01) Study a new language. 02) Go skydiving. 03) Complete the River Run. 04) Get accepted to a Ph.D program. 05) Swim across Tampa Bay (24mi). 06) Get a new laptop. 07) Graduate with my B.A. in linguistics. 08) Save 50% of every paycheck. 09) Swim a FINA qualifying time. 10) Take a Eurail trip.
(a) I'm working at Runways over the break. (b) My newest addiction is Su Doku puzzles. (c) My wonderful mom taped all the Commander In Chief episodes for me, yippee! (d) I've (unofficially) booked a Channel slot - the first tide in August 2007. (e) I'm all packed and ready to move to Gainesville. (f) Elise and I spent time together today, which was great. (g) Christmas yielded perfume, a watch, a $50 Sports Authority gift card, lots of books, lots of DVDs, and the promise of a new laptop as a graduation present.
Being semi-inspired by Hedwig, I've just compiled a list of all 137 of the books I have in my possession at the end of 2005. (Again, I've had to exclude all accents, due to some quirk of this site, so all Spanish speakers: please forgive me.) I've owned and sold back many, many, MANY books over the years - some of which I was far too old for, but nonetheless wish I still had - but here's the list as it stands right now (reference-style books excluded). My top 25 (of the moment) are marked in italics. And yes, some are in Dutch, and a couple are in Spanish. Deal with it.
Raves? Rants? Recommendations? Leave a comment!
Arraras, Maria Celeste - Selena's Secret Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's Tale Atwood, Margaret - The Robber Bride Auel, Jean - The Clan of the Cave Bear Auel, Jean - The Valley of Horses Auel, Jean - The Mammoth Hunters Auel, Jean - The Plains of Passage Auel, Jean - The Shelters of Stone Bagnold, Enid - National Velvet Beerten, Els - Lopen voor je leven Belle de Jour - The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl Bennett, Cherie - Anne Frank and Me Besamusca, Emmeline - Voices of the Canal Brashares, Ann - The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Brashares, Ann - The Second Summer of the Sisterhood Brown, Dan - The da Vinci Code Brown, Dan - Angels and Demons Brown, Dan - Digital Fortress Brown, Dan - Deception Point Callahan, Mary - Fighting for Tony Canfield, Jack and Hansen, Mark Victor - Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Canfield, Jack and Hansen, Mark Victor - Chicken Soup for the College Soul Canfield, Jack and Hansen, Mark Victor - Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul Canfield, Jack and Hansen, Mark Victor - Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul Card, Orson Scott - Ender's Game Card, Orson Scott - Ender's Shadow Cleveland, Marcia - Dover Solo Cook, Robin - Fever Cook, Robin - Invasion Cook, Robin - Mutation Cook, Robin - Mortal Fear Cook, Robin - Mindbend Cook, Robin - Abduction Cook, Robin - Toxin Cornwell, Patricia - The Body Farm Cornwell, Patricia - Unnatural Exposure Cornwell, Patricia - The Last Precinct Cornwell, Patricia - Point of Origin Cornwell, Patricia - Cause of Death Cox, Lynne - Swimming to Antarctica Crichton, Michael - Jurassic Park Crichton, Michael - The Lost World Crichton, Michael - Timeline Crichton, Michael - Prey Crichton, Michael - A Case of Need Dean, Penny Lee - Open Water Swimming Dorrestein, Renate - Een hart van steen Dunant, Sarah - The Birth of Venus Dunant, Sarah - Mapping the Edge Eugenides, Jeffrey - Middlesex Evans, Nicholas - The Horse Whisperer Evans, Richard Paul - The Last Promise Frank, Anne - Het Achterhuis French, Nicci - Het veilige huis Gelissen, Rena Kornreich and Macadam, Heather Dune - Rena's Promise Golden, Arthur - Memoirs of a Geisha Golding, William - Lord of the Flies Golinkoff, Roberta M. - How Babies Talk Goodman, Carol - The Lake of Dead Languages Goodman, Carol - The Seduction of Water Grisham, John - A Time to Kill Harris, Joanne - Chocolat Hart, Catherine - Impulsive Hayden, Torey - Ghost Girl Hayden, Torey - Murphy's Boy Hayden, Torey - Somebody Else's Kids Hayden, Torey - Just Another Kid