Thursday, December 09, 2004

wrong answer

I'm a student. I have been for the past 19 years of my life, and consequently have taken a lot of tests over the years. And written down a lot of wrong answers. A lot. Trust me on this one. But there is one thing that I've never done. I have never ever ever, under any circumstnace, intentionally written down an incorrect answer. If I know that two plus two does not equal five, I don't write five. Because that, my friends, is what we call a bad idea. Now, I may not know what two plus two equals. But I know that what it doesn't equal. I may write down three, I may write down seven. Both wrong answers, but still a better answer than five. Because at least I tried, at least I made an attempt.

Now, this seems like a fairly simple concept. If you know an answer is wrong, don't write it down! Period. But if it's so simple, why is it that we allow ourselves to give the wrong answer, time and time again, in life. In matters that, frankly, are much more important to our well-being than what two plus two equals. Why do we, myself included, allow ourselves to repeatedly make the same mistakes? When we know perfectly well that they're wrong? Whether it be something as small as leaving the lights on when we leave the house, to cheating on a spouse or abusing somebody we supposedly love. We cannot allow ourselves to simply live with our vices. We cannot settle, and therefore allow those vices to settle, like the little bits of worm and dirt and nasiness that accumulate on the bottom of a bottle of cider. Because it's not just a drink that can be filtered out, but our soul. I'm not asking for perfection. None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, and will continue to make them. We're bound to get some wrong answers along the way, but we also need to be trying to figure out the right one, putting forth the effort required to turn away from what we know is wrong.

Okay, so it may sound like I'm a bit worked up. And the truth is, I am. But I'm not angry, I'm not upset with the world. A few years ago, a child in a small village was discovered to be missing. After a week of searching the parents found their precious baby, healthy, unharmed, and well-fed. A mother bear had recently lost her cubs to a predator, and in her need to nurture and protect, she took in a hungry child. I cannot live in this world and not believe in its beauty. But I am a woman of convictions. I have beliefs that have become more than just baggage that I carry on my back to fill me up when I need sustenance, but have become an integral part of who I am, as critical to my identity as my heart, liver, or kidneys. And while I recognize the beauty that exists, I also recognize the wonder that could be displayed, more brilliant than any sunset. I see the world, and the people in it, for what they can be. And I'm in awe.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

'tis the season

The Christmas season is here again. Tis the season to be jolly, to let go of grudges, reunite ourselves with old friends, visit family, and dedicate ourselves to loving deeper than we have in the past. And, of course, show that love by giving gifts.

I love shopping for presents. The energy of Christmas shopping crowds, the excitement of finding the perfect gift for somebody. And the warm, fuzzy feeling that ensues from knowing that my gift has brightened somebody's day. Because, lets face it, I'm always cold. Always. So it's nice to have a little bit of warmth inside amidst the fury of winter snow and ice storms. Last year, I found the perfect gift for my sister: an afghan with a huge Texas flag on the front. Now, my sister can be a bit of a drama queen, so the joyous screams and cartwheels that followed made me feel even warmer and fuzzier than ever.

Sometimes, no matter how hard I concentrate, I just can't come up with the perfect gift. And that is so annoying. So annoying. OR, as recently happened to me, I think of the perfect gift, only to search online and find out that said perfect gift is no longer being sold. So I end up getting a generic fall-back. Which is much like saying "Hi, I know we've been friends for years, and I'm supposed to know you well enough to know what you like, but I don't. So I bought you these socks, because I felt obligated to get you something. And everybody could use a nice pair of socks, right?" So I spend a lot of money on this fall-back gift. Because, while it's the thought that counts, you really have to want to get somebody a present in order to bring yourself to buying insanely overpriced articles. And that's a nice thought. And therein enter much coveted warm-fuzzy feelings.

more rules

I am a religious person, and therefore have a lot of externally-imposed rules that I live, well, religiously. I don' t drink alcohol, coffee or tea, don' t chew tobacco or smoke. I don't do a lot of things, actually, but not simply because there are rules against it. But because I want to contribute to society, to make the world a better place and work to be a productive citizen. Because I want to make other people's lives better and make our world a little more beautiful. And these rules are in place to help me accomplish that.

Now, while I believe in following these rules, I do not believe that it following these rules necessarily means that we are accomplishing a lot of good. I am of little benefit to the world at large if I do nothing but sit in my house not drinking alcohol. Even sitting in my house not drinking alcohol and reading the Bible won't do a whole lot of good unless these actions are used as facilitators. Facilitators for good. For filling my time with something better, and allowing myself to understand how I can best contribute to society. Refraining from drinking alcohol allows me to have a clear mind, but unless I use that to find ways to help others and to make the world better for those that I love, my clear mind does me no good at all. Reading the Bible allows me to read about others who have blessed the world, and to understand how I can follow in that path and do my part to bless the world as well. Simply knowing a lot of Bible stories isn't enough.

Adam and Eve understood this principle. They were living in the garden. There was no death, no sin, they even walked and talked with God. Life was good. Very good. But they realized that, as great as things were for them, they were not benefiting mankind the best they could by staying in the garden. This was not the best way for them to show their love for their creator or for mankind. They were following a rule they were given, yes. But they were neglecting an overriding rule to multiply the earth and to allow others to progress. So they transgressed. They didn't sin, but rather broke a law in order to fulfill a greater purpose. They forsook something good for something better.

There is one rule that seems particularly misunderstood. The first commandment is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor. Loving God comes first. But this does not mean that we can neglect friends, family and neighbors and seclude ourselves under the pretense that we are worshipping and showing our love to God. He, by nature, is unselfish, and therefore does not ask anything of us solely for His own benefit, but for the benefit of mankind. So by loving and understanding him, we become more enlightened. He enlightens us in ways that we can better love and serve our fellowman, ways that we can best contribute to the world at large. And by taking this knowledge and understanding and putting it into practice, we are showing our love for Him.

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Mosiah 2:17

Yes, I believe in living by certain externally-imposed rules. But there's a purpose to them. They are meant to facilitate our progress and increase our ability to contribute to society. And these rules will occasionally be broken in order to accomplish greater goals. We've been commanded to obey our parents, and for the most part, it is beneficial for us. We can learn a lot from our parents. But if they tell us to kill our neighbor, I doubt we would feel justified in doing so. Rather, we would choose to transgress that commandment in order to fulfill a higher law. We're asked every day to choose between things good and great. And it's our job to choose the better. To use the rules we've been given to benefit mankind and to better show our love for others.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Hello, Anonymous

I received my very first blogger comment today. From Anonymous. (Thanks, Anonymous, and welcome to Pink Poodle Prints. I hope you've enjoyed your visit.) Although I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you quite yet. I guess I'm not clear on your question. However, if you could clarify what what exactly you want me to tell you about externally-imposed rules, I'd be happy to dedicate a post (yes, that's right, an entire post) to answering said question.

My blog counter also passed the 100 viewer mark. That means that 100 people have viewed my blog! I'm practically famous. (Or maybe it means that 3 people have viewed my blog 34 times each.)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

rules, rules, rules

I love rules. Love, love, love. They're the reason I'm so fascinated with grammar. Because in grammar, there are rules for everything. Lots of exceptions, admittedly, but still. Remember your subjects, verbs, prepositions, keep the nominative and objective cases straight, and you're set. No problem. Just know all the rules, and you can't go wrong.

Unfortunately, everything isn't as simple as grammar. There's no Official Rule Book for life. At least not one that I know of. So in the absence of an official guide, I make up my own rules. And trust me, I have rules for everything. If there are two cookies left on a plate, eat only half of one. One can only get out of bed at five-minute intervals. It's okay to get up at 7:00, 7:05, 7:10, etc. But if one happen to wake up at 7:12, one must wait until 7:15 to lift one's head from the pillow. I live these rules obsessively, much like my daily teeth and gum routine. Now, I may have just convinced you all that I am psycho-crazy-OCD girl, but I'm really not. Really. I'm just terrible at improvising (which is why I prefer writing over speaking any day), so it makes me feel good to know an appropriate action for every situation. And most of my rules are not as nit-picky as appropriate wake-up times, but are attempts at improving and building relationships. For example, send a card 4 days before a friend's birthday so that they will get the card on or before their birthday; if a good deed is done, thank the person responsible; if a favor is asked, do what you can to grant the request. And the list goes on.

Now, for the most part my rules are very helpful. The only problem is, when I have rules for everything, I start to think that I have the answers to everything. And I sometimes forget that my rules are not the Official Rule Book.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Nice Gums

Somebody told me today that I have great gums. Yup, that's right, great gums. He may have even said they were beautiful, although I don't remember exactly. The whole scene's a little fuzzy. I turned red and then laughed. Because that's what I do when I don't know what to say. And honestly, what do you do when somebody compliments your gums? I guess thank you is always a good option, but didn't think fast enough. Or maybe I could have invited him to take a closer look. I'll remember that next time.

Okay, now admittedly, complimenting somebody's gums is a bit odd. Very odd, actually. But I was flattered. I'm pretty relaxed about most things, but when it comes to my teeth and gums, I obsess. My dentist told me that I brush too vigorously. Seriously? Who knew that was possible? I floss at least twice a day, sometimes more if I have the chance, have bleached my teeth at least 3 times, use a fluoride rinse to keep my teeth strong, and rinse with Listerine every morning and night. For exactly one minute each time, plus 5 extra seconds, just to be safe. Because if you only rinse for 59 seconds, it just doesn't quite do the job. Words like Gingivitis and gum disease creep me out. Seriously, your mouth is the worst possible place to allow germs to fester and develop diseases. Yick. So I buy every mouth-cleansing product available, and use them obsessively. And somebody finally noticed! It's an obscure fixation, yes, but still. I made an effort, and somebody noticed.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sunsets and Explosions

Over a century ago, a volcano just east of Java in the Sundra strait exploded, generating a tsunami that would kill almost 40,000 people and leave millions more homeless. On the other side of the world, North America was presented with the most brilliant sunsets in recorded history. Thinking the blazing sky was actually a blazing fire, firemen were dispatched to quench the flames. But after the panic settled, nations emerged to view the strokes of reds, oranges and purples billowing across the dusk sky, and thought the earth was blessed. The delay in communication prevented Americans from learning of the destruction taking place on the earth that they shared with so many others, so they enjoyed nature's display, the sunset resulting from the same explosion that killed thousands.

