Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's not unusual.

I'm getting a list together of the things I'll do once I'm home for Christmas
and what I'll do when I


I'll share the list later. One thing I know I will be doing though, is this:

If you doubt how serious I am, ask my sisters. It's going to be a good time at the Powell house. Come and stop by; we'd love to have you join in.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In which I smile beautifically

Today I went to the library to read a wordy, wordy book on world systems theory. Did I read said book? Yes. Two whole pages of it.

I study in the juvenile lit section. My kind of world. For all of my vocabulary and high thoughts and theoretical reflections and intense school neurosis, I love nothing more than juvenile fiction. Nothing. Family and the gospel are possible exceptions. Let me amend that: I love good youth lit. Not all YA fiction is created equal. Not by a long shot.

I love the stories, I love the characters, I love the plot devices and dilemmas and humor, I love the resolutions.

Coincidently, there is an exhibit dedicated to Lloyd Alexander in the juvenile lit section of the library, and I possibly love Mr. Alexander more than all other YA authors combined. If I could name the main influences and molders-of-clay in my life they would be my parents, the gospel, the trials I've had or helped others through, and Mr. Alexander. His character Vesper Holly is my role model. I may have to name my oldest daughter Vesper...and don't get my started on Prince Jen and Sebastian the violinist and the gypsy Rizka and Taryn and the Gawgon and Carlo Chuchio and Tamar...they were the dearest friends of my childhood and the ones who still inspire my personal ethics and greatest dreams.

We can talk about their influence on my grasp of reality and romantic ideals another time...

Anyway, I sat down at a table in the library to begin puzzling out world systems theory when a book entitled Princess Ben caught my eye. Add that in to my long-denied senioritis, the fast approaching Thanksgiving break, and my latest musings on the direction my life and love life might take, and yep, good bye Immanuel Wallerstein and all of the other stuffy thinkers.*

Dear friends, I read the entire book in about 2 1/2 hours. Everyone around me was studying for tests and doing research and being stressed out and I read about Princess Ben whose real name, unfortunately for her, is Benevolence.

It was a more or less typical coming of age Cinderella-esque, Sleeping Beauty-ish, Ella Enchanted-like, female empowerment YA novel set in a faux British kingdom where the princess learns to reevaluate those above her, think of those under her, grow into her own power, discover her talents and gifts, save her kingdom, kill a dragon, learn to dance and eat politely and curtsy and talk diplomatically and fallinloveeventhoughshehatedthehandsomeintelligentprincefromtheneighboringkindgomwhohatedheranddiscoveredshewasawitchand wasalmostkilledbythedragonandwhohelpedherseewhatwasreallyimportantinlife.

Smartest, most responsible decision I ever made? Probably not. Best book I've ever read? Nope. But reader, I enjoyed it.

*It's not Wallerstein's fault he couldn't compete. World systems theory actually really is interesting. I've been interested in it for a long time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tis a bonny day, it is

I went and saw Harry Potter last night. It rocked my world! I grinned and oooh'ed and squirmed and cheered. It was perfectly magical.

But the pre-show almost matched it. Some guy who I think was supposed to be a dead Cedric challenged anyone in the theater to a duel. A girl was volunteered by her friends and another wand was procured. They lined up back to back and started to do the obligatory fives paces when the boy all of a sudden turned around, shot a curse, and then went bounding up the stairs yelling "Parkour! Parkour!"

The the girl looked stunned for a second (I think it was the curse) and then gave chase. It finally ended back up in the front of the screen, and after dodging and giving her best, the girl succeeded in reducing the guy to a twitching heap on the ground. Hilarious.

But I didn't go to bed until 3:30 and I'm now listening to a Celtic band (they're quite good, actually) outside of the building play a rendition of "Good King Wenceslas." Can you blame my slight feeling of euphoria and discombobulation?

Monday, November 15, 2010


Once upon a time I promised to put forth more concrete evidence vis-a-vis my tour of Wisconsin on why I am like a hurricane in a bell jar - safely contained, fascinating to watch from a distance, and largely illogical. But that time is not going to be now. Because I am more hurricane-y than ever and even more restricted to my glass surroundings.

I have form, I have direction, I have an impact, but I am chaotic and problematic. I am a large force on a small scale. I can be seen, but I cannot move.

