Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The "True" Meaning of Christmas

Dear Internet,

The other day, I noticed that an acquaintance of mine had posted a link to her new blog on Facebook. Being bored and nosy, I decided to check it out. The first post was about the "true meaning of Christmas." The first few paragraphs were about how it seems that people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, how easy it is to forget the true meaning of Christmas in this day and age, etc. She didn't get to what she thought the "true meaning of Christmas" was until maybe about halfway through, and when she did I was so surprised I spit my drink all over my screen. Or probably would have had I been drinking anything. I was expecting something like "spending time with family," or "taking time to appreciate all we have," or something sentimental like that, but I should have known better. Who is it that spends all kinds of time spouting off what the absolute and true meaning of Christmas is? Christians. She said that the true meaning of Christmas was the birth of Christ. I was quite taken aback by how fervently religious this girl seemed to be, since none of my encounters with her had ever hinted at it.

But I'm not one to go about bashing Christians (I used to be one myself, don't ya know), and that's not what this post is about. I am following her lead and discussing the "true meaning of Christmas," or, at least, what Christmas means to me. (If you haven't gathered yet, it's not the birth of Christ.) My favourite part of going home for Christmas? Seeing my family. I don't think that I appreciated them when I was still living at home quite as much as I do now that I never see them. I'm not sure what I would have said the "true" meaning of Christmas was back when I was still living at home, but family might not have been #1. I love hanging out with my siblings, chatting with my parents, and being with everyone at the dinner table. I love handing out presents from under the tree on Christmas morning while everyone is still half asleep. I'll even put up with going to Christmas mass (up to an hour early so that we can get good seats) because I know that it makes my dad happy. And, of course, I love seeing my dog again (the big lug sleeps with me in my bed when I'm home because I'm too much of a softie to kick him out, even when he takes up the whole god-damned bed).

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited to be on my way home for a few weeks in just 2 days' time. The last time I saw most of my family was back in October, and I haven't been home since August. I'm pretty sure this is the longest amount of time I've been away from home, so I'm beginning to feel a bit homesick for the first time since first year. I just have to get through one more exam tomorrow afternoon, then I'm headed home Thursday morning.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season!



Monday, November 14, 2011

Housing Conundrums

Dear Internet,

Yesterday, I received an email from my current landlords requesting that we tell them ASAP whether or not we plan on signing on for another year so that they can begin advertising our place, if not. That's a legitimate request from a landlord...except for the fact that they are making it 4 months into our 12 month lease.

From their perspective, it's a good idea. It's a university town, and there are a lot of students who will want a lease starting in September. Lots of competition, so they want to get in the game early.

From my perspective, though, all I can think is that, had I signed on for another year with my former roommates after 4 months, shit would have hit the fan harder than it did. If you recall, things went bad fast with my previous roommates just 4 months before our lease was up. While I am optimistic that something like that won't happen with my current roommates, you can never be sure of that sort of thing. I don't want to be lamenting signing on for another year next August. Not to mention the fact that I won't be around 8 months next year due to my upcoming stint at teacher's college in another town. Is it really wise to sign a 12-month lease for a place where I will be living for only 4 months?

I'm hoping my brother, who will be here next fall and winter terms, will take over my lease for me, but I can't expect that because, well, he'll want to live with his own friends and not mine. If he doesn't want to take the lease, I'll have to choose between signing on and finding sublettors for each term and simply not signing. While wiser from a financial perspective, I don't want to stick my current roommates with having to find a replacement if I don't sign.

What a pickle! I was hoping I could put off this decision at least until the winter term, but it's looking like my landlords are going to be rushing my decision.



Monday, June 27, 2011

The Right Answer

Dear Internet,

As a math major, I find that many of my mathie friends are resistant to the idea that I would choose to take an English course as an elective instead of, perhaps, a class that does not require the writing of essays.

I questioned my choice, too, nearer to the beginning of the term and particularly when I was writing the first essay due in the course. It seemed like a lot of work to choose to have on top of some demanding major courses; not to mention the fact that you can never find "the right answer" in an English class!

I found that frustrating nearer to the beginning of the term. Class time consists mostly of superficially fruitless discussion. By the end of class, there is never a conclusion to be drawn about the text we read as a whole. What the hell is the point?

I discovered that point today, and it is really quite elegant. We discuss the stories to help each other think more deeply about them, and then - and this is the best, most beautiful part - we find our own "right answer." And each person's "right answer" can be different from each other person's "right answer!" And that is perfectly fine! In fact, it's encouraged! For the first time in a long time, perhaps for the first time in my life, I feel that I am being taught how to think for myself instead of the "right way" to think.

