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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Resolution

“Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
But
today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called the Present” (Unknown)
This year I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the future. I graduate in May and there are a lot of uncertainties. I’m moving out, but where am I moving to? Will I get into graduate school? Which school will I get into? If I don’t get into graduate school, what will I do?
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.
(Matthew 6:34)
Next year will be a year of changes for me, a year of firsts. I’ll be living in an apartment and paying my own bills. I’ll have a job and be supporting myself. I’ll be starting over, most likely in a state I’ve never lived in before. And I wonder if I’ll be able to handle it?
These roses under my windows make no
reference to former roses or better ones; they are for what they are; they exist
with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is
perfect in every moment of its existence” (Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Self-Reliance)
I will most probably be farther from my friends and family than ever be before (except when I was in Oxford), and I know that will be hard. I’m going to miss them. In my four years at college I’ve learned so much, and I’ve truly come to love my University and the friends and professors I have there. How hard will it be to leave it all behind?
“And how could we endure to live and
let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back—if
we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation
and memory and that these are that day?” (C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet)
So this is my New Year’s Resolution. Not to lose weight or work out more (though I do want to train for the Disney Princess ½ Marathon in March). My New Year’s Resolution is this: To live, as much as I can, in the present. I will take what time I’m given and live it as the gift it is. I will try not to worry about tomorrow, or have regrets about the past, but consider the unknown as unknown and accept what has happened yesterday as lessons for today. Today I am alive, and that is all I need to know.
Carpe diem! (Horace)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace

Isaiah 9:6-7a
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

Christ was not born into a time of peace. At the time of His birth, Israel was occupied by the Roman Empire. And very shortly after His birth, Mary, Joseph, and their Son had to flee to Egypt to escape the persecution of King Herod (Matt.2). Sometimes, it seems like so many of the words sung around Christmas time are mocking the real situations facing us in the world. Where is peace to be found in a world of poverty, a world of war, a world of hatred? Yet Jesus’ birth came with the promise peace. Where is it to be found?


Here is a link to Simon and Garfunkle’s Silent Night/Seven O’Clock news. It’s the words of Silent Night overlapped with a newscast and captures, I think some of the contradiction of celebrating “Peace on Earth” in a time of war.

I wish I had something more to say, something about finding peace in our own lives and sharing it with others, but I don’t have the words for it. But I do hope that all of you can find peace this Christmas Season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grace

Last year around this time I wrote three Christmas stories (scroll down). This year, I will do something different, and write about three things I’m aware of this Christmas Season. And the first of these is Grace.


I tend to write my school papers at the last minute, and anyone who’s ever lived with me will tell you that’s an understatement. But I once wrote a paper at the absolute last minute, that is, in the couple of hours I had between my first class of the day and the class it was due in. It wasn’t the world’s worse paper, but certainly wasn’t up to my usual standards. It was too short, the argument was poor, the writing was far from my normal quality, and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time on it. But I turned it in. And it was from this paper that I learned what is perhaps the best lesson I’ve had in college.

I got an ‘A’ on the paper.

I was excepting a ‘C’, or maybe a ‘B’ if my professor was being nice. But not an ‘A’. I’d written several papers for this professor before, so she knew what I was capable of. So to receive an ‘A’ on such a poorly written paper was a shock. And I felt bad about it. I’d put almost no effort and the minimal amount of time into my paper. I didn’t deserve to get an ‘A’ on it. So I did what no sane student would ever do: I went to see my professor and tried to argue down my grade.

I told her how little time I’d spent on it, pointed out all the flaws, explained that there was no way on earth this paper deserved an ‘A’. I reminded her of the quality of my other papers, and showed how this one fell short of that standard. But she refused to change the grade, and told me that just as she wouldn’t let a student argue for a higher grade, she wouldn’t let me argue for a lower one (though I think she was a bit amused by it).

As I turned to leave her office, my professor had one more thing to say to me. “Emma,” she said, “Learn to live with grace”.

Learn to live with grace. How often I forget that’s what I do everyday. Every time I pray, every time I call myself a Christian, I am living with grace. Yet I so rarely remember that. How easily I accept and live with what Christ did for me, and how hard I struggle with an underserved grade! What a backwards way of doing things. I wonder if it’s because grace, God’s Grace, is so huge, so all-encompassing, that if I were to live every moment in awareness of it, I would be overwhelmed. And so, living with grace, in the context of my day-to-day life comes easier than living with grace in the smaller moments. But it is these moments, the underserved grade, the surprise gift, the unlooked for praise, that bring me back into my awareness of the great Grace I have already received, and continue to receive each day.
Selah
Though my heart refuses
And my mind resists,
Though it seems my very being
Reviles at what is being asked—

Though I cannot be humble
And I swell with pride,
Though society says I am wrong,
This is my vow today—

I will not, not I say,
Refuse grace.

Let my pride burn
Where I belong.
Let me not forget
What I deserve.

I will not, not I say,
Refuse grace.

I will let the door be held open.
I will take what is offered.
I will accept what is freely give.
I will remember this is not about me.

I will not, not I say,
Refuse grace.

Selah

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grad School Application:

Philosophy Major For Sale

Low-Maintenance.

Gets along well with others.

Greek and Latin included for no extra charge.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Election Reflection: What’s Your Status?

For those of you who don’t know, Facebook (this is a link to the wiki explanation. If you want to go the Facebook page, click here) allows its users to write their status at the top of their pages. The following is a collection of statuses (or stati, I suppose), that appeared after the election. This is only a sample of the many of the statuses my friend put up, and I’ve removed all their names and arbitratliy assigned them to “Joe” or “Jane”. I have, however, left them un-edited, so what you see is exactly how they appeared on Facebook. But first, my own status:

Emma would like to remind everyone, now that the elections are over, that its time to stop being a Democrat or Republican, and time to start being an American.

And now for the rest:

Joe really doesn't think things are going to be as bad as people think, but is packing his bags just in case he's mistaken!!!

Jane is collecting her pennies because that is the only positive change she is going to see. (Man, I hope I am wrong!!)

Joe is not prepared to lose friends over difference in beliefs.

Joe is My president is black, the flag's red white n blue, I'm proud to an American and you should be too.

Jane is ECSTATIC!!!! YES WE DID!!! :) Now we all need to work hard to pull our country together and pray for everything to work out!

Jane is I voted for change, and we got it. Don't hate pple, if nothing else it's a historical moment :D.

Joe is ecstatic that she voted for our new president! GOBAMA! =D.

Jane: ooohhhh democracy.

Jane is thoroughly offended by the rude remarks about plotting assassinations etc on obama and i didn't even vote. grow up people.

Joe is overstimulated by a historic night. (History is, come to think of it, one of the most stimulating things he knows.)

Jane supports neither McCain nor racism, but still has a problem with Obama's stances and policies.

Joe is hoping that America's future is as bright as everyone thinks it will be!!

Jane thinks it's gross when Republicans don't believe in democracy. People DON'T WANT THE SAME! Why are you so bitter and what is ur problem?

Jane thought that ignorant Obama supporters were bad, until she met the ignorant Obama haters. And Ron Paul should be President.

Joe believes that it is time for the nation to stand united.

Joe is wondering what a democratic government will do...

Jane really hopes we can stop talking politics for a little while now.

Joe is excited to see what our new President will do.

Jane is surprised at how ignorant this country is.

Jane is hooray universal healthcare-- time to figure out a new profession..

Joe is excited about some free healthcare.

Joe is loving the Red, White, and BLUE!!! ya dig?

Jane is reflecting on the many sermons he has heard on submitting to authority.

Joe is humble in this moment in history and hopeful that Republicans will work with Democrats for success.

Joe is yesss .... I no longer have to get a job when I graduate!!!!!! Now where do I apply for welfare?

