Category Archives: College Survival Guide

Finals Week

We’re coming into the home stretch. I can almost hear the hallelujah bells now. But right now, sitting squarely in my way of home cooking, sunny Arizona, skiing in Montana, and Santa Claus, are two papers and two finals. And zero motivation to really do anything. Perfect.

It’s a challenge in self-motivation. Time for inspirational quotes and coffee on an IV drip. Can’t wait.


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Filed under College Survival Guide, Senior Year

In My Inspiration Box

When I made my day planner in August (or my Daily Action Plan, as I like to call it– sounds best with a snobby British accent), I included a small box, tucked away between my boxes for Applications and Two Minute Tasks, called Inspiration.

I thought, “Oh hey! I’ll include this little box and fill it will awesome sayings and drawings. It’ll be great!”

But the sad thing is, I’m usually too busy to write anything in that box. I mean, the actual writing part doesn’t ever get done. I read lots of quotes online whenever I need inspiration, but none of them make it into my actual action plan. Which is a shame. I think that little box gets pretty lonely.

Except today. Today I flipped the page to Monday, and lo and behold! Something was sitting there in my tiny inspiration box, just waiting to inspire someone.

It read, “If you don’t take care of the producer, there won’t be a product.”

How fitting. While working for Teach For America in Philadelphia this summer, my manager Molly said that to our team, and it really struck home with me.

I mean, that’s always been me. I’ve always been in the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” camp. Sleep is overrated. Sleep is a waste of time. Yada yada. Blah blah blah.

Who has time to exercise or eat well? Not me. I’m busy writing papers and agendas and stuff. Important stuff. Friends and food and health? Not important. I’ll work on that later.

But really, Virginia (I’ve taken to talking about myself in the third person and it’s quite fun. Kinda shifts the blame away), if you don’t take care of yourself, you aren’t going to be able to take tests or give presentations or attend Christmas parties. You are going to fall into a deep dark pit of despair and greasy pimples. I’ve seen it happen to the best of them.

And with an insanely stressful four days in front of me (and a busy two weeks after that — FINALS!), my little inspiration box couldn’t have raised it’s hand and flagged me down at a better time.

My new challenge to myself is to take my health seriously for the next three weeks.

1. Get seven hours of sleep a night. Not six and a half. Seven.
2. No more drinking soda. And no more coffee after eight (unless it’s decaf).
3. If I can’t make it to the gym, at least do jumping jacks or something every day.
4. Try to make it up to ten real push-ups in a row without falling on your face.
5. No more hamburgers.
6. Eat more vegetables. Try to eat more of the green ones.
7. Drink at least three bottles of water every day.

There. That should do it. Now if only the execution were as easy as the typing. I need to find myself one of those “Don’t just dream– Do” quotes for when I get weak and really crave that caffeinated sugary syrupy liquid deliciousness that corrodes your teeth and tastes oh so yummy. Because as you can see, my willpower hasn’t been so great lately. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

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Filed under College Survival Guide, Inspiration, Musings, Senior Year

More, Please.

I need to spend more time being positive. I have this great friend named Geales (see post below) who has the most inspirational blog. Almost everything she puts up there lights the page with positivity, inspiration and love. It’s literally one of my go-to places when I’m feeling down.

I appreciate that so much. Genuine, heartfelt love coming from someone real makes everything better.

I can’t even begin to say how much people need more of that in the world. Especially me and my friends, I think. My house is a stress-ball. Everyone is worried about upcoming tests and papers. But bigger than that, deadlines and notification days loom. We are in the thick of hearing back about this application and that program.

Where will we be in a year? Where will we be in six months?

None of us really know. Sure, some of us think we see the horizon. But it’s all squiggly and different colors, with a gazillion variables.

I know this is normal. This is what life looks like for everyone else my age. And from some snooping/unofficial research, I guess I’ve realized that this is normal for everyone. Once you are outside the confines of your standard twelve years of public education and four years of college, it’s all a gamble. Even people in their forties, with their future on lock, can have things change.

So for now, I’m trying to let go of the definite. Accept the change and chance and adventure that is coming my way. And while the foundations are shifting and the eight ball is shaking, I’ll just move with it. Less worry and more love.

And for those times when I forget, there are good people in the world like Geales to remind me of that.

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Filed under College Survival Guide, Musings, Senior Year

Active Study – How to Learn

Rarely does anything informative or helpful come out of my sorority’s chapter meeting. It’s usually, “dress up, walk in, get paper, sing/recite, listen as people read directly from said paper, recite/sing a bit more, leave.” Repeat every Sunday.

