It’s all acting

When it comes to academics, there are honestly some days where I feel like one big phony.

At this point, it’s all a game.  Go to class, speak up, do the readings, write the papers, give the professors what they want.  It’s funny how the deeper I have gotten in my upper-level courses, the more I know this isn’t what I want to do with my life.  Academia isn’t for me.  I don’t want to be a student anymore.   When I speak up in class, when I write papers, when I look like I’m so on top of things, it’s all an act.  It’s me playing the game to get the grade.

I want to do something meaningful with my life.  I’m sick of sitting around.  I’m sick of playing the game.  There are times when I feel like Rapunzel, trapped in her tower, singing about all the mindless things she does to pass the time.  The parallel isn’t perfect, of course.  I lack magic hair, an emotionally abusive mother figure, and am certainly not trapped in a tower.  But I’m tired of waiting.

I’m so close to graduating.  There’s just a couple of months standing between me and finally getting my degree.  My life is going places–big, exciting, unknown places.

Do I have it in me to play the game for just a few more months?  I sure hope so.

My new happy place

It’s been a surprisingly beneficial thing, living alone.

I can come and go as I please.  I can do home workouts without fear of someone walking in on me in the middle of an awkward-looking exercise.  I can enter my weird little essay-planning mind palace, muttering to myself pacing back and forth as I sort through ideas.  I can curl up in the darkness reading my Kindle.  When I need to be alone, I can be alone.  When I need to be with people, I can search out my friends.

My  week has been relatively light homework-wise.  That hasn’t stopped me from working ahead, but for the first time all semester, I feel relaxed and at peace.

I feel like I’m right where I need to be.  Yes, I’m still looking forward to graduation and saying goodbye to academia.  But I’m finally in a place where I can sit back and enjoy my last few months of college.

Welcome to my new happy place.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset

The authenticity of being home

There’s something sacred about being home.  Yes, I’ve only been back in school for two weeks.  But I find myself gravitating back to the place I spent so many years.  I can’t seem to stay away.

Time passes differently here.

At school, the days are organized and structured.  Two hours of class.  An hour of work.  Twenty minutes between lectures.  Two hours until my roommate comes back.  An hour and a half to squeeze in a workout.  Three hours of homework time.  If I’m organized, productive, and lucky enough, I can spend an evening in my pajamas lying around doing nothing.  But, even then, time remains rigid in my mind.  How many episodes of this t.v. show do I have time to watch?  What time do I need to go to bed to get my full eight hours?  When do I need to wake up in the morning in order to increase productivity?  The things my brain does to get me through the day is exhausting.

When I’m home, time is elusive.  I pass from one task to another.  I get lost amid my homework and glance up to find an hour has already passed.  I strap on snowshoes like the hardy Minnesotan that I am and plow through the orchard.  I return to the house, rosy-cheeked and breathing heavily to find I was only gone for half an hour.  I sit at the counter, listening to Mom and Dad make plans to travel somewhere warm and laughing at my brother, and the minutes slide by so quickly I cannot even keep track of them.

My life in Morris feels artificial.  I’m trying to enjoy it for its merits, but really, it all feels like one giant chore.  Plow through another day.  Complete another set of readings.  Endure the tiny apartment.  Smile and be pleasant.  All the while, all I want is to spend my time doing something actually meaningful.  And I long for the comforts and familiarity of home.

It’s a good thing I’ve got so much homework this semester.  When the weekend is over and I have to go back, I’m going to be so busy trying to keep my academic head afloat that time is going to absolutely fly.

Then I can return home one final time and figure out what’s next.

I can’t wait.

And so it begins…

Yesterday evening, I learned that one of my dearest friends was in town.  She graduated last year and I’ve only seen her a couple of times since then.

In light of a long, antisocial Saturday, her visit was an enormous blessing.  Sometimes when I’m alone for too long, I get stuck in my head and need someone to pull me back out.  Allison was exactly what I needed.  She popped in my apartment around six thirty, half an hour before I had to work.  A few minutes of rushed conversation was not enough, so against my usual habits, I ventured forth into the social sphere after my library shift ended at ten.  It was a fantastic night.  Talking with her, someone who knows me deeply and has been there since freshman year, was exactly what I needed.

The problem, though, is that I was out until one in the morning the night before Hell Week.  Oops.

Surprisingly, the repercussions have not been too severe.  I made it through class, work, and working out without feeling overly exhausted.  That hasn’t changed the fact that, whenever I enter my apartment I change from real pants to my p.j. bottoms.  But I’m coping quite well.

To add to my happy thoughts, my Victorian Lit professor cancelled the nearly thirty page article we were supposed to read this week.  And, as a bonus, this was his address in the email: “Dear ever-widening circle of semi-demons who batten on the helpless…“)  How can that not brighten your day?

Also, my paper on verbal hashtags has been submitted and I will be finishing up my Visual Journalism portfolio is nearly complete.  After today, I will be free to devote the entire week to writing my ten-page Dracula essay.

So far, so good.  As long as I stay on top of things, I should make it out alive.

A blissful pause

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the past few days of peace, rest, and family.  I’m also thankful to finally be able to listen to Christmas music.  (Yes, I’m one of those snobs.)

It really has been a perfect break.

The extended family was here on Thursday and I handled the “So Amelia, what’s next?”question as well as I could.  I ate lots of turkey and mashed potatoes.

