Sunday, December 30, 2007

Solitary time

While relaxing in the arms of my very handsome reading chair, I got the notion to fix up my blog. I cropped my favorite wallpaper from VladStudio for the images involved- hopefully the credit blurb in the sidebar will save me from nasty lawsuits. We'll see how long I can handle the lack of blue in the color scheme.

This wasn't entirely what I meant to spend my afternoon doing... but it is pretty spiffy looking, if I do say so myself. And hey, I'm on break! Anything I meant to get done today can get done tomorrow (or sometime in the next few weeks) right?

Also, The Thirteenth Tale was an utterly fabulous book. Spectacularly lyrical descriptions. Now I'm on to A Thousand Splendid Suns, and I borrowed Stardust and The Poe Shadow from a friend last night. I'm also working on re-reading Reading Lolita in Tehran. I'm all set for my Annual Recreational Reading Christmas Break Marathon. Anyone else been reading anything interesting lately?

Finally, for your enjoyment:
After accepting the friend requests of friends' moms, adult relatives, and parish acquaintances, I have admitted the ineffectiveness of my no-adult-facebook-friends rule. I am swimming against the tide, people. Therefore, I have gone over to the dark side: I friended my mom.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Peace to all, and to all a good night :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paper writing break

I've heard about four different versions of The Little Drummer Boy in the last two hours while sitting in Starbucks, and I've hated all of them. I especially don't understand the one in which a sultry female voice sang "I am a poor boy too." Sweetheart, you can't make the little drummer boy sexy. The one I'm listening to now features Indian themed background music. Bah humbug on all of you.

Also, there is a foot of snow outside, all soft and fresh and powdery. When I go home, it will be in the 50s at lowest. Sometimes I wish I could bring GA farther north with me.

Happy Pink Sunday (not related to breast cancer).

Friday, December 14, 2007

AWOL

Sorry for lack of posts. Finals, busy, blah blah excuses blah blah. You know the drill. The good news is:

  • One final down (arguably the hardest) and two to go. Pretty much smooth sailing with plenty of time to prepare for both. One is a take-home essay, the other is a rote memorization Spanish exam, and I'm nothing if not a decent essay writer and Spanish parrot. That sounded slightly arrogant. These are my strengths, is what I'm trying to say.
  • After camping out in the Gug from 7:30 AM to 1 PM (with very little sleep the night before and the first hour or so spent outside in freezing weather), Charlie Weis signed a football for me and (shush, don't tell, it's a surprise) for Mark, who is a Pats fan these days. The conversation between Weis and I went like this:
    • Me: Merry Christmas, Coach!
    • Charlie: Hey, how ya doing.
    • Me: Well, I've been here for the last five hours.
    • Charlie (who had been signing things since 7:30 AM and had planned on this process only taking an hour, resulting in him pushing back his schedule so that he would be working until at least 11PM)*: Pause, Raised eyebrows, long eye contact. Are you complaining to me?
    • Me: (sputtering, laughing, blushing) No! No sir!
    • Charlie: Because this is not the time to be complaining to me.
    • Me: (still laughing and blushing) Well, it's a good memory, at least. (moving aside for Joey to approach)
    • Joey: (the total resident suckup in this story) I've enjoyed it!
    • Charlie: And you're the weird one, right?
    • (much laughter all around. I was teased by the Coach!!!)
    • *Really, Charlie, emailing the entire ND campus that you would be signing Christmas gifts for everyone who showed up, then expecting to be done in an hour, was a silly plan. Your signed footballs go for hundreds in the bookstore. I got 2 for under $40. Plus, they're personalized, and I got to talk to you. Never mind sleep and studying. This was far more important. Also, they gave us free donuts, hot chocolate, and even pizza while we were waiting.
  • I finally watched Serenity. Oof and wow. Also, closure! Yay!
  • I pretty much accomplished my Christmas shopping in one Amazon order. Be envious. It's weird to not need to go to a mall this year- I might for card shopping, just for the experience.
  • I will be home in less than a week :-)
  • ND is giving me a total of 77% of the price of my Europe trip next semester !!!!! Leaving me in charge of 23%, which is manageable and an appropriate level of sacrifice on my part. It's awesome to be able to pay parents back, for once.
  • I was feeling sick earlier, but after tylenol and allergy meds, I feel muuuuch better.
  • Huckabee's the GOP front runner? No way the "leader of the free world" will be named Huckabee. Ain't gonna happen. That's not so much good news as a random comment.
  • I have a loooong list of things I want to bake when I get home, including ginger crinkles, cheese straws (I want to try a dash of red pepper this year), tunnel of fudge cake, and butterscotch squares. Sweet (pun intended).
Life is happy. The end.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Whirlwind trips, creepy bus passengers and humility too

Well, the wedding reception for my Marine cousin and his new wife was lovely. Birmingham was a welcome dose of Southern. And I think I talked more to my other cousin (the Marine's little brother) than I ever have in my life, which is seriously a good thing. I was so glad to be there and be supportive; family drama made things awkward at first, but then it was awesome and there was great family bonding time. There's nothing like a wedding to draw together a family. I don't think I've ever enjoyed just talking with my extended family so much as I did at this reception- and I wasn't even drunk ;-). It was beautiful and I'm so so so grateful I got to be there.

But the journey back- golly gee wiz*! To recap, attending this reception meant leaving on a 10:10 AM bus to Chicago, catching a 3:50 flight to Bham, attending reception, driving to the Atlanta airport early the next morning, taking a 11:50 flight to Chicago, and then catching a 1:15 bus out to school. The journey down went smoothly. But coming back involved 14 hours of travel because Illinois and Indiana decided to have a snow and ice storm. I am SO LUCKY that my flight made it into Chicago- when we landed, I literally could not see the ground coming until I felt the bump of hitting the runway and then lights along the runway were slightly visible through the thickly-falling snow. However, my plane didn't land in time for me to catch the bus back to Notre Dame, so I had to wait two or three hours for the next one. No big, but good God, there is no sadder place than O'Hare during the holidays when snow storms have caused universal flight cancellations. People were crying, yelling, pouting, and staring out into space in the bus terminal, where I occupied a plastic chair and waited for the bus. Long lines of angry people stood in direct contrast to the forced holiday cheer of the santa-hat-wearing help desk people, and exhausted little kids tugged at ornaments on the fake trees. By the time the bus showed up, I had never been so ready to be back at school.

But my trials were not over, dear reader. The world's creepiest man picked me to sit next to on the four hour bus trip. I was forced to physically pick up his hand by the wrist and put it on his own lap while he pretended to be innocently asleep on no less than three occasions, and no amount of polite shoulder-tapping, gentle shoves, or unhappy glares convinced the man that it would be wise to keep his hands to himself. During the ordeal, I was indignant, and it was only after three hours of riding next to him, after he got off the bus, that I was truly afraid, realizing how much worse it could have been. Especially since no one on the nearly silent, full bus assisted me at all as I kept asking the man (loudly, with no apparent response) to please not touch me. This is when I find myself hating self-absorbed big-city midwesterners (not that all or even most midwesterners are like this...). If the bus had been travelling in GA, every man sitting nearby would have kindly asked if that man was bothering me after my first vocal complaint, and they would have taken care of it. No one even met my eyes. Shudder. Enough of that. I made it home eventually, consumed a Reckers sandwich, and watched Love Actually, one of the best feel-good movies out there. I watch it once or twice every Christmas season.

I was planning on conquering the questions I posted about humility vs. confidence, but dudes, this post is way too long already. Next time.


* I googled both "golly gee wiz" and "golly gee whiz" to see which was the appropriate spelling, and both were listed on such reputable sites as Urban Dictionary, so I arbitrarily picked one.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Humility vs. Self confidence

Hi Blogger.

Someday I'm going to compose, edit, and publish a post well before midnight instead of rushing to get a post written because must! post! every! day!

I want to write a coherent post about this, probably tomorrow while sitting in an airport, so until then, consider this an abstract.

Tonight I ambushed enthusiastically greeted my almost-roommate-turned-Dominican-nun at the Center for Ethics and Culture's annual conference. She and a few other sisters came down from Michigan for tonight and tomorrow. It's incredible how much she has changed in the six months since I saw her last. She used to be loud, joyful, and exuberant, with many adorable expressions like "keep it real, yo." Now, she's just as joyful, but it's contained within a disciplined and obedient exterior. She speaks with a soft voice and with the utmost politeness. In short, she's a nun. It's like she's aged ten years and gained maturity and humility overnight. She's still her- but she's also so different.

This experience, while wonderful, got me thinking. I have been raised under the ideology that the best women- the women who should be idolized- are spectacular. They are famous, brilliant, and altogether amazing. They stand out. We are taught to fight anyone who tells you to obey (as an adult) or take a backseat to an authority figure. Young women (especially those in college) are encouraged to be the very best- screw what men expect of you. It's pretty much opposed to humility, because your entire life you're taught to be proud of the incredible person you are. So which is right? Is the ideal woman Marian, humble, obedient, subservient? Or is she proud, fabulous, and influential?