At least that's what it feels like. School used to be a grand vehicle to take me to an exciting destination - and it was a great ride. Now I'm not sure what the destination is or if I'll get there. But the ride is ending soon.

I graduate next month. Next month. And I have lots of plans. Lots and lots of plans and ideas and wishes and ambitions. And no real plan of carrying them to fruition. I think I could develop a plan. I think I could figure out a way to make them work. But I am running, running, running, and not moving.

School is not my priority right now - at least it shouldn't be. I need to plan my life. But there is a part of me that can't give up on school and completely give over to getting B's. School and my over-developed sense of integrity to it is preventing me from planning my life. It's ironic.

Part of me just wants to skip school. Just have a day to play and relax. I have never once in the history of my school career skipped school just because i felt like it. Ever. What kind of product of the modern American school system am I?! Sure I've missed classes to study for tests or finish papers for other classes or because I had a lovely two week spell of complete depression two years ago. But that's not the same. I've never done it just because I wanted to.

But my days won't let me. There is something going on everyday this week which prevents me from skipping. Which just goes to show that I don't really understand the idea behind skipping class anyway. I caught myself planning in advance when I was going to skip class. Planning to be spontaneous. That's sick.

I used to be carefree and fun. I always did well in school but it never took all of my time like it is now. What has happened? Where is my adventure and joie de vive?

Come to that, where is my sense of fulfillment from school? It's almost completely gone. There is one class where I take pride in my grade - but it's kind of the grim satisfaction a general in the trenches feels when he receives a satisfying report confirming what he knew was right all a long. Hhhmmmm, he says, his thin smile narrowing for a moment as the muscles around his jaw tighten. I thought so. A sigh and a toothless smile is all the luxury he permits himself as he turns back to the work that consumes his days and keeps him up to unsustainable hours of the night.

Okay, so I overstate me case.

I graduate in a month. It will be bittersweet - I truly have had a wonderful, enriching, exciting, growing time here at BYU and I will miss the atmosphere and the challenges and the energy. But it will be very good to just relax for a little bit. I have been burning both ends for too long. As Bilbo says, I feel like butter spread over too much bread.

And this is what I write when I'm sick of reading about the sixty years of war in the Holy Land. But I have a test tomorrow and I am not yet at the point where I no longer care. This still has meaning. This is what I am meant to do right now. This is something I am good at.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Notes from the North

I think I mentioned a friend awhile ago who said that I needed someone to take care of me. I kind of bristled internally at the time, but I totally and completely agree now. I get myself in dreadful muddles when I'm left to my own devices. Absolutely dreadful.

I think it's a combination of rushing headlong into things, being too confident in my abilities, a blind faith that everything will work out right if I just keep going, a resistance to letting people know that I need help, and an internal insecurity in completely new situations. It sounds contradictory. It is.

Somehow, I always have to do things in the hardest way possible.

I'll share the full story when I feel up to it. A little preview: last night, long after dark, I ended up prowling the suburbs of Madison, WI while wearing a trench coat and dragging a suitcase.

Yep. Wisconsin. I'm in Madison right now attending the 39th Annual Conference on South Asia. It's a big deal. I'm presenting a paper tomorrow. I wish I felt like a big deal. Since it is a big deal, I packed my best Serious Academic clothes. I definitely overdressed. Unless you count the women in wonderful saris - they are the height of elegance.

In other news, I love Bengali and Bangladeshi academics. They're beautiful, earnest, hilarious, brilliant people.

Also, academics love to eat. I think its a holdover from their starving college days. It is very nice for this current starving college student.

The University of Wisconsin has a full-blown red brick castle. Darn those Lutherans. BYU needs a castle. But seriously, it's really, really cool.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Trying to be a wise servant

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them"
-Mark Twain

A person who has all of the opportunities in the world but doesn't take advantage of them is no better off than a person born with nothing, born in nowhere, and born with no chance.

A person born with some opportunities and who makes the most of them and works for more opportunities will be better off, and will have learned more in the process, than a person who never has to work for anything.

This is the perspective I'm choosing to take on my currently jobless, concrete-future-plans-less state. It is teaching me something. Promise.

That being said, I'm going to be a lot more diligent this week than I was last. I played a little too much and read not nearly enough. Balance is hard for me - I always go to extremes and justify it all the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Such a pain in the...

