Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This Just In

First off, wow-zahs, it has truly been a WHILE.

I suppose the questions everyone is anxiously waiting for me to answer is why now. No? Just me then? Well I suppose it is because I have a subject to write about--actually a few.

To start this off, I shall provide a general life update.
This Monday, May 12, I, along with my amazing staff of RAs, will close down Moore Hall. It is the ending of my second year as a hall director and I have a bit to share:
--Real life is harder than it may seem. I came into this position thinking I would rock it, no problem. While my skillz and abilities often do align with the requirements of the job, I have learned that motivation for the small (mostly paperwork-like) tasks is not readily available at all times. There are days I just want to leave campus with a book, apple, and coffee, and spend the day away from endless emails, text messages, and other flurries of day to day life.
--Working on a college campus is a gift. The environment of learning--both academically and socially--is one that constantly changes, and in turn forces me to adapt with my surroundings. Students push me to think differently, and also to flex my knowledge of how to relate and challenge them. Also, they make me laugh, shake my head, and smile. The best part is hearing their stories though, and being privileged enough to be trusted with the fears, heartbreaks, and joys.
--Working in and for a place that you believe in is one of my highest values, and always has been. This idea, in theory, is much easier than in actual practice. This relationship, the one between myself and the University, has been challenging. I do not always agree with the directions we are going, and have struggled to find a place between trusting the big picture and knowing what is being done is for the greater good and challenging the system to advocate for what I feel is right.
--Accepting that you are wrong, and still may be, is very, very important. I am quite stubborn (what you say?! it's true.), and I am not always the first person to admit I am wrong, especially when there is not direct evidence. But humility is growing, albeit slowly, and I appreciate the grace and forgiveness of not feeling pressure to be perfect; there is freedom in being forthright about flaws.

Most of you know I like to keep my personal life personal; I hold it fairly close. But my experiences, on the other hand, and the accompanied cognitive responses, I am more than willing to share. In fact I often feel a strong force and drive to explain and breakdown said responses; writing is how I process. Soon I will be in the midst of new life adventures, ones in which I am sure I will feel a necessity to take advantage of this blog.

"So tell us Brittany, what are these amazing journeys you are planning, and will be embarking on soon?!" Well readers, first you need to calm down and be patient. Only kidding, I'll tell you.

I am going to Europe this summer! My dear friend Davinah and I are leaving June 30, and will be returning July 25 or 26, or sometime thereabouts. We have not solidified our itinerary but have purchased the following tickets: Fairbanks to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Dublin, Dublin to Bologna, Rome to Athens, and in a few more hours from now will purchase, Athens to Frankfurt. Also Frankfurt to Fairbanks (no I'm not moving to Germany).

Though this all we are hoping to take in the culture, see the beauty of the people and the landscape, and eat some delicious food (wine and cheese, mostly). We have found a couple amazing B&B's online (garden in Ireland, sweet farmhouse in Rome) and made a few couch surfing connections. We have backpacks, and a mutual acceptance of showering little and experiencing much.

If you ask Davinah, she will tell you I have been overwhelmed by this process, but that is a gross under-exaggeration. I have been terrified. TERRIFIED I tell you. Spending mass amounts of money with a small scope of a plan is not my ideal vacation. But more than terrified I am excited. Giddy, really. Every time I go online to do more research I literally shake with the thrill (also I usually have a lot of coffee, but I vote we side with the excitement explanation).

I am so thankful that I am able to go on this journey, both literally and figuratively, with such an honest and hilarious travel partner, and one who has focused on the same goals that I hope to accomplish.

So here's to a few more blog posts, and more than a few more life experiences.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Smatterings of My Current State

Holy guacamole it has been a WHILE.

I'm here today to give you some quick updates and thoughts. As of this moment I do not have any intention of writing deep wonderings, just a few notes on my life.

1. You guessed it. I still love it here in Fairbanks. No complaints. My only worry is I won't be able to adjust to any other location after being here. "Why" you say? Over Christmas I walked into a shopping mall and felt stifled. So that was new.

