Category Archives: college

Course Load, Dish Load

It’s 1am and I can’t sleep which means it’s time to update the blog. A new semester commenced this week. I’m only taking five courses since my creative writing workshop was canceled due to under-enrollment. While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to finish a creative writing minor before graduation, I consider the lack of a sixth class a blessing–I’m going to have trouble keeping up with my course load as it is. Every class I’m taking this semester requires a ton of reading and multiple writing assignments in addition to quizzes, exams and miscellaneous other homework. Except for Statistics, I guess. The syllabus contains absolutely no useful information so it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s going on in that class. In addition to the strangely named “Statistics as a Liberal Art”  (seriously, what’s that about?), I’m taking Religions of Asia, Chaucer & His Contemporaries, American Romanticism (and other miscellaneous lit written between 1800 and 1860) and a senior capstone course for Philosophy & Religious Studies.

I’m scared to read The Canterbury Tales in Middle English, but so far I love Chaucer. A lot. I think I’ll enjoy Religions of Asia and American Romanticism much more once we move past discussing theories/context/background information with which I’m already familiar and into the content itself.

Other than school, I’ve auditioned a bit, worked a bit, danced quite a bit, consumed a lot of tea. Also, I’ve been baking non-stop for Haiti benefits, friends and just cause it’s cold outside. Funds are tight in the Badger apartment-hold and I’ve been cooking from scratch even more often in order to save money which means that the fridge is constantly full of leftovers and I’m ALWAYS doing dishes. If you own a dishwasher, buy it some flowers or something. Show that appliance how much you appreciate how it saves your hands from prune-y doom and your sponges from overuse.

Academics to dishwashers. That’s the way to blog.

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Chronic Dwelling

I come to you today seeking advice, dear blog readers. As you may have surmised (or not, I mean it’s kind of presumptuous to expect that you all have nothing better to do than psychoanalyze me), I am a chronic dweller. I worry constantly about making the right decisions in the future and about the decisions I’ve already made. What if, I think at least three times a day, I had gone to a different college? What if I’d majored in dance? What if, what if, what if? Despite my frequent attempts to reassure myself that I’m getting a good education at my college, that I’m glad I’m not in another four-year dance degree program, I tend to dwell on all the negative elements of my current situation: I settled for a less academically rigorous school when I had the grades and the work ethic to attend a much more challenging college or university. I have no close friends at college and while I’ve met some delightful people, I have little in common with most of my fellow students. For instance: I still check books out of the library. I’m a marred, conservative Christian with social anxiety. Also, I don’t care about fashion or being a STAR. I have to remind myself that all the decisions I’ve made got me where I am now. In many ways this is a good thing. I met Graham and many of my closest friends and while I may have met many of them, um, online originally,  the people who introduced us are fellow Harry Potter fans I first met in New York City, while lonely and looking for friends. Who knows. If I’d gone to say, Columbia or one of the dance conservatories I applied to, things may have turned out differently. I could be a college drop-out! A petty thief! Selling myself on the streets to support my seven children and severe caffeine addiction!
Graham’s Big College Decision will determine where we live next year and where and when I can go to graduate school. Speaking of grad school, do you know how many Alternate Futures exist in my brain. I cam extremely close to applying for a last-minute Fulbright grant to go abroad and conduct research for my book. (Did I mention I’m working on a book? I hesitate to call it a book because it’s more like a collection of notes and outlines and emails right now. More information to come.) After some contemplation and prayer, it became very clear that God wants me to wait. Rather than rush through life, like I tend to do, it’s time to take a breath, re-focus and wait for His timing. After all, I’m graduating college two years ahead of schedule so that I can focus on dance for a while. It’s time for Graham to enjoy his college experience instead of being dragged all over the country so that I can feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and impressive. Plus, I don’t even think my “book” is going to require an extensive amount of overseas research, I don’t think I’m ready to be essentially alone in a foreign country and there are a lot  more people more deserving of that grant than I am. There’s a chance I’ll apply in a year or two or three, but now is now the right time.  And I think I’d rather, like, go to a traditional graduate school anyway. As much as I want to start grad school right away, I’m practicing patience on that front as well. But there are so many wrong decisions to make! What if I choose the wrong school or wrong program and worse, what if I don’t get in anywhere at all or get no financial aid? What if I can’t handle the pressure and spontaneously combust in the middle of writing my thesis? I’m going to spend the next year seriously considering my options: MFA writing program? Theological studies program?  Useless post-graduate dance program? Big university? Seminary? Christian school?
Good news: Graham’s already said “no” to any Ivy Leagues (except Columbia because I kind of really like it there), so my choices are already more limited than they were a year ago!
Are you a recovered or recovering chronic dweller? Got any advice?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29.11
Oh. Maybe that’ll do. Thanks, Jeremiah.

