life as understood

by jeff carr, master of the arts, -------------------------------------------------------------------------- presumably from a couch



courtesy of Jeff |

I fear my blog is beginning to disappoint. Well, that would be somewhat of a relief, actually, because that would indicate that someone would have read it at one point, which would have been validating. Anyway, I know I say this every semester, but the best is yet to come. That is to say, this crazy semester is just about done, and I'll have a whole lot more time next semester. I know, I know, I say that every single time, but check this. I'm running the front desk at the Writing Center for a whopping 15 hours a week next semester, and getting paid for each one. There's definitely plenty of free time in store. Also, I'll be taking three (3) creative writing classes, which means I'll be in the writin' spirit all the time. Speaking of which, it has recently come to my attention that perhaps my writings have garnered more readers than previously thought, so that's good news to any prospective fans out there, and even better news for me, as my creative writing portfolio will grow by a ridiculous amount. I'll be sure to keep the 'works' blog updated as best I can. In academic news, I've finished Don Quixote and Crime and Punishment and I'd love to talk about either one of them. They are now the two longest books I've ever read, and I did them both at the same time. Weird. I'm getting done with Fathers and Sons in the original Russian as well, which is requiring a great deal of time, and throwing me back toward looking into Russian Studies masters programs even more than literature programs right now. So there's that. I'm submitting my proposal tomorrow for my senior honors thesis on "Zamyatin's Real Dystopia" about his novel We and how it is a more effective dystopia than 1984 because in it, the state in essence convinces individuals to sacrifice themselves for the good of the nation, rather than forcing them to do so. Also, it very closely mirrors Soviet propaganda techniques in the 1920's, which is when it was written, though of course not published in the USSR until the '80s. Anyway, in other news, Thanksgiving with the in-laws was wonderful, finals are next week, internships for next year are still pending, and wifey is asleep, but baby, this one's for you all the same.


help me vote correctly

courtesy of Jeff |

I don't know who to vote for. There, I admit it. I, me, who am supposed to be a brash, opinionated politicophile who has watched every debate and followed every news brief for the last few months, and when it comes down to it, I still don't know. I need to know, because the TSC does voting early, so today or tomorrow are my options, assuming I don't want to stand in line for literally two hours on Election Day itself. I might have to, though. Here's my thinking. I've been more or less for McCain all along, even though I greatly respect both candidates and think each of them could do well. But I'm somewhat of a conservative largely because I'm somewhat of a realist. And let's face it, a McCain administration is going to run into a lot more obstinacy from Congress, the American people, the media, and our allies abroad, simply because of his party in this ever left-leaning climate. Obama, therefore, might actually be able to get more done. Obviously, his rallying and fundraising ability has been incredible, and that's going on virtually no experience. If he can garner that sort of support for our nation and thereby unify us and increase our standing abroad and respect for the government at home, that's something I want to be a part of. So what now? I believe McCain is an incredible man, I LOVE many of his ideas, and I think overall, he could be one of the best presidents we've had in a long time. But, if he doesn't get much done, and if he's fought and dismembered on his every attempt at governing, maybe we need someone that won't face those sorts of obstacles. So, any thoughts? I turn to you, my dearest friends and family, for support in these troubled times. Please help me vote correctly.

Certainly what this decision represents for me is not a decision between two parties or even two men, but two separate ideals: idealism and realism. The title phrase voting "correctly" is actually more appropriate than perhaps it seems, because I aim to vote based upon set ideals that are important to me. If I succeed, then it's correct. Such a decision, of course, a person may only make for himself, but I still need help.

Another interesting factor is the discussion of urgency. If I believe that McCain is the right man to bring about the sort of change necessary right now, but that reactions to his administration will mire the GOP, and perhaps the presidency, in demobilizing cynicism and backbiting, perhaps my generally conservative ideals would actually be better preserved in the long run with Obama, simply because he will restore the respect to the office necessary to effect real change in the future, perhaps even by conservatives. So here's another question: do I vote for instant help, or extended relief? Obviously, the very idea of conservatism lies within gradual, steady change, so do I vote for a liberal candidate to bring that about in the long run?

The question of idealism vs. realism is so convoluted in this issue, and each absolute could represent each candidate so many times over, even within my own set of values, that I suppose it loses all validity as a basis for my decision.