Hayden, Torey - One Child Hayden, Torey - The Tiger's Child Hayden, Torey - Beautiful Child Hayden, Torey - Twilight Children Hayden, Torey - The Sunflower Forest Hoffman, Alice - Practical Magic Hornby, Nick - About a Boy Hornby, Nick - How to Be Good Kercheval, Jesse Lee - Space Keyes, Daniel - Flowers for Algernon King, Stephen - The Green Mile Konigsburg, E.L. - From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Levin, Ira - The Stepford Wives Lewis, C.S. - The Magician's Nephew Lewis, C.S. - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe de Loo, Tessa - De tweeling Lowry, Lois - The Giver MacCracken, Mary - Lovey MacCracken, Mary - A Circle of Children Maurice, Catherine - Let Me Hear Your Voice Mawson, Robert - The Lazarus Child McDaniel, Lurlene - The Legacy: Making Wishes Come True McDaniel, Lurlene - Baby Alicia Is Dying McDaniel, Lurlene - Someone Dies, Someone Lives McDaniel, Lurlene - Mourning Song McDaniel, Lurlene - Angel of Mercy McDaniel, Lurlene - Angel of Hope McDaniel, Lurlene - Garden of Angels McDaniel, Lurlene - The Time Capsule McLaughlin, Emma and Kraus, Nicola - The Nanny Diaries Millington, Mil - Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About Moriarty, Laura - The Center of Everything Niffenegger, Audrey - The Time-Traveler's Wife Patterson, Francine - The Education of Koko Patterson, James - Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas Pelzer, Dave - A Child Called It Picoult, Jodi - My Sister's Keeper Picoult, Jodi - Keeping Faith Picoult, Jodi - Plain Truth Picoult, Jodi - The Pact Picoult, Jodi - Picture Perfect Picoult, Jodi - Vanishing Acts Rawls, Wilson - Where The Red Fern Grows Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter en de steen der wijzen Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal Rumbelow, Donald - The Complete Jack the Ripper Russell, Bertrand - Why I Am Not a Christian Sanders, Ewoud - Aarsrivalen, scheldkarbonades en terminale baden Scheibner, Flora Rheta - Sybil Sebold, Alice - The Lovely Bones Slee, Carry - Afblijven! Slee, Carry - Paniek Slee, Carry - Razend Sparks, Nicholas - The Notebook Sparks, Nicholas - The Rescue Sparks, Nicholas - The Wedding Swan, Mary - Het diep Tartt, Donna - The Secret History Tartt, Donna - The Little Friend Wells, Rebecca - Little Altars Everywhere Wells, Rebecca - The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood White, Colin and Boucke, Laurie - The UnDutchables Wiesel, Elie - Night Ziglar, Zig - Algo por que sonreir
Okay, so after almost 24 straight hours of traveling on Wednesday, I'm home. And I've gotten a lot accomplished in the past few days. I've wrapped all my presents, gotten a haircut, packed for Gainesville, bought new shoes, gotten my return-to-work physical for Runways, swum with Holmes Lumber Jax, mailed my grad school writing samples, and even booked a Channel slot (first tide in August 2007, with pilot Eddie Spelling).
And I'm really glad to be home - I'd say it's the highest happy-to-sad percentage I've had in a while. I miss Linde and Christine and Dia all a lot - why do so many of my REAL friends have to live across the ocean? - and I'm constantly reminded by the political happenings and the barrage of rednecks and idiots in the stores that I miss the Dutch people and their practical, liberal attitudes, too. That nagging 'empty' feeling in my gut is definitely there, as always. But I'm very glad to be done at UCU, glad to eat good food again (GREEN salad! :)), glad to be back in warm(er) weather, glad to be back with my books, glad to drive my car again, glad to see the Christmas tree... I'm keeping busy, and I have Christmas goings-on to distract me, and lots of things to look forward to in Gainesville, so the positives certainly outweigh the negatives this time.
Today: mail Flat Stanley back, run 5k, put flannel sheets on my bed, catch up on my e-mail, watch the rest of the taped Commander-In-Chief episodes, and have dinner with my grandparents.
For some reason, everything and everybody is pissing me off right now.
