Monday, May 13, 2013

Baccalaureate and Graduation

It’s official…finally graduated!   Bachelor of Arts, English and Theology.  Since pictures are worth a thousand words (and I might get choked up if I write too much), here are a few photos of Baccalaureate and Graduation: 
 
BACCALAUREATE:

Elizabeth Milligan: roommate of four years, headed to Argentina to work in a clinic, future Physicians Assistant, and the only person who could ever appreciate late night memes of cats as much as I do.  I will miss those moments where we are both dying of laughter and everybody else just looks at each other like "roommates, whatever." 
 
The seniors of Alpha Sigma Alpha with the St. Ignatius statue ("Iggy").  The leadership, sisterhood, service, and all of that jazz packed into this picture would make the real Iggy proud. 
 
 
The siblings came up for the weekend - Andrea and Sam!
 
 
Couldn't even begin to thank Mom and Dad for all of the care packages, the study abroad, the dirty laundry I always brought home, coming to my art show, and the million other ways they have supported me during my college career!
 
 
Samantha: Alpha Sigma Alpha sister, partner in crime, terribly mean prankster, and the only goodbye that made me cry like a little girl.
  
 Picture with Father Curran, President of Rockhurst, shortly after he delivered one of the best homilies I've ever heard, ranging from quoting anthropologists to a hilarious list of country music song titles.  I will miss regular doses of his wisdom and humor!

 
GRADUATION:
 

 
After graduation we did the "Hawk Walk" down to the Power & Light district to throw our caps and then celebrate!  Also, we were led by bagpipers.  In kilts.  It was great. 
 

 
 Isy Perez: Actually graduated in December, survived his first round of law school classes at Baylor, is trying to revive the Whig party, is going to be a sharp, Jesuitical lawyer who I would want in my corner any day!
 
 
Some shady professors - Dr. Arthur, who I got to enjoy American Novels with and who helped me with an independent project on underground societies in literature, and Anne Pearce, the art professor who made my curating shows possible and lifted my spirits all semester with her quirks and kindness.
 
 
So there it is, the final days of the Rockhurst career.  People keep asking me how I feel, and besides the occasional "terrified," this quote comes to mind, which is on our bell tower:
 
"You are called...to be men and women who reflect upon the reality of the world around you with all its ambiguities, opportunities, and challenges, to discern what is really happening in your life and in the lives of others, to find God there and to discover where God is calling you, to employ criteria for significant choices that reflect Godly values rather than narrow, exclusive self-interest, to make decisions in the light of what is truly for the greater glory of God and the service of those in need, and then to act accordingly.”
-Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.
 
 
Sitting at Baccalaureate and Graduation, I mostly had this feeling that a tidal wave was gathering--but a good one.  I think about how Emma is going on to get her Masters in social work, Sam is going to help teens on a reservation as they are between foster families, Isy might actually be a lawyer someday soon, Mike is probably a better man for knowing some philosophy, and so on down the line.  We have learned a lot here, but most importantly, that learning has been directed towards something--towards finding God, serving others, and always the magis...striving for more in all good things. 
 
 
And now, goodbye!
 
Go, set the world on fire.
-St. Ignatius of Loyola 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 Things I Will Miss and Not Miss About College

As I reflect on my time at Rockhurst (which will take me more than one post), I thought I would start with a few things I will miss about being a college student, and a few things I will NOT miss:

5 Things I will NOT miss about college:

1.      Late homework nights.  Like last night.  And the night before. 

2.      People asking…“Oh, English major…what are you going to do with that?”  Because hopefully post-graduation I will be doing things, and shocking the world with my ability to thrive even with an English degree (hopefully).

3.      The occasional freak out about what I’m going to do with my life.  Here is how this usually works: realization that I probably will not have a “normal job” after college…frantic research into the possibility of being an art librarian or some such obscure profession…realization that this is absurd…resign myself to being a YMCA lifeguard for the rest of my days…hit upon the idea of being a fortune cookie writer…back to Google…the cycle continues…

4.      The absolute lack of babies, pets, and all other signs that I am still connected to a real world, and not some strange version of Munchkinland in which no one is ever older than 22 unless they are standing at the front of a classroom.  As utopian as it is most days to live around college students, during finals week I would like to see humans who are enjoying their existence, rather than zombies surviving on coffee and whatever free food they can scavenge. 

5.      THE GOODBYES.  Whether it is the end of the year goodbyes, saying goodbye to each dorm room or house I have lived in, or the looming Big Goodbye, saying farewell really is awful. 

