Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Signs of spring

1. My roommate and I sunbathed on our south-facing-not-visible-from-the-street porch on Saturday. Ok, really, she sunbathed, and I sat there with my pj pants pulled up over my knees and chatted with her.

2. I got in my car on Saturday afternoon, and it was HOT inside.

3. I am wearing just a short-sleeved t-shirt on campus today - no sweatshirt, no coat, no scarf, no gloves, yes pants.

4. Last night at 11pm it was warmer outside than in my house - NOT on purpose. Wrong, people, just wrong.

5. I am REALLY tempted to ditch this whole thesis, graduate school, making-an-academic-contribution-to-the-world thing and go find some people playing volleyball outside and join them. For the rest of my ever-lovin' life.

Edited to add: And then, true to form, it hailed today. Twice. And thunder and lightning. Happy Spring to you, too.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I can't get enough of you, baby!

And when I say "baby," I mean "sleep." Just can't get enough of you. Er, it.

I have a friend who typically doesn't set an alarm to get up in the morning. He wakes up whenever his body is done sleeping, gets up, goes to the gym, and then goes to work. Before 8am.

I'm sorry - what?!

I had an 8am meeting on Friday, which I try to avoid whenever possible, and as I approached campus in my car, I saw scads of people walking to campus. Before 8am.

I'm sorry - what?!

Maybe this is why I'm still workin' on that ol' thesis, folks, and not graduated yet, but I have a really hard time getting up that early. Ok, so maybe going to bed earlier than I do would help - then I wouldn't feel yucky when I got up. Yeah, I think that might do it.

But really, o what a blessed thing it is to sleep! I sleep under an electric blanket, because my house is s'dang cold, and I REALLY enjoy the fact that I can preheat my bed so that by the time I climb in it is already warm. ahhh...

Perhaps the fact that I am fantasizing about sleeping and it is only noon means that I really do need to go to bed earlier...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wherein I totally accost a girl on campus

She was wearing a shirt that said, "Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" and really had no idea what she was getting herself into. (Start attaching importance to the little decisions, people.) So she was innocently walking across campus when suddenly someone gasped, stopped her, and said, "Do you know what your shirt is from?!?"

Her, startled: Uh, it's a line from that poem...

Weird has-no-problem-stopping-random-people-to-talk-about- their-clothing girl, totally excited: Yeah, the Jabberwocky! And now I'm dying to know what the back of the shirt says!!

Her, awkwardly removing her backpack: Well, it's from an honors English class, so the rest has nothing to do with it...

Weird hnpsrpttatc girl, reading the rest of the shirt anyway: Oh.

Weird hnpsrpttatc girl, babbling apologetically: Sorry to stop you like this, it's just that that poem is kind of a family thing with me. My dad recited it to us all the time growing up, and my sister and I do interpretive dance to the poem, so when I saw your shirt...

Her: No problem!

Her (in her head, hence the italics): Note to self: tell campus police to watch out for this girl. Plus never wear this shirt again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Isn't she stunning, folks?!

What you see here, ladies and gentlemen, is the picture that made me bawl on Sunday when I saw it for the first time.

Bawl and gesticulate madly and babble at my mom and my future brother-in-law - possibly the two people in the world who need to hear it LEAST - about how BEAUTIFUL my sister is, and how AMAZING this picture is, and how SO LIKE HER it is to be at a folk art conference in a remote little town in China and end up with an entire village enthralled with her singing, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

I SO claim her, people.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Is this one of those "life lessons" that is supposed to "build character," or what?

I think someone just needs to remind me that things are never going to be all settled and decided and firm and un-uncertain. I mean there are some things that will be, but not all things, all at the same time.

I have a few good friends, ranging from ages 25-64, who are, in one circumstance or another, WAITING.

Actually, I don't like the word WAITING, because that implies a certain amount of passivity (passiveness? Is that a word?), and most of these friends are taking the positive steps possible to resolve / get / find the things they are waiting for. How about...

I have a few good friends, ranging from ages 25-64, who are, in one circumstance or another, DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY.

Sometimes in my selfish little I-am-a-grad-student-and-hence-
have-an-unstable-and- transient-life-in-which-very-little-is-firm -and-settled-and- certain-just-because-of-the-fact-that-I-am -a-student world I think that once the "student" portion of my life is over then the "in which very little is firm and settled and certain" part will be over, too. Meaning that things WILL eventually be firm and settled and certain.

