September 27, 2003

I'm Awake

This morning I woke up with a snippet of Enya's Only If playing in the background of my mind. I'm currently listening to the full MP3 to try and get it out of my head or at least some more of it in. Andrew is still asleep. He's gotten really behind on sleep over the past few days, so I'm leaving him alone to catch up. The cat is nestled between his right side and the edge of the bed. She meowed a few times in the night, waking me up. When I last saw the iguana, she was curled up on his chest where it was nice and warm. She doesn't usually spend nights out of her cage, but she has a lot more since she came back home from her surgery. I may climb back in bed with a book and read until everyone else stirs. I haven't done a lot of homework so far this weekend, or at least it doesn't feel like I have. I think I could have it all done today, with the exception of about twenty pages or so of Western Civilization, if I just sit down and compel myself to do it. I'm going to go try that.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 08:51 AM

September 26, 2003

Darwin Update

It has been just over a week since my iguana, Darwin, had her spay surgery. I happy to report that she is doing very well. She went immediately back to eating again, not as much as she did before she became gravid, but it is a definite improvement since then. I have started to provide meals once, sometimes even twice a day. Darwin has also been very active, frequently moving up and down in her cage. The vet expressed concern that she might do some damage to her stitches, but I have been keeping a close eye on them and I have seen nothing so far to cause me any alarm. She certainly doesn't seem to be in any great pain either, though she is careful about not laying on her belly for the most part. The antibiotics have helped with the injured toe and the sore spot on top of her head has almost completely healed. Darwin looks good and healthy. I've also recognized a decline in her aggressive behavior. She no longer greets me each time I go to check in on her with a head-bobbing display. I'm pleased to see that she is so strong and that she is coming through this so well. I'll have more updates as time progresses.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:38 PM

Elevator Exchange

I guess it was Wednesday night when down in the Rosslyn underground another individual and I had incidence with the street elevator. He was already there waiting when I walked up. When it had finished its descent, we entered just as normal and, after pressing the appropriate button, the doors closed in front of us. A loud continuous sound commenced to piercing our ears in a most painful way. My fellow occupant looked to me seemingly in search of a solution - we were not going anywhere. Over the loud drone and the music that was coming in through his headphones, he told me that he believed that the outside set of doors had failed to close and that he had seen this happen on a separate occasion. He said he would try to hit another button to see if that would perhaps do anything for our situation and it didn't when he tried it. He next held the door open button and that worked just fine. He suggested that we should take the escalator since the elevator was obviously not functioning properly, I said that I couldn't do that because I had already swiped my fare card. Besides, I'm really scared of heights (the escalator at Rosslyn is the third longest in the world). We exited anyway, not knowing what else to do. Just as I had finished explaining my rationale for taking the elevator, it started up. We both stood there watching it rise in amazement. Eventually it returned packed with metro riders. We both entered the elevator and finally I broke the silence, "You know, had we never have been in this circumstance we'd never have said a word to one another." He replied, "Yeah, you would have just stood there with your eyes closed." I corrected him, I was actually planning on staring down at my bottle of water, pretending to read the label as I had started to do earlier before discovering the elevator's temperament that evening. He said, "I would have never known what your voice sounded like." I agreed and added, "That's the area [we live in] for you." We both departed our separate ways, each a little more thoughtful of those we encounter.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:04 AM

September 23, 2003

Whining About Homework

I think I am all studied out for the time being. I woke up bright early at 6:00 a.m. when I didn't even have to report to class later in the morning. Why, you ask? To study!! My professors this semester have been seriously loading me down with homework - I don't have time for much of anything else besides the commute to school and the quick shower in between! I told myself this week, since last week and the week before I was guilty of this, that I was not going to get behind in my Western Civilization assignment. So, that is what I have been working on all morning, all afternoon, and I will likely continue on through to the evening as I am still not caught up from last week, but somehow I got ahead for next week. I read the transcript of the video I was supposed to have already viewed before yesterday's session. I got into it and decided to keep going, I passed late antiquity and delved further on into the middle ages. I also caught up on most of the reading, but I have another five pages remaining. I want to hop in the shower, but I also want to just finish what I started. Here I am sit, conflicted. I'm in my jammies from last night. My hair is a wreck. I probably reek. I am so sick of Western Civilization, as interesting as I find it to be, it is just too much too fast. I still have do some reading for Music. Since my English class was canceled on Monday, I'm really not obligated to do tonight's homework (yet), but I want to at least get it started since we have this five page paper on short fiction coming up. The proposal for it is now due on next Monday. I read the speech notes for my recitation... is there anything else I am forgetting about?? Oh yeah, Dr. Ro's class. We're reading Mencius now, but we're behind in the lecture. We were still stuck on Confucius on Monday. I could get away with not touching my text until the weekend, but it is easy enough just read on the train ride to school. I will probably do that.

What would I be doing if not homework, you ask? Well, no, you didn't actually ask, but work with me here. I recently picked up a couple more books (as if my collection were not vast enough) that I'd really like to get around to reading. I have here Realty Check by Piers Anthony, Learn to Read Music by Harry and Micheal Baxter, and Become What You Are by Alan Watts. The last two books I mentioned were not assigned to me by my professors, as you might expect, I want to read them to further my knowledge of what we have covered in my classes. I've decided to write a paper on the Watts book for my Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions course. It seems that the answer to the question posed earlier, if I wasn't obligated to be doing homework right now what would I be doing, is I'd still be doing homework. What can I say? I need mental stimulation!! *sigh* I am such a nerd. I'm going away now to go take my shower and only afterwards go on to complete my Western Civ homework so I can reassert my normality.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:25 PM

September 22, 2003

A Neighbor's Petition

So, here I was all situated to type up a "real" entry and I wasn't sure what to write about. And then there was the sound of my doorbell ringing. A neighbor I have never encountered before was standing on the other side of my door when opened it, poised with a petition calling for more lighting in our parking lot. Apparently, his vehicle was burglarized sometime last night and his CD player was taken. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened to a tenant of this building. Andrew and I have a 4-disk CD player installed in our car but it is hidden from view and so we have not been made victims as of yet, but it is something that occasionally worries me. We don't live in a bad neighborhood. In fact, 1.4 million dollar town houses were erected not too long ago across the street from this building. There are condos to the side that run $2500 a month. Andrew and I both added our names to the bottom of the petition, despite our knowing how the building management has responded to this problem in the past (passively). I am not confident that they will be moved to take any action in this instance even with the collective support of the residents. I wished him good luck and he moved on to my next-door neighbor.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 09:14 PM

September 21, 2003

First Western Civ Paper

I'm too exhausted from writing this paper to type up a real entry, so I'll bore, um educate you with some more of my homework (I've been doing that quite a bit lately). The question for this first Western Civilization assignment was,"Keeping in mind the histories of Thucydides and Polybius, do you think that the common people of Athens and Rome played a significant part in the governing of these two states?" My answer is as follows:

The citizens of Athens and Rome did have at least some influence in the governing of these two states. According to Thucydides (in capturing the spirit of Pericles' funeral speech), the power of the Athenian government resided "in the hands of the many and not of the few." For him, that was the essence of democracy (Dept. of Hist. at GMU 28). With regards to Rome that distinction was harder to make. Polybius explains that, "No one could say for certain, not even a native, whether the constitution as a whole were an aristocracy or democracy or despotism." This determination relies on which branch of the government one focuses his or her attention on to the complete detriment of comprehending how it is that all three function in tandem with one another (Dept. of Hist. at GMU 32). It is because one of those three branches was representative of the people that the Roman government could have been witnessed as being a democracy.

