Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Serious Business

With this semester winding down, I've been thinking a lot about where I'll be living next semester. If I wanted to make a change, there's no better time than now. On-campus housing for spring semester is going to be a little more than $4800. If I wanted to, I could take that money and use it for off-campus housing. 3 months in a dorm room is $4800. 6 months in a studio apartment won't be much more than $3300, plus food and utilities.

So I'm looking once again at apartments. This time, without depending on a random third person to also be willing and able. Any money that I get for housing that I don't end up using, I can always put back into my student loans to lower the amount I owe before interest starts accumulating 6 months after graduation. Why not, right? The biggest reason why not is that after graduation, I don't have housing money to spend. I may be working full time, I may be going to grad school, or I might not be doing either of those things. Unfortunately not much is certain. Even more than he wants to move out, Justin doesn't want to come crawling back to his parents after failing to strike out on our own.

But nothing is certain in these times, right?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear Adulthood.

Dear Adulthood,
               You have taken a lot from me that I never expected as a bright-eyed child, wishing I could be a grown-up, jealous of the cool things that they got to do. I realize that you and I are not fully acquainted yet, but I'm not happy with the direction that our relationship has taken. You took so much, and continue to take in ways that I don't always understand. Yet you give so little, so little of what was expected, and what I was expecting you manage to twist and distort until what I thought would be a great thing is suddenly a monster. Adulthood, I think we can still be friends if we work on our relationship a little, but first I need a few things from you.

First, I want my math skills back.
Stick = Sword
Stick + Yarn = Bow
Pinecone = Grenade
Pillow^2 + Blanket/Couch = Fort
Mud + Leaf = Pie
Just a few examples of equations that I used to be able to do and can no longer. Now the only math I can do involves numbers and letters, and endless memorization. That kind of math used to come so naturally to me that I never thought I could lose it, but you took it away and I want it back.

Second, I need you to calm down. Sometimes I wonder if you're bipolar. You'll have periods of time where you're fine, maybe a little dull but never completely still. Then as soon as I get used to being able to handle you, it's like a switch flips and suddenly you're bouncing off the walls, throwing things at me, sometimes I don't even get to see what those things are before they shatter, and I have to grab hold and hope that you settle down soon before you start breaking the things that you haven't stolen from me yet.

Third, I want Santa Claus back. I know that at first you hesitated to take him from me, and ever eager to discover the truth I offered him to you like a sacrifice, but you should have known better. I barely knew you, Adulthood, and he was important to me. I gave him to you for the promise of shining facts, and what I got was barely coal, with no promise of diamonds, not in a million years. This was not the even exchange that I had expected. With Santa gone, I sometimes find myself on the receiving end of gifts that I might want, but feel wrong accepting because now I know the true cost. What were once happy elves building toys and trinkets are now slaves, tied down by obligation, tradition, expectations. When I look closer I see that those slaves are my friends, my family. And now with your filthy truth in hand I find myself drawn to the shackles, compelled by a sense of tradition that you "kindly" left when you took Saint Nick.

I might miss these things less if you kept your promises to me, Adulthood. You told me that if we could be friends, if we got to know each other, you would give me independence, freedom, at least enough money to scrape by on my own, and enough good things to occupy myself happily that I wouldn't need those math skills anymore. If you can't reconsider your actions, we can't be friends. I know that I miss Childhood, and I'm sure Childhood misses me. I'm tired of this exclusive relationship. Why won't you let me be friends with Childhood too?

I hope you can change your ways.
-Saint Tawny

Monday, November 8, 2010

(Campus) Life is a bitch #3

There's inevitably a point in the semester where shit starts to go down. It's like all of the professors on campus get together and decide "Alright, time to crack the whip." Suddenly you go from having idle time between homework to weighing which class you can ignore to focus on that one class with two exams, two quizzes and three long homework assignments due in the next two weeks. Well, this semester has reached that point.

Statistics is super easy but extremely time consuming. The teacher (who I'm convinced is a dragon in disguise) is very particular about the way things are done for her class. She uses nearly 10 minutes out of a 50 minute class period to have everyone form a huuuuuge line at the front of the class to sign in, instead of taking attendance with a clicker that takes a minute at most like other teachers who care about attendance. This process takes even longer if there's homework due, because it has to be folded a certain way with your name on the outside and placed in piles at the front alphabetically. If you're late, you have to sign in on a late sheet, with the time of your arrival. This also cuts into class time because she has to verify that you're not lying when you write down what time you got there. The extra credit pop quizzes are a nice gesture, but the answers always come from lecture slides that we haven't had in class yet. There's also a second type of homework that has to be turned in at the exam, two or three of them per exam, and they have to be put into a colored folder (no brads) and arranged in a rainbow-organized pile before you start. Another traffic jam at the front of the room. The third type of homework is due online every few weeks and this one bothers me more than both of the others. It's literally a page with 7-12 instances of "See Textbook #__" and five bubbles or a blank that you're supposed to answer according to the question in the textbook. Instead of just being able to do the online homework ONLINE, you have to buy the textbook for $40 (that can't be sold back because it's paperback) and go between the book and your computer screen to answer questions that don't even require any calculation. The questions will literally be "How many people were involved in the study?" and the first thing that the study paragraph says is "This study used a sample size of 51 people."

