Monday, March 30, 2009

The Short List

Everyone has a list of the things they learned in college. This is the short list of things I learned in my years at college.

Freshman Year
--If you eat a lot and don't exercise you'll gain weight. The freshman 15 is not the maximum. I gained 25 pounds.

It's healthy to keep contact with friends from home, but healthier to start a life wherever you physically are.

Sophomore Year
--Odds are if you don't go to class, you'll fail. Don't take a class like Calculus when you're not that great at math and the only real reason you're doing it is to prove that you can do it better than your ex. (Odds are you'll fail that too.)

Just because opposites attract doesn't mean that's all you need.

Study something that you actually like.

Junior Year--Prerequisite classes exist for a reason. Yes it's a hoop to jump through, but if you jump through the advanced hoop and then go through the easier hoop, life will be miserable (or people will think you are a God for being brilliant in that class).

Getting to know teachers is a very, very, very, very, very, helpful thing to do.

Senior Year--I'm still in the process of living it. Ha.

What have you learned in your years at college? Post here.

Forced Postponing?

I postponed graduating in April because I didn't want to do an independent study of Chinese 301. Add to that the fact that the economy isn't really doing that well, and I was in no real rush to graduate.

That being said, I was still supposed to graduate in July with a BS in English, but that may be postponed now. I got an email from Sister Shen, the teacher that runs the Chinese 301 class that said that, "due to a lack of enrollment (6) Chinese 301 has been canceled for the Spring session."

Now what the heck do I do? I can't sit around till the fall.

Interestingly enough, this link Meghan Farr, a stranded college student of four years ago muses on similar things. I particularly like this quote:

"College is a time to educate yourself about your beliefs on life issues. The more you read and think on your own, the more you develop yourself. That's what we are here to do.
It's about moving toward 'the light at the end of the tunnel.' It may not be that bright but it's there, and who cares how long it takes?"

Life experiences. Meghan finishes her article with a summary of things that she had learned in her four years of college. I really liked that idea, so I'm going to do the same thing.

Should education be more important than the time you spend at college? Does spending more than 4 years at college matter? Discuss here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life's Milestones

The other day Karli and I took a break from homework, went and got burritos, and then went to Smith Park to enjoy the 50 degree afternoon. Gorgeous day, and we walked the park looking for a tree or something to sit underneath—a good spot to eat lunch. Walking past the picnic tables, we were greeted with shouts of “Karli! Ivor!” It was Andy.

Andy is in my Technology for Writers class, and I also work with Andy in the I-Learn Resource Center. He’s a nice guy, I’ve always liked him. That day he was at the park with his family—wife and five kids (sixth on the way as I was informed by one of the young daughters)—and I thought about how adorable they were, and how happy he looked with his family.

Later Karli and I watched the kids romp around before the whole family got on their bikes and rode home. I kept thinking to myself, Man. That guy has it made. He’s got a wife and kids that love him, and he looked so at peace in the world with his family.

That got me thinking to this blog and that article I posted a week back. A generation ago, guys my age had already achieved those “life milestones” that Andy had: a family. Though not on the campus of BYU-I, younger fathers are a rarity. Young families are a rarity. Society’s current thought is that a family shouldn’t be started too early.

The BYU-I/Mormon environment does a lot to contradict that thought though. Here there are many young married men and women—a lot of them younger than me. I’m not even that old. I’m turning 24 at the end of the year. The part of me that subscribes to the thought of society is still shocked and appalled at how young people here are when they get married. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve spent here and how many of my friends are married.

But at the same time, would I really be writing this blog if I were married and had kids of my own? Would I still be in this kind of “not ready to grow up” kind of funk? Probably not. I think in the LDS community those life milestones are more emphasized than outside, and really those milestones are important to an individual’s growth and maturity. I guess it’s a coming of age of sorts. I guess the formula can be broken down into the following:

Wife+kids+Job+House= Grown up

And of course the opposite result of that is “not grown up.”

I think my generation of young men may want these things, but not yet, or are denied them because of a myriad of reasons. For myself I want a family and all that, but not yet. If the right girl comes along then things might have to roll. But I think becasue there is no pressure to start a family, then I have no pressure to grow up. (Other than graduating haha...)