I had a hole punched in my eye today. I don't recommend it. I do, however, recommend that doctors make their numbing drops last longer. Much longer.

I went to my lovely retina specialist today - I see him about as often as I see my family - and he was forced to be the bearer of less-than-stellar news. I'm just too healthy. My body likes to heal itself a little too much. The scar tissue is taking over my eye and starting to cover up very important ducts and threatens to move past the iris to the front of my eye.

Talk about your hostile takeover. It's like some green goo-infected now-living thing that is bound and determined to take over all other life around it - the motives behind which are not examined but quickly skipped over in order to get back to the blood, gore, and testosterone-fueled fighting. And believe me, there is plenty of blood - my doctor said so.

Hmmm... if my scar tissue is the equivalent of a science experiment gone wrong, I wonder what would stand in the place of the brave, wholesome, well-meaning (if endearingly-flawed) hero who saves the day in the nick of time without thought of his (or her) own safety?

Yep, now I am making no sense at all.

To combat this evil scar villain, dear Dr. Romreill decided to give my eye a shot. I really do wish I knew what I was getting into when I go see that man. It is all too often an unpleasant surprise. The shot is one that is normally used on patients suffering from macular degeneration (which, coincidently enough, my grandmother has), but which the doctor hopes will stop the bad blood vessels from growing and stop the evil scar monster from getting his (or her) necessary supply of green goo.

All I know is that I dislike having long, sharp objects poked deep into my eye. Even if I cannot see it happening. I also know that you can apparently take way more ibuprofen than the bottle says and still not overdose.

Tune in next time for another exciting account of the devilish deeds of the Creature From the Inner Eye! Watch the mayhem that it lets loose on unsuspecting Cornea and Iris, two innocent, bookish, and pretty citizens of Craniumetropolis! Will a hero arise to combat this evil menance? Will he (or she) survive the encounter? We can only watch and pray that it is so...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kiddles and bits

Time to update on my life, especially since that decidedly gloomy post has been sitting at the top for far too long.

I have been working as an EFY counselor for the third summer in a row, and I absolutely love it. The youth get better and better every year. They are so hungry for doctrine and so want to do good - they just need to know what that is. There have been several times when I have felt the sweet, calm assurance that I am where I need to be, when I need to be there, doing what I need to be doing and that the Lord is pleased with my offering. My testimony and my reliance on and confidence in my Savior has grown and grown.

Every week counselors are chosen to be on panels to answer questions the youth have submitted, and I have had several opportunities to be on them. Sometimes I do fine and use the scriptures and True to the Faith and competently answer the questions, but there have been a few occasions when I got a question and knew I was meant to answer this. When that happens, my mind becomes clear, my thoughts and words flow together, and I feel the Spirit confirming what I say. These moments are ones to be cherished and remembered as I am blessed as I bless others by teaching the doctrines of the kingdom in such a way as to benefit others.


My eye has remained sightless. It is also now green and slightly more dilated than my other. I am getting used to when my youth ask if I have different colors of eyes. Yes, I reply calmly, yes I do. I am taking drops 4 times a day to keep the pressure up so it doesn't shrink and shrivel up. Lovely, I know.

I am becoming resigned and used to the blackness, and I have resolved to just move on with my life and live as normally as possible and do all that I want to do. I find that my soccer skills are much the same as they've always been, but ultimate frisbee is still a little scary when I'm running around with my eye on the disk and unsure of who is around me. The good news is that I believe my brain is learning to adjust to the one eye, so I don't think my depth perception is as messed up as it used to be. I still hate parallel parking, though.


I am on break this week and enjoying being home. I forget how beautiful this place is. It's funny, I really don't live in Rexburg anymore, but deep down it still is my home. The trees, the ponds and rivers and marshlands, the animals, my dad's garden, the old trucks rumbling down the highway... I love it.

Last night as the sun was setting Caitlyn and I went for a bike ride through the countryside. It was delicious - there really is no other word for it. The bugs I got in my mouth, however, were not. Caitlyn also taught me how to ride without using my hands! This is a skill I have been coveting since I was 7 years old and would see Aislin flying up and down Maple Drive with her hands resting calmly in her lap. It was a revelation. I totally did the whole Meg Ryan, City of Angels thing - minus getting hit by a car and killed. I can't believe it has taken me this long to learn. I will show this off for the rest of my life. I am so cool.