On Friday, I finally got the Mother/Daughter shopping day that was supposed to come in October.  We shopped from ten in the morning till four in the afternoon, taking advantage of Black Friday deals.  I also got lunch at Chipotle, which in and of itself is always an answer to prayer.

Our family tradition is to attend the Taylor’s Falls Lighting festival the day after Thanksgiving.  There’s a small parade down the six blocks that make up main street of the small historic town.  At the end of the parade, there is a countdown and all the Christmas lights in town are lit at once.  We also popped in the old one room schoolhouse (the oldest in Minnesota!) to see all the arts and crafts that the local third graders have been working on for the past couple weeks.  My aunt and uncle came to the event with us and, so night ended with soup and cider at our house.

Yesterday, Mom and I took advantage of Support Local Saturday and made the rounds in all the cute little shops in the area.  We found some good Christmas presents for family and friends, as well as delicious homemade fudge.  The afternoon passed curled up on the couch pretending to watch the Gopher/Badger football game.  I say pretending because, while the rest of my family attentively cheered for the Gophers, I sat and read Dracula.

Today marks the end of break.  I’m not looking forward to going back.

Over the past year, I have not been home for more than a week at a time.  It’s always a transition spot, somewhere I go to jump from here to there.  As a result, my room has become a dreadful dumping grounds.  I long to settle for a while, to clean the mess, to organize the stacks of books that don’t fit on the shelves, and lie low for a while.

Two and a half weeks, friends.  Only an Early Modern English recitation, final portfolio, two ten page essays, and two finals standing between me and a month of Christmas bliss at home.  It’s the final stretch.

I’ll survive by overdosing on holiday cheer and covers of Taylor Swift songs…

Things to be excited about on a Wednesday

Wednesday is always the worst day of my week.  I’m busy from morning to night with class, work, homework, and clubs.  It’s easy to get pessimistic when they come around.  I’ve been pondering more meaningful posts, but it looks like seriousness is going to have to wait for another day.  Here are some things I’ve been getting excited about lately.

1. The trailer for the new live-action Cinderella

Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairytales.  From Ever After to Rogers & Hammerstein to the novel Ella Enchanted, I adore a well done adaptation.  I’ve been tracking Disney’s latest live-action fairytale for the past few years and am delighted by the trailer.  I think the casting is absolutely wonderful and cannot wait for March to come along.

2. Thanksgiving is next week

Which means I get to escape small-town Morris for a few days at home with family before the end of semester hell sets in.

3. Mockingjay Part 1 comes out tomorrow

I’m attending the midnight release with some friends tomorrow night and it’s going to be great.

4. My least favorite class is cancelled

Well, technically we still have it, but it’s the kind of class where you’re given a big project and have all of class to work on it.  My professor is gone at a conference, so we are allowed to do our work at home without going in.

5. Shakespeare

In my Grammar & Language class, we have been studying the different stages of the English language.  We’re on the cusp of the Early Modern period and, as I did this week’s reading, I was delighted to find several pages devoted to the beloved playwright.  Like the stereotypical English major that I am, I LOVE Shakespeare.  Whenever he comes up, I automatically become giddy.

6. Scotland

Although I’d REALLY love to, I’m not going any time soon.  But I’ve spent the hour before going to bed curled up with a book that takes place in Scotland, so it’s been fresh on my mind.  It’s a beautiful country, and I’m already looking forward to tonight when I have time to delve back into it through reading.

AmeliaScottishHighlandspicnik
Me in the Highlands of Scotland last November.

 

What kind of things are you excited about, readers?

November

It’s the time of year when sunny days become scarce, the trees are stripped of what leaves they had left, and a dusting of frost can be seen on the grass as I walk to class.

November.  Technically it is the final month of Fall, but in Minnesota, it marks the beginning of the slow decline into never-ending Winter.  We begin pulling out our heavier coats, along with our hats, gloves, and warm scarves.  It’s a dismal month, cold and dreary.  We sit indoors longing for sunny September, dreading the imminent arrival of snow.

It’s not all bad, though.  My birthday is in a week or so, which is something to look forward to.  And around now, my normally adventure-seeking soul stills and weekends spent doing nothing in the apartment are a blessing rather than a curse.

These days are for staying in my room all day watching out the window from my desk as the wind turbines spin.

They’re for sipping a cup of hot tea and plunging into a new book.

They’re for messy hair and curling up in old grandpa sweaters.

And these days are for listening to songs like this one:

When will I be blown up?

I’m on week two of a three-week essay writing spree.  Oh, the woes of being an upper classmen… papers due every week.  Last week, I analyzed Clara Durrant from Virginia Woolf’s novel Jacob’s Room.

This week, I am writing a rhetorical analysis of William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.  So far, I’ve about seven pages in.  The further I get into my analysis of this speech, the more I find myself fascinated by it.  This is rather surprising, because I’m not too keen on Faulkner’s writing.  (As I Lay Dying… “My mother is a fish”… Anyone?)

One rhetorical method I’m using analyzes the situation and context in which the speech was given.  The situation gives need for rhetoric.  In this case, the need for rhetoric comes from increasing fear from the Cold War.  Faulkner discusses how this fear has affected writing, and issues a call to go back to the old ways of writing about the depth of the human condition.

It really is a beautiful speech, which is why I’d like to share it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Here’s a clip from 1950 of Faulkner receiving his Nobel Prize.  (Look for him in the 6:45 mark!)