Odds and Ends

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

I finally finished my degree. In the end, it took all my attention, and this blog had to fall by the way-side as I completed multiple papers, exams, and projects. I was a fool to think that I could manage all these things AND still write at the same time.

Graduation came and went last month, and while I’d love to say it was a wonderful day, ultimately it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’m still awaiting the arrival of my physical diploma. We had 6000 graduates over a 3 day weekend, and as a result the sending out of diplomas to graduates has been delayed.

After five years of wall-to-wall work, I’ve taken some time off. A month so far, to be precise. I’ve spent this time reading several years worth of books that I’ve missed out on. I’m currently devouring the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child books about Agent Pendergast. I’m on Book Six. If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it. It’s a perfect blend of Anthropology, murder mystery, and action. I’m on a murder mystery kick lately.

What does the future hold? Graduate School. Considering the state of the economy, I have to do something that will add to my marketable skills, so I’ve officially decided to continue my education for another two years. As it turns out, this may have been my best decision. Employment prospects have been nil in the area where I live. However, this isn’t a problem insomuch as you might think. I’ve been corresponding with a former professor, and very likely upon acceptance to graduate school, I’ll have a job working for her Archaeology center as a graduate assistant. I don’t relish the idea of another two years of studying, but all I can say is my master’s degree won’t be as trying as the last two years of my bachelor’s degree in anthropology. I am looking forward to studying something that is far less depressing than the world’s problems. This new path of education will take me into Library and Information Science, an area I’ve long had a passion for.

In terms of writing, I’m mulling over some ideas that might make their way into projects. One item is a book about how I graduated with honors, and how my tips and tricks can help the average college student. One thing I’ve heard continually over the years of my degree was, “I could never be like you,” which is something that instantly sets my teeth on edge. This is a cop out.  While I may possess an above-average intelligence, it does not account for my ability to pull A after A. What accounts for that are my study methods, my methods for taking notes, my writing ability, and my time management skills, all of which can be learned. Also, one must not discount the value of hard work. While college may also be a social experience, you must not forget that the reason you are there is to get an education.

Finally, I’m not sure about the future of this blog. I may change my scope to something more specific than just the college experience. Having completed that challenge, I’m already moving onward towards new challenges. There are books in my future, for sure, but at the moment they are no more than vague glimmers. I have yet to settle on a specific story to pursue, though the ideas are numerous. I will eventually have to choose a plot and just go with it. While I have never really been one to procrastinate, I find myself doing it more and more on the writing projects in my future.

I have nothing but time these days. Perhaps it is time to put fingers to keyboard and see what I come up with.

Congratulations to the Class of 2012! We did it!

As a Floridian, as well as an Anthropologist, I feel like I need to comment on some of what Governor Rick Scott has said this week regarding anthropology in the state of Florida.   Below is the quote:

“If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education then I’m going to take that money to create jobs,” Scott said. “So I want that money to go to degrees where people can get jobs in this state.”

“Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.” 

“Do you want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t. I want to make sure that we spend our dollars where people can get jobs when they get out.” (The Florida Independent, 12 October 2011)

First, I think our Governor is laboring under some serious misconceptions about what we as anthropologists actually do, though it affects more than just our Governor, many people in the day-to-day world are clueless about what anthropology is and what purpose it serves.  We are not Indiana Jones. We do not go spelunking in caves looking for lost relics of some ancient dynasty with mystical powers, we don’t run away from natives, and we don’t typically have adventures such as those depicted.  It isn’t all about museums and archaeology. These are movies, not real life.

In the real world, anthropology serves many vital functions.  Advances in Genetics, Forensics, Medicine, Urban Planning and Non-profit programs are tied to anthropology.  Marketing, economics, history, geography, languages, culture, globalization, work production and labor forces – this is the stuff of anthropology.  As one student put it in a recent email “it might do Facebook and Netflix some good to hire anthropologists to understand how people actually use their services” (pers. comm. 10/12/11).  We study people, interactions, distribution of labor, power, hegemony or cultural domination, retail trends, capitalism and are champions of oppressed peoples everywhere.  Without archaeologists, we wouldn’t have knowledge of our cultural history, where we have come from and what we have been through in our journey through time. Anthropological linguistics provides insights into languages and meaning, biological anthropology provides us with forensic science and genetics which are used every day to capture criminals and to set innocent people free of crimes they did not commit.  Anthropology is a holistic science, meaning that we overlap our studies with that of many other fields, not all of them in the social sciences. Geology, Environmental Science, Politics, Biology, Ecology, all of these I have seen and used in my research in the discipline of Anthropology.  Multiple perspectives can yield new insights.

