Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Organizing Stuff

First, just let me say, being a graceful human being must be nice. Ow ow ow and one more OW!!  I am so sore today!  Happily though, while my ankle is doing worse, my wrist is doing a lot better.  Maybe should have iced my ankle as much as I iced my wrist.  Oh well.  Left knee and both shoulders are unhappy today though, wow.  I would like never to fall that hard again, thank you very much.

So I gave myself an extra hour of sleep and hit the ground hobbling this morning.  Patched my jeans and washed them.  They came out wearable.  They were beginning to fray in places anyway, so they weren't the nicest pair of jeans around, but tear on the knee isn't exactly my style.  Got to use the new iron I got for Christmas too.  It's a nice iron!  Picked up the house a bit, since I got behind the last couple of days, then set to my school work.  All set on the WMU application, just have to print everything and mail it tomorrow.  Overnighting it because I am a flake and overlooked the bit about having to mail physical copies to the history department as well as filling out the online application for the university.  UM's was long and terrifying to write up, but seriously Western, can't you just share my transcripts?  Hope those get there on time.  Anyway, I'll be happy when that's all done and I can jump into applying for summer internships and jobs.  It never ends.

Five history classes is going to be interesting.  The total count as of right now is three term papers, three book reviews, fifteen short answer assignments, three "short" essays, three essay tests, five multiple choice tests,  ten reading synopses, and five text books.  This is not counting the African Women's history class which hasn't started yet, though I'm emailing the professor for the syllabus tomorrow if I haven't gotten one yet because we only have three classes and it's supposed to be a writing intensive class.... and we have three text books and I would prefer not to read them all in one week.  The good news?  I finally get to use the voice recorder I got a year ago for a class.  I'm oddly excited about this fact.  No textbook for the class, and a lot of information, so he encourages us to record it.  Sweet!  Got two marines in the class though, and they're already up in arms with him.  Should be interesting.  A friend of mine from last semester and I both had a face-meet-desk moment in our French history class, oh about ten minutes in.  Ah freshmen who feel the to try to prove the professor wrong.  I shudder to think I was like that... but I do remember getting into debates with professors, so I probably was.

Anywho, thus ends my break for the day.  Three more hours before bed, and I intend to spend them getting a bit of my reading done.  Five text books... plus three monographs... well at least I'll stay on top of my 24 books to read this year goal.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Moving Forward

I just hit submit on my application to U-M for grad school.  It's later than I wanted to send it by a week, but I hit submit before their deadline.  Not sure why it takes an electronic application three days to reach the university, but I really hope they don't count that against me.  I've got enough odds stacked against me with this application, but my letters are good, I did amazing on the GRE (89th percentile in verbal, 61st in quantitative, that one was crappy, and 96th in writing), and if I'm supposed to be there, being a middle class WASP from a blue-collar university won't matter.  I am proud of that writing score though. :P  Score was out of 6, I got a 5.5.  And apparently the verbal is supposed to be as hard as the quantitative (math), but I rocked it.  I'm pleased... and in an odd mood.  Injured myself walking today.  It's in my genes, I can't help being a clutz, though the fact that the grass is three inches lower than the concrete on campus really doesn't help my propensity to fall.  My wrist and ankle are pretty messed up, and my knee hurts a bit. I'm furious that I ripped my only pair of blue jeans.  Likely will be hunting for a pair that fits at the Salvation Army this weekend.  Grr.  Driving home was hard, and I had a "need to be somewhere safe NOW" panicky thirty minutes or so, so this evening's been really weird.  I still got my application done though, despite being all achy and brain fuzzy.  I also have an awesome mom who iced my bruises and gave me a big hug today, so that made me feel a million times better.  :)

Now to bed!  Only jobs I found for tomorrow were in kindergartens, and, considering it hurts to stand, I don't think that's wise, so it's finish WMU's application, apply for summer jobs, and hardcore study time tomorrow.  Alas, no exercising for me this week. T__T

Also!! Before I forget, not going to review it cause typing kinda hurts, but I finished book 2/24, Prince Caspian.  I read it before apparently, cause I remembered all of it as I was reading it, but it was a nice, relaxing, talking critters being awesome kind of book and exactly what I wanted to read.  Ok, not true, I wanted sparkling unicorns, but I have a few books in Chronicles of Narnia between me and the sparkling unicorn, so I figured, you know, baby steps. :P  No really bed time.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Lolita

