Archive for September, 2006

delusions of idleness

Posted in Life, School on September 14, 2006 by drbolte

So, I’ve done nothing today.

Yesterday, I went to office hours, had a meeting with my team teachers, and checked out some books. I graded drafts and planned my lesson for today.

Today? I taught. I didn’t even fill up all the time. I let them out 15 minutes early. I did, however, make them laugh a couple of times and scared the life out of them about their papers. That, I suppose, could be construed as success. I also did three loads of laundry.

So, I guess it’s specious to say that I’ve done nothing.

Yet, I feel as though I’ve done nothing.

But, here’s the thing: I don’t really care.

This week has been a week of feeling like junk and sleeping on the couch a lot. I’ve ditched all three Institute classes that I was supposed to attend this week to do just that.

I don’t really feel badly about that.

I have this behemoth hanging over my head, though–mainly, a set of three reading lists to do by October 1st, which is quickly coming down the road like a Mack truck about to smack me down–but I’m not worried about it.

I don’t know if I’ve achieved a Zen-like acceptance that all will be well, an embrace of confidence in my own abilities, or if I’ve left reality for the happy place where the shoemaker’s elves do all my work for me.

I’m hoping for the former, but fearing that it’s the latter.

Maybe I’ll clean. It’s REALLY beginning to bother me that my house is in the constant state of almost-chaos, even when it’s clean. It’s like one sneeze or stiff wind will send everything into a catastrophic collapse. The desk I’m sitting at is a perfect example. It’s driving me nuts, but it’s been like this for weeks because, honestly, cleaning seems like it’s this perpetually unsatisfying endeavour. I do it, and then stuff gets dirty again and I have to do it again. Sometimes it is deeply unsatisfying to only have that “ah…done!” feeling last for like three hours. And yet, I still feel like I need to do it, because the peace of the Spirit is in my home in richer abundance when there’s order there.

Which frosts my cookies sometimes, but I get it.

Hmm. Cleaning. That’s doing something, right?

Argh.

They like me…they really like me!

Posted in School on September 13, 2006 by drbolte

Got my evaluations back from this summer’s first stab at teaching Brit Lit.

They were surprisingly good, on par with the evaluations I get in my more successful writing classes.

The constructive criticism was all the stuff I had already decided–too much reading, too much work, not enough time for papers–but I was teaching it in 6 weeks rather than 15, and it was my first stab at it, so all in all I think it was successful.

That makes me happy, since teaching lit is actually what I want to do with my life.

I think it’s strange sometimes to step out of the self-deprecating bubble that I live in and see things from another perspective. The TAs that I am teamteaching with this semester said that I am a good discussion leader–and I think that I am crap at it still. It’s the thing that I struggle with most–lecturing, I can do. Group work, no problem. But leading a sustained discussion that doesn’t die a horrible and painful silent death or that doesn’t degenerate into an argument?

That’s hard.

But maybe I’m better at this whole deal than I think I am.

Of course, if I was, I wouldn’t have spent the last hour and a half wasting time rather than reading student papers like I should be doing.

One step at a time, I suppose.

Grilled cheese and orange juice

Posted in Life on September 11, 2006 by drbolte

No, I’m not still high from the Gator win and, therefore, centering all of my food choices around an Orange and Blue theme.

I have a scratchy throat. I’m tired. And I want some comfort food.

I was up until 3:30 last night talking on the phone. I had intended to go to bed early, to begin my “get out of this crazy night owl ridiculousness” routine and heed the prophet’s counsel to go to bed early and arise early.

I think it will help me get focused and get into a routine.

I think it will help me get things done.

I think it will help me not waste time.

I’m sure it will help me get sufficient rest.

But, that ship sort of sailed this weekend. Because, when I’m on the phone with one particular person, I talk for hours with no regard for any of my responsibilities.  We bond. It’s great.

But then, the next morning, my trash is kicked.

It’s not like I didn’t sleep–I did.  I slept for like 7 hours.

But I guess it wasn’t enough.

Because I feel not so good.  I don’t feel terrible, but I don’t feel great.
And now I think I’m not going to get anything done today.

I had grand plans. I was going to read a ton during my downtime at tutoring, go to the bank, get quarters, and do an enormous amount of laundry.

I always feel peaceful when my laundry’s done. It’s piling up. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for my own washer and dryer.  I hate community laundry rooms. They’re so inconvenient.

But now I think I will be good to even get to the drugstore to get some OJ and some throat stuff.

Ugh.

I’ve got to grade, too, and plan for tomorrow’s class.