I come to you today seeking advice, dear blog readers. As you may have surmised (or not, I mean it’s kind of presumptuous to expect that you all have nothing better to do than psychoanalyze me), I am a chronic dweller. I worry constantly about making the right decisions in the future and about the decisions I’ve already made. What if, I think at least three times a day, I had gone to a different college? What if I’d majored in dance?

What if, what if, what if?!

Despite my frequent attempts to reassure myself that I’m getting a good education at my college, that I’m glad I’m not in another four-year dance degree program, I tend to dwell on all the negative elements of my current situation: I settled for a less academically rigorous school when I had the grades and the work ethic to attend a much more challenging college or university. I have no close friends at college and while I’ve met some delightful people, I have little in common with most of my fellow students. For instance: I still check books out of the library. I’m a married, conservative Christian with social anxiety. Also, I don’t care about fashion or being a STAR. I have to remind myself that all the decisions I’ve made got me where I am now. In many ways this is a good thing. I met Graham and many of my closest friends and while I may have met many of them, um, online originally,  the people who introduced us are fellow Harry Potter fans I first met in New York City, while lonely and looking for friends. Who knows. If I’d gone to say, Columbia or one of the dance conservatories I applied to, things may have turned out differently. I could be a college drop-out! A petty thief! Selling myself on the streets to support my three children and severe caffeine addiction!

Graham’s Big College Decision will determine where we live next year and where and when I can go to graduate school. Speaking of grad school, do you know how many Alternate Futures exist in my brain. I cam extremely close to applying for a last-minute Fulbright grant to go abroad and conduct research for my book. (Did I mention I’m working on a book? I hesitate to call it a book because it’s more like a collection of notes and outlines and emails right now. More information to come.) After some contemplation and prayer, it became very clear that God wants me to wait. Rather than rush through life, like I tend to do, it’s time to take a breath, re-focus and wait for His timing. After all, I’m graduating college two years ahead of schedule so that I can focus on dance for a while. It’s time for Graham to enjoy his college experience instead of being dragged all over the country so that I can feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and impressive. Plus, I don’t even think my “book” is going to require an extensive amount of overseas research, I don’t think I’m ready to be essentially alone in a foreign country and there are a lot  more people more deserving of that grant than I am. There’s a chance I’ll apply in a year or two or three, but now is now the right time.  And I think I’d rather, like, go to a traditional graduate school anyway. As much as I want to start grad school right away, I’m practicing patience on that front as well. But there are so many wrong decisions to make! What if I choose the wrong school or wrong program and worse, what if I don’t get in anywhere at all or get no financial aid? What if I can’t handle the pressure and spontaneously combust in the middle of writing my thesis? I’m going to spend the next year seriously considering my options: MFA writing program? Theological studies program?  Useless post-graduate dance program? Big university? Seminary? Christian school?

Good news: Graham’s already said “no” to any Ivy Leagues (except Columbia because I kind of really like it there), so my choices are already more limited than they were a year ago!

Are you a recovered or recovering chronic dweller? Got any advice?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”– Jeremiah 29.11

Oh. Maybe that’ll do. Thanks, Jeremiah.

A Message from the Pit of Finals Hell

 Once I’m through with this semester, I vow to blog consistently again. Once I’m through with this semester, I will probably go streaking in Central Park. That’s how happy I will be. 

 

No, seriously. I’m currently finished with my one and only final, but every single one of my professors decided that it would be awesome if they assigned long thesis papers all due on the same day. They’re all started and one is mostly finished, but I still feel more that slightly overwhelmed at the amount of work I have to do before LeakyCon. 

OH YEAH. For those of you who don’t know (which wouldn’t be anyone reading this), LeakyCon is the very first convention hosted by The Leaky Cauldron, a venerable Harry Potter news site, in Boston next weekend. As far as exciting events in my life, I rank Harry Potter conventions as just under Harry Potter book releases, meeting JK Rowling and the day I was born on the OMGEXCITED scale.  I’m nerdy lucky enough to have attended three previous conventions over the past two years and each one offered me a unique, life-changing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. 

