Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ok, I Get It--From the Mouth of Babes

So lately I've been receiving the same message in everything I've read or heard. What is it? The importance of being yourself and also accepting others as themselves in turn. Last week I had finished reading a book that talked about this very thing, and then last Sunday at church, one of the speakers gave an excellent talk about loving yourself and loving others. Then, I read my little sister's blog about "Being us." (Side note: she also wrote another post right after that about sisters. It's cute and about me, and apparently without me she'd die. Who knew?)

Marin's post is a little random (very fitting since that's her blog title), but my favorite lines are the following:
"We think that if we have the cutest clothes or we are skinny and rich that we will be excepted (sic). But that is technically untrue. If we just embrace our differences instead of ignoring them we would be us, we would like our selves and if anyone says differently then they have a problem with themselves."

"We try to avoid people who aren't like us but we aren't any different."

"What is the thing you like most about you? mine would be my flaws because with out them I'm not me."

Clearly, someone up there is trying to get it through my thick brain that I need to be more accepting of myself and others. Ok! I get it. I'll try.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My Brain Hurts--Part 2 of 2

Ok, now the second reason why my brain hurts: school. Granted, I'm only taking 2 classes, but after this last week I feel like I'm taking 5 for all the thinking I've had to do. After 2 years of not being in school, my brain's not used to it, and this last week it was in shock. First... let's talk about my classes.

My first class on Monday nights is my Aesthetics of Interactive Arts class. Basically it means were talking about what makes certain things interactive, what makes them art, and what makes them beautiful or not etc. The first class was pretty boring. We went over the syllabus and then we all introduced ourselves. It's supposed to be a mostly discussion based class in which most of our grade comes from several presentations we'll be giving throughout the semester. The thing is, we meet in a computer lab. It's pretty hard to have a discussion when half the class you can't see because there are monitors blocking your view. The other thing is that half of the people in my class are nerdy, quiet, mostly Asian people that want to be video game designers. Discussions are going to be AWESOME.

I do have to tell you though, there was this one guy in the class that I had to keep myself from laughing at when he was introducing himself. He came off as one of those "intellectual, hipster" types of guys only it seemed like it was really all an act. He said that he was "really into photography and painting" and that he "loves digital painting because you could be in Arkansas but people all over the world could see your art because it was digital and online unlike painting a canvas where only a few people could see it." Then our teacher asked him what he was planning to do after he got his degree (a Master's mind you), and he replied, "Oh, I don't know. I guess I'll go to New York and just try to hawk my paintings and photographs and just see what happens." Really? You're getting your Master's so you can go to NYC and hawk paintings? You don't need a Master's to do that. What's stopping you, buddy? Go do it now. Please.

Anyway, our second class was ridiculous because our teacher wanted to discuss what could be called interactive and it turned into a debate between a few students. I don't want to imply anything but it was the older adults in the class who were arguing that viewing a painting was interactive because you came away affected after viewing, but then the couple of young nerdy guys (one in particular actually) were arguing that the painting isn't changed and therefore it could not be considered interactive because interactive requires an exchange between two systems blah blah blah. There was one point where I leaned back in my seat and made a face of exasperation which the 3 or 4 people around me laughed at but then reciprocated that they too were tired of listening to it. Yeah... it was a fun class. Not. I'm glad it was Labor Day cause we didn't have class. But... the next time we meet our presentations are due. Anyone know anything about Suzanne Langer?

My next class meets on Wednesdays, and it's my Intro to Emerging Media and Communications. Now this one I'm a little more excited about, which is good since it's the program I'm going into. The teacher seems way cool and everyone in the class seems a little more communicative and easier to get along with. There are more people that have a communications background, and I don't feel quite as dumb around these people like I did with the video game programmers in my other class. Aside from a few that were rather self-promoting the first class (which I found a little more than annoying), I think it's going to be a good class. The first class we did the usual, syllabus, introductions, and then we read an article to kind of introduce the class. (To see my reaction to the article, check out my school blog.)

The second class, however, we were required to read Heidegger's and Marcuse's theories on technology and man and society. It was some pretty dense and confusing theories, and after reading it (some parts after several rereadings) I don't think I understood it at all. I came to class confused, and as it turns out, I was not alone. The rest of my classmates were pretty confused too. What made it great was that our professor, after we had expressed our confusion, said that when she was reading it she wondered why she had even assigned it. Awesome. Anyway, we kind of worked through it together using a board and diagramming the theory etc. After it was all said and done, my brain was hurting from doing all that thinking and analyzing what the heck these philosophers meant in their highfalutin language.

Hopefully my classes will get easier, I doubt it, but I can hope. WOOT GRAD SCHOOL!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

My Brain Hurts--Part 1 of 2

I've been meaning to update y'all about school, but these last couple weeks have been crazy and ridiculous and basically my brain has been hurting. Want to know why? Well... let's start at the top:

Let's first separate the two reasons why my brain has been hurting. One deals with class, the other deals with the crappy bureaucracy and regulations that is the UTD financial aid/bursar's office. Part 1 is the latter...

