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March 8, 2009

Last Sunday, I couldn’t tell if I was in Georgia or if I was back in Worcester. Believe it or not, it actually snowed in Georgia. By “snow,” I mean that 2-3 inches blanketed Atlanta. However, people reacted like it was a blizzard. Very few people were on the roads; those who were driving were probably headed to a grocery store to stock up on milk and bread. AirTran and Delta cancelled a number of flights, and school was cancelled on Monday. My parents and I just laughed at the spectacle. Oddly enough, it was 60 degrees and sunny on Saturday, the day that I left. Welcome to Georgia weather!

I spent my spring break relaxing, test driving cars, and filling out forms. The car that my sister and I used to drive was pretty decrepit, so my parents invested in a used (but practically new) car for us. I had some fun driving around in my new Jeep Liberty! My mom also finally traded in her ’98 Ford Expedition that had over 188,000 miles on it. Can you tell that my family likes to run cars into the ground? Also, all of my Study Abroad files were filed out by various doctors and the like. That’s one less thing to worry about! Oh, yes, as for the relaxing…well, let’s say that I established some new records on the Wii.

Frighteningly enough, I have exactly two months left in the semester. I’m quite torn. I want the next two months to go by quickly because of the amount of work that I have to do (even though I do enjoy my class work, eight straight weeks of work is not exactly ideal!). However, I don’t want the next two months to go by quickly because this is my last semester here until Senior year. Can I just have a week at school with all of my friends and no work? Hah! Dare to dream…

February 26, 2009

Happy Lent, everyone! Well, I’m not entirely sure if that’s the correct greeting. But you get the point.

Anyway, I’ve been quite busy since my last entry! Last weekend was the BU Ballroom competition. I didn’t dance because Josh was diving at Patriot League Championships; however, I went with the team. The team did extremely well. Jay and Michelle won all the Smooth dances; Grant and Courtney placed third in the Foxtrot. Patrick and Erin made it to the semi-finals, as did Brian and Sara; Brendan and Katie received a couple of call backs. Carson and Cecilia made it to the semi-finals of the Newcomer division, and Nelson and Amanda also received some call backs. Rhythm wasn’t as strong, which is odd for our team. After the competition, Patrick’s parents invited us over for dinner. The spaghetti and meatballs that they made for us were delicious. It was also great to spend some time with the team, especially since so many of the members are graduating this year. But we’re not going to even think about that!

This week’s classes were amazing. I thought that Tolkien last week would be a difficult act to follow, but this week easily took the title of my most intellectually engaging week so far this semester. In Ideological Destruction of Art, we focused on Rome and damnatio memoriae. Did you know that you can differentiate statues of the Roman emperors based upon their hairstyle? The difference can be as minor as a lock of hair being curled in a different direction. We’ve been analyzing Caligula in particular, and it’s simply fascinating to see how his face was transformed into Claudius or Augustus. In Early Christian Literature, we’re arriving at the philosophical part of the Confessions. That means that the Latin is a tad more difficult, but it’s all the more beautiful. Speaking of Augustine, that Saint keeps on popping up in all of my classes. In Tolkien, we discussed the Battle of Helm’s Deep, and how Tolkien portrays the Orcs. The following is a brief selection of the questions Prof. Mulrooney posed to us: Are they purely evil? Are they machine-like? Can we dismiss their deaths without any moral recompense? So, I took it in an Augustinian view that to exist is to be good, although one might be twisted away from the good. Writing about it simply can’t do the discussion justice. Trust me – it was a fantastic class. And speaking of Lord of the Rings, guess what we watched in Mathematics in Art on Wednesday? That’s correct – Lord of the Rings! We’re learning about forced perspective and illusions in art, so Prof. Frochette played a clip from the “Behind The Scenes” clip on the Fellowship of the Ring DVD. It was great. So, as you can see, not exactly a bad week academic wise! All of my classes don’t appear to be connected like last semester’s, but deep down, they really are.

As if to enunciate how quickly the rest of this semester is going, RA decisions were mailed today. Ashley is going to be an RA in Mulledy next year. Today, another RA knocked on our door, and asked to see our room because she’ll be living here next year. That’s so weird. Of course, thinking about that makes me shudder because I realize how much packing I have to do. That’s not for a while, though. But it is certainly frightening how quickly everything is going. When I return from Spring Break (which begins tomorrow), I have two months left in the semester. Of course, those two months are filled with papers, exams, and whatnot, so it’s just going to go by even more quickly!

