Humans have names because they don’t know who they are otherwise.

Sydney (n., adj.) “Wide Island: south of the water; from Sidon

In order to disillusion you, my dear readers, I’m not a wide island.  Be that as it may, I’m also not from Sidon nor I am south of the water.

Names are funny things. Some people attach a considerable amount of worth to them and some couldn’t care less about what their name is as long as people call them by it — and I suppose some don’t even care that much.

People often mistake my name for Shelby. In fact, for as long as I can remember if anyone messes up my name, it’s Shelby (although I have gotten a few Cindy’s too, but I’m not counting them because it’s really just a variant of my given name).

I hate the name Shelby.

My apologies to any of my readers who claim the name. If you wish to be”From the manor house/’Willow farm“, be my guest. All the more power to you. Just don’t expect me to join you.

I think my abhorrence of the name was inspired by the hard “b” sound at the end of the word. It doesn’t flow. I’m a poet and writer; if it doesn’t sound pretty, change it or leave it out entirely. My name flows with soft syllables that slide off the tongue with almost an oily composition. Sydney.

If I could pick my name, I’m not 100% sure what it would be.

I mean, I’ve always like Guinevere, but that doesn’t mean that I would want to answer to it.

And then there’s Adalaide.

And I can’t forget Elizabeth.

The irony is not lost upon me that all of the above names mean “queen“.

I suppose I will finish this post with the following request: call me whatever you like, but don’t think that my value begins and ends with the adjective that you choose.

Everything that follows is posted after the original post date:

I wonder if parents name their children with the intention that they will grow into the name. But how many parents pick names simply because they sound nice with the last name? Why are names picked in the first place?

I wonder still what other names my mother contemplated as I kicked within, impatient to get a little bit more wiggle room in this big old world. What other words were the inspiration for the human being that I could become?

And even still, is my future determined by the words that I hear myself called everyday. Brainwashing is simply the repetition of ideas and if everyday, I hear the words (success, failure, white island, beautiful, queen, etc…) repeated, will I learn to see myself in that way?

If it is the case, I’d like to request something other than “white island.”

The past is never where you think you left it.

First off, I must begin by saying that I am most definitely NOT a morning person. And yes, I still consider 11:00 part of the morning. Therefore, please ignore any spelling errers, any bad punctuation; and any other tpyos that you may find in this post.

Other than the fact that my brain doesn’t function at full capacity until after 12, there’s nothing wrong with this morning. I’m in a great mood. Please ask why.

Why, thank you for asking! Let me tell you: I got to sleep in a bit today, I’m wearing my favorite red cardigan, and I’m excited to read my orgo textbook because I actually know what is going on. My favorite flavor of coffee was served at the campus coffee shop and my bagel was perfectly toasted. I received 2 great grades on my last biology test (yesterday’s feat) and my lab practical (last week’s hurdle). Those are just a few of the things that I can appreciate today.

Don’t get me wrong, today will be a long one. I’m okay with that. It vaguely reminds me of a post that I put up here last year (has it really been that long?!):

A few of you may remember that I don’t like reading my own work unless several months have passed. That being said, I’ve started to pursue the archives to see what I was writing about a year ago. It’s interesting and I’m beginning to have more thoughts on those posts than I did when I first posted them. (Prepare to see a few flashback posts in the future.) Anyway, I have 2 conclusions about the above link:

1) I had a lot more time back then to enjoy whatever writing I did. I also put forth more effort to check my mental thesaurus for prettier-looking words (yeah, I’m one of those writers). I explored different metaphors and was more focused on the idea of “pretty” writing. Now, I’ve switched to more of a “word vomit” concept — basically, I write down the thoughts that I’ve been wrestling with or pondering or even just the exhausted version of the day because I want to see it from a different perspective.

2) I was just as busy then as I am now and I was happier then. I’m not sure where that girl went. Okay, that’s a lie. She drowned in notebook sheets covered in molecules and she choked on the words she read in textbooks and she was strangled in her bookbag straps.