When I wake up in the morning, I enjoy a split second of blissful ignorance, the delay between my body's waking up and my brain's registering the events of my life. For a brief moment, evil and sadness don't exist. And then I wake up, and see the world as it is, the complete mixture of beauty and good, and wickedness and hurt. And I'm happier, because I'm aware. Because I see it all, and am still moving on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Lost in Flight

I've never liked flying. For a long time I tried to convince myself that I loved it, that the thrill being suspended over an ocean and spanning entire continents excited me. The allusion worked for a while. Visiting new sights and cities and absorbing new cultures compels me to fly fairly frequently, so the hunger for travel easily transferred to an avidity for flight. However, the facade eventually wore off, and I gave up on that idea when I noticed that I cried almost every time I stepped onto an airplane. It's not that flights are boring. I always bring a good book, which can hold my attention for hours and days at a time, so being bored is clearly not the problem. It's the fact that I'm blinded on flights. I can see nothing of what's in front of me besides a beige chairback and the little plastic cup of ginger ale that the flight attendant offers me to drink. While my destination is known, I have no concept of how I get there, of the path I'm travling, or where I am at any given moment, and for a brief interval, I am nowhere.

The last time I flew, the plane was delayed and when we finally pushed back from the gate, we inched slowly toward the runway, moving forward in small spurts, like a teenager learning to drive a standard transmission. There were several planes ahead of us for takeoff. That's what I assume, anyway; I strained to see through the window what was ahead of us, but my gaze was returned by no more than the darkness outside. Nothing but blackness and emptiness loomed in my vision. So I cried, my only memorial for the loss of my sense of belonging and being, of temporarily losing my place and being nowhere. Because in order to really exist, you have to see and understand that you are someplace, and that you belong there.

I frequently take walks or hikes, with no particular destination in mind. Where I end up matters less to me than how I get there. So I wander, simply because I can. Because I have two legs and a good pair of walking shoes, and because there is room enough for me to roam.

My dream vacation includes no itinerary and no planned points of interest, but simply getting in a car and driving, enjoying the scenery and my companion, taking in everything along the way, stopping to visit whatever looks interesting, and possibly some things that don't. I still haven't taken this trip. My more practical (ie boring) side and the lack of a willing cohort have prevented me. But I will, someday.

I've been criticized for these views. What about goals, about having working towards something great? But it's not a lack of goals, but rather a change of emphasis from the result to the effort put forth to get there. If a doctor were to lose a patient, he would never regret trying to save him, so long as he had done everything in his power to help the patient. End results are often not what we anticipate or even what we thought we were working toward in the first place, but it's the journey, the path we took to get wherever we end up that matters. But it's taking that journey, because we can, because we have a good pair of walking shoes and a path available to us.

Christianity, and religion in general, have been criticized for being selfish. These claims are based on the idea that the purpose of Christianity is gaining exaltation and salvation for oneself, and therefore fosters self-centered attitudes in all of its followers. Clearly, the only reason a Christian would help another person or give of themselves in any way is so that they can gain something greater, for themselves and nobody else. If this really is the message of Christianity, then our accusors are right in their claims. But this isn't what Christianity is all about. It isn't until one forgets the end result, forgets what's in it for them, that true Christianty and selflessness are born. Until the real focus is on the journey, on where we are, on loving the people and the experiences that we encounter along the way, and recognizing true love from the substitutes that are so readily offered up, handed out like candy on Halloween. That's when purpose enters in, and amazingly, it's the best way to end up where we want to go.

"Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon." -Susan Ertz

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

how to make the world stop turning

As a kid, I used to read constantly. I would stay up until after my college-aged, party-going neighbors were long since asleep, curled up on my twin bed with a novel to read and a Granny Smith apple to snack on. I turned myself over to the worlds of the Babysitters Club, Maniac Magee, Ramona Quimby, and others. I read about how to handle sibling rivalry and what to do if I should lose my shoe, or worse, my pants on my way to school. (It didn't matter that I lived one block from school, I was prepared to fabricate a skirt and a spare shoe out of paper towels and staples, should the need arise.) I discovered, somewhat unconsciously, how to handle the fears and misfortunes of a nine-year-old's life. But of all the books I read then, and those that I have since read, only one has ever brought me to tears. It's a book whose title and author I have long ago forgotten, but whose character I still remember clearly. He was a ten-year-old boy, the same age that I was at the time, and he lost his mother to cancer. I had always known that losing my mom would upset me, even make me cry, but now I was nothing more than bony knees and lanky arms, piled onto my bathroom floor, sobbing. Losing composure to the reality of the emptiness that would replace the one thing that had been a constant in my life since birth, and whose principal purpose in life was the betterment of mine, of the sting felt when an unknowing teacher requested to speak with my mother, the mother I no longer had. I had read about death before, about the death of pets, friends, loved ones, and yes, even parents, but no account had ever effected me in this way, had ever caused me to feel the pain of a fictional boy as if it were my own. But this one did, simply because it built a foundation upon emotions that I knew, and then extended those same emotions into the unknown, into the unknown battle of returning to school after such a loss, and of moving on while not forgetting.

It may sound trite, but it was this same principle that first drew me into my engineering textbooks as a young college student. The fundamental concepts were old adn well-known, based on the idea that something cannot be created from nothing, and that every action requires a reaction. If you push on a wall, it will push back on you. But these principles were extended into new applications, from engines to water pipes to springs systems. And it fascinated me, but as more than just knowledge needed to land a secure job. I remember learning about equal and opposite forces, and later about torque, and I wondered what it would take to stop the earth from spinning on its axis, or at least to slow it down. I performed a rough calculation and determined that if our world's population united together, (strategically placed, of course), and all walked in the same direction, we could, in fact, slow the earth's rotation. We may have to enlist our pets in the cause, just to be on the safe side, but we could do it.

There have been songs written about love that lasts until the earth stops spinning, and one now familiar song that named September 11, 2001 as the day the world stopped turning. I prefer the love songs, and not only because I'm a sucker for anything corny, but because they seem to understand how to actually make the world halt. Only by unifying our planet's entire population, from the oldest to the youngest, richest to poorest, can we conquer a feat that great. I only hope that they then change the lyrics to allow love to last longer than the earth's rotation. And while September 11 may have temporarily united our nation, it created a larger rift in the world's unity. That rift admittedly had been there for years, decades, maybe even centuries, but it did nothing to repair it, only to deepen it. Individual lives were lost, and each American's world was effected, thousands directly through the loss of a friend, brother, sister, parent, or worst of all, a child. And as I relive the grief I felt for those lives, and the panic at realizing that a friend of mine may have been very near the buildings at the time of the crash, I take comfort in knowing that suicide bombers, terrorism, and hate, however devastating, cannot bring the world at large to a halt.

Monday, November 15, 2004

the truth about cats

I've never been much of a cat person. They shed, they're needy, their claws inevitably get caught in my hair, and they try to jump in the shower with me. (Now, some people may think this is cute, but I am not a fan. Not. At all. Ever.) So overall, felines are not my favorite animals. But I've had cats before. My sister bought them, actually, but since I lived in the same house as the cats, I'll claim partial ownership. And I lived through it, even came out unscathed. I still don't like them, but I could live with them.

Last year, I somehow inherited two cats. Recognizing me as the pushover that I am (it usually takes people about 30 seconds to pick up on this), an acquaintance of mine asked me if I wouldn't mind taking her cats until she moved into her new apartment.

"Ooh, be a doll. It'll be no more than three months," I was assured. "And they are too adorable and lovable and cute and cuddly and wonderful and... blahblahblah. And I will be SO-ooo grateful and pleasepleasepleaseplease..."

"Sure, I'll take the cats."

"You are too sweet. Really. You really are."

Okay, so maybe I should have taken her blatant begging as a warnint sign. Or the fact that she had resorted to asking me, a non-cat-loving-very-much-a-dog-person whom she had known for a total of thirty minutes. Maybe I'm a bit naive.

So I had two cats. Two cats in my clean, freshly-painted, white-walled apartment. With brand-new furniture. Two cats (of opposite gender, I might add) that had yet to be de-clawed or "fixed". Or entirely litter-box trained, as I soon found out. But still, in my wide-eyed, optimistic, I-can-handle-anything-for-three-months way, I was excited.

Their first night at home, I let them sleep in my room.

Oscar. The "friendly, cuddly, very social" cat (as described by his well-meaning, if not overly enthusiastic owner Heather) was clawing my hair. And my neck, and arms and anything else he could reach. Okay, now I'll admit that maybe my social skills are a bit lacking, but I've never mauled a person in hopes of building a solid friendship. I guess Heather and I have different ideas on the definition of "social". So I moved the cats into the hallway, heard them whining, felt sorry for them, let them back into my room. Repeat. Again. And again. And again. Every time I let them back in, it would end in a loud hiss. Not from the cats, from me. (I'm not very good at yelling, so a hiss was the best I could come up with.)

