February 2012

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Not-So-Best of Times…

Hello folks,

Happy Leap Day! I think that’s the appropriate well-wishing for the occasion… To be honest, Leap Day happens so infrequently that by the time it comes back around I’ve forgotten what one is supposed to say. It’s not exactly a holiday of celebration, either, so I don’t know how much merriment one is supposed to treat it with. In any case, I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Also, this movie/song is what I think of whenever I think of Leap Day:

Now then, onto business. My last post was written during a period of waiting for a bunch of different things to happen. I’ve now gotten everything back and thought I’d fill you in on how things are going.

I’m incredibly excited to announce that my Christian Origins work went over very well. I received an A on the essay I had mentioned, which is so gratifying. I worked really hard on it and was uneasy going into it, but everything paid off. I also got an A on the test, making the intensive re-reading, studying, and minor sleep loss well worth it. I’m really happy that taking on a class that challenges and excites me has been going so well so far. It’s a lot of work and can cause me a good deal of anxiety, but doing so well in spite of this makes it all the more rewarding.

Yesterday’s group presentation in Cognitive Neuroscience went very smoothly. I was a bit nervous, but things went pretty well. The teacher was very happy with our presentation style, format, and content, so I don’t think there was anything that could have been improved. My score on Exam #1 was about where I expected it, given the way my studying didn’t quite line up with test material. What I had forgotten to take into account, however, was how much extra credit I had earned through my participation in optional things like meeting with the teacher to discuss career aspirations, project ideas, etc. As a result, my exam grade wound up being pretty solid B. Considering how challenging the course is, I’m very happy with that score. Also, it gives me some room for growth. With better knowledge of how the tests will run from now on, I think I have the potential to slide that score up with each progressive exam. It’s also great to know that the exams are non-cumulative. It means I have an absolutely clean slate as we go into our new material. Based on the lectures we’ve had so far, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it and think I can perform well on the next exam.

Now, onto the less successful news. I didn’t get offered a position as an RA. It’s a disappointment, of course, but I think the hardest part of the rejection was how surprising it was to me. I, probably like  many of my fellow unhired applicants, thought I’d done very well throughout the process. I was happy with how I’d done in interviews, group process, and how I’d handled myself during a roommate conflict that had the potential to play a factor in the residential living community’s view of me. My involvement on campus and in the dorms also made me feel confidence in my eligibility as a candidate. I can speculate some reasons Campus Living might have not chosen me, but I prefer to think that it was more a matter of why they chose who they did. In order to feel good with the decision they made and continue my current trust in the Campus Living staff, I have to believe that the people who were chosen are exceptionally right for the job. It’s not a matter of how the people not chosen were wrong for the position, but it is instead a matter of how utterly right the hired applicants were for their spots. I really hope that this is the case (not just because it allows me the pleasure of not feeling guilty or ashamed in my not being hired), because it also means that next year’s residential staff will be incredible. Taking the best of the best from current staff and combining that with the strongest applicants from this year should mean that next year will be a wonderful experience for RAs, residents, staff, and–through a ripple effect–the whole community. I definitely wish that I could have been a part of this as an RA, especially as I only have one year left here, but I look forward to experiencing the benefits as a resident.

In case I have any recently hired/re-hired RAs in the audience, I do want to offer you all congratulations. There was some tough competition this year and you earned your spot. I think next year’s staff team will be really remarkable and look forward to seeing what you all do.

I hope everyone’s weeks are treating them well and continue to do so.

‘Til next time,

Grayson

29 February 2012 Comments Off on It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Not-So-Best of Times…

Doldrums

Perspective. Sometimes I have a hard time putting things into this. Sometimes I feel like the whole gosh darn world is waging war against me, like I’m fighting a losing battle in the Game of Thrones or Sauron’s eye keep creeping up on me. Or like I’ve just been sorted into freaking Hufflepuff. COME ON, WORLD. But, then I take a breath, realize that broken computers, sick days, forgetting the name of some really cool obscure Scandinavian gypsy folk band, etc. isn’t the end of the world. (though that last one is really irking me. SHE WAS SO COOL. GUH. To any music buffs out there, the band sounds really similar to Valravn, very similar genre. D: HELP A SISTER OUT.)

