November 08, 2005

Spring 2006 Schedule

Tomorrow is my day to register for the spring semester. Here's a look at my schedule so far:

Mondays and Wednesdays:

ENGL 363-001 Utopias 1:30 a.m. - 2:45 p.m. 3 credits
ENGL 302-H11 Advanced Composition 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. 3 credits

Monday ONLY:

LING 485-001 Semantics and Pragmatics 7:20 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. 3 credits


IT 103-011 Introduction to Computing 1:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. 3 credits

Together, these four classes are worth twelve credits, which is the typical load that I take.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 08:47 PM

August 26, 2005

Educational Outlook

Currently, I have 86 credits. I anticipate adding another 15 at the end of the fall semester. That will give me a total of 101 credits and leave me with 19 more to complete before I can graduate.

Courses remaining:

  • Any LING class for 3 credits
  • Any LING class for 3 credits
  • ENGL 302 Advanced Composition (or I have the option to submit a portfolio) for 6 credits
  • ENGL 336 Shakespeare's Romances and Tragedies for 3 credits
  • MATH 105 Precalculus or 106 for Quantitative Reasoning for 3 credits

Together, these classes are worth a total of 18 credits. After these have been completed I will have 1 credit hour leftover.

I have gone back and forth on my decision whether or not to minor in Spanish. On the one hand, a minor in Spanish could potentially give me credibility as a fluent speaker of Spanish and thereby afford me more job opportunities. On the other hand, I may not need it and I would be able to graduate sooner without it.

If I do the minor I will need to complete an additional 9 credits. These are the classes I am considering:

  • SPAN 390 Intro to Hispanic Literature for 3 credits
  • SPAN 351 Oral Spanish for 3 credits
  • SPAN 451 Advanced Oral Spanish for 3 credits
Posted by CrystalShiloh at 03:16 PM

School Schedule

During the coming semester I will be on campus only three days a week. Here is what my schedule looks like:

Tuesdays and Thursdays:

SPAN 302-001 Reading and Writing Skills Development (in Spanish) 10:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. 6 credits
ANTH 395-001 Work, Technology and Society 1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. 3 credits


LING 499-001 (FRLN 573) Basic Issues in Foreign Language Pedagogy 4:00 - 5:00? 3 credits
ENGL 335-001 Shakespeare Histories & Comedies 7:20 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. 3 credits

These classes combined are worth a total of 15 credits. That *is* a lot for me to take at one time, but I think I'll be able to handle it. I've had two other six credit hour Spanish classes in the past: SPAN 109 and 209. Those were a lot of work and despite that, I did very well with them. I'm sure that the anthropology class will be much more interesting to me than the alternative, IT 103. When I was a student at ERAU (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University), I was required to take Intro to Computing. As far as I can tell, the class material was similar to what is being taught in IT 103, but when I came to GMU it transferred in as just an elective. I wouldn't learn anything dramatically different in IT 103 and in order for me to get motivated to learn, I have to be offered something new and challenging. LING 499 is an independent study class that I will be taking with Dr. Goldin. Last semester I took SPAN 301 Grammar and Syntax with him. Being already familiar with a professor's particular teaching style seems to help and besides, it shouldn't take away much from my other classes because most of what I will be doing for my independent study is reading. As for the Shakespeare class, I won't know what to expect until after I've met my professor.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:19 AM

August 24, 2005

School Books

If you happened to take a look at the counter located on the right of the screen, you know that fall classes begin next week. There is still so much left for me to do before I go back.

What I have planned for today is a trip out to school. I need to leave a copy of my Individualized Section Form with the Chair of the English Department so that she can sign it (here it occurs to me that the title of that form doesn't really say a whole lot about what it is for and I need to make a mental note to return to that later on, most likely in a separate entry). There is one other thing I can probably take care of while I'm there on campus so it doesn't feel so much like a wasted trip. I *could* stop by the school bookstore and see if a course packet I still need is available now. I already have all of the actual books for the classes I will be taking. Having said that, I arrive at what I wanted to take the time now to write about.

For ENGL 335, Shakespeare's Histories and Comedies, the professor had ordered copies of the Riverside Shakespeare, but I had already purchased The Norton Shakespeare at the begining of the summer A term for the Romances and Tragedies class that I ultimately dropped due to exhaustion. This was through someone who was selling a copy on Amazon for a mere $30. It seemed superfluous to me to have two complete works of Shakespeare in my possession, so I asked the professor if I could get away with using that and she said it would suffice. The Riverside Shakespeare would have cost me $60 used or $80 new. The course pack I hope to pick up today will also be for this class. It's pretty cheap at only $3.

For FRLN 573, Basic Issues in Language Pedagogy, I needed to purchase two books. This was a special topics class I had signed up for that was only being offered during the summer in session C and the credits were supposed to go towards fulfilling my linguistics concentration. Since I had to drop Shakespeare's Romances and Tragedies earlier in the summer, and my aid was contingent on my taking two summer classes, there was no feasible way I could remain enrolled in this other class. So I worked it out with the professor and the Director of the Linguistics Program to take the class as an independent study during the fall and still use the credits towards my linguistics concentration. That is where that Individualized Section Form comes in. I need to have that completed before I can register for LING 499, which is the course number for independent studies in linguistics. Anyway, I had purchased the books while they were still available to the class in the bookstore and they both came to $97.60.

Before I was able to and had gotten around to ordering my remaining books, I had already technically spent $127. This figure includes The Norton Shakespeare as well as the two linguistics books.

Something that I want to take a moment to mention here is how school bookstores have done things up until this semester and how that has been altered by a law that was recently passed. A few weeks before a semester starts school bookstores receive orders from the professors and the only way a student could figure out what they would need to purchase for their classes was to either call the bookstore or just go in. That information, along with price, is now made available to students via the web. This is so that students can order their books online at competitive prices and receive them in time for classes.

I ordered my remaining books from Barnes and Noble because they had the best deal I could come across with the 10% member discount and free shipping. The total for the four books came out to $92.14. I placed my order on Friday of last week and they promptly arrived here on the following Monday in plenty of time for the start of classes.

