Monday, November 23, 2009

Run That By Me Again

Okay, so I thought I was done with blog posts for tonight, but apparently I was wrong. I'm sitting here, doing the last bit of my education homework (seminar tomorrow, bright and early, how many are actually going to be there, I have no idea) and I'm trying to answer a reflection thing about Examples of Responses to Conflict. And I remember this thing, back when I was in middle school, about having three R's or something. I know that two of them were Respect and Responsibility, but I can't, for the life of me (and my wandering Focus) remember what the third thing was.

So, I thought, I'll jump on the middle school website and have a look-see.

And I tell you, holy crow, things have changed since I was in middle school, and I only graduated from high school in 2008. Let me give you some examples.

The first thing that caught my eye from the side panel of options was this thing called MASH. Now, courtesy of my uncle, I'm a decent fan of M.A.S.H, the TV show. I'll watch it anytime I can find it on. After clicking the link, I'm treated to this acronym.


Mandatory After School Help

Which, for students in grades 5-8 (our middle school), Monday through Friday, are required to attend if they have one (1) unexcused absence, a missing homework assignment(s), if they are late (tardy) to school. If you don't hand in your homework assignment, you attend MASH that day after school, until it's done. Once you hand it in, 25% will be taken off your grade. If, after attending MASH fail to hand it in, you will receive a zero (0) for the assignment and can not make it up otherwise. I love the second bullet point, in the further explanation after the basic who, what, where, etc. "In order to promote accountability, students that do not attend MASH will be disciplined for insubordination and serve one day of in-school suspension (ISS)." And you will continue to attend MASH until your back work is handed in.

Now, I'm all for accountability and doing homework and turning things in on time - I might procrastinate horribly, but I get my work done and handed in. And I do quite well, if I do say so.

This, however, I'm leery of. This, to me, seems a little excessive. I get that you want to teach kids responsibility and to do things on time and to do them well, but that's kind of what we have parents for. The routine for me, when I was that age (and let me remind you, it was not that long ago) was that when I stepped through the door in the afternoon, I sat down and I did my homework. Course I changed out of my good clothes and into my "everyday" clothes first, but still, I sat down and I did my homework. If I needed help, I asked for it, or struggled through it on my own to be checked over later by a parent/adult. That was just the way things worked.

I was a good kid, but there were a few snags. I served ISS once, got kicked out of a classroom (and really didn't know what to do with myself, because that was the first time that that had happened, and the last, by the way) and, when I was in high school, had a few unexcused absences on my report card that, usually, when mom and I thought about it, we could come up with where I'd been and forgotten to hand in/write a note. And I'll pick now to remind you that I graduated 10th in my class (out of 97, with an grade average of 94.5).

My point, I guess, is where is the wiggle room? You'd think, in trying to teach them good and respectable study habits, that there would at least be a little wiggle room in case it doesn't take well the first time, right? I mean, we don't want to set our kids up for failure, correct? That's what they tell us in the seminar, what students naturally assume about their teachers - They do no want to set you up for failure. Educators want the exact opposite - they want you to succeed. My chemistry professor has said such on multiple occasions - He'd like us all to have an A in the course. Now, that won't happen, but it won't happen for lack of effort, believe me.

What are we teaching our middle schoolers? Better do all my work because it's going to help me learn the material and do well on my test and also when I get into my advance things, like high school and college, or better do all my work so I don't have to stay after school in MASH or during school in ISS and miss valuable class time?

One thing that I found that made me giggle a little: ** parents and students please note: students are not permitted to have caffeinated energy drinks at school **

Makes me wonder if they've gotten rid of the soda machine that was in the cafeteria.

College kids live on that crap. So, for a matter of fact, do high school kids. Hell, I go skating sometimes on the weekends, at open skate, and they'll be middle schoolers in there that have 16oz Amps in their hand, skating hand-in-hand with their pre-teen boyfriend who's toting a 16oz Monster.

Someone going to tell them that they can't have certain things in their packed lunch, too?

Ah. The marvelous age of covering your books.

Just for giggles, I checked out the high school website, too.

Well, NYS has changed how they list their mathematics courses, again. Now, instead of mildly puzzled, I'm slightly confused. They show you sequences for your maths, depending on what you had and if you need more help. Understandable, really. But when I was in school (seriously, not that long ago) we were using Math A, Math B, pre-calc, and calc. Now they've got Algebra in there, and Geometry, and I'm glad that I've gone through the system, as that would most likely confuse the hell out of me.

The sciences are a less-confusing. Gotta have 3 of them to graduate. Gotta pass 1 Regents to graduate with a Regents diploma, 2 Regents for an Advanced Regents Diploma.

Huh. Didn't know there were electives in the sciences. Didn't take any of them. But took all the other science classes offered. Still not entirely sure how I got the grade I got on my Earth Science Regents. It was at the end of the day, mid-afternoon, and you all know how well I do with classes at those times.

I guess you really do learn something new every day. Didn't know the school offered psychology and sociology as electives. Where was this option when I was there?

Found a typo on the website. They're missing a "p" in the word performing so it just looks like "erforming arts." Oh, and make sure you don't sleep in class. That's right on the website as a no-no. Usually is for any class.

Roll On, Play List

So, I'm procrastinating badly, since I got my giant post done (the one before this, where I recap my 19th year) and since I don't really feel in the mood to start my homework yet (who has homework due the day before you officially have off for Thanksgiving break?)

Anyway, since I'm listening to music videos and have my mp3 player plugged in to charge, I thought I'd give you guys a run down of songs that I absolutely can't live without at the moment/I don't get tired of hearing.

