Monthly Archives: February 2010

When I was in college

When I was in college

Recently, I read a post by a friend of mine* which has some good advice for students who haven’t yet picked a major… It’s long, but it’s got some good commentary about tangible versus intangible skills, why you should pick a major that focuses on tangible skills, and why that’s important, even though more majors teach (and more potential jobs require) intangible skills over tangible ones. Overall, I recommend it to those who’ve gotten into a good school and now aren’t sure what they want to do with their time there.

* We’re not really friends, but we were never not friends (that is, we were never enemies), either, if that makes sense, so I’m going to assume the best until he says otherwise.

What interested me, however, was his rundown of what he did in college, how he placed upon graduation, and what he’s doing now. I knew him our freshman year, for Christ-sakes; I think it’s okay for me to be interested, right?

Well, I was screwed up in college. Personally, I mean. I did decently in classes and even managed to get a close friend or three out of the deal, but in my head, I was screwed up. My story, compared to his, isn’t as idyllic. (Maybe he’s sugar-coating it, I don’t know, but I’m not given that impression upon reading his post.)

Freshman Year
Unlike my friend, I was not pre-med. I never intended to be pre-med, and I never had any intention of saving the world, at least not through medicine. I wanted to take the world by storm, and not just one person at a time. At first, I wanted to go into politics or linguistics. I’d participated in consciousness-building workshops, political how-to discussions, and awareness rallies. I wanted to make things better for the people around me, and I wanted people to stand up and take notice of the injustice in their lives and around the world.

I entered my freshman year as an undeclared government/German language double major. I’d taken three years of German in high school and wanted to continue my studies. I quickly discovered, however, that I had no idea what I was doing in college, especially since the entire point of my school existence up to that point had been to just get into college. I didn’t know what to do once I’d achieved my high school goal. I’d gotten into college, I was thinking to myself, now what? I had no life goal beyond that. It wasn’t as though I was expecting my life to end or something, I just hadn’t entertained any thought beyond getting in.

My grades plummeted. I went from being a 3.67 student, as I’d been in high school, to less than a 2.67 student. I had trouble attending class without an external motivator. By the end of my first semester, I was thrilled just to have earned three Cs and a B, so fearful was I of outright failure. My downward spiral didn’t end there. I was depressed and I didn’t know why—I’d been depressed for so long it felt almost normal. My over-active imagination told me things that were obviously not true, and I convinced myself and no doubt my hallmates that something was wrong with me. I didn’t know what was happening to me, except that I was falling apart, and I was watching my grades fall apart with me. Second semester, I managed to pull myself together enough to earn three Bs and a C, but the damage was done. I would never be an excellent student, as I’d once been.

Sophomore Year
Sophomore year might’ve been my sophomore slump (pdf), as my friend mentions, but if it was for me, it was just a continuation of freshman year. My roommate didn’t return to my school for personal reasons, I pledged a sorority, and my grades continued to fall. I’d had a rough summer between freshman and sophomore year, but I’d insisted on returning to school despite my limitations. I knew what I was dealing with this time around, but I still had trouble attending classes, and I started self-harming. I got mixed up in some nasty business that I just barely managed to get myself out of more than a year later. I thought I was able to handle it, but it came back to bite me in the ass and I realised there was no way I could go into politics, at least not successfully. I ran up credit card debt like I’d been handed a free pass to buying whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

By the end of the year, I was worse off than I had been my freshman year. I earned two Bs and two Cs the first semester with the help of my pledge sisters and my boyfriend at the time, but the second semester I had to withdraw from a course for missing too many class sessions. My cumulative GPA hung in the balance around 2.4, much to my chagrin. I knew that language was not my forte, having earned only Cs in two semesters of German my freshman year, and politics was out. I had to pick a new major, or majors, and it the time to declare was fast approaching.

Junior Year
I was determined not to let things fall apart anymore than they already had. My GPA was comparatively pitiful—I’d never had such a crappy time academically in my life. I took a class over the summer and, thankfully for my self esteem, earned an A. I knew, then, that getting good grades was still possible, if not probable. At the beginning of my Junior year, I declared a double major in English and History, which seemed to be the path of least resistance. The first semester, I pulled off a 3.25 GPA and raised my cumulative GPA to almost 2.6… Things were looking up. But getting it to just a 3.0 was going to prove impossible. I relapsed into depression and over-imaginative thinking my second semester and had to withdraw from another class. My sorority sisters and friends didn’t really know how to help me, and I didn’t know how to help myself. I was lost. Nevertheless, I earned straight B minuses despite failing to attend class regularly.

Senior Year
The summer between my Junior and Senior years, I stayed on campus and took two courses in order to catch up and graduate on time, poor grades or no. The first semester of my senior year, I did well. I was living off campus with an apartment-mate who I liked, and I had an on-campus job that allowed me to make classes a priority. Somehow, though, I did poorly my second semester. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I wasn’t that I wasn’t smart enough. I just wasn’t applying myself as much as I could. I realised half way through my second semester that I was going to fail if I didn’t do something different. I had to start attending classes regularly. I had to. Despite my depression and mental issues, I talked with my professors and managed to pull the last semester out of my hat with the same grades as I’d started with: three Cs and a B. You have no idea how grateful I was just to be able to walk across the platform and accept my degree. I was ashamed at how out of control everything seemed to have gotten, and I was determined not to let it hold me back.

Post-College
During my Senior year, I applied to numerous graduate schools and was accepted into a few, despite my poor grades. I began attending one for Creative Writing shortly after graduation and have since earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a cumulative GPA of 3.67. In attending graduate school, I was back to the type of grades I expected and earned in high school, and for that, I was gratefully relieved. I really was smart enough; I just needed internal motivation, it seemed. I moved from Pennsylvania to New York and got a job as an executive assistant at a small non-profit organization in Brooklyn. I might still have that job if it wasn’t for the crappy economy falling on us at exactly the most inopportune moment. I was laid off through no fault of my own and struggled to stay afloat without an income in New York for eight months before giving in and moving home to California.

Now, I’m in the spot about which my friend warns: “While D does stand for ‘Degree,’ it also increases the probability that you will be ‘Dependant’ [sic] on your others for shelter which may mean living in your parents’ basement.” I’ve only ever earned one D in my life, and that was in Junior High, but the principal remains the same: I’m still out of work, graduate degree or no, and I’m living with my parents. It’s embarrassing to admit that because I feel like I should’ve succeeded at taking care of myself by now, but no. I have a different problem than my friend; he wants to change jobs, I want a job in the first place. I’m working to remedy the situation, but finding work in this economy isn’t easy. I wonder if he has any good advice for someone like me?

“Durch den Monsun” lyrics

SONG: Durch den Monsun
BY: Tokio Hotel

Das Fernster öffnet sich nicht mehr
Hier drin ist’s voll von dir und mehr
Und vor mir geht die letzte Kerze aus
Ich warte schon ne Ewigkeit
Endlich ist es jetzt so weit
und draußen ziehn die schwarzen Wolken auf

Ich muss durch den Monsun
Hinter die Welt
Ans Ende der Zeit
Bis kein Regen mehr fällt
Gegen den Sturm
Am Abgrund entlang
Und wenn ich nichtmehr kann
Denke ich daran
Irgendwann laufen wir zusammen
Durch den Monsun
Ein halber Mond versinkt vor mir
War der eben noch bei dir ?
Und hält er wirklich was er mir verspricht ?
Ich weiß, dass ich dich finden kann
hör deinen Namen im Orkan
Ich glaub noch mehr dran glauben kann ich nicht

Ich muss durch den Monsun
Hinter die Welt
Ans Ende der Zeit
Bis kein Regen mehr fällt
Gegen den Sturm
Am Abgrund entlang
Und wenn ich nichtmehr kann
Denke ich daran
Irgendwann laufen wir zusammen
Weil uns einfach nichts mehr halten kann
Durch den Monsun
Hey…
Hey…
Ich kämpf mich durch die Mächte
Hinter dieser Tür
Werde sie besiegen und dann
Führ’n sie mich zu dir
Dann wird alles gut
Dann wird alles gut
Alles gut

Chrno Crusade, episodes 13-24

Chrno and Rosette
I apparently like hugging and hurt/comfort scenes.

I have quite a few more screenshots of the second part of Chrno Crusade, just like I did for the first half. And what a second half it was. Generally more serious than the first half because things have to be wrapped up… or at least *ended* whether they’re “wrapped up” or not.

You look pretty good right there.
Yes, she does.

So, in episode 13 of Chrno Crusade (wiki), Rosette manages to off one of the demons (evil spidery woman, she was), but not before she gets sliced up pretty good—and I had to take screenshot of that, of course.

Azmaria, Chrno, and Rosette
Does this not remind you of Trigun? Doesn’t it?

A… lot of stuff happened from middle to end. First, Chrno goes and gets a fever, which at first I thought could be part of a deeper plot device, but no. It was just a fever, and then Rosette came down with it, too. So an entire episode (I kid you not) was spent in bed—and not in the fun way, either. I was like, “WTF?” and then they were all better, ready to go Joshua-hunting in the next ep. They’re still looking for Rosette’s brother, by the way, all the way up until episode 19.

Joshua and Rosette
Joshua and Rosette’s meeting; the thing on Joshua’s arm is Aion’s creepy eagle

…at which point Joshua doesn’t even remember Rosette. The fuck? Way to go, little brother.

Eventually, we find out that Rosette’s part is bigger than just “I want to find my brother, who happens to be an Apostle.” Actually, Aion does this totally uninspiring spell casting ritual thing…

They should have written things in easier languages
This just cracked me up, for some reason; I was like, “SO TRUE.”

…and we discover that—heavens—Rosette is a Saint, stigmata and everything.

Aion
Aion, licking Rosette’s stigmata; I pick the best parts to screencap, don’t I?

We’ve learned through the series that a demon’s horns are her/his/its source of power, and when the horns are broken off, the demon will slowly die unless s/he/it has a human contractor. Chrno’s contractor is Rosette. But I want to know who Aion’s contractor was? This is a loophole I don’t understand. Aion broke off his own horns and yet he seemed fine. Was he living off of the general misery and hatred in the populous? I don’t get it, though I did get a nice cap of Aion and Chrno in their true forms.

Aion and Chrno
Aion, after having just torn off his own horns, and Chrno

Speaking of true forms, I watched this part like five times hoping against hope that maybe they’d kiss this time, but to no avail. Le sad.

Chrno and Aion
Do you? (Chrno and Aion)

Still, it made my little yaoi heart flutter. And, of course, the first thing I did after finishing the series was to search for Aion/Chrno fanfiction. I’m so predictable.

In the end, it really comes down to Rosette and Chrno. She points her gun at him and he says, “If it’s for you, if it’s for you to live, I can die.” He loves her that much. So much that he, a demon, would lay down his life for her, a nun (albeit a nun with a gun—hahaha).

Rosette and Chrno
I was definitely in tears by this point.

When Aion attacks Chrno from behind, Rosette realizes what she’s doing and snaps out of it—predictable, but not unsatisfactory. Maybe this would change if I read the manga, but I’m not sure I really understood what Aion was fighting for in the first place? I mean, I know it was the head of Pandemonium and all that—I was paying attention, after all—but why? What freedom was he searching for? I didn’t understand the explanation given. Maybe I should just watch it again.

Satella, Azmaria, Rosette, and Chrno

I wonder where Father Remington is now, hm?

Star Cafe and “How Can I…?”

Found these on the way home from Glendale College yesterday around 11:30 am.

A Star Cafe receipt in which the person who paid gave the server, Pedro D, a tip of $7.77 for a total bill of $25:

Star Cafe receipt

And a note, the first three lines of which are “How can I get a listing of companies by zip code?” Can anyone read the rest?:

How can I...?

How can I get a listing
of companies by zip
code?
[unknown] Intelligence
system..
—could pull up companies
[unknown] a certain zip
code by
—annual [unknown]
—TPA (great [unknown])
401K
provide iE.

That’s a found poem if I’ve ever seen one.

Chrno Crusade, episodes 1-12

Chrno and Rosette
Favorite screen shot so far. Not the best one, but definitely my favorite.

I think Chrno Crusade (wiki) is going in my list of favorite animes. Seriously. Almost every episode—these are ep.7—goes from this:

Episode 7, part 1

…to this:

Episode 7, part 2

Gotta love it. (Reminds me a little of Slayers in that way, actually.) I’m only halfway through and it’s like a book I can’t put down. I just have to see what happens next. I’m a sucker for the evil/good dichotomy, as it were.

Set in the United States during the late 1920s, Chrno Crusade follows the story of Rosette Christopher, a nun in the Magdalene Order, and her demon partner, Chrno. Based in Brooklyn, New York—hells yeah—they travel around the country eliminating demonic threats to society while Rosette searches for her lost brother, Joshua.

Episode 9 had me all teared up. When she says she wanted to be a doctor to save/help her brother. Gah. I’m a sucker for stuff like that. And episode 10 had a badass version of Chrno, even if it was only for a split second.

Badass Chrno

Aaaaand, of course episode 12 is the obligatory Chrisu-masu episode—reindeer and Angels We Have Heard on High for everyone! (Also, giant-est fir tree EVER.)

All of the main characters have been introduced, including:

Rosette and Chrno
Rosette and Chrno (they’re rarely apart)

Azmaria
Azmaria Hendrick

Father Remington
Father Remington

Sister Kate
Sister Kate

Satella
Hexen die Juwel, Satella (doing her thing reminds me of Sailor Venus somehow)

Aion
Aion (reminds me of Zechs and Father Nightroad put together, sorta; maybe it’s the hair)

Joshua
Joshua, Rosette’s brother

One thing I want to know, though—and this is being nitpicky, I know—is that if the Order is stationed in Brooklyn, and a bunch of the demon stuff happens in Brooklyn (aside from the thing in Central Park, of course), why the hell do Chrno and Rosette always seem to be driving over bridges? I’ve lived in New York. New York in 1928 isn’t that much different than now. That is, there are no bridges that have Brooklyn on both sides. Bridges to Brooklyn, yes. Bridges from Brooklyn, yes. There are no bridges that are entirely in Brooklyn. Just sayin’.

Though I haven’t read the manga (no surprise there, right?), I learned that:

The anime follows the manga through the first half, but it diverges halfway through, creating different courses of events and endings. The characterization of some the characters, including Rosette and Aion, and their roles in the story were changed in the adaptation of the manga. Much of the story is driven by the individual pasts of the main characters and the complex relationships between them.

…which means that I’ll be venturing into unknown territory in the next 12 episodes. I’ve heard the ending is extremely sad, and I’m looking forward to it. Er, that sounds weird, I know, but it makes sense in my head.

Rosette's time left

More pictures here (ep.4), here (ep.5), here (ep.7), and here (ep.8).

Lolita

Lolita by Annie WuI’ve never read Lolita, but even I know the basic story:

the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle-aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a twelve-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.

Apparently, in 2007, John Bertram issued a challenge: design a cover for Nabokov’s Lolita. Here are the results, via Flickr. It’s a pretty interesting set, actually, and has everything from innocence to pedophilia—sometimes both in the same cover. The one to the right is my favorite (I have a thing for striking eyes), but I also like this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one. Seeing some of the covers… does not make me want to read the book. (I don’t really want to read it anyway, but I’m just saying. It’s supposed to be a classic and controversial and all that.) Some of them are just… creepy. I mean… ugh.

And what the hell is up with the quotation in this one? Did Vanity Fair really publish a review of Lolita (of all things) including the phrase “The only convincing love story of our century”? Really? Really?

(hat tip Jezebel)