November 28, 2003

What I am Most Thankful For

I might have written this yesterday, but I was having too much of a great time with Andrew, Hemana, Amy, and Amy's family to stop. I'm grateful for the friends I had to spend the holiday with.

Thanksgiving 2003.jpg

From left to right: Andrew, myself, Hemana, Kyle (Amy's boyfriend), Amy, Amy's mom, and her Grandmother. Behind the camera is Amy's uncle.

I'm extremely lucky to have a man like Andrew in my life. He takes very good care of me. I never want for anything, at least not if it is in my best interests. Andrew has never so much as tried to change me, but yet I am a much better person because of him. I am thankful for my family who love and support me in my endeavors. I'm grateful for all the opportunities I have presented with, especially being accepted into GMU almost two years ago. I'm also thankful for Rand and Darwin (I love them so much). And finally, I'm grateful for the pizza that just arrived... I'm going to go eat some of it now :).

-- CrystalShiloh @ 08:55 PM

November 26, 2003

Candid Rand

I had left one of my textbooks open on the couch and Rand made herself comfortable on it. She looked so cute and studious, I just couldn't resist taking a snapshot.

Rand Studying 2.jpg

-- CrystalShiloh @ 11:36 PM

November 25, 2003

Just 2 Days Until Thanksgiving

I guess it was last week that I over Hemana's and Amy's apartment discussing our plans for the upcoming holiday. Amy said that she was expecting her mother, her grandmother, and her uncle to drive down from New York to join them for Thanksgiving festivities this year. I was really happy to hear that she would be around her family, but I wondered what her father would be doing up in New York all alone. Amy explained that he owns a retail tire store and that he needed to be around to sell snow tires to people who need them in this winter season. She also assured me that there will be many relatives remaining in New York that he can get together with. Feeling a little sad and maybe even disappointed for myself, I told Hemana and Amy that Andrew and I were planning on preparing a small meal this year. It just isn't worth it when it will just be the two of us. Hemana in response said, "Aw I'll come." I said, "Great!" The next evening Amy came over for a visit. I could have sworn that she had been inside our apartment before, but she convinced me that she hadn't. As she looked around she exclaimed, "Your place is so nice!" Then she told me what she had cover to say. She thought that Andrew and I, as well as her roommate Hemana, should have Thanksgiving with her. She added after looking around a little more that we should have it over here. I thought that was a wonderful idea. That would mean being around others and sharing whatever everyone has to offer, the true spirit of the holiday!! I was overjoyed to say the least. Her mother was intending on doing the cooking which sounded really good. Now she will have extra helping hands and two ovens if she finds that she needs them. I contributed what I had purchased for the meal so far, which wasn't very much: pineapple, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. I still wanted to contribute more, so I also purchased more pineapple, more cranberry sauce, some cherries, Cool-whip, black olives, brown gravy mix (I prefer brown over turkey gravy for some reason), and four bottles of really nice wine (I had some expert help selecting them from an employee at Trader Joes). I wanted to pick up even more stuff, but Andrew made me hold off until I could ask Amy what specifically she would need for the occasion. When I did there was nothing else that she could think of. I told her to let me know if there was anything she would need by way of dishes or utensils and she said she would. I'm also going to rent Bruce Almighty and we recently purchased our own copy of the Two Towers 4 disc version that we have yet to see. I'm assuming everyone will want to watch movies because that's pretty customary as far as Thanksgiving entertainment goes. Not to mention the fact that we have a really nice set up here: a 36" Sony Wega television screen and a 5-speaker Sony surround sound. I'm so excited. I need to get this apartment cleaned up. I'm sure I'll have it taken care of in time.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 02:26 PM

November 24, 2003

I might be Neurotic

I also got my third short paper assignment for Western Civ returned back to me. I made another 25/25. I just have one paper like this to write (this week actually) and a final left for that class. In Music Appreciation I was handed back my second and final concert report, which only needed to be 2 pages in length, but I ended up writing 8 pages because I had a wealth of material to cover. I was worried it was too long and that my grade would consequently suffer. I ended up with a check plus plus on that. You might say that I was concerned for nothing, but I should take a moment to explain something about me and how I function as a student.