Jane would be okay with Biden as President.

Joe is not happy....today I will not be flying my flag.

Jane is going off facebook for a while until everyone chills out. I won't let your unfounded fears ruin my joy - there's room for a soul in our country again.

Joe: Barack the builder, can we fix it? Barack the builder, YES WE CAN!

Jane is happy that America finally has a president-elect and will support Obama throughout the next four years. May we all live with conviction and passion.

Joe is raising a glass to the future! Here's to eight years!

Joe: we're doomed, abandon ship!!!

Jane is extremely moved and equally excited with the choice that America has made. Change has truly come to America to restore the "United" to the "United States."

Joe is ecstatic about the outcome of the election. God Bless the new President.

Joe: Tonight will be remembered as the night that Americans slit their own throats, to the sounds of cheers.

Jane is Celebrating Obama's Victory!!!!! (He's President Now. DEAL WITH IT!)

Jane is really sad, but happy we didn't go down without a fight!!!

Joe is imagining his future bank account deplete as he pays for people he has never met.

Jane is sick of people playing the race card. I'm all for having a black president. I just don't want it to be Obama!

Joe is not really surprised about the results but regardless: holy smokes! this is pretty much the biggest historical thing of our generation. World, get ready...

Jane wants America to relax and trust God and celebrate this day for what it is!

Joe is moving to Switzerland!

Joe has to find loop-holes in the corrupt tax system so that he doesn't have to pay even more taxes.

Jane rejoices that the campaign is finally over after a whole year! Now the United States can focus on everyday issues and maybe get stuff done!

Jane wonders how people can be so worried about Obama's presidency... It simply couldn't be worse than Bush's, no matter what.

Joe is grateful for this CHANGE and prays that we see this not as a time to be cocky but to be humble and thankful. Amen.

Joe is no matter who is president, Jesus will always be my King

Jane is so proud to have helped elect a president who cares about Middle Class America. Finally--our vote counts!

Joe: I would just like to say to all those unfaithful ones who said we weren't ready for a Black President, well keep doubting!!!

Joe would like to remind you that God is not a Republican. Congratulations President Obama!

Jane will NEVER recognize Obama has her president!

Jane has a little more faith in human kind. Let's see how much more we can accomplish.

Joe would like to remind everyone not to lose sight of what's real with regards to this election. Turn not to the man on the TV screen, but the person next to you.

Joe: it's over...at least Ga wasnt a part of it. I can forgive my friends. but what comes next? I need to get ammo before it's banned...

Jane is extremely disappointed and dejected and pissed...the list goes on and on...

Jane is not looking forward to the next four years...


So…What’s your status?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Very Overdue Entry

A real post…at last

So, here is a brief summary of my life at the moment:

Roommates:
This year, I’m rooming with Joanne, Jacquline, and Sarah. Joanne and Jacquline I knew about ahead of time. Sarah surprised us (and herself), when she unlocked the door to our room and found us all sitting in the common area. She’s a pre-pharmacy transfer student from New York, and very nice. The room dynamics are different from last year, when it was just Joanne, Jessica, and I, but we all get along, and that’s what counts.

Jobs:
I have three jobs this semester. I’m tutoring in the Academic Resource Centre, Copy-editor for the school newspaper, the Cluster, and work with the three-year-olds at a local church.

Officially, I’m tutoring Latin, but I’ve also been helping to tutor the lower level Greek classes and, when the other tutors are busy, I also help with writing. For the most part, I don’t have a lot of students come in, and am basically paid to do my homework, which is nice. Sometimes though, I am slammed. The other night a professor required his whole class of freshmen to come in for help on their papers. It turned out the papers were looking at either Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, or Plato’s Cave. I couldn’t tell if the freshman were scared or impressed at my ability to suggest quotations from the texts from memory.

Work at the Cluster is going well, but keeps me very, very busy. A large portion of my free-time is spent proofing articles, and I spend about 7 hours in the Cluster office every Tuesday fortnight for layout.

Of the three jobs, working at the church is both the most rewarding and most frustrating. Its nice after a rough day to have a three-year-old run up to give you a hug, but not so nice when they dump out all the toy boxes in the room in the 45 seconds it takes me to wash my hands. My classroom is actually two rooms connected by a door, and my kids are convinced that a dragon lives in one of the rooms. I had a knight come in one weekend to chase it away, but apparently that didn’t work, because its still there.

Weather:
Autumn has truly arrived. The days have cool enough to wear a sweater, but not so cold you have to, and the leaves are changing colours and falling off the trees. Today and yesterday have been gray and rainy, and remind me of England.

Graduate School/What I’m Doing After I Graduate:
I don’t want to talk about. It’s stressful, is taking up a lot of my time, and thinking about it keeps me up at night. So don’t ask.

I take the GRE Friday, and am really nervous about it. I’ve been studying for the math sections, and I feel like I know the material but, as always, I struggle to do the calculations. You aren’t allowed to use a calculator of any kind on the GRE, and that’s going to make things really difficult for me. I’m especially worried I won’t be able to finish the section in time.

The End:
So, that’s about it for now. I’m staying busy, and trying not to get overwhelmed. This weekend was Fall Break, and it was much needed. For those of you down in Orlando, I’ll see you on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Considering Lilies

Considering Lilies spin.
Around and around they go,
Until, petals all askew, they want to stop,
But momentum carries them forward,
And still they spin, around and around.

“Do not worry Lilies.”
“How so?” they ask.
“Today is gone, tomorrow here.
The clock strikes twelve, and what was tomorrow is today.
How then ‘Not worry’”?

And Considering Lilies spin,
Around and around.

“Aren’t you dizzy, Lilies? Stop spinning Lilies.
Stop and listen Lilies.”
“We cannot. Does the fire hold his breath, or the seas her tides?
Today bleeds and tomorrow comes.
Always and forever.
Even if we stand still, the world will move, and still we will be dizzy.”

And Considering Lilies spin,
Around and around.

“Stop Lilies, stop, and I will free you from the whirling globe.
Hold still but a moment and I will give you rest.”
“Why then should we stop?
Will you free us from food, and drink, and air?
No thank you. Let us spin.
Let us eat.
Let us drink.
Let us breathe.
We are content.
Let us spin.”

And Considering Lilies spin,
Around and around.

“Please, Lilies, please.
Stop, Lilies, stop.
Listen, Lilies, listen.
And I shall free you, Lilies.”
“Enough.
We have work to do. Search elsewhere.
Find other flowers. Let us be.”

And Considering Lilies spin,
Around and around.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bad Blogger

Yep. That’s me. Mea culpa, mea culpa, and all that. It just seems like I always have more going on than I have time to tell about it and, conversely, that what does happen is so ordinary I can’t think of ways to be creative with the telling.

My classes are all going well, but that’s boring news. I am loving Ballroom Dancing, and have learned to waltz, which makes me feel accomplished in a Pride-and-Prejudice kind of way. None of my classes are overly difficult, it’s just the sheer number of them that keeps me so busy. For example, this week I have a paper due, a Latin test, a History test, and, to top it all off, it’s a Cluster week, which means I’ll be up ‘till about 2am Tuesday night proof-reading section pages. Sigh. Who says college is the last time in your life that you don’t have responsibilities?

So, anways, my new theme this semester has been skies. The sky is a beautiful thing, a constantly changing collage of colour and shape. Sometimes it seems entirely random, and other times gives the illusion of pattern. There are pink sunsets, orange sunsets, and deep, royal purple ones. There are times when the sun seems to cut through the clouds in a fanning ray of light, and times when it lights up clouds from behind so they look like halos. It is truly an awesome thing.

I hope you enjoyed this brief entry, and I will try to write more often, but now I need to go get back to work on those papers etc.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Edits are Coming!

