Friday, November 30, 2007

Last Blog

Yay! My last blog. I am so glad that this moment has finally arrived. Finding time to blog has been really difficult for me. I usually work on school work till late at night and at that time I am too tired to even think about blogging and I usually don’t feel like I have anything to write 500 words about. I actually enjoyed reading other peoples blogs but I didn’t really have a lot of time to do that either because on the days that I did blog that came first priority and after writing a 500 word blog I was usually half asleep and didn’t feel like I could comment on anyone else’s blog.
I think that I could have enjoyed this blogging assignment more if it was less demanding. When we originally had to blog each day I felt like that was impossible. I really don’t have that many interesting things to say every day and I certaintly don’t think that anything remotely interesting that I could think of deserves 500 words to be written about it. Also, having to write 500 words a day left little time to intelligently comment or even read other people’s blogs. Since I was always trying to make up at least 500 words about something my blogs ended up being kind of crappy. I think that if we had been required to do less words each day or maybe even had less blogs to do, I would have been able to actually write good blogs and to read everyone else’s blogs. The three blogs a week was much more manageable but still that 500 word requirement messed me up. Had less words been required I think that my subject matter and actual quality of writing would have been stronger. As it happened the only thing that I really feel like I can say a lot about is myself so that’s really what I ended up talking about. I think that if we had maybe had a minimum requirement of 200 words per blog but were required to write one 500 word blog that was really good each week then I could have done really well. I could have been thinking about what to do my big blog about during the week and then produced something good near the end of the week.
In spite of my blog problems, I really enjoyed this English class. I feel like I learned a lot about how to approach a text and look for meaning in it. This whole idea of valuing the meaning and focusing on concepts instead of the facts and plot in a story was so different from high school. I am so glad that we didn’t have any quizzes about plotline or the authors. This really helped me to focus on what the author was trying to say instead of being worried about remembering exactly what he said so I could do well on a quiz. While I found the essays we had to write challenging, I actually enjoyed thinking about the things that we had to write about. Anyway, with all that said I think that this was a great class to take during my first semester of college.

me and music

Ok, so heres something weird about me. I don’t like to listen to music. I know, that sounds so strange but since I really cant think of anything else to blog about I am going to go ahead and explain my feelings about music.
First of all, I am not opposed to all music. I actually do enjoy listening to classical music on occasion and I love to listen to Sam play the guitar and sing. I think that I like to listen to classical music because I can really see how that can be a form of art. The way that the instruments go together and the different emotions that can be expressed in the music seem so beautiful to me whereas other kinds of music, pretty much the kinds that have words, doesn’t seem to have as much complexity or just plain beauty involved. I think that I also like to listen to classical music because it doesn’t have words. In most music that has lyrics, your emotions or train of thought is somewhat dictated, and in classical music your mind is free to wander and you can typically find many different emotions expressed in the piece and your own mood can dictate how your feelings compliment the piece. I guess another reason why I find classical music enjoyable to listen to is that I can just have it on in the background while I work or read and it doesn’t really contradict the activities that I am doing. Because there aren’t any lyrics you can listen to classical music either actively or passively and you can easily forget about the music if you get absorbed in something else. The thing that bothers me about music with words is that I am incapable of just not listening to the words, for some reason my brain wont let go of the words or the song if its playing and I end up feeling like I am only half paying attention to whatever it is that I am doing. The only music with words that I really like to listen to is songs that Sam plays and I think that this is probably because I love him so much and almost everything he does seems wonderful to me. I think he has an amazing voice and I just like to watch him playing the guitar and singing.
I know I said at the beginning of this blog that I didn’t like to listen to music and after my description of the value in classical music and in Sam’s music ya’ll are probably thinking that I pretty much lied at the beginning. Well now I'm going to explain that rather strong statement. I don’t really ever think of listening to music on my own. Usually I’ll decide to turn on some classical music if I hear my brother playing his music really loud and I want to drown out the noise, that doesn’t really happen anymore though since I don’t live at home, or if Sam calls and tells me he’s listening to a specific piece that I like or occasionally if I am reading and the words from the page are echoing in my head. I'm not sure how to explain the echo thing but it really annoys me and classical music helps to drown out my brains emphasis on the words and helps me absorb the meaning on the page. The thing is, I don’t listen to music unless I am doing something else and need to listen to something. I don’t know why this is, but I just really don’t enjoy listening to music just to listen to music. I don’t ever listen to the radio while I am driving. I actually enjoy silence. I like to hear myself think and a lot of the time when I am by myself and its quiet, like when I am driving, I talk to God. I feel like when everything is silent I can hear him better and I like the thought that He is with me when I am alone and I like thinking that I am sharing my thoughts with Him. Anyway, that’s my weird thing about music. For the first time in a really long time though I have been able to listen to music just to listen to it when Sam plays for me. Even though I absolutely love when Sam plays, my feelings concerning music in general have not changed at all.

useless stuff

My room is filled with meaningless stuff. I am looking around me and I have realized that I can do without most of the things in my room. I have tons of stuff covering almost every surface of my room and it seems ridiculous. I don’t know why I felt like I had to buy all of these things. I have 3 different glass candy dishes that have snowflakes and Christmas trees and stuff like that on them so I can only use them in the winter. I also have a couple of non-seasonally decorated candy dishes that I can use year round so I really don’t see why I felt the need to buy these other candy dishes a while back. This is a pretty good example of all the stuff that is cluttering my room right now. Most of it is Christmas themed and I just recently put these little dishes and figurines and things out to replace the all year ones that I usually have cluttering my room. I seriously think that I have a problem about buying stuff. I go shopping a lot and I am usually pretty reasonable about purchasing clothes or food or toiletries. I tend to look for bargains and cut coupons, anything to save money, but when it comes to useless decorating things I go overboard. I have like thirty miniature ceramic shoes that I have purchased over the years and I have no use for them. Right now they are just sitting in a bowl on my dresser and I am wondering why on earth I spent so much money on them in the first place. I guess I thought they were really cute and I am obsessed with shoes but that still doesn’t explain why I had the strong urge to buy them. In general I am not very focused on material things, I tend to value experiences over stuff but I my discretion seems to disappear whenever I see a cute unnecessary item. I have twenty to thirty little pads of paper that are decorated with random things ranging from jewelry to birds. Why do I buy these things? What is wrong with me? I have never used these pads of paper and most of the decorating items that I buy just look stupid when I bring them home.
I honestly don’t value these things that I buy so I don’t know why I derive so much pleasure from purchasing them. I had the sudden urge to go shopping today and since I really have no money right now I decided that I would be safest going to Old Time Pottery, one of the cheapest home decorating stores ever, in hopes that I either wouldn’t find anything worth spending money on or that I whatever I became attached to wouldn’t cost very much money. For some reason, I really have no idea why right now, I fell in love with these cute little ornate nutcrackers. They were short and looked fat but they had beautiful clothes and didn’t look like the normal soldier nutcrackers. Somehow I managed to resist my impulse and I made it home without spending any money but even right now I am really wishing that I had purchased at least one of the nutcrackers. I can see that this idea is crazy. First of all where would I put it, it doesn’t exactly match my satiny and pink floral d├ęcor, and secondly its just a nutcracker, after I buy it I am going to forget about it and move on to something else. Still, even though I realize all of this, I want it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

lots of stress

Right now Sam is snoring loudly in the chair next to me. We have a big calculus exam tomorrow and he fell asleep while he was studying. He was so tired today, I was really worried about him. He stayed up all night last night working on rewriting his synthesis essay which was originally really bad but after he rewrote it I think it sounds great. At least his all nighter proved fruitful. Anyway, Sam was so exhausted today that he could barely form complete sentences by the afternoon. His eyes were so blood shot that they looked almost completely red and he could barely even move. I really don’t see how Sam and I are going to make it through three more years of this without seriously crashing. We are working so hard to complete everything and we are so stressed about maintaining our scholarships that hardly ever do anything fun anymore. I know that this next semester will be even more challenging because Sam is going to be either interning at a small accounting firm or at first tenessee bank so that is going to require a lot of his time. I plan on working with this lady that I know who makes wedding cakes so I really shouldn’t be very stressed but its going to be hard for me just trying to help sam out with his work and still get my stuff done in time. I really think that something is going to have to change in order for us to get through this next semester. Either we are going to have to get a lot faster in completing our work or we are going to have to learn to care less about the grades that we make.

