Category Archives: College

Review of A Farewell to Arms

My undergraduate degree is in English Literature, and while I had English classes I rarely read for fun because I was so busy with reading for school. Now I’m working on a Masters in Secondary Education, and while that also requires a lot of reading, almost none of the things I read are novels, so I’ve gotten back into reading for pleasure. Typically I read for a little while at night before I go to bed.

I used to read so many books with “literary merit” when I was an undergrad, but now that I’m reading for pleasure, I find myself reading few classics. The books I have read over the past few months have been, for the most part, great, but far from the classics I was taught to snobbishly prefer. There’s a debate among high school English teachers about whether we should assign classics or more modern books. The classics people argue that classics are that for a reason–the have value that transcends time and reading them develops our students intellectually and culturally in ways that non-canonical reading material cannot. The other side of the argument is that most people find most classics unenjoyable, and that by assigning these to our students we are killing their love for reading. Right now, my opinion falls in the middle of this argument. I do believe that classics are important to present to our students and, if done right, they can be enjoyable. But I also plan on assigning more modern books to my students, because so many of them are good too, and my students will likely enjoy reading them more than they do classics. I want my students to love reading above all, even if the things they read aren’t prestigious in a academic snob sense.

Long story short, I decided because of my background (English major) and future (English teacher) that it was time to read a classic again. So I picked up A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. It was first published in 1929 and tells the story of a romance between an American in WWI who is an ambulance driver for the Italian military and an English nurse also working in Italy.

It is considered a classic for a reason, and if you do a quick Google search you can find many people raving about how wonderful it is. I’m not questioning this novel’s literary merit with what I’m about to say, I’m just expressing a personal opinion. I didn’t like it. I struggled through Hemingway’s sparse prose which really lacks wordplay and descriptions. The story itself did not keep make me want to keep reading–I kept reading because I wanted to finish the book so I could move on to something else. The ending left me disappointed as well. I don’t plan on assigning this book to my students or recommending it to anyone. I’m not saying it does not have literary merit or good qualities, I’m just not a fan.

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Snow Day in Georgia

In Georgia, we do not take very kindly to winter weather. None of us own snow tires, our DOT is ill-equipped, and if it snows once a year, it’s a big deal.

Well this year, it has snowed TWICE so far, both times in the past month! The first time it snowed, it was a beautiful powder but safe to drive. Now, it’s a gross slush (it didn’t even snow where I live, just sleeted) that is refusing to melt because of the temperatures.

Pretty much all schools in the northern half of Georgia were closed today and will be again tomorrow.

So what am I doing with my two extra days of vacation? Well, I had one homework assignment (to read pages 1-119 in Nickel and Dimed) that I wrapped up tonight. Other than that, my schedule has included:
-lounge
-nap
-watch Disc 1 Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother

-finish watching Season 3 & begin watching Season 4 of Weeds

-StumbleUpon
-EATING

This blizzard is really interfering with my healthy lifestyle New Year’s Resolution.

Fun vs. fulfillment: On becoming an adult

The reality of adulthood hit me this week as the balance between student teaching internship in the morning and education classes and homework in the afternoons and evenings began this week. I also went to two after-school functions at my placement school, so I drove back over right after getting out of my education class. The balance has been rough and I have been super busy and tired. And I don’t even have it that bad: about half the people in my cohort have graduate assistantships or jobs and are working on top of all the “teacher candidate” work they are doing. If I’m exhausted, I know they are dog tired.

Fortunately for my sleep bank and sanity, I have neither placement nor class tomorrow, but I still have a ton of work to do. In fact, I’m surrounded by notebooks, highlighters, and articles from English Journal right now all staring at me, waiting on me to get back to them. I can’t wait to sleep in in the morning before I tackle doing hours worth of work for my research project (on the most effective ways to teach grammar… about as exciting as it sounds) and another class I’m taking on special needs students.

