:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

zaterdag 31 december 2005

2006 New Year's Resolutions:

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.

donderdag 29 december 2005

(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

zaterdag 24 december 2005

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.

And tomorrow: Christmas!

maandag 19 december 2005

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.

zondag 18 december 2005

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.

zaterdag 17 december 2005

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.

Monday: Ditto.

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. :)

See you on the other side, Internet.

vrijdag 16 december 2005

Today: Spanish final. Meeting with Jocelyn. 10pm, coffee with Christine.

Saturday: 11:45, meet Martin. 14:10, go to Linde's.

Sunday: Swim 6000 meters. Finish The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Monday: Swim 5000 meters. Reread the books I brought along. Kill time.

Tuesday: Finish packing. Wash bedding and give to ASIC. End-of-semester party.

Wednesday: Get up at the butt-crack of dawn and get out of here.

P.S. Laura, if you read this, I love you - thank you for talking to Mike for me.

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.

dinsdag 13 december 2005

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?

zaterdag 10 december 2005

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 think bed is going to win.

vrijdag 9 december 2005

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!)

woensdag 7 december 2005

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...

On a completely different topic: my professor is awesome...

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.

Two weeks, exactly.

maandag 5 december 2005

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.

zondag 4 december 2005

Everything to do before 21 Dec:


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

vrijdag 2 december 2005

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!

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