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|Saturday, December 4th, 2010|
I've realized that one thing I consistently enjoy is meeting new people, getting to know interesting new people. These aren't necessarily people like me, but they're people who can carry a conversation, who are interested and passionate about something, and who share at least a few of my (bizarre) interests. This is probably why I've cultivated so many different groups of friends, both at LC, at Sunset, in Forest Grove, and then made sub-groups for each of those.
This is why I've felt a bit restless socially. College was at its best when I was meeting new people, which were my sophomore and junior years. Now, being back in the Grove, things are pretty much at a standstill. I've no real desire to get involved with this community, seeing as how I'm leaving in less than a year and there never were many people like me here anyway, and I wouldn't know how to start. Likewise, LC is pretty tapped out for me.
The long and short of it is that I'm excited for grad school, so I can go back to meeting people and making new friends.
|Monday, October 25th, 2010|
Women, I tell you. I don't think I made a single good decision regarding women before the age of 18.
|Sunday, October 10th, 2010|
I don't think I can continue to be a cynical person anymore. I've gotta give it up.
|Monday, September 6th, 2010|
I've spent the last few months feeling intermittently pissed off and depressed about my current situation.
I was talking to my mom about it today in the kitchen, and she's repeated to me over and over that feeling sorry for myself is unproductive. She also points out that I'm doing better than so many other people, academically as well as financially, that I should try to be proud of what I've done.
I've finally heard her. I just don't have it in me to keep up this bitterness. A lot has still managed to work out for me: writing for the Oregon Encyclopedia, this publication, and ideas for yet another scholarly article...I can't stay pissed.
|Sunday, June 6th, 2010|
I've been reading a lot for grad school. I'm trying to read the books of professors I might want to study with, so I've got a massive stack in my room that I'm trying to work through. They're mostly Cold War histories.
I've realized how out of control my personal library is, so I'm trying to cull some books I don't want anymore while adding more bookshelves and storage in the room. My goal is to alphabetize everything by the end of the summer.
I keep finding myself angling for more history stuff to work on. I want to attend more conferences, find any research positions that I can, and stay busy. Having all of these books to read is a nice addition to that.
Oh yeah, and I have a social life too.
|Wednesday, May 26th, 2010|
I've got my schedule kinda normalized right now, which is a relief after having everything up in the air for a couple weeks. I was in a panic for a while because McMenamin's wanted me to work full-time as a dishwasher, but I've managed to get my hours down to part-time; it looks like I'll be working 3 or 4 nights a week (hopefully 3, but 4 is something I can manage). Other than that, I'm working part-time for the State Historic Preservation Office in Salem, though a lot of my work occurs here, and I'm doing a research project for a Hood River land use watchdog group. They want a history written of their group's activities and how they formed, and I was recommended to them through the LC history department.
It's a busy summer schedule, but it works.
|Sunday, January 31st, 2010|
I had a paper accepted to a history conference in Missouri.
It's not the biggest conference ever, but still, this is a solid victory. I needed this.
|Wednesday, December 30th, 2009|
1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Lived in an apartment.
2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
They're pretty much the same thing every year: take it easier on myself. Every year, I think I get a little bit better.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
Alaska is practically a different country.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
More support from the institution that gets my money.
7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 28th-Go to Alaska
August 8th-Get home. Promptly meet my girlfriend.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I pulled off my grad school applications and kept my grades high even though some unexpected shit happened.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not doing the honors thesis.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Arkham Horror has gotten a lot of use as a board game.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My parents always do an excellent job and merit celebration.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Why would you ever write this down?
14. Where did most of your money go?
Living expenses and my various hobbies.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Working in Alaska was exciting, if nerve-wracking at first.
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)"
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or Sadder: Happier.
ii. Thinner or fatter? The same.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer (couldn't save as much money when I lived away)
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Gaming, see people.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home with my parents.
22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
It's such a strong term, but yes.
23. How many one-night stands?
24. What was your favorite TV program?
Mad Men, Venture Bros...
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
26. What was the best book you read?
"House of Leaves" or "Gulag Archipelago."
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Music bootleg blogs.
28. What did you want and get?
I got almost everything I wanted because I worked to get all of it. Who can complain?
30. What was your favorite film of this year?
The Hurt Locker or Moon
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Grabbed a couple beers at Humpy's and headed out to Kennecott the next day. I was 21.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If people had advised me on fellowships early on/if I was guaranteed a job right now for the summer/if school was free.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Pretty much the same as the prior year.