2. My position as a Resident Director at the University is wonderful. I really enjoy the philosophy and feel of the department, and look forward to another year (at least). I am consistently challenged and fulfilled. And I am learning a ton about myself and others.

3. I am going to stay in Alaska for the summer. I am nervous about this decision because for a few reasons: 1. I am on a 10 month contract and while I can work more than that, I have chosen not to do so...and, 2. I have made fantastic friends here and many acquaintances-- but for someone who is not working and appreciates a packed schedule the vast expanse of eight weeks will be interesting to navigate.  But I am also filled with positive anticipation. I will be able to bike and hike and read and write and explore to my heart's content. I have always wanted to spend a summer investing in the things I don't have time for normally, and instead of filling my time with work this summer and distracting myself from myself, I want to wholeheartedly explore and experience life. Additionally, I expect a few visitors and am excited to have them live life with me in Fairbanks, if only for a few weeks.

4. Per usual, I have been doing a lot of thinking about life in general, and the purpose of humanity. This topic has always haunted, depressed, and baffled me. I hope to delve into these thoughts via books and conversations.

5. I have become quite fond of skiing. Like really really fond. On a recent escapade to Seattle I found and purchased my very own downhill skis. Last night I learned how to wax them. You may be curious about how that went so here are a few highlights: first ski, while releasing the bindings I trapped my two fingers between the metal; second ski, was apparently too tired or daft to get most of the wax off and required assistance. Nonetheless, I appreciated the opportunity to take ownership in that part of skiing.

6. It is light until 8-ish now in Fairbanks. I love opening all of my windows and enjoying the simplicity of being near the bright blue skies.

With that positive note I will bid you adieu. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Here We Are

Some things to think about this Friday.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Taking Time to Pause

This morning has been filled with writing...lots and lots of writing.
Ok that's an exaggeration.
I have indeed been writing since 9:30 this morning, but it has not yielded a plethora of results. No bountiful word harvest here.
I'm just writing judicial letters. Five today.
Why? Because I procrastinate and today is the deadline so here I am, working on "I don't work on Friday" Friday.
But I'm ok with that. This week I have sacrificed my office writing time for chats with my marvelous staff and hilarious students.
So this morning I woke up, put on a sweatshirt and my computer glasses, and tromped the 50 feet from my front door to my office, tuned into my classical piano pandora station, sat down, and began my task.
I'm sure it is no surprise I was thwarted by numerous distractions: e-mails, my candy bowl, an acute lack of coffee but eyes too tired for the public to see, and blogs.
Blogs are the worst. And by the worst I of course mean THE BEST. They are marvelous distractions of beauty and practicality.
I decided I should do a reward system: 1 page per completed letter. Ha. Before I began I knew that would never work. But just to say I gave it my best I attempted this nearly impossible feat.
And then it hit me.
When I read blogs, or other similar forms of art, my eyes take it in too quickly. I don't take the time to truly appreciate how much time and effort went into the creation of this outlet. [If you haven't made the connection, when I put  myself in a situation where I could only read one full page at a time, I slowed down.]
I'm only a little angry, and mostly thankful that I realized this. Thankful because now I am more and aware and can take the time to appreciate my internet musings and wonderings. I have spent a fair amount of time curating a list of wonderful blogs and I fear they have been misused and under appreciated.
I want to learn. Constantly. So why am I scanning and not pondering?
I think that's a life lesson right there. I even feel like (and this might be a stretch) it's a Carrie statement.
Maybe I should move to New York and start a column.
Or perhaps I should blog more than once every few months, and include more content than just angry rants.

Life updates:
-Alaska is great. Cold, but great.
-I'm constantly surprised by the disequilibrium and dissonance that sneaks up on my calm facade
-I am on a mission to read all the Twilight books before next Friday. One down, three to go.