Saying that we can’t get jobs is just foolish.  We work in every field in the country, from engineering to medicine, from non-profits to the performing Arts. Anthropology provides insights into humanity and every day interaction that make us valuable employees. We are trained in the scientific method, and are open minded, detail oriented people who look beyond what is obvious for answers.  What employer doesn’t want a person like that?  The anthropological perspective is unique, and very useful.

It isn’t like the state of Florida is churning out Anthropology degrees anyway.  According to the Florida Board of Governors, approximately 0.8 per cent of the 446,733 bachelor’s degrees awarded between 2001 and 2010 were for anthropology majors (http://flbog.org/resources/iud/degrees_search.php).  That’s not a very large percentage.  Sit in on a senior level anthropology class and count how many students are actually there.  In my courses, the average is about 14.

Anthropology is a science, one of those STEM’s (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) that Gov. Scott likes to talk about. I’d like to see where he’d be without the insights that anthropology as a discipline have given him, apparently unbeknownst to him.  Our contributions to the state, the country and the world continue to be felt on a daily basis in the most subtle of ways.  That ad you saw that you can’t get out of your head? Chances are, it came as a result of anthropological research into people’s buying behaviors.

Is it of vital interest to the state of Florida to have more anthropologists? Absolutely.

Several people have brought up a very good point: Does Governor Scott think we are trying to get jobs with the specific label “anthropologist” ? Good luck, those can only be found in academia.  No, most of us are not searching for that particular job title. We work where we feel we can do the most good, just like everyone else. We work in myriad fields under even more job titles, but the training is still the same. The applications of anthropology to the real world, and our job prospects, are only limited by our own imagination.  Of course, we suffer the same during this economic downturn as everyone else. To make a blanket statement that we can’t get jobs with our degree is silly, however.

I have a feeling that Governor Rick Scott is going to be very well versed in what we as anthropologists do in the coming weeks. He has definitely stirred a hornet’s nest, and unlike some groups that might simper, whine or back down, we fight back. If the current buzz of the university is to be believed, he’ll be very well versed indeed.  This has even stroked my ire, and I’m rarely one to get into a tete-a-tete with politics. It takes a lot to get me writing a poison pen letter to the editor, but I, like many of my fellow colleagues, feel the need to act. Expect to see a great deal of us in the media in some form or other. A call has been sent out to write letters to every newspaper, magazine, blog, and ezine that will take it.  History says that the best way to deal with misconceptions is to educate, so that’s exactly what we will do.

 

It’s really strange when you starting thinking of everything as a potential blog.  This used to happen to me when I was attending the University of Tampa a couple of years ago. I would sit in my Government and World Affairs class and scribble notes about what I was going to blog instead of listening to the scores of freshmen around me, the results of which can be seen in those blog issues from that time period if you are so inclined to look back. Some of those posts still make me laugh and remember all the fun (like Ogre of 4D, for example).

I’d love to say that the campus of USF is teeming with interesting stories and potential blogs, and it probably is. The truth is, I rarely pay as much attention to those in my classes as I used to.  Being a senior, I find that the average age has increased rather drastically from previous years.  I’m no longer the oldest person in my classes, which is kinda cool.  We have a woman in her early sixties in my Theories of Culture class, a man in his forties in the Caribbean, and I think a majority of Museum Informatics is actually older than I am.

Speaking of age…I’ll be 35 this week. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. In my mind, I think I’m still early twenties but with a thirty five year old dose of responsibility.  If only I’d have had that in my twenties! I might have done something with myself long before now instead of stumbling through life doing this and that.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you. We are all the summation of our past experiences. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today, nor do I think I’d be as driven to get things done.