"I'm Alive" - Kenny Chesney featuring Dave Matthews

"The Truth" - Jason Aldean

"Cowboy Casanova" - Carrie Underwood

"Sober" - Pink

"Wild At Heart" - Gloriana

"Shoulda Said No" - Taylor Swift

"Love Story" - Taylor Swift

"The Blood of Cuchulainn" - Jeff and Mychael Danna (The Boondock Saints opening theme)

"Her Diamonds" - Rob Thomas

"3 a.m." - Matchbox Twenty

"Last Beautiful Girl" - Matchbox Twenty

"Crash" - Dave Matthews Band

"Mud on the Tires" - Brad Paisley

"Toes" - Zac Brown Band

"La Vie Boheme" - RENT Soundtrack

"If I Had a $1,000,000" - The Barenaked Ladies

"One Week" - The Barenaked Ladies

"Wagon Wheel" - The Old Crow Medicine Show

Friday, November 20, 2009

The 19th Year: Rewind, I'm not sure how many of you valued readers and followers out there are aware, but I turn twenty in two days. Yes, twenty, as much as my sister would like to ignore that (I won't tell you how old she'll be, she might get mad at me for that - but the answer is in this blog somewhere, and I know you people can do math) because to her I'll always be her little sister, big-eyed and small in the front seat of mom's car as we drive to Barnes and Noble.

So, I thought I would take the opportunity and share a little bit of what my nineteenth year on this planet has been like.

At three in the morning on November 25, 2008, my friends barged into my dorm room, decorated in the near-dark while I was still in bed, and at least let me climb out of it before they silly stringed me and my half o the room, also throwing silver star confetti into the air. (If my computer weren't asking for me to upload a flash player, I'd put the video here for you to see. You'll just have to make due with a photo or two.)

Julie baked the cupcakes, and they all decorated the windows of my room in spectacular fashion. Yes, there is no "h" in birthday, and there's a thing about visiting Seneca Castle because I was under the impression that there was a legitimate castle in Seneca Castle and then realized it was false advertising.

The rest of the day, once I'd drank enough sparkling apple cider and eaten cupcakes to be properly sugar high, and eventually gone back to sleep, entailed a calculus review thing that I attended, and then it was time to pack up and wait for dad to come get me.

Pretty sure we celebrated my birthday along with celebrating Thanksgiving, which was cool, since we've done it before. Sometimes (like next year, I've looked at it) it actually falls on Thanksgiving, which just means turkey instead of pizza and pie instead of cake (but there's also usually one floating around.)

Here's not one of my bright moments. Before he was my boyfriend, and, now, more importantly, my ex, he was my best friend. Personally, I would love to know who simply goes to dinner about forty minutes from home, but hey, that's none of my business. So, when I get a call from them - "Can we come visit?" - there was just...I couldn't say no. Let me be more specific - I couldn't say no to him. Which, came back to bite me in the ass like it always does because while I thought I had a lid on this, I clearly didn't. They didn't stay long, him and the new girlfriend (eventually fiance - and please, let's not talk about that) yet the effects were a little more than I had bargained for.

It took the reprise of "I'll Cover You" from RENT after "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" Rehearsal for me to sit there on the floor of the auditorium and simply start to bawl my eyes out. There were only three other people there, and I must have sat there and cried for a good forty minutes. Then my friends that were there, bundled me back to my room and from there to Wegman's to get pints of cookie dough ice cream, because that was really the only thing that you could do in that situation. And she stayed with me, through my pint and a half of ice cream (one of my other friends had bought Hagen-Daaz, wondering if it was as good or better than Ben and Jerry's) and drinking our way through bottles of Izze soda. Yeah, so...not one of my better days.

I think the next order of business, the next big thing, was the trip to NYC that I planned.

Well, that my sister and I had planned. Early that semester I had applied for, and been accepted into this career services thing through my colleges called "A Day of Publishing in NYC." It's about as self-explanatory as it looks, no joke. We visited some of the big publishing houses in the industry - McGraw-Hill - they were very amazing to us. One of them is a college alum, and after posing for pictures with him, we heard about how he'd gotten from college to where he was. He explained it was networking. Let me point out right now that the weather outside had been absolutely horrible - a combination snow/rain, downright damn cold, and I was running late. When Heather and I finally found the building, and I got my visitors pass - complete with horrible picture of me in my hat and looking thoroughly bedraggled and like every inch the country child in the big city that I was - I actually shared the elevator with one of the McGraw-Hill Top Dogs. Didn't know it at the time. And of course we're on the fifty-something floor, which means the view out of the floor-length windows of the city skyline is absolutely gorgeous and I'm really tempted to go stand by the window and simply gawk (which, I didn't) and I did my best not to notice that I was wearing my hospital bracelet around my wrist.

Yes, the Day of Publishing was the day before my Surgery.

Not to mention that yes, while I'm wearing my good brown pants with the red pinstripes in them, and my red sweater, I'm also wearing my Converse because when my mother hems pants, she damn well makes sure you won't be walkin' on the bottoms, especially if you're her slightly vertically challenged youngest child.

Which, no joke, the woman (who's also someone very important in the company) and kind of in charge of this whole affair, on their end, notices. And this is the type of woman that if she were to take a "What Animal Are You?" quiz on Facebook it would come back barracuda every time. Somehow, I think she liked me. I think it was the Converse.

From there, it was to Conde Nast.