After I go and get my course pack I will have spent on books a grand total of $222.14. Just based on the price of *used* texts that the school bookstore quoted me on those last four books I saved about $60 by ordering them online. So, the lesson here is order your books online and get brand new copies at a cheaper price.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 12:48 PM

May 25, 2005

School Updates

The spring semester ended for me on May 6th.

My final grades for the spring semester are as follows:
GEOL 102: Introductory Geology II A+ (includes my lab grade, which was something like a 98%)
SPAN 301: Spanish Grammar and Syntax A+
ENGL 491: Traditional Arts, Traditional Artists (special topics in folklore) A
My cumulative GPA remains at 3.97.

I am enrolled in two summer classes, ENGL 336: Shakespeare's Romanaces and Tragedies in session A and FRLN 573: Current Trends in Language Pedagogy in session B.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 03:32 AM

April 19, 2005

Mi Cumpleaños

This is my sixth and final paper assignment for SPAN 301. The topic wasn't specified for me. So, since today *is* my birthday (and I'm stuck writing this paper!@#$&) that's what I chose to write about.

Hoy es mi cumpleaños. Ahora tengo veintisiete años de edad, pero no me siento diferente. Es posible que mi novio tenga algunos planes para esta noche, pero que yo sepa no haremos nada especial. Ya recibí algunos regalos. Mi novio me dio dinero para comprar ropa nueva, una tetera y té. Mi tía me dio muchas cosas también: una frazada, una botella de jabón, una botella de perfume, un disco compacto, unos chocolates, unas galletas, un diario y una tarjeta de regalo. Mi amiga me dio una pedicura. Mis uñas del dedo del pie son azules ahora. Soy muy mimada. (Un total de 100 palabras.)

...and the English translation:

Today is my birthday. Now I am twenty-seven years of age, but I don't feel different. It is possible that my boyfriend has plans for this evening, but as far as I know we aren't going to do anything special. I have already received some gifts. My boyfriend gave me money to buy new clothes, a teapot, and tea. My aunt gave me a blanket (for use outdoors), a bottle of soap (cherry blossom scented by Bath and Body Works), a bottle of perfume (cherry blossom scented by Bath and Body Works), a CD (Japanese Jazz - the title of the CD is Cherry Blossom), some chocolate (covered cherries from Harry and David), some cookies (chocochip also from Harry and David), a diary, and a (Target) giftcard. My friend gave me a pedicure. My toenails are blue now. I am very spoiled.

That's all for now.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 07:49 PM

April 15, 2005

Counter Culture

The following is a piece I wrote for HIST 150: America in the 1960s. The date on it is October 27, 2002. I think it is an interesting read, both for the content as well as for a sense of where I was with my writing ability when I first arrived at George Mason University.

The counterculture was an unstructured group, composed primarily of young people, who perceived themselves to be isolated in their search for deeper meaning in life. For a group like the counterculture to be considered revolutionary, it needed to have presented ideas that were fundamentally different from what was readily seen in dominant society at the time. So, was the counterculture revolutionary? The counterculture was very much a part of something larger than itself that, when considered as a whole, was revolutionary. Many movements, including the counterculture, sought to find meaning in their lives in radically different ways from mainstream society. They also experienced a failure to communicate what it was that they were looking for.

Many groups that emerged in the 1960s felt they were somehow left impoverished by society’s great plan for them, most dramatically the counterculture. This empty feeling itself wasn’t anything new if you consider, for example, the existentialists who had long expressed it before the 1960s. The renewed focus on filling the void was at the time revolutionary because it was more widely and overtly acknowledged within these groups as a problem that needed to be dealt with head-on. The varied attempts to deal with it were themselves radically different from the mainstream. The mainstream made a choice to simply ignore its existential responsibility by instead pursuing a life driven by the need for more and more economic security. They saw happiness as something potentially existing in the future, depending on how hard you worked for it. The underlying message of the mainstream was to do what you are told to by society, convention, your peer group, and advertisements. It encouraged these emergent groups to lead a similarly unexamined life. The counterculture strongly rejected the notion that the problem could simply be suppressed.

According to Guy Strait, the hippies felt short-changed by the expectations placed on them by society. These people knew that they didn’t want to sell their souls for material comfort. They challenged mainstream society by not conforming to its values. Through a process of elimination of these values, the counterculture hoped to discover whatever it was they were missing. A mass exodus of youths fled the constraints of structured society for what seemed to Joan Didion as no good reason. The very fact that these people deemed it necessary to give up their security, at a time when blacks were highly disadvantaged in that manner, indicates that they were looking for something that transcended material comfort. They wanted to be exposed to as many new experiences as possible for example by experimenting with drugs and sampling exotic religions. What the counterculture collectively settled on through these different experiences was that it was easier just to try and be happy in the immediate moment. That is pretty much where their search for answers left off. To quote the young man from the documentary, “There’s nothing to climb for, it’s all right here.” What he conveyed was that people who identified with the counterculture had felt lost because they didn’t know how to live.

Betty Friedan explained in the Feminine Mystique that women were also unhappy with conforming to society’s vision for them. They lacked some greater definition beyond having a husband and making babies. These women were no longer content fooling themselves into believing the things society promoted would ever be enough to make them feel fulfilled. The conclusion that a lot of women arrived at was that this fulfillment could be located and had in the things society deprived them of. Betty Friedan explained in The Feminine Mystique that if more women went to college, for the purpose of obtaining an education and afterwards a good job, they might be able to resolve this. In The Graduate, Mrs. Robinson went to college to find herself a husband because that was what society dictated women do. A man she met in college impregnated her. She then married him in order to preserve her social status. Later in life, she felt like something was missing. In her desperate attempt to fill the hollowness she felt, Mrs. Robinson deviated from the mainstream by having an affair with a younger man.

Norman Bowker, a Vietnam veteran and the main character in Speaking of Courage, also couldn’t find a meaningful purpose for his life. After he returned from the war, he tried to integrate back into the mainstream, but he just couldn’t. Having a job and working to secure his future no longer had the same appeal for him. Nothing had the same stakes as war did. He came home to the realization that life is short and that there is emptiness in socially accepted pursuits alone. He inevitably dealt with this by taking his own life.