It still makes me laugh when people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a student. Their reactions are amusing.  My doctor is very fond of the phrase “some people grow up later than others” which I suppose is true, especially in the digital era that we live in.   This isn’t a case of that though. This is a case of me not figuring out what to do with my life until I was thirty one already. Anyway, the point I’m making is that it is never ever too late to go back to school to do something you love. Yes, it’s difficult and a shit-ton of work. It is still worth it, though. Who cares what other people think, really.

While I was taking a smoke break between classes yesterday, I kept thinking how USF would make a great reality tv show.  Now, I really hate those shows, and make it a point to never watch that garbage, but the university would be quite funny as a reality show I think. As I sat on the bench, I kept thinking “Previously, in the SOC…” and laughing to myself.  Here’s the pitch: A 35 year old man goes back to college to get his degree.  Watch as he battles parking, children and malignant professors to achieve his goals. It’s rather simple in concept, but I’ve seen worse shit on TV (cough *Jersey Shore* cough). Imagine the tension as he prepares for exams, papers and finals. What a great finale it would be to make a spectacle out of the graduation ceremony. Not to mention all the interesting people who could make appearances throughout the season.  Come on, you know you’d watch.

I usually write about how class has gone this semester, but there really isn’t a ton to report.  My first two classes of the day were an info dump, in which the professor in ToC hammered us with five theorists right off the bat. It got worse in Caribbean when he condensed 200 years of Caribbean history into one hour and fifteen minutes.  My pen could not keep up with the amount of information he was shoving at us, so eventually, I quit taking notes and just concentrated on listening.  I have a plan to deal with that: it’s called the livescribe pen. He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to use technology to defeat these info-heavy courses. In fact, I might look for that today while I’m out running errands. It would certainly come in handy during these sessions of information transmission.

Speaking of tech:  for those of you unfamiliar with the awesome powers a livescribe pen will grant a student, I strongly urge you to check into one.  I sound like a product placement ad, but whatever: Please visit http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/ and check them out. Not only is this extremely useful for linking live audio recordings directly to your notes during class, but it has myriad outside “real world” applications. For example, as an anthropologist, I do a lot of interviewing and note taking. Being able to directly index your notes to exactly what the person you are interviewing said can be VERY helpful indeed in analyzing context and linguistic significance. I often find myself taking notes while the person is talking, so being able to simply tap the paper and know exactly what I was referring to by hearing it from the person makes the notes make more sense. For anyone who takes copious notes, I recommend at least checking this tool out.  Sometimes, I really DO love technology.  (/product placement – too bad they don’t pay me.)

And that is a good thing, I guess. If I want to get a job in a museum in the 21st century, I need to be extremely well versed in technology. I’m very glad I chose to take this museum informatics class, it has opened my eyes to all the things I don’t know but will need to in order to be more effective at my chosen job. I’m still marveling (and it probably shows my age) at 3D printing and 3D pdf technology.  I’ll admit, some of this stuff is very complicated to learn, but if this is what I want, then I better know what I’m doing.

A thought to close us out today:  People 100 years ago would think that how we live today among all this technology is sorcery.  Pens that record voices? Flat boxes that tell you anything you want to  know? Machines that create exact copies of things?  It does sound a lot like sorcery to me, too.  Just a little perspective in how far we have come as a society from 1911, when people didn’t even own a  television, much less wifi, ipads and cars with computers in them.

 

Fall 2011: Day 2

Posted: August 26, 2011 in anthropology, School Daze

I am both shocked and amazed.

I’ve been dreading having to retake Theories of Culture for a year, and it appears my dread was completely unfounded.  This goes to show you what happens when you have a really terrible professor like I did in the Fall of 2010.  So far, the new professor (who I have twice back to back) really makes this boring, dry material more accessible to the students. He’s going out of his way to give us explanations and details about these theories that are supposed to be the backbone of our discipline.  Not only is he teaching this in a way to make it easier to comprehend, he’s provided us with textbooks by people he knows personally, and one of these books is a critique of the canonical literature we use in Anthropology.  Everything deserves critique, but most especially certain beliefs that are still upheld in anthropology today.

