Saturday, August 20, 2011

English 1102, The 5 Sentence Challenge

Or, "Midgets in the oil wrestling industry, a Ryan Butler request."

You're probably wondering what a freshman level English class and oiling wrestling midgets could possibly have in common.

I'm going to ignore that question, and start with another one:  Why would an undergraduate senior, with almost 240 credit hours to her name, be taking a freshman level English class?  Well, way back when I was a senior in high school, I took the AP English exam in Louisiana and blew the top out of it, meaning that I was given credit for the entire first year of English in college.  When I transferred to JMU is Virginia, they accepted that.  But when I transferred to Troy, they wouldn't.  In fact, I'm in the process of contacting the AP group to have them send a copy of my original test results (from over a decade ago) directly to Troy for $35, so that Troy will grant me credit for 1101.  But Troy doesn't accept AP scores for 1102.  So even though I have English credit for 2205 (as well as several other higher level English classes), here I am, taking 1102.

As whiny as the above explanation sounds, I'm actually pleased as a peach to be taking the class.  I -like- English and reading and writing, and, well... learning in general.  So this class is far from being a burden, and (with the exception of costing me $325 per credit hour) I'm thinking of it as a blessing and an opportunity.

All of that to say that my first day of class yesterday, my instructor was saying that the way to become a better writer, is to write.  He then said, "Imagine that I tell you to pull out a piece of paper and write down 5 sentences about music.  Then he quickly ticked off: "I listen to music all the time.  Music is in my soul.  I like to play the guitar.  Music makes the workout go faster.  My favorite genre of music is...."  Then he said, "Now I tell you, turn each of those sentences into a paragraph.  That's the fun part.  The way to become a better writer is just to write.  About anything."

And so that brings us to, 'Midgets in the Oil Wresting Industry.'  About a month ago, I was looking at my blog and realized that if I just did a couple more blogs that day, I would do more blogs in one week than I did in the entire previous month.  I turned to facebook and sent out a request to my friends, "What would you like me to blog about?" retrospect, I should have remembered that many of my friends are funny smart asses.  Ryan Butler, I count you amongst these.  And so tonight, I have decided to take on my English 1102  Five Sentence Challenge by taking on your topic request, Ryan.  Here we go.

1.  I know very little about the Oil Wrestling Industry.

2.  I know the difference between a dwarf and a midget.

3.  I anticipate that you were actually asking about dwarves in the Oil Wrestling Industry.

4.  Midget is actually a derogatory term.

5.  Until I was 12, my entire family (including me) thought that I was going to be a midget.

I know very little about the Oil Wrestling Industry.  The very first thing I did, when I saw that it was a possible topic, was to research it online.  I'm fairly certain you were talking about the female oil wrestling, which is ranked right up there with pudding and mud wrestling.  But I also discovered that oil wrestling is a sport in Turkey performed by the men as a real competition.  It has been passed down as a traditional sport, and was even performed in the middle ages.  The men would oil themselves up with olive oil to make them harder to grip.  I'm certain this is also true in the female version, but it probably plays on lesbian fantasies.  I'm also fairly certain that watching the Turkish men do it leads to absolutely no lesbian fantasies at all.

I know the difference between a dwarf and a midget.  Dwarfism is a medical condition that results in a person being extremely short with disproportionate body parts.  This typically means that they have the head and torso of a 'normal' person their age, but that they have shortened arms, legs, feet, hands, and digits.  It is a hereditary genetic condition that can lead to other health risks.  What dwarves and midgets have in common is that they are under four foot, eight inches tall.  Midgets are no taller than this, but they are proportionately built.  Because they are proportionate, they are sometimes considered to be child sized, even when they are full grown adults.  The term 'midget' only applies to humans, while the term 'dwarf' applies to humans, animals and plants.