Thinking that my tuition should already be taken care of because I had accepted various loans and grants from Financial Aid, I didn't really worry about it too much until I noticed that my account a few days after the money was supposed to be disbursed wasn't showing up. I thought it was odd but thought... well maybe it just takes awhile to register. UTD has been I found out pretty slow in everything it does.

But, by Monday (the 3rd day of classes) it was still not showing up and I started worrying. I called the financial aid office on Monday and the machine said that wait times on the phone would take a long time so I should email them because it'd be faster. Ok, I thought, so I did. (Just so you know, as of today, I have yet to receive an email back and I sent both the general financial aid office address and the counselor over my part of the alphabet an email 2 and a half weeks ago.) Figuring that their machine was lying to me, I decided I would call them and just suffer through the wait time. I called them as I left work on Tuesday and as I pulled up to my house (a half hour later) they answered.

Apparently it was good that I called. They were holding my funds because I was registered as a full-time student, but I wasn't taking enough hours to be a full-time student. The lady then said it can be easily fixed I just have to send them an "Hours Adjustment" form, and once they process it, the money will go through. Ok, I thought, easy fix, no problem. As soon as I hung up the phone with her I printed out the form (I won't go into how ridiculous I thought it all was) and faxed it to them. Then on Thursday (when still nothing was showing up), I thought, I should call them just to make sure they got my fax.

So again, I called on Thursday as I left work. This time after 40 min. and I had changed clothes and was getting ready to head to the gym, they answered. Guess what they said? They didn't receive my fax. The chick couldn't find it. Ok fine, I will fax it again on a real life fax machine (I had used the computer before), and the lady on the phone assured me that my form would be processed before the deadline to pay (the following Friday).

Friday morning I sent a fax, this time from an actual machine at work and decided I should call them right after I send it just to make sure. Yeah... on Fridays, their office doesn't open till 1pm. So, I waited around till a little after 1pm to call them up to make sure they got a fax. This time I was on hold for 47 minutes before someone answered, and... surprise, surprise, this chick tells me again that they didn't receive the fax. By this point I'm more than angry since I've sent this form twice already and both times it hadn't gotten received. Realizing my frustration the girl tells me to scan it in and email it directly to her.

Well either I missed a zero in her email or she missed one, but I had a heck of a time emailing it to her. But, with the help of a coworker and the student directory, I finally got the right email and sent her my stupid form. She emails me back saying she received it and says that it'll take 5 to 7 business days to process. Ummm... it better be processed by Sept. 3rd since that's the freakin' deadline. I of course emailed her a similar statement in a nicer way than that, and she responds that she can't guarantee it and that I should seek out alternative payment like paying out of pocket, setting up a payment plan, or getting an emergency tuition note from the school.

After a couple days of cooling off because I was so mad, on Sunday I decide, just to be on the safe side, I'll go ahead and get the emergency loan from the school and figured, it would get paid off when the financial aid money came in so it's not like I needed to really worry about paying it.

On Monday I check my account... my form got processed and my loan money has gone through. Except, it still says I owe the stupid emergency loan. I take a closer look at my account and they have halved all of my loans and grants that I had been awarded (which you then have to halve again for each semester). The problem is I had only accepted a little bit of one of the loans anyway cause I didn't need all of it, but they halved what I had accepted not what I had been awarded.

This is when I broke down and called my dad crying. My dad told me he'd go with me to the financial aid office to get everything straightened out the next day. I hung up, drove to class, and sat in my car and cried some more. Mainly because I was tired of dealing with this financial aid crap and worrying about it, but then it turned into me thinking maybe I wasn't cut out for a Master's if I couldn't even handle dealing with the financial aid crap. Not one of my finest moments.

On Tuesday morning, my dad came with me to the financial aid office and waited in line with me for an hour and a half, and then sat and waited another 15 to 20 minutes for one of the head-guys to get out of a meeting, and then talked to the head guy to get it all straightened out. Isn't my dad great? I did buy him lunch afterwards though, so maybe that's why he stuck around.

Anyway, even the head guy thought what had happened was weird and didn't make sense (there were some other charges showing up on my account that shouldn't have been there) and he went over to talk to a guy at the bursar's office who said the same thing. Lovely. But, the head guy fixed it, changed my loan amount (so that I would get a refund) and got rid of the weird charge. He was super nice and very understanding. He was from New York, so we chatted a little bit about it and about how I want to live there cause I'm an editor, etc. It was the one bright moment during this whole debacle.

Now, it's all taken care of, I've gotten my refund, I don't owe, and I don't have anything to worry about.... well at least with financial aid. School on the other hand is another matter.