But the most important one, that was RandomHouse. Now, when I heard that we would be going to RandomHouse, I literally started salivating. I've sent RandomHouse a copy of my coverletter. It's most likely lost in the slush pile that is a commercial publishing house, but a girl can hope, right? And I prepared, too. I took copies of my cover letter with me, and, actually, in the end, it really didn't matter. They guy from the fiction department told me to mail a letter again. And he didn't say that he'd look at it. Which, is understandable, but you'd think you'd at least humor the person in front of you by looking at it. But hey, maybe that's the publishing industry.

On the plus side, I now know what it's like on that side of the letter. I think I'll stick to my side.

Right. So, after having some communication issues about shuttle times back to the hotel, Heather and I finally made it out of the city and back into the Sunfire and headed back toward upstate. That was quite the ride back - we encountered snow and horrible wind up in the Poconos (but you could really see the lights from the ski resort, and the chair lifts, which was cool) and of course I couldn't have anything to eat after midnight, which cut down on the fact that you wanted to fall asleep in the front seat and couldn't even have chocolate to keep yourself awake at one in the morning.

Rolling right into that was the first time in my life that I've ever surgery. I remember laying there in the day surgery ward, and mom was sittin' next to me, holdin' my hand because I was scared. I knew it was supposed to find out what was wrong with me, to see what was making me have pain that I wasn't supposed to have, but how calm can you be when you know someone's going to slice you open and look at your insides?

One of the last things I remember was when they put the first half of the sedative in my IV line, and things kind of blanked out for a minute, and I came to again after they'd somehow gotten me onto the table. And I remember looking up and looking at this guy, who I think was the doctor - I think - and saying, because I could hear Matchbox Twenty playing in the background, "That's Matchbox Twenty" and then the next thing that I remember was that I was waking up a little bit when some of the nurses rolled me on my side and my belly kind of hurt.

I have three scars. Two on the sides, rather near my hips, and one in my belly button where they literally sliced it in two.

I missed the first time that my niece went tubing because I couldn't do anything but walk short distances and sit. I still had internal stitches, by my belly button, and still wasn't allowed to lift anything heavy. Two weeks out of surgery I moved back into my dorm room. Heather had to come with us because I couldn't lift anything. Walking back and forth to class that first week was all that I really could do, and I had to be careful not to slip.

Course at that time, it's the middle of hockey season, so, the Saturday night that first week, two of my good friends and I decided to go to a hockey game. And we're taking the short cut by the BPOE Elks club, down the snowy path, and one of them is in front of me, to catch me, and the other has a death grip on my arm.

Well, we missed the game. It was played at earlier that day at 4, and we arrived in what would be at timely manner for the 7 p.m. game. So, while we were there, we stayed and ice skated. Now, at that point, I had never ice skated in my life. And we did it, me included, with the stipulation that A) We wouldn't tell my mother because I still wasn't allowed do anything but walk, eat, sleep, and go to class and B) That they wouldn't let go of me.

And when we hit the ice and my first thought was, I'm not sick anymore.

Which, didn't actually hold true for as long as I wanted it.

The boyfriend in February.

I brought my best friend from college home for Easter. She met most of my crazy, large, happy family and while I think she was a little shell-shocked at first, I'm pretty sure she had fun.

I pulled two all-nighters for my first year of college. The first was for Relay for Life; Freddy came back for that, and after it was done in the morning, we all went for breakfast at a place downtown. It was awesome. The second was when I was procrastinating on my final history paper. (The second probably wasn't an all-nighter, but close enough.)

I started my own blog, which you fabulous people are currently reading.

There was another medical procedure in my future, um, but this was a little less in its recovery time and more important in its preparation, instead. I never want to turn 50, plain and simple, if I have to do this again. And if I never taste anything lemon-lime flavored again in my life it will be too soon. On the bright side, I got to have lunch afterward, brought home doughnuts, and then crashed in my bed once I got home. Because I had been under conscious sedation - basically you're so out of it but still awake - they don't want you to drive for twenty-four hours. And by drive, they generally assume you'll be driving a car. But, lucky me, that afternoon was my safety procedures meeting at my job. And I work on a dinner boat. And I found out then that I'm the lucky one that gets to drive it, should the captain become incapacitated. So here I am, up in the pilot house, literally hands on the wheel, and going to myself, I can't drive a car but I'm expected to park this 200 plus passenger boat without breaking it? My next thought of course, was, Please Greg, don't let me crash your baby. I don't have the money to cover the insurance. But everything turned out okay. And Greg did most of the actual parking of said boat.

I think of my earlier posts this year, back when I started blogging, was about some of my favorite cruises that far into the season. We were only a week or two in, dealing mostly with high school cruises - senior class dinners (both college and high school) and all-night parties. But one Sunday we had a group from Canada, who had played a concert the night before in Corning. Thinking back, I think I can label this one as my favorite cruise from last summer. They were a Welsh choir (which makes me entirely happy, considering where I'm going in less than a year) and they were just absolutely amazing. Sunday dinner has entertainment, but when our music took a break, the choir started. Of course, we're right in the middle of serving dinner, and next thing you know, this choir who, when they first came on board, started either playing the spoons with their soup spoon and dinner spoon or made hats out of their napkins, starts singing the best version of "Sloop John B" that I have ever heard.

My summer passed kind of quick, and in the middle of July my best friend Em, from Massachusetts, says to me, "We're staying in Martha's Vineyard for two weeks, do you want to come out for one of them?"

Hell. Yes.

So, I get the time off from work, buy my plane tickets after much debate how exactly to get there by myself, and before you know it, mom's driving me to the local airport at an ungodly hour of the morning so I can get on a 5:40 flight to Philadelphia to get my other flight to take me to Boston.