We are planning right now on getting married after our sophomore year so I really don’t know if that will make things easier or harder. Most of the adults that I know have been telling us that getting married will make things a lot harder but then again we have talked to some younger couples who say that they are really happy they decided to get married in college. I think that at least when we are married we will live together and share our finances and stuff like that so the difficulty in living separately and still spending all of our time together will disappear and we can start buying groceries and car insurance and stuff like that together instead of having separate bills for everything. I like to think that even though things will be difficult when we get married at least we’ll be a lot happier and have each other to share the burden with and talk to before we go to sleep about all the crappy stuff that’s going on. That really doesn’t fix our issues right now though so I don’t even know why I was thinking about that. Right now sam and I are so burnt out that I don’t even know how we are still functioning. Every weekend we make plans to go out and end up canceling them because we are too tired and simply want to relax and watch a movie. Typically we don’t even see the movie because we both fall asleep about ten minutes into it. I haven’t seen a movie all the way through in a really long time. Anyway, we are both really looking forward to this break and are hoping to come up with some ideas on how to get our work done faster so we can avoid being so exhausted and stressed next semester.

Cravings

I tend to get really really obsessed with things. For some reason I get these urgent cravings for very specific foods and they last for weeks. Right now I’m experiencing my apple cider and hot chocolate cravings. I’m not craving apple cider mixed with hot chocolate but whats been happening is that I’ll drink some hot chocolate almost constantly for a couple of days and then I’ll suddenly hot chocolate and desperately want hot apple cider with wassail spices mixed into it. This is so weird. I really have no idea why I get into these phases and I think that this current one that I am in right now is probably one of my stranger cravings. I actually craved apple cider so badly last night that I ran out to the Kroger at 1 in the morning to buy some. I absolutely had to do this because I really felt like I wouldn’t be able to study anymore if I didn’t get any apple cider. Sam and I had to stay up all night last night working on some papers and other things so it was necessary that I be able to concentrate. Surprisingly enough after I drank the apple cider I was able to focus and I just blew through the rest of my work.

I had this same thing happen to me a while back with chocolate covered strawberries so I’m actually starting to think that there may be something wrong with me. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing or maybe I have some sort of deficiency that makes me get such strong cravings. I usually crave some thing with chocolate in it. I really only eat dark chocolate and I am actually so addicted to dark chocolate that I carry emergency chocolate around with me in my purse so that I wont ever have to suffer when I get those sudden cravings. I was at the Godiva store the other day and they have this new thing out that is a cute little tin that looks like it has mints in it but it is actually filled with little pearls of dark chocolate that you can pop into your mouth whenever you need to. So Ive actually been able to focus a lot better in class because of my new tin of dark chocolate pearls and this kind of scares me.

It seems really wrong that food should have such a big impact on how I perform academically. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I felt like I couldn’t do my work until I had the apple cider that I was craving and a lot of times when I am in class I will really feel like I cant take any more notes unless I have some chocolate or something. I think this is probably going to cause problems for me in the future so I guess I should try to take control of my cravings and not let them influence me so much. Im not really sure how to do that though. Now that I think about it, there really is no reason why I cant eat exactly what I want all the time. Sam says he likes to run out to the store at weird times to get me the food that I am craving so I guess if I can always get the food that I need then I am never going to have any major problems. Wow, I sound really spoiled maybe I need to seriously think about this craving thing, its making me very demanding.

thanksgiving eve

I really cant think of anything else to blog about so I am going to write about the horrible day that sam and I had the Wednesday before thanksgiving. Ok, so we had arrived at my grandparents house in Hendersonville North Carolina at 9:00 Tuesday night with the idea that we would just stay up that night and finish up our synthesis essays. Well when we got there my grandmother had gone all out preparing this amazing dinner for us so we of course had to eat that and then my grandparents wanted to talk to us about school and our trip and our future plans over some tea and an incredible cake which my grandmother had made specifically for us. By the time we finished all that it was about 10:30 and since Sam and I had been driving all day and eaten a huge meal after already getting dinner on the road we were exhausted and couldn’t really even think straight. So after making plans to get up early the next morning and finish our papers by that afternoon, I made my way to my perfectly prepared bedroom and Sam was left to fend for himself with a bunch of sheets and a deflated air mattress in the basement.

For some reason neither of us thought to set any sort of alarm or anything that would ensure that we would actually get up early the next morning to finish our papers as planned so the next morning I woke up to the sun shining through my windows and some light flurries in the air and panicked. It was 11:30 and I quickly realized that there was no way our papers would be done before dinner now. I quickly trudged down to the freezing basement and woke up sam. In spite of our predicament we were both in a pretty good mood because of the cold snowy weather and the hot breakfast that my grandmother had prepared for us. After breakfast we began to work on our papers and quickly realized that my grandparents house was not the best place to study. Most of my relatives live in Hendersonville and for some reason everyone decided to come over to my grandparents house at the same time and talk like they hadn’t seen each other in years. Also, my grandparents don’t have wireless internet and they internet that they do have very rarely works. So sam and I realized that we wouldn’t get any work done at the house so we decided to go around town and try to find a place that had wireless internet.

Heres the part of the story where things begin to go down hill. Hendersonville is a very small town. Everyone knows each other and the most exciting thing that happened there recently was that some teenage “hoodlums” loosened the screws on some of the street signs on Main street and apparently caused a lot of confusion. So needless to say there really aren’t very many places that would have wireless internet. We found an amazing coffee place that we figured would have internet access but when we went inside they told us that they had turned off the internet because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Finally we were able to get internet in the Hendersonville public library and we spent the whole day there finishing up our papers. I finished mine at 7 when the library was closing but sam still had a lot of work to do so I decided not to put mine in the drop box until he could read over it and make corrections. So we went back to the house and Sam proceeded to work on his paper until 11:30 that night and just as he was finishing we realized that we had a huge problem.

The main problem was that we had no way of getting our papers off of my laptop and on to my grandparent’s computer. No one in the house had a flash drive or anything like that and most of my family was asleep anyway. The next big issue was that there was a huge thunder/hail storm going on outside and the power at my grandparents house began to flicker. I was able to send an e-mail to wendy on my grandparents computer saying that we were trying to find a way to submit our papers but after that the power went out. So at this point Sam and I were pretty much stuck. We didn’t really know how to proceed but we finally decided that we would drive around Main street (it really is the main street in hendersonville) and try to see if we could pick up any signal on my laptop. So we did this for a while in the pouring rain at midnight and after having no luck we decided to try some of the hotels in the area. Ok this is the absolute horrible part. Sam and I were both in our pajamas because we hadn’t thought things through and didn’t think we would have to get out of the car and we realized that we would have to go into these hotels and ask if they had internet because we couldn’t tell if the hotels did or not because the lights on the signs were out because of the storm. I think that the actual hotels must have had like emergency generators or something because they still had power. Anyway, we drove up to one place, parked and both of us ran in. Sam wanted to pull up to the door and let me run in to ask but I didn’t want to do that by myself so we both ended up getting soaked. As we walked into the hotel we must have looked pretty sketchy, especially to the old conservative Hendersonville people running the place. I mean my already somewhat threadbare pajamas were pretty much plastered to my soaking body and it was the middle of the night during a massive thunderstorm so we must have looked really strange. We asked the old lady working there if they had internet access and unfortunately they didn’t so we ran back to the car and drove to another hotel. This time we lucked out and were able to come inside and be stared at by the few hotel employees who happened to be in the lobby while we submitted our essays. Ok, I’d like to mention that at this time the dropbox had already closed and I couldn’t figure out how to submit the essay through ecourseware so I ended up emailing them to Wendy and making some lame sounding excuses about the weather and lack of internet access. Sam and I returned to my grandparents house absolutely soaked and had to stumble through the dark house (the power had finally gone out) and try to find some candles so we could at least see to get to our rooms. We finally did find some light and were able to dry off and go to sleep at last. I actually had an amazing Thanksgiving the next day but I don’t think ill ever forget driving frantically around Hendersonville in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm trying to find internet access.

A is like B

Lip gloss is like crowds because lip gloss is sticky and when there are a bunch of people together, especially in hot weather, it can often seem kind of sticky. Also when you put on lip gloss you are putting on a kind of front, you are hiding your lips behind a shiny coat of gloss, and when people are in a crowd they often are slightly uncomfortable and tend to put up an altered front from their true self.

Hot weather causes shots. This is because there are many diseases that originate in hot climates and there also many diseases that are caused by bugs, like mosquitoes, which live in hot weather. It is in this way that sickness thrives in hot weather and because of this there is often a need for shots either to become immune to those diseases or to recover from those diseases.

