Just Rocks

I thought taking Physical Geology would be fun. Good for me. A knowledgeable experience. I chose a Bachelors of Science because I’d rather learn about the Earth than spend 4 semesters in a foreign language I’ll never really master, and probably forget the moment I graduate. So, I signed up for Geology, because rocks.

Do you remember in grade school, how they would teach us Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous rocks? I always loved that unit. I love staring at the cliffs lining highways and the crazy lines running across the cut faces. I thought I could handle this class….after all, it’s 10x better than Biology.

Oh how wrong I was…

My TA looks like Glenn from The Walking Dead. This is the only thing going for him, in my opinion. He’s awful at teaching. He doesn’t answer questions, and when he does, he tells me in vague replies that don’t suit my learning style at all. I need you to show me the difference between Fracture and Cleavage on a rock and explain why it is so. Half the time, we ask him a question about a rock, he picks it up, flicks it around a bit, then tells us “this is a nice specimen. good cleavage.” or something like that, then walks away. Knowledge gained=zero.

On the first lab day, he informed us that we would be having a Midterm Practical the week before Spring Break (TODAY). He didn’t lie to us at all. Apparently less than half the entire Physical Geology class (all sections included) passes the Practical. Now, help me out here….WHY WOULD YOU CONTINUE TO GIVE A TEST THAT NO ONE CAN SEEM TO DO WELL ON? I’ve heard of professors like these who love to watch students retake their classes again and again. I even know of one who dresses up as Satan on test days. Why.

Upon realizing the test was a week away, I immediately set out to make my trusty flash cards. I figured that if I could memorize how to characterize the rocks and minerals before tutoring on Friday, I could go in, get some pictures in my head to match the characteristics, and continue studying over the weekend. I did just that. I felt so good about everything after tutoring! I had been studying twice a day all week, had the rocks and minerals pretty much down, and I still had two more days to go. Then came Saturday. My brain was tired…I couldn’t handle the flashcards. Sunday….no flashcards. Today, I resigned myself to whatever fate was in store for me. If I knew it, I knew it. After a weekend of seeing flashcards with Dolostone, Calcite, and Gneiss pop into my head with little information to follow, I was ready to be done with my Practical.

As I waited outside to be called in alongside lab mates and students from other labs, I heard a group of girls discussing the Practicals they took last year. Because, you know, they didn’t pass last year. Because this class sucks. My lab group was shocked to hear the test would not be multiple choice after all. (HE. PROMISED. MULTIPLE. CHOICE. Damn it Glenn!!!) I set down my flash cards and stared at the wall until I was called. Resigned.

There was no way I could have been prepared for this. This Practical might seem easy to majors who have spent they’re entire college experience categorizing rocks, but not a lab of non majors who only meet once a week for 2 hours. Every week we were introduced to a new batch of about ten rocks with a new batch of characteristic terms and identification tools. I’ve spent a month in this class, there was no way. At each table there were about ten different rocks with one or two questions associated with them. Some were naming, some were about technical texture terms, some were about placing the rocks on the Hardness scale.

At one point I got to a rock that had two questions to it. I don’t remember the questions. I think I only answered one. I remember dropping to eye level with the rock and staring at it for a long time, because there was no way for me to characterize it. My brain had failed me for at least the twentieth time in that hour. To me, it was just a rock. It had no name other than rock. Because, in all honesty, that’s all they are. They’re rocks. You pick up a rock on the side of the road, and it may be comprised of minerals with names, but this was just a rock. I could have seen this very rock in my front yard back home. There was absolutely nothing special about it….so I sighed, stood up, and moved on.

Not much later, I was on the final table. I picked up a rock and immediately knew it was Hematite. Two questions belonged to this rock, to which I knew the name of. Do you know how often I absolutely knew the names of the rocks and minerals during that test? Once.  Hematite. You want to know what questions belonged to Hematite? Not “what is the name of this rock?” I can assure you. I knew it was Hematite. I didn’t know its economical uses or whatever the second question was. At that point, I wanted to begin writing all of the knowledge I had gathered on my answer sheet, because I have knowledge in this class. I know things. That….I didn’t know. It frustrated me to no end. I moved on.

Halite, Calcite, and Quartz look very similar. Calcite bubbles in acid and Halite tastes salty. I’ve tasted Halite before, just out of curiosity, but I wasn’t going to lick it in the middle of my Practical. So I stared at it for a minute or two, playing Einie-Meenie- Minie- Mo in my head. (Get ready to be proud, mom) Then I remembered “You can see daylight through the Halite”, decided this mineral was clear enough to be so, and wrote it down. That’s about as confident of an answer as I was gonna get on that test.