(1) The old fat people swimming head-up breaststroke at the Krommerijn always seem to feel the need to drift into MY lane. There are no lane lines, so we can't really circle-swim, meaning we have to just sort of dodge around each other. I always make a point of blowing past them fast, so they'll get out of my way and I don't have to keep watching out for them. Usually they do, eventually, but it's annoying. I'm usually one of, oh, maybe three people in the pool actually doing a visible workout... can't you go swim with your agemates and leave those of us who are actually training alone?
(2) I'm sitting in the academic building, and in spite of the sign which says QUIET AREA - NO PHONES, there is still a girl jabbering away in Spanish at top volume on her cell phone.
(3) Another (American) girl, next to her, just said something to her (American) friends like, "You know, those baby cells, like, stem cells, that turn into the other cells in your body? Well, they can turn into anything, right, and so there was this guy the other day I heard about who had, like, teeth and hair in his stomach."
"Eeeewww!" her friends squealed.
I turned around and said, "Sorry, but as far as I know, stem cells don't actually work like that. If he had teeth and hair in his stomach, it could have been his twin brother who died before birth or something, but it couldn't be his own stem cells that did it."
She shrugged and turned away from me without answering, and when one of her friends asked how she'd heard about the guy, she said smugly, "My boyfriend's a doctor."
"That sounded so cool!" her friend shrieked, "'My boyfriend's a doctor'..."
Cue much hysterical laughter and ignoring of me. Sigh. Have I mentioned that I hate always being surrounded by 18-year-olds?
(4) Miss My-Boyfriend's-A-Doctor is now also on the phone. Also loudly. Joy.
I finally swam today for the first time since Monday (I was too busy with papers and finals to go this week). It hurt my shoulder, but it felt good - six thousand meters. I've gained a few pounds since I've been here, partially because (a) I tend to be far more attached to my computer when abroad, (b) my swimming possibilities have been cut in half, and (c) I'm forced to eat what the dining hall serves me, which does not include lovely green salad. (And, of course, the European chocolate.) But it'll come off fast once I'm back home eating normally, swimming normally, and running again. My shoes were just too worn down, and I was getting problems with my plantar fascia (it felt like I had a few pieces of plastic moving around under my arch) so I went ahead and sold them rather than be tempted to keep running on them.
So Thursday will be not only a haircut, but shoes too.
Anyway, the Jaguars are currently playing the 49ers, and doing pretty horribly from what I can make out - they're only up by one point. I've only got 53 minutes of laptop power left, so I want to shut down, but I don't want to miss the end of the game. Grrr.
2 hours and 11 minutes, the laptop battery says, so I'll be brief.
I saw Martin this morning and gave him Jolanda's telephone and my converter; we had Turkish pizzas and walked around in the nasty weather, just talking. It was good to see him again, and it sounds like things are going well for him. He's thinking about doing some sort of computer-oriented program of study in the near future.
I also saw Linde, which was great, as usual. She's always so busy that it's great when we do get to spend some time together. We walked around the outdoor mall, visited her brother and sister at their jobs, and ate a light dinner at her house - soup and baguette bread with various spreads (the Dutch know spreads, let me tell you), plus some pistachios and chocolate-covered raisins. I was thinking about it, and I realized I've been friends with Linde for over three and a half years now, which is a long time in the world of college students who change classes every semester and apartments every year. And really, I just love her whole family, and house, and lifestyle... if I had to pick a 'second family' besides my own, they'd be it.
Linde also offered to take me to Schiphol - have I mentioned that I love her? - so I'll spend my last night at her house and then we'll take the car to the airport. We still have to get up around 5:30, but it saves an hour, and is far less stressful (physically and mentally, LOL... I have 4 bags, all heavy.)
Speaking of physical stresses, I seem to have pulled a muscle in my upper back somehow - not sure how I did that.
Also, one more thing to do upon my return: buy new New Balance shoes.
Gotta save some battery power for the next three days... see ya...
Today: return phone, give converter to Martin, see Linde.
Tomorrow: Swim, read, kill time.
Tuesday: Read, kill time, party, see Christine again.
Still to pack: 2pr pants, 3 shirts, bathrobe, camera, a few toiletries, assorted pens and papers.
Still to arrange: meeting with Marrit, final resting place for my bedding.
