February 27, 2003
I decided again today to just skip work and sleep in. I am beginning to see why the department doesn't like having people do one-hour shifts. At any rate, this means I'm two hours behind in working this week, and I'll have to make that up soon. No shirking my duties this quarter. I've been relatively healthy so far, so I should take advantage. Although my body these days doesn't seem to be agreeing with me on the amount of sleep it needs. I tell it seven hours should be sufficient, and it insists on more than eight. I really need to start getting to bed sooner. Especially since next quarter I'll again have class at 10 a.m.
I know I've heard that in a song -- not just that car commercial.
My poetry prof wrote on my paper that I got back today that I had talent as a poet. Albeit he said this in the context of "I expected better from a poet of your talent," but it's nice to know I have talent, anyway. Besides, the poem was only one-third of a grade lower than the last two, so it didn't hurt much, especially since I think I did pretty well in my presentantion last class. Yes, I had to be prompted for a line and hesitated near the end in my second poem, but it wasn't because I didn't know it but because I got progressively more nervous as I recited and thus started to panic and choke. You'd think that with all my poetry-reciting experience from forensics I'd be beyond stage fright, but I think forensics actually gave me stage fright by placing me among people who were better at it than me (or at least were thoroughly convinced they were). Oh well. I did a fabulous job with the first poem, "The Tyger," (one of my favorites), and I came back in the end with some insightful commentary, mostly just picked up from reading the textbook introduction, but a lot more than pretty much everyone else attempted. I know it sounds arrogant when I say that, but a lot of the performances and explanations were really just sad (which makes it all the worse that I got so nervous).
Anyway, I've felt some literary inspiration ever since then today. I had an idea for a story earlier, but now I've realized I've forgotten it. That sucks. I should attempt to remember tonight and sketch it out.
Today's classes just illustrated how very different the two types of writing I'm learning are. In one, language is transparent, simply a means to an end. In the other, language is opaque, an end in itself. I wonder if it's possible to synthesize the two.
February 26, 2003
My diary is so boring. I need to come up with super life events to fill its pages. As I don't really have any super life events, I should make some up. Well, it's kind of late now, so maybe I'll make some up tomorrow. Look forward to that.
I don't really want to write my articles. But gosh darn it, I should do it. It's what gets me paid.
Britt sent in our apartment applications today. Hopefully this means the great apartment search is finally at an end. Well, the landlord of this place said he'd hold it for us a while ago, but I just don't want to commit to saying we have it until we sign a lease. I'm afraid I'll jinx it otherwise. And I'd hate to lose this place, as it's pretty close and just what we were looking for. Here's hoping!
February 24, 2003
Attempting to calm a jittery nation bracing for the next terrorist attack, President Bush said there is no cause for alarm.
"The Euclid fire appears to be an isolated incident unrelated to terrorism," Bush said. "But next time, we might not be so lucky. That is why we, as a nation, must do everything we can to drive out Saddam Hussein and his ilk. By confronting terrorism head-on, we can once again live in a nation where we don't jump every time a dryer buzzer goes off."
February 22, 2003
I just got back from Clarke's, where I indulged in two small pancakes (with lots of butter and syrup) and a big bowl of oatmeal (although Scott ended up eating almost half to cool his mouth after attempting the Egg Skillet of Fire). I now feel so stuffed that I even changed into pajama pants to allow more room for digestion. Of course, knowing me, in an hour or so I'll probably have a hankering for pretzels. Mmm, pretzels ...
You know, one thing I really don't like about AOL Instant Messenger for the Mac is that you can't seem to put in carriage returns. Pressing "return" or "shift-return" just sends the message. Anyone know how to get around this without turning off the enter-sends-message function entirely?
February 19, 2003
EUCLID, OH—Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge assured the American people Monday that terrorism was "not likely a factor" in the fire that damaged a downtown Euclid laundromat Sunday afternoon.
"At this time, there is nothing to suggest that yesterday's Sudsy Duds fire was the work of a terrorist group, al-Qaeda or otherwise," Ridge said. "The FBI is conducting a thorough investigation into the cause, but thus far, there is no evidence indicating that this was a terrorist strike against our nation."
And what was with that duct tape thing, anyway?
Here's a sonnet I wrote for my poetry class. Perhaps I will post a revised version in the Writing section soon. Also I'll post my lament in quatrains once I replace the pronouns.
The Civil Child
With fist at hip and sword in hand, he stands
Does anyone remember the Persian Gulf War? I don't mean the people who were adults at the time, but the people like me who were in second grade. I remember my teacher's friend, who was stationed over there, sending our class lots of stuff from Iraq at the time. At home, I have a picture from the local newspaper of a couple of my classmates posing with the stuff, one of them wearing that headdress that the male royals in Saudi Arabia wear (only this one was a red-and-white checkered fabric). There was money with Saddam Hussein's face on it, I think, and I'm pretty sure he sent us some of the food. It was fascinating stuff.