Monday, October 29, 2012


A few provisions:
1.     This came from a Simpson’s comic.
2.     Originally I was going to ban talking about this topic, but I won’t completely. But depending on the context I might (i.e. you want to chastise me)…which I think is my right because:
3.     This is incredibly personal. I read the comic, opened up a word document and began to type. I wasn’t planning on sharing but I can only hope other people can relate to this.
4.     If you are here to judge (which is a right), please do so silently. Respect is what I ask.
5.     Know I am writing from my experience, and do not harbor anger or resentment against how I grew up. I am incredibly thankful for my life and how it has been lived, and those who have contributed to it.
6.     I am not, and I cannot stress this enough, looking for controversy. This is just an expression of my current inner mind.

The Nature of Love

Definitions of romantic love have been floating around me my whole life. Because I have never been in a romantic relationship I do not have first hand experience.

I think in the past I thought it would just happen. You would enjoy the company of another and decide to spend the rest of your life together.

I see those around me. I see those who have taken on the characteristics of their significant other. This is difficult for me. I think because I have seen less patience, less satisfaction, and more cynicism.

I see the couples that sit in restaurants not speaking to each other. In the past I think I would have seen this as an unfortunate incident but now I’m not sure. How much is there to talk about before you run out of things to say?

Is it the moments, those at the beginning, that are the happiest?

What makes a good relationship last and withstand time?

People change constantly—what is to say that it will not be for the worst? How can one person hope to commit to another for eternity?

Should relationships be based on interests and or core beliefs? Studies would say core beliefs, but I for sure do not want to spend my life with someone who is not interested in the same things I am.

I need interaction. I need a partner in crime. I also need someone who has the same core beliefs, but to what extent?

There are certain topics and areas I will refuse to budge on because they are moral issues. I cannot accept that someone can believe the treatment of others is cavalier and contained.

But somehow I have gotten to this point where I seem to be alright with compromising my Christian beliefs. I think I have written it off as a personal choice—one having nothing to do with me.

But why is it different? I think it is because I feel distanced from it. Perhaps a lack of experience and discussion? But I went to a private, religious, liberal arts institution.

Two years and some months after graduation, having acquired a master’s degree in between that time, I have managed to be more confused.

Going back to the lack of discussion, I think that is a significant contributor to my apathy. The core values that I will not only refuse to budge on, but will also judge those who differ in opinion, are being talked about always. They are in the news, in the lives of those around me, and being written about in books. These topics are often scientific, with manipulations and statistical analyses. These are tangible.

My faith however is not.

I grew up in a Lutheran church, and then we transferred to a non-denominational when I was about 12, and now my parents attend an Assembly of God church. I attended and worked at a Lutheran Brethren camp, and a reformed school. When I went to college I attended a reformed service, and in grad school an Episcopal Church while attending an evangelical university.

With all of the religious diversity I have experienced I am surprised I do not have a better degree of stability.

My mind is fairly academic in nature. I like complicated and detailed information, backed up by science.

Some of these church services provided this, most exclusively did not.

The Bible is so incredibly complicated and misused. Is it outdated? Does that thought damn me to Hell?

What is Hell?

Sometimes I feel the presence of something other. Something I have been taught is God. I find great comfort in this, comfort that my life has not been spent believing a lie. I do not feel comfort in the knowledge that I know so little. I have virtually nothing to stand on, other than a feeling.

Is my head knowledge enough, or do I need more than a reassuring thought?

I often think about the passage where Jesus talks about the faith of children, and how difficult it is for adults to believe. How true this is. At the same time, though, I have never felt particularly close and affirmed in my faith.

In college I though I faked it in high school. Now I cannot guarantee I have been faking it this whole time. Who is to say what a healthy relationship with the savior of the world looks like?

I feel so dissatisfied.

I have explained away my doubts many times. One of the more recent is an explanation of my personality and using that to dismiss the lack of relationship with my creator.

I hardly communicate with those I am not in the immediate presence of, or at least near in proximity. You can ask my friends and family—they will vouch for this. Therefore, I thought it was normal for me not to have a lot of communication and time with my spiritual life, since there is no physical representation.

But there is never a physical/visual representation.

My parents are incredibly devoted. Like I said, I’ve been raised in the church and attended Bible camp forever. We also went to a few conferences. During those times I saw and heard pastors use the power of Jesus to heal.

