Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adventures In Dallas

Or Irving, rather. But it is called The University of Dallas.

Yes, I went to UD! Last Friday and Saturday, I found myself once again on campus, this time with a sidekick. Dad.
We were there for the Aspiring Scholars Preview. Basically you go to classes and a bunch of info sessions where you learn about the various aspects of the university, and admissions and financial aid.
The classes? WERE AWESOME! We went to history (Western Civilizations II), English (Lit Traditions IV) and drama (Shakespeare Through Music). The history class was fascinating. Great professor, he covered the 1790s in France, in fair detail, in less than an hour. I don't know much about that time period/the French Revolution so it was mostly new info for me. I didn't take notes, though...I'm not real experienced with that so I prefer to just listen. Dad (who was a history major) took three pages of notes.
English class, again, absolutely fascinating. The teacher was Father Robert Maguire, a Cistercian priest. He gave a lecture at Arete so I was more or less prepared for little things like this:

(Father points at a student) "You're daydreaming."
"Huh wha? Yes Father?"
"You were daydreaming. You were, weren't you?"
"...yeah? Yes? I was?"
"You know how I knew you were daydreaming?"
"Uh, no..."
"Wanna know how I knew?"
"I used to be an expert daydreamer."

Their class was just finishing up Moby Dick. Neither Dad nor I have ever read Moby Dick, but Father's explanation of the plot and the underlying themes was so incredibly fascinating that Dad bought the book for himself at the school's bookstore afterwards. I intend to try my hand at it this summer. I really really hope I get to be in that class someday so I can hear the classes for the rest of the book.

Shakespeare Through Music was also taught by someone I recognized from Arete. Dr. Dupree is a truly remarkable fellow. He plays I don't know how many musical instruments...his areas of expertise could probably span half of the curriculum...he speaks at least 8 languages and a couple of ancient ones.
The class was on "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (woo! something I'm familiar with!), and we listened to parts of a recording of a performance with incidental music and cue music. I think it was mostly, actually it might have been all, Mendelssohn's work. Of course, I recognized the wedding song. EVERYBODY has heard that. I loved how you could really tell the difference between, for example, the fairy themes and the players' themes. We did hear some of the dialogue, and I've decided that the mechanics should always be played with Cockney accents.

After all that began the various information sessions. The welcome speeches, the admission counselor panel. Fun stuff like that. We ended the day with a taste of student life; ice cream and a movie with the Society of Physics Students. The SPS consists of about a dozen people, who were joined by one or two friends and us. This particular event was not on the list of recommended fun stuff for the ASAPers, but Dad and I found out about via posters. It was quite fun, actually. The ice cream was being made right there: with liquid nitrogen. They are all science majors, after all. The movie? None other than "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure". You gotta admit, it's nice after a long day of classes and information to just sit back and laugh at some sheer stupidity. It's especially funny because, for instance, everyone there had studied Socrates, so this little piece of dialogue:

Bill: "The only thing I know is that I know nothing." *puzzled face*

Ted: ......That's us, dude!

Probably got the most laughs for the whole movie out of the UDers.

Saturday dawned, and started with an info session about spiritual life at UD. The spiritual director talked all about the Catholic aspects of it, and how open it is, and how she tries to make sure everyone, no matter their creed, get's to the church they need to go to. There's even a group there that call themselves the "Protestant Posse" who arrange for rides to nearby Protestant churches. :-D They do encourage everybody to go to Mass and they have RCIA for folks considering conversion.
And then- dundundun! -The Test. The Aspiring Scholars Award Program test (usually abbreviated to the ASAP). It was one hour questions, one hour essay. The whole idea of the test is to give you a sample of what they study in their Core Curriculum, and pretty much to test your UD compatibility. Good scores also happen to earn scholarship money. Other benefits of taking the ASAP are that when you apply to UD, you don't have to pay the application fee and one letter of recommendation is waived. I'm not sure if this is a benefit or not, but the essay you write for the test becomes you application essay.
It wasn't too bad. It was hard, certainly, since it consists of college work and we were all just lowly high school juniors. My essay could have been better, could have been worse. :-/ The really sad part of all this? I don't get to find out how I did on the test until I get accepted to UD.

After the test was a session about the Rome semester. Which is amazing. I'm not going to get into all of that right now but if anyone wants to hear more about it (or anything else about UD) they can email or FB me and I'll gladly rave about it all. Then a goodbye talk, then we all filled out a survey about the weekend. For doing that we got free t-shirts, win! After that, lunch and a special meeting for all the homeschoolers with the homeschool admission counselor. Dad and I hung around for a little while after that, went up in the Tower and drove back home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Austen Is Different

Last night my friend Rosemary (over at A True Word and The Daily Painting, to be found on my blogroll) and I had an interesting conversation via Facebook chat.
She had figured out why she loved Jane Austen. I realized I had never thought of that! What exactly is it that makes Jane Austen's writing special?
She went on to say that, unlike so many couples in fiction and even real life, Austen always gives good reasons as to why her characters love each other. They CHOOSE to love each other. The reader can clearly see why they work as a couple, why they're good for each other and can help each other. Unlike in so many things today, where it's often just "Hey, I'm good-looking, you're good-looking, I feel good when I'm around you, let's see how long this lasts before we get tired of each other." It's all about the physical. In Austen's books, people tend to talk things out first. Then they get married, usually at the end of the book, and there's nary a kiss in the whole story. Nothing wrong with kissing, but those people were smarter about it than we are now. They knew it was more important to get to know each other.

Thank you, Jane dear, for writing about sensible people who know, more or less, what it's about. And thanks Rosemary for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Don't Feel Like Giving This Post A Real Title. Deal with it.

Where to start?
Well, Grandma is here! She came just yesterday. Today all the girls went out, and everybody but me got their hair cut while I went to Beall's on the other end of the plaza, and thanks to Grandma I now have two cute new tops to take to UD with me!
Oh, UD? I'm going there this weekend with Dad! SO excited! It's for the Aspiring Scholars Preview (preview, preview....). We get to go to classes, talk to professors and the folks at admissions, and Saturday morning there's a special test for all the students. It's a sampling of some of the texts used in the Core Curriculum, and a good score could mean scholarship money. :-D Did I mention that I'm SUPER excited? I miss UD and can't WAIT to be back on campus!
The part of this post you were waiting for: BABY NEWS.
Mom and baby are both quite healthy, and Mom and Dad have more or less decided on Maximilian as a name. Works for me, I think Max is a cute name. :)

OM is crazy right now. Regionals is coming up and things are getting down to the wire. Our vehicle has decided not to work, so for Regionals things will be a tad primitive. We're probably gonna push it. We're pretty much guaranteed to get past Regionals so we'll fix it up before State and it'll be awesome...if it works.

Stay tuned for a post about the weekend at UD! I will post soon after I get home!