I am, however, a little rusty on bike riding, and I was on my dad's bike.... Let's just say my tush isn't very happy today and may complain about a repeat performance tonight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

There may be lots of world, but I'll only ever see half of it.

As most of you know, I have been having issues with my left eye for awhile now. Several years ago, my retina started to pull away from the back of my eye, and fluid started to fill in behind it. This was a problem. My vision became blurry and distorted. Because of this I have gone through several laser procedures, two full-out surgeries, cataracts, several black eyes, sleepless nights, 10 bottles of different eye medications, long periods of inactivity, reduced depth perception, and several misunderstandings with people when I can't see them on my left-hand side.

The latest surgery was at the end of April and was scheduled rather quickly when it was discovered that my whole lens had gone opaque over the course of a weekend - rather than seeing very little out of that eye, I just saw white milkiness. They removed the bad lens and the silicone gel that had been inside of my eye for over a year to keep my retina more or less in place. I have been home this last month recovering and trying to stay as idle as possible so as to not bump or jar anything in my eye. It has been pretty boring at times, very nice at relaxing at others.

Today I had my latest appointment with my eye doctor. The news was not good. He had been very optimistic after this surgery, but slightly less so each time I have gone back. Today was straight up realism with no spoonful of sugar to help it go down. My retina has torn once again. It will most likely never heal. I will never see out of my eye again. I can move and do whatever I want now because there is nothing anyone can do about it. If he tries to go in once again, he could kill the eye.

If I was older, it would have been easier to fix. But since I am a young, healthy individual with an excellent immune system, my body likes to heal itself. And heal vigorously. That means scar tissue. Every time my doctor has tried to go in and help my eye, scar tissue has built up and pulled on the retina and gunked up all sorts of things. If I was older or had a weak immune system, the scarring would have been minimal and I would probably be able to see right now. Kind of ironic - the things about my body I have always been thankful for and allowed me to keep any schedule I wanted are now a big problem.

This hurts.
I hate admitting failure.
I hate feeling powerless, feeling like I can't act, only be acted upon.
I hate knowing that I'm going to be like this the rest of my life.

I usually try and forget about this problem and move on with my life, but now I have to accept that I will forever run into people on a crowded walkway, I will forever be scared when backing up a car, I will never be able to play frisbee or soccer like I used to be able to. I will forever be on my guard waiting for something bad to happen to my other eye which could render me completely blind.

Someday I'll get a brighter perspective and be ready to rise above my challenges. One day I'll feel less overwhelmed and regain my I-can-do-anything attitude. But not today. Today is a grim reminder of my frail mortality, a reminder that no, contrary to my usual belief, I am not superhuman. And, oh, how it hurts.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You know you're a grown up when...

Last night I made myself some stir fry for dinner. It had three different types of vegetables in it. That I chopped up and willingly put in. And way more vegetables than meat. I even made an effort to grab extra vegetables when I was dishing myself up. This never used to happen. When I was little, I always used to make sure to get tons of meat and barely enough vegetables so my mom wouldn't dish me up more. Who knew life could change so fast.

Overheard at BYU

The other day I was taking a break from studying and was eating a sandwich outside on a bench. It was wonderful. The weather, not the sandwich. The sandwich was merely good. About 15 feet away from me, a guy and girl were chilling on the steps. As I was mid bite, I heard the girl say this:

"I mean, they asked me what my interests are. I have no idea what my interests are! That's why I hate filling out forms like that. What are my interests? I don't know. What do they want me to say? Candy. I'm interested in candy. And eating. KFC, chicken burritos, those are my interests. What are my hobbies? Ha, I don't know."

Now the girl was eating a burrito at the time, but I don't know if it was chicken. I also don't know what the boy was thinking - he could have been enthralled with this speech or bored out of his mind for all I know. But I DO know what I was thinking. I almost choked on my sandwich. And it wasn't chicken. It was turkey.

Are you kidding me?!?! You have no pursuits? No passions? No interests? Nothing that gets you excited and makes you feel alive? Nothing with which you connect with society and with this world? Honestly?! Nothing that gets the gears in your head moving? That makes your heart start beating faster? Nothing that brings little gasps of joy or pleasure when you happen upon it? Nothing that makes you stay up really late or get up really early in the morning? No goals? Dreams? Aspirations? Are you so alienated and disconnect from life around you as all that?