That brings me to another point, one that I’m sure I’ve made in the past: Too many professors do not care about their students. They only care about their research, and having to teach courses to maintain funding is a nuisance to them it seems. I feel extremely lucky to have 2  professors this term who really reach out to their students and make an effort. We are paying their salaries with our exorbitant tuition fees, tech fees, green fees, fees fees fees.  You would think they would remember this.  I’m not above pointing out that I am paying for this education, this isn’t public school. Not only does my Theories professor like teaching his courses, he ASKED to teach Theories of Culture, and has been doing so for 20 years now. It really shows in the way he operates his classroom.  Unlike previous instructors who basically thought of themselves as the Fount of All Knowledge Anthropological and the students as humble receptors of said knowledge, the ones I have this year from my department are more interested in a dialectic process between us instead of memorize, memorize, regurgitate.  It makes a nice change, and it really does facilitate the learning process.

My course on the Caribbean was boring-ish yesterday.  I say that because I’m a major in the department, and the professor spent the period explaining what Anthropology is to the students who are not from our major. For me, this was all stuff I learned in Introduction to Anthropology a billion years ago. So I sat listening as he explained our 4 subfields (at least, those in the U.S. – Other countries do not include certain subfields under the heading of Anthropology, such as Forensics, Archaeology and Linguistics), what the anthropological perspective is and how we will use it this semester in our survey of the Caribbean cultures. I took notes anyway, because as he stated in class, “Everything we discuss, read, see and know can and will be fodder for any exam this term.” I’m expecting some questions on the nature of Anthropology on our first exam.

My last class of the day, Museum Informatics, took a turn towards the awesome. First, the class size has shrunk dramatically since tuesday.  The first day of class we had about 25 students: 80% female, 20% male.  Yesterday, that had become 15 students, 99% female, 1% male (me!).  At the beginning of class, I looked around and saw that I was the only guy left in the course now.  One of the girls said I should feel special, and I guess in a way, I do.  But that isn’t why the course is going to be truly awesome.  The reason for this is that not only are we going to learn about the technology that is being used in Museums in the digital era, we are actually going to be using some of it to aid a new museum in Guatemala at the Kaminaljuyu archaeology site.

One of these amazing new technologies is 3-dimensional printing.  For those of you who are extremely fond of sci-fi, this is sorta like a replicator you see on those shows about the future.  You can use a scanner on an object, say an original ceramic vessel from pre-classical Maya, and in less than a day, the printer “prints” a replica version out of a resin powder.  It is accurate within half the width of a human hair (.5 microns) .  If you are interested in seeing this technology in action, go to youtube.com and search for 3D printing and you will find a video that demonstrates this process. It is nothing short of amazing to me.

So, instead of doing the original setup of the group projects, the Professor (who I adore thus far) has decided we are going to help out this fledgling museum by creating replicas of artifacts that are held by the National Museum in Guatemala for display.  Many of the artifacts held by the National Museum that pertain to the Kaminaljuyu site have been previously scanned, so it is simply a matter of imputing the data into the computer and printing the replicas.  In addition to these replicas, we are also going to be using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to correct maps done by the Carnegie foundation in the 60s with correct GPS locations of burial mounds and other items of interest to the archaeologists, as well as building a website to provide access to the data that has been collected by the team at Kaminaljuyu.  There was some discussion about also creating new posters and signage for the site itself that contains updated information.

In all the time I’ve been an Anthropology student, this is the first time I’ve actually gotten the opportunity to do something that will have a direct effect on a site and the way that the information obtained is being presented to the public.  As the professor pointed out yesterday, this is something we can put on our resume, and we will definitely get media attention later in the year when we deliver the replicas to the Museum head herself during her visit to USF.  Too bad for the students who dropped – they are going to miss out on some really cool technology.

This semester is off to a great start. Lets hope it stays that way!

Day 1, Fall 2011

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Six A.M. comes very early. That is especially true when you wake up long before your alarm is supposed to go off, as I did yesterday morning.  Surprisingly, I was not gripped by the sense of foreboding I used to get on the first day of classes; Having been at USF for a year and half and 4 semesters total, nothing the school can do will surprise me.

