On Thursday I will no longer be a college student. This may be my last blog post to you, my patient readers.
Now that it’s down to the end I can’t even summon a sadness — it’s matter-of-fact, the way it ought to be. I mourned last week and now I’m ready, almost, to step off into the haze. It’s happening. How crazy.
Once upon a time, when I was a first-year student, I took French II at 8 a.m. I almost slept through my first test and so I did badly and cried a lot. I also cried when I had to do homework past 7 p.m. because I thought it was just too much work for one human being to handle. (Could I imagine myself doing that now? Well, sleeping up until five minutes before the test, maybe. But would I have studied for it the night before? Absolutely. Also, now I have to laugh hysterically at my first-year conception of what a proper workload looks like.)
The moral of that story is that I’ve learned a lot. I can handle the world beyond Messiah College as a real grown-up in the workforce. Right?
I’m grateful that my season of change coincides with Advent; what better time to face a whole new life than in a season of waiting, hoping, longing, preperation, and absolute delight? And it culminates in presence, the real presence of something precious in the bodily life. The incarnation is the ultimate example of truth needing a physical manifestation rooted in this beautiful, crazy world. And isn’t that what our artwork should do — bring some aspect of truth into a physical body? So it’s an affirmation of our work as artists, too.
So yes — I’m going to step out and say that it’s a good time to be an artist and it’s a good time to be in flux and it’s even a good time to be looking for a job in an economic recession. Because I think I have faith that it will end with delight.
Lest you think I run on faith alone, I do have a few plans — a good friend and advocate found me a lovely place to live for a few weeks until I get married. Starting next week I plan to move into this temporary housing and hunt for jobs. I plan to relax a little. I plan to do some freelance writing (yes! Since my degree apparently DID prepare me for some profitable occupation, does that make me a success story?). I plan to apartment-hunt for my permanent life. I plan to work on my origami skills and figure out all those last wedding details that I’ve been ignoring for so long. I plan on drawing like a fiend. I plan on calling all my friends and catching up on these last tumultuous months.
And I plan on celebrating advent.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only. begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
10 days until I graduate
17 days until Christmas
19 days until I go home again
40 days until I get married
How long until I find an apartment or a job? That’s what I’d most love to know. But that’s what heaven isn’t telling.
Now I sympathize with the wild-eyed looks my contemporaries got last year as Commencement approached. How do we find jobs? It said. We’re too grown up to move home again for long but how does one go about finding a place to live? Leases? Utilities? Was there a class on that? Don’t get me wrong. Many of my friends had jobs waiting for them after graduation or found something they enjoy doing within a month or two. But that initial jump into completely uncertain, unknown territory — that’s what gets us looking like we haven’t slept since 1985.
John Skillen, the professor who oriented us to Orvieto, said, “Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling, find space for that, and then move on to the next thing.” Pretty good advice for cross-cultural adventures and for graduating, too. Leave room for the nostalgia, the fear of losing the community which makes college unique, the fear of starvation in the streets, the fear of waitressing for the rest of your life, the joy of not having homework any more, the euphoria at gaining such a hard-earned degree. And then? Move on to finding an apartment, looking at help wanted ads, and packing up all your boxes.
Leave time especially to hang out with the people who made college special — invite your favorite professor to have coffee (unanimously voted the beverage of choice for academics), let those last community dinners stretch on for three hours, ignore that last writing assignment in favor of a game of cards. The character development of Huck Finn won’t stick with you for more than a year. Good friends? Well, hopefully longer than that.
Thousands of graduates before us have transitioned away from college without mental breakdowns, right? It must be possible. Wish me luck, and I’ll wish it your way, too.Filed under general | Comments Off
Thanksgiving break doesn’t officially start until Wednesday. But for me — well, let’s just say there’s a class or two that might not see my face tomorrow. I’m going home! I can’t wait. Thanksgiving is always the most-needed break in any year. Today I had two papers, a small test, and an art critique, so I’m just mentally blown. It’s time to check out. Hit the beaches (in November? Well, why not?), eat zillions of pounds of turkey, twice that amount of dressing, and just hang with my family for a few days.
Whew. I’ve been counting down to this one for weeks. It’s gonna be so great.
Is it sad that I plan to get lots of stuff done while I’m at home?
