Day 43, April 17th
While working on Box 9, I came across three religious service books. It made me think about how important religion must have been to the soldiers who fought. It may not have been their personal beliefs, but they definitely had to consider religion as part of their daily lives. I wonder what it might have been like to have been an atheist in World War I- would one have even admitted to such a thing back then?
I went on a ghost hunt at IUP this weekend, over at Keith and Leonard Hall. It was cool- last Halloween I went and nothing happened, but this time around, we had some experiences! Using a flashlight that would turn on and off by itself as well as a K2 meter, we had several ghosts communicate to us. One was named Danny- he had identified himself as a founding father of IUP, and had been around during the 1870's and 1880's, and died of an illness in March. I had literal chills going down my back when we communicated with him, and one of the other investigators told me that they pretty much think he was right behind me the entire time we communicated with him. Another was a professor at IUP up to about 1975. We figured out that when we stood up in the doorway of the room, he'd turn the flashlight on and refuse to turn it off, because he thought we were students trying to sneak out of class. We also talked to a woman, who would get excited and turn the flashlight on whenever we called her awesome.
I definitely had an amazing experience there!
Day 50 -May 2nd
Finally finished Box 4. Just one more box to go.
There's a woman who keeps visiting the Historical Society with her kids. They like seeing the guns. It's great seeing the importance of the historical society as a free place for families to go and entertain their children.
I think hands-on activities would be great to add, like maybe teaching children how to make haversacks or marching.
Day 51- May 4th
Interestingly, I'm starting on Box 1 as my final box. Luckily, there doesn't look to be that much here.
I found a program for America's sesquicentennial in 1926. That was pretty interesting, because I really wish I could have been around for the bicentennial in 1976. I'm definitely looking forward to the tricentennial in 2076.
Day 52- May 5th
I continued working on Box 1, and taped some covers back on to the manuals using archival tape.
My undergrad, University of Delaware, wants to start a law school by 2015.
University of Delaware's Law School Aim
I can't tell you how bad of an idea I think this is. Delaware's a small state, and it already has a law school, Widner. Delaware's strength is based on the chemical engineering and business program, and I can't see how adding a law school would do anything to enhance the university. Programs are already getting cut- like the journalism major- and I imagine that will only get worse if they go ahead with the idea.
The greater Philadelphia metro area is already so saturated with lawyers. And think about it-Penn, Virginia, Georgetown, GW, Villanova, Temple, Rutgers, American, and the NYC schools (NYU, Columbia, Fordham) are all a train ride away. There are so many top-notch law schools in this area that I can't see how a law school at UD would be anything but a third-choice back-up plan. Plus, University of Delaware no longer offers in-state tuition rates, so why would any state resident want to pay 25k a year for a law school program when they could go somewhere established for not that much more money?
University of Delaware is ALREADY planning on building a medical campus(allied with Jefferson), an expansion to the football stadium, expansion to the student gym, a new dorm, a new science building, a new dining hall- all within this decade- and now they want to do this? If UD ends up bankrupt I wouldn't be surprised. I just feel bad for the kids going/will go there who are having to pay for all this stuff. If UD experiences an enrollment drop because of the 1990's baby bust, they're going to be SCREWED.
I had a bit of a faux-paus today where I cracked some joke that I wouldn't let up on, and the professor took me aside and told me that I might not be picking up on the social cues that I was ticking off some of the kids in the class.
I felt pretty embarrassed, although it reiterated to me what a great professor I have. It just reminded me that social cues and graces just are never going to be second-nature to me, and that I really have to remember when I should let my guard down and just free-flow or when I should perhaps think about what I'm saying before I say it. She also reminded me that I'm in a different area, and that some things that might be joked about casually where I'm from aren't taken so nonchalantly here.
The other dimension to this is that I've been feeling tension with some of the people in my department, and it has been bothering me. There's this dude. I'll call him "Eric". Eric is this arrogant ass who, on the account of the fact that he's somewhat cute and cocky, has several of the girls in our department hanging on to his every word. He doesn't like me, and I've been feeling tension with the guy since week 1. He's got this wingmen, this girl who never leaves his side and likes to snub me right along with him. And they, and to a lesser extent their developing clique, have just made me feel very uncomfortable. I've been snubbed many times before, but experiencing this as a 24-year in the grad school setting just has me flabbergasted. I wasn't expecting to run into that kind of mentality here, and it's left me a little disjointed. I think this, combined with the gentle lashing I got from the professor, really got me down. So tonight after class I just sorta went out with my lone friend there, got drunk, and sang LFO's "Summer Girls" to forget about life for awhile. (As fate would have it, my job is shifting around hours and I don't have the Tuesday shift I thought I had.) I won't make a habit out of Monday Night Drinking, but it really helped to talk my friend and to talk to my roommate. They both basically just said to me, "Don't let the assholes bother you, just continue being you but take a second to think about whether a joke you might crack might rub people the wrong way."
Justin, my roomate, was basically like, "JR, you're fine. You're doing your work. You're getting assignments done. You've balancing in your 9-hour job, and you've got the resident hall stuff you're doing. You're making friends. Don't let the few assholes get you down."
He's definitely right. It was good to just talk this all out, though- one of the things I learned from life is that not talking about my problems and letting things build- that causes bigger problems in the end. I will take up my advisor/professor's invitation to talk at some point, and just...keep on keeping on, I guess.
Day 40, April 11th
I finished work on Box 2. Finally.