During a class discussion of Thucydides' history two weeks back, we collectively agreed that Athenian citizens were not only permitted to participate in the state politics, it was further seen as their duty to do so. A man who neglected his civic responsibility to get involved with public affairs was not merely useless; he actually diminished the effectiveness of the system. Based on that information, we concluded that the Athenian state was governed by an active participatory democracy (Grindel 8 Sept. 2003). No one was excluded on the basis of wealth or poverty. Poverty alone may not have been enough to bar someone from participation, but certainly citizenship was. Less than half of the actual population was considered to be a part of the citizenry: left out were the women, children, foreigners, slaves, as well as the residents of conquered regions. Our textbook states that, "Any assessment of the Athenian democracy must recognize the injustice suffered by the great number of the excluded" (King 56). The quote I borrowed earlier from Thucydides now requires some qualification. In Athens, "the many" was limited to include only those who were considered citizens. However, it can still be said that this minority was for the most part politically active.

Our class determined last week that Polybius had viewed the Roman government as an adaptive system (Grindel 15 Sept. 2003). It consisted of a representing body, but there also existed along side it two other branches to help keep it in check. Therefore, not all of the power resided with the people, but they clearly had a sphere of influence. For example, Polybius explains that "If the Tribunes intersperse their veto, the Senate not only are unable to pass a decree, but cannot even hold a meeting at all, whether formal or informal." Further, "The Senate stands in awe of the multitude, and cannot neglect the feelings of the people" (Dept. of Hist. at GMU 34). I was suspicious, after learning of all those who were excluded from the citizenry in Athens, of just who these "people" were, whether they were common or citizen, rich or poor. I could not determine whether or not citizenry in Rome was more widespread than it was in Athens. That actually became irrelevant to me when I uncovered this next point I am about to make. Our textbook states that, "Officials were elected by the Centuriate Assembly. That body included all of the citizens of Rome down to the very poorest. But it was dominated by the wealthiest because of its voting procedure" (King 95). There was always the possibility that the poorer citizens would not get an opportunity to vote. Once a majority was reached, that was it, voting was closed. Unlike Athens, poverty in Rome constituted a bar to wielding power in the state. The citizens (even if it is not exceptionally clear who was meant by that term) were represented, but on some occasions their voices still went unheard.

Now that I have considered the governments of both Athens and Rome separately, I clearly see that common people had very little influence over their government. A man could be completely destitute, but so long as he was a citizen of Athens he could participate in politics. However, citizenship was not equally enjoyed by all who lived under the Athenian government. In Rome, more people were considered citizens and they had the Tribunes to collectively represent themselves. However, there was always that chance that the poor of the populous would not get an opportunity to voice their opinions on matters held to a vote.

When discussing a government that appears to have been a democracy or seemed to contain elements of one, it is important to first understand who exactly "the many" or "the people" refers to. Only then can you make that determination of whether or not it was the common people who exerted influence over the government.

Works Cited

Department of History at George Mason University. The Western Civilization Reader. 2nd ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003.
Grindel, Bernard. Lecture. George Mason University. Fairfax, Virginia. 8 Sept. 2003.
Grindel, Bernard. Lecture. George Mason University. Fairfax, Virginia. 15 Sept. 2003.
King, Margaret L. Western Civilization: A Social and Cultural History. Combined volume. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:14 PM

September 19, 2003

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

The following is my fifth response paper for ENGL 325. We weren't told what to write about this time so I picked "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" asserts that there is something odd about the house that she and her husband have rented for the summer. The only strange thing about it is the woman that spends most of her time cooped up in the nursery staring at the old wallpaper. In fact, she is completely obsessed with it. She tries at length to describe what it is about it that offends her so. I have difficulty in picturing anything beyond just the color of the paper. Nothing else is consistent. It changes according to the lighting in the room, or so the narrator indicates.

I determined that as the narrator descends deeper into madness how she perceives things, particularly the wallpaper, constantly changes. She wasn't describing the wallpaper itself, but what it was that she saw in it and by that I don't mean a pattern conceived of by the designer. The paper was most likely uncomplicated; perhaps it was just a plain shade of yellow showing some normal signs of age, such as fading from all the direct sunlight that it receives. There could have been so little going on with this wallpaper that the narrator projected onto it in order to cope with that.

The narrator is a writer; specifically a storyteller. She is compelled to tell the story of the wallpaper and in doing so, she reveals her own. There are bars on all of the windows in the nursery. At night the wallpaper resembles bars over a figure she is certain is female. Near the end of the story the narrator tells us that the woman manages to escape from her prison-pattern during the day. The reason she can say this is because she has seen her from each of her windows. In reality, the narrator only sees her reflection.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 09:16 PM

The Aftermath of Isabel

The following are images of the parking lot used by the tenants of this apartment building.

Isabel.jpg


Fortunately, that's not where our car was parked, however, it used to be our spot before management reassigned them sometime ago. Amazingly, no cars were under that mess when it came down.

Isabel 2.jpg


There was more to see this morning before a neighbor kindly sawed off the top of the tree so people could get in and out of the driveway.

Isabel 3.jpg


On the left-hand side of this picture there are two tall brown recycle cans. If you can find them that should give you a sense of the extent of the damage there was to this tree. If all of it had fallen into the lot it would easily have taken up half of the parking spots.


-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:58 PM

Re: Darwin's Spay Appointment

Late yesterday afternoon I received a call from Darwin's veterinarian: he had just completed the spay and was reporting back with the outcome. Darwin quickly went under when she was given anesthetic (about half the dose given to the average iguana). Several eggs the size of gum balls (the ones that typically cost a 50 cents apiece) were removed along with her reproductive organs. The vet said he put the eggs into cold storage so I could take a look when I came to pick her up. According to him, she was just days away from laying her eggs and because of that the he claimed to have had a bit of a difficult time extracting them. With only the x-rays to go by a week ago he didn't think the eggs had even formed a shell. So, this came as a surprise for both of us. Darwin was at first groggy when they revived her, but she resumed breathing on her own without any difficulty. When she was more with it she tried to jump off the table. She stayed overnight in a warm incubator.