But I’ve got a big week, and I need to be sharp. I’ve got a fun date on Friday planned and I’m probably going to Orlando on Saturday to support an awesome person in doing something amazing and wonderful.

Plus, I suppose I should do some work and stuff.

Ugh.

Think good thoughts for me!

Gator Nation

Posted in Life, School on September 10, 2006 by drbolte

I’m definitely a Gator now.

I don’t know why I was so hesitant. I suppose, when I moved to Gainesville, the whole “Go Gators!” thing seemed so…virulent, like a really pervasive flu bug that just keeps reinfecting whole populations. I didn’t want to just roll over, abandon my Wolfpack, and become a Gator. It seemed like a betrayal of sorts.
But tonight I went to my first Gator football game. I was decked out in Gator gear–blue and orange, even to the top of my head. I sat with a bunch of people from Institute, several of whom knew that it was my first game and were pretty invested in making sure that I was getting the full experience. It was awesome. I knew I would have fun with those kids. And some of them are RABID fans–and that was fun to watch. That passion is pretty contagious.

But what was really hard to predict–honestly–was being in The Swamp (that’s the enormous stadium that dwarfs any other building on campus–it seats more than 90,000) on a game day. It’s not that I hadn’t seen the stadium before, because I frequently walk through it to get to my office.

But tonight, when I walked in as a fan to my seat near the 20 yard line, it was electric. The players seemed so close and it was pretty amazing to look around and, with a very few exceptions, see a sea of blue and orange around me. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word.

UF students don’t take football lightly. UF fans don’t take the Gators lightly. We stood for the whole game–the entire student section stood, on their seats, for the entire game. There was amazing energy, and when the Gators scored (and they did…six times), there was high fiveing and screaming the likes of which I’ve never heard.

A friend of mine likened his love of Gator football, and the peace that comes over him when he gets near the stadium on game day, to how a drug addict must feel when he gets his next fix. I’ll admit that I thought he was a little nutty when he called the ticket to a Gator game his “pearl of great price,” but I think I might sort of get it now.

There’s a community in the Swamp that you don’t feel anywhere else on campus. Sure, every Gator is connected, but we’re all so disconnected in so many ways–I’m a grad student and a TA, which means that I am involved in much different activities than the freshmen that I teach and the friends that I make in Institute, who are all actively engaged in so many distinct activities.

But being a fan transcends all of that. When you’re screaming bloody murder because your team just trounced their opponent, nobody cares who you are or what you do. All that matters is that you’re a Gator.

Of course, the reality of my world came crashing in on me when I heard one of my student’s names announced after a defensive play. Apparently, there’s a star in my midst. Who knew?

Back to reality in the 4th quarter, I guess. But I’m pretty excited to have had this experience. And way more upset than I was initially that I didn’t get season tickets.

Next year, I guess.

But in the meantime, I’m pretty excited to own some blue and orange, because now it means something to me.

Now if the Wolfpack could just stop sucking…

Why me?

Posted in Church, Life on September 8, 2006 by drbolte

I am richly blessed.

I know, I know–Carrie’s writing something on her blog that ISN’T a rant about something or other? It’s shocking. But all I’m feeling, right now, is a wealth of gratitude and a deep sense of my Heavenly Father’s confidence in me.

I should back up a little.

Over the past five or so months, people have been placed in my path who have become essential and irreplaceable–people who, really, make no sense whatsoever in my life. They are fundamentally different than me, or so it would seem, and it doesn’t make much sense, on paper, that we should be friends. And I think that, in previous months and years, we wouldn’t have been friends because it wouldn’t make sense. I’m not sure that I would have been willing to risk looking stupid to cultivate that friendship.

But we are. And we are friends on a level that allows me to love and open my heart in ways that I never would have expected.

It sounds cheesy to quote the Grinch, but it’s the only metaphor that really works for me: I feel like my heart has grown at least two sizes over these past months.

Now, it’s as if I am more apt to love people than not.

Suddenly, it’s as if I am needed in ways that has forced me outside of myself and into a mentality of service that, honestly, I’m really not used to.

I like this new world, where I take the opportunities to serve rather than waiting for someone to serve me.

It’s weird–my whole perspective has changed. Loving people is what I consider to be my greatest achievement of late, beyond my dissertation nonsense that seems to encompass my world. Even when I feel like I get nothing done, I realize that’s not really true. The conversations, the experiences, the text messages, the emails–they’re all seemingly unimportant but actually essential moments, and I see that so clearly now. Everyone should feel like they are important and needed and loved–because every single person is…by Someone much greater than me.