Physics isn't too mentally demanding outside of the homework. I'm actually typing this in physics right now, because everything in the homework and the lecture slides is irrelevant when you get to the exam. The homework is intentionally about 10 times harder than the exam, which forces you to get a handle on the subject, but most of the time there are no hints or ways to understand what you're doing wrong if you're struggling. You have 5 tries per question, and something as little as having 8.56 when the answer was 8.57 or 8.561 is enough to get it wrong. It's also due at really random times. 11:43 on Thursday night, for example. The professor also doesn't know how to handle questions. To him, every question is a stupid question, and you're wasting time by asking it, so sit down and shut up. He also makes mistakes, frequently, and it takes 5 or 6 students pointing it out to him before he takes it seriously and considers that he might have messed up.

English is actually a good class. There's some work due online each week, he's not super strict about it. We have a reasonable load of readings every week that we have to comment on online and then read someone else's comments and make a reply. In class, we discuss our readings, and once in a while we have a paper due. I think this is an appropriate work load, but I can't manage to keep up with these assignments because of how much time I spend on Physics and Statistics.

Painting is a simple class, the projects are all worked on in class, we're not asked to spend any extra time on them unless we choose to or feel it necessary. Attendance is recommended but not required, except on days when the paintings are due, when we put all the paintings on the easels along one wall and we talk about the successes and failures of each painting. My only beef with this class is that sometimes the assignments are too restrictive in what we're allowed to do. For example, our last painting had to be a reproduction of a Cezanne still life. Not a re-interpretation, a reproduction. If you google search Cezanne still life, you'll see that he almost exclusively paints oranges. Do not want. I don't want to paint something I'm not going to consider hanging in my room, and I don't want a poor copy of some guy's painting of oranges.

My last class is Biochemistry. When I enrolled in this class, my understanding was that my previous knowledge about Biology would be at least as important as having a basic understanding of organic chemistry. If this were the case, I wouldn't be struggling so much in this class. Me and Chemistry? We don't mix. I had a terrible Gen Chem teacher and a pretty bad Orgo teacher who couldn't help me catch up on Gen Chem enough to understand the new material. I can understand the concepts, but I have this mental block about memorizing mechanisms, and that's almost completely what Biochem is. Memorize the structure of Glucose (easy enough) and then also memorize the way it changes as it is metabolized. A missing hydrogen is enough to mess the whole process up, and is nearly impossible to spot sometimes.

Now all of these classes have something major due this week, and I don't even know where to begin.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nail Polish

A couple month ago, one of the girls I work with (the same one that said "no u" regarding the bunny) noticed how often I wear sandals, and became obsessed with the fact that my nails were never painted. She said that my unpainted toes looked like naked little sausages. So I called her dumb and moved on. She said this every time I worked with her for weeks on end. I like my toes just fine, and no amount of berating on her part can change the fact that I think I have rather nice looking feet, even without polish. She was being kind of a bitch about it, but that's how she is, and I don't fault her for it. I'd actually call her a friend. We're bitches to each other and then we laugh about it, and then we argue over who has to pull trays in kennel.

Anyway, I decided to play her game and paint my toenails one day. I actually sort of liked the way it looked, and I kept doing it for a couple weeks. Then I decided that plain polish wasn't good enough. If I was going to paint my toenails, they were going to be miniature works of art. So I invested ($2) in a bottle of polish with a finer brush so that I could paint a design. I went with spider webs to start, because it seemed easy. And it was. And it was also fun. I finished my toes as House was ending and decided I'd do my fingernails too while I watched Dexter.

Now, I've been a nail-biter my whole life. Sometimes, I would go relatively long periods of time without biting them, and then I'd just catch myself biting them while playing WoW or something. Justin hates when I bite my nails. For his sake, I've been trying to stop for the better part of a year now, but most of the time I don't catch myself until after I've gone through two nails. The night after painting my fingernails, I was standing at the puppy desk during a lull, and I started to bite my nail. I stopped before my finger even made it to my face, thinking, "But I'll ruin the design if I bite them D:". So far, this nail polish thing seems to have done the trick for me. It's fun to do while I catch up on the three shows that I watch, and the desire to not destroy my hard work helps me keep better track of what I'm doing with my nails (I.E. biting them).

Currently wearing: Candy Corn. It looks tasty.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grandpa Maynard and Aunt Barbara

So far in my life, death is one thing that has had minimal impact. I could count the family members and favored pets that I've lost on one hand. Texas, a black lab mix, died when I was in first grade. Ryo-Oki, a black cat, disappeared in fourth grade, and I think I can assume he's since died. Loki (gray and white tux cat) disappeared in ninth grade, and Tyr (Maine Coon mix) in my Freshmen year of college after my mom refused to let him back in the house once I left for Delaware. Either of them may or may not still be prowling the neighborhood. (Great) Grandpa Maynard died at 90 before my Sophomore year in high school.