I anxiously awaited to hear from the vet this morning to see how she was when she woke up. When I got the call the her vet told me she was "spunky" (in other words, aggressive) and that it would probably be best for her that we come and get her. When we had checked outside to see how our car did in the hurricane that hit us last night (Isabel) there was a rather large tree downed during the storm that blocked the entire entrance to our building's parking lot. I told the vet that one of my neighbors was working to saw off the top of the tree to clear a path and that we would be there as soon as possible. It wasn't too long before we were on the road headed out there. The vet had warned me that Darwin would appear "deflated" when I saw her. I was prepared for much worse. She looked much better than some of the iguanas I had encountered on the Internet after they were spayed. She's a very healthy girl. The tech brought her out wrapped up in a bath towel so as to protect herself from the wrath of very unhappy lizard. I stroked Darwin on her dewlap and she eventually shut her mouth which had been open, poised to bite stray fingers. The vet showed me his handwork (the stitches and the zip lock baggie filled with bio hazardous materials), we paid, and set off for home.

Darwin Stitches.jpg


Here's what Darwin's stitches look like. They were done in an everting pattern and when it is all healed up she will just shed them off along with the rest of her skin. That should take anywhere from six to eight weeks.

Darwin Kissed By Crystal.jpg


This is me kissing the top of Darwin's head because I am so happy to have her back home.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:17 PM

September 18, 2003

Darwin's Spay Appointment

Andrew and I had to get up early this morning in order to drop Darwin off at the vet's for her spay procedure today. They'll be keeping her over the next two days. I took some pictures of her before we took off.

Darwin Cat Carrier.jpg


Darwin was actually quite cooperative this morning.

Darwin Cat Carrier 2.jpg


When we put her into the carrier she actually stayed in, even with the door unlatched.

Darwin Cat Carrier 3.jpg


She and I spent last night curled up together in bed, her head rested on my right shoulder.

I know that Darwin will only be away for two days, but I am going to miss her. In fact, I already do. I'm also very worried about her. There are quite a few risks involved with the surgery. I'm trying not to focus in on those. I am concerned that she will experience a lot of pain. I know that they will be giving her something for that while they have her, but after she comes home she'll have to endure it all on her own. I really can't discuss this anymore; it upsets me too much. The vet will phone me when he is all through. I'll post the results then. That is, provided that we still have power at that point. Hurricane Isabel recently made landfall in North Carolina and she's on her way over to Virginia (Arlington, where I reside, is in the Northern region of Virginia and the storm is expected to pass to the west of us). I hope the resulting destruction is kept to a minimum and that everyone in the path of Isabel will remain safe.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 01:00 PM

September 15, 2003

Full Day

I woke up an hour late this morning. I had specifically asked Andrew when I slid in next to him a half hour after he had already gone to sleep whether or not the alarm was set. He assured me that it was, for 5:30 a.m. I had intended to wake up promptly at 6:00 a.m. so I could finish up some homework that I didn't get to over the course of the weekend. I prepared to study for my test in Music on Sunday morning going on into the afternoon. By that point, all I had to show for it was a completed study guide and I wasn't sure that all of the information was correct (the professor was rather ambiguous with her wording). Also, my Western Civilization reading assignment bored me and I just couldn't make it through all of it in what was left of Sunday after the time my Music class had consumed. So, the agenda for this morning involved actually studying for my my Music test and finishing up my reading for Western Civilization. Being short on time, I concentrated on studying for the test, gambling that there would be no pop quiz this morning in Western Civilization. I did manage to squeeze in a few more pages of the reading.

I felt like my English class didn't go so well this morning. In discussing "Bartleby the Scrivener" I attempted to explain that I wasn't confident that the narrator truly learned anything by the end of the story. It didn't seem to me that he had fully realized that he was just like Bartleby; they both had lost their humanity and to the very same cause: the work place. The professor seemed to disagree with me, stating that the narrator felt new emotions provoked by Bartleby. I don't think we were even on the same page. I felt like I didn't do an effective job and I really don't feel I could have with everything else occupying my mind. I got my "Sonny's Blues" response paper handed back. My professor's reaction was positive, he gave me a check plus along with the comment "very nicely done." He agreed with me that what I had typed up was pretty elliptical (his word choice) and that what I had hand written in at the end helped to clarify my rather elusive (his world choice again) connection.

Here's what I added in on the morning that it was due:

"This may perhaps be a bit preemptive, but in reading back over what I had written - after having had some sleep - I thought I should further explain something so it is a little clearer. You wanted to know how the choice the author made that interested me contributed to the overall effect that the story has on the reader. The way I personally related to this story was influenced by a Music Appreciation class that I ave been taking this semester. I have come to understand that when a piece begins with utter discord everything that follows strives to resolve that dissonance, ever approaching consonance. It grabs at the reader's attention and pulls them through the entire experience. The end is all the more sweeter and relieving for them because that initial discord was there."

My English professor wrote below that:

"Good connection - especially in a story about jazz - and I am glad that you made the connection clear, because it's more elusive (or elliptical) in what you say above."

Western Civilization went amazingly well. There was fortunately no pop quiz this morning. I made a lot of good comments in class, many more than I have on previous occasions. The test in Music went okay, I had to draw a few asterisks on my scan tron next to a few questions that I was unsure of (so I will remember to look them over later when I get it back). I basically now know how to treat any future study guides from this teacher: totally disregard them. No, I'm just kidding, it wasn't that bad. She just didn't seem to have a good sense of what she wanted us to know. I could tell she made up the study guide before she constructed her test and she didn't look back at it when she did get around to putting her test questions together. I got out of that class early because the test didn't take very long. I ran into one of my friends from last semester and we killed some time catching up with each other. My Philosophy in Religion class rapidly went by. I was upset with myself for having decided to leave the text for that class at home (no remaining space in my backpack and something had to be sacrificed). There was a passage in the Analects that I wanted to share with the class on language (being the budding linguist that I am or so I claim to be): 15:40 Confucius said, "In words all that matters is to express the meaning." I borrowed my neighbor's text, but I couldn't find it on demand. I'll bring it up again in class on Wednesday. I'll be sure to bring my book that time since I won't be also expected to lug around two Western Civilization texts with me that day; that class is on Mondays only). After that, I attended the first general meeting for Alpha Lambda Delta as an officer, meaning I had to say a few words and snap some pictures (I'm the historian, remember? You probably don't or it's just that you've never been to my site before). We explained who we all were and what it is we do. We voted for a replacement secretary. We ate some pizza. I showed off my newly redecorated bulletin board to the other officers and they seemed to really like it. That made it all worth the effort I put into it :).