This week has been interesting in that it’s been the first in a very long time, since I was in high school, that I consistently woke up and went to bed at a respectable hour every day. I’ve been waking up at 6 am every morning in order to leave my apartment for placement at 7:20. The goal this week has been to be asleep every night at 10, but that has only happened one night this week. Other than that homework, staying up to talk to my roommate who I rarely see because I go to sleep at the same time as my Nana, and last night finishing watching Sex and the City Season 1 Disc 2 to send back to Netflix have taken higher priority than sleep. I always feel that decision when my alarm goes off in the morning though and I can’t drink enough coffee before I leave the house to offset my bad decision-making. Has anyone seen the Seinfeld when Jerry talks about the morning and night versions of himself?

“I never get enough sleep. I stay up late at night, cause I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late. ‘What about getting up after five hours sleep?’, oh that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem, I’m Night Guy. I stay up as late as I want. So you get up in the morning, you’re ….. (?), you’re exhausted, groggy, oooh I hate that Night Guy! See, Night Guy always screws Morning Guy. There’s nothing Morning Guy can do. The only Morning Guy can do is try and oversleep often enough so that Day Guy looses his job and Night Guy has no money to go out anymore.”

I’m totally having the Night Guy/Morning Guy conflict right now. For the past for years I have been an undergrad college student, and on top of that an English major. I’m sure the English majors reading this understand, but life is pretty sweet, thus why so many of us become alcoholics (not myself included); you’re basically left to your own scheduling. As long as you get the reading and writing done, it does not matter when. There aren’t meetings or groups. If you want to read in a coffee shop and pick up thinking men/women on the weekends, cool. Want to read in the library right after class? You’re a tad too responsible for the craft, but go for it. Want to read while you’re slightly drunk at 2:00 on a Wednesday morning when you just got home from karaoke? That’s probably the most socially acceptable thing for you. Bottom line, as long as you get things done and get to your (usually mid-afternoon) classes, you’re good.

Grad school and student teaching are SO different. I’m expected to go to meetings, teach, go to classes, do a ton of outside work in preparation for those things, and the thing I’m struggling with the most, wake up at a reasonable hour. I won’t lie, this week I’ve been giving this responsible adult thing a lot of thought. At first glance, I’m not crazy about it. You see, I LOVE leisure and free time. I wasn’t involved in anything in college, I’d much prefer to sit around and be lazy with my friends or just lay in bed and watch television. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the high level of responsibility I have right now. People are expecting a lot of me, I’m expecting a lot of myself, and it’s time to deliver, but all I really want to do is channel surf in my bed or refresh my Facebook homepage for the 900th time. I miss having the time and energy to go out or just hang out with people. I miss feeling fun and having fun.

If you’re thinking that this post is far from motivational, you’re about to be surprised. My definition of “fun” is slowly morphing into something very different for me. Yesterday, a student I’d done a writing conference with asked me after school excitedly asked me if I had read his essay. Luckily I had and told him a line from it I really liked. That little thing warmed my heart so much and made me so excited about becoming a teacher. This tenth grader really wanted me to take an interest in his work and be proud of him, and when I lived up to that expectation I could tell that he really appreciated it. I’d say that was my first truly fulfilling “teacher moment.”

That moment made the 6 AM alarm this morning not seem so bad. Even though my life is changing drastically, I’m discovering that what it is transforming into is more fulfilling than the life I have been living for the past five years. You may wonder why there are pictures from The Office sprinkled throughout this post. Well, The Office is one of my favorite shows, and has been for years. Aside from it being hilarious, I think a reason that I love it is that it makes adulthood and responsibility not seem so bad. The folks at Dunder Mifflin’s (“he-e-ey . . . now a part of Sabre”) Scranton branch get a lot done in between all the shenanigans. These fictional characters prove to me that fun and fulfillment, laughter and productivity can go hand-in-hand. They also show me that some of my most wonderful, humorous, and engaging relationships can come to me from the workplace.

Maybe adulthood won’t be so bad after all. If I can reconcile the Morning Guy and Night Guy within.