The Christian community is all around…defensive? My parents have high criticisms against my beliefs, and some of the Christian communities I have been apart of have high criticisms against the beliefs my parents cling to.

It is all very confusing to me. The Christian community is a place where nose rings can be damning and female pastors are banned.

This is not to say all places of worship are this way. Some churches accept those rejected by society, welcome the beggars and the weak.

I understand no place is perfect. I understand that there are a plethora of religions because the bible is interpreted in a multitude of ways and everyone thinks their way is right.

I do not understand why more people do not understand this.

The stubbornness. The hatred. The closed-mindedness. Is this what being a Christian is? I think not. But then I wonder if I have completely missed the mark and should be holding to more traditional beliefs in this broken world.

But sometimes I wonder why hatred of the world is so encouraged? There are obvious flaws, believe me I know. But I want to enjoy my life. I have a strong drive to feel fulfilled.

I take into account that some have not been filled with the doubts I have. They have not traveled and seen with a mind that is constantly questioning and full of doubts.

This is not to imply I do not respect these people. In many ways I envy them because of the felt security.

But I have had many opportunities, and have been blessed with an inquisitive mind. Not only that, but I have grown up in a generation that has access to the internet—a database filled with controversial thoughts and ideas.—thoughts and ideas that stimulate the mind.

Womp womp. I think I’ve hit my limit.

The last thing I want to say is I have justified my way of life with a concept. A concept of love with a God and savior that loves and wants his/her children to be loved. Micah 6:8 is my favorite verse, and I cling to it with white knuckles, fighting for my life.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
 and what does the Lord require of you
 but to do justly,
 to love mercy,
 and to walk humbly with your God?

So I go on. Living my life. Being judged by Christians and non-Christians alike. Trying to find my place in this fucked up, yet somehow beautiful, life, clinging to a God I can only do my best to follow.

I so wish I had more answers but for now I can only carry on, living a life of forgiveness, mercy, and most of all, love.

Monday, September 3, 2012

No Denim Please

Exactly one week ago the doors of on-campus residences were opened to both first time and returning students. The weeks before were filled with countless hours of preparation for this one day, and all the hype inevitably led to an eager and energetic staff. I most certainly was a part of this group of excited students and professional staff, and that Sunday morning I was ready in my rain jacket with Starbucks in hand.
Within minutes I set down my Venti Iced Coffee and neglected it and all other forms of sustenance until a staff member so kindly gathered myself and my teammates cookies for snacking (which fell on the ground soon after, but were still gladly eaten).
That last Sunday seems so real, but so far away. Already I have learned so much more than I can even begin to grasp, and met what seems like an unfathomable number of students.
Not only does opening seem like it happened weeks ago, but my time in Fairbanks is also difficult to comprehend. I have been here just 6 weeks, but it feels like months. I am constantly in awe of how at home I feel here. The people, surroundings, and position feel incredibly natural. I keep waiting to feel overwhelmed or unsatisfied, but then I remember I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, precisely where I want to be doing it.
I am grateful and so blessed.
I am also very cold. A few concerned individuals are questioning my ability to survive the winters. Yesterday the female RDs explored downtown and (with the help of Jess) I purchased some warm layers.
Oh, and you may be questioning the title--the catalyst for this post.
As I was cleaning my apartment I opened a wedding invitation from Lisa, a dear friend in California. I had my first minor bout of yearning for familiar when I read her invitation and read "no denim please" printed under the reception details. I smiled and was not at all surprised she would write this...and then remembered I would not be attending this joyous celebration with those I cherish so much. Sadness of course ensued and therefore I had to have an outlet....which led to this post...which ended up being about happy moments because that is what I am experiencing. Joy and passion and drive.
I still feel all this is surreal but at the same time incredibly natural.
Again, I am so blessed and resoundingly grateful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Unfamiliar Territory