Why are these things considered life milestones? Discuss here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This post is about my friend Keith who I blame partially for my present predicament.

Keith was an old roommate from before my mission. At the time I was still a biology major, and he was an English major, literature studies emphasis. I know it was Keith that initially sowed the seeds of doubt about biology. He would look at me and say, "You know whats great? One day I'll get paid to sit around and read," and then I would hate him a little bit for that. I was envious.

Years later, I'm a graduating English major and he's a graduating grad student at BYU. We've now had a lot of conversations about literature and English and it just recently struck me how our conversations skirt the purpose of this blog.

I thought some of his recent comments and conclusions were rather poignant:

I think about writing all the time, but never about young adult stuff. I'd want to write literary fiction like Cormac McCarthy (as if that could ever happen, which is exactly why I've never really pursued it). I've tried writing poetry and fiction several times, and I just don't know if it's in me. The scholarly side of literature comes naturally, but the creative side is still unfathomable to me.

If you've thought about it, you should explore it. It seems like there's a ton of female young adult writers, but I think a good male writer could do some great things and probably have more opportunities because of the lack of competition. Tons of the girls doing the creative M.A. at the Y want to write young adult lit. I wonder if it's because it's a way of exploring a career that also lets them express their motherly side (frankly it feels slightly weird to me to try and mix those two. I dated a girl for a bit who was doing that, and she honestly seemed confused as to what she really wanted). Anyway you should think about it.

You know what, Ivor, I think I'm deciding to go for the Ph.D. after all. I know I've been back and forth on this, but as I've been considering doing real work all day long, I've realized that A. there's nothing I'm as good at as literary scholarship and B. there's nothing I crave more. If I were to get a job doing something else, I think I'd always be dying for intellectual stimulation and some form of in artistic expression in my life. Anyway I'm terrified to make that investment, but what do I have to lose at this point? It's not like I have a family right now that I'd be letting down (not to say I couldn't have one by the time I was done, obviously).

Anyway I'm not completely sure, because when I've gone in this direction a few times before (meaning the Ph.D.) I've felt nervous and like I should go another direction. We'll see if that happens again, but I'm feeling the juice right now. Even if I don't make it, I don't think I could fully leave the literary world, and I don't just mean as a reader. I'll still need to attend conferences and publish here and there so I don't feel like I'm wasting my mind and losing opportunities to expand and contribute.

Well sorry to dump all that on you, but you're one of the few that can understand where I'm at, so I blame you for this ramble. Have you decided what you're doing? Are you applying for the Y? I would almost suggest you go straight for the Ph.D. if you really want the career. The Y would be great preparation, but frankly, I don't think you need any more than you already have.

I think he has some really good points. I'm a lot like him in more ways that I think he realises. He really does have a knack for literary criticism and the study of it. He'd do well out there. As for me, I know that I face the same crossroads. It's just kind of funny how many of us are at the same intersection.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dancing Keeps You Young

Why grow up? These guys sure as heck haven't. One of the oldest (but still one of the best) breakdancers of all time is B-Boy Storm. He started dancing back in the 80's when Rock Steady Crew was huge. He's at least 40 years old now, and is still dancing.

The day I give up dancing is the day I become old. Since when did "respectable" and "mature" adults randomly bust into dance on the street?

One of the great ironies of this blog is the fact that I did one of those "True Age" quizzes online and it said that I was really 84 years old.

What do you think? When we have to give up something we love like dancing is that when you turn "old"?

Stuck in Adolescence

Newly empowered with a higher purpose to achieve, Bro. Allen Sent me this link as a place to start.

There are two stories on the page. The first is the NPR short on young men stuck in adolescent limbo. Sound familiar? I think the greatest part of that article is this:

It wasn't long ago, Hymowitz says, that the average man in his mid-20s had achieved many of life's major milestones — he had a job, a marriage, perhaps even kids and a house.

Today's mid-20 something male "lingers happily," Hymowitz writes, "in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance."