I start out each semester with lots of energy. As I start handing in papers and projects or taking exams and that energy I started out with begins to convert into grade anxiety (because I am never entirely sure what to expect with new professors). The anxiety that follows is also a driving force because it motivates me even more to take each assignment seriously and put forth my very best effort to meet the expectations of each class. I don't see a little stress as being a bad thing when it compels me to work hard. Once I get all of my papers back, and I see that I did well, my anxiety is completely resolved and I have both the energy and the assurance (that I indeed have the right idea) I need in order to move on to the next round of school work. And that's where I am at right now.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:51 PM

"The Second Coming"

Before I disappeared for what amounted to nearly a month I had been working on a second short paper assignment for English 325, five pages on any poem we had covered in class. I had selected William Butler Yeats' "The Second Coming". We had three options for how to approach this paper and I chose what even the teacher considered the most difficult (because it worked with what I wanted to do). It involved describing a poem and explaining how it works and it is a format encountered in the MFA program at GMU. I just got the paper back today and I was very pleased to see I had earned an A. My professor's comments on the back of my final draft were as follows: "Nicely done. The question/answer structure of the paper works well to showcase the interpretation decisions you make, and how you make them. Your attention to the language of the poem pays off in nuanced, smart readings. If you're interested, you might want to read more Yeats- he's certainly a poet worth exploring in more depth."

My experiences with the poem "The Second Coming" all started with my reading of the title. It evoked a certain Christian reference. Specifically, I associated the phrase with Christ. Based upon the title, my expectations were that this poem would be about a major anticipated event in Christian history: the Second Coming of Christ. To determine whether or not my early assumption was correct, I had to shift my attention to the actual content of the poem.

Upon first glance and taken as a whole, the poem didn't appear to have any formal divisions. Because I am accustomed to and comfortable with dealing with four line stanzas I imposed that structure on the poem. When I began to read the first four lines I made a startling discovery that something was wrong: the bird cannot hear its master. To see if and how this would fit in with my initial expectations, I considered that the falcon might represent Christians and the falconer could potentially work as a metaphor for God. I needed more detail to be sure so I pushed on. The words "Mere anarchy" were an unusual combination that made me pause for a moment on the fourth line. I wondered how something as disruptive as anarchy could ever be considered "mere." When I accepted that anarchy is just one small thing in the context of this poem, I was led to ask myself what the big thing might be.

Keeping my question in mind, I focused on the next four lines. "The blood-dimmed tide" conjured strong imagery. I pictured a multitude of bleeding bodies floating in the ocean. The word "ceremony," found on the sixth line, struck me as being rather peculiar. The word itself represents some sort of formal action performed according to ritual or perhaps tradition, but then what is meant by the phrase "The ceremony of innocence" taken all together? The line could refer to ritualized naivety. Innocence can also be defined as freedom from sin and that seems to fit in with the emerging Christian theme. According to the last fragment of the line, it is submerged in the "blood-dimmed tide." This all stemmed from "Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," which is a poetic way of saying all hell is breaking loose. According to what I envisioned, anarchy still did not seem very "mere" at all, but I still didn't have anything to compare it to. For that, I looked to the seventh line, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst." This just generated even more questions. Who are the best and who are the worst? Still keeping with the original Christian motif, the best could refer to those without sin, or more specifically the innocents referred to before in the sixth line. Logically, that would mean that the worst are those with sin who lack the naivety of the innocents. What about the worst? The eighth line completed the speaker's thought about the worst, which had broken off abruptly in the middle of the seventh, "Are full of passionate intensity". Why is being full of passionate intensity a bad thing? It sounds like the worst have strong beliefs. That conceivably could be a bad thing if the best are not asserting their beliefs or if they just don't have any. I reread the seventh and the eighth lines of the poem and realized that I had completely glazed over what was important about the best because I was so fixated on what effect the worst had on everything. According to the seventh, "The best lack all conviction." That seemed to confirm that I was on the right track.

I considered the first of the following four lines, "Surely some revelation is at hand." The word revelation gave me pause. The first connection that I made was that "Revelation" is also the title of the last book found in the sacred Christian text, the Bible. That not only fit in with everything else I had seen thus far, but it also seemed to provide me with a clue as to what this poem is really about. This particular book of the Bible postulates what is to come immediately prior to the omega of Christianity, which presumably will be marked by Christ's second descent to earth so he can harvest all of the good Christian souls and return with them to Heaven. I thought about the literal meaning of the word "revelation." It refers to something not previously recognized that is revealed, usually in a dramatic way. I wondered briefly about what I was not seeing that this poem would soon impart. There was only one way to find out and that was to keep working through it. The tenth line declared "Surely the Second Coming is at hand." What will the second coming reveal? The language seemed to speed up with the next line, "The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out." I made a metal note that that the words had a sense of urgency to them. Again the speaker's thought was cropped off at the middle and I hurried on to the following line to uncover what happened next. The speaker began to imagine something in the twelfth line.

