Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The world is such a wonderful place

I know, I know, it's been forever ... again. I've been plunged into this wild ride that is the first month of fall semester, and I'm enjoying it just about as much as someone with a severe case of senioritis can. It's been unusually warm in Upstate New York, I must say. Everyone around me complains, but I refuse to. First of all, I love warm weather, and in a month or so everyone (including me) will be griping about being waist-deep in snow.

I always used to love the onset of fall, especially back when I was at home. The leaves' changing colors was the first indication, followed by that distinct fall scent that permeates the air whenever you step outside. Then would come the distinct rumble of those big yellow school buses stopping on the corner of Church and Margaret streets, where I'd stood for the first time in September of 1991 for my first day of kindergarten.

Meanwhile, back at SU, the highlight of the semester seems to be a big project for my magazine article-writing class: a 2,000-to-2,500-word feature article that may or may not get shopped out later to magazines as a freelance piece. I'm doing my story on Tea Leaf Green, and so far have conducted some insightful interviews. The whole mindset I've switched on, however, has been giving me lots of trouble. Sometimes I just can't wait for it to all be over; I just want it to end. This mindset of workworkwork has me constantly trying to get things done well ahead of time so that I can have more time to relax later. But when I do get the (rare) chance to do something relaxing, I feel bad about it because I could be doing work. Having some downtime today, I spent it frantically thinking of things I could be getting done and fretting about it, because if there's anything I missed, I'll be rushing to do it the night before it's due and will get completely frustrated that I hadn't done it when I had this free time. It's completely draining. I wake up hours earlier than I should most mornings, as I drift further into that state of not-quite-awake-but-not-quite-asleep and my mind begins focusing on the things I have to do that day, running over lists in my head and obsessing about things I may have forgotten.

There's no time for anything, not even going home, which I yearn to do more than anything. Just a day or two, to spend time with my family and continue my quest to relive my childhood. It's strange how I feel most homesick when I'm here, at school. I never feel it over the summer, when I'm even farther away from home and for longer periods of time without going home. I'm so close here, and yet here is where I feel the greatest pull toward Thruway Exit 30. Maybe it's that mindset I mentioned. It's driving me mad.

I don't even know how this whole mindset started. I do remember experiencing near-meltdowns at least once every semester of my college career, and they're never fun. But something about this one seems different. It's lasted too long, and it's taken a toll on my psyche. Now that I'm healthier, taking vitamins and fish oil and what-not, you'd think it wouldn't be so much of a problem, but I'm going nuts here.

I guess that's why they say "everyone drinks in college." Without weekend time set aside for a small liquor-filled indulgence now and then, I'm sure I would be having that meltdown right now.

Ah, the weekend. Mine will be spent in Ithaca, for a seminar on "German mediascapes" from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. I'm going with an SU German professor and three other students. The best part is, it's all free. When I signed up, I figured I had nothing to lose. Professionals from German media companies and talks on German/U.S. media? Fits right in with my own interests, and with free food and lodging thrown in, I was sold. The weekend after that, I'm hoping my parents are going to their camp, and I'm hoping Darren can come up so I can show him the Adirondacks and maybe even do a little relaxing myself. It'll be nice for him to meet my parents, too. From the things I've told him, he really thinks my mom is a wonderful person. I happen to agree.

On top of everything, I've been hard at work as a senior editor for What the Health, working with four writers on stories for the "Get Well" section of the magazine. It's interesting being the one who shapes and molds stories instead of the one who hacks them to pieces for grammar, style and length. I figure it's good experience for me to be on the other side of the glass for once. It's also kind of fun, being a decision-maker, though I often doubt my leadership abilities. I guess when placed in the role, the human being is ever quick to adapt to accomplish the tasks set before it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Wondering aloud how we feel today

*sigh* Summer has been over for a couple weeks now, and I'm back in Syracuse for the last school year of my life. I had to go back earlier than previously planned because of fall training for work at the info desk, which now I have to do at both Schine and Goldstein. Schine's a little crazier, but it's good to have that kind of pressure to live up to. I adapted and knew more about things down there than I had expected.

My class schedule isn't so bad, either: Monday through Thursday, with Friday through Sunday off to do homework, hang out, etc. Just be. I've had the worst case of senioritis even since the beginning of this past summer. The courseload doesn't seem that bad, however. Some require a lot of reading, though, and I spent an unexpected $300 on books this semester, which you can imagine put my bank account back a pretty penny; not to mention the fact that right after fall training, about four days before my return to Syracuse, I took my car into the shop to get an oil change and some things looked at. I told the mechanic to investigate this intense shaking in the wheel that happened every time I went between 60/65 and about 80 mph. Turns out there was a lot wrong with the car, nothing I'd done myself, just simple wear and tear. Plus, two of the tires were the incorrect size for the car, which made matters even worse. All in all, I had to get new struts, tires, screws, etc. (I don't even know all the work they did), amounting to about $1,000 of work. This past month I can perfectly sum up in three words: I be poor.

Leaving SouthCoast was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I have more amazing memories from that summer than I'll ever amass again over the same period of time. The people at The Standard-Times are like a family to me and were so charismatic, welcoming ... it's hard to explain the dynamic in that office and how it works so amazingly and in such a way that I felt instantly like one of them. On my last night of work, I was presented with a cake that read "Good Luck Liz" on it. Everyone told me I was the best intern the paper had ever had, and that I should come back. I really want to. If by next year there's a job there for me, I won't hesitate to take it. I'm so grateful for and amazed by the wonderful friendships and memories I made at that paper, as well as in Providence with my roommates and people I happened to befriend there. Don't worry, southern New England: You haven't seen the last of me yet.

The last shebang of the summer happened a day before I left. Darren and I took a day trip to P-town, or Provincetown, Mass., right on the tip of Cape Cod. It was one of the most amazing, beautiful days, and we have the pictures to prove it. Perhaps, when I get time (I have to work the 9:30-to-12:30 Goldstein shift this morning, and then I'm going home to pick up some stuff I left), I'll post them. The fabulous trip culminated with dinner at this nice, authentic Italian restaurant, complete with a heavy-duty espresso machine and Chianti bottles of various sizes adorning the walls ... and I mean adorning. It was just such a great day; it's hard to explain any more.

Not to say that life back in Syracuse has been boring or drab. This past Wednesday, I went back to Buffalo for the first time in over a year to see Tea Leaf Green at the Town Ballroom, my third time seeing them and the second time at the Town Ballroom. The show was simply stunning, and it was fun to hang out with Trevor, Josh, Plateface and the rest of the troupe afterwards. We even hung out with an eight-piece "afro-electronique" band from Cleveland, Ohio, called Mifune. They had done a great set during the show, and I was impressed by those cool cats. I hope to see them again sometime. I left around 5 a.m. after a long night of partying like a rock star, and didn't get back until around 7:30. At one point I got so tired I pulled over to a rest stop, locked all my doors and slept for about half an hour as the sun rose before me. I was suddenly jerked awake by some unknown force and continued on my way.

Yesterday was Juice Jam, which this year took place on South Campus, much to my and Heather's delight. What's more: Third Eye Blind was the headlining band, a group I'd been trying for years to see live. Unfortunately, however, I was a bit disappointed by their stage presence and quality of the music before a live audience. Maybe they're different outside a college setting, but I feel like they were just trying to appease the masses by playing what they wanted to hear. Maybe I'm just too spoiled from jam bands, whose repertoire most often includes hundreds of songs, and no two shows are ever alike because of the versatility they have with their setlists. Also, in most occasions, bands like that are meant to be heard live and not in the studio, so their stage presence is always top notch and nothing short of amazing. For Third Eye Blind, I happened to see Cory, an old student of my dad's whom I'd known since we were both in junior high, as well as Ryan, whom I'd met last year at some of the Zen sittings I attended (and intend to continue attending Wednesday evenings). I feel bad for ditching Heather and Rob, who was up from New Jersey to visit and see the show. Still, I hadn't seen these guys in a while, and it was fun to catch up, chill and chat. It was such an awesome, unexpectedly wonderful day.

With all this great stuff going on, it's hard to imagine what the future holds. I try not to think about it, though, and continue living in a constant present. It's seemed to work out pretty well so far.