January 23, 2009

It's eight degrees, but with a wind chill factor, it feels like -10. Wind squalls reach up to 40 miles per hour, and are powerful enough to make this environ appear like a snow globe. This week, Discovery Channel takes you to the coldest depths of the world. Where are we, you ask? No, we're not in Novya Zemblya, Siberia, Antarctica, or Tibet. Nay, dear reader, we are within the wintry confines of Mt. Pachocoag, or more amicably known to its residents as Mt. St. James. Yes, this week, Discovery Channel is taking you to one of the coldest places on earth - Worcester, Massachusetts.

This rare species that inhabits this forbidding place are called Crusadores purplis, or Purple Crusaders in English. The crusadores purplis is a sub-species of discipli collegorum, commonly referred to as "college students." While the emperor penguin is known for its tuxedo apparel, the college student is easily  potted because of its disheveled outer layer of hair, and is also easily spotted because of large winter apparel. The Crusadores purplis specifically is known to wear over-sized shirts bearing the strange marking that reads "Holy Cross." It is unknown why the residents of Mount St. James migrate to this forbidden land every year. The youngest of the residents begin their trek usually at the end of August, while the older members of the clan arrive early in September. It is unknown why they decide to inhabit the harshest months. The residents of Mount St. James are forced into  semi-hibernation usually from January to March by the strong winds, cold temperatures, and constant snow. In fact, the species usually only ventures out of its warm, concealed environment in search of food. The search for food involves a strenous, arduous,  and near deadly march to a warm environ called “Kimball” in the local language. The march involves scaling the intimidating Mount St. James, climbing 163 steps, and bracing the arduous winter squalls. Once safe in this feeding haven, flocks of crusadores purplis feast upon copious and seemingly limitless amounts of food. Many of this species overindulge on food and drink to sustain them for the long march back to their warm nests. Once snuggled in their warm nests, the crusadores purplis rarely leaves. Occasionally, the crusadores purplis will venture outside to seek advice from elders. A strange breed usually arrives on campus only when the sun provides a little warmth on the area. This breed is referred to as magisters sapientissemes, or “professors.” These magisters provide the crusadores with essential knowledge. While penguins are taught how to fish and sea lions how to escape polar bears, the magisters teach crusadores how to write better papers and make the crusadores realize that they have a lot of learning to do before they leave. For, you see, instead of making this a permanent home, these crusadores oddly leave this place after four years. Most flock to warmer environments where they are apt to discuss their experiences, and a few actually return to this mountain to become magisters themselves. It is an odd ritual, and researchers are still unsure of the habits of the crusadores. Hopefully, time will unlock the many secrets of this odd species. Tune in next week as we return to this ferocious environment and face the ominous location affectionately called “Dinand” in the local tongue.

February 18, 2009

Happy (belated) Valentine’s or Singles Awareness Day (whichever one you choose to celebrate)! St. Valentine’s weekend was actually pretty fun. The Class of 2011 hosted a semi-formal dance on Friday; the theme was Old Hollywood. Well, I decided to take my new ballroom gown for a test-run. Jess, Brenden, her roommate, Chelsea, and her boyfriend, Mike, and I all hung out and visited with other people at the dance. We all had a great time.

Tours have been crazy this week. There were 125 people at the Monday 10:00 tour. At my time slot yesterday (10:00), we had four tours going at the same time. My tour was deluged with at least thirty people; one of the tours (which was staffed by three tour guides) had at least sixty people. It has been insane. I think that there were more high school students than college students on campus at one point yesterday.

Last night, I was standing in line to get to food at Kimball. All of a sudden, lights started flashing on and off. It turned out that the fire alarm was going off. The fire alarm was being tested all last week, so everyone remained in line because we all thought it was just another test. We were all wrong. It was actually a fire drill. The funniest part of the entire situation was that some of us contemplated going outside or staying inside and eating. After fifteen minutes, the building was cleared, and life continued normally.

All of life continues to go normally. I feel like the second that I received my official letter from Oxford/Study Abroad, time has been zipping along. Everyone continuously reminds me that this is my last semester on campus until senior year; thus, I’m trying to enjoy every last second. However, it’s all going by a little too quickly for my taste!

And now for something completely different – Professor Manoussakis was awarded the tenure position! I’m so excited for him.

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February 9, 2009

Hey everyone!

This past weekend was amazing. My mom flew up from Georgia to take my grandmother and me to the Dancing with the Stars Tour at Mohegan Sun. We spent Saturday walking around the casino. Okay, well, my mom and grandmother walked around the casino. I stayed in the room and read. But, that’s not the point. The show was phenomenal. All of the dancers were fantastic. Lacey and Lance were my favorite couple on this past season, and they were both there. They danced their tango to “Disturbia” and their Cha-Cha. They really should’ve won. But, I also was finally able to see Lance Bass in concert. Back when ‘NSYNC was popular (oh, come on, every girl was), Lance was my favorite member of the band. I never saw ‘NSYNC in concert, unfortunately. However, this weekend changed everything. I finally was able to see Lance perform live, and he even sang “Bye, Bye, Bye.” Yes, my childhood was completed on Saturday night. But, in all honesty, the entire tour was amazing. Toni Braxton was another one of the “Stars” on the show, and she sang “Un-Break My Heart” in a cha-cha time. It was one of the most brilliant dance numbers that I’ve seen. By the way, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas are simply wondrous dancers. If I could only nail my rhumba half as well as they have…

On a more academic note, I attended Professor Manoussakis’ lecture today. He’s a tenure candidate for the philosophy department, and part of the process requires the candidate to deliver several lectures. His lecture today was called “On the Substance of Things Hoped For,” which described the relationship of the penultimate to the ultimate. It was basically a reinterpretation of eschatology and how the modern thinker should approach it. It was a beautiful paper. One of the most interesting aspects of the event, though, was the interaction between the faculty and Professor Manoussakis. Each professor was throwing out his or her favorite philosopher and what they how they would have replied to Professor Manoussakis’ paper. It was interesting and mind-numbing, to say the least.

My dad has some business up here for the next week or so, so he stopped by Worcester to take me out to dinner. I ate one meal on campus today. Margaret and I walked down to Culpepper’s for lunch (looking back on that, that was a stupid idea. We walked down in the middle of a snowstorm.). Anyway, we went out to Brew City where we enjoyed their strawberry shortcake. It was delicious. Even though I came back only three weeks ago and I’ll be returning home in three weeks, it was great to see my parents. They’re flying home on Sunday, so they might swing by Worcester on Saturday.

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February 6, 2009

Pack your bags and book your flights – this blog will officially be traveling overseas next year to Oxford, England. I found out that I was officially accepted to study next at Oxford University on Thursday. Prof. Smith saw me earlier in the day and told me personally; my immediate response was to jump up and down repeatedly. He, along with many others, now has a concrete reason to think that I’m insane. I am so excited for this opportunity; my summer experience was amazing, and I cannot wait to spend next year abroad. There’s only one drawback – this is my last semester at Holy Cross until my senior year. It’s a daunting feeling, but studying at Oxford for a year is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Luckily, I won’t be going alone. Some of my best friends were also accepted; Carrie, Margaret, and Jeremy will be joining with me. Ah! When can I start packing?!?!

Thursday was just a really fun day, I suppose. Jess’ birthday was on Tuesday, but her boyfriend, Brenden, had been planning her surprise party for at least two weeks. He decided to hold it on Thursday after her Fools performance. Because we all knew that we were celebrating it later on in the week, none of us went out of our way on her actual birthday. She told me on Wednesday that she was sad that everyone “forgot” her birthday, and I could only smile. I spent the better portion of Thursday making Funfetti cupcakes (her favorite), and Brenden, Haley, and Sean decorated the room. Right after Fools, we all packed into Brenden and Sean’s room. Jess thought that something was up, but she was so surprised when she opened the door. Of course, because it’s Jess, instead of saying how happy she was, she started apologizing because she had been so frustrated that everyone forgot her birthday. It was a great night, and we were all glad that none of us spoiled the surprise. Grant came really close, though.

Ashley went on Manresa this weekend, so I had the room to myself. Guess how I used my time? I read for the entire weekend. Sunday was actually a fairly nice day (it felt like spring!), so I spent some time outside. As much as I love winter, I do miss reading outside. By my calculations, we should be snow-free around April 26. Then we’ll have one week of final exams. Funny how that works out.

January 30, 2009

On “Lost” last night, some of the characters were speaking Latin. Speaking Latin. Now, granted, it wasn’t all correct, but it was still Latin! Just another piece of evidence that Latin is not a dead language!

Everything here is going pretty much the same. I’m afraid that my life is boring right now! I delivered my presentation in Tolkien yesterday; it was about Tolkien as a medievalist scholar. I learned how to pronounce Anglo-Saxon over the weekend (I’m a cool one) to emphasize a couple of points. We’re steadily moving along through Tolkien’s works; we’ll be finished with The Silmarillion  by next week. Prof. Mulrooney ended class yesterday by saying, “Well, we’re 22% finished with this semester.” Why must everyone emphasize how quickly this time is flying?

All of my other classes are going well, and I’m really enjoying them. In Ideological Destruction of Art, we’ve just arrived at Hatcheptsut, the female pharaoh, and we’re beginning to examine why her artwork would have been destroyed. In Mathematics and Art, we’re doing experiments with the Golden Ratio and the Fibonnachi numbers. Those numbers are everywhere in nature and art! It’s fascinating because, for some odd reason, those two sets of numbers are just visually appealing to the human eye. Early Christian Literature is going well, too. We haven’t been “baptized” again, though. Even though they’re not as intertwined as last semester, I enjoy every moment of my classes because I learn just such different things in each class.

If you can believe it, all of the ballroom e-board is already knee-deep in preparations for our competition, which is on March 14th. We already have some teams that want to register right now, so hopefully we can keep those numbers up.

Sorry for the somewhat boring entry. Because of the weather, my friends and I haven’t really been able to do anything except for study and stay in the dorms. I do love the snow, but the ice makes it difficult to have fun excursions. But, fear not! For entertaining entries shall return soon!

January 27, 2009

Yesterday was, by far, one of the most interesting classes that I have ever attended. In Early Christian Literature, we’ve reached the point in The Confessions when St. Augustine asks for his baptism. In that scene, he says that he was “seasoned” and “signed” by God. Well, those are both allusions to the ancient baptismal rite, in which both salt and oil were used. As we reached that point in the class translation, Fr. Vodoklys told us all to open our hands. He went around the room and poured some salt onto our hands, and then went into a discourse about how valuable salt was in the ancient world because it preserved food. While our hands were still open, he then went around the room and poured some olive oil into our hands. I don’t think I will ever need to moisturize my right hand again!

Everything is still going well, albeit a little busy. I have my presentation for my Tolkien seminar tomorrow, so I’ll be working on that for the rest of the day today. Prof. Manoussakis, my Philosophy professor last semester, is also helping me edit and revise a paper to turn it into a conference. While this week is busy as anything, I’m really looking forward to the weekend (yes, I do realize that it’s only Tuesday…). My mom is flying in on Friday, and, along with my grandmother, we’re going to see the Dancing with the Stars tour on Saturday. Yes, ballroom runs my life.

Well, I’ve got to lead my first tour of the semester now. Until next time!

January 19, 2009

I have officially started the second semester of my sophomore year. While my classes don’t coalesce perfectly like last semester (admit it, you enjoyed reading about my medieval adventures), they are amazing nonetheless. My first class, mathematics and art, is actually quite fascinating. I know, I know. you probably never expected to see me write that I’m taking a math class. But, I needed a math credit, and this class is awesome. We’re analyzing the mathematical structures of various art movements, and how different mathematical applications make each movement different from the other. Farwell, cosine and tangent equations! Hello, Polykleitous and Raphael! I’m also taking Fr. Vodoklys’ Early Christian literature, which is translating St. Augustine’s The Confessions. Yes, dear reader, that book is back! Just when you thought you were free…muwaha. Anyway, I feel like I’ve analyzed the work enough in English, and I thought that I should tackle it in the original Latin. Plus, St. Augustine has a beautiful command of Latin (as he should – he was the Roman emperor’s grammarian and rhetorician!), and much of his language’s beauty is lost in translation. I’m also taking Professor Mulrooney’s Tolkien seminar. Now, before you all think that I’m really crazy, I promise you that I have never dressed up as any character from Lord of the Rings. Okay, so maybe I have. But that’s not the point. The point is that we’re studying Tolkien in an academic light, which is amazing. It’s intensive reading (we’re reading everything that Tolkien wrote), and I’m one of the youngest in the class. Is it going to be a challenge? Most certainly yes. Am I beyond excited? Most certainly yes. My last class is my Honors seminar, the Ideological Destruction of Art. We’ll be studying the destruction of art in ancient times, whether it was for political or religious reasons, and the class will culminate in an independent research project in which we explore a modern example of the destruction of art. I think I might be leaning toward the French Revolution. But, that paper isn’t due for a while, so I’ll think about it later! So, while I’m going to be reading a whole lot this semester, I am so excited for all of my classes. Also, at the conclusion of this semester, I will be finished with all of my core requirements!

My first regular shift at Kimball was this morning. Most of my workers from last semester returned to work the same shift. I like to think that it’s a reflection of how I’m a captain. Of course, I do realize that it is based upon their schedules. This first day of work was so much better compared to the first day last semester. Unlike the beginning of last semester, all of the workers know how to complete every task. Scarily enough, we’re now beginning the captain selection process for next year. A couple of captains (myself included) already have lists of workers that we think would make great captains. And all of the Kimball magic begins there.

In other (random) news, it is freezing here. No, literally. It is freezing here. It is a whopping 5 degrees, and it’s supposed to drop down to -2 during the night. Last January was most certainly not this cold. This is Eskimo weather! I guess that it’s better than being distracted by nice weather, but still. I don’t think my studies would take a beating if the temperature rose into the double digits, at least!

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