I love to travel. I do. There's just this feeling I get in my chest when I leave the place that I've always been to go explore somewhere new. And when we were taxiing down the runway, it was awesome. Except for the part where I got stuck in Philadelphia for 21 hours on the way back. And ended up getting a flight into Ithaca, instead, while my luggage went to Elmira, and I landed at 1:20, got home at 3 after eating dinner, and went to work at 4. It was great, it was one of the most fun experiences, to be out there in the Vineyard, and to see the island, and go to the beach, get smashed by the waves, and generally just have a blast.

I think this picture explains everything.

Here's another not so fun part of my nineteenth year. I spend two weeks in pre-season soccer, and a few days before the last weekend (school starts on the following Monday) I have this interesting conversation with one of my teammates about the level of play and fitness. Of which, while my heart is undoubtedly there, my body simply isn't. After an almost excruciating talk with the coach, it's decided that I will not play soccer this season, for the first time in fourteen years, and will instead take the season off and work on my fitness, hoping to rejoin the team in January. As soccer has been my life for fourteen straight years, this was not pleasant to handle. My mother, bless her, drove 45 minutes to be here with me that same night because I was not handling it well. And, considering I had a few days to go before I could kind of vanish into the proverbial background, I was not there all-together yet. Despite my first inclination, meals weren't difficult - the team had sort of been informed, and nobody really said anything about it. They went to practice, and I - I took a cycling class and biked all over town, interspersed with running. When school started, I played a little bit with the men's club team, and generally did homework and other things. I still went to games and cheered for the girls, my friends, and it was okay.

Then came the emails where the coaching staff needed to know how many were going to Brazil.

Honestly, I hadn't played that season. I hadn't even been asked to be on the JV sideline, I hadn't been asked to do anything further with the fundraising, and, quite simply, it was more stress than I probably needed. When I really thought about it, I realized that I would gladly trade one week in Brazil for an entire semester somewhere else, specifically somewhere in the UK/continental Europe. Soccer at that level, was simply not an option for me anymore, as painful as it is to recognize and accept. It doesn't mean that I still don't play - I just play for fun, like I've always done. Now it just has a different kind of connotation.

And, now that I have the option of hindsight, I can see that everything worked out in the end. I tried out for the campus production, Eurydice, got cut from that, and then tried out for the community theater show. I made that. I got to be part of the first performance in the new community center's black box theater. I made new friends, had new experiences, and learned something a little different. You might think I'm trying to convince myself that I'm okay, and maybe I am. But this is the direction that I've veered into, and it's working. And intramural soccer is coming up, so I'll have something else to do, too.

It's no secret that I'm in the teaching program. And, actually, I taught my very first lesson last Thursday, November 19th. I taught covalent bonding to 28 impressionable Regents chemistry students, who, were very well-behaved at the time. I was incredibly nervous, but it turned out quite well, in the end. And, I think, they got it. Which is enough to make anybody happy.

This past Sunday (yesterday, actually) my family had my birthday party because we're traveling to my cousin's for Thanksgiving and it was the best day to do it. Which, among the hilarity that ensues whenever we have a family get together, what I come away with, most memorably (other than my niece helping me open my presents) is

"I was so pissed I needed a torch to find my crumpet in the telly." (Which, if you know some phrases/words in British, you should find this quite entertaining)

Which brings me to now. November 23. In two days, at 10:25 p.m., I will turn 20 years old. In a sort of honor to that, I'll do a quick run-down of my favorite memories from my 19th year, in case there was so much text in this one that your head was swimming three paragraphs in (and there may be more photographs, too!):

+My friends bought me the 12-scooper from Friendly's after my no-dairy week when the doctor's were trying to figure out what was wrong with me. They then assisted me in eating it.

+A crazy trip to NYC with my sister - and a badass road mix CD from my brother-in-law that, every time we hear certain songs, think of that trip specifically


+Ice skating for the first time

+Almost making Dean's list first semester of first year

-The trip to Greece (NY) to get sets, also in which Steve tipped his car

+The hilarity that was "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

+Reconnecting with friends while seeing Star Trek for the first time (the new one)

+Traveling to see my best friend and getting stuck somewhere on my own for the first time

+Legitly keeping a journal

+Watching Madaline in the Lake

-The idea that an exboyfriend of mine would be working with me over the summer

+Getting up 5 days a week and working out at 6 in the morning

I think this video, and this song, embodies the idea that life is a journey, a hard one, sometimes, but a journey nonetheless and that, despite what it might try to throw at you, it's still the only place that you'd rather be.

Well, as per usual, I don't really know what the hell I'm doing in terms of trying to put something here, so I'll just put the link. And damn it, Heather, you need to at least listen to it! It's my birthday, humor me. "I'm Alive" - Kenny Chesney, ft Dave Matthews

And here is where I freely admit my love of country music. There, I said it. It should have been obvious, but yes, it's now in print. that we've recapped the 19th year - here's to this new one coming up, and to the next twenty, whatever they may bring.

[I would like to thank everyone in my life and those from whom I borrowed the pictures from (Facebook, most likely) and thanks to my family for simply being as amazing as you are. Thank you.]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Focus Adventures

All right. We all know I'm prone to moments of brilliance - sometimes fleeting, but still - moments of brilliance.

And sitting in the basement of the physics department for lab this afternoon gave me one of those moments. Actually, it was probably the fact that my mind was wandering horribly and all I could think of was the recent exchange between me and my sister about our "Foci."

Some of you are probably looking at your computer screen like it's suddenly going to sprout wings, turn into a piglet, and fly away, so I'll take a moment and explain.

