Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 DoB 9: Steve Takes a Risk

So I'm sure all of you know this by now... but I'm kind of a musician. Kind of, like, dedicated my entire life and my career to music and it's all I really think about, at the end of the day. I have YouTube videos trying to share my love of music with other people and to make my favorite kind of music (Western Art Music) more accessible to people who think that it's only for high-class people... because let's face it, at the time of its creation, Western Art music was about as middle-class as was possible. If you exclude the Baroque Era. Please exclude the Baroque Era. From everything. Including history. It's like the 80s... there was nothing really good happening while it happened, but it laid the groundwork for some really awesome things. (Now I know I'll get some backlash for that, but I mean, the only good thing that happened in the 80s, in my experience, was my birth.)

In any case, in my post-student-teaching seminar, we were each assigned a chapter of our textbook to summarize and present to the class, and we also had to choose one or two points from the chapter to really delve into and write a 6-to-8-page paper on, incorporating the textbook and some of our own research and personal experience. The chapter I was assigned was on the Teacher as a Musician, which basically argued that we have to be as knowledgeable as we can on what we are teaching and that we need to continually practice music in our lives so as to lead our students by example.

The point upon which I chose to write my paper was the section of the chapter on Tradition and how Tradition influences our decisions as music educators. Tradition is made up of cultural beliefs, practices, religions, etc., which turn into musical philosophies, which turn into musical practice. I'm summarizing the section heavily, but if you're interested, you should read The Art of Teaching Music by Estelle Jorgensen. Now, this is something I'm very passionate about, because I love learning about world cultures and history, and I love it most when these things pertain to music. I love, for example, knowing about Mahler and Wagner and how their music influenced Schoenberg, and his music isn't for everyone, but having learned about it, I've definitely learned to appreciate it. I love knowing about how improvisation is encouraged in Cherokee music because of how composition is essentially prohibited by their religion. I just love knowing things like that and I love teaching them.

So I guess it seems pretty strange that, having been brought up in a traditional American Wind Band form of musical education, I would essentially write a paper that argues that we should slowly phase out the American Wind Band. Well, I wouldn't argue that we should get rid of it, but I would certainly argue that we make it only a small portion of the music that we teach. Perhaps one period a day, with other periods teaching other forms of music. But I digress.

Basically, what I'm saying is, we're perpetuating an ensemble that hasn't been popular outside of the school setting for nearly 100 years, and even then, it had a specific place in society. When bands were first established in schools, administrators hated them because they were so fun, and all the kids wanted to be in them because they wanted to be just like the Sousa band. Nowadays, if you ask high schoolers who John Philip Sousa was, they won't even know. They'll probably guess he invented the washing machine or something. He didn't. It's uncertain who did, but it definitely wasn't him. But basically, band stuck around in schools because after five or ten years, it was no longer "cool" because jazz bands were all the rage, and therefore it was no longer "fun," and therefore it qualified adequately as "work" for school. And somehow this has become the main way we teach music in the United States. This is what has become the stereotype of a musician in school. The "band geek."

Why is it that "only nerds join band"? Because we're teaching music that doesn't really make sense to learn. Nerds like obscure, high-class, complex, esoteric things. I should know. I am one. What we need to do, if we really want to reach everyone, though, is to teach them how to be good craftsmen of the music they see an application for. That is what music education in the US was about, at least, for the first 250-or-so years of its existence. We taught children church tunes because that was the largest cultural institution of music at the time. We taught our daughters how to play piano because that would make them good entertainers, because people used to get together and sing. For fun. Strange, right? Why don't we do that more? But that's another post for another day. Anyway, when school band started, it had that kind of practical benefit--people wanted good bands for their town because that is how you celebrated things. But suddenly, it froze. Completely froze in time, and hasn't really changed for 80 years. Sure, jazz bands were introduced to school programs; after headaches, protests, covert jazz band operations, and such, we got Glenn-Miller-like big bands, but that was nearly 30 years after even that ensemble was obsolete. It qualified for "classical" status as far as we were concerned. Basically, it was boring enough for school.

So why do we do this? I just don't get it. I guess I'm feeling disillusioned with the classical music scene as a whole because it's just not very American, and I'm stuck in America. I want people to like classical music. I love talking to people about it. But I don't know that it's the only music we should be teaching our children. There's so much more out there to teach. To me, it's like telling our children that the only literature we'll read is Shakespeare, Dickens, Frost, and Orwell--Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. There's so much more out there and these kids need to be exposed to it. They won't find it on their own.

