My first addition to the grad school lexicon

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Now that’s I’m two weeks from the end of the semester, I’m feeling very busy and a little overwhelmed. I’ve worked out a schedule that should allow me to finish my papers in plenty of time, but that schedule allows little to no time for frivolities like cleaning. So here it is, my first addition to the grad student lexicon: 

Subsistence cleaning (n.) — doing just enough housekeeping to eat, bathe, and wear clean clothes

I wash two dishes at a time and wait until my last pair of underwear to do laundry. It’s pretty pathetic. I just keep telling myself that in two weeks (less, really, since my due dates are all in the next 10 days), it will all be over, and I can give my apartment the deep cleaning it deserves. Until then, I’m officially a complete and utter slob. At least the fact that I’m disturbed by the mess demonstrates that I’m now an adult. 

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History crushes

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It turns out grad school doesn’t leave much time for blogging, especially now that all the papers have been assigned. I just thought I’d share the most recent phenomenon in my life — history crushes. Not on historical figures per se, but on historians who really thoroughly document their sources. There’s no better feeling than reading some enormously relevant factoid, glancing at the footnote, and discovering a new source all laid out for you with publication information and everything. Thank you, Jocelyn Hillgarth!

On the flip side, I’m developing a slightly irrational hatred for authors who do not cite their sources. I’m looking at you, 18th century antiquarians!

A long overdue update

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Well I’ve been putting off writing this since I’ve been obscenely busy over the last couple weeks, but as of today I am officially the new Director of Youth Ministries at University United Methodist! I met with Rev. Jill today and signed paperwork, got the grand tour, and got the key to my office (I have an office!). I’m a little nervous at the amount of responsibility I’ll have with doing this on top of grad school, but I am feeling pretty confident so far that this is where I’m called to be. UUMC is such a welcoming community and is striving to become more international — something I’ve been craving. That combined with the commitment to a message of love and grace has me convinced I’ve found a church home.

As for the actual work, I’m jumping right in! The first event of the school year is a Labor Day retreat, which doesn’t give me a whole lot of time. But I’m excited for the challenge, and this group of youth seem to be really invested in the youth ministry, which always makes the job a little easier!

In other news, I now have a very fat but adorable cat named Boudicca (or Boo). She’s slowly coming to terms with Harry, who’s kind of a force of nature, and Harry is overjoyed to have a cat sister again.

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A victory over myself

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I am lazy. I’m a lazy housekeeper. I’m a lazy DIY-er. And I am most lazy about working out. I discovered this past spring that after years of thinking I hated it, I actually love running. I don’t always love it while I’m doing it, but there are few moments when I feel more accomplished than after I’ve gone for a run. I’m not very fast, and I can’t go very far yet. But after thinking I couldn’t do it for so long, it’s a victory to do it at all. So why, if I love it so much, is it so hard to get off my couch and do it? I know I’ll feel better. I know I’ll be proud of myself. And yet I always have some excuse as to why I should just sit on my couch for a little while longer.

Well, today I finally did it again for the first time in at least a month and a half. I felt like I might puke at one point, but I pushed through and made it all the way home without walking! Again, it wasn’t very far (.8 miles according to google maps), but I pushed all the way through. So here’s my plan to keep me going through the summer: on September 2nd, SLU is having it’s annual 5k. I’m going to run it no matter what, but my hope is to keep to 9 minute miles…maybe even 8 if I’m feeling ambitious. With a goal in mind, hopefully I can keep this going all summer and into the fall!

In other non-lazy victories, I finally finished painting some ugly Craigslist chairs. I’ve still got the table to do, but it’s nice to finally have somewhere to sit in my kitchen.

A brief PSA

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Well, it turns out sitting in a cubicle all day is a lot more exhausting than I would have imagined. Even though I literally just sit at my desk for hours at a time, I’m still falling asleep on my couch at 9:30 every night. I’m enjoying having work to do, but I have to admit that this job is a little frustrating. That’s why I’m putting up a brief PSA for all high schoolers.