After a month, I asked Heather (in an email - I was afraid I might hiss if I tried calling) to please, come get her adorable, loveable cats. And she did, while making no effort to hide her disgust with me for backing out of our agreement.

I have a soft spot for animals. All animals. I really do. I didn't want the kitties to be sad. (Which is why I let them into my room over and over and over again.) I just didn't want to sacrifice my bed and my sanity to keep them happy. Apparently I'm not that soft.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Happiness Comes in a Box

We all want to be happy. And we're lucky. Our country recognizes that the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. So why aren't we happy? Why is suicide the tenth leading cause of death for Americans, and depression cases higher than ever? Advertisers sell their products by convincing us that happiness comes in a box. Look young, have great hair, and own fun toys, and you'll be satisfied. And we buy into it. I recently started using anti-wrinkle cream. I'm twenty-three years old, and already using anti-wrinkle cream. Does that disturb anyone else? But I still use it, in hopes that just maybe, when I'm fifty, I'll still look thirty. Is there something inherently wrong about being fifty? Or about actually looking your age? I don't know, but I've certainly joined the battle against it.

And then there's the Don't Worry, Be Happy attitude. Disney so kindly made Hakuna Matata a household phrase. Responsibility is boring, work is boring. Have fun, play, do what you want, and happiness will walk right up to your doorstep and invite itself in. Simple, right? But fun costs money, and since work is boring and sucks all of the joy right out of you, maybe happiness is harder to come by than we thought. But that's where credit cards come in. Oh, the beauty of a credit card. Buy now, pay later, no worries. Has anyone ever wondered why the average American has over eight thousand dollars in credit card debt? That's up five thousand dollars in the past ten years, and steadily increasing.

Overall, I consider myself a happy person. But certain moments have still been more contented than others. Such as the present, for instance. I don't have a lot of money, I'm apart from my family and many of my friends, but I'm happy. Happier than any other time I can remember. But why? What makes the present so different from the past? It's my heart. Scraping away external influences, breaking down my barriers I've built out of fear, figuring out where I want it to be, and getting it there. Working to get it there. And then following my heart, and knowing that it won't lead me astray. Knowing that, although I may not be exactly where I want to be, my heart is where it should be, so I'm headed in the right direction. And because of that, I can finally trust myself. I can trust that my decisions are the right ones. Yes, I use anti-wrinkle cream, but I'm happy with where I'm going, even if it involves a few wrinkles. They're called laugh lines for a reason.

Small Town Talk

I was driving home from my Very Good Friend Mike's house yesterday, and stopped to get some gas for my very hungry car. As soon as I stepped outside, I heard a long, slow whistle. Coming from a very creepy man standing nearby.

Don't look, don't look, don't look. Keep pumping your gas.

Hey, lady, nice car!

Uh, thanks? (Well, maybe he was whistling at my car and not at me.)

Now, it must be mentioned that I am currently in Booney, PA. My Very Good Friend Mike is from Booney, PA, so I hold no partiular grudge against the town. But the truth is, when you get that far away from civilization, you're going to find a few nut jobs. Like Creepy Mullet Man, with whom I am currently engaged in a very riveting conversation.

So, Texas, huh? You're a long way from home.

Yup, sure am. (Maybe if I'm incredibly boring and can't come up with more than two words in response to any question, he'll give up.)

So, you wanna hang around here a while? (Nope, I guess my conversational abilities are of little concern. And thank you, thank you, thank you Very Kind-looking Man hovering nearby.)

No, I really need to get back to Pennsylvania tonight. (Duh. You're IN Pennsylvania. You're got to come up with something better than THAT.) Uh, well, um, gotta go. Bye. (Yeah, much better. Way to go.)

Okay, so I'm not going to pretend that attention from the opposite sex doesn't flatter me on occasion. Or that I'm too oh-so-cool-and-sly to try flirting back every once in a while. (Of course, my flirtation skills are severely lacking, but I do my best.) Take, for example, Very Nice Boy Jeff. Jeff worked in the machine shop and was, in fact, a Very Nice Boy. And cute. And best of all, he showed me, very patiently, how to build my parts. And he did a very good job of hiding his laughter when I couldn't even use the saw without his help. That's right, the saw.

I became quite fond of Very Nice Boy Jeff. I tried (mostly unsuccessfully, but I tried) to figure out his work schedule so that I could very conveniently show up when he was working. Oh, wow, Jeff, YOU'RE working again? Gosh, it seems like I'm always running into you these days. Haha. And I certainly wasn't shy about the compliments. Oh, Jeff, thanks you SO much. This looks really great. You are SOOOOO smart.

Now, maybe Very Nice Boy Jeff was only helping me because, well, he's a Very Nice Boy. Or because, quite frankly, it was his job to help me, and I was looking very lost and confused, and quite possibly on the verge of tears. But he was cute, and I was a girl, which automatically set me apart from, well, everybody else in the shop. So I used that to my advantage. Well, the best I knew how, anyway.

Okay, okay, so I know that it's what's on the inside that counts, that looks don't matter. So, just because Creepy Mullet Man looked creepy and had a mullet, doesn't mean he's not a Very Nice Man. But I certainly wasn't about to stick around to find out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Darwinian Genius

Okay, okay, now before you panic, let me explain something. I'm not here to try to convince you that our many-great grandparents were chimpanzees, or that our children's children will have three arms and a tail. Because I don't believe that. But I do believe in taking the good for what it's worth, with open arms and an invitation to stay, and filtering out the rest. And Darwin made some amazing discoveries. Well, one in particular, and that's diversity. From years of waiting, watching, observing patterns, actually paying attention to the world around him, (which, it might be noted, is a pretty ingenius concept in itself), he discovered that every form of life on the beautiful planet we call Earth, whether it be human, plant, animal, even fungus, is diverse, that each species carries among its population thousands, millions, even billions of unique genetic codes. And I commend him for this discovery. Yes, that's right, call me un-Christian, call me sacreligious, call me what you will, but I believe that this is a discovery to be embraced, to be celebrated. And not in spite of the fact that it was Darwin's, but because it was Darwin's. We've just all been too busy shaking a fist at what we don't believe (do NOT talk to me about Darwin - I have religion to tell me where my ancestors came from) to leave our arms open for something beneficial that just might saunter in and surprise us. Because, yes, we do have religion, and I in no way mean to undermine that gift. And that is what it is - a gift to enable us the discernment of good and evil. But guess what, folks, convincing us that we evolved from monkeys was not Darwin's only aim.

It's this very diversity that has kept us, and our fellow Earth-dwellers, alive for so many years. We are pre-programmed for survival. We, along with every species of tree, insect, etc, have made it from the birth of our planet to the present, have made it through draught, earthquake, tornado, even worldwide flooding, and are still going strong. Because, while individuals die and new are born every day, the population is still alive, and despite these deaths and births, we still are what we were yesterday, whether that's a field of wheat, a grove of trees, a flock of birds, or a country of human citizens. There have been times when nothing has remained but a few seedlings, whether cast into the wind or carried away on the belly of a bumblebee or hummingbird. But those seedlings were all that was needed for the survival of that species. Science and religion should never have to be at odds. Acknowledging diversity and celebrating our survival does not diminish God's power, because He is behind it all, no matter what particular God you choose to believe in, He's there. His house is a house of order, and He has set everything in the proper order for survival and growth. Yes, He is omnipotent, and therefore can step in to create miracles, phenomena that cannot be explained by Darwin or anyone else for that matter, but that doesn't mean that He doesn't often work in patterns, in orders. And there's nothing wrong with discovering and reverencing those patterns.

I took a grand total of one Biology class in college. My brother and I enrolled one summer because, well, we had heard it would be easy. And it was. But somehow, in between my naps and his hitting on the cute girl next to him, we picked up a few tidbits of information. We learned about the importance of fiber in your diet, which sparked what I will refer to as the High Fiber War, which is basically a quest to find the food highest in fiber. (Ryan's currently winning - whole wheat couscous has 8 grams of fiber in 1/4 cup. Wow.) But my favorite Biology discovery is this: ice floats. Okay, so maybe I knew that before I ever took Biology 100, but short of acknowledging that it's fun to poke at with my straw, I hadn't thought much of it. But it's this simple fact that allows us to skate on a pond that's not fully frozen through, and what keeps our oceans from becoming nothing more than blocks of ice. Think about it. If ice sank, whenever a body of water froze, the ice would recede to the bottom, where the sun's warmth doesn't reach. And then it would accumulate, until there was nothing left but a thin layer of water atop our otherwise frozen world. Armageddon would have occurred long ago, maybe even before our first parents were mourning the death of one son and the spiritual demise of another. I've been told by some that I'm smart, while others prefer to remain mute on the matter. I tend to not think about it much, as it would result in one of two outcomes, either disappointment or pride, both of which I already have too much of. But I do know this much. It would take an intelligence far more comprehending than my own simple mind to recognize that something as basic as making ice float could save our world from destruction. And there's nothing irreligious about that.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Wooden Shoes

I have a favorite pair of shoes. They're adorable. Wooden soles, a tall heel, and a leather strap knotted across my foot. Perfect for skirts. Which I also love wearing. What more could a girl ask for? Seriously, if you haven't seen these shoes, you really need to. You'd love them. Love love love. I wore these shoes on a walk once, and came home with six blisters on each foot. Why, you might ask, would I wear wooden strappy shoes on a walk? Wouldn't tennis shoes be so much more practical? Well, because it was Sunday. Obviously. So I had worn the shoes to church. Obviously. Did I mention that they look great with skirts? I could have changed into something more comfortable, I admit, but skirts, especially when paired with the strappy shoes, are just so darned cute. So any excuse I have to wear them, I'm all over.

