Thoughts on the First Week Back

The first week of school was surprisingly exhausting, which makes me nervous about the rest of the semester. But let’s not think about that right now; let’s just take it one day at a time, and (hopefully) it’ll be Christmas Break before we know it.

I jotted down notes of my impressions this week, and I’ll share some here. Excuse the changing tenses; some of this I copied directly from my moleskine, and some are thoughts I added in past-tense as I was writing.

Monday

UNM has roughly 30,000 undergrads, but after a while you begin to recognize people. Maybe it’s because in a sea of strange faces a familiar one jumps out more clearly.

First class of the day: Internship Seminar. I sit behind a guy who is obviously browsing Facebook on his phone, which he thinks is cleverly hidden under the table. Tip: we know you’re on your phone when you spend half the class staring at your lap. How very high school.

Second class: Creative Non-Fiction, a class I’m really looking forward to. It promises to be both fun and challenging.

Third class: English Honors Capstone Seminar: Travel Literature (a required course to write a thesis/graduate with honors within the English Department). It sounds interesting, but the prof is a little intimidating. He’s not old; I’d place him maybe in his late thirties, but he speaks uber-articulately, constantly making references to other authors/books/eras/philosophies. He never uses verbal pauses (“um,” “uh,” and certainly not “like”), making me feel insecure every time I do.

Tuesday

First class of the day: Anthropology 101 (one of the straggler gen-ed courses I still need to take). The prof seems friendly . Typical smart-scientist type: disheveled, curly hair, polo shirt, wristwatch. Graduate T.A.s: young, pretty women who use words like “paleo-climate reconstruction” when describing their Ph.D. work.

I fluctuate back and forth between feeling ready for this semester or not. I suppose I should just come to terms with the fact that I won’t feel ready for most things in life, and just trust God to guide and help me.

The prof asks a practice iclicker question: Why did you take this course? One of the optional answers: I want to know what India Jones really studies. (You mean it’s not kicking ass and taking names?)

Today I learned the importance of eating a good breakfast. By 10:30 I’m starving, but not ready to eat lunch because I won’t get dinner until after 7:00.

Second class: Theatre Appreciation. Prof is an energetic woman with a clear voice and dusty blonde hair that looks like it may be beginning to gray. She’s very theatre-looking, dressed in all black like a stage manager.

Third class: Honors Seminar: Local Games. Another class that I think will be fun and challenging; we had to come up with a game to learn everybody’s name using sticky notes, rubber bands and clapping. It’s a lot more difficult than you might think.

Tuesday night I had my first staff interview for the magazine of which I am Editor this year. I think it went well.

Wednesday

Ran on even less sleep than Tuesday (less than six hours). 9:00 interview followed by a nap, then felt oddly jittery, despite my lack of coffee or tea. That afternoon I shared the reading room in the library with one other student; the only sound was thunder and the buzz of the lights.

A song came on my iPod while I was reading and I think of watching the rain – “Jimbo’s Lullaby” from Claude Debussy’s “Children’s Corner.” “Takk…” by Sigur Ros sounds like light. It shines.

Capstone Semianr: Prof uses words like “tropes” and “parataxis“, says he tries to think in paragraphs. We’re discussing poetry; poetry intimidates me. Why didn’t I see this or analyze that? Layers and layers and layers of craft and meaning and reference. I always seem to miss the most important stuff.

Thursday

Slightly boring Anthro lecture. Slightly more interesting Theatre Appreciation lecture, yet I’m frustrated (although not surprised) by the amount of freshman in this class and their astounding lack of academic discussion skills. Tip: this is focused discussion, not blurt-out-random-associations-with-what-we’re-talking-about. Nobody cares about that one time you went to a play and the guy next to you smelled weird and ate grapes through the whole performance.

The following comment still has my brain working overtime to try and make sense of it. Our prof was talking about how in ancient Greece, theatre practitioners wouldn’t stage battles because they felt they couldn’t accurately portray a battle on stage. Instead, the chorus would come out and describe the battle. A student (who’s actually an elderly man apparently going back to school) raises his hand: “That’s like how in ancient Sparta, their view of crime was that it’s only a crime if you get caught.” What??? I don’t think that means what you think it means.

Two more staff interviews; back-to-back interviewing is kind of exhausting. I go to bed early and get a marvelous seven hours of sleep.

Friday

I am finally the person that every other student hates because I can say “I don’t have class on Fridays.” It really is as wonderful as it sounds. Two staff interviews in the morning and then I’m done for the day. I go home, eat lunch, take a nap and pick up Jordan from school (he spent Wednesday-Friday on the high school retreat). Then we had a fun birthday barbecue at our apartment’s pool area with the whole in-town family.

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