Monday, November 8, 2010

Ode to Deep Space Nine

A few months ago, I began to watch my Deep Space Nine DVD’s.  I’ve seen every episode multiple times and I’ve owned all seven seasons for a long time now, but I’ve never taken the time to rewatch all seven seasons all the way through.  But, as my friends could tell you, I would always argue about its status as the best Star Trek show, and, in my own humble opinion, the best show ever.  So, toward the end of the summer, I dusted off my DS9 DVD’s, fired up my trusty DVD player, and began to watch. 
            DS9 saw me through high school and most of college, an incredibly awkward (and incredibly long) period of my life.  And as I went through each season, I remembered my life as it was back when the show first aired.  When DS9 began, I was 15 and I hid my Star Trek love because it was the height of nerd-ity to be a trekkie, and fitting in was of tantamount importance to me.  About seven months before the show began, we had moved halfway across the country, from Georgia to Texas.  I was shy and lonely and I had trouble making friends, but Star Trek was always there for me.  I wasn’t lazing about on Saturday nights, I had plans—to watch Star Trek, and that was important to me.  I made sure to be home most Saturday nights because I did not want to miss a single episode. Besides, it was a Star Trek show, and I owed it to Star Trek to watch every single episode.  By the end of the first season, I was hooked, and grateful to have Deep Space Nine, particularly when we again relocated to a new town at the end of my freshman year of high school.  I felt even more shy, awkward, and lonely, and I felt like I had forgotten how to make friends, but DS9 was still there for me on Saturday nights.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that this show helped me get through high school relatively unscathed. 
By the time the fifth season began airing, I was a freshman in college, and DS9 had gotten really good.  Again, I didn’t have too terribly many friends, so my Saturday nights were generally free for DS9.  During the seventh season, I fell in love for the first time (he was a Deep Space Nine fan too).  At the end of the seventh, I had worked up the courage (and convinced my parents) to spend the summer going to school Mexico, so I missed the last six episodes of the show.  I peppered my parents with frequent emails, reminding them to NEVER EVER FORGET TO TAPE EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF DS9 THAT AIRED WHILE I WAS GONE.  I forbade my boyfriend to tell me anything that happened.  I was determined to enjoy these last episodes without spoilers.  Watching DS9 was one of the first things I did after I got home.  I locked myself in my parents’ spare room and tore through those last episodes of the show.  I think I cried through the most of the last episode.  Watching that show end was like losing a friend. 
            After the end of the last episode, tv stations showed DS9 in syndication for a while, and I watched as much as I could, but after a few years, it sadly began to disappear from tv, I was in my first grad school by this point (another incredibly awkward time of my life, and again I didn’t have too terribly many friends), and I sorely missed its presence on Saturday nights, but I still had Voyager and Enterprise to keep me company.  A few years later I began collecting the dvd’s and The first three seasons of Deep Space Nine kept me company when I was spending a semester in England.  The exchange rate in 2007 was two dollars to a pound, so I was broke quite often.   I watched those first three seasons over and over again with an American friend who loved the show just as much as I do.  We spent hours watching the episodes and discussing the underlying themes, good plot lines, and overall minutiae of Deep Space Nine.  It was fantastic to finally find someone who appreciated it just as much as I do. 
            Fast forward three years to the summer of 2010.  I have a whole group of friends, who though they aren’t the Star Trek fans that I am, are at least familiar with the show. And I am proud to say that I am a trekkie.  I’m still in grad school, and being a TA is not the most lucrative of professions, particularly in the summer.  I fell behind in paying my cable and internet bill, so the cable company saw fit to suspend my service (note to cable company: I have paid my bill). So, without cable or internet, I pull out my trusty DS9 dvds.  And watching the episodes again these last few months has been fantastic.  It makes me glad that I was without cable and internet.  My long years of grad school and years of teaching critical thinking skills to college freshman has enabled me to enjoy this show on a deeper level.  Watching it as a whole, I can now see the way the writers crafted these intricate, detailed, complex, and involved plot lines, and I now marvel at their skill and ingenuity in writing this show—even more than I did in the 90s.  I love this show far more now than I did when it was first on. 
And in rewatching these episodes, I remember seeing these episodes for the first time; I remember the feelings I had when I saw these episodes for the first time; and I remember where I was and what I was doing when I saw these episodes for the first time.  And somehow, remembering my past through the lens of Deep Space Nine makes it seem a little less sad awkward.  I’m definitely not nostalgic for my teens and twenties, but I guess I don’t feel the embarrassment at my awkward and almost friendless state, and I tell anyone who will listen that I am a proud to be a Star Trek fan.  Watching this show makes me remember that I did have a few real friends, who knew I was a complete geek, but didn’t care, and it makes me grateful that I have still have real friends now, who proudly fly their geek flags right along side of me.  And by the time Deep Space Nine ended, I realized that Sisko, Kira, Bashir, Jadzia, Worf, O’Brien, Odo, Quark, Jake, and the many other characters on the show were, in a way, my friends too.  I felt that when I was watching the show, I was a part of their (albeit fictional) lives, and the show had become a part of my life too. 
 I’m about to start the seventh and final season now, and I want to take my time with this season.  I’ll only watch an episode every day or two and when I do get to that last episode, I’ll close my blinds, grab my Kleenex, and quietly watch that last episode one more time.  And I’ll probably cry all the way through the episode.  I always do.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Name