34. What kept you sane?
Friends, my girlfriend.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Fancy? Scarlett Johansson. I miss Michael Jackson a lot.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Health Care was a bother.
37. Who did you miss?
I seem to have this problem of missing all the people I once knew and liked, even if we've grown apart. I live too much in memory.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
Everybody I knew in Platt West is kinda tied to win here.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
I've kinda figured out what makes relationships more successful for me. Thank you, string of failed relationships!
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he's not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.
|Wednesday, November 11th, 2009|
This school has really burned my ass in the last couple weeks.
A week and a half ago, I got an e-mail from a fellowship I applied to saying that two professors had never sent in recommendations. It had been due two weeks before and I'd cleared it with them long before it was sent in. I checked with both of them and they'd both simply forgotten to do it. Both of them were history professors.
Now, I've gotten word from the department of problems with my honors thesis prospectus. It lacks sufficient secondary source research, which is a perfectly legitimate criticism, but my advisor, who I've met with extensively, never brought this up. Nor did he address with me the shortness of my prospectus; mine is apparently much shorter than everybody else's, and he never mentioned this. Ever. They want more research from me at a time in the semester when I really don't have spare time to read four or five more books, given that final essays are due in three and a half weeks along with my grad school applications.
The History Department kinda threw me under a bus here. And I'm not very happy. Odds are, I'll step down from Honors Thesis, because the prospect of all of this additional research leaves me to question what else I can cut to make room for it. I won't risk my grades for an honors thesis that won't help my grad school apps, and I won't risk my grad school apps at all.
I've already got enough reasons to be angry at this school. Burning myself out on writing this thesis and destroying my senior year is not a reason I'd like to add to the list. Current Mood: angry
|Thursday, November 5th, 2009|
Why do Americans give a shit about Guy Fawkes Day? Fucking V for Vendetta.
|Thursday, October 22nd, 2009|
Every time I think about wanting to quit this job, I find some resident who needs my help and who I can help. And it postpones my departure for another while.
School is going well. This week has burnt me at both ends, but I survived all of my midterms and even kicked one's ass (97.5, a solid victory). An application was submitted for an Oregon Heritage Fellowship. All of my rec letters are lined up. I'm locking down monetary grants for research for other students in the history department. Grad school apps will begin so. I'm plowing through books for thesis.
I'm exhausted, but you know me. I'm happiest this way.
|Friday, August 7th, 2009|
Portland, here I come. In thirteen hours, I'll be back be where I belong.
|Sunday, August 2nd, 2009|
This is a long and rambling entry, so beware. It came up while I was thinking about the Iraq War, and then somebody mentioned V for Vendetta. And somewhere, two synapses fired.
You know, the only time I ever feel myself indulging in paranoia is when I see how much everybody else likes V for Vendetta contrasted with how much I despise it. I just don't get it. Nothing about that movie is unique, or well-designed, or bold, or creative, or even fucking nuanced. The action sequences look good, I'll give them that. But the characters are so shallow; they have no depth or complexity. V is a good guy, and Evey his loyal protege, and the fascists are all bogeymen with Bush masks on. V is a fucking terrorist in the graphic novel, not fucking William Wallace; he exists in ambiguity, like the real world. And never mind the depiction of the government...it took all the depth out of portraying fascism as arising from complicated factors and reduced it to pretty fucking tenuous.
What messages does that movie offer? Seriously? Let's be tolerant of gay people? Great. What a bold fucking message. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see positive treatment of homosexuals in the media, but in 2005, we shouldn't pat a movie on the head for uttering tenets of common decency, no matter if some people refuse to accept them. That's not exactly ground-breaking material, and plenty of other movies have done a much better job with it. And of all the approaches to take...We don't want to tackle Matthew Shepard, somebody who deserves to have their story told, so let's make it safe and imaginary.
Or gee, dictatorships are bad? Oppression is unpleasant? Holy shit, you're blowing my fucking mind right now! I don't think I handle all of this RADICAL information man! I was under the impression most Americans accepted this idea as being true. And for fuck's sake, I cannot stand the conflation of fascism with fucking neoconservatism! In fact, I don't necessarily like conflating all of the Bush administration with neoconservatism, because a lot of the Bush Administration was just devoted to behaving like a crook.
And out of all the stupid shit from that movie, nothing pissed me off more than the stupid references to "America's War." How could this be anything other than a cheap marketing ploy to capitalize on the-then active opposition to the war? Every survey from 2005 showed half the population or more was opposed; it was convenient for them to throw it out there. There's no bravery in saying something that a majority of people will agree with and that the other side is unlikely to lynch you for. Where was this fucking movie in 2003, when opposing the war was unpopular and inconvenient, when a little bit of support might have been handy? No, there was nothing bold about its half-assed, masked opposition to the war.