Day 41, April 13th
I started work on Box 9. It doesn't look as if it'll take as long as Box 2 did. Hopefully.
I gave one of the other grad students a tour of the military exhibit at the society. He's into military history, so I pretty much let him lead the tour. I imagine that something like that will come up when gving tours, running into people who know more about the exhibit(or at least believe they do) than you do. I kept it to an easy discussion and tried to lead him around the exhibit, but John pretty much knew what everything was. It was definitely easier on me to lead someone around who knew what they were looking at.
Day 42, April 14th
I continued working on Box 9. I also watched another tour being given to Cub Scouts. They asked me to think about some hands-on activities that they could try in order to make the kids more into the museum. I was thinking making stone tools could be interestings, or perhaps teaching them how to march while carrying around sticks meant to represent muskets. That could be pretty cool. I know it worked for me back when I was a kid going to history camp for the Delaware Heritage Commission- there was a strong emphasis on hands-on activities.
I'm definitely going to be challenged finding ways to get people interested in history, and coming up with hands-on activies is defnitely key.
There's this awesome article I just read, written by a 14-year old girl who took part in the protests against the Texas State legislature for the restrictive abortion laws that were passed. She held up a sign with her father saying, "Jesus Isn't A Vagina So Keep Him Out of My Vagina" :
This is the article she wrote in response to internet trolls who've called her a slut:
I'm The 14-Year-Old Who Wrote The "Jesus Isn't A Dick So Keep Him Out of My Vagina" Sign In Texas And Was Labeled A "Whore" By Strangers Online
My dad came to my defense online, but for the first time I am outing myself publicly. I'm 14. Please stop calling me a whore.
I'm a 14-year-old girl who has lived in Austin, Texas, my whole life. I like art, music and talking on the phone with my friends. When I grow up, I'd like to become a science teacher.
I also believe in the right to choose and the separation of church and state. Or to put it another way -- to put it the way I wrote it when I was protesting at the Capitol last week:
"Jesus isn't a dick so keep him out of my vagina."
Yes, that's my sign.
I came up with it last week when my friend and I were trying to think of ideas for what would get people's attention to protest the scary restrictions that are happening in my state trying to take away a woman's right to safe and accessible abortions.
When my friend and I took turns holding the sign, one of the pictures of her went viral.
Then my dad went online to defend the sign on Twitter and other online forums.
That's when people started calling me a "whore."
I'm going to be honest about what it feels like to be called that as a 14-year-old girl who has never had sex and who doesn't plan to have sex anytime soon.
I feel disappointed.
It's hard for me to understand why adults would be calling me this. It's hard for me to understand why anyone would use this term for a 14-year-old girl.
It's not anyone's business, but as I said, I am a virgin, and I don't plan to have sex until I am an adult.
But none of those facts make me feel any less passionate about fighting for a woman's right to choose and the separation of church and state in my home state of Texas.
I also don't think this makes me -- or any other 14-year-old girl who agrees with me -- a whore.
It simply makes us people. People who believe that abortion should be safe, legal and accessible for women. People who believe women should be in control of their bodies and should not ever have to put their lives at risk so that we don't go backwards in women's rights in this country.
I know someone who has had a few abortions. She now says that abortion is bad and she fights against a woman's right to choose.
This makes it all the more important for me to protest, even if I am only 14. In fact, my dad woke me up so that I could watch the Wendy Davis filibuster the night that she tried to prevent this legislation from passing the first time. I remember thinking that I was proud to be from Texas watching her stand up for what is right.
That was when I told my parents that I wanted to join in the protests. I have seen anti-abortion protesters at a clinic near our house, and it makes me upset to see women who are facing this hard decision being told that Jesus condemns them.
I guess I don't think it seems very Christian to me.
Then again, neither does calling a 14-year-old girl a whore.
The first day that we were out protesting at the Capitol, my friend and I took turns holding up the sign I wrote, and an older man came up to us yelling right in our faces. "You two should shave your heads! You should become lesbians! No man will ever want you! You're ugly!"
The police had to ask him to stop yelling at us. It was scary. But more than scaring me, what it did was make me feel even more determined to stand up and protest even louder.
I'm not going to let someone calling me a whore stop me from fighting for what is right for all women. I'm not going to let the bullies win in the fight over women's bodies.
I read some of the comments online that people said about me, and I was so proud of my dad for sticking up for me and for the sign I wrote. After a certain point, I really couldn't believe some of the comments people were writing. One person said that my parents should be arrested for child abuse and in another unbelievable comment, someone suggested that my dad must invite all my friends over to "play abortion clinic."
I'm done feeling disappointed by these attacks. That is why I'm speaking out -- even if I am only 14 years old.
But the way things are playing out everything feels reversed. Adults are not acting like adults.
Normally, I prefer to look up to adults as role models. But what is happening in Texas right now it's hard to find adults who I want to look up to.
I don't look up to an adult who is taking away a woman's right to choose.
I don't look up to an adult who is calling a 14-year-old girl a whore.
I don't look up to an adult who is screaming in my face and saying I am ugly.
And I certainly don't look up to anyone who says they are Christian but treats women the way I've been treated these past few days as a teenage girl.
What an incredibly well-spoken young lady. This is someone who's parents did their jobs right- I know college kids who couldn't articulate their thoughts as well.
One thing that she's learning from this is that "age" doesn't really equal wisdom, and that hypocrisy is always around you. I've met old people that were dumb little fools, and I've met kids her age who have impressed me with their profound wisdom.