My interpretive conclusion based on this list of what I like is that I come across sounding like a very materialistic person who isn’t really interested in anything important. Most of the things that I like can be purchased at the mall. Also, this list makes me sound lazy because aside form stuff I mainly listed things that are relaxing like taking a bubble bath or getting a facial.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Weird sentence story

The sky turned black and a screaming wind began to blow. At this exact instance a shadow flickered over the dense trees in the last rays of the extinguished sun. the shadow materialized as the dark flacon sliding the prestigious kettle to his harsh owner. The contents of the kettle were deadly, no doubt, and, as the falcon flew to his master, drops of liquid and powder within the vessel splashed soundlessly to the nearing ground. Upon reaching his master, the falcon was received with humiliating neglect. His master wrenched the kettle from his talons much like an ostentatious bird runs a repulsive puppy. With the prize in his hand, the master shoved his noble feathered servant aside and prepared for his concoction. After preparing a thick gritty brew, the master set out to test his potion. He dropped a splash of the foul liquid into a small container of sand and dumped in a squirming slimy creature. In less than a second the serene litter box obliterated the bloody frog. The master smiled joylessly to himself. He knew that his scheme would work perfectly and his dreams would finally be realized. With a sharp dry laugh he thought to himself, “Finally, the pretty dog will saunter the pretty mile.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

from chemistry to wedding cakes

All of my life I have wanted to be a chemical engineer. I know that sounds kind of strange and any one who knows me even the tiniest bit knows that I don’t seems like the kind of girl who would want to study chemistry. I don’t always come off as the most intelligent person, I really don’t know why, and so whenever I tell people what I plan on doing (well, planned actually) they look kind of surprised and confused and usually say something like “reaaaally” or “wow…..” Typically after I have floored someone with my admission that I love chemistry and math and would like nothing better than to work in those fields for the rest of my life I acknowledge that, yes, this is somewhat unusual and then answer the questions that these puzzled people seem to need answered. Usually I have to explain that I don’t really know exactly what I will be doing with my chemistry major and that no, I really don’t plan on teaching but that’s not entirely ruled out. I will then quickly change the topic to something much more normal in hopes of reassuring the person I have been talking to that I am not as crazy or unusual as I have just appeared to be.
I decided that I loved chemistry when I was really young, I think I was between kindergarten and second grade. I had asked for a microscope for Christmas and not only did my parents get me one but they also got me my own little lab set with all sorts of containers and color changing kid safe chemicals for me to play with. I had already had an easy bake oven for a couple of years now and I already loved to play around with mixing the ingredients in different quantities and examining the results. Right about now most of ya’ll reading this probably think that I am the biggest dork ever. Just so ya know, I wasn’t some little pale 7 year old who stayed inside all day playing with chemicals and recording data, I actually had a lot of friends and I looooved to shop even when I was that young so you can just tweak this whole geeky image you probably have of me by adding a cute pink cordurouy mini skirt and those chunky heels that they make for little kids, add a hot pink lab coat and a couple other equally decked out chatty little girls who have just returned from the mall and are anxious to sort through their purchases while that excruciatingly slow light bulb cooks the brownies they have just prepared. That pretty much describes me from the around first grade to eighth although I graduated from the easy bake oven to an actual kitchen and fake colorful chemicals to mainly home designed experiments. In highschool my interests changed very little although I did get more attached to chemistry after finally taking the class.
So now that I’ve described where my love originated I can move on to attempt to explain why it has recently mysteriously disappeared. The love that I have for chemistry and math is still present and has not diminished at all since I started college but my desire to involve those two interests in my future career has absolutely vanished. I have no idea why but I simply don’t want to be a chemical engineer anymore, I still find it fun to work with chemicals and I still greatly enjoy working through a complicated math equation but the drive to do that for the rest of my life just isn’t present. I have decided to change my major to foreign languages with a focus on Spanish simply because I like language and know that Sam plans on working with the banking systems in poor countries and other parts of the world so being multilingual could be extremely useful in that situation. All in all, though, my new major doesn’t represent my true passion, Wedding cake design. I know exactly what I want to do as a career, I want to design and create extravagant wedding cakes. This occupation may be even more random than my chemical engineering thing but I am so so interested in cake decorating. I have been interested in this art for a long time but just recently I have actually realized that I would like to wake up every morning and think, “I’m going to go make a beautiful cake.” I know this sounds really ditzy and probably shallow too and its sounds completely opposite to my interest in chemistry, but if you think about it baking definitely involves chemistry and the sculpting and layering of truly exquisite cakes involves physics so I’m getting my math in. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch but at least I know now what I absolutely would love to do and even though there is no great major that goes with wedding cake design, in that line of work you probably don’t even need a degree.

First memory essay

* again, I know we did these a long time ago but I didnt want to accidentally exclude something that might count as a blog.*

My eyes slowly open. Hesitantly they adjust to the ever changing natural light that is so typical of late Texas afternoons. I lie in bed watching my room switch gradually from light to dark wondering what causes this strange phenomenon. The autumn wind hisses violently outside my bedroom window, but, instead of fear, I am confused. My world is filled with questions. I don’t understand anything yet and my only experiences are either joyful or bewildering. My thoughts are still blurred from sleep when I hear a familiar voice singing far away. I become focused; I see only glimpses of pink wall and gold doorknob as I stumble out of bed and unsteadily make my way to the top of the stairs. I can hear the voice even clearer now, I recognize the words but they stay simply as known sounds in my head, refusing to reassemble themselves into any meaning. I look down to my goal far beneath me. I know that voice, it belongs to the kind face I can clearly see in my head but that person remains nameless and I have no way of vocalizing my desire to ascend the slope before me. My curiosity and desire finally supply me with enough courage to attempt the stairs. I turn around and slide down to a flat landing where I can see around the walled bend in the stair. I take in a big bright room and long curly blonde hair bobbing around and singing. I am shocked and again perplexed. This is not the form that I had hoped to see. The source of this familiar voice is not the person I had expected. I sit here for a second or two more and then carefully make my way down the rest of the mountainous stair case on my stomach. My hopes were dashed, yet I still continued hoping that my eyes were lying. They were not. I wondered for a long time where the person I had hoped to see had gone and why an, equally dear yet, unexpected person possessed that same sound.
I distinctly remember the scene I described above, not because of my surprise or disappointment but, simply because I was filled with an overwhelming sense of confusion. I remember puzzling over this unexpected turn out for a long time and eventually crying because I could make no sense of my mistake.
Looking back on this occurrence now, I realize that it was my grandmother’s voice that I thought I was hearing. I know that when I was younger my grandmother came to stay with us because my mother was very close to giving birth to my younger brother. I always associate my grandmother with singing. All throughout my childhood she was never quiet. She was usually either talking a mile a minute or singing at the top of her lungs. I think that during this visit while my mother was pregnant she must have been singing a lot too. My mom has told me many times that I loved to sing along with my grandmother and would follow her everywhere, hanging on to every word she spoke. This must have been why I decided to forego the comforting warmth of my toddler’s bed and venture downstairs seeking the source of that wonderful voice.
I now also realize that it was my mother’s voice that I had mistaken for my grandmother’s. I remember from previous experiences that whenever my grandmother had to return home after a visit, my mother would sing the same songs as my grandmother in attempt not to miss her so much. I can still see my mom dancing around the kitchen on a typical afternoon after my grandmother had left, her big blonde Texas hair fanning out behind her bobbing head. This image mingles with the one I have of my grandmother in the same place except this time it is silky strawberry blonde hair that bounces on her shoulders as she cleans the kitchen and belts out gospel music in her strong yet gentle voice.
In many ways my mother and my grandmother blur together. Their voices and mannerisms are so similar that as a little child, I am told, I often referred to them interchangeably. This explains why I truly believed that I would find my grandmother in the kitchen after awaking from my afternoon nap and venturing down the stairs.
While I believe that the scene I described at the beginning was the first time that I ever mistook my mother’s voice for my grandmother’s, it was certainly not the last. I have many memories from my early childhood of waking up early in the morning or after a nap to the sound of what I thought was my grandmother’s voice in the kitchen. I would always hurry out of bed and rush down the stairs sure that I would see my grandmother’s face smiling up at me. Every time that this happened, though, it was only my mother singing.
I have never told anyone about the many times that I rushed downstairs hoping to see my grandmother. This is most likely because, even in my little child’s mind, I thought that my mother would be hurt if she knew that I only jumped out of bed because I thought that my grandmother was here. Over time I have been able to make sense of that earliest memory because of the many times that I was doomed to repeat that same blunder and the various bits of information that have filled in some of the gaps I missed as a young toddler. Even now, I can still see my mother’s bright hair and perfect smile looking up at me from the bottom of the stairs. I feel my disappointment acutely for only a moment and then I join her in the kitchen comforted by the pure joy that is always emanating from her.