These questions were thrown in stark contrast by my meeting with Sr. Kristin, whose changed demeanor naturally made me cringe. Tonight I'll just leave you with the questions- I'll try to post my thoughts tomorrow (from Birmingham!).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oh, shopping.

Tonight I ventured out to the mall with the purpose of buying lovely and practical brown dress shoes, seeing as how black shoes do not match brown pants, and I intend to wear brown pants to my cousin's wedding reception Friday night.

This shopping experience was a dream, dear reader! I swooped into Payless Shoes, found a gorgeous, cheap, and comfortable pair of pumps, purchased matching stockings at half off, and merrily strolled to Chickfila for dinner. Never has a shopping experience been so smooth and delightful!

Dinner having been consumed, I waited patiently for the bus to arrive to bear me back to my campus abode. Soon a bus appeared, and I climbed aboard gratefully. As the bus journeyed forth, however, it was discovered that the bus was not the number 7, but number 15, bearing us in the opposite direction of home. Alas! An hour of jolting, nauseating, painstaking bus riding commenced before our mistake could be amended and campus regained. I survived with shoes intact, but with humbled dignity.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It is late.

I'm writing a paper. It's about the wealth of the Church and whether it's managed properly. Like why we spend so much on lilies for Easter every year when people are still starving in the world. I don't really agree with this position- I personally think that the Church does a decent job of helping the poor, even if it could be more transparent about its assets- but I'm trying to create a topic worth discussing for a 75 minute class. I figure, people get offended by me implying the Church is greedy, then they talk for the whole class about it. Yeah, good plan.

Also, I've taken a lot of naps this week. By this week I mean today and yesterday. Naps to begin with are unusual for me, but long naps (an hour or more) are even rarer. And I'm still tired while trying to write this paper, which incidentally is due tomorrow morning.

I'm considering skipping my first class and sleeping in, with time for a nice long shower. It's nice to dream.

It's time for Christmas break. Oh wait, we have finals first. Argh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the power of positive

An amazing thing happened today. In my grad school class, my professor handed back our term papers at the beginning of the class. I was totally unprepared for this, since I just turned this paper in last Friday, and most of our papers topped 20 pages. That's a lot for one weekend. But there it was, graded, commented on, and ready for me. I've been pretty worried about this paper; I hated writing it, and I knew it could have been better. I've been coming up with things I should have researched more all weekend. It's 40 percent of my grade. He's a historically harsh grader, and I've got stiff competition as the youngest one in the class. Criticism was scrawled on every page. I couldn't take it any more and flipped from page 5 to page 14, where he had written my grade before the endnotes and works cited. A. He loved it.

This experience proves my theory that I am more motivated by praise than anything else. I was on my game in this class today. Seriously, spot on. I asked the best questions and made the best points. Even the grad students had nothing on me. It was glorious. Call me smart and I will be, just to prove I've earned the praise.

Which means... maybe I was all along.

Appropriately stuck in my head

But look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around, leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wow

Heard at my all-female dorm mass tonight:

"There might be future presidents in this room tonight. If Hillary can do it, you can too!"

The homilist was a Haitian priest, so I'm going to hope he didn't know the cultural implications of that statement beyond the fact that a woman is running for president, but did you ever think you'd hear a priest support Hillary during a [Notre Dame] Mass?

Coffee etiquette

Even though I'm thoroughly addicted to Starbucks, I tend to pride myself on not being *too* bitchy about my coffee preferences. My favorite drink is an iced grande light ice caramel macchiato- not that complicated. The "light ice" part is the only special request. They make these things a million times a day, and I love how Starbucks drinks have the same awesome quality in every store.

Once in a while, though, someone messes up, and it's crappy. I'm not experienced enough to know what's not right, but when my drink tastes bad (not just different or unusual, but bad) I'm not a fan. Those drinks are freaking expensive, and when I get one I've generally been looking forward to it for quite a while. It's often a little pleasure that I promise myself all day, as a reward or incentive. So when it's no good- it's like discovering that the sleeves of your favorite long sleeve tshirt don't cover your wrists any more.

But then comes the great dilemma: do you go back and ask them to remake it?

Sometimes I decide that this drink just absolutely sucks, I can't drink it without feeling sick, I need a new one. Keep in mind, this is a generally rare phenomenon. I approach the barista counter timidly, and ask for my drink to be remade apologetically. Nearly always, especially if it isn't a student worker but one of the adult managers, I get a glare and curt response. They remake my drink, all right, but with deep dislike and disapproval. They've even guilt-tripped me into leaving an over-generous tip at times, to make up for having impugned their coffee-making skills.

Such experiences make me pretty afraid of baristawrath. How should bad coffee situations be handled? I paid for something, and I expect to receive what I paid for. You would send back food at a restaurant if it was underdone or burnt. Politeness doesn't work. Waiting for them not to be busy doesn't work.

I wish that Moose and Kaituer Coffeehouse were here.

Ironic

I can't sleep. Google tells me that the dictionary.com word of the day is:

Somniferous: causing or inducing sleep

Haha, it's so obscure that my spell checker says it's not a word. Just like how my text messaging word-guesser thing on my phone couldn't understand what I was trying to type during the game today when I was saying things like "bullshit." Lovely little innocent cell phone.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yeah Irish...

Good job guys, way to go out well, even if you did nearly break the neck of their quarterback. I've tried all day, without any luck, to find a video online of Zibby's interception/almost touchdown. That was the most freaking amazing play all season- he ran nearly the whole field, lateralling it back and forth and generally being ostentatiously amazing. I will miss him sooo much. Trevor Laws was awesome too, sticking with it even after getting hurt. I don't want to know how much pain he was in, because it takes a lot to stop him, and the trainers ran out twice. What a guy. And Clausen looked pretty good too- it's awesome how he's learning. He's gonna rock next year. Anyway, here are my guys... I'm so glad they had a chance to end their last years this way.
Also, I totally agree with this guy. In addition to the best play ever, this game also featured the worse call ever. Those refs owe us another touchdown. In no playback, from whatever angle, did it even remotely look like that wasn't a touchdown. I'm glad it didn't matter in the end. but sucks for David Grimes. I would have given it to you, buddy.

EDIT- my mom is awesome. Tada, the best play ever:
http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?&brand=null&videoId=3126109&n8pe6c=2

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lazy bum

I have discovered that when left to myself... I pretty much turn into a bum. Without classes to get up for, I sleep in. With spare time, I watch TV online. I don't even leave my room or get dressed. It's pretty much a crazy way to live. Fortunately, reality doesn't suspend itself for long, and soon routines and deadlines will be making themselves known. For now, I'm content to remember what it's like to set your own rules. Kinda fun. I feel like a small child home for the summer. Except, you know, for the snow. Yeah.

I also, you know, wrote quite the research paper on the anti-abortion movement (as I so politically correctly called it in my paper). Dude, they should so put me in charge of National Right to Life. I would win the country over in a heartbeat. Basically, I argued that if pro-life groups a) joined together and b) shifted most of their funding towards addressing poverty, one of the root causes of abortion, then everyone would figure out that abortion isn't necessary after all. Justice, not abortion, frees women. BAM. I just saved lots of babies.

It's ok to dream, right?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In the lane, snow is glistening/ A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland

South Bend had a lovely white Thanksgiving, its first snow of the year. We should have four inches or so by tomorrow. Spending my first Thanksgiving away from home wasn't as lonely as I thought it would be, mostly because I spent the day fussing over a research paper that's 40% of my grade. Plus, I'll see my family next weekend when I trek down to Birmingham for my cousin's wedding reception. All is well. The poor-little-girl-we-miss-you phone calls from my family and extended family made me feel quite loved.

Back to paper writing. It never ends. I had forgotten how pretty the bare trees look, all edged in snow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Political musings

I've decided that of the lunatics running for president, I would be the least unhappy if Kucinich or Gravel won. I like Kucinich best. Of course, someone that liberal is necessarily deeply pro-choice, which is regrettable, but I've come to the conclusion that for this election, at least, foreign policy, health care and environmental concerns need more immediate attention than Roe. Roe isn't being overturned any time soon; the only success the prolife movement can achieve right now is incremental legislation within the states. No matter how many prolife judges are appointed to the Supreme Court, public opinion is just not behind an abortion ban. Hearts and minds need to be won over first; even if we got a SC decision against abortion, as things are right now, the prochoicers would fight against it just as hard as we've been fighting Roe, and the battle would not be won. Time and persuasion- that's the ticket.

Anyway, Kucinich sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Plus, his slogan is "Strength through Peace." Pretty gutsy. Of course, he has no chance next to Hillary (or Obama or Edwards), so it's kind of a stupid idea to vote for him. Poor guy.