It has been so far established that several groups, not limited to the counterculture, identified a desire for a greater meaning to their existences that they dealt with in radically different ways from the mainstream. These groups attempted to articulate this desire to others. They found that they couldn’t relate. It was never clearly reestablished that it was a problem everyone experiences. This failure to communicate and relate with others was revolutionary. These groups longed to connect with others on a deeper level than the mainstream sought to and maybe that is why they were met with such difficulty. Even basic connections became complicated and at times an impossibility for them. The song “The Sound of Silence” (Simon, 1964) described “people talking without speaking” and “people hearing without listening.” The people on the receiving end seemed to be so consumed with their own desires to resolve and communicate, that they either ignored or were truly oblivious to what was being said.

Characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest had come to believe that the narrator, Chief Bromden was deaf and mute. The truth is that he chose not to speak originally because he was just ignored when he did. He later continued in his silence out of fear of Nurse Ratched. While he remained silent for that last reason, he represented the more passive element of society that submitted to authority (the mainstream).

Ben Braddock and Mrs. Robinson, two characters featured in The Graduate, couldn’t find anything meaningful to talk about. Ben often tried in vain to engage Mrs. Robinson on such topics as art, her major in college, interestingly enough. Their relationship was of a sexual nature. Mrs. Robinson seemed to have sought a physical connection with Ben as the means to resolve her empty feeling, whereas Ben seemed to have sought to connect with her more on a verbal level. It was clearly a desperate attempt on both of their parts to connect somehow with a fellow human being. Ben realized it was futile and gave up trying.

Ben and Mr. Robinson had their own difficulty in communicating. Mr. Robinson called Ben by a different wrong name a few times in their early encounters with one another. He also gave Ben the same wrong drink twice after asking in each instance if it was the right one. Ben had informed him both times that it wasn’t. It seems Mr. Robinson didn’t place a whole lot of value on what Ben had to say before he found out about the affair. When Ben was established as a part of Mr. Robinson’s problem, he began communicate with him differently.

Betty Friedan wrote her book in hopes of communicating the problem that housewives were grappling with mostly in silence. She arrived at a bad conclusion that jobs would liberate these women precisely because she did not bother to concern herself with other women, who at first glance, did not appear to be in the same boat as her.

The female interviewee from the documentary film discussed the sexual freedom of the 1960s, but she didn’t seem to communicate that she was enjoying it. There was no definite emotional conviction coming from her. This indicates that she, like Ben, had an underlying desire to connect with another human being in a more meaningful way beyond sex.

Norman Bowker also wanted to talk about his problems, but nobody in town wanted to listen. Life went on as usual for them. No one really knew what the right thing to say to him was so he was simply ignored. When he finally found someone that was effectively in a position where he had to listen, Norman Bowker found he couldn’t talk.

These groups all shared a common dilemma: finding a greater meaning to their existences. They attempted to address this problem in many unconventional ways and found themselves faced with tremendous difficulty in communicating. The counterculture itself seems to have done the best job in not prematurely eliminating possibilities in trying to answer that question. The counterculture was revolutionary despite seeming unaware that it was part of a larger effort to address this universal problem in radical ways and to somehow communicate with others what it was they were going through.

Vestiges of this problem are still around today. It persists to be an agonizing question that still does not consistently reside at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Is fitting in with the mainstream really all there is to life? Everyone has to address this question when they find themselves confronted with it. Even if you ignore your existentialist responsibility you are still responding to it. As Sartre said, “What is not possible is not to choose…even if I do not choose, I am still choosing.” The best approach is to face this question head-on as these groups have shown us. There may not be a conclusive answer for everyone, but the point the counterculture made is that life is finite and you should not throw it away in the sole pursuit of a meaningless existence.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 06:09 PM

April 07, 2005

Si Yo Ganara la Lotería

This is my fifth paper assignment for SPAN 301.

Si yo ganara la lotería, gritaría y saltaría. Entonces, ahorraría algún del dinero en el banco. Saldaría mis cuentas. Para mi novio, pagaría sus préstamos de escuela también. Daría a mi tía el dinero que necesita. Donaría por lo menos diez por ciento del dinero a unas caridades. Compraría mi primera casa. (Un total de 52 palabras.)

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 01:17 AM

April 01, 2005

Accelerated Masters Degree Program

As you may or may not already know, depending on whether or not you have read my bio (see Snapshot: Zoom in... in the navigation menu to the right), I am majoring in English with a concentration in linguistics at George Mason University. In my undergraduate work, I will have attained senior status upon the completion of the current semester (there is roughly another month left to go). With my concentration in linguistics and through the Accelerated Masters Degree Program, I have an opportunity to take some graduate-level LING classes (9 credits worth in total, six of which I will later be able to transfer into my graduate degree which will also be in English, specifically, linguistics).

I recently signed up for my first grad class, FRLN 573 - Current Trends in Language Pedagogy or Foreign Language Anxiety (the latter seems like it might be an old course title still associated with the course number, but the two aren't mutually exclusive). The class is being offered this summer, in Session C, at the Fairfax campus of George Mason. It will be taught by Dr. Goldin, my current SPAN 301 Spanish Grammar and Syntax prof., and Associate Chair of the Modern and Classical Languages Department.

Feeling somewhat intimidated about taking a grad class at this stage in my education (yes, despite whatever you may have thought, even students with a 3.9 or higher GPA question the extent of their abilities now and again), I decided it might make it easier for me if I planned to take my first class at that level with a professor that I am already familiar with. I like his teaching style. He is himself a linguist and so in SPAN 301 he had been good about defining the patterns for us that he has observed within the language. We have been learning all about the structure of Spanish. There is much that I will take away from this class.

I probably have my association (maybe friendship is better choice, but I wouldn't want to be presumptive) with Dr. Chamberlain, the Chair of Modern and Classical Languages and my former prof. of LING 326 General Linguistics, to thank for assisting me to enroll into Dr. Goldin's SPAN 301 class after registration for it had already closed. At the time, I was busy taking SPAN 209 the intensive Spanish course that combines both SPAN 201 and 202 into six credit hours and the date passed me by. I mentioned to Dr. Chamberlain that I was intending to introduce myself to Dr. Goldin and make my case to him so he would potentially let me in the class anyway. Apparently, he took it upon himself to go to Dr. Goldin before I had a chance to and so when I did get around to seeing him he said he had heard about me. He was already aware that I am good student who is eager to learn and he didn't have a problem with my joining his class. he told me, "We'll find a way to make it happen." And so he did. I have since developed a pleasant relationship with him (again friendship might be the better word, but I don't wish to be presumptive).

