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01/24/06 05:44 - 33ºF - ID#27706

Phew...a long one

My friend Mary got very exciting results at her last doctor's appointment. She found that the cancer in her pancreas shrunk to a ¼ of the original size. I was so relieved because if she didn't get good news she was going to stop all treatments; the side effects have really decreased her quality of life. Anyway, I have felt a little lighter ever since then and I know it has given her so much more motivation. It's been on my mind so much these past couple months that I can't imagine how she can be so strong. In any event, we were ready and thankful for the good news.

In other news, the past two weeks have been very enjoyable and productive. Since I finished my finals I've done so many things I've wanted to do for a long time. Here are a couple of the things I've done:

-When I'm in school the last thing I want to do is read for pleasure because I get so sick of reading for class. In the past two weeks I've read three really interesting books (I'd recommend them but they're so specific that I really don't think anyone's interested).

-I'm also a documentary fanatic so I planned on rewarding myself for getting through this semester by renting a bunch of movies that I've wanted to see. To do that, I had to get up enough courage to rent movies by myself (I don't know why but it always made me feel really self-conscious before). I've watched at least 4 in the past two weeks and I would definitely recommend at least two of them. One, The Weather Underground, was about a protest group in the 60s and 70s called the Weathermen (a la Bob Dylan's lyrics). The other, which I watched with (e:Jessbob), was called One Day in September, and was about the Munich hostages. Now, I've seen a bunch of movies I've wanted to see and also conquered my weird fear of renting movies alone.

-I made a scrapbook for Mary. It was such an ordeal because I had to have people send me pictures and write letters. Plus, I kind of despise scrap-booking (I don't have the patience to cut all those little tiny pieces of paper and make my very own 3-D beach chair on each page). I think it turned out well and I know she will really enjoy all the old pictures. I had the best time looking through all of them!

-I FINALLY made my mosaic. I have been talking about making a mosaic table with my mom for years. I saw a mother and daughter do it in a movie and I kind of became obsessed. Unfortunately, my mother, the woman who majored in art, had no interest in making a mosaic with me. I even bought the table a couple years ago and she threw it out! So, I decided to make it on my own. I bought some glass and mirrors, broke them up, glued them to the top of a bookshelf, grouted it, glazed it, and voila, a mosaic bookshelf. I'm really happy with it. My mom wants me to do the entire wall in our spa room. We'll see about that one, since this took me two days for like 3 square feet.
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-I bought a chair at the Salvation Army, made a slip cover, dyed it a now I have a comfy purple chair in my room. I still need to fix all the seams because my sewing machine is at school, but it looks nice for now.

-Finally, this is not a crafty thing, but I feel good because I got up the courage to stick up for myself to a couple people recently. I usually let things go pretty easily. I don't like to fight or complain to people too much. I can be really critical, but I know that about myself, so I try to keep it in check most of the time. Recently, though, I realized I have become a total doormat. It felt good to be honest about how I was feeling. Of course I got apologies and promises of change, but I guess I'll see what really happens. I don't want to lose any friendships, but hopefully I didn't wait too long and things can still be fixed.

Well that was a lot. Unfortunately the party is almost over and I will be going back to school on Saturday. I'm going to try to enjoy my last week home and see everyone I can. School seems so far away.
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01/12/06 12:14 - 45ºF - ID#27705

Education in America

Tomorrow night John Stossell is doing a special on education in America (10pm on 20/20, I think it's on abc?) . It looks really interesting but really slanted. Apparently he is arguing for a voucher system for all schools, not just private. The fact is, the longer American students stay in our schools the more they fall behind students in other countries. In fourth grade our kids match up with kids in Belgium and by high school we are years behind. It's scary when you think about it, and since I started grad school that's all I've been thinking about. There is no simple answer to fixing our schools. The inequalities of our educational system are really appalling (for anyone interested an amazing book came out recently on the issue by Jonathan Kozol called The Shame of the Nation). I have great respect for teachers, but the profession is really not set up for quality control at all. Furthermore, schools do not implement research findings that could improve student achievement. Developing literacy programs has become a business and marketing agencies have better success at getting districts to buy their packaged programs that education schools. And don't get me started on the enormous mess that is No Child Left Behind (this statement is purely from an educational researcher's point of view, and not based on politics). Of all of the government services provided, it is my (biased) view that education is the most important AND least successful. In any event, I will be watching, or at least taping, the special tomorrow night.
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Location: Tonawanda, NY


12/28/05 01:11 - 30ºF - ID#27704

New Year's Eve....blah

New Year's is one holiday that always depresses me. I'm not really a superstitious person but ever since I was little I believed that how I spent new year's (or rather how I felt on new year's) was symbolic of how my year was going to be. When I was young it was okay because I was generally with my mom, watching the ball drop on tv. And, indeed, that's how I spent most of the following year, with my mom doing uneventful things. It was good, I enjoyed it. But I remember one year when I was a little older my father called and made me stay on the phone at midnight (obviously he didn't make me, but at the time I thought I had no choice). I was so upset and the rest of the year was filled with turmoil involving him. Since then I have had at least one really good New Year's Eve and one really bad one. Now, New Year's is something I just don't look forward to. I'd like to be one of those crabby people who goes to bed at 10 o'clock and ignores the whole thing but deep down I'm scared that my whole year will be me avoiding things and hiding away. I'm not very social to begin with so this could really happen! Anyway, I'm still holding out hope that the next New Year's Eve will be irrefutably good. Even if the whole thing is in my head, I think it will make my whole year a little better.
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Location: Tonawanda, NY