 I anticipate that you were actually asking about dwarves in the Oil Wrestling Industry.  I greatly enjoyed watching So You Think You Can Dance this season.  I mention that because every time the dancers stood beside Cat Deeley, I would think, "Wow!  They are so -short-!"  A quick google search shows that Cat Deeley is 5'9", and in some instances, she would tower at least a foot over the dancer standing beside her.  But when the dancers were all on the stage performing with each other, they were all within the same height range and no one appeared to be a midget.  Based on the height restriction above, it's obvious that several of these dancers could be classified as midgets.  All of that is to say that if everyone wresting was between 4'6" and 5', you wouldn't really notice if there were any midgets.  Regardless of their actual height though, you would definitely notice if one or more of them were a dwarf.

Midget is actually a derogatory term.  It originates from the word midge, meaning small fly, and taken further back, shares roots with the word mosquito.  It was coined in the mid 1800s to distinguish very short proportionate people from dwarves and was commonly used up into the late 20th century.  It eventually came to mean dwarves put on display for public ridicule. ( )  It is now accepted as a term of prejudice against short people.  (As an interesting aside in the wikipedia link, check out how this term has very much traveled the Euphemism treadmill.)

Until I was 12, my entire family (including me) thought that I was going to be a midget.  I can still very clearly remember being 12 and going up to the counter at the bank.  I had to stand on my tiptoes to put my chin on the counter.  At 7 1/2 years old, I was 3 1/2 feet tall.

Me at 7 1/2.  Am I about to completely ignore that I'm posing in 2 paper bags?  Absolutely.  This is just for a height comparison with that door knob to my left (;
My youngest son was taller than my 7 1/2 year old height when he was about to turn 4.  I very clearly remember my Grandma Betty telling my mother sadly, as though I wasn't in the room, that she was certain I would never make it to 5' tall.  When I hit my growth spurt at 12 and shot up over that 5' mark, I actually did a happy dance...well...not actually -during- the growth spurt.  I was too busy outgrowing my shoes every 2 weeks and tripping down the stairs because I wasn't used to the size of my body at the time.  But once I reached my final adult height of 5 foot 3 1/2" (and I hold that 1/2 inch very firmly in my height, thank you very much local DMV for rounding me up to 5'4"!), I did my, "I escaped being the shortest in my family dance!" ... only to discover that after we've all grown up, I'm still the shortest of my sisters and the only reason I get to be 1/2 an inch taller than my mother is that her arches collapsed a couple of years ago.  All of this to say that even when fate seemed destined to label me a midget, I never even considered the possibility of being a professional oil wrestler.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Smart Phone

I have never been a technophile, but I have to admit that the last 3 days at school would have been tremendously different without the technology that is available.

1.  Mark is also going to school this semester.  So he had to order his books online from the campus bookstore.  I had my first, 'feel old' moment when I realized that when I started working on my bachelors degrees, you couldn't do that... because there weren't any online campus bookstores.  In fact, the year I started college is the same year that was launched.

2.  All of the class registration happens on-line.  Even when you go in to the wonderful secretary's office-- she's accessing online as well.  I spent a good portion of my first day using my cellphone to access the school website and watch for an opening in a class that I needed.  As soon as it did-- Jane signed me up.

3.  I have some very large breaks between classes.  I've spent most of it reading an actual book or visiting with friends, but I've also spent a good portion of that time on my phone: reading several fairy tales, checking facebook, listening to pandora, and playing games.  (I'm slowly progressing along in Angry Birds, Rio.)

4.  I have used my phone for an awful lot of 'emergency' email in the last 3 days-- from everything from finding out what I need to enter the BFA program to when I need to take a University required math test.

5.  While waiting for my first class of the day, I found myself in a very neat hall.  And used my cellphone to take pictures of what I got to see.

the end of the English hall faces the theatre shop (:
It's an enormous crossword puzzle!!!
If you looked inside for a particular number, it had the 'clue' listed.
My absolute favorite part, though, was that it is slowly being filled out, by different people (:
6.  When I showed up for my first English class this morning (remember the class I was waiting for an opening in?), it turns out that the instructor had asked everyone to bring their computers in to access blackboard...  I didn't get that information and didn't have mine-- but I had my cellphone.  And accessed blackboard through it, instead.