Now that I have recapped the day's events, hopefully there is enough of it left to spend a sliver of time with Andrew watching the rest of Bowling for Columbine while he gives me a much needed and much deserved (in my biased opinion) foot massage.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:46 PM

September 13, 2003

Too Hot

It feels like it is 90 degrees inside of this apartment right now. WeatherBug claims that it is only 72. For some reason the AC is not pumping out any cold air. We've had that problem sporadically over the last few days. I've thought about contacting the building management, but I am all but certain that I will be told the problem exists only in my head (a typical response). To combat the heat on my own, I opened up my bedroom windows. I was cooped up in my room, watching my weekend shows on TLC because Andrew is doing his homework and I don't want to distract him with the living room television. The sounds of a Reggae band poured into my room along with the fresh, cooler air. I guess there was some sort of an event going on at Iwo Jima. I decided not to check it out because I had already taken my shower and put on my jammies. Instead, I colored one full mandala and started on another. Andrew and I found these neat colored pencils I used to color them with while we were at Michael's earlier today purchasing some supplies I'll be using tomorrow to decorate the ALD bulletin board. The board is located on the first floor in Robinson Hall B on the Fairfax campus of GMU. As the group's historian, it is my responsibility to keep the board up to date. Last Tuesday, I labored for a total of three and half hours getting everything together that I had described at the ALD officer's meeting held earlier today that will be going up on the board:

Bulletin Board.jpg

Now I just hope it all fits. The background will be a dark green textured paper. I couldn't find any borders over at Micheal's so I left instead with 2 rolls each of gold and silver foil stars attached to wire. I intend to entwine the gold and silver trims together and staple them around the edges of the board to frame out the contents as well as give it a little extra sparkle to attract attention. Our goal is to get lots of new members to join this year. I could be wrong, but I think that's our goal every year. This updated design should help to get our group noticed.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:44 PM

September 12, 2003

"Bartleby the Scrivener"

The following is my fourth response paper for ENGL 325. We were asked to read "Bartleby the Scrivener", select a character to describe, and discuss the role of ??? in the story.

The title character in Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" is a despondent, dejected, and depressed man. He is hired by the narrator of the story as a scrivener because he has a calm appearance. It was the narrator's intent that this individual should balance out the other two personalities already in his employ: that of Turkey and Nippers. Those two actually do a sufficient job of complementing each other, all the while providing comic relief. Turkey is an elderly drunk who is industrious in the morning and inebriated by the afternoon. Nippers is a young man whose problem is not alcohol, but rather ambition accompanied with indigestion. The indigestion plagues him in the morning and abates in the afternoon. Therefore, when one man is not productive, the other one is. I mention this because it seems to me that Bartleby does in fact serve as a counterpoise, not to Turkey and Nippers, but to the narrator himself.

The description we are given of Bartleby is a striking one; in the beginning he is portrayed as already a dead man (he is described at later points in the story as a ghost which is significant), devoid of the characteristics that identify one as being human. His actions are pale and mechanical. He never eats a proper meal and, as far as anyone can tell, he never leaves the office. Consequently, Bartleby is thin and wan. He is silent unless he is directly provoked with a request or an inquisition. When he responds it is always with the same passive phrase, "I would prefer not." In this statement, he expresses that he is worn out, not intentionally being defiant. Bartleby is a beaten man. He is completely nonchalant. He cannot be aroused to anger. Bartleby is dissatisfied and slowly disengages himself from the work that is expected of him and eventually from the greater world beyond Wall Street.

The role of Bartleby in the story is to show the narrator along with the readers that there is another way of viewing things, as they appear according to a miserable scrivener. In his eyes the corporate world is a desolate place that strips inhabitants of any humanity they entered with. The narrator had found ways to adapt to this life. It exhausted Bartleby. The narrator eventually accepts Bartleby as an extension of himself, his ghost.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 07:50 PM

September 11, 2003

"Sonny's Blues"

The following is what I wrote for my third assignment for ENGL 325. We were asked to select one of the following short stories: "Sonny's Blues", "Story of an Hour", "Use of Force", or "Girls and Boys." The professor wanted us to identify and examine a significant and interesting choice that the author made about how the story is told. Also, we were asked to explain how this choice contributes to the effect the story has on the reader. I had already decided that I wanted to write about "Sonny's Blues" regardless of whether or not the teacher assigned us to write about it or not as soon as I finished reading it. There's a lot going on in this story. I was up late on Tuesday night (that was a non-stop day for me and I had saved this paper for last). I finished around two in the morning. When I got to school the next morning when it was due, I read back over it and decided that I needed to preemptively write a response at the end to answer the questions I could hear my professor asking in my head. I don't have what I added in at the last minute to post with entry right now, as I haven't gotten my paper back yet. When I do get it back I'll be sure to put it up.

The most interesting choice that I thought author James Baldwin made in his short story titled "Sonny's Blues" was in the way that he sequenced it. Sonny had been forever immortalized as a child in his older brother's (the narrator's) mind. The narrator found himself reminiscing about how his little brother had looked in the past and from there he got to considering how he must appear now in the future. The narrator was not able to move beyond how his brother used to look. In hearing the laughter of some school children he also heard a distant echo of his brother and of his former self. Then the narrator abruptly shifted the perspective forward again.

The way narrator kept moving his perspective around created an almost audible sort of dissonance that craved resolution throughout the story. With each successive shift, he remained in a given tense for an increasingly longer stretch of time until finally he was rooted firmly in the present. The final shift took place around the time when Sonny came home to live with the narrator. Consonance followed not long after.

The reason why Baldwin chose the scene, where the narrator has read Sonny's story in a newspaper and refuses to believe it, as his first is because he wants to point out that he will not accept any story about Sonny unless he has heard it directly from Sonny himself. It was apparent to me that throughout the story Sonny had been trying to tell his story to his older brother, but he wasn't listening to him. The narrator was much too consumed with his own story that he couldn't hear that Sonny was trying to tell him his. The narrator was not even aware that Sonny had developed this story of his own.

Everyone has their own story to tell and their own individual way of sharing it. With Sonny it was only though his music that he could articulate himself in a way that his brother could understand and be capable of relating to. In the end, consonance was achieved by expressing his story in a way that transcended words.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:36 PM

School Updates

I forgot to mention what happened with the second paper I handed in to my English 325 professor (on sonnets, see my September 4th entry). I got it back on Monday with another check plus (that's two so far, eight more to go). He wrote a few comments and posed a few questions. I replied and handed it back into him at the end of class. I inquired about it on Wednesday night at the recitation and said he didn't have it ready to give back to me yet. I'm anxious to see what he has to say, if anything.