I think this movie has begun to stand for something else to me. It represents my anger with the entire Iraq War and all of its former supporters. I won't lie, I have a lot of anger towards people who backed the war, not only because I was forced to eat a number of shit sandwiches by a lot of different people, but because I'm angry that they missed the lies upon which it was predicated. They couldn't see the human cost and what it would do. I refuse to believe that the war ever sounded like a good idea. I just can't accept that, and I feel like I can say this because a younger, angstier me in 2003 said the same thing.
This isn't directed at anybody, but damn...I'm angry. Current Mood: angry
|Saturday, July 25th, 2009|
I swear to Christ, if the GRE holds me back from going to a good grad school, I will lose my fucking mind.
|Thursday, July 2nd, 2009|
Looks like I'll be home on the 8th of August.
|Saturday, June 27th, 2009|
I've been here for over four weeks.
I like it here.
I like my job a lot. This week has been pretty slow, just because I've finished with my first major report, and I've been doing menial stuff in the office to kill time. This has taken the form of scanning slides and then indexing them. It's a slow business, but whatever. Next week, I start writing the Historic Structures Inventory for the cabin, and I begin my research on the refrigeration building. It's another needle in a pile of needles, but I'm excited to begin.
I have time again for certain things which I haven't had time for in years, namely, reading. I've re-read Lord of the Rings while I've been here, three Raymond Chandler novels, a Jorge Luis Borges book called The Book of Sand, and I'm working on a book of Icelandic Sagas and a biography of Kemal Ataturk. I've also read three books for work.
I like my routine. I hang out with friends from LC on Friday night, I hang out with the interns on Saturday night, and I pay a visit to the forty year-old virgins on Sundays to play board games.
I'm glad to not be home. Don't get me wrong, I miss all of you guys and look forward to seeing all of you, but if I was home, I think I'd have started pulling my hair out a month ago. I just don't deal well with inactivity or unemployment, and from all appearances, there was no work to be had at home.
I can honestly say I made the right decision.
|Sunday, June 21st, 2009|
I definitely appreciated the value of Historical Materials as I was taking it, but in doing this particular job, the relevance of the class has become crystal clear. The Mudhole Smith Cabin sits outside the town of McCarthy. The airstrip was built in 1929 by the Alaska Road Commission along with a score of thers. The territorial government decided to help foster aviation in the state, especially in isolated, and built a series of $350 dollar airstrips. They were shitty, tough little airstrips that were a nightmare to land on or take off of, and those bush pilots used 'em constantly.
Researching this cabin has been difficult; the Copper River Valley was never densely-populated, and as a result, the documentation for the area tends to be somewhat sparse. Bush pilots weren't guys who wrote journals, and the builders of little one-room cabins didn't feel the need to say why they did so. Trying to find the origin of this cabin, I've been pouring through records from the Alaska Road Commission (they built the airstrip and shelter cabins in the area, though that possibility was quickly eliminated), biographies of the pilots who lived there, survey plats, accounts from old trappers and prospectors who lived in the are (some of them decades prior to the existence of the airstrip). Even dating the thing is difficult; we know it existed in August of 1937. Before that, we have some conjectural proof that I would never use without further corroboration, and being in a state of uncertainty is maddening.
A visit to the site has indicated that the cabin had built somewhere else, taken apart, and moved to its current site. This makes tracking the damned thing down even more maddening, because suddenly, we're looking for a cabin that was built within a several mile radius of the current site. I still have a couple of theories that might pan out, but given that I can demonstrate that it is a historical building, I feel a little less nervous about determining its origin. It was a focal point for aviation in the area, people learned to fly by making trips down to the cabin and visiting the pilots, and there are pictures of people like Bradford Washburn there. Demonstrating historical merit isn't too difficult.
My other big thing, which I'll be starting soon, is the history of the refrigeration building at Kennecott. All I know is that by the time I'm done here, I'm gonna be one of the experts in the field of Alaskan aviation and the history of ammonia refrigeration.
|Sunday, June 7th, 2009|
Some days before I left, my parents told me that they thought I seemed unusually nervous. I've been anxious about an upcoming date: my twenty-first birthday.