Sometimes I worry that I am those strappy wooden shoes. Or, if not the shoes themselves, the self-proclaimed Wooden Shoe Salesperson, striving to show the world the beauty that is the Wooden Shoes.

Hey, why don't you try these ones on? They're great. I mean, just look at them! Who wouldn't want to wear these?

Oh, you wouldn't? Really? Really??
I guess not everybody wants wooden shoes. Shoot.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Context of Mind

Last summer, I visited the San Diego Zoo with some friends. We paid our $20 and joined the throngs to view each exhibit. Of course, we insisted on seeing the biggest displays. The birds, elephants, seals. And the giraffes. Of course, don't forget the giraffes. While we were standing at this particular display, we were informed that, earlier that summer, there had been an attempted escape by one of the younger animals. Getting a good running start, he tried clear to moat surrounding his allotted patch of grass and trees. The story was meant to be funny. And it was. I laughed. And later recounted the story to other friends. But I couldn't help but feel slightly disturbed. I could spend hours, days, weeks observing these animals and still gain little to no understanding of their characters and habits. Sure, I could get an idea of their routine, notice patterns in their behavior, maybe even come to know these particular giraffes intimately. But they've been taken completely out of context, out of their natural environment, the ecosystem of coexisting plants, animals, and pests that all simultaneously alter each others daily existence. My sister once spent two months in the bush of Namibia, Africa, and witnessed giraffes in their homeland, where she was an intruder on their territory. She said that they were magnificent and almost terrifying in the speed and grace with which they moved, ran and played. She only caught a brief glimpse of the giraffes, maybe a five minute display of one herd's hurried excursion across the wilderness. But in those five minutes, she saw them as they were intended to live, roaming, free, and independent, in their intended context. Not the full context of their existence, but the right context.

Light is often used as a metaphor for knowledge and understanding. Light probably feels pretty good about this, even a little smug. But the truth is, all light is certainly not created equal. Some of it is downright annoying, to be honest. Fluorescent light, in particular, gets a pretty bad rap. And rightfully so. I leave my house in the morning, feeling pretty content with how I look, only to go stand under fluorescent lights all day, resulting in my skin looking orange or red or whatever color it absolutely does NOT want to look. Ever. I've tried campaigning to have fluorescent lights banned from all public institutions. Honestly, they're really bad for sociatal morale. If there's a flaw anywhere, the fluorescent light will find it. It can't be healthy to be exposed to this. Down with fluorescent lighting! The sun, on the other hand, is my personal favorite light form. It manages to shine just the right light to display true beauty. In everything. And that's what we need. The right light.

But how much do we really see in its full context, anyway, in the right light? Not much, if anything. We catch narrow glimpses of events, of lives that entertwine with ours for a time. But each of these experiences are diminished by our own biases, opinions, and limited exposure. I used to love to people-watch. I still do, actually. I would sit in the lobby of the Engineering building on my college campus, watching people walk by, some whom I knew well, others I had never seen before, and some whom I crossed paths with frequently but rarely spoke to. I would try, usually unsuccessfully, to read their thoughts, their emotions. I wondered what was perturbing their lives on each particular day, whether it be illness, lost friendships, new love, births or deaths, or simply the monotony of classes and everyday college living. I wanted to know where they were coming from, to see the context of their emotions and minds. But our minds are shaped by not only events currently surrounding us, but every episode, from birth to present.

People enter our lives every day, some as brief passers-by, while others stake claim on our hearts for months, years, and sometimes, forever. And we learn to love them, and to allow ourselves to be loved. Love is an act, the act of intertwining our context with that of another. Of fully sharing with them the framework of our lives, and allowing them to do the same, until, eventually, two separate contexts mesh to become one. But this takes months, years of not only listening and observing, but living in their life, taking part physically and emotionally in each aspect, from the magnificent to the mediocre. And only then do we really and fully understand a person.

"Judge not, that ye be not judged."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Laugh Away

If you want to win my heart, make me laugh. Really hard. All the time. My heart beats a little faster, I get all twisted up with excitement, and I feel an automatic connection with someone who can make me laugh. There are hundreds of people I've encountered, just passing on the street, sitting in a lecture, waiting in line at the grocery store. Most of them I never see again. We speak five words, maybe a few more on a good day, and that's it. But the ones who made me laugh, I still remember. Even ten, fifteen years later. And I still appreciate them, cherish the friendship, however brief, that I had with them. Maybe I use the word "friendship" loosely. Maybe not. A friend is simply somebody you think of fondly, somebody who you're glad was a part of your life, and whose life you hope to improve by your presence. And that's how I feel about these people.

Don't be afraid of happiness. Don't be afraid to laugh at a joke, even if nobody else thinks it's funny. Don't be afraid to be comforted, to allow yourself to be surrounded by love, to allow those you love to love you in return. Happiness too often is equated with settling, with keeping ourselves from being better, from constantly improving our lives. We've all subscribed to the notion that growth has to be arduous, demanding. That as soon as things get easy, we'll stop progressing. But we forget that simplicity is a challenge in itself, and one of the toughest to overcome. To turn the mundane into something great, to overcome monotony by seeking the good, the best in everything, is the real challenge. And to be happy in the process. Happy with what you've been given, with where you are, and most of all, with where you're going. It's our course we choose that refines us, and how we choose to view that trek. And there's nothing wrong with a little laughter along the way.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Sometimes I feel sticky. Like I went swimming in a pool of jell-o and haven't showered yet. Or I got caught in a massive mudfight. That kind of sticky. All-over, cakey, makes your hair stiff and your skin crumble nastiness. Only it's not my skin that's dirty, it's my soul. The places deep inside of me that I worked so hard to shelter, to guard with all of my barriers so that nobody, nothing could tromp through leaving grime in their wake.

It takes a while to wash this kind of stickiness off. Lots of scrubbing, showers, countless bars of soap. And just when you think you're clean, ready to go about your business, you find a little clump of nastiness still clinging on. But you do eventually get clean. And when you do, you're really clean. The scrubbing leaves your skin smooth and fresh, newly exfoliated. Years-old scabs become a little finer, stubborn scars wash away. The mud serves to nourish your hair, making it silky, shiny, and vibrant. The cleansing process leaves you brighter and more invigorated than before.

So I'm still smiling.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Looking for Truth

Does anybody know what happened to America's tact? Anyone? No? Okay, well what about its self-restraint, then? They were close friends, the two of them, so maybe they ran off somewhere together. Maybe they've gone into hiding, removing themselves from our lives because they feel misused, unappreciated, even rejected. They used to be loved, cherished, and praised, but now they're hated, out of style. I tend to think that a demon disguising itself as Truth and Honesty swooped in and stole Tact and Restraint right out of our living rooms. It wouldn't be that hard. That's where I've always kept my box of surplus Tact. I never locked it up or tried to hide it, so anyone really could have taken it without my noticing.

When exactly did Tact and Restraint go missing? Or rather, when were they driven away by the Truth and Honesty impostor and asked to, please, never return. The advent of reality TV may have had something to do with it. We invite, even welcome these shows into our homes for entertainment purposes, or so we say. We watch the participants vociferations with anticipation, with glee. Whoa! She sure told him! So co-OOl!

Couples, married couples even, have begun attending "therapy" sessions teaching them the art of brutal honesty. They pay money, good, hard-earned money, for someone to teach them that, yes, it's okay to scream, to be brutal, mean, and unsympathetic. It's healthy, even. If your husband, the man you love, the man you committed your life to, upsets you by, say, loading the dishwasher improperly, don't let him get away with it, scream at him! Tell him what a lousy, insensitive husband he is, throw heavy objects, yell until you have no voice left with which to yell, then pull out the megaphone and keep going. Don't stop until he knows without a doubt just how angry you are, until he is sure that he is a good-for-nothing, lousy jerk. He can't get offended. Oh, no, you're only telling him the truth, being honest with him. Letting him know how you feel. That's healthy, right? Necessary for a successful relationship. Right?


Then why are marriages, friendships, associations falling apart all around us? Why is hate so prevalent and patience and tolerance scorned? The problem isn't the lack of Truth and Honesty. It's that we're afraid. Afraid to direct the truth and honesty at ourselves, to face our weaknesses and conquer them. Afraid to admit that maybe we're the one with the problem, that maybe, just maybe, we could change the way we feel, overcome our anger and replace it with something better. That we could keep ourselves from becoming incensed that the dishwasher was loaded improperly, or the fact that the car in front of us was driving a little too slowly. That's what takes true honesety. It takes looking a little deeper, past our initial reactions and emotions, and recognizing what's inside of ourselves. Recognizing that, yes, we're angry, but no, we don't like to feel this way. That the dishwasher isn't worth fretting over, and that we don't have to get upset about it. Look up synonyms for anger and you'll find, among others, the word uncontrolled. Meaning that if we could just gain a little control, get a grip, conquer ourselves, we could drive the anger away. Not by pretending it's not there, but by facing it, honestly, and taking control. By acknowledging that the only reason we're upset is because we're letting ourselves be upset. But now we've recognized it, and are doing something about it. Because we can. We always can. And that's the honest truth.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Dream Big

When I was ten, my mom went back to school. I saw her every morning sitting at our kitchen table, studying, while I got ready for school. She was still there when I came home in the afternoons, and still there when I went to bed at night. Any grade lower than an A was unacceptable, and any unfocused time was time wasted. It took thirteen years, but she fished her undergraduate degree, med school, and a pediatric residency. And during all of this, she still managed to run marathons, raise 6 kids, and look good in the process. She was perfection in knee boots and a lab coat.