It baffled me. It made me angry and belligerent. It made me sad.

It seems like the longer I am alive, the more things I find to interest me. The more things I have to stop in wonder over. I almost have too many passions, and it gets hard to manage all of them. Life constantly blows my mind with the variety, the possibilities, the scope for imagination out there. She is interested in none of it?! Well, besides chicken (Chicken?! The blandest of all meat?!). I wanted to grab her by the arm and drag her around and open her eyes to everything this world has to offer.

Later, I was walking to go take a final and a little boy in a stroller roared like a lion at me. His dad pushing him didn't notice, but I almost roared back. I think I fell in love. I walked to class with the lightest heart and the biggest grin and a sincere hope that there will forever be little boys in the world who will roar at girls passing on the sidewalk.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Follow-up Check-up

Well, folks, I did it. I wrote my paper. All 19 pages plus title page plus two pages of bibliography. Not bad for one night's work. I should say one night and one morning's work since I finished at 8 am. (Funny story about the custodian coming in at 4:30 in the morning. I sure surprised him.) Yep, I hit save, went and put up my poster for the Mary Lou Fulton Poster Competition, went home and showered, ate some Cheerios, and went to class.

Still without sleeping.

And I felt oddly well rested. Which concerned me. But the universe righted itself when I fell asleep in class. Afterward I went back to the ballroom where all of the posters were hanging, ran into my friend Kristen, bummed around with the other cool anthro majors, got free delicious lunch and free delicious chocolate cake, and WON the competition in my department. Surprise.

I of course ditched out before the luncheon was over to go to class and turn in that thrice-blasted paper, so I have no idea where to pick up my winnings. And I fell asleep in class again so it wasn't really worth it. And I forgot to take down my poster. Oops. I hope they saved it. It was pretty.

See? Pretty.

I came home after class and called my family because my sister had her baby! His name is Will. He is bright pink. I love him.

And then I slept. And slept. Finally. Until 7:30. I'm going to go back right now. Yes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Beyond Zebra

While being the title of a beloved Dr. Seuss book, it is also an appropriate expression of how I feel right now. I have moved beyond the library.

I am currently sitting locked in my TA office on the first floor of the SWKT. Alone. The rest of the building is abandoned, unless there is some professor experiencing marital problems and is sleeping on the couch in his office. So many professors have couches...

But I digress. Anyway, I am here because I can stay here longer than I can in the library. The library closes at 2 during the week before finals. I need longer than 2. I've needed longer than 2 for the past month. I hit upon this brilliant strategy today. All I needed to do was close the blinds, close the door, and hole myself up before the building closed at 10. The plan went off with nary a hitch. I even had time to stop at the vending machines to grab sustenance to sustain this all-night writing marathon. I eat way too many of my meals from vending machines these days...

And it is going to be a marathon. I have a 15 page paper due tomorrow at 1:30 for my International Organizations class. I'm writing an constructivist analysis of how the globe has organized itself to combat female genital mutilation. I would. It's not the happiest topic ever, but it is interesting. And you can tell I'm an anthropologist by it. No Poli Sci major would write this.

Anyway, I had better get back to work. I have miles to go before I sleep. If I sleep. I've never pulled a true all-nighter so this could be interesting. I have to attend a poster competition in the morning since I submitted an entry so I may just fall asleep on the floor, go put up my poster, and then go home and shower for the day.

I wish I had a couch.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Say hello to a new peace, love, rock n' roll lifestyle

I made granola last night. From scratch. I've never done that before. Best. Decision. Ever. It was the perfect break from studying and the perfect breakfast/lunch/midnight snack for this crazy week. I love eating granola with yogurt and combined with raisins, almonds, cinnamon and honey that are in this recipe, it is perfect. That was an awkward sentence.

While I was making it I was listening to Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens. I love both of those men. I don't have nearly enough Bob Dylan, but I have some new stuff by Cat Stevens that is beautiful. That's right. New stuff. New stuff from Cat Stevens. Or I should say, Yusuf/Cat Stevens. He's been quietly putting out new music for several years now, and I had no idea. I recently acquired the album Roadsinger and I recommend it to everybody.