I wish I could be stunned that people who claim to love children so much that they want to save every unborn child from being killed could turn around and act so hateful towards a child, but I'm really not.
Day 16, February 14th
I continued working on Box 5. I found a couple of pamplets that discussed gas warfare, as well as trench warefare. Those were the two big hallmarks of the Great War, because they were such new ways to fight in a way that still believed in the Romantic Napoleonic way of fighting. I wonder what it must have been like for the soldiers who read these pamplets to get a sense of what they were going to face.
I looked up the online orbituary of Colonel Richard W. Watson, the man behind the collection.
He was born in October 1878, and died in February 1961- living for 82 years. He was in the National Pennsylvania Guard starting with the Spanish American War. Richard Watson had been a laywer, but it looks like after he got discharged he never engaged in an active bar association. His passion had been for military and the American Legion, apparently, which definitely showed. He got married and had his son pretty late in life, which was pretty interesting for the era. In general, Richard Watson came from a lawyer family(law is pretty big because of the county courthouse), and lived a life where he was concerned with civic affairs and the life. Not a big showy life, but that's what I love about public history- learning about hte people who DON'T make the history textbooks, and the stories they tell.
82 years. I could not imagine what it would be like to have been alive for 82 years; the kinds of things you must have seen in such a long life. I guess, fate willing, I'll be able to answer the question
Day 17, February 15th
I read a letter that Richard Watson had sent to his father from France, dated November 24th, 1918. The copy wasn't that good, so one of the volunteers created a better copy by lightening it up so that you could read the text easier. The letter was fascinating to me. It was written because they had been told that they should write letters to their dads for Christmas.The war was officially over, but they weren't in any way getting sent home- Watson explained to his father that they were still much left to do, such as making sure that the treaty got enforced. When I thought of Armistice Day, I kind of figured that all of the soldiers involved pretty much just got to go home at once. It was surpring to learn that these guys still had a job to do. I could not imagine going to war, seeing an Armistice signed, and still having to stay around to help clean up for weeks or even months afterward.
Here's a quote from the letter:
"The war is practically over, but peace has not been signed and the conquered territories must be policed and garrisoned for many months in order to enforce our terms, and you may be sure the 28th will do its share of the work. Our hopes ran high for a few days and visions of home, turkey, pumpkin pie and Christmas trees, with all the comforts of civilization, fairly dazzled us and I fear caused many a pang of homesickness throughout the A.E.F.. But our dreams were rudely shattered by actualities and we are resigned to the inevitable."
People back then...when they wrote letters, it's amazing the amount of passion they had.
I talked to my advisor today, and told her that I was planning on dropping out of graduate school.
Going back over my blog, all I ever do is worry about school, and how hard it is, and how much I need to get my grades up. And for what? To service some future self? Become chained to the hell that is academia for another year of my life? I've been in school since 1991. Maybe it's time to finally say good-bye to it all?
I was watching an episode of this show called Greek, and the character of Casey decided that she wanted to leave law school, and just go off to D.C. and find herself there. It made me think about my own life, and how maybe, just maybe...I can just go off to a new area and find myself without worry about grades, or papers...and just...be.
I plan on selling everything I have, buying a beat-up old van, and traveling the country. Work some odd jobs here and there, and just enjoy my life. I might get into street performance art...
So, I was at dinner tonight with my family, and we were talking about my 18-year old niece's senior prom. They then talked about a schoolmate named Regina Reynolds who took a calculator to the prom. Apparently, the guy who was going to ask this girl decided to ask my niece instead. So Regina decided to say, "What the hell", and went to prom with a calculator that she dressed up in a little tux while drawing a flower on the screen. Her Tumblr post about the whole deal went viral, to the point where she skyped with Jimmy Kimmel on his show to talk about it.
It was funny to hear about, because this took place at Charter School of Wilmington. CSW is the math/science school that was upstairs from my own performing arts high school, so it's not my alma mater, but I was there pretty much every day. The school was/is incredibly intense, and the school mascot is a calculator. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Students there are incredibly dependent on TI-80something calculators because of massive amount of math they do there.
I think what's awesome about the story is that this girl could have easily felt sorry for herself and not shown up to prom, but this girl clearly had a great sense of humor and must have been pretty comfortable in her skin. I think back to when I was in high school and early college when I wanted so badly to be "cool", and I don't think I could have done that. I really wish more teenagers would be okay with letting their "dork" flag fly, and not so concerned about fitting in and wanting to be seen as cool.
Seriously though, if any of you are still in that phase of your life, just remember this- boring, shallow, cookie-cutter "cool kids" are sheep, and their "coolness" means jack shit in terms of life beyond their big weekend rager. Embrace being diffent and embrace those who are different without being afraid of getting called a "dork"- you'll have much more fun in life than if you tried to conform to what the Abercrombie clones think is cool.
I just got back from a week in Tennessee, helping to build new paths for the Cumberland Trail. We stayed at a lodge in a small hole-in-the-wall called Soddy Daisy, with kids from schools all around the East Coast and Mid-West.
I can't put into words just how wonderful that experience was. I came into the trip expecting that we'd be putting down gravel and trimming weeds for some biking/cross-country trails. I had never hiked a day in my life, unless you count walking around flat Delaware state parks. (Which I don't, after what I experienced.) I'm deathly afraid of heights, and when I realized that trail building actually entailed hiking some pretty steep areas, all I could was try not to look over the side and concentrate on landing on each stepping stone. The fact that I was able to do it, and do it more than once, was something that amazes the hell out of me when I think about it. Sure, I took the absolute longest to hike up and get down, but the fact that I actually did climbed up this huge hill when the 12-year old me refused to ride an escalator at the National Air Space Museum for my 5th grade field trip was pretty cool.