That’s a good thing.  That very statement was put to the test before my 2nd class ended.

My first class of the day is Theories of Culture, which readers of my blog will know I hate (See: Knowing your limits blog post  for information about my first attempt to take that last fall).  I’m pleased to say that the professor I have this time seems to actually a.) care about his students success and b.) does not have unrealistic expectations.  This class is meant to be hard, yes I know.  It’s the Senior seminar course and is required for all majors.  My last experience with it was one of abject horror. The professor was a monster, his exams made no sense (I have NEVER failed an exam since I returned to college, except for Theories of Culture) and the class in general was filled with attitude-infused students who thought they knew everything.  I felt extremely uncomfortable there.  This time, I don’t have that feeling at all.  There may be about 40 students in this class, but I know by the end of the semester that number will have drastically dwindled.  So far, the layout is understandable. We have no exams.  There are 3 short papers and one long paper, plus a group project that looks like it will be entertaining.

My second class of the day is an anthropological overview of the Caribbean as a whole.  This class also looks extremely interesting, and it doesn’t hurt that my ToC professor is also the professor for this class. I already know how he is, so no shocking surprises there. We have 4 multiple choice exams (and he says they will be hard.  I’ve had previous courses where M/C meant very difficult) and one end of term paper on a topic of our choice. I’m already leaning toward a comparative study of Voodoo and Santeria as practiced in the various countries and islands of the Caribbean and what these belief structures mean to the participants.

Before this class was over, I discovered that my 4th class of the day, Forensic Anthropology, had been rescheduled for a time that would not work with my current schedule. I had originally chose it because I find the subject interesting, and because it fulfilled my requirements for methodology. The professor decided on a whim, without notifying students, to move the time up and change the room. Sigh. I found out because a fellow student discovered it on the course schedule site.  I’ve been registered for that class for 4 months (since March) and they choose NOW to change the time and location?  Only in the Anthropology department at USF.

My third class is called Museum Informatics, and I’m strangely excited by it after meeting the professor. It’s not at all what I thought. This professor will be teaching us real world applications for the things we learn in class, which includes using cutting edge technology in museum presentations, and about the changing definition of Museum in the modern era.  She’s very animated, and seems to know a great deal about the subject. It’s always great when a professor is excited, it rubs off on the students.  I do not doubt it will challenging. I was slightly confused by the professor’s referral to our final project, what she called a “tangible deliverable” whatever that means. She promises to explain more in the coming weeks.

So, instead of having forensics after that class, I got to come home at 3:15. I still was not panicking over losing a course, though. I simply drove home, went to the registration site, and chose something else to fill the 4th slot. In this case, it turned out to be Fantastic Archaeology (yes, I know, I said I would never take another class in that subject) with a professor I’ve had previously.  The benefit of taking this is that it’s strictly online, so I don’t have to attend on campus meetings. I didn’t really want another online class after this past spring where I had 3 of them, but taking one won’t be nearly as exhausting as 3 was, of this I’m certain.  I’m a little behind in it since I just added it, and I don’t have my book yet, but I’m still not worried.  I knew this week would be busy (and thank whoever that the profs seem to realize there is only one day between classes for us to get all this reading done!) and so far it’s not letting me down.  I’ll have to attend an online meeting on Friday and have read a chapter from the book, but I can do it friday morning.  Then, I have the whole weekend to get ready for next Tuesday’s lectures.

Here’s hoping the week stays on the up and up.  I will not curse myself by saying it is going well.

Bad Blogger

Posted: August 21, 2011 in anthropology, School Daze

It’s been quite a while since my last post.  There are many reasons for this, but first and foremost, it’s because I’ve been extremely lazy for the last few months after my spring semester.  For regular readers of my blog, you probably know that I was overloaded last semester by a professor, who is nicknamed Dr. Diesel, and her course on Anthropology of American Culture, in addition to all the other stuff I was taking at the time.