If there's one thing I learned from my mothers, it's this: dream big. In fact, if it doesn't take everything you have, doesn't wear you down until you have nothing left, doesn't consume you, it's not big enough. In order for a goal to be truly great, truly admirable, it must require all of the effort, work, brainpower, dedication that you have in you. Plus some. My mom taught me to set lofty goals, and to do what it takes to achieve them.

So I did.

I chose a "difficult" major. I entered a PhD program. I announced my plans to become a university professor. My dreams all sounded impressive, required a lot of work, sleepless nights, and energy.

I recently chose a different dream, not one to impress others, not one that sounds ambitious or requires advanced degrees. But one that still takes all I have, not all of the energy and time, but rather all of the courage. The courage to change plans, to turn my back on the dreams I've always been told I should have, to choose my own path. It requires the courage to acknowledge and face up to the pride that has driven so many of my decisions, the ability to follow my heart and the feeling that this is where I can best use the knowledge I've gained, where I'm most needed. It takes the faith to know that, although my efforts may go unrecognized, unappreciated, and sometimes unaccepted, they will still impact. I may not ever see the influence of my efforts, or the result of my work, but it will be there, somewhere.

Dreams are a part of our subconscious, our deepest and, in my case, most hidden desires. They stem from our innermost wants and needs, the ambitions left after scraping away all exterior influences, abandoning the wants imposed upon us by others. I've finally managed to break down the walls, to delve into my most secret depths, the parts that I keep hidden even from myself, and really dream. And it's bliss.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Peripheral Light

I watched the lunar eclipse last night, the first I've ever witnessed. It began with a full sphere of light sweeping across the sky, casting both light and shadow. As the moon's path led it into the obscurity projected by the earth, the luminence slowly ebbed away, eclipsed by the very world that it had lit only moments before. The light, once so vibrant, faded around the edges until only a sliver remained. But at the very moment when it seemed the moon would fully darken, disappear, it turned a beautiful array of orange and red. Light from both sunrise and sunset crept around the periphery of the earth, reflecting off of the moon in beautiful shades of autumn, shades impossible to create with the reflection of a mid-day sun, shades that the moon maybe never knew it was capable of displaying. What would have been its darkest hour instead became its most glorified moment, a moment that the world, including myself, emerged to witness.

The moon was set in its course long ago. Or perhaps it chose its course. It had a purpose, to light our darkened world, and the path it pursued best fulfills that purpose. Fear of dark moments, eclipses, fear of being somehow overshadowed by the one it had set out to serve did not deter it from its determination to move forward. And because of that, it acquired a more awe-inspiring state.

Be a moon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Fears Unleashed

I'm afraid. Terrified, really. Not the shy-child-hiding-behind-his-mother's-leg kind of scared. No, I'm talking about the agonizing, heart-in-your-throat-so-scared-you-can't-scream-makes-a-grown-man-cry kind of scared. I'm not afraid of terrorists. I'm not afraid my plane will crash, or afraid of mean dogs, getting robbed, dying, sharks, you name it. I'm not even afraid of being alone. But weakness terrifies me. My own weakness, to be exact. I'm afraid, terrified, horrified that the world at large will know that I, in fact, am not perfect.

I don't yell when I get mad. I don't throw things, bang cupboards, slam doors, punch the wall. In fact, I don't do much at all. I don't talk. I don't look at anyone. I might go for a drive, or, if I'm sure nobody's around to see it, I may cry. See, to yell, or even to acknowledge that I'm angry, would be to admit weakness. To admit that I don't have absolute, complete control of my emotions, that I'm flawed, and have allowed outside forces to penetrate my walls. I would have to confess that I wasn't strong enough, tough enough, forgiving enough to prevent anger from entering in.

I haven't always been this way. It all started the first time my love went unanswered. Don't get me wrong. I've always been surrounded by an abundance of love. I've always had a solid list of people who are there for me me, who I know will always love me, even if I get mad occasionally. But I've loved before, competely, totally, with everything I had I loved. But he didn't love me in return. At least, not the way I wanted him to. Yet I loved him, even to the point of exhaustion. I'm not talking about the beat down, defeated kind of exhaustion that makes you curl up on the shower floor, sobbing for hours, feeling nothing but emptiness and the hot relief of the water running over your back. Rather, I felt the triumphant, accomplished feeling of exhaustion. The no-regrets, reveling kind of feeling. The marvel of feeling emotions that I had never known existed, of knowing that I am forever changed. No, I don't regret loving that way. I'm not bitter at the outcome. Real love, by definition, leaves no room for regret or anger. Instead, I'm more thankful for the love that I do have, and eager to find that kind of love again, to feel the way I felt then. But I can't pretend that this unrequited love didn't effect me. That would be a lie. It's not possible to feel that way and come out unscathed. My fear is the wound I bear, the reminder of everything that I gave and can never entirely get back. It's a reminder that I made it, and came out mostly on top. It's something that I'm almost proud of. Almost.

Monday, October 25, 2004


When I was in eighth grade, I handed in a masterpiece to my English teacher. I, of course, did the entire assignment the night before its due date, but it was nonetheless a masterpiece. I filtered through several different fonts before deciding on BankGothic (my signature font) for the headers. I meticulously laid out each page to look just right. I think it was, by far, the best-looking assignment I had ever done. I didn't understand why my teacher didn't love it quite as much as I did. Each page consisted of the header, in my fabulous font, alignment just right. So what was the problem?

''It seems that your focus was a little off,'' she told me.

What are you talking about? I spent hours working on this!

Um, you didn't finish writing some of the essays. You stopped in the middle of a sentence.

Yeah, but isn't it pretty?

I've been accused, on occasion, of being oblivious. I was almost hit by a car once. I didn't see it coming, and I didn't see it swerve to miss me, either. That is, until the driver got out to ask if I was okay. Uh, yeah, why wouldn't I be? Did I miss something?

My freshman year of college, I was sitting in the lobby of my building. I saw someone sitting next to me, but thought nothing of it until I noticed an expectant look aimed in my direction. Turns out he had been there for several minutes. He had tried talking to me. He tried asking me out. I didn't hear a word of it.

Oblivious? I contest that accusation. I'm not oblivious, I'm focused. My mind wraps itself around an idea, clings to it as if it were the one piece of wreckage left afloat after a ship goes down. It mulls over it, turns it over, views it from every possible side. And allows nothing else to interrupt the contemplation until it's satisfied it has abolutely, completely, without a doubt, torn it apart to the point that there is no semblance of an idea left for contemplation.

When I was in high school, I decided to reevaluate my priorities. I made lists of activities that were and were not appropriate for the Sabbath. I timed my scripture study to make sure that I allotted a full 30 minutes, and not one second less. I timed the start and end of each fast to ensure that it was, in fact, 24 hours. On fast Sundays, my family would gather in the kitchen after church to eat, talk, and laugh, while I consigned myself to my room to find more righteous activities to add to my list of righteousness so that I could officially crown myself the Righteous Queen and scorn the heathens who would dare eat and, heaven forbid, laugh less than 24 hours after beginning their fast. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but you get the point.

A friend once told me that my focus is a gift, a blessing even. It can be, I suppose. It's what, in part, allowed Peter to walk on water. He focused on the Master, refusing to allow distractions from the tempests raging about him. Then he lost focus. And sank. Or, if his mind works anything like mine, he didn't so much lose focus as he did change his focus. He focused on the waves ravaging around him, on what he should do to keep himself from sinking. And forgot that it wasn't his power keeping him above water to begin with.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

What a Face

Apparently I have a very familiar face. I am stopped almost daily by a stranger's quizzical look, head cocked to the side, and the question "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?" No, actually, you don't. I know the answer before the question leaves their lips, but I was taught to be polite, so I go through the list of places they may have seen me.

Well, are you from Texas? No?
Ever lived in Utah? Nope.
Are you an Engineer? Hmmm...

For a while I tried to flatter myself by thinking that this was a new pick-up line. But no, men, women, and children alike all seem to think that I look like their cousin, friend, neighbor, you name it. Once, I was stopped by a woman at the airport because she thought I was her daughter's best friend. I was a little concerned at how unfamiliar she must have been with her daughter's friends, but I smiled and informed her that, no, I've actually never even been to Maine.

My face is also much younger than the rest of me. At the age of 20, people guessed on average that my face was 15. Now that I'm 23, it can maybe pass for 17. On a good day.

My sophomore year of college, my roommates loved my face. Not because they thought it was such a cute 13-year-old face, or because they were just sure they had seen it somewhere before. No, they loved it because, apparently, I have a million and one of them. Faces, that is. This was a year of enlightenment for me. I mean, who knew that I have a different face for every emotion in existence, plus some. And, come to find out, I never make the same face more than once. Believe me, I've tried.

Initially, I thought this was great. See, I've never been very good at actually telling people how I feel. Now I don't have to! My face has been giving everything away all along. The problem is, I never know what my face is trying to say. What sort of information is it leaking? I never gave it permission to reveal anything. I wish it would at least let me know before it tells the world a story I never even knew I had.

Friday, October 22, 2004

I think I missed that lesson...

I got a parking ticket the other day. I've actually received several parking tickets over the past year. This time it was for parking for two and a half hours in a two-hour zone. I plucked the ticket off of my windshield, walked over to the State College parking office, calmly paid my $12, thanked the teller, and left. Am I annoyed that I have to pay $12 for those extra 30 minutes? Well, yes. But I didn't file a complaint, yell at the teller, make up 101 excuses. "But I was ONLY thirty minutes over the limit! Come on. This is SOOO unfair!" Because, guess what. IT WAS MY OWN FAULT!! I saw the two-hour parking sign. I knew I would be parked there for longer than two hours. But I decided to take the risk. And this time, I lost.

