the story so far

I'm just about to complete my second week back at school, and things are off to a pretty good start. This is largely because I just got internet access back in my room after several days of network problems that were annoyingly reminiscent of last semester.

But seriously, I have a good job (night supervisor at the International Student Center = lots of time to do homework), and am settling into my two-person room (although I'm hardly ever there. I seem to live in the library...) And Yosakoi is back in full swing, evidenced by the excruciating pain every time I move my shoulders after Tuesday's practice. We have a lot of new members who ask me how to do certain steps of the dance every time we need a break, which is good, but leaves me exhausted. On second thought, it's good for me too - I have to know my stuff.

Otherwise classes have been pretty good so far. A brief overview:

Japanese is my favourite by far. I was a little intimidated the first day when our teacher walked in the door and started speaking rapid-fire Japanese without any explanation until the end of class. But I'm learning lots of useful phrases and just completed the hiragana alphabet today. Interesting quote thus far (from a handout): "When you are speaking Japanese, you should avoid English speech fillers such as uh, and make an effort to use the Japanese ones."

Archaeology is interesting; it's been a little dry, but we have learned about the Three Age dating system, and that all archaeologists do not run around with a pith helmet and whip like Indiana Jones. Interesting quote thus far: Professor - "You've all used grids since elementary school. Can anyone tell me briefly what a grid is?" Student - "It's a bunch of triangles put next to each other."

Information Gathering is basically a semester-long research tutorial leading up to what will be a ginormous paper on a media policy issue. My topic of choice, though still in the brainstorming stage, is the implications of using English-only or bilingual newspapers. Apparently we will learn to use the library and other databases, and how to track down and interview experts. Oh, and we will learn how to use Google in ways we have never used Google before. If there has been an interesting quote yet, I've missed it.

American Ethnic Studies is just what it sounds like - studies of different ethnic groups in America. Racism. Cultural pluralism. That sort of thing. Interesting quote thus far (during roll call on the first day, when calling my last name in front of 80 students): Professor - "There is no way you can get (insert last name) from that spelling. See, look -" Yeah, my name was on the chalk board for the entire class period.

Population Dynamics has only met twice, but I think I'm going to like it. Kind of like Am. Ethnic studies, but it tells what the groups do, and why. My professor is from Hungary and likes to slip in comparisons of his country into class, which makes it interesting. There are only about 10 of us in the class, too - not a bad ratio. Interesting quote thus far: "Now, let's get down to the black soup, as they say in Hungary."

And that's the story so far.


little bloggy b-day

It was one year ago today I started my venture into blogging. It's been an interesting experiment, and I've enjoyed the other blogs I've been able to read and comment on, and receive comments back.

Over the last year I've blogged about my first year at college, my first trip overseas, and lots of zany and mediocre things like haircuts, food and quirky people I've observed or overheard.

The other day I added Google Analytics to my page so I could see how truly depressing my blog ratings were. I was actually surprised by the small but steady stream of people who visit it.

Some of them get here by interesting routes. One Google search that has lead people to my blog was 'alcohol free birthday etiquette.' I don't remember blogging about this subject, although it's worth finding out about. I don't know why 'picture of breaded fish cutlet' would lead anyone to my blog, either, but it did. I hope they weren't upset not to find such a picture. And my personal favourite, 'the art of slurping' must have had something to do with my experience eating ramen in Japan. Interesting stuff.

So, thanks for sharing my little corner of cyberspace - listening in, commenting, and sharing your own stories. Sometimes my postings are sporadic at best, but I've enjoyed keeping a blog. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it going through the next year.


last day at work

Yesterday was my last day at the library before moving back to school. And oddly enough, it was probably the most interesting day I spent working there, if only for the variety of stuff I got to do.

Typically when I go in to work at the library, I steel myself in preparation for six hours of the same cycle of work: get a book from the cataloger, type up the label in the front of the book, affix the label with con-tac paper, check the label against the online catalog, fit it with "tattletape" so the sensor at the door beeps if someone tries to walk off with it, shelve the book. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Since the library is in the process of changing every book from Dewey Decimal System classification to Library of Congress, there is no dearth of labeling to deal with. Carts and carts of books on end, in fact.

Yesterday had its share of "processing" as it's called, but I also got to interact with patrons, something that doesn't happen a lot when all the students and most of the professors are gone from campus for the summer. I got to try various other things that librarians are responsible for, such as unlocking the conference room for a guy in PR to take pictures of the windowsill. Unlocking it again 20 minutes later because he took the "wrong" pictures of the windowsill. (We were baffled as to how you can take wrong pictures of a windowsill; we were both quite certain the remodelers who wanted the pictures would come look at the actual windowsill before building anything for it.) I supplied patrons with paper clips and hole punches, and took a trip to the business office to get my paycheck. And after lunch, I moved approximately ten times my weight in reference books.