Sorry. I get really worked up. People say they can't imagine me ranting. This is the kind of thing I rant about. Things that are important. I couldn't ever get this worked up over Snooki. What does she matter to me? I didn't even know who she was until Hank made that video about running into her at the airport.

Anyway, I know this wasn't organized and I'm not going to go back and look because that would both get me all worked up again and make me stay up really late trying to clarify. I would just post my paper, but the great thing about this story is that my professor said that she thought it was wonderful and that I should submit it for publication in the national journal for music education, so I probably shouldn't also post it here. We'll see how that goes.

So I'm off to bed. It's taken me half an hour to write this. Holy wow. I should probably not have said so much. Good night!
Sleep: O (I just could not sleep last night. It's okay though. I still have cold medicine. I think that was the problem.)
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: O

Monday, May 30, 2011

30 DoB 8: If I Had A Million Dollars...

So today I went clothes shopping to take advantage of the Memorial Day sales. My clothes are kind of starting to show signs of age and I've been wanting to get new jeans especially... the ones I bought for my last round are starting to get holes in places I don't want holes to be, so it was definitely worth it. Anyway, I first went to one store I used to go to for clothes all the time--and by "used to" I mean I went there several times when I last bought a bunch of new clothes about three years ago--and realized that I didn't want any of the jeans there. There was a sale, yeah, but it wasn't great and the jeans didn't fit the way I liked. Then I went to one store I never thought I would find anything in, and walked out with four awesome pairs of jeans for about $50. I can deal with that.

But at the same time, I caught myself thinking "I don't need four pairs of jeans. Why did I buy four pairs of jeans? I have two that haven't fallen apart yet." Then part of me thought "But they're about to, and you've never really liked the way they fit, and these ones fit so well! And you're not going to find a sale like this before you leave the country. There's no other reason to celebrate by giving extra money off." That much was true. Especially because when I will have the chance, I'll be watching over some high schoolers and probably won't want to leave campus for anything since I won't have to.

So there were opportunity costs. There are things which have been about that high on my list that will now have to be put on the back burner for a while. I have been pretty good about dealing with that in the past, and I think it's a good part of my personality. I think a lot of people are afraid to make choices because they don't want to face what-ifs, but the way I look at it, I make choices and move forward and try to make the most of what I have.

That sounded much more profound in my head, but looking at it in print, it just sounds normal. Maybe that's just because I've read the words and understood them intellectually, but now I understand them more spiritually.

Anyway, sometimes I play an imagination game before or after making choices in which I pretend I don't have to make choices and I can have my proverbial cake and eat it too. It's the only time I deal with what-ifs, really, and it helps me settle the issue pretty quickly and kind of kiss all the other possibilities good-bye, or at least good-bye-for-now.

So today, I played "If I Had a Million Dollars." I thought about all the things I would buy if money were not an option, and it was kind of funny the way things occurred to me. I mean, simply because of today, of course, I thought about how I would always buy fun t-shirts and be sure to stay on top of TeeFury, and I would buy really stylish button-down shirts and always have ties to match them, and really comfy slacks with shoes that match them perfectly. Then I thought about all the music I want to buy and how I'd like to stock up on neo-folk music, but also dance tunes, but also have both the Karajan and Bernstein collections of Mahler Symphonies, and all the Sibelius symphonies, and a nice music recording software with really good equipment and a nice guitar to go with it and a good ukulele while I'm at it, and the best freaking camera with the best freaking external microphone so that I can have the highest production value on my vlogs, and a library full of classic books I'd read from my classy red leather chair, only rivaled by my library of musical scores I'd always follow along with, and I'd do all this in a classy terraced house right on the most trendy street in Edinburgh. Actually, I don't know if it's trendy, but that row of townhomes that JK Rowling lived in before getting famous is like exactly where I want to live, and not just because she was there.