I have an intensified disgust for Lolita style clothing, which, contrary to amazingly uninformed, oblivious, or down-right dense western fans, is a symptom of a HUGE problem, i.e. the sexualization of children in Japan.  It's aptly named.  To some extent, the doll style fashion interested me in the past, but when I stepped back to look at the whole picture, well, I wish I could burn the two doll-like outfits I made (I sold one and made another for a friend).  Anyway, when it comes to the western impression of Lolita fashion, there's no way I can avoid offending people online, and frankly I don't give a rip about offending those people, because as I said, they're either oblivious (in which case, please open your eyes!!) or completely thick and I have no remorse for shattering their rose-tinted glasses when it comes to Japan's modern culture.  I have mentioned before the problem and legacy of orientalism, and I firmly believe anybody who even has a remote interest in expressing opinions and thoughts about Japan in any way should be required to read that chapter.  (The link is to a temporary location, should be active until June, 2012.  I may update it afterward.)

Anyway, I digress, though that rant, truncated because I really don't care to spend more energy on the subject at present, is related to my topic.  Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov... I don't think I care to go into detail about the story's background, though from a brief search online it appears as though it's completely fiction.  Granted it's, very sadly, far from being an uncommon reality for people, even in the 1950s when the story is actually set (late 40s to early 50s), I spent the last 274 pages thinking it was actually an autobiography, so I'm moderately relieved to know that it wasn't.... at least as far as I've seen. The details of publication and the author's biography are easy enough to find, if you're really interested.  I'm tired of the book, so I don't care to look around any more.  Sorry.

So, my reaction to it... I hated it.  Don't get me wrong, it was well written.  The narrator was what he should have been, and his tone evoked strong emotions.  In the very beginning, I did feel a little sorry for him, if you can ignore the fact that he was an abusive #$@!+ to begin with.  He realized he had a problem.  He was frustrated by it, sought help getting over it, was an addict tempted by a drug, but the moment he contemplated actually taking the drug I hated him.  And yes, I'm using euphemisms here.  The drug happened to be a 12 year-old girl.  My official stance on child molesters and rapists in general, remove the hand that sins... another euphemism.  Anyway, he went from emotional to eerily calm and calculating.  Then as the story went on he got cold and seemed, to me, hateful, then near the end completely nuts.

It was odd reading, because I felt dirty at times, when I wasn't blazing mad, and other times, he would describe a grown woman with such a tone that, as a grown woman, it made me feel ugly.  I don't think I want to elaborate on that one, but I did find it strange.  I put it down several times just to get up and do something completely different to get my mind off it.  It was definitely a relief once Dolly escaped.  I'd known she had to at some point, just by how he was narrating, but it kept getting worse and worse.  Once the narrator cracked it was hard to read in its own way.  Some of it made no sense, some of it was just inane babble that I got tired of reading, and all of his professions of love just made me want to hurt him, severely.

I don't know what the purpose of the book was.  It appears to not have been autobiographical.  The author said it wasn't meant to have a moral.  Evoke emotion?  Make people think?  Isn't that was stories do?  It is what it is, and for that, I (almost grudgingly) have to say it was a good piece of literature.  I still hate it.  It's like 1984, in a way, except I might actually read 1984 again, and thinking about it doesn't make me want to injure someone, and I do use the themes in 1984 as conversation topics... Also, too much freaking French! Why do I not know French!?! ... Anywho, good literature, don't want to read again, glad I got it over with rather than glad I read it.  It's another classic crossed off my list, and score 1/24 for 2012's reading goal.

I don't recommend this book unless you're crossing off a very long list of Books to Read Before I Die.  Yes, that gets italics, because it's a freaking epic list.  I think my next book is going to be mindless, perhaps mind numbing.  I may read the third Southern Vampire Mysteries book... though the last one had some unfortunate themes in it as well, so maybe not... This is when I wish I could stomach something like Harry Potter... Actually I might just try to flip my attention somewhere else.  Read books one and three of that series... Narnia! I have the Chronicles of Narnia.  I will read one of those next.

Okay, it's after 1AM and I'm all grr and yarg and want to shower and get this book off me, so I'm going to shut up now.

