About Me

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Los Angeles, California, United States
Making the foray into blogging because at forty-something, and mother of three, I have turned my back on my film career and am pursuing my education. This September I start at UCLA as a Junior, majoring in English.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Procrastination - An Art Form

I have hopelessly neglected this blog and only now add this post because I am finding anything to do other than start my history paper. I am taking a history class this quarter because it is a requirement. Frankly, it is bloody boring. I am also taking three other classes as well - two of them English classes requiring countless hours of reading and lots of paper-writing. Long story short, I am applying for English department honors and must do a literary criticism class this quarter that I wasn't planning on doing. Four classes in the quarter system is a lot!
I have had drama as well. Offspring number one decided not to turn in final papers at his Ivy-League school for the second semester in a row, and this time they had no sense of humor about it - he was dropped from the rolls. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued (mostly mine) and he was dispatched to get grades changed and be re-admitted or clean out his room and face the prospect of being home for a year (the length of time he would be required to take off before being allowed back in). It took all of my restraint not to board a plane and fight on his behalf to be re-admitted but I took a back seat, figuring if he wants it badly enough, he'd better do it. Jammy bugger dressed in his finest suit, and armed with professor testimonials was able to get grades changed and be re-admitted - he ended up being complimented on his attire and vocabulary by the very tight-lipped administrator who I had spoken to on the phone - I was convinced he was done - this guy was not in any mood for slackers! Anyhow, he is back and hopefully will steer a true course. But I am not holding my breath. I over-mothered him, I think. Hopefully he can recover from that affliction!
Sleep has eluded me for 2 weeks now, and I have felt in the pit of a depression. Yesterday was the first day I felt the sunshine in all the rain. Life seems worth living again, but it was tough to get through the days for a while there. The lovely Miss W provided a lifeline to pull me out of the mire, and instinctively said all the right things, for which I am profoundly grateful. Pathetic though I am when I reflect upon the great troubles in the world - and particularly right now on the plight of those poor Haitians. We are organizing a collection at the Winter Concerts at Buckley this weekend. I am making up signs and planning to dispatch performers (Broadway style) in the foyer with buckets to collect donations for the Red Cross.
I love the rain. I love the dark, foreboding clouds and the cold weather. I love wearing raincoats and boots, and snuggling up under the duvet during the cold nights and listening to the pounding rain on the rooftops. They canceled school for the kids tomorrow, so I have two deliriously happy teenagers tonight. American Idol is calling. I will start the paper in the morning.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sheesh!

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to have a minute to myself to write on this 'ere blog of mine. This quarter has raced by - with mid-terms barely returned to our anxious waiting hands, it is time for finals! I will finish the quarter on December 10th - the day of my last final - and breathe a sigh of relief. Today I present my poetry portfolio in the seminar class - I have been living with Sylvia Plath for some time now, and particularly with "Daddy" - not the most uplifting of works. However, to counteract that, we are studying the Romantics in one of my English classes - the joys of Shelley, Keats and Byron - and pondering on the triumph of imagination over reason in contrast to the Neo-classicists we covered earlier. For my other class, we just read "Praisesong for the Widow" by Paule Marshall - a wonderful story, and also I rediscovered (and wrote my midterm paper on "The Color Purple").

In between, the annual Buckley musical devoured all of my 'spare' time - it was an astonishing success. "Sweet Charity" played to almost total rave reviews! I was immensely proud of the all of the kids in the show, and behind the scenes. The faculty are just the most wonderful people, who have become my friends - and we celebrated after closing night with Lebanese food and lots of wine (and tequila!). My theater producing days behind me for a little while, I have been busily writing papers - no time for writing here. I have dismally neglected my book club (both of them) and not read the last 3 books - of which I am heartily ashamed! Sorry girls, will try to do better....

I love UCLA - and enjoy being on campus and in the classroom. I have been inspired by my professors and the TA's. It is fascinating to see how students 'operate' and game the system - and I have great respect for some of the hard-working ones, and contempt for some of the others!

Anyhow, this is less than inspiring, but I felt I should try and update - oh and in case you are interested - my midterms and papers thus far have yielded A's. Onward and upwards and will try to write something more entertaining and amusing soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Balance

I didn't realize that I would have so little time to actually write about my experiences while being at school! It is the start of the third week, and we are already preparing for mid-terms. Changing from the semester to quarter systems is a major adjustment - the work commences from day one and never lets up. I asked one of my professors how to best succeed in his class and his answer was, "Don't get sick, break up any relationships, or allow a relative to die; you simply don't have time." He's right! I am reading about 3-4 hours every single night, let alone completing the assignments.
Still, I love it - and have taken on an additional seminar course on women poets, as well as having an honors contract in one of my classes, which requires me to complete an additional paper and meet with the professor individually every week. Between this and my work at the kids' school preparing for the musical, I have very little time for anything else!
Each morning begins with a brisk hike up Bruin Walk from the car park. Enthusiastic, fresh-faced students distribute flyers about rushing, christian clubs, debate clubs, acapella singing groups, and there are bake sales raising money for various organizations - but they rarely proffer them in my direction. I go to my French class every morning at 9am - and stumble over conjugation each day. Our teacher suggested it would be nice to have 'casual Friday', so I have agreed to bring donuts this week and he is bringing coffee! My next class each day is only 10 minutes later, so I race over to the Humanities building for a lecture. My professors are incredibly interesting, smart and completely engaging - and their TA's are inspiring and supportive.
Powell library is a fabulous resource, and a great place to work quietly - in fact I wish I had more time to spend in there. Today, I have a couple of hours between classes and will explore the English reading room as well.
I have met some lovely young women in my classes, and I was approached by a woman a little older than me in my English 10B class, who takes lectures for fun and doesn't write papers or complete assignments, just comes to the lectures to learn. She is an 'empty nester' who is looking for something new to do - a lawyer who wants to go in another direction, but is not sure what that should be. She accosted me after class when she noted I was a)English, and b)a "little older than the other students" (!)