Just for fun and continuity, I'll share with you what at the bottom of my "Happy Endings" assignment (see my entry from August 26th) my English professor wrote:

"Very good, as you already know - I like how you compare all three stories. I'm not totally sure I agree that she is making fun of people who write plots - or at least you might want to refine or elaborate that statement - all plots? All people who write plots? Why? What's wrong with plots for her?"

My response to that was as follows:

"Atwood is more specifically making fun of people (this word was circled and there was an arrow pointing to some additional information I wrote on the side... who build plots by stringing together Whats while giving little development to How and Why. How and Why are difficult questions to ask, but if you nail them the Whats just come together and are less important: they serve as a backdrop for the How and Why.) who write What plots, not filled out or given dimension by How and Why information. love story plots are a lot of What (they became that way over time). For Atwood, plots like that are too conventional, they are not compelling, they don't leave us asking ourselves (the readers) the right questions. She is more specifically picking on people who write plots by taking the easy route: supplying What because it is what consumers have come to want and expect. Authors have a responsibility to shake things up, make us ask questions, and see things differently. If the goal were not to see things differently, why would we read???"

His comment after reading that:

"Excellent elaboration - you've persuaded me here."

The Listening Assignment I posted here on September 9th was returned to me yesterday in Music 101. I had a check plus on the top along side the word "good." She didn't include any further comments. Good thing too I have this tendency to respond. She explained to the class that if you received a check mark then you got full credit. If you received a check plus that means you did something creative and got a little more than full credit. On Monday we will be having our first test in that class. She asked us to bring a scan tron when we come because the test will involve multiple choice questions and perhaps some true and false statements. She assured us that it isn't going to be very difficult. She is even going to e-mail us a study guide by Friday afternoon. I want to continue to do well in her class so I'm going to get started studying before then.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:17 PM

Darwin's Vet Visit

Andrew and I had to take our iguana Darwin to the vet yesterday. Andrew noticed that there was some blood in and around her cage while he was getting dressed for work. He called me into the room and had me take a look. I discovered that what she had injured was her already bad toe. She had broken it a long time ago before she came to live with Andrew and I. There's not much that can be done for an iguana with a broken toe other than to let it heal naturally. That was what was done in Darwin's case and it didn't heal straight. You can see what I mean by looking at the picture below. It's the fourth digit from the left.

Darwin's Toe.jpg

It also appears to be missing a claw. I was very worried when I saw this yesterday. It just looked like a bloody stump then. I immediately phoned her vet's office. I learned that he was not going to be in at all that day and I just couldn't see waiting until the following day to get her treated. For all I knew she could have been in some serious pain. I told them that I considered it an emergency and so they referred me to another veternarian that also specializes in exotic animals. I called that place and arranged to drop Darwin off and pick her up later on in the evening, provided she wouldn't need to stay overnight for any reason. Where we had to go was not far from my school and I had class starting at 10:30 a.m. I e-mailed my professor just in case I would be late. Darwin rode with us in the cat carrier.

When we got to the vet's we had fill out some paper work. I tried to explain as best as I could what had been going on with her over the last few months. She has been a different iguana all summer long. I would definitely call her behavior territorial. At first, we thought she was bobbing her head, hissing and generally being agressive because of the new cage we moved her into. It is enormous. She really needed more living space because she getting to be such a big lizard. Also, it was not an aquarium like what she had lived in all of her life up until that point. This new cage was made from metal coated in enamel. Andrew and I decided to wait and see if she would adjust to her new home. After a month, her behavior escalated and we decided that something else must have been wrong. Her appetite had started to wain around this time. I couldn't get her to eat for days at a time. I tried force feeding her, but that was extremely unpleasant for the both of us. I began to set out food every other day. Sometimes I would see that she had eaten some and most others not. She wasn't losing anything off her middle. Like a leaf in fall, she turned a bright orange. She began to dig at the bottom of her cage. All of this indicated to me that she was most likely gravid. We do not know for sure how old she is and neither of us is an expert, so we couldn't be 100% positive that this was the case.

Andrew and I constructed a box for her to lay her eggs in from two kitty litter pans, soil, sand, water, and duct tape. We moved it into the bottom of her cage and waited for her have them. She did go in there every so often to dig around. After another month we decided to take the box out and see if there were any eggs inside. We didn't find any. We decided against putting it back in because by that point she was consuming more food and putting some of her old weight back on. We figured there were probably eggs in the box and we just didn't find them. Her attitude had not changed any. In fact, it seemed to be growing worse. She started biting. She only managed to bite me just once. Andrew doesn't get in position close enough to her to get bitten. She got me on the side of my right index finger. It was a pretty deep bite. It bled quite a bit, but it didn't merit any stitches. I'm sure that I will end up with a permanent scar even thought I treated it with Neosporin. I figured at the time that I deserved it. Afterall, I stuck my hand in her cage when she didn't want it there. I started to have less contact with her from that point on. She still got her baths twice a week and meals every other day (she still wasn't back up to what she used to eat before all of this mess began), but seldom would I reach in to take her out for no reason other than just to be close to her. A few days before yesterday's incident with her toe, I noticed some swelling in her dewlap (the fleshy thing that hangs down beneath her jaw) and she didn't seem capable of extending it out fully (they do that in a display of agression usually in combination with head bobbing). I figured I would keep my eye on it and call the vet if the swelling didn't recede in a couple of days. While we were at the vet's yesterday filling out the paper work, I made mention of it and expressed my desire for the vet to check it out. I also explained that there was some abrasion located on top of her head. It is a common self-inflicted injury brought on by stress. I am more concerned with what caused her to do it than I am with the actual injury itself. It is my unqualified opinion that there is one reason for all of these problems with Darwin. I believe it all adds up to her still carrying eggs.

Andrew dropped me off at school an hour before class was scheduled. The vet called Andrew and Andrew called me sometime in the middle of my first class. I had deliberately left my phone on in case there was any news. I was away from my desk because the professor had us broken up to groups. I ran over to retrieve my phone from my bag and exclaimed, "I'm sorry, it's the vet!" As I scrambled to make it of the room I overheard Dr. Eisner explaining what happened with my iguana (he was in the know because of the e-mail he had recieved, the one I had sent just in case I would be late to his class). Andrew told me that the vet wanted permission to do some bloodwork and to take an x-ray. He explained that the bloodwork would tell the vet if Darwin was healthy enough to undergo surgery if it came down to that (possibly an amputation and a spay, but I'll get to that in just a second). It also would tell him whether or not she has an infection, which he thinks she might have one in her toe, which would be a reason for the swelling in her dewlap. The x-ray would tell the vet if our suspicions were correct: that she was mature sexually. He would also be able to see if there was any bone damage to her injured toe. I told Andrew to go ahead and have the vet do whatever he needed to and I returned to class feeling like I might cry.