7.  I've used the notebook feature of my phone to keep track of grocery lists, to do lists, and keep a running track of the course I need to graduate.

8.  I've used the calendar, timer and alarm clock feature for making sure I don't miss any appointments, don't spend too much time on the computer and get up and going when I need to.

All in all, if I didn't already know it, the last three days would have convinced me that my Droid is one of the absolute smartest and most versatile presents that Mark has ever gotten me!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Goat Balls

So I recently went to the doctor because Mark was worried about my hearing.

 (It's fine, by the way.) and figured that while I was there, I'd get refills on medications and see about getting my popcorn moles removed.

I've had popcorn moles since I was a little girl.  I have so many around my neck, it's practically a necklace--

which has always made wearing actual necklaces quite painful.

When I called them 'popcorn moles' at my appointment, the nurse giggled and said, "That's what you call them?".  It was then that I remembered that medical people call them 'skin tags'.
Which still means that they are moles that pop up and stand out.

A couple of weeks ago, Mark looked removing them up online and it suggested tying a string around them and three days later they fall off.  When I saw the doctor, she recommended the exact same thing because I have so many of them.

This morning, at 3 am, I finally had the nerve to ask Mark to help me with the two that are most annoying: one at the back of my each of my armpits.  They periodically get nicked (and hurt like a wooley booger!) when I shave.

So I got the string out, held the moles and he tied the string tightly around them.  In three days, they should fall off.

All day, they've been driving me nuts-- it feels like a constantly pulled hair.

And the only mental image I get when I think about them being tied off for three days so that they'll fall off was when we visited my parents this summer and they headed out into the goat pastures to count and band the goats:  For three days, you could tell exactly which of the little goats were boys... by the slow and stilted way they walked.

I could have gone the rest of my life without this association.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Troy University, First Day, Fall 2011

I hopped in my truck moments after my boys got on the bus and headed to school for the first time since my last day in Spring,   1. To make sure I got parking, 2. to get my parking permits, and 3. to see about fixing my schedule.

The first two were checked off within moments of arriving (:  As to the third...

See, about 3 weeks ago, I got an email for Troy telling me that I needed to request an official transcript or apply for graduation.  I'm not ready to graduate.  So I applied for the transcript.  And I have to admit, I've -extremely- thankful that I did!  It turns out that not only do I need to submit my AP English score for English 1101 and take English 1102-- I -also- have to take English 2206.  And there are 2 specific drama classes I'll need to take in the spring.  What this all boiled down to was that I was signed up for 2 classes I didn't need-- and needed to be signed up for 2 completely different classes that I desperately do!

I didn't realize the dire nature of my schedule issues until yesterday.  As this is my final full year, getting exactly the classes that I need, and no others, is vitally important.  I don't have time nor room to play around.

I was so worried about it, that last night, I had a nightmare.  I dreamed that I was working the cranks behind the duck hunt at a carnival-- and all the kids had been given buckshot riffles instead of the little pea shooters.  There were exploding stuffed animals -everywhere-.  I woke up in a panic at 3 and sarcastically thanked my subconscious for its interpretation of my feeling like I have no control over my schedule at Troy.

Thanks very, very much to the Theatre department secretary Jane, I am now back on track for this semester, and know what classes I'll be taking in the spring.

I have already happy danced four times about this today.  I'm thinking I might be due for another one.  Heck, the sheer relief from the stress alone is cause to celebrate (:

On an aside, I've set up this semester's schedule in accordance with Troy's current walkability.  Previously, I've given myself between 5 and 10 minutes to sprint the length of campus.  Having actually tried to walk around the construction that is currently encasing my University today, I have opted to give myself an hour between classes that are located on opposite sides of the construction-- as the current shortest paths actually require going -through- buildings you don't have any classes in....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Cusp of Change

This morning, as I stepped outside with my little boys to wait for the bus, my 6 year old shivered.  And in that moment, I felt the first crisp of fall in the air and the beginning passage of another summer.  Soon, it'll be time to pack the shorts away, pull out the sweaters, and sit warming by the fire pit or snuggled with my cat and my slipper socks.  But not just yet.

