I Could See All Around Me

I’m off to bed soon. But first, a short tribute.

After Dr./Ms./Madame Secretary Rice’s speech on Thursday and thinking about what today’s holiday means, I can only go back to Patty Griffin. She’s interviewed that she pulled lines from Dr. King’s “I’ve Been up to the Mountaintop” speech to come up with this song.

Thanks to those who have enough courage to wake up and do something about their dreams.

(In case the player doesn’t work.)

Up To The Mountain

I went up to the mountain
Because you asked me to
Up over the clouds
To where the sky was blue
I could see all around me
Everywhere
I could see all around me
Everywhere

Sometimes I feel like
I’ve never been nothing but tired
And I’ll be walking
Till the day I expire
Sometimes I lay down
No more can I do
But then I go on again
Because you ask me to

Some days I look down
Afraid I will fall
And though the sun shines
I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice
Come and then go, come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so

The peaceful valley
Just over the mountain
The peaceful valley
Few come to know
I may never get there
Ever in this lifetime
But sooner or later
It’s there I will go
Sooner or later
It’s there I will go

The Foreign Is Familiar

Now that the proper week is over, I can officially report on its awesomeness.

International night last night. Some friends picked me up and we went to an Indian restaurant on Center Street in Provo. We all ordered differently prepared chicken dishes. It was pretty good, and the conversation was fun. We talked about school and work and food. I got to tell a little bit of the story of living and working in New York. It was a story I told all the time while there, but it doesn’t come up often here. Plus, I really like these friends and felt I could open up to them a bit.

Then we went to the International Cinema on campus. I like the IC. It’s the “longest running program of its kind in the world!” Free, foreign movies. And of course, all the ones I’ve seen are amazing. We saw the Iranian movie,  Color of Paradise. Don’t tell, but I’d seen it before, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to see it again. I’m the kind of person who can reread books and rewatch movies; there’s always more stuff to see and talk about.

Not long after my friends dropped me off, I’d begun working on some homework when a friend from Eastern European descent called. He was in the area about to get something to eat and wanted to know if I wanted to catch a movie. However, the one he wanted to see at the theater was about to start and he didn’t think he’d be able to make it. So I invited him over.

Blankets, check.
Smell nice, check.
Brush teeth again, check.

So he came over with his Mexican food, and we caught up a little bit at the dinner table. Then he sat in the middle of the couch, which is a hint for me to sit next to him, right? We went through my incredible, but small, collection of DVDs and decided on Wit. Not an international movie, but also not Hollywood-mainstream, and yet I did loan him Children of Heaven, from the same director as Color of Paradise.

Oh, gosh, you’re probably wondering. So we were sitting next to each other and the movie’s playing and we were both commenting on the movie, since we’ve seen it before. I turned out the living room light. I offered him a blanket, because I’d taken one for myself, and he accepted, but we ended up sharing both of them. We’re already sort of leaning on each other, arms touching, yada yada. A few minutes into the movie he announced he was taking off his shoes then after removing his them, he lay across the couch and rested his head on my ample bosom (those of you who know me realize this is a big joke and now it’s not funny because I had to say it’s a big joke). And, everybody knows that it is a truth universally acknowledged that I can’t have somebody’s head so close to me and not play with his hair. So that’s what I did.

We didn’t get to finish the movie. Midnight, curfews, etc. He had to go home.

Stop it with the booing. Like I was going to try to kiss him. Please.

But I didn’t. And that was sort of foreign.

Sometimes I Keep Comments to Myself in Church, Which I Tell People Privately, Which I Then Broadcast on a Public Blog

From a past Sunday:

Dear [Person],

Just wanted to let you know I really appreciated your lesson today. The gifts of the Spirit or so important and truly testify to God’s knowing exactly what we need to grow as individuals and help build His kingdom.