 

1. Answer your phone.

• Seriously. I’m calling because you asked us to. You filled out one of those little cards requesting more information, and now, whether either of us likes it or not, I’ll be calling you for two weeks. You’ll save us both time and frustration if you just pick up the phone.

 

Also, please don’t hang up on me. It’s rude.

 

2. If you don’t want something, say no.

• If you want me to stop calling, just say no. For real, it’s that easy. All you have to say is, “No thanks, I’m not interested.” And I’ll hang up and never call you again! So please, don’t say, “Oh sure, I’d love to come in for a tour! Just let me check my schedule!” and then never pick up your phone again. I swear, you won’t hurt my feelings if you just say no.

 

3. Even if you can’t follow the first two, don’t resort to Twitter!

• I understand that some people really don’t like confrontation. Really, I get it. It’s not fun to let someone down — even a disembodied voice on the other end of the phone line. Or maybe you’re just afraid that I won’t let you say no. Either way, I’ve accepted that a certain number of students will simply lie and say that they’d love to come in for a tour. But please, for the love of God, do not then turn around and complain on Twitter that we won’t stop calling you! Of course we’re still calling you, you asked us to! Please, even if you’re going to be rude to people who just want you to think about your future, exercise some logic in the process!

Progress!

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Well, after nearly two weeks of being in my new apartment, I finally have internet and a functioning stove! This whole process has been long and at times a little tedious, but it’s definitely thrown me into the adult world headfirst!

I started my job last week (“admissions assistant” at a local vocational school, which means I call high schoolers all week), and after a couple days of training, we were ready to get started on Friday. So Friday morning, I left my apartment bright and early, planning to get there a few minutes early. I’m cruising along down the streets of St. Louis, when all of a sudden a dog jumps in front of me. Now I know that in that instance, you’re always supposed to hit the dog rather than risk your car or your life. But I can’t hit a dog. So I hit the curb instead. WHAM. Flat tire. Not just a little leak, but a big hole. Immediately my tire went down. There was no way I was driving to work on that sucker. Fortunately, with the aid of a $60 dollar taxi, I did in fact make it to work on time. But it was quite an exciting start to my life in St. Louis, let me tell you. 

Now that my job has started, I’ve had much less time for reading, but I’ve been trying to cram a few pages in wherever I can. I managed to finish a social history of LSD (Acid Dreams), and it’s always fascinating to see how the same issues crop year after year (or in the case of my medieval stuff, century after century). Much of Acid Dreams deals with the perils of having unregulated government institutions who can freely violate the rights of the American people. Although the NSA isn’t feeding LSD to unsuspecting citizens — at least not that I’m aware of — the parallels are significant, and it’s frustrating to see how little progress we truly make from decade to decade. 

One book that I found does actually offer a ray of hope at the end is The Closing of the Western Mind. Dealing with how Constantine’s conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity affected ancient traditions of reason and philosophy, the book often seems a little more ideological than I think author Charles Freeman intended. Although I love Greek philosophy and am all in favor of looking at the world rationally, I found some of his treatment of Christian thinkers like Augustine to be a little one-sided. Still, he ends the book on a positive note with Aquinas reviving the Aristotelian tradition. Perhaps it’s because I tend to favor Plato over Aristotle and Augustine over Aquinas, but I’m not sure that Aquinas did as much good as Freeman suggests he did, and I know that Augustine certainly had more to offer than Freeman admits. But it was definitely a well-reasoned, articulate book and very enjoyable to read.

Senioritis

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I thought I was immune to senioritis. Sure, I wasn’t especially motivated in high school, but this past semester I plowed through straight to the end. Not once did I feel like giving up, and I even kept my procrastination to a minimum. But it’s finally setting in — after I graduated and am no longer a senior. These past two days, I’ve had exactly zero motivation to work on this yearbook. I’d rather be doing pretty much anything: taking the dog for long walks, baking something interesting, heck, even packing would be more fun! But after 9 grueling hours today, plus the countless already spent, I can finally say it’s done! It’s not my best work, but it’s respectable, and at this point, it’s enough. I feel victorious, and I feel like a beer.