September 04, 2003

Holocaust Memorial Museum (Cont.)

Getting back to my September the second entry when I only just briefly mentioned my visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum has taken me a little longer than I imagined it would. I thought I'd get up the following morning and use whatever extra time I had then to finish this up. Instead, Andrew proposed that he drive me out to East Falls Church (not that far out of the way of where he needed to deliver our car in order to have the safety inspection performed and definitely closer to my school in Vienna) and drop me off at that Metro station. The catch was I had to be ready in little time as possible. It was raining and I was amenable to arriving at school early since I wanted to remind myself of all the points I wanted to discuss that morning in my English class and I also had that quiz in Music coming up later in the afternoon. Andrew and I made great time on 66. Almost all of the traffic was headed into D.C. and not out of it. Andrew left me at the station with a kiss and as I was ascending the stairs to the platform, I heard a conductor call out, "Orange line to Vienna." That was quickly followed by a familiar recorded voice that announced, "Doors closing" and I hauled ass up the rest of the steps and dove into the first train that I laid eyes on. Usually the doors have begun to close by the time the recording goes off. The doors of this train weren't in motion. It was only after I was already seated and looking out through grimy windows on closed doors that I noticed the other train. I watched it pull out of the station before we began to move in the opposite direction: the direction from which I had just came. I got off at Balston and turned myself around.

I still managed to arrive on campus a good half hour before I otherwise would have, had I taken my usual train at Rosslyn into Vienna. I had no problems discussing the points that I wanted to make in English 325, in fact, before the start of class another student who was seated next me asked about one sonnet we had been asked to read for homework titled "Joy Sonnet in a Random Universe" by Helen Chasin and after I summed up my explanation that she told me that she thought I had nailed it. I'm not convinced that I did, but I'll know for sure on Monday when I get my second response paper handed back to me. I should post my response paper regarding the sonnets were asked to read when I am finished with this entry. Speaking of response papers, my first one on Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings" got a check plus (which is very good by this professor's grading system that he uses for this type of work). I noticed that he had posed a few questions at the bottom of my paper and I responded to them by writing down the answers and handing it back in to him at my English Recitation later on that evening. Recitation is the second component of my English 325 requirement. It is a lecture performed every Wednesday evening by a different professor from within the English department. The idea behind the Recitation portion is for us to get to know everyone and learn more about our major, which is, of course, English. With regard to the quiz I had later on in the afternoon in Music 101, I know I did fine. The quiz was matching Italian terms found in discussions of tempo and dynamics on the right of the handout with their associated meanings on the left. I studied a lot harder than was necessary, but I wanted to genuinely learn the material and not just commit it to memory.

Nothing lasts long in my head if I don't take the time to understand it. I have a photographic memory and the total capacity for about twenty pages before I need to take a brain dump. That's really not a lot when you think about it. By thinking about the material and making meaningful associations with it to knowledge I already possess I can store it infinitely and without any concern for space constraints. I think I may have made an ass out of myself yesterday before Music class had started when I attempted to explain how I study and why I do it that way to a fellow classmate. I just feel I didn't do an effective job of articulating myself. Toward the end of my first semester at GMU I discovered that I had been writing information pretty much verbatim from my notes on exams. All I had to do was call to mind any distinctive characteristics of my notes such as the color ink I used to write them in, any drawings I might have doodled in the margins, the color highlighter I used to bring out certain key points, and what manuscript I used and I could then clearly see the page that I wanted. What called my attention to what i had been doing was when I had lost one point off an exam because I used a professor's example to explain a complex idea in Intro to Philosophy. When I later compared my notes to the exam they matched up almost exactly. Where I missed a word I had just substituted it for another that was similar in appearance and sometimes in meaning. I was not actually learning the material. I believe that is the real reason why I ended up with two A-s (as well as two As) that semester. What I was doing didn't completely work for those two classes I had earned the A-s in (Intro to philosophy and America in the 1960's Freshman Seminar). At that time I was thrilled with my new-found ability, but I was also deeply concerned that there was something inherently wrong with it, certainly morally, but somehow also conceptually. I started out my second semester, exploiting my ability where I was able to after being assured that I was in no way cheating. I wrote notes for my different classes in different colors to keep them separate in my mind. Before an exam I would limit myself to only looking at what I had highlighted to save space for what was key. Unfortunately, with at least two of the classes I had all of that extra effort didn't help me much: I still needed to further learn how to apply knowledge I was gaining and not just spit back at someone grading me on how well I can do that. That requires intense thinking about the material. My grades were slightly better than the previous semester: I ended up with three A+s and one A. This semester I have refined my study tactics even more. At this point, I'm not trying to memorize anything. It takes me a great deal of time and effort to understand some ideas on a level that I feel I could be tested on it and pass. Sometimes I have to go back and read things more than once. I'm studying a whole lot more than I ever have before, but I feel like finally learning now. Anyway, that's the explanation I should have given my classmate yesterday. Maybe I can just direct her to this webpage, lol. I'm not likely to do that. I'll probably just try to make any of my subsequent attempts at conversation more clear. My confidence has been escalating too, which at the beginning of a new semester starts out low, and builds up as I feel I prove my intelligence to a room full of new people. Low confidence has this terrible tendency to cause me to spit out asinine things.

I still haven't gotten around to talking about the Holocaust memorial Museum, have I? Well, now that I am ready to, I have already arrived at the conclusion that there is not much I can say about it. Visiting the Museum is a personal experience and even if you go with someone else the impact it has is still very much individual. Out of respect, I did not bring along my digital camera, as I usually do on trips over to the District. I later found out that all (flash or not) photography is strictly prohibited (as right it should be). I have nothing that I can post here that will give you a sense of what it was like. You just have to go and witness it for yourself. Andrew and I made it through the fourth floor saving only two things (two series of films, one called America's Reaction and the second I failed to catch the title of) for a later. It will likely take us several more visits to see and read everything offered.

I've spent an hour more than I had allotted typing up this huge entry. I am going to post my response paper on sonnets, eat something, and then get down to studying. I'm trying to split all of the homework I have this weekend across two days (today and tomorrow) so I can clean the apartment and hopefully relax a little on Saturday and on Sunday be initiated into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS). I also have an officers' meeting with Alpha Lambda Delta (I was elected Historian of that group) coming up on Tuesday, my only day off from school in between two full days of classes so I need to work ahead if it is at all possible. All that may not leave me with much time left for writing entries. Hopefully, my life will be dull and I won't have much to post. What am I talking about? My life is always dull, right?? lmao.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:05 AM