The Librarian: A Short Love Story

Bernadette Rocha
21 August 2014

In the middle of an important conversation, his voice suddenly trailed off. There she was. His eyes followed her from the door to the empty chair at a computer which she chose. He watched as she pulled out her books. Never would she ever actually use all of them at the workstation, yet, she always pulled them all out. It mystified him.

A pair of fingers, which suddenly began snapping in front of his face, pulled him out of his hypnosis. Regretfully, he drew his attention back to the couple in front of him. They seemed annoyed, and no wonder considering the woman had previously asked him to look up her password so that she could login to the computers using her Student ID. Her boyfriend was irritated that it was taking so long. His face was turning red simply in an obvious effort to keep his cool. Class would be starting in a couple of minutes and they could not afford to be late. He hurriedly busied himself.

“Ah, here it is.” He gave the woman her password, and quickly handed the Student ID card back to its owner. As the young couple quickly hurried off to their class, his thoughts began drifting back to the mysterious young woman who came in earlier. He was surprised at himself. She wasn’t exactly his type. He usually fell for small boned women, with long black hair, dark eyes, and high sense of style. In other words, he usually went for Asian women. Perhaps that was because it was his own ethnic background, or could it be pressure from his parents? He shuddered to think of their reaction if he were to bring a white girl home.

He could nearly hear it already, “A white girl? We didn’t pay for you to come to America for your education so that you can ruin your life. Why not date Marady? She is from a nice and respectable family, and she understands our own.” As beautiful and talented as Marady was, first of all, she had a boyfriend, and second of all, he wasn’t interested in her. What the hell did they mean by, our own? His eyes narrowed in anger at how ignorant and prejudiced his family was.

This woman, the one he found his eyes glued to, was a stark contrast to his usual type. She wasn’t thin – then again, she wasn’t fat either – just somewhere in between – and somehow…it worked for her. Her choice of clothing tended to consist of hoody’s and jeans, which looked as though she could’ve bought in any Old Navy. In fact, judging by her choice of wardrobe, he thought that she might even be somewhat poor.

Why didn’t this bother him? In the past, he’d never have gone for such an obvious low-class girl, back in Seoul. In fact, he never would even have given her a second look. Yet, he was mesmerized by her. She had a certain…air about her, yet, he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Had the six months that he’d spent in this country really changed him that much?

As she began to work at the workstation, he saw two girls come and sit at opposite sides of her. They began to talk and laugh. As they were in a library, he wondered at her loudness. He was tempted to go over there and ask her to quiet down a bit. Why not? He was a librarian and they were in a library after all. Working up the nerve, he left the counter and walked towards her.

As he made his approach, she glanced up, catching his eye. The smile that she formed for him made his heart flutter, leaving him feeling awkward and confused. He was caught off-guard. What had just happened? Averting his eyes, he walked past and busied himself with some chairs which suddenly needed to be pushed back to the tables.

Making his way back to the reception counter, he tried to make sense of what had expired. How did she throw him off guard like that? Her smile had disarmed him greatly. He could barely concentrate. Why couldn’t he talk to her? Having always seen her at a distance, he couldn’t make sense of his feelings for her. However, the point that their eyes met, he felt as though a string were tugging at his heart.

Catching his breath, he suddenly realized that she had stopped talking. Looking in her direction, he was startled to see her staring at him. And with such intensity! This time, he couldn’t tear his eyes off of her. His heart beat rapidly, and he felt his face grow hot. She moved to get up, and began walking towards him. His breathing grew shallow and rapid, and his forehead and the palms of his hands began to perspire.

The young lady paused before him, trying to make eye contact. He was so freaked out that he could only look at her chocolate hair, cascading down her shoulders, ending mid-chest level. Oh no! He was looking at her breasts now! Yet, he couldn’t pull his eyes away. It was either that or looking into the depth of her eyes.

She stepped closer, forcing him to look her in the eye. She said not a word as she put her arms around his neck and kissed him fully on the lips. He went rigid. Not because he didn’t enjoy it, because that was far from the truth, rather, he suddenly went blank on what he should do. She had the power to take away his capacity for thought. She responded to this reciprocal absence by pressing her body into him, kissing him more.

As quickly as it had begun, it ended. She stepped back, and smiled a mischievous smile, with a gleam in her eye. As she stepped back and made to turn away, he was caught by a sudden bout of courage as the thought of her slipping away crossed his mind. He couldn’t let her slip through his fingers!

Before she could fully turn away, he grabbed her hand and pulled her back into his arms. Before she could protest, he gave her a passionate kiss. He could taste the cherry chapstick that she had worn, and the coffee that she’d been drinking. He didn’t care. All that mattered was her and how he never wanted it to end. He groaned when she pulled away. She giggled at that.