Now, I'm not telling this story to brag about how reasonable and even-tempered I am. Well, maybe partly to brag. But, seriously, whatever happened to a person accepting the consequences of their actions? As far as I know, teachers, parents, and the like have tried their darndest to teach their kids that when they mess up, there are consequences. That's just the way it is. Deal with it. Apparently my generation was all absent the day they went over this concept at school. We were probably all too busy filing complaints against our first-grade teachers because we got our names on the board for talking, but the kid sitting next to us didn't. "Hey, he was talking too. NO FAIR!"

Now, this wouldn't be so disturbing if my generation weren't becoming adults. Adults with kids. That we're supposed to raise. And teach about... responsibilty???

A Toast to Bexar

It's usually pretty tricky business getting myself to fall asleep at night. Unless I am insanely tired (ie, I haven't slept in 48 hours), my ability to enter the beautiful world of slumber is significantly dependent on what thoughts are running through my head. That's right, it's not whether my bed is comfortable, whether I'm too cold, too hot, or any other external physical effect. I can fall asleep in just about any setting, so long as my thoughts are conducive to sleep.

So, exactly what sort of thoughts bring sleep? Well, it can't be anything that makes me too happy. Because heaven forbid I be too happy when I fall asleep. Then I might have really happy dreams, and wake up really happy the next morning. So you'd think that I could just focus on something that makes me angry. Yeah, right. It's not quite that simple. In that case, I get too worked up, start thinking of really clever comebacks to whatever imagined wrong has been done, and then it's all over.

So here's the trick.

If I want to fall asleep, I have channel my brain towards something that I am either indifferent towards, or someothing that makes me a little sad. SAD? Yup, that's right. I have to either rid myself of all emotions, or bring myself on the verge of tears. Sometimes I wonder what bizarre force is manipulating my deep dark psyche.

So, last night, I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Hmmm.... What upsetting thought do I get to focus on tonight? Lets see... My roommate's bringing her annoying dog home for six weeks. Nope, not good enough. Okay. Hmmm... I'm bored with school. Nah, too overdone. Ooh! I have a good one! My little sister's getting married! I'm a little bit sad that I won't be able to see her as much. Perfect! That's it.

Alright, focus... Let's see. Carrie's wedding. Huh. Well, I wonder if she's going to have toasts at the luncheon? Those are usually tearjerkers. Ooh, better yet, I wonder if she'd ask ME to give a toast? Even better. What would I say? Probably something like this:

"I'm four and a half years older than Carrie.
I've always thought that the older sister should be the one to set the example. I wanted it to be my responsibility to show her how to act, how to treat people.
But over the past couple of years, she's become the kind of person I only wish I could be. I'm so happy that she's found somebody who recognizes and brings out everything good in her.
Congratulations, Bex."

At this point, everyone would be in tears, trying their best to keep their mascara from running. Ahh, bliss! I'm already almost asleep.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Wanna Hear a Joke?

Okay, so here's the background of my writing experience. As an undergraduate, I took exactly one writing class. Technical writing, to be exact. Now, I know that might sound scary and difficult, but the funny thing is, the key to being a good technical writer has very little to do with actually having writing talent. It's all about being able to organize. Now, you're talking to the girl who, when she organizes the pantry, sorts the beans and the soups and lines everything up according to how frequently they are used. Organization has never been much of a problem for me. So, I wrote these technical papers, all in a very organized fashion, and was then praised and lauded for my efforts. Pretty soon I began to think that I actually had talent as a writer.

Then I decided to write a story.

Hmmm... I put all of the information in the right order. It was very well organized. Yet somehow, it just didn't sound good. I was a little bit embarrassed to admit that I had written it. What could have possibly gone wrong? That's when I realized that this kind of writing actually requires talent. Which, apparently, I am seriously lacking.

While I may not have much of a knack for creative writing, I do have one redeeming characteristic. I am able to make fun of myself. I don't mind looking like a fool and flaunting my foolishness for the world to see. I just throw in some good jokes and people tend to forget all about the poor writing skills. I've fooled many people this way. Just don't ever ask me to write something serious. I mean, something that actually requires expressing real emotion, or serious ideas and thoughts. The truth is, I have a hard enough time figuring out how I feel most of the time, so I certainly can't put those feelings down in a coherent form. If something bad happens, I can tell you I'm sad. And if I pull out my thesaurus, I may also throw in some synonyms for the word "sad." But that's about as far as I get. Seriously, why do you think I listen to Country music so much? Those guys are so much better at putting my emotions into words. As is Charlotte Bronte, and the list goes on. But if I tried using their words to express my emotions, I'd be accused of plaigarism. Not only accused, but guilty of it. So I stick to making jokes.

For all the Men out there

Women. We're not THAT complicated are we? I mean, all we really want is for you to read all of our subtle hints, and know what we're thinking and feeling every second. That's not that much to ask, is it?

Well, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. You don't actually have to read our hints or know what we're thinking all the time. In fact, we don't even know how we feel half the time. What we really want is to know that we're cared about. Okay, so I'll admit that maybe, just MAYBE it's sometimes hard to know exactly how to show girl that you care. Well, maybe it's really hard. Our emotions are complex, we read into things way too much, and, let's face it, sometimes we even baffle ourselves. So here are some hints to help you out. They're not foolproof, but will definitely help.

1. Physical and emotional affection are very interconnected for women. If your girl is sad, hug her, hold her for a while, kiss her, and ask her if she's okay. You don't need to say anything really profound or insightful. Simply feeling your arms around her is often enough to soothe and comfort her. Then maybe she'll be ready to talk about what's bothering her. Or maybe not. Sometimes we're sad and don't exactly know why. (This frustrates us, too, so you're not alone in that.) So if she doesn't pour her heart out to you right away and tell you all of her troubles, it's okay. Whether she tells you or not, I promise that she will appreciate that you were concerned about her feelings and willing to hold her while she cried.

2. Please, please, please do not be critical. For the most part, we are very aware of our weaknesses and critical enough of ourselves. I realize that there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, we are well aware of our imperfections. Now, I don't expect a man to think I'm perfect. It's actually nice to know that he knows I'm not perfect, but he loves me anyway. Women want their boyfriends to be a major part of their support system. Meaning, if you notice that she's struggling with something, instead of pointing it out (BIG MISTAKE), try to think of ways to help her overcome it. Trust me. This can go a LONG way in winning a woman's heart. If she's a decent girl, she'll recognize your efforts. And be grateful that you care enough to help her. It allows you to let her know you recognize what she's struggling with without hurting her by pointing out so blatantly what she's doing wrong.

"Hey, did you know you're not perfect? Really? You did? Hey, so did I."

Yeah, thanks.

3. Do not assume that she's going to make the same mistakes over and over again. Even if she's made the same mistake over and over again in the past. As I mentioned before, she's probably very aware of these mistakes, and is trying to change. Sometimes that change is really slow. Agonizingly slow, even. But she needs to know that you believe in her. That you know that she's trying to change, and that it is possible.

4. Every once in a while, ask her what you can do for her. Tell her you appreciate her, and that you want to know if there's something - anything - that you can do to better show her that you care. Now, you may be a little hesitant to try this out. I mean, seriously, if we get creative, we could probably come up with all kinds of things for you to do for us. (Such as buy us extravagant gifts, wait on us hand and foot, etc.) But most likely, that won't happen. She'll probably just be thrilled that you cared enough to ask. And, like I said, all we really want is to know you care. See? I told you we're not that hard to figure out.

5. Don't be afraid to compliment her. If she looks particularly good one day, let her know. If you're impressed with something she's done, tell her! You don't have to make stuff up just to make her feel good. If you don't like her outfit, don't lie to her and pretend that you do. But if a nice thought enters your head, share it with her.

6. Okay, now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes, "IT" just isn't there. What is "IT", you ask? Beats me. I've been trying to figure that out for years. So, if anybody knows, please, enlighten me. I'm very curious. The truth is, no matter how much you like a girl, how nice, caring, attentive, etc. you are, sometimes she won't be interested. It's painful, I know, but it's the truth. Now, I know that telling you "you deserve somebody who will love you back" won't make it hurt any less. Rejection hurts. A lot. Trust me. That's something that both men and women have to deal with. Some experience it more than others, but just about everybody has felt that pain at one point or another. I've been completely, totally, head-over-heels in love before. And he liked me enough to date me! Perfect, I thought. Love conquers all. If I just love him enough, and am nice enough to him, I can convince him to love me back! Besides, love is supposed to be completely unselfish. So as long as I treated him well, that's all that mattered, right? Well, kind of. Everyone deserves to be treated well, so I don't regret doing that, even though it didn't convince him to love me. Was it worth trying? ABSOLUTELY. It feels good to be in love. I have lots of great memories with this guy, and will always be grateful for the time I had with him. But in the end, everybody needs to be loved. Even me.

Hello? Is anybody there?..... NO?? Okay, FINE

Today, during my math class, I spent the entire hour and a half daydreaming about having a man. Not anybody in particular. Any man would do. I spotted a really hot boy in the computer lab yesterday, and afterwards spent an unjustifiably lengthy amount of time thinking about him. What is causing this sudden desperate need for a lover? I've never been the kind of girl who always has to have a boyfriend. In fact, I've only had one, MAYBE two actual boyfriends in my whole life. I've always been content knowing that, one day, I will find true love, and until then, have been happy living my life single. (With a few dates mixed in there, of course.) So why is it all of a sudden IMPOSSIBLE for me to concentrate on anything besides the opposite sex? Is it the physiological effect of my body screaming at me to, "HURRY, procreate before your prime child-bearing years have slipped away!" Or is it the fact that the man that I so recently fell in love with is now 2000 miles away (and not coming back)? NO! While these factors undoubtedly contribute to the display of my desperate-I-must-have-a-man behavior as of late, the main reason for these horrifying and, yes, truly embarrassing feelings is the fact that there are NO OPTIONS. And I'm not being dramatic here. There really are zero men.

