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More philosophy and critical thinking; more psychology. Less emphasis on team sports and more on other fitness-related activities.
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It seems that as my job search gains momentum, I am losing momentum on everything else. My motivation to do math is just gone, and has been for a week now. The thought of sitting down to it just makes me shudder, to a ridiculous extent. I've had this kind of thing happen before, but am still at a loss to explain it. All I know is it doesn't make me feel very good about myself.
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A couple of years ago I observed that I used to have the stressed-out-about-school kind of nightmares back in high school, when I wasn't anxious about school at all, and didn't seem to be having them any more once I got to college and actually did start stressing about school. Apparently that's no longer the case, 'cause I had one a couple nights ago.

I dreamed that I was enrolled this semester in the geometry class I actually took last semester, and although I'd been getting by and doing the work without attending classes, I suddenly realized that I still had to take the final to pass the class, which it hadn't occurred to me to plan on. In the dream, in fact, finals week had already started (in reality it doesn't start for another few days) and I realized with sudden horror that the geometry final might have already happened; next thing I knew, I was frantically searching for the exam schedule, but I think I woke up shortly after.

Annoyingly, there's a little too much of reality in this dream. I do in fact have classes that I haven't been attending but haven't dropped either (I was planning to, but some messed-up stuff happened 'round about the drop deadline) and have resigned myself to accepting NPs in, and I also have a couple of classes in which I'm frantically rushing to finish the work, and I'm worried I may have missed some deadlines that I thought were much later, which may in fact interfere with my graduating this term. It just seems to me that I'm stressed enough without my subconscious twisting that stress around and tricking me into thinking there are still other things to be worried about.
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So I think my geometry final went okay. I became very frightened very quickly when I walked in and was handed back my midterm, and found that the prof hadn't given partial credit on one problem where I'd hoped she would and had given me a zero on a problem I thought I'd done a very thorough job on. If she'd graded the midterm this inexplicably harshly, I was horrified to think how she'd grade the final. I nervously worked my way through it, and felt I did pretty well by my own standards--there was one problem I didn't get anywhere on and two I only got half-solved, and two that I felt I solved perfectly well but worried she wouldn't find my intuitive proofs rigorous enough, and the remaining three I think I solved in a way that no one could find fault with...but of course I was no longer confident that reasonable fault-finding standards would apply.

Then, after turning it in, I asked her to take another look at the problem on the midterm she'd given me no credit for. It appeared that she'd somehow gotten confused about what I was saying--like, she'd thought when I stated an axiom at the beginning that I was saying that was what I was trying to prove, instead of saying that was what I was going to use to prove it. Don't know how that kind of muddle happened, as I'd thought my phrasing was perfectly clear. Granted, she's not a native English speaker, but most of my math profs haven't been and they've never seemed to have that kind of trouble figuring out what I was saying. So after I'd cleared up a couple things of that nature, she puzzled over the proof for another minute or so and concluded that it was in fact without error. She proceeded to note the grade change--rather a relief, as that one problem was worth (I think) six percent of my grade in the class--but I'm still a little nervous about the final. I now know she's not in fact a ridiculously hardassed grader, but a befuddled grader isn't a whole lot better. I foresee "consulting" with her about my final grade in a few weeks' time.

On the upside, I did overhear some guys afterward talking about one of the problems to which I'd applied an insight they apparently hadn't had. When I told them how I'd done it, they had that "I wish I'd thought of that" reaction and declared that it would've saved them a lot of work. It's nice to know I still have some talent for this sort of thing. No doubt I'd get reassured of this much more often if I could actually bring myself to socialize with my classmates. I used to have a good friend and study partner who told me rather often that I was a genius. I miss him.

One other odd thing happened: I ran into a fellow at the bus stop whom I'd apparently tutored once, and he seemed not just curious but pointedly curious about my post-graduation plans. When I mentioned looking for work, he wanted to know what kind of jobs I was looking for, and how long I anticipated staying in the work force before applying to grad school, and when I wanted to start working...the way these questions were going, I started to wonder if he was about to offer me a job himself, or tell me he knew of one. But then his bus arrived and he got on it without handing me a business card or anything. Don't know what all the questions were about, then.

