On School, Summer, and Insomnia

It's twenty minutes to 4 a.m. here and I'm watching 'New Moon.'  I can feel you thinking, judging me, but I like it!  I haven't read the books yet, but I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point... maybe.  Time's short for me right now as I try to rally and get everything done in time for the end of the semester.  I got my last 4-page response paper and the essay questions for my final done today, so that's two things down.  All I have left is two classes, one play to read, two 20-page papers to work on and a final.  It's getting down to the wire and getting things done is starting to take on a whole new difficulty.  I'm sure I'll get it done, I'm just trying to take things one assignment at a time from here until noon on May 12th, when my last assignment's due.

Otherwise, I'm working on finishing the application for the assistantship.  I need to get some references, which is never easy because I don't know many people.  I think I'll ask the same people who gave me references when I was applying for the writing center job earlier in the semester.  They already agreed to give me a reference, I just need to make sure it's okay to still use them.  Should be fine.  I need to get that in before the end of the semester, so I'm in a little bit of a rush with it.

On top of everything else, I decided last week what I'm going to do my thesis over, so I need to send an email to my committee chair and run it past her, make sure I'm on the right track.  If so, then I can start researching, if not I need to go back to the drawing board and come up with something else.  I know I'm going to be doing Greek & Renaissance Drama for my thesis, I'd rather not say more until it's set in stone, and maybe not then.  I'm jealously guarding my intellectual property on this one, never know who might come along and think it's a good idea and take it.  So, my lips are sealed for the time being.  Yes, I know that gives me a lot of credit toward the idea, maybe more than I deserve, but I'm keeping it to myself for now.

I don't know if I said so but, I'm not going to be taking classes over the summer.  I was going to, frankly I need the financial aid, but by the time it paid my tuition and Matt's there would be nothing left and it's just not worth my sanity.  I don't need the hours, and while he does, it's something we mutually decided would be in our best interest.  So, I'm going to be taking the summer off, working on my freelance stuff to help support us financially, and trying to get most of the stuff on the senior reading list read and notes taken for each book.  It's going to be a nice summer, busy, but nice... at least for the most part.  My family has some things going on, my folks will be here in June to see my grandmother, who's very sick, and we'll be going to North Texas to see them, and her, when they're out.  Otherwise, the summer is ours to do with as we please.  It occurs to me that I might have said most of this before, so forgive the repetition.  I can't remember what I have and haven't said half the time.

I've already registered for most of my fall classes, my schedule is Tuesday & Wednesday nights from 6-9pm, but that's on 6 credit hours.  I have to have 9 to qualify for the assistantship, but there're aren't enough classes available to me, for a multitude of reasons, so I'm trying to work in another class.  Might be taking a history, as a problems course, that's in the interest of my thesis.  Long story, one I'm still not sure about, so I'll pass on the details, which probably wouldn't mean much to you anyway.

I feel like all I talk about is school these days.  I know it's not that interesting, but it's all I have.  It's the biggest and most present thing in my life right now, which will hopefully subside a bit as the summer approaches.  I sure hope so, I feel like such a drag.  Anyway, it's about 4 a.m. and I'm going to lay down and watch the movie.  Maybe I'll fall asleep, that'd be nice.  Unlikely, but nice.  I've had 3 hours of sleep in the last two days, so I'm exhausted, but I don't feel like sleep is in the wings for me just yet.

Good night.

Wherein I ramble... a lot.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I never know what to say after a long spell of silence.  It's true in my day to day dealings, with the people in my life, with my husband, and it's true here, too.  Once I haven't written in a while, it becomes awkward and I find it easier to say nothing than to post anything.  I don't know why it should be like that, it's my blog after all, I should be able to just hop back on and go!  Like riding a bicycle or something, blogging is a skill not easily forgotten, but laziness trumps blogging almost every time.  It never fails... it never, ever fails.