But today, she has been resurrected in the slightest way and I can feel the unintentional smile wriggling it’s way onto my face once more.

Good morning, my dear readers.

I hate how I don’t feel real enough unless people are watching.

My days run on 12 hours cycles.

At 8 am this frigid Monday, I had already gulped down a cup and half of coffee and had written my name on my biology test. At 9 am, I had already contemplated the concept of molecular orbitals and their effects on conjugation. Add to that, the fact that my orgo professor had suggested that we make a workout video for nerds inspired by the stretching movements of molecules when hit by wavelengths in the IR spectrum (just picture nerds doing a odd type of yoga and you understand perfectly).

By 10, I was sitting in chapel with a couple friends and sipping the rest of that second cup of coffee. By noon, I had started another class and eaten lunch with a few other friends. By the time 3 pm rolls around, I was perched in my fourth class, trying to stay awake. At 4, I headed to my job at the college newspaper. Finish up there, grab dinner in 30 minutes and head to my job as a tutor till 8.

And even then, my day doesn’t end. I spend a few hours checking emails, reading textbooks that sound like they are creating a new language (I’m looking at you, Bio textbook. Who the crap comes up with stuff like phosphordiesterase??) and getting my lab notebooks ready for the next day. Then if I’m lucky, I get 6ish hours to sleep.

I look put together if you don’t look too closely at the dark circles under my eyes. What I don’t understand is that fact that I can do this crazy routine 5 days in a row, but when it comes to the weekend, I’m beside myself trying to figure out what’s going on.

On Friday night, I’m the one doing homework till 9 before deciding that I can afford to watch a few episodes of Friends before going to bed. But when I’m sitting there by myself eating gummy bears and laughing carelessly at jokes from the 90’s, there’s a empty feeling.

A boring feeling.

An itch that I can’t quite scratch no matter how many times I switch positions on the beanbag chair.

What’s missing?

But when my roommates are actually in the room or I’m with my boyfriend on Saturday night, it doesn’t feel so off. I’m not sure what changes.

It’s like I’m only enjoying myself when people are present to witness my personal enjoyment. It’s like I constantly feel like I have to put on a performance. After all, isn’t that what I’m doing here? I type words on the screen, move them around, backspace a few times, decide that some things need to be emphasized in one way and others in a different way — whatever will draw the best response from you! I can manipulate the words to say whatever I want. How does that make you feel?

If I lied about everything I wrote on her, would you still read it? Why do you read what I write? What about this show makes you clamor for an encore?

I suppose that’s the point of social media. Look at me! If you look at me and register that I exist, then maybe I really do! Sounds like Instagram to me — which by the way, I still haven’t succumbed to that yet.

It does make me wonder though. I always thought I was good company until I realized that I was bored in my own presence. But maybe bored is the wrong word. Maybe what I’m looking for is calm. I don’t get a ton of that in my week.

Considering that I’m with myself all the time, I really hope that I’m not boring.

I don’t mind the hollow feeling because the hollow bones of birds are what allow them to fly.

I just thought this was pretty. I want to give her a hug. And she’s not a bad writer, to boot.

At the sports bar, the game blaring on the big screen, the bartender will come to know you for your pendulum-shift split personality—either laughing too hard or on the verge of tears. It is spring. This is how you’ll spend your Sundays. Your Tuesdays. Your whateversdays. Anything as a distraction.

The volume of this compresses everything. Beer glasses clinking, an announcer explains something about stats that you don’t understand, a player gets fouled and a man seated at a table in the corner yells “F*CK YOU!” towards the ref on tv, his arms raised angry.

Make an ill-advised date with a stranger at a bar that houses the same name as the holiday and get stood up. Laugh about it, feeling stronger this time. You’re a muscle you can’t name, bigger than all of this grief. You make a detour, buy flowers for your best friend. Spend the night watching Thelma and Louise in her living room thinking about how that car careening off into the canyon? It feels a lot like you.