I have been keeping both Dr. Chamberlain and Dr. Goldin informed with how my plans for my education have been progressing. They have been very supportive of me, offering whatever advice they can. I went to them this past week to see if they would be willing to each write the two prerequisite letters I will need to make my admission into the Accelerated Masters Degree Program official. Much to my satisfaction, they both happily agreed to it. I think the letters would be best coming from them, even though they are in charge of the Modern and Classical Languages Dept., because they are able to attest to my qualities as a student firsthand and both of their backgrounds are in linguistics.

As far as the other requirements for admission into the Accelerated Masters Program go, I have already or will soon have satisfied all of them. I am no doubt in good academic standing with a GPA that rests at 3.97 and I have completed LING 326 with Dr. Chamberlain and earned an A+ in the class. I have 89 credits currently, but I will have 99 at the end of this semester (they only ask that you have 90 completed to enter the program). Now there just remains the matter of filling out the paperwork and I understand that there will be a lot involved.

According to Dr. Weinberger, the Director of the Linguistics Program, I am the first student to have expressed interest in this program (and it has been in place for over a year now! He and I had discussed this option as a possibility for me back in fall of 03 at the time I was taking ENGL 325). So, he has a few phone calls that he needs to make before we can move further with this and make it official. When we spoke he also agreed to accept FRLN 573 for my undergrad concentration in linguistics, after I explained what the class was, but he did make me aware that any grad classes I may I take without the LING designation would not be transferred into my grad degree. That was fine by me because only six of the nine credits I need for my concentration can count for both undergrad and grad credit. For my other two remaining classes, he insisted I take Phonology and Semantics with him. I had been exposed to both phonology and semantics in the course of taking LING 326. I didn't particularly find either one to be exciting myself, but Dr. Chamberlain was a charming professor.

I had met Dr. Weinberger him this past Wednesday after attending a lecture he gave to an ENGL 325 class (coincidentally enough) on Literary Nonsense: The Linguistics of Neologisms. It became evident to me that he is a phonologist thoroughly excited by his subject material. I found that aspect of him to be very engaging. He also revealed his sense of humor which I "got."

I'm now looking forward to taking my grad-level classes with Dr. Goldin and Dr. Weinberger, two really great professors. And I can't believe how far I have come!

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 04:49 PM

March 02, 2005

Caperucita Roja

The following is my third writing assignment for Spanish. The instructions for this one were using the past tenses, describe a historical event, or narrate the plot of a movie or short story. Please do not write about yourself. I chose to write my own version of "Little Red Riding Hood" where in the end, the wolf regurgitatates both granny and Red. I'm that sure my professor will be somewhat amused. Oh, and I was only supposed to write 50-100 words total - I ended up with 463 because I wanted the additional practice and to complete my story. This is the most that I have ever written in a single paper in Spanish.

Érase una vez una niña llamada Caperucita Roja. Ella siempre atendía a su mamá. Un día, la madre le pidió que llevara una canasta, llena de comida, a su abuela que vivía en el bosque. La vieja estaba enferma por un largo tiempo y sus comidas favoritas aliviaban algo de su sufrimiento. La hija se alegraba de que pudiera dar una mano. Por eso salió para la casa de su abuela. Mientras caminaba por el bosque, un lobo la impidió. El lobo le preguntó “¿Dónde vas?” y Caperucita Roja respondió “Voy a la casa de mi abuela para darle esta canasta.” (Un total de 101 palabras y continuará puramente por la práctica...)

Entonces el lobo le preguntó “¿Dónde está la casa de tu abuela?” y ella le dio la dirección para llegar hasta la casa. El lobo le dijo “Cuídate. Adiós por ahora.” A pesar de su duda que lo viera otra vez, Caperucita Roja le dijo “Adiós por ahora” también y salió otra vez para la casa de su abuela. Mientras tanto, el lobo corría rápidamente para adelantarse a ella. Llegó a la casa antes de ella y golpeó en la puerta. La vieja le preguntó “¿Quién es?” y el lobo respondió “Soy Caperucita Roja, su nieta, y estoy aquí para darte una canasta llena de tus comidas favoritas.” La abuela respondió “Entra, mi amor.” Y así el lobo entró en la casa. Cuando ella lo vio comenzó a gritar. Él la comió entera y escupió su camisón. Después de que se puso el camisón y se acostó en la cama, Caperucita Roja golpeó en la puerta. El lobo le preguntó “¿Quién es?” y la niña respondió “Soy Caperucita Roja, su nieta, y estoy aquí para darte una canasta llena de tus comidas favoritas.” El lobo respondió “Entra, mi amor.” Y así ella entró en la casa. Cuando ella lo reconoció como el lobo no comenzó a gritar sino se mantenía serena y guardaba distancia. El lobo la dijo “Ven más cerca.” La niña cuidadosa dio un paso adelante y le dijo “¡Ah, qué ojos grandes tienes, abuela!” Él respondió “Para verte mejor.” y repitió “Ven más cerca.” La niña dio un paso adelante otra vez y le dijo “¡Ah qué orejas grandes tienes, abuela!” Él respondió “Para oírte mejor.” y repitió “Ven más cerca.” La niña dio un paso adelante otra vez y le dijo “¡Ah, qué nariz grande y larga tienes, abuela!” Él respondió “Para olerte mejor.” y repitió “Ven más cerca.” La niña dio un paso adelante otra vez y le dijo “¡Ah, qué dientes afilados tienes, abuela!” Él respondió “¡Para comerte mejor!” y entonces la comió entera. Desafortunadamente, para el lobo, no había espacio en su estómago para ella y por eso las vomitó a la abuela y su nieta.
Colorín colorado,
este cuento se ha acabado.
(Para su información, este es un total de 361 palabras adicionales.)