Update- Maybe not on the prochoice thing. According to this article:
"During his first three terms in Congress, Kucinich compiled a consistently pro-life voting record, earning a 95-percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee in 2000. "He absolutely believes in the sanctity of life and that life begins at conception," Kucinich's spokeswoman explained last year."
The prochoice business seems to be a recent development. I'm willing to be hopeful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Footwear, you disgust me.

Foot fashion sunk to a new low today. My professor wore Heelys to class. For those who have fortunately not encountered them:Heelys (n.): obnoxious shoes with wheels built into the heels so that one can roll around in inline-skate fashion

I didn't even know they MADE adult-sized heelys; I had only seen them on little ones. He wore them primarily because his daughter bought them for him for his birthday, which I can appreciate. I bought my father black, red and gold striped (or were they blue and white checked?) suspenders in Germany, and I have yet to see the man put them to good use. Bad gift choice. But seriously: Heelys? Ew. Not only are they obnoxious and annoying, but apparently dangerous to your health. He complained that his left knee was quite bruised from falling repeatedly when trying to walk; the wheel on the heel often causes your foot to slip out from under you when you aren't rolling, just trying to walk. The pains dads go through for their daughters.

Also on my fashion don't list:
I already despised crocs in general, but fleece-lined crocs?! Are you serious?? I don't care how comfortable they theoretically are (and let me just say that after trying on pairs more than once to see what the big deal is, I'm not impressed), they're ugly.Finally, the bane of my existence: stilettos, 3 inch heels and up. I tried to wear cute strappy silver stilettos once, and let me just say, never again. The human foot is not designed to put so much weight on a pencil-sized point! It's just not feasible! The problem is that some women have trained themselves to endure the pain of walking on tippy-toes for an hour or more, and now all women feel compelled to follow. Fellow women (and cross-dressing men): Do not be so misled! Stilettos lead to heartbreak and broken ankles. End of story.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Also exciting

I'm a fan of quizzes today. This one is on political orientation.

WOO! I'm a communist anarchist! Not really; I'm just more anarchist than authoritarian and more communist than neoliberal.
The famous people closest to me on their graph are Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama. Not bad company, that.
No wonder Bush and I don't get along. We're sort of in opposite locations, huh?

Question: is it possible to be in the 4th quadrant, both anarchist and neoliberal? Doesn't being neoliberal require government regulation of some sort? I feel like I should know this, given the fact that I'm a polisci major.

Exciting

I'm an INFJ (Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging). According to wikipedia, this type is only 2% of the population. I feel special.
Yay for wasting time when I should be Getting Things Done.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Explain.

Someone explain this org to me: laptop.org

They distribute laptops to kids in third world countries. They say that their mission is "to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves." I've seen for commercials for their org multiple times on primetime TV, with a star from Heroes calling for donations, and their website is obviously expensive. This group is apparently quite rich, or at least they put a huge emphasis on media.

I just have one question: why, WHY should we focus on getting kids laptops when things like medical care and financial security are so much more important? Are we giving laptops to children while their mothers' HIV or TB goes untreated? While their family subsists on a minimum of food? Because in many places in the world, even if laptops aren't going to those places, these are the conditions. Laptops and education are important. But laptops are not necessary for education, and not necessary to live. I would be willing to bet that many of these kids will never leave their country of origin and will go into agriculture when they're older. Wouldn't money be put to better use assuring that they will receive fair prices for their products?

I don't understand.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Simply fantastic.

Football this weekend was everything I've been missing all year. To start out with, the drummers' circle (drum line performance) at midnight last night was the best all year. It was almost an hour long. I haven't seen so much school spirit all year. Everyone was aware that this was it, no more football until last year, and for the seniors, their last games as students. We got there early and I was on the edge of the inner circle (for the first time ever!) and able to see all of the excitement. I think we had all forgotten how it felt to be enthusiastic, to really care about our team and our school, and all of a sudden, when faced with the end of it all, we remembered. It was the most amazing thing. I haven't felt so happy about football since Michigan State last year.

Then today. Today! We won with all of our hearts. The seniors knew this was it, and they proved it. I adored how Weis put lots of seniors on the field towards the end, even the ones who hardly ever play. Zibby played quarterback for the first time ever, to the complete euphoria of the student section. I will miss him and Trevor Laws so, so much. When the game was over and the team came to our corner to sing the Alma Mater, proud doesn't even begin to describe what I felt. They earned this- their night, finally, with everyone recognizing their effort and applauding their spirit. What better way for the year to end.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ouch... at least it's funny

The Onion, that lovely satirical news agency, added its two cents about ND's football program.


U.S. Military Wasting All Its Victories On Notre Dame

The Onion

U.S. Military Wasting All Its Victories On Notre Dame

WASHINGTON, DC—As combined American forces celebrate two consecutive football wins against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish while simultaneously marking the loss of the 3,150th soldier to hostile action in Iraq, many are left wondering if the...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dreams

In the course of filling out my study abroad application (turned in today, thanktheLord), I was asked to give thought to my future career plans. This is sort of a normal occurrence around here, even though I am not a card-carrying member of the resume-building, career fair-attending, briefcase-toting segment of the population.

Anyway, a catch phrase in the peace studies department is "scholar-practitioner." Mainly used to refer to the masters students, who spend their second year in the program abroad in an internship actually working to create peace, this term has come to describe exactly what I want from a job. I am coming to adore research this semester, more than I ever thought possible. But it's not enough for me to be an academic for the rest of my life; I have to have a direct service component to whatever I do. I discovered that this summer, and the current lack of service in my life is a deeply-felt void. And I want to be home with my kids for a good percentage of the time.

Therefore, here's my perfect job:
First of all, I want to work for an organization trying to better the world in ways I agree with. Also, I would love to research from home in the mornings most of the week, while a babysitter watches my little ones, leaving my afternoons and evenings free for mommy time. A couple of days a week would need to be spent in service in the community, perhaps with my kids in tow when they're older. Now that's what I call education. And I would be ok with needing to work in the office of whatever org I'm at once in a while for meetings and such. It doesn't even have to be an exclusively research job; I could deal with writing grant proposals and such (I just wrote my first one tonight! I'm proud of me). Mainly, I'm looking for flexibility and the crucial help the world factor.
Pre-kids, I want to be as involved as I can with the dirty, nitty-gritty stuff in running an organization. Grass roots, on the ground, in the streets, in the government social change. I want to live inside D.C. in what will probably be a tiny and overpriced apartment, soaking it all up and gaining experience. Then I can morph into this scholar-practitioner person later. Yeah. That's a plan.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grumble.

You know what really bothers me? I just finished a 14-page report on external actors in Guatemala. When put together with the rest of my group's research, our report will easily top 70-80 pages, not counting our most likely ginormous annotated bibliography. It took SO MUCH WORK to consolidate so much research in one place, but no one will ever use it. Our professor will grade it, and that will be it. No one researching Guatemala will ever use this as a resource. Three similar reports are being produced by the rest of the class, and those will never be used either. We pulled all this together for one grade. I want it published! I want it online somewhere so that the world can USE it! But who would I send it to so that people could find it? It's too big and complicated for wikipedia, and not officially scholarly enough (we're just undergrads) for more prestigious sites.

Grumble grumble. I guess this is how people feel after writing theses. So much work... no real contribution to the academic community. It's like running on a treadmill or walking up the down escalator. You're not going anywhere so it's pretty much pointless, despite how hard you're working.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What it takes

I'm pretty picky when it comes to music, but for weird reasons. I adore hard rock (some would say metal) bands, alternative, pop, and world music bands alike as long as they meet the following rules:

  1. Audible and intelligible lyrics (I get quite annoyed by songs that aren't articulate enough for me to hear the lyrics, forcing me to go look lyrics up online)
  2. Lyrics that I relate to and/or are fantastic pieces of poetry that truly capture what they're trying to get across (examples: Once soundtrack, Aqualung's first CD, Relient K's MmHmm, Simon and Garfunkel)
  3. No long solos. OAR and jam bands are not my style.
  4. Sometimes catchiness and beat, but not necessarily. This is lower on the priority list than lyrics, but if a song has can't get it out of your head catchiness or an awesome beat I sometimes make an exception from the lyrics rules.
  5. If I already love a band, and a song on their new CD has unintelligible lyrics, I will be disappointed, but still love the band. If, however, their once-poetic lyrics are now all cliches, I show no mercy. (i.e. the new Aqualung CD... a couple good songs but mostly eww)
  6. Very little swearing. It's not that it offends me, it's just that it makes the song seem less like a work of art and more vulgar and ugly.
What makes music "good" for you?
Mychal will now respond with a six-page essay, and that will just be the abstract for his thesis someday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

We won for once!

