|You may have missed the cat pictures.
Maia hasn't changed much.
I do have to say, though, I love school. Going by distance is hard. Going while working is hard. Going with a largely uniform student body, so that it's often me and perhaps one other person in the class who are different, is hard. But my professors are fantastic. The teachers and advisers and administration are accessible and helpful. As for the classes, so far they always teach me something that helps bring light and warmth into the great aching vacuum in my chest that's trying to fill itself with understanding.
|I went on a road trip this spring and got this close to campus.
This is just outside of Ogden; USU is in Logan.
Someday I'll make it all the way there; I hear their ice cream's great.
In the meantime, I'm rocking an Aggie sweatshirt.
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My friend Bekah gave me the gift of a meet-and-greet with Pentatonix this summer in Seattle:
|In case you can't tell from the smiles, I was excited,
and they rock.
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You guys. I got to MEET them.
Also, they're pretty incredible. Even filmed amid screaming fans on somebody's iPhone. I'd just give you their official "Aha!" video, which is awesome if you can handle a little zombie, but I really love the Renaissance bit they do at the front when they sing it live.
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As mentioned, every class has taught me something I've needed to know. Highlights follow.
English 2010: Rogerian argument. It doesn't guarantee success, but at least it makes you feel like you're trying.
Horticulture 1800: How to prune different kinds of bushes and trees, and that my houseplants don't get nearly enough light. Now I just need to figure out how to fix that. They also get way too much cat, but cats unfortunately weren't covered in the module on horticultural pests.
American Institutions 1300: I learned so much from this class' lectures, readings, and discussions on wars, manifest destiny and imperialism, and the history and effectiveness of protests. Also, the professor told me I "need to go on to grad school for sure." I confess I glowed.
Statistics 1040: Considering that statistics can be manipulated to say almost anything, it meant a lot to learn the basics of how to read a study to see whether the claims being made off it are solid or suspicious. This was—rather unexpectedly—my favorite class so far.
Science and Society 1360*: What pseudoscience is, and the warning signs thereof; also, the natural limits of science and religion in relation to each other. Some of that I'd never heard before (well, I'd heard all the pseudoscience ... I do have Facebook. :P)
When I took swiftwater rescue some years back, my teacher said, "We're trying to drownproof you." Statistics and science together felt like being given the skills to help proof myself against drowning in misinformation.
Spanish 101: It's teaching me Spanish, which is awesome. It'd be cool to master vesre, but I'm still concentrating on memorizing the words with the syllables in the right order for now.
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Bekah and I chalked our hair for the Pentatonix concert; she knew I'd been eyeing all the pretty colors everybody's dyeing their hair nowadays. Chalk washes out, so it was just one day of purple, but it was fun to go happy-go-lucky colorful for a day.
|Kind of my favorite hair day EVER.
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I chose cultural anthropology for one of my fall classes, and it may be the wild card that surpasses Statistics for favorite class. After all, writers are anthropologists after a fashion—studying ourselves from a scientific distance, studying humanity intimately and up close, always questing for a better understanding of what it means to be human.
The anthropological perspective on the human condition is not easy to maintain. It forces us to question the commonsense assumptions with which we are most comfortable. It only increases the difficulty we encounter when faced with moral and political decisions. It does not allow us an easy retreat, for once we are exposed to the kinds of experience that the anthropological undertaking makes possible, we are changed. We cannot easily pretend that these new experiences never happened to us. There is no going back to ethnocentrism when the going gets rough, except in bad faith. So anthropology is guaranteed to complicate your life. Nevertheless, the anthropological perspective can give you a broader understanding of human nature and the wider world, of society, culture, and history, and thus help you construct more realistic and authentic ways of coping with those complications.**Of course, the scientific context is not required to have those kinds of experiences. learn that world-opening perspective, and undergo that change. Neither is writing. Sometimes it just happens because you're human and surrounded by humans. I am still full of wonder that it has happened to me. It's a beautiful complication; I wouldn't trade it for anything the world could give me.
* In other science class news, I got way too much joke mileage out of two weeks of researching and writing about hydraulic fracturing—as in, "I have to do my fracking homework." Blame that on all the sci-fi and fantasy swear-word substitutes that I've heard. Besides, burn me, but there was just so MUCH bloody gorram fracking homework. Merlin's pants! and mother's milk in a cup! I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle ... okay, I'll stop. :P
** Schultz, Emily A. and Robert H. Lavenda, Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition, Ninth Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 37