I’m going to kick-start the favorite American food part early, though. Tonight I’m going to a community dinner (started by alumni — I guess the whole hospitality and community emphasis of Messiah really does stick with you) that will feature pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and probably tiny chickens.
Well, I’m not in charge of that part. So don’t ask me.Filed under general | Comments Off
Literally. In my internship, I am living in the future. Next January, in fact — a month that I’m already looking forward to for completely extracurriculur reasons (my first month after I graduate!). Central PA magazine always works a few months in advance, to give time for printing and emergencies to happen, so I’m helping them put together the January issue of the magazine.
Creativity is definitely encouraged, and once I get more in the swing of things, I hope I’m able to contribute.
Mostly, I hope I can find a job. I’m scanning the interwebs for jobs that suit my interests. I’m hoping against hope that I don’t get stuck in a regrettable city for years.
The weather turned cold today, and in a fortuitous turn of events, my grandmother mailed me a flower bulb that arrived. So now when winter blows its unpleasant breezes all over campus, I will have a bright red amaryllis to cheer up my apartment.
Everyone needs a bright red amaryllis.Filed under general | Comments Off
That’s the kind of sentiment that filled Messiah’s campus yesterday. Wow, what a day! And now people can’t stop talking about how relieved and/or angry they are about the results. I’m just relieved the country decided overwhelmingly in one direction. I dreaded another re-count. I just don’t think I could handle it. I would’ve had to run screaming around my apartment and maybe tossed a few pillows around for good, angry measure.
Of course, as my co-worker Dan just told me, two states have yet to declare their votes: Missouri and North Carolina. That’s 26 electoral votes yet to be accounted for. Not that it would swing the election either way. It just strikes me as funny that we can declare a winner without knowing all the numbers. Like, shouldn’t there be a due process to all of this?
Also, how did they do it back in the day? Did they have to wait until horses brought in all the votes to Philadelphia or Washington D.C. or something? And would people have tried to mug the vote-carrying horsemen to try and skew the vote?
These are the things I wish history taught us.
And while I’m wishing, I’m going to wish for less rhetoric and more substance for our country. So many people got emotional at Obama’s acceptance speech, or McCain’s concession speech. But you know, both those speeches just gave me a bad taste in my mouth. It’s all just talk, and it’s not even straight talk. We’ll find out what Obama’s made of in the next four years. My guess? That no matter who was elected, the new president won’t be any better than any president we’ve had over the last few decades, and he has at least a 30% chance of being worse.
And I’m going to wish that people would educate themselves about the local party candidates that were on their ballots as stringently as they educated themselves about the presidential candidates. Because it’s not just one man running the show.Filed under general | Comment (1)
I guess not! I have one with Central PA magazine for the month of November. It’s kind of an unusual thing to do an internship for just one month, but I’m excited to see how the process works with another magazine and gain a little more hands-on experience.
I’m especially glad to be around for hands-on experience after a scary Tuesday. On the way to New York City to hang out with friends, Greg and I got into a little car accident due to the strange snowstorms in New Jersey and a patch of ice. . . Thankfully, not even one person was hurt. Whew!
Now that I’ve successfully acquired an internship. . . I only have to face the challenge of getting a real job when I graduate! Right???Filed under general | Comments Off
about distrusting any kind of artwork which came easily.
If that is true, and the difficult undertakings are the only good ones, then my life is full of very good things.
Currently, I’m embarked on a mission to learn to draw, something that should have happened a long, long time ago. Oh, sure, I took intro to drawing and got an A, but there’s so much more to drawing I never discovered.
Here’s the thing about being a super-senior that I love — all the professors know me, and as I’m looking forward to the things I need to be an artist after I graduate (like knowing how to draw really well) they’re totally willing to help me work out a way to reach my goals. One of my favorite professors ever took some time out of his busy Monday-after-break and gave me my first assignment:
Drawings of bell peppers, due next Wednesday.
Where will I find time in my schedule? I’m not sure. But if I’ve learned one thing in my extensive education, I’ve mastered prioritization of tasks. And this one? It’s near the top. I also think Messiah would be proud — I think I might officially be a life-long learner.Filed under general | Comments Off
Did you know that the forerunners to our standardized testing system are immigration tests, way back in the day at Ellis Island? Authorities decided they needed a way to tell who was feeble-minded and wouldn’t do the country much good as a labor force. So they adapted a French testing system (designed to tell if any members of a class were what we might think of as mildly retarded). Let’s just say these tests were a little flawed — something like 80% of Jews were turned away because of them, and there is no way that 80% of any ethnic group is mentally handicapped.