Number of travel hours (by foot, bus, train, plane, and car): ~20
To do within 24 hours of arrival: send second set of recommendation forms to Fiona, mail writing samples to Georgetown and Brown, go to Solantic for my drug test (for work, people, for work!)... and get a haircut. :)
Well, the wind is whipping a cold rain around outside, and I'm in my last 24 hours of having unlimited computer access. See, Martin is coming to Utrecht tomorrow so I can give him Jolanda's pre-paid phone back - which she so kindly lent me for the duration of my stay here - and he has offered to take custody of the large, heavy, annoying converter, which I seem to be unable to sell, either in person or on Marktplaats. Therefore, I will have only the battery power of my laptop - which is none too good - to sustain me over Saturday night, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Which means no movies or Jaguars games on internet radio. I think the rule is going to be: power up once per evening for no longer than 20 minutes. Of course, I can use the academic computers, but (a) I don't have my movies, documents, or Favorites list on those computers, and (b) my UCU webmail, for some inexplicable reason, works only via Outlook, not via the web. Oh, well, my London cybercafe training will come in handy, I suppose.
In other news, I just finished my last exam - Spanish. It consisted of two essays and a 15-question 'pick the right verb tense' thingie. I think it went okay, but you gotta love how we were not asked to write ONCE all semester long (that is, until I submitted my course evaluation which said, 'why haven't we done any writing?') and then we get a final exam which is almost entirely essay. I won't say I minded or anything, because I circumlocute well and frankly, I'd rather be graded on my foreign language writing than anything else, but I think some other people might have been mentally tearing their hair out. Don't know when we get the grades. I'm expecting an A in that class, though, as well as an A-plus in Creative Writing and an A for my thesis.
I think I have to resign myself to a B in linguistics, though, unless a miracle happened on that exam yesterday, which I doubt. I had a B-minus on the midterm (25%), an A-plus on my presentation (20%), and (I assume) an A for class participation (10%). I obviously still have no idea about the final exam (25%), but it shouldn't be lower than last time, so I was hoping that the paper (20%) would push me into A range. I also thought I might be looked upon more favorably since I actually did the assignment as told rather than take the last-ditch possibility of doing it orally.
(Here comes a rant.) See, this is a 300-level course, the highest that they have here, and our only written requirement is a 3000-word paper. That's nothing compared to what some courses require. But Sergey offered an alternative last week - that if we wanted to do all the research and then defend our proposed experiment orally, in a private conversation with him, rather than taking the time to write it all up, then we could do that. Now, I would rather write than talk, everyone knows that, and since the original assignment was a paper, I figured I'd go ahead and do it that way. However, everyone I've talked to who did orals got As, and all Sergey had to say about my paper when I asked was, "I haven't graded it yet, but I did read your paper. It was... okay. I don't think it will be an A." That makes me really angry. In an oral, he asks questions and we answer them - meaning he can ask exactly what he's curious about in the order and amount of detail that he considers appropriate or important. Even if it isn't something you researched specifically, you can say, "Well, I read this and this, so I guess I'd think it would happen like that" and just ad-lib. But when you write a paper, you have to structure it the way you want to and include the information that you think is relevant - you can't read the teacher's mind and follow his thought patterns on the subject. I thought my paper was good, if a tiny bit short, and it included all the things he'd asked for (hypothesis, procedure, etc.). So now I'm angry at myself for not doing the oral, but I'm also angry at him for relaxing the requirements for once in his life and having it still be something where I get the short end of the stick. Grrr.
Anyway, that's still a 3.75 semester GPA, which still gets me on the dean's list, but it's maddening.
Off to a meeting with Jocelyn now.
P.S. Anybody know how to pry the keys off a laptop without killing the thing? There is all kinds of dust, hair, and other crap under my keys and the E, R, and Y aren't doing so well because of it.
I don't know what to do with myself. I don't need to study for my Spanish final, I can't work on my thesis until Jocelyn e-mails it back to me, and I don't need to study for linguistics yet because Lotte is coming over tomorrow to do that with me. So, while Dia pores over her psychology notes, I'm sitting here watching movies, for lack of any direction. I've downloaded Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Million Dollar Baby, Donnie Brasco, White Oleander, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - that should keep me busy for a while.