The scenery was amazing- for a boy used to the flat coastal plains, the views were just beautiful. We went on a trip to Chattanooga twice- the city was pretty cool...I'd figured Chattanooga was just this small little city, but it's actually got some amazing views and cool shops/restaurants. It was great experiencing a city that I had never really thought about before, and learning that it had some pretty cool things going on for it.
With all these kids around from different schools, the experience felt like the summer camp experience I never had. It was so cool talking to people from places like Boston, or Georgia, or Wisconsin. I made one Wisconsin guy promise to see the Ocean some day if I promised to see a Great Lake. It was fun ribbing the BU kids about the joke from The Social Network, as well as explaining what a "hoagie" is to someone from Boston.
Overall, this was so much better than my Florida trip, because while on that trip I helped someone out that needed help, in this case, I gave back while really challenging myself on things I never thought I could do. And, I guess this probably sounds cheesy...but...when I was climbing up that hill and hit the rocky spots, all I could do was focus on the next step, and then the step after that. I've been so depressed and anxious about what my future is going to be after graduation, because I don't really have any real, concrete plan...but like on that trail, my path has to be followed starting by one step. I can't let the fear of falling down keep me from taking that next step.
Day 53, May 8
I'm nearing the end of Box 1 and therefore the end of processing this collection.
I found one book that was in french, and depicted how the various planes in various countries looked. That was pretty interesting, since World War I was the first war that was really fought in the air as well as on the ground.
I also found a 1902 calendar, which was cool, but didn't really fit in the scope of the collection. I talked to my adviser about that, and she agreed. It was put in an envelope and was likely going to be put in storage with other old calendars. That really emphasized to me how much of a judgement call you have to have when it comes to collections- you can't just turn down a collection, but a lot of times, people will just throw in things without really questioning how important something is within the context of the collection.
I came this article in the News Journal today. It's about the sentencing of a former UD student, who got put in jail for 10 years for his assault on a WVU student named Ryan Diviney. The article focuses on Ryan's dad, Ken, who has devoted his life to taking care of his now-comatose son.Former UD student gets 10 years in VA assualt.
I thought I'd post this up and all that because I was just reading it, and I was so incredibly moved by the father. He's put aside his entire life- everything- so he can take care of his vegetative son. Mr. Diviney refuses to give up on him despite all logic dictating that he's fighting a losing battle, because it's his son and that is the power of his love for his son.
It's amazing to think how strong the bond between father and son can be, especially if you've never experienced it for yourself.
I'm pretty stressed- I'm sure most of us are- being this time of year and all...but reading this article made step back a little and think...don't sweat the small stuff. I'm lucky that I'm alive, I'm lucky that my brain is still functional, and I'm lucky that I'm sitting in my dorm stressing out over how to get the comparative book review done than sleeping in a vegetative state on a hospital bed completely missing out on life.
I got 2 A's and a B. That brings my grad school GPA to a 3.66. (IUP does not do A- or B+ grades like UD, so there's a little less inflation here.) I was really hoping I could pull off a 4.0, but eh...I'll live. I have some mixed emotions here- I really did work my ass off in all the classes. I really was hoping for a 4.0. And the B kills it, and makes it impossible for me to ever have a 4.0 accumulative in grad school. I'm pretty disapointed, but I also know that I really did all I could do.
The funny thing is that I got the B in the class I thought I'd get an A in, and the A in a class I was sure I was getting a B in. I think if it had been the other way around I could handle this better.
Still, it's a good semester, and a 3.66 GPA is pretty good, considering the grading scale at IUP, so I am pleased with myself. I made it through that first semester.
This week marks the 5th anniversary of the passing of a very lovely online friend and member of the community, author Dan Kincaid/Sam. (He died, I believe, on either October 25th of 2008, or October 26th.) I only had the privilege of corresponding with him for a few months before he died, but I'm really glad we did. Back in those days, Adam and I were...well, let's just say that we had somewhat of a personality clash going on, and Sam was really good at being a mediator.
He was a very sweet, caring person, which you felt while reading his bio story,It Started With Brian . Sam was also unbelievably smart, too, which is why I felt so honored whenever the guy would tell me that he found me to be a pretty bright person, if prone to being annoying to above-25 people. Sam had a way of making you feel like he cared a lot about you, and I definitely miss having the conversations we used to have. When I was 22, I was going through an extremely rough patch in my life (I'd say it was the lowest point of my life), and Sam would often call me out on my bullshit and try to encourage me to do better and feel better. He would constantly tell me that I'd turn out fine, when at 22 I was this big fucking neurotic mess with little to think about except my next college rager, and how bitter I was about my troubled upbringing. This, while the guy himself knew that he wouldn't live to see his 35th birthday. But that's the kind of guy Sam was, and why this world is a little bit sadder and a little bit darker without someone like him around doing his best to make things better for those around him.
Strange to think he's been gone 5 years, and that Adam is now 34, the same age that Sam was when he passed. I really hope that Sam's life partner and his son (who should be about 17 now) are doing well. And I like to think that somewhere, Sam smiled when I got my graduate degree from IUP last year with a 3.75 G.P.A.