Respite

Dec. 16th, 2004 03:46 am
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So, about what I'd predicted happened: I stayed up half the night getting my paper two-thirds done, and got up early to see if I'd have to turn it in like that--and when I arrived in the exam room the TA told me that yes, I'd gotten the extension. Why she couldn't have emailed me this and saved me dragging my ass down there, I don't know. But now I've got till Friday to finish it. I actually decided to take tonight off and relax a bit just to give myself a break, since I was tired as hell from the staying up half the night. Tomorrow I can spend the day writing, and then I will have nothing left to do but figure out how I'm going to cram two months' worth of geometry over the remaining four days in between things like caroling and Dickens Fair. Fortunately, this prof is sensible enough to give open-book exams, so I won't have to memorize all the stupid axioms but merely try to understand them enough to work with them. Piece o' cake.
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Another screwy thing about writing history as opposed to philosophy papers: I keep coming across stray bits of information that seem kinda significant and figuring I ought to at least acknowledge them, but then I can't find them mentioned or given any kind of coherent explanation anywhere else in all my source material, and I can't very well mention them in my paper if I can't explain how they relate to everything else I'm talking about. I imagine I could figure out their significance if I did some independent research, but I really don't think we were given enough time on this assignment to do that kind of research. So instead I have to ignore those little things and hope I don't get marked down for appearing semi-ignorant.

(This paper, by the way, is due tomorrow and I'm nowhere near done. I emailed a couple of days ago to ask for an extension and I haven't heard back yet. I could stay up all night and try to finish the damn thing (fat chance), or I could go to sleep and hope there'll be a message for me tomorrow morning granting me a day's reprieve. What I suspect I'll do is stay up as late as I can manage so I can turn in a three-quarters-finished paper tomorrow instead of a half-finished paper, and then when I get the extension I won't be able to make use of it because I'll be vastly underslept. Joy.)
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Dammit, after making that last post and jotting down the notes I came out here to jot down, I was supposed to go back to reading. Clearly I need to be locked in a small room with all my history books and a computer that has nothing but Word on it.

I find it amusing, however, that having a large project I ought to be working on is apparently just the thing to get me posting on LJ again.
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Gah. I've gotten tripped up by the very first paragraph of this damn paper. Writing introductions is always bloody difficult because you have to make so many sweeping generalizations that sound platitudinal and don't really sit well the moment you stop to think about them--but I don't seem to be able to do what some people do and start in the middle, leaving the introduction for last. It seems I need more structure to my writing than that--if I start in the middle, then I don't know where I'm going and where I'm supposed to be coming from, and I feel lost. Once again, the fact that I see everything as a continuous Mass of Stuff and have trouble looking at individual bits separately is turning out to be a serious obstacle.

Feh, I say.
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Arrrgh. So I've got this history paper to write, the prompt for which is basically "talk about this book and make sure to cite these five other books in the process," and I've just discovered there's yet a seventh book (which was on the reading list but I hadn't bothered to read it yet) that does a better job of explaining all this crap than I could do on my own, or at least does it at greater length. So the good news is I can cite from or paraphrase it quite a lot, but the bad news is that means I have to read it first, and that will take a whole day that I'd planned to spend writing. At this rate I suspect I will be very glad to have budgeted more time than usual to write this thing. I've never before had so damn many things get in the way of even starting to write. This is why I prefer philosophy. Philosophy papers are straightforward; you have your source material, it's very limited and very clearly defined, you figure out what you want to say about it and then you say it. Maybe you change your mind a couple of times about what you actually want to say, but you don't have to do extra research every time you change your mind. Hell, you don't even have to cut the bits where you made arguments you suddenly don't agree with any longer--all you have to do is acknowledge that they're compelling and explain why they're nonetheless wrong.