See, I can post something positive. I've been worried about my lack of cheerful stubbornness lately, but it has resurfaced. Maybe foolishly. Fresh granola can do that to you. I'm going to be going through a lot of rolled oats over the next month and a half.

better than from a bakery granola
(adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
2 c organic large-flake rolled oats
1 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 t salt
3 T plus 1 t canola oil
1/4 c honey
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
2/3 c whole almonds
2/3 c raisins

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, toss oats with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar and vanilla until blended. Pour the wet mixture in with the dry and use your hands to combine the two until everything is well coated and your hands are gooey. Lick them if you must, but wash your hands right after.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the mixture over top. Spread it out evenly, but also keep in mind clumping is a good, good thing. Bake for 10 minutes and then use a spatula to gently flip the granola over. Sprinkle with almonds and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Add raisins and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan. Use your hands to break up the granola...but again, don't go overboard (remember the clumps!). Place in a tightly lidded container.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm a wanderer. I roam around, around, around, around

I could complain right now. I could talk about how tired/stressed/unorganized/sore I am.
But I won't.
Complaining about them won't make them better, so I won't.
I feel like all I have been doing lately is complaining and explaining my stresses. And it's getting old even to me.

I understand that sharing and talking about problems makes you feel better. I understand that pretending everything is fine when it is not only adds more stress, and makes you liable to break like an over wound violin string.
I understand that letting people help you when you really need help is a sign of humility and gives them a chance to serve.

I understand because I usually pretend that everything is fine. I usually do not let anyone see the cracks. Usually I pretend like I have everything under control.
And it usually works. Admitting you're in trouble makes you feel defeated. Saying "I don't know how I'm going to do it," saying "I'm really in trouble this week," makes you believe it.

But saying you're in trouble also lets people give you words of comfort and support and encouragement. Saying you're in trouble means you're saying that you don't have to be 100% in control 100% of the time. Which is a relief. I don't know why I thought I did.

But more than once I have gotten the comment that
I need someone in my life to take care of me because I'm not doing a very good job of it myself.
To which I feel like responding:
1. If you know of any willing applicants, let me know
2. Yeah, well, I'm not dead yet so I must be doing something right
3. It is not as bad as you think - I'm just dramatic
4. Tried that a couple of times. So far I'm the only one who sticks around
5. Oh. Um. I guess I should be a little less of a loose cannon and take more care of myself before I can ever expect anyone else to be willing to pick that responsibility. No one wants a known liability. If the Visiting Teaching messages are all about self-reliance, I guess I've got something to learn.

I don't have to do everything. I can't do everything, even if I want to. I'm not superwoman.
It took a lot of effort to even say that.

Life is very good in so many ways. I'm blessed with good health, good friends, a good education, a good job, a good family,
that just by counting my blessings my rough spots seem smoother. It is often my fault they are rough - life is just so interesting that I want to take part in everything. There are so many things to do, to see, to be that life simply isn't long enough.

I guess the root of my running faster than I have strength is that for some reason I have always feared being left behind - missing opportunities and not doing and all being all I could be. But this manic lifestyle may be making me miss other opportunities, too. Quiet, small, simple ones right in front of me that may mean more than everything else.

My goal: to be able to say with truth -
I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tightening the belt

I hereby put a ban against all fun in my life. For the next two weeks at least. No more dates. No more fun. No more parties. No more sleeping in. And eight hours is sleeping in. No more snacking. Sitting down and eating meals? Nope, that's out, too. No more running. No more soccer.

I have to transcribe interviews

Create a poster for an academic conference

Write another 10 pages of my senior thesis

Plan a class presentation on pastoral nomads in the Middle East

Begin finding 20 sources on how the international community has organized itself to combat FGM for a paper

Grade and edit 25 8-page papers from Anthro 101 students

And keep up all with the other regular class readings I have

No more fun! Balance is ppht! That is, until the weekly Thursday Night Movie Night with my friends. That is, until my sister comes down on Friday.

...Yeah...this resolve is going to last. I'll probably end up doing what I always do: skipping sleep and balanced meals and exercise and doing everything else I want to do while getting things done at the last minute. Oh dear.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Adventure #602

I want to go snow caving. I know nothing about snow caving.