5 Things I WILL miss about college:

1.      All of the things I said I wouldn’t miss.  Because let’s be honest, on an average day we all thrive on the late nights, the uncertainty of our futures, the college community, and the knowledge that we have formed good enough relationships to miss each other someday.

2.      College clothing.  The day is fast approaching when I need to pass down most of my Alpha Sigma Alpha shirts, and when I can no longer wake up and decide it will be a sweatpants day.  In a few months, sweatpants days will make me look like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Hbu4Z4pGI

3.      Cafeteria breakfast.  There is nothing in this world that is equivalent to the hash browns in our cafeteria.  On the day of Midnight Breakfast (a finals week treat brought to us by Student Senate), I literally ate nothing but fruits and vegetables up until Midnight Breakfast so I wouldn’t feel bad about eating as many hash browns as possible. 

4.      New classes.  Okay, yes, I am a bit of a nerd, but I still get a thrill when I look at the lineup for a new semester and debate whether I want to take Americans in Paris or Endtime Prophets.  As much as I hate the homework, I like learning new things, and it will be strange not to be a perpetually learning student.

5.      MY FRIENDS.  Obviously this is the big one.  I cannot even let myself think about the day when I can’t walk down the street to hang out at Sam’s house, or enjoy a few late night cat meme’s with my roommate Liz.  Leaving them will be harder than all the rest put together.
 
The winning combination of late night work and friends
 
 
My friend Kara just got a puppy now that she will be starting a normal life with a house and a nursing job, and you'd think none of us had ever seen a dog before from the way we react whenever she brings Maya to campus. 
 
 
Roommates and friends came to see my art show last week...I will really miss these kids.
 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mystery of the Red Fortune Cookie

One of the up-sides of the fact that I have basically been living in a freezing cold concrete box downtown is that I have solved the Mystery of the Red Fortune Cookie. 

The Mystery of the Red Fortune Cookie began one day at the beginning of art class when my friend Zack and I were watching music videos done by a Kansas City artist/musician named Cody Critcheloe in collaboration with other Kansas City artists (the official title of his band is Ssion).  His work is absolutely wild, with costumes designed by the same artist who has designed clothes for Rihanna and Lady Gaga.  At one point in one of the videos, a woman in a red dress and outrageous Vegas showgirl wig was eating a giant fortune cookie…but actually the cookie was full of bright red liquid, and by the end of scene, the cookie was painted a glistening red. 

So obviously, this was disgusting.  This poor woman was licking whatever this red stuff was and even though the video had been edited so that she didn’t really have to paint the whole fortune cookie with her mouth, she clearly had to taste whatever this was.  This little scene raised a question that was discussed with a scholarly seriousness that would have dazzled an philosophy professor: what was the red stuff?  There was no way it could be paint, but what else have that color and consistency?

Then Anne, our art professor, floored us all by casually saying, “Oh, that’s Judith Levy, my studio mate.  I’ll just text her and ask her what it is.”  Oh, no big deal, she just happens to be able to call up successful Kansas City artists whenever. 

But for whatever reason, Anne never got around to getting a hold of Judith Levy, so we had to resign ourselves to the red substance remaining a mystery…until today.

I have been camped out for about 6 hours now at the gallery space below Anne’s studio downtown—the space where we are having a show in just 7 days.  Some of the student artists in the show are working on these giant panel installations (more about those later) that will be in the show, and I am just hanging out keeping them company.  A few of them had to go back to classes for a while, so I was left here by myself for about an hour after Zack finished up some spray painting.

When all of the sudden, a sweet woman walked in and introduced herself as Judith Levy.  She chatted with me for a few minutes about my show, her upcoming film (NV in KC), and the possibility of her showing that film at Rockhurst. 

After she left, I calmly texted Zack “I JUST MET JUDITH LEVY.” 

To which he coolly responded, “SWOON.”

We determined that at least 5 hours would have to pass before I could request her as a Facebook friend (she told me to add her!).  So now I am on cloud nine.  Actually, I’m sitting three floors below Judith Levy on a concrete floor freezing my tail off, but close enough.

And the answer to the million dollar question? 

Paint.  And it tasted awful. 
 
The space that will soon be transformed into a gallery...
 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Nerd Code

I’m an English major.  This means on some level, I'm a nerd.

But there are some nerdy things that even I (usually) know better than to do.  Like showing up to a meeting with your advisor about your Kafka and Gnosticism thesis…wearing a Kafka t-shirt.  Unfortunately, I was guilty of this little geek faux-pas this morning, and I still haven’t decided whether or not it was a good thing that he never commented on the t-shirt, thus never giving me a chance to explain my actual reason for wearing it, which is infinitely less nerdy: a Kafka presentation for a class that I’m not even in. 