“Hi,” he whispered. She reached up and swept a strand of his black hair away from his forehead. Gazing into her eyes, he realized that it no longer freaked him out.

“Hi,” she whispered back. Smiling, she leaned in and kissed him again. He didn’t care about the bell which dinged in his ear, signaling the presence of one that needed help. He didn’t care that there were faculty voices in his ear trying to get his attention. The only thing that mattered was this moment, and prolonging it as long as he possibly could.

END

NOTE: This story is the sole property of Bernadette Rocha and is not to be reproduced in any way, shape or form without express permission from myself, the Author. Thank you for respecting this.

Random Conversation with a 6 Year-Old

Bernadette Rocha

21 August 2014

 

As this is the last day of class for Summer Quarter, I have been pretty worn out. Finals week has been exhausting and I am pleased it is over. All I must do now, is completed a couple of assignments, submit them through the Canvas interface and can breathe a HUGE sigh of relief for a job well done.

As a friend of mine and I had already been studying within our Campus’ computer lab for a couple of hours, we decided to go and have lunch. We meandered on over to the lounge at the Office of Student Life so that we could enjoy our lunch in a comfortable and relatively quiet area before heading back to work on our assignments.

Outside the door, the aroma of delicious meat filled the air. Walking in, I commented on how good it smelled. My friend agreed. Then, we noticed that the delicious smell had originated from the lunch which was on the table before an adorable little girl. We told her how much better her lunch was compared to our own and she seemed pretty pleased.

This, I suppose, is what prompted her to begin conversing with us about different things that she didn’t like. Of course, we ended up asking the obvious. “What do you like?” Somehow, the conversation turned from how she liked apples and oranges into a several-minute presentation about all things “My Little Pony” while her mom worked a few feet away on her homework. I commented that with that much knowledge, she should carry pictures next time for the next time that she talked about her favorite show.

Determined to change the subject as there is only so much of “My Little Pony” one can take when you are 27 years old, I asked what else that she liked. Misunderstanding, she launched into another segment of her presentation. Finally, we were able to persuade her to change the subject and learned that she is allergic to strawberries, hates chocolate milk, and is 6 years old.

Then, she decided she wanted to tell us a secret. Giggling, she comes up to my friend, covers my friend’s ears with her hands and whispers (rather loudly) her “secret”. Her secret consisted of what she liked about the movie, “Frozen”. Then, she tried to come on over to me and tell me this “secret” as well. She must have been having fun with it because she couldn’t even get out two words. Instead, she burst into a fit of giggles and fell on the couch cracking up. She repeatedly tried to tell me for a few more minutes, but each time it resulted in her giving up do to her giggle fit. Finally, the little girl was able to tell me her “secret”.

At that point, we had finished our lunch and needed to head back to the computer lab to work on our assignments. Hey, it isn’t easy keeping a GPA above a 3.7, and I am pretty sure I will have one of at least 3.9 for this quarter. Excellent grades take determination, persistence and lots of studying. We said our goodbyes and headed out.

On our way back to the computer lab, I realized that the conversation that we had with the free-spirited little girl reminded me of class this morning when some classmates did a presentation on the importance of fun. This little girl, who was probably pretty bored before we arrived, decided to make the most out of having to wait for her mom finish studying. She found that she can have a fun conversation with a couple of college students, and all she needed to do was to start the conversation.

I must admit, aside from the lengthy conversation about “My Little Pony”, I enjoyed myself. She was adorable with her pink outfit and pink backpack and had a lot of energy. When we arrived back in the computer lab, my friend commented on how much more energy she had after talking to the little girl. I agreed, and thought I’d share this with you before wrapping up the last of my assignments. :-)

 

 

When Stuck on a Non-Productive Team

by Bernadette Rocha
18 August 2014

It should go without saying that teamwork is important when working in groups. However, it does not always translate as so. Oftentimes, students are placed into groups against their will. For some, this is a blessing in disguise, for others, this may feel like a curse.

When placed into a group full of team members who are already not motivated to participate or barely contribute, the prospects of trying to get work done on schedule may seem daunting.

The first thing you need to do, is BREATHE. Meditate, do yoga, stare off into space, read, take a nap, listen to music, or do anything else that you normally do in order to de-stress. This will help you make more logical decisions.

Are you ready?