Okay, so I realize it's my own fault. I knowingly moved to podunk, barely-made-it-on-the-map Pennsylvania. But at the time, it seemed like the perfect scheme. I was the new girl, and since there's a serious lack of eligible females in this town as well, I got more than my share of attention from the small, slightly dorky, yet well-meaning male population. Just when I was running out of options, Derek moved into town. I had it made.

Then this year happened.

Derek left to take a job in California. I watched him go, had a good, long cry, and, after what I had thought was an acceptable mourning period, went out in search of a distraction (ie, another man). I wiped my tears, put on my cutest outfit, and set out to find..... what? NOTHING?? You can't be serious. Apparently I had forgotten during my months of blissful summer romance that there are no eligible men in this town. Well, maybe I should refine that statement. There are approximately five eligible men in State College. The problem is, I know them all well enough to know that, yes, as pathetic as my loneliness is, I would rather be alone than with any of them.

Now what? Do I resort to the online dating thingys? Or just get the heck out of dodge? I think for now, I'll have to resign myself to being distracted by... Ooh, that guy over there in the corner is a fine piece of work. I'll finally have to admit that, as much as I've tried to deny, hide, or distort this fact, I am, in fact, still very much a girl. With all of the emotional implications attached to that statement. Yes. I've admitted it. I am a boy-crazy girl, in desperate need of at least the PROSPECT of some unknown man stealing my heart away. Or at least wanting to take me out to dinner.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Yet Again...

So, I forgot to pack myself something to eat today. It's already 2:00, and I'm STARVING. So, I went down to the vending machine in hopes of buying myself a delicious (if not VERY unhealthy) mid-day snack. I inserted my quarters and dimes into the machine, pressed the button for my seletion, and watched in anticipation as the little spiral turned. However, instead of pushing my candy bar over the edge of the platform, as it was supposed to, it simply pushed it forward about a half inch. So now, I'm 5 cents short of buying another candy bar, and still hungry. This is the second time in about a week that this has happened to me. You'd think I would have learned by now.

Small Blip in the Plans

So, I finally told my mom that I'm leaving Penn State to go teach high school. As expected, she didn't respond incredibly well to the news. The first thing she said to me was "You're DROPPING OUT of school?" Well, I don't exactly see it as "dropping out," but apparently that's how she looks at it. I see it as moving on to something that I'll enjoy more and something that will be better for me in the end. I mean, I like grad school for the most part, and I like living in State College, but I just really feel like it's time for me to move forward and try something new. I'm still going to continue with my plans, and do what I think I should, but it's frustrating to know that she doesn't approve. I really wanted my family to be excited for me and a little more supportive than she is currently being.

Monday, October 18, 2004

What's Happening to me?

Okay, so I used to be a very driven person. I spent hours every day working on homework, studying, and keeping myself busy with school and other responsibilities. When I moved to State College, that changed. I think the fact that my last semester at BYU was miserable definitely contributed to this change. I realized that there are certain things and people in my life that are so much more important than academic success. So when I moved out to Pennsylvania, I made it a point to make sure that my schoolwork didn't interfere with my spirituality or any of my relationships. I had a lot of fun, made some good friends, and really felt like I made a difference in some people's lives. But I think I'm beginning to swing a little too far towards the lazy side. Lately, it's been so hard for me to get any work done. I sit down, thinking that I'll work on homework or my project for several hours, and I end up getting absolutely nothing done. I think that, ever since I decided to leave Penn State in August, I've been too excited about my new plans and all of the excitement that I have ahead of me, and I have a hard time focusing on the tasks that I have in front of me right now. My priorities have really flipflopped in the last year, so school doesn't seem quite as important as it once was. I have to constantly remind myself that this is something that I need to finish. I've loved my time in State College, and wouldn't change anything if I could do it over. But right now, I'm looking ahead just a little too much, and forgetting that I have responsibilities right now that can't be neglected.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Something to Look Forward To

So, today has been absolutely boring. Everyone went down to DC for the weekend, so I haven't had anyone to hang out with. I did some homework, read a little bit, practiced the piano, and other than that, I've just been hanging out trying to come up with ways to entertain myself. I can't wait to live in a city where there are more than 10 singles for me to hang out with. I can't wait!!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Day Off

So, today was a "study day" for Penn State. In other words, classes and work were cancelled, and students were free to do whatever they wanted. It was great timing, because this week was really busy and a little bit stressful for me. So today, I slept in, cleaned the kitchen, did some grocery shopping, and read quite a bit. I also looked online a little more for some jobs, although that's a little premature since most teaching jobs don't open until around April. It was a nice, relaxing, low-key day. What bliss!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


We had institute again tonight (as we do every Wednesday night.) We talked a lot about keeping bad thoughts out of our heads. It was really good for me to hear. I don't usually have a problem controlling my behavior, but I do sometimes have a hard time keeping my thoughts on good things. It's hard to do, but definitely worth the effort. I'm so much happier and more relaxed when I don't allow myself to think either mean or impure thoughts. Ceke talked about seeing people the way the Lord sees them, and made me really want to try harder to see everyone that way and look for all of the beauty within.


I made snickerdoodles last night. They are my all-time favorite cookies. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM! I got a recipe from and made them last night. It was my one night off from homework for the week, so I decided to bake. Now, normally I'm not a big fan of cookie dough, but I tasted some of the snickerdoodle dough that got stuck on the beaters, and it was HEAVENLY. Oh, my gosh, I don't think I've ever tasted anything so delectible. The cookies themselves were great, too. Incredible flavor, crispy around the edges like I like them, and chewy in the middle. What more could a girl want?

I emailed one of the math teachers at State College Area high school yesterday. I'm hoping to be able to help her out with whatever she might need, to gain a little bit of experience in the classroom. I think it's going to be a little tricky convincing a school to hire me to teach their students if I've never even set foot inside of a high-school classroom. I haven't heard back from her, but hopefully I will soon. I just need to be a little more patient. When I make a decision about something that I want to do, I always want everything to happen right away.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


So, I'm feeling a little bit stressed out lately. I'm feeling a lot of pressure to make some major advances in my research, and my classes take a lot more time than they have in the past. I really enjoy my math class, and it's not really too difficult, but it's been a really long time since I've taken a class taught by the math department. I'm just not used to the notations that they use, and the way they think about systems. It's so different from the way engineers view things, so it's taking me a little while to catch on. Everything's going to be just fine, I know, but I've made some pretty major decision about my life recently, and it just seems like everything's changing so fast. I'm entering some new territories that are very different from what I've been doing for the last six years, so figuring out how to approach everything is making me feel slightly overwhelmed. I'm definitely very excited about my plans, though, so that makes things seem a lot less burdensome.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Bad Day

So, today definitely isn't the best day ever. I'm just feeling frustrated with things a little bit more than normal. So, I'm really excited about my plans to go teach next year, and I'm really happy about being done with research next summer as well. I just don't like doing research very much. But I think today I realized how much I have to get done before I'll have my Master's degree finished, and how much time and work it's going to take. I didn't expect it to be easy, and I don't really mind doing things that are difficult, as long as I enjoy them. But I don't enjoy this research, so it frustrates me when I realize that I have to do it, and have to put a lot of effort into it. It'll be good for me, though. No matter where my career or my life takes me, there are always going to be things to do that are not necessarily pleasant for me. I guess this year will be good practice for that.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Making Plans

I went down to Washington DC with Wendy on Friday night. We got in at around 9:30, and hung out with Erin. She lives right across the street from the Pentagon, in a really cool area. When we got there, we went up to the roof and sat for a long time talking about our lives and about what it's like living in DC. It's a really neat city, with tons to do, and tons of people and excitement all the time. I love visiting, but I don't think I could ever really live there. There's just too much going on all the time, and there's not enough nature and outdoorsy type things to do. I love hiking and just being outside and enjoying nature way too much to really enjoy living in a big city. And besides that, the whole atmosphere seemed a little too materialistic. I noticed that after spending just one day in the city, I already wanted more clothes and possessions than I've wanted for a long time. I'm usually very happy with what I have. I don't have tons of clothes, but I have enough, and I like the ones that I have. It frustrated me that I started wanting so much. That's not something that I need. It makes life way too stressful, and makes it a lot harder to just be happy with what I have.

After hanging out with Erin, I went down to the temple. I joined up with a group of the youth from our stake to do baptisms. Being around all those kids reminded me so much of what I was like when I was their age. I realized how far I've come in the past 12 years, in all aspects of my life. I think I've grown a lot spiritually, socially, and emotionally, although I still have a really long way to go. But it felt nice to realize that I'm headed in the right direction.