So maybe I am in English nerd overdrive today, but it is strange how much my thesis has been creeping into different areas of my life these days.  For one thing, I’m pretty much in a perpetual state of either working on it or knowing I should be working on it (usually the second one), but it has been on the brain elsewhere as well.  I am a supplemental instructor for a freshman theology class, and what are we learning about?  Gnosticism.  Did you know that the president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is called the “eminent archon,” which comes from the Gnostic term for ruler of a cosmic sphere?  I did. 
 
Would I ever say no to a former professor who asked if I could give a presentation on Kafka to his Humanities class?  Do I even have to answer that?

Which is why I am currently sitting here in a Kafka shirt, avoiding the demanding stare of my paper clipped Kafka thesis, killing time before my Kafka presentation.

But despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Kafka has been popping up in my dreams, I remember that this is what I love about Jesuit education—the connections.  At a small Jesuit school like Rockhurst, everything is interrelated.  We are wrapping up Greek Week and Social Justice Week, and at times the two became indistinguishable as organizations collected cans for a local food pantry, raised money for their philanthropies, or participated in a fair trade fashion show. 

Jesuits have the core value “finding God in all things,” which is why you find things like Lumberjack Retreat or Tai Chi prayer services at Rockhurst—because everything can be connected and traced back to this root. 

Call me a nerd, but I guess I love Jesuit education because you learn to see those connections—between my thesis and supplemental instruction, between all of my activities and God, between what I do each day and how it could better the world around me.

Throwback to Kafka Museum in Prague



Greek Week Champs 2013!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Last _____.

As I have been pondering what to write about this week, I have been at a bit of a loss.  Not because there haven’t been plenty of things happening, but because I remember talking about them in past years.  I remember writing a post about the English Club Tea Party, and another about capture the flag during Greek Week, which is tomorrow.  So why would I write them again?  Isn’t it the same old, same old?

Nope, because I have entered the dreaded season of lasts.  Here are just a few of the lasts that I’ve been noticing:

Last…English Club Tea Party.  I remember going to my first one at the home of Dr. Patricia Cleary Miller, English professor and poetess extraordinaire, and being intimidated by the entire English faculty as well has the abundance of authentic Chinese d├ęcor.  This time I was cracking jokes with the department chair and leading a group into the living room to sit by the mummified ibis (yeah, she has one of those).

The legendary mummified ibis
 
Last…Greek Week.  Tomorrow I will get up at 5:00 am for the last time for capture the flag (okay, I can live without the 5:00 thing in the future).  I’m hoping we win this last one just like the first three…GO ASA!!

Last…First Fridays…sort of.  I went to First Fridays down in the Crossroads art district, an event I have been attending faithfully since October of freshman year.  I can remember vividly what I wore to that first First Fridays, the galleries we went to, who I went with, and how I felt.  This time wasn’t technically my last First Friday, because on the First Friday in May, I will be curating my own show downtown.  If someone had gone back to that girl I was freshman year in her yellow jacket and new/old thrift store shoes (gotta look the part when you’re at First Fridays), and told her/me that she would be attending her last First Fridays as a curator, she’d have dropped dead. 
 
In a month this space will be full of people coming to see the show of Rockhurst student art I am curating!

Last…edition of the Rockhurst Review.  After a week of minor mishaps and a lot of editing, I think my beloved literary journal is ready to hit the presses.  Again, when I was honored to be on the staff as a little assistant reader freshman year, I never would have believed I’d someday be the one to say “looks great, Covington Press, go ahead and print us up 70 copies.” 

These events aren’t just one more in a string of things I’ve been doing since freshman year, they are a measuring stick for the ways I’ve grown and the new opportunities I’ve gotten.  And while I’m sad that there are so many lasts, it makes me kind of excited to wonder what things I will have done four years from now that I never would have thought of.  New York Times anyone?  MoMA exhibitions?  Who knows…

Monday, April 1, 2013

How to Fundraise With a Goldfish-Eating Panda Behind You
 

Nothing says “please park here” like a panda eating a goldfish painted on the wall of your lot. 

That was one of the thoughts going through my head as we watched the lot next to us fill up with basketball fans (and their $20 bills) looking for March Madness Parking.  Other thoughts included, “we will never raise enough money for our art show,” “my toes are freezing,” and “how do we steal their neon signs.”  The answer to most of my problems pulled up in a PT Cruiser a few minutes later.