Sorry I've been so bad about keeping up with the blog...I'm still settling into school mode. I should be back to posting at least weekly pretty soon.

At the moment, I'm swamped in e-mails. I'm the Copy Editor for the school newspaper, the Cluster, this semester, and out next issue comes out Thursdays. Which means right now all the section editors are sending me their (late) articles, which I have to proofread by tomorrow. So until I have time for a more detailed post, here's my article from the last edition of the Custer.

No Party Affiliation

My Democratic friends find me to be conservative, and my Republican friends think I’m liberal. I like to call myself moderate, and so when it came time for me to register to vote, the box I chose was “No Party Affiliation”. It’s a common misconception that people with “moderate” views don’t have strong opinions on political issues, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am very opinionated and extremely firm in my beliefs, as anyone unfortunate enough to be in hearing distance during one of my rants about the public school system can vouch. What I don’t believe in, however, is voting along party lines. On some issues, I take a very conservative view; on others my opinions are quite liberal. And on some of the biggest issues, such as abortion, I hold neither party’s view, but take an extreme middle-line stand.

It frightens me when I hear people define their political views as those of the either the Democratic or Republican party. I have to wonder if such people are truly aware of the issues at stake, or if they blindly fill out their ballots the way their chosen party told them to. The truth of the matter is, America’s bi-party system allows an easy way for voters to be lazy by allowing people to believe they are performing their civic duty of voting, without first performing a much more important action – thinking. And as America becomes more and more divided between parties, the problem is just going to get worse.

Perhaps one of the saddest signs of the growing blindness of American voters is the invasion of religion not just into political issues, but into political parties. It is one thing for an individual’s religion to influence where he stands on various issues, but quite another problem when one is told that she must support such-and-such a party by a religious leader. I know people that will say that if you are a Christian, you are morally obligated to vote Republican. With religion determining party lines, Americans just have one more excuse not to think before they vote.

At the root of the problem, I believe, is the fact that we only have two strong political parties. The natural result of this division is that in order to better challenge their opposition, each party is forced to take only extreme views on the issues that face this country. Either war is right, or war is wrong. Abortion should be legal, or it should be illegal. The Democrats must present the opposite opinion of the Republicans and vice-versa. Consequently, when it comes time for Election Day, voters only have a choice between two extremes or, as the saying goes, the lesser of two evils.

What I and, I imagine, other moderates would like to see is the emergence of a strong third party, one that reconciles many of the ideals and extremes of the Republicans and Democrats. There are, admittedly, many so-called “third-parties” already, but none of them have the political clout to challenge the two established groups. And so, for this presidential election at least, most American will be choosing to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Will I be voting in the upcoming election? Of course. Will I be voting for a moderate third-party? Sadly, no, because I know that such a vote will ultimately count for very little. But I’m still hoping that eventually a strong third-party will emerge. After all, who doesn’t like more parties?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photo Tour

A brief tour of my dorm....

My bookcase. The top shelf has two pictures framing a bust of Socrates I got in Greece. The next shelf down has several rocks from all over the world (Greece, England, America, and Morocco), a Moroccan tea-cup, a Spanish fan, and of course, my new fish, Achilles. The next shelf has pictures of my friends. The second shelf from the bottom is all books for class, and the last shelf has a mix of books I brought for fun, and more books for class.



My desk and new chair. The chair took me over a week to find. There is more to my room than this (I have a bed), and there's a lot of pictures on the wall, but I couldn't find an angle that showed all of it.


For the first time in my life, I have my own sink!!!


Our kitchen area. Not shown: a crock pot, pictures on the wall.


Our Common Room. Not show: couch, big-ish red chair, picture of Raphael's School of Athens.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First

I’ve always been one of those geeky kids who look forward to school starting, not because I get to see all my friends again, but because I’m ready to learn about something new. In college, where I get to choose my own classes, this has only gotten worse. Now I sit in class and grin like an idiot while looking at the syllabus and seeing what I’ll get to study.

Anyways, yesterday was my first day of classes and I’m reading excited about what I’m taking this year, so I thought I’d share.

My classes are:

Great Books 306: Reason and Revolution
We’ll be reading books from the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Some titles/authors include Adam Smith “The Wealth of Nations”, Immanuel Kant “Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals”, Goethe “Faust”, and Charles Darwin “The Origin of Species”. All told, I have 13 books for the class. I knew it would be a good semester when the instructor announced he had removed the political-science text “Democracy in America” by Alexis Tocqueville with a novel, and instead of cheering, the class grumbled that they had been looking forward to Tocqueville (I did say I was geek).

Greek 385: Selected Texts in the Gospel of Luke
I’ll be translating Luke into English. There’s only one other person in my class, which is nice, but he’s had lot less Greek than me, so the class might move slower than I’m used to.

History 301: Ancient Near East and Greece
Rumoured to be the hardest history course at Mercer, I’m looking forward to learning the non-philosophical history of my favourite country. As a bonus, we’ll be looking at some primary texts, and not just using a textbook. I had history of Ancient Rome with this same professor, and really liked him.

Latin 360: Lyric Poetry
Catullus, Horace, and Tibullus in their own language. What’s not to love? Another small class, with only four students. This semester we’ll also be working with a local middle school that wants to do a Latin program with their students. We’ll get to help design and teach lessons, which I’m really excited about.

PED 144: Ballroom Dancing
Woo-Hoo!

Philosophy 240: Philosophy of Religion
Sooooo excited about this class. Its an introductory level philosophy class, so the work will be on a slightly lower level than I’m used to (which means less stress), but the topics look like they’re going to be amazing.

Philosophy 316: Late 19th and Early 20th Century
Since one philosophy class just isn’t enough. Either this class or history will be my hardest class this semester. I’m not really into modern philosophy, but it’s important to learn. As they say, “know your friends, but know your enemies better”. On the plus side, one of my favourite professors is teaching the course, and the class seems like we’ll really have some great discussions.

So, that’s what I’ll be up to these next 4 months.

Oh! Also a “First”….My baby (18-year-old) brother moves into college today. Which means Mom and Dad are now empty-nester. I love you all!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Untitled

rejoice in the silence
he said.
in spontaneity and an evening made
for you.

rejoice in the loneliness
he said.
because no matter how often it comes it
never lasts.

rejoice in the night
he said.
although it is dark you know
the way.

rejoice in the day
he said.
remember what should not
be forgot.

rejoice in the noise
he said.
that you can hear
the song.

rejoice in the people
he said.
for they don’t just talk
but listen.

rejoice in this
he said.
that tomorrow the sun
will rise.

rejoice in this
he said.
that every day time
will pass.

rejoice in this
he said.
that you can never
be enough.

rejoice in this
he said.
that you can never
fully understand.

rejoice in this
he said.
that you will never
have to.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Home is Where

Home is a complicated thing when you’re in college. As a freshman, I came up with the idea that home was where your toothbrush was. So, for all of my first year of college, I never took a toothbrush to and from school with me. But eventually that wasn’t enough of a definition.

You see, I found myself with two very real homes, both with their own unique sets of friends and family, both with their own ups and downs. And to choose between them, to call one “home” and the other something else…well, I simply couldn’t do it.

Most of you know how Oxford became a third home to me, and how it was to return to my Orlando home. But now I’m back in my Georgia home, and arriving was a whole new experience.

When I first drove onto the campus and got out of my car, I nearly had to fight back tears. I had missed this place soooo much. The magnolias, the gothic brick buildings, the one classical building, the steeple at the top of the administration building... Everywhere I walked brought back memories. All the same, it’s hard to miss a place, since as much as I missed the buildings (especially Knight Hall, where most of my classes are), the buildings had not, I felt, missed me.

After two days, however, Joanne and Jessica (my roommates and school “family”) arrived, and for the first time since winter break, we were all three together again. And there was something right about it. And I knew I was home.

