April 26, 2007

Drawing to an End

As far as schoolwork is concerned, today was really my final day as an undergraduate. I still have two classes to attend tomorrow because of attendance policies, but I no longer have any work to do for my classes. I do not have to take any finals.

I spent my final day of work appropriately, in my opinion.

I woke up a tad later than I had intended and almost immediately went to work. I needed to read and respond to two stories for my short story class as well as categorize every single story we read in class any way I wanted. Completing these two tasks took me almost two hours. I had to skip lunch to finish them before class. Thankfully, the teacher had announced her intent to serve us lunch this day.

As class started, my mother called my cell phone to tell me she and my grandmother were coming to Longview to deliver a bed frame and a few other items to my new apartment. Because I was in class, I didn't answer. She called again before class was over. She was in Longview by the time I listened to my messages. I called and told her she would have to wait until I was out of my next class.

Fortunately for her, I had a test in Personality Theory immediately following Short Story. Unfortunately for me, completing my assignment this morning left me almost no time for last-minute studying. I crammed as much as I could in the ten-minute break between classes. This study time was also cramped, however, when the professor offered us chocolate cake prior to the test. With my usual amount of willpower, I wolfed down a piece with a ludicrous amount of rich icing. The cake was great, and I think I did alright on the test.

With my usual tact for scheduling, I had signed up for an oral exam in Spanish shortly after Personality Theory ended. Once I completed the personality test, I practically jogged back to my current apartment and drove quickly across town to my new one. I had planned on using the extra hour between finishing the test and meeting the Spanish professor to refresh myself on conjugation and vocabulary, but my mother was waiting for me. I had about an hour to drive to my new apartment, unload a truck filled with my belongings, return to campus, and walk to the professor's office. When my mother told me she was bringing "a bed frame and a few things," she really meant was "a bed frame, a computer desk and chair, a nightstand, a bookshelf, numerous drawers to my now-emptied dresser, a good amount of my clothing from home, and a few other miscellaneous items." We unloaded as quickly as we could, spoke briefly, and went our separate ways.

I returned to campus with ten minutes to spare. I paused at my apartment long enough to look up a single word ("mudarse," or "to move") in case I was asked what I had been doing. The oral "exam" was really just holding a spontaneous conversation with the professor. He asked me questions about journalism and newspapers and what I wanted to do and where I would like to work, and I was able to stammer out decent responses. After completing the "exam," he informed me that I could have skipped it because I was graduating. I don't recall him saying this in class, but I apparently worried myself over something I could have simply not done.

Like so many other days since I started college, my final day of schoolwork was full of last-minute completions, frantic scrambling, and close calls. I can't imagine having it any other way.

Posted by Randy at 11:56 PM | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

News & Tragedy

Nothing quite makes the national news machine spring into overdrive like the senseless murder of a large number of people. Whether or not we as a society are comfortable admitting it, we want to know the stories of those who died, those who lived, and those lives forever changed. This demand practically requires the news agencies to commit their resources to finding out as much as possible. It also leads to the "exploitation" of grief and sorrow.

Thus, the news industry faces a paradox. Reporters have to push potentially insensitive questions on people who may not be prepared for them, but they also have to refrain from going "too far," whatever that subjective phrase means. They must be nosy and pushy without being outrageous. Or, more cynically, they need the tears without the guilt.

Before too many people begin damning the media for their coverage of the VT shooting (including reporters and producers trawling blogs for students willing to talk), I feel it is important to note that most reporters don't actually enjoy covering a tragedy. They ask the hard and, occasionally, the idiotic questions because it is their job. They are there because, collectively, we want them to be there.

Over at Slate, the latest Pressbox column discusses media coverage of tragic events. If you are at all interested in the press, the short column is worth a read.

Posted by Randy at 12:34 AM | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

After Dark

The lights are out on campus. Not all the lights, of course. Just some of the most important ones.

Typically, this campus drowns in artificial light once the sun abandons East Texas each night. I could easily walk from my apartment at the back of the campus to Mobberly without stepping into a shadow. In fact, I would almost have to go out of my way to step into darkness.

For now, though, that has changed. A fierce thunderstorm struck Longview yesterday morning. I am not sure what it did, precisely, other than change the nightscape of campus. The streetlights lining the road past the apartments are no longer buzzing with electricity and glaring at passers-by. The only constant light shining on the Thomas parking lot comes from the Thomas stairwell windows. A single car's brake lights paint the eastern facade of the building a dull red. Standing on the far side of the parking lot, the contrast between the gloomy darkness on the outside and the sterile light of the inside is almost shocking.

While I think everyone is a little afraid of the dark, it would be a lie for me to say it doesn't also provide some comfort. The sterile spotlight can be nice, but the invisible cloak can be soothing.

Yet, this campus seems almost to market its glaring sterility, and most people seem to accept it willingly. It's safe. There aren't any worries. Everything and everyone will come out just fine.

All of that, as my former roommate might say, is bullshit. We all have our problems, and some might even be thrust upon us by our bastion of light. No one is perfect. We hide our dark sins to try and fit in with the light. Some of us are better at this than others. We all have our secrets.

And so does this school. After all, while it is known for many things, transparency is not one of them.

Ever wonder what is hiding in the dark? I know I do. We hear lots of speculation, of course. As I'm preparing to leave here, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I or others had tried digging in the darkness.

Posted by Randy at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

April 09, 2007


He said, "Can you hear me? Are you sleeping?"
She said, "Will you rape me now?"
He said, "Leave the politics to madmen."
She said, "I believe your lies."
He said, "There's a paradise beneath me."
She said, "Am I supposed to bleed?"
He said, "You better pray to Jesus."
She said, "I don't believe in God."

--from "Buddha for Mary" by 30 Seconds to Mars

Posted by Randy at 08:49 PM | TrackBack

April 03, 2007

Visual DNA

Read my VisualDNA Get your own VisualDNA™

I found this via Katy and thought it was interesting. I could have provided an explanation for each choice I made, but I decided to leave it open to interpretation.

Posted by Randy at 03:47 PM | TrackBack