Thursday, 27 March 2008

Glass Half Full?

Ok! All set for another, oddly timed blog. Fairy lights: check! Music: check! Tea: check (but how I wish it was coffee)!

I apologize, again, for the lack of devotion to my blog that I’ve shown in the last weeks. As usual, I’m going to plead Busy and hope that I’ll be forgiven.

I had my last midterm yesterday (I think it went really well!) and now we’re in the home stretch to finals. I have three lab exams next week. CURSE LAB EXAMS!!! But it’s a challenge, you see. A challenge to find out how much information you can cram into your head/notebook only to have it fall out as you write answers frantically on a page. A noble challenge! We have been sent in pursuit of Knowledge and that oh-so-revered Education. It means different things to different people. I’ve found that at Mt A, it means a lot of mindless memorization and regurgitation of facts. Let’s talk about classes.

Animal Bio: “Here’s a textbook. We’re covering 500 pages of it. Learn those pages and be able to regurgitate random facts x, y and z on request.”

Calculus: “Here’s a list of identities, half- and double-angle formulas, differentials, and integrals – memorize them. Here’s one and a half hours of class on Tuesday and Thursday morning. Here’s a prof who’s so terrible that only 6 out of the 80-odd people bother to come to class. We still expect you to know all the material.”

Sociology is shockingly unscientific and my ‘it’s-either-right-or-wrong’ brain is like “Whaaaaa …?” It a bit like: “Here’s a bunch of wishy-washy facts. Here’s a lecture that is sickeningly similar to Health and Values from 8th grade. Here’s the Sociological Format for Citation. Yes, we will sadistically take of lots of points if you put a colon instead of a comma. And yes, it is because we like to torture little children (joking!). Here’s a grade. We can’t quite explain why it’s so different from your other grades or why exactly we decided on it. But there you go!”

Genetics: “Your lecture’s fun but you spend a lot of time talking about the Vegetable of the Month (in light of the fact that Mendel rather liked peas), vampires (there is a genetic disease whose symptoms are alleviated to some extent by drinking blood leading to the vampire myth), and short, many fingered people (dwarfism and tetrameliodactyly). You’re going to spend hours going through the slides for lecture put online because it goes too quick for you to do anything but listen in class. If you’re interested enough, you’ll get good grades.”

And Biochemistry: “Here’s the mechanism acid catalyzed formation of cyclic mannopyranose formed from D-mannose that is identical to glucose except for the position of the –OH group on the second carbon. Memorize that. Here are the two hundred and fifty steps of glycolysis - the breakdown of glucose to give pyruvate and ATP. Memorize those. You’re going to find it wonderfully interesting but no, I’m sorry, you cannot escape the mindless memorization.”

SIGH. Ok. No escape. I understand. At least it’s not all mind-numbingly boring. Well, memorization is fairly boring, but … c’est la vie (?). Animal Bio, or rather, Zoology (because it sounds cooler) is interesting and I am curious to know why a snail evolved to have it’s mouth right next to it’s anus. Biochem and Genetics are also very cool. Calculus = Pre-requisite and I Have To Take It. That’s all I have to say about that. And Sociology. Dearest Sociology, I had big hopes for you. They have been tragically dashed against the reality of arbitrary grading and the fact that it reminds me of Middle School. Sad.

Ok. Rant, rant. “Someone make her stop.” I hear you. Ok. I once read someone’s version of Hamlet abridged. It was: “Whine, whine, whine. To be or not to be. I’m dead.” I hope my blog isn’t like that. I try to be somewhat meditative and true to the facts. Maybe that’s not true. I do love sarcasm and hyperbole. And in all honesty, I only like hyperbole because it’s a fantastic word. (p.s. That wasn’t in all honesty: while hyperbole is a fantastic word, that’s not the only reason why I like it.) (Ok, so maybe I just lie all the time ...)

I’ll try and be better about my blogging. Three lab exams next week. And, let me say again, CURSE LAB EXAMS!!! Shhhh. It’ll be fine. We’re almost done. I might have a job, I might have a place to stay, I might get to spend a few months with my boyfriend, I might not go insane before summer. I’m hopeful. (It’s a glass-half-full kind of attitude where ‘might’ = ‘I’m feeling positive about’ as opposed to ‘I don’t know what the hell is going oooon!!!’

So. On that slightly backwards positive note, I’m going to bed.

I’ll leave you with my favourite song for today: Jack Johnson, Cocoon.


Thursday, 20 March 2008

Diddle daddle ...

Dear Readers,

I apologize sincerely for my long silence. Things have been busy and finally it’s all settling down again. I had two midterms and a paper due last week and a midterm on Monday. I had a SAC meeting that turned out to be almost four hours long last night and today I’ve done pretty much nothing all day. In fact, aside from my midterm on Monday, this has been one of my most mellow weeks all year. Monday, despite being very angst-filled, felt like a Saturday. On Tuesday I had two classes and a lab that was very short and I was done with classes at 2:00. This afternoon I had only three classes because my Calculus lab was canceled (oh joy!) and I was done at 12:30. Tomorrow my day goes till 4:00 with a Biochemistry lab which will be my longest day this week and we have Friday off because it’s Good Friday. Right now, I’m working on a lab report with my lab partner in my room and we’re getting through it with a healthy (?) amount of procrastination mixed in.