Monday, 2 January 2012

2012

I'm going to optimistically say that nothing could be worse than the end of 2010 through 2011 was, and then I'm not going to dwell on all the bad.  Moving right along, I'm not one to do New Year's resolutions, but I am a fan of goals.  Why?  Cause then I get little yay rewards along the way and a nice sense of satisfaction when I can look back and go "Ooh! Progress!!" without the pressure of "Today = suck, so not gonna... damn, I broke my resolution."  Win-win in my book.

I'm only going to briefly look back on 2011's goals, cause, well, if you've read blog this and/or know me, you already know why.  So, my goals:

  • 50 books in a year - not quite
  • Get back to America with my cats - success
  • Get into grad school - still in progress, success if you nix the "grad" part of that

Books I read in 2011:
  1. Tennyson, Idylls of the King
  2. de Troyes, Eric & Enide★
  3. Cliges
  4. Yvain, the Knight of the Lion★
  5. Lancelot, Knight of the Cart☆
  6. Beah, A Long Way Gone☆
  7. Machiavelli, The Prince★
  8. Bradley, Mists of Avalon
  9. Golding, Lord of the Flies☆
  10. Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
  11. Voltaire, Candide☆
  12. Silko, Ceremony★
  13. White, Once and Future King☆
  14. Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora☆
  15. Martin, A Game of Thrones★
  16. Harris, Dead Until Dark☆
  17. Living Dead in Dallas

☆ means I liked them or they were at least interesting, ★ means they were really freaking good

So, I read 17 books in 2011.  School happened, and if partial books counted, I could add at least another 20 onto that, but I'm only counting books that I read start to finish.  I possibly missed one or two, but since I don't remember it, and didn't write about it, it obviously wasn't worth counting.  And apparently, no surprise, after February I stopped writing reviews, so only a few have review links.

Anyway, reading goal for 2012, match or better.  I'm going to be ambitious and say 24.  Here's a short list of which ones I'm thinking (I'm running low on King Arthur this year :P)
  1. Lolita - almost finished
  2. Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life - probably going to take me all year
  3. A Clash of Kings
  4. A Storm of Swords
  5. A Feast for Crows
  6. A Dance with Dragons
  7. The Winds of Winter
  8. American Gods
And I'm eying the Discworld books and may read more of the Southern Vampire Mysteries if book 3 is less sexy vapidness than book 2 was... if not, book 2 was pretty high on the side of boring outweighing amusing plot, and, even though I read them for mindless urban fantasy, I'm not a huge fan of vapid.   We shall see.  And considering I'm taking 5 history classes this semester... I'll either have all those textbooks included or another three months of being buried under stacks of partially read books and articles.

Ok, so if I put that include that babble in the list, my goals for 2012 are as follows:
  • 24 books in a year
  • get into grad school
  • lose 30 pounds
  • pass JLPT N1
Some other things I'd like to do this year, though they're not "goals" so much as "that'd be nice" are:
  • have a small garden this summer
  • set up an etsy account for my bead guys (active, but there's nothing listed)
  • get a job up near Traverse City for the summer
  • pack as much money as I can into savings while paying down some more debt
  • go kayaking at least once
  • go hiking in woods I don't already know at least once
  • go camping at least once
  • swim in one of the Great Lakes at least once
  • have another craft day with my mom and aunts
  • win NaNoWriMo
On that note, 2012 is, as of January 2nd, far less terrifying to look forward to than 2011 was.  I can't say I'm excited or anything, though I'm trying to be, but I am hopeful.  I've got my family and friends back, I may be an emotional wreck still, but at least my head is clear, and I have good goals that are within my reach (finally!).

Also, Soushi cat is a bully!  Poor Ophelia just got kicked out of another comfy spot.


This actually isn't the spot (that would be the seam of the two sofa cushions), but he looked sufficiently satisfied at stealing a seat in this picture (from New Year's Eve) that I felt the need to add it.

This is already uber long, but I'm thinking I might make a 2011 in photos post as I continue to procrastinate on my statements of purpose for grad school (I have one intro!).... or maybe that'll be my reward for getting one of the drafts done... we'll see.  At any rate, Happy New Year to everyone reading, God bless you, and I hope 2012 is amazing for everyone.