So, being me, I turned to the library for help. It's usually my first instinct when faced with a lack of information. And it hasn't failed me yet! There are books written on everything. You just have to find them. Like this little gem:

I am so going snow caving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sufism, on Love

Sufi Muslims - the mystic, esoteric sect of Islam from which the whirling dervishes come from -believe that the search for and your relationship with God can be explained as unrequited love. In fact, the love you have for God must be unrequited. You must give it completely and selflessly, expecting nothing in return, for that is true love. Unrequited love - the longing of the soul that completely overcomes all other emotions and sensations - is the height of religious devotion. Or so the Sufi saints say.

Maybe I'm selfish, but I'd rather not feel that for the rest of my life. It sounds lousy.

And that second to last sentence was a pretty great alliteration.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weighing and Wanting

I have an overactive guilt complex even when I have done nothing wrong. I am sitting in a lovely chair next to a toasty fire in my indie-chic living room. It comes close to an emotional equilibrium.

How can you feel both anxiousness and contentment at the same time? I didn't think they came as a box set. But both have been my companions lately, and they don't cancel each other out. They seem to make the other feeling so much more vivid in comparison. The bitter and the sweet, I guess.

But anxiousness also seems to make me more active. I always tend to get in shape when I'm in a fix. And I get in fixes like clockwork. Because of this, my run this evening felt great.

All of which reminds me of Crispian St. Peters's simple and earnest tune, c. 1966:

Well I woke up this morning
You were on my mind
I said you were on my mind

Oh, I got troubles, oh, oh
I got worries, oh, oh
I got wounds to bind

So I went to the corner
Just to ease my pain
I said just to ease my pain

Oh, I got troubles, oh, oh
I got worries, oh, oh
I came home again

But I woke up this morning
You were on my mind
You were on my mind

Oh, I got troubles, oh, oh
I got worries, oh, oh
I got wounds to bind

But I've got a feeling
Yeah, down in my shoes
I said way down in my shoes

Well, I gotta ramble, oh, oh
I gotta move on, oh, oh
I gotta walk away my blues

When I woke up this morning
You were on my mind
I said you were on my mind

Well, I got troubles, oh, oh
I got worries, oh, oh
I got wounds to bind, yeah

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A pretended and very real adventure

I think I scared my friend Stephen when he called earlier this week and asked me if I wanted to go snowshoeing to his cabin on Saturday with some other people. I was maybe just a little too excited and enthusiastic. But I had never been snowshoeing before, and one resolution I made for this winter was to learn how to do it. It sounded very romantic and intrepid.

And it lived up to my expectations. Almost. But you can't blame the shoes or Stephen or the cabin or the snow for my very slight disappointment. It's just that when I think of snowshoeing I imagine a group of intrepid Arctic explorers and scientists braving trackless wilderness and hostile temperatures and boldly going where (and boldly seeing what) no man has ever dared to before. Some part of me knows that my flights of adventurous fancy can't hold up in reality, but I still can't help but imagine.

But after getting me into the fix of unrealistic wishes, my imagination always comes to the rescue and helps me pretend that all of my Corps-of-Discovery dreams really are coming true. I didn't imagine the moose we saw, though. So, yes, while we walked for only ten minutes before we got to his cabin, and yes, while the only exploring we did was mostly on a trail and it was cut short because we were cold and tired and hungry, I could still pretend that I had been roughing it for 2 weeks and was putting my survival at risk in the name of adventure and academic discovery. Which explains the ridiculous grin I had on my face the entire day and the huge fur hat I insisted on wearing.

Yep, I grin with giddy surmise any time there is a chance that my life is at risk and I am on a Columbus-crazy exploratory journey.

Overall, the day was wonderfully fun between my imagination and very-real sledding through an obstacle course of trees. We played and played and played and now I am sore and physically exhausted. It was especially wonderful considering that last year I was under doctor's orders to not exert myself even to throw a snowball due to my recovering from surgery. This time, I exerted myself like a bandit. So there.

But this does raise important questions: how much of life do I enjoy because I am not bound to the here-and-now-life? I say I'm an optimist, but am I just delusional and dreamy? Should I try and be more realistic and grounded and be content with what life actually is, or should I not restrain myself and enjoy life as it could be, as I imagine the potential of it to be?