family tradition essay

* ok. so im not sure if these essays count for our blogs but I decided that it would be better to include it just in case *

“Lauren, what are your exact goals for this week and how do you plan on executing them?” My whole family is staring at me. I can clearly see the relief on my younger brother’s face as he slowly exhales, thankful that he was not the one called upon. My dad is eagerly awaiting an answer to his question and I rack my brain for a reply that won’t disappoint him. I honestly don’t have any “exact goals” for the week, I can’t even recall what assignments are due but I know that if I don’t have something concrete to talk about then my dad will feel bad. “Um, I hope to clean and organize my room this week as well as create a recipe folder of my favorite recipes from Mom’s cookbooks. I plan to start cleaning by first organizing my clothing drawers and then I’ll clean my bathroom and from there do the vacuuming and dusting of my bedroom. Also in order to compile this recipe booklet I will first need to decide which recipes I want and then make copies of them, from there I will organize them by meal and then cross reference them alphabetically.” I pause waiting to see if my answer is sufficient or if my dad requires more. He nods his approval and asks if there is anything that the rest of the family can help with before moving on to the next person.
While this particular scene I described makes my father sound strict and demanding, in reality this is far from the truth. My dad was a captain in the Army for four or five years and rapidly climbed the corporate ladder after his service. He has always been accustomed to leading a company either of soldiers or of focused men in suits.
Contrary to his serious occupation, my dad is actually very fun and humorous. He is always ready to try something new and exciting like bungee jumping or eating a snake meat sausage. When my brothers and I were younger he would play all sorts of games with us when he came home from work. Sometimes we would wrestle with him, the three of us trying desperately to pin him down while ducking to avoid his flailing arms. I remember playing two-hand touch football in the fall with the whole family and beating my dad at chess three times in a row. My dad is always joking around. He likes to sneak up on people and surprise them, something that I have never gotten used to, and he usually has something strange on his head like a folded napkin or some sort of lid that he pretends is a hat. Even when he is being serious my dad is lighthearted, supporting me and my brothers in whatever we decide to do. It is only in our “family meetings” that I described earlier that he ever becomes critical or rigid, a persona I assume was/is reserved for ordering his men or assigning responsibilities at a board meeting.
I think it must be his previous military service and current occupation that cause him to attempt to run our family like a business. We have family meetings at least once a week, typically on Saturday morning. My dad opens the meeting with a few words of praise for our accomplishments over the past week and encouragement for the week to come. He begins by giving a detailed yet numberless description of our family’s financial status as well as an update on where we are concerning our goals as a family. While he is delivering his opening speech the rest of the family is advised to take notes which my dad peruses after the meeting has closed. I usually take notes in a somewhat sarcastic manner which my dad does not seem to find amusing. I scribble down things like “we have a lot of money right now so its okay to buy Jimmy Choo shoes this week” or “we are ahead of schedule on operation yard clean-up so go ahead and slack off for a couple of days.” While I am aware that this is pretty immature, I just can’t pass up the chance to mess with my dad a little bit and it helps keep me amused instead of becoming annoyed and bored. After the opening updates, the floor is open for announcements that anyone would like to share concerning their recent triumphs or momentous events that have taken place over the last week. My mom always has a positive announcement to contribute at this time and usually this encourages everyone else to share something as well. After announcement time, my dad likes to ask each person what their specific goals are for the week and what their plan of action is concerning those goals. As I mentioned at the beginning, this process is usually pretty tense because everyone dreads being called upon before they have a good answer and no one wants to say something that will make my dad realize that this meeting really was not necessary. After we talk about our goals for a little while my dad talks about any current issues going on with our family and extended family. Next, he and my mom discuss the meal plan for the week and pretend to take suggestions from the kids on what we should eat for dinner. Typically my mom will mention that broccoli casserole or lentil burritos sounds good, my dad will second that and then I throw in a comment that goes something like, “that would be fine except maybe we could try something new, maybe something that has meat like pork chops and rice or baked potatoes and beef.” My mom and dad look at each other and say something to the effect of “that doesn’t sound very exciting or different, I like beans and vegetables, meat is so over rated, maybe we’ll eat that next week.” After this short exchange my dad quickly changes the subject to an update on our grades. Usually he would get this information from “Powerschool” online but since I graduated from high school I get to simply relax and sympathize with my brothers as they go through this unfortunate ordeal. The meeting closes with my dad good naturedly congratulating us all on a successful week and encourages us to accomplish our goals in the upcoming week.
While I have described these family meetings in a somewhat negative tone, I really don’t harbor any feelings of hatred or dread toward them. I am actually quite amused by the goings on and I often find it hard not to break out laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. I completely understand why my dad insists upon having these meetings and it really is a great way of staying connected to each other especially when everyone is so busy all the time. The truth is, I love my dad and I respect him so much especially in our family meetings. Even though the method he uses to stay involved in my brothers and my lives is a little too stiff and formal for my liking, I truly appreciate the amount of care he has for us and the interest he takes in our lives. There is a part of me that loves to sit down at the kitchen table with my mom on my left side and my youngest brother on my right elbowing me in the side whenever my dad says something that is entirely too serious. I like being there with my family my pen poised for note-taking and my mind racing to find something that will be an appropriate goal to discuss.
These meetings aren’t entirely useless either. The fact that my dad requires us to come up with some goals for the week has actually helped me to be more focused and driven instead of being bombarded by my many responsibilities. I also like to know what we are having for dinner each night because that information greatly contributes to my decision on whether or not I come home that evening.
While I began this essay by painting a picture of the most tense section of our family meetings, the more accurate scene that I associate with them has a completely different feel. I see the four faces I know best in the world gathered around me in a circle. I feel the assuring warmth of my mom’s hand on my knee and the sharp stab of my brother’s elbow in my ribs. I look across the table and notice the sincere focused expression on my other brother’s face as he diligently scribbles down notes, only looking up for a second to flash me a quick understanding smile. Finally, I take in my dad, excited to hear about his family’s week and help them accomplish their goals in the week to come. He glances around the table, taking us all in before opening the meeting. His expression is, on the surface, serious, but a closer look reveals his normal playful smile flitting across his mouth threatening to disclose the immense joy that he is deriving from this familiar exercise he loves so much. I see myself, sitting there, taking it all in, and I know that, no matter how jokingly I relate to them, these meetings define my family and in some ways myself.

First creative essay rewrite

* This is the first creative essay rewrite that we did. I rewrote Sam's essay on the mysterious golf cart that showed up on his front porch. The essay Sam wrote was true but I added some things and changed the ending so mine is kind of mixed with truth. I feel that this is the way the story should have gone.*