I do not, however, find this to be contrary at all to my love of math. I love to find "the right answer." I love to be told that I have found "the right answer." I love solving the puzzles presented to my by my professors. This leads me to propose that, fundamentally, there are but three differences between math class and English class:

1. Math class presents puzzles in the form of logic and mathematics, whereas English class presents puzzles in the form of stories and essays.

2. Math professors have "the right answer" to the puzzles. English professors do not.

3. In math, you are graded by the correctness of your answer. In English, you are graded by how well you can argue that your answer is right.

It is because of this I argue that every math student should take English classes and vice versa. Math teaches you to always search for the truth. English teaches you that, sometimes, the truth is what you make it.

Some people will disagree with this. Perhaps your truth is simply different from mine.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Busy Summer.

Dear Internet,

Well, the summer term is in full-swing, and damn is it busy. Several assignments per week, plus English readings, plus two marking jobs, plus the occasional essay and midterm have made this term fast-paced and stressful thus far. This month, in particular, is ridiculous. Not only do I have something due nearly every single day, but my weekends are booked as well. Last weekend: first aid training. Weekend before that: Hitchens debate. This weekend: traveling to Boston for the weekend. Weekend after: orientation stuff.

Not only is it busy, but it's also HOT. This is the first summer in my life that has been/will be spent nearly entirely living in an apartment without air conditioning. We've had a few ridiculous heat days so far, and let me just say that I really hope that they continue to be sporadic and don't last the entire months of July and August (although I'll be home for most of August anyways). At least it's not Toronto - that was utter hell, in case you missed those entries from last summer.

I don't really have very much clever to say because all the work has robbed me of the ability to think properly. This is the busiest summer I've ever had. I would just take it day-by-day, but there's so much to do that I have to always be thinking like 2 days in advance. Luckily for me right now, that means that my mind is in a place where my work for the week is done. Now I just have to wait for time to catch up...



Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Long Overdue Post

*Note: this was originally written back at the beginning of March when this was going on. I decided not to post it in the hopes it would blow over. But that didn't happen. And now I've moved out*

Dear Internet,

I am in the worst situation right now. Honestly, I should have seen it coming. Let's go back to where it all started.

I have been living at my current place for about 6 months now. There are two problems that I have consistently: our internet sucks (cap at 60GB that we always go over that my roommate in control of the internet never "has time" to get changed), and apparently I'm the only university student in existence who likes to keep a clean apartment. These aren't typically huge problems. It's frustrating when I have to pay between $30 and $40 every month for internet when I know that there are better options out there, but come May/June our soul contract with our ISP ends and I can finally choose a better option. Had I been living here and not in stupid Toronto last summer, I would have been able to prevent this problem. Oh well. As for the cleanliness problem, every few weeks I find the time to clean, and in between I often leave notes for my roommates asking them to take care of a chore (our schedules are very different and I barely ever see them, or I would ask them in person), and this has seemed to suffice pretty well until now.

Now, to the current problem. Our lease ends at the end of April, so our landlord asked us last month if we were planning on staying on for another year. If we weren't, he wanted to start advertising the place ASAP. We decided to stay on for another year. We have not yet, however, signed another lease. Just yesterday, chatting with one of my roommates online, she lets it slip that she doesn't think that she's going to be able to stay another year. This is extremely inconvenient to everybody else in this situation. At this point in the term, it would difficult to find somebody to take her place for the summer; difficult for me and our other roommate to find somewhere good to live starting in the summer; and difficult for our landlord to find tenants starting in the summer. I tell her this. She flips out, claiming that I don't care about any of these family problems that she is having (problems, I might add, that she did not tell me about before). I tell her (admittedly rather rudely) that she should calm down and that I didn't know about these problems that she had.

Then, she decides that now is the time to tell me that basically she's been angry at me for over a month. I quote: "Seriously Carolyn I have been biting my Tongue since early Jan ..... Instead of actually talking to [us] you have decided that leaving passive aggressive notes was the best way to deal with things people respond better to kind words and conversations." Because obviously, she is such an expert with "kind words and conversations," as she is exemplifying by vilifying me over Facebook. I'd like to mention, again, that we all have very different schedules and I had decided that leaving notes for them to read and deal with when they had time would be the best alternative to struggling to talk in person. Do you have any idea how angry I am that she decided not to communicate her unhappiness with me at all (not even through passive-aggressive sticky notes!) and let it arbitrarily explode?

