"know your enemy"

tonight, i was helping a friend to study for biology.
now, mind you, i haven't taken biology since ninth grade.. and never seriously. but, i was world ahead of her with the concepts behind the work. and i wonder what it is that makes me able to understand.
last year, i helped people with math. i'm an english major for goodness sake... i need two classes of math for the rest of my life.. and i'm helping business and science majors with math and science!
it seems so strange that i can be so.. renaissance about it all. sure, i'm intimidated by math and science courses, but not because i won't understand them -- i'm just worried about actually having to work on them. even in high school, when i put forth almost no effort to science, i still got a's and b's in science and math courses - what gives?

while i find english to be the easiest subject for me (i.e. the one into which i can put the least work while still extracting awesome results), i can still excel in other fields. criminology, for instance: i have gone to about half the classes, read about a third of the assignments and turned in everything at the last minute. i get b's on her tests and have an a in the class. on the final, i'll probably get an a or a b. criminology is completely uninteresting to me, but it just makes sense. i don't understand how my classmates are failing while working hard at it. there has never been anything (except maybe art) that i have not been good at if i've really tried. when i even half-heartedly try to understand things that seem completely boggling -- i get it. why?

not that i'm complaining about my abilities.. i'm more worried about everyone else's lack. why does spelling come so easily? how can i read a book faster and with more understanding than my peers? why am i able to do a job that i loathe quickly and efficiently while my longer-employed coworkers struggle inexpertly with simple tasks?
i don't think i'm that bright.. so why does pretty much everyone else seem so dull?

i feel so egotistical, megalomaniacal, even while writing this, but it's something i've been meaning to address for a long time.
why am i towering above my compatriots? how can i put in almost no effort and push out work that far exceeds the hardest work of those i have to compete with? why is my last-minute paper nominated for an award!? (i finished the book for my ethan frome paper just moments before starting to write the paper.. the night before it was due).

it's troubling.. this success. and i wonder when i'll stop succeeding.

"the end of all you'll know"

i really like entitling my entries with cryptic phrases stolen from songs to which i'm listening.. oh, i'm so .. scandalous!

so, on a separate note, i'm currently putting off work on my end-of-the-semester baloney: writing portfolio due in only hours, criminology take-home final due before 2pm tomorrow, studying for english 200 final (3pm) and the chaucer class final (6pm). why does everything end on the same day!? *stressssssed*

i'm not doing too badly, though. working pretty well on editing my work for the portfolio, halfway through tagging my chaucer text (which we can use on the final) with little plot summaries for each tale. i barely read through my english 200 notes and haven't even thought about the criminology test yet, unfortunately. blech. i don't want this semester to keep going, but i surely don't want it to end with all this work! oh, how i wish finals were optional.. i wouldn't do half of them, since i have a's in all these classes.. but i'm pretty sure i won't after their exams.

so, yeah.. i thought i'd share my procrastination with my absent readers and make myself feel smart over some hot chocolate (which i haven't yet made) and some groovin' tunes (ghost in the shell: stand alone complex soundtrack).
today a friend of mine was deferred from her top-choice college. she's pretty upset, as i was when i was deferred from my top-choice. you know, though.. i am so glad i didn't end up going to UD (university of delaware, that is). i am so happy at psu. it isn't just the (moderately) great teachers and the (relative) isolation (which i'm not so sure i enjoy) as it is the atmosphere up here.. the physical environment is a beautiful mesh of mountain and forest (though the local populace leaves something to be desired.. like intelligence, tolerance, and an escape from crippling imbecility). the educational environment is just as nice as the landscape: good teachers coupled with what has worked out to be decent class hours. it's nice to be on a small campus -- would i have been pushed right to the stage management position on "medea" had i been at university park? i think not. the small size of this campus has made it possible for me to really shine above my peers - but now it's time for a real challenge.