Birthdays are not really a big deal to me, normally. I don't like big parties, and the chief reason I have them nowadays is because it coincides with all of my friends coming home from school; it's a nice kick-off to the summer. I'd actually stopped having birthday parties after I turned fifteen; I just don't like 'em very much. I don't really like a big hullabaloo, either, and I don’t set expectations all that high. I like getting a couple presents from my parents and grandparents, I like going out to dinner, and I like my friends wishing me a happy birthday.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to be turning twenty-one, so I can finally drink a beer after work, go out and have wine with dinner, or make a nice stiff Manhattan after a crappy day. I won’t be confined to enjoying good alcohol with my parents anymore, and I can finally go to all of the twenty-one and over venues.
However, I’m terrified of oncoming adulthood. I graduate in a year, and I’m not happy at the prospect of having to leave LC. I like it too much. My first year of college can barely be described as a year of college, given that I spent a third of it convalescing. PSU wasn’t all that different from Sunset High School; the only difference is that the classes tended to be better. I’ve loved most aspects of LC, and I don’t want to leave.
It goes beyond leaving a place that I like, though. I still have grad school to look forward to, and I’m sure that that will be really fun. I’ll be able to study what I love all the time, and be with like-minded people. No, it’s the fact that I seem to be drawing ever closer to adulthood. There are responsibilities that I want to avoid, such as getting a house, finding my position (not a guarantee). Obviously, I can’t avoid them forever, nor do I necessarily want to. I just want to be harmlessly irresponsible, not burdened with these adult worries, and indulging in my hobbies and fancies when I want. I basically want to be childishly selfish, and I don’t see this as a bad thing.
I'm also afraid because I'm twenty one and have done nothing with my life, but that's more typical insecurity on my part. I can laugh at that.
|Monday, June 1st, 2009|
Well, things have hit a bit of a snag in terms of employment here. Due to increased government security and background checks, neither I nor the other interns could begin work today. It might be up to a week before we can actually start, which is a little worrisome financially. They've assured me that I'll have no shortage of opportunities to work overtime. Somewhat more distressing is the prospect of having to kill time for a whole week. It's surprisingly difficult in a city where you know next-to-nobody, have no car, live downtown, and everything is fairly spread out.
I’ve found a few ways to kill time. There are some gamers in town, and I went for a board-game day at a nearby store. They’re all significantly older and adhere to some unfortunate stereotypes about nerdy males. While their company does leave something to be desired, it is an opportunity to play games and do something nerdy. Beyond that, I can be shown good board games without having to buy them.
I’m also trying to begin my research for my thesis. The public library here is available to me, and most of the books by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft are here as well, so I can begin all of the necessary reading right now. Unfortunately, it will take a few days before I can order books, so again, I’m waiting for the time being. I have some research to do for work, which helps. That’ll give me something to do for another couple days, and given that I might go to work at any time, it will be good to have that out of the way.
Most of my job involves research, as a matter of fact. I met with some of my bosses today, to fill out more paperwork and acquaint myself with the office, and we discussed the nature of the job somewhat. I can do archival research at the University of Alaska, the Anchorage Museum, the NPS Office and the various city libraries. I have to say, this is a step up in the world; having my own cubicle and office gear feels a little better than working as a house painter. Beyond that, doing nothing but research all summer is not a bad fate.
Some of my work also involves publications, and that’s the part where I get a little excited. It’d be one thing if all I do this summer is write what other people have written, but some of this is going to be my own writing. In a week or so, Bonnie (my boss) and I are headed to the Kennecott mine to do some research on a cabin that was owned by an early bush pilot. I’ll write more about that later, but the important bit is that I get to write the Determination of Eligibility Report for it to go on the National Register. I can be proud of that.
|Friday, May 22nd, 2009|
So...Alaska. I leave in seven days, and I'm scared shitless. I won't be completely alone; there will be the other interns, and some LC kids, but I'll still be mostly alone. It's a new experience for me in a lot of different ways.
I think working and reading in preparation for thesis will help ease some of my loneliness at first; it will serve to distract me somewhat. My work is also pretty cool, which helps. A lot of it is technical, but writing a Determination of Eligibility Report for a cabin in Kennecott Park will be cool. I'll be researching the cabin and getting to do some actual field work, and my research will be used to qualify it for a national register nomination.
I'll be spending my birthday in the Kennecott National Park, which is kind of up and down. The downer is not being able to get a beer on the day of my birthday. However, my boss told me that I'll have free time in the park, so I'm going to try to schedule a glacier hike on the 9th. I might as well; I'd be stupid not to.
I've nearly nailed down my apartment. Most of my $15 an hour is going to rent and food, so I won't be saving much money. Oh well- this will do a lot for my resume in the long term, which helps.