There is a truth about home that I learned my freshman year. No matter how many places you hold in your heart, it is not you alone that determines where your home is. Home is, and always will be, where the hearts’ of the people you love are.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Filler Space (2)

The Bug: A Play in two (short) Acts continued

Cast:
Roommate 1
Roommate 2
Roommate 3
Large Roach (to be played by himself)

Act 2:
scene: Garden Apartment kitchen, complete with steel security door. Roommate 1 is standing by the stove, making macaroni. Roommate 2 is leaning against the counter. Roommate 3 is offstage, presumably in her room. Unnoticed, Large Roach climbs up the wall behind the cabinets and precedes to cross the ceiling from stage left to stage right

R1: What kind of cheese do you use when you make macaroni?

R2: Cheddar. But at home we—uh-oh. R2 once again breaks off to stare at LR on the ceiling

R1: Oh no, not again! Is that the same one?

R2: I think so. He’s missing a leg.

enter R3, downstage right R3: What’s wrong?

R1: I think we’re going to need your shoe again.

R3 exits. R1 and R2 continue to stare at LR, transfixed by the horror of it all. R3 returns with same flip-flop. R3: I guess I’ll try to get this time.

R1: Try to get it at an angle so it doesn’t fall on you.

R3 shudders at the thought, but resolutely grips the flip-flopR3: Okay, here it goes! R3 takes a step back and throws flip-flop at LR. LR is hit, and all three yell and jump back as he loses his grip on the ceiling. LR, however, is very determined, and, hanging only by one leg, manages to pull his other (4) legs back up

R1: You got him!

R2: Try again!

R3 throws flip-flop a second time. Once again, LR is hit, but still manages to tenaciously hold onto the ceiling. All three yell and jump back (again.)
R1: That was really close.

R3: Okay- one more time. R3 throws flip-flop. LR is hit. Exhausted from the previous attacks, he loses his grip and falls, landing on his back. He desperately waves his 5 legs around. All three yell and jump back (at least there was a good reason to this time

R1: Well, he’s off the ceiling now.

R3: I’m not squishing it.

All three stare at LR, who continues to wave his legs in the air. R1 and R3 look up after a moment and stare at R2. R2 notices their stares and sighs. R2: Fine. Give me the shoe. R2 raises the shoe and brings it down on LR with a rather anti-climatic “squish”.
R1 and R3: Ewww.

R2:looking at shoe I’m not cleaning this. Hands shoe to R3, who holds it tentatively between her thumb and forefinger. This is followed by a moment of silence as all three regard the now dead LR with mixed emotions.

R1: Someone needs to clean this up.

R3: Not me!

R1 and R3 stare at R2. Wordlessly, R2 crosses downstage and retrieves a paper towel. She crosses back and lays the paper towel over LR. Careful not to get roach guts on her hand, R2 scoops up LR’s remains and deposits them in the trashcan located at stage right. All three give relieved sighs

Blackout.
Curtain.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Filler Space

Hello! Did you all miss me? I've been busy moving back to college and working on the Cluster, our school newspaper. I'll have a real post later, but in the meantime, here's something I wrote last year.

The Bug: A Play in two (short) Acts

Cast:
Roommate 1
Roommate 2
Roommate 3
Large Roach (to be played by himself)

Act 1
scene: Garden Apartment kitchen, complete with steel security door. Roommate 1 is standing by the stove, making macaroni. Roommate 2 is leaning against the counter. Roommate 3 is offstage, presumably in her room. Enter Large Roach, unnoticed on the ceiling, crossing from stage right to stage left.

R2: There’s a lot of cheese in this packet.

R1: Yeah. I was thinking about not using all of it.

R2: When I was little, I called this fake macaroni. It was only “real” macaroni if you grated your own cheese.

R1: I did the same thing. It was real if my mom made it.

R2: How—sees LR and cuts off

R1: How what? follows R1’s gaze and sees LR, now crossing above stove top. R2 quickly covers pot of noodles.

R2: Quick…we need a broom or something! This exclamation is followed by a short moment of desperation as R1 and R2 realize there is not, in fact, a broom in the apartment. Someone get a shoe!

R3 enters downstage right holding a flip-flop R3: Oh no! How did it get in here?

R1: I guess it got in under the door. All stare dramatically at the door, as if expecting an army of roaches to force their way in.

R2: Here, give me the shoe. I’ll see if I can get him.

R3: Careful.

R1: Don’t knock him into the food!

R2 makes several unsuccessful attempts to hit Large Roach. She stops. R2: I can’t hit it. I’m too short.

R1: Let me try. Takes flip-flop and tries to hit LR, equally unsuccessfull. Crosses downstage and grabs a stool. Standing on stool, she hits LR. LR falls onto top of cabinets. R1 climbs on counter to look for him. I can’t see him!

R2: There’s a squish mark on the ceiling. He’s probably fatally wounded.

R3: I agree.

R1: Well, that was exciting.

R2 and R3: Sure was!

R3 exits. R1 and R2 resume original positions, and continue discussion on “real” versus “fake” macaroni. Unbeknownst to them, however, Large Roach, has rolled himself back onto his (now) 5 legs.

to be continued…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How to Serve Leftover Memories:

1. Place on back burner and allow to simmer
2. Add a dash of exaggeration and a pinch of hyperbole
3. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly
4. Empty into bowls, making sure to keep chronological order
5. Serve at room temperature

The Robbery

In Oxford, there are more bikes than people and more bike thefts than, um, well…more bike thefts than there are in most other places. So I wasn’t at all surprised when Dane’s (my housemate) unlocked bike was stolen from our unlocked shed. After all, my family has had more than a few bikes stolen from our garage when it was left open. Dane and Will, however, being from smaller towns than Orlando, were a little uneasy about the idea of someone having been on our property without us knowing. But, life went on and there were no more thefts…as least for a few weeks.

A little while after this, around 1:30 in the morning, I was asleep in bed, wearing a t-shirt and pyjama pants as usual. Because the only doors with locks in our house were the bathroom doors, there was a tacit agreement that a shut door was a locked a door. So I was surprised to be woken up by someone knocking outside my room. I turned on my lamp.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Will.”

I got up and a pulled a sweatshirt on over my t-shirt. “Will? What’s wrong?” I opened the door and blinked as my eyes adjusted to the light in the hallway.

“I think someone’s trying to steal our bikes. Listen.” He and I were both silent for a minute. Suddenly, there was a thump-thump from the side of the house, where Will and I kept our bikes. I jumped.

“See?” Will said. “I could hear it in my room. And I saw lights outside the window. I called the police,” he added, matter-of-factly.

“How long ago?”

“Just a few minutes. I was wondering if they might have a car out front. We could see if they leave.”

I nodded, and we both walked over to my window, which overlooked the street in front of our house.

“I don’t see anything,” I whispered.

“Me either.” There was another thump-thump from outside, startling us.

“Did the police say they were coming?”

Will nodded. “Yeah.”

We stood looking out the window for a little while longer.

“They must be pretty determined thieves, to still be out there,” I observed.

“Yeah, but the lock are those big U ones. They probably take a while to cut through.”

“Still, it seems stupid for a thief to stay outside one house for so long.”

There was another thump-thump. “Maybe I should go outside and look?” Will mused.

“That’s a bad idea. What if they’re armed?”

“I could take the big knife from the kitchen.”

“Will, don’t be stupid.”

We stood at the window a little longer.

Finally, Will walked back out to the hall. “I’m going to call the police again.”

A few minutes later, I saw a police car pull up in front of the house. Two officers got out and knocked on the door. Will and I both walked out to the landing on the staircase. Will started to head downstairs to open the door.

“You stay inside,” he bravely told me. I rolled my eyes.

“Do you think we should tell Dane what’s going on?”