But then when I listed all of these things in my head, I realized that these are all just indications of what I care about. It doesn't mean I need to fulfill all of those desires. It just means that I should value the things I have that I want to improve, and thank them for being a step up from what I could have, or did have. I also realized that frankly, I kind of like not having all of those things. I like how special it feels to be able to read from a score while I can steal a moment or two with it in the music library. I like having a janky, on-the-edge-of-death camera that I don't really have to worry about dropping. I enjoy that I have goals I can reach for, because I know that if I ever once feel like I've achieved the peak of something, I will be somehow disillusioned and be searching for more, but not ever be able to find it. I like having things that I could be coveting, because in deciding that I can't have them, I reaffirm that what I have is precisely what I need.
Sleep: X! I DID IT!
Blogging: X! I did this too!
Homework: XX! I did that bad boy ta-wice!
Reading: O ... O ... O yeah. Oops.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

30 DoB 7: The Almost People

I'm going to put my self-improvement stuff first today because the rest of the post will be about the new Doctor Who episode, and I don't want to spoil it for readers who haven't seen it yet, and I also don't want to bore readers who don't watch Doctor Who but who may be interested in how I'm going.

As of yet, I am still feeling sick, and I also realized that if I want to get through most of the books I want to read before leaving the country, I had better start reading one approximately every 3-4 days. Therefore, I am not adding a goal, but instead adding greater emphasis on reading--which I accomplished today, of course. I read about 100 pages of Lord of the Rings, which of course means that if I want to finish it within that window, I need to read about 300 more pages by two days ago, but I figure it will balance out when I read less dense literature.

Anyway! On to the tallies:
Sleep: O
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Homework: O (as of yet. I'll do a few minutes after finishing this post.)


Okay, let's get real, Mr. Moffat. You have some 'splainin' to do. If Amy has been seeing the eye-patch lady this whole season, then she presumably has been a gänger this whole season, and therefore how did she become a gänger without anyone knowing? And why did the Doctor need to experiment on how people would react to the gängers if he already knew that people could fully accept such a gänger and it could also accept itself? And furthermore, was the gänger Doctor in fact a Time Lord? If so, would this not create some huge rift in the universe? Isn't there something about "every cell of a Time Lord is a miracle and if even one gets into the wrong hands it would be catastrophic"? I saw no catastrophic events happening as a result of the Time Lord being copied cell-for-cell. In fact, I think it was ended a little too easily. Do you have something up your sleeve? I don't think you would go back on such a pivotal statement so easily, so I think you've got some tricks left for us in that regard.

However, this does explain why the pregnancy scan was all weird. Real Amy was pregnant--very pregnant--but Gänger Amy was not, but the sensor could probably tell the amount of Real Amy in Gänger Amy and got all confused because of that. Man. This show is so interconnected and I love it so.

My head is just kind of swimming right now and I don't really have any supposed answers. Do you guys have any thoughts on the matter?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

30 DoB 6: Can't Drive?

So the other day I mentioned in brief that I can't drive, and I got one or two questions about it. I guess it's something that I don't talk much about on my channel. It doesn't really affect my life much except that I walk everywhere, but those of you who regularly watch my videos know that I have come to really love walking, so it's not even a big deal.

In any case, I have an eye condition that has yet to be actually diagnosed; the symptoms are described as monocular binocular diplopia, which literally means that I have double vision caused by the way my individual eyes are built (I see double when I close one eye) and by the way they work together (I see double with both eyes open). What this amounts to is seeing four images instead of one, all day, every day. A lot of people think this is the kind of thing that can break someone, but I guess I've never really given much thought to it. My brain is really good about convincing me that I only see one of something, so unless I consciously think about the fact that I see four of everything (as I am when writing this post) I hardly notice; after all, it's the way I have seen everything for pretty much my whole life.

In any case, I've actually got an eye appointment in late July with an eye doctor who thinks he knows what the problem could be, which is promising. Most doctors just go through a bunch of tests for me and say "I don't know! What a conundrum," and pass me off to one of their colleagues who runs many of the same tests. It has literally gotten to the point where I go into the eye doctors and say "I don't need to be dilated. You won't find anything new. Just give me a new prescription." It's a little defeatist, but like I said, I really don't mind how it has affected me and I know what the basic tests will come up with. Back on topic, though, this doctor says he can think of a few possibilities that he doesn't think I've been tested for, and says that it's probably something that started in my childhood (imagine that! I could have told someone as much.)