It is so hypocritical of her to decide that my leaving sticky notes for communication is not okay, but bottling up her anger with me and allowing it to come out on Facebook is perfectly acceptable (even though, as she says, "people respond better to kind words and conversation"). Her response when I called her out on it? "
I bite my tongue because I hate confrontation and you know that, but I am done being bullied." So bullying = leaving notes for roommates and expecting them to do a fair share of the chores, but attacking somebody on Facebook is perfectly legitimate.

Before this happened, I was already planning on asking them to get together with me for a meeting, as I had drawn up a potential roommate agreement and was hoping we could take care of some of these problems. At the time, the only problems I was aware of were that the place is never clean and it stresses me out, and they picked a crappy internet service provider in my absence.
Now, I didn't think that our other roommate, J, was having the same problems with me as she was. The reason I thought this: I see J more often than her, and he's never said anything to me about being unhappy with my methods of communication. However, after the argument with D (the first roommate), I wrote an email to them proposing a meeting and attaching the roommate agreement I had written so that they could look it over and decide what they liked and didn't like about it before the meeting, with the intention that at the meeting we could draft up a final version together that would help to take care of some of our problems. Finally, I asked them when they wanted to have a meeting.

So far, I've passed a few emails back and forth with them about it. The gist is that they have both now decided that they're going to be jerks to me because of problems that they never tried resolving with me in the past; they're mad that I've gone ahead and done a draft because apparently that means to them that I am trying to control everything; and they won't tell me when they want to meet. I attribute that to the following reason: they are children who are incapable of making adult decisions for themselves and who will avoid conflict wherever possible, even when it results in an utterly horrible and undesirable conflict situation such as the one in which we currently find ourselves.

What makes me angry is that they're mad about me being controlling, when I wouldn't have to be controlling if they would get off their lazy butts and do anything. For instance: dishes barely ever get cleaned unless I request that it is done or I do it myself; trash barely gets taken out unless I request that it is done or I do it myself; we would never get together to discuss things that are going on unless I organize the entire thing (i.e. come up with a date/time, propose the date/time, and work things out with people's schedules from there). They need to understand the difference between controlling and initiating. If they would step up and take responsibility for themselves as adults, they would understand this.

I would love to tell them all this. In fact, I would love to look them in the eyes then punch them in the face. I would love to call them out for being all the horrible things that they are. Sadly, however, I have to live with them for at least 2 more months. I don't think that there is anything salvageable left of our friendship, which I would be disappointed about if I didn't hate them so much right now. In fact, part of the reason I am writing this is that I hope they will see this and know exactly what I think of them, which is extremely passive-aggressive and possibly hypocritical of me but I'm too angry right now to care. Instead of saying this to their faces, however, I have to grovel to them via email so that living together will be even slightly bearable.

The problem now, however, is that I need somewhere to live this summer and I don't want to move...but I don't want to live with them either. I've been checking out various apartments online, and while I would love to live in a single bedroom place where I can keep things as clean as I want as consistently as I want without idiotic, childish roommates, the rent for one bedroom places is much too high for me to afford (nearly twice what I am paying now).

Is a clean apartment really so much to ask for?



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lesson and Fun Fact of the Day #2

Dear Internet,

Lesson of the day: When you enjoy what you do, it's never really work.

Fun fact of the day: My boss had to tell me to stop working and go home yesterday.



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lesson and Fun Fact of the Day #1

Dear Internet,

Lesson of the day: A lot of students think they can get away with not reading directions to assignments and just do them however they want.

Fun fact of the day: I failed a lot of students in the assignment I was marking today.



P.S. I want to try to see how many of these I can come up with on consecutive days. Because I've just told you this, I will fail at it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vacation Wisdom

Dear Internet,

I just completed one of my assignments for my professional development course (I am required to take a certain number during my work terms). Do you think it's redundant that one of my goals is to make better goals? We'll see what they think of that.

Anyways, in other news, just recently I got back from an amazing break. I went home, and had a great time (what a shocker). Showed my old friends how awesome I am (at least, that was goal), partied with my siblings, hung out with my family, celebrated Christmas the awesome way, then eventually came back here to Canada. When I came back, I hung out with STEVEN and we celebrated New Year's by killing zombies.

Although I did have a good time over my break, I must say that it was an educational experience. At least, there was one thing that I learned that I feel I will share with you.

Never be the last person in a house of 14 people to shower.