I think (and by this I mean, I'm trying to remember but really can't) this whole thing started earlier this year (last academic year, because really, that's how my "years" arrange themselves - and probably will until I graduate from college), nearing finals time, when I wrote on my Facebook status (back when updating your status was different that writing on your own wall) that I couldn't find my Focus. Or, something similar. My sister, ever brilliantly eloquent, responded in turn with about nine rows of FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS.... which somehow morphed into treating said "Focus" as a tangible, almost real thing.

Now I'm not exactly sure on Heather's mental picture when we mention the Foci (the plural form of Focus - yes, we finally figured this out) but I imagine mine to be something resembling the orange fuzzy thing from the Weight Watcher's TV commercials. They call it "hunger." I call it Focus.

Which has started something that is both slightly crazy but wonderfully hilarious. Because, quite honestly, everybody has days when they "lose their focus." Well, for us, losing our Focus (note the capitalization) usually means the damn thing has wandered away looking for the other to play with and cause general mayhem.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "[Insert Expletive Here], she's finally lost it."

But think about it. Really think about it. How many times have you said, "I can't seem to get a sense of myself today," or, "My patience has taken a holiday" or "I can't seem to find my focus"? That right there, you've made something intangible into something tangible, at least in your own head. "Victory so near you can taste it." Really? What does victory taste like? Where did your patience go on holiday? More specifically, when is it coming back and did it go with anyone to make sure it didn't get permanently lost?

Do you see what I'm saying?

I can still see it. Some of you are still looking at your computer like it's going to morph into something. Maybe the power cord is going to turn into a curly tail - wings have begun to sprout from the back - you feel the urge to oink.

And that right there, that's you imagining something semi-ridiculous in the reality that is life. We live in reality - most days I try to remember Adam Savage's quote from MythBusters "I reject your reality and substitute my own" and most days it works, but I digress, as usual - and sometimes the only way to escape the way that reality works is to find something that's unreal. That's why we read books. When we read books, we imagine the far-off places or the situations that we could, despite our deepest wishes, never find ourselves in. I know this. As a writer, it's my job to pluck my reader from their ordinary reality and shove them head-first into the world that I see, the world that, if it were possible, would be absolutely amazing to live in with its different creatures, people, and, yes, it's different problems. Because then some of mine would be either gone or somebody else's. Movies operate the same way - as a form of escape from things beyond our control, or as a way to relax. And by relax, I mean, more specifically, to relax your mind. You're allowed to forget, for a moment, that you have a ten-page paper due (not this time, really, but I do have a four-pager due for Acting) and you can indulge yourself in something harmless and slightly ridiculous.

That's why, every time my sister and I start on Facebook about one of us having misplaced our Focus, the other usually responds with, "Yup, he's here." Considering most of our family is on Facebook, the comments we get as we go back and forth mainly consist of, "What are you two doing? It's so funny, the way your "focus" goes back and forth, what are you really talking about?"

We're not really talking about anything but said Focus. There's no hidden innuendo. There's no secret message. We've taken a simple phrase, a metaphor - "I can't find my focus today" - and made it from a verbal metaphor into something more tangible.

And you know what? It gives me a way to laugh. It makes me realize that the same problems that I face here in college - procrastination, deadlines, lack of focus - are the same ones that people face in the workplace in the "real world." We aren't so different, you and I. I'm a little behind you in the age department, you people out there with real jobs and a different purpose in life, but really, we are similar. We both have goals, deadlines, people-to-people relationships with people we probably don't like, and look for something to make the day a little easier to get through. We both look for ways to laugh, to worry less, and love a little more. We look for ways to be comforted, to comfort, to fit in, and to not be lonely (except when we want to be.)

We both look for people to lean on when we need it. And when we lean on people, we look to them to make us laugh and smile, to chase away the sorrows, shadows, and, in some cases, reality.

This turned out a bit differently than I expected, and a bit longer, but I think that's all right. It went where it needed to go. I also didn't want you all to look at me like I was nuts when I started something different on my blog, something along the lines of Murphy and Me but not so deeply rooted in fiction. I wanted to start to bring you The Focus Adventures - another humorous look a the life of a college sophomore and her wandering, slightly over-caffeinated mind that never really stops trying to crank out interesting things/ways of looking at the world.

However, my Focus and I need to get some work done. Before I go, I hope this has made you smile and think a little differently. A little outside the box. Or maybe inside the box. Really, think however you think. I just hope you got a slight chuckle out of all of it.

Let your mind wander a little more.

Standardized Recording


Hi, you've reached Molly Louise - otherwise known as the Wandering Sagittarius - and I'm not here at the moment. I'm most likely holed up somewhere with some form of horribly unhealthy snack food and tackling a To-Do list almost as long as I am tall. There is approximately three, maybe three and a half weeks left in the semester, and there's not stopping this rolling train now, no matter how much anybody tries. So, if you see me, tell me not to drink so much coffee otherwise I'll be bouncing off the wall. Oh, and if my sister is looking for her Focus, I took it to lab with me, I can probably assist it in flying. So, leave a message after the beep and have a great day.


Friday, November 13, 2009

RE: Captain Obvious

I'm not sure if I told you, but last week was a really good week for me. A few things happened. First, I declared my major (Bachelor of Science in Chemistry); I was accepted into the Fall 2010 Study Abroad Program for Carmarthen, Wales; I got leaf rubbings/scribblings from my little one and generally had one of my better weeks of the semester.

This week...well, not so much, really.

Let me point out that I am a declared Chemistry major. Yet, part of the chemistry major is two semesters worth of physics.

I am not, nor have I ever been, attracted to physics outside of the regular F=ma, find how much force is going to impact your car should you hit something going a certain acceleration. That and black holes are really interesting. Other than that, you can keep your rotational acceleration mumbo jumbo.

