25 June 2012

Long Overdue Update!

So . . . I haven't posted on here for nearly a year. I know. I know. I'm really sorry. It's just that I have been busy. Between school and work and developing a social life, I haven't had time for Blogger. However, I am free for the summer and I hope to post some until I return to school again. Until then, a quick update:

Things That Stayed The Same:

* I still work in the library and the writing center.

* I still have the same delightfully quirky computer science major roommate. Hard to believe someone would agree to live with me for four semesters in a row, but who am I to question that?

* Um, that's really all I can think of that's relevant. . . .

Things That Have Changed:

* I now only have one more year before I earn my bachelor's in history and English with a minor in rhetoric (glorified minor in writing.) Yay, I think? Actually, I am only 1 class away from my English degree and 1 away from the minor. It's the history classes I am way behind on. I need at least 4 more. That and I lack 1 more gen ed class.

* On that note, I had an interesting assortment of classes last year, including 2 semesters of German (Sprechen Sie deutsche? Nicht so gut.), creative writing classes (Oh my you meet strange people in those classes. No, not always good strange though you get those too), 19th Century American Lit (best class ever even though the reading list was weak), Romantic and Victorian class (good reading list but better class discussions), American Civil War (history geekiness!), American Civil Rights Movement (awesome class!), Literary Criticism (geeky funny), Russian history (more geeky fun), Nazi Germany (Most disturbing class ever. It gave me nightmares. No, I'm not kidding. We all had nightmares, prof included. *shudder*)

* I'm looking forward to my classes next semester: Brit Lit I (the last one I need for my English degree!), Irish Literature (so looking forward to the reading list), Shakespeare's Tragedies (ditto for the reading list), French Revolution (supposed to be hard but good), Colonial America (should be good), and a directed readings class in 20th Century European history. I got to write the syllabus, so I structured it to focus on fascism and communism.

* I'm starting that whole grad school application process thing. Well, that's an exaggeration. I'm thinking about the whole grad school application process thing, but that's on hiatus until I take the GRE so that I have scores for the applications (More on that next.) As of right now, I'm applying to a few M.A. programs in literature, hoping to study modernist and postmodernist literature. *fingers crossed*

* I'm studying for the GRE, which I take in less than two weeks. I hate the GRE. I hate the GRE. I hate the GRE. Did I mention I hate the GRE? In fairness to the GRE, I most specifically hate the math section of the GRE. Go die in a hole, you foul thing!

So. . . . how are you guys doing? I've missed all of you! Catch me up! :)

07 August 2011

Lightning, Lightning--Very, Very Frightening

Last night, the relatives and I were channel-surfing before we finally landed on a PBS documentary about Soviet Russia in World War II. Those of you who know me well know that I have an unhealthy fascination with all things Russian and anything remotely related to World War II, so I was pretty stoked. And this documentary was a nerd's dream come true. The re-enactment scenes were all in Russian, German, or Polish, and the actors actually looked like the historical figures they were playing. Stalin looked like Stalin! Little nerdy Zella was so happy that, instead of getting on the internet last night as she always does, she decided to stay up until the wee hours of the morning--or however long it would be on--watching the documentary.

The rest of the family slowly trickled off to bed, leaving just me, my trusty Chihuahua, and my grandmother to watch the documentary. Outside, a thunderstorm raged, but it was the first rain we've had since late June, so it could storm as much as it wanted. I know a reasonably safety-minded person would, you know, turn off the TV during a storm, but it wasn't a raging storm and--darn it--I wanted to watch my documentary about Soviet Russia. *glares at any naysayers*

At about 10:25 pm, right as I was riveted by the discussion of Stalin's uneasy alliance with the Polish government in exile, a dramatic clap of thunder and a brief flash of lightning accompanied a seconds-long power outage. I know a reasonably safety-minded person would have given up and gone to bed, but the power was only out a couple of seconds and--darn it!--I was watching my Soviet documentary.