12/20/05 11:26 - 20ºF - ID#27703

Xmas card picture

I got a christmas card from (e:beast) today and she included this picture in it.
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I think it's the best picture I've seen of the two of us together. I'm definitely going to frame it when I get back to school. Thanks Teres!!
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12/20/05 12:45 - 24ºF - ID#27702

I never think of good titles

I've only been home for two full days by now but my vacation is pretty much over. I still have to write all my final papers by the middle of January and it's going to be so much work. I wish that I could be home and not have work to do like every other year. Vacation used to mean doing nothing...I miss those days. At least I'll have a week or two at the end of January to do nothing at all. I'm going to use that thought to get me through these next couple of weeks. For some reason I just can't focus at home. It's so hard to work in a place that I now associate with vacation.

I'm also really sick of struggling with the same things over and over again. It seems like whenever I think that I am done with something it comes back up again later. Doesn't it seem like there are a finite number of things that we just keep reliving? I have the same fights with people, experience the same highs and lows, go through the motions of applying to things over and over, and then it all happens again. Maybe I just convince myself I am really done with something so that it feels like I have actually reached a goal. Without that feeling I might just never try. So right now I'm going to pretend that I am actually going to achieve something this year. I'll pretend that things will be different in 2006. Who knows, maybe they will...

Since I don't post very often I will take this opportunity to wish all the (e:peeps) happy holidays. More importantly, I hope this new year is better than any before :)

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Location: Tonawanda, NY


11/14/05 09:50 - 41ºF - ID#27701

Feeling Ho Hum

It's almost time to come home. I was considering not coming back to buffalo for Thanksgiving but I changed my mind because I want to see (e:beast). Thank God I'm not staying here. I need to come home and see my friends and my mom. At this point in the past four years, I would have been coming home for winter break until after new year's. I now understand how much it sucked for all my friends to have to go back to school until Christmas. What a crappy schedule!

I skipped class tonight because I didn't sleep at all last night. Sometimes my mind just won't slow down. I feel guilty for not going but I got my paper in on time so I guess it's not a big deal. Still I was feeling a little lonely and sad tonight. I think that it was because I started looking at old pictures from when I was little and high school. It made me both happy and sad. Lately I cry a lot more than I smile. I know it's just the timing but I really miss talking to certain people I love who are gone, in one way or anything.

I haven't been able to stop thinking of my grandfather who died 4 years ago. He was really important to me and I wish, more than anything, that I could see him again. So few people are lucky enough to have someone replace a crappy father. I was lucky because my grandfather was the best, most admirable person I have ever known. He was probably the only reason I didn't grow up hating men. He really wanted me to do something important and be better than I thought I could be. I think in the last year he was alive he was disappointed in me. I wish I could tell him what I'm doing now and how much I think of him. He was in a lot of the pictures I have been looking at.

The pictures also reminded me of so many fun things I have done, in simple times, with people I loved. Now it seems like the chances of doing those really fun things get smaller by the year. I'm glad I had so many good times, and I know there will be more, but I think I'm just doomed to be in a bit of a sad state for a while.
My glum attitude must have been obvious because someone gave me a rose today. I've never gotten a rose from someone who wasn't my boyfriend so I didn't really know how to react. It's pink, and a really nice gesture. Hopefully looking at that for the next couple days will cheer me up a bit.


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Category: photos

11/07/05 11:37 - 51ºF - ID#27700

Boston Commons in the Fall

So this weekend we made my first visit to Boston Commons. There was an anti-war protest involving lots of pairs of shoes. It must have taken forever to set up! Anyway, it was the perfect day for a walk, the fall colors were so pretty. Even my little Cambridge Commons seems transformed into an entirely new place. I love walking home because it seems like I a new world everyday. I'm going to miss this when winter comes. Here are some pictures from our walk:

Cambridge Commons

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Boston Commons

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Permalink: Boston_Commons_in_the_Fall.html
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Location: Tonawanda, NY


10/13/05 05:27 - ID#27699

It's not fair

Sorry if this sounds like a rant but I just have to get this off my chest.