Point blank: Physics 150 is currently kicking my ass to the moon and back. I could probably calculate that acceleration for you, but do you really want to tempt me at this point?

I get chemistry. More specifically, I get Organic Chemistry II, which, while making other people tug at their hair in frustration, makes sense to me. Really, it does. Now that I've learned the study habits that I needed, and I'm doing what I need to, it's gravy. Physics, not so much.

Now let me point out right here and now that I am not failing any of my classes. I have never failed before, and I don't intend to start now. And after a wonderful conversation with my adviser today, we have come to the conclusion that all is not lost. All was never lost. It simply required more effort than I had originally thought. And I've got no problem with effort.

Except maybe when it comes to doing ab exercises in the safety of my own dorm room (which I need to do because my love handles are trying to make a reappearance and that's just not cool) but that's a motivation thing that I can handle later.

Speaking of physical exercise, I did sign up for indoor soccer, so that should be kicking off (no pun intended) pretty soon over in the field house. And I won't have to slog through the snow and much this year, thanks to my beloved Fred. (For those of you who don't know, Fred is my absolutely fabulous red 93 Oldsmobile who has come to college with me this year.)

And speaking of cars, I'd like to point out that my sister, Heather, recently got her little Pontiac Sunfire back. One of the last times I rode in that car was the crazy 36 hour NYC trip which was so I could do a Day of Publishing through my college and some of the publishing houses, and rolled on (due to a failure to communicate somewhere) into the next day in which I had to be at the hospital at some unfortunate time in the morning for exploratory abdominal surgery (lapriscopic, which is probably horribly misspelled.) The other occasion that I was in the Sunfire was when (shortly after said surgery) Heather and I went to see Twilight together, because she hadn't seen it yet. And it was snowing like there was no tomorrow, too.

Now that I've mentioned snow, it would be a good time to mention that when I get up in the morning, I really do expect to see snow on the ground now. That's really all that I'm waiting for. That first real snowfall of the year.

Which will send all non-New Yorkers scrambling for their winter coats and boots because they somehow thought the freak warm weather would actually last. Not up here, man. Not up here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Captain Obvious

I don't know why this hit me when I was unlocking my door a couple minutes, coming back from a martini meeting.

It just occurred to me that I'm a college student.

It might also have something to do with the Dominos flyer that they slid under my door. How exactly delivery personnel gets into my building, I have no idea, and I don't really want to examine it. Instead, I'll examine what brought me to my somewhat obvious conclusion.

Let's start with where I live. I live in a dorm. It's got four floors, and is connected to two other identical (almost) buildings via the first floor. I live with freshman, as I think I've pointed out before. Which, honestly, isn't bad. And living on the fourth floor is probably the best, because it means that none of your drunken neighbors, unless they live up here, will be wandering around. Considering my floor is really quiet by about eleven on a Friday or Saturday night (they all head out elsewhere, to do what, I have no idea and don't care to) it's pretty good. And there's only been one incident when I've heard voices outside my door and found a group of three having a general pow-wow in the armchair that sits right to the right of my door. Hope they weren't staring at my shower flops that live outside my door, along with whatever shoes I'd deemed too wet or too muddy to grace my carpet (except my Timberlands, because who in their right mind would leave Timberland boots sitting outside their room!?)

Okay, now when I look at my door, there's a few things on it, two of them being the door tags that my RA made for all of us on the floor. There's also another sign in glitter glue pen (not even sure if that's a word, but whatever, roll with it, you people are good at that if you're following me) that says Molly Louise (my name), my room number, and my class year. There's a green dry erase board with dented corners (the damn thing didn't want to stay up) that has the quote, "Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket..." (Captain Mal Reynolds, Serenity) and that reminds me that I need to change that. There's also another quote from Stardust and carpe diem, which, if you haven't been living under a rock, should know that that's from Dead Poets Society, which is my favorite movie. There's also a postcard from my last theatre production.

When you come in my door, it honestly looks like I've lived here for about a year, instead of about three months. It really has this sense of lived-in-ness, if you get what I'm trying to say. There's corkboard on the walls, complete with photos, cards from my sister (which reminds me that I need to send you a couple, Heather, if you're reading this...and they're good ones, too.) There's a pile of Sudoku puzzles my mother sent with me the last time I was home (Halloween, so I could go trick or treating with my little one), a copy of my schedule on Cardstock paper, and posters. One of my favorites (other than the boys of The Boondock Saints is the one of William Smith himself, photoshopped onto a swirling green background with a speech bubble above his head that says, "I command you to come to the centennial!" because last year was the 100th anniversary of William Smith College. And right next to that, between Billy Smith and my train poster (which actually happened, it was in my physics textbook that also doubles as part of the foundation when need be) is my favorite thing of all - leaf rubbings and general scribbles from Madaline. There's a few odds and ends, mostly specific to the type of person that I am (legit milk crates hold my school stuff under my bed, next to my mini fridge) and I don't so much get in and out of bed as I mount and dismount since the thing is jacked to about the middle of my ribcage.

I do not stick the landing every morning.

And I'm unusual in the fact that I have an actual alarm clock that I use to get me up in the morning, instead of the alarm on my cell phone. That I just use when I take a nap.

I've got the mannerisms of a college kid, too. As in, I procrastinate like it's my paying job. I might be a declared chemistry major (bachelor of science) with a theater minor, but everybody knows that I'm really majoring in procrastination with a minor in bullshit. Maybe a double-minor with underwater basket weaving.