Every fall, I give my students a short diagnostic essay prompt so that I can evaluate their writing skills.  I ask them to write about the story of their names, a humorous or interesting story about how they got it, what, what it means to them, etc.  Since I start teaching tomorrow, I dug out the prompt and I was inspired to write an answer of my own.  Here it is:

          There are times when I feel like the story of my name is so far divorced from who I am.  My parents named me after Barbi Benton, who when I was born, was a famous Playboy playmate. It’s a funny story certainly, and it’s certainly a unique origin for a name.  And when I was a kid, I hated my name.  My mother, in her infinite motherly wisdom tried to tell me that I was definitely a Barbi.  She often tells me that it was my parents’ intention to call me by my middle name since both of my parents go by their middle rather than first names.  But after I was born, she took one look at me and knew that I was a Barbi. 
But I was stubborn (I still am).  I was absolutely determined to change my name the day I turned 18 because I couldn’t stand being Barbi anymore.  I was going to choose something that I thought sounded more like me, like Rebecca.  I was obsessed with the name Rebecca for a number of years.  Rebecca, to me, connoted a dark haired sophisticated beauty who was as intelligent as she was beautiful (that way people would overlook the fact that she was a total trekkie sci-fi nerd).  However, by the time I turned 18, I had other things to think about like graduating from high school, service work, who to vote for in my first election, what college I was going to attend, and what major I was going to choose.  I had too much on my plate to change my name to something that would fit me or to even contemplate what name exactly did fit me. 
                It wasn’t until years later that I realized that it isn’t a name that fits a person; it’s a person that fits a name.  Barbi representative of who I am simply because it’s the name I’ve used all of my life.  Barbi isn’t some dark haired sophisticated beauty, although I do like to think I turned out to be a fairly intelligent person.  The name Barbi indicates a woman who has a love of really bright colors and has the wardrobe to prove it.  Barbi connotes someone who is kind, compassionate, and loyal—and a total softy when it comes to cats.  She has a deep (and perhaps a bit obsessive) love of literature, particularly when it’s from 19th century England.  Barbi is the name of person who now embraces her love of science fiction and Star Trek, and isn’t ashamed to admit it.  It’s the name of a woman who is finding it hard to learn to be happy with what she has instead of what she wants or thinks she should have.  Barbi is a cute, quirky kind of name, and I find that it suits me far more than Rebecca ever could. 
                In short, learning to accept my name, for me, meant learning to accept who I am as person, warts and all.  And honestly, it’s not easy.  There are still days when I think my name is really stupid and I question my parents’ wisdom in giving me such an odd name, and those are often the days when I have trouble accepting myself for who I am.  But it’s a process, and I’ve found that the more I come to love my name, the more I come to love myself, because, in the end, Barbi is who I am.  My mother was right all along.  


