Monday, October 22, 2007

The Return of the Prodigals

Let it be known that the exiles have announced that their diaspora will receive a temporary respite. The Webb family, expatriates of the state of Utah, July 28 – present, will return to their fatherland. Ahenobarbus, Pulcheria and Beemer will all stand on Deseret’s sacred soil on December 18, 2007.

“It’s a mixed bag. Going back behind the Zion Curtain fills me at once with both excitement and anxiety,” said Ahenobarbus, the paterfamilias. “I want to play with Landon and Oakley,” Beemer has been found saying, followed occasionally by “is it Christmas, yet?” Merrily foreseeing babysitters, Pulcheria simply smiles with glee at the prospect.

See you all then… Hey, who wants to volunteer for airport pick-up duty? I may ask Tristano to haul me down to his place for the night so I can hit Diamond Fork (aka. Fifth Water) Springs! Who wants to come with?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fun with Books

Last Monday, for FHE, we went to the local library. We read books with Beemer for about a half hour, then she picked out some for us to take home. She grabbed Frog and Toad are Friends and Pizza Fun. Pulcheria has liked Toad and Frog for a long time. I don’t remember reading it, but am a fan, now. Superb beginning reader. We were both skeptical, however, about the pizza book, and tried to talk her out of it, seeing as how it didn't have what we perceived as "staying power."

That silly pizza book has also proven a surprising find. Not only were we pleased to find that Beemer continues to look at its pages, but we actually tried a couple of the recipes today. Delicious looking tigers ensued (as you can tell from Bree's territorial roar, below)!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Formal Flower of Academe

golden flowers stand in formation
at attention on a faded blue field
ever they face the rostrum of knowledge

erudition penetrates
gently the ears, violently the mind

scholars sit slouched in chairs
hunched over notepads
feet shuffle on floral carpet
pens pretend to scribble

the air charges with cerebral energy
synapse fires
neurons flash

fact and invention infuse
fill already overflowing brains
condense on aural canals

drips sink in, streams retreat
shower down information
on the fleurs-de-lis
as they, rigid, attend the speaker

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ex Am In Nation

Secretly, I’m glad that Pulcheria asked me to post this information up. It’s a great pretext to letting you all know, not only what’s going on in my life lately, but also that I’m starting to get my bearings. It’s about time, too.

For me, one of the greatest feelings in the world is to set a goal, then work my tail off to achieve it. This is how I lost 70 pounds in roughly 8 months. It's also, coincidentally, how I got into my MA program here in Missouri (my top choice of schools). Complementary to that great feeling is the panicked frustration when I am in over my head. I was feeling fairly pathetic here, questioning my ability, my intelligence, and my sanity. Things are starting to change - slowly - but that's enough for now. So, every MA history student at SLU must pass a foreign language competency exam before receiving their degree. This is usually taken the last semester before graduating. For students of medieval history, this test must be in Latin, and has a surprisingly high failure rate. Well, as I mentioned, I was feeling fairly inadequate to the program since my knowledge of medieval Europe isn’t nearly as strong as everyone else’s (my BA was primarily in Classics) but I needed to feel like I was actually working toward something: moving toward a goal. Therefore, in order to feel like I was making some form of progress I took the test on my second Friday here.

So, today I’m sitting in class and I ask my advisor how soon I would hear back about my test, and he said, “Oh, you aced it. Sorry, I forgot to tell you. I graded it that weekend.” Nearly two years ahead of schedule, too. So, I guess that’s one thing I can check off my list, right?

On that euphoric high, I went on to present my research into the obscure little event I’m looking into and my thoughts and interpretations of the primary documents. The class seems more interested than they have been, probably because I finally feel that I have some sort of rudimentary grip on the material, now. My advisor even said that it sounds like I’ve put my finger on something that could change the way historians of the fourth crusade view my event (i.e. the “crusade” of Walter of Brienne), which is high praise, indeed, seeing as he’s generally recognized as the authority on the fourth crusade.

So, all in all, a pretty darn good day in graduate school for me. Hopefully this meteoric trajectory will continue.