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.