But sarcasm aside, it would be nice to be able to get the problem fixed. It probably means surgery, but hey, I can rock an eye patch for a few days/weeks if it means I'll finally be able to have depth perception.

Sleep: O (gosh darn cold! I was in bed early but drifted in and out of sleep until about 11 AM.)
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: X

Friday, May 27, 2011

30 DoB 5: Productivity!

So I'm still questioning whether I actually have a cold or whether it's just allergies acting up. I'm pretty sure it's a cold, but it keeps refusing to turn completely into a cold and instead has me sitting on the edge, wondering what exactly it wants to do and what I should do in preparation.

However, it did cause me to miss my sleep goal for the day because I decided that if I truly am sick it would be better to get all the sleep I can. As a result, I slept until about 11:00 this morning, which I guess means I've got to be sick because I never sleep for nearly 12 hours unless I'm sick or sleep-deprived, and I'm pretty sure the latter isn't true. This is also reinforced by the fact that I'm pretty sleepy now, and I shouldn't be sleepy after having slept that long and only being awake for 8 hours. I guess that settles it. I'm sick.

But I hate whining and I'll stop now, because as they say, every cloud has a silver lining! After waking up, I had a good amount of energy for several hours, so I put myself to work. I did laundry and cleaned my room (finally) so now I'm much more ready to start the packing that I need to do in order to move out this summer. It's weird to think about moving out, but nonetheless it's going to happen.

I did get to go through some old papers that I'm not exactly sure would have stuck around this long if I had known they existed. I was wondering if anyone else has fought this being a pack rat--I used to be a hardcore pack rat, and by "used to," I mean that I was until my first real move from Virginia to Tennessee. I had to get rid of a lot that summer in order to make moving easier, and I realized I was keeping a lot of stupid stuff I didn't care about. Nowadays, I keep classwork and stuff just in case I need to contest a grade, and then usually throw it out afterward unless it's something I'm particularly proud of, like a good paper or composition or something.

Anyway, some of this stuff was some boring assignments from freshman year that had managed to be put somewhere until I was going to throw them out after the semester, but then they just stayed there and I never looked at them again. I got pretty liberal with throwing stuff out today, and there's always that voice in the back of my head saying "You never know if you'll need this!" but then the voice in the front of my head says "You haven't needed it yet, and if it turns out you do need this, you can still do x, y, and z to recover it."

Basically, my room is crazy clean and I like it that way and as the years progress I get better and better at staying organized and neat and that is a very good thing.

What do you guys do when you need to clean your rooms?
Sleep: O
Blogging: X
Homework: O (about to start)
Reading: O (after homework)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

30 DoB4: Nostalgia

So I'm going to be done with college in two weeks. It's a weird thought. Just to clarify, I know I said in a video that I graduated three weeks ago--I have to take a 5-week-long post-student-teaching seminar and after that I will have my degree. They just let me go through the ceremony because I was close enough to being done, and every other music education major in the school would have to miss out on graduation as well, and I mean, let's face it, the music school was tiny in comparison to all of the other schools at graduation (except social work) and we needed that representation.

Anyway, one of the things that goes along with graduation is suddenly getting in touch with people you haven't talked to in forever because you feel like reminiscing and talking about the future, and it's a weird, weird thing. This is compounded by the fact that I went to two different elementary schools, two different high schools, and now also have friends on the internet, and many of these people are graduating or have graduated.

The one thing that I've learned is that everybody's future is uncertain, whether it's the music education major who can't decide between a job offer in Idaho and North Dakota or the management major interning with a cable company for the summer. It definitely makes me feel a lot better in that I have one really secure option and one awesome-but-not-so-secure option, but options nonetheless. And of course I'm bursting at the seams to tell the internet in general... but all I can say is that I will for 90% certain be working in a different country starting sometime around August.

The weirder thing about this whole graduating thing is that I have friends who are getting married. The even weirder thing is that there are some who are people I graduated high school with but would never have put together. It was really fun finding that one out through the facebook recommended feature. I just remember looking at my recommended friends and seeing one girl with a really distinctive last name and thinking, "I know a guy with that name... she certainly can't be his sister... and she looks a lot like a girl with the same first nameOHGRACIOUSTHATISHERANDITSNOWHERMAIDENNAME!"