No, this is not a diatribe against having to take the SAT to get into college. I learned about the history of standardized testing from Beverly Tatum, one of several speakers in Central Pennsylvania for a series of conversations on race and education in Pennsylvania’s schools. My favorite part? She didn’t just remind us of the problems facing the public school system, she gave us ideas about concrete things to make the situation better.
All of these tests — back in the day and now — are based on the idea that intelligence is hereditary. But really, Tatum reminded us, it’s not. Intelligence is a dynamic thing, and students who are taught that show marked improvement in school. If students believe their intelligence is up to whatever task the teacher sets, and if teachers are setting high standards and clearly communicating those standards, Tatum believes that students’ performance could be radically improved.
An excellent way to communicate to students’ that the teacher perceives their ability to learn and holds high standards for them is a “criticism sandwich.” (It does not sound as tasty as grilled cheese, but it serves an great purpose.) For example, a teacher tells a student “Your paper showed a really good understanding of the material and I can tell you thought about it a lot. It needs work on your grammar and sentence structure, though. If you fix these things, it could be a really great paper.” The teacher communicated firstly what the student did right (belief in the student’s intelligence), then what the student should work on, and and finally the high standard the teacher expects and a reiteration of the idea that the student can fulfill those expectations.
I’d never heard the term “criticism sandwich” before, but it instantaneously found a home in my vocabulary. And someday, when I’m a professor, I am so going to hand out criticism sandwiches right and left, especially if it helps my students. I left Tatum’s lecture feeling better equipped to be an educator and able to talk a little more easily about race and education — and race is not something I have ever been comfortable talking about. One of the things I appreciate most about Messiah is the willingness of the college as a whole to host, begin, and sustain complicated, uncomfortable conversations — including conversations about race as a systemic thing and as something individuals can perpetuate or not. And where it is in our educational system.Filed under general | Comments Off
possibly about the excellent lecture on race and education that I attended last Thursday.
But it’s now the fifth week of school (1/3 done!) and you know that what we really need is a good laugh.
So go visit Cake Wrecks for the most hilarious collection of ugly, messed up, or just plain strange cakes you’ve ever seen. You have to love the internet.
Now if only I could get the internet to do my homework, I would have more time to post on my blog.Filed under general | Comments Off
Today I, like my fellow blogger Dan, am celebrating that mystical moment of applying for a degree with the registrar’s office. . . . For me, the experience is coming a semester late, which, due to my rampant senioritis (it happens to the best of us) makes it a very, very sweet moment.
Also, how weird is this — another fellow Messiah blogger decided to adopt my blog template (you have good taste, my friend), and her birthday is apparently a mere one day before mine. Freaky. I have an internet doppelganger!
In other news, I am attempting to zen out as I transition into being 22, reaching graduation, getting married, finding my very first full-time, year-round job, etc., etc. I’m sure you’ve all heard graduates wonder how long they’ll be unemployed before, so I’ll spare you my account of the perennial question facing recent college graduates. No, I do not have a plan.
Instead, let’s talk about pumpkin. I don’t really like pumpkin pie, but in my More with Less cookbook (favorite standby of Mennonites everywhere) I discovered a recipe for pumpkin soup which tops my charts. Delicious! I also felt happy because none of the pumpkin was wasted! We dug out the meat (mostly), used it for the soup, roasted the seeds for snacks, and then Greg carved the shell into a cranky, mustachioed man.
That means it’s really fall! Pumpkins! Cool weather! The color orange! People mowing their lawns and harvesting their squashes! Can you tell it’s exciting? Pennsylvania has a great autumn, with more pronounced changing of the leaves than I’m used to. I enjoy it a lot. And some of my Messiah people are getting inspired to bake breads, have community meals, or cookouts, or in other ways make great use of the fine weather we’re currently enjoying. It’s good.
Now if only I could get them to stop assigning me more reading, I’d be golden. . . .Filed under general | Comment (1)