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 09:07 PM

February 09, 2005

First Spanish Paper

This past Thursday I also handed in my first paper to my Spanish Grammar & Syntax professor. It was returned to me on Tuesday. Guess what? I got a 100%!!! Yay me. I had been instructed to write a 50-100 word description of animal or a person. I chose to write about Andrew. Te invito a leerlo a menos que no entiendas español.

Una Descripción de mi Novio

El nombre de mi novio es Andrés. Hace seis años que lo conozco. Es un empleado de SAIC ahora. También es un estudiante de George Mason, como yo. Su especialidad es ingeniería de computadoras. Es culto y muy inteligente. En cuanto a sus características físicas, es más alto que yo. También es bastante delgado, pero no le gusta hacer ejercicio. En mi opinión es perfecto para mí. (Un total de 67 palabras.)

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 06:23 PM

Writing About Art

Last Thursday in Advanced Composition, I was asked to describe a painting that the professor had scotch-taped to the blackboard in a brief in-class writing exercise. I didn't bother to write down the title of the painting, which was probably my first mistake. During the lecture yesterday, after having received my paper back with a B plus marked on it, I learned that the title is central. Further, to write about art we need to look at the visual elements as well as look into the verbal framing: the historical and cultural context. We need to know what the points of reference are. We should mention the themes, discuss the archetypes, and try to answer the question, what makes a painting from this time relevant today? If it makes it any easier we can invent a little narrative to talk about it.

After hearing a few of the selections from the other students, it was apparent to me that I had no innate strategy for writing about art. As everyone was leaving, I approached my teacher with the expressed desire to improve upon my writing. I craved another crack at it. She offered me La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a painting by artist John William Waterhouse. What follows is my second attempt at writing about art.

Using what resources the Internet has available, I translated the title of the this painting as The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy (I thought as much, but it is always best to check and be sure). This work of art is from 1893 and it depicts one of John William Waterhouse's favorite themes: the femme fatale. His subject comes from a poem by John Keats, of the same title as the painting, which was written in 1819.

Looking at the painting, in isolation of the poem, I am first struck by the earthy colors; various shades of fall foliage: forest greens, rich browns, and deep reds. Generally, red denotes passion and it is significant that the largest proportion of this color is contained in the dress that the lady is wearing. It appears as though the knight she is holding captive with her hair has a hint of red wrapped around his waist. This detail doesn't jump right out at me; I only noticed it upon closer inspection.

At the center of the painting is the closing distance between the man and the woman. Their two countenances, slightly above and to the left of center, are coming together for a kiss. The knight looks off balance so I think it is safe to say that the lady is reining him in with her tresses.

As I continue to look, this painting is elaborating on my narrative that concerns a knight on his way off to battle. He has been blocked by a maiden who wears her heart upon her sleeve. Accordingly, her desire for the man is most apparent. She is a creature of the forest with the bare soles of her feet peeking out from the folds of her gown. Flowers adorn this already fair lady.

Bearing silent witness to this scene are the trees and the river in back of them. Where are the other woodland creatures, I wonder? Could it be that they are repelled by this woman's presence? And if so, what is it about her? All I can say with complete assurance is that the man won't be departing her anytime soon.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 04:21 PM

January 12, 2005

Fall Final Grades and Spring Schedule

Last semester began with me enrolled in four classes for a total of 13 credit hours: SPAN 209: Intensive Intermediate Spanish (worth a total of six credit hours because it is effectively two classes crammed all into one, GEOL 101: Introductory Geology I (3 credits plus the 1 credit hour accompanying lab), and ENGL 492: Science Fiction (3 credits) which I ultimately ended up dropping because I was feeling overwhelmed and something had to go. That left me with three classes and a total of 10 credits.

My final grades for fall semester were as follows:
GEOL 101: Introductory Geology (includes my lab grade which was a 96%) A+
SPAN 209: Intensive Intermediate Spanish A+
My cumulative GPA rests at 3.97.

As for the upcoming semester, I am currently enrolled in four classes for a total of 10 credits: ENGL 302: Advanced Composition (3 credits), ENGL 491: Traditional Arts, Traditional Artists (a special topics folklore course that will fill my need for a non-canonical literature course quite nicely and it's worth 3 credits), and GEOL 102: Introductory Geology II (3 credits plus the 1 credit hour for the accompanying lab.) However, I will be taking five classes and a total of 13 credits, counting the class that I will need to force-add after the semester officially starts, SPAN 301: Grammar and Syntax. I have already spoken with Mark Goldin, the professor of the class and Associate Chair of the Spanish Dept. and he says that this will be no problem for me and I'm confident that it won't be.

I can't believe that there are just 12 days left until the semester starts. I'd better get a move on with everything I'd like to do while I still have time.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 07:04 PM

May 14, 2004

Academic Goals

Apparently one of my professors nominated me for The National Dean's List. I received notification of it today by mail. I wonder who it was. No doubt I left an indelible mark on his or her memory - I'm a very memorable person and of course it is always fun to throw the word "indelible" in there when and where you can.

I've been thinking a lot about my goals lately, mainly the academic ones. Rushing through my education is definitely not one of them. It looks like I will need another two years or so to complete all of my under graduate work. I generally aim to take just twelve credits each semester because I find that to be the most comfortable. Next semester I will be a junior. I'm already registered for classes. I'll be taking Science Fiction (fulfills a three credit non-canonical literature requirement and should prove interesting), Geology I (three credits) and the accompanying lab (one credit), and the last installment of intensive Spanish (six credits.) If I can make it through fall w/my GPA relatively unscathed I will be asked to join Golden Key, another honor society. If that happens, I want to run for one of the officer positions. I've joked a little with the incumbent president of Alpha Lambda Delta (whom I ran against for that office) about running against him a second time. I'm not sure that I want all of that responsibility, though. As always, my studies come first.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 12:37 AM

May 13, 2004


One of my grades posted online yesterday... in fact, the last one I expected to because I only just finished the final for it this past Monday and none of my other grades are up yet. In Reading/Writing About Texts (ENGL 201 - 011) I made an A and I'm not at all surprised. At the end of the final, my professor informed me that I had the highest percentage of anyone in the class and that I could make a C on the exam and still earn an A in the class. I wish she hadn't said that, even though at the time it was a weight off my mind. Not knowing definitively does turn me into a compulsive neurotic, checking and rechecking constantly, but what is much worse than that is I tend to get depressed when there aren't any grades left to worry about. In case you were wondering, my cumulative GPA is now at 3.953. I *should* see it go up some more. Oh, and it turns out that Andrew made an A in his class, too. I'm very proud of him because it was not easy for him in the least. He has completed two classes thus far and he has a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA to show for it. Way to go Andrew!!