You may have noticed a certain…lull…in my recent activity, a lack of unbridled enthusiasm in my posting schedule. You may be onto something. I’m tired. I just want to sleep though my classes, watch tv on the internet, play some scrabble, eat pancakes and hide from the world at large. I think I’m neck-deep in a bout of senioritis. Maybe even nose-deep. I’m still breathing but my limbs are growing tired and it would be very easy slip to under, turn into a merperson and move to Atlantis. Peace out, Portland!
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but it’s how I feel. I’m tired of class. There, I SAID IT. I’m tired of being tested on my knowledge, my comprehension of material, and my general ability to pay attention.  I’ve been doing this for 4 years now, I think I’ve got the hang of it. I’m ready for it to be over. It’s not that I dislike learning—FALSCH—I love it. In fact, I’m terrified that once I leave college I’ll no longer feel stimulated, that the NY Times won’t be enough and that I’ll miss the academic articles, the discussions, the introduction to theories and concepts I never would have stumbled upon on my own. I want to always be surrounded by interesting, intelligent, thoughtful individuals (even if I at times take a break from the intellectual and revert to the maturity level of a 5 year old boy…) But no matter how much I think I may miss the comforting, stimulating bubble of Academia, I’m tired of proving myself. I’m tired of jumping through the hoops.

I can’t shake the feeling that every little assignment (the tiny quizzes, 3 page papers, moodle posts) is pointless. They’re just filling the space between now and the final paper, the final exam, etc. I don’t think this reflects poorly  on my professors, it’s not them I have a problem with just…the system. Yep.

I could be at any school, anywhere in the country, and these last two months, seven days, twenty hours and forty-nine minutes would still be torture. GUH. But here comes the flipside…

WHAT WILL I DO WHEN I’VE GRADUATED?! Oh dear. I won’t hear from the Austrian Fulbright Commission until April. I won’t know where I’m headed until then, and if I don’t get the teaching position, then I don’t know exactly where I’ll be come fall…So therefore part of me wants to prolong these next two months, milk them for all they’re worth…Help?  It’s always said: “keep your eye on the prize” but what if I don’t know what the heck that prize is?

Luckily I have the internet to keep me somewhat sane.

I mean, at least I have pictures of cute animals to distract me from reality.

OH OH MY GOODNESS GUESS WHAT!?

Every year LC puts on a sweet private concert in the spring and this year, do you know who’s coming?!
GOGOL BORDELLO! AHHHHHHHH! BARRY GLASNER YOU ARE MY HERO.

I get to see this man for zero monies. ZERO. HOORAAAAY.

Okay, I’m going to go back to goggling bunnies. Guuurrrhhhdflkfj;sdjf;akdfkfds.

 

28 February 2012 Comments Off on Doldrums

Mid-semester Blues

Hey guys. Hope you had a good week. WARNING: This past week has been super stressful for me and it will reflect in this post. If you have the desire to be full of doubt, keep reading, else you may want to go on a youtube tangent for a while instead.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRvBqwHJo8Q

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzzjgBAaWZw

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1qHVVbYG8Y

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnvgq8STMGM

 

 

So, why has this past week been hard for me? As you know last week I had a ton of school work; presentation, two tests, and an essay due. That is a lot of work for anyone. That is what got the ball rolling. Then on Tuesday night someone close to me told me something very personal, I will leave out names and situation as to protect the anonymity of this individual. This thing was very hard for me to grasp because I had never thought that this person would ever dream of doing this. It has had me down for a week. On Wednesday during track practice I pulled my hamstring, which is terrible. Not only can I not do anything to get better, the time I was not in track was even more time to get depressed. This weekend I had a conversation with another person very dear to me. I told this person that I was very concerned for their well being and was basically told that they were old enough to make their own decisions. They told me to stop worrying and that there was nothing I could do to change their mind. This weekend some, I will not say what, happened while I was being an RA. It was just people making bad decisions.