I was thinking during class about your gift of believing other people’s testimonies. It’s a crucial gift, because what good are testimonies that have been born without those who can hear them and believe them? It seems those who have this gift have an inherent ability to sustain and strengthen those especially who have been called to testify of Christ. It seems that those with your gift can sustain with even greater conviction our church leaders. Not everyone can give support with that kind of power. The kingdom cannot thrive without your belief; it seems to complete the formula of faith required in general to receive and exercise all the gifts of the Spirit. And, it shows how the Lord blesses us with each other, and that we really do need one another for strength and encouragement. It’s super cool. Therefore, you’re super cool.

That’s all.

Have a great week.

I think about the gifts of the Spirit (Moroni 10, D&C 46, 1 Corinthians 12, and those are just the ones listed) all the time. I like to see people use theirs. I’m always trying to cultivate an awareness of what mine are or what I can receive and develop. And it’s always in the context of being able to help others. And yet, it’s always about potential and faithfulness that these gifts can rest upon me. I know I have the potential to be a good teacher; I can tell when I’m in a physically or spiritually dangerous place; I have an exceptional ability to listen, to internalize and empathize. So when I hear people explain why they don’t understand something about themselves, I can usually offer a different perspective, or at the very least, a competent ear and an open heart. When I’m good at this, I’m really good at this. I’m not boasting, but merely stating an observation, which, incidentally, is very humbling.

I Had A Great Week

It was profound and eye-opening. And I wish I could describe it. All the great and marvelous happenings definitely countered the confusion and hurt.

I’m taking everything in the same stride. I’d rather feel hopeful than upset, and my chances for that increase when I don’t dwell on the bad stuff. Acknowledge the negative, allow a reaction, be grateful, then move on. Be better. What else is there?

Simple focus.

Still listening to the Freelance Whales. Here’s the last song on Weathervanes.

Lyrics:

We beg rebirth to take us up
Parade our souls out by the back gate
Some claw the ground
Some cut the air
Some warm the seas
But what will you be and when?

And I swim through dirt to find you out
And a whale without his family history is
And I used to shout to find my way in the water
Find my distant memory failed

Look into the reigns of a great estate
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Give into the reigns of the great estates
Better lights pull you out of the ground
Seep into the wood of the great estates
Animals your soul will guide

Out of 20

So. French 321. The first quiz. We’ll see if we can keep this up. What I described as happening is actually what happened: 2 half-points off, but I got the bonus correct. J’ai fait des fautes bêtes.

Did I mention I’m in this class with returned missionaries and other people who speak fluently? I hope the osmosis is extra effective, because I sound like an idiot when I speak. We’re supposed to be beyond the sentence level and working up to the paragraph level, moving smoothly between imparfait and passé compose, using the present tense only intermittently. Anyway, if I listen enough and practice enough, … I don’t know. Being a wiz on paper is great, but I need to improve communication in other ways, be in touch with the real world.

***

In other news, the forum this morning with Condoleezza Rice was incredible. I hope to come across a copy of the transcript. What an admirable, inspiring woman. She was a captivating, charming, lively speaker. She made us laugh, and we applauded every time she said something amazing, like it was the State of the Union address, but this was much, much better.

I’m still processing a lot of what’s been going on the past couple of weeks, and right now I feel I can’t do any of it justice. I don’t know if I’ll be able to catch any sort of a break. I would love just to sit back and talk or hang out sometime.

Ironic Quote from Class Yesterday

“Are there normalforms for the pronounciation [sic] of words?”

Then I said under my breath, but loud enough for the person sitting in front of me, “Like the word pronounciation?”

Then the person in front of me turned her head and whispered, “That word is so ironic.”

When I was in third grade, my young brain was just starting to make associations between words. I knew the word pronounce, and I figured its noun derivative describing the act of pronouncing would be pronounciation. When I heard my third grade teacher, Mrs. Hamlin, say – or, pronounce – it,  I thought she said it incorrectly. You see, Mrs. Hamlin got me into watching Jeopardy!, which came on right after Wheel of Fortune. This was especially fun, because it lengthened the TV lineup on Tuesdays, which included Who’s the Boss? (with Growing Pains and Perfect Strangers the next year) and on Fridays, which aired Webster and Mr. Belvedere.