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 10:10 AM

January 10, 2004

Final Grades

Class Hours Grade
ENGL-325-001 Dimensions Writing/Literature 6.0 A
HIST-100-043 Hist Western Civilization 3.0 A+
MUSI-101-001 Intro to Classical Music 3.0 A
RELI-314-001 Chinese Philosophy & Religious Traditions 3.0 A

Current Term Statistics:
GPA: 4.000
Earned Hours: 15.0

Cumulative Statistics thru 2003 Fall Term:
GPA: 3.949
Earned Hours: 54.0

Academic Status at End of Term:
Good Standing

Academic Honors::
Dean's List

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 02:34 AM

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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 09:16 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:46 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 05:17 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:58 PM

September 04, 2003


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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 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.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 10:05 AM

August 29, 2003

Music Appreciation

I'm listening to Alice Cooper. I first encountered this on cassette tape I want to say when I was still in middle school. Regardless of when it actually happened, it was a very formative time for my taste in music. A friend of mine had it stashed in her bedroom and she told me when I happened across it that it was her older brother's. I can't imagine her ever having listened to this willingly, so I'm forced to believe what she told me about it not being hers. I was initially fascinated with the album cover art. It just looked like something that might be worth listening to. The title "Welcome to My Nightmare" was intriguing too.

Welcome to My Nightmare.jpg

I asked her if I could borrow it and she told me no several times. She eventually caved when she realized that I was just going to keep pestering her until she did. I hurried home and listened to it from start to finish. This to me was aural wall paper. I never returned that casette back to my friend. I now have "Welcome to My Nightmare" on CD. I can't explain why I sometimes have the inclination to listen to Alice Cooper, or for that matter anything else; I just know what I like. I have trouble even just describing what it is about certain music that I like. I'm taking a music appreciation class this semester that will hopefully change that.

In my music appreciation class I'm first being exposed to the basics: what harmony and melody are along with a host of other terms. Some of it has been difficult for me to grasp since I have had no experience with any of it. I never learned to read sheet music. I never had an opportunity to play an instrument as a child, even though I had the desire, it just wasn't in the realm of things my parents could afford to pay for when our first priority was to eat. Andrew has kindly offered to not only to tutor me (he's a band geek from way back), but to purchase an instrument for me to learn some of these concepts on and further develop my appreciation of music with. Last night we went and looked at a music store. I decided that I want to learn percussion, specifically the xylophone. As I typed that, I detected the distinct sounds of a xylophone playing on the last track of this CD called "Escape."

Soon I'll be learning all of the instruments of the orchestra, which I have had previous exposure to in an elementary school music class and in a middle school chorus class. So, things should be getting easier. I have some trouble visually telling a few similar instruments apart, such as the viola and the violin. Unless they are positioned right next to each other where I can compare the two different sizes (the viola is larger than a violin) they are virtually indistinguishable to me. I've been practicing with the Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra on my Enjoyment of Music Student Resource CD. I'm already pretty adept at telling the instruments apart by listening to them. Andrew and I practiced doing that in the car and I did well. Good thing, because I have test coming up on the 8th of September covering what the instruments look and sound like. Even before that there is a quiz on next Wednesday on Itallian terms found in discussions of Dynamics (soft/loud) and Tempo (speed or pace). I've already made a study guide for the quiz, but go ahead and wish me luck anyway :).

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 01:36 PM

August 27, 2003

Unfortunate Mishap/Nervousness

This morning's unfortunate mishap in honor of the start of the new semester involved a bottle of Listerine with the cap not securely on. The mess has been wiped up, but I still have some remaining annoyance that hasn't quite faded away yet. On top of that, I'm really nervous about handing in my first paper for English. I worry that the professor might misunderstand me and there's so many different ways he could do that I can't possibly fathom them all. I'm intending on participating in today's discussion so as to flesh out anything I may not have done a complete job of in my short paper. It's all the about timing; finding the right time to interject my thoughts. They should be applicable to what has been said and somehow take it further. Unfortunately, I am not sure that anyone else will have had the same interpretation as myself. Which means I might have to speak up first. Also, I am thinking that no one else is going to want to be the first to express their ideas this early in the semester. I'll have to wait and see how it turns out.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 08:27 AM

August 26, 2003

"Happy Endings"

This is what I wrote for my first assignment for ENGL 325 that we were given on the first day of class. We were asked to respond to Margaret Atwood's work titled "Happy Endings" and I decided to consider in mine whether or not this piece is a story, if it does all the things that a story should do (why or why not), and whether or not it was satisfying to read.

Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings" can certainly be considered a story. The statement John and Mary die, in and of itself cannot. That tells us the What, but says absolutely nothing about the How or the Why. The what is simply a description of events that may or may not have occurred. The How and the Why are much more difficult to get at; they apparently elude many mainstream authors. Some people actually find reading What, after What, followed by What to be immensely boring. I'm personally one of them. What may be something easy for a reader to digest (excuse the veiled pun), but it is in no way meaningful. It always boils down to the very same thing: John and Mary die.

A story is much more than a composite of words that make semantic sense when read together. It is a combination of What, How, and Why. While I was engaged (immersed would definitely be the wrong word choice here) in reading "Pants on Fire" by Nicholson Baker, I kept finding myself asking How and Why. How did what happened make him into a man? Why was it he only owned five shirts after four months on the job? Minds like mine want to know these things. Only conveying What transpired is simplistic. While I was trying to make sense of "The Zebra Storyteller" by Spencer Holst, I thought, "Now here is an author that prefers to expound the converse of the last. While he explains the How and the Why the What happens to walk up to him and he isn't at all surprised by it." He immediately forms an opinion of it and deals with it swiftly and appropriately. This author showed me that when you have the How and the Why the What just comes along naturally. Atwood's "Happy Endings" is not a satisfying story because it gives the reader a limited explanation of the How and Why at the end, but it is the very presence of those two elements is what qualifies it as a story.