Around 10:37 pm, just as the documentary began to delve into American aid to the U.S.S.R. during the war, a second clap of thunder accompanied a power outage. I didn't see the lightning bolt that was responsible. I waited for the power to inevitably turn back on--just as it had ten minutes earlier. I mean, it came on before. The TV did not explode in the process--obviously the power is just out. Why wasn't it coming back on?

Alas, as I sat in pitch-darkness, anxiously awaiting the TV to magically power back on, I realized that it wasn't coming back on, and I wasn't getting on the computer, either. As I had sat on the couch delusionally expecting that my documentary would reappear at any moment, my far more practical grandmother had already acquired a flashlight, which she handed to me. I shined the light around to locate my darling Chihuahua and saw him huddled up in a corner with an extraordinarily lugubrious look of self-pity on his face. His eyes were wide and pleading, his ears askew atop his dainty head. He hates storms; oh, how he hates them. He had been sitting with me, but I guess after the power went out, he jumped down on the floor in a temporary fit of lightning-induced fright. I balanced him alongside the flashlight in my arms, reassured him that he was okay, and headed off to bed.

By the time I picked my way to my room, I noticed that Mr. Chihuahua was no longer frightened but was extraordinarily pissed off. I could tell because now his eyes were sullen, his lips were pursed in a disdainful grimace, and his ears were pinned back. It does not pay to irk Mr. Chihuahua--as sweet as he is, I have learned in the past ten years of owning him that his feelings are not to be trifled with. And I had trifled with them big time.

Horrible Chihuahua owner that I am, I had forgotten his bone. He has developed a liking for peanut-flavored bones that borders on addiction, and there were none in my room. How thoughtless of me! Never mind that in the pitch-blackness he couldn't even see to eat the bone. It's our nightly tradition for me to tuck him in with a bone--or two--and he would not go to sleep until he got a bone.

I trekked back to the living room, was successful in my bone hunt, and returned to my room. By this point, Mr. Chihuahua was overwhelmed with joy. He had his bone, and that was all that mattered. He danced around on my bed and wagged his tail as a show of gratitude, then snatched said bone out of my hand and perched on the foot of the bed, his usual resting place.

I tried to fall asleep, but--as someone who routinely goes to bed at 1 am--I was not the slightest bit tired. I would have read, but the only source of light was my grandma's flashlight. I thought it would be slightly ungrateful of me to run out the battery reading. Instead, I tried to sleep as my mind wandered to topics that ranged from my upcoming college semester to true crime to Russian history to how I'm going to arrange stuff in my dorm room this semester to my Chihuahua's frantic mulling around as he tried to sleep. Apparently, the insomnia is contagious.

Suddenly, a faint noise intruded upon my restless mind. It sounded like--yes--I think the electricity came back. Thank you, God! Let there be light! I turned on the lamp beside my bed, expecting to see the faint, warm glow of the lamp's lowest setting. Instead, I saw darkness. Lots and lots of darkness. Fine. I suppose the power didn't come back on. My ninja senses were fooled. . . . The lamp has three light settings, so I turned the knob a couple of more times to turn the lamp off, in the event the power ever came back on.

I tried to sleep again, only to have my mind invaded by more thoughts: Chinese food, the documentary I had watched, stuff I need to remember for work on Monday, *cough* what to blog about this week *cough*, stuff I need to remember when I go back to work at my other job this weekend. Slowly, sleep started to overtake me. It snuck up on me just as I was formulating a blog post, and it gently lulled me into a pleasant slumber. Oh, sleep, how I love you! The rain continued to patter outside and lightning continued to flash occasionally outside my window, but I was just on the cusp of sleep, and I could not care less.

Just as I dozed off, a bright light flashed before my eyes. I jumped awake--staring around my room for the creepy person who was shining a flashlight in my face. Come out, come out wherever you are, bearer of the flashlight! Instead, I saw my Chihuahua staring at me from the foot of the bed. Wait! I could see my Chihuahua! I couldn't see unless there was light. There wouldn't be light unless the power was back on! At this point, I turned to my side and noticed my lamp, on its highest setting.

Hmm . . . I must not be smart enough to guess how many times I have to turn the knob before I turn the lamp off. I eventually drifted off to sleep . . . about 1 am, as usual.