In basketball. Tonight was the season opener, and since Joey talked me into purchasing season tickets with him, off we took ourselves to the game. They properly creamed Long Island University, aka "the Blackbirds." Fighting Irish so trumps blackbirds. Anyway, my attention is not hugely captivated by basketball, so I spent the time supplying helpful (or at least interesting) commentary to my patient boyfriend. For example:

"Those coaches' suits must be so sweaty by the end of the game with all of that arm-flailing and random squatting. You would think they would be so uncomfortable."
"You know the teenage son in Little Miss Sunshine? He so reminds me of that kid from high school!"
"That one kid on their team has really baggy shorts. It makes him look even shorter than he already is."
"Look at the band! I LOVE the band!" (accompanied by arm clutching and desperate pointing)

Poor Joey. Good times, though. And I got to wear my snazzy student section t-shirt. Some soda-like product found it fitting to soak my reclining bookbag and its contents while we watched the game; I'm not a fan, soda-like product. Not a fan. But such is life. I'll take cheering my heart out in a basketball game over homework any day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Storytime

Nothing interesting happened today- slept in, slogged through unending assignments, gave up for the night. No one's interested in that, and I'm not interested in complaining about it. Thus: storytime.

Once upon a time, Laura was a little tot. She traveled on a big plane with her parents to see her aunt, uncle, and cousins out west. They went to the mountains, and it was the first time little Laura had seen Big Snow. She was so bundled up that she could scarcely move, but when she found a snowball sitting on the ground, it was necessary to throw it at her mother. It hit above her right eye- perfect shot! However, the snowball was actually made of ice, a concept foreign to little Laura, and she was banned from throwing any more "snowballs," for fear of giving an unsuspecting cousin a concussion. Poor mommy. The end.

Seemed appropriate with snow just around the corner here in Indiana. Right now we're still in the miserable cold dampness phase, just above freezing, but snow is coming soon. I can feel it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comfort blanket

Painful defeats seem to sap my energy. I've spent the last couple of hours cuddling with my down-filled satin-lined blanket and laptop. I watched another episode of Heroes- which I've decided is mediocre, but I don't have anything better to watch. Also, I drooled over this jacket, on sale at oldnavy.com right now-


I adore it, which means I'll probably end up buying it, after the requisite amount of time has passed so that I know I actually love it. Same process as trying it on in a store, leaving to eat lunch, and coming back to buy it, except more cozy and with shipping costs.

Tonight I also discovered a recording of the band's halftime show on NBC.com, much to my excitement. Our student section seats are in the corner of the field, so it's hard to tell what the band formations are from such a diagonal angle. Today they played OK Go's "Here It Goes Again" made famous by youtube (go watch the video if you haven't seen it, it's amazing). The band formed stick figures running on treadmills! How cool is that? Then they played Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting", created Chinese characters and spelled out Kung Fu. They also broke wooden boards :-). I love our band so so much. They are pretty much the most amazing thing ever. No offense to Georgia Tech's band ;-)

I meant to do homework tonight. Then I was lazy. Oops.

As a side note, the whole begging for comments paragraph recently was meant to be in jest. My ego is not suffering for lack of comment love. Heaven knows how much I suck at commenting on blogs, even though I faithfully read them. Don't worry, my biological and non-biological mothers who read this, all is well. Silly gooses.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Athens, here I come

Now that I've moved from indecision to passion about the whole study abroad thing, there are SO MANY hurdles to jump through. I have asked for (and received) two professor recommendations, approval from the Arts and Letters department and the Political Science department, and a rector recommendation. All I have left in that regard is a peace studies appointment next week so I can log their approval too. This is all in addition to my application, which is sorta done but needs to be tweaked. My essay needs a lot of work. After so much effort, I had better get accepted, because now I'm excited. Darn it. I really want to go.

Good grief, I have so much writing to get done this weekend. Let's count:

  1. Study abroad app essay
  2. Grant proposal draft for funding so I can go to Germany, etc next semester
  3. I need to FINALLY finish my Guatemala paper. The problem with thorough outlines is I entirely lose patience when it comes to writing the paper. Ick.
  4. Outline of Veritatis Splendor (the encyclical)
  5. Take home essay test for my nonviolence class
That was depressing. Um, yay for weekends...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Methinks earthworms have more interesting lives

Quote of the night: "You're so evil." (Joey)

This was in response to my convoluted plot to bypass college, which involved suing his chemistry book publishers for gender discrimination and making millions, thus making it irrelevant whether I passed chemistry or not.

Yeah. It's a slow night. I'm studying for a Spanish test on the subjunctive case, which, trust me, is wildly entertaining.

However, I did get paid for my research job today, in the form of a personal check from the professor in question. Sketchy much? At least I don't have to pay taxes now. Another piece of good news- the presentation for my hugelyginormous semester-long group project on the peace process in Guatemala was today, and it went well. Best moment:
Professor- "Who was the UN negotiator?"
Me, quickly- "Jean Arnault."
Professor- "That was intended to be a tricky question."
I like being a goody two shoes. By the way, can someone please explain the etymology of that phrase? I have no idea what it means. Thanks.

Joey just performed the N'Sync "Bye Bye Bye" dance. I think we spend too much time studying.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

House

Since the demise of Star Trek, House is the only TV show I will watch live every week. I get way too fed up with commercials with other shows, and I just catch them later online. But I can't imagine postponing watching a new episode of House. I must see it as soon as possible! Which means watching it on TV like everyone else.

But this show is worth it. Witty banter, ethical dilemmas for Joey and I to debate later, even the occasional CIA intervention or love triangle. Oh yeah, and awesome abnormal medicine. I love how I'm able to predict what's going to happen once in a while- I feel like I have actual medical knowledge. I don't. But I do generally recognize the signs of a stroke now. That could be useful. This is how I justify how I spend the nine oclock hour on Tuesday nights.

Plus, there's a great site that analyzes the medical truth behind the show- http://www.politedissent.com/house_pd.html . Joey used to read it out loud to me before my bad listening skills made him think I didn't care. But it's really quite interesting when I'm not in the middle of something (namely, reading other people's blogs). Good times.

Still- there's no replacing Star Trek. Television's zenith passed with the finale of Star Trek: Voyager.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Notes

I thought that writing a post a day would, you know, give people plenty of opportunities to comment. But I haven't gotten a single comment since I started this NaBloPoMo thing. Maybe the blog community is boycotting my bad and uninteresting writing? Sucks for you. I'm going to write anyway, so there. :-P

Today's weather says here comes winter. Gray and windy and occasionally sprinkling cold rain. Groan. Time to break out the outerwear from their rubbermaid containers by my bed. I think my cotton summer skirts and lovely sandals need to be retired for the year. On a happier note: the Starbucks I'm sitting in right now is decorated for Christmas, and my heart is full of joyful excitement. I'm not usually a huge Christmas person, but I'm feeling the spirit this year. We'll see if that lasts until a week after Thanksgiving, by which point I am usually tired of pop-ified Christmas carols and the color red.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I'm not going home this year. Gasp! This has caused consternation back home, but we only get Thursday and Friday off, so I would have to skip Wednesday classes to make it home in time, plus my parents are working a fair amount. I'm going to stay here and write papers so that the NEXT weekend, I can fly down to Birmingham and go to my cousin's wedding reception. He's getting married on a cruise over Thanksgiving, which is out of the question for my family, but we're going to his reception. He's the first of my cousins to get married. Scary. He's a Marine and is on leave from Iraq for this whole wedding deal, so I figure that he deserves my presence. If he's going to fly out from Iraq, I'll fly out from Indiana. Should be an interesting occasion family-drama-wise; I might finally get to meet my godfather's new wife. Sweet.

And now, I must return to working on a paper on Guatemala. Specifically, foreign involvement in the Guatemalan peace process. Dude, the UN totally rocked the negotiations. Human rights mission before there's even a formal ceasefire? Risky but so brilliant. And thank God for Norway. Seriously, what would world peace do without Norway? I shudder to think of it.

I'm such a peace nerd.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dynamite

It's been a whopper of a week. Think of those huge groupers with the massive bodies and really ugly faces- that's been this week. Well, actually, not at all. Bad analogy. While this week was at times quite ugly, I think I learned a lot too.

I don't really want to go into details, but I guess I have to say something about what's going on after Joey said, "With everything that's happened, you post about makeup?" It's hard to know how to write about the not-so-happy times, because while I know my friends and family back home want to hear about the events of my life, good and bad, I also don't want to whine or worry everyone.