Perhaps I should just vote on hair, or hotness of wife (or VP) or something. I will now open up the floor to input along those lines as well, but only if all else fails. It seems that I won't figure anything out by today, so consider this note open until the 4th.



courtesy of Jeff |

If the family blogging has indeed become a spousal competition, surely I am losing. I blog tonight by virtue of a recurring illness that has strapped me to the couch for the entire day. I've definitely never had as many health things come up in my life as in this past five months of marriage, in which I've been uninsured. Hopefully that state will be resolved very soon. This particular illness is probably a function of having my stomach explode following our Homecoming loss to Fresno State yesterday, in which we were beaten at the literal last second on a mind-blowing 57-yard field goal. This, after the kicker had missed an approximately 21-yarder earlier in the game.
I'm in a one-credit Honors course on preparing grad school applications, and it's actually been my second-most demanding actual course this semester. The necessity to infuse my essays with some sort of academic direction has forced me to actually figure it out, and at least for the time being, I know what I want to do. I'm currently looking into PhD programs in literature, especially with emphasis opportunities in creative writing. California schools top my list right now, but nowhere is out of the question. I've submitted my proposal to the Honors office for my big, final senior thesis, which will be on the ideological threads and fears running through a few seminal works of 20th century dystopian literature, and assessing how far we've come today in dealing with those same issues. This sort of study of political and social ideological trends through literature is what I would like to spend my career doing, as far as I can tell right now.
This new direction of mine, or rather, clarified direction, is being greatly augmented by the first-most demanding course this semester- Studies in Prose, in which we are studying Don Quixote in depth, its position as the first novel, birth of realist literature, convoluting of history and fiction, reality and representation. It is without a doubt the most interesting course I've ever taken, and one that totally restores confidence in my decision to be an English major. The course is taught by a Dr. McCuskey, who is notorious in the department for his excellence in thought and teaching, but whose classes I've been unfortunately unable to take until now. I'm working on an independent research project with him right now, in which we're reading Crime and Punishment together and assessing Don Quixote's influences on Dostoyevsky's early career before he wrote The Idiot, which is entirely based on Quixote. We've also discussed our share of sports.
I've fallen in love with working with Dr. McCuskey, who looks to me a little like Dr. Cox from "Scrubs", which character, of course, is the protagonist's mentor. My friend Vienna says he looks like Hercules. Sarah surmises that we each view him the way we want to, which actually follows right down Cervantes's line of thinking, where outward, subjective representations of reality are all we as humans have to truly understand people. So, good job, babe.
Wow, look how nerdy I am. Also, Steve, Brandon, and I are currently enrolled in a hockey class, which we enjoy twice a week in nearly-full pads. We're getting a ton better, and I'd say I could actually be considered a decent skater now. It's a hard game to get down, but so, so much fun.
Sarah and I are heading down to Vegas at the end of the week, so I can present a monologue at the National Peer Tutoring Conference, along with a couple of friends and colleagues. The school is paying for most everything, so it should be a great weekend, despite the lameness of said conference.
The Homecoming dance was fun, and for further details, I urge readers to reference my foe Sarah's blog. Suffice it to say I am now a true Aggie. Score. Don't tell anyone it took me until senior year.



courtesy of Jeff |

First of all, yes, we're back in the west, and back in school. This is a very good thing. There's much to be documented, and believe me, it will be done once I get a second where my conscience isn't telling me to do something else instead. I just thought it prudent to note to my viewer(s) that my lovely wife Sarah has started a blog "for our family". And while I applaud her efforts and encourage her to write at all opportunities, I fear the worst for my own beloved blog. I know it may seem that I neglect the electronic face of my muse all too often, but I'm determined to keep it functioning. And rest assured, Sarah's divisive actions will not be ignored. We will respond thoroughly and swiftly in defending the individual writes and liberties that have long made this the greatest blog in the family. And by "we", I mean "I".



courtesy of Jeff |

Two weeks from now, we'll be on the on the happy road west, back from whence we came, away from doorbells and disinterest. The company is making me work on Wednesday the 20th, despite the fact that school starts Monday the 25th 2000 miles away, and all of our belongings are in two different cities at two hours apart from Logan, in opposite directions. We should be able to move everything into the new apartment, but in all likelihood, our late arrival will leave us bedless, as the apartment complex has only one or two they give out to the first-comers who need them. My quest for knowledge this summer has been put to a decisive end by my wife, who triumphantly returned my copy of The Sound and the Fury to the Fairfax County Public Library unfinished. After reading two other 20th century classics earlier this summer, and thus widening my distance over Sarah in the race to read as many of the "1001 books you must read before you die" as possible, she pulled some sneaky witchcraft and checked out the first Harry Potter for me, knowing I would become addicted. I'm on the third one now, and they are indeed very enjoyable, as I suspected they would be, but I fear now that I still have four and a half of those to go before I can fully return to more dignified literature. Once again she has bested me, and I have to give her credit. But this is far from over.