Step One: Take Charge. No matter how seemingly incompetent your teammates may seem, you are still stuck with them. However, this does not mean you need to be stuck with a failed grade, especially if your project is a Mid-Term or Final Group Research Paper and/or Presentation. This is an important part of your grade and you shall not allow others to tarnish your chances at graduating with as high of marks as you deserve.

Test the air by casually asking what everyone thinks regarding how they think the project should be divided up. If you are lucky, you will get some feedback, if not, take point.

Step Two: Get Contact Info. You will need your group members’ e-mail, and possible phone numbers. If they do not offer it up off the bat, pull out a piece of paper and start gathering their info. Ask if there are any days that they could meet out of class. If you are lucky, working outside of class will be possible. If not, keep that in mind. It might mean that you will be doing more work than you otherwise should.

Step Three: Create Assignments. Look over the assignment carefully. Think about your group members and their individual abilities (if it can be determined) and think of how you can section the project out “fairly” between everyone. If there is no motivation among everyone else to do anything, then you will have no choice but to give them assignments.

For example: Say you have eight prompts to answer thoroughly for your paper and you have four people in your group. Give each person two of the prompts, make sure they are simple and take the two that are more difficult for yourself. If you want difficult portion to get done correctly the first time, you will have to do it yourself.

Create an email and send the same message to each member. This way, each person will see what everyone will be responsible for. Make sure it is pleasant, and don’t forget to say thank you. Make the email sound as though you are happy and smiling. Do not forget to add what you are working on. They are more than likely to concede with your planned assignments if they see you will be working on the hardest part.

Now, the biggest thing to remember when giving assignments, is giving them deadlines. You need their work by so-and-so date so that you can get started on the final paper. Make sure that they add sources so that not only do you not have to do extra work to try and find where they found their info, but also so that you can make certain that no one plagiarized what they sent you.

Step Four: Check In. If you are not able to work in class with your team members, then you will need to try to talk to them one on one. Try to get them to work as a group outside of class, if at all possible, even if it is only for half an hour. Your goal is to find out if they have begun working on the assignment. If this does not work, make sure to keep emailing them. This will also ensure that you leave a paper trail.

Step Five: Prepare for the worst. Get your portion of the research done ASAP. Prepare your sources right away. Then, as each person’s portion comes in, cross-reference their source to their work. Then, re-format the source for your Works Cited page, if needed before incorporating their portion into the final paper. The last thing you want is to be messing with sources on the night before the paper is due.

Then, after your portion is finished, and their starts rolling in, start doing some extra research. Chances are that they did not add as much as you would otherwise had hoped. This is the point where you realize you will have to do the bulk of the research for the paper (as well as the edits) and you are greatly happy that you are already done with everything else regarding this project. You now have some extra time to do more research.

Step Six: Rough Draft. When you are finished editing the paper. E-mail it to your team members (or put on your group files if you are using Canvas). Email your members and tell them you have uploaded/attached the paper and ask them for their input. Give them a deadline to respond. If they do not respond by that time, tell them you will submit the paper (if using Canvas) or turn it in in person. Most likely, you will not have to worry about having to do any more edits.

Step Seven: Submit Work. Submit your work and relax. If your Instructor allows you to fill out a group evaluation form, then this is where you can vent all of your frustrations regarding your team members and their “involvement” in the project.

Step Eight: Forgive and forget. You are done with the project. No need to hold a grudge. Be rest assured that you took charge of this ill situation and, if this is not something you normally do, then feel pleased that you have gained some knowledge in how to handle this. Give your self a hug!

Delridge Day

Need something to do this Saturday, the 8th of August?

There will be a picnic in the park next to Delridge Community Center. This will be complete with food, music and games for all ages. Parent’s, bring an extra change of clothes for your little ones as there is also a wading pool at the park. From what I have read, there will also be skating lessons at the skate park as well.

More info at the West Seattle Blog: http://westseattleblog.com/2014/08/tomorrow-delridge-day-picnic-precinct-saturday-in-the-park/

Devoting Precious Time for Homework

Lesson Learned: Devoting substantial time for homework allows one to catch up to current chapters.

This week has been tough. I had to have Chapters 9-11 for my Spreadsheet’s class completed by Sunday, and I only was able to complete them on Thursday. This Saturday, the 8th of August, I must have Chapters 12 and 13 completed. I have only one assignment for 12 left and I haven’t even begun Chapter 13. This is because I am stuck on a formula for a specific function.

It took quite the effort to even complete the three Chapters that I have. I would stay after class for literally hours. Twice this week, I was on Campus from 7:30 AM until 7:30 PM, once from 8:30 AM until 6:30 PM and today from 10 AM until 1 PM simply to use the computer lab upstairs from the library.