Just get it out, already. This week our (as in mine and Joey's) two year anniversary almost didn't happen. TWICE. You would think that after two years together we would see such landmines coming, or even prevent their existence, but I guess (relatively speaking) we're still new to this. Two years isn't that long in the grand scheme of things. It takes a lot to shake us- in fact, I don't think we've ever come so close to calling it quits, not even in the midst of figuring out how to manage a relationship in college during freshman year. Suddenly a cornerstone of your relationship can be wiped away with one blast of dynamite and then you find yourself back at square one. It doesn't have to mean that it's the end- but lots of work is in store if you keep going. We decided to keep going, and we'll rebuild. Right now we're just relieved that despite everything, we're still together. I adore this boy and he's pretty smitten with me, so I'm pretty sure you haven't seen the last of us yet.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

At least my parents got their money's worth

Triple overtime = extra hour or so of gametime. Most cost-effective game all year :-)

I can't help but be happy for Navy. I can vaguely imagine the ecstasy of joy they must be in right now, and if we had to lose like that, I'm glad it was to a team and school I respect and admire. Way to go guys.

The worst part of the game was the booing by the student section (and probably other parts of the stadium too) of Coach Weis after the game. For at least this season, he's our coach, and I support him as much as I support the team. What do I know about football to argue his play calls? There are many legitimate criticisms to be made, I'm sure, but as a member of the student body, not a sports analyst, I refuse to boo anyone on my team. Whether or not he should be replaced is not my call to make, and I don't feel any better about our season by laying all the blame on him and casting him out for not doing a better job. I stand by my team, coaching staff included, and let the people who know best make the decisions. I don't think they care what my expert opinion is anyway.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Day for Celebrating

My family is here. I just drank sparkling grape juice champagne with my boyfriend to celebrate our two year anniversary today. Life is good, and I am very tired.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Makeup Complaints Issues

(Possibly the most shallow post of my life lies ahead. Just a warning)

Makeup and I are not friends, and never have been. This is bad, because I have a theory that Notre Dame girls were taught from age 5 how to apply eyeliner. Maybe it's a legacy thing. Even girls who come to class in PJs or sweats make time for their morning makeup ritual. Now me, on the other hand- I consistently find myself in a cycle of experiment-- daily application-- disillusionment--- disgust. No matter how hard I try to break the cycle, I just can't seem to discover how to successfully integrate makeup into my life.

To start off with, I have a lot working against me. Pale skin + shadowed, recessed eyes = my eye makeup easily looks gothic. I wear mostly brown, not black mascara and eyeliner, but even the thinnest of eyeliner lines and the sparest of mascara coats cause problems. Also, I have so many lines under my eyes (it's a genetic thing- my mom gave me my eye shape) that inevitably eyeliner and mascara dust settles in the creases under my eyes, leaving me looking haggard and exhausted by an hour after application. When wearing eye makeup, I have to remember to frequently check these under-eye creases for makeup debris and wipe it off, although that also wipes off my concealer which must be reapplied, etc etc. I keep trying, though, because I love how most redheads make their eyes look gorgeous against their pretty pale faces.

Another major issue is patience. I am much more dedicated to sleep than looks. I will not sacrifice fifteen minutes of sleep for a morning cleansing face scrub/ multilayer makeup application. My makeup routine, when it exists, is quick eye makeup and tinted lip balm. I don't own foundation (why wear makeup that matches the color of your skin?) and my facial cleansers sit dusty and unused, even the one with "morning burst beads" that claim to wake you up as you lather. Essentially, my dedication level is low.

Final major complaint: I feel so much more tired when I wear eye makeup, because I can't rub my eyes. My eyes get all dry and all I want to do is close them for a long time. I rub my makeup off pretty quickly because staying awake in class trumps looks.

I've read online makeup guides. I've had my makeup done professionally (once... years ago), and I've watched friends who know what they're doing. I have a bulging makeup bag. And still, I find myself at war with makeup. It's a love-hate relationship, because it knows that I need it to look "nice" by social standards, and professors, etc appreciate it when you look nice. And of course I'd like to be able to handle makeup well. But I think that until I commit to making time for a makeup routine in the morning, it's not going to work. Maybe all of that cleansing and foundation and crap is necessary. And let's face it, I'm not THAT motivated. Sleep is so much more important. I will continue to be the frumpy-looking hoodie, jeans, and clogs girl, but I will have fifteen more minutes of sleep. I win.

Next time: my relationship with my hair, and why I am not just the makeupless girl, but also the pony-tail-sporting-non-long-silky-hair girl.
Just kidding. I won't put you through the torture of a post like this again for a while. :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007


New goal for November:
One (hopefully well-thought out) blog post a day.

This is part of my ongoing flip out less, love life more campaign. Shazaam.

In other news: my family is driving up to spend a whole weekend with me. *happily shifts weight from foot to foot while smiling extra big*

Also: a baby sheep is a sheepling. Awwww.

Lots of colons were harmed in the making of this blog entry. Not organs, punctuation marks.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Furthermore

I just figured out what classes I still need to take to graduate with a double major in political science and peace studies and a minor in Catholic social tradition. Guess what- out of the 25 class slots I have left (5 semesters at 5 classes/semester), only 17 or 18 have to be filled by requirements, depending on if I take another summer service class like I did last summer. I could go abroad for a semester and not take anything in any of my fields of study, and still have two free classes to spare. HUGE happy face. I love AP credit- I bypassed all those pesky university requirements that way.

Fall Break

The university (wisely) allows its students a week off after midterms week. I think that they didn't do this in the past, and there were mass suicides from stress, so they figured a week off is necessary for students to regroup (read: sleep). I couldn't agree more. I elected to stay on campus for fall break instead of traveling home, which has turned out to be one of my more brilliant ideas. Let me count the ways:

  • I share the campus with perhaps twelve other students. I seriously doubt that there is another living soul in my dorm right now.
  • Food for the week cost $15. Much cheaper than plane tickets. Just so no one worries about me starving to death, campus eateries (but not dining halls) are still open for limited hours every day.
  • I didn't set an alarm clock last night. That hasn't happened in at least a year. Do you have any idea how beautiful it is to wake up when your body wants to, instead of your schedule?
  • In my day off today, I watched lots of TV online (how have I missed out on how awesome Heroes is?) and enjoyed the peace and quiet. I got a little bit of work done, but I decided to spend most of my time chilling out.
  • The rest of the week I intend to Get Things Done, such as summer program apps, study abroad apps, a couple of papers, research, and a couple books.
  • Joey called tonight from D.C., where he's traveling with a class on Religion and Politics. He had gotten up early and spent most of his day at the Holocaust Museum, and as we talked he was rushing to the Jefferson Memorial. I perhaps envied him the company of like-minded friends, but definitely not the schedule. Hanging out in my room all day in PJs was exactly what the doctor ordered. I rush around all day in ordinary life; break life should be relaxed.
  • When my family called last night, I didn't have to cut the conversation short because of some paper deadline or event. I can't remember the last time that's happened either.
I say all of this realizing that this time next semester, spring break, I will be in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic with a class on the Holocaust, keeping even crazier hours than I do during school. I won't have a break next semester (but I will have one heck of a trip). Thusly, I'm living it up while I have the chance. Yes, I said thusly.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mind Fog

Story of my morning:
Skip class A to finish insane paper for class B. Finish paper, travel to classroom building to print said paper. Arrive at class B 15 minutes early; wait in hallway for previous class to let out. Girl from class B rushes past into theoretically occupied classroom. Realize that class B starts at 11, not 11:30, making me 15 minutes late instead of 15 minutes early.

Moral of the story:
My paper's done. Midterms week is over. Normal life can resume.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Open letter to academia

Honored faculty:

I came to college to learn. I take classes on things I want to learn about. Thus, I do not appreciate it when you make it physically impossible for me to learn. You assign readings and papers as if yours is the only class I'm enrolled in. What purpose can it possibly serve to snow me under with an enormous workload? It only makes me rush through each assignment, looking for what I'll need to know for a paper or a test. I forget what I read as quickly as I read it. The problem is not with me: the grand majority of my waking day is spent either in class or preparing for the following day's classes. I don't drink, so don't blame it on that, and I work nearly as hard on weekends as I do during the week. I can play your game; my 3.98 GPA attests to that. I make the grades, but don't fool yourselves that you're teaching me anything. What ticking clock are you running against? Why push so hard to get through so much? I would learn so much more if you gave me the time to think about what you're having me read. You say that if you were easier on your students then none of us would do the work. Well, as it is, none of us can do the work. I don't understand what you're trying to prove here. At this point in our lives, at this institution of higher learning, I don't understand how the argument I'm still getting for why things are the way they are is that the worst students need it to be this way. Hello, there are no bad students here. There might be slacking students, but intelligence is not lacking. Why not do something truly revolutionary and give us time to actually understand a piece, to discuss it and question its assumptions? Then we might remember something about it this time next year. I'm not learning; I'm walking miles on a treadmill and getting nowhere. My parents are not paying you 40k a year so that I can hate going to class.