I find it somewhat ironic that this month, Breast Cancer Awareness month, I'm probably going to lose my Aunt Barbara to breast cancer. I don't know many of the details, but I know that she had been diagnosed late with breast cancer a few weeks ago. They don't have health insurance, so she was being treated by a doctor in Mexico relying largely on donations and fundraisers by her friends and her six sisters, and the general consensus was that she was improving. I don't know her very well, she's one of the more religious members of my family. Last I knew she had 6 children, and last time I saw her was right before her second or third miscarriage. Mom and dad were going through the divorce proceedings and in the interest of keeping us kids out of the middle, Barb offered to let us spend the summer with her in Utah.

I remember resenting her for not allowing us to do anything on Sundays except read or watch Book of Mormon Stories movies. As much as I hated that rule, I could abide by it. I spent every Sunday in my room reading, and I enjoyed it, although I would have rather been playing air hockey or making bows and arrows from sticks outside with my cousins. She was nothing if not fair. And I'm amazed at the ease with which she handled her own five children in addition to two or three of her sister's children while her husband Tony and my oldest brother Matthew (the one most likely to help her out if us younger children got unruly) spent days at a time on a semi. All this while several months pregnant, with two at home in diapers. Mark, being very close in age and getting along well with Oliver, Aunt Cheryl's oldest, spent most of that summer with him in Idaho.

Even though I feel terrible for Barb, and I know that her death will have a profound impact on a lot of people, I wouldn't include myself on that list. I didn't know her very well, I didn't grow up with her present. When we were still in California, she was already in Utah with Tony. And I loved my Grandpa Maynard, but all of my memories of visiting him barely include him. He was a great person, and I know he really cared about me, and all of his grandchildren, and I miss him some, but it's hard to really miss someone who was never really there to begin with.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is the news of Barb's condition made me realize how lucky I am in that respect. Most of my friends have lost parents, siblings, friends (this includes animals), and/or some other important person in their life. Distance (of varying degrees), instead of death, is the only thing that separates me from the vast majority of people and animals who are or have been important to me. I can only hope it stays that way for a long time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Politics (Oh noez)

That's right, politics. Oh, don't worry, what I have in mind for this I'd say is pretty bi-partisan. I know that my friends, and therefore the people who could be reading this, have pretty diversified views and I (for the moment at least) am not trying to stir up trouble by insulting one party or another.

Election day is coming up. Have you been following the debates? Do you know which politicians align most closely with your personal views and which ones only agree with you on the hot topics like abortion and gay rights? Let me make one request. If you don't know what most of the politicians running for a particular office advocate, please don't vote for that office. I really think there should be a political awareness test before people are allowed to vote, but that would obstruct some people's rights I guess. Whether you like Obama or not, I think we can agree that at least to some extent, a portion of his voters weren't educated about his platform, they just saw a non-white man running with a promise for change ("What kind of change you ask? I dunno, but any change is good change!") and filed in line. There were also people who jumped behind McCain because he was opposing "that radical black man" without knowing anything else about what McCain believed in. And Hilary Clinton? Forget about it. From where I'm sitting it seems like most people who voted in the primaries did so with only the knowledge that Clinton's husband may or may not have had an affair while he was president. I'm not voting, because I know that I haven't kept up with the debates. I don't even know who the incumbents (another terrible trend: voting for the incumbents because "they haven't screwed up too bad yet") are. Wouldn't you feel like an asshole if you accidentally voted for some nut job who used his/her position to support your views on abortion and gay rights (major hot topics right now, and some people actually vote based on these things alone) and also to raise taxes for your socioeconomic class and used the extra money to give him/herself a raise?

The other thing that I want to say is in regard to the facebook group letting their god know that for the purposes of dying, Obama is their favorite president. Some politicians do some really dumb stuff. Not a lot of politicians do things that they deserve to die for. Aside from being your president, who you should at least respect even if you don't like since a majority of your peers elected him, he's a father and a husband. If you don't want to him to be in office any more, tag along on the ballot with the Republican candidates who are desperately seeking something frivolous to impeach him for, but don't wish him dead. I've heard some people say that the facebook group isn't wishing for Obama's (or another powerful person, this could even apply to George Bush if there was such a group for him) death, but I can interpret no other meaning from the title of that group. Celebrate when his term is over if it suits you. To dislike him is within your right. To pray for someone's death is un-Christian. You can't ask your benevolent god to smite someone who hasn't committed any major wrong-doings against you or another demographic because it creates a logical fallacy. I've removed several people from my facebook friends list (not that they care I'm sure) for joining that group and giving me B.S. replies when I told them how I felt about it. So don't do it. >:(

Bi-partisan yes? Alright admittedly it's a little skewed, but the logic in both statements applies to all political parties. I think. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The best laid plans of mice and Jen

This morning in Biochem I got a text from Franco saying that he couldn't afford to move out right now. I got through Biochem and Painting in a low-grade panic state with the fear of not being able to move out even before Christmas and the hope that we could find a cheap one bedroom for under $600 per month. Back in my room, I discovered that such a thing hardly exists, so I started looking for room shares on Craiglist. I found several, most were questionable, and Justin was almost entirely opposed to the idea. He claims we can't afford to move out right now if this is the case. He's right, and I hate it.