So, here I am.  It's 2:55 a.m. and I'm here rather than in my bed, where I should be, cuddled up with my warm husband.  No, I'm freezing my tail off in the living room because even though it's 55 degrees outside, it's more like 45 inside and if I turn on the heater, he'll overheat while he sleeps.  Considering sleep is a luxury he doesn't easily afford, I don't want him to sleep poorly, so I'm suffering.  Awake at nearly 3 a.m. isn't a new thing for me lately.  I've been sleeping like hell.  Last week, I got a whole 15 hours of sleep, maybe, over the course of the entire week.  There was a time when I could easily sleep 15 hours a day and be happy.  Headachy, but happy.  Now, I'm lucky to sleep at all and never sleep at the right times.  My perfect sleep hours are 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., those are my ideal hours, during which I sleep perfectly and wake up feeling amazing.  Not midnight to 8 a.m., not 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., no it has to be those golden hours between 11 and 7!

I just gave in and turned on the heater.  When I got up to go to the thermostat, I noticed the bedroom light's on.  Matt went to bed almost two hours ago now, but the lights on because I told him that I'd be right in after checking my email.  I never got around to getting there, and now I feel bad about it, because he wouldn't have left the light on if he wasn't waiting for me.  Insomnia is turning me into something horrible and someone I hate.  I look miserable, I feel miserable, I hate everything and everyone, and the thought of writing or school work makes me irrationally repulsed.  This inability to sleep is affecting my relationships, it's making it hard for Matt and I to get along because I'm so edgy.

Fortunately, over this last weekend, I did manage to get a whole night's sleep, which is carrying me through.  Tonight, I'll not get much and I doubt that's going to change any time soon.  Maybe, when the semester's over and the summer's here, I'll start to feel less like a rat in a maze and get back to sleeping all night again?  I don't know, but a girl can dream, right?  On the heels of that weekend sleep, Matt and I went out with Melanie and Joey on Saturday night.  We don't all go out much, for lack of funds or time, and it was nice to just enjoy an evening out with friends.  Dinner and Hastings, and a movie.  I wore the dress I got at Fashion Bug when I was in California and for once felt really good about myself.   I painted my toenails pink and wore cute shoes, and felt great.  Now here I am, feeling like crap again because I'm back to not sleeping.

I'm rambling, I think.  I'm going to be really busy over the next few weeks as I struggle to pull this semester together.  I have to read three books, have two 20 page papers to write, two annotations, three questions for my American Lit final, and a four page response paper.  It's a ton of work and I'm running out of time to do it all.  One of those 20 page papers, the final questions, and the response paper are due April 28th, which is a week from Wednesday.  So, if I haven't been writing, this is why and for those who're looking for something here, I'm sorry.

On that note, I also wanted to say thanks to those who emailed me and expressed an interest in my whereabouts.  I really appreciate it.  Now, I'm off to stare at my bedroom ceiling and pretend I'm sleeping.  Hopefully I'll write again soon and be able to catch up on blog reading, because I have seriously fallen behind on that front.  Better go now, need to turn off the heat, Matt's stirring around in there.

Good night.

School, Freelance Writing, & Twitter Troubles

Things have been so busy lately.  I'm not feeling well today, so bear with me as I try to work my way through this.  I've been considering taking the night off, but all that will get me is behind.  I have a paper due next week over this book and attending the lecture will be helpful, so I really need to go.  Not to mention my fear that not going will negatively impact my grade, never mind the fact that my classmates have carte blanche to miss when they please.  I know it should just worry about myself and not what they're doing, but there seems to be a serious break-down in a system where some students are expected to attend 100%, while others aren't even there 50% of the time.  The sad part is, those who missed most of the classes will still pass.  Do I sound bitter about this?