Much love, Laura

Monday, October 01, 2007

Story of a Purdue Game

Fortunately for readers, this story does not capture the 6:15 wakeup call or the 7AM bus boarding. The bus trip isn't covered either, because the photographer was asleep. Nor did she document the incredibly rude Purdue fans she encountered before the game, because they are not worthy of space on her blog. That might have been slightly harsh. And she was too busy wolfing down her brat to provide photo evidence of that. Instead, we begin with the game, which took place in a even more out of the way part of Indiana than where her university lives.















Gooo Irish!















We sat almost on the top row beneath the Jumbotron. Yay shade. I still managed to get sunburned. Weirdest coincidence ever: one of my roommates from last year was sitting in the row in front of us. Go figure.




















LOOK at our positive yardage. Oh man, I was so happy. If my Irish could just play a whole game like they played in the second half, we would be good to go. Bring it, Duke. Anyway, I loved the game. Forward motion, Irish fans; forward motion.

Post-game, we embarked on a mission to find tasty liquid for our parched throats. Usually for college students this refers to alcohol; for us it means Starbucks. We're so cool. Purdue's Student Union building is not. Fortunately for them, we still found our Starbucks.




















"You cannot see me, I am a ninja!"

This would be when we were waiting for the bus to move to take us back to ND. Joey was trying (and failing) to make a ninja mask out of his sweatshirt.






















Much better. We got back to school by 7PM- that's 12 hours of football awayness. Shweet. Upon getting back to my dorm, we refused to move another inch and elected to experience ordered-in restaurant food for the first time in our college careers. Due to our incredible luck, we ended up ordering the best Mexican food I've ever had this far north, and it gave southern places a run for their money too. We capped off the day with, what else, a football movie- We Are Marshall. Apparently Marshall is a college, not a high school. Who knew? (Answer: Everyone on the planet but me). Good times.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

YAY

I would just like to share that for the first time this semester, I actually came out of a class feeling excited and like I had learned something. And- better yet- I felt like I would keep learning for the rest of the semester. I'm even excited about starting my research paper for said class!

Yessss. The love of learning has returned. You had me worried for a second there, buddy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Story of a Sunday

3 AM: Bedtime.

10 AM: Wake up. Roll over and go back to sleep.

11 AM: Finally up and moving. Check email and create to-do list of homework for the week.

11:45 AM: Finish putzing around on the internet and straighten room.

Noon: Wakeup call to still-sleeping boyfriend, as requested. Foiled by lack of TMobile cell phone service on campus, especially in boyfriend's far-flung nearly off-campus residence hall. Give up after 5 tries; commence homework.

12:30 PM: Consumption of yogurt and cereal.

1 PM: Call from mother, et al. Discover that father's presentation to the entirety of church was awesome. Big smile.

1:30 PM: Put laundry in washer; return to homework.

2 PM: Put laundry in dryer; continue homework. Give in to the distraction of roommate watching FIFA world cup quarterfinals.

2:30 PM: Boyfriend calls around this time; promises to show up soon. Happiness that he has not been struck down by the plague, but was merely sleeping.

3 PM: Pull laundry out of dryer; fold; gather homework materials. Depart with boyfriend for that grungy site of studying and caffeine consumption, the student center.

3:15 PM: Begin agonizing over take home test for grad school class. Involves writing three "essays" in a total of 500 words. That's approximately 166.67 words per question. Great anxiety over proper wording; must be simple yet accurate.

6 PM: Dinner and a break from essay writing.

7 PM: Transfer study materials to a silent third floor classroom; continue agonizing essay writing.

9 PM: Bathroom break. Classroom containing laptop, cellphone, ID, keys, books, etc is locked upon return. Momentary extreme fear and desperate searching for building manager. Manager kindly unlocks door.

9:05 PM: Break to write a whiny, but hopefully somewhat humorous blog post.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I think I understand ritual suicide now

Don't say anything about the game. Just don't. When the highlight of my gameday experience is that the manager of the bar gave me a coke on the house, there are serious problems.

Joey and I are off to go get Chickfila at the local mall and cover up our pain with yummy food. I think it's a good strategy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh college

Well, it turns out that it really is as crazy as I remember it being. I'd kinda forgotten (blocked the memory?) how it feels to work hard but always be behind. Like how I'm disregarding studying for my practice Spanish test right now. Of course, the night is young, the test is just a practice, and it's my only class tomorrow. But even if I were super crazy industrious and had studied all afternoon, there would still be thank you notes from my birthday to write, about seven letters that need writing, photos to print and send to far-off friends, and of course the mountainload of weekend homework to get started on. To all of this, I say: meh.

Besides the general complaining about classes = too much work, I have two major issues thus far this semester. I can't talk about the first one because various ND people read this and feelings might get hurt. But issue #2 is that I spend literally all of my time engaged in theoretical debates about abstract things. If I'm not in class "learning," I'm reading or writing so that I can further "learn." Or else working for a campus group in support of more abstract principles, or working for spending money so that I have the freedom to support the campus groups. I just spend my summer learning way more than I could ever learn in a classroom while at the same time knowing I was making a difference. It is almost unbearably frustrating to sit in lectures (/read books/write papers, etc) about things like how to make peace and how to love God when I could be out there ACTUALLY DOING IT, and probably learning a lot more. Part of it is selfish- I miss the feeling of being sure I was doing something positive. But it's also that I feel like I was unjustly placed in remedial algebra; this pace is just too slow for me. I know I can learn much more necessary, powerful lessons while working towards actual justice.

At this point, my mother is wondering why she's paying 47k a year for me to complain about the education I'm getting. It's just that learning theory is nothing like learning by doing. C'mon Mom- you learned more in a week of rounds in med school than you did in a year of textbook learning.

There are ways of coping. I'm planning on making time very soon for community service in South Bend. I'm reorganizing my priorities about campus groups and probably backing off on my involvement in a few. I'm involved in several groups that entail huge beginning of the year commitments from me, and I've been swamped handling that. My mom casually offered to fly me back to where I spent my summer for fall break; I'm thinking about it. If nothing else, this is a lesson in patience and growing where I'm planted. Not all of us can pull a Kristin and follow our passions (referring to my going-to-be roomie for this year who dropped out of school and is now a Dominican sister in Michigan).

In other news, Joey and I are going to the Purdue game. We have tickets and the student union is sponsoring a bus. We wanted to go to Michigan, but they ran out of tickets as we waited. It's ok, though, we have a plan. Last year we went to Michigan State and this year we're going to Purdue. That means if we go to USC next year and Michigan our senior year, we'll hit one of our four major rivals each year. I guess we're leaving out Boston College, but I don't feel the competitive urge to annihilate their team like I do for the four others. We're going to pretend that it's ok for peace studies majors to feel that way.

Also, having a starbucks on campus is very very bad. I broke my addiction this summer because no starbucks was in walking distance, but I have dramatically relapsed. It's bad.

Finally, for Linda- I've loved the 3 episodes of West Wing that I've had time to watch. I wish they had subtitles though! It takes so much attention to keep up with the episode.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007



Tada! The newest member of the Knights of Columbus. Congrats kiddo.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In Support

Win or lose, I love my Irish.

Soon, maybe not this season, but soon, the team that is struggling so much right now is going to be brilliant, and no one will doubt us. But until then, I'm not leaving any games early or switching the channel in the third quarter, and I will still scream myself hoarse at every game. Bring it, Irish.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Long Overdue

Cool stuff I got for my birthday that I was totally not expecting:
A surprise dinner party, for a total of 14 super cool people, at my house, orchestrated by my parents
TWO kinds of cake for said party
A letter from my best friend growing up, who hasn't talked to me in five years
A letter from one of my favorite teachers, who I also haven't heard from in five years
TWO purses that I like- and anyone who knows me knows it's very dangerous to try to guess what purse I will like. I'm picky. Now I have FOUR PURSES! What the crap? Soon I will have to change purses daily.
One of those nifty moleskine notebooks from Borders- I've always wanted one, and never bought it for myself.
The West Wing, Season 7- also my parents. I'd never seen WW before, but it's intriguing.
Sidewalk chalk, play dough, and a puzzle from one of my favorite ND people
My favoritest Romero quote ever as the Daily Quiet eMoment that I get emailed every day ("We can not do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that...") [Sorry if that quote's off, I'm going from memory]
And lots more stuff. But these were the super-awesome things I want to remember.


In other news, I'm back at ND, second day of classes, somewhat in over my head, but coping. I'm thinking deep breaths and happy thoughts. (Saying deep breaths to myself is more calming than actually taking deep breaths. It's weird).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My little brother, part two

Mom: Have you gotten any calls from any well-wishers today?

Me: No, no phone calls.

Mom: Oh.

Mark: Go get your cell phone!

(a minute later, my cell phone buzzes)

Mark (over home phone): Hi Laurie, happy birthday!


That kind of cuteness is going to be very dangerous for some nice little girl someday.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My little brother, ladies and gentlemen

Me: (to the cat, who had just bitten my ankle) Yeow, Jasmine, that hurt!