LeakyCon is my incentive for getting through the next three days of college. If I jump out of a window in the next 72 hours, just blame it on Dante, St. Augustine and my own terrible creative writing projects.

13 Weeks

     Apparently channeling my dancer angst into a series of overly cruel and sarcastic posts about the open call audition process was not such a good idea. Never in the whole, sordid (not really) history of this blog have people so avoided visiting Words Can Keel(er). Part of me wants to go back and delete the last three posts at least, but that’s blogcheating and no one likes cheaters, except for Salazar Slytherin and he’s been dead a long time. 

     Truth? I have a self-censoring issues when it comes to journal-style blogging. The way I see it, if you want to know what I’m doing every second, of every day, you should follow me on Twitter, not expect me to recount it on my blog every week.  Unfortunately for stalkers, I don’t Twitter much anymore. I mean, I still Twitter a lot. Like, more than I should. One of my new year’s resolutions was to get less addicted to Twitter and so far, I’ve resolved. I only updated when I have something really pressing to say such as “Michael Buble is like vegetarian food” or “I have a lot of homework.”  The world needs to know. 

   So. Life. It’s pretty fantastic. Graham, my fiance,  has been in New York for over three months and spent the majority of those ninety days crawling around the city begging for a job. Good things come to those who wait I guess, because it looks like he has a couple of potential job offers on the horizon. I kind of feel like I shouldn’t have written that, like I just jinxed both job opporunities and we’ll be empoverished for the rest of our lives because I decided to update my blog. Anyway, turns out when you let God be in control of your life, He always comes through and provides. 

   Oh yeah. Have I mentioned I’m getting married in 13 weeks? August 15, 2009. Graham and I spent last weekend in Ohio, visiting the beautiful wedding site, deciding on the post-wedding hotel and tasting lots of cake. We also met with Graham’s pastor, who has agreed to officiate the ceremony. Because we’re only going to be able to visit Ohio one or two more times before the wedding, the pastor and his wife will lead us in pre-marital counseling via skype, phone and email for the next several weeks. Mainstream culture  often focuses so much on preparing for the wedding that it can be very easy to forget about preparing for the marriage. While I certainly have a LOT of wedding preperation to take care of before August 15th, my first priority over the next three months is making sure that I am ready to be Graham’s wife. 

   Looking awesome on my wedding day comes in at a close second. Okay, maybe not that close, but you only get married once, y’know? I’m absolutely enamored with my dress and while I don’t need to lose any weight to fit into it, I’m on a quest to shed a few vanity pounds before the big day. It’s so cliche–bridal boot camp, crash diets, tanning–but the pictures taken on our wedding day will be displayed in our house for the rest of our lives, shared with family and friends and TAGGED ON FACEBOOK. I don’t want to have to press “remove tag” because I look fat. I’m not going crazy, just working out a lot more and limiting my sugar intake. If I stopped consuming chocolate, I could probably lose five pounds in the next week, but what is a life without chocolate? 

     I don’t know how much you really care about my college news, but here goes: I suck at philosophy, I’m depressed that there’s no room in my schedule for me to minor in creative writing and I’m tired of studying religions at a secular college. I’ve only got about 40 credits left to go and then I’m free! Ideally, I’ll be able to dance in a company or shows for a few years before going back to grad school for a Masters in Theological Studies, but who knows. Graham may end up going to college in Virginia or one of those other non-New York places in which case I’ll either have to take frequent trips to New York for auditions and possibly live apart from him if I get work in a touring company or cruise ship, or find a dance company who will hire me in Virginia. Also, there’s the whole part about when we’ll have kids. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Lord knows what’s in store and I’m ready for anything.     

   I’ll continue to update with wedding information and news and lots of other less annoying stuff. Maybe even pictures. Like this one. The farm owned by Graham’s church where our ceremony and reception will take place: 

    

There’s a little pond and blossoming trees and a huge barn for the reception. Isn’t it perfect?

A Blogiversary, Excuses and Other Tales

A year ago this month, the earth trembled, seas parted and angels sang as a new baby blog came gasping into the world. Actually, there was no trembling, gasping or singing, but I am sure  the metaphorical waters of the internet  rippled a little bit. By “a little bit” I mean, not really at all, but it’s cool to think about. In celebration of this (not so) monumentous occasion, I’ve compiled a list:

THINGS YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF UPDATING YOUR BLOG

1. Read everyone else’s blog. This month is “Blog Every Day April” (BEDA) which means that a bunch of exponentially awesome people overload the internet with a new blog entry every day.  For the most part these blogs emanate as much awesome and wonderful as their authors, but “ya get weirdos in every breed” as Hagrid would say. Since I read the mediocre blogs in addition to the WONDERFUL blogs, I spend at least two hours every day JUST READING BLOGS. Think about all the WORLD CHANGING Words Can Keeler posts I could write during those two hours! I blame BEDA for KEEPING ME FROM BLOGGING. Irony?