I left a few blank. I guessed on too many. I probably only got a handful right out of fifty questions. The point of this pitiful story is….don’t take Geology if you don’t have to. It’s not just Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic anymore.

Bored With Being Insignificant

I’m bored. I’m bored with talking. I’m bored with writing. I’m bored with Netflix. I’m bored with Facebook. I’m bored with this town. I’m restless. It’s as if I’m waiting for something, but Lord knows what that is. I search my computer, flipping through tabs for something to do. I scroll through social media, uninterested in the mess our stupid world is in. I’m bored with ignorance. It’s the same thing every time.

I’m bored with the never-ending news of violence in the world and the way people seem to shrug their shoulders and move on. I’m bored with the selfishness around me. I’m bored with going in circles with stubborn, uneducated people. I’m bored with seeing the precious faces of my childhood friends in military uniforms, ready to kill for a broken country. Why do we kill? Why are your hearts so hardened?

I’m bored with being voiceless for every reason. I’m bored with being afraid. I’m tired of being told to change my attitude or fail in life. Change my perspective and demeanor or fall, because everyone is more damaged than I. What’s your damage? Do you see mine? I hide it well, can you tell?

I lose myself in albums from Owl City, Imagine Dragons, Never Shout Never, Ellie Goulding (the first, when she was actually likable), and Taylor Swift. I study them and memorize their lyrics, because everyone has something to say somehow. It’s the same for the cheesy romantic movies I watch and re-watch. This is where I learn.

I float to the balcony, hoping something interesting is waiting outside. I sleep early because it’s something to do. I stare at the list of online assignments waiting for me to complete them. I’m bored with school. Teach me something, I beg you.

I light candles not for their fragrance, but because it’s 10 seconds to be amazed by fire and play the game of lighting a wick. I’m a pyro, in case you were wondering.

I started writing a new novel. Did you know that? It’s my 3rd attempt. This one will be completed. I won’t allow myself to leave this one in the graveyard of my forgotten works. Morbid huh?

I wander about my day, half asleep, but really I’m inside my head contemplating things such as duty and finality. I’m bored with what this life has to offer me at this point, but it’s my duty to reach the finish line and receive a piece of paper. It’s my duty to support. My duty to lead. My duty to make something of myself. My duty to fit into line. My peers would call the list of duties I create “adulting”. I don’t want to adult today, please. Since when did everything bad in life become a verb? Adult used to be full of honor, something to be achieved. Not something to cringe at and roll over, snoring your way back to sleep. Did you know we have less than 5 billion years left? Our sun will become a Red Giant and swallow us in the process before our galaxy will be eaten by Andromeda. Andromeda collides in 5 billion years. We won’t see this occurrence. 5 billion years sounds like a long time…but it’s just a blink of an eye in matters of the universe. Who knows what we’ll be when we’re swallowed by the only thing keeping us alive? How ironic is it that the Sun, the huge ball of gas fueling our life styles, will be the one to snuff us out? The end of Earth. But I’m sure Pluto will be fine. It’s too far for the Sun to reach when it expands. And the scientists denied Pluto. Who will be the one laughing when we’re fried?

Do you see why I’m bored with life? We talk about trivial things like taxes and pointing fingers at other races, but we’re ants. Insignificant. I want to go somewhere and be someone instead of spending hours putting together outfits from my closet and straightening my hair. If 5 billion years is a blink, my life is nothing. I don’t want it to be nothing. I’ve already wasted enough time sitting at a desk, staring at the back of heads and computer screens.

Life starts with my engine. The memories I want are caught in the wind flying through the open windows and the giggles of my friends. They’re found in the stupid pictures I take of random treasures. I’m a junkie for the moment my heart soars, but here I am again…at a desk. I’m bored.

When My Mind is Miles From My Finger Tips

11:16 pm. I’m willing to write anything and everything other than the writing assignment I’m to turn in tomorrow. You’d think as a communication studies major this would be cake….sadly, in a very uncharacteristic move, I’ve pushed this assignment off until mere hours before it’s due. We’ve all been there right? Ok, good. Well, right now I’m dreaming of my favorite places in the world.

The Ocean brings me peace like no other. It’s 3 hours to the coast from my hometown, which is nothing in Texas Time. I’ve driven farther and longer, but somehow I’m not able to cope with this drive. We’ll start seeing palm tree about 2 hours in and suddenly I’m clutching the edges of my seat in anticipation, rolling down the windows to catch a breeze. Don’t even get me started on actually driving in Corpus. It’s so close! Why are we still in the car, yall??? The summer before my first year of college, I went with my three best friends and my lovely boyfriend for a day trip. We finally made it to Mustang Island, and one of my best friends wasn’t happy with the beach, so she made us find another one. The only thing I wanted was to stand before that massive expanse of water and feel small as the water rushed over my feet. About an hour later I got my wish. As irritated with her as I was, it only took a few minutes of sea-therapy to return me to my absolute state of bliss. With my love by my side we explored the shallow waters, even daring to venture out to the first few sand bars. Floating along with the sea weed and white waves feels like home. I will miss it when college is over.