Nevermind that, I'll probably go so there's nothing more to say.  In other, non-school related business, I've been writing my fingers off.  I've written several articles for Demand Studios each day for the last few days, most of which have gone through without a hitch.  I've also been working, slowly, on my Suite101 articles because the only way to make money over there is to write heavily keyword optimized articles that get hits.  I've been having a good time with it, too.  So many people are down on Demand, but ever time an editor tells me "good work" or an article goes through without the need for edits, I'm proud of my efforts.  Those who don't, and never have, written for Demand seem to have made a hobby out of bashing them, but they're good steady employment and articles written for them are thoroughly edited and fact-checked to ensure that they're quality work.  I feel good about what I'm doing over there, which is yielding me a little less than $15 an hour right now, that's one article ever hour and fifteen minutes or so, because I'm making sure to thoroughly check what I'm doing.  I'm hoping to pick up the pace soon, so I can make more like $20-30 an hour.  All this, making money by writing, is making me feel better about our chances to live this summer by our own efforts.

Let's see, in an effort to present myself more professionally, I've registered a new domain.  If you'd like to see it, you can find it at KristynHammond.info.  If you're not interested and don't want to click the link, it won't hurt my feelings, but I thought I'd share for those who are.  It's basically a profile site where I've put my profile, resume, and the like.  It'll be my hub site, from now on, when I look for freelance work outside the confines of Helium, Demand, and Suite101.  I decided on .info because, well, it's an information site about me so it's appropriate and would you believe it was only $3.99 for the whole year for that domain?  Very pleased with the bargain on a site I was going to buy anyway.

One final thing before I go, I need to rant a bit and get some advice.  I have a friend on Twitter who I've found rather insulting of late.  He's generally a nice guy, he's childfree, and has a lot of my same values, which makes talking to him via Twitter interesting.  He's friends with several of my childfree twitter friends, so keeping up a dialog is generally amusing.  Unfortunately, it would seem that he's a dedicated fat hater.  He's always bashing fat people, saying Twitter is only good for bashing "breeders and fatties."  I find that offensive, considering that I'm a plus-size gal.  I checked out his website and he actually has a whole page devoted to how much he hates fat people.  Who does that?  And it's vicious, too.  He really, really hates fat people.  The guy is single and he rips into fat girls about how unattractive and disgusting he finds them, and I can't help thinking that his judgmental attitude and dedication to judging people for their appearance, rather than what's on the inside, is the reason he's in his 30's and can't hardly get a date.  It's sad because, well, I generally like him.  He's always friendly with me, but I wonder if he would be if he knew that I'm heavy?  The hypocrisy of the whole thing is amazing, considering he can't see me, or some of our other twitter pals, and he seems to like all of us just fine.  So I guess my question is, do I unfollow/block him?  Or, do I just accept his vicious hatred of fat people and ignore it as one of his quirks.  I mean, friends have quirks, right?  And, it's not like I'll ever know him in person.  It just bothers me to see him being such a jackass about fat people.

On that note, I'm off to try to make myself presentable for class and maybe put some food in my tummy.  My diet isn't coming along remarkably well, I'm afraid, but I'm trying to stay encouraged, which is also not coming along remarkably well.  Anyway, time to go.  Adieu.

Updates to the Blog

I'm sure you've noticed but, well, it's worth saying anyway... I'm one of those perpetually dissatisfied people.  I love this theme, love it, but I as is my way, I'm also never 100% happy.  In light of that (not so) revelation, you might notice the slider bar at the top.  Its a part of the theme, I just activated it.   Now, when you come to my page, you see my pretty face, first thing.  Ha... yeah.  So, let me know what you think and whether I should keep it.  Okay?

Additionally, I've added a few pages that might interest you:

  • A Portfolio page, with links to everything I've written and a new pic of me.  It's not much, at least not yet, but if you could spare a Digg for some of my articles (particularly the ones available at Suite101) I'd greatly appreciate it.

  • 100 things page which is more information about me than you probably want or need.

  • The Caesar box Matt wrote for me years ago is now a page (clearly labeled ).

  • Updated Novel page with synopsis information for both of my ongoing novel projects and mock book covers.

  • Last but not least, a Lifestream if you're interested in seeing what I'm up to, with the exception of my twitter feed.


Well, now that I've messed with my blog, I'm off to bed.  Let me know if you like the slider...er... did I already say that?  Yeah, sorry, it's 1am and I'm tired.  Good night.