30 July 2011

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These

Do any of you put any stock in dreams? I'm not much of a dreamer. In fact, it's rather rare for me to dream. Well, according to some research I once read, we all dream constantly in our sleep--it's only the ones that are going on when we wake up that we remember. Regardless of the science behind it, I kind of like not having dreams invade my sleep. Most of my dreams fall into two types: strange dreams involving me running from various adversaries or strange dreams where I spend the whole time complaining about the logic of said dream. I kid not!

In the former type of dreams, my pursuers have included my mom, axe murderers, aliens, Robert Mitchum as The Preacher in The Night of the Hunter, angry pigs, and Nazis. The dream featuring the Nazis was set in WWII-era Holland. I know because I asked someone else who was running away from the Nazis with me. I shouted at him "Where are we?" which was a stupid question. I mean, come on, most normal people, when being chased by unknown assailants, want to know who is chasing them. Not me. I wanted to know where I was. The guy's exact answer was "World War II-era Holland." He may have lied to me, though. He soon disappeared, and I was trapped not long after. I think Mr. World War II-era Holland may have sold me out. In fact, I seriously doubt we were even in Holland. . . .

The latter type of dream usually has me seeing something impossible take place, such as people flying without wings, and me arguing, "But that can't happen! This has to be a dream!" while everybody ignores my protests. Apparently, I'm an obnoxious skeptic even in my sleep.

As much as I dislike dreaming, I have become comfortable with my routine dreams. If I start running in a dream or whining about logical fallacies, I feel safe because it's, well, normal. Thus, you can see why I was so startled by a dream that I had a couple of nights ago--a dream that I still haven't quite recovered from.

This summer I had my wisdom teeth removed. Overall, the experience wasn't too awful, though I wouldn't exactly jump up and volunteer to do it again. I had my teeth pulled in two different phases, about three to four weeks apart, and each time I spent a few days gumming pudding before I was back to normal. Though I physically got back to normal within a week each time and I've been wisdom tooth free for at least three weeks, I can't quite shake the fear that my remaining teeth are loose. I know, I know--My teeth are not loose. The dentist never mentioned anything about it when my teeth were examined afterwards. I can even think up a couple of psychologically-based theories that would make Freud proud concerning why I think my teeth are loose. Nevertheless, just because I can rationalize why my teeth are not loose does not mean they don't feel loose. Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean people are not following me!

This fear has just been a slight little paranoia for the past several weeks, but a couple of nights ago it became a very scary reality. On the day in question, I had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading about Jack the Ripper. (Long story.) I figured I'd have nightmares about ol' Jack, presumably involving my being chased by him and my shouting, "Hey! We're not running through the East End! This setting is all wrong! This must be a dream" in the process. Alas, if only I had dreamed that.

Instead, that night I dreamed I was in a peaceful meadow. It was sunny and lovely and all that jazz. I was sitting there, admiring the meadowy view when I suddenly felt like something was in my mouth. Perplexed, I tried spitting whatever it was out--to no avail. After several more aborted attempts to get whatever it was out, I finally reached my hand in there to remove the offending item. I proceeded to then yank out an entire string of my teeth. Yes, my dream set of teeth are on a string. They're also large, mis-shapen, and unevenly spaced from each other. They look like hideous hillbilly teeth beads. I was so horrified that I could not resist reaching into my mouth and pulling out another string of teeth. If I had been in my normal dream state of mind, I would have got up and ran from the teeth or at least shouted, "Hey! There's no way that that many teeth fit in my head" or "Hey, my teeth look nothing like that!" Alas, no such return to normalcy awaited me. Instead, I pulled out more strings of teeth and stared dumbfoundeded at my teeth until my alarm clock blared. I awoke frantically clawing at my face. I couldn't calm down until I had ascertained that a) my teeth were in my head and b) my teeth were, for the moment, not loose.

Oh, for the days when I dreamed of running away and yelling at my dreams. It seems that they have risen up in revolt. And what brutal opponents they make. . . .