Anyway...*throws back SoCo Lime shot over shoulder* Here's to you, Sam. Those who were privileged to have known you will never forget you.
Just when I thought UD couldn't come up with even more inane ideas...they proved me wrong.....
UD Wants to Close Academy Street
See, I get the principle of what they're trying to do- they're trying to create a more closed, Ivy-League like campus(like say, UPenn), and what they have to do to achieve that is to get rid of throroughfares.
Still, Academy Street is just way too critical north-south route to close like, especially when you consider the fire station and the ambulance station that use Academy.
My belief that the university is doing everything they possibly can to discourage people from commuting to campus just grows more and more- between closing down parking lots and now this? Traffic in Newark is already a nightmare. I can't imagine what it will look like if they got rid of one of the few things that relieved congestion on Main Street and Delaware Avenue during peak school hours.
UD pulls crap like this that shows just how much they don't care about the students in the pursuit of looking like an Ivy League college, and they wonder why applications are down 5 percent despite the national commericials they spent loads of money on doing?
Between this completely unecessary project, the completely unecessary law school plans, and the millions of other projects they're doing, I'll be shocked if President Harker doesn't drive the school into the ground.
Day 33- March 27th
Continued working on Box 2.
Day 34-March 28th
Someone showed me a diploma from the Indiana State Normal School, from 1910. (That was IUP's name when it was a teacher's college.) It was interesting to read it, because the diploma listed all of the subjects that the person was able to teach. It was a quite a list as well- everything ranging from politics to geometry. Nowadays, a person needs a master's in education just to teach elementary school, it seems.
I had an interesting talk with a woman who went to IUP back during the 1960's. It was eye-opening to think what college was like during the 1960's, when there were no co-ed dorms, people had to dress up for dinner, and students had curfews. Mind-boggling.
Day 35- March 30th
I continued working through Box 2. I was going through enlistment papers for the Pennsylvania National Guard in the 1920's- people must have been pretty short back then. The average height that I kept coming across was about 5'5"-5'8", which was pretty interesting.
I had a conversation with a woman who is working through her family genealogy. She is having difficulty, because apparently records that she's looking for were destroyed in a fire sometime around 1855. It definitely drove home the point of how important records can be.
Day 36-March 31st
Today I helped a woman who wanted to learn more about what IUP was like during the 1930's, when her mother attended the school. It was nice utilizing the knowledge I had gained from working on the Sutton Hall tour in the first semester of grad school.
As we looked for photos of buildings that would have been around in the 1930's, it was kind of depressing to think about how much IUP tore down, and is planning to tear down. I know there's planned obsolesce and all that, but there's something about being able to go to an older building and feeling a sense of place and historical continuity. IUP doesn't really have a lot of older buildings left, which is in stark contrast to University of Delaware, which(despite some mis-steps) really treasures a lot of the older buildings on campus, especially the Georgian revival ones. Talking to a woman who wanted to find the buildings that were around that her mother probably went, and realizing she won't find much, definitely makes me glad that Blue Hens can check out dorms that people lived in during the 1920's, and recitation halls from the 1890's.
The dorm that I live in, UT, is scheduled to come down in a few years. It really is amazing to think that except for Whit, pretty much all dorms built in the 20th century at IUP are slated to come down at some point. They really don't build to last these days.
I got the heebie jeebies the other day when I was playing the game Farmville yesterday, and I got a notification that B.P. had done something to help my farm.
B.P. died back around August, an apparent suicide. He was only 22. After that, his father took over the page, giving us updates on stuff like the funeral. Then he started sending us stories about Brian. Now he's apparently using his son's facebook page regularly enough that he's playing Farmville under the name of his dead son.
I understand the father is grieving, and maybe this is his way of dealing with it, but god, this just creeps me out so much. Am I wrong for feeling like there's something wrong about this? It'd be one thing if the father just left the page up as a memorial, but I've gotten a birthday notification, status updates, and now Farmville help from B.P., who died back during the summer, and it's really unsettling. I'm thinking about deleting him from my profile, but I don't know if that would be a nice thing to do. Still, I just feel really uncomfortable about this.
UPDATE: I wound up deleting the profile from my friends page in October. When it had reached over a year, I just couldn't take the weirdness of it anymore. It's not my friend Brian's page anymore- it's his dad's.
I'll be working for Habitat for Humanity for spring break '11 in Winter Haven, Florida. We get a pit stop in Atlanta, and we also get that Friday off to go to Daytona Beach.
No alcohol, which is a bummer, but overall I'm really excited. And this should go great on my CV.
I have never been to Florida in my life, so I'm really excited!
Sometimes the best thing to do is face your fear head-on. I've been reading online a bit, about people who are or have failed out of graduate school. What I realize is that I'm not alone at all about feeling scared about failing, or realizing that I went into this process completely blind and uncomprehending about the pitfalls and troubles I could face. There's this interesting site by a woman who left her PhD program four years in. I thought it was pretty interesting:
Straight Talk About Graduate School
It's good for me to read about a woman who lived through my greatest fear- not succeeding in graduate school- and got through to the other side. This woman was a model student in college- she graduated with a 3.97, and well-loved by faculty. If she could fail, it can happen to anyone- and on the flip side...I remember reading about a guy who graduated college with a 2-something like I did and wound up a tenured faculty member. It really does seem like it's a combination of the individual and the environment they end up in.
From her story and from a bit of others....here's what I'm taking to heart, and will keep reminding myself as I go through this experience, for however long it may be. It could be less than one semester or it could be seven years...and I'll keep this all in mind.
