Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Off-Day

Today was a bit of an off-day for me; it was very unusual. I'm not sure what I was feeling, but my personality was just all over the place for me today--in my mind at least. It's hard to explain, but let's just call today "My Off-day".

One thing that probably contributed to the odd way I was feeling today was that the Lived Religion class never even entered the classroom today. Instead, we headed all the way to the Nashville Library. The library was enormous, and there was so much history about Nashville in there--as if the library was more of a museum than a place for books.

However, no matter how much history and books that were in this library, our class was there for one main purpose--the Civil Rights Section. Me doing an essay to get into the Ivy League Connection about the famous sit-ins that took place here, I already knew a lot. This is not to mention that in AP U.S. History and AP English Language and Composition, I've watched plenty of videos and studied and read many readings of the 1960s social changes. It was great to have gone there, but I honestly didn't learn anything significant that I didn't know already. Still, it was interesting to find all these books about Civil Rights and how they related to religion and religious practice. It was also great to have a guest speaker who works for an interfaith organization. We need more people like our guest speaker, because not everyone is strong and confident enough to stand up for others like her even though they shouldn't have to be afraid to.

I never watched Martin Luther King Jr.'s full I Have A Dream Speech, and today I finally had the chance to. It was just so uplifting and I almost shedded a tear as I watched it and saw the emotion not only in MLK but in the hundreds and thousands of marchers listening to him. My favorite line from his speech, which is probably everyone's favorite, is "I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character". I love witty, poetic lines, so this was definitely a big "head-nod" for me, when I heard this.

Also, I wasn't able to find out what my classmates thought of me and how they describe me as a person today, but I will definitely let you know tomorrow.

In addition, went on a campus tour with one of the proctors and a few others from VSA during my free-time. I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to see most of the campus before I head back home. Seeing everything Vanderbilt has to offer, I don't see why I shouldn't apply here. This school almost reminds me of Stanford or UCLA in the South, especially Stanford, because the campus is huge yet there is a medium enrollment of students. I love how Vandy is enclosed from the city, yet you're pretty much in the heart of the city. I just couldn't believe how many classrooms there are for just a medium number of students. This definitely shows that my class sizes would be relatively small, and I'll have many choices to choose from. Other than that, the campus is just beautiful. Here are a few pictures.

I like trees.
Tomorrow is the Talent Show, and I'm very excited. I will do not one but two different acts. The first act is when I'm in a boy band, and it should be interesting. The second act is just me, where I perform one of my old spoken word poems from my first ever Open Mic. Tomorrow should be very fun.

As The Waves Make Towards The Pebbled Shore, So Do Our Days

Another special day has gone by here in VSA. From the great progress of my project, to the surprise birthday for a sweet friend, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Well, maybe I could have, but nothing’s perfect right?

Anyway, my day started off like usual; with a light breakfast of cereal and a fruit. After I finished breakfast, I went off to class to continue working on the big grant project due on Thursday. We worked pretty hard for the next two hours and I am really proud to say that we are pretty much finished! Everything has gone well and our group has worked hard. Dr. Sulikowski also checked my study design and was impressed with my outline; however there was a minor thing she wanted me to add which was simple, and didn’t take too much time.

One of the games
Once our time in the computer lab came to an end, we all came back to the classroom to play a few of fun, silly games before our lunch at the Pancake Pantry. We played games like Stacking Cups as well as a tossing ball game which Hannah and I both won. Although this class works hard, I love that we also have time to relax and just have fun for a little while.

By lunch time, our stomachs were empty and hungry for pancakes, so we head over there. I’ve been to Pancake Pantry once before with my whole Vandy cohort, but this time, I would be eating there with my whole Pharmacology class. As usual, the line to the restaurant was long so we had to wait a few minutes before they could seat all 17 of us. Once we were seated, I searched through the menu to see what appealed to my tastes. I’ve had the Swiss Chocolate Chip pancakes before so this time I wanted to change it up. After a couple minutes of indecisiveness, I eventually decided on the Apricot-Lemon pancakes – which were heavenly. I admit, it was really sweet, but it still tasted delicious. Pancake Pantry seems like the perfect brunch place with friends and family. I am really glad I go to spend quality time with my class here.

Back at the classroom, we had a short lecture about Hallucinogens, and the craziness it causes. These types of drugs work by disrupting the serotonin in your brain and will cause distortion of reality and make you see things that don’t exist. This obviously sounds like a pretty powerful drug since it also lasts for up to 12 hours. How crazy is that? I didn’t know a person can experience that kind of distortion for so long; no wonder it causes damage to your brain and body.
After class, a short free time and dinner sped by pretty quickly since I spent that time reading a book. However, after dinner, my friends and I decided to go out for S.O.F.T. and hang around the areas near the end of our boundaries. During my time there, my friend Anna wrote a letter to Taylor Swift who is rumored (by her professor) to be staying at a certain hotel. We all walked all the way over to the hotel (in our boundaries) to deliver the special letter to the country star. Once we arrived, all of my friends besides Anna got nervous or something and decided not to go inside. I, on the other hand, wanted to see for myself if the hotel people would deliver the letter to her. Surprisingly, it was not hotel clerks, but security guards at the front desk. We talked to them about the letter, but they refused to deliver it to Taylor. Pretty much heartbroken, we head back to our dorms; it really is too bad they didn't accept the letter. Nevertheless, I still had fun with my friends!