Friday, May 7, 2010

A blog in which many exclamation points are warranted

Today was certainly my day of super extra awesome nifty-ness.  And it started off kind of sadly, so I really didn't have very high expectations for my day.

Today was the last day of school.  Normally, I'm really excited about the last day because it means I'm almost done grading.  And, as any college English instructor will tell you, freedom from grading is lovely.  And it will be this year too.  But I'm really going to miss my students.  I had a lot of fun teaching this semester, and it was really hard for me to say goodbye to them.  However, I'm really going to enjoy my grading-free time next week, and every week until summer session starts.  I will work on my prospectus, she says hopefully.

But, I digress.  Today was also the day of our end of year First Year English meeting.  They had free food, which is always a bonus to poor graduate students like myself, and we talked about First Year English-y type stuff.  And, best of all, I won a Best Practices Teaching Award!  For the second year in a row!  For a skill I've been really working hard at helping my students build!  Yes, that's right, I'm awesome!  So are my students!  Because I wouldn't have won that award without them! Okay, enough exclamation points.  You get the picture.  It's a big deal to me, and I was really quite pleased.

So I left school today in a pretty darn good mood.  After all, I had my shiny new award in my backpack.  And when I got home, I put my shiny new award on my mantle and settled down for a lovely Friday afternoon of watching Murder, She Wrote, playing The Sims 3, and surfing the internet.  And then I got an email from my advisor--I had been awarded a dissertation fellowship for the fall!  (Yes, more exclamation points--this is all very exciting, I can assure you)  I don't get any money, but I do get a course release.  And as my friend Rachael pointed out to me, the gift of time is just as good as the gift of money.  Plus, since I'm teaching at 8am in the fall--I'll be done teaching at 9!  I'll have all day to work!  On my dissertation!  This is worth exclamation points because I do not have good time management skills, and I am an expert at procrastination through teaching (example: I have already written both my summer and fall syllabi--and it's May!, but only two and a half pages of my prospectus).  Since I'll have less teacher-y stuff to do, this will give me more time to work on the all important dissertation, which will be even more awesome and fabulous now that I'll have all of this extra time to work on it.  And since apparently my brain has decided that the only place it wants to work is in my office, I will be at school at 9am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday done with teaching and with all of this lovely time to devote to my dissertation.

But now, I'm going to take the weekend off from schoolwork and watch a cheesy rom-com on Netflix streaming (which is about five thousand times more awesome now that I can watch it on my TV) and bask in the glow of my day of super extra awesome nifty-ness.  Have a great weekend ya'll!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey, #1) Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm a big fan of Jasper Fforde's other work, and Shades of Grey is certainly no exception.  The world he creates here is simply fascinating--everyone is colorblind in a sense.  All of society and culture is centered around color, and this has created a kind of dystopia where the people live in ignorance of the past. Thus, their world is quite a bit different from ours.  I will say that at times the book can be a bit confusing, particularly when trying to figure out certain terminology the characters use or practices that they do.  However, for me, trying to figure all of that out is part of the fun of reading the book.

I will say that I didn't like Shades of Grey as much as Fforde's Thursday Next series, but I think that's because I'm total literature nerd so I really appreciate Thursday's world. However Shades of Grey is still a great book, and I definitely plan to reread it.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, May 3, 2010

That One Extra Box Makes a Big Difference!

My prospectus isn't shrinking! But it's not grown much either.  It's now 2 1/2 pages, which is about three quarters of a page more than I had yesterday.  I'm also now fairly certain that it will be five chapters long.  But blah, blah, blah...I find myself getting bored with this even as I write it.