Will made a face that clearly said that an atomic bomb could land on our roof without Dane waking up, then went outside with the police officers. I watched from the window while Will showed around to the side of the house and then disappeared out the back, to look at the shed. A few minutes later, the officers got back into their car and drove away. Will came inside, looking rather sheepish.

“No one there, huh?” I asked.

Will shook his head. “No. And I don’t think the police noticed, but while we were outside, I heard the noise again…it was the wind rattling the door on the shed.”

I laughed.

“But I did see lights” Will insisted, turning to the hall window.

I followed his gaze to window, and sure enough, there were three coloured lights blinking outside. Or were they? Will and I figured it out at the same time, turning from the window, and looking at the internet box down the hall. The internet box that had three blinking lights, which were reflected in the window.

The End

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poem

A Haiku:

Stationary bike.
A torture machine that goes
Nowhere very fast.
______________________

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Technical Difficulties

On Sunday, I did an afternoon run. I ran 3 miles in about 32 minutes, but unfortunately I have no proof of this, because it was raining when I left. Which meant I couldn’t wear my iPod.

It should have been a wonderful run. There’d been a cloud cover all day, which meant cooler temperatures, and as I was getting ready leave, there was a light, steady drizzle, perfect makeings for a cool run. I was still excited about my PR (personal record) on Thursday of 29:15, and with such great weather conditions, I thought I might be able to break it.

I stretched, and began my run. I had scarcely left my neighbourhood though when the rain stopped, and the sun came out in full force. I could see dark clouds behind me, however, and figured I would get a nice drenching before my run was over.

So, I kept plodding along humming to myself to replace my running music, and composing this blog entry in my head (in case you ever wondered, most of my blog entries are composed either while I’m running, or while walking to places – most of my essays too). The whole time I could see the rainclouds at my back, but I was still in the sun.

…An interruption for a brief lesson on sweat…

Sweat (or perspiration, if we want to be all smart-like), is the body’s way of cooling down. When water undergoes a phase change, it absorbs latent heat. So when the drops of sweat on your skin evaporate, heat is absorbed by the water to allow it to turn into gas. And when that heat is absorbed, your body cools down. My scientifically inaccurate image is to picture that each drop of sweat pulls away a little spot of heat from your body.

…Back to the original post…

Because it had already been raining, the air was super-saturated, or in other words, very, very humid. About as humid as you can get without it actually raining. This means instead of nicely evaporating and cooling me off, my sweat stayed on my body, like an extra layer of insulation. My not-so-nice definitely non-scientific image is of boiling alive in your own perspiration. Which pretty accurately describes how I felt. I could still see the hopeful clouds closing in on me, so I pushed on.

As I ran, I deliberately ran into low hanging branches so the water left on them from the last rain would brush against my face. These occasional splashes of water were like gasps of air to drowning swimmer (yes, I do like to use exaggerated images – why do you ask?). My shoes and socks were wet by this time, from running through puddles, and it was altogether a miserable run.

I finally turned into my neighbourhood, did my cool down, and hauled myself through the front door of my house. My mom, hearing me come in, called out, “Do you need a towel?”

“Why would I?” I asked, “It didn’t rain.”

“Really?” replied my mom. “It poured here.”


Random Thought for the Day: It’s hard to floss your teeth when you have the hiccups.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hybrid Runner

With this many wires, I should have my own sci-fi show
Running, my parents tell me, used to be a much simpler thing. Back in their days, you ran barefoot and didn’t complain about it, because if you slowed down, you’d be eaten by a dinosaur (I may not have been paying much attention).

But in all honesty, while the basic goal of running has remained the same (get from point A to point B as fast as possible), the equipment has come a long way from shoes with soles made on a waffle iron (I’m not joking). As long as I’ve been running, I’ve always had technical running shoes and moisture-wicking tops. The only electrical equipment I used, however, was a basic stopwatch. But times are changing, and today I went running with my iPod Nano and Nike+ iPod.

For those of you who don’t know, the Nike+ is a transmitter that can be inserted into many new Nike shoes, or attached in a velcro pouch to your regular shoe. The transmitter measures the speed and distance you run, and then sends the information either to your iPod Nano or a Nike Sports band (I swear I’m not being paid by Nike to write all this). Anyways, since I had gotten a Nano last Christmas, I decided to get the Nike+ iPod and try it out.

I started by velcroing the transmitter to my shoe, and attaching the receiver to my iPod. Then the first problem occurred to me…I already had an arm-strap for running with my iPod. How would I get the iPod to fit in it with the receiver attached? I looked at the back of the strap and saw it had to bands of velcro, one at the perfect height for my modified iPod. Perfect, I thought, its like it was made for it. I looked closer. There on the strap it said, “for NIKE+iPod”. Oh well. iPod one, me zero.

I set my iPod to play my running playlist, made sure the volume was low enough that could hear what was going on around me, and set out. Feeling very high-tech, I started the interval timer on my watch (it beeps at three and one minutes intervals alternately, telling me when to walk and run), my stopwatch, and my iPod. With all my clocks running, I started to jog down the street. But there was a problem. No music. I twisted my arm so I could see my iPod screen. Everything looked right. I stopped and turned the volume up and down. Still no music. After about 30 seconds of fiddling around, I realized my ear-phones weren’t plugged in. I plugged them in and was treated to a blaring blast of music, having left the volume turned all the way up. iPod two, me zero.

With all systems go, my run really got under way. I love running to music, especially anything with a fast rhythm. A remnant of my marching band days, I still feel the urge to run in time with the music, so the faster the songs, the faster I run. After about two running intervals, a slower song came on just as my walk break started. I slowed down, paying attention to my breathing. As I did so, I glanced down and saw the transmitter on my shoe. It just sat there, taunting me. I know you’re walking, it seemed to say, and I’m recording ever step you take. I sped up. iPod three, me zero.

As always, I sprinted the last bit of my run, stopping the timer on my watch as soon as I hit the finish line. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had only read the section on starting the Nike+ and not the one on stopping it. I hit a few buttons, and a voice announced in my ear, 31minutes, 21 seconds. I must have jumped 10 feet into the air. iPod four, me zero.

I figured out how to stop the iPod, and after my cool down and a big glass of water, I uploaded my results to the computer. I knew had run just under 3 miles at just over 10 minute mile pace, but my iPod apparently thought I had run 3.14 miles at 9:57 pace, which is considerably faster. Hmmm. Looks like I managed to beat the thing after all.

P.S. If you want to see the times for my runs, scroll down to the bottom of the page. I figure now my mom and dad can know if I’m staying on my running schedule even when I’m back at school.

P.P.S. A shameless plug: all my running equipment, from my shoes up, came from Track Shack (except the iPod Nano). Both the Nike+iPod for the Nano and the Nike+Sports band can be bought there.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wekiva Run

“If you have ever come on a dense wood of ancient trees that have risen to an exceptional height, shutting out all sight of the sky with one thick screen of branches upon another, the loftiness of the forest, the seclusion of the spot, your sense of wonderment at finding so deep and unbroken a gloom out of doors, will persuade you of the presence of a deity.” Seneca, Letter 41

Today, my family skipped church. Or perhaps, to put it better, we exchanged one church for another. A church of bricks for a church of wood. A church with walls for a church with sky. Our worship music was pounding feet and beating hearts, our prayers were gasping breaths and drops of sweat.

Okay, I know that first paragraph probably sounds a little cheesy, but I did mean it. There is something religious about being out in nature, and Wekiva Springs is one of the few places in Florida where nature is still around. When you drive to the park, you’re greeted by the motto “this is the real Florida”. Sadly, the motto is a lie. “Real” Florida is made up of developments and theme parks, not nature preserves. But it is a kind of Florida – the Florida that used to be. And it’s a wonderful reminder of the beauty of a state best known for Disney and being hot.