In the same vein - has anyone out there seen the Narnia movie yet, and if so, what did you think of it? I'm really looking forward to seeing it, but I want to re-buy and reread the book first. Those Narnia books, I believe, were yet another case of the precocious reader tackling something before she was ready, and, thus, abandoning it. The same thing happened with Rebecca - a book my mother still swears by - as well as countless others. I had the whole set - all seven books, or however many there were - but I sold it back to the Bookmine when I was around middle school age. I really enjoyed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but never got into any of the others, and I couldn't very well sell a boxed set with one of the books missing, so... off it went. But when I get home I'm going to buy it, as well as Memoirs of a Geisha, which is apparently also out, or coming out, as a movie. The book has been recommended to me by countless people and somehow I never read it. Am looking forward to remedying that situation.
The packing situation is, well, progressing. I don't have to go to class anymore, so I'm in the process of throwing away old papers and notebooks that I no longer need, picking out the few gems (nearly all creative writing) that I want to save. Three outfits, a few miscellaneous clothing articles, a paperback book, and a couple of toiletry items are the only things that still have to go into the big suitcase, so the weight limit won't be exceeded by any substantial amount - maybe 3kg or so.
I need ideas for things to do with Flat Stanley. He's had 'traditional Dutch' hutspot, he's ridden a bike, he's been in a shoe (for Sinterklaas), he's been on a train, and he's bought postcards for his class in Massachusetts, but what else can I do with him? Ideas from the peanut gallery?
I'm home at last, after being gone from 11:15 to 21:00, and I have only one email. What a sad and lonely life I lead... LOL.
Anyway, the meet went pretty well. I met a couple of really nice people, het Zinkstuk (our team) did much better as a whole than we did in Nijmegen, and I cut four seconds off my 100 free time, if the conversion utility is to be believed. However, I am exhausted now - why are meets so incredibly physically draining, when you actually swim so little? - and am sitting here sleepily drinking milk and eating Christmas cookies (an impulse buy at Albert Heijn) and debating whether or not I want to watch a movie or just go straight to bed.
I'm done. I can't believe it, but I am. I'm completely done with creative writing - I don't even have to go to class anymore - and my linguistics paper is done as well. The only things I have to concentrate on now are two finals (though Spanish is nothing to worry about) and, of course, my thesis, which will be winging its way back to me on Monday for me to adjust (again) and resubmit as a final draft, along with my research journal of how I managed my time and how much time I spent on the project each week. (Of course, I haven't been keeping that up, so now I have to make it all up, but whatever.)
On a completely different note, I've been trying to think of ways I could finally spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country. What I really should have done is go to South America or Mexico for a semester instead of back here, but oh well, we can't change the past. Anyway, so I've been looking at volunteer-abroad programs - again. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time now, but all the slick-looking sites charge an arm and a leg, and I've never agreed with the whole concept of paying to volunteer, so I never followed up on any of the possibilities. Anyway, but this time around I've found two good sites so far, the first of which costs $250 per program and was recommended to me - as far as I recall - by a girl on one of the various planes I've been on, and the second of which I've only just discovered, but looks right up my alley - working with orphans in Chile. It's completely free, apart from airfare, but you have to stay for a minimum of three months. That means I can't swing it this summer - or in 2007 either, since I'll (hopefully) be in England - but it's something to think about.
There's light at the end of the tunnel. Spanish oral? Done. Creative writing portfolio in all its facets? Done. Linguistics paper? Done, assuming Sergey doesn't notice that I only have 2654 words when I'm supposed to have 3000. I've said everything I needed to say, and I'm almost following the 'ten percent above or below' target rule... so I don't think it's going to get much longer. I'll just fudge the word count a bit.
I also bought postcards for Flat Stanley yesterday - one 'springy', of the tulips, one 'summery', of a windmill with water and blue sky and green grass, one 'wintery', of a foggy early-morning pink-purple sunrise by a row of windmills, and one of Utrecht, with the Dom in the middle. It's really neat to look closely at that card, because I can see a lot of the streets that I know so well... even one of the buildings where I used to have class.
My hair is also becoming so long and flat and mullet-like and annoying that I am resorting to wearing a corduroy hat much of the time. I am not a hat person, but this one I seem to be able to wear without looking like a Muppet. I even got complimented on it yesterday. (By Trung, though, so who knows if that can be counted as a genuine compliment... LOL.)
Off to class now. (Only 6 more days of classes! Yippee!)