Anyway, I couldn’t imagine my teacher being wrong, because Jeopardy! is awesome with all their smart people, so I made a mental note that it was pronounced “pronunciation.” Just like how it’s spelled. No O for a blended vowel sound. My tender, eight-year-old brain absorbed that.  My classmate was right to imply how people mispronounce a word describing how words are uttered. And it seems that the person who posed the question holds to what I consider my third-grade association. And when I look up the pronunciations of the word in a current dictionary, two are correct, one of them being the wrong one.

And that’s because everyone else got stuck in the third-grade place in their brains, and somebody got tired of correcting everyone else, so some grand arbiter of the dictionary allowed the faulty pronunciation. I can make some concessions in the evolution of our language, but man, I feel so sorry for English.

So, yes, classmate. My normalform for the pronunciation of pronunciation also happens to be the only true pronunciation in my mind. All others are corrupt and incorrect. Which is what normalform means.

Was It All the 1s in A Row or Something?

1/11/11: People outside “the bubble” seemed très occupés or surtout agacés or something. Nothing I could do, except probably be less annoying. I admit I can be annoying at times, but really, I haven’t done anything out of character. And people’s reactions are what they are.

Awesome things that happened today:

It was 1 degree this morning. Fahrenheit. It’s more impressive as Celsius: -17.

I blushed for nearly a full 75 minutes because someone decided to call on me three times throughout class AND decided to administer un intérro, after which that someone graded the quizzes one at a time as we stood in line to turn them in. In conjunction with my flushed face, I may have gotten close to 100% with the bonus question. The only reason I don’t know my exact score is I was too scared to look over the professor’s shoulder while she held her mighty red pen. I did notice that there weren’t giant slashes as on some other quizzes, but instead tiny slits, maybe indicating half-point deductions. And maybe there were two of those. Again, I was scared to look, so I’m not certain.

Part of that classroom experience today was my changing seats in class. I was no longer in the front row, but me câchais behind a new friend who served her mission in Madagascar. And the instructor, with her sixth sense, could tell I was hiding. But I was relieved when she pulled out the photo class roster and starting calling students au hasard. It’s just a little stressful when I’m 1) at the top of the alphabet and 2) the teacher knows who I am for a different reason than 1).

Oh, other awesome things:
1) I had lunch with a good friend, and our parting always results in a big hug.
2) I found out about some submission conditions for some symposia where I’d like to present.
3) I made a new friend in another class who is quite cute, but in accordance with my luck or style, this will not progress beyond a platonic level.
4) I realized I like William Wordsworth quite a bit, although I wasn’t entirely sold on him during the assigned reading this past week.
5) I felt extra alert during classes today. Relaxed situations intermingled with rigorous intellectual training seemed to be in perfect proportions. It was cool.
6) I helped coordinate a Free Club reunion. If you’re not already a member or otherwise haven’t been introduced, don’t worry about it.
7) I had fun text conversations with some friends. This is nothing new, but it’s still awesome.

Now, let’s see what tomorrow brings! Hopefully, more of the same.

Small Request

I know I don’t talk to a lot of you on a regular basis, and sometimes the conversation goes a certain way. Most of the time. You know what I mean. I’ve been having this kind of discussion for 18 years, ever since I was old enough to date?

If you decide to ask me if I’m dating anyone, just be aware that I will know:

  1. if you’re merely curious
  2. if you are concerned about my overall happiness and would meddle if you could
  3. if you want to brag about your current amazing relationship, which, if you’d just tell me already, I’d be very excited for you.

Now, I can hold up my end of the conversation, and my intuition serves me well. I may call you out on your intentions, or I may not. But please also be aware that:

  1. if I want to tell you if I’m dating, I will
  2. if I’m not dating, it doesn’t mean I’m sad or pathetic
  3. I really do appreciate your company, but if I’m not outright complaining about dating, you really don’t have to worry or try to fix anything. I’m doing great. I promise.

Thanks.