I don't usually miss the end of summer.

This year, there are changes.  This year, I have my last first grader.  This year, I have my first fourth grader.  This year, tomorrow morning, I start my honest, truly, REAL senior year of college, knowing that a year from December, I will finally -FINALLY- graduate.

And this year, my family and I had an outstanding summer vacation.

It was full of family and fun; swimming, laughing, and a whole slew of new activities that we enjoyed together, as a family.  My boys are off to a wonderful new school year, and I have high hopes that I will shortly follow suit.

This year, I can answer:  I have lived, loved, laughed and learned, and those are four things I hope do not change any time soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creole White Beans and Rice

A lot of my 'recipes' happen when I look in the fridge and see what leftovers I have sitting there.

Tonight's dinner began when I saw Mark's left over boston butt.  All by its lonesome.  Then I noticed the celery.  And know, Red Beans and Rice wouldn't suck... But I don't have any red beans...


Boston butt, diced
onion, diced
celery, also diced
vegetable oil
mince garlic
'cajun seasoning' -- ie.  garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika and parsley
cooked white rice
can of baked beans, rinsed (it's where I got the white beans from)

The first thing that I did was cook the rice in my steamer.  Then I added the vegetable oil in my wok and heated the boston butt and softened the onion and celery, adding the garlic and the seasoning.

When they were ready, I added the baked beans and mustard and heated it all up, then served it over the rice. (:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Faith vs. Spiritual...

Tonight, my friend Diana had tonight's blog title as her facebook status.

To me, Faith tends to be more specific (a particular god, a particular doctrine) while spirituality does not.

She asked me which I considered to be more 'right', and my response was that there are a lot of faith based people who also happen to be very spiritual. But that there are also a lot of spiritual people who don't follow any particular faith. (I tend to class myself amongst these.) In my opinion, as long as they don't impinge on the lives of others (meaning neither condemning others for not doing as they do, nor being overzealous in their desire to 'convert' anyone to their ways, nor actually threatening/taking the lives of those who won't), then they're all 'right'. It gives people a greater sense beyond mere mortal existence, a way to connect to other people and the universe at large, and typically results in more compassionate, more respectful people.

Facebook can be a hotbed for religious contentions. Particularly when you do NOT have the same religious views or faith. Another friend of mine had a status update that said, "To all of the Pagans, Athiest and Hypocrites that cause Turmoil for, place obstacles before and Test the Faith of the Followers of Christ... Thank You for your willing participation in God's Plan... Oh and you be sure to have a Blessed Day!"

They were expressing their pride in their faith.

It seemed to me that the line between proud and out to confront was particularly thin. Thankfully, they clarified that they weren't saying that one religion is better than another-- that when you look at the core of most religions, you will find God or a translated version of-- the name doesn't really matter. And -that- is something that I completely agree with.

My entire adult life, I have felt that God and religions are like a wine glass half filled with wine, in the middle of a room on a glass pedestal. And all of the people who have their beliefs are in this room, looking at it.

I blame this, in part, on being an artist. It's called a still life. Everyone is technically looking at the same thing-- but if you walk around and have them describe it, draw it, paint it or make any other attempt to render it so that another can see what they do-- you'll discover that it's not identical. Just as an example, someone sitting on the floor looking up sees through a lot more pedestal than the tallest person in the room looking directly down at the mouth of the glass.

But because they ARE looking at the same thing, there are going to be some of the same basic tenants and principles. And in religions and spirituality, a lot of those focus on treating other people with compassion and respect. And accepting that there even is a glass of wine in the middle of the room.