The world is completely unfair. I have always believed that there was some kind of balance in the things that happen to people. I thought if you were a really good person you would be dealt with fairly. That’s not to say everything would go your way, but at least you would get you fair share of good and bad. Maybe I have always been too naïve but this is the way I thought life was. Now I realize that it is not that way at all. It doesn’t even matter what kind of person you are, bad things will happen to you. Mary, who has been a second mother to me my whole life, is very sick. She has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes. I can’t tell you how I feel because I’m basically falling apart. I know that nobody deserves to get sick, but this is just the most unfair thing I can imagine. Mary spends her life taking care of other people. When someone is sick or scared (which I have been many times) she drops EVERYTHING and comes to the rescue. She is not married and doesn’t have any children of her own, but she has taken care of her nieces and nephews (not to mention the children of her employees) as if they were hers. She is selfless, strong, and always positive. If you have a problem, you can count on Mary to rally everyone to your side. Now who is going to be there for her? Her family members, who are often the source of her problems, are there to take care of her and she has friends and people who love her, but she doesn’t have anyone like herself. None of us can be as good to her as she has been to us. Even put together, we don’t have the power to make everything okay. I feel so helpless because I want to make her feel safe and erase her fears like she has always done for me, but I don’t know how she did it. I wish I was home to just sit with her, to just be there. It’s just not fair. I can’t imagine her dying, she’s so young. I just can’t imagine it.

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Permalink: It_s_not_fair.html
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Location: Tonawanda, NY


Category: photos

10/03/05 11:23 - 70ºF - ID#27698

so many pictures

Well the pictures are finally off my digital camera. First pictures of my apartment, then random boston/cambridge pictures, and finally Oktoberfest which happened this weekend in Harvard Square...here goes.

my apartment on Mass Ave.
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the living room in our apartment
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my room...I love my room!
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bathroom all in purple
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Lauren, my roommate
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the coop in Harvard Square
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my school
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graveyard right near my apartment- the date on it is 1635!
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downtown Boston is beautiful
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Oktoberfest this weekend in the Square
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i bought a dish for my mom's birthday
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That's all for now. Hopefully I will get some better pictures of Cambridge. It's so lovely! (e:Matthew) you need to come here so that we can have some pictures that match the natural beauty of the area.

Oh yeah, I'm definitely coming home for thanksgiving. I can't wait because (e:beast) is coming home and I miss her sooooo much! Okay, bye bye for now.
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Location: Tonawanda, NY


Category: thinking

09/29/05 09:50 - 49ºF - ID#27697

Work and Soulmates

As usual it’s been a while since my last post. I know I promised pictures of my apartment, Cambridge, and the roommate, but right now they are all on my digital camera. I’m not in a big rush because I’m pretty sure no one is really holding their breath. Instead I wanted to post about something that has hit me since I started school two weeks ago.

As a requirement (the only requirement) of my program, I have to take a class on Integrative Thinking. Honestly I would have never taken this course if I didn’t have to and I really couldn’t have told you what integrative thinking meant before last week, but ironically this is my most meaningful course thus far. To show that I have learned something, I will tell you what integrative thinking (in reference to looking at educational topics) means. The expressed purpose of the course is to get people to look at topics of education in a complex manner. By resisting the urge to simplify and generalize issues, we can adjust to the idea that no one solution will exist that solves “the problem of education.” Don’t get the wrong idea, this is not simply an extreme form of relativism. Integrated thinkers search for answers- real solutions- but they do not expect one answer to fit all, and they don’t minimize the problem so that they can find a solution more easily. Furthermore, integrative thinkers attempt to use as many perspectives as possible to come up with a solution. It’s like being right-handed but forcing yourself to develop your left-hand as well. Sometimes it’s a huge benefit to be ambidextrous. Or, think of it like the way humans see. We have binocular vision, that is, we see with two eyes. The multiple perspectives allow us to see depth (among other things). This is the perfect metaphor for integrative thinking- multiple perspectives give us the ability to see something more deeply. This all sounds really meaningless and abstract but I really find it to be a beautifully refreshing perspective.

Anyway, I’m sure I didn’t explain that clearly at all, but the point it brings me to is that the reading and work that I have done for this class have given me so much to think about lately. My future seems so uncertain because the more I learn about different ideas the more I become unwilling to commit to one life goal. I guess the best way to describe what I’m feeling is to compare it to finding a soulmate. When you are looking for someone to be with forever you don’t just want someone you like. The person needs to be special. They need to have the capacity to challenge you for the rest of your life. They need to be someone you can imagine being passionate about forever. (These are my beliefs anyway)
For me, finding a life’s wok requires the same feelings. It may seem like a lot to expect, but nevertheless, I have long thought that I had found my soulmate; the one focus that I was passionate about and could feel content building my life around. However lately, while working on this class, I have gotten shaken by my interest in other things. You could liken it to getting a “crush,” only this is on a new topic or line of research I never thought about before. These “crushes” are confusing, they make me question whether I could have more passion for something else; they make me wonder if my “soulmate” is really the one. Since I’m someone who despises change, these tremors are quite unsettling. I think about the possibilities my life could take all the time. I wonder whether my resistance to change will force me to end up with a pseudo-soulmate for the rest of my life. If it takes me longer to find the right one, then shouldn’t I be ok with that? Patience has never been my strongest characteristic, but now, do I need to force myself to take the time it requires rather than rush ahead?

In the end, I guess I think that questioning what you have settled for is a good thing. Sometimes you have to take risks to decide what’s really right for you. I’m not a determinist but I think if the track I’m on right now is right, then I will end up back on it eventually. I don’t expect life to do everything for me, but I trust myself (most of the time). If I’m not in the right place, I like to think I’ll find my way there somehow.

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