I had been sitting in a parking lot in front of my art professor’s studio for a half hour with another student, Ray, trying to raise money for the art show we will hopefully be holding at our professor’s studio on April 26th.  The place is a little…unfinished…so we need money to build some moveable walls and fix up the lighting.  If we can accomplish all of this, I will be curating a show of Rockhurst students’ art downtown in the Crossroads art district from April 26th through First Fridays, a favorite event of Kansas City art lovers during which all of the galleries downtown throw open their doors for a night.  Needless to say, I would love for us to be one of those galleries throwing open our doors to the art appreciators of Kansas City. 

The problem with art students is, they don’t really know much about fundraising.  You would think that in a room full of incredibly artistic individuals, you would be able to find one person who could produce a decent poster saying something to the effect of “$20 Parking.”  Wrong.  After zero volunteers, followed by a comparison of who had more calligraphy experience (Literally.  The winner said, “let me just go get my calligraphy pen out of my bag and I’ll get started!”  Seriously, art students), I had a poster that was in flawless, flowing script, but didn’t exactly emphasize the “$20 Parking” part.  So that and the goldfish-eating panda were a few reasons why Ray and I were pretty excited when our friend and fellow art student Zack pulled up and got down to fundraising business. 

The lot next to us was almost full, but don’t worry—they had ANOTHER lot on the other side of ours just waiting to be filled.  Not if Zack had anything to do with it.  He peeled the sign off of our pathetic little stand and as our fundraising neighbors directed cars to “the lot right down the road, same price!” Zack stalked up and down the sidewalk practically shoving our calligraphy sign through the windows of the passing cars.

“Oh, this lot?  Same price?  Great, thanks!”  Got ‘em.  They were literally thanking us for the parking as they handed us their money. 

Our lot filled up within 10 minutes of Zack’s arrival and we are $200 closer to Rockhurst’s debut on the Kansas City art scene.  Now if only a little bit of calligraphy and a parking lot angel in a PT Cruiser could help me with the planning of the art show, the installing, the essay I have to write…
 
 
Zack, Ray, and I--Triumphant.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It’s All Happening

So I’m a little swamped this week.  Here are just a few of the major things going on in my life at the moment—all good things—but time consuming nonetheless…

1.      I got into Alum Service Corps!  This one isn’t really a time consuming one…all I had to do this week was sign the memorandum of understanding to confirm that I am in the program, but it is still a piece of exciting news.  I will be teaching at Regis Jesuit High School – Girl’s Division in Denver next year for one year.  I’ll live in community with 3 other ASCs who will also be teaching at Regis.  It is technically a volunteering program, so I will just get a stipend and not a paycheck, but it is a chance to do something I think I am really going to enjoy in a cool city, plus another chance to grow a little in Jesuit spirituality (I think my grandpa would say I’ve been “ruined” by the Jesuits because I’m hooked on them, but I think he would also agree that it’s not a terrible kind of ruined to be).  My training starts in mid-July, and I have to say that knowing what I’m doing for at least a year after I graduate does take the edge off of a lot of the senior year stress.
 

2.      Thesis.  It’s like a noose tightening around my neck daily.  Or like a guillotine hanging above my head.  My metaphor of choice changes more frequently than I actually do work on the project, which involves researching the parallels between Franz Kafka and Gnosticism and will count as an interdisciplinary Honors thesis for both English and theology (yes, it is as exhausting as it sounds).  So far I’m at about 10 pages and my first draft is due end of March.  I’d like to go back and guillotine January Allison for picking that early due date. 

3.      Dedication Days.  The days leading up to Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority initiation are called Dedication Days, and we have a ritual and activity four days of the week, plus we dress up and incorporate certain colors into our outfits.  Sounds a little like Mean Girls, but I can promise it’s not (I was on the fence about Greek life to begin with before I came to Rockhurst, and I can guarantee I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near any organization that “only wears pink on Wednesdays”).  It’s a lot of fun…we have Zumba one night to go with our physical aim and a “Date Dash” in which we have a half hour to dress up according to a theme announced that night.  Even though I am cringing at how much I actually have to do this week, I know I will enjoy my last round of Dedication Days.
 
My ASA family: Colleen, Helen, and our soon-to-be initiated newest member, Claire

There aren’t enough words in a blog post to adequately describe all of the other art show preparations, business blogging, test studying, Rockhurst Review-ing and other day-to-day activities that are going on this week. 

But it’s exhilarating. I’m on the home stretch of Rockhurst, and everything I have worked for this semester—and a lot of what I have been building up for the past four years—is now crescendoing in an action-packed final few months.  It’s all happening…