Stupid college making me take history classes to broaden my horizons. Not that I'd mind learning this stuff if I weren't being tested on it.
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Generally I don't expect to feel my soul poked at when studying for a history class. But for this class most of the required reading is in novel form, and the following paragraph just sneaked up and clubbed me over the head:

"'Broad the waves,' Thomas Buddenbrook said, 'ah, see them surging, watch them breaking, ever surging, ever breaking, on they come in endless rows, bleak and pointless, filled with woes. And yet there's something calming and comforting about them, too--like all things simple and necessary. I've learned to love the sea more and more--perhaps I preferred mountains at one time only because they were so much farther away. I wouldn't want to go there now. I think I would feel afraid and embarrassed. They're too arbitrary, too irregular, too diverse--I'm sure I'd feel overwhelmed. What sort of people prefer the monotony of the sea, do you suppose? It seems to me it's those who have gazed too long and too deeply into the complexity at the heart of things and so have no choice but to demand one thing from external reality: simplicity. It has little to do with boldly scrambling about in the mountains, as opposed to lying calmly beside the sea. But I know the look in the eyes of people who revere the one or the other. Happy, confident, defiant eyes full of enterprise, resolve, and courage scan from peak to peak; but when people dreamily watch the wide sea and the waves rolling in with mystical and numbing inevitability, there is something veiled, forlorn, and knowing about their eyes, as if at some point in life they have looked deep into gloomy chaos. Health or sickness--that is the difference. A man climbs jauntily up into the wonderful variety of jagged, towering, fissured forms to test his vital energies, because he has never had to spend them. But a man chooses to rest beside the wide simplicity of external things, because he is weary from the chaos within.'"

--Thomas Mann


This isn't something I'd ever thought of myself, but it resonates with me. I'd almost like to do a study to confirm this idea, though that does seem rather like trivializing it.

I've always attributed my own love of the ocean (and by "love" I mean I include it in My Personal Pantheon), inasmuch as I tried to analyze it at all, to the power it represents, and if pressed I'd admit that there's something horribly seductive about the idea of just yielding to that power and letting it sweep me away. Probably this stems from my having too many things in my life that need to be taken care of and too much difficulty managing to do that, leading to the desire on some level to surrender control and, more importantly, responsibility (at this time I won't even get into what that implies for me in *ahem* other areas of life)--but that actually fits, now that I think about it, with Mann's talk of seeking simplicity. After all, when life is too complex, giving up control is the ultimate means of achieving simplicity.

I'd ponder this some more, but I almost don't feel I need to; for once, it's more like I've just had something click a little more firmly into place.
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I've got this whole day stretching ahead of me in which I ought to be able to Get Stuff Done, yet every time I contemplate embarking on a task that will take more than a couple of minutes to complete, or has multiple steps to it, I freak out and can't even make myself take the first step. I don't know if this is ADD or simply an offshoot of the depression I've had to admit has been reemerging lately, but either way it's pretty messed up and leaves me terribly frustrated.

I feel like I may just fly to pieces. That sounds more ADDish, really; the depression comes on when I let myself think about anything long-term. Like what the hell I'm going to be doing with my life in a few short months.

Either way, the stupid meds aren't doing anything except making me vaguely nauseous, and possibly worsening the arrhythmia.

I hate knowing that my life is better than it's ever been in a number of ways and yet still feeling that overall it sucks worse than ever. I've grown so much as a person--how can I possibly be at such a dead end when it comes to basic survival? Why can't I be good at the things that seem to matter in the Real World? And why do those things have to matter so damn much?

I'm oversimplifying. And I'm not specifying a lot of what's going on school-wise because I'm not ready to talk about it. So basically I'm just wanking here. Being a stereotypical self-indulgent LJer and shit. But then what is this medium for, right?

I shouldn't be so damn self-conscious anyway. I oughta shut the fuck up and just post this before I get off on the very tempting meta-tangent of analyzing why the hell this post is so much choppier than my normal writing style.
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Managed to get through my first day of classes without running for the door. I'm tempted to think this is a good sign, except that in my experience I start out most semesters this way, thinking "oh, this isn't bad at all--I can do this" and then a few weeks later finding I'm just not keeping up. So it seems awfully premature to hope this time will be different...but at the same time, I don't want to crush this optimism quite yet, as it's the first time in a while that I haven't been feeling like shit about school and everything remotely associated with it.