I looked to the next four lines to see if could find out more information about what the speaker imagined. I first found contained in the thirteenth line a clue as to who the speaker of the poem might be. Yeats selected the word "my" and that, in the absence of any other evidence, led me to believe that the author is referring to himself. The speaker proceeded to describe his vision as "a shape with a lion body and the head of a man" on the fourteenth line. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what that might look like. What I pictured was a sphinx, a creature commonly encountered in Egyptian mythology. This seemed like it might be a significant parallel for me to draw, but I really had no idea as to why. If that wasn't the intent, why didn't the speaker describe it as having the body of a man and the head of a lion? That would certainly resemble something I have never before seen. I returned to my mental image to consider why the speaker might have envisioned the body of a lion and the head of a man. I thought about what it might mean symbolically: the body of a lion seemed to represent a great animal strength, and the head of the man seemed representative of the human faculty of reason. On the fifteenth line I learned that this creature had "A gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun." It occurred to me that while this creature possessed attributes resembling those of a human, it might lack the compassion generally associated with mankind and its capacity for higher reasoning. That was frightening to imagine. From what I read in the sixteenth line, I understood that this beast is by no means dormant; it "Is moving its slow thighs." I pictured it slowly making its way through the desert and wondered where it was destined.

To find out where the creature was headed, I considered the next four lines. I had to take a mental step back to reread the last part of the sixteenth line "while all about it," and I proceeded on to the seventeenth "Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds." Usually vultures inhabit the desert and they feed on carrion. The birds are circling over the beast and so I was led to believe that it would cause death. This confirmed in my mind that the beast lacked human compassion. However, I still needed to find the answer I was seeking. Presented in the eighteenth line "The darkness drops again; but now I know" was another instance where the author referred to himself, this time as "I." The speaker of the poem still seemed to be none other than Yeats himself. I reread the line again focusing on the first part. I considered when it was dark before because the poem specifically used the word "again." According to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, it was dark in the beginning. If Creation or perhaps just Christianity ceased to exist would it get dark a second time? Another image suggested to me here is that of an eclipse or a sunset. New questions formed in my mind. The speaker made the claim that he now "knows," but what did he learn? Did he intend to reveal it to me? I read the next line, "That twenty centuries of stony sleep." That made me think about what was significant that happened two thousand years ago. I realized that that was around the time when Christ lived and died. Line twenty reads, "Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle." The obvious question I was left with was: what has been asleep?

There was no clearer answer to that question lurking in the remaining two lines. Instead, they posed a similar question to my own: "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?" Bethlehem is the place where Jesus was born. I realized just then that the revelation had already taken place. The author had revealed to me that he had this idea that whatever the second coming would bring would not be the same as Christ. He did not have a precise view of it, and consequently neither should I.

My first encounter with the title of this poem, "The Second Coming," set up my expectation that this piece would concern the second coming of Christ. The poem is about a second coming, but I found that it doesn't necessarily refer to Christ. This piece works because of the expectation I had early on. The title itself is an allusion designed to elicit that expectation. The author's careful word selection also affected my reading of this poem. For example, he juxtaposed the words "mere" and "anarchy" on the fourth line of the poem. It seemed unusual to me at first, but once I accepted that idea, any other word I could think to substitute "mere" with just wouldn't have prepared me in the same way for something worse than anarchy. Another mechanism the author used to make this poem work was imagery. On line fourteen he described the beast as "A shape with lion body and the head of a man." I was forced to consider what the body of a lion and the head of a man were meant to represent. The second line of the poem, "The falcon cannot hear the falconer," seemed to be a metaphor for something else. I thought about it and I decided that the falcon represented Christians and the falconer suggested God.

At first glance and taken as a whole this poem did not have an obvious structure. It became much clearer to me as I read the content. It made sense when I thought of first ten lines as all communicating the events that will lead up to the second coming. The next ten described what the speaker thought the second coming will be like. All twenty led up to a question posed in the final two lines: what is coming? I have a vague understanding of the answer to that question. Perhaps the more important question is whether or not I will recognize it when it comes.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 05:19 PM

November 23, 2003

Bad Girl

I was very bad this weekend. I didn't do as much homework as I really should have. I just needed a break before the onslaught of finals. I have another online lecture to read for Western Civ before I can call it a night. I'll be getting out of school an hour and a half early tomorrow and I have off from class the rest of the week. I should be able to get everything done before next Monday. I have a paper to write and my portion of a group project on the same work for English, a 2-page paper for Western Civ as well as hefty load of reading to do, for religion I have a five-paper paper on feng shui to write and some reading, and for music I have about 29 pages in the text. Anyway, I'm going to give Andrew a hand in kitchen so we can eat. We're having flounder and Brussels sprouts. Yum.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:44 PM