I awoke for Bible Study early Wednesday morning and headed towards the front door. My housemate Daniel, who had stayed up all night studying, said goodbye to me as I opened the door. But as I gazed through the glass door, I beheld what was perhaps the most unusual thing I had ever seen.
“Daniel, why is there a golf cart on our porch steps?” I asked.
“What are you talking about, Sam?” He got up and walked to the door. Sure enough, there was a golf cart perched on the slope of our porch’s steps, front wheels on the porch and back wheels on the ground. We went down to inspect the vehicle. It was a deluxe six-seat golf cart that boasted an impressive twelve feet in length. “Oh my goodness Sam, we have a golf cart!”
We attempted to hide it in clever places in our front yard, but we had to settle for half-cover behind a tree. My first thought was that one of our friends had left it on our steps as a prank, and Daniel’s list of potential culprits was very similar to my own. The next thought that crossed my mind was the question of who it belonged to. We knew that the University of Memphis is only a block from our house, but we preferred to believe that whoever it belonged to chose to leave it on our front steps as a gift. We decided to pursue this latter line of thinking.
Daniel cleared out half of the garage to store it, and my housemates scoured the vehicle for identification or proof of ownership. None was found, but that my have partly been because it had been spray painted over where some insignia had apparently been. We called all of our friends that could have done it, but no one claimed to have pulled off the prank. We instantly began to conjure up grand visions of what this golf cart would do for us. We decided that we should keep it stored in the garage until the spring semester; we would then be able to drive it around without fear of someone actively looking for what may very well be a stolen golf cart.
We had to come up with a story for how we got it, so Daniel agreed that he would tell others that his grandfather, whom we would say was an avid golfer, had given it to Daniel shortly before he died. This story having been agreed upon, I devised the name “Pappy’s Pride” for the vehicle. We had ideas to paint it bright red, install carpet on its floors and rear-view mirrors, and hang curtains around the rear. We set aside Saturday morning for our day of customizing.
Pappy’s Pride immediately found its way into our hearts and everyone in the house grew very attached to it. After we had “pimped it over” as I like to say, Pappy’s Pride looked incredibly authentic. Bright candy apple red glossed the sides of the cart and plush cream carpet covered the floor. Some might suggest that the crushed black velvet curtains that cloaked the interior and the flashy square foot side mirrors we added made Pappy’s Pride look a little cheesy and ridiculous but I didn’t really care. To me, Pappy’s Pride had come alive. I ceased to view Pappy’s Pride as stolen property most likely, judging from the scraped off and painted over U of M decals, taken from my own university, and began to believe that it really had belonged to Daniel’s grandfather.
I could vividly see ole’ Pappy driving along the golf course paths with his visor jauntily askew and his set of golf clubs in the back seat each with a different colored cover. He was always the talk of the country club and all the old men wanted to take a ride in Pappy’s Pride. I visualized ole’ Pappy washing his golf cart every night and reverently putting him to bed in a dusty cluttered garage that most grandparents seem to have. I forgot the shady history of Pappy’s Pride and knew only of the glorious past that I had created for him.
I began to spread the word to all of our friends that Daniel had been given his grandfather’s golf cart and bragged that we would soon be offering rides to anyone who wanted one. I now whole-heartedly believed that Pappy’s Pride was a providential gift from God. But, just when I had completely forgotten that Pappy had ever been anything other than my wildest dreams come true, threatening things started happening.
At first it had just been casual remarks from a friend here and there that our golf cart was in danger. Then I got a call late one afternoon from my housemate Cam who said that he didn’t want to drop any names, but he knew that some guys were going to break into our garage and steal Pappy’s Pride. I reacted to this news quickly and ran home to sit in Pappy with my girlfriend and her brother to wait for the potential thieves to appear. I must have scared them off or maybe Cam warned them but, either way, Pappy’s Pride was safe for another day. This safety was short lived though for a few days later some of our friends began to ask us to give them Pappy’s Pride. They reasoned that we weren’t driving him around and said that if we gave Pappy to them then they would actually drive him because they live over in Cordova. We declined, there was no way Daniel or I could ever part with our Pappy.
A week or so later, we had a house meeting and realized that we would have to give Pappy up. My housemate Drew mentioned that if Pappy’s Pride really was stolen then we would get in huge trouble for not turning it in to the police. We discussed the issue and came to the conclusion that if someone stole Pappy from our house and then the police found him, our story would not be very believable. We knew that if we weren’t the ones to report Pappy to the police then no one would believe that he had just magically appeared on our front lawn one day. No one in the house wanted to risk being charged with auto theft so we reluctantly agreed to turn Pappy in the next morning.
On my last night with Pappy’s Pride I sat in the front seat and played guitar. I talked to Pappy for a little while and I might have even cried a little knowing that I would probably never have a golf cart like him ever again. Pappy had become real to me and I thought of him only as the golf cart of Daniel’s ole’ Pappy. I fell asleep with my head resting on the fur trimmed steering wheel we had fashioned for Pappy’s Pride. The next morning I woke up to find all three of my housemates asleep on the expansive floor and three benches that Pappy possessed. We all said our good-byes to Pappy and then called the police.
Within minutes the Memphis Police department sent out an officer who informed us that the university had been missing a six seat golf cart that had been stolen the night before Pappy’s Pride had mysteriously appeared on our front lawn. The officer was very confused by the cart’s customized look and asked us if we had found it this way. We responded truthfully that we had actually transformed Pappy into the magnificent vehicle he was looking at. The officer was so impressed with our “Pimp My Ride” skills and our farfetched lawn story that he let us keep Pappy. He did decide, though, to drive the golf cart over to the U of M and show it to the golf cart people so that he would be able to affirm that they said it didn’t look anything like the golf cart they were missing. Everyone was so overjoyed that we decided to camp out in Pappy that night. The next morning we were able to ride Pappy’s Pride to class and his mysterious past was never spoken of again.

Story rewrite

*This is the creative story rewrite that we were supposed to post a while back. i was just looking through my recent blogs and realized that i hadnt done that. Mine is a rewrite of phil's rewrite of Adam's zombie story.*

All was silent. The stillness that surrounded me was not that of death but of unspent potential. The gentle wind caressing my face seemed to whisper rebirth. Upon entering the garden I was mildly surprised at the warmth emanating from the soil and the misty vapors clinging to these other worldly plants. This was, after all, Alaska, but when I pursued my thoughts further I realized that I hadn’t really expected anything else.

I had spent years searching for this mystical oasis in the heart of the Alaskan Tundra. For as long as I can remember I had known about this magical place. As the war that would eventually consume the entire globe crept nearer and nearer to the secluded dwelling of my family, we had held on to the hope that one day someone would discover the original breeding ground of this unspeakable terror and somehow put an end to the vicious nightmare that was slowly engulfing humanity. Unfortunately no one did come across the root of this evil and little by little the whole world succumbed to the mindless bodies that had risen up against them.

I stand here now, utterly alone. I watched and waited as the world around me was destroyed by the living dead. Everything that was ever good or wholesome was contaminated by their unknowing sin. Just as they were dead in their farse of life so also had that army of mindless brutes been separated from their souls and humanity in general. They had not been able to comprehend the beauty in nature, the warmth of relationships, or the pleasure of purity. They surrendered to the most carnal desires and gave worth to only to what could be enjoyed by the flesh. Like a flood, their kind filled the earth, wiping out every last glimpse of decency. Again I watched and waited for the entire world to be destroyed by the base immorality that defined them. The rest of my family died during this drawn out wait but finally the end came.
The disease ridden populace dwindled daily, decomposing in such a way that decayed their bodies, extinguishing any chance of another resurrection. Eventually the entire earth was clean again. I emerged from my isolation with a desire to start anew.

I traversed the world in search of this garden, the root of all evil, and now I had found it. While it may seem strange that the birthplace of living death would be my destination, I knew that it was not the garden itself that possessed evil but the twisted desires of the human who had misused this sacred place.

I wandered slowly through the colorful flora breathing deeply of the heavenly aroma that infused everything around me. As I made my way to the center of the garden I noticed that the air grow sweeter. Thus far I had encountered only the types of vegetation that I was accustomed to except perfect and much larger. Now I noticed that a low hedge of deep red vines surrounded the source of that sickly sweet scent. Beyond the hedge there grew an exotic tree with flowers that looked like nothing I had ever seen before. Smooth black purple bark covered the curving trunk of the tree branching up and out into twisted limbs teeming with shimmering iridescent leaves. The flowers perched upon the branches were mesmerizing. Smooth slender snow white petals feathered out from the center revealing blood red liquid encompassed by a sheer yellow film. The smell beckoned me, the leaves glowed with an other worldly light, and most of all the flowers lay perfectly open, ripe for the plucking. All I had to do was reach out and touch the dark center and my thinking would cease, mindless bliss would engulf my body, I would be free. I felt myself raise my arm, I slowly leaned forward already tasting my sweet reward when my whole body shuddered. I jerked back. In that instant, my mind regained control. I remembered the depravity of the living bodies with dead souls. I knew my hope lay in the formation of a new humanity, one who would stand strong against the baseness of flesh and uphold the purity of spirit.

I knew the truth about those beautiful flowers. I saw them in a different light. Yes they glowed with an enticing gleam but in that perfect beauty I saw ugliness. The scent they emitted grew rank and the blood red centers I had so foolishly coveted now seemed to embody death itself. The man who succumbed to their allure just as I almost had must have seen only the perfection and felt only his greed. There were so many other perfect flowers and fruits in the garden, why covet this useless tree.

I would again watch and wait here for I knew there must be some others who had evaded the decimation of our society and they, like myself, would be drawn to this mystical oasis. I would struggle against the temptation of that deathly tree my whole life but I would not submit. Now I knew the truth and the truth would set me free.

Monday, November 19, 2007

the high price on wings

* I wrote this at 8:00 this morning but didnt have internet access till now so keep in mind that I wrote this blog while i was still somewhat asleep*

So a few minutes ago I realized that I had not even thought about blogging in quite some time. As this thought came into my head I also felt like I was falling and suffocating at the same time. Right now I am sitting on an incredibly comfortable recliner chair and I honestly feel like there are metal bars sticking out of this chair and poking me all over my back. My fingers are shaking as I type and I know that it won’t be long before my arms and eventually my legs begin to shake as well. My stomach is making the strangest noises I think I have ever heard and my head feels like its just floating a couple of inches above my recently numb neck.