More details about my classes later, perhaps.

(There is an obscenely cute cat draped over [livejournal.com profile] saizai's monitor.)
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I haven't been posting this week because I'm way behind on friends-list reading and I've always had this strange notion that I shouldn't post when there's still reading to do. It's very silly, really. I should try to remedy that.

Thing is, sitting in a library makes me feel less inclined to wax eloquent than when I'm comfortable at home. Probably the fact that I tend to get up and walk around a lot when I'm writing a long post has something to do with that--I can't really get up and walk around here without appearing to have abandoned my computer.

I can, however, share the fact that I seem, through some amazing good fortune (as I certainly wasn't paying attention to this when I chose them), to have signed up for two classes offered by completely unrelated departments that just happen to be meeting one after the other in the very same room. This is only a small bit of good news compared with the large amount of potentially bad (as in, cross your fingers and pray) news I've been getting about this year's student loans. But the nice thing about a little spark of goodness like this is that I can parlay it into a Sign From Above (or Outside, or West, or somewhere) that things will work out somehow.
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I've been avoiding posting about all the crap that's stressing me out lately, and I'm not sure why.  I think it's mostly because I don't want to think too much about it--I have been discussing it with friends, but that's because those friends can then distract me, whereas when I'm alone it's easier to get into a serious funk.

However, right now I've got forms that need filling out rather badly, and people I need to see about them, and I'm balking like mad--almost having a panic reaction, in fact, at the thought of leaving my house to attempt to have business dealings that may not go so well.  Not sure what to do about this, and not sure how writing it out will help, but not sure what else I'm capable of handling at the moment.  It looks like these errands will not happen today; I only hope I'll get up the nerve tomorrow.

Amidst the stressful crap, several happy things have been occurring as well.  Problem is, they're happy in a kind of scary way.  Emotional closeness is theoretically a good thing, but I fear that I'll want a mile if I'm given an inch, as it were.  Recently I've learned the hard way about limits, and I'm now deathly afraid to test them in similar situations.

Fear truly is the mind-killer.  I don't want to be afraid, but I don't know how not to be.
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Huh.  I just submitted my financial aid application for next year (yes, I know I'm terribly late), and on the confirmation page they showed my Estimated Family Contribution as *gasp* less money than my parents actually make--in fact less than my living expenses alone.  I know this doesn't sound like it ought to be a big deal, but in previous years it hasn't been the case.  I'm not sure what's changed, but does this mean I might actually be eligible for grants as well as loans this year?

*crosses fingers*

Oh, and I seem to have a job.  It's independent contract work, so I'm not sure how many hours I'll actually end up working, but with luck it'll be enough to supplement out the financial aid income.  The per-hour rate is good, so I won't need to work many hours a week, and I can be flexible as hell with scheduling. 

*tentative "w00t"*

Patterns

May. 21st, 2004 01:28 am
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I was up horribly early this morning and was almost ready to crash by early evening, but then proceeded to stay up just as late as I usually do. For some reason, the thought of going to bed early triggers some serious kinda despair. As far as I can tell, on some level I think going to sleep is an admission that I've got nothing better to do, and therefore that my life is empty. With that kind of thinking going on, I'm not sure how I manage to sleep at all...somehow around 1 or so it becomes okay to go to bed, but why that's clock-related and not time-spent-awake related I don't know.

I ran around and got a lot done today, but it seems like my list of things to do is even longer now than it was before. A lot of people weren't in their offices when they should've been, which is no doubt a sign that I should've tried to see them before finals week. Yay further reasons to beat myself up even when I do get things accomplished. But how can I relax when I still haven't accomplished anywhere near enough of the things I need to?