Sink or Swim

I mentioned, in the previous post, that I'm having some problems with school.  Primarily, the issue seems to be that I started mid-year, but want to do the assistantship, which is a two year commitment.  The way things are going right now, I'll be ready to graduate before the assistantship ends, so the question became what should be done about it.  Seeing out the advice/guidance of my professors, and considering alternates such as not doing the assistantship at all, I've been trying to get it worked out.  All I wanted was to know when I would be graduating, either August 2011 or May 2012?  After looking into it, my professors decided it would be best for me to stay for the full two year assistantship and perhaps do a history minor to compensate for the additional hours.  So, thankfully, that's worked out.

In the process of getting it worked out, though, several of my professors told me not to take classes over the summer.  The fact of the matter is, I don't need the hours.  Even without going this summer, or next, I'll be in excess of hours, so going to summer school seems like an unnecessary expense.  Unfortunately, if I don't go to school over the summer, neither does Matt (who's still working on finishing his BA) because we pay his tuition by way of my financial aid.   We also pay our bills with financial aid, so when they told me not to go to school, I dismissed their suggestion out of hand because we need the money.  That is, until I got to thinking about it.

The fact is, by the time my financial aid paid for my tuition, and Matt's, there wouldn't be anything left to pay our bills with.  It's only $6,000 over the summer, and our tuition would be at least $4,500 of that.  Add to that text books and there's hardly enough left to matter.  So, in light of that, I talked it over with Matt tonight and it looks like we're going to take the summer off of school.  I don't need the hours and we can't afford his tuition.  Of course, without financial aid to pay our bills, we'll have to find alternate means.  Jobs here are still extremely scarce, but I've done some figuring and if I write just three articles a day for Demand, five days a week, at $15 an article, I can make $900 a month.  If I write more, or more often, I can make more and because I used my last financial aid disbursement to pay our bills up, we won't have much to pay, just food, gas, and the occasional expense like DirecTV and the monthly fee for my web hosting.

Our expenses are relatively minor, but even so, I'm scared.  It's sink or swim time.  Come a month and a half from now, when school's out for this semester, making money is going to be on our shoulders.  I'm about to see what I'm made of and if I have the chops to make it as a freelance writer, at least a little bit.  Right now, I do okay, but I hardly make anything.  I also hardly spend any time working on it because I have a ton of class work to focus on that requires my immediate attention -- and two 20 page papers to write, on top of it all!

I'm worried because our environment isn't conducive to productivity.  What I mean by that is, the TV's always on and when it's not, Matt's constantly asking me if I'm done, and can he turn it on.  I don't have a regular schedule, which makes working on a schedule hard.  One day I'm up at 9am, the next not until noon.  It's something I'm going to have to work on because if working at home, and really making something of it, is going to happen, I'm going to need to change my habits.  Something has to give, because I can't write here, like this and thanks to other expenses, some we didn't expect, I don't have the money to do the floor in the front room right now, which means my dream of having an office space again has dissolved into a puff of smoke.  Our new checks say, "Money talks... mine says goodbye!" on them, which is cute, but frighteningly accurate!

Maybe I'm being dramatic, I don't know.  What I do know is, I'm afraid and that's not something that's going to change any time soon.  I'm going to be afraid until I know that, by the impetus of my efforts, we'll have a roof over our head this summer.  Wish me luck, I'm going to need all I can get!

Tuesday

I went Tuesday and took my GRE.  I'm so glad to have that done and behind me!  I did about average on the verbal, but failed the quantitative in a major way.  Still not sure how I did on the writing part, since that's not instantly scored.  They say that my scores should come in about 15 days, two weeks, and I'm trying not to worry about them.  I'm sure I did okay on the writing part, or at least, mostly sure, but right now my main concern is getting my scores to my college, because I know that some of my classmates had a hard time getting their scores to Tarleton.  So, I'm crossing my fingers that my scores come in without incident and I can get that hold off my record.  Once the hold is removed, I can register for classes for the summer and fall semesters.  There's also some stuff going on with school right now, but that's a whole entry of it's own, so I'll write about that stuff later.