But at our last chapter, we actually got this really neat hand-out telling you how the human brain retains information. Fascinating.
For example:
1. The human brain learns best and fastest when there is kinetic energy involved– the in-putting of information must be active. “The ‘recording disk’ of the brain accepts new material much faster if it “hears,” “sees,” “feels,” “tastes,” and detects motion (kinetic energy) during input or recording time.” 
2. Learning requires the expenditure of energy. With notecards, “the student must be actively engaged in producing the sounds, using muscles and burning energy to make the sound.” 
3. Some experts believe that information is better mastered if you group it all in groups of seven items or less at a time.
4. Association is a key to memory:
   a. You remember approximately 10 percent of what you read.
   b. You remember approximately 20 percent of what you hear.
   c. You remember approximately 30 percent of what you see.
   d. You remember approximately 50 percent of what you hear and see together.
   e. You remember approximately 70 percent of what you say (if you think as you are saying it).
   f. You remember approximately 90 percent of what you do.
Makes me wonder if I should reinstate jumping jacks into my study routine. Kinetic energy + burning calories = smart and thin. Ka-ching!

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Filed under College Survival Guide, Notes from Class, Senior Year


Never have I been more grateful for a Friday. For the weekend. For a chance to breathe, sleep, and rejuvenate.

I’ve been dragging through this week, accomplishing the bare minimum, neglecting emails and phone calls and other important communications that really should have gotten done this week rather than next. Usually I’m not this bad. I can usually kick myself in the butt at some point, after days of dragging my feet, and force myself to get it done (even though that normally happens at 3 a.m. after a couple hours of blogging, web surfing, and other time-wasters).

But not this week. Nothing could compel me to check off those to-do items.

I’m losing motivation and quickly. Except for CCEW, I’m feeling remarkably uninspired. SFPC is becoming frustrating, since it doesn’t seem like people are wanting to take the initiative on production. Okay, that’s not true. There are at least three film shoots this weekend that I know of. That’s exciting. But somehow I feel like the club itself is losing its interesting edge, and I don’t know what to do about that.

And my motivation for school is officially zero. With the things that I’m applying for right now, none of them look at Fall 2010 grades. They’re all looking at previous grades. So maybe getting another B isn’t going to kill me… while clocking in less than 4 hours a night for an entire week probably will.

Things need to change. I need to get better at managing my time. And I need to prioritize. I need to sleep.

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Filed under CCEW, College Survival Guide, Senior Year, SFPC

Preparing for AFF

I leave for the Austin Film Festival TOMORROW! Tomorrow morning at 4 a.m., to be exact. Craziness.

My life is in chaos as I am trying to get everything done (papers, presentations, etc) before I leave town. I have three papers, a test, and a giant presentation on the Tuesday when I get back, but since I’ll be gone Thursday through Sunday (a HUGE chunk of my study/prep time), I’ve been trying to do as much work as possible before leaving.

All that work hasn’t left me a lot of time to get excited about the Austin Film Festival. But as soon as Thursday morning rolls around, I am whipping out that conference and film schedule and going to town with a highlighter. I heard that Blue Valentine will be playing (!!!!!), which I’m stoked about (note previous exclamation points) and definitely want to see again (was lucky enough to see it in Cannes).

Other films I’d love to see:
Black Swan

And to me, the best part of the Austin Film Festival isn’t even the watching movies part (though that’s awesome). The best part is the conference element, which is screenwriting focused. Even though I don’t have any particular interest in screenwriting, I most definitely want to write in my future (be it novels, magazine articles, or short stories). So I’m really looking forward to going and feeling inspired to write more (fiction, that is).

Can’t wait!

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Filed under College Survival Guide, Senior Year, SFPC

Today’s Goals

(I’m back in the library for another early-morning study session, and this time it’s only 8:15 a.m. Sha-Bam! This is awesome.)

Goal One: Write a 4-5 page paper comparing Metropolitan (1990, Directed by Whit Stillman) with Party Girl (1995, Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer) — by 11:30 a.m.

Goal Two: Write a 7-8 page “Notebook” on the process we’ve gone through to put on Shakespeare’s As You Like It (the play is in three weeks!), including notes about the history of theater, the role of gender/transvestism in the play, modern adaptations (including She’s the Man), etc — by 10:30 p.m.

Goal Three: Write synopsis for final short film project proposal — by 11:30 p.m.

Goal Four: Go to bed before midnight!


Have I mentioned yet how much I love lists?! Everything about about a list is absolutely perfect. They help me stay organized. They look organized. They help me to not forget important things I need to do (and by when they need to be done). And when I’ve completed a To Do item, I can cross it off the list, which is even more fun than pulling those plastic protective sticker-covers off a newly-purchased digital camera screen. I speak from experience.

Lists also require me to set clear expectations for myself, especially when I promise that I’ll take said self-imposed deadlines seriously (I’ve found that it also helps when you motivate yourself with things like fruit smileys or a Hershey’s kiss). And once I’m done writing everything out in a list, I sometimes don’t even have to look at it again, because now I already know everything that needs to get done. Yup. Lists are the bomb.

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Filed under College Survival Guide, Senior Year