On a plane to god-knows-where, the next place you can ghost yourself into something that feels big, you find yourself wringing your hands in the eerie stillness. Confused at how fast the landscape passes and how you’d hardly be able to notice this acceleration with eyes closed.

You play the record, test yourself. Look an old photo in the eye. Rewrite old meaning. Let a hand wander on your thigh under the table and feel drunk off the power of the temporary. The power of no, of yes.

It’s a pop song on the radio you keep repeating, a Thursday night where you can’t stop crying into J’s shoulder, the fire and the refusal. All the bridges will look different, maybe it’s a new green or maybe it’s the size—you’ll swear they once were a hell of a lot more looming. The music is up loud, some basement you’re testing your wits in, and the guy on the PA grasps your hand so tight you remember what it feels like to be in your own body again. It’s sweat and it’s tears and it’s barred teeth, spent breath.

You are a short skirt, combat boots, a handful of peonies you bought for yourself. You are a tight fist. You are messy and compelling.

This is how you cope.

Either I will find a way or I will make one.

Philip Sidney was a determined little guy, huh?

We share the same name, albeit spelled differently. We also share the same mindset.

The title of this post originated from Philip Sidney. And I vaguely remember thinking that exact same thought a few days ago when I was freaking out about what I was going to do this summer.

My loyal readers already know that I’ve been applying for REU programs across the country so that I can hopefully get accepted into a research program that will spur along the rest of my academic career and even career plans. I was also looking into different internships and have been contacting family members for any information on any research opportunities. Needless to say, I don’t particularly want to be a nanny again.

The above information was presented rather mildly. Honestly, I was stressed. Somehow my mom knew that from nearly three hours away and called me to talk for awhile.

And the next day, this is part of the passage I read in the devotion book:

“The problem occurs when we want to sneak a peek at God’s secret will before it has been revealed. Often we are too concerned with trying to anticipate His next move.

The bottom line is this: don’t worry about God’s secret, pre-determined will. Just trust that God is going to work out His plan for our life as He guides you providentially and focus on obeying God’s moral will day by day by day. When you recognize your dependence upon God for holiness, and you humbly seek to live your life according to His guidelines and moral teachings, you will be in the middle of His will for your life.

God’s will for your life is more relational (love God and others) than it is geographical (know where to live) or occupational (recognize what job to take).”

So this is where I’m at. I’m calmly sipping my peppermint tea while nibbling on almonds and dark chocolate and working on my organic chemistry lab report when I’m reminded of those words. Yeah, I’ll be really disappointed if (notice that I said “if”) I don’t make it into those REU programs. And if I absolutely can’t find an internship or any other job, there’s always the nanny job — my mom brought up a good point that the hours of a nanny job are predictable and usually easy to work around.

Even if I don’t find a way or God will make one, life goes on. Maybe I’ll make that my new life motto.

Better a good journalist than a poor assassin.

And yet another one.  You poor unfortunate souls who read this blog, please don’t leave because I have nothing better to offer you at the moment.

I promise a more tempting morsel for your reading pleasure by Thursday.

Theatre department plays musical chairs

by Sydney Sheltz
In a classic game of musical chairs, players shuffle from chair to chair, but there is never quite enough room for everyone. However, the Bethel College Theatre Department is now dealing with just the opposite. During the theatre department major/minor meeting on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, the department officially announced a replacement for retiring department chair Richard Young. Young’s current role will be filled by Don Hunter, current production manager and adjunct faculty member.

“I was really excited to be appointed,” said Hunter. “I paid close attention my last two years and it just seemed like a job I would enjoy. I have a gift for administration; it’s one of the things that my spiritual gifts are in, so being in charge of things and running things is something I like to do and get a lot of enjoyment, and I feel fulfilled when I can serve other people.”