Amber and Tessa!
Happy Birthday Girl!
At the dorms, my proctor group and I planned this little surprise birthday party for our group member Amber, who turned 16 today. We spent all day decorating a room and even got her a birthday cake from Ben and Jerry’s! After a few minutes of waiting in the dark, our proctor brought her in for the big surprise. Even though she had her suspicions all day, she was still surprised to find out about her party. We hung out there for a few minutes, had cake, and finally went back to our dorms. Boy, what a long day this has been! Even so, time is just rolling along, like waves going over the sand. Sometimes it is at different tempos but the waves still come to the shore, signaling a new day.

Strange Fixation

Lately, I have acquired a strange fixation for perfect crimes. I came across them as I was doing some research for my mystery story. I was surprised to discover how many serial crimes have been committed and remain unsolved, even to this day. One case in particular stuck out to me, and I have been obsessing over it for the past three weeks: the Zodiac Killer.

The Zodiac Killer was a man who killed several people in the Northern California region between December 1968 and October 1969. There seemed to be no connection between the victims, and the identity of the killer is still unknown. Some of the victims of the Zodiac Killer lived, but most of them died.

I spent about two weeks researching about this case. Half of the notebook I bought for class is filled with my notes and observations on the case. I noticed some interesting things about the cases; most of the Zodiac Killer's victims were young teenagers who were out on dates. I thought this was important, so I wrote in bold, red letters on one page and circled it. However, I eventually came to realize that my teenage brain was trying to do more than it is capable of doing. I eventually gave up on trying to solve the murder and instead focused on incorporating parts of it into my story.

Spending three weeks reading about murders and other types of crimes has really got me thinking about life. Although what people like the Zodiac Killer did was heinous and immoral, one has to respect his meticulousness; the man left no evidence behind after he killed, and he even sent cyphers to the police and press to solve the case and he was still not caught. It just goes to show you that human beings are capable of anything. I personally believe that the Zodiac Killer is dead now, either by suicide or natural causes. I think the guilt of taking all those lives probably got to him, because he did eventually stop killing. I wonder if the world will ever find out who is ingenious murderer was.

Bittersweet Feelings

Our time here in VSA is almost over. As our last days near, my group and I have been productive in finishing our grant application research project. At first it looked really scary and hard to tackle this project, but as we are progressing and beginning to practice presenting it, it doesn’t feel too hard at all. It felt good to know that our professor, Dr.Sulikowski thought my first draft of my study design was awesome! We are just about finished, and with a little more practice, I am sure we can stand confidently in front of the graduate students and present our project.

Having a little fun in Pharmacology class!
Ate at Pancake Pantry with our class for lunch!
We continued our study of drugs with a lecture on hallucinogens. Hallucinogens cause distortion of reality, which include drugs such us LSD and PCP. It was interesting to learn that LSD was discovered through bread. Once upon a time in 1938, some girls ate bread that was growing a fungus that caused them to hallucinate. They thought they had become witches, when in reality it was LSD. PCP is Angel Dust, and can be more dangerous than LSD. A five mg dose will produce the desired results, while a 10 mg dose can lead to a stroke. These drugs are highly dangerous and can cause you to go into a psychotic or paranoia state.

Alcohol is also considered a drug, because not only does it act as a physical stimulant, but it also acts as a cognitive depressant. It affects many parts of your brain, and your brain is still developing until the age of 20-25. Alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells, and is very unsafe for the developing brain; it can damage your brain forever. Although driving under the influence is a leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, deaths resulting from texting while driving has surpassed those numbers in some states. So don’t drink, text, and drive at the same time!

Aside from doing my last load of laundry during free time, I decided to head with my roommate to the College Search Counseling session. I was the only junior there, so I am definitely ahead of the game. The first step for me is to figure out what size of a college I want and its location. Being away from home for almost a month already, I’m still not quite sure if I would be able to do this for months at a time. I still need to think hard about whether or not a school away from home is the best for me.
Girls going out for our last SOFT night!
For our last SOFT night, some of the girls in my proctor group and Chris headed to explore Nashville for the last time together. My friend found out where Taylor Swift lives, and even tried to leave her a letter, but the security guards at the lobby desk didn’t accept it. We did some quick stops at CVS for snacks and Starbucks for some drinks. 

It's a bittersweet feeling knowing VSA is almost over. I truly miss my home, my family, and home cooked meals; however, it'll be hard to leave the amazing people I have met here. Right when we have gotten much closer to each other, it's almost time to part ways. We have grown to be sisters, and I know we all have each other's backs.

Our awesome proctor group ended our night with a little surprise party for Amber! She is one of our proctor group members who turned 16 today! She is such a sweet girl, and I'm glad I got to meet someone like her. For our proctor group meeting, we had a successful surprise party, and it was totally unexpected for her. Some girls decorated streamers, balloons, all over the room. We all pitched in for an ice cream cake with her favorite colors and flavors, and it was just a fun night! Happy sweet 16, Amber!