Andrew called me in my off period and informed me of what the vet told him. From the x-ray he clearly saw eggs. Her toe showed no bone damage whatsoever, and he did not mention the word "amputation" again. He did recommend that we have her spayed. Let me take a minute to explain something: an iguana is a lot like a chicken in that regardless of having mated or not, a female will produce eggs once a year that she cannot reabsorb into her body. She will lay them, but only if certain conditions are met. That is easier said than done. Andrew and I tried that and it didn't work. You can have a vet take the eggs out each and every year, but that is expensive and you still have a hormonal lizard that wants to take off your finger. Spaying eliminates the need for a repetitive surgical procedure. It also has a good chance of returning the lizard's personality back to normal. We've decided to have the vet spay Darwin. We are waiting for the results back on the bloodwork and we'll schedule the surgery with him once we know she is healthy enough to survive it. For now and continuing over the next month or so, she will being given an oral and a topical antibiotic (for her toe) and extra calcium (for the developing eggs). She was never given anything for pain and I was assured that had the vet thought she was experiencing any, he'd have administered some medicine.

We took her back home later in the evening as planned. Andrew picked me up from school and from there we went directly over to the vet's office. We paid the bill and the vet tech took Darwin out of the back and brought her into a front examining room to show us how to medicate her. I'm not sure if Darwin was running to me or just away from them, but I picked her up when she came over and attempted to calm her down with a surprising degree of success. I placed her back down on the table, we finished up with the lesson, looked over the x-rays, and discussed the vet's notes from his examination. We also got a quote on the spay. It will run $450. Ouch.

Darwin Couch.jpg

Darwin is in good shape today. She has had a bath, she's been medicated, and I brought her outdoors for a while to bask in sun. We're going back out here in a few minutes. I came down to put on some sunblock and grab my lit book. I decided that if I was going to study I needed to first drink some tea (it's room temperature now). I decided I needed something to do while I sipped it and so I typed up this entry.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 03:50 PM

September 09, 2003

Listening Assignment

The following is what I wrote for my Music 101 listening assignment:

Over the long weekend I tried to tune in to the music all around. Were it not a conscious effort on my part, some of what I heard might never have made it any further than my sensory buffer. There are times and places where music is intended to take to the forefront of our experience and others where it subliminally affects us from the background. In my state of conscious awareness I encountered instances where the music was the star and still others where it added to the backdrop. I was not expecting to discover that music could also serve to detract from an experience, and despite the negative connotations with that word choice, I found that it is not necessarily a bad thing when it does.

While heading home from campus on Thursday, my boyfriend stopped by a station to fill up on gas. Up until the point when he turned off the ignition we had been listening to Pachelbel Canon and Other Baroque Favorites. Afterwards I overheard a recording of the Bee Gees singing "You Should Be Dancing" emanating from what I suspected was a nearby car. I craned my head around to see who it might have been. All of the other cars that were initially parked at the station had pulled away in the amount time it took for us to finish pumping our gas. That's when I determined that it was issuing from speakers up above and not from another vehicle. I don't recall ever having heard music coming from a gas station itself before that day. I personally do not enjoy listening to the Bee Gees (much of their music is considered disco, which I deeply dislike, but I do believe it all fits underneath the rock genre), however, it completely took my mind off the smell of gasoline. I suspect the music was really provided to take peoples' minds of the monotonous act of pumping gas.

Scarcely a day goes by when I don't hear the little girl who lives one apartment above and one over from mine practicing on her upright piano. I can clearly hear her live performances from either of our two bedrooms during her normal rehearsals. Most often I find the sound to be merely annoying, but it can be frustrating because it tends to break my concentration. In the three years that I have been audience to her playing, she has made dramatic improvement. I used to cringe, whenever she missed a key she intended to hit, from the resulting dissonance. There are other times that I feel proud of her accomplishment and commitment to practice. I can't recognize any of the pieces she has played by title, but they definitely seem to fit under the classical category.

I spent Labor Day afternoon reading sonnets on the grounds surrounding the Netherlands Carillon (located in close proximity to the United States Marine Corps War Memorial). The Carillon was gift from the Dutch of a stationary set of fifty chromatically tuned bells hung in a tower that are played from a device called a clavier (essentially a keyboard). Not only I was I present for the bells being struck on the hour, but beginning at 2:00 p.m. and going on until 4:00 p.m. I listened to Edward M. Nasser, an esteemed carillonneur, perform a live recital. Many of the songs that he played were patriotic, which I believe fits under the category of traditional. At first I found that the music distracted me from my reading. Later, I found that I was able to shift it to the back of my awareness where I was still able to enjoy it, but also focus on what I was doing.

Earlier this evening I went out to eat dinner. I happened to overhear music playing in the background of the conversation my companion and I were having while awaiting our meals to be served. I can't say that I had previously heard any of the recorded songs before. There was quite a mix of genres represented from rock, to R&B, all the way to reggae. I distinctly recall having heard the steel drums being played in a few of the reggae numbers. When our mouths were too stuffed to speak, the music helped to fill the aural void.

Over the extended weekend I had made a conscious effort to hear the music all around me. What I discovered is that the presence of music serves many purposes. Music can be the center of attention, it can also exist to provide background static to another activity, or it can help to call attention away from something else that may not be so pleasant. In a world without music there would certainly be a lot more uncomfortable silence.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:08 AM

September 08, 2003

Migraine Headache

I had a particularly nasty migraine headache that began at some point during my Music class complete with the blinding lights and coupled further into it with an excruciating pain in the right side of my forehead. I separately prayed to each and every deity I know by name (which is actually quite a few as I went through both the Religions of the Orient and Human Religious Experience classes last semester at GMU) that the headache would subside so I could concentrate fully on the material being presented to me and not feel like death would be a welcomed respite. Unfortunately, prayer didn't work. I struggled to read the names and terms the teacher printed on the board, but all I could see was the flashing lights. Amazingly, I made it through the entire class and I even managed to take notes with not being able to see what I was writing.