As many of you know, I have recently re-located to Fairbanks, Alaska. What you may not know is my process in getting to this location. This post is about the bulldozer of feelings that has recently demolished my falsely perceived strength.
Timeline: Job accepted at UAF (April), Graduation (May), leave California (June), leave Minnesota (July).
Through all of these transitions I have not felt significantly nervous, sad, or lost. I was actually confused about the void of emotion because while I love new adventures, I also become very attached to the people and places I reside (even for short periods). But I figured, eh, I must be more grown up and mature about big transitions.
That is false.
My first warning came when I was said goodbye to a good friend on the 4th and went to see another friend for the last time. When I got into my car to drive the few hours to my next location and they all traveled to the local firework show I felt deeply troubled-- not only because I was prematuraly leaving the events of the evening, but also because of a foreboding presence that I now clearly recognize as mourning.
A few days later my sister and I started our drive through Canada to Alaska. It was a fantastic trip and I could not have asked for a better companion. We arrived in Fairbanks without any issues and began to settle into my new home.
Three days post-arrival I began training (last Wednesday). I am fully enjoying my time with the staff, meeting many people, and soaking information into my brain. In fact, as a side note, I have found my replacement for school in the busy work of filling out forms. This has kept me entertained and productive during the day, and having Hannah as a guest has kept me busy in the evenings.
A few hours ago I realized her time in Fairbanks was over. All of a sudden I was a mess, so much so that I filled out paperwork and took online safety trainings for hours to occupy my cognition and distract me from the impending doom of her departure.
In reflection (since it's only been 30 minutes since she left, these are only hypotheses, not theories...don't get too attached), her departure was my last connection to familiarity. I no longer have someone here who I find comfort in knowing they truly know me. This is not to say I don't have support, but for me forming relationships and being vulnerable takes a substantial amount of time. Losing my transitionary person, the one who is there as support is difficult. In my life there have been very few times where I leapt into a situation without knowing even one person.
So I'm sitting here, writing a sad little diary entry that was meant to be so much more (when I pre-write in my head the words are much more beautiful and grandiose, as is the flow...[sheepish] sorry).
So I sit here, for the first time a lone resident in such a big and empty space, grasping at the words to convey my current swirling and messy thoughts.
On a positive note, I get to pick out paint colors and have already made plans to condition each RA through variable-interval training.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just Put IT in a File Folder Until IT Jumps You

In less than 48 hours I will have completed all of the coursework for my master's program. After a colloquium presentation a week from Tuesday I will be officially done.
I cannot believe it.
Truly...really truly I cannot.
I keep TRYING to comprehend.
I keep FAILING at this task.
A well known fact about me is I love school. So while I am happy to be done for this season, I find little joy in the fact that I have no "next beginning" planned. No looking forward to classes filled with interesting information, sometimes boredom, and always interesting people.
All week I kept thinking, "I am forcing my classmates to eat in Heritage one last time together this week. That will be my ending. That is my next step."
I realized today we already ate our last meal there, and I missed it. I did not pay attention to all the details, taking the time to snap pictures in my brain that would remain forever. Instead I am left with fragmented pieces of reminiscing and rushed eating.
Tomorrow I have an 8 page research paper due. I am going to write about feminism in higher education during the 60's/70's from the point of view of a female student. At the beginning of this quarter I was really excited to write this paper. I still am. But instead of beginning the journey I want to remain in the excitement. I want to continue to hold onto this feeling of joy in relation to homework because once I start this paper, I am sprinting the last quarter mile of this marathon. And as much as I want to reach that finish line, to feel the relief, to rest, I do not want to let go of the time put into training, the sweat, tears, accomplishment.
I am a planner. Last night I laid in bed for an hour with thoughts spinning in my head. After acknowledging I was not going to sleep I grabbed my computer and put research to those ideas--shipping cars, realizing that was too expensive, researching cars on location, researching furniture on location, reading a design book, designing my imaginary apartment.
With planning comes the undeniable terribleness of endings. Move-out dates, changing roommates, goodbyes, transitions.
I hate saying goodbye. As much as I tried to keep fragmented relationships to protect myself, I have found deep, meaningful, true, loving, caring, difficult, honest, growing, beautiful friends.
I know for this paper I am going to have to separate myself from the deeper meaning in order to print something worthy of graduate school. I have come to terms with this reality. What I have not come to terms with is the inevitable ending. I am so RESISTANT to this ending. I know it is coming. I do. But I think I'll face it like I did in undergrad: take it as it comes. I know it will be hard. People tell me to prepare. But I cannot. I cannot willingly subject myself to this. Instead I know it will force itself upon me mercilessly. Then is when I will experience the pain. But not now. Now I have a paper to write.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Few Pages to Think On, Courtesy of Orson Scott Card