sic semper tyrannis

courtesy of Jeff |

One thing I looked forward to this summer, in addition to being married to Sarah, was having free time to write, above all else. I should have known, of course, that such a dream could never be realized. Especially not when halfway through the summer, our tyrannical leaders have decided to overstep their supposed contractual bounds and increase our hours by taking away three of my mornings every week, instead of one. Now Sarah and I see each other in passing between the bedroom and the bathroom between brushing our teeth and getting out of the shower. Fortunately, she's still lovely when she's just woken up, though. I'll abstain from venting about the company and managers that misrepresented themselves to us at the recruiting stage, though I shouldn't be surprised, I suppose. I am, in fact, making a lot of money. I'd rather have more time instead, but I guess that's why I'm an English major and not an aggressive businessman like the managers and most others here. I hope they really are happy. I'll be quite satisfied writing and teaching literature in my mid-sized western college town. Sundays remain for us a day off, but hardly a restful one. We've spent time now at Williamsburg and Jamestown, the National Archives, the monuments, Old Town Alexandria, the National Cathedral, and now Gettysburg. Independence Day watching the fireworks from the foot of the Lincoln Memorial over the reflecting pond to the Washington Monument was pretty spectacular. This is a great city which contributes to the overall worthwhileness of the summer, even if I'm not spending the summer getting publication credits, like my compatriot-rivals. And besides, we'll be back in Logan in no time. It's hard to believe we'll be going back at all, but we've got at least one more fantastic USU schoolyear ahead. And this time we'll have money.


Washington, DC

courtesy of Jeff |

Well, we're here. The wedding and the receptions are over, we have driven across the country, flown to Mexico, gotten sunburned, come back, and we're now two weeks into the great experiment. A full-time job, that is. Here's the verdict thus far: sign me up for grad school. I'm not for it--at least not for spending over ten hours of each day knocking doors and offering them decent deals on big decisions, instead of spending that time with my wife, or writing, or learning, or teaching, or anything else. At least Sarah and I get Sundays together, and mornings. We generally spend the latter lounging about the house. As for Sundays, we spent the last one at Arlington National Cemetery, and then today at the Botanic Gardens and the Portrait Gallery, both national. I started out the job doing quite well, and since have hit a bit of a dry spell, but I'm optimistic, and I've already made as much as I made all last summer, so I shouldn't complain. I miss people, school, freedom, and Logan, but all is well. This has been a good experience, and we're finding our step. The marriage part is good.


the end of the semester

courtesy of Jeff |

I am getting married in five days. Most everything is done. I took my one and only final today, and I have two and a half days now to finish my one last paper of the semester. It, like the rest of the work I've produced over the last couple of weeks, is probably sub-par. That's how it goes, though. You earn an A in a class for the first ten weeks of the semester, and lose it all in the last two. The GPA is more a reflection of endurance than intellect. I don't know how I'll end up, but fortunately, apathy is another fine by-product of being swamped. I'll just be glad that it's all over. Plus, I'm getting married in five days. So life will be pretty dang amazing then.



courtesy of Jeff |

I've just been informed that my short story "Superior" has won the USU undergraduate fiction contest this year. That means publication!!! I hope it doesn't mean, though, that I can never submit it anywhere else. We'll see. Holy cow, I didn't expect this at all. It's on the new collected works blog, so read up, if you're interested, before I have to pull it off for copyright infringement or something. Hey hey!


posting things online

courtesy of Jeff |

I'm supposed to be writing a historical essay right now for my medieval European history class. I sure hate that. Someone suggested that I start a blog to showcase some of my work as a writer, and I thought "I have a blog". That was many months ago. It was only now that I realized that just having a blog, and throwing up my musings as well as some crappy poems wasn't really accomplishing what that person suggested. So I've started a new blog, for my works. (Here it is. Click here.) I will do my best to update it as I come out with new stuff and feel saucy enough to let other people read it. For those that are wondering, "Superior" is the short story that got me into the finals of that huge national contest. I get married in one month. Now, back to the 14th century.


between trips

courtesy of Jeff |

Sarah's going to pick me up in six minutes to take me to the airport, where I'll fly out to Mozambique. About 18 hours ago, my friends and I returned home from California, where we spent spring break at Steve's house. It was wonderful. I wish I had more time to tell about it. Truth be told, I'm not looking forward to taking off again right now, so soon after arriving. Here is nice. I'm going to miss Sarah a ton. What an experience. I'm a little scared. Two minutes. I'm off.



courtesy of Jeff |

It became official yesterday at about 8am. My life is amazing. It's too good. I've been realizing over the last little while that life will probably never be as wonderful as it is now, so I'd better enjoy it, but it just keeps getting better. I'm getting married. I'm learning a ton and loving my classes. I've got it all. And now, it's official. I'm going to Africa. Almost immediately after returning from spring break in California, I will be on a plane to Maputo, Mozambique. There, deep in the heart, I will spend a week doing two of the most exhilirating things in the world at the same time- writing and traveling. Not only will I automatically be published--thus directly giving my writing career a huge kick start, spending a week in Africa instead of class, and spending time with my uncles, but also National Geographic will be there. It's networking time. It's a long shot, I know, but maybe I could get my foot in the door looking toward an internship or something. Truth be told, my future career as a professor is probably not in much jeopardy, but the prospect of writing for a magazine, or something akin to that, is becoming more and more intriguing, at least while I'm young and vigorous. We'll see.


Memory Grove

courtesy of Jeff |

Apparently, telling people that as of a week ago, my current status is "not NOT engaged" seemed to raise more questions than answers. And they weren't even questions like "When's the big day?" or "Congratulations." They were questions like "what?". Oh well. To clear things up once and for all, yes, Sarah and I are engaged. To be married. And to answer the next question: We're shooting for May 3, but it's still a bit up in the air, due to our strictly regimented summer plans. We'll see. But we'll be sure to let you know.

About the engagement itself? Yes, well, I had known for a while of Sarah's desire to ride in a horse-drawn carriage sometime, and knowing that such an opportunity exists in downtown Salt Lake City, I figured that would be a special and classy way to do it. Now, I wanted very much to retain some semblance of surprise, so in the midst of wondering how to get her down to Salt Lake, we were offered Jazz tickets. I promptly called up the carriage service and arranged for a 10:00 ride up to Memory Grove, just up City Creek Canyon above downtown. For those that have never been there, it's a beautiful private park near the capitol building with monuments and stunning views of the valley. Anyhow, the game was great, and largely uneventful, except for the white gold ring getting me stopped at the metal detector on the way in. Miraculously, Sarah, who had already gone through toward the door, didn't notice my hasty, whispered explanation to the security guard. Thank goodness he trusted me. For future reference, that excuse seems to work. So, the game was wonderful. We beat the Bucks. Anyway, afterward, we walked toward Temple Square, where I nonchalantly hailed a horseman, and he steered us up the canyon toward the grove. Sarah was delighted at the surprise, which she took to be nothing more than the carriage ride. At the apex of the hill inside the grove, however, I mentioned about another surprise, and awkwardly removed a ring box from my left jacket pocket.

It's nice being engaged. It's only been a week, and I've only been able to introduce her as my fiancee a couple of times, but it's been wonderful knowing that it's a step toward eternal permanence. I couldn't be happier. She's absolutely wonderful. She's my best friend. She makes the prospect of marriage seem not only passable, but quite desirable. So this is my fiancee, Sarah. I love her.


"hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

courtesy of Jeff |

Well, I'm a week into the new semester, and I've already lost control of my spare time, meaning that is essentially doesn't exist- or at least, it shouldn't. The first week was particularly stressful, as I had to try to add three classes to my schedule, for various reasons. I've never had to try to add a class late before. Miraculously, I made it into all of them, despite the English advisor's best efforts to prolong my education indefinitely. Usually, at the beginning of a new semester, I find myself thoroughly entertained by my classes, which case is no different now. I wield a general excitement for the most newfound of learning for a few short weeks, at which point the monotony and stress of an 18-credit load inevitably prevail. But now a slight week in, I'm experiencing quite a novel sensation. My excitement has just been completely superseded by something even greater. Uncle Ken called me a couple days ago and said that F. Ross Peterson, the then-history professor, now-administrator who lured me to USU initially, wants to have an article written for the alumni magazine about my dad and uncles' recent work in Africa, and he wants me to write it. As if this news wasn't good enough, I met with Dr. Peterson yesterday, and he wants to send me with a photographer to Mozambique sometime this semester to write it. When I got home, Steve played Toto's "Africa" for me. He doesn't like to travel much, but he loves his friends even more than he lets on. At one point last night during the movie, sitting with Sarah on the love sac, with Steve and my other best friends surrounding, I had to seriously think things through sequentially to ensure that I wasn't dreaming. Dr. Peterson, the photographer, and probably Ken, and I will be meeting next week to discuss particulars and hash out a plan for the trip. Someday I'd really like to do something big and important that hasn't come to me by virtue of membership in my family- something by my own merits- but maybe this article and opportunity will be somewhat of a stepping stone out into that. I'm gonna take some time to do the things we never had. I guess I can't complain about being blessed.