Ah, Procrastination. What a terrible, wonderful thing. The other day I got an email from a friend while I was studying for Calculus. I replied to him and a few minutes later I got a reply to my email and he said that he hadn’t been expecting a reply so soon. He put it down to the fact that I must be procrastinating. Just like he was. It struck me as rather incredible that he just knew. But I guess we all recognize our own bad habits in others and ignore them in ourselves in general anyway. The thing about procrastination is that it feels so good. You know how they talk about guilty pleasures? Procrastination is the greatest them of all. Instead of working, I can do something that I actually want to do and will enjoy. Owning a computer with an internet connection provides a fairly infinite supply of reasons to procrastinate because I don’t even have to move from my books and I can still convince myself that I am doing something. I’ve watched Eddie Izzard (if you don’t know who he is, look him and watch him on You Tube) live in San Francisco in a show called Dressed to Kill. This is divided into twelve approximately 9 minute installments. I’ve watched 45 minutes of Russell Peters (again, if you don’t know him, find him on You Tube or something) and studied Animal Bio simultaneously. Nathan takes the cake though: the other day he and Madeleine went to find a kite that they could fly. I thought that was exceptional brilliance as far as procrastination goes. Guilty pleasure aside, procrastination may actually be the largest affliction of university students. More than alcohol, drugs, sex … whatever you could possibly think of. Procrastination is the biggest evil. It’s kind of like a disease that creeps in without you really noticing it. “I’ll just take a 5 minute break” becomes and hour and a half spent at Jennings sitting around and doing nothing. “I’ll nap for half an hour” becomes three hours and suddenly the night is half over. “I’ll read one chapter” becomes hours spent with your nose buried in a book that has nothing to do with your midterm the next morning. It’s just a little scary. The Silent Killer, if you will. : ) One day, I hope to beat this monster down. For the time being, I shall continue to not learn from my mistakes and look forward to a long weekend filled with whole new potential for procrastination.

Here’s a cartoon Christina, my RA, put up in our bathroom. It’s rather apt.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Home

Tomorrow is Monday. I’d just like to lament, briefly, about the linear nature of time. It’s been a long, quiet, peaceful week and it has, sadly, come to an end. Tomorrow is Monday and we are hopping back on the merry-go-round. It’s a little sad. I could have done with more time. It would have been nice if time had decided to take a wander and let this go on a few days more. I’d have been down for that. But, having said that, the linear nature of time will allow that in just over 8 weeks, I’ll be done with my exams and this mad year will be over.

Anyway. People started coming back on Thursday and, except for a few people, everyone is back from break. Some people are happy to be back. This is where they’ve spent the majority of the last however many years that they’ve been at Mt A and it’s where they feel the most at home. Some people are miserable because this isn’t where they want to be, because it’s not home. Home is such a subjective concept. It can be any or all of a number of things: a city, a person, a country, a building, a smell, a room … Everyone perceives it differently, experiences it differently, and longs for it differently,

They say home is where the heart is. My heart is all over the place. I remember a conversation I had with my mum a little while after I got here. I was telling her about something or the other and said, “and then I come home and …” or something to that effect. I was referring to Thornton, to my room and the people here. My mum said something like, “Home, huh?” and I had to do some quick talking to fix that. But that’s how it is. Here, at the end of a long day, I walk in the door of the house and breathe a big sigh. And then I walk in the door of my room and I breathe an even bigger sigh. Home again, finally! I throw my stuff casually across the room onto my bed, kick my shoes of, change into pajamas, and I’m home.

Whenever I say I miss Home, I always mean home with a capital H. Home: India, Kodai, my little town on my little hill on the other side of the world from me. That will always, always be Home. It's where I grew up. It's where I'll be whether it's 3 years or 10, from now – no matter where life takes me in between. That's my reference point in everything.

Having said that, I’m going to be here this summer and, as sad as it makes me, I’m fairly adamant about it. The only time my determination flickered was a couple of days ago when I was talking to Jonathan about his plans and that he might be going Home. It means it's going to be a long time before I see him again. That was the only time that being here this summer was potentially unbearable. As long as Jonathan’s here on this side of the world with me, I’m still ok. s long as Jonathan’s near me, I can deal with being far away from my family. And that’s another home I have, with Jonathan.

It’s an odd thing. And wonderful, too, I guess. Wherever we go we find places to call home. And, for most people, there’s always one place – be it where they are, or where they want to be – that they’ll always call Home.

Back to school tomorrow. In this place I’ve come to call home. This place that, one day, I think I’ll love. Back to class, back to this life. I hope the spinning of the merry-go-round won’t be as sickening. I hope, during this week off, I’ve calmed myself enough to do this again. I feel rested, I feel caught up, I feel ready. I’m a little nervous. This term hasn’t been easy – for a number of reasons – and I’m hoping, rather anxiously, that the second half of this will be better than the first half. I hope I’ve done my part, worked hard enough, and prepared myself for what’s to come. I think I have. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll see.

Here are two songs about home. The first, Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel, again reminds me of my dad. It reminds me of lots of amazing nights with friends and family and my dad singing this song. The second is Home by Michael Bublé.