I recently started the book, "Shadow of the Hegemon," by Orson Scott Card. It's book 2 of a 4 book series (Bean), which parallels another 4 book series (Ender). I recommend all of these books if you want great writing, philosophy, sci-fi, and other deep questions while still being entertained.
 That being said, I just read these last few pages, and think the dialogue is definitely worth sharing.

[I would give context...but true understanding only comes through actual reading. So know that Bean is a child genius (military and otherwise), the world is on the brink of chaos, and Bean is in hiding with Sister Carlotta (who discovered him on the streets before the war in space).

"So why are you going to such trouble to keep me alive?" asked Bean, thinking he knew the answer.
"You want me to say something that will weaken my case," said Carlotta. "Like telling you that I'm human and so I want to prevent your death right now because I love you. And that's true, I have no children but you're as close as I come to having any, and I would be stricken to the soul if you died at the hands of that twisted boy. But in truth, Juilian Delphiki (Bean), the reason I work so hard to prevent your death is because, if you died today, you would probably go to hell."
To his surprise, Bean was stung by this. He understood enough of what Carlotta believed that he could have predicted this attitude, but the fact that she put it into words still hurt. "I'm not going to repent and get baptized, so I'm bound to go to hell, therefore no matter when I die I'm doomed," he said.
"Nonsense. Our understanding of doctrine is not perfect, and no matter what the popes have said, I don't believe for a moment that God is going to damn for eternity the billions of children to allowed to be born and die without baptism. No, I think you're likely to go to hell because, despite all your brilliance, you are still quite amoral. Sometime before you die, I pray most earnestly that you will learn that there are higher laws that transcend mere survival, and higher causes to serve. When you give yourself to such a great cause, my dear boy, then I will not fear your death, because I know that a just God will forgive you for the oversight of not having recognized the truth of Christianity during your lifetime."
"You really are a heretic," said Bean. "None of those doctrines would pass muster with any priest."
"They don't even pass muster with me," said Carlotta. "But I don't know a soul who doesn't maintain two separate lists of doctrines-- the ones that they believe that they believe; and the ones they actually try to live by. I'm simply one of the rare ones who knows the difference. You, my boy, are not."
"Because I don't believe in any doctrines."
"That," said Carlotta with exaggerated smugness, "is proof positive of my assertion. You are so convinced that you believe only what you believe that you believe, that you remain utterly blind to what you really believe without believing you believe it."
"You were born in the wrong century," said Bean, "You could make Thomas Aquinas tear out his hair. Nietzsche and Derrida would accuse you of obfuscation. Only the Inquisition would know that to do with-- toast you nice and brown."
"Don't tell me you've actually read Nietzsche and Derrida. Or Aquinas, for that matter."
"You don't have to eat the entire turd to know that it's not a crab cake."
"You arrogant impossible boy."
"But Geppetta, I'm not a real boy."
"You're certainly not a puppet, or not my puppet, anyway. God outside and play now, I'm busy."