Have you ever found yourself in a valley surrounded on all sides by towering mountains? Did they still have snow? Did you feel close to the sky? Have you stood on those mountains and felt such pride over the land before you? These visions are such treasures to me. Wyoming was a treasure. I don’t even mind driving through the mountain passes….scratch that…I don’t mind driving through the mountain passes as long as my mother is not there too scream and cry. Oh, but it was so worth it to come out of the pass and take in the land Jackson sits on! It was so flat! I could pretty much see from one side of the valley to the other. And the sky was so blue! Is that an altitude thing? I thought the Texas skies were massive and glorious…but a mountain sky definitely takes the cake. It’s spectacular. And the stars at night. The sounds of wilderness. The animals. Where I come from, we’re lucky to get snow during the winter, much less in the middle of summer, but it was there. It even snowed in the mountains while we were visiting the lower parts of Yellowstone. Had we chosen that day to ride the tram up the mountain by our cabin, we would have witnessed snow in summer! What a thought!

The Hill-Country just doesn’t wow me now that I live in the Piney Woods of Texas. I used to enjoy our occasional drives into the hills to visit our family cabin, and I still do, but it’s more pleasurable when the lands sport their annual wild flowers. Then the rolling hills of color rival my beautiful pine tree forests. I don’t know why I find them so attractive, I just do. I love the way they dance in the wind and tower over the city. They sway like I do when I’m in a dance-y mood. It’s a rare day that I won’t have some sort of piney-woods-sunset picture on my snapchat story. I get so caught up in the beauty of the moment and I just want to share it with the world! Even though the woods are my least favorite natural point, they still hold a special place in my heart. Even when I leave this area, I will return often to enjoy the green figures and the sun light shining through their leaves.

I sit and dream and long for and remember such special moments. It’s so much better than writing abstracts about critical essays over modernism. I just have to take deep breaths and remember that this is only a pre-req for the class I do want to take….and it doesn’t hurt that this is only worth a third of an essay grade, but dwelling on that only makes me not want to write it. I just want somebody to teach me how to be a better writer!

11:51 pm. I don’t care how modernism affected Chinese literature, but here I go to write the damn abstracts. Ocean. Mountains. Piney Woods. Ocean. Mountains. Piney Woods.

The Game of Academia

30 Topic Challenge: Day 16- Academics

I think of the word ‘Academics’ and immediately roll my eyes. In my mind, it means the battle to get the ranking and be the best student. I recently started reading this new book about a girl, like me, who has been prepping for college her entire life. Then she meets this “mysterious” guy and blah blah blah, you know the end. Point is, I’m reading these chapters and it’s as if my own life has been put in a book. (Want more? After by Anna Todd.)

Go to school. Get the grades. Go to college. Get better grades. Get a job. Make a certain amount of money. It’s stupid. The intense battle between best friends over that single digit difference in ranking is stupid. I’d rather prep for my field than an extra 4+ years of random classes.

While researching, I came across an interesting definition for ‘Academics’ as an adjective; “learned or scholarly but lacking in worldliness, common sense, or practicality.” Of course this is a lower definition in a long list, but I enjoyed it much more than the first one. That’s all that matters, right?  This definition goes along with my first education post, too.

I’ve always felt the pressure to make the better grades. Coming from a studious family, I would expect nothing less. Even though I was in the top 25% at my high school, and got into the school of my dreams, I still didn’t feel adequate enough. Many mental breakdowns occurred because of the strain to be someone I was not. I won’t get a 4.0 by the time I graduate college, and that’s ok. No, I am not aiming small. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and my overall goal in college is to gain experience for my career afterwards. The 4.0 competition won’t kill me anymore!

It’s as if whoever is in charge deludes students into thinking they will have endless possibilities as long as they get the perfect grade. No, guys. You want the job? You have to network, meet people, explore the field, and gain experience. Yeah, a high GPA looks fantastic on a resume, and it definitely will help you, but what you need most of all is something to show them how valuable you are. Half your GPA is probably unneeded basics anyway, depending on your major/field.

I don’t feel like shaking the Dean’s hand and going to cocktail parties for scholarly achievement. Just give me my education and let me go live my life, please.