I absolutely adore well-written fiction, and if I get particularly distracted in class and look like I'm just writing, I probably am, and it's probably one of the many things that I'm working on.

Speaking of which, like any good college student, I'm probably over-loaded, over-stressed, and over-worked. I wouldn't have it any other way. I play club soccer when the mood strikes, I write for the martini when I actually remember to turn in my articles, I'm working on my novel, my NaNo, and whatever else strikes my fancy, I go to class regularly (the amount of money my parents are paying, you bet your ass I'm going to class), I do my homework (I procrastinate like mad before hand) and I'm generally an active member of the campus community.

Which means that my mother's fear of me secluding myself in my room all semester and turning into a hermit have not come true, and probably won't.

My meal plan works for me, I'm healthy (that could be directly attributed to the almost ridiculous amount of OTC medication that I take daily) and I generally feel good when I get at least seven solid hours of sleep. If I get around nine, I'm more than likely going to be overly bouncy.

And I'm really excited to register for classes tomorrow for next semester because they're just going to be awesome. It's probably the schedule from hell again, but I'm a little used to that as I'm a declared chemistry major. I'm actually really excited about my bi-disciplinary class Two Cities: New York and Toronto (we get field trips to the cities!) and about my theater class Intro to Stagecraft because I'm going to be using power tools to build sets! I'm willing to bet I will be one of few girls in this class, and I'm really looking forward to that. It shouldn't be surprising to anybody reading this that I know how to use a variety of power tools (and non-power tools), not only in their intended function, but also in creative ways as well. Give me a can of WD-40, a roll of duct tape, a hammer, and a pair of dad's gloves that he will readily loan one (or both) or his daughters and kind of know in the back of his mind that he probably won't get them back, and I can move the world. Or at least make a damn good effort.

Which would be a really interesting lead-in to point out that, because of my family (particularly my uncle) I really like to tinker with things and build things. Actually, if I can make it propel itself forward or backward/make it explode in some way/make it look really cool/make it float then I love it. Case and point: I'm pretty sure I was about six or seven and my uncle (his family nickname is the Wizard - and this is used very, very loosely - the nickname, that is) took the motor off a standard push mower, took off the push bar from the back, put two bigger tires in place of the rear ones, dragged it up the hill behind his house, put me on it, and sent me down the hill. Disregarding the fact that I hit a tree and promptly fell off to the side, which caused him to run down the hill and quite a clip, it was awesome.

Now, granted I know nothing about cars, I know enough from overhearing/helping that I know how to get my own car started when it doesn't want to. And, also, being female means having small hands, which means sticking them in a variety of places that you probably shouldn't, but that nut probably needs to come off of that, or the fitting is loose enough that if you jiggle it, it'll come off like it's greased.

Bottom line: I like to do things. I like to learn things, especially if I can practically apply it to life.

How I have little common sense in some cases is a real mystery to me.

Does this emphasize my earlier point that I'm a college student? Maybe. It means I like to learn. And when you're in college and in charge of your own schedule and not stuck taking Earth Science with a bunch of sophomores because it will boost your class ranking, you can really enjoy what you're being taught you retain it better. You learn how the world works, how it thinks, how it moves, and kind of, sort of, in a way, might be able to predict a little of it.

Well, predict enough so that you don't fall flat on your face when the ground shifts unexpectedly (as can happen) and everything tilts madly to the left.

Or the right, if you're a lefty.

Now, as Spock would say, if he were here, based on the logical findings listed above, as well as "human gut instinct" (which has probably kept Kirk alive for most of his life, really, before McCoy was there to properly bitch about how consuming that much alcohol was not a good idea and then patch him up when it goes south [no pun intended, if you found one]) that one Molly Louise, the Wandering Sagittarius, is a certified college student.

One could say, with a little bit of inaccuracy (if you can find the pun, good for you, you're starting to think like me - which might not be a good thing, really...) thank you, Captain Obvious.

[If you found this rather pointless but still fun, and somewhat insightful..well, then...welcome to the thing that is my highly caffeinated brain on overdrive in the middle of the first semester of my sophomore year of college. Take a breather, you earned it.]

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lesson Planning 101


I'm going to say right now that the NYS Education Department website is not in any way, shape, or form even VAGUELY resembling something the TINIEST bit user-friendly. Which leads me to my current position of trying to pull chemistry learning standards from a 59 page PDF file so I can do a lesson plan due tomorrow morning at 7:30. I'm just confused as all hell, I guess.

Which isn't to say that I'm not prepared.

See, the thing with me, is that if you give me a problem and you tell me to solve it, but don't specify how, I'm most likely going to do it my way and you're most likely going to try and rip me a new one. This translates into Molly's already figured out what she'd teaching a week from Thursday, knows the material she needs to cover, has a notion of how she's going to do this, and really doesn't need to bother with all this other crap that you people seem to think is so important.

Maybe this is why I don't hold management positions of any sort.

I'm teaching Regents Chemistry students about Covalent bonding. I know what I need to teach them, I know what I'm going to talk about, what examples I'm going to use, and here I am trying to figure out the bureaucratic paperwork mess to go with it.

And I really shouldn't have turned over the damn page so I could have miraculously said I failed to realize there was a back. Shit.

I hate filling out these forms. Really, I do. I find it irksome and a detriment to my intelligence. I don't care if filling out blanks makes it easier for some people, some of us just don't think that way. Some of us simply don't think linearly.

All teachers are different, just as all people are different. Doesn't it make sense that we would do things differently? That we can arrive at the same goal, but get there by different means?

This paperwork might end up taking a dive out a fourth floor window.