--Shadow of the Hegemon, pages 89-91

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year/I want 2011 Back

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, filled with love, joy, and interesting stories.
I left California for Christmas break with a sense of freedom; I did not take any school work with me and I was looking forward to a break filled with excitement and adventure. I did indeed experience such a break, but as many of you have probably guessed, the entrance into the new year, and subsequently the school year, was met with dread.
As I look at all I have yet to accomplish before graduation, and after, I experience two clashing, and extremely strong, sentiments: excitement and sadness.
Excitement because I will be done with school. For those who know me well you are probably confused; I have never wanted learning to end. This program has taken a lot out of me and while I have come away with so much knowledge, a lot of it has been accompanied by baggage. I have always been open to a multitude of facets about life directions and other such things, but now they seem heavier, more looming. That is, the struggles and seeming depravity of life are weighing me down. There is so much to do and I am just one person. So yes, I am thrilled to be exiting class and move on to what I will deem as more fulfilling and meaningful work.
On the other side, I am quite sad to be moving out of this phase of life. I have found a sense of place in California. Not only have I found comfort, but that comfort has not come easily. I have worked to invest and find belonging during this time. Leaving that work behind with the knowledge that this chapter is forever closed is sad and disheartening. Leaving my undergraduate institution evoked similar feelings of loss and because the proximity of that time is close, I cannot help but be in a pre-mourning period.
As a result, homework motivation is all but lost. I have entered the new year with a desire to spend all of my time doing activities in community with those I love dearly. I am stuck in a chasm that I need to crawl out of in order to move on. There is only one ladder and it is marked, "find a job." Today I began job-searching with The Placement Exchange (TPE). Through an interest search I narrowed the possibilities to seven institutions-- all small, liberal arts institutions from Portland to Minnesota, Chicago to Rhode Island. For those interested in the position, as of now I am only applying to positions as a hall director. Perhaps in the future I will need to expand that selection, perhaps not.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


As you may or may not know, I often update my blog when I am feeling unsettled (to the chagrin of my parents, it's usually only at these times that I write about my life).
So it's true...I'm not feeling super thrilled with life right now. I feel a little bit out of control-- and I like my control. I am feeling that there are too many big things I need to pay attention to and explore.
One current predicament is that I am pissed off at society. Specifically, for being oppressive towards people because of their sexuality and/or gender. This affects both me and people I love...and the greater community of humanity. The catalyst for this post is partly due to my recent time looking at fashion blogs. Sometimes if I notice an imperfection I click on the comments section because I assume someone has criticized this individual-- sadly I am usually right (note: I am also angry at myself that the flaws are the first thing I note). Today this frivolousness was directed at a young (very thin) girl for having cellulite. While I give the commenter credit (not really) for admitting we all have it, this person went on to say, "she should be more careful about hiding it."
Did an r-rated phrase form in my head. Yup. Did I want to scream it at societal "standards?" Yes again.
So that's part of my lack of control.
Going back to the sexuality and gender bit, I feel I have so much to learn about these areas and beyond, but I am not feeling I have the time/resources to devote. I have a strong fear of ignorance...this is making me anxious.
Also, I am learning to be a professional (and graduating SOON). All of this requires intentionality and it is energy-consuming.
Tomorrow I have a job interview at a private, liberal arts school near LA (Occidental) and am really excited about the possibility of being a sort of RD there. I would still be in the Women's Resource Center, but would also work/live at Occidental.
Also, I feel social justice issues are tugging on my heart (along with everything else). little perceived control. A few weeks ago I had the sudden desire to abandon my current field and work at a non-profit.

I'm assuming most of you are thinking I am a bit unstable right now. Not true. Just feeling more convicted than usual. In the words of Shauna Niequist, "I am in a certain life season." So no worries, I have not lost control of my concrete life. But do be aware: my patience may be a little thinner than usual.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Obsession

 I adore fall. The colors of the trees, the crinkle of leaves, the richness of pumpkin, and the crisp taste of apples are all wonderful physical reminders that fall is here.

This is the time of year when I anticipate the coolness of the air and the chill in the wind. I count down the days to boots and scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, chilly walks down colorful streets.
I treasure the moments when I have the minutes, or sometimes hours, to sit by an open window with a good book and many blankets.
This is the time of year when I feel most alive.
Right now I am in a coffee shop sipping the aforementioned latte and staring out the window while Glen Hansard's voice urges me to digest this day of less than 70 degree weather and leave my homework for when the sky no longer holds that wondrous grey hue.
Too bad it's due tomorrow:)