2. Spend your “writing time” working on fiction and non-fiction projects for your Creative Writing class. I’m finally in an actual, formal creative writing course this semester and I’m kind of nerdily obsessed with it. (What? Me? Obsess? Shocker, I know.) I’m finally learning how to, you know, really write. When I’m not working on my own pieces for the class, I’m usually reading and giving feedback on other people’s pieces or else worrying about what everyone will say about my pieces during workshop. When I handed my  first short story to the class, I almost literally “cried out in anguish” like people do in Dickens novels and the Bible. Also, using a brightly colored pen to write “suggestions” on other people’s work IS SO MUCH FUN. Nothing is more satisfying than circling awkwardly worded phrases or crossing out chunks of unnecessary dialogue.Try it, you’ll see. You could even do it to this post if you want.

3.You start rehearsing for your first real show, in a real theater in New York. It’s not a huge show and it doesn’t pay anything and I’m only in one number, but it FEELS SO GOOD. (I needed a capslocked phrase for continuity’s sake.)

4. You decide to get married in four months and have to start thinking about things like cake servers and tulle and registries. Did you know there are THOUSANDS of different kinds of blenders in the world? THOUSANDS! There are even more kinds of cake servers.

I feel like it is wrong to end a list at “4” but it’s also wrong to not update your blog for two months, unless you are J.K. Rowling in which case you can do no wrong.

I hereby vow to stop pretending I am J.K. Rowling and start blogging again more often. Not so much for you as for my ego. I feel more important if I have loads of uninteresting sentences published on the internet at regular intervals.

Is there anything you’d like me to blog about on Words Can Keeler? What kind of blogs do you like me to write? Don’t you hate this awkward use of second-person?

When Art Students Conquer English Classes

In my hands I hold a neatly stapled stack of papers, the result of several weeks (or three hours, depending on my current procrastination level) careful work. I have conjured a decent thesis- nay, in my mind a brilliant thesis- supported by thorough research, textual evidence and my own reasoning. Surely I am one of only a handful of students in the class who completed the assignment with this much revolutionary insight!

I prepare to hand over my paper to the teacher, professor, instructor, Albus Dumbledore or whatever. I expect to hear those delightful words, “Please pass over your papers!” and be rid of the assignment forever.

But the words never come.

No, instead I hear the phrase I dread the most, the utterance which haunts me in my sleep and threatens to devour my brains from within like some zombie baby that has gestated inside my head:

“I’d like you to each present your paper to the class.”

Cue the music and prepare for my suicide please.

The aforementioned horror story happens more times than I can count. Professors and teachers of all sorts absolutely adore having their students present to the class in 5 to 10 minutes.  I’m not really sure why but I think it has something to do with seeking pleasure in the pain of others.

I especially hate it when they ask you to present using some sort of artistic or creative component. They often say this as if they’re presenting you with some fantastic present.  You know, as if we should all be overjoyed that we get to spend another four hours out of our weekend cutting out pieces of whale-shaped cardboard and trying to figure out whether Moby Dick should have googly eyes or no eyes at all.

There’s always those two art students that really love the “creative component.”  I envy these kids. They come into class with their revolutionary paintings and elaborate 3D sculptures and hastily typed, three paragraph paper that’s (gasp) probably not even in MLA format. Everyone loves their presentations. By the time they finish talking about how their life-sized recreation of Uncle Tom’s actual cabin represents both the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah AND the post-enlightenment psychological displacement of Canadians, everyone in the class is fairly certain that we are in the presence of geniuses.

Then there’s that one kid who brings in the power point presentation that takes at least an hour to set up and consists of exactly four slides in which every incorrectly spelled and CAPSLOCKED word is animated and accompanied by dancing cats.

When  am finally forced to present, something happens to that magical tube that connects my brain to my vocal chords. Somehow the things I wrote in my paper sound contrived and ridiculous out loud. “WHERE DID I COME UP WITH THIS THESIS?” I think as I try to remember how to speak English.