I survived that semester, and I did it with straight As, a feat I wasn’t even sure was going to be possible towards the end of the school year. I still wonder how I pulled that off!  So many writing assignments, and not to mention, I read so many pages that I feel like by the end I had read the entirety of the Wheel of time from Eye of the World all the way to Towers of Midnight in 4 months.  I felt burned out on the last day of the semester, and it was decreed by me that I deserved a real break, not just a couple of weeks between summer semesters.

I should have considered how things were going before such a decree. This has certainly not been the best year of my life. With our economy in the proverbial shitter, I have been unable to find a job in the area where I live. I’ve spent the whole summer until the beginning of August looking for a job, because until then, I wasn’t even sure if this Fall’s back to school would even happen.   My previous advisor, one Nicaraguan Terrorist, had previously told me that I would be able to take summer semesters and finish my degree in December.  When it came time to register, my entire department had fled to do research and there were no upper-level electives available. So, graduation now occurs in May 2012. Thanks asshole, learn to do your job better. We have a new advisor now. Here’s hoping she knows how to do her job and actually READ the student’s transcript to know where they stand.

Those of you who know me personally know about this already, but at the end of April during the night of tornadoes in northern Georgia, 4 of my cousins were killed in a single swoop.  A major tragedy in my family. I can’t recall any event in my history that was as saddening and heartbreaking as getting the news that they had been killed all together, wiping an entire branch off the family tree at once, and due to final exams, I had to send my mom and sister up to the funerals without me.

I should have considered that an omen of the summer.  I spent the next few months applying for countless jobs, and of all of them, I had one interview.   We spent the whole summer being poor again. I barely had enough money to get by without school.  Then came the news that I had reached my credit hour limit and I wouldn’t be getting student loans. For a couple of months, I found it impossible to sleep as I tried to devise ways to pay for the remainder of my education.  That situation has been successfully resolved, some idiot in financial aid nearly gave me a heart attack, but it turned out to be an error and I was not blocked from financial aid after all.  I can finish my degree without problems (I hope) now.

A month ago, my beloved cat, Legion, vanished into the night. He has been an everyday part of my life for 8 years, and to say that I was inconsolable was an understatement.  For anyone who has a pet, they are like family, and their disappearance can be devastating. Combine his sudden disappearance with a severe sinus infection and you get a recipe for misery and sadness.  I can honestly say I’m glad to see the ass-end of Summer, it has been a real shit storm of epic proportions in some ways.

I had resolved to work on my first novel this summer, but due to illness and undue stress, those plans were never realized fully. I did manage to work out a partial draft of my first chapter, and I have an outline that will take me through to the third or fourth chapter.  I also nailed down some details that will be needed later, when I can actually write this story, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen until after Graduation in May.

It is now the Sunday before school starts for the Fall semester.  I’m looking forward to this semester with both anticipation and trepidation:  I’m retaking a course from last year that I absolutely hated and had to drop, Theories of Culture (the Anthropology senior seminar) as well as my methodology course in Forensic Science. I’ve been considering changing my concentration away from cultural anthropology to biological anthropology and forensics.  While there are many reasons for this proposed change, the most important is marketability. When graduation occurs in May, I need to be able to go out and find a job.  All the honors graduations in the world don’t mean jack shit if your degree is not applicable to the job market. And while I expect to graduate with honors, I’d like to be able to actually find employment, and the way to do that is most likely through forensics.  I will make my decision to shift concentrations at the end of the semester, after I see how well I do in this methods course.  Hard sciences have not really been my friend in the past, but I was emboldened by my success in Physical Anthropology to consider this as a possible career choice.

My other two courses this term are electives.  One is from the cultural tract, an up-close, in-depth look at the Caribbean.  The other is Museum Informatics, a course about how museum information is disseminated to the public.  In the digital age, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a background in digital archiving if I ever want to work for a museum (a long time dream I’ve had).  As long as they aren’t as exhausting as Anthropology Of American culture, I should be okay. I do still expect this to be a tough semester, I have my two electives sandwiched between my dreaded Theories in the morning and my methods course in the later part of the day.  I’m hoping the setup helps, but I probably will be tired by the time I sit down to Forensics at 3:30 in the afternoon after having had 3 other classes immediately prior.  My schedule is a six hour block of back to back to back to back classes every tuesday and thursday with a scant 10 – 15 minutes between them.  Did I mention that for the first 3 classes of the day I’m in the same room?  Yeah.  At least I do not have the professor from last Fall that I absolutely despised.