with my history of all these teachers catering to students who weren't good enough for university park, what will i find in "the big leagues" up at state? i know i'm in for a rough time finding classroom buildings (geography is not my strong suit..) and some difficulty with my classwork (two 400-level english classes, one 200-level english, a new language - italian, a dreaded science class, and a three-hour class every week on martin luther king, jr), but what else will i find difficult. will being surrounded by my best friends and their antics distract me more from my work than just missing them in 'toon-town? will i find myself lured into fraternity parties (dens of dissolution, as i like to call them) to disturb my clean arrest record and sobriety? will i get lost.. not just physically, but mentally among my peers? will i lose that ability to shine when i am among people who are on the same level as me.. or will i be able to rise above as i have not in the past?

as i reach the end of this semester, i find myself mostly looking forward to what seems to be a bright future, but i also find a few nagging worries and a few little doubts.
for now, though, i'm going to concentrate on punishing these finals and having a blast over holiday break with all our parties and plans.

so, to those of you still taking finals: good luck!
and, to those of you done and at home sitting around collecting cheeto dust: you'd better be at my parties, or i'll definitely be visiting little action figures of doom onto your properties.


the last post

that title wasn't by mistake.
i just forgot about it.

there's that old saying: naked i go into the world, naked i leave it. biblical and natural, it says a few important things, mostly, though, it comments on our actions between birth and death.
we enter naked: clean of knowledge and sin, we come into the world to become the center of mommy's universe (ideally) and grow into a lacanian sort of lack. eventually, we become jaded. we forge our own fig leaves and mis/pre-conceptions.
we leave naked: as we die, we come to terms (ideally) with our own inadequacies and realize that, even though we are not fit for the job, we did fine. we have to abandon our lives and our concepts of self. here, we will frequently revert back to what lacan called the imaginary order of world understanding in which we are not separated, not distant from our peers, but whole and connected.
in between we are clothed: our ambitions and our concept of self is our clothing. we realize, as soon as we learn to differentiate between self and mommy (in what lacan refers to as the symbolic order transition), we learn that, through differences, we are unequal. mommy has height and power and nourishment, we have nothing but wails. we quickly learn how to manipulate our environment and to create a space for ourselves. we give ourselves goals (whether it be a diaper change or a college admission.. it's no matter.. goals, nonetheless). it's with these goals that we clothe ourselves, hide ourselves. life is a big round of fear and loathing and shame. if we have no goals, we are afraid of the future. if we have no prejudices, we die -- prejudice, in general, is our idea of what will happen from an interaction with another [noun]. for instance, a snake.. i afraid of it because i think will bite me. that supposition that provides the fear, the bite, is a prejudice. i've never been bitten by a snake, and certainly not by one that i chance to encounter in the future. still, my prejudice protects me: my loathing of the snake that might bite me protects me from bites. but shame.. that's the real kicker.
without shame, we are naked. if our ambitions are our clothes, then shamefulness is a lack of ambition. motivation notwithstanding, we, i think, all have goals. the level of our shame is determined by our evaluation of our goals and our relative success in meeting said goals. if, for instance, my goal is merely to survive day-to-day, i might value my goal pretty lowly, thus my level of shame is high because my level of clothing is low. or, if i succeed poorly at that goal, my shame level is also high because my successful clothing operation has failed and i am exposed.
if we do not value our goals, we cannot value ourselves because it isn't our "self" that we judge so much as our clothing, our ambitions and goals and our successes within them.

so, in between our periods of nudity, we have self-separate-awareness. in the beginning, we are one with our surroundings. very zen. in the end, also, we are one, but a more enlightened one in which we choose to be a whole.
in the in between, we are segmented and suffering, lacking, but not lethargic.

so, with "eye wide open" i am confronting my ambitions and suggesting that others do the same. i realize my position and i acknowledge it and, from that position of understanding, i can really evaluate the things that i thought before inaccessible to evaluation. and i can come to the conclusion that everything's gonna be ok.