The Women's Resource Center job is going SO great. I treasure the people that I have been so blessed to work with this year.
I will start again at UCR soon and look forward to that continuation.
Classes are great, but my motivation is not. I am really appreciating the Legal & Ethical Issues class that mostly consists of higher education law-- I am learning much.
Also, I love being back at church, living with 5 other girls in our little condo, and being reunited with the members of my cohort:)

Though I have been busy and very involved with school/work as of late, I do think of those of you I have left in the Midwest. I think of you all often and hope you are enjoying your fall as much as I am!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blog it Out

You know the phrase, "hug it out"?
If you do, skip the next line. If you don't, read on.
Basically, it means if you have a problem with somebody or something, just hug it out and move on.
So I have a problem. Rather, I have many and I so wish to just "blog it out."
So currently I am going to school for higher education, right? Yes. I am the first to admit I love everything about higher ed...but I am still not satisfied. I think this has less to do with the program and more to do with my personal identity. I feel that I am so often ok with where I am at, but always wishing for more. Does that make sense? I do not think so either.
For example, I am incredibly happy with my assistantship for this fall. Seriously thrilled. But part of me wants something different...more challenging. Get it? Disequilibrium.
Back to the career issue. While I love higher ed, I cannot help but wish for something else. This was my problem the last semester of my undergrad career. I had so many great ideas and no place to I just chose one.
Recently, however, my heart has been thinking of camp and how much I feel I would love that. I'm quite sure that my sentiments would be reversed if I was at camp.
Also, I wonder about my passions. I spend hours most days looking through creative blogs. Sometimes I get so excited about what I see that I smile and "ooh and ahh" [out loud] while I am sitting in my room's not uncommon that I talk to the projects. So part of me wonders if that's where my passions are-- DIY projects and party planning.
Other possible career paths: cooking, personal shopping, literature professor, and event coordinator.

I have discovered that there is a reason for all my flip flopping like a fresh-caught fish in a boat...I need need need variety and challenge. So I am constantly seeking different hobbies and interests. I love to take in a lot of information and want to do something with insides are like my craft box, always calling my name but receiving meager amounts of attention.

Since I just realized this post is currently not applicable to anyone other than myself, I will do a little, "words of encouragement/what now/application."

I think people who are always in need of a challenge need to work and find ways to be creative about their potentially mundane projects. And the questioning? As far as I am aware, it is quite natural and subsequently needs to be embraced. So, try new your life widely. Using myself as an example, I can potentially: cook for my friends, use my job next year to plan extravagant events, do DIY projects as presents, and perhaps volunteer at a camp during my summers off (*fingers crossed*).

Now, if only "hug it out" was as effective as "blog it out."

Life udate:
I am in Riverside until August 25th
I start in Azusa the 20th for job training
Classes start September 7th
Job search will begin in January, but really take off in February and March

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
— Bertrand Russell

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Sisters

I have two amazing sisters, both who currently have blogs.

Sarah is in Cameroon this summer and I have been doing the upkeep using e-mails she has sent...I think the experience will be really interesting so if you are curious, check it out:

Hannah is in MN for a quick break before she heads back to Texas, and then she is off to Italy. She writes on her own blog, and I tend to enjoy the wisdom she shares. Here's a shout-out to her:

And what have I been doing with my time in CA, you may ask...

Visited the dessert and climbed rocks in 115 degree weather of course!
Tah-Tah for now,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

David Foster Wallace: This is Water

Since I do not seem to be doing especially great at updating my blog, I decided to post some thoughts from someone much wiser than I am. Even though this looks like a daunting read I assure you the thoughts that come from this address is well worth the time you spend reading. I encourage all of you to absorb it carefully and thoughtfully...maybe even twice. Do not be afraid to let me know what you think:)

[Btw, my internship is going quite well]

David Foster Wallace: This is Water
Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address - May 21, 2005 (

(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon's graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.

Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."

It's easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people's two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy's interpretation is true and the other guy's is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person's most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don't worry that I'm getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being "well-adjusted", which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education -- least in my own case -- is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.

As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.

By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates' actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.

You get the idea.

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat out won't want to.

But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

"This is water."

"This is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.