What's also upsetting for me is that I have a really close group of IRL friends here at school, and out of them, I am the only one who will not be here next year; one is staying on for his master's, and the others are all juniors, so they get to hang out every weekend without me. I don't know that I will be jealous, but I'll definitely miss them all dearly.

I think the biggest sign that this is a good thing, though, is that after all this, most of the thoughts running through my head are how wonderful next year will be and how great it will be to experience new cultures and to live on my own and to really take the reins of my own life. And I guess that's what means I'm officially a grown-up.

As for my goals, I think I'm coming down with a cold, and it's making me very tired, so I slept a little extra this morning, but I don't know that I would count it as an O because it was really just drifting in and out of sleep from 7 AM to 9 AM. I'll leave it as a ? for now.

Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: X

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

30 DoB 3: Tornado? Eh? Eh?

So I don't have much to say today. We're just sitting here in my living room waiting to find out if any tornado warnings are going to come to fruition today. We've had four in the last three hours. It's starting to feel like the boy who cried wolf.

On the upside, I'm rereading Lord of the Rings and it's just as good as I remember it. I'll have to read pretty fast to get back on schedule with my Goodreads challenge... but I'll have plenty of time in upcoming weeks.

So this post is pretty short. What's happening with you folks?

Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Homework: X

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

30 DoB 2: The Storm

So I've been writing a paper for the last few hours, only interspersed with playing my clarinet at a local school's choir performance, and my eyes feel like they're about to be burnt right out of my skull, so I'm going to keep this brief. But man. Yesterday was pretty stinkin' crazy.

So I teach an after-school band program for beginners. It was started because beginning band was cut in the local elementary schools and a wealthy man really wanted to preserve them, so his corporation personally paid all the teachers and bought all the materials necessary, and the students could participate for a very low cost, and if they couldn't afford that, they received needs-based scholarship. Anyway, I've been teaching clarinet for them this semester, but the head honcho (my cooperating teacher for student teaching) was visiting his daughter yesterday, so I was put in charge since I knew best how he would run things.

The band room is set up such that I was the only one facing the only window in the entire room. This was a big plus, for reasons I am about to explain. At about 5:00 (the program ends at 5:15) I saw the sky turn a very interesting shade of green and the trees all bent directly facing the window. This was a huge red flag... anyone from the Midwest can tell you that green skies are a sign of bad things to come. When the time came to release the students, the lights flickered and they all turn and go "Oh no, will the power go out?" and I said "No, of course not! The school has emergency generators."

Boy was I wrong.

Not ten seconds later, the room goes completely pitch black. Fortunately by this point, most of the students were already out being received by parents. When I looked through the band room door, there was dirt, dust, and debris flying straight down the hallway and all of the children looked... bewildered, to put it kindly. The only thing I could do was to trust that the parents would have it under control... as I am incapable of driving, I couldn't offer a ride home or anything.

I rode home with a friend from Hawaii who had never driven in heavy wind, and he was worried about his car being unfit to drive. I assured him that the bigger problem would be the flash floods that seemed to be occurring (way to go, me--always giving confidence), but neither of us expected the havoc it would wreak on the trees. There were trees downed everywhere. There were three in a row, in fact, right in front of my house, which were not cleared until about 3:00 this afternoon, if that tells you about the response they had to get. I felt like I was in the movie Twister with my friend dodging all the fallen trees and barely able to see the road. In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to drive... but we're impulsive college boys so you can't really be surprised.

When I arrived home, the power was out and I didn't know what to do... I couldn't see well enough to read because it was already the evening and the cloud cover was immense, and I couldn't do anything else I would normally do while bored, because those all involve electronics. I ended up calling my mother because we had talked about calling on Skype and it looked like that wasn't going to happen in the near future.

When that call was over, I realized how hungry I was, and how I had nothing to eat because I had only just gone to the grocery store and everything would involve some level of cooking. So I called another friend who said she was starving, and we decided to go out to dinner together. The storm had calmed down significantly, so it was more just inconvenient than dangerous to have to leave the house to get food. I did have to tell her to come up my street the back way to avoid the tree, which was fun.

In any case, when we were driving around, we saw that block after block was out of power and every single restaurant's employees were standing around outside, wondering what to do. This was bad sign number 2. Bad sign number 3 was that even the stoplights, which usually blink during losses of power, were completely off. The only, and I mean only place that we saw in town with power was Taco Bell. Decision made.

