of the debate was that Hitchens believes that religion requires a person to become an absolute slave to a totalitarian dictator who may not even exist. Meanwhile, Turek was pretty much the run-of-the-mill Christian Apologetic and made the typical arguments for God (note, specifically the God of western religion). The debate shifted near the end, focusing on such typical subjects as a woman's right to chose, morality, ethics and so on. I found this slightly disappointing in that I wanted a more substantial debate that did not fall into the routine and predictable dogmas.

I could think of various ways to answer Turek and I felt that Hitchens sort eased around the questions, either because he didn't want to answer or because it wasn't worth expending the energy because someone like Turek wouldn't have cared to listen anyway. It comes the point that it's not worth arguing, since the other side isn't interested in listening to reason, only in proving their moral superiority or justifying their beliefs. Its not that I condemn one side or the other. I just feel a public debate should rise above such childishness.

Here's a great review of the debate that goes into more detail.

Holding the Line.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hoping for the Best...

Mediterranean Markets and Bagel Shops
Over the last few days, I've been working through graduate school assignments and trying not to completely freak out over rent and bills. My money still has not come from the school and I could really use it right about now. I try to relax, walking through downtown Richmond. There's a Mediterranean market not far from here and every morning it makes my mouth water. The bakery puts off a cloud of smoke and steam, thick with spices and herbs. I also discovered a homemade bagel shop right down the block where they make their own cream cheese and will stack turkey and bacon as high as I want. While living without funds from the school, life is fairly good.

A Fiction Class...Without Any Writing
I've taken to writing in a Moleskine after last week's fiction class. I left feeling about two inches tall, doubting why I ever wanted to be a writer in the first place. The professors pedagogy was all lecture. In a two hour and thirty minute fiction class, I didn't get to write a single word. At least as an undergrad, I left almost every class with over two hundred words. So, Moleskine to the rescue. It looks fancy and nifty, and I like writing nifty and fancy ideas in it. Take that, lecturer! My notebook is superior to your pedagogy.

Politics...Hopefully Not as Usual
I saw an article this morning on CNN suggesting the likelihood of Palin being dropped from McCain's ticket later in the election cycle. While I'm not sure of that, I do know that picking her was probably a mistake. I follow politics closely, though I rarely discuss my opinions on the state of the union and our (regrettable) president. But in watching the news this morning, I was struck by a melancholy and the realization that we cannot continue on our present course. Of politics, I remember most clearly the first Gulf War, when I was five, the prosperity of the Clinton years as a teenager and the wanton disregard of the Bush administration for the Constitution, American foreign policy and human rights through my entire college career. Watching the news this morning, I was glad I already cast my vote, via absentee ballot. I've just got to wait till November to how the chips fall.