Stolen, Again! 

The recent few weeks have not been going great for me, lately. My car was stolen sometime last Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Last time my car was stolen, I went through the typical stages of grief, with a longer stay in the Anger phase. After the initial shock of this first act of theft, I envisioned all kinds of ridiculous revenge fantasies that really didn't help me cope with the fact that I missed my car. Now, I am not feeling a whole lot except maybe numb disappointment.

Stolen! Again!

My car, the above blue '89 Honda Civic, is exactly what you'd expect from an elderly car--almost a piece of junk. The picture gives it more credit than it deserves. I considered buying a club for it at the time, but I could never scrape the forty or so bucks together all at one time to buy one. Plus, I figured (stupidly) that probability was on my side. What are the chances that this junker would be stolen again? Next to nothing, right?

Well, just to hedge my bets, I figured that if I couldn't buy a club, I could at least engage in some "Urban Camoflague." I thought that if I put enough visible trash in the back, something like this but not quite as bad, the thief (or thieves) would reason that the there would be nothing inside the car worth stealing. Maybe the thief would figure that someone who allowed his car to be filled with so much trash couldn't really afford nice things anyway. Maybe the thief would suppose that if the car was worth stealing, it would be better taken care of. I guess I was wrong.

This time, I've got a rental car to drive in the meantime. I am also in the process of filing an insurance claim, a hassle that I really don't want to go through. This afternoon, I have to make a statement to the company and then wait a bit more than two weeks to find out what they might do. As for my car, I hope the police find it intact--and find it soon. Of course, the first time my car was stolen, but later recovered, may have been a kind of cosmic joke, a warning if you will. This time, I may not be so lucky.

28 April 2005

A Day for Reading 

Day Seventeen: Taxes are completed and are in the mail, something for which I am grateful seeing as how money has been unusually tight lately. The meager refund, approximately 200 hundred bucks, will help matters some. Taxes were one major task that I can cross off my list. I have also managed to arrange things at school so that I can stay in my student apartment until the end of Fall Term, even though I will not be attending class during Spring or Summer. Just today, I got the official approval I needed from the housing office. I had thought that they would need to meet with me personally, but the disability office worker that I have been talking to had smoothed things out for me. (The housing director wished me good luck with my plan to re-enroll in the Fall, an odd, but touching note. It struck me as odd in that it was a personal note out of what I expected to be a more bureaucratic process.)

Spring Weather

As for the other things that are still unfinished, I have yet to hear back whether or not my Leave of Absence has been finally approved. If it has been, then everything should be fine, and I can focus entirely on completing my unfinished papers. If not, I will have to quickly make other plans, including attending (as a guest) a couple writing classes taught by my colleagues--a requirement for one of my unfinished classes. I also need to meet with the Financial Aid counselor about some loan options. I have been putting this task off because I only have a very slim hope of getting what I want. Consequently, I feel a little intimidated and daunted by asking for something that I will not be getting. However, this is something that I definitely will do in the coming week, all feelings of trepidation aside.

My actual school work has been picking up. Currently, I am re-reading Mary Barton for my Victorian Class. From what I have gathered from the novel's Introduction, Elizabeth Gaskell, the author, wanted to write a novel about the working poor, thereby illuminating their plight to the upperclasses. And the upperclasses, having read her novel, would somehow be so moved by their feelings of sympathy for the poor that they would help alleviate their suffering. But, according to the author of the introduction, Gaskell seems to have omitted any recognition that the upperclasses were responsible for that suffering. Apparently, Gaskell felt that the poor's "problem" of being mad at the rich for their greed and luxury could be solved if the rich could learn how to emotionally sympathize with the poor, not rethink their own culpability in the economic oppression. I suppose it would be as if someone hit you in the head, and then said, "You poor dear! You somehow have gotten a bruise on your head." I've only just started, but I'll be interested to see if this is how the novel plays out.

14 April 2005

Progress and Reading 

Day Nine: When people ask me what I do, my answer is that I am graduate student studying English at a State University. Of course, mostly this means that some people think that I am mentally correcting the way that they speak, or am silently amused or annoyed by the way they use the language. And while inspiring self-consciousness in other people is fun for about a minute and a half, I actually have better things to do than to mentally grade the way people talk. ("You get a B- for the grammar of that sentence, but I'm afraid you get an F for originality. Begone foul abuser of English Tongue!") In fact, as a word nerd, I like the creativity of non-standard uses of English. Phrases like, "All your base are belong to us" is a source of enjoyment, not an opportunity to be a pompous idiot.

English majors are not the appointed guardians of language, and those you do critique the way people speak may have good intentions, but are really killing the life of the language and are fixing it for the grave of obsolescence. Besides, this is not what English majors do anyway. My insufficient, oversimplified definition of what an English scholar does is basically this: they take a "text," which can be almost anything, and interpret it to reveal the hidden layers of meanings behind it, or interpret it to reveal its simplicity, or reveal its comment about the human condition--whatever the hell that is. Of course, to oversimplify the oversimplification, English scholars "interpret texts."


With this in mind, I am going to interpret a 'text' for you, thereby showing you an example of what a Graduate Student in English might be doing instead of inwardly laughing at your use of spoken language. In this case, the text the above photograph. You can see three main elements: my feet, a book, and my computer. There are other elements involved, but I choose to ignore them.

The feet in this picture symbolizes my walking all over campus today. I went to the housing office, the financial aid office, and the disability services department today, something that is at least a couple of miles of walking. The book represents my studying. I need to do much more of this in the coming days. And the computer represents the writing that I will be doing in the future. Of course, these elements can combine. Walking involves "putting one foot in front of the other," and this is, metaphorically speaking, what I need to do with my papers. I have several miles of text to plow through and, like walking, I need to pick a path and start with the first step. The book operates the same way. I could go even further with all of this, perhaps suggesting that the window represents my "looking toward the future," or that my office represents an attachment to school and work. But, I think you get the idea.

Here is what I still need to accomplish in the next few days: read my Victorian Book, file my taxes, and investigate my registering for summer term. I need to meet with a financial aid counselor to discuss getting a loan, and I need to see about getting some personal counseling off campus for the next term. Today, I turned in my Leave of Absence From and my Housing Petition. I met with the Disability counselor again. And, I read more of my Victorian Book. Tonight, I will clean house and do laundry. (And if there is any time, I will update my comic with a quick picture.)

06 April 2005


Day Four: This morning, after not too much sleep due to cartoon watching and videogame playing, I went to the student disability office for my appointment. I laid out the whole story for the counselor/social worker and asked for help with resources. Of course, I was told that there is no help with money, which means that I will have to figure out a way to pay my bills and buy groceries while I am working on my papers. I suppose that I could look into private loans, but without an income or any assets I'm pretty sure no bank will touch me with a ten foot pole. However, the disability office can advocate for me while I negotiate through the policies of the various college departments and facilities. For example, a letter from the disability office will make it so I don't get kicked out of my apartment just yet, that is as long as I can pay for it. I might just go through my collection of books and videogames and sell some of them if I can.


So, as notes for myself, I am going to summarize what I need to do next. On Monday, I need to turn in my leave of absence form to the main office of my department. I need to get the petition from the housing office and write my statement of explanation, after which I contact the disability office again to touch base. I need to visit with the financial aid office one more time and discuss loan issues and the summer term. If there are any hiccups, I will have to contact the disability offices again.

As for the incompletes, I am going to focus on one class first and work through them all one at a time. I am still planning on developing a steady, solid routine that will carry me through the work that I need to do. I feel confident that I can do the work, especially now that I have worked out some personal issues. Now, I just need to dive in and do it.

01 April 2005