Sea of Holes

27 02 2012

Lalala Auschwitz.

Before you go thinking that I’m an insensitive jerk for saying that, let me explain. For my senior project I’m working with a Holocaust memoir, If This Is A Man by Primo levi.

Today, I managed to write a brief overview and history of the basic events and timeline of the events leading up to the Holocaust. In less than 300 words. Since being concise when I’m talking about something I really love is not my strong suit, I’m kind of proud of this. On the other hand, I skimmed over a long history of anti-Semitism and discrimination against the Jews. I reduced the entire period of 1933-1945, the whole Final Solution, to fewer words than I’ve written at this point in this post. It was a little depressing.

Twelve million people were killed in the Holocaust. Six million of them just because of their “race.” And they only get a little less than a page, double spaced, in my paper. I mean, my whole paper is about the Holocaust, but still. It was just hard.

Two years ago, I took a monthlong class where we traveled to different concentration camps. I was remembering a lot of my time there. I’ll tell you more about it in later posts, I’m sure, but for now, just this. Today I was especially thinking about the last day I visited Auschwitz.

It’s impossible to describe how it feels to be there. Like, you know you’re in a place where horrible, horrible things you can’t even comprehend happened. You stand in a largish, windowless room where you know that thousands of people a day were gassed. You walk past the gallows. And you can’t feel anything. You might think things like “thousands died in here” or “20,000 people a day” or “1.1 million total died at Auschwitz.” But your brain kind of goes into self-preservation mode. You think in huge terms of numbers. You abstract the people who died, just like their killers did. You don’t want to, but it’s impossible not to while you’re there. Intellectually, what you see doesn’t sink in until later. For me, that was a week later, on the transatlantic flight home. I think this is why I’m still studying the Holocaust, actually. I’m still trying to make sense of what I saw and felt. This is why I have to go back to Auschwitz. I want to go back and be able to remember the individuals. I just…I don’t know. I need to go back.

So, my roommate and I were trudging through the camp, numb and emotionally drained. This was towards the end of the month, so we’d spent about two and a half weeks thinking about the Holocaust. There gets to be a point where you just can’t take in anymore, and I was at that point; I needed to get out of there. To do that, we had to walk past the gallows. In the snow beside them was this sign:

  

 

“Oh, sasquatches can’t go there,” Cassie said. It was an ongoing, inside joke between us that month. We burst out laughing. It felt so wrong to be laughing there. But on the other hand, we had to laugh. It was the only way I was going to walk past those gallows another time. It’s this weird, human impulse to laugh or react inappropriately to really sad or emotional situations. I have ruined more than my share of sad moments, heartfelt goodbyes, or emotional times by cracking jokes.

So, I typed “lalala Auschwitz” because of that, kind of. I guess. I’m so emotionally drained now that I want to read for fun. The irony is that my fun reading is The Brothers Karamazov. I sort of fail at not being depressing today. I’m sure there will be more posts about the Holocaust, but I’ll try to not always be so depressing. Promise. It’s just that that experience made a huge impact on me. I’m planning on pursuing a doctorate in history because of it. I’m learning German because of it. I don’t want to make light of it, but I guess that’s just what I do when I get overly emotional.

Tschüß.
(That’s German for “see ya later!”)

This Sounds Like: Kurt Vonnegut
I Wrote Like: A Male. (this seems to be becoming a pattern…hmmmmmm…)





Searchin’

25 02 2012

Yes, I already posted once today. I don’t know if it breaks some “blogger manners” rule to post twice in one day, but the first post was an “introduce myself” post and this is…well, not.

This past week has been a crazy one. I’ve fallen a bit behind on my senior paper, which isn’t good. My advisor wants a full, and not shitty, draft in two and a half weeks. I’m still researching. Oops.

But this week I’ve been super focused on the job hunt. When I called my dad last week, we hadn’t talked since I was home at the end of January. Naturally, jobs came up. An hour and a half later, after lots of tears and freaking out (on my part) and a lot of “calm down, you’ll figure something out, it’s a bad economy right now so of course you’re having trouble finding something” on his part, I was determined to try and find something. I’ve applied for a few jobs at national parks, because it’d be fun to work as a historical interpreter. Someday I want to work in a museum. History rules.