1. If I fail, that means that I'm not suited for an academic life. It does not mean I'm stupid or I'm not a talented person. It means I wasn't a right fit. I want a 4.0, and I'll go after it the best I can. If I wind up with a C in all my classes and am kicked out, I will not take that as a mark of me being unable to hold an intelligent conversation or that I have nothing to offer the world because I didn't make it in the academic one.
2. I will not let myself get entirely consumed by academia. I will work my hardest, but I won't make it my entire life. I will try to balance other interests I have- having friends, bonding with family, doing activities like acting, and maybe even occasionally having a beer at the bar. I will not let myself feel isolated, or feel that if I fail this M.A. attempt, I don't have anything else in my life. That could lead to a very dark road with some very dark consequences, and I refuse to go down that.
3. I will continually engage myself into activities that remind me why I fell in love with history, such as going to living history museums and watching re-enactments. I will read or watch something about periods of history that I'm not covering in class for my own personal enjoyment when I have time to spare. There's a Jimmy Stewart museum here, and I'm definitely going to visit it when I get the chance.
4. I will accept that sometimes life takes you in other directions, and what I want at the age of 24 might be entirely different in two years.
5. I will create an escape plan for myself if graduate school does not work out. I'll audit some computer classes, maybe learn about how to temp and work in an office. If I flunk out, I will take community college courses back home and learn some different kinds of trade.
Here's a quote from the site above that explains why you need a back-up plan, and it was pretty enlightening:
[*]Feeling that you can't leave makes you an easy target for abuse, because the consequences of standing up for yourself could be being forced out.[*]Feeling trapped robs you of perspective on your situation, leaving you with an all-or-nothing, total-success-or-total-failure mindset that is unhealthy and unsound.[*]Feeling trapped adds stress to every decision you make, because when you feel you have nowhere to go, you don't dare make a decision that could force you to leave or get you kicked out. Even relatively minor decisions can carry heavy costs
Did anyone else catch the movie The Age of Adaline? (It's a movie where Gossip Girl's Blake Lively is a woman who has been stuck as a 29-year old for almost 80 years after getting struck by lightning.) This newcomer named Anthony Ingruber did a VERY credible portrayal of a young version of Harrison Ford's character, and he looked cute as hell doing it:
He runs a YouTube channel where he posted his celebrity impressions, and h
attracted the interest of the casting directors for the movie. I like a cute, funny guy. Also, check out his smile at meeting Harrison Ford during filming:
Seriously, what is it about meeting childhood icons that turn grown men into goofy little boys for a few seconds? Too frickin' adorable for words.
I'm not sure about the fanboys/girls who are clamoring for him to play a young Han Solo, though. It's one thing to play a small first cameo part while mimicking a famous figure, but it's another thing to be able to lead a movie. I WOULD like to see him in another role somehow related to Harrison Ford, but I don't think an entire movie should be built around someone with that little experience. Maybe he could be Leila and Han's grandson or something? Anyway, hope the guy is at the start of a good career. There's just something really neat about the fairytale aspect of it- spending your life idolizing someone, and then getting the chance to actually play a young version of him in a movie? Too cool for words.
But anyway, I have to say this is probably one of the most impressive "younger version" casting I've ever seen that did not use a blood relative. I absolutely believed these two were the same person forty years apart.
Okay, so I'm starting school over in western PA at this school called IUP, which is 5 hours away from home. It's pretty far out. I'm not taking my car, so it's not going to be the easiest thing to get a ride to and back.
I recently found out that close to my hometown, and at my undergrad school, UD, there are plans to have Jason Mraz perform on September 28th, which is Tuesday. If I skip out on Monday and Tuesday classes, I could prolly swing going to the concert.
So herein lies the dilemna. I REALLY want to see Jason Mraz. Like, I love that guy's music. But I also realize that if I'm serious about grad school, it might not be in my best interest to miss two days of school.
Do you think if I notified my professors ahead of time that I was going to be back down home, and got the assignments and made sure I did them...it would make everything okay for me to miss school for a truly rewarding, one-in-lifetime cultural experience?
*looks at Mark Arbour and Sharon with a hopeful puppy dog face* Hey, I bet you two would think this is a great idea, right? Mark, you would totally encourage me to go, right?
Day 27, March 6th
Today I continued working on Box 2. I found an envelope of newspaper clippings- the envelope was a big manila envelope with "Philadelphia Convention July 1958" on front, so we kept the envelope.
I also found a 50th Anniversary Gettysburg Commission memo, which was great because there's a photo of the 50th Anniversary Gettysburg camp out displayed in the museum. I told my adviser about it, and she copied the letter and eventually intends on displaying the copy.
That was a personal connection, because in 2004 I went to Gettysburg as a Union re-enactor. I've been excited for the 150th anniversary in 2013 since then. It's amazing to think there's only one year.
Day 28th, March 7th
I found a pretty cool 1914 tourist map of Washington, D.C. It was in a great shape. We decided to house the map in a different folder, and weighted two boxes on top of the new housing so that the document would flatten out.
My whole family is bitching at me right now because I'm applying to this
school called Millersville Univeristy, which is, at an hour and a half away,
'too far' for me to go, and 'isn't a good school'. They keep bitching at me to
apply to a closer school in the area, and look at closer area schools, which I
have! They are either too good for me to get into, or they don't have my
program. Then they bitch about me about how I need to take educational courses
if I'm going to be a community college professor- which isn't even true, because
I've asked professors time and time again. They tell me I should apply to my
undergad school, like there's a chance in hell I'm going to get in with a 2.64
GPA. They don't seem to understand that I don't have a whole hell lot of
options. Ugh, ugh, and ugh.