But really, I think not. Here are some of the uncertainties that my friends and I are dealing with, and most of them are not tied to student status:
  • debt - getting out of it, when it's ok to get into it, why to get into it sooner rather than later, why to get out of it sooner rather than later
  • dating and marriage - finding someone that you want to propose to, finding someone that you want to be proposed to by, why did that have to end and will there really ever be anything better or as good?, having / making / finding time / choosing / wanting to be in / to stay or not to stay in a relationship, making the relationship / engagement / marriage work once it's decided on
  • school - what to major in, what to do with this major, what to do after graduation, what to do if graduation never comes and how to make sure it does, how to find time to support self / family while also trying to successfully pursue a degree
  • employment - where to look, what to look for, when to decide, what to decide, what to consider in making those decisions, when will the contracts for work start coming in?, how to figure out all the dang independent contractor tax stuff
  • family - to have or not to have kids, trying to have kids, what to do with kids once you have them :) , what to do if you had them and now they're gone, how to best help your adult kids, being scared that your adult kids won't make it on their own, to move or not to move and how will it affect the kids
  • health - surgery after surgery after surgery to get the same thing fixed, how long will the healing take, will this surgery be the one that makes the real healing start, when will things be totally healed, is progress enough or is full healing an option?
  • spiritual - is there a God, does He communicate with men and women, what does He want me to do, how to best get His help when it's needed, how to secure His help for loved ones
Oh, plus your basic grief, divorce, immorality and the consequences thereof, dealing with other people's poor decisions, car trouble, high gas bills, you name it!

So if I know people with all of these things going on in their lives, why would I think that things will be nice and calm and settled for me at some future point? Ya know, once that magical event happens, whatever it is - graduation, marriage, great job offer.

It's just frustrating sometimes to look at the lives of people I care about and to want for them that little piece of certainty--some little piece of certainty, any little piece of certainty, especially the one they are currently most concerned about. But that won't be the answer--behind that one uncertainty is a whole line of them, just waiting their turn, and the resolution of each one reveals the next.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Note to self: Trying to focus for millions of hours on end could lead to insanity

That's really pretty much all I have to say about that.

OK, not really. (Yeah, pshaw, when is one sentence ever "all I have to say" about anything? Riiiiight.)

My new thesis-writing-focus-technique proposal is as follows:

Start earlier, like say, 6am.

After focusing really hard and writing like a no-really-I-deserve-to-graduate-in-April maniac until I start to lose focus (approximately 2-2.5 hours later), GO DO SOMETHING ELSE!

Something TOTALLY different.

Something that that cannot be done in the same room and does not involve computers. Or words. Or brains.

Like, say, run for 30 minutes.

Then (shower and) come back and work really hard for another 2-2.5 hours. Then GO DO SOMETHING ELSE.

Something TOTALLY different.

Something that that cannot be done in the same room and does not involve computers. Or words. Or brains.

Then (shower if needed :) and) come back and work really hard for another 2-2.5 hours.

Sensing a pattern? 'Cause this whole no-no-can't-leave-the-room-must-focus-harder-you-idiot thing is not helping. I am not leaving the room, but I am also not getting anything good written. Or anything at all written. I'd settle for less than "good" at this point.

So we'll try this new technique and see how it treats me. I don't know if I'm just not desperate enough yet to be able to sit and write for a million hours, and maybe I'll reach that point soom (or soon, even), but right now I'm willing to try something new to see if I can end up with a Masters degree AND my sanity.

Blog out.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tried and true distraction techniques from an expert

(You'll be proud, nay, astounded to know that I found all these without even trying. Not bad, eh? Think what I could do with a little effort!)

1. Catch up on Strong Bad emails.
2. Catch up on Teen Girl Squad.
3. Type every possible spelling of Christensen/Christiansen/Christanson into the online directory in an attempt to find the contact info of a professor instead of walking into the next room and making one phone call.
4. Gather email addresses out of family group emails and add them to contacts list.
5. Check RSS feeds-list-thingy for new stuff. After all, I now have, oh let me check, SEVEN sites on my list.
6. Check blog for comments even tho an email will show up if anyone makes one.
7. With all those family emails addresses, how about sending them all an email, telling them about the new blog?
8. Immediately answer every email - important or not.
9. Find RSS feeds for a few more favorite sites. Oh yeah, baby, 'cause this morning, I only had three, and now, see #5 for my progress.
10. Check out a few new mommyblogs. I'm not a mommy, but someday, oh someday...and I'll need to be ready!
11. "Test" the new gmail chat with any and all of your contacts who sign in. Google will thank me later, I'm sure.
12. Respond to those old emails that you've been meaning to respond to for several weeks. I mean, why wait? Procrastination is, after all, such a nasty habit.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Singleitudicity part deux

So there are some NICE things about being single:

1. When I went home to that big cold empty house last night, no one complained, or even knew!, when I blasted "Dragostea din tei" (known to most of you as "the nume nume song") and danced around my dining room, singing the few Romanian words that I know and eating mint chocolate chip ice cream straight from the carton.

