Friday, April 29, 2011

Diabolical Scheduling

I am an evil genius. No, really!

When this semester started in January, I had four to five classes every day, along with a work shift thrown in somewhere. It was torture, but it was the middle of winter in the mountains (excuse me, can you help me find my nose? I think it fell off in the ice storm) so it wasn't like I badly wanted to be spending time outside.

Two of these classes were term classes, meaning that they ended before spring break. Now I am left with only two classes a day, and neither one of them assigns a good deal of homework outside of a single lengthy project. Now that it is perfectly glorious weather outside, I have all of the time I need to both do my project, and work on my base tan.

My friends all hate me for this.

Sure, I hated life during that first term, but the vision of a sunny and relaxing future in just eight short weeks kept me going strong. While everyone else is complaining about all the homework and projects they suddenly have piling up at the end of the year, I get to wander around outside twiddling my thumbs for hours on end. That plant collection project that's due next week? Oh, I just finished that, and just need to mount my specimens. You haven't started yet?

This also leaves me lots of time for cooking, watching movies, cleaning, and preparing for the end of the school year. Yes, despite how much we whine, the school year does eventually come to an end.

Now excuse me, but the sunshine is calling, and you should probably get back to work!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Free Time is Overrated

Some children may disagree with me on this point, but let me explain.

At glorious College X, students work for the school at least 15 hours a week, and do community service, and somehow fit homework in there. It sounds crazy, but there is actually a lot of downtime if you have a good work ethic (how else would I write blog updates?) Somehow between my classes, work, and service I fit archery, firefighting, first-aid for fire spinners, and a love of Law&Order into my week. Not to mention lots of crazy daydreaming. It may help that I don't party, don't drink and don't smoke.

I often wonder how people at other colleges don't go completely crazy with an extra 15-20 hours of free time every week. Maybe their brains just turn to mush, and they're brainwashed into thinking it's an invigorating experience.

We're not lazy, we're just selectively focused.

Bah. You had your entire childhood to play around in the dirt with sticks (at least I did - no summer camp or soccer for my family! Wahoo!), apply yourself a little.

Though I may not have enough time every week to write a lengthy blog post, I at least feel satisfied with everything that I've done.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Touch of Perspective

As I have discovered recently there are a lot of things college students (and other such adults) love to complain about, even though there are easy solutions.

#1: "I don't get enough sleep"
There are a lot of varieties of this complaint, which include saying "I'm really tired" about eighty times in one day, etc. The easy solution is: Go to bed before midnight every night, and try getting up at the same time every day (a sleep schedule). It also has another name most people hate - a bedtime. Your body loves schedules, and hates the funky partying you do until three a.m. on Saturdays. Try it, you'll be amazed.

#2: "I don't have enough time to do all of my homework/projects"
Again, try getting up at eight or nine on weekends instead of two or three in the afternoon. You'll be amazed how productive you can be that early when all of the other hung-over people aren't awake yet and the dorm is extremely quiet.

#3: "I don't have enough money"
Well did you really have to buy all of the beer for last week's block party? I might also recommend spending less, saving more, and getting a summer job (If you aren't in a position to have a job while at school). Remember that it also isn't a good thing if you save every penny and deprive yourself of a little fun. It's also not good to sponsor happy hour at the local bar.

#4: "I hate all my classes/professors"
Then you probably aren't in the right major. A reevaluation of your educational priorities may be in order, or a quick talk with your professor about your concerns.

#5: "School textbooks are too expensive"
... Well yeah. There really isn't a way to fix this, but that doesn't mean you have to repeat it every single time you buy textbooks.

#6: "[insert generic complaint about girlfriend/boyfriend/partner here]"
Probably the greatest number of complaints I hear on campus are about relationships. It drives me completely insane. Most couples I know are dating someone on campus, and when they complain I try to make it clear to them how fortunate they are to be able to see each other every day. I have been dating the same man for three years, and I have hardly seen since I came to College X (except over breaks). It's torture. Unless your significant other also chooses to join the military like mine, stop complaining about not seeing each other every single hour.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Long Road

It looks like I'm actually going to be able to participate in College X's Annual Work Day tomorrow, rather than being called away to fight a fire as I was last year. For that reason, I chose to volunteer to be a Spirit Leader for a group that will be planting saplings in an area that badly needs it.

As spirit leader, my job is to make sure people stay safe, hydrated, and cheerful (one can only hope). All of the spirit leaders and group leaders had a big meeting, and at the end of the meeting we were issued pastel yellow shirts with the Work Day logo for this year on the front. Let me say now: we are required to wear these shirts tomorrow.

Problem #1: By the time I got to the front of the line, there were no medium or small shirts left, only several generations of large.

I thought "Okay, this could be worse! Sometimes I fit a larger size; I'm not a pixie." I got home and tried it on for size. NOPE - it fit about as well as a fifty-pound potato sack fits a single potato. It might as well have been a Muu muu.

Again, I thought "Okay, it's not the end of the world. I'll just cut out this hideous neckline, and cut strips in the sides and tie them together! Yeah! That'll be stylish and cool!" NOPE - after more than half an hour of careful cutting, it looked like I was growing yellow tentacles out of my sides.

Expletive, expletive, swearword!!! I tried hard not to panic. There were no more shirts to try this with. I don't own a sewing machine, or have access to one on such short notice.

Problem #2: My only option was to sew up the sides and hope that I hadn't lost too much fabric with my frantic tentacle-making. But I don't own a sewing machine. All I have is a tiny sewing kit with a variety of threads and needles. Fantastic. I also had to be at work in about an hour.

I very carefully lined up the sides, cutting off tentacles as I went, and prayed really, reeeeally hard.

I was about half-done when I had to go to work. Thankfully, I work at the front desk of the campus library, and my boss doesn't care if I sew at the desk as long as I'm available for patrons.

Another hour later, I had finished sewing the sides! Huzzah! Time for a fitting!

Problem #3: I had somehow sewn the top so that it looked like I had the mother of all love handles - big bubbles of fabric on either side. Other than that, it looked okay! I pinned the problem areas, and let out a deep sigh. Almost done.

And Problem #4 arose halfway through fixing this problem... I was running out of thread. I was so close to a perfect product (for a girl who barely knows the sharp end of a needle) and I was out of thread! I started scrounging the scraps of thread I had tossed aside so carefully before, but I was still three inches short at the end. I had to sit on my hands for another half hour before I could run home and get more thread. Blech.

Home at last! I got the extra thread I needed, finished the new seam, and un-threaded the old seam to knot it off to keep it from unraveling. The best part of the whole process was the difference between before and after. Before: ugly yellow potato sack. After: flattering yellow fitted tank top.

My mother was a professional seamstress who made custom window treatments, clothing for our family, costumes for the local high school's theatre program, and anything else she felt like challenging herself to try.

She taught me some basic sewing as a kid (which of course I felt it my duty to rebel against) and I was definitely channeling her mojo tonight. Four and a half hours, sack to chiq!