The run took us through wooded areas, where the trail was bordered by pine trees, palms, and creeping vines. At some places, the trail is washed away, a reminder that nature can win out over progress. Other parts of the trail go through Florida brush lands, a unique kind of habitat that is home to several threatened and endangered species that can’t live anywhere else.

The best part of running at Wekiva is, of course, the spring itself. Always an even 72F (22 C), the spring is cool in the summer and warm in the winter, making a plunge into it the perfect way to end a run.

So, for those of you wondering why I wasn’t at church today, now you know. After all, as the semi-nomadic congregation of OCC knows, God’s church is wherever His people happen to be.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Country ‘tis of Thee

A day late, here are some of the reasons America is such a great place to live. I can’t guarantee the veracity of all these facts, because I found them online.

13 facts for the 13 colonies

13.No star on the flag represents any one state.

12.The crookedest street in the world is Snake Alley, located in Burlington, Iowa

11.The largest underground cave in the world, at 300 miles long, is the Mammoth-Flint Cave system in Kentucky

10.The largest meteorite crater in the world is in Winslow, Arizona. 4,150 feet across and 150 feet deep.

9.Approximately 35 million Americans are linked by blood to one (or more) of the 102 pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620

8.The most telescopes in the world are located in Tucson, Arizona

7.According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 140 towns and cities in the U.S. that have the word "Christmas" in their names.

6. 98% of the world's crayfish can be found in Louisiana

5.The first electric traffic lights were invented and installed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914

4.Iced tea was first served at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. A British businessman wanted to increase tea sales in America

3.Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi

2.One in every 4 Americans has appeared on television.

And the number one reason America is a great place to live...

1. Peanut butter was invented here by George Washington Carver

Sources: http://www.theholidayspot.com/july4/facts.htm, http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0770175.html, http://www.stephencarr.com/facts.html

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mini Sermon: Part 2&3 of 3

Why Being a Christian is like Being a Study Abroad Student

2. Enjoying a Temporary Life

“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:16-17
There is something about living in another country that is somewhat surreal. As my friend once commented to me, even the money seems like play-money.

I had a choice in Oxford. I knew even before I arrived that my stay was something temporary. I was a visitor, albeit a very long-term one. It would have been easy then not to make an attempt to make Oxford my home. To avoid making friends, for example. But that would have made my stay rather miserable. Instead, I made friends, I found a home church, I got a library card, and even an English sim-card for my phone. Oxford truly became a second home, and I enjoyed my time there.
Our time here on earth is equally temporary, and we have the same decisions to make. We can make this home, a place we love, a place we find comfort and joy, or we can reject everything of the earth and live only for what comes after death. I don’t believe the former is the right choice. The earth is a gift, as is our time upon it. We are not meant to reject it, but simply to acknowledge that it is temporary, that it is not all there is. So yes, go ahead and eat, drink, and be merry. As C.S. Lewis said, God likes wine. He made it.
3. This is not my Home
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” Philippians 3:20-21
I
don’t really have anything new to say in this section. This is simply meant to remind you that this is not our home. Knowing that Oxford was not my home was, many times, a comfort. Whenever I was felt lost or left out, I could remind myself that such feelings were natural. After all, Oxford wasn’t my home. And all those days when you feel depressed, or abandoned, or rejected, I encourage you to remember the same thing. This is not our home. In our home, we will never feel depressed, abandoned, or reject. Because when we are home, we will be where we belong.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mini Sermon: Part 1 of 3

Why Being a Christian is like Being a Study Abroad Student

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”. 1 Peter 2:11

The word “alien”, meaning foreigner, appears in one form or another 96 times in the Old Testament (according to biblegateway.com), mostly in reference to the people of Israel, who were “aliens” in the land they lived in. It occurs six times in the New Testament, usually in terms of Christians being aliens in the world. It seems God has a thing for aliens.

This past six months, I experienced life as an alien in another country. When looking back on my experience, three things really struck me as being parallels for the Christian life.

1. Not Belonging
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” John 15:18-19

When I met someone in England, the conversation often went like this.

“Hi, I’m Emma. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi Emma. I’m _____. Where in the States are you from?”

I never really thought that I had an accent until I went to England, where I discovered that there, the English don’t have accents, but the Americans do. I couldn’t open my mouth without immediately marking myself as a foreigner. I could dress the right way, ride my bike on the left side of street, and drink tea. But as soon as someone talked to me, they knew where I was from. To be honest, there were times when I got sick of it. Times when I just wanted to be Emma-the-human-being, not Emma-the-American. But the simple fact of the matter is that I am an American, and no matter how much I adapted to the English culture, I couldn’t hide the fact.

In the same way, Christians are not citizens of the world, but of the body of Christ. And so here, where we are foreigners, we ought to have accents. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”. Our lives should be our gospels. We shouldn’t have to talk to be marked as Christians, but should live in such away that we are noticeably different.

This doesn’t mean we should go around walking barefoot, or not bathing. Our goal isn’t to make ourselves unappealing to the world. But we don’t just answer to ourselves, to our bosses, to our fellow human beings. We also answer to God, and it is by His standard that we are called to live. And when we are living by His standard, and not our own, we will stand out. It won’t always be easy, and there will be times when we fail. Going against the stream is always harder than going with it. No one wants to be the odd one who doesn’t fit in. But there it is. We are strangers in a strange land, aliens in the earth, and we are called to live as such.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So, About my Major…

Most of the people who tolerate my company for extended periods of time (i.e. my friends), or who have ever been stuck having a conversation with me, have heard this rant in some form or another. And since I’ve not had any adventures recently, and it’s too hot to make one up (93F, Heat Index of 98=34/37C), you, my semi-captive audience, now get to hear it.

I used to be a Latin major, which I hated to tell people. Because always, always they would ask “What are you going to do with that?”. Or they would laugh, as if they were saying something clever and say “I though that was dead language!” (Latin is not a dead language, or a petrified one, but that’s another rant for another day). I had thought changing my major would put in end to that, but surprisingly many people find philosophy a more useless pursuit than a “dead” language.

The other day I went to Barnes and Nobel looking for a copy of Plato’s Laws. I’m a pretty regular buyer of books and consequently know my local bookstores pretty well, so I usually just find what I’m looking for on my own. In Barnes and Nobel, non-fiction books are upstairs, and divided into two halves. On the left is what I call “academic” books: History, biology, politics, psychology, computer programming, etc. On the right are craft books and the religion section. The Laws is a philosophy book, so I went upstairs and scanned the sections. No philosophy. So I walked down the rows on the left side, without any luck. I glanced down the ‘Religion’ section, but still didn’t see what I was looking for.

Finally, after wandering around downstairs just in case, I had an employee look the book up in the computer. “Oh,” he said helpfully, “It’s in the philosophy section.” “Where’s that?” I asked. “I’ll show you”. I followed him back upstairs, to the right, through ‘Religion’, and there it was. Philosophy. Sandwiched between ‘Religion’ and ‘Astrology’, right across from ‘New Age’. What’s the point of this story? It seems to me that the location of the philosophy section in Barnes and Nobel fairly accurately represents most people’s view of the discipline. Philosophy, many seem to think, exists in a realm somewhere between religion and pseudo-science. It’s a wishy-washy major, for people who just want to go around asking questions with no answers and avoid doing any real work. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Philosophers were the original physicists, botanists, psychologists, and political analysts. In around 310 BC, Epicurus, a philosopher and founder of what would be called the Epicurean school, proposed that everything on earth – solids, liquids, and gasses – were made up of tiny, vibrating particles which he called atoms. A little later, a philosopher called Aristotle (heard of him?) proposed that things tended to move towards the earth. And much, much later, Newton would consider himself a natural philosopher, occasionally foraying into the realm of metaphysics. The fact is, almost all of the areas that people study today where once branches of philosophy. After all, philosophy literally means a love of wisdom, and all of Academia is (or should be) concerned with wisdom and knowledge (incidentally, our word “academic” is from the name of Plato’s school, The Academy). Far from being the dotty scholars they’re seen as today, philosophers were once the scientists of their time, and the founders of modern science.