There are so many people and circumstances that I would like to thank for this excruciating and strange sensation that I am currently experiencing but I think that I can honestly really only blame myself. It all started when Sam and I told our friend William that we would throw him a retirement party to celebrate the end of his high school football career. About the same time that Sam and I offered to host this party we also received an invitation to a much anticipated dinner with one of Sam’s bestfriends and the guy’s girlfriend. Also, we decided in this same time frame that we would need to drive down to my hometown, Hendersonville, N.C., on Tuesday morning after finding out that grandmother needed to have surgery and would not be able to do all the thanksgiving preparations or even drive by herself. Shortly after this decision was made Sam and I also realized that we would have to go by his parents house at least for lunch so they wouldn’t be too upset about us leaving for Thanksgiving. So after realizing that we had made plans to throw a somewhat complicated party, have dinner with friends, prepare to leave town and go to lunch with Sam’s parents we did the responsible smart thing and planned out our busy weekend. At this time we didn’t know about all the unacceptable language that we could not incorporate into our synthesis essays. Anyway, we planned to spend time on our essays and various other papers that were due around the same time Thursday after class knowing that we would have no time on Friday because we would have to set up and everything for Williams party on Saturday night and go to dinner with our friends that Friday night. Maybe the smart thing to do would have been to cancel our dinner plans but this thought didn’t even occur to me or Sam until later and even though I feel like crap right now we did have an amazing weekend so I guess its worth it. Anyway, we also scheduled time for school work on Saturday morning and decided that we could finish any extra work on the ten hour drive to Hendersonville.

So this was our plan. It wasn’t fabulous or anything, we knew we would be rushing to finish everything in time but we also thought that this plan would give us enough time to sleep and eat so it seemed to be pretty good. This was all Wednesday night and our plans came crumbling down around us on Thursday. On Thursday we realized that this synthesis essay was going to be hard, also on Thursday William’s grandmother died. Sam and I tried to start on our essays but we had tons of other hw due Friday and William needed support so needless to say we just didn’t have a chance. On Friday I rushed around after classes buying party stuff and baking when my brakes on my car failed and I had to get it taken to some car place to get it fixed. It was ready later on that day but unfortunately I had already lost a lot of time and my list of things I was pushing back to Saturday was growing huge. Sam and I were able to have a wonderful and somewhat relaxing dinner with our friends before we resumed our preparations and I ended up baking a cake at 1:00 in the morning. Also, on Friday night we found out that the funeral for Williams grandmother was going to be on Saturday morning during the time that we had planned on writing or Synthesis Essays. Needless to say we went to the funeral and pushed back our essays once again, this time for Sunday afternoon. We rushed around some more and somehow got all the food and stuff together in time for Williams retirement party which he absolutely loved so at least Sam and I accomplished something important this weekend. We once again were up late, around 2:30 am this time, cleaning up Sam’s house and putting stuff away. The next morning we had church and then lunch with Sam’s parents and then we had some last minute errands to run before we leave town. We got back to my parents house on Sunday around 5, got a quick bite to eat, and then started our Synthesis essays. We realized before we even began the essays that this was going to be an all night thing. We knew that we couldn’t count on internet access in Hendersonville and we also knew that we wouldn’t have a lot of time to finish on Monday. We decided to stay up all night Sunday night so that we would at least be able to get some sleep Monday night before we drove for nine hours on Tuesday. Anyway, having realized this we bought some Red Bull and sour skittles and camped out at the kitchen table, barely even able to keep our eyes open after the hectic weekend we had. We read and typed and wrote notes and talked about our notes and ideas until about midnight. We were unable to even form proper sentences anymore so we decided that it was time for our Red Bulls. This helped immensely. Suddenly Sam and I regained brain power and could speak coherently again. We were able to keep this up till about 4:00 in the morning before I finally stumbled into my room and Sam stayed up a couple more hours typing stuff in the guest room. We got the hard part out of the way. Both of us have detailed outlines and examples from the texts and everything ready. All we have to do now is flush out our rough drafts with sentences and the exact quotes and stuff like that. This really isn’t the hard part, I’m guessing that it’ll take us a couple of hours but I know that we will get it done today.

The point of this drawn out story is… Red Bull. I know that the reason I feel so incredibly strange is because of the Red Bull I drank. My body is dead tired, my eyes are closing, and my limbs are now shaking but my brain is surprisingly functional. I am thinking clearly right now but my body feels like I just fell off of a cliff. Maybe that’s kind of what happened in a sense. I guess the Red Bull gave me such a huge burst of energy when I needed it and now my body is just crashing to a completely energyless state. I’m actually not sure if this horrible feeling I have right now was worth the necessary brain power that got me through the night. Never mind, I take that back. Without Red Bull I would probably be at my house sleeping through my alarm and anticipating a long day of packing and essay writing. I’m still anticipating that but at least I know that its going to get done.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

No Regrets

* Okay, so I meant to post this blog last weekend but I completely forgot and so since I already wrote it I decided to go ahead and post it anyway. *

Last Friday night I went to an ECS football game. Maybe for other people this really wouldn’t be very remarkable but, in my case, I never thought that this would happen. First of all I don’t like football. I know most of ya’ll reading this probably think I’m crazy or something, but I honestly never understood the game. Usually, I will just stare blankly at the field and cheer whenever everyone else does. This can also be quite risky because, occasionally, I’ll hear the other side start cheering and accidentally yell some sort of encouraging phrase along with them. Needless to say, the people standing around me will glance over, looking at me as if I am absolutely insane and usually say something to that effect. I’m not against all sports though, just football. I don’t like the hitting and the confusing rules. I do enjoy watching soccer and basketball and even baseball sometimes, but football is just beyond me.

Now for reason two why I never thought I would go back to one of my high school’s football games. I really cannot stand the majority of the people in my grade at ECS. Also, most of the people that I could actually tolerate were guys and they were either on the football team or incredibly interested in the game. I usually went to every game though when I went to ECS. This is because if, for some odd reason, you did not go to the game, everyone in every one of your classes would accusingly ask you why on earth you weren’t there and then give you a detailed description of each point we scored and the different cheers we did. Most people would end this drawn-out play by play by encouraging you to attend next time and ensuring you that the team needed your support. Now, maybe it’s not like this at other schools, but ECS people are insane when football is concerned. I seriously doubt that “the team” would have played any better if I had been present and when I went to ECS I don’t think that the football team ever lost a game. Now that I think about this, its kind of interesting. I graduated from high school after 11th grade and before I left most of the football guys were like “how are we gonna win if you aren’t there to support us” and “If you leave now we’ll probably lose a lot” and stuff like that. This is interesting because now that I have left the ECS football team has had a pretty bad season this year compared to the last three years when I actually went to school there. Maybe I am lucky. Anyway, I didn’t enjoy going to the games because it was always either incredibly hot outside or freezing cold and I would usually just stand around talking to people that I didn’t like. Also, there are only so many times that you can go to the bathroom to apply lip gloss or check your hair before people begin to look at you strangely.

Okay, reason three. Every time that I went to a football game something bad happened to me. The first ECS football game I ever went to, in ninth grade, I got yelled at for quite some time by my best friend’s mom. I had lent her a non-trashy tube top and a pair of jeans before we went and when she arrived at the game her mother freaked out and blamed me for “leading her astray.” At another game my boyfriend at the time decided that he wanted to break things off and instead of telling me he decided to ignore me and avoid the “unnecessary confrontation.” One time I actually got food poisoning from a hotdog that I got at the game and spent the majority of the night trying to stand in spite of the intense stomach cramping and waves of nausea that I was experiencing. There were so many other unfortunate things that happened to me at football games and these things that I have mentioned are definitely not the worst, they are simply the occurrences that I am not to embarrassed to write about.

