Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dear School: I Hate Your Stinking Guts

Three weeks. It's not a very long span. Especially when Christmas and New Years take up much of that time. But it seemed like a blissful eternity to have 3 whole weeks off after Fall semester and before starting Spring semester. Three glorious, Netflix-filled, family-snuggling, dinner-making, carefree weeks.

And then...just like that, it was over. And hell on Earth began in earnest once more. 

Each semester seems to be just a little bit worse than the one before it. 
And this one came with a full-on vengeance. 

I started classes just last Monday. And I think I've cried, if not real tears than at the very least, near-tears (not to be confused with near-beer, although shockingly, even more unsavory) probably about 4 times. And dropped a class. (Don't worry, I replaced it with something only slightly less horrible.)

I know what you're dying to ask. Why? Why, Cyndie? What makes this hellish semester any different than all the other hellish semesters before it? Well, I'll tell you:

The Workload
I'm not a fan of textbooks. Or hugely long supplemental pdf files. As much as I like to read. Textbooks? Well, they're not even on my list. I would rather read the German assembly instructions that come with pressed wood bookshelves. Really and truly. Wirklich und wahrhaftig.

I have been able to get away with skimming, or skipping altogether the textbook reading thus far in my schooling and picked up the info through lectures or slides. Preferably both. But this semester? Not a single lecture. Not a single slide. And every grade based on quiz and test scores. Which are based on obscure facts found in ridiculous, superfluous amounts of readings. In every. Single. Class.

It turns out that, generally speaking, the highest-paid, greatest-credentialed, most-experienced, tenured professors spend infinitely less time and energy teaching their classes than the lowly adjunct staff and assistant professors. 
Ah yes, the American dream. 

Maybe they just went to school for too long and they're sick to death of it. That, I can understand.

The Ex is Back
Remeber that time I broke up with statistics? That was a happy, happy day. I thought I was done with him. At least in my school life. I thought we were finished. I thought he'd leave me alone and go find some other innocent girl to torment.

Nope. Like a stalking, abusive ex-boyfriend or Poltergeist II, he's baaaack.

There is a required class I signed up for this semester called Principles & Applications of Psychological Testing. Which I, foolishly, thought would involve...I don't know...basic principles and real-life applications of psychological testing. Like methodology and ethics and crap. I could not have been more wrong. (I could try. But I would not be successful.)

All statistical formulas. Mostly ones I don't even remember learning.
And did I mention there are no lectures? Only 20 different 30+ problem, 8-page "optional exercises" you can do to prepare for the 5 exams. Oh, and a textbook. The only thing less helpful than a statistics text is a two-year old folding laundry. 

Don't worry, I got to problem #3 on Optional Exercise 1 before I had no idea how to do anything else. And had a complete breakdown.

Then I dropped the class. I will deal with it this summer when I am only taking 3 credits instead of 15.

Worn Down
I'm so close. (In the scheme of things.) The end is (semi) near. I can be done by December. Of THIS year. That's amazing. The end is in sight. And it should be invigorating. 

It is not.

I am tired. I am depleted. I am weary. I miss my life. I don't want to do it anymore. 

Not to mention the loans. And the GRE. And the decisions about graduate school. Utah? Arizona? California? Nevada? North Carolina?
Evening cohort program? Online? Assistantship?? 
Where's Zoltar when you need him? 

To top it off, I just discovered yesterday that when I am finished with the required classes I have left, I will be one credit shy of the necessary credits for a degree. I will have 119 instead of 120. 

One. Freaking. Credit. And there are no one-credit classes for online students. Of course there aren't. 

It would actually be sad if it weren't so funny. Or funny if it weren't so sad. I can't remember which.

So if I am noticeably absent from the blogosphere in the coming months, know that it is because this semester is trying to kill me. 

I am quite sure I saw it positioned around the canyon corner on the desert path where I like to run, sneakily holding on to a rope pulley system, poised to drop an anvil on my head when I zip by.

And just the other day it tried to disguise its mouth to look like a swanky restaurant so that I would walk in unsuspecting and it could eat me alive.