So, anyway....  As I said in my last post, my chair is crazy awesome and probably the most brilliant woman I've ever met in person.  And because her brilliance is so, well, brilliant, I have a tendency to get very nervous and/or feel like a complete slacker in her presence.  I've lost count of the meetings we had where I felt like I spent the entire time babbling about what I hadn't yet done, making gross misreadings of texts, or generally feeling like an idiot.  Today we met to talk about some program called DS-PRO where I have to fill out my goals for the next year.  It's kind of a pain in the rear, but I have to say I like this program because it made me feel a little bit more accomplished than I did before.  Part of the program asks me to check off my "previously accomplished goals," which was nice because I have achieved things like finishing my course work, forming a committee, and taking my comprehensive exams.  But what was particularly nice was that beginning the research for my prospectus and beginning to write my prospectus were actually two separate goals.  So, in short, my 2 1/2 pages and tentative research and bibliography totally count as two separate separate goals!  So even though I really can't do one without doing the other, being able to check off that extra box as achieved made me feel pretty darn good.  And, in addition to honing my mad box checking skills,  I spent an hour writing my prospectus today (which is why it's now longer),  and I confronted a student who had plagiarized a paper, so all in all I feel like I've gotten stuff done today.

So, now I'm going to relax, watch some Murder, She Wrote, and, since my friend Rachael has decreed today Chocolate Cake Monday, eat some chocolate cake.  Imaginary readers of my blog, you go eat some chocolate cake too!  It is Chocolate Cake Monday after all.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Dissertation is Killing Me! Or, at the very least, it's the bane of my existence.

Well, it's not killing me literally, but perhaps all of the stress it causes could potentially kill me.  And I might mention that I'm only in the baby stages--I'm still working on my prospectus, which is a whole two pages long (four if you count my tentative bibliography).  So I've got a long road ahead of me before I defend.  But the whole darn shebang is so stressful because I'm FRUSTRATED (so frustrated I had to put it in caps).  Because....I've got writer's block.  Writing my two pages was like pulling teeth.  And a dissertation is book length!  This trend just can't continue.

Maybe it's just this time of year.  The end of the semester is always stressful, and I feel like everyone is breathing down my back to get absolutely everything done--particularly my chair.  She's not really breathing down my back because she is crazy awesome, but there's a tiny version of her living in my head (wearing a a very bright multi-colored poncho) who's constantly telling me that I should drop whatever it is I'm doing to work on my prospectus.  .

I have a meeting with her on Monday.  She wants me to fill out some university computer program thing that's designed to help me set my goals, which at the time will seem super helpful (because I know I need guidelines and structure) but will cause me no end of stress later on.  And we'll probably talk about my prospectus too, which is shorter than it was the last time I talked to her because I took out the sucky parts.

I have to constantly remind myself that I VOLUNTEERED for this.  I love what I do, and there is nothing more that I want than to be an English professor so that I can spend my life sharing the literature I love with others.  But I'm not there yet, and I've got a long way to go.  So in the meantime, I'm going to watch Doctor Who, and not think about my prospectus until tomorrow because I've just now made a vow that I shouldn't work on it  or think about it on Saturday nights.

So, imaginary readers out there, you go enjoy Doctor Who too.  It's an awesome show, worthy of our love and adoration.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Vol. 1

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore

My rating:
4 of 5 stars The story itself was interesting and engaging, and the plot and artwork had a cinematic sort of quality. I'm familiar with most of the literary references. I thought that the graphic novel was a clever and well thought out amalgamation of the imperial romances of the late 19th century (as well as a few other works). In fact this melding of late 19th century (mostly British) fiction into a new steampunkish sort of world is what I liked best. I wasn't, however, a huge fan of the artwork, but I think this was more a personal aesthetic preference than failing in the artwork--though I do think that overall it was well suited to the mood of the League of Extraordinary Gentleman. My preference for all things brightly colored wouldn't have worked so well with the tone of the graphic novel. Overall, a good read and well worth the time. View all my reviews >>