2. Furthermore, no one had to witness it when I belted out "Defying Gravity" and didn't QUITE hit the notes that Idina Menzel hits. I mean, please, people, I am SO not a Broadway star, and that SO shouldn't interfere with my fun. And, oh, it didn't.

3. Furthermore, even though I finished that carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream later in the night, the only one whose disappointment I'll have to deal with when it's not there to snack on tomorrow is me. And I can just go buy another carton if I feel so inclined. Budget, schmudget.

4. I can still "erg" to people, and people can still "erg" to me. Thanks, DYM! :) (And I'm REALLY sorry for whatever had you up erging at 2:39 am. Good luck...?)

5. When I'm ready for the lights to be turned off, they get turned off. And by golly, if I want to leave them on all night, that is also just up to ME. ("Did I not say, 'can-a-can?'")

Enjoy it while you can, folks!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


OK, so it's the end of a thesis/work day, and I am going home. To a two-story house with blank walls, 13 foot high ceilings, a not-too-functional heater, and, most importantly, NO OTHER PEOPLE in it. Sound empty? uh, yeah.

And today, that's not a good thing, folks.

I mean, really, one of the most stinky things about being single is going home to an empty house. I do have a GREAT roommate, but she is, as they say, "attached," and frequently passes the dinnertime-into-evening hours at the home of her "attachment." And I don't like to be in our house alone.

And the place where I would go to escape the emptiness has been told (by me) to not let me in unless I have done 6 hours on my thesis today, and, uh...yeah...

Of course, one of my married coworkers, to whom I expressed the sentiment of this post, and who encouraged me to post on it, and who said he'd comment on it (wait, he just took that back, jerk!) said, "There are days, however, when you don't WANT to go home to someone asking you how your day went. You just want to watch the Simpsons and go to bed."


I just don't want to go home tonight to a cold empty house to spend several more hours on my thesis with no one to say "erg" to when I need to say "erg."

Man, once this thesis is done I am going to PAR-TAY. For, uh, lots of reasons besides this, but this also.

P.S. This will be the last grumpy post for at least...24 hours. :) Don't give up on me!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

wow, I'm frustrated

and when feeling so, it takes way too much effort to spell and punctuate and capitalize correctly, so dont' expect any of that

i was supposed to put in 5 hours on my lit review today and that did not go well at all. i've put in 2 so far but IT HURTS.

how can i be exhaustive in my search? how can i make sure that i'm putting in 'enough' to be enough? there are entire BOOKS written on each little piece of my thesis - how am i supposed to knwo what to put in and how much i need to cite others and how much is allowed to be 'common knowledge' for anyone in my field? plus, my 'field,' as I claim it, is SO specific - just-in-time training for temporary part-time teachers of less commonly taught languges. find me something 'general' there and i'll tell you why it won't help me.


my chair says there are two kinds of theses, 'good' and 'done' but i don't know how to walk the fine line between them when it comes to the lit review.

erg erg
erg erg erg
erg erg erg erg

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I feel validated

I am pounding away on chapter 2 of my thesis, which, for those of you who have not had the, ahem, joy of writing one, is the literature review. This is where you are supposed to summarize and tie together relevant research on your topic to show where the holes are and hence where your piece fits in.

So since I do language teacher training, I am updating and beefing up my lit review by reviewing first the textbook that was used to teach the language teaching methods course that I took as part of my French teaching undergrad. And it's kind of fun. (Too bad I didn't feel like reading this textbook was "fun" when I was enrolled in the class...) (Wait - you mean things we don't like or see the relevance of at one point we might like, refer to, and even depend on later?! No way! This shakes my whole view of the world!) I am finding statements and descriptions and charts and activities that are EXACTLY what I have been telling the language teachers that I train. !!! So cool! I feel like I want to take this book to the next workshop with the teachers and be like, "Look! I'm not an idiot! It says so right here!" :)

I think those ideas crept into my head because of my having read so much of this book several years ago when I was in the class, and because of the fact that I work for and with the professor who taught me that class using this book, so those ideas seep into all our projects, but it is REALLY NICE to find that I have not just been making things up :) over the last couple of years as I trained language teachers, but that I have been doing just fine.

So there. Go me. hmph.

Monday, February 06, 2006

For my poetry-loving sis

This is the quote of the day from Robert Frost:

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

I like it. And I like Robert Frost. And I like why I like him. Sadly, I'm not literary or deep enough to like him purely for his poetry. Workin' on it, folks, workin' on it.