Just so you know that I know, she is making fun of people who write plots.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 10:53 PM

August 25, 2003

First Day of Class

Everything was going well when I woke up this morning, bright and early at 6:00 a.m. What possessed me to ask Andrew to wake me that early, when my first Monday class isn't until 10:30 a.m.? Well, it takes me a while to become fully with it in the mornings and that can last as many days or weeks as it takes for me to get readjusted to going back to school. I was also concerned about what might happen if I was too short on time. Something invariably goes wrong for me on that first day back, but when I'm short on time it becomes all that more harder to deal with effectively. I got dressed and ready without a hitch. Andrew didn't monopolize the bathroom when I was looking to get in there. When I left the apartment I caught the elevator on its descent down to the first floor and my neighbor was inside and offered to drive me along with her boyfriend she was going to be dropping off at the Metro. As I was heading to the lower platform I could see a train - I couldn't determine which line it was - and I instinctively hurried to catch it. I got stuck behind some meandering people on the escalator and I ended up missing it. The next train came along and the marquee proclaimed that it was the Orange Line to Vienna - I couldn't hear the conductor's voice to verify that the information I had seen was correct. I was slightly pleased to see that it was less filled than I was expecting for 8:30 a.m. on a week day and happy just to be boarding a train. No sooner had I taken a seat by the door they began to close and the conductor announced that the next stop was Arlington Cemetery. I was on the Blue instead of the Orange. The marquee had lied to me. So, I disembarked at Arlington Cemetery and headed back toward Rosslyn on a return Blue. Luckily I had made this mistake before, so I quickly navigated through the station. When I got off I arrived just in time to miss the Orange train yet again. Two trains later I was headed in the right direction. Despite all the run around I arrived at school an hour early. I was fairly nervous so I went for a walk around campus to kill time and excess energy. I was back in the classroom fifteen minutes later and I tried to read some of Good Omens, which hasn't been a very cohesive book so far and I am not sure if that is the author's fault or my own. That book basically ruined my plans for reading a set number of others over the remainder of my summer vacation (I first opened it sometime at the beginning of this month). For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe I was distracted. I still can't. I've come too far to abandon it now, though. I have to finish it. Unfortunately I didn't get very far this morning reading it being as nervous as I was. My awkwardness lasted throughout the day. Fortunately, everyone else was just as nervous and seemed to pay little attention to me. Things will get better as we become more at ease with what we'll be doing over the course of the semester.

I have not forgotten to post the remainder of the images from the Hirshhorn Museum - I'm about half way through with thirty or so left to go. I'm dead tired tonight. I still have to fold the laundry when the dryer is all finished with it. Then I'm going to call it a night. If I get through my homework tomorrow at a reasonable time I'll upload the rest then.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:42 PM

August 22, 2003

Preparation For School

I have an appointment to keep this afternoon with my stylist to get my highlights re-touched and maybe a little trim. I'm getting the last few things out of the way and ready before school starts back up this Monday. I already know what I'll be wearing on the first day of class: tight black cargo pants, a black cotton shirt that has a mandarin collar and a red glitter Chinese dragon on the front, and primarily black (there is some red and white detailing) platform sneakers. My back pack is pretty much all packed. I'm not sure what books to bring on the first day, if any at all. I've just decided to only bring my light-pink binder filled with notebook paper until I have more of an idea. I have this office/school supply fetish so I have a wide assortment of pens, pencils, highlighters, and other assorted gadgetry stuffed into the front pocket. I am already predicting that my favorite pen this year will be my special edition platinum-barreled Dr. Grip Gel by Pilot. Do yourself a favor and get one or two if you write a lot. Uniball makes a pen called Fusion and the ink starts out clear and becomes either pink, black, blue, or purple. I have one of each color. Papermate blue and black medium point pens are a good solid standby. I have one of each. I still have a whole mess of those retro lead point pencils, that I used to buy at the school store when I was a kid, left over from last semester. Whenever a lead point goes dull, you pull it out the bottom and stick it through the hole in the top. Those are somewhat annoying because I have to be careful not to lose the tops to the erasers. My yellow mack-daddy highlighter is erasable. I intend to use this one in my textbooks to keep them neat. I have both an orange and a blue RoseArt highlighter leftover from last year that I will likely deplete on my hand-written notes. As far as gadgetry is concerned, I have and a silver mesh bag containing two aqua blue Papermate Liquid Paper Dryline Minis (in case one happens to run out at an inopportune time), a silver mini stapler, a silver staple remover, and a silver pencil sharpener. I have used plenty of Post-it notes in previous semesters, and this time I found a portable holder to keep them from getting bent or cucky. From the outside it appears to be a small book that closes securely when a stretchy band is pulled around it. When you open it up, two sticky pads sit inside of a box-like compartment; one ideally sized for use as either flags or page markers and the other, suited for perfectly ordinary purposes. There's also a little teeny ball-point pen. It might have occurred to you by this point in my description that I'm completely certifiable. You don't even want to know what supplies I'm neglecting to bring along with me to school. I'll likely wind up clearing some of this stuff out of my bag once I figure out what I'll feel most comfortable with using on a daily basis.

I still need to fill up my binder with paper, make out some tabs for it, pick up quarters (for bus fare), and figure out how I am going to tote my lunch around (if there's not enough space for all of my books there's clearly not enough for my Tupperware divided dish). I think I might try washing my cramped, soiled Jansport backpack again, only this time I'd like try it in the machine along with some liquid color-safe bleach. That combination might ruin it, I'm not sure. I would have to keep a close eye on it. No one has, at least not to my knowledge, posted a Zire messenger bag on eBay yet, but I'm keeping an eye out.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 12:14 PM

August 20, 2003

Dreams About School

This is the second morning in a row that I have woken up to "A Sorta Fairytale" - Tori Amos playing over and over again in my head. Oh yeah, and even before that the dreams about school started back up again too. In this particular sequence, I was seated with 100 or so other students inside of a large lecture hall. A female teacher, standing out in front and otherwise directing the class, explained that we were about to take a exam on what we had covered over the entire course of the semester. I hadn't read any of the material. My brain was devoid of any references to what all she was talking about and it frightened me. The dream stopped making any further coherent sense after that.

