Category: personal stuff

Semester in Review

Well, what a semester; I say ‘what a semester’ mostly because of a month of near-constant panic due to a flurry of closely-packed assignments, but I’m even more anxious now that the year’s almost over. Now that I’m halfway through Senior year, people are asking what I’ll do after graduation and actually expecting a definite answer. Like my senior year of high school four years ago, in fact.

Fuck if I know what I’m doing, though.

I don’t really feel called to any particular vocation, but am attracted to teaching at the university level. That entails graduate school, though, probably a Ph.D., which is fine, but where do I go for that? Besides, it’s too late to apply now for the next academic year, so I’ll have to take at least one semester off. That’s fine too, but most schools also want letters of recommendation, and I haven’t really bothered to brown-nose my professors that much. I haven’t gotten any help from my advisors, either.

That whined, though, I guess my anxiety is ultimately, as Led Zeppelin put it, “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.”

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Summer and Summer Reading

Finals are done. With that, summer begins.

I subscribe to the school of thought that states that spring, fall, and winter all properly belong to school. Summer, however, has a sacredness about it that is profaned by classes. Summer classes are, frankly, an abomination, and though I realise that they are necessary for some, I have only scorn for those who would destroy their summer vacation willingly.

Not that my summer will be completely free, of course. Besides a part-time job and mowing the lawn regularly, I have also a few goals set out for myself. The first is to build up my art skills a bit for a drawing class I’ll take in the fall. Second is to avoiding forgetting everything I’ve learned in Japanese the last two semesters. The third is to tackle a summer reading programme I’ve developed for myself – perhaps “programme” is too ambitious, but anyway it’s a list of what I’d like to read in the coming months. The early version looks like this:

Absolom, Absolom! – William Faulkner (just finished, actually)

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young DogDylan Thomas

Rashomon and Seventeen Other StoriesRyunosuke Akutagawa

Literary Essays of Ezra Pound Ezra Pound

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque


In the past, I’ve failed at summer reading lists, because I always get distracted by other projects or other books. Maybe this year will be different?…

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Junior-year Reflections

I am wrapping up my third year of university, and am consequently in a reflective mood regarding my collegiate experience so far. Looking back on the classes I’ve taken, I cannot help but be amazed at what a waste most of them are.

Now, it is better to know something than not know it, and there is much to be said about a broad-based education, but nonetheless of the thirty or so classes I have taken through this semester, only a handful are at all related to my field of study. Even including those, the classes that were worth the effort (and money) involved I could count on one hand.

The reason is not something I can quite define. One problem lies in the number of “Core Curriculum” classes, which seem overly numerous. Another is the fact that, as a secular school, there is no common foundation from which to teach.

Perhaps a fundamental difficulty lies in the purpose of the university system. An especially honest professor of mine, expanding on a point made by Ezra Pound, pointed out that the university’s purpose is not education – one can educate oneself as well as the school. Rather, the purpose is accreditation – which is something else entirely. Much like primary and secondary education, university does not exist to teach students how to think critically or approach difficulties, but instead they ensure the student (customer?) possesses enough knowledge (separate from wisdom or understanding) that they can be given a diploma with which the student can prove the fact to prospective employers – employment, not education, being the ultimate goal of most students.

The root problem, I suppose, is cultural. Education in itself is not valued as highly as good employment. What once were universities, then, become technical schools to train students in practical skills for the end of finding a job. How this is to be reversed, I do not know. Probably it should begin in a change of attitude on the part of the students and professors.

For the time being, I am mostly just thankful that I received scholarship money and thus did not have to pay too much for my accreditation. Unfortunately, I will have to pay for others in the form of taxes to pay for government-sponsored scholarship programmes.…

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Going Back

Classes begin anew in three days. I’ll be starting the semester off right, too – a quiz in my first class on my first day back. It’s the second semester of a foreign-language class and the instructor wants to make sure we all meet the minimum requirements.

I’ve never flunked out of a class on the first day, but there’s a first time for everything!…

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Bad Assignments File

A post for the “Ridiculous Assignments” file.

In the creative writing class I’m currently taking, our final project is to take a piece we’ve written during the semester, and translate it into a different medium.

In other words, for a creative writing class, the most important assignment of the year is to create something, anything, except what this course is supposed to be about. That’s great.

Theoretically, the purpose of this assignment is to… I suppose help me better understand my original piece by translating it to something else. However, I’m in this class to learn to write, and this assignment is, at best, only tangentially related.…

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Summer’s End

Ladies and gentlemen, my eyes have lost the glimmer of youth.

For me, the betrayal of my childhood has been a slow process, one that began in high school when I took a part-time job. Income leads to money, which leads to responsibility like paying for one’s own entertainment, in addition to gas money.

The second event that led to the end of my childhood was college. Now, that’s an external force, not treason, and in any case is only dangerous in combination with other forces. In my case, getting to school requires a car, which in turn requires I keep that part-time job. Between school and work, I no longer have any hobbies. That’s what it feels like, anyway.
So, the only time left for being childlike (or childish) for extended periods is summer vacation, and that is where the final blow has been struck by a summer class.

Now, summer is supposed to be a time for doing nothing, but instead I’m taking exams, reading textbooks, and, as mentioned previously, writing critiques. My summer is a season of drudgery!

Man, that post was depressing. I’m sorry for being so out-of-character. Here, have a Jill sandwich (NSFW) to cheer you up.…

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On Critiquing Live Music

So, right now I’m trying to write a critique of a live concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a class I’m taking.

The problem is, all I can really say about it is that I enjoyed it, though it suffered from some problems to be expected from an outdoor concert. Somewhat unclear sound, sirens from a passing fire engine, and some other miscellaneous distractions. However, I made the critical mistake of not taking notes at the concert. Even driving home from the event, I could scarecly have said much about the early pieces performed (out of seven or so total). Since I got home a bit late and had to wake up early the next morning, I made another mistake in not writing anything down before going to bed.

Lesson learned for the next assignment, though.…

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