And today, some coworkers and I are going out to eat a local Mexican restaurant as a "goodbye for now" to the job. It was a good job to have during the summer. I can't say I'll really miss it, but it was nice to have while I was here.


haircut, school and other unrelated musings

You'd think that with less than 48 hours remaining until I will be settling down for the night in my dorm for the fall semester, I'd be doing something productive. Checking my schedule to see when I start classes. Seeing if I have enough food to last the weekend since the dining hall doesn't open until Monday, and I'm moving in on Thursday. Packing, maybe. But no. As you can see, I'm on the computer. This has been a serious addiction lately. Youtube has become my central music fix. I surf blogs at random. I'm on Facebook like some people are on crack. But hey, while I'm here I might as well update my blog.

I got my hair cut last Friday. It is the first serious cut I've had in about three years, and the stylist said she cut a good 9-10 inches off in the back. It feels wonderful and is easy to take care of, despite being the first hairdo I've had that requires me to style it and actually use a blowdryer. I don't usually spend a lot of time on my hair, but the new style is easy and I love it. It looks somewhat like the picture below. (The picture, by the way, is not me. It is German actress Franka Potente. However, if you would like to pretend this is what I look like, I would not be offended in any way.)

As I mentioned, the start of the school year is fast approaching. I'm actually eagerly anticipating my classes, although they are scheduled so close together that I will have to miss lunch several days a week. My schedule, as it is set now, looks like this:

AMETH 160 Intro to American Ethics

MC 195 Information Gathering

JAPAN 191 Japanese I

ANTH 260 Intro to Archaeology

SOCIO 535 Population Dynamics

It's going to take some getting used to, as usual, when I move back in. But I'm looking forward to the semester. New classes, new job, new people to meet. Bring it on, I say.


thoughts on camp

It's been almost a week since I got back from seven days in a cabin with 16 screaming 7-to-9-year-old girls. My thoughts have had time to marinate in my head (what do you call these? Marinatings? Marinations? I'll settle with musings for now...) and the weird thing is...I kind of miss it.

Being a "cabin mommy" as one of my campers put it isn't always fun. There is the rush to get ready for chapel in the morning. The perpetual spilled drinks - I don't think we went one meal without tipping a glass. There is lots of homesickness, and in some years (like this one) lots of puking. But there are lots of cool things about being a cabin leader too. One is that you become a hero to lots of little kids for simply having a band-aid when they need one or know how to braid hair. You inspire awe because you are A Teenager, and go to college.

But the other cool thing is that as a counselor you get to do stuff that you haven't had a chance to do since you were their age: get your hands messy making hommade paper, belt out silly songs in music class, play dodgeball and scream at the top of your lungs going down the water slide. You're a sort-of parent, sort-of older sibling, and sort-of friend.

I think that anyone considering parenthood should be required to be a camp counselor first. Sure, one week isn't anything compared to a lifetime with kids. But it sure gives you a preview of what life might be like. At times it's endearing, at times frustrating, and sometimes just fun. I have no idea if I'll ever have kids...I havn't thought that far down the road yet. But will I be a cabin mommy again next year at camp? I think so.


bourne again...

I took my brother to see the Bourne Ultimatum as a last-weekend-out-of school outing. And I have to say (without any spoilers here) that it was a pretty good film. It was a great third installment, and left me wanting to know more at the end, but not for lack of a good plot. Its cityscapes were just as vibrant as in the first two films, and made me want to travel to the locations where it was filmed in London, Madrid and Morocco. An all-around good movie to round out a great trilogy.


overheard at camp

I'm back from counseling at a week-long Orthodox youth camp. I'll probably post more about it later, but right now I'm still recovering from the exhaustion, so I'll give you a sampling of quotes from the 7-to-9-year-olds I counseled. If nothing else, it was worth the week to hear the amusing things the kids said.

After I taught an impromptu dance class when the actual teacher had to leave, a little boy ran up to me and said, "I've never seen a parent jump before!"

One of my girls at lunch: "You're not even old enough to get married!"

During chapel: "Make my sister stop hitting me! And my appendix hurts!"

While doing a bread-making activity: "I have lots of practice working with dough. I just took a cake-decorating class, and now I decorate all these cakes. I'm working on one shaped like the White House. The President ordered it, and I'm going to send it to him. I'm going to make all his cakes."

One of my campers: "Well, their names are Katie and Sarah. They're not identical twins - I think it's called fraternal. They look exactly alike, but their names aren't twins."