November 22, 2003

Christmas Shopping

I really didn't want to wait until after Thanksgiving to start Christmas shopping. So my neighbor Hemana came over and she, Andrew, and I took off for Clarendon to visit a cute little store called Arlington Gift & Garden. Andrew and I had peeked in the windows (it was closed by that point) while making our way back to the car after we ate at the Cheesecake Factory (great restaurant!!) yesterday evening. I found a nice gift for my Aunt Lil, a Japanese windwhime made by San Pacific International. I also purchased a large a starlight sphere to decorate my apartment for the holidays. I took a few pictures of it lit up and they didn't do it justice.

Here's what it looks like in place and not plugged in.

Breakfast Bar.jpg

And close up.

Starlight Sphere Unlighted.jpg

I also found a new switch plate for the foyer.

After that, we went across the street to pet accessory shop called A.K.A. Spot. I bought a treat jar for our kitty Rand and some goodies for my aunt's pets. She is really into her animals (just like me). Later, at Marshalls, while looking for a gift for my mother I found a great Chinese silk dress for myself. I'm planning on wearing it to Andrew's company Christmas party if he can still get tickets for us to go. I've been thinking about having professional photographs of Andrew and I taken to tuck into our Christmas cards this year. I could also wear this dress for those if we decide to do that.

Red Dress.jpg

Oh yeah, it ties in the back.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:52 PM

November 21, 2003


Remarkably, I don't have a hang over from last night. I didn't drink a lot, but it never takes much for me since I'm a light weight with an exceptionally low tolerance for alcohol. I didn't get much sleep thought. I believe we got home around 1:30 a.m. (things are a little fuzzy) and I didn't crawl into bed until well after 3:00 a.m. I had to settle down, take my medication, and I wanted to write an entry regarding the evening's happenings. I must have just stayed up too long. Normally the Pamelor, a drug I recently started taking to prevent my migraines from occurring, puts me right out, but only if I lay down and get comfy. There was one other time that this happened to me. I had been up a few hours after I had taken the pill and I couldn't get to sleep then either. I need to make sure when I take it I am ready for bed.

I talked Andrew into taking me out to the Cheesecake Factory tonight. I need to make some good progress on my homework before he comes home. I think a nice cup of coffee is a good place to start :).

-- CrystalShiloh @ 12:10 PM

Girls Night Out

I just came back from going out with my two next door neighbors. We went to play some pool at the Continental in Rosslyn and then we went over to Rhinos in D.C. to get our groove on. While I was playing against Hemana, Amy sat back and took a look around at everyone observing us. After I got my ass kicked (but only just barely) she informed us that we had the room's attention. I went in a short black dress and 40s style chunk heels with a little toe slit and a cute little bow so I was inviting the attention. I just made a conscious effort not to bend over too far. It wasn't that I wanted to hook up with some random guy, I just wanted to get prettied up and flaunt it off. Sometimes you just have to do that.

I haven't been out like that in so long. It was a much needed excursion from the rigors of school.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 02:16 AM

November 20, 2003

I'm Still Here

Before more people begin to wonder whether or not I've fallen off the face of the planet, I guess I'd better write an entry. Hopefully, I haven't lost any readership due to my nearly one-month hiatus. My time has been severely limited this semester. I guess that's what I get for taking 15 credits. School is almost out. I just have three more days left (one before the break for Thanksgiving, and two following it). I've already phoned in my schedule for spring and I've dropped back down to 12 hours because that seems to be much more manageable for me. I'll be taking two English classes and one intensive Spanish class that counts for six of my credits.