On a side note, I got my Music quiz (on Italian terms often found in discussions of dynamics and tempo) handed back to me and I earned a 100% on it. I had turned in my listening assignment a week early (it wasn't due until today), but the professor didn't have that ready for me yet with all of the quizzes she had to grade. What that assignment entailed, since I am pretty sure I haven't gone over it here, was to find four examples of music, in perhaps unexpected places and discuss them: tell where it was that we encountered them, the impact they had on our mood, what instruments we detected being played, what purpose we thought the music in this particular environment might serve, and what genre we think the music fits into. Maybe I will post what I wrote for that assignment when I am all through with this entry - I'll see how I feel about it then. Let's put it this way, it's certainly not what I consider to be some of my most exemplar writing. The professor didn't expect us to give her the information in an essay format, but that was what I was more comfortable with doing so I went with it. She did explicitly say that she would not be grading us on out writing ability. Good thing. I probably did just fine. We'll see. Anyway, back to the scheduled broadcast already in progress.

I only had one more class following Music since it was a Monday and not a Wednesday when I have my late Recitation for English 325. On the way to class I assured myself that I could make it through another hour and a half. I kept thinking to myself after the class began, "Just keep writing whatever you do to keep your mind off of the nausea accompaniment to the migraine." When that wasn't working so well, I told myself that when I could no longer bear it anymore I could get out my seat and leave the classroom to find a bathroom. I knew that if I could only just vomit I'd begin to feel somewhat better. With twenty minutes remaining, I had to excuse myself. I just got up and boogied for the door. I had a little trouble finding a bathroom, but I managed to keep everything contained until the point when I did find one and I was safely inside of a stall. Fortunately, there were no other women in the room with me. I really didn't want to gross anyone out. When I went back to class I was concerned that I might have shown Dr. Ro, my Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions professor, undue disrespect. At the end of the class I explained my sudden departure and he put an arm over my shoulders, told me then he understood, and sent me on my way to get some rest. I came home, after a completely bizarre experience with an unusual person aboard the Metro, and I went to bed for a short while. I feel a lot better now, but there is still some lingering pain remaining in my head. I took two Advils with my late supper and hopefully I will be fully recovered before my 9:00 a.m. meeting with the other officers of Alpha Lambda Delta. I've also got another response paper to write for English 325 due on Wednesday that I will need to write at some point tomorrow. I'm going to return to bed after I post the listening assignment I mentioned earlier in this entry.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:58 PM

September 07, 2003

Weekend Updates

My xylophone arrived on Friday evening.

Xylophone.jpg


This is what it looked like when we got it all set up. My bells can be removed from the case they are seen situated in here. The box was more stable atop the stand than just the bells alone.

I got started right away reading basic music and playing simple melodies with an almost complete disregard for rhythm and meter. Andrew assures me those things will come along later with more practice.

Today was my induction convocation into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) GMU chapter. Andrew took some pictures of me crossing the stage, but they didn't turn out so well. I returned home from the experience with a key chain and another pin. They were charging $10 for t-shirts and I couldn't see paying more after the hefty $70 it cost for my lifetime membership. What can I say? I'm a broke-ass college student.

That would be all of the updates I have for right now.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 09:08 PM

September 05, 2003

Re: Sage Enhances Memory

Andrew and I went over to Whole Foods last night to stock back up on Mental ClariTea and to see if we could find and purchase some sage capsules. According to the article I posted yesterday, traditional healers and herbalists have known about the effects of sage on memory for ages. However, the mass-market producers of dietary supplements are somewhat slow on the uptake. All we were able to find was one brain health multi tablet that had sage in it as well as a few other things like ginger (stimulates circulation), ginkgo biloba (also shown to have positive effects on memory), and omega 3 fatty acids (important for normal brain development) but it was fairly expensive @ $18 for a 60 count bottle. We decided to forage around at a few different stores before deciding how we wanted to handle adding sage to our daily intake. We went over to tea isle to pick up my two boxes of Mental ClariTea. We glanced at the other boxes of tea to see if anything jumped out as something we might like to try and Andrew noticed a box of Think-02 tea by Traditional Medicinals. In looking at the supplement facts, he noted that the tea contained sage leaf, among other things: peppermint leaf, ginkgo leaf and dry extract, gotu kola leaf, rosemary leaf, lemon balm leaf, Siberian ginseng root, natural lemon flavor, stevia leaf. I have no idea what most of those herbal ingredients do. However, I do know it tastes pretty good with the tiniest bit of honey. My head feels nice and clear after drinking an 8oz cup, steeped uncovered for the full recommended 15 minutes. I figure drinking this tea and using fresh sage (which we picked up at Harris Teeter, but you can get it at most any grocery store) in our cooking is good way to introduce it to our diet.

Speaking of our diet, it has gone to hell as late. School has been throwing us off a bit. We come home at night after a long day not feeling much like cooking or cleaning up after the resulting mess. We went out to eat twice this week. On Tuesday night we went to Fudrucker's and gorged ourselves on hamburgers, french fries, and onion rings. Wednesday evening we went out again! That time we went to the Macaroni Grill. I think Andrew has been trying to spoil me rotten lately.

Further on the topic of Andrew spoiling me, guess what thumped against the apartment door yesterday? Well, yeah, it was a package. Duh. Okay, now guess what was in it? No, not my xylophone, I prolly won't see that until at least the beginning of next week. A Palm Zire Messenger bag!! I had been previously disappointed to learn that I had bought my new Palm Zire a month too soon to qualify for the free bag promotion and Andrew made it up to me by buying it online and surprising me with it. He had written a guest entry here on August 24th stating that he had found it in the Palm Store, but I didn't realize he was serious about getting it for me because "negotiations" had never actually taken place for repayment. I play-pretend that I'm suspicious of what all he might be after and he just assures me that he loves me and that's all there is to his spoiling me.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:57 AM

September 04, 2003

Sage Enhances Memory

Andrew sent me an e-mail containing this article a few moments ago about a study that was conducted on the effects of sage on memory loss. I am sure he thought of me when he read this article because I have a terrible memory when it comes to anything that isn't visual in nature. Andrew knew nothing at the time he sent it about the entry I posted earlier where I touched on my study habits and how they have changed since the start of my educational career at GMU. Anyway, it sucks only having a photographic memory. I wonder if taking a sage supplement could help me? It's worth a try, even after reading a comment made by the lead researcher, Nicola Tildesley, "Test[s] would need to be carried on people over a longer period of time to prove that sage improves exam performance, but we donít have any plans to do this at present. " Someone had better get right on this!

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:40 AM

Sonnets

This following is what I wrote for my second assignment for ENGL 325. We were asked to respond to a selection of sonnets that we were asked to read for homework. Again, we were given two options for doing this: we could either write our own sonnet or we could discuss the way the content of one sonnet of our choosing plays off the particular limitations or confines of the form of the sonnet. I decided not to write my own sonnet.