My grandmother, Mom's mom, LOVED Robert Frost. She loved poetry in general, and Robert Frost in particular. She passed that love on to my littlest sister, who used that mutual love as a bonding point and letter topic with my grandma. We lived at the opposite end of the country from those grandparents all growing up, so we didn't get to visit too often, and I didn't feel like I was very close to them, but I thought it was really cool that my sister loved something that my grandma loved. Knowing that my sister, whom I adore, loves something that my grandma loved makes me feel closer to both of them. And to my mom, who knows and loves both of them better than I do.

So I do things like, say, post his quote of the day, to express that link - the things that connect us. Because, ladies and gentlemen, those connections are what make ANYTHING matter.

Friday, February 03, 2006

My new favorite music video

Who knew the university bookstore would have - and SHOW! - something this amazing!

Thanks, Schopinski. You totally rock.

...As does a band called OK GO, with their song Dancing in the Backyard.

What a nice feeling

So some friends helped me out a LOT with my car recently. A TON. No, really. Totally voluntarily and above and beyond what I would expect of anyone. As I have considered how I could repay them or even thank them enough, another friend said, "Are these guys that you see on a regular basis?"

Me: "Yes."

Him: "So then - things will come up that you can do for them; don't worry about it."

Me (inside my head, hence the italics): "Huh. That's true."

So just now I was thinking about how grateful I am to those friends, and it struck me that I am tied to them with bonds of friendship and gratitude and the desire to serve.

What a nice feeling!

It reminds me of the feeling I had toward my aunt and uncle last September. They let me stay with them for a week or so when my roommate and I were homeless because of the really - slow - and - more - time-consuming - than - any - of - us - expected renovations on our house. They made me feel SO welcome, and expressed numerous times that they loved having me there and that I was welcome to stay as long as I needed or wanted.

And during that time I felt that I wanted to serve them, to help them, to do whatever I could around the house to show my gratitude. It was almost a pathetic feeling. Pathetic in a good way. :) Maybe "humbling" is a better word - I just really really really wanted to help them in any way possible.

And I realized back in September that that is the feeling that I want to - and should! - have toward my Heavenly Father - so much gratitude for what He's done for me and given me that I want desperately to serve Him and to do whatever I can to show my gratitude.

And today, I am reminded of my desire to have that feeling, and in addition to that feeling this new sense of being bound to people by service and gratitude and the all-important choice to be friends and serve and care.

What a nice feeling. Thanks, guys.


So I just checked my online student status, to make sure that my graduate study list and graduation application had cleared, and what a THRILL it was to read...wait, I'm going to go back and get the exact words.

[a small amount of time passes]

Ok, so the exact words of the graduation clearance check weren't exciting at all, but the ABSENCE of words such as, "NO WAY!" and "CANNOT ESCAPE" and "YOU WISH!" was actually pretty exciting, and it did say, "Coursework is Approved" and "Committee is Approved," and after all the hassle of getting those words to appear, I'm pretty excited!

And I've been sitting in our beloved university library this afternoon, hammering on my thesis (erg), and so it was really fulfilling to go look at that site and know that SOMEONE, even it is just the Department of Bureaucracy and Paperwork, thinks this thing will be done in time for me to graduate.


P.S. Ok, to be fair, my chair ALSO believes I can be finished in time, because he's the one who signs the form. So it's not JUST the Dept. of B. and P. that believes in me. :)

P.P.S. But still, YAY!! And now I am off to eat cold pizza.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

O frabjous day

So this morning I was sitting in the library upstairs in my house, reading the war chapters in Alma while blow-drying my hair, and I glanced out the window and suddenly I just felt like life is good. I mean, ok, my house is so cold that Peter the (space) Heater is my constant companion, the laundry room in the basement is cobwebbing and scary enough that every time I go down there I have flashbacks to that one scene in "Arachnophobia" where the big granddaddy of all scary spiders rears up *shudder*, the smushed body of a black widow is still behind a pipe in the bathroom, the heater in my car would best be described as "mildly" functional, and my thesis may see the end of me before I see the end of it, but really, life is good.

I get paid tomorrow, I have a car to drive and a house to live in (even if they are both cold), I'm not quite out of applesauce yet, that guy who called the police to report that his marijuana had been stolen is behind bars, I have tickets to a really funny show tomorrow night, and there's Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Dough ice cream in a freezer to which I have access ;) .

So yeah, for those and lots of other reasons, life is good. That's what I felt this morning. So I thought I'd share.