I made it through mid-terms with all As, despite the onset of a migraine that lasted for an entire weekend. Because several papers were due that following Monday, I sought medical attention. I was given an injection of Imitrex to deal immediately with my symptoms and I was prescribed anti-nausea medicine as well as an anti-depressant known as < ahref="">Pamelor to combat the stress at the root of the problem. I now take one 25 mg capsule of Pamelor every night before going to bed. I have not had a migraine headache since I started on this regimen. This drug has had other positive effects on my life: I sleep more deeply now and I seem to have less difficulty concentrating. I was only given a prescription for a small number of pills with no refills to ensure that I would follow up with a neurologist, which I did earlier this month. The doctor confirmed that my migraines originate from stress and he made me aware of other things that I was doing that increased the likelihood of my getting a headache. Things such as not sleeping, not eating, and eating foods too rich in sugars (such as bananas) contribute to the problem. He determined that staying on Pamelor was in my best interests for several reasons: it was working for me, it won't have any effects if I ever stop taking it, and bipolarity runs in my family (I have never been diagnosed with it, but an aunt on my mother's side of the family was and this medicine works to correct that imbalance). During the months when I am not in class, I am to drop down to smaller dosage, 10 mg. My neurologist was very careful not to put me on more medicine than I need. He did prescribe something for my normal headaches, which I get as often as 2-3 times a week called Butalbital. He informed me that is was more effective than just the OTC Advil I had been using. I did try it recently and it worked like a charm. I need to get a CAT scan (once my insurance takes effect) just to eliminate the possibility that I have a brain deformation that could be causing my migraines. After that, I just need to visit the neurologist yearly for a check up.

Even though the migraine set me back I got the majority of my papers handed in on time, with the exception of my take home mid-term for Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions. That was turned in one class late with the instructor's assurance that he would not mark my grade down as a consequence of my being ill. I made a 30 out of a 30 on it. It ended up being 12 pages in length (750 words x 5 essays). My first short English paper on Jhumpa Lahiri's short story "Interpreter of Maladies" (see my October 13th entry for full text) earned me an A- to my surprise (I thought it warranted an unencumbered A). I also wrote a short response paper for English that weekend. I got a check plus on that. in fact, I have gotten check pluses on all of the response papers - except the one where he could decide whether or not to give me a check plus or just a check. That was the "Yellow Wallpaper", if I recall correctly. Because the migraine set me back on time, I had to skip another of the six essay prompts given in my Western Civilization class throughout the semester. Thankfully, we only need complete four of those that saved my butt in that class. I have completed each one that has been assigned since then. I made a 24 out of 25 (96%, still an A) on my second one and I haven't received my third one back just yet. I should know what grade I got on Monday. I still have one more left to go before the final.

I still have a little more left to recap as far as school goes, as well as some assignments to post, but I'm not really in the mood just now. I will say one more thing about it because it relates to the migraine that I had. I was nominated by Dr. Eisner, my English 325 professor, for the English Honors Program. I wrestled with this decision, even though I'm not yet in a position to make it just yet (Honors courses are at the 400 level and usually those are taken as a senior). I felt very pressured, by my teacher, my fellow students, and even Andrew. Finally I decided that I had to just shut them out. I was getting even more stressed and at the time I just said no to it. I may amend my decision at a later time, but only if I feel it is in my best interests to do so. Right now it is just not something I am prepared to handle and it was not one of the original goals that I made for myself I made before starting classes at GMU. So, what are my goals? I could just tell you to read my bio to find out... but I'll make it simpler and just tell you. I eventually want to be invited into Golden Key (the Honors Society for juniors and seniors). Right now I'm still a sophomore, but only just barely (I am 3 credits shy of it because not everything transferred over from Embry-Riddle) and my GPA is 3.918. Only the top 15% of all students are invited into the society and I need to keep my grades up for that to happen. ultimately, I want to keep my 3.9 through graduation and walk with Highest Honors. I don't know if that will possible for me to do, but I am going to continue to give it my all. I never commit myself to anything beyond my capabilities. The way I see it, if I want it, I'll do what ever it takes in order to get it. Taking Honors classes has the potential do bad things to GPA and cause me to miss my original goals. I can't let that happen. So I will reevaluate my decision to not enter Honors at some later point in my college career.

I went for an eye exam last week and I got new glasses!! I still have the black CK frames for everyday wear (they seem to have become part of my identity) with new lenses (my eyes actually got better since the last time, I had a nasty chip in my right lens, and scratches galore), but now I have a pair of Emporio Armani prescription sunglasses with a medium blue tint. Andrew suggested that I get these because bright lights sometimes trigger my migraines. He ended up getting a pair of new sunglasses too, same name brand, but a different frame with polarized lenses.

This picture came out a little blurry, but hopefully you get the idea. in case you can't tell, my new frames are a color similar to my hair and they fade into blue in the center (the same hue as the lenses).

Emporio Armani Sunglasses.jpg

The Buddha modeling my new eyewear. Hey, it's the best I can do since I'm not dressed yet.

Emporio Armani Buddha.jpg

Well, I have some guy coming up to my apartment to conduct a safety inspection here in a few minutes, I guess I better get out of my jammies. I'll try to write some more later on this evening.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 10:59 AM