Hunter has had his sights set on this role since 2005, when he was a junior at Bethel. He and another friend dreamed about someday running the program.

”It took me 10 years,” said Hunter. “But you know, I was ready to wait for a lot longer before having that opportunity, but it presented itself now, so I’m really excited to lead the department, see where we go.”

However, unlike in a game of musical chairs, the Theatre Department will face a shortage of full-time faculty for required acting and theatre courses as a result of this decision to hire from inside the department, leaving one too many “chairs” for the remaining faculty to fill when Young retires at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

According to Dean of Arts and Sciences Janna McLean, there is a possibility that a new professor will be hired, in the case of department growth. If there are 25 declared theatre majors in the next two years, the department will begin looking to add another professor. Hunter has high hopes for the department.

“We would like to be one of the top places you go to a Christian college for theatre,” he said.

In the meantime, the empty seat will be filled by a total of four adjunct professors, who will teach the required theatre courses. Wishart Bell and Jill Hostetler are both adjunct professors of voice and Victoria Garrett is also an adjunct professor of music. Also helping the theatre department make do is Adjunct Professor of Fine Arts Deborah Keller.

Hunter plans to focus on local recruiting in order to increase the number of theatre majors in the department. He also said the department will meet in a couple of weeks to discuss vision and future departmental goals.

The theatre department is not the only department to face faculty changes or additions over the next few months, however. The science department is currently in the process of hiring a new biology professor for the 2015-16 school year. (Read more about the search here.) In addition, the psychology department, which has also faced a shortage of faculty during the present school year, plans to hire an additional professor with experience in social work.

In addition to the faculty changes, the theatre department also plans to add another studio show for the 2015-16 school year. Each semester will feature a main stage show and a studio show. The main stage shows will be larger and will draw more audience members, while the studio shows will only have 60-90 seats available each. The Fall 2015 semester will feature the annual 24 Hour Theatre Festival, which is cast, written, directed and performed within 24 hours. The fall semester will also feature “On the Verge” and “A Christmas Carol” and the spring semester will feature two one-acts of Tennessee Williams as well as the musical “Mary Poppins.” The summer show, “Alice in Wonderland,” will be held in May.

You’re miserable, tired, and edgy — perfect for journalism.

This has been a long time coming.  My apologies, for two things.

First, for the length in the time between posting articles.

And second, because this is only piece of literary art that you get to read from me today.

IT department switches campus to canvas

By Sydney Sheltz

The Information Technology department at Bethel College will be switching learning management systems from Jenzabar to Canvas.  It is important to note that the MyBethel site will not be going away.

This change mostly affects staff members.  The only change that students will see is in the My Courses tab on the MyBethel site. 

There are two ways for students to access their grades electronically.  One way is via the My Courses tab on the MyBethel website.  Another way is to go to the Student tab on the MyBethel site and clicking on the Student Information tab on the left menu.  From there, a student can access their academic record. 

According to Director of Administrative Computing Harold Rodgers, “Students will still be able to access their grades the way they do now but it will look a little different.”

The IT department is also considering other changes to the layout for the MyBethel site without replacing the site itself. 

In addition to the changes in the learning management system, students will no long be able to access the H-drive. 

At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, the campus email was changed to the Microsoft Office365.  Although there were other factors that influenced this decision, the Microsoft Office365 service also includes a file hosting service called OneDrive that allows students to upload and sync files to cloud storage.  In this way, students can access files from any computer or personal device. 

According to Information Systems Manager Todd Lemons, “One of the reasons we switched to Microsoft Office365 so we could have access to OneDrive.  The advantage is that you can upload files to OneDrive and access them on any computer and even personal devices like I-pads or phones.  With the H-drive, you have to be on a campus computer.”

In order to save any documents saved on the student H drive, documents can be uploaded to One Drive or saved externally.  More information will be released closer to the date when the changes will be implemented. 

At that later date, the IT department hopes to have the H drive removed from student access and the learning management system will be switched to Campus.