Yikes. Just read on the Yale website that there were 36 applicants for the Ph.D program last fall, of which TWO were admitted. There goes that little fantasy, unless Sergey or my uncle or anyone with any ties to Yale feels like pulling a string. But the Georgetown (overall) admission ratio for graduates is more like 38%, so hopefully I've got a better shot at that one... and that's the one I really want anyway...
Well, it went all right. They asked exactly ONE of the questions that I'd prepared for - about my future plans - but it went okay nonetheless. I got hung up on the questions about 'what would you tell someone else coming to study here', but it wasn't because of my Spanish; it was because I simply couldn't think of anything except 'keep an open mind', even in English. I mean, what do you advise someone coming to Holland? You can tell them all kinds of things ABOUT the country, sure, but country-specific advice? No effing clue.
And then they found out about the English Channel and my Key West swim and that was all they wanted to talk about, which was nice on one hand, since it was stuff I knew about, and bad on the other, since I hadn't really prepared any vocabulary for it. But I only slipped into Dutch twice, once when I used Spanish words in Dutch word order (and started laughing and said, 'Estoy usando la orden del Holandes!') and once when I stopped monitoring myself and started speaking a little faster and ended up saying 'na' for 'after' (which Peter immediately called me on, upon which I clapped my hand over my mouth and blurted 'despues de!' and kept going).
The bottom line is that I think I spoke pretty fluently overall and was able to circumlocute when I didn't know something, but I did make a few dumb mistakes, like forgetting the 'me' in front of 'duelen' (to hurt) when I was talking about my Key West shoulders, and having a mental block and only being able to think of the Dutch word for 'older' and so having to backtrack and flip my comment around and use 'younger' instead. ('Mayor', damn it, 'mayor'! Duh!)
Anyway, I know they were testing us to see if we'd mastered all the tenses, and I know I used present, gerund, present perfect, both past tenses, and the conditional once or twice, but I also know that I did NOT use the imperfect subjunctive even once, nor the past perfect, simply because I didn't need them. I had decided to not think analytically about it and just to use whatever tense I felt was appropriate for the question, rather than 'forcing' weird tenses into the mix, but I'm still a bit unsure about how they saw my performance (especially about my preterite versus imperfect stuff, which I never used to have problems with but which I for some reason mix up nowadays).
Anyway, I'll shut up now, but this was thirty percent of my final grade, which is why I'm stressing. I'm guessing I got somewhere around a 25 out of 30 points, but considering we have a couple of really poor speakers to lower the curve, it could be higher - in which case I would be ecstatic. I guess I'll find out on Friday.
Just a quick update to say I'm making progress. I finally finished my short story, and I actually really like it. I felt like I wrote things I didn't like a couple of times during this course (character description, screenplay skeleton...), just to have something on paper which fulfilled the assignment, but I'm never satisfied with that. And I decided I didn't want to hate the assignment which is supposed to be our 'masterpiece' of the semester, so I scrapped the idea I'd committed to and just wrote a whole new story, which I like much better. And the writing process went the way it does when I actually have inspiration - when my 'Muse' is talking to me, so to speak. Meaning I just started writing, changing certain small things around on the way, but never losing my train of thought and never questioning 'what's the best way to say this?'... and didn't look up until I had filled three or four pages and was trying to find a way to end the thing. That's the way I write, in short, intense bursts, and then after I've filled a few pages it's like the 'bubble' pops and I'm back to analyzing my word choices and such again. That's why I don't know if I could ever write a book, because I can't maintain that concentration, that period of brilliance, over an extended period. But now I'm rambling. My point was, it feels like I finally got 'me' back again, instead of just writing crap because I had an assignment to do and said I was going to do it about one particular topic. So hooray for me.
Changing the subject, my Spanish oral is in two and a half hours, but I'm actually not that nervous. A few of us practiced for it this morning and it didn't go too badly. My main problem is 'talking myself into a corner' by getting myself into a sentence which I don't remember all the necessary vocabulary for. That's when I throw in Dutch words (usually prepositions or other 'function words'), out of panic that the sentence is 'stalling'. I know all the tenses, all the grammar, all the structural things - I just don't always remember the actual words. What's weird is, it seems like my brain only needs one repetition of words I knew before - if I've heard the word in question this semester, even once, I probably do have it in my active vocabulary again. But six years' worth of Spanish vocabulary can't be made up in one semester, so I'm understandably still a bit lacking. But I know what a few of the questions are likely to be, thanks to the two people in our study group who had theirs this morning, so I'm currently practicing by writing out answers to those and, amazingly, I'm able to circumlocute pretty well; I haven't needed the dictionary at all.