In college, I had a friend named Stephen R. I actually had a lot of friends named Stephen, but he was honestly my favorite one. We met one afternoon in Kent Dining Hall at the University of Delaware at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. I was eating lunch, and this tall, lanky blond kid who was pale as fuck asked if he could eat lunch with me. We ate lunch, then we hung out in his room. Stephen had this small single at the top of Sussex/Squire Hall. We got high, then spent the day walking aimlessly around Newark, Delaware's Main Street, before we ate burgers in the Korner Diner, this greasy spoon that was a wonderful cross-section of humanity before it closed down in 2008. I laughed my ass off as we ate shitty burgers, and 21-year old me didn't know it then, but I had started what would become one of the most meaningful friendships I would ever have in my life.
We spent that fall '07 semester building a friendship, just hanging out, getting high or drunk, and the typical shenanigans of 21-year old college students. Steve and I couldn't have been any more different- he was this laidback, genius but apathetic stoner from northern New Jersey who liked just hanging in his dorm and talking, while I was this perky, nerdy Delaware kid who worshiped at the altar of a good rager. We'd always have dinner together, and often lunch as well. I lived in Smyth, which was just a short walk over from his dorm, which made it easy for us to hang out all the time. One night, at a party, on Cleveland Avenue, I wound up coming out to him. I kept bugging him and this other guy to kiss, because I had become immensely fascinated with watching straight guys kiss in YouTube videos, and wanted to see it in real life. That's (no brainer) when Steve asked if I was gay, I said yeah, and he told me, "Alright then. That's cool." As we walked back home from the party, two guys walked up to us, and asked if the girl that was with them was fuckable. I said, "I wouldn't know, because I only fuck guys." The looks on their faces was hilarious, and Steve and I just laughed as we continued walking back to our dorms on South Green. Steve was the first straight guy friend I ever had that I was totally open with, and he'd have this habit of telling people that I was gay so I wouldn't have to, because as Stephen basically put it, "People won't have a problem with you being gay if you don't have one, man. It's not a big deal so don't treat it that way." That was the thing about Steve- he was entirely comfortable in his own skin, while I was this jumpy kid who felt like he had to flit from role to role in order to get people to like me. I learned to relax and become comfortable with myself because of him.
When I got hospitalized for depression around my 22nd birthday, Steve was the only one who cared enough to try and call me in there. I'd never had that before- someone that I knew would always have my back no matter what. This was reiterated to me a few months later, when we had our first, and pretty much only fight- at 21/22 I had this habit of liking to call people drunk, otherwise known as "drunk dialing". I thought it was hilarious. But Steve didn't think so, especially when I did it at 2 or 3 a.m., and he called me back and said, "Don't call me anymore." I was pretty hurt, and I felt like I had screwed up a really good friendship, like I always did. Imagine my surprise when Steve called me up a day or two later, and we apologized to each other and the friendship continued.
Don't get me wrong- Stephen wasn't perfect. Far from it. He could be a pretty arrogant son of a bitch at times. It often annoyed me how Steve wasn't into going to the big ragers at UD because he preferred smaller, more intimate crowds, which exasperated my wannabe "party king" self. Steve also had this really annoying habit of dictating what we did when we hung out. If Steve didn't want to do something or go somewhere, he flat out wouldn't do it. For example, I wanted to watch Waiting for a movie night, and Steve basically said "Fuck that" and we saw Alpha Dog instead. Steve could be brutally honest with you if you annoyed him, and if he didn't like you, he did very little to hide it. Steve was also very disdainful of school, and often talked about how he couldn't wait to get out, start his career, and make money. His general apathy about college could get me pretty annoyed, especially because I was of the "This is college, let's live college life to the fullest!" mindset, and hanging out with him watching TV in his Dorm while drinking didn't seem like it. But I also knew that I had a friend who would stand by me, and his brutal honesty had a way of keeping me on my toes and learning how to regulate my social behavior with people.
In 2009, I came back to University of Delaware to finish out my last 3 semesters, and that's when I met Steve's group of residents- Ian, James, Justin, Anthony, and Tony. Ian was this chill as shit redhead stoner from Vermont- basically, Steve's brother from another mother. James was this pint-sized, bulked up conservative guy who was basically born to become a frat boy. (I was apparently the first gay friend he ever had.) Justin was the Jew from Rhode Island- this guy who was totally innocent at the start of college who had been corrupted by Steve with the copious amounts of weed they smoked. Anthony was this Long Island musician, while Tony was this quirky hipster type with a keen interest in working with university admissions as a student guide. We all became friends because of Steve. I had never had a tight group of friends like that before- I have always been more of a floater who hovers close by but never actually gets in. I remember watching St. Elmo's Fire when I was in 12th grade, and thinking, "Wow, I want a tight group of friends like that!" But that was a movie, and my over-eagerness to have a tight group of friends freshmen year actually had the opposite effect of turning off a lot of people. But my senior year of college, I did, and it just happened. It didn't look like what I had pictured- I had thought of big trips, big moments, high drama, big parties, and lots of maudlin, sentimental moments, like on Beverly Hills 90210 or something. It wasn't like that at all- mainly just college boys sitting around a dorm, drinking, and talking about our lives. Well, okay, there were some big ragers in there such as the '09 Skidfest Soapbox Puke Incident, too..And there was also swine flu, but luckily no major catastrophes.
