Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First year of grad school. Done.

The title of this post was my Facebook status on 5/17/2012 and it felt so, so good to finally have all of my papers turned in. I'm not quite sure what grades I'll be getting - one paper was worth 50% of my grade, another was 40%, and the last was 20% - but by Thursday morning, I was simply glad to have everything "done enough" on time and turned in. All semester, and especially for the last three weeks of school, my brain was a mish-mash of thoughts revolving around the following terms and topics:

House of Mirth reputation Chaucer homeschoolers storytelling peer review Wharton gossip A Lost Lady social control language guile Manciple's Tale loss of voice writer's authority Legend of Good Women innocence Lily Bart caution interaction Cather self-promotion society Phebus Selden true women

And that's just the ones I can remember nearly a week later, a week I've spent putting all thoughts of school out of my head. I've spent most of this time at my parents', relaxing and trying to decompress from the most stressful year of my life. It's been nice to have some time to relax without feeling that I really should be starting on my next assignment.

During these past few days, I've gotten quite a bit of reading done and it's all been for fun. I think I've read a total of 4 books for fun in the past 3 years, but this week I've already finished all of The Hunger Games books - granted, they're easy books to fly through - and I've continued with Anna Karenina where I left off last summer. I'm still trying to get my bearings in that book again since there are so many characters and the narrative tends to move from one to another, so there are several characters I remember from last summer that I haven't encountered yet and when I do, I'm just hoping I remember the details from the first couple hundred pages of the book.

I've also started reading The Meaning of Everything which tells the story of how The Oxford English Dictionary was created. I'm not quite sure that I'll finish it, since so far, I'm not too keen on the style. But I'm going to stick with it a while longer, since the story sounds interesting and I would like to know more about that dictionary. Someday I hope to own a copy of it, but since it consists of 20 volumes and costs $1200, I'd be surprised if that ever happens. I just don't think that it will be a priority by the time I can afford it.

I have several more books on my list this summer, too. I plan to read a couple by P.G. Wodehouse because I absolutely loved A Damsel in Distress when I read it a few years ago. And I'm hoping to round out my experience by reading works from some authors I've never read, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Thomas Hardy. Let me know if you have any suggestions for other authors or specific books by the authors I've mentioned!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Poem 32 by Emily Dickinson

One of the papers I'm currently working on deals with the role of gossip in The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and A Lost Lady by Willa Cather. This poem by Emily Dickinson relates in a small way to what I'm writing about:

The leaves, like women, interchange
Sagacious confidence,
Somewhat of nods, and somewhat of
Portentous inference, 
The parties in both cases
Enjoining secrecy, -
Inviolable compact
To notoriety. 
- Emily Dickinson

Friday, May 11, 2012

High Five for Friday 5/11/2012

Five highlights from this  week:

1. Just moments ago, I turned in the first of three final papers! This time next week, I will be done-done-done-done-DONE with my second semester of grad school!!!

2. On Thursday I was able to get together with the leader of the Young Adults group (ages 18-30) at my church and we had a great conversation. It was really nice to get to know her a little more and talk about the vision for our church and small group and just life in general.

3. The weather. OK, to be honest, I've not been a fan of the afternoon temperatures, but it's been absolutely lovely in the mornings & evenings!

4. On Wednesday, I presented my proposal for my thesis research project to a group of about 20 people made up of my peers and composition faculty and everyone was really enthusiastic about it! I'm really glad about that, because I wasn't feeling very confident about my research topic but now that I've received so much positive & interested feedback, I feel a lot better.

5. I don't know if this counts because it hasn't happened yet, but tomorrow everyone on my mom's side of the family is getting together to celebrate my grandpa's 85th birthday and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone!

Here's a song I've been enjoying lately (and by "lately" I mean every spring/summer for the past 6 or so years, haha!):

Linking up to From My Grey Desk.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Country Folk in a City World

One theme I've been noticing a lot in country music lately is a longing for going home, escaping city life, and returning to the country. Needless to say, this is a theme I can reeeeally relate to! Here are a few songs, some older and some new, and in no particular order, that exhibit this theme:

The Farm - Home Sweet Home

Rascal Flatts - Banjo

Keith Urban - Where the Blacktop Ends

Montgomery Gentry - Where I Come From

Tim McGraw - Where the Green Grass Grows

Rascal Flatts - Mayberry

Rodney Atkins - Take a Back Road

Friday, May 4, 2012

High Five for Friday 5/4/2012

Here are five highlights from this past week:

1. Relaxing on my friend Kelsey's back patio, catching up and smoking cigars while enjoying the lovely spring weather we've been having here in NorCal.

2. Renting Real Steel from Redbox and watching it with my roommate. We both had a bad day on Tuesday and it was nice to commiserate with one another while vegging out in front of a movie, haha.

3. Discovering the music of Alexi Murdoch. "All My Days" plays during the opening credits to Real Steel.

4. Eating steak almost every day this week (thanks to volunteering last weekend and getting to bring some home for FREE!).

5. Participating in my first official crossfit workouts. They're hard, but I feel so good when I'm done! I can't wait for the day that I can complete a workout as Rx'd!

And, I just have to add one more:

6. Successfully getting through another week of school. Two more weeks to go and I'll be done with my first year of grad school! Woohoo!

(Linking up to From My Grey Desk)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Volunteering = Free Stuff

This past Saturday, I volunteered as a waiter at a fundraiser banquet for my local Young Life chapter. The event was amazing and raised $56,000! It was fun to volunteer since it gave me the opportunity to hang out with other young adults from my church that I normally only see at church or Bible study. One of the best parts, though, was all the free stuff I got to take home. Since I was one of the last volunteers to leave, I was able to bring home 4 steaks, 4 miniature desserts, 1 bottle of chardonnay, a bunch of tulips, and a dozen wine bottles with the labels already removed! Here are photos of some of the goods:

We served a variety of miniature desserts from Ettore's Bakery and oh. my. goodness. They were all amazing! Out-of-this-world, indescribably amazing. The best things I have ever tasted. For real.

These two types of desserts were my favorite - the lemon meringue tarte and the raspberry & chocolate meringue tarts. There was another type of dessert that looked cheesecake-y so I didn't try it, but I did eat some of the chocolate bark that was on top and it even more amazing than the desserts I did eat. Do you know the scene in Ever After when Margeurite eats chocolate for the first time and declares it "positively sinful"? Well, that's how I felt when I tasted that stuff - sans smarmy disgustingness, of course.

These tulips were centerpieces at the banquet. I brought a bunch home and they're currently sitting on our counter, cheering up the apartment.

The vase is from an antique store in West Virginia. My mom bought it for me as a souvenir when we went there a number of years ago.

More photos of the desserts, after my roommate and I ate two of them and I added a dish of almonds to the plate.