In addition to the three Chapters (with the exception of the last assignment), I was able to complete all assignments for my Intro to Business and Oral Communications (CMU) in Business classes as well. Tonight, since I was having some technical difficulties with my computer, so I ended up having a phone conference with a Teammate of mine for our Oral CMU class as we had to complete an outline by midnight tonight regarding our presentation in two weeks.

School is difficult, but getting behind is even more difficult. Fortunately, I am lucky in that a classmate of mine also helped me to understand some of the functions and formulas. Also, if I hadn’t bugged my instructor regarding one of the assignments, I might still be behind.

The thing is, back when I was in High School (graduated in 2005), if I had gotten stuck, I would’ve just given up. The mere fact that I did what I could to get past the bump in the road, as well as the fact that I put so much extra time into studying is a big leap from how I used to be. Somehow, I have developed excellent study skills between 2005 and 2014.

I am struggling to maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA (as I see my grade go gradually down in my Spreadsheets class. As this is a hybrid class, I am able to use Canvas to see my grade. It was a 97% on Monday and has dropped down to 92.6% by today, Friday the 8th of August. Then again, my midterm still hasn’t been graded, so that grade could potentially raise higher (or lower). My grades for my other two hybrid classes are 99.2% and 100%, so I feel as though I am doing pretty good, though I would feel better if the first class were no less than 99%.

To sum this all up in a neat little package, studying is important, but devoting time to study is even more important. Sure, the longer you work on projects will wear you out, but it is worth it in the end. After being on Campus all day studying, I went home, made some soup and put on my headphones to watch Netflix on my Tablet. I fell asleep the moment my headphones were in my ears. The result? I am caught up!

Best,
Bernadette Rocha

A College Student’s Guide to Effective Study Habits

1 August 2014
Bernadette Rocha

Let’s face it, the life of a College Student is tough, no matter where you go to school. It doesn’t matter if you are taking one class or five (I’m taking three), homework will still be present. The best way to get around those homework blues is to get it done right away. Once it is finished, then you have time to play!

Here are some study tips which I have learned the hard way:

1. Take Notes
Even if you have read the material and your Instructor has a PowerPoint of everything he or she is saying up on the screen, it is essential to develop note-taking skills. Practice taking notes and find your own style. There are a lot of different “styles” for note-taking that people, especially Instructor’s, may push upon you. You can research these styles and tips for note-taking, but I have found that taking notes the way it comes naturally helps more.

Remember, you can (and should) always go home and review and revise your notes later.

Also, you do not need to copy what your Instructor says word for word. You will most likely just exhaust yourself and become anxious. Just write (unless you are recording) what you feel are the most important and relevant bits of what is being said. If your Instructor says anything that you might find interesting, write it down, it might just end up on a test later.

2. Be Organized
Make sure you have these five essentials in your backpack at all times. They should live there permanently: Extra (Emergency) USB Drive/Flashdrive/Thumbdrive, Notebook/Notepaper, Highlighters, Pens and Pencils. This way, if you forget your pencil case on the bus or in the restroom, you can be rest assured that you have extra.

3. Emergency Flashdrive/USB Drive/Thumbdrive
You should probably own no less than three of these. One for personal stuff like music, the Second for active schoolwork and the Third as an Emergency. Make sure to back up the third one a couple of times per week with your work from the second one.

Please try not to rely on the Cloud too much. Always make sure to save a copy of your work on one of the aforementioned drives and even on your computer (if you have one). Make a hard copy of your paper as well so that you at least have that, just in case your computer crashes (and the drive in it).

I suggest not relying solely on the Cloud because, in my experience, I have uploaded a paper that I had worked hard on to Google Drive. I opened Google Drive a couple of days later only to find out that my paper simply vanished. I checked to make sure I had sent it, and it showed that it was in there, but where was it? Also, another time I uploaded to Google Drive, my paper was there, but half of it was erased. After that, I stopped using the Cloud to save my work.

If you must save your work over the Internet for whatever reason, save it directly to your e-mail. You will also be able to create folders in your e-mail to save such work as well. This is a method that even I use (even though I save to my computer as well as flash-drive).

4. Find a Suitable Study Partner
It sucks being stuck on a problem and not knowing what to do. If you get along with another classmate in class, talk to them about possibly studying with you outside of class. It could be when you get stuck on an assignment and need help (after you’ve exhausted all of your efforts) or it could be a planned study group.

Meeting in person is best, however, you can also do a video study session via Skype (or whatever you use) or even a phone session (make sure you have enough minutes for this because it could take an hour or two, an unlimited phone plan is ideal).