Social scientists are struggling to define this new phase of life — "emerging adulthood" and "delayed adolescence" are two identifiers. Hymowitz has selected the term "child-man."

Nice to know that I'm just like everyone else--unaccomplished in life's great milestones.

But why is it "delayed" adolescence? I think it's more of a "prolonged" adolesence. I'm prolonging the days that I am young.

Hymowitz goes on to say that this default of adolescence is encouraged by pop culture and video games today. I guess that makes sense. A lot of video games are geared towards males aged 18+ and all of these games even adapt to more adult themes or adult levels of violence and content. Even movies like Jackass and just about every Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler movie out there continue the trend of adolescence.

When did this first start happening? When did young men stop wanting to grow up and achieve all of life's milestones and just continue being young?

Is this why the LDS church leaders encourage its young men and young women to get married young? Your thoughts?

Fullness of Mine Intent

While I'm writing this, my roommate is watching Jurassic Park 3 on TV. Raptors are screeching and people are running, again. For the third time.

Actually ironically enough this is the third time I've tried writing this post. Jurassic Park was a while ago. Each time I've kept the window open for a week and never got around to writing in it. In fact, according to the list of "edited" posts, this post has been in existence for nine days.

That's how great I am at procrastinating--just like how I'm great at procrastinating the day of my graduation.

Originally this blog was supposed to be a place for me to write about alternative options to getting a real job after graduation. I had envisioned a place that I could do "useful" things like post GRE dates, graduate schools that have awesome programs, and possible carrer options should that inevetible and dark day come.

But I talked to Bro. Allen about my blog and he kind of pinpointed the real thesis of my blog.

"You just don't want to grow up do you?"

I guess that's true. I'm a grown-up without being a real "grown-up". I don't have children, I don't have a wife, heck, I don't even have a girlfriend right now. (So if anyone in the vastness of the internet is following my blog, I could use a hook-up? Maybe...) Postponing graduation for another semester is another symptom of this disease.

I don't want to graduate. I don't want to grow up.

The fullness of mine intent is to show myself as a writer that just plain doesn't want to grow up. I will be following this trend in myself as well as in society.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Advice

In a recent training for TA’s, Dr. Harrell was asked to talk about his experience with Grad schools and give us some tips and ideas to think about.
Dr. Harrell went to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah for his undergraduate studies, Illinois State in Normal, Illinois for his masters, and the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho for his PhD. He has been teaching as an English professor at Brigham Young University – Idaho since 1995.

I write his credentials because he advised us to talk to all of our professors and find out from them where they went to school. Their insight on the different institutions they went to is valuable in making a decision about grad school.

He talked to us about the usual things about graduate school—the different emphases, how grad school ran (classes at night, teaching classes during the day), how many credits it took—but the most interesting piece of advice came right at the end in a rush of hushed voice for emphasis.

“Pick a school that suits your home life.” Or in other words somewhere where you want to be, whether it means being close to your family or not (depending on personal preference). Why? Why that piece of advice?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Big Enough for Me

The decision that has been plaguing me lately has been the decision to go to grad school or law school. This is a hard decision for me to make because both involve something I feel very passionately about: words.

Dr. Brugger once spoke casually about a law professor in a lecture that was asked what one of the most important skills to have was, to which he answered, “poetic analysis”. If he had his way, all law students would have to take a class in poetic analysis because through analysis new meanings can be generated from the same old phrase of words.

Well if this is the case then we have a tossup between the practical and the not so practical. In the grand scheme of things, what will my legacy be? What kind of impact will I have on the world? The thought I had was that if I go into grad school for English, go all the way to the end and get a PhD, will it matter to the world? If I gain tenure at a university somewhere and I write and publish, do those documents matter? If I write a lit criticism on Tennyson, does it matter to the world?

Then again, I've never really wanted to practice law. If I pursued that, I would probably teach rather than practice (which means another 4-7 years of education--a JD, an LLM, and an SJD) and then the question will come up again: will it matter?

What will my legacy be to the world?

I'm 23 and about to graduate from college, and I'm thinking about the legacy I will leave behind.

No wonder I'm not ready to graduate yet.