Mean semester. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Star Wars: The Dork Awakens

A (not so terribly) long time ago in a galaxy (not so very) far, far away...

A sister and brother were born. Their sad, beautiful mother died in childbirth and to protect them from a father who had become an evil lord (and was just evilly whiney prior to that) they were sent to a home in California. They were raised, not as twins, but as siblings who were two years apart. The "Sky" was dropped from their name (for safeguarding purposes and all.) 
Leaving it as merely Walker.

This may or may not have been the fantasy that filled much of my childhood imaginings. I mean, my last name WAS Walker. And my brother and I? Well, the force was strong with us. Let me tell you.

So imagine my surprise when I texted him after seeing The Force Awakens and said: STAR WARS!!!!! And he responded back with: Yep. Star Wars!! 

I should have known by the not-all-caps response. And the two exclamation points instead of four. But I kept pushing: Did you see it?? Did you love it!?
He replied: Yes and I really liked it. But am I allowed to be a little disappointed?

No. No you are not. And I will tell you why. 

Because I didn't love Episode I-III (I know, I know. My true fan rating just went way down.) And I wasn't even super excited for Episode VII. (I mean, Yoda is dead. How awesome could it be?)

But...It. Was. Fabulous. 
And sure, maybe a little (lot) reminiscent of Episode IV. But do you remember what happened with New Coke?? There's a reason they stopped making it. 
A very good reason.

So what did I love about it? Well, kind of everything. (Just ask my husband, whose arm I hit excitedly and repeatedly through the entire movie.) But a few things in particular:

The Old Gang
What can I say? I love them all. 
You can regard your Henry all you want. You can chase your Fugitive. Hijack your President Marshall. You can dig your Indiana Jones. For me? There is just one role that Harrison Ford was born to play. Han Solo. He just was. 
And sure. I sat there just like everyone else trying to figure out just how old Carrie Fisher actually is. But just like I have learned not to judge how people parent, how dirty their house is, or how many pairs of black boots they I continue to get older, I have learned not to judge how people age. I mean, we can't all be Chewie.
C3PO? Just as obnoxious and robotically annoying as ever. (Contented sigh.) 
And, yes, the absence of Yoda was keenly felt by me. But as far as I'm 
concerned, no Yoda at all is still better than computer-animated Yoda.

The Falcon
Am I giving anything away here? Well, too bad if I am. You should have already seen it by now. 
I had a Ford Festiva once. I think it cost me $500. It ran and ran and ran and ran. And ran. It got me from California to Utah and back more times than I can count. 
Did it shake when I went over 50 miles an hour? Like Oola, the Twil'lek slave dancer. 
Did the driver side mirror have to be duct-taped on more than once? You bet your Jabba the Butt it did. 
But it never once broke down on me. Not once in all the years I had it. And I bet if I were to come across it now, half buried in the sands of the distant planet of would still get me across the hyperspace route of the I-15. It may take a little longer than twelve parsecs. But it would get me there. 

The Stormtroopers
When I was a kid, we had one of those tall metal wall heaters in the hallway. I don't remember anymore if it was me or one of my siblings who used to have nightmares about Stormtroopers emerging from it in the night. (I think it was a younger sibling. I mostly had nightmares about how my dad would bogart it every morning while the rest of us would hover nearby shivering.) Regardless of who it was, the truth is...Stormtroopers were scary. And somehow, 30+ years later, they still are. There have been a few small tweaks here and there. But essentially, the uniforms are the same. The blasters the same. They don't need a sleek updated new look. Because a legion of synchronized, marching, anonymous, evil soldiers? Still scary as hell. Which just tells you how awesome the original series was in the first place. 

This far from covers all of the things I loved about the movie. Whiney new bad guy: Loved. Oscar Isaac: Loved more. No Jar Jar: Loved the most. 

But the best things were the things that reminded me of the movies I loved as a young Jedi-wannabe. Light speed. Droids. X-Wing & TIE Fighters. Jedi mind tricks. The score. Oh the score. It gives me goosebumps still. 

I recently saw one review that said that it is ridiculous to bill this movie as a sequel when it is merely a remake.

I have just four words for you, Star Wars-hater guy:

If it ain't broke...