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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Archive: March 2011

The VCU Problem

So Butler is playing Virginia Commonwealth University this Friday… The problem? Both my parents attended VCU. I live in Richmond. Let’s say my family’s a little conflicted right now. I, however, have no qualms whatsoever about cheering only, solely, and wholeheartedly for the bulldogs.

Example of Butler school spirit, advising appointment, 9 am:

Me: I can take a summer class to finish off my English major.

Advisor: Where are you taking it?

Me: VCU has a three week session between the end of BSI and the beginning of Butler’s fall semester. [Note: Actually, this fell through, but I should be doing other interesting things to finish off my major instead.]

Advisor: Oh, you really want to take classes there? VCU? We’re playing them.


Me (thinking to self): I wonder if the credits would transfer if we lost…. I wonder if VCU will accept me after we win.

Oh, conflict. But me, I’m bulldogs all the way! GO BU!

Farewell, Diana

Admist all the basketball excitement, I read that Diana Wynne Jones passed away yesterday after her prolonged battle with cancer. She has long been one of my favorite authors, with her wit, intelligence, faith in her younger readership, wry pragmatism, and brilliant writing.

I remember reading DWJ in school, on my back porch, on airplanes. I read to myself, laughed myself to tears; I read to my sisters, joked about butter pies and Fantasyland’s lack of socks. I struggled to make sense of Hexwood and Fire and Hemlock; I devoured Howl’s Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and all the Chrestomanci books. Who could forget the antics of Deep Secret or Year of the Griffin? Her situational humor, her sparkling adjectives, her inventive and deconstructive clichés…

Her accolades and awards include two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors, the Karl Edward Wagner Award for having a significant impact on the field of fantasy literature, and the World Fantasy Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

It is an odd thing to be moved to tears while the rest of the state explodes in basketball-related joy. Outside my window, horns and chants and laughter. Inside, only a desperate grief, a heavy emptiness for that great lady of literature.

The book/blog/writing world demonstrates an outpouring of grief and sympathy for DWJ’s family. What a testament to one of literature’s best and brightest. Shine on, Diana. You will be missed.

We’re back again

Last night was epic. I may not have been waiting in Broad Ripple for hours before the game. I might not have trekked across campus to watch the game in the Reilly Room in Atherton Union with other students on campus. (I heard it was packed, and there was free pizza.) Yes, I might have been in my pajamas to watch the game, since it started at 10 pm and did not finish until after midnight.

Still, epic epicness on an epic level.

My roommate kept flicking through the channels, so not only did we get to see Butler’s men’s basketball team pull through again (this time with a lead of 20 points in places!), but we also got to witness Arizona trouncing Duke. Revenge is sweet. I hope victory will be sweeter.



Do you ever get stuck in a scholarly rut? Perhaps “rut” is not the best word. Maybe “track” or “idea” is better. Ever since I finished my long paper on national identity in Brian Friel’s play Translations, I have viewed all my classroom texts through a quasi-deconstructionist lens.

As far as producing interesting readings goes, this has proven quite fruitful. I’ve taken Wordsworth to task for finding authenticity in common language, seen Meville’s ocean as a space of textual ambiguity, and found Emily Dickinson to exhibit postmodern tendencies. Can you tell I’ve just come from a meeting with a professor about a paper?

Intense gaze. You know this guy's serious.

I’m happy to splash around in the postmodern waters for a bit, but I don’t think I want to stay forever. Judging from past experiences, I know some other concept will catch my interest. It happened with mythology, pseudo-astrophysics, real physics physics, the Welsh language, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Rose Adagio, creative writing, knitting… All past obsessions of mine. All still hold a special place in my heart.

However, this whole text-is-dependent-on-the-reader and words-change-significance-with-every-meaning so-many-hyphens phase represents the first conceptual idea I apply to such a wide range of classes, be it an English class or a dance history class, choreography or technique.