Unfortunately, it seemed that many in town had the same idea, and there was a 20-minute wait for orders. Bad news bears. It was fine, though, because it wasn't like we had anywhere to go. We were just starving. So we ate and complained about the stuff that we were incapable of doing (most of which involved coursework we didn't want to do anyway) and ate and went back home, and the power was still out.

So I sat down on my bedroom floor and called Raquel and we talked for a while and I got the grand idea to organize my footlocker while the sun was up. It was like 8:30. I didn't have much time to work, and to make a long story short, it looked like the storm took place inside my room rather than outside my room. I had to give up because of the light, so I just opened all my windows and went to bed.

Unfortunately, my room is still messy because the project I couldn't do yesterday had to be done in its entirety today. I. Don't. Want. To. Clean.

But I only have three minutes until my bedtime so I gotta go!
Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: O (so far...)

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 DoB 1: A Rush of Awesome

Yesterday, I uploaded a video about how I want people to watch my videos. I was uncertain how people would react; I said a lot of things that people don't really address because it feels awkward and they don't know how to say it without coming across as egotistical. I guess I've gotten used to just putting my thoughts out there and so I've learned to repress any kind of hesitation I may have. I was, quite honestly, considering just not uploading it at all for fear of someone leaving a comment saying "You talk about stuff like this too much" or "You shouldn't ask anything of us; we're not a legion of thoughtless followers."

Boy am I glad I uploaded it.

It seemed to resonate with both content creators and viewers. I had great testimonies of people who were glad they do what I said; I had people who said they don't often participate but want to do so more now because of the video; I had people who doubted that I recognized their screennames and who asked whether I did - and I did! I also got a HUGE--and I mean, probably the biggest I've had in a while--influx of subscribers, too, which doesn't matter on the one hand because the numbers themselves are unimportant, but means so much in relation to this video because it means that people agreed and followed through.

I got lovely comments and I'm so glad I currently have the time to reply to them because I would feel terrible to say all that I said and not hold up my end of the bargain.

So, basically, what I'm saying is that I want to keep making videos because of moments like this when I feel validated as a YouTuber. And I think that it also tells me that it's a good choice to stick around - if all it takes is a good comment for me to feel like this work is worth it, I'm going to lead a pretty fulfilled YouTube career, I'd say.

And I guess all that's left to say is thank you guys for being around, for finding me, for sharing bits of your time with me, and for just generally being awesome yourselves. I hope to be able to meet you and thank you all in person because it just means that much to me to have you there for me.


So Day 1 of the project and I've already got a fail. I was doing homework until 11:05, and by doing homework I mean I read my textbook for about half an hour and then got distracted writing stuff for the re-vamped Music for Muggles. Wait, what? Shhh don't tell anyone. It can be our blogging secret. But yeah... Music for Muggles is coming back this summer and hopefully with a vengeance. So watch out for that. Anyway, after I finished "doing homework," I couldn't resist reading all the awesome comments on my video and ended up being on my computer until like 11:50, thus missing my bedtime by over an hour when all was said and done. But I'm still recording the fail on my calendar because I don't want something silly like that to cause me to go into an endless cycle of false starts. So here are my results for today, with a reminder that "sleeping" happened yesterday and "homework" and "reading" are still open for today:

Sleeping: O
Blogging: X
Homework: O
Reading: O

Sunday, May 22, 2011

30 Days of Blogging Returns!

Yesterday I did nothing. And when I mean "I did nothing," I mean I have reached an all-time low of how little I can accomplish. It took me nearly two hours to finally decide to get out of bed after waking up, and once I did, I ate ONE MEAL and played The Sims for about ten hours straight and then realized it was rather late and ate dinner and then sat on my computer some more.

This is not okay with me. It seems that I must re-instate the 30 Days Of projects again. Which I'm okay with.

Those of you who were around last year probably remember how it goes. I will blog for 30 days, and every day I will end the blog with the shorthand name for my projects and put an X if I finished the goal and an O if I did not or if it is not YET done. I will update blogs if that changes later.

My current projects are as follows:

1. Bedtime rule REINSTATED. I shall end all technological endeavors in time to be in bed, asleep by 11:00 PM EST . There will be room for exception if I am with IRL friends, but if that is the case, I shall begin taking precautions around midnight to be in bed, asleep no later than 1:00 AM. However, I shall never wake up later than 7:00 AM.