Well, that was then. What about now? Science is no longer a branch of philosophy, but a discipline in its own right, with its own branches. What role can philosophy play in the modern world? The answer is that philosophy plays the same role today that it always has. Even though the different disciplines have become more specialized, and the scope of philosophy has shrunk, its still there, lurking behind even the most advanced scientific discoveries. Richard Dawkins even ventures into the philosophical sphere when interpreting the results of experiments. Science has a limit to what it can explain, and where it stops, philosophy picks up.

I’ve focused predominately on the relationship between philosophy and science in this post, but there are many other areas that fall into the sphere of philosophy, such as ethics and politics. I could take make this a more in depth argument, but as this is merely a blog post, I’ll spare you the reading (and me the writing) of it. I know not everyone will accept my arguments here, but I do hope that maybe next time you ask what my major is, you won’t laugh at my answer. Not to worry though. To that ever popular second question, “Do you have a back-up”, I can reassuringly answer yes. I’ve kept Latin as my minor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

There and Back Again

Hello! Sorry this post is so late in coming. I’ve been really busy packing, cleaning house, traveling, unpacking, etc. First of all, thank you to everyone who responded to my last post, and thank you even more for taking the time to read my blog. Next, a quick update on what I’ve been doing.

1. Saying goodbye. I’ve spent time in other countries before, but this was the first time I really got to know people there. I am going to miss the other students in my program, but they’re all American, and odds are we’ll be getting together again at some point. But for the first time ever, I’ve left people behind that I will miss and that will miss me (I think). And that was very hard.

2. Packing. Otherwise known as fitting 6 months of my life into two suitcases.

3. Cleaning the house. Dane was first to leave, and wiped down the bathroom before he left. Will did almost everything else which was wonderful, because I had a tutorial on Saturday. I cleaned the kitchen, and we shall not talk about what was found in there.

4. Playing Frisbee at 5:30 AM. But I’ll deny it if any of the neighbors complain.

5. Walking to the bus stop with all my bags. Which would have been awful, except out of nowhere, my neighbor Subiksha rode up on her bike to help me. At 6:20 AM. Which really drove home the fact that I would be leaving friends behind in England.

6. Airplane. Food was good, and I sat next to a nice lady. Otherwise, just as awful as always.

7. Met up with my parents. “I haven’t seen you guys in one week!!!”

8. Observed how BIG American cars are.

9. Ate Mexican food :)

10. Ate Chick-fil-a :) :) (Chargrilled chicken wrap with rasberry vinergarette dressing, small waffle fries-not chips!-and root beer)

11. Noticed how BIG American refrigerators are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blog

Blog is a funny word – especially after a night at the pub (kidding!). Anyways, I’ve had several people ask me if I’ll be continuing to blog after leaving England and the answer is (long pause for dramatic effect…………………………………………
………………………………………………....................
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Yes!

I can’t promise that I’ll be having so many adventures, but if things get boring, I’ll just make some up. So, if you enjoy hearing about my life, and my thoughts on said life, feel free to stick around! If you don’t like to read about my life, then what are you doing here?

That being said, thank you to everyone who has joined me in my travels these six months. It’s been fun knowing that I’ve been able to share my adventures, at least vicariously, with all of you across the Pond. For those of you who live in Oxford: It’s been wonderful getting to spend time with you, and I wish I could have gotten to know all of you better (at least most of you ;)). And for all you Americans, I guess I’ll be seeing you soon!

P.S. My “leave a comment” requests usually don’t work, but I would really like to know who all my travelling companions have been. So, if you read this post, would you please give a quick “hello” in the comments, or send me an e-mail so I know? Thanks!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Photographs and Memories

…All that I Have are These (Jim Croce)

click click Digital cameras can, of course, take pictures silently click click But there’s something reassuring about the sound click click It lets you know you took a picture.

click click And today I have my camera with me click click And am walking through town looking like a bloody tourist click click Because somehow, click click I got this crazy idea in my head click click that if I can take a picture of everything click click that will be enough.

click click As if a piece of paper with ink on it click click—not that its even that substantial click click—just a memory card storing some pixels click click will some how contain all of my time here.

click click As if pictures could be enough click click As if words could be enough click click I can capture images click click I can capture events click click I can even capture feelings click click But I can’t capture the experience.

click click The experience is past click click Gone click click Never to be captured click click only in the present.

click click
But here I am, click click not experiencing, click click just trying to capture click click I’m walking down Broad Street, click click taking pictures like a bloody tourist click click And trying to stave off the inevitable.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Addendum

To the list "Why I Couldn't Write my Paper"

6. I couldn’t will myself to choose to write my paper (Schopenhauer)

They Came from Outer Space!

Or Orlando, FL. I can’t always tell.

A picture story

My family came to visit!


We had a picnic in Christ Church Meadows.

We looked at shoes.

We went punting.

We went to the Globe Theatre to see King Lear.

We looked at shoes.

We visited the important sites.

We had dinner at famous pubs.
We looked at shoes.

We went to the museum…Oh no! The T-Rex is eating Chris!

Dad looked at the rocks.

We found a dinosaur that was Mom’s size.

I’m so glad my family came to visit!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On Leaving Oxford

In which I subject my readers to yet more bad poetry

On Leaving Oxford

The stark reality begins to dawn
That soon, all too soon, we will all be gone.
I don’t mean our short time upon the earth –
That brief hiatus between death and birth –
Such is the stuff of a loftier poem;
I mean the time left before going home
I thought that six months would take long to pass,
But days are short when you want them to last.
It seemed I had forever to explore—
Forever isn’t so long anymore.
How can I choose one home o’er another?
Forsake one friend for the other?
I cannot leave and not leave myself behind:
Two Oceans own my heart, my soul, my mind.
If I could, I’d stand straddling the Sea,
Yet I fear the distance’s too great for me.
And so I lie, arms spread out, stretched too thin,
As if I could hold the whole world within.
Then, impatient, my heart begins to pull—
Must I live in two halves and never be whole?
Oh why is my heart so easily cleaved?
Why can it not so easily take leave?
Why must I go when I wish I could stay?
Why did I come to go back the same way?
Yet knowing not what the future may bring,
Still I know that I’ll not regret a thing.
When my time here has been all but forgot,
I’ll still have the mem’ries that Time has wrought.
Though I may never belong to one Place,
Though I can’t hold two Worlds in one embrace,
I know in my heart two Places can meet –
And in that Meeting, I am whole and complete.

N.B. I leave on June 15th

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Joanne Came to Visit!

In which we take Stick Jessica around Oxford, and I wax philosophical (and wonder what exactly it means to ‘wax’)

Hey! Look at that. It’s Joanne! And (looks closer) is that Jessica? Sure is!
I got to take Joanne and Stick Jessica around Oxford. I introduced them to Amy and Samantha,


took them punting,
and explored the Natural History Museum (Stick Jessica didn’t like the crocodile).
It was really wonderful to see Joanne. I visited her in Spain over my break, and she had shown me around, so it was great to return the favour. She stayed in the extra room in my flat, and we watched a movie and knitted every night…it as almost like the good old days back in the States, except Jessica wasn’t there (N.B. Joanne and Jessica are my roommates at school).

But spending time with Joanne got me thinking about how much we have, or haven’t changed since studying abroad. Joanne, for example, now eats tomatoes and drinks tea (a real shocker for anyone who has ever shared a kitchen with her). And so I started to wonder about if, and how I’ve changed.