Anyway, all this thinking about jobs and what I really want to do made me really consider things I want to experience. So, I made a list of 100 things I want to do before I die. I figured I’d share my favorite things on the list:

  1. Chill with all the witches at Stonehenge during the summer solstice
  2. Work at the Smithsonian
  3. Visit the Vatican
  4. Spend the night somewhere really haunted
  5. Backpack across Europe
  6. Live in a foreign country for more than a year
  7. Learn Russian
  8. Meet Elie Wiesel
  9. Be fluent in German
  10. Go on the Amazing Race

Clearly I’m interested in traveling and history. So, hopefully there will be more of that in my life. I lived in Germany last summer, and it was wonderful. I love learning about the world, and it’s so much better if I can actually visit places I’m reading about. I went to London this summer and spent a day walking around the Tower. It was so cool to be where all these kings and queens and prisoners had been. I’m a huge Anglophile. Also, did you know that in the British Museum, there are stations where you can touch things?? I got to touch this really old piece of money. I love touching artifacts. It really makes me feel connected to history. I also like visiting graves and being in the actual place where things happened and people were.

I wonder if Perpetual Tourist/Learner About World History is a valid career… I’d do field research for the History Channel, but all they do anymore is talk about aliens and the Knights Templar. Or Armageddon.

You all, if anyone is indeed reading this, tell me, what are some things you want to do before you die?

This sounds like: Dan Brown. Huh. I bet it’s because I said “Knights Templar.”
I wrote like: A Male (well, I guess since it’s like Dan Brown, this makes sense?)





Hey, Dudes!

24 02 2012

So, hello. I’m Kelly. I am a twentysomething senior at a liberal arts school in northeast Iowa. I am purposefully being vague now, but I am certain that very soon, I’ll get tired of that and just start calling my school by name. I’m graduating in May with degrees in history and English with a writing emphasis. Hopefully these degrees will translate into a job. Somehow. I’m still in the process of figuring this out.

It’s weird, this is the first time in my life that I haven’t had a definitive “next step” to take. I mean, from elementary school to middle school to high school, I didn’t have much of a choice. But I always knew that I was going to go to a college like this one. In fact, I can remember telling people in seventh grade that I was going to go to a private, liberal arts college somewhere in the Midwest, but probably in Iowa. Home state pride and all that. And here I am.

But the point is, I’ve always had more school to look forward to. I didn’t have to think about after school was over, because I was sure I’d figure it out at college. Nope. In May I’ll graduate with a piece of paper saying that I’m good at remembering dates and historical facts, and that I can read and write well. Naturally, I am going to grad school at some point in the next few years, just not right away. So, my future is wide open and for the first time ever, I have absolutely no idea where I’m going to be in a year. Or even half a year. Or even 4 months. I keep telling myself it’s exciting, and it is, but mostly it’s absolutely terrifying. To quote Avenue Q, what do you do with a B.A. in English? Besides teach? Seriously, if anyone knows, please tell me.

So I guess, in a way, this is a type of “coming of age” blog thing. Well, technically I “came of age” awhile back, but I’m coming into…something. And I guess maybe it’ll be cool to record it and see where life takes me.

I probably won’t always be so “muse-y” and “what am I going to do with my life?” I have too much to do! I have a job to find, three crazy classes to take, a senior paper to write, and wonderful friends to hang out with for 3 more months before we can’t hang out every day anymore. Surely some interesting things will happen.

Oh, by the way, yes, the title of this blog is a Beatles song, in case you were wondering. As is the tagline. I really like the Beatles, and I think I’m going to try and title as many posts with Beatles songs as possible.

Oh, also, I want to do a little experiment. At the bottom of each post, I will put which famous author it sounds like, according to the analyzer at this website.

And I will use something called the Gender Genie to find out whether, according to some algorithm, I wrote like a male or a female. There’s really no reason to my wanting to do this, other than curiosity.

This blog post was written like: Cory Doctorow
I wrote like: A Female (Correct! Four for you, Gender Genie!)