This is my last year.  I’m determined to finish my degree with honors (I’ve worked this hard to be in the top 7% of my class, I might as well keep it up) but already the specter of Graduate School is beginning to loom over me.   I’m currently debating 3 potential Master’s programs, one at USF, one at UF and strangely enough, one at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland (probably a pipe dream, but it doesn’t hurt to dream).  That decision is still 5 months away at least.

This school year, being my last, I’m going to attempt to blog after every single day of class. So for those of you who are counting, that means at least 2 blogs per week.  Of course, this might have to be amended due to workload, but I’m setting it as my goal. By publishing it for the world to see, I hope to force myself to actually do it.  Good luck to me, I’m going to need it.

Finally, I’d like to offer an Anthropology major’s prayer:

Oh great lord of education, may you help me write all the papers, survive all the defunct theories and memorize every bone in the human body.  May I continue to maintain my GPA while not being distracted by everything going on around me and may I continue to ignore the students in my courses who appear so very young and so very dumb.  I pray that, as a Senior, I may reach my graduation without committing murder. Amen. 

I can hardly believe this is my first post of this semester, and here the semester is already half-over as of this week!  That should tell anyone who reads my blog how busy and hectic these first 8 weeks have been.   I don’t think I ever stop reading or writing papers. If I had to guess, I would say I’ve read around 900 pages since the semester started, that’s 4 entire books (Origins of the Second World War, The Best War Ever, Waltzing in the Dark and Distant Mirrors: America as a foreign country) and around 25 pdf articles on American culture.   I’ve written about 15 papers for one class so far.  Now maybe you can see why I’ve not been wanting to blog on top of writing constantly about the pitfalls of American culture, the Second World War and Social Psychology.  Strangely enough, Religion is the one class where I don’t have to write, and one would have expected lots of long papers about eschatology and (for me) Mormonism.

How can you tell if you are having a nervous breakdown? I feel like I’m being punished in some way for being a good student for the last four years.  I’m not blaming school entirely for this feeling, but it certainly does take the lion’s share of my stress.  It’s work work work and read read read and write write write for 12 hours a day four or five days a week, sometimes six.  What’s worse is that I’m paying my professors to work me like a dog so I can get that all important piece of paper. The stress of not taking breaks in my haste to finish the rat race is beginning to show up on me.  I’ve taken 3 of the last 4 summer semesters (I skipped the first summer and then found myself so bored I couldn’t stand it) with as little as 3 weeks between class changes.  I haven’t taken a real vacation in years, but that is soon to be rectified.

I’m returning to New Orleans for a few days in two weeks. Spring Break finally begins for me on March 9th, and I am looking forward to several days of no school work (if you don’t count the book I have to read during break and the paper that is due the day after I get back – what kind of bitch gives homework over a break?!)  in some place that isn’t home.  Some of my readers might remember my New Orleans Fairytale blog, which is based loosely on my life during the time I lived there. That is part of what prompted me to go back after 13 years: that and I’ve truly missed the place.  I decided that it was time to take a new, objective look at my life there, at the people who were around me (some of whom I will see again, if things work out right), and at the places that I came to love.  I’m also hoping it will jog my memory and I can finish the rest of the damned story.   Maybe wandering Prytania Street, First Street and Magazine Street will stir up the forgotten past and give me some food for thought.

Consider my life right now as a precautionary tale for people who like to overwork themselves, as I know I do: you have to take vacations or you will go noisily insane.  I can’t stress that enough, haha pun definitely intended.  I only have to get through one class, one exam and another week. For now, the endless paper writing has slowed to a manageable amount, and if I’m lucky will cease altogether this week until the hated day-after-vacation paper is due. I’m still stuck on that! What professor gives homework over a break?  Do you think she will be doing school work during Spring Break? Not bloody likely.  Oh well. It’s almost over….for now.