I spend a lot of time repeating things I’ve already said and contradicting myself and end up trying to explain the entirety of James Joyce’s Ulysses to a group of uninterested students who really want me to shut up so they can go to lunch. The look on my professor’s face is one of confusion and disappointment. It says, “Wow Sarah, I thought you were smarter than this.”

I finish with the mind-blowingly insightful “It, uh . . . makes more sense in the paper.” I hold up my lame misshapen cardboard cut out of a whale and sit back down in my desk. It’s the most humiliating of moments. It’s the moment in which all of my suspicions about being dumber than I think are confirmed. It’s the moment in which I want to tear up my perfectly MLA formatted paper and works cited page and drop out of school to become a traveling minstrel. Then, remembering that I can neither sing nor play a musical instrument, I console myself in the only way I know. I tell myself the following:

1) I’m a writer. It wouldn’t be fair if I were able to express myself coherently in both written word and spoken word. It’s all part of universal justice!

2) I’m a homeschool kid. Homeschool kids aren’t conditioned to present to the class. It would require too many mirrors and a lot of odd questions and diagnoses of schizofrenia and MPD and stuff.

The moral of the story? When in doubt blame everything on writing and homeschooling. Or just become an art student.

On not blogging and engagements and accidentally triple-majoring

Remember that time I was really, really going to write two more Intellectual Evangelism blogs? Yeah, we’ll see if that happens anytime soon.

There are a lot of things I could blog about right now. I could write a lengthy explanation for my lack of updates- one of those annoying entries no one actually wants to read. I mean, you don’t really care why I haven’t been blogging. You’re already wasting your time reading this anyway. At this point I should just stop writing and tell you to go back to watching viral videos of dancing hamsters on YouTube or Facebook stalking or staring open-mouthed at your NaNoWriMo word document.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, why the weird not-really-acronym? Are we so busy desperately pounding our computer keys in an attempt to attain enlightenment in the form of a 50,000 word novel-like composition that we can’t even take the time to pronounce “National Novel Writing Month”? I could use this space and your precious time to discuss my NaNoWriMo efforts but If you’re participating you don’t have time to be reading this anyway and if you aren’t participating you are very likely so sick of hearing WriMos (which is apparently what NaNoWriMo participants are called which doesn’t make sense to me but whatever) discuss their novels and how many words they have and how their characters are not behaving or turning out to be serial killers that you don’t want to hear me discuss my noveling. I won’t discuss how I’m epically behind on word count or how I’m really excited about my story but hate not being able to edit as I go. If you’re  really that interested in my novel pursuits, you can read the synopsis here. The title’s almost certainly going to change, but I expect the general plot to stay in tact.

I could also write about the election. I’m not going to. Everything’s been said. The country is neither going to explode in apocalyptic doom or suddenly become the epitome of perfection and progress and happiness. Everything takes time. I said I wasn’t going to talk about it and really I’m not anymore. Done.

Oh wait. I am going to talk about something. For real.

Graham and I are engaged! There’s lots to say. I think I’m going to just write an “FAQ” about our engagement because people always have a lot of questions. Check back soon.

Also, I’m really happy with my life. I’ve got some promising prospects for my dance career, I’m working on my second novel, and decided to add another major to my degree. This is the way it works:

You are an English major. You like books and writing and talking about stories and literary criticism and “the other.” Books, by nature, tend to cover a broad range of subjects. They tell people’s stories. People’s stories are usually influenced by factors including culture, place of origin and religious tradition. So you decide to take a class about religious texts. Then you realize that this stuff is really interesting. Like, you get excited about doing your homework and going to class and stuff. Somehow, you find yourself in the academic advisement office declaring a religious studies minor. The more religious studies classes you take, the more you want to take. Soon your advisor notes that you’re taking so many Religion courses, you should just declare a double major and go all official and stuff. Great! Unfortunately, due to your school’s tiny size it doesn’t offer just a  Religious Studies major. You have to major in Philosophy AND Religious Studies. So you somehow find yourself majoring in English, Philosophy & Religious Studies and ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO DO WAS READ BOOKS.

Be careful, kids. You could accidentally end up triple-majoring. Worse than that, you could find yourself triple majoring in equally USELESS subjects that you actually like! The horror! I can hear the gods of higher education moaning in horror and preparing to smite me for not picking a practical major that will help me acquire a 9-5 job, a two-car garage and skirt suits.

Wow, that was long. Sorry, but I told you way back in the first paragraph to go watch hamster videos.