Bad decisions have plagued me this week. They have hurt people both physically and emotionally. The more and more I think about it, the harder it is for me to see a way out of it. I feel like it is only a matter of time before I say/do something and hurt people. I have worked so hard for the 20 years I have been around to make the right decisions. I choose not to drink because I have spent hours thinking about the affects it will have on me. I do all of the work asked of me in class because I have faith that the professor is going to blow my mind in the next lecture. I have never been in a fight because I have been able to control my pride and my ego. After this week, it feels like it is only a matter of time before I break. I fear for that day. I have spent 20 years becoming the strongest, smartest, and most powerful person I can become. If I break . . .when I break I do not know what will happen.

I apologize for the downer post. I did warn you all. Here are some fun youtube videos to lift any down spirits.

 

28 February 2012 Comments Off on Mid-semester Blues

Mt. Hood Ski Trip!

So, I was right about this semester being crazy busy. This weekend was a welcome-back-to-real-life type of weekend. I cleaned my room and did laundry and feel caught up on the happenings of real life. I have had a great few weeks regardless of the craziness. For example:

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING!!!!

I spend a lot of time in the basement of our science building working in the spider lab. We have a lot of fun though, this manifests itself in many ways but primarily by an awesome ski trip last weekend. Mt. Hood is extremely gorgeous. I can see it all the time from certain places around the city and on our campus but actually being there was too awesome for me to handle. Growing up in the Midwest (pancake flat) I get so excited every time I even glimpse mountains in the distance.

Skiing around a corner and seeing this never got old

We had the best day ever! We skied all morning after a beautiful drive up to the mountain then played banana grams in a coffee shop then headed up to timberline lodge (Check it out) and had the best hot chocolate I have ever consumed. Really delicious chocolate base with toffee bits, whipped cream and a cinnamon stick : )

Teacup Lake Nordic!

Such a good day!

Other ways of having fun in lab include the following….

FUN WITH DRY ICE

Even more fun includes spontaneous trips to the coast but more on that later.

 

26 February 2012 Comments Off on Mt. Hood Ski Trip!

Keep Calm and _________ On

25 February 2012 Comments Off on Keep Calm and _________ On

Which is busier? a) Beaver, b) Bee, c) Grayson

Hello readers,

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Summarized, it pretty much goes as follows:

Wake up, AAAAAAAAAAH!, eat, AAAAAAAAAAH!, eat, AAAAAAAAAAH!, eat, AAAAAAAAAAAAH!, sleep, repeat.

For the ‘AAAAAAAAH!’, just imagine the first few seconds of this video:

I knew coming into the end of February and beginning of March that things would be… hectic, to say the least. Essays, lab reports, doctors appointments, exams, midterms, presentations, and field trips have all consumed my time and attention for the past two weeks. Not all of it was negative, and it says a lot about my classes that one of the challenges I faced as I studied was forcing myself to move on from things I found interesting and make sure I covered all of the material necessary.  That being said, I’m glad for a slightly mellower pace these next few weeks.

My Religious Studies essay was due Monday the 13th. I feel alright about it. Whenever I come out of an exam or essay experience, my default is to commend myself for the bare minimum and not be overly negative or positive about it. So, I wrote the essay. It was turned in on time. Both good things. To be honest, though, the longer it’s taken to get the essay back the better I’ve felt about it. I think I approached the material well and wrote nicely. Hopefully my professor agrees.

The following day I had a Lab Report due in Cognitive Neuroscience. Work for the lab component of that class is pretty varied, which is good. I definitely think that by the end I’ll have a pretty comprehensive set of skills for psychological writing. It’s a bit of a pain in the mean time, since it can be a lot of work, but I know it’ll pay off.

A week after the Tuesday my Lab Report was due, I had my first exam in Cognitive Neuroscience. It was definitely hard. I spent the weekend studying, hoping that my Christian Origins teacher would also post his study guide so I could get ahead on studying for that, too. Alas, the Christian Origins guide only appeared on Sunday night, so all of my weekend work went towards Cognitive Neuroscience. Still, it was a hard exam to prepare for. The questions covered a broad range of material deeply but briefly. As a result, there were a good deal of things I knew well but wasn’t really tested on and things I hadn’t really covered that were on the test. In any case, that’s one exam down and two to go. Now I’ll have a better idea of what to anticipate on the next one.