So anyway, I was at the ECS vs Briarcrest game last Friday night and I was wondering why on earth I consented to come. Sam’s best friend William plays for briarcrest and he asked us to come and support him with a big banner that said “The Bateman #16” on it. Sam and I had not been having very much success displaying this banner on the Briarcrest side so we decided to see if we could get the enthusiastic ECS student section to cheer for William. I guess it wasn’t that weird for Sam to talk to the ECS people because the people from his grade weren’t there but for me it was really strange. I saw my whole grade as seniors cheering in the stands and I knew that I was right in assuming that coming back to a game after I graduated early wasn’t a good idea. Sam and I stayed until the end of the game so we could talk to William. And in the meantime we were actually able to convince the ECS student section to hold up the banner and chant “William Bateman.” Just seeing ECS chant for a Briarcrest player was worth the whole awkward experience of seeing my grade again. I actually had a nice time talking to some various ECS people and that was really surprising. As Sam and I drove home though, we both agreed that we never wanted to go to an ECS football game again unless it was absolutely necessary. I think some good came out of this experience though. As I saw the people from the grade that I should have been in this year placing so much importance on a football game and behaving in the same way that they always have, I was reassured once again and for the most likely the last time that I did the right thing in graduating after 11th grade. I realized that I really don’t miss anything about high school and definitely am not missing out on anything by foregoing my senior year.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Eddy is my Amika

I can’t think of anything to blog about right now so I’m just going to talk about the only other mildly interesting thing that has happened to me this weekend other than attending my high school’s football game last night which I will talk about in my next post. Anyway, I was at the Oak Court mall getting lunch with Sam after class and we had been talking about how much we enjoyed talking to people who aren’t from the U.S. We were finishing up our lunch of Chinese food which is what sparked this conversation.

Before we had purchased our food, we were walking over to Subway when a Chinese lady stopped us and offered us a sample of chicken from the Malibu Wing (yes, that’s really the name of the place) right behind her. We took it just to be polite and then Sam said a couple of things to her in Chinese which she seemed to understand. This was a huge relief because a lot of times Sam will say something in Chinese to an Asian person and they get really offended because they aren’t Chinese. We were so happy that Sam was able to converse with this woman without offending her that we decided to go ahead and get Chinese food from the restaurant. I was pretty hesitant to do this because I’m always freaked out that our food will have a bunch a MSG in it or something even worse, but the food was good and I feel fine so I guess I was worried for no reason.

Ok, back to what I was originally talking about. We were so excited about talking to the nice Chinese lady and Sam was really happy because Coach Calipari was sitting at the table right next to us with a bunch of tall athletic-looking men, that we decided to walk around the mall for a little bit before going home to finish some homework and paint a banner for the ECS vs. BCHS game. We got some chocolate at the Godiva store which further elated me and as we were leaving this guy from a hair straightener kiosk approached me. He asked me what kind of hair straightener I used and I was about to just kind of ignore him and walk past when I decided to be nice and talk to him for a little bit. Usually I don’t talk to these kiosk guys because most of them are freaky looking and I can barely understand them because they are always from some where like Israel or Egypt or something. Also, the only time I ever decided to listen to one of them pitch their product I got sucked in to the whole thing and was convinced to buy this overpriced nail care set which isn’t very remarkable.

Anyway, this guy seemed really nice and I let him tell me about the superiority of his straightener. At this time I really wasn’t hooked or anything but I decided to let him straighten my hair with it because I was getting kind of frizzy and I needed a new straightener. Sam started talking to the guy about where he was from and why he started this business while he was straightening my hair and he turned out to be really interesting. The guy is from Israel and he just came to Memphis two weeks ago. He said he was hoping to go to U of M and study finance when he got enough money. He kept on asking us if his English was okay and we assured him truthfully that it was great. I was so surprised when I looked back in the mirror and my hair looked great. Not only did the thing straighten my hair but it actually improved my split ends and made my hair really shiny. The guy showed me a couple of other things that the straightener could do before he made his final pitch. He did this weird thing where he wound my hair around the straightener then slid it to the ends of my hair and it made this perfect bouncy curl. I know I’ve been going on way too much about this straightener but other than homework my weekend has been surprisingly uneventful.

Finally, after showing me all the amazing stuff that the Amika straightener could do he told us the price. It cost $250. Sam was floored but I had been expecting this so I acted normal. I told the guy that there was no way I could afford this right now and instead of acting rude and blowing us off he actually said he understood and gave me his card. The name on the card was Eddy which I don’t quite believe and he gave me a coupon for 50% off the product. Sam talked to Eddy for a bit more about Israel and about places he should go in Memphis before we left.

I just read this post through and it is really dull so I am sorry to whoever is reading this. I am exhausted and have tons of other work to do so somehow this story didn’t come out as interesting as it seemed after it happened. Anyway, I am currently saving up to buy this hair straightener and I encourage any girls reading this (or even guys) to talk to the Amika kiosk guy because the straightener really is incredible.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tired

I am so so tired. Every part of my body aches and I feel like I couldn’t possibly do any more work. The tips of my fingers are numb from the incessant typing that has filled my night and most of my afternoon. I have had so much work to do in every class that I am taking. I don’t think that I can write another paper or even read another word until I have slept at least twelve hours. I am falling behind in my school work. I missed a couple of my calculus and chemistry classes for family stuff and I am now finding that I cant quite follow my professors. I worked most of my afternoon on Chemistry and Calculus and at least I think I am starting to grasp the concepts. In reality the lessons aren’t really very hard, its just that I keep falling asleep or zoning out during class. This is so strange to me, I am usually so focused and now I can barely listen for five minutes before my mind just kind of blanks out.

I am getting sick. I can feel sinus problems coming on and I know that it is because of my lack of sleep and abundance of stress. My little brother has a horrible sinus infection and I am sure that a couple of days from now I will be feeling even worse than I do in my current state. I am working late into the night and getting up early in the morning. My eyes can barely stay open as I type this. I am a very fragile person, If I lose sleep then I get sick. That’s just how it works for me. I stayed up especially late tonight working on the only non-school-related work that I have done in a while. I decided to make a scavenger hunt for my little brother Ben (the one who is sick) because he is staying home from school for a couple of days. He was telling me that he wanted to do something fun with me and I unfortunately had to explain that I had no time for anything except work. I felt so bad about this and wanted to show him that I love him so much so I decided to create some interesting clues and hide them around the house before I go to sleep. I say go to sleep, but recently its been more like a short period of unconsciousness followed by intense pain upon waking.

I have no time. My days are filled with cramming in school work and then trying to accomplish some of my other responsibilities. Aside from writing English and UNHP papers all the time, I try to spend a little time with my parents and my brothers. I usually have to make sure that Sam has enough food and clean clothes and stuff like that because he is even busier than I am. There are so many other random things that I have to cram in like church stuff and work. The one thing that I consider most important in my day is my time with God. Ideally I would like to spend an hour each day reading my Bible and praying but over the past couple of weeks that time has slowly dwindled down to twenty minutes. Sometimes I even forget to spend time in the Word altogether. This really upsets me because in my hectic life right now one of the first things to be reduced is my God time and right now I need Him most. I hate that I don’t spend enough time praying and reading but I am just so tired in the morning and night that I tell myself God will understand if I make my time with Him short. I know that he does understand and that my worth is not measured by my actions but I really feel that when I don’t spend enough time with God that I am hurting myself.
Wow! This post is all over the place. I am exhausted and I just kind of wrote without thinking. I guess that the things I typed are the things that weigh heaviest on my mind right now. Anyway, I’m not trying to complain. I am ecstatically happy with my life right now even if things aren’t always the way I want them to be

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Little Book

I just finished reading one of the sweetest books I think I have ever read. It wasn’t really like any of the other books I usually pick out. I was at the Central Library browsing through the novels and I was feeling very overwhelmed. Most of ya’ll reading this have probably been to the Central branch so you know what I’m talking about but just in case you haven’t I’ll try my best to describe it.

I think that the most remarkable thing about the central library is simply the huge amount of books that it has. There are four floors filled with bookshelves that are in turn stuffed with books. Even though I think there may actually be too many books to just go in and casually look for one to read, I absolutely love to go to this library. The reason that I just love this particular branch is that whenever I enter through the front doors I feel just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The first time that I ever went to the central branch was on one of my first dates with Sam and he knew that I love to read so he took me there. As we stood in the middle of the first floor looking up at the tall wall of windows and the four floors of books, I was speechless. That’s when it hit me. I instantly got this picture in my head of when the Beast opens the door to his massive library and Belle prettily gasps in delight. I know this is a really childish reason to love a library but Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and I like remembering one of my first dates with Sam whenever I go there. Anyway, the image stuck and I get the best feeling just walking into the Central Library.