This last suggestion is one that a friend of mine and I do all of the time for our advanced Spreadsheets class. There are so many formulas for Excel 2013 and sometimes it gets hard to understand what the book is suggesting. Usually, it is she who is texting me asking for help. Then, I will call and we will go over the material.

If you use the phone or video conferencing method, then make sure you are all on the same page. By this, I mean, make certain that the person who needs help tells you exactly which step they are on in the chapter. This way, you can refer to your own book. Also, if you are already finished with the assignment, pull it up on the screen so that you can see the final product (which is hopefully the correct answer). If you have not begun, open the document you need and start from scratch.

For our Spreadsheets class, I will usually ask her to walk me through EACH step that she has done. This part is crucial (especially when working with formulas). It lets me be able to follow on my own screen and click in each of the cells to make certain that both of our formulas match. If we get to a part that they don’t, I usually have her tell me not only what the data in the Cell is, but also what the Formula Bar says, as the Formula Bar will tell the actual formula. I will then compare her formula to mine and point out what was wrong, or else walk her through the correct steps.

If there simply are too many errors, I will usually ask her to start from scratch and walk her through the entire process, but letting her tell me what she thinks needs to be done. If it is incorrect, I will stop her (before she enters the data) and walk her through the correct direction.

5. Find Time with which to Study
If you are one of those Students who have several classes, have a part time job and/or raise a family (like some people I know), then this will be a bit tricky. Tricky, but not impossible. You may need to ask your children’s other parent for extra help watching the kids, or if that is not possible, try finding a babysitter. Studying when a child is around is difficult and the best thing to do is to go to your local library or use your on-campus library or computer lab.

I have three classes and an Internship. Fortunately, my Internship is spread out a bit. I work on the weekends and a total of two hours on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. As soon as my class is over, I usually go to the lounge in Student Life for a cup of coffee and either stay to use the computer, or else I will use the computer lab at school until I have to catch my bus to my Internship. If it is Tuesday and Thursday, I will usually stay on campus to work on my assignments and work on them Sunday afternoons as well.

At home, with the exception of my Spreadsheets class (must use Excel 2013 and I only have 2010), I usually will work on my writing assignments even after I get home. I will read the text and write until the work is done, hoping that everything will be to the best of my ability as well as on time.

If I do not want to stay on campus, or have plans with a friend, then sometimes, instead of making my way back to campus, I will go to a local library which closes at 9pm most of the week. At this particular library, I can also print out up to 75 free pages per week, starting anew on Sunday’s.

6. Participate in Class
This suggestion is more important than you might believe. By participating in class, whether by offering a response to a question, contribution to a discussion or even by asking a question yourself, then you are, in effect, studying. It took me a long time to realize this, but by participating in class, you are helping yourself to retain more information. This is useful when you have to do an assignment where critical thinking is involved. Also, participation allows for you to be able to work on your communication skills, an added bonus!

Studying doesn’t have to be hard. If you have a lot of homework, just do it. Period. If you procrastinate, then you will be stuck with a ton of homework at the last minute. That is not something you want to do. Each assignment should be done to the best of your ability. If you do not put the time and effort into your work, then you are just wasting your money on class (or someone else’s money if you are getting funding).

Hope this helps!

If any of you have any other study tips, please feel free to comment.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Read the Whole Chapter

28 July 2014
Bernadette Rocha

I just finished my midterm for my advanced Spreadsheets class, and as much as I studied for this first half (the next portion is tomorrow) I got caught up on the simplest – and silliest – of roadblocks.

What was it? Formatting. It took me probably ten minutes to figure out that there was a typo on the midterm and that there is no such thing as a certain color combination that we were asked to do. If I had not been so stressed, I would have figured this problem out much sooner and probably would’ve been done a lot quicker.

Anyhow, now that this portion of the midterm is over, I can breathe. After class, I went to a computer on campus (there’s always a computer available somewhere to use) so that I could finish my Lesson Eight assignments. Figuring that I would get through the last two assignments quick enough and be off campus by twelve, I dived right in.

Everything was going well until it asked me to do a very specific task, one of which looked completely foreign to me. The only thought I had at that point was, “had I studied this?” This question prompted me to go back through the chapter and see if I may have missed something. I was a little surprised to find out that not only had I missed that exercise, but I apparently had not finished reading through the chapter! No wonder I was stuck.

I learned a very valuable lesson today: Always, always, always, read through the whole chapter. It might be good practice to flip through the chapter each day, simply to get a refresher of what you have learned as well as to make sure that, yes, you did go over that lesson the day before so that, yes, you will be able to complete this lesson without a hitch.

Anyways, food for thought!