(I can't use any accented words on this website or I get a bunch of funny symbols - anyone know how to correct that? - so forgive me for my horrible Anglicization of the Spanish:)
Que quieres hacer en el futuro?
Quiero hacer un programa doctoral en linguistica en la universidad de Georgetown, y despues de eso quiero volverme especialista de idiomas de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad en los EEUU.
Pues, no quiero ofenderte con esta respuesta, pero no se puede hacer mucho con un diploma de linguistica fuera de traducir o ensenar. Esas cosas son perfectamente bienes, pero quiero hacer algo menos 'normal', mas emocionante... algo que es diferente cada dia, sabes?
Si pudieras hacer tu estudio otra vez, que cambiarias?
No cambiaria nada de mi estudio, porque soy muy contenta con mi decision a estudiar linguistica, pero si pudiera cambiar algo... habria hecho dos programas diferentes de intercambio en vez de ir dos veces al mismo pais... y habria descubrido mi segundo equipo de nadar en mi primer ano en vez de mi tercer ano... y no habria permitido que mi espanol se vuelve tan malo. :)
Que vas a hacer con las vacaciones?
Voy a casa! Y estoy muy feliz porque esto es mi primera Navidad en casa en tres anos, porque he estado en Holanda cada ano desde 2002. No puedo esperar a ver mis padres y hermanita, y conducir mi coche, y comer comida Mexicana...
Anyway, it's going to be that sort of thing, so I'll probably be fine.
I'm also listening to "No me ames" (Marc Anthony and J.Lo) on repeat. For some reason, this particular song reminds me of how much I used to love this language and how good I used to be at it. I'm really glad I signed up for that advanced conversational class next semester. I don't want to let it go again.
Anyway, I'll go back to practicing now, but I'll be really glad when the oral is over, since that means I'll only have four more things to do: complete my final creative writing portfolio, finish writing my linguistics paper, study for my linguistics final, and finish the last few loose ends on the HUM 301 (thesis course) requirements, like the journal of Jocelyn's and my meetings.
I hate uncertainty. Many of you may have noticed that. I like having a plan and I like being organized. I like knowing exactly what's going to happen when, and I like being able to manage my time to best suit the timing of the events.
That's why this grad school thing is driving me so completely crazy.
I've got my 2006 planner open next to me, and it's filling up. January is my birthday, the start of classes, and a swim meet in Ohio. February brings Catie's birthday and a swim meet in the O'Dome. March is the River Run and blissful spring break, and April is the end of my four years at UF (*sniff*) as well as the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim. May is graduation, USMS Nationals, and the release of The da Vinci Code. June is the Swim Around Key West (and would have been Manhattan as well if not for the price tag). July is the release of Pirates of the Caribbean II. August is the Boston Light swim and my mom's birthday.
And there it all stops.
There is not one single entry in my planner after Mom's birthday on August 13th, because nothing is certain. Nothing. I don't know what will be happening in August. I don't know what city I'll be in, or what sort of academic program I'll be following, or what sort of athletic schedule I'll have. I don't know if I'll have my own apartment, or if I'll share one, or if I'll be in yet another dorm room. I don't know where I'll be buying my groceries or where I'll be parking my car. I don't know if I'll have lots of new friends or none at all. I don't know if I'll have a job, or if my savings account will be filling up or dwindling down. I don't know how much free time I'll have, or what new subjects I might get a chance to take, or how often I'll be able to see my family.
And I hate that.
As a quick review: I submitted my applications in August. I had to, because otherwise I would have spent a fortune on international postage. The deadlines are at the New Year. I applied to Masters programs at UF, UNC Chapel Hill, and U of Pittsburgh, as well as - and I'm crossing my fingers here - Ph.D programs at Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, and Brown. Results come out in March, or, if I'm very lucky, at the end of February. That means another three months in limbo, at best.
Also, my third recommendation provider STILL has not, well, provided the recommendations. I'm given her repeated reminders, but still no dice. I'm at the point where I think I need to notify a backup (who should in theory already have a letter for me, since she recommended me for a scholarship last year) just so I'm not left completely out in the cold if my third professor turns out to have some sort of deadly illness or family crisis or inescapable black hole in her living room. (Which is why I reminded her in OCTOBER... and November...)
