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.