But the question still looms: why me?

I am so flawed and small and so much less than I could be. I am me. Silly, snarky, ridiculously flawed Carrie.

And yet, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Heavenly Father has placed these people in my path for a reason. They all teach me so much–and I am reminded, quietly but firmly, when I feel inadequate or stupid or ridiculous that such learning goes both ways.

He must have such confidence in me.

I certainly don’t say that to be cocky or self-egrandizing.

I am completely humbled by that confidence. I am honored by it. I don’t understand it, but I’m glad for it.

However I can serve, I am willing.

I hope He continues to put me in those paths. I am so much the better for it–far more blessed, I’m sure, than anyone that I encounter.

I suppose so, in theory…

Posted in etcetera, School on September 8, 2006 by drbolte

Amazon.com annoys me.

I mean, in my field, it is a fabulous resource because you can find titles that you can’t find at any bookstore anywhere. I can order things and they are shipped to me. It seems, therefore, to be the most convenient way to get what I need when I need it.

That’s, of course, in theory. What I don’t like? When random titles delay my shipping. I mean, I need things when I need them. I suppose it might be fine for some people to wait a month and a half for their order, but that just doesn’t fly for me. I understand that some titles take longer, but what I really don’t like is the complete lack of communication about that delay. It isn’t until I realize “hey, isn’t my Amazon order supposed to be here already?” and go and track down the stupid order online that I realize that I have ordered some book that takes four weeks to ship. I find that to be deeply bad customer service. I need the books for my job…literally. I can’t put together my reading lists until I, well, read some stuff. And I need my own–like now. If I wanted a library copy, I would have gotten a library copy.

Speaking of, I hate our new library. It’s weird. First of all, it has escalators to get up to the floor that actually has the reference desk. Everyone has to take the escalator because the elevators don’t work.

Um, isn’t that a problem in terms of accessibility?

It’s also a problem because I LOATHE escalators. They are one of my phobias. I know. It’s ridiculous. I have no idea why I don’t like them, unless it’s what seems like the very real potential that I will either a) be sucked into the machine itself or b) will fall on my face and make an idiot of myself. I seriously have anxiety around escalators. I consider this to be poor planning.
(I won’t tell you about my mind-over-matter experience at a Tim McGraw concert at a venue that seemed to have the steepest escalator on the planet. Let’s just say that I proved that I actually am a whole lot stronger than I thought I was.)

I also do not like the new collapsible shelving. I realize that not every library has unlimited space, and in theory these collapsible shelves (they smash all together and move on mechanical tracks to open and close for browsing) make sense. But they don’t work for me. I don’t understand how they work. Sure, in theory, I could ask someone to explain them to me. But that would require that a) staff members were around and b) I didn’t mind looking like a flippin’ idiot. I just like shelves that don’t have minds of their own. I like freestanding shelves that I can wander among and not worry that someone needs me to move so that they can get to their shelf. Call me a Luddite, but I feel like bookshelves should be made of wood and be moveable only by large men in the moving business.

Another thing? The cool carrels that were supposed to be assigned to grad students via a lottery? The ones that I was superexcited about and tried to make a persuasive case for in my application? They were, apparently, shoddily made and thus didn’t pass inspection. Thus, there are no carrels. Until they get fixed (who knows when that will be…the stinking library took a year more than they thought they would), there will be no lottery. These carrels would erase all of my bitterness towards the library, because it would be my own space, with a door, that I could close and hole myself up in and work.

And, worst of all, the library is noisy. I mean, really noisy. There are people EVERYWHERE, and they’re obnoxiously noisy. And by people, yes, I mean underclassmen (is there a gender neutral way to say that? I think not…and that’s a problem). The “grad floor” that’s supposed to be all awesome and great is really just a few carrels next to the elevator. Of course, it’s pretty great that you can only get to it by scanning your ID, but that’s beside the point.

So, basically, all of my rhapsodizing about the library and how it was going to singlehandedly make my dissertation process that much more productive? Completely not happening. I avoid it now…I certainly need to get over that.

Wow. I don’t know how my Amazon.com post became a rant about the library. The good news? The Institute is awesome. I can study there, if I pretend that I’m not allowed to socialize and hole myself up in the library there.

Why can’t things just work the way I want them to work? What’s so much to ask about that? I mean, really…shouldn’t the world revolve around me and my needs? 🙂

Who wants to be a superhero?

Posted in etcetera on September 7, 2006 by drbolte

Have you seen this show? On the SciFi channel, with Stan Lee as the omnipotent host and judge?

It’s legitimately frightening.