2. I will blog for 30 days, marking my progress as I go.

3. This will not last 30 days, but I will need to dedicate time (preferably one to two hours) every day to my post-student-teaching seminar class so that I end my college career on a good note. I have three weeks left, so I will not make a numberless calendar for it, but I will make time every day for it.

4. I will read for pleasure every day for at least one hour.


I do not want to load up on projects this early in the game for fear of overwhelming myself, so this is where I will stop and I will re-evaluate my progress and projects in one weeks' time. I think Sunday is a good day for evaluating and adding projects.

This will be a good 30 days.


Today's records will not count because I started the project today, but for those of you who were not around last year, I will give you an example of what today's blog footer would look like:

Sleep: O
Blogging: X
Coursework: O
Reading: O

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

I'm kind of afraid to post this blog because I know no matter what I say, I'm going to get some flak, but as this is kind of the most private and most personal method of communication I have with the internet, I figure I should take the opportunity and say something.

I've just recently watched the documentary called "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers," and it really touched me. It kind of put into words the thoughts and emotions I've been dealing with regarding my own religion in recent years.

I guess this would be the time to tell you "my story" as far as religion goes. I think I had a pretty normal upbringing in Northern Virginia; I spent the first twelve years of my life within 45 minutes of Washington, D.C., which is why no one can tell where my accent is from, because it's kind of from everywhere America. I was baptized and raised Catholic. When we moved from Virginia to Tennessee, it was my religion that got me to meet most of my friends--to be honest, that was how you really met most people in that area.

Religion was a very open topic, as long as you were Christian, and often as long as you were Protestant. I don't mean this in any sort of bitter or dramatic way, but I was certainly challenged for my faith. As a member of a minority religion in the area (I know; it's Tennessee, believe me. Catholicism is a minority) I lost friends who adamantly felt that I was wrong and needed to change my sinful ways.

I wept openly when John Paul II died; he was an amazing man and I thought he was bringing the church into the 21st century in many (not all) of the right ways. I was also singled out in my health class--by the teacher, mind you-- to explain why he was left pretty much as-is for a very long time (the short version is that if he didn't decay it would be a miracle they would tick off in canonizing him).

But it wasn't all bad in Tennessee; in fact, there was a lot of good. I had a lot of deep spiritual epiphanies, most of which I am generally only willing to share with close friends I trust not to judge me, so please forgive me for leaving it at that. However, sometimes I think it's better that way; I don't want anyone to think that my story is "the way" to be Christian. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

In my junior year of high school, we moved to Florida, which had a very different religious culture. I remember being physically uncomfortable with some of the changes in the celebration of the mass--our church in Tennessee was rather conservative, and this church was quite liberal--but I came to love and cherish the differences. It's always a challenge to adjust to change, but I would argue that one benefits in the end from accepting it. I love my church in Florida and love returning to it when I am home. In any case, it was there that I was confirmed and took Saint George the Dragon-Slayer as my patron, not so much because of his being a dragon-slayer, but because of his patronage. He's the patron of the Boy Scouts and of the military, and I felt his story very compelling--it was full of calls to action, rather than idleness.

When I came to Indiana University, however, I pretty much stopped going to church altogether, and I couldn't quite find the impetus. Sure, it was partially laziness. Sunday was the only day I ever got to sleep in. The college ministry was very far away from where I lived on-campus. It was partially due to the fact that the church closer to me had choices in music that were very easy for me to snub. But there was something deeper than that. Something that really just didn't sit right with me in my religion, and in religion in general.

And I think Lord, Save Us From Your Followers hit the nail right on the head. I've started to feel this sense that people who are religious have to judge each other and feel this compulsion to be right rather than to be Christian. Part of that was my experience, of course--being told that I was a heathen for being excited to see the bishop, being told that I wouldn't go to heaven unless I was saved in this religion or baptized in that religion. Part of it was my upbringing--my parents have always made it clear to me that what they care about is that I take care of myself and that I take care of others, and that as long as I do this I will be right in God's book. Part of it is the media--it seems like every news company has to put a spin on it now in order to be legitimate. That's just not okay with me.

