Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hi again, at long last!

Hey out there, friends, fans and family, I'm stopping by here briefly in between things to give everyone some updates! First of all, let me apologize for the long gap between entries - I've got a heavy workload in my classes that just keeps getting more interesting as time goes on. I think I'm starting to get a handle on things now. First, a list of what's keeping me busy:

1. Golden Age Literature. So far this semester, I've written a 5-page (a full page and a half of which hinged on the interpretation of a single word) analysis (on which I got a 94% - YAY) of a sonnet by Góngora (one of the giants of his century) and given a presentation about my final project for the class, which will be a 15-20 page paper whose major focus is a comparative analysis of the sonnets of Garcilaso de la Vega of Spain and Sá de Miranda of Portugal - so chosen because they've got really similar backgrounds (to the point that it was rumored ((my instructor believes that the rumor is false, however) that they were both in love with the same woman!) as the men who brought Petrarchan Italianate verse to their respective countries. Some fun, eh? Not to mention, what an incredibly long and rambling sentence! What am I, some kind of literature student? Oh yeah . . .

2. Modern Hispano-American Poetry. I recently turned in (and got 8/10 on, which I take as a good thing since some others in the class have simply been asked to rewrite their paper from scratch) a 5-page paper about a poem written by Jorge Luis Borges (one of the coolest modern authors I've ever run across - if he's good enough to quote at my convocation opening ceremonies (not to mention in General Conference!!), then he's good in my book!) titled, in translation, John 1:14. The title of my paper: The gospel of Sartre (The guy who basically founded the philosophy of existentialism) according to Saint Borges. With the underlying concept of existentialism as defined by Sartre being "existence precedes essence," it really is amazing how existential John 1: 1-14 is! I'm currently in the middle of a similar paper on a poem by Octavio Paz, a major surrealist poet. Besides a simple analysis of his poem Olvido, I'll be comparing it to the works of Salvador Dalí, most particularly The Broken Bridge and the Dream. This blog entry represents a brief mental respite from that one. My final project for this class will be a 15-20 page analysis of Borges's abandonment of Ultraism (a school of thought of which he was one of the major founders). Borges's departure from Ultraism was sufficiently severe that he later rewrote a lot of his early poetry when his "complete works" were assembled. I'll be focusing on the differences between the original and the updated version.

3. Literary Approach to the Spanish Civil War. Each week for this class, we read a THICK tome (generally between 400-600 pages, though we've had some plays of late which has helped) about the Spanish Civil War, mostly works which take an autobiographical look at the author's experiences during the war. We then (each week) write a couple of informal pages of our thoughts about what we've read. My final project for this class has taken an interesting turn. I had originally thought to take a "War: What is it good for - according to each of the authors we've looked at?" approach for my final (15-20 page) paper but our instructor doesn't want us to base our final paper on what we're reading for class. That's right, he doesn't want us to use the approximately 3,500 pages of material we will have read by the end of this class. My current thought, after a brief discussion with him, is to base my paper on "Political Applications of Religious Archetypes in Art and Iconography of the Spanish Civil War." At least with that, I don't have to read quite as many thousands of additional pages, I just have to talk about pictures. All three of my instructors seem to love tying in visual arts to the literature - good thing I took those Art History classes back at SBCC! Thank you, Professor Handloser, wherever you are!

4. Work at UConn Residential Life's Front Desk. I spend 20 hours a week waiting for phone calls from people who either have maintenance issues or have foolishly locked themselves out of their dorm rooms. Thankfully, not a whole lot of calls come in between midnight and 3:00 AM (which is part of my shift on Wednesday-going-into-Thursday) so there's hypothetically time to get some reading done. Unfortunately, between the TV, the interruptions and the siren song of Facebook, it's not really a productive place to get my schoolwork done.

5. Emotional issues. First, a bit of history. As those of you who either know me or have followed this blog know (if you're one of those people, feel free to skip down to number 6 unless you'd really like a synopsis), I've been dealing with cyclical bouts of depression since January of 2004 (at which time I was ministering to a small congregation on the Guatemalan coast). The diagnosis given at that time was clinical depression and, after some experiments with Prozac (during which time I wrote this poem) they settled me in on Zoloft. This kept me, if not happy then at least functional through the beginning of 2006. My then-fiancee, Emilee, pointed out that, even though the Zoloft kept my bouts of depression down to about once a month, it also blanded me out so that I never seemed really happy. I left the Zoloft behind, convinced that my newfound love would banish my doubts and depression.
It didn't.
I saw a new psychologist in Provo, Doctor Griffin, who declared, "you're not just depressed - you're bipolar!" and prescribed Lamictal (for the depression) and Lithium (for manic moments) My bouts of depression began to come much less frequently, eventually only striking when I was under significant stress (read that as Finals Week).
That all changed when we got to UConn.
With the stress of a new environment, homesickness, financial pressures of student debt, missing our friends in Provo, missing our families in Utah and California, being thrust into graduate school without much guidance as to what the heck I was supposed to be doing here (not to mention the question pounding in the back of my head - what the heck AM I doing here?? Every time I tell people I came here from Southern California for graduate school, they ask that exact same question, reinforcing the issue), the depression became an almost constant burden. Finally, realizing that I needed more help, I set up an appointment to talk to someone at UConn's mental heath facilities.

6. New meds and a new diagnosis! After meeting with Doctor Powers (Psychologist) and Doctor Grace (Psychiatrist) at UConn's mental health facilities, they became convinced that I wasn't bipolar after all - especially since the dosage of the lithium was, clinically speaking, insufficient to have any real affect! Finding that I had a history with A.D.D. (I took Ritalin through high school), Doctor Grace took me back to cyclical clinical depression - A.D.H.D. just makes my normal, happy times SEEM like manic moments! Last week, they took me off the lithium and, instead, put me on VyVance - a fun little drug that's kind of like Ritalin, but with a very important difference. It doesn't take time to build up in the bloodstream - it's more like a 12-hour aspirin (if aspirin cured chaos as well as pain). On day one, I noticed a difference - as though my brain was reawakening to a level of intelligence which it and I had forgotten. This effect lessened over the next couple of days and I felt somewhat emotionally fragile. This Tuesday, I spoke with Doctor Grace again who said of my experience, "Perfect! That's exactly what I expected! Now we have to play with the dosage so you can feel that smart every day!*" She told me to experiment with different dosages - take 2 or 3 and observe the results. "You'll know if it's too much - you'll kind of bland out." Where have I heard that analysis of my personality before? Today I tried taking 2. I feel that I have been more productive and Emilee notes that I seem happier today. Yay for modern medicine!
*at least, for 12 hours of every day. Today's twelve hours, coincidentally, ended shortly before I began this blog entry.

I'm still hoping to get Emilee to post something about our trip to the Omaha zoo but that can wait. Come on, world - I'm ready for ya!!!!

1 comment:

Grandma Jule said...

Sounds like you've got the Devil on the run! It's ALL *good* news!

I'm SO proud of you, Steve!
I know you felt a little wobbly when we launched your craft. But, you seem to have weathered the storms rather nicely, and plugged up the occassional leaks, and built better than you started out with.

GOOD GOING, KID! Keep up the good work!

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