I keep hoping that it’s just a campy spoof on reality shows, but I wonder sometimes.

Somebody tell me it’s a joke.  Otherwise, these people are legitimately scary and need to be told that superheroes aren’t real.

Of course, my voicemail message says that I’m out saving the world, so maybe I’ve missed my calling…

the new college pasttime…

Posted in etcetera on September 7, 2006 by drbolte

…is apparently a really skeezy version of online stalking.

First, I should explain. I love Facebook. It’s like MySpace, but not as populated by child predators and disgusting perverts. It’s closed to anyone who’s not in your “network,” you have to be a student with a valid campus email address to join, and you collect “friends” at various schools. It’s a fun way to keep up with people, to procrastinate, and to contact folks. It’s just fun.

Until they messed it up.

Now, they have this “newsfeed” feature that tracks you…literally…and reveals all of that information to your friends. I am seeing what other people are writing on other people’s pages, what groups they join or unjoin, what their status updates are, and when they break up with their significant others. They’re called “stories” and they’re EVERYWHERE.

I am both fascinated by it and disgusted by it.

I don’t like the idea that my Facebook life is that transparent. I suddenly feel like a bug under a very large magnifying glass…and that’s not a pleasant feeling.

I mean, if I want to write on people’s walls all day, that’s my prerogative but I don’t want to advertise it to everyone in the world.

I hate it. LOTS of people hate it. I’m waiting for the revolt to grow so large that they have to change it back. It’s growing–very quickly, given the number of petitions and groups I’ve seen today–but the admins of the site don’t seem to take us seriously.

So, I wait.

And I amend my behavior. Or, I should say, I hide my tracks.

So much for the theory that surveillance will force people into good behavior. Ugh. The whole thing just makes my skin crawl.

Karma

Posted in etcetera on September 6, 2006 by drbolte

Not to make light of a tragic death, but does anybody else think that Steve Irwin, were he to write the script of his death, would write it exactly as it happened? Certainly it’s tragic, and he leaves behind a wife and family who needed him, but the man spent his life doing the impossible and the improbable…and he went out in the same way.

It just seems fitting to me.

R.I.P Crocodile Hunter.

Social exhaustion

Posted in Church, Life, School, The Single Life on September 6, 2006 by drbolte

It’s possible.

As weird as this is to say, especially considering that this time last year I only sort of had friends and had to force myself to go do social things when there were activities, I don’t have a night to myself, other than Thursday.

It’s a whole new world.

It’s feast or famine over here, and with my calling and my Institute endeavours, as well as the recently bloomed social extravaganza that is my life, I have lots to do. Tonight was Enrichment–as RS president, I go, of course, to support my counselor and to be active and engaged–and it was fun. Enrichment is so low-key now, since they changed the whole “lesson/activity/refreshment” thing to every four months. Now it’s just groups of people who would like to get together and do something fun. Tonight was game night. I think it went pretty well. Wednesday is the carnival of sociality that is Institute (it’s see, be seen, and maybe learn something too…and I know that is a bad attitude, and I’m trying to be amend that), and Friday night is the Star Trek marathon that a cool friend of mine put together. I’m super excited about that–I feel like it will be a cross between deep fandom mixed with some snarky commenting from the peanut gallery. It’s bound to be hours long. Then Saturday is “Bash ‘n’ Splash,” an LDSSA carnival, and then I finally, at long last, get to go to a Gators football game.

Whew! I joked with a friend of mine today that I was never going to be able to get my game on with all of these hot new guys in our ward if I don’t even have time to clean my house. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m completely kidding (sort of), but the nugget of truth in there is that I seem to be running all over the place all of the time.

This is new. I was deeply bored earlier in the semester, waiting to figure out what to do and how to do it, and now that I have a direction for my dissertation, the world seems to be pulling me in 56 different directions. I guess that’s a good thing–as is the new feeling that I actually WANT to do my work. Actually, that’s a huge blessing. Wow. YAY! I want to do my dissertation work! That’s a flippin’ miracle, actually.

I love to serve, though, (especially with the selfish way I’ve been feeling lately) and today I felt like I was lost in service. Don’t get me wrong–people did lovely things for me as well–but I got to help out my counselor by baking some brownies for Enrichment (fun times with her roommate, who I love and adore) and then I shipped scriptures back to a good friend who left them up here when he went home, which is several hours away. The Lord promised that those who lose their life shall find it, so I’m holding Him to it.
Tomorrow, I’m hoping to find my life as I shovel out my house and read about Romanticism and gender.

Oh, yeah. Good times.