31 August 2009

Move-in went well. Living out of suitcases for the past year has really helped me to narrow down exactly what I need in the course of daily living. Gone are the days when I brought seven pairs of rowing spandex for those emergency rowing scenarios (which I can't imagine ever arising). As a result, my father and I hardly taxed ourselves taking things out of the van and Old Blue up into the flat. It was a nice change.

St. Mary's is as rural and humid as ever. I had forgotten how hot and humid it gets down here by the water and have been dying each moment that I am forced to venture outside. On the other hand, Waring Commons (where I live) seems to have its own climate and as I write this I am bundled in my winter coat. I wouldn't be surprised if I wake up tomorrow and find ice in my water bottle. My flat is lovely. It is on the second floor in the back quad of houses, close to the forest. My flatmates (for I refuse them to call them my 'suitemates') and I spent yesterday hanging Ashleigh's oil paintings in the common room and making plans to make it more comfortable.

Karen and my's room is decently sized (although nothing compared to the palatial room I had in Edinburgh). I decided to take the initiative this year and actually decorate my side. I had planned to opt for a classy and sophisticated look, but somehow seem to have paid homage to the UK/the world in general. Still, anything is better than the drab white walls. I will post pictures at some point as I imagine that Mum and my relatives might be interested.

Today was spent emailing my advisers and finding more sources for my dissertation meeting on Thursday. I looked absolutely mental emerging from the library with a stack of ten books teetering in my arms and weaving my way through the crowds of young, naive, and idealistic freshman organized into their orientation groups down by St. John's pond. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into. And so the Jacobites and I spent some quality time together this afternoon before I gave up in favor of going to Christian's birthday dinner at Monterey's.

I had planned hitting up the gym tomorrow morning before classes begin, but my plans have been thwarted by the phenomenon known as 'rush week' at the campus store. Tomorrow, everyone imaginable will be attempting to buy books and school supplies. As such, they need all available staff on hand. And I, while sleep-deprived, decided to volunteer to assist. So my schedule will be as follows:

7:00-10:30AM: Working rush at bookstore
10:40-11:50AM: Politics of the Middle East
12:00-1:00: Lunch with Karen
1:20-2:30: Politics of Terrorism
2:40-4:30: Historiography
4:30-5:00: Dinner
5:00-8:00PM: Working rush at bookstore
9:00-10:00PM: Running at track

Shower and bed will follow in preparation of getting up for work at 7:30 and my first forays at the archaeological lab.

27 August 2009

'In three days I'll be outta here and it's not a day too soon'

Suitcases packed? Checked.
Books bought? Checked.
Bike brakes fixed? Checked (er...not really. But this will be done! I can't go round riding a brake-less bicycle for another year.)
Emotionally and mentally prepared to go back to school? Checked and checked.

As much as I complained about not having had a break from school work since August 2007, I realized this summer that I miss it when I actually have some semblance of free time (although I don't know if the few hours I had to myself this summer could actually count as true free time). I missed the constant stress of having to meet deadlines and reading ridiculous amounts of material. I having a sneaking suspicion that Brad was correct in saying that I live my life on the brink of chaos. During the school year, I am always on the verge of the breaking point. Of course, this is also when I produce my best work.

As nice as the break was, I am ready to get back to work. The Jacobites have been severely neglected since I left spring break in Oxford and I will definitely need to pick up the slack upon my return to school. That said, I don't think that this year will be as hard as last. More filled with things to do and places to be, but not harder in terms of workload or expectations. I am taking five 'classes' (1 History, 2 Politics, 1 Anthropology/Lab Practicum, and a senior dissertation) and will be spending most of my time in Kent Hall. The rest of my time will be spent working at the bookstore, serving as an international ambassador, helping to run our school's chapter of Amnesty International, and running. I had hoped to return to rowing or equestrian team this semester, but it looks like this will be unlikely.

In other news, Cambridge posted the 2010-11 application online, which led to about five minutes of nervous/excited yelling to my brother and then two minutes of hyperventilating. It is one thing to be applying to these grand universities in theory (i.e. in the future), but once the application is posted and a deadline set...well, it makes it all a bit more real. Cue nervous stress now. I know that I shouldn't get myself worked up over this, but let's face facts: this is me we are talking about. Of course I am going to get worked up and stressed over this. Hopefully, this will enable me to produce the best application that I can. We shall see.

My next post will be coming from St. Mary's City, MD. This is my last move until May 2010. It will be the longest that I have stayed in any one place for a while now and I expect that I shall get a bit stir crazy (as is often the case) come November. So a road trip might be in order...