I remember also that our teacher spearheaded a school rally of sorts toward what must have been the end of the conflict, as it's purpose was to meet her friend in person. My class marched in singing "I'm Proud to Be an American" and carrying a flag. I still remember the words, and it gets stuck in my head sometimes. Of course, I had no idea what the war was about, just that Iraq (and I didn't know quite where that was -- just "overseas") had invaded Kuwait (I believe I thought something along the lines of, "Who cares if they take such a stupid little country? I've never heard of it!"). I thought "Saddam" was Saddam Hussein's title as ruler -- Arabic for "king" or something.
February 18, 2003
It boggles my mind how human beings are so capable -- nay, talented at -- misunderstanding each other. And beyond even that, the blindness exhibited by the world exists on such a massive scale so as not to be believed. Sometimes the parallels that can be drawn between humans and lemmings are frightening to contemplate.
And irony abounds, as always.
February 17, 2003
It's amazing how many different reactions a change in situation can produce, but it's still more amazing how some things are endlessly similar.
February 14, 2003
I arrived a few minutes early, and I sauntered in, ready to make my usual beeline for the seat in the back left corner. However, I encountered upon entering the room a girl standing too close to the door, looking at a message written on the blackboard in the back, which everyone else in the class was also twisted around looking at. All it said was "Thursday: Class in the library video forum room." Now, we knew from the previous class that sometime in the future we might have to go to the forum room to watch a documentary for class, but it wasn't on the syllabus for that day, nor had it been mentioned on the obsessively updated Blackboard course information page my professor maintains. So we all stared at the message, attempting to determine if it was meant for us. After waiting for a few minutes after class should have started, we all set off for the library, confident that since our prof was never late for class (that's just me), she must be waiting for us at the library.
We walked down the three flights of stairs to the basement exit, and we walked down the relatively short path to the library. It was like being transported back to grade school for a strange field trip. We arrived at the library and climbed the long staircase to the second floor. The class proceeded then down to the forum -- then stopped. At the back, I didn't know what was going on. I was too busy contemplating the fact that most of the people in this class seemed to know someone else in it whereas I knew no one (but I digress). Eventually we pushed our way forward, and I saw that the forum room was not in fact occupied by my impatiently waiting prof but instead by some sort of math or engineering class. Some other people checked the smaller video room as the rest of us stood gaping, with it slowly dawning on us that we had been greatly mistaken. After debating for a few minutes whether there were any other video theaters in the library (God knows there could be in that cavernous building -- I swear people live there), we headed back to our classroom.
The climb back up the steep stairs was tortuous, especially knowing a potentially annoyed prof could be waiting at the other side. Though I didn't want to encounter any more stairs for a long time, I strongly wished that the prof still wouldn't be there so that I could go home and sleep until dinner. Alas, I was disappointed in this regard, as the prof had appeared in the classroom after all. She was conferencing with a student who'd shown up late, and apparently we caught them soon before they would have set out looking for us, likely passing us along the way. It seems she'd had nothing to do with the message on the board -- it was mere coincidence that an ambiguous message somewhat related to our class had shown up on the one day she has been late all quarter.
Or was it?
It's officially Valentine's Day now. How things have changed.
February 11, 2003
Do you ever contemplate the fact that there are now people walking around, people going about their daily lives without a thought to the bigger things in the world, that are even now marked for death? People who aren't sick, who aren't at all anticipating it, but who are a part of the random casualties statistics we talk about with a sense of unreality. It seems like we're handing down a death sentence simply by condemning their deaths. There are people walking around now, people marked "17" or "12,382," the numbers they are gifted of the half a million numbers who may perish. It gives such a sense of futility to life.
February 9, 2003
Ow, my head hurts. I need to stop wearing my glasses so much. The frames are so heavy that they always give me a headache. At the moment I've taken them off, which means I have to sit with my nose to the screen to see what I'm typing.
I need to dig up my old mini-notebook. Lately I find myself thinking stuff I wish I could jot down immediately to make sure I don't forget and then find I have nowhere t do that. Thus all those brilliant and fascinating insights I have into the world are lost in the ether. I know, it's unbearable to think about, all that wisdom, lost, but alas, such is its fate.
Now I should go write a poem lamenting its loss.
February 6, 2003
I've finished my second (and last for the quarter) midterm this afternoon. I can't really evaluate my performance this time. On the poetry midterm, I came out of it feeling like I'd done well and that I'd get a pretty good grade (and so it happened). But this time, I'm not really sure. Honestly, I just didn't understand what the class was getting at that well (I don't think most other people in the class do, either), so I'm not sure if what I wrote is going in the right direction or not. I think I probably wrote less than a lot of people, as I sat and stared at the page for several stretches as I tried to think my answers out. But in the end I just couldn't come up with anything more to say. So be it. We'll see how it went sometime next week.