Obstacles

May. 18th, 2004 01:22 pm
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Who would've thought it'd be so hard to find a local therapist who takes Blue Cross? And who would've thought they wouldn't be offering any good philosophy classes this semester at decent times of day?
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So, I went to bed fairly early last night, got up early this morning to do some last-minute studying, and despite some annoying blanks in recollection I think I did pretty well on that midterm. At least a B, I figure--maybe an A-minus if he curves it.

But now the drawbacks of not being net-connected at home are sinking in more and more. For one thing, there are all kinds of things like job-hunting that I want to do on my own computer, because I want to be able to save pages easily to go back to later and because it's easier somehow to do that sort of thing in a comfier environment; it's tough to get up the motivation here in the lab. Also, the way I spend my days is becoming increasingly screwy. This afternoon I was in a typical state: I didn't want to go home because I never feel like going back up to campus again in the evening, so basically I'd have to either hang around my place all night and feel all disconnected from the world, and probably get a bit depressed as a result, or hang around here all day, even during the stretches when I had no email and no one was posting on LJ, and be very much at loose ends.

Fortunately, in this case I got a lucky roll on the Random (or at least Semi-Random) Encounter table, and met up with a friend who introduced me to a friend of his who was accompanied by a friend of his who invited me to play some pool at his place, so that made for a good few hours' diversion and now I'm in an okay mood to go home after one last email and LJ read. But still, I really hope to not be in this state for much longer.
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I am almost regretting having spent last night in a bed other than my own, as I didn't get quite enough sleep and am thus in bad shape to study for tomorrow's midterm. I have, however, reviewed most of the material already, so I shouldn't be in horrible shape. And it was, after all, an awfully enjoyable night. (Though, to continue my unusual display of candor, I'll admit that continuing to think about it is also not helping me study.)

But at least my fellow LJers continue to amuse me. This is just perfect.
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I've just walked out of my IAS midterm. It was an odd sensation, definitely more unpleasant than just not showing up in the first place, which is something I have done in the past. The upshot is going to be nearly the same; I did answer one of the questions, but that won't be enough to save my grade and I'll end up either dropping the class or just taking an NP. I was prepared for this possibility, and had switched to P/NP for this class so that it wouldn't matter much if I didn't pass it, but I was still hoping I'd be able to scrape a pass. Guess not. The really lousy thing is, if I'd been keeping up with the homework I would probably have been able to manage some kind of answer to the essay question, but I'd just not been at a sufficient level of functioning for enough of the time, and when I had been I'd had other things on my mind. Add to that the fact that I just can't pay attention to the prof's droning 90-minute lectures, and the fact that social science is the subject I have the most trouble getting interested in anyway, and the fact that she wouldn't tell us anything about what the test would be like so I had no idea how to study for it (when the subject matter of the class spans fifty years' worth of the history of half a continent and there's no textbook, it's tough to figure out where to find your information), and it was a lost cause.

I had considered not showing up at all, but it wasn't as hard as it might've been a year ago to bully myself into at least seeing what was on the exam and hoping I could maybe bullshit my way through it. But dammit, sometimes it's easier to just quietly disappear. Then again, I guess it wouldn't have been so easy in this case. Unlike the math classes in which I've done similar things, this class has actually involved a certain amount of communication with the professor, which means that unlike most of my math profs, she's going to notice and care that I didn't complete the exam (as it was, I was lucky she turned her back long enough for me to turn in the bit I had finished and slip out the door), and she'll probably ask me whether I'm going to stick around or what, which I can't answer yet as I won't know if I'll be able to drop until I finish with the administrative junk I began last week. Also, I feel guilty about the possibility of dropping because we've been doing group work and I don't want to abandon my group. But then if I don't drop, I still won't want to continue doing the work for no credit, so I suppose it'll be as if I'd dropped anyway. Ho-hum.

There's a slim chance, I suppose, that she'll let me make this up somehow--maybe take an incomplete or something. But I'm not holding my breath. She doesn't seem to be the accommodating sort, or at least not that accommodating.

On the slightly brighter side, I walked out the door right into someone handing out information about summer jobs with an environmental group. There's an info session tonight that I might as well go to. Yay potential employment.

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