I’ve done a lot of things here that I’d never done before. I’ve lived with two guys who weren’t related to me, I’ve gone on a three day hike (twice!), I’ve cooked without a microwave, and I’ve even picked up a whole new vocabulary. And so much more. I’ve translated Homer and Plato, read several philosophers I’d never studied before, had to make friends all on my own, travelled to another country by myself, and found (two) home churches. I even started a secret society, but I can’t tell you about it, because then I’d have to kill you. I could keep listing all the new experiences I’ve had, but that will only distract me from my main point. Can I have had so many new experiences and not change?

Philosophy student that I am, I then start to wonder if people really do change, or just become more of themselves. I’m certainly different than I was when I was, say, in middle school (about 13 years old for my UK readers). I’m (a little) taller, I have a wider vocabulary, I’m (arguably) more mature, and I’m definitely over the whole boys-have-cooties thing. But am I really a different person, or just an older version of the younger me? Does an acorn actually change into an oak tree, or does it simply become one? In other words, does an acorn itself already possess all the qualities of an oak tree? Or perhaps more complicated, does a caterpillar, in becoming a butterfly, truly change into something entirely new, or does simply become a better caterpillar? Is a butterfly just the full realization of the potential that exists in the caterpillar?

These aren’t new questions, as anyone who has ever been dragged through an Intro to Philosophy class will know. And, at least at the moment, I’m not trying to finding the answer to them. I guess what I really am wondering is this: I know, or at least have a pretty good idea of, who the person was who went to England back in January. But will the person who goes back to the States in just over two weeks be the same one?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cotswold Way

The Other Half of the Fun

So, this past weekend, Samantha and I decided to finish walking the Cotswold Way (If you missed my post about walking the first half, click here). This time we had real walking sticks (technically, a pair of ski-poles that I bought for a quid at a second hand store), much lighter backpacks, and actual reservations for where we were going to sleep. Oh, and a hitchhiker.

This is Angela TheTroll, Amy’s travelling companion. We would have brought Amy, but she didn’t fit in the backpack, so we brought Angela instead.

Last time I posted about Cotswold Way I gave a day-by-day travelogue. We had a lot farther to travel (over 55 miles), and less time to do it in (3 days) than last time, so I didn’t have time to keep track of what happened day to day. So instead, I’ll just give a list of everything we learned over out 100 mile trek. But first…time spent walking each day:

Day 1: 7 hours, 25 minutes
Day 2: 7 hours, 43 minutes
Day 3: 7 hours, 17 minutes

Things we Learned:

1. Rainy weather at 5:00 AM can be very discouraging.
2. The parts of England that aren’t made of mud and sheep are made of snails and slugs (big, black, ugly slugs)
3. There is a lack of places to answer nature’s call on the Way. We would have settled for a discreet tree or wall, but most of the time we were hiking through sheep pastures.
4. You hike a lot faster when you have to pee (a lot. As in just about running. Especially when the town you thought was 1 mile away turns out to be a full 3 miles away)
5. Inns are really cool places to stay. Being in the same building as your food source is a major plus.
6. Some pubs *ahem* the ones in Dursely *ahem* do not serve food on the weekends.
7. There are a lot more hikers on Cotswold Way when it isn’t cold enough to snow.
8. Wild onions are beautiful, and make the forests look like they have white carpets.
9. Wild onions smell like…onions. Strong enough to make you sick after an hour of smelling it.
10. There is a strange plant the smells like chocolate, but we never figured out what it was.
11. It’s illegal to grab a fish and run away with it.
12. Areas with dense foliage are strangely warm and humid.
13. If you are eating an apple in a field where there are horses…you will be expected to share.
14. STILES are EVIL and should all be DISMANTLED, CHOPPED UP, and BURNED.
15. 20 miles remains, as always, a very, very, long way to walk.
16. Ski poles don’t break as easily as “grotty” wooden walking sticks.
17. Some kissing gates are too small to fit a person and a backpack.
18. Mud and thistles are strangely attracted to me. And thistles hurt…a lot.
19. Samantha likes to step in cow pies.
20. All English countryside starts to look the same after a while.
21. There is some very confusing signage along the Way.
22. Getting lost can add a lot of time to the days walking…and is especially bad if climb the wrong hill.
23. Hills are evil.
24. English Breakfasts are a great way to start a day of hiking.
25. Backpacks get heavier the longer you carry them, even if you eat all the food.
26. There are not words to describe how wonderful it feels to see the town that is your final destination.
church steeple of Painswick

27. The buses from Painswick to Stroud (next place with a train station) stop running at 5:00PM
28. A taxi from Painswick to Stroud costs about 15 quid.
29. Trains are good. Trains that have a café are even better.
30. A G&D’s brownie sundae is a perfectly acceptable dinner after hiking 50 miles.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Continuing Adventures of the River Rats

In Which we are Rescued by Firemen…Twice

This post is a little late in coming, as the incident concerned took place last Wednesday. It started, as have all out punting expeditions, with Laura procuring a boat for us through her college. This time, instead of starting from Magdalen Bridge, we began at the Cherwell River boathouse. This meant that we would be following the river as it ran near my house. Our purpose in this was a desire to go down the punt rollers next to the University Park. The punt rollers allow one to roll the boat either up or down into a different section of the river.
Punt Rollers near my house, picture from Wikipedia.
The trip began without incident. We took turns punting, reading out loud, and snacking on the strawberries and muffins Laura had brought. The pole got stuck in the mud once while I was punting, but we were able to paddle back to it and retrieve it without much trouble. We continued peacefully along the river until we came to the punt rollers. Laura was closest to the front of the boat, so she climbed out and grabbed the tie-up rope. As she pulled the punt towards the rollers, I steered from the back. Once the punt was straight, we all climbed out and, pulling and pushing, got it out of the water and onto the rollers. Watching people go up and down the rollers is quite the spectator sport and soon a small group was watching us. There was a group of about five firemen at the park (I guess they were spending their break there) and, taking pity on the four American girls trying desperately to pull their boat down the rollers, offered to help. One of them grabbed the rope and helped us pull the boat across the top, flat part of the rollers.

Once we were near the bottom, we thanked him, put the pole back into the boat, and continued to push it down, ready to jump back in once the punt hit the water. The fireman again offered to help, and suggested we all get back into the punt and he push it off the rollers for us. We agreed, and climbed back in. I was at the front (technically the back-end of the boat), with the pole, ready to turn us around once we hit the water. The fireman pushed the boat, and we rolled down the ramp, just like we were on a small flume ride. It was then I had the quick thought that, when a flume boat hits the water, the front end always dips down and soaks the person sitting there. Sure enough, we hit the water at full speed and the front/back submerged, completely soaking me. We were going so fast that we weren’t able to control the punt, and crashed into the bank. We tried to push off, only to find that we were stuck.

The firemen, seeing this, came down and helped us to get loose, one of them commenting, “If you ever need help again, now you know not to ask the fire brigade”. After exchanging a lot of “thank yous” and laughter, we continued down the stream for a bit, before we had to turn back.

The rule with rivers, of course, is what comes down must go up, and so back up the punt rollers we must go. There were no firemen this time, so we were on our own. I got out and was helping to pull the boat around in line with the rollers when I over-balanced and fell into the river (I know—stories of me falling into rivers while punting are getting kind of old now). Samantha helped me back out, and chanting “One, two, three, PULL”, we somehow managed to get the punt back up the rollers and into the water. Being thoroughly soaked, and having a tutorial later in the day, I decided to head back home, since my house was only about a 5 minute walk away. I’ve been told the rest of the trip back upriver went uneventfully, which apparently is only possible when I’m not around. But I like to think I add a bit of entertainment to what would otherwise be a very monotonous three hours.

P.S. Samantha and I finished hiking Cotswold Way this weekend. Details to come…