I'm also getting very excited about the idea of teaching next year. I just don't feel very fulfilled doing grad work. I love taking classes and learning new things, but I don't like research very much, and I also feel way too isolated. I'm working on a project by myself, and I just don't have very many opportunities to use what I'm learning and what I'm doing to help other people. It's really important to me to feel like I'm making a difference and contributing to society in some way. I think teaching will provide that for me.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Latest Plan

Well, since I've decided that staying at Penn State for my PhD is no longer how I want to spend the next few years of my life, I've been trying to figure out what exactly I should do after I leave State College. The latest plan is to teach high school. I'm really excited about the idea. I was talking to Jen about it on Wednesday, and she gave me some books and explained to me the process that I have to go through to become certified to teach. I was a little bit frustrated after talking to her. Teaching certification is only state-wide, so if I am going to become certified in a particular state, I may have to stay there. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to tie myself down that way. But then I realized that I am not required to have a teaching certificate to teach at a private school. I think I would prefer working at private schools, anyway, so that is the plan that I settled on. Well, I actually decided that I would apply for teaching jobs for next fall, and also apply for some programs to do student teaching and become certified to teach in Pennsylvania. Then, if a job doesn't come through by the time I graduate, I'll at least have something to do so that I'm not floundering. And becoming certified in Pennsylvania won't necessarily mean that I have to teach here Apparently, Pennsylvania's certification requirements are more stringent than most state's, so if I'm certified here, most other states will allow me to teach there as well. It feels so good to have a plan! I hate being unsure of where I'm going in my life. Now I just need to start working a lot harder on my reserach so that I'll be finished by next fall.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Have a Little Faith

So, I didn't pay much attention today during my math class. I wrote down everything the professor wrote on the board, but my mind was on another topic entirely. I was thinking about the effect it has when people don't allow others to change. So, when you get to know somebody really well, you become very familiar with all aspects of their personality, which means seeing both their strengths and their weaknesses. But sometimes, regardless of how accurate our assessment of a person may be, we need to just let go of these preconceived notions we have about them, and have a little more faith in their ability to change. It really holds people back when they're trying to improve themselves and overcome their weaknesses, and the people who they really need to be able to turn to for support and help assume that they're going to make the same mistakes over and over again. The reason I'm thinking about this is because I have a really hard time expressing my feelings, especially if I'm feeling hurt by something or somebody. I'm incredibly lucky, because my family is really great at recognizing my attempts to change and improve. It's so easy to overcome my faults with their help. But every once in a while, there are people who have a really hard time recognizing and accepting my efforts. I realize that sometimes the changes take place very slowly, and sometimes, although the effort is there, the actual progress can be difficult to see. But I realized today that I really need people to believe in me and have faith that I really can conquer myself.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


So, I went to institute tonight after dinner. There was one part of the lesson that really inspired me and seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear right now. We were talking about when Peter walks on water with Christ. He didn't start to sink until he got distracted and scared by things that were going on around him, and remembered that he doesn't know how to walk on water. I've been kind of scared the past few days with my decision to leave Penn State after getting my Masters instead of staying for my PhD. I've been worried that I won't be able to find a job. I realized tonight that I know that this is the right thing to do. I've thought about it a lot and prayed about it, and I've received my answer. Now I just need to go forward trusting that everything will work out for me. My patriarchal blessing mentions my ability to find work, so I really shouldn't doubt at all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I'm Figuring Things Out

I've felt really good over the last two days. I think I'm finally figuring out some things that I've been trying for a really long time to resolve within myself. I think watching conference has helped out with that a lot. I missed the Saturday sessions since I was running in the Tussey Mountainback, so yesterday I came home after picking raspberries and listened to the Saturday sessions online. It was so nice to take a small break from everyday life to just figure out how to improve myself and get my life where it should be.

Now, I know I said it was nice to take a break from life, and it really was. But now, the challenge is to be able to pick my life up where I left it a day ago, and incorporate everything that I learned into everyday living. Learning what I need to do to improve myself is only the first step. Putting all of these lessons into action is another challenge entirely. But I think that I feel enough conviction for my newfound insights that I will be willing to put forth the effort required to live them. I just need continual reminders of what I learned and how I felt.

I think I've learned a lot about faith recently. There's no reason for me to ever deviate from doing what I know is right. I can't let myself get convinced that any other method of living will benefit me in any way. There are so many temptations sometimes trying to convince me that following my own path can bring about great things for me. I just have to remember that, even though there are so many things that I want, that aren't even necessarily bad things, are often not what's best for me in the end. And along with that, I've learned how to better recognize answers to prayers. Keeping the spirit in my life makes it so much easier to feel the peace that comes with knowing that I am following Heavenly Father's will for me.

Monday, October 04, 2004


I went to a raspberry farm this morning with my friend Joanna, where they let you pick as many raspberries as you want, and leave half of them in the freezer for the farmer. So now I have tons of raspberries in my fridge. I need to figure out what to do with them before they go bad (which will probably take only 2 days.) It was really nice to spend some time enjoying the outdoors, although my lower back got sunburned where my shirt came up a little when I leaned over. It was totally worth it, though, just to be enjoying the beautiful weather. It was also good for me to be getting to know some of the married women in my ward a little better. I've recently started trying to become better friends with some of them. There are some really cool ladies around here. They're so much fun to talk to. Even though we can't hang out a lot since most of them have kids, it's still just nice to know that there are people around to have a good conversation with every once in a while.

Sunday, October 03, 2004


So, recently I lost my scriptures. I took a road trip with my friend, and left them in one of the hotels along the way. Since then, it's been a lot harder to keep up with my scripture study. I've been borrowing my roommates, or reading online, but I haven't always had my own scriptures there to read or study whenever I needed or wanted to. It's made me realize how important they are, and how much they help edify me. It's been really good for me. Sometimes it's hard to recognize how much you need or appreciate something until it's gone. I've been trying really hard over the last few months to be able to really recognize the effect that the scriptures have for me, and to be able to improve my scripture study. I think this experience was an answer to my prayers.

General Conference was this weekend. President Hinckley spoke today on the importance and value of good women in this world. It made me want so badly to be a better person. He made me realize that if I am trying my best to be good, virtuous, and loving, that will bring me eternal happiness. It made other less important things just fall away and seem so trivial. I feel like I've been bombarded with a lot of different ideas on how to become a better person, that are not necessarily right. Being "successful" is too often associated with school or career achievements. Listening to President Hinckley's talk today made me realize that selfishness and lovingness are really the attributes I want to attain more than anything.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mountainback Team

Tussey Mountainback

I ran in the Tussey Mountainback 50-mile relay today with a group from church. Darin Tandberg, Andrea LeBaron, Steve Torgerson, Joanna and Trevor Warburton and I all ran. It was so much fun to be around all these people who were so excited to be there and so excited about what they were doing. Besides a little bit of friendly competition, everyone seemed to really want to help each other. Everybody was cheering on the runners from other teams, and especially the ultramarathoners. (They ran the entire 50 miles alone. That's incredible.)

Anyway, I ran two legs that totaled 10.2 miles. The first leg was 6.2, and the last leg was 4. My legs were really stiff during my second run, but it felt really good to push myself and make myself keep running, despite how much it hurt. It always feels good to challenge myself in any aspect of my life. It makes me feel like I'm progressing and accomplishing something. Our team this year beat last year's score by about 12 minutes, which I was excited about. I'm so exhausted now, though. I didn't get much sleep last night. I wasn't feeling really great, so it was really hard for me to fall asleep. But Jenny and I are supposed to go see Napoleon Dynamite tonight, so I need to somehow recover before then. I hear that movie is hilarious, so I don't want to miss out.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Life Changes

So, I've been thinking a lot about why I'm in State College. The first obvious answer that I come up with is that I'm in school here, pursuing a good education. That, and the fact that it was obviously very right for me to move out here. But I'm starting to think now that I've learned what I was supposed to, and that I've made changes in myself that I might not have been able to make if I had not moved out here. I'm really grateful for the time that I've had here, and the time I still have. But I think that it might be approaching the time when I need to move on with my life elsewhere. I've been seriously considering finishing up my Master's degree, and then finding a job. I've been looking to see if there are any teaching jobs that I could get with a master's degree. If there are, I think I'll apply for some of those. I'm trying to be cautious about this, and not make any really drastic decisions, especially right now. I mean, I realize that right now, I'm really feeling kind of lonely, and that is definitely swaying the way I feel. I mean, Derek left after being here all summer, and I miss him. And besides his leaving, a lot of my other friends that I spent a lot of time with recently left State College as well. Anyway, the reason I say all this is because I want to make sure that I'm not just running away from my problems. Just because something isn't as easy or as fun as I would like for it to be, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not going to teach me things that I need right now. I'm so confused about what I want right now. I mean, I've honestly never really felt lonely before. I've always had family and some close friends who make me feel very loved, whether or not they're even living in the same state that I am. So it's never bothered me before if I don't always have a ton of people to hang out with every weekend. I know how blessed I am to have the people that I do in my life. So this whole loneliness thing is so new to me, I'm not entirely sure how to handle it.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

My little sister and her fiance - isn't she beautiful?

Social Interaction

So, recently, I've been totally craving social interaction. I think it has something to do with the fact that most of the close friends I had out here in State College recently moved away. Last week, I flew out to Utah to visit my little sister, and for about an hour or two, I talked to the man sitting next to me on the plane. (Which is something I rarely do.) Anyway, he was a retired Engineering professor at Utah State. I thought we would talk about engineering a lot, since I am also an engineer, but we ended up actually having a really interesting conversation about our culture, and about how our society functions compared to other societies around the world. It made me really want to travel more. It would be really interesting to see other cultures more up-close, instead of having to hear it second hand. A group of my friends is planning a trip to Spain next summer. I'm really excited to go, and to see these people whom I haven't seen in a while, although I think I would rather go to Italy or Prague or somewhere else. Spain is really cool, I'm sure, but there are so many places I want to go, and I only have so much time and money, so I'd like to prioritize my travels a little better. But I wasn't the one who made the initial plans, and I'm really grateful for those who did, so I'm going to make the best of the trip. Maybe I can convince one of them to go to Italy with me after we're done in Spain.