Today I have a long day there - I am also having coffee with one kids from Buckley who is an undergrad there. I meet with a classmate to review French for a test, and I must research my thesis for a paper. I am going to see "Madea" there tonight as well (one of the great perks of being a student is deeply discounted tickets to all UCLA events!). It is around 5am, and I have more reading to do before today's class, so I'd better get on with it.....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

French, English, Activism.



"I am an instrument in the shape of a woman trying to translate pulsations into images for the relief of the body and the reconstruction of the mind." - Adrienne Rich, "Planetarium"

My first day was a truly great experience. I started with French I, which I think I am going to sail through and love! My first English lecture class was inspiring, and I learned we are to study the work of not only American Women Writers (from Alcott to Walker), but women from a plethora of ethnic backgrounds - placing them into the historical and cultural context of America. This course is a departure from the booming voices of the "Great American (white male) Writers", like Hemmingway, Faulkner and Mailer, focusing instead on the creative impetus of women writers in America since the 19th century.

A bit of student activism followed - I participated in the rally demonstrating against the California State budget cuts that have sorely impacted public education. I was appalled to learn that night hours at the library have been eliminated, among many other important services, while the Regents continue to draw gargantuan salaries, stadiums are re-built and new buildings continue to expand the campus!

After the rally I had my discussion class for the American Women Writers. The professor had me read the second stanza of an Anne Sexton poem, "In Celebration of My Uterus" I am afraid I could not finish the stanza because I started to cry (mortifying!). The poor professor thought it was because it was too personal to me, but I was thinking of someone else as I read this:

"Sweet weight,
in celebration of the woman I am
and of the soul of the woman I am
and of the central creature and its delight
I sing for you. I dare to live.
Hello, spirit. Hello cup.
Fasten, cover. Cover that does contain.
Hello to the soil of the fields
Welcome, roots."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nerves

I sit at my computer looking at a stack of the twelve text books and novels I will be reading this quarter. I have bought my ring binders, college ruled notepads, pens, pencils and other assorted accoutrements of academia. Each folder is carefully labeled not only with my name, subject and professor, but also the days and times of the lectures and their room numbers. I am a bit anal about organizing.
My university e-mail inbox is overflowing with invites from groups ranging from transfer student welcoming committees, greek life organizations, campus social events, extra curricular clubs, and even one inviting me to try out for the rowing team! I am being well and truly embraced by UCLA, and have even scored a prized parking spot in the second round allocations - something I am thrilled about!
I am nervous, and I am excited. Tomorrow I will go to campus and walk through my schedule to locate lecture rooms to make sure I can get between classes in time, and where they are in relation to the parking lot (I have a notoriously bad sense of direction, and it is a big complicated campus).
Looking at the mostly young fellow-students milling about, I'll be thinking carefully about what the hell I should wear, and wondering whether or not anyone will talk to me. On Thursday I will begin this journey in earnest. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I love my Ob/Gyn

This post is off-topic, but there is a tangential connection. My Ob/Gyn is a lovely man. He greets me always with a warm handshake and kiss on the cheek. I like this, although I know some women who would find it mortifying. I even like that while he is inserting various implements and digits into my nether regions, we chat about our kids and life in general. While he is inspecting my mammaries for suspicious lumps, he asks me about what I am doing now, and I tell him about my impending foray into University life. He is so genuinely encouraging, I am touched. He says I should document the experience, and I stumblingly confess that I will be blogging. "Splendid!," he says "That is the 21st century version of a diary. Then you should use that and expand it into a book." I think about how he has delivered my third child (the other two were born in England), prescribed contraception, given me great advice about my waning sex drive,and patiently tolerated my obsession with perimenopause. He could conceivably see me through menopause and check me for growths and tumors well into my dotage. What a wonderful career he has, I muse, and he agrees with me. I get a bit teary while I am saying this, which I hope is just ovulation hormones. He spends time and really listens, and is genuinely interested in his patients. In the current environment of health care reform debate, I fervently believe everyone should have access to doctors like mine, but know I am in a lucky minority who receive the very best from healthcare providers, and I can choose them for their ability and their skill.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hallowed Walls



"Today is an important day for college football," my sports fanatic husband tells me cheerfully. "You should watch your team today, and learn something about the culture of the school." Can't think of anything more dull than watching football on television - especially American football (soccer is football in England). He has suggested I try out for the cheer leading squad! Go Bruins!

I just returned from installing my older son into his dorm for his second year at University of Pennsylvania. We had a marvelous time. I set up his dorm room, cleaning, unpacking and generally interior-decorating. He was very happy with his set-up in one of the high-rise college houses on campus. On our day trip to New York, I was able to use my student ID card to get into museums at a cut-rate, which embarrassed my kid, but pleased me no end! We had a fantastic time a the Neue Gallery and the Met, where we bought him books and posters and he talked knowledgeably about art. We also swapped notes about classes, professors and their methods, schedules, and requirements for majors.

The hallowed walls of the Ivy-Leagues are imposing in their majesty, but as I went to drop off some paperwork with my counselor at UCLA on Monday, I found myself grinning as I marched down those corridors of academia as well. It is hard to express how excited I am to start on September 24th. I have come a rather circuitous route to this point - starting at the University of Phoenix online (would not recommend, but it was a means to an end). Then a semester at Santa Monica College and UCLA extension, and then a semester at CSUN. Having been accepted UCLA I feel more a part of the fabric of California life than I have up until this point of my 15+ years of living here....