In the summer of '09, Steve and I were both taking summer session. He had this big-ass dorm on Ray Street to himself, and we spent that summer basically getting drunk in his dorm after class while watching re-runs of That 70's Show. We actually celebrated his 23rd birthday that summer...it was a fun summer. It was great not having to pass out on his floor since there was an extra bed, and I met more summer buddies through him. On weekend nights, we'd smoke pot and drink by this tree next to a basketball court by the dorm. By day, I'd drive home early in the morning with the beginning of a hangover. It was the perfect way to spend a college summer.
Senior year came and went. I continued my friendships with Steve, as well as the Dickenson Hall Crew. I remember Halloween '09...I had dressed as a cop to hang out with them in Ian's North Green sophomore year dorm, and Steve joked, "Dude, you look like a gay stripper." He often liked to point out whenever he thought I was wearing something ridiculous, like my 1980's vintage Members Only Jacket. LOL. Because it was senior year, I kept trying to do "senior year bucket list" things, and Steve resisted me at every turn. Tried as I might, I could not get Steve to tailgate college football with me, because you were just not going to get that guy out of bed before 2 p.m. on a Saturday. (I was able to do that with Ian and James, though.) Our friendship that year basically continued over Happy Hour talks at Deer Park Tavern, at La Tonaltecca, at Buffalo Wild Wings, and of course, his R.A. dorm at Dickinson Hall B. Towards the end of senior year, Steve and I were at Skidfest 2010, this legendary University of Delaware music festival held for 20 years. (This would turn out to be the last one, as nearby Barnes and Noble basically put pressure on the city to deny the event any kind of permit.) I snapped this photo of Steve while we were hanging out on the porch of Skid Row:
It was the only photo I ever took of him- Steve wasn't the sentimental type, and I didn't have a cell phone camera until mid-senior year. But I remember when I took it, I really loved the photo- for a crappy cell phone camera, I thought it captured exactly how I saw Steve. He was a guy who was thoughtful- not the happiest dude around, or someone you'd always see with a smile on his face, but someone you knew had a lot of insight to share. Smart as a whip, and keenly observant of every one and everything.
True to form, Steve didn't stick around for graduation. We didn't have a "proper" good-bye, just a chat at Buffalo Wild Wings before hanging out a little bit at his dorm. There would be no "Look, we made it!" smiling graduation pictures with us, like I got with my high school friends or my grad school friends. That did actually piss me off, because damn it, I thought that you needed a sappy good-bye to the tune of
when you graduated from college. I did get to see Steve in person one more time- around August of 2010, he came back to visit Tony, Ant, and Justin at their house on Cleveland Avenue. We all ate dinner at La Tonaltecca, Steve's favorite Mexican restaurant, and just talked about the next upcoming year. They were going to be juniors, while we were going off to grad school. I told them about how I was going to have a roommate from Alabama and how I was worried he'd be some conservative bible freak, and then Steve joked and said, "You could be wrong, though. Maybe you'll meet your husband instead." (I didn't, and my roommate was nice but REALLY unattractive and apparently a pathological liar, but I digress.) Then we went back to their house, watched Super Stone Me, and that was about it, really. No big blow out, but just a pleasant evening with a group of people that I had become really good friends with, largely because of my friend Stephen.
After graduation, we managed to keep in touch...the longest we'd go without any kind of contact would maybe 2-3 months or so. Our lives had gone in other directions, and I wasn't the same guy that I was in college. I always knew though that if I really wanted to talk to him, I could call him and he'd be there to listen. I mean, Stephen listened to me rant during my Habitat for Humanity Spring Break 2011 trip for an hour about an asshole parent chaperone while I was at some Rhodeway Inn in the middle of Georgia at 12 a.m. Our final talk was on Facebook November 20th...Steve was telling me about how he had just one paper left to finish his counseling degree, and I joked that he should specialize in rich guido teen cokeheads so he'd make bank. I knew that Steve was going to make one hell of a counselor, and I knew Steve was going to help a lot of people.
From August of 2007 to November of 2013, I had a friend named Stephen Rose. He was my stoner buddy from New Jersey,. He liked drinking Rolling Rock and making joints out of his Black and Mild cigars. Steve liked driving around the Elkton, Maryland countryside while smoking with his friends in the car. He liked listening to classical music and hip-hop, and had a prominent poster of Snoop Dog in his dorm room. Steve preferred having CD's over MP3 players, because he liked to "feel" his music. He never failed to tell me how annoying he thought my nearly-pathological nostalgia streak was. He hated big crowds, fake preppy people, and wasn't keen on school despite his insanely high intelligence level.
Steve was a guy who basically knew everything there was to know about me from the ages of 21 to 24. There is no one else in this world I can say that about.This friendship didn't resemble the melodramatic, epic friendships I'd see on T.V....no huge drama or big moments. No maudlin moments. No sappy good-byes. No jumping around in water fountains to the tune of
. But it was real, it meant a lot to me, and I've been forever shaped by having known him.
So, Steve, wherever you are, I hope you've got a Yuengling set aside for me at the bar when I'm ready to join you. In the meantime, just know that I couldn't be more grateful for the time I did get with you, even though it wasn't the decades that I imagined it being.
July 8, 1986 - November 29, 2013