Alas, it's another case of 'why can't the rest of the world just do their jobs?' Mom knows what I mean. Add to that list:
(a) het Zinkstuk, for taking E35 too much out of my bank account and not yet returning it despite repeated contact (b) Monique, for not letting me know if my apartment application ever arrived (again, despite contact) (c) Laura, for not letting me know if she's going to meet me at Gatwick or not (but I haven't hassled her yet...) (d) KeepToTheCode.com for not posting their December contests, nor the results of their November ones. I want to know if I won that autographed script.
What can you do but sigh, really?
22:41 UPDATE: Who woulda thought? Sometimes, bitching about something online really does get results. My last 'nagging e-mail' to my recommendation provider was a week ago, and I'd gotten no response, so I e-mailed my "backup professor"... and SIX MINUTES later, I got a response from the original professor, saying basically sorry sorry sorry and that it would be done tomorrow. Talk about timing. And then, just now, I also got an e-mail from Monique, saying that no, my application hadn't arrived, but reassuring me that it wasn't possible for my spot to be taken because everything was under her name, so I have an apartment no matter what. Still don't know anything about Laura, the KTTC contests, or my 35 euro, but those are small potatoes compared to the other two.
Turn in a second draft of the thesis Research and write my linguistics paper Practice for my Spanish oral Revise and submit Creative Writing portfolio Write a poem for Creative Writing Finish my Creative Writing short story
Finish my Sinterklaas poems Take more pictures of Flat Stanley Go to the Sinterklaas party this Tuesday Swim at the Delft meet on Saturday Sell the rest of my items Get my 35 euro back from het Zinkstuk Get confirmation that my apartment application arrived Find out if Laura can meet me at Gatwick or not See Linde and Christine one more time
I had my meeting with Jocelyn today to discuss my thesis, and by and large I'm feeling pretty positive. She complimented my writing and the 'flow' of the work, and criticized mostly small things like sources, needing page numbers, and changing the format of my examples, as well as recognizing that while she and I both know what my use of terms like 'Dutchlike' refer to, I have to assume that the reader doesn't know anything about Dutch - thus, I have to explain everything, including the usage of such words. On a related note, she also advised me to delete words such as 'staggering', 'rampant', and 'very interesting' and instead go for a more 'scholarly' style. (Which made me laugh, since teachers have been trying to break me of my informality ever since Mrs. Hauenstein in sixth grade, who once wrote, "This conversational style is nice, and it's you, but stretch on the next assignment," on an essay.) However, she said I had organized the paper well and that I had plenty of data and didn't need any more sources, so all these issues should be fairly simple to fix.
We also decided to cut out Afrikaans, since it doesn't really contribute anything to the word-order theme (we had hoped it might, but it really didn't), and tighten up on the relevancy issue, since the paper's getting too long and too hard to follow. ("You need to be just ruthless, and slash through these bits, like, 'No! Not relevant!'") She admitted that everything I'd found was truly very interesting, but that it didn't all fit in the framework of the paper and so some of the issues like vocabulary, pronunciation, and spelling needed to be summarized or even dismissed altogether, since they don't really relate to the central theme of word order. ("Don't throw them out, save them someplace, because they're great observations, but - that's not this paper.")
Truthfully, I'd realized how stream-of-consciousness I was being even at the time of the writing, but since so much of this is brand new to me, I was fascinated by (and thus wrote down) almost every single thing I found, no matter what genre of linguistics it was related to. And the current paper was never intended to be a final draft, so I was curious what Jocelyn might find relevant or a potential lead on something relevant. But after having taken a week's break from the thesis altogether - not to mention having gotten an outsider's perspective - I have a much clearer view of what's wrong with the paper and what I need to do to fix it - which is the whole point of having an advisor. So, yay for Jocelyn!
I also just got accepted into a GRE field test study, meaning I take the GRE again (for free) and get a check for $115, plus a chance at an extra $250 depending on my scores. That was exciting for about thirty seconds, but then I realized that the three participating testing centers in Florida are in Tampa, Miami, and Boca Raton, so they're too far from me to make it feasible. Darn. I could have used that money.
Anyway, Dia and I are finally going to watch Bridget Jones' Diary now - yippee!