So, getting back to what I was originally talking about, I was wandering around the fiction section not really knowing how to start deciding on a book when I got a call. It was Sam and he was calling from the floor above. He had been looking for books on international business and especially banking in China. Needless to say he was pretty bored and told me that he was ready to leave immediately.A really little book on the shelf in front of me caught my eye so I grabbed it and headed to meet him on the first floor to check out the books. I didn’t really even look at the novel that I had hastily decided upon until we got into the car. I read the back of it and was surprised to see that it was described to be “a book about the perfect marriage.” I wasn’t necessarily excited about reading it because I usually go more for exciting, travely, historical type books but I was intrigued by this description. In most of the books I have read, marriage is either not explored very much or it is given a somewhat negative connotation. Judging from the back cover, this book was about an eighteen year old girl named Annie and her new husband, 20 year old Carl, living in the late 1920’s – early 1930’s and putting Carl through law school. It sounds kind of boring but once I had read the first page I just couldn’t put it down. Carl and Annie were so endearing. They had this open pure love for each other that neither their money problems, one room living quarters, or Annie’s unexpected pregnancy could taint. They took each day at a time and cherished small things like eating dinner together at the cafeteria where Carl worked and walking together in the early morning. They really did have a perfect marriage of trust and selflessness even though they had very little time to spend with each other and had many financial difficulties. I just can’t stop thinking about this book and recommend it to anyone who appreciates sentimental things and could use a simple relaxing read. I love the title too because it reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses that I happened to write my creative essay around. The book is called “Joy in the Morning” by Betty Smith.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Joy Comes in the Morning

*hey ya'll, I couldnt find my eighteen copies of my story in class so I decided to go ahead and post the essay.I'm not sure if this is non-fiction or fiction. It is kind of in between because its based on one of my closest friends who really is dealing with all of these things but I made up the stuff about her running and the sun and rain.*
Joy Comes in the Morning

The sun beat hard arid rays upon Annie’s shaking shoulders. She felt as if the very foundation of her life was crumbling to the ground around her. Everything that she cherished most had been ripped away leaving a sensation that the person she had been was fading fast. She waited on this course grainy dirt for the tears to come, and still her cheeks remained dry. Annie had been running haphazardly trying to deal with her problems; unsure if she was hoping to outrun the recent events or finally catch up with them. It didn’t really matter because she had fallen and was now staring up into the harsh winter sunlight, simply floating between who she had been and who she would have to become. She was no one, nameless, and yet in the back of her mind a persistent thought nagged at her anonymous bliss. That thought plainly told her she would eventually have to address the horrible things that had happened to her. But for now, Annie couldn’t think about those things. She couldn’t focus on the fact that her grandmother had passed away just a few days before her dog suddenly got sick and died. She didn’t know how to deal with her close friend choosing to attend a college thousands of miles away or her mother’s worsening paranoia. Most of all she refused to acknowledge that the one person who remained by her side through all of these things, not only her best friend but the man who had loved her for years, was not even speaking to her anymore. She wasn’t angry about these things, only numb to any emotion. After all there wasn’t anyone to blame. Her grandmother had died because she was old, the veterinarians did all they could for her dog, it was Hannah’s dream to attend whatever college it was that she kept chattering about, and neither her mother or anyone else could help her mental state. William had fought a long time with his parents about their decision to not let him date her and Annie knew that if he disobeyed them he would be thrown out of his house. She didn’t blame his parents too much either because both of them had grown up in very strict Baptist homes. While she thought it was extremely excessive that they had forbidden her and William to even contact each other, she knew that they only wanted what was best for their son and viewed dating in college as a sin. The emotions were welling up inside of her but they just wouldn’t come out. She sat up and felt herself slowly returning to cognizance and, with that first appearance of her alert mind, she experienced a flash of clarity before her adopted state of numbness engulfed her. Maybe it is easier to deal with pain when you are mad because you can let in at least some emotions and consequently have to recognize that whatever has happened has indeed taken place. But for me, Annie thought bitterly, that realization will never come because I can’t even feel anymore. Again she paused, looking up and hoping for some glimpse of the passionate deep-feeling person she knew herself to be, but still her eyes were tearless and she barely noticed the dark clouds passing over head. “O Lord, you are my rock and my redeemer,” Annie whispered, “but I no longer feel your peace or comfort.” She felt so lost and weak staring into the ensuing darkness of the expansive sky left with only the knowledge that she was becoming estranged from herself. In the final wave of her cognizance, she silently cried out for something that she could not even name before succumbing to the falling depths of despair that at least allowed her to feel. As she slipped away from her former self, soft cool rain began to fall, gently caressing her upturned face and wrapping her whole body in a refreshing embrace. She let go of herself completely and tears slowly formed, running down her face and pooling in the shallow hollow of her neck. She no longer feared pain but welcomed it and felt that though her heart was breaking, she had finally seen her suffering and in that instant learned to overcome it. Her tears mingled with the falling rain as she grieved and healed. “… for weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30: 5.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reader Response Essay

Lauren Woody
Wendy Sumner-Winter
Reader Response Essay Draft 1
10-18-07
Through detailed descriptions and thought-provoking scenes, Virginia Woolf’s “Street Haunting: A London Adventure” evokes a feeling of escape, examines what defines our self identity, and explores what is truly beautiful. Woolf employs such vivid imagery that I felt as if I were the one who wandered London’s streets in winter. I experienced the liberating feel of escaping from your normal self, I saw the beauty Woolf finds in even the most unlikely subjects, and I struggled with her between surface appearances and the deeper connectedness she originally tries to avoid.
With the simple excuse of needing a pencil, Virginia Woolf escapes into the streets on an early winter night in London. She describes in great detail the many things she sees and the various things she experiences. She travels the streets of London simply taking in the obvious beauty of such a lovely night; emphasizing her desire to stay on the surface for a little while longer. She switches from a pure uncomplicated beauty to appreciation of that which is irregular or even ugly and exposes the beauty to be found in those things. This change in sights ushers in a new tone of thinking and connectedness that allows Woolf to imagine herself in the people around her and create a background for the different things that she encounters. These mental wanderings take place in areas such as the Thames River, a second hand book store, and a shop owned by a quarreling older couple. She seems to be developing an identity for herself in regards to her surroundings but in the end of the essay as Woolf returns to her house she realizes that identity is found in our wishes and wanderings as well as the reality of our life and familiar environment.
From the very beginning of the essay I sensed Woolf’s restlessness and desire to escape from, not only her familiar self, but also her conscious thought processes. Woolf’s need to leave what is ordinary and venture into the world outside herself is evident in her weak pretext for exiting her home and venturing thorough the streets of London. The fact alone that Woolf cites a pencil as her reason for wandering around on a winter night shows me how strong her inclination to elude normality is, but she carries this sentiment even further by applying it to her identity and mind. Woolf’s emphasis of the importance that darkness and winter have in her evening stroll made me realize that she was trying to evade her typical persona. In the second paragraph of the essay, Woolf explains “The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves.” These sentences cause me to think that Woolf wanted to be someone other than her normal self, not only because she plainly states it, but also, because she gives a positive connotation to irresponsibility and seems to crave the cover that darkness and the unique air that lamplight create. I further connected with this idea of breaking away from your self towards the end of that same paragraph when Woolf paints a striking picture of our familiar selves emerging into the outside world. “The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughness a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye.” I can literally see Woolf slipping into the streets, shedding her old identity, and assuming the role of the detached observer. I identified with Woolf so much in this section because I have many times felt the desire to assimilate myself into a crowd and passively notice the things going on around me.
I found this similar urging to escape later on in the paragraph only this time connected to cognizance. Woolf expresses a wish to stay on the surface of things taking her surrounding in only at face value all throughout the first part of this essay. She describes her journey as “gliding smoothly on the surface” and voices a desire to “be content still with surfaces only”. Woolf seems to be working hard to elude her thoughts. This leads me to believe that Woolf wanted to evade her mind just as much as her self and normal environment. She depicts her observations in a way that is unconnected to thinking by mentioning that “the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks” and warning herself that “we are in danger of digging deeper that the eye approves.” In these ways Woolf is distancing her senses from her mind, further escaping the familiar.
Woolf’s plan to remain only on surface appearances begins to fade as the essay progresses. Originally Woolf expresses a desire to look at pure obvious beauty by saying “For the eye has this strange property: it rests only on beauty; like a butterfly it seeks colour and basks in warmth.” I get the feeling from this expression that Woolf is trying to make a distinction between what appeals to the eye and what appeals to our emotions. She later describes this method of observing beauty, however, in a way that gives it a shallow connotation. Woolf mentions that with “this simple, sugary fare, of beauty pure and uncomposed, we become conscious of satiety.” As I read this line I thought that Woolf was beginning to see the need for her conscious thoughts and was preparing to let them back in. