The First of the Last

Yesterday was the first of the last: the first last day of class for Spring 2014. My evening acting students gave their final scene presentations (though my afternoon Shakespeare students and my Tuesday evening fight students still have another week to go; so next week will officially be the end of teaching for Spring 2014).

A gratuitous shot of one of my bookshelves (Shakespeare... obviously) just 'cause

A gratuitous shot of one of my bookshelves (Shakespeare… obviously) just ’cause

The last day of class is always bittersweet for me. It’s exciting to see how far my students have come, and it’s definitely a downer that I won’t be seeing them on a regular basis anymore. It’s exhilarating to feel that I’ve made a difference in how they view themselves, theatre, or other people, and it’s jarring that I won’t be walking with them any further on their journey. I see my role in the classroom as a guide; I can show them the path but it’s always their choice whether or not to tread it. Now, they’re on their own to machete their way through their own wilderness. They’ll meet other guides along the way who will, hopefully, be able to keep them away from obvious pitfalls and point out the edible plants as opposed to the poisonous ones.

And sometimes, they’ll be on their own. I like to think that I’ve shown them a thing or two that will help when they find themselves treading the path solo. Maybe it’s how to start a fire, and maybe it’s how to make shelter from banana leaves. Maybe it’s something smaller like the best tree to sit under on a warm day. Whatever it is, I’m proud to have taken the journey with another stellar group of students this semester. Now to make my way back to the beginning to meet my next bunch.

It takes some time to navigate back to that starting place. You’ll get back faster on your own, but it won’t be as exhilarating. And you walk with the constant awareness that the landscape always shifts; the next time you take a group through there will be new challenges, new pitfalls, and new adventures to face together.

Next semester is going to be a very different beast from this semester. I won’t be teaching acting (that I know of… yet…), but I will definitely be TAing at least one class. I have another class on the “maybe” pile (still waiting to hear back about it), and there’s a pretty fair chance that I’ll be teaching at least one stage combat course. I’ll likely also be leading another Shakespeare discussion group (but again, this isn’t a sure things yet).

There’s nothing quite like the life of an adjunct to teach you to treasure what you’ve got when you’ve got it, because you never quite know when and where you’ll find it again.

In any case, I’ve still got a pile of grading to do. I guess that’s the other “bitter” in my “sweet”: paperwork and red tape are an ever-present force in academia.

Good luck with your finals, everyone (whether you’re taking them or giving them)!

Slowing it Down

Being busy is a really weird thing, and the busier you are the weirder it gets.

I’ve been so busy for so long that since the semester is winding down and I’m no longer running at a break-neck pace, I’m feeling like I am not doing enough. I know, right? Because working three jobs (instead of seven) while writing a dissertation, blogging, and having a social life is TOTALLY not enough and I’m definitely a slacker.

In moments like this, I contemplate starting another project. Then I contemplate why it is that I’m so intent on dying young due to stress-related heart complications.

There’s a huge sense of guilt which comes with being essentially self-employed. Some things will test the boundaries of what you thought you could do. Studying for my comprehensive exam last summer, for instance, was one such task. I learned exactly how many books I could read in a day and still retain the proffered information. After that, even when comps were over, if I wasn’t reading five to eight books in a single day and watching two documentaries as a cool-down, then clearly I wasn’t working at full capacity.

It’s the same with the end of the semester. I get up every morning at 8 and drag myself to my desk after making a cup of coffee. There, I stay (unless I have to teach during the day) until at least 7:00 PM. At that point, I often leave the house to fight direct or review a show. And on days when I don’t do that (and I’m not taking a rare social break), I have been known to work until 9:00 or 10:00 at night because there are things that just have to be done. Essentially, I’m used to twelve hour plus days (I think my record is something crazy like sixteen hours, but on a typical week I average more like thirteen). I’m used to every single moment of my time being filled with some work-related thing of one variety or another.

So when it’s not, I feel like I might be doing something wrong. Like I’m not doing enough. Never mind that “normal” people work eight hour days and maybe burning the candle at

rare glamour shot; public library on my day off last weekend

rare glamour shot; public library on my day off last weekend

both ends isn’t the most sustainable work habit. It takes me a while to acclimate to a “normal” workload because I’m always so busy. When I drop by my desk time to a “regular” schedule, I feel like I don’t get as much done as I should.

I’m led to believe that this is a common thing in academia. It stems mostly from the fact that our projects are almost never completed (and when they are, never all at the same time). We can always always be working on something. There will indefinitely be another draft to write, another book to read, or another set of research to plow through. So when there’s work to be done and time in your schedule, why aren’t you working?

Part of it also stems from the constant drive to produce. With the job market being the way it is, there’s always a need to do more faster than the person behind, in front, or next to you. That one extra published article on your CV might make a different somewhere to someone at some time (especially at the early stages of your career).

Yet another part of it stems from the perfectionist tendencies which produce viable academics. Let’s face it; you don’t go for a PhD unless you’re incredibly driven to succeed and have a track record of near-perfection. If you’ve made it this far, chances are you’re used to being amongst the “smartest” people in the room no matter where you stood.* Now, you’re in a department full of people like you. That’s a really tough situation to be in and can result in no small amount of struggle. When the cream floats to the top,** some of that cream is inevitably going to feel like milk again. Or, to put it as my mother says it, “not every doctor graduates top of the class”. You worked hard to get here, now you have to work twice as hard to stay where you’re used to being: at the top.

So the semester slow-down, while a perfectly healthy form of work curbing, doesn’t always feel right. I try to remind myself that it’s okay to average out those long days with a couple of “short” ones, but that only goes so far.

So I’ll be here trying my hardest to sit on my hands at 5:00 if anyone needs me. I can’t guarantee success, but I can certainly at least try!

 

*I put “smartest” in quotation marks because I want to differentiate a socially-accepted view of book smart from street wise, kinesthetic smarts, or emotional maturity that can make a brilliant person feel overlooked in a conventional classroom setting. Books and grades aren’t a sure-fire way to measure intelligence.

**Again, not sure this is a metaphor I’m entirely comfortable with but I’m having trouble coming up with an alternative.

You’re into the Time Slip

Time is a weird thing in academia.

The semester starts and things get nuts because you’re trying to fit in all the meetings that you couldn’t have while nobody was on campus over the “break”. You’re getting a feel for your classes, you’re trying to learn names, you’re working through your schedule.

Midterms happen before you know it and you wonder how it could possible be the middle

Pretty library I found recently!

Pretty library I found recently!

of the semester already. Also, you wonder why you assigned so bloody much writing because clearly you are a masochist and wanted to punish yourself with ALL THE GRADING!

Between midterms and finals, you wonder if you’ll ever see the end of the semester. You don’t have much time to wonder this though because, before you know it, you’re chasing down the last loose ends of the semester and looking forward to the much-needed break.

You collapse for a few days right after the semester is over only to realize that whatever “break” you’re on isn’t really a break and that you have a ton of projects to take care of that you were just pushing off until the end of the semester.

The worst part is that nobody in your real life understands why you tend to live cyclically like this. It’s like an eternal butterfly; going around and around its life cycle never truly getting the chance to fly as free as it wants to (….I guess until you wind up taking a sabbatical but that’s a dream that lives evermore in the distant future for me). You wind up having to explain and re-explain that no, you’re not really on a break. All this means is that you don’t have to show up on campus a couple times a week (though you will anyway to make copies, print documents, and rotate your library books). No, friends and family, that’s not the same thing as having “all this free time” to visit or goof off like normal people get to do on their “vacation”. What is “vacation” anyway? A state of mind? A state of being? Some Zen-like state achieved with yoga and too much caffeine?

The end of the semester is so close that I can taste it, but really all that means is an increased stress as deadlines pant their hot vapors down my neck. My plans this semester have had to be loose and flowing due to the inevitable red tape which comes with academic pursuit, and the summer is proving to be no different. There’s almost nothing relaxing about the prospect of what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Rows of green say Spring might JUST be here.... finally.

Rows of green say Spring might JUST be here…. finally.

This is (probably) punctuated by the fact that I’m planning a move to some undisclosed location in the general vicinity (undisclosed, mostly, because it’s so secret that even I don’t know where it is yet… ah the beauties of apartment hunting). It doesn’t matter how you slice it; moving simply sucks.

So if I seem more frantic than usual, it’s probably because I’m trying to contemplate fitting my life into boxes and re-acclimating to a new office space with the most nominal possible break in my standard operating procedures. Oh and because summer isn’t summer anymore; it’s just “work and try not to melt while maintaining your own schedule because your meetings all happen on skype now rather than in person”.

Crossing a Finish Line

Alright folks,

I can tell you now, officially, with all certainty, that it’s over.

I’ve completed all coursework for my PhD.

I wish I could say that this momentous occasion feels as wonderful as it sounds, but truthfully I’m just exhausted.  I find that, without fail, the moment I stop running everything catches up with me.  All the stress, emotional turmoil, mental fatigue, physical challenges, everything I’ve been running from since mid-semester just slams right into me and belly-flops me into the ground.

It doesn’t help that coursework is widely regarded as the easiest portion of the PhD.  Which is not to say that it was easy.  If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you can attest to just a fraction of the politically-correct things I have to say about coursework.  Somehow, all that build-up of blood, sweat, and tears only makes this next step even more daunting.

So it does and doesn’t feel like an accomplishment to have survived this long.

I’m loving my couch hard core right now and I don’t have many deep thoughts to think.  I lieu of those, have a watch of the films that we made last weekend!

(The second film is a making-of documentary with a twist available here on Malarkey’s website.)

Happy summer, everyone!

School’s out for Summer

Yesterday, I attended the last class of my PhD.

This isn’t to be confused with completing coursework (which won’t happen until my papers are all firmly nestled into the appropriate inboxes, a momentous occasion which will occur next Wednesday) and, really, knowing me I won’t be satisfied until the grades all pop up on my transcript affirming, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this is (in fact) real.

The class was a five-hour lecture wrapping up my ancient theatre course.  This particular lecture covered Sturm und Drang, Weimar Classicism, and Romanticism.  It also included a “presentation” I had prepped on Goethe’s relationship with Shakespeare (I put “presentation” in quotation marks because it wasn’t a “talk at the class for x amount of time” kinda deal but rather a “do a lot of reading and act as a pop-up video as we discuss the course reading” sort of thing).  This class wasn’t a small deal at all.

But I survived.  The class ended with the professor making a few profound remarks about

Yup.  It's me.  Slaying zombie Shakespeare.  Because I roll that way.

Yup. It’s me. Slaying zombie Shakespeare. Because I roll that way.

how far we had come and it took all my self-restraint not to stand up in my chair and yet “AMEN TO THAT!”  For me, she wasn’t just talking about her course (though certainly we had come a long way there), but rather the progression of my graduate career at Tufts.  Two academic years ago, I was sitting in a room, terrified, and waiting for someone to stand up, point at me, and shout “you don’t belong here!” before systematically evicting me from the premises never to return again.  That feeling of being a fraud, not worthy of the opportunities allotted me in my career, has faded over time.  I’ve learned so many things these past two years; some quantifiable, some not.

Among the other things I’m proud of, here’s a reasonably superficial list in terms of its breadth and depth, but it should at least give you some idea of the way I’ve changed as a scholar since my wide-eyed arrival at Tufts University:

I’ve learned how to gain access to (and dig through) an archive.  I’ve learned how to cite the sources that I find there and use them in a paper that I may, someday, publish.

I’ve learned how to get on a plane to a city I’ve never been and be totally comfortable (if a little nervous the first time or two) spending two to four days networking my little Shakespearean heart out with people whom I have never met before, and may be Top Men in my field.

I’ve learned how to write better, how to read better, and how to think better.

I’ve learned about playwrights I’d never though I’d read, performances I’d never known existed, and theorists I’d never hoped to “meet”.

I’ve learned how to talk about my own work in a way that isn’t a snooze-fest (though this will depend upon the audience, of course.  Even I can’t make the deep technical aspects of some of my research appeal to everyone).

I’ve learned to read and translate German (…though this is a skill that I’ll be cultivating for some time).

I’ve learned that when in doubt, just look.  And when looking doesn’t help you, just ask.  There are always people there to turn to.

I’ve learned that it’s amazing what people will do/reveal when you ask them questions.  So many people are willing to be so generous with their time if you’re just nice to them.

Yesterday's theory board doodle

Yesterday’s theory board doodle

I’ve learned that reference librarians are veritable deities and should be worshiped as such.

I’ve learned that it’s not enough to think, you must do.  Touch the ground and your work will always have more depth and meaning.  This means it’s not enough just to think about theatre; go see theatre.  Make theatre.  Get your hands dirty.  If we forget why we fell in love with the field in the first place, there’s no way that we’re going to last in it (and there’s no way that we’re going to make our students love it).

I’ve learned that just because it’s obvious to you does not mean that it’s obvious to anyone else, or that it does not need to be said.  And, moreover, if you don’t say it, someone else will.  Jump on it, take credit for your ideas, and you’ll go much further than if you just simper and mull them to yourself.

…this list could continue ad infinitum but I’ve still got a paper to write.  I hope that your finals are treating you well, you’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and that you can take some time today to remember why it is (precisely) that you do this.

…or you could just watch this:

Writing

A tip: if at first you don’t succeed, re-analyze your plan of attack and try again.

Over the weekend I tried desperately to get some work done on this one paper I’ve got looming.  I did get one draft pounded out, but try as I might I couldn’t seem to do any editing.  Every time I sat down to work, I realized that something else needed to get done: my desk needed to be cleaned, my floor needed vacuuming, I had other things I needed to write, I hadn’t answered x, y, or z e-mail, etc.

It took some serious oomph before I realized I had to resort to the old stand-by: print and red pen.

When I was in my Master’s, I didn’t do anything electronically.  Every single paper I wrote was something that I would (admittedly) preliminarily type, but then hand-edit.  Draft after draft after draft I would ink to my heart’s content and, after about six to ten drafts, I would have something worth turning in.

In recent years, I’ve tried to become a bit more “green” and conscious of precisely how many trees I was killing in the process of producing 60-80 finished pages of writing a semester (multiply by 8; the average number of drafts I go through; yikes).  Not to mention the money I was spending on ink and paper (which, believe me, wasn’t insignificant).  I developed some ability to edit at my keyboard and I’ve even produced full papers without printing more than three drafts.

But this one was simply eluding me.  It was taunting me on the screen and I was left with no recourse.

I printed, and went for a walk.

I find that, given the right environment and the right project, I can be much more productive away from my desk than at it.  This only works for papers in draft form as, before they are

mid-way through my draft; a still-life.

mid-way through my draft; a still-life.

coherent, I have to reference the piles and piles of books from the book fort I’ve built on the floor next to aforementioned desk.  But once I do have something I’m playing with, once the words are on the page, often times the only way I can advance past this is to go to a coffee shop and not let myself come home until I’m done drafting.

It does two things: first it removes any possibility of distraction (especially if I’m a good good girl and turn my phone off for the duration of my writing session), and secondly it gives me the impetus to work faster.  If I want to go home in any reasonable length of time, well then I had better get to business hadn’t I?  Often, there are artificial limitations on this: how long can I sit without a break for the necessities (food, nose-powdering, etc.), but if I work diligently, I can crank out a draft of a 20-page paper within the two to three hour time window that my attention span and biology usually allot for.

So that’s just what I did yesterday.  I took my draft, I took my red pen, and I bought myself a giant iced coffee and went to town.

Luckily, it was a random daytime during a Monday so there weren’t many people there to talk around me (something I can’t abide while I’m working).  I also happen to know a great place that doesn’t play obnoxious music (another thing I really can’t work through).

Done!  I can go home now, right?

Done! I can go home now, right?

Writing, actually writing, the old fashioned way with a pen, is very romantic.  Whenever I do so at a coffee shop, I can’t help but imagine myself into some antiquated notion of academia where we all wear tweed suits and use monocles.  There’s something nostalgic about it; an act that connects you to your forefathers.  Everyone I’ve ever read wrote this way (and certainly those I most admire wrote this way); pen in hand, caffeine source nearby.  I guess unless you’re Kerouac in which case I’m not sure I’d want to write the way you wrote…

Anyway, my ploy worked!  This paper is in great shape, all of my projects are under control, and despite any misgivings I may have about walking away from my desk at the end of today (because I know there’s more work to do, I just can’t do more work right now), I can comfort myself with the fact that everything is where it should be and nothing is getting left out in the cold.

…Unless I’m forgetting something huge.  Which is always a possibility.

Finals und kein Ende

This morning: I had a conversation with Hamlet on twitter about Goethe while reading snippets from Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre about a character performing Hamlet.

This sprang from my new favorite quote from Goethe “Away with your fat Hamlets!”

…what I was really doing was preparing a handout for an in-class presentation/facilitation/thingie I have to give on Thursday (one of the two big semester projects still on my docket).

Over the course of preparing this handout, I also discovered that the snippets of Macbeth I had chosen as an object lesson in early German Shakespeare translations for my class were perhaps not entirely what I had previously thought.  When one of my sources discussed the Schlegel translation of Macbeth pretty heavily, I assumed this may be a good example of how the Germans during this time period weren’t quite getting the language as we English-speakers expect to receive it.  I pulled a snippet from Macbeth’s “whence is this knocking?” speech from the 1764 Wieland translation, then same from what I thought was part of the 1801 Schlegel translation (highly regarded as the best rendition of Shakespeare into German from the time).  I re-translated them to English as best I can (because, despite any pretentions to the contrary, graduate students don’t actually know everything), and set them prominently on my handout.

…only to find out that the textual history of the Schlegel is WAY more complicated than I

Finals has done this to me.  That's will riding a horse my grandfather carved while waiting to be sent home during WWII

Finals has done this to me. That’s Will riding a horse my grandfather carved while waiting to be sent home during WWII

had thought (hey, at least I discovered this BEFORE my presentation on Thursday).  Not to bore you with details, but it’s actually a rather cool thing since Schlegel winds up collaborating with Tieck but despite this his translation of the complete works remains unfinished until Tieck’s daughter takes it up.  So apparently what I have is a kind of proto-feminist text that my inner English geek could analyze up the wazoo but, since I’m in a theatre department, should probably refrain from doing so.

Anyway, once this is done then I have a paper to write (that I’m nowhere near as prepared for as usual but thankfully have more time than I thought I would have so… it may just balance in the end).  Then, on May eighth, I turn in that last stack of pages, breathe a sigh of relief, and take a few days to a week off before I start studying for my comps like a mad person.

And at some point in the near future, it’s going to hit me that to complete this semester’s projects I had to do research in a language that I didn’t know a single word of before last June and, moreover, I’ve been routinely walking around with a bagful of books in three different languages (none of the pig Latin)…  Not to brag, but you’ve got to admit that that’s pretty cool.

On that note, I think I’ll put down the Goethe and turn to Molière for a bit.  Because apparently I like pain.

Gird yourselves.  Finals are here.

After the End Times

If you are reading this, it means that I have survived finals.

Well, actually, it means that the programming on my website didn’t fail me as I scheduled it to post this entry at a time after which I would have turned in my last paper and during which I would be in a car driving home to New York for the holidays and, since blogging while driving is not something that computers have figure out yet (I’m confident that Siri will change this soon), decided that was my best course of action.

Life: I'm doing it right

Life: I’m doing it right

Here is a still-life I managed to capture of my desk the other day (completely not posed, just how my desk looked at the time).  Yes, that is my ukulele and those are my chord charts.  Yes, that is a nineteenth century print of an engraving depicting Act V of As You Like It sent to me by my Academic Fairy Godfather.  Yes, my tape dispenser is in the shape of a black platform stiletto.  As far as I’m concerned, this picture is proof-positive that whatever life choices I’ve made which lead to this moment are absolutely correct.  A pretty validating thought for the end of my last fall semester of coursework.

This semester’s been tougher than I thought it would be.  That said, I learned a lot, met some really interesting people, and have some shiny new projects to get me through the winter/Spring.

So, since I’m done, I’m taking a short break to be with my family for a week.  I promise I’ll be back after the holiday.  For now, have a watch of this “holiday card” I prepared for you (…when I say I’m only a “passable ukulele player” I really do mean it, so please take this as a sort of “amusing anecdotal internet offering” rather than any sort of masterpiece…. I know I messed it up at least once).

Happy holidays, happy finals being over, and happy take-a-friggen-break.  You deserve it!

Lost of love,

Dani

A Little Help from my Friends…

I had a moment of panic the other day.

I had been summoned to participate in a departmental thing.  I’m really not sure who decided it was a good idea to schedule any departmental thing smack dab in the middle of finals time.  This, to me, seems like a sure-fire way to make at least one of your graduate students slit her wrists in hopelessness.

Any who know me will tell you that one of the things I am best at is time management.  I never leave anything to the last minute, I have a good sense of how much I can handle, I work until I’m done, and I know what is okay to sacrifice and what simply can’t be cut from any given day.  As such, my schedule books very far in advance.  Often, I have trouble squeezing in social engagements unless I’m made aware of them at least two weeks before they happen (at the busiest times of the year, this becomes more like a month).  As such, if I was having trouble departing from my desk to attend said departmental thing, it was not because I was having last-minute finals panic, it was because scheduling a departmental thing during finals is inhuman.

The departmental thing took longer than I had planned (but not longer than it had been scheduled, I simply misread the schedule and under-calculated my timing).  I got into my car and felt like my chest was clenched in an iron clamp.  I still had errands to run.  I still had all kinds of work to do.  And I still had one more appointment with my ever-wonderful Partner in Crime that I could not miss because of a long, convoluted series of events which amounted to him helping me clean my apartment (I think he realized by looking at me that even mundane tasks were well beyond my capabilities to handle and, left to my own devices, I was in very real danger of exploding… spontaneous human combustion: not just an urban legend).

During the drive home, the panic attack symptoms started setting in.  Increased heart rate, hopeless whirl of uncontrollable thoughts, and pressure behind the eyes that threatens to burst into uncontrollable weeping.

I got to my desk, sat down, and forced myself to breath.

For those who have ever experienced a panic attack, you will know: the only way to coach yourself through it is slowly and methodically.  You need to clear your mind, breathe deeply, and slow your heart-rate back something resembling normal.  Sometimes you need to cry for ten minutes just to get it out.  I don’t have them often, but my PhD has taught me all kinds of new and wonderful things that my body is capable of when pressed against the wall (some of these things are more useful than others).

This time, head in my hands, trying to calm myself down enough to look at the word documents I had left up on my machine, my gaze drifted to my desk ornaments.

I’ve spoken about them before.  Over the years, I’ve accumulated a seemingly random assortment of bits and bobs which have come to reside in happy harmony upon my desk.  What I didn’t realize until that moment is that all of the little guys directly under my monitor (and, in fact, most of the baubles as a whole) were given to me by various important someones in my life.  Shakes-cat: a gift from a dear old friend.  Baby-hatching-Gargoyle: a

a selection of my desk baubles.

a selection of my desk baubles.

present from my grandmother upon realizing that it looked just like the logo for the theatre company I ran out of New York.  Liberty-Duck: a random Monday offering from my Partner in Crime.  Long-Duck-Silver: from my mom when she came to visit me during my brief-tenure in a soul-sucking office position pre-Master’s (it came in a box of Band-Aids and helped to cheer my gloomy day).  Tribble Fluff the Yarn Monster: made for me by my wonderful penpal and sent in a box of comfort yarn around the holidays one year.  The list, believe it or not, continues to the point where I really can’t chronicle all the things on my desk attached to all the wonderful people in my life.

And, in that moment, it was like getting a hug from all of them simultaneously.  Like somehow they were all there (without even knowing that I needed them) to tell me to get my act together because I could totally handle this.

Over the past week or so, I’ve received an immense amount of support from my usual support network, but also some very unexpected places.  People who are around, but whom I don’t speak with frequently (perhaps the epitome of this being a random and unprompted text from an old friend with the news that he had procured a GIANT BAG full

some very old friends who are still in my life came to help me celebrate my birthday this weekend; they are amongst the awesome folks who helped me get through finals this semester.

some very old friends who are still in my life came to help me celebrate my birthday this weekend; they are amongst the awesome folks who helped me get through finals this semester.

of my favorite girly-scented lotions and things and was sending them to me imminently… thanks again, Brian, you seriously made my week).  People who would have little way of knowing the insane amounts of pressure and stress that I’m under right now who, from some twist of the universe, had me in their thoughts on a given day and thus found some way to send some extra love my way.

My point is this: no man is an island.  The PhD is the equivalent to academic boot camp.  It will strip you down to your most basic human elements, take those away, then re-build you (and I’m not even through the “easiest” part of the process yet).  But just because you’re stressed, just because you’re tired, just because you think your brain is going to melt out the side of your head, doesn’t mean that you should forget something: you are loved.  And if you can’t remember that, take a moment to find someone who will help you remember it.

So many thank-yous to all of my wonderful friends who, wittingly or not, have once more gone above and beyond to help me get through this difficult time of year.  If I seem ungrateful or passive in person, it’s just because I lack the brain cells to express how much you mean to me right now.

And on that note, it’s time to face the music.  Turning in my first final today.  Queue The Imperial March, La Marseillaise (it always sounds victorious to me), anything from Newsies, or One Day More and send some good thoughts to Dani-land.  Here we go.