Mark: She doesn't care. All she cares about is a steady food supply. (pause) She's like the Native Americans.

Me: ??! (yes, I made that exact noise.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

New edition of Murphy's Law

Whenever you set aside a day for getting several things accomplished, inevitably nothing will get done.


Harrumph.

Hitting Snooze

I use my cell phone instead of my alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. It may seem weird, but if I use my alarm clock, I know exactly where the button is to turn off the alarm- not just snooze, mind you, but off. If I use my cell phone, I can hit a button on the side of the phone to make the thing snooze. To turn off the alarm, I have to go through the effort of opening the phone (which then shines a light in my face) and finding the right button to push.

So far, so good. But recently I've developed a nasty habit of not even consciously realizing that I'm ignoring my alarm. If it's out of reach, I wake up for a moment then fall back asleep almost instantly, and my family can tell you that this alarm is loud. If it's within reach, I grab it and hold it in my hand as I fall back asleep, unconsciously pushing the snooze button on the side until the poor alarm gives up after an hour or so. Then I end up waking up at 1PM instead of 9AM (as happened today). It doesn't seem to matter how much sleep I've had, and I always wake up not remembering doing any of this.

Any ideas? I'm going back to school next week, where a full night's sleep is a luxury and 8:30 classes come early. Sad face.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Home again, home again

Neat links. My type-A personality particularly loves the Schoolhouse 2 app; I promptly made course folders for this semester and I've enjoyed messing around with the various assignment/task/scheduling features. Fun stuff.

In other words, I'm back from the beach. It was a grand adventure and a good refresher course in Relaxing 101. Joey's uncles were excellent and generous hosts and Joey and I enjoyed peace and quiet together.

Today I headed up to Mark's school for Mass, carefully sitting on the other side of the church from him so as not to embarrass him. Fie on tweenhood. I saw a few teachers who are still there from the days that I ruled the school, which was nice. Mark and I went out for Coldstone ice cream after school. Despite his whiny and sometimes selfish moods, he's really turning out to be a good kid. When he's not upset about something, he's very compassionate and attentive to the feelings of others. Since when does my little brother offer to celebrate my birthday this weekend by doing whatever I want to do? He's a good listener and does what he can to help fix others' problems. And as it turned out, I made myself so invisible at Mass that he didn't even know I was there until later, so he wasn't avoiding me. He makes me feel old when he acts so grown up.

A song that spoke to me today...

All in all it's just another day now
You're falling down; what you gonna do?
Standing on top of the world tonight
No ones looking back at you.

Stand tall
It's going on, It's going on
It's gonna be just fine
You're holding on, holding on today

Lifehouse has its moments of brilliance. Music can either help me get through something or make it worse, but it's definitely a big source of solace and wisdom. Is anyone else like that, or am I just weird?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Insomnia

Why is it that when one most needs to sleep, one is most awake? There's a trick to making yourself sleep when you need to that I've never quite learned. I think it's a doctor thing. My parents are out in two seconds. Must have been med school.

I've spent most of this week hanging out with various people and quietly ignoring the less desirable tasks that need to be done before I go back to school. I wrote a few pages of my paper and read some of the first chapter of a required book, but my efforts have been rather half-hearted. My room remains in a state of total disrepair and disorganization; I have even less motivation to bother about that. The reality of all of this will likely come crashing down on me when I get home on Tuesday, but until then, I intend to enjoy Florida beaches and the company of my boyfriend and his uncles. Yay for disregarding responsibility! But is it really disregarding when I know that I will take care of it later? I'm way too type-A to really disregard responsibility. I just fool myself for a while and pretend to.

This week, in my blissful and willful ignorance of duties, I went to lunch with a woman from my parents' office and a woman from church, Pat and Carma, both of whom are delightful and fascinating people. I ate yummy pizza with Matt and Joey, which Matt paid for after we griped too much about not having summer jobs (oops and hehe). Joey and I hung out with his Life Teen friends and played a monumental game of Apples to Apples. Joey's parents cooked an amazing dinner and invited me to partake of their feast, after which the infamous Taboo team of Joey, Eric, and I destroyed the opposition team of Meghan and Mr & Mrs Grone. Tonight Mom and I met up with some Girl Scout friends for our traditional Olive Garden yearly dinner and pirate-themed birthday party (for three of the four women present). Joey and I also deeply enjoyed Grumpy Old Men, a hilarious gem of a movie that I had somehow never seen. Mark (under my supervision) made a peanut butter pie, and then we served it to my parents' prayer group. Hurray for relaxing and spending time with friends. Maybe that counts as a responsibility too. :-)

Ok, bed time. Theoretically, Joey is picking me up for our road trip at 9 tomorrow morning. Heh, heh. Hopefully we'll leave before noon and make it to the beach when it's still light outside. The beauty of our trips is we are such relaxed go-with-the-flow travelers, and we always end up having a good time. Note to self: treasure these last few days of freedom. When I get home, it will be all about getting ready to go back to school, and as much as I'm looking forward to it, vacation does have its perks.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mmm

More for Maria than anyone else:
While picking up the fixings for a peanut butter pie I'm about to make with Mark at the grocery store, I stopped by that coffee house that has become so well-liked by certain members of my church. I am now sipping a nice frozen mocha, and I agree, mmm. The guy behind the counter was nice too. Basically, I'm just affirming that you guys have good taste. :-)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Awesomeness

Dailylit.com

Pick a book and subscribe to the RSS feed, and they send you a short segment (takes about 5 minutes to read) as often as you like, for free. I would never pick up some of the classics on the site during the year, but in these bite-sized portions they become much more manageable. I'm reading The Hound of the Baskervilles first. :-)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Random observation about myself, for future reference:
I crave security and safety, but I do crazy and silly things. I just sent a long email to someone who used to be a big part of my life, but we haven't spoken in five years. I asked if he wanted to go get coffee and catch up. Where the heck did that come from? Other examples: going to school 12 hours away, my summer service program, encouraging my family to run out to the beach amid a thunderstorm.
Official conclusion: My mind makes no sense. If I were an android, my positronic net would be fused and I would have exploded by now.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Concentrated Summer

My normally several-month-long summer has been condensed into four weeks (at least the part involving family, high school friends, and stuff like that). I feel like the all-the-rage concentrated detergent bottles. Use half the liquid for the same kick. Anyway...

My family returned home today after three days at the beach. Perhaps it wasn't as extravagant as some years (blame Notre Dame, not me...) but at least I feel like I've fulfilled my Quality Time Quotient for a while, something that is often hard to do in the craziness of being home. Wanting to spend time with everyone makes it hard to be home sometimes. We walked/ran on the beach, avoided getting sunburned (most of the time), ate seafood and pizza and fudge, drank "fancy coffee," browsed shops in the village, read our books, watched lots of Star Trek episodes, and in general did our best to chill out.

We also almost got killed in a nasty thunderstorm... fortunately no one was electrocuted. We had just arrived Monday afternoon, and we of course had to go see the beach as soon as we got our stuff in the room... so we walked out, ignoring the drizzle that was increasing to a steady rain. It was about a two minute walk to the beach, past the pool and under trees. We made it to the beach, took note of the large and angry-looking storm clouds behind us, and hunkered under one of those metal-framed pop-up canopies some wiser family had abandoned. We were pretty much soaked and the beach was deserted. The choice was to try to make it back to the condo thing, through the rain now coming in sheets, towards the quickly-approaching lightning, or hope that it would blow over our heads momentarily. We stuck it out, playing it brave for Mark, with Dad chancing touching the metal frame once in a while to keep the canopy on the ground. It was pretty much incredible, especially because no one got hurt. Good times.

I've been busy trying to catch up with my high school friends too. Margy, Liana, and I met for Chickfila lunching goodness, and I saved Christine from agonizing over the finals for her summer classes at UGA by whisking her away for a picnic and free outdoor movie in downtown Decatur. The picnic was great, as were the desperately competitive rounds of Taboo between the two of us and Joey and Dan; the movie got viciously rained out (I seem to be getting soaked in freak storms a lot lately). We took refuge at Dan's house and watched Batman instead. I am now deeply in need of my Akeelah and the Bee fix, however; my family won't watch it with me. I was so psyched to see it and have been sadly disappointed. Takers?

Tonight brought some much-needed room-cleaning time. I never unpacked my college stuff when I came home in May, I just packed out of boxes for my summer. Now I have college stuff and summer suitcases to unpack and organize. I went through most of the "random stuff" boxes tonight, sorting out stuff that doesn't need to come back to school with me, and putting the re-packed boxes out of the way downstairs. The process inevitably involved sorting through the books-to-read-or-reread box, and now I'm shifting from foot to foot in anticipation of the books I want to read. I'm leaving about half at home. I should leave them all. I didn't read a single book for fun during last school year (breaks don't count). But how sad is a bookshelf full of just mandatory reading? I think my soul at least needs the promise of non-academic books. And now that I have accomplished one goal for the night (writing a mondo-huge and disjointed blog post (yes, my to-do list actually says those very words)) I think I'm going to indulge my insatiable written-word craving.