"eyes wide open, naked as we came"

I would like to begin using this blog as a forced means of making myself write, and think, every day.
it's very easy for me just to trudge through my days, not really giving a thought to thoughts. i used to aspire to be a writer -- i still do, though a different flavor. i wanted, all my childhood, to be a novelist: typewriter schlepping and infinitely wise to all manner of story and tale. i wanted to be that person who, despite what anyone said, created things unique and fabulous which would inspire people not just to love me, but to respect me.
i still crave that same respect, but in a different genre. because i am not overly taken with my own writing, i really don't expect anyone else to be blown away by it. my scholarship, though, is pretty valid. the ideas that i can forge based on a poem or a selection of prose are ...ridiculously varied and, while i still feel i inadequately cover many interpretations, i know i do a good, thorough job with the things which i consider. i find myself in holes sometimes.. sometimes a recognition within a literary piece just won't come -- those times are heart-breaking, but i am learning, slowly, to deal with them. i know that i cannot encompass the entire human span of understanding, so i regulate myself to the most poignant, telling points. and i love it. i get a genuinely rewarding feeling from writing a good paper which points out important things to a reader who might otherwise not even begin to grasp the depth in which a topic is spoken. i feel like a prophet. a very pretentious, probably boring prophet.
my prophesies, though, are not new revelations.. they are the culmination of thoughts, my thoughts, on what an author is saying about a certain subject. there is no canon to my prophesy, no scroll to back me up.

though i know that my field can be portrayed as just "pushing the envelope" or as just making points for the sake of making those points, i feel like, instead of envelopes, i'm shoving out borders, making room for new thought to explode out of the old. i can analyze virginia woolf.. a century old text.. and still come up with something new, something fresh forged from the perceivably rotted writing. i feel like i can reclaim the past through scholarly work. and i feel like that can be enough for me - just to cherish those contributions made by others and to help future others to recognize those donations. i will encourage them to make their own.

in class today, we did some "peer editing" which usually leaves a bad taste in my mouth. usually, i'm confronted by awful papers with hugely blatant grammatical errors which i can't even see past. today, i found mild errors .. and good work. i enjoyed the editing more than i might have ever enjoyed it in the past. i mean, i always like editing, copy-editing, even, but this was different.. this was a conversation of ideas between someone else's well-thought out work and my own conceptions on that person's work. i helped someone. i guided her through a rough patch in her own understanding and explication and i helped her to improve her work. it felt really good. not because i was doing something that i enjoy (picking out grammatical errors) but because i was actually teaching. teaching. i almost savor the few opportunities i have to do so... and it reminds me, everytime i lose faith in my ability or my destination, that i can teach, i can help. every paper i mark up with a black scrawl and pink highlighter is a validation of my ambitions.


new words; new works

with only a week left of altoona, i find myself ...not preparing to miss it at all.

the small classes are wonderful and the attention from teachers is.. not something to scoff at, but i need more. the professors here always try to tie you down to this college and, it's good and all, but not what i need.

i'm doing good things for myself and others -- it's nice.

i make a conscious effort to make something of every day, be it a craft or a poem or a paper or even just a smile. it's become important to me to just do the little stuff that i would normally put off or shirk completely. i turn papers in on time. or early.

it's exhilarating to me to be able to finish things. everytime i make my little gifts, the gift becomes more important. a quarter sized mess of glue and ribbon and cardstock becomes so invested with my personality that i can't seem to do anything but smile at it.

i'm throwing a lot of holiday parties this year (and a lot of non sequiturs into this post). i think they'll be fun and will allow me to be creative on the budget that has been forcing me to create all semester. it's because i have no money that, instead of buying a cd for a friend, i make him a personalized mug, a special birthday card. it's because i can't afford flowers that i'll make them out of paper. i used to cherish strictly formed poetry because it gave me borders within which to go wild.. i never thought that financial restrictions could act them same way.

i feel good. i'm sick (blugh!) but i feel great. it's a nice change.