Do you ever feel like you really take an intellectual idea to heart for an extended time? Do you ever feel like you might be growing steadily more obnoxious every day?

Also, has anyone read any criticisms that place Emily Dickinson as a postmodern poet?


I do not have a magic skill with choreography. I’m constantly amazed and inspired upon viewing my classmates’ choreographic work in class, but I just don’t have a natural gift with cranking out phrases. Who knows, maybe my classmates spend hours working on their movement in their kitchens as well. I’m taking a lunch break, but as soon as I’ve finished this post, it’s back to hopping around. I’m so close to finishing, too!

Dance performance BFA majors at Butler must take Choreography I and Choreography II. Choreography III is an elective course for those who chose to take it. Last semester’s Choreography I concentrated on producing and manipulating movement, with interesting results:

The project I will soon finish is for Choreography II; I am choreographing a solo to a short track of music–my second full work. (The first was Student Choreography.) I’m using the second section of Stravinsky’s “Three Pieces,” which starts at about 50 seconds in the video below.

YouTube Preview Image

And that’s how I’m ending my spring break. Better get back to work! [UPDATE: I’m done! I’ve been working on this project all week, and now it’s finished! Yaaay!]

P.S. If you don’t know XKCD, you lead a sad existence.

P.P.S. For the record, I drew stick figure comics BEFORE I started reading XKCD.  Just want to put that out there.

Something serious

Okay, I can’t keep blogging without putting this out there. It’s kind of hard to continue writing papers, talking to friends, going out to eat lunch when I know, a single ocean away, people are suffering in Japan, a nuclear reactor stands exposed, and the entire globe seethes with unrest. The UN Security Council just passed a resolution on Libya. The US House cut federal funding to NPR, and dance jobs will probably be next to go. It’s hard to justify my continued interest in the local weather, in Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, in dressing in matching clothes.

But what can we do? We send aid and prayers to those in need and examine the dark spots within our own lives. We try to live as well as possible, as lightly as possible on this earth, with as much compassion for our fellows as possible, with as much joy and appreciation for our own experiences. Otherwise, what is the point of all this malarky?

This life is a balance between joy and despair. We must feel the pain of our fellows in places like Japan. It is right to participate in their despair over this horrible, horrible tragedy. It is right to be anxious about the impending danger at Fukushima Daiichi (though read both views). It is right to be anxious about civil wars and the economy. At the same time, we cannot abandon our own personal timelines, our personal and local concerns. This is what I have decided.

Book bribery

Why, why, did I end up with so much homework during Spring Break? While I procrastinate, I will share a few tricks I have discovered to make homework seem, if not easier, than at least surmountable.

How to bribe oneself to do schoolwork during what is supposed to be an academic vacation:

1. Music. I have a classical music CD I love to listen to, since it reminds me of fun times and awesome people. I only listen to it while I’m writing papers. If I want to hear the pretty sounds, I have to craft the pretty words.

2. Food. If I cannot have lunch until I’ve finished a chapter of reader or a paragraph of writing, well… By now I hope you have ascertained the depth of my love for food.

3. Isolation. Who went to the library Monday of spring break? That’s right.

4. Company. If my sisters do their homework, I must do mine. I can’t do anything else for fear of distracting them. Also, there will then be witnesses to my procrastination. I even had a Skype-enabled homework party with a fellow Butler student today.

5. Books. I’m sure you have heard the sad news about Borders filing for bankruptcy. If not, do so now. There’s a whole host of problems facing the publishing industry, but that is probably fodder for another post, another day. My dad and I visited the Borders location nearby that was holding its closing sale. Those empty shelves… heartbreaking. However, I got some lovely new books I’ve wanted to read for long lengths of time: since the summer, since last November, and since two years ago.

I can’t read any of them until I finish my long paper. I guess I should return to the task. Happy spring break, everyone.


Post-Apocalyptic Africa.