I was done with my GRE at a little before 4pm and so Matt and I decided to go to the zoo.  I think he would have been just as happy not to go, but I sort of had my heart set on it (I love the lemurs!) so he took me over there.  When we got there they said they closed at 5pm, which would have given us less than an hour to see the whole place, which is just impossible.  While we were trying to decide whether we wanted to pay $9 a person for less than an hours entertainment, the woman behind the glass said that they put the animals up at 4:30pm which pretty much sealed our decision to leave.  On that sort of time schedule, we would have had 20 minutes to see the animals.  I admit, I was a little disappointed.  Going to Cameron Park Zoo is one of my favorite things and having just sat through the GRE, I was looking forward to some lighthearted fun.

When we left there we took the long route through the park, which is absolutely beautiful!  I love Cameron Park!  The roads are long and wining and covered in an amazing green canopy...

[IMAGES REMOVED]

I took all those pictures, plus a few more, from out the window of a moving car!  Anyway, Matt was taking me to Lover's Leap, which is my favorite place in the park because that's where Matt proposed to me.  Unfortunately, when we got there it was under construction.  Seems they're putting in new railings and a covered picnic area -- after looking into it, it appears that there was a rock-slide there in February, so they're securing it.  It's called Lover's Leap because there's a legend that two young lovers who, when they couldn't be together, took one last kiss, held hands, and jumped from the cliff there into the Brazos river so they could be together for eternity, united in death.  Dark and romantic, my favorite kind of story.  The cliff facing is pretty high right there and from the ledge, you can see out for miles!

So, with the zoo closing and Lover's Leap under construction, we headed into town a little bit crestfallen.  We don't make it to Waco nearly enough for our favorite places to be inaccessible to us when we are there.  I suppose we should have planned better, but there was just now way under the time constraints.  We left at 11:30am so I could make it to my test on time and thanks to traffic, the normally 1 1/2 hour drive turned into more like 2 hours.  Stupid trucks going 55 in a 70!

Ultimately, we ended up at Barnes and Noble, which was nice, except that once Matt had found what he wanted he was ready to go.  I probably could have spent another two hours in there.  Living in a tiny little town, we're deprived of real bookstores.  I mean, we have a Hastings, but no one would ever accuse Hastings of being a real bookstore just because they happen to carry books.  Matt got The Alchemist and The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho.  They're tiny little books, so it shouldn't take him long to read them.  If he likes them, I'm going to read them too, as long as they're not sad.  I got The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, which is about a murder's obsession with a woman, which is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to read.  So, I got it.  Anyway, I think part of the reason he was in such a hurry to get out of there was that it was after 5pm and we had plans with Amanda & Karen.  So, we paid and left.  Ironically, the book I was looking for the whole time was on a stand by the door and I didn't see it until we were leaving.  Matt said he'd get it for me, but in a huff because he was making me leave, I rejected it.

After that, we went to Amanda & Karen's house and, after deciding on Red Lobster, we went out to dinner.  It was good, I ate way too much stuff I shouldn't have been eating, but when we got the check I almost choked!  $75 for two people!  Red Lobster has never been that expensive before!  We did get an appetizer and desert, they have the best key lime pie, but geez.  Maybe I'm cheap, or just haven't been out for a nice dinner in a while, but $75 is crazy for two people!  After dinner, where I left my left-overs sitting on the table (bah!!) we went back to Amanda & Karen's and watched "New Moon" on their BlueRay player.  Have you seen BlueRay?  It's amazing and now I want one, but that's off the subject.  I do feel a little bit bad because we were there late and they had to be up at 5am.  So, we got out of there about midnight, and after getting gas, we were home by 2am.

It was a long day, but it was nice, too!  Well, not the GRE part, that was brutal, but the seeing friends and seeing the park parts were nice.  I'm hoping to be able to go to Waco some time soon and stay with Amanda & Karen over a weekend.  Unfortunately, with the amount of school work I have over the next month and a half, I'm not sure when I'll get around to it.  Anyway, now that it's 12:35 and I have to go to Melanie's in a bit, I need to go catch a shower.

Adieu!