Next post: The Jacobites. Who were they? Why were they important? Why should YOU care? (And you should!) HINT: 'Jacobites' is not a disease.

23 August 2009

I walk these streets like a stranger in my home time

To say that I want to change the world would be both cliche and unrealistic. But this is essentially what I wish to do. Change begins on the level of the individual. It is one individual helping, interacting, influencing, and enabling another individual in some way so as to improve that individual's life. If this change is passed on, it eventually spreads. A kind of 'pay-it-forward' system if you will. My actions may never solve the problem of world hunger or prevent poverty. All I can hope is that they will begin and contribute to the chain reaction that eventually leads to true change. But enough of that before I come off sounding foolish.

It has been a whirlwind few weeks. First, and most importantly, I got a new car. Well, new to me and that is all that really matters. Following the death of 'Rebecca's Red Rocket', my family acquired a 2002 dark blue Ford Focus that I have affectionately dubbed 'Old Blue' for the fact that it is a perfect shade of 'Oxford Blue' and because I am hoping that this will score me karmatic bonus points when it comes time to make my applications to Oxford. I am entirely serious when I say that there should be a section on the application that judges the amount of desire that you have to study at the university. I would win, hands down. For every time I mention that I miss the city and university, there are perhaps five times that I've left this sentiment unspoken for fear of annoying those around me and provoking them into rages such as those exhibited by some of my family and friends. Anyway, Old Blue is mine for the year and will then be turned over to my mother when I leave for graduate school (a bit of wishful thinking here on my part).

Another emotional event that took place recently was the end of my internship at the US Department of State. I finished on Friday to mixed emotions on my part. On one hand, I am happy that I no longer have to get 'up' (up being a figurative term in this case since I only actually get about 4 hours of sleep a night) at 5:10AM and commute 2 hours into work by car, metro, and shuttle bus (and then brave the rush hour traffic home). On the other, I miss having a sense of purpose, things to do each day, and something to stress about other than my grad school applications. It was a hell of an experience and I hope to get to do it next summer (provided that I don't actually get, say, a paying job).

Speaking of grad school, my applications are finally under way. Cambridge is due in October (or presumably so since the 2010 application has yet to make an appearance on the website) and I've set a personal due date of October for King's and LSE. If all goes to plan, I should have an offer (or rejection) by December/winter hols. An acceptance at any of the three will mean that I will not apply to St. Andrews (too far away from civilization despite its impeccable reputation) or Edinburgh (no actual course in IR or Development; I'd have to settle for multi-level politics). I'd still apply to Oxford (wishful thinking, of course, as I doubt that I will get in. But I still have to try...) I've my curriculum vitae in order and have been cracking along on my personal statements (although I am a bit afraid to set pen to paper in fear that what will emerge will be utter rubbish after so long a time away from actual writing). Things are finally falling into place.

I move back down to St. Mary's on Saturday. I've mixed emotions about this event as well, but this is better left for another day.

22 August 2009

"Load the car and write the note
Grab your bag and grab your coat
Tell the ones that need to know
We are headed north

One foot in and one foot back
But it don't pay to live like that
So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks
For never to return"

15 August 2009

Wow! Has it really been almost a month since I last wrote? Time seems to have assumed a strange pattern recently: the days themselves pass with all the speed of a congressional hearing (which is to say, not much) whilst the weeks simply melt away. It hit me the other day that it is not only August, but almost halfway through August. Where did the first half of the month go? I'm not quite sure. Perhaps the memories of the first two weeks are hiding hazily somewhere amongst the monotony of the work week. Which is not to say that work is boring, as it certainly is not. It is just the predictability of getting up each day, driving to Greenbelt, riding the metro, and then taking the FSI bus that gets a tad bit tedious. Still, it has been such a wonderful experience. I will miss it when it is over.

In the past month, my parents had their 26th anniversary, my friend Laci moved into her first apartment, both my grandmothers were in the hospital (but are thankfully recovering from their respective ailments), and I went hiking in the Shenandoah mountains with some friends. Quite lovely. More importantly, John bought and installed my new keyboard into my laptop. My previous one had been deterioriating ever since I was attacked in Edinburgh after getting off the bus from London. It had gotten to the point where I could barely type a single sentence without half the letters missing. Being able to type my name is certainly an improvement! The other big news is that I have a car! We are going to pick it up in about fifteen minutes, so perhaps I will post pictures. It will be mine for the next year until I pack up to leave for grad school in the UK (all of this, of course, is assuming that I get in somewhere, a fact about which I am still rather doubtful).,