Pirate- zombie- steampunk-adventures during the American Civil War

(actually, not purchased from Borders) Meta-textual humor. Have been waiting for ages for its US publication.

A different kind of bracket

Facebook. It’s not just good for dropping friends quick notes, wasting inordinate amounts of time looking at pictures, and breaking all the common sense rules pertaining to privacy.

A few different friends on Facebook have been bandying a certain link around.

I don’t actually know enough about basketball to make my own bracket. (I feel it would contain the outcomes of me pointing to a list with my eyes closed, or ordering the colleges alphabetically, or something.) However, this bracket uses a method just as unorthodox. Inside Higher Ed judged the teams’ academic performances to determine the outcomes of the matches. Guess who’s on top?

(Except I embedded the picture before the question, so you should not have to guess. Not that it’s not hard to figure out in the first place. Go Dawgs!)

College vs. High School: Spring Break Edition

Welcome to College versus High School: The Spring Break Edition! Today we shall examine the differences between spring break pre-college and spring break during college.

High School: All your friends from school have the same week off for spring break. Spring trip? Hanging out? Typical mayhem? Yes, yes, and yes. Then again, is it a break if you do the same things you normally do all week?

College: Your friends from home may or may not have the same spring break as you do. Lunches and reunions take a bit more planning but are ultimately more satisfying. If your family has moved since high school days? Nobody’s around.

High School: Visiting friends or going on trips without family? Possible, but your parents probably want you to stick close to home.

College: Your parents miss you, but as a slightly more responsible college student, there are more opportunities for service trips, staying with friends, and alternative break activities. Butler University has a Alternative Spring Break program, as do many other universities.

2006Group 2009Trail

High School: Unless you are traveling with family or friends, expect the same weather as always.

College: Attending an out-of-state university means you’ll be going somewhere else. In my case, I go to humid Richmond, Virginia, where my grandmother was working in her garden the day it was negative eight and I don’t have to wear multiple pairs of pants.

High School: Siblings, provided you have them, also have vacation. This may result in arguments over car use, sibling bonding time, or even a family trip.

College: Your siblings may or may not have the spring break you do, with a higher probability of the “may not” result. This means you have mornings free to catch up on homework, but it also partially negates the whole “getting to see my family again” aspect of break. Try not to distract them too much while they are doing their homework.

High School: You may or may not have homework assigned over break, but most teachers are pretty good about giving you some freedom from academic responsibilities.

College: This post is an excuse not to finish my two-page paper, my ten-page paper, my three-page paper, my choreography solo, my choreography duet, my class schedule for next semester, various essays for the Butler Catholic Community, and a play. I did finish half of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner during my plane rides yesterday and my breakfast this morning.

Pre-Spring Break

The week before spring break? Not so relaxing. I lucked out in that I don’t have any midterms due this week, like many other college students. I even discovered many of my projects will be due after spring break. While I want to get most of that done before break starts so I can enjoy being home with my family, it takes the pressure off this week.

What’s going on:

  • Sleeping Beauty rehearsals
  • Mardi Gras party at the Blue House with the Butler Catholic Community. There’s a great Cajun Creole restaurant nearby called YATS. I ate a lot of YATS last night. Then I did homework.
  • Paper on Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables due today (Wednesday). I’m still finishing the reading on Emerson.
  • The usual two-paper analysis for my Romanticism class tomorrow on William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” I got a bit worked up during the discussion on Tuesday, and I hope I’ll be more coherent tomorrow.
  • I’m working on a 10-page Emily Dickinson paper for the EN 185 class that’s due after/during break. (Don’t worry, would-be English majors! I’m the TA; You don’t need this paper for your normal Intro to the Discipline of English class. Everyone else will write a three page response to a poem.)
  • I have a choreography solo, a dance history paper, and a dance history midterm the week we return.

Even though I do not have too much due this week, I need to start my other projects so Spring Break will be somewhat relaxing. Does anyone else end up with homework-heavy vacations?