July 23rd, 2008

This morning as I stepped out of the door of my apartment I realized that the day was going to be one of those drab cloudy days that just make me itch for it to either rain or for the clouds to clear. The clouds had settled low in the sky, leaving it drizzly and just a touch foggy. I could only faintly hear the cars driving by on the highway only a couple of blocks away and there were no cars on my little street. In that stillness I felt that the entire world belonged to me alone, elation expanded to fill my chest and brought a smile to my face because that moment was mine.

Then I saw something else, something that on any other day I likely wouldn’t have noticed. They were cobwebs nestled in the grass with water dewing on their surfaces. They also made me smile because I realized that they did in fact look like circus tents for ants as one of my new found friends claimed. The smallest one I came across was bigger than the circle I could make with my hands. They hadn’t been there the day before when the temperature had been much, much warmer which made me wonder if the spiders disliked the heat as much as we humans. The webs made me wish for a sunnier day, though, because they would have glistened in the sun and been all that much more gorgeous.

The brevity of all of this struck me in a moment and this made it all that much more apparent that life is just a string of fleeting moments. Each moment has its own meaning and importance in life and then it is gone faster than one can blink to be replaced by a new one. I might feel the same sense of elation in the next couple of years at four o’clock in the morning when I get up to write a paper, but it will never be the same as this morning when I stepped out of the door.

Man, that is a long title, but on to the topic at hand.

I learned methods to keep myself better organized via notes and new fangled things like zotero, even though the implementation of said methods may take more time than my college career to put into action.  I also better learned how to skim texts for the important information without actually reading them.  I also learned how to get better results on my research by using LOC subject headings in my searches.

These were all great things that I learned from this course, but one of the things that I wish I had known when I signed up for it was how much it was going to take out of me.  If I’d known that I would have rearranged my schedule and not even thought about trying to sign up for the German course I was looking at.  I also wish I had known what topic I would have liked to pursue, and had a possible thesis on it before I started this class so that I wouldn’t have been so on the wire when I was writing my proposal.

All in all, the class was very enjoyable, if not for the work then for the people who were in it.


December 1st, 2007

We’re into the homestretch.  I only have two more papers to do and finals to study for and then the semester is over.  I have to say for all that I gripe about the papers and writing we have to do for 299, I am going to miss the class.  Likely because of all the random things that we talk about and, of course everyone in the class.  I probably wouldn’t have had so much fun if the people in the class had been different.  So best of luck to you all and I hope to have you in some of my classes again.

A Slave No More

November 18th, 2007

I had a conversation with Amanda last night about the presentation and we both agreed that it was going to be much harder to write about than we had previously thought.  It was a very touching presentation, the whole two hours of it, because it was such a personal event.  At about five in the evening I almost decided that I didn’t want to go, but I am very glad that I did because this event was exactly what I want to do with my history degree.

The evening started with excerpts from the memoirs of one John Washington, an emancipated slave, on his life as a slave in Fredericksburg, VA.  It wasn’t merely a reading from the memoirs, the people who organized it made it seem as if John Washington had actually joined us in the room with a very spirited reading from his memoirs and the writings of other members of antebellum Fredericksburg.  This accompanied with renditions of Battle Hymns and slave songs made the time period come alive behind my eyes even though the image before my eyes did not match.

Then David Blight came to the stand and told us about how he became involved with this manuscript and another like it.  He told us what became of John Washington, what family he had left and where they were now.  He introduced us to the stories of this man who made it out of slavery in Virginia and ensured that his family also made it out so that they could achieve in life what he was managing to.  He was obviously very passionate about the subject, and very knowledgeable, having dug into the genealogies and minutiae that allowed him to almost visit with this man that he was studying.  But what was most touching about this entire thing was that a granddaughter and great-granddaughter of John Washington were there and this man standing before us had reunited them with a history they did not know existed.  This was amazing to me and reaffirmed to me why I am slogging through all of this work that I don’t really want to do.  I want to be able to give people these connections to their history so that they don’t forget it.

So when I went downtown yesterday evening, I expected an hour or so of a dull cure for insomnia, but was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the event.  So much so that I bought the book and have now read a good part of it in favor of my homework today.

Amanda suggested that I mention this part as well:

Dr. Blight was signing his book, and when I got to him I shamefully told him that I had initially come purely for extra credit and he smiled and gave me a high five!  I had to qualify that statement, then with the fact that I had in fact enjoyed the evening, but I am normally more of a Revolutionary War or medical history nerd…


November 15th, 2007

That is the sound of my knuckles as I grind out the multitudes of text that I have in the next two weeks, and ease the tension in the tendons in a violent fashion, namely by cracking them.  There is so much to do an so little time.  My wrists ache, and I am having trouble focusing my eyes even though I am wearing my glasses and the computer screen is far closer than it should be to my face.

It seems as if I have been chained to my computer for the last several days and that the work will never end.  I know what Thanksgiving break is going to look like.  Get hugs and kisses from my family on Tuesday night when I get home, and then off to cloister myself in my room after dinner.  WEdnesday begins that mass effort at cooking everything that will be eaten the next day, slicing the potatoes, browning the cornbread and pureeing the mush that becomes the Cranberry Ambrosia.  I’ll take a guilty hour helping with that and then back to the grind of the computer screen.  Wednesday night we’ll all do something together because Mom doesn’t have to go to work nor Alec to school and we’ll all stay up too late.  Then more homework on Thursday, smelling the turkey roasting in the oven until two, then we eat almost at three and stuff ourselves silly.  Everything gets packed up and I go back to my homework yet again, but Friday and Saturday I’ll slack off and go out shopping for half-off fabric, hard shampoo, and what ever else I can think of.  Then on Sunday I’ll realize all that stuff I haven’t gotten done, and panic and do it poorly.  Then we’ll rush me off to school again and by the time that Monday morning rolls around, I’ll wake up and realize that yet again, I should have finished all of my homework before I left for break.