On Wednesday, my Drugs and Behavior night class took a field trip to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry). The trip stressed me out quite a bit initially, since I had no idea how I would get from school to the museum. Thankfully the class worked out rideshares so that everyone could make it. I’m so grateful to have found a generous classmate with a car who was able to drive me there & back. At OMSI, we listened to a lecture given by an OHSU neurological researcher of addiction and went to see the Body Worlds exhibit. I hadn’t been to OMSI before, but I had seen Body Worlds previously. In a decision I still question to this day, my middle school decided to take the entire 8th grade to see it down in LA. We woke up insanely early, rode a bus for far too long in horrible traffic, and finally saw the exhibit. That period of your life may be the most awkward time to go through an entire exhibit of very naked people, especially when accompanied by teachers and classmates. I still remember the strangest part being that each body had its own “set”, so the one posed as a teacher was pointing at an actual chalkboard with a mini classroom setting surrounding him. Awkward. In any case, I liked the way OMSI presented the exhibit. It was very minimalist and kept with the idea the exhibit was trying to promote, which was that it was about the magnificence of the bodies, not about the people specifically (hence the anonymity and lack of background information for each person). My favorite parts of the exhibit were all of the animal displays, actually, since they took some pretty dramatic approaches to them. The circulatory system displays of a rooster and a baby lamb were incredible, and being able to stand so close to a giraffe was kind of insane. I now have a much clearer idea of how big a giraffe actually is for the next time I try to compare something to it.

The exhibit was great, but it took away a lot of studying time I would have liked to have used for the exam I had yesterday. Christian Origins had its midterm exam yesterday, and I feel pretty alright about it. Problems arose not from a lack of studying, but simply from a lack of comprehension. Some of the things we talk about in class are complex and take me longer to process than I think they do for some of my classmates. I learn by connecting material to each other, and we hadn’t gone far enough into these ideas for me to make those connections. Still, I think I understood the basics enough to do alright on those questions, and I feel confident about most of the others. My only complaint would be that only about half the material from the study guide actually appeared on the test, so I was over-prepared and under-rested. Not the end of the world, by any means.

Coming up for me is a group oral presentation on Tuesday and my Piano midterm on Wednesday. I’m setting aside a lot of practice time for Piano and hoping that it pays off (or at least staves off chances of mortal humiliation).

In case this post has stressed you out in an empathetic response to my own stress levels from weeks past, rest assured there was some fun in there too. I competed in a group trivia competition on campus. Our team won, thanks to a surprisingly broad range of knowledge throughout the team. The week before that, I had the Anti-Valentine’s Concert. It went amazingly. I’m waiting for recordings to be posted so I can share the awesome with all of you. This weekend, I’m shadowing a Forest RA tonight as she does her duty-rounds and tomorrow I’ll be attending my brother’s Annual Oscar Party. I find out about my RA Application next week (cross your fingers for me), which is exciting. My re-interview went well and I think I’m really suited for the job, so I hope I get it. Either way, getting a feel for the duty process will be good to do. I’m familiar with the systems used at both my high schools, and it’ll be interesting to see how they compare. The Oscar Party is especially exciting because, like the Halloween party, it is something that I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t had the chance to attend. My brother and his wife make food dishes that are puns of the Best Picture nominees (ie The Hurt Latke, Avatart, A Tapenaducation, etc.) and I’m excited to see and taste what they’ve come up with this time.

Stay on the lookout for an upcoming video I’m putting together about stress relief. Given how many stressful things I’ve faced these past few weeks without losing my mind, I figure I’ll pass along some tips that might work for you as you face any stresses coming your way.

‘Til next time,

Grayson

25 February 2012 Comments Off on Which is busier? a) Beaver, b) Bee, c) Grayson