This happens to me before each term begins. I haven't paid exceptionally close attention to when the dreams tend to taper off, but I believe it's sometime after the first week of class. I'm not any more anxious or nervous than usual. This just seems to be the way my mind prepares me anew after an extended break to deal with school work, show up for classes on time as well as prepared, and function according to certain time constraints. In reality, I stay a few steps ahead on my assignments for most, if not all, of my classes. I don't make a habit of skipping (I only missed one class last semester with good reason and the professor's permission). I'm never late, if anything, I am unreasonably early for my first scheduled class of the day. There have been a few occasions when I determined incorrectly that I wouldn't be needing to haul a particular text with me (my backpack only holds so much) when it would have been more helpful for me to have brought it anyway, but otherwise I'm always prepared. I experience the highest degree of difficulty when trying to conform to a schedule. My personal life always seems to suffer terribly. Inevitably, I end up cutting things out that I would much rather not.

I'm now playing Tori Amos MP3s on my machine while I consider further that last line I typed. I'm wondering how long it will be before I'll have to cut back on the number of entries I post to this website on a daily basis. I might not have to resort to that. After all, my priorities have been altered somewhat during this summer off. School obligations are still first and foremost, but staying sane has become a near second. I've been maintaining my mental health by transferring all my competing thoughts to this space. Usually allowing myself to go a little insane is a good tactic for keeping my grades high. I'm going to try another, more relaxed approach this semester and see if I do even better with that.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 12:09 PM

August 06, 2003

Andrew's Orientation

This is another one of those entries on the run. The time when I wrote this was about 6:20 p.m. I decided after all to join Andrew this evening for his graduate orientation at GMU. I just went along for the cookies, lol. There was quite the spread when we first walked in. Right now we're sitting around waiting for an advisor to call Andrew in. He's looking pretty bored and not very anxious. Every now and then he catches my eye and gives me a little smile. I don't think I can handle any more sugar tonight - cookies be damned! All I want is a nice, healthy salad. Hopefully Andrew will understand that we can make his b-day dessert some other time. I think he's had his fill of sugar, too. Andrew is next up. He has pulled out his Palm Pilot and he is playing with it. I forgot to mention that earlier as being another of his birthday gifts. It's a Zire 71, and unlike mine, it has a built-in digital camera and MP3 player. It is also expandable. Nah, I'm not really jealous because I picked out the lower-end Zire for myself, it suits my purposes just fine. It does tend to suck that I can't backlight this one (like I could with my trusty old M100). Okay, I admit being somewhat jealous that his is COLOR (Tetris just looks dreadfully wrong in black and white). Oh well, I'll live. Alright, you can call us in anytime now folks. There are only three others left in the room with us and it seems one is on his way out. Finally!!

Andrew's application was successfully approved by the advisor we went in to see. He is now a non-degree-seeking grad student currently enrolled in one class (Intro to VHDL) at GMU. I'm very proud of him!

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 09:53 PM

August 04, 2003

Re: Re: Weekend Plans

Andrew just finished reading my last entry and e-mailed to say that the graduate degree program he hopes to be eventually accepted into at George Mason University is actually Computer Engineering. His undergrad is in Aerospace Engineering with minors in both Math and Computer Science that he received from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The course he plans to start out with, as a non-degree seeking student, is Introduction to VHDL. Don't ask me what the acronym stands for. It is being held on Thursdays. My classes, as you may recall, are on Mondays and Wednesdays. School is going to further limit the time we spend together. That doesn't make me any less pleased with the decision Andrew has made. I'm happy for him and I hope he gets out of school this time what I feel that I am.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 03:15 PM

Re: Weekend Plans

How I imagined the weekend would go isn't exactly the way it turned out. Andrew and I ended up going over to the school campus on Saturday to pick up my school books and we even managed to return with most of them. Nothing has yet been assigned yet for the Introduction to Classical Music class that I'm signed up for. We did, however, pick up the book Andrew's class will be using while we were there. I haven't mentioned it here before, but he's beginning his Master's in the fall. I can never remember the name of his degree program, never mind what the individual class he signed up for is called. I'll have to ask him again and write it down this time. Anyway, we did all that along with locating buildings and their room numbers as well as some further school-related shopping for clothing and supplies. I don't have the energy to describe each individual item. So just forget it. Speaking of which, my friend forgot that she was to come over for dinner and a movie on Sunday so we had to reschedule for the following weekend. Some work was accomplished on Chemical Butterfly (I thank and love you, Andrew), but I never did crack Good Omens back open again. Instead, I opted to begin reading Intellectual Foundations of China by Frederick W. Mote, a professor at Princeton University. This book is assigned to my Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions class by Dr. Ro. I'm getting that jump on my school reading after all by neglecting completing my summer reading (5 more). I'll say it again because it is worth repeating: I'm such a nerd :).

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 01:49 PM

July 29, 2003

Fall Semester

Classes start up again on August 25th. I'll be taking fifteen credit hours. On Mondays and Wednesdays I'll be on campus. I stuck to taking just twelve credit hours for my first two semesters at GMU and my classes were primarily held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Things are going to be a bit different this time around, but I think I'm ready for the change. The classes I am enrolled in are Western Civilization, Introduction to Classical Music, Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions, Dimensions of Writing/Literature, and the lab for that last class I mentioned. Only one of my professors this next semester will have a familiar face, and that's Dr. Ro, who I had for Religions of the Orient in the spring and I tremendously enjoyed having him as a teacher. This time I will have him for Chinese Philosophy and Religious Traditions.

I just got off the phone with the university bookstore and three of my four classes (not counting the lab as a class) all have had books assigned to them. The odd one out is Introduction to Classical Music. The total monetary damage I am looking at so far comes to $198. The total number of books I am looking at having to haul around so far comes to six. That's not nearly as bad as it could be. I am probably going to go buy all of the used books they had in stock on Saturday afternoon. That way, I won't get stuck paying outrageous amounts of money for new and I'll get a decent jump start on my reading. I'm such a nerd :).

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:24 AM