One last thing: I'm reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan on the high recommendation of many people, and I have to ask of those who've read it, what's with all the hype? I'm not impressed, but I'm holding out for that kick-butt chapter that makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Displacement

My program/class this summer assigned a book by Henri Nouwen and others called Compassion. At times I cursed this book for the way it explained service, because it claims that service is only truly possible if we first have a deep relationship with God. I would agree that it helps, that it keeps you from serving for the sake of serving and points you towards what you're called to do, but I would argue that simply because I have the faith of a rather desperate agnostic does not mean that I can't serve and offer compassion.

Sorry for ranting. There were parts of the book that spoke to me, and one was the chapter on displacement. It started by talking about voluntary displacement- the times in our lives that we decide to make ourselves uncomfortable in order to reach out to others. My eight weeks of service was the most radical voluntary displacement I have ever done. The first part of this chapter has you ready to move to Calcutta and work with Mother Teresa's nuns, so passionate is its speech. But then comes the catch: involuntary displacement, the ways in which we struggle in our ordinary lives that we have no control over, are also calls from God.

"If voluntary displacement is such a central theme in the life of Christ and his followers, must we not begin by displacing ourselves? Probably not. Rather, we must begin to identify in our own lives where displacement is already occurring... Our first and most difficult task... is to allow these actual displacements to become places where we can hear God's call... In and through this recognition a conversion can take place, a conversion from involuntary displacement leading to resentment, bitterness, resignation, and apathy, to voluntary displacement that can become an expression of discipleship. We do not have to go after crosses, but we have to take up the crosses that have been ours all along" (Nouwen, et al. 70-71).
I both love and hate that sort of uncomfortable wincing that comes with realizing how blind you've been. The mantra in the back of my mind since I've been home has been, "I don't want to be here, I want to go back." I am being uncomfortably and involuntarily displaced, and I naturally rebel against that. But that's not the healthy and moral thing to do, is it? Thanks for your questions in your comment on my last post, Maria- they made me think.

Also, I've started a site, mostly for my own use, to collect and organize the nifty bits of wisdom I keep finding all over the place. I have recently fallen in love with the label function of Blogger. Yay! http://wisdomcrumbs.blogspot.com/

Last but not least- a big, happy, grateful, public thank you to Miss Linda, Mr. Jeff, Annie, and Chloe for letting Mark and I crash at their place last night. It was my parents' 25th wedding anniversary yesterday, and we tried to let them have the house to themselves. Of course, rather than go quietly, they brought the cake I had made them and champagne over to Linda's house to share before going home for the night, but what can you do. They're where I get my stubbornness from, but also my life, so I can't be too disgruntled.

Peace be with everyone :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The best of friends have a knack of gently showing you the error of your ways, without actually coming out and saying that you're misguided. Or maybe it's the love of a friend that fills you with enough love for yourself that you can see yourself more clearly. Regardless, I had a long conversation with my ex-goingtobe-roomie-currently-entering-theDominicans last night, and I might have my head on straight now. My love belongs to everyone around me because it's within me to give it. Love might have been more easy to offer at Bethany, where we talked immediately about real things, but love can still be offered in listening to someone talk about such seemingly-pointless things as Harry Potter. Time to start applying what I learned instead of spending all my time missing a place I can't go back to any time soon. Thanks, whoever reads this, for not just saying that to my face- I wouldn't have understood yet.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Paradoxes

It's been much more rough transitioning back into real life than I thought. How could I have figured out a good deal about how to find and be peace at a homeless shelter, and not be able to do the same at home, where I am supposed to feel the most loved and secure? Why is life so much more complicated and even unhappy here than in a place of constant chaos and trauma? I knew it would be hard to go, but I had no idea it would be so hard to come home. Despite the chaos and the sometimes overwhelming despair, the place that I spent my summer was also full of unconditional love that accepted you and what you had to offer. I was allowed to be me and grow at my own pace, offering as much love as I could as I learned. No one ever disapproved of me (at least, they never made me feel that way). My family and friends here are mostly the same loving, awesome people, but it feels like they're trying to love someone who's not here. I'm still me, but I left a big piece of my heart in New York and I'm just not sure how to be happy or fulfilled without it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Base Camp

After a half hour delay, my plane took off without mishap from Rochester's cute little airport at around 6 PM last night, depositing me back in Atlanta along with two very full suitcases and a backpack. Thus far in my transition back into real life I am still thoroughly overwhelmed. My first surprise was remembering what it's like to be deeply loved. My family and my boyfriend were waiting for me at the Atlanta airport, and it took me a good fifteen minutes to get used to the idea that they had loved me and missed me so much that they wanted to hug and kiss me. I loved deeply and found a lot of love in Rochester, seeing as they weren't family, it was, of course, different. I hadn't even really noticed how genuine unconditional love had simply been missing from my life for the last eight weeks. I've never been without both family and boyfriend at the same time for any extended length of time, if that makes this more comprehensible. I had just forgotten what it's like, to be loved in this way. I don't think I stopped to consider what I was expecting for them to do when I got home, but the hugs and kisses and huge smiles genuinely surprised me and overwhelmed me.

Of course, some things I have adjusted to easily. I slept well in my bed last night, and I took a shower this morning without flipflops on my feet. I ate a sandwich for lunch that my dad made me last night, just like when I was growing up. I went by my church and my parents' office and saw several familiar faces. And the other things will come in time. I have a month to re-adjust to life outside of a homeless shelter. Tonight I'm going to On the Deck, a kind of Catholic youth group for college kids in Atlanta. It will be nice to be with kids my own age again and do "normal" things like eat burgers and talk about majors. There are several important holidays coming up (birthdays and anniversaries) that will keep me busy too. That's the key right now, keeping busy. Then I don't think about how my friends are doing back in Rochester, and for right now, I can't handle thinking about them too much.

The house (in Rochester) is closing for two weeks to do repairs and stuff, as it does every year. I'm hoping and praying that they all had a place to go and that the transition is going smoothly. The silence is oppressive- I'm all alone in my house right now. I haven't been all alone in a building in a long time. I miss their voices and laughter and constant requests. I'll get used to this nagging ache eventually, but it's going to take some time before I really feel at home in my own house.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The middle of the bridge

I have a childhood memory, or maybe just a strong memory from a dream, of standing on the middle of a bridge over a river that formed a state line, one foot in each state. I'm kind of like that now. I've been here for about four weeks, and I have about four weeks to go. "Here," by the way, is a Catholic Worker House in upstate NY. I'm living and spending most of my days serving here, in the somewhat odd position of a staff member without much authority or her own shifts.

It's been wonderful so far. I have learned so much here about so many things, including a lot of insights into myself. It's incredible. I'm journaling as much as I can so I won't miss anything, and I know that I'll also come to understand more stuff when I get home and have some time to reflect. There are ups and downs and big bundles of crises that make us think the house is just falling apart, but there are also a lot of ways to learn peace and patience. Most of the time, when thinking about the house, I just sit back and marvel. It's incredible (I know, I've already used this sentence once in this paragraph, but it is so true). I know I'm not getting into enough detail now to satisfy anyone, but I'm still in the middle of it and truly stepping back to analyze where I'm at is hard. Basically: nobody worry about me, my summer is beautiful.

The times that it's difficult to be here are not what I thought they would be. I was all worried about missing friends and family and special events back home. I was a little homesick at first, especially my first day when the prospect of eight weeks in a strange city where I didn't know a soul was just a lot to handle. But really, that wore off pretty fast. What's been hardest has been learning how to balance being compassionate with protecting myself. Everyone, during my first week, told me to remember to give myself free time away from the house or I would burn out. But it's also all to easy to isolate myself and not let myself be present with these women through their pain. How much easier it is to read a book at night than to listen with full attention to the difficulties our guests have faced during their days. At first I was writing letters, reading, and journaling every night. Now I try to make time for journaling before falling into bed. My time belongs to them while I'm here. I take my breaks when I know that I've become too self-centered on my own inner problems to be able to be fully attentive to them. It's a continual struggle to be passionately compassionate. To listen with all of my mind and heart is the greatest gift I can give these women who are so often sidelined and quietly ignored.

So that's where I am. I won't lie, I will enjoy being home in an environment that is much more secure and supporting than being here, but I wouldn't leave here until I have to for the world, and I will cry when it's time to say goodbye. I am home in such an irrevocable way. I hope everyone is doing well and taking care of themselves! Love you guys.


With Donna, the awesome/insane/brilliant lady who directs this place with the rest of the staff, at a hermitage near a Benedictine monastery about 2 hours away.