I think I've at least found the right goal-thing I need to be in. Actually, I found exactly what I was looking for. And I only had to wade through 19 pages before I found it.

I'll figure this out later. Really. I need to clean before I go to bed - I'm hosting tomorrow, and since tomorrow's Tuesday, and Tuesdays are my days to not stop until after 5, I'm not going to have time to clean or anything.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Joys of J4

I'll be the first to admit that I really like where I live here on campus. I lived here last year, and liked it enough to stay (the single was the incentive, actually, but I think you knew that). However, it seems like more things have kind of, more or less, "gone wrong" this year than previously.

A prime example are the shocking number of days in which we don't have hot water. Oh, I'm sure by about 9:30, 10:00 in the morning there's hot water, but at 6:40 - not so much. Coincidentally, that's when I get up in the morning to get ready, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tack on an hour and that's what time I'm up for the rest of the week. Even then, sometimes there's still no hot water.

This morning (almost afternoon if you'd like to get picky) there was no water, period. Broken water break (it's what it said on the note in the bathroom, if you need further proof, I'll trot my happy self down the hall and see if it's still there and scan it for you) and hence, no water. Sure, it sputtered a bit, and if I didn't have to be at call for my matinee performance, I would have probably actually paid money to hear the unfortunate soul in the shower when the pressure in the pipe ran out. My floormates sometimes amaze me. You're in college. You must have a brain, correct?

Well, maybe not.

Another prime example of why I love living here is my heat. Or, more accurately, lack thereof. I have called B&G, they have come and examined it, and called it good. Let me point out that not only is the hallway outside my room warmer, but, most likely, so is outside the building. And the sucker is cranked on 5. It's not giving out anything at the moment. So the giant blanket that I stole from my parents last month, that's not going home any time soon.

But other than that, life is gravy, and living on J4 is truly a joy. If cold water, no water, and no heat is all that I have to deal with in the grand scheme of things, then life is pretty good. I'll take it.

Which doesn't mean that I don't enjoy venting about it to the general public, but I think you get the idea.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wandering Across the Pond

May I have your attention please!

The Wandering Sagittarius will be wandering across the "pond" in Fall of 2010.

I'm going to Wales!!!

That's really all I wanted to say at the moment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Alphabetize Me

So, this is one of those things that I usually borrow from somebody else, because while I do have a slightly over-active imagination, it only stretches so far. So, I'd like to thank Maria B, the Wild Woman in the Wild Woods for this. I'd also like to thank my chemistry professor for the homework I'm currently procrastinating on. (I did modify this slightly, usually just the use of rather obscure punctuation.)

Available/single? I think that would be a yes.

Best Friend? Heather, and Emily.

Cake or Pie? What kind of pie are we talkin' about here?

Drink of choice? Starbucks.

Essential item for every day use? My little green Vera. It's got my ID, my money, and my room and building keys. All in one place.

Favorite color? Red.

Google? Blogger. My homepage is Yahoo.

Hometown? Townsend, NY

Indulgences? Pints of Ben and Jerry's, pizza. (Or anything with white bread, for that matter.)

January or February? January. Not entirely sure how I feel about the whole Valentine's Day thing. (But my sister's birthday is in February!)

Kids and their names? My sister's little girl keeps me on my toes.

Life is incomplete without…? Adventure and a good friend to have it with.

Marriage date? Erm....not married.

Number of siblings? A sister.

Oranges or apples? Oranges, if somebody will peel it for me.

Phobias and fears? Spiders.

Quote for the day? "It's good for the soul when there's not a soul in sight" - Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews

Reason to smile? Getting mail.

Season? Fall.

Tag 3 people? Um...just copy, paste, and play.

Unknown fact about me? I have a deep love of nearly all things science fiction/fantasy.

Vegetable you hate? Cauliflower.

Worst habit? I fidget when I'm nervous/don't know what to do and I procrastinate like it's my job.

X-rays you’ve had? Left ankle (multiple times), right pinky (that one is still fun to look at it), left elbow, and I'm counting my ultrasounds in this category and I've had two on my belly.

Your fave food? Grilled cheese or grilled peanut butter.

Zodiac sign? Sagittarius.


I can already see it now. You happy readers looking at the title and going, "She's finally lost is and is now typing gibberish as well as speaking it."

But I'm not. Really, I'm not.

You'd think in this day and age, with all the abbreviations we have - IRA, NRA, CIA, FBI, WTF (pretty sure the last one is my personal favorite, but that's besides the point) - that some of them would be a little more recognizable. I'm with you guys. I saw this for the first time and used my favorite abbreviation in the comfort and safety of my fourth floor single. Granted the door was open, but I think my neighbors are used to the odd expletive. I usually work on my organic chemistry homework in the common space right outside my door. Sometimes it frustrates me.

I digress.

NaNoWriMo is a little more than gibberish. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Which, happily enough, is November. One month to crank out an entire novel. 50,000 words.

I took a moment, mostly because I was curious, and looked at the number of words I have in my word documents pertaining to my novel. Parts I-VII, and the mini-scene that I wrote to slide into the beginning when Ral's having his flashback-thing. I will tell you now that not only did I run this number (and the math needed to provide it) through my calculator, but I also did it carefully by hand and got the same result.

295,329 words.

And it's not done being transferred from book to computer. And it's not done yet, period.

Theoretically, I should be able to crank out 50,000 words no problem. But in a month? Maybe. Possibly.

I've got an idea, and a way to write it down. We're good to go.

And if I don't make 50,000 words in a month, I'm okay with that, because at least I gave it a good shot.

Now if you excuse me, I hear carbonyl rearrangements calling my name.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz