Lessons Learned

So.  The first few weeks back at school have been a whirlwind of assignments and tests and what not, but I’m in the middle of a lull at the moment, so I have time to make one of these.  Actually, I probably could have submitted one of these earlier in the year if I’d devoted myself to it, but… well, I wasn’t.  So I didn’t.  And I’m still not, so this thing is going to update rather intermittently in the future. 

The first semester went pretty well, really, with an A in Rhetoric and a B+ in Old English.  Bit disappointing, as Old English is supposed to be my field of study and I really should have done better, but on the whole I’m satisfied with those grades.  Hopefully I’ll have future opportunities to brush it up.  I submitted that Portal paper (maybe I’ll post it up here sometime) but I haven’t heard back from it yet.

This coming semester is looking pretty interesting.  I’m taking 17th century poets, as I said before, but instead of Victorian Aesthetics, I decided to take 20th Century poets so the time wouldn’t conflict with the Creative Writing class I added. 

The Creative Writing class is also poetry-centric, so with all my classes together, I’m looking to have a very poetic semester.  This is all the more intriguing as poetry has never been a big thing with me.  I mean, I like it, but a lot of modern poetry I just don’t get, and even old-fashioned poetry confuses me at times.  And certainly I’ve never managed to write much poetry.  Prose is my preferred style.  But hopefully, that’s going to change.  I’ve already submitted a poem on Flouccinaucinihilification that was fairly well received, and this week I submitted a poem about zombies (apparently I’m not the first to do this.)  SO I may be getting the hang of things.

What I’m more worried about is the 20th Century Poets class.  Modern poets REALLY aren’t my thing, and though Yeats is pretty good, Stevens is a little more difficult and Jeffers, while understandable, is distinctly grotesque at points.  More to the point, I have a bunch of papers to do for this class (more, page-wise, than my Creative Writing class) and none of them are going to be about poets I’m really interested in.  So that class has me nervous.

17th century poets is the bright light in this.  These are poets I enjoy in a fairly laid-back, seminar-style class with other intelligent people.  There’s one paper, and though there look to be a bunch of in-class presentations, I think I can handle them.  So 17th century provides a good note to end the week on.

Bit of a shift on the work front:  I’ll still be doing the ridiculously-easy-but-intensely-rewarding writing center duty, but I will also be doing a significantly more taxing job as physics tutor to three separate athletes at the Athletic Learning Center.  Apparently that single class I took in physics at GCC qualifies me to tutor athletes taking the equivalent at Baylor.  So far it’s been going well, but my goodness, is my trigonometry rusty.  I haven’t had to use those sin/cos/tan things in forever.  Hopefully the students don’t outpace my memory–I asked for a copy of the book they’re using so I can brush up on my physics in the spare time I don’t have.

All in all, this is looking to be a fairly grueling semester.  There wasn’t a way around it–I need the extra credit hours if I want to be eligible for the TA position next year–but it’s nonetheless nasty for that.  The good news is, if I can survive this coming semester, I can survive anything, so this is really a make-or-break period here.

So as I dive into a whole new time of learning, let’s take a look back at what I learned this past semester.

Things I’ve learned from a semester of living on my own in Texas.

* Free Utilities are really really nice, particularly in a state with such wildly fluctuating temperatures.

* Grad School studies and awesome video games CAN mix.

* Grad School studies and awesome video games generally DON’T mix very well.

* Age is much more relative than I’d hitherto believed.  Half the people at my grade level are at least five years older than me.

* If your orange juice starts tasting fizzy, it’s not because that’s what it’s like at the bottom.  It’s probably because the “Sell by” date was sometime last month.

* Chicken does not go in the fridge.  It goes in the freezer.

* Do not store your lettuce in the lower drawer of the fridge.  You will forget about it.

* (Related) Lettuce turns brown if left in the fridge.

* If you enter your apartment every day and smell something funny, check the fridge first.  (related to chicken and lettuce discoveries)

* EDIT: Actually, check your shoe first.  The fridge is a more likely source, but if you’re just entering the apartment, the shoe has a greater potential for damage.

* Good friends are invaluable.

* Cookies are not necessary for existence, but they sure make it a whole lot more fun.

* Grad School is full of nerds.  Like FULL OF them.

* Even if you don’t drink it, keep some coffee in the apartment for emergencies.

* An internet connection is both a blessing and a curse.

* If living by yourself, there’s really no point to wearing a bathrobe as you make breakfast.  Do it anyway.  It makes you feel really classy.

* Frying pans are the basic cooking utensil.  The most basic cooking ingredient is meat.  Frying is the most basic cooking action.  Stick with what you know.

* Watch out for “deals” at the store or on coupons.  Make sure you’re not buying anything you don’t actually want.

* When your job is to analyze deep, philosophical literature, comic books can be the most delightful things in the world.

* Prioritize.  Figure out your goals for the year, month, week, and day.  Focus on the day first.

* Get some sort of routine going.  It’ll keep the insanity mostly at bay.

* Say as little as possible.  Generally other people will do the talking for you.

* When all’s said and done, there’s nothing quite like the taste of a thick greasy hamburger.

Some of these I knew before, but have had their relevance hammered in with new force.  Some of the more recent lessons… well, let’s not discuss how I know them.  Let’s just say that I’ve learnt a lot about things that have nothing to do with school but everything to do with life.  And that’s really been half the fun of this past semester at grad school.  Sure, at college I theoretically was also “on my own,’ but I had a meal plan then.  This is the first time I’ve shopped for myself, cooked for myself, and maintained my own apartment.  And while I wish I had a bit more money to do all that with, I’m pretty pumped at what I’ve managed to do so far.

So having learnt all that in the first semester, it should be pretty interesting to see how the second semester goes.


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