I cannot limit myself to discussing only one particular sonnet out of the seven we were asked to look at because they each have made an interesting and worthwhile contribution to my overall understanding of the self-imposed confinement sought after in that rigid form.

I have come to recognize a certain virtue in confinement, like the noble nuns that William Wordsworth titles his famous sonnet after, "Nuns Fret Not." This author explains that constraints don't necessarily serve to bind. Rather, they have the capacity to open up a whole realm of possibilities. Sometimes it is harder to be entirely unlimited. Sometimes it is a challenge to willfully pose upon oneself some constraint.

To that John Keats adds in his "On the Sonnet" that you can impose a structure on poetry, but inherently, poetry has a structure of its own. To look at what he says in a slightly different way, poetry is constrained, but not consistently in a way befitting the words. Simply, if you are going to constrain poetry do so in a way that is indicative of the poetry itself and not of the constraints you've placed on it.

When I read "The White House" by Claude McKay I got the immediate sense that the author was being shut out of some opportunity, perhaps a job. Looking at the year this was written I determined that it was during the Great Depression. As I read it a second time through it sounded more like he had been recently fired. It seemed like he had ample reason to be externally angry about whatever it was that happened, but instead he maintained composure. He was confined by his morals to behave in a way that he would much rather not be limited to, but he constrained himself despite that. Comparable to the act of writing a sonnet, constraining oneself is also voluntary.

In "When I Consider How My Light is Spent" John Milton tells his readers that he writes poetry that he basically regards as useless, but it is all that he can do for God (this is pretty obtuse and 350 years didn't do much to help matters). He asks if God expects him to spend his entire life working while denying him any personal life (a life that is not entirely in service to God). Patience answers so Milton won't begin to doubt his relationship to the Almighty and explains that he doesn't need to exercise God's gifts. All that is expected of Milton is that he acknowledge the presence of the Lord and when demands are made upon him from high that they are fulfilled. God effectively has a whole bunch of people working constantly for him and so you can best serve him by waiting for his command. Milton had been questioning God's plan for his life and expressing the constraint he was feeling due to it. Milton thought he had to spend his entire life hanging on for God to utilize his talents. He learned that he could live his life however he chose to and just respond to God whenever he is needed. What I learned is that you have to be careful in determining what your constraint is. You are not always limited by what you think you are.

Author Gwendolyn Books in her sonnet, "First Fight. Then Fiddle" tells us not to be concerned with art and war at the very same time. Music is not the appropriate thing to concern yourself when you are going into battle, and conversely, fighting is not the appropriate thing to be concerned with when you are creating musical harmony. Don't try and do everything all at once. It is important to concern yourself with the right thing at the right time. In building a sonnet you may be concerned with the limitations that the sonnet places on you, but that is not the appropriate thing to be thinking about.

In "Range Finding" by Robert Frost we read of an observation of the battle field shortly before the battle ensues. Everything is calm and normal. The battle wasn't meant to involve the creatures that inhabited the area and so they proceeded on with their activities and accommodated it; they didn't break routine.

When I read "Joy Sonnet in a Random Universe" by Helen Chasin, I looked to the date it was written for some explanation as to what possible influences the author wrote under. All I could come up with, upon learning that it was written in 1968, is that she was potentially on some sort of drug. She abandoned rhyming structure and meter, but kept to the traditional fourteen lines. Chasin's design yielded a square-shape poem. What I determined the author was trying to say is that even when she is happy and doing her own thing she still has this tendency to delineate.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:55 AM

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

September 02, 2003

Holocaust Memorial Museum

Andrew had jury duty earlier this morning and they ended up not needing him for the full day. Rather than going in to work I managed to tempt him into staying home with me. I reminded him that we needed to renew the tag for the car (it was due last month) and that meant going and getting an emissions test and a state safety inspection. We also needed to have an oil change and a warranty repair on the driver's side window. Unfortunately, it is the start of a new month and so the dealer didn't have enough time for everything we needed to have done. The safety inspection would have to be put off until tomorrow morning when Andrew goes and drops the car off on his way to his PSP class. What was possible to accomplished this afternoon wouldn't be in the time that was reasonable for us to hang around and wait. Everything settled, Andrew and I were dumped at the Metro station and we decided to ride it straight over into D.C. I wanted to go and visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Andrew was game for the adventure. To be continued at a time when I am less in need of sleep...

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:45 PM

September 01, 2003

Resolutions Update: September

It's the first of the month and it is time again for another resolutions update. If you wish to see my original resolutions entry, see the entry for July 9th.

  • I committed to stop smoking. On July 18th I officially broke my physical addiction to cigarettes. Every now and then I still have psychological cravings, but I have been consistent in not yielding to them.
  • I committed to stop biting my fingernails. I have not chewed on them since around or about March 2nd. They aren't looking so great though. There are certain nails that I break with astounding regularity: both thumb-nails, both index fingernails, and both middle fingernails. I don't think I have ever broken either my ring or pinkie fingernails. Needless to say, my nails are pretty uneven.
  • I committed to read more. I read a total of eight and a half books over the summer (including one not on my list because it was so short: Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Hey by the way, he won a Hugo Award for that novella). Considering the two trips out of state I had to make (one anticipated, the other not) and the visitors that stayed with us (not anticipated) I didn't do so badly. Yeah, that's a justification, and not even an original one. In the one month I had remaining left of my summer vacation, when I last I did a resolutions update, I said I had wanted to try to read five more books. I got bored early on with Good Omens and I wouldn't allow myself to set it aside for another. So I read exactly zero more out of the five I was aiming for. I expect that I will be doing enough reading just keeping up with my school assignments, but I want to finally be done with Good Omens.
  • There were thirty-one days in the month of August, twenty-five of those days I wrote entries. I ended up with a total of forty-six entries in all. It looks like I am still doing well with my commitment to keep a journal.
  • Lastly, I made a goal to put more of my time and energy into doing the things that I enjoy. I specifically mentioned that I wanted to watch less television. There's really only one station that I watch and only on weekends - that's TLC. I also wanted to fully complete the mandala coloring book, but I have yet to so. However, there are one and half more pages that show some effort to that end. I have twenty-seven, out of an initial forty-eight, left remaining. I have been spending a significant amount of my free time with Andrew. We played Who Wants to be a Millionaire yesterday (we both lost it all after the 64k question). We've been bowling two times now (once for glow bowl and another time for all you can bowl). We've even made it over to D.C. three more times this past month.The first time we walked through a storm to see the MLK inscription over at the Lincoln Memorial, the second time we went to the National Arboretum, and the third time we visited the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Obviously since school is keeping me too busy to allow for much free reading, I'm not going to have much remaining time for Andrew, for playing games, or for going over to the District.
-- CrystalShiloh @ 01:46 PM