February 5, 2003
I'm already tired of my classes. Well, I'm mostly tired of Newswriting, since I'm currently working on coming up with questions to ask an alderman at a class "news conference." Situations in which I must take the initiative to ask questions are my weakest areas, and honestly, I'm not terribly interested in Evanston government. I don't know what to ask this guy. I should just give up, write eight stupid questions and move on with life. Alas, I always seem to have a problem with just getting things done so I can move on. I should start identifying the assignments I don't have a hope of doing well on and just finish them off as quickly as possible instead of procrastinating.
Newswriting's not a bad class, actually. Or at least it hasn't been so. But it's six hours a week, twice what a normal class is. Since this is now the fifth week of the quarter, that means I've already put in enough time to have completed the class if it was normal. It's frustrating to know I still have so much more to go.
Well, I should probably work or go to bed now. Or drop out of school and move to some deserted island. Yeah, that sounds good.
February 4, 2003
I find I spend probably too much time reading web sites. Not my friends' sites, which take only a few minutes to peruse, but stupid sites that really only exist to waste my time. Lately I've taken to reading the New York Times a lot, the excuse being I need to keep up on current events for my Newswriting class (I still managed to miss a question and a half on the last quiz, though), but it's not the most satisfying reading. The Times has a kind of arrogant writing style, and I've heard recently about some disparities in its foreign coverage. I need to find a good news site, but I'm hesitant to rely on broadcast network sites (being that it's broadcast), and I don't want something that will give be slanted news. Oh well, I'll figure something out.
All right, if I want to get any significant sleep I should go now. Wake me up in 45 minutes.
Thanks for another compliment I received by e-mail recently, if that person's still reading this. It's been pretty cool getting to hear from other writers lately about my site. I'm not sure how they're finding out about it -- the increase of late makes me wonder if the address has been posted somewhere somewhat prominent -- but I'm glad to have the comments. It's especially interesting to participate in the writing give-and-take of ideas and work. It makes me feel like I'm part of the community.
Now I should probably go to bed before my incoherence causes me to lose my place in that community.
February 3, 2003
My poetry class this afternoon was canceled due to a day-long test of the library's alarm system. As my prof said, "I am certain we will get little learning done and suffer greatly." Probably an understatement. Being on the fifth floor of the almost unnavigable library as sirens go off around one most definitely seems enough to make one panic.
Over the weekend I spent a great deal of time watching the coverage of the Columbia disaster. I've seen NASA officials go from shock to defensiveness, and I've seen the media treat the possibility of damaged tiles on the underside of the shuttle being the cause of the burn-up as a foregone conclusion. It seems to me that they pounced upon the easy answer there and are not fully exploring what must have been a complex chain reaction that destroyed the shuttle. At the same time, I'm disturbed by what NASA has been saying in the past few days about the possibility of shuttle repairs in space. While it's understandable that they wouldn't want to attempt a spacewalk to fix broken tiles because of the possibility of breaking more, it seems that by having no alternative method of repair -- or not even having an effective way to evaluate shuttle damage while in space -- the agency is putting its astronauts in an unacceptably risky situation. The way it stands, if several tiles were to fall off the shuttle or be damaged, neither NASA nor its astronauts could do anything about it.
But what's most disturbing about the situation to me is that even if they knew there was damage, they apparently would still send the shuttle -- and its crew -- back down to Earth. Rather than transferring the astronauts to the space station (something they've poured a ton of resources into, perhaps to the neglect of the shuttle program) until another method of getting them home safely could be found, NASA seems to think it's okay to send them on a mission home that would most likely kill them. While I know that all astronauts accept a level of risk by blasting into space, it seems horribly wrong to send them on what amounts to a suicide mission. What does this say about the value of human life? Is it more worthwhile for the agency to ignore such a risk to its astronauts in order to do everything possible to bring back an expensive piece of equipment instead of letting it float unused in space?
It saddens me to think that not that long ago these people were alive, excited about their mission and excited to soon be reunited with the families they'd never see again. It seems like such a great injustice that we can't simply roll back the clock just a few hours to help them somehow -- to at least give them a chance to say goodbye before they end up as charred remains scattered across Texas and Louisiana. Somehow it just seems impossible to not be able to go back just a little bit and stop something that so easily could have been stopped. When death happens so quickly, it's hard to comprehend that in one minute, someone was alive, and in the next, he or she is dead, and there's nothing that can be done to change that.
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© 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated December 23, 2002