So I haven't been to church in years, but all this time, I think I've been doing God's work. I always make it a point to stop and help others, to show basic courtesy, to stick out my neck for my friends. I wish I had done more of course (gotta love the Catholic guilt) but I can't say that I've done nothing.

But this movie... it really hit it home for me. I've honestly been wanting to go back to church for a while and kind of just dreading who I would see there, hoping it wouldn't be boring, letting my imagination run wild and convince me not to go. But seeing the host--I can't remember his name--being religious, but being apologetic for everyone; turning the other cheek, as it were. I just was so moved by it because that's the kind of person I think I've been wanting to be. That's the kind of person I've been trying to be. Someone who can be religious, but someone who truly follows what Jesus and the Bible say. From a moral standpoint, that is. Someone who doesn't judge, someone who loves all unconditionally, someone who would give you their watch when you ask them what time it is. Someone who listens to everything and processes it. It calls to mind my favorite prayer, the Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Productivity (Taking My Own Advice)

So a while back I made a video about being productive. You can see it here if you're interested. In any case, I've been feeling really "blah" this weekend and it's exactly what I needed to hear.

I've got a big pile of clothes that is really three sub-piles of clothes: one needs to be ironed, one needs to be cleaned, and one needs to be just put away... and probably ironed first at this point. I am going to go attack that as soon as I finish this blog. The best thing is that I can watch a movie or something while I iron, so it's only half-work. That doesn't count as multi-tasking in my book because I won't care if I follow what's happening in the movie!

I have some paperwork to do for what I want to do next year. Mostly, this involves e-mailing people I'm supposed to be in contact with... I've been a little un-responsive recently and I feel guilty about it. I shouldn't feel guilty, of course; if my body is telling me that what it needs the least is to talk to these people, it's probably right. This was not pure laziness--it was stress telling me to take a break. But regardless, I will e-mail them once I get some clothes going.

I have to talk to some people about summer jobs I applied for. I meant to do that today and now it'll be after business hours so I'd get a manager but probably not a hiring manager. I have to put it on my list of stuff to do tomorrow.

I took on a reading challenge earlier in the semester and I'm pretty far behind on it... I got really far ahead over spring break and lost the time to read afterward; now that I have it back, I ought to read some. I bet that's not going to happen tonight except just before I go to bed, but it's a step.

Speaking of bed, I need to reinstate my bedtime routine. It helps a lot and I've gotten out of the habit and it's not helping my stress at all. Hopefully this routine of blogging will do some good in that regard.

So I think I've got my evening organized! Laundry--e-mails--write list for tomorrow--laundry. For tomorrow, class and contact employers. Oh! That's my list for tomorrow. Already out of order! Dang it. Well, I have to be flexible. That's the key to any success.

And with that I think I'll be off, rather than procrastinating by writing a bunch of more stuff you probably wouldn't care to read anyway ;)

Hope you guys can have as effective an evening as I am about to have, even if that means relaxing! If that's what you need, do it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

BAWLODIS (Blog A Whole Lot Of Days In Summer)

Hey! So someone recently posted a comment to my YouTube profile saying, "Why doesn't your blog exist?" and I thought to myself, You know what? I've been meaning to tend to that.

And then I remembered what wonderful good blogging did for me last summer when I did it every day for two months straight. I'm not sure I want to commit entirely to that again... of course, things could change in the next few days. That's what I love about this being my blog, though. If I change my mind... it's all on me.

In any case, the next great thing about blogging is that it gives me a chance to be a lot more personal. Most of my vlogs have at least some sort of point and are very rarely just life-updates, and I really liked being able to bring that part of my life to the internet through my blog. There will be a lot of changes to my life this summer, and I'm looking forward to being able to share them; unfortunately, very little is set in stone and I don't want to announce anything until I'm certain, so forgive me if I tend to dance around certain points. I am only withholding information because I take care not to tell you untruths.

So basically, this is going to be the beginning of my summer blogging project again. Probably my first goal will be to re-commit to exercise... maybe with more time promised to me in the future I will be able to commit to it. I mean, I have been walking for a very long time and distance every day this semester and now that student teaching is almost over I'll need to keep it up or I will probably slay someone.

I guess I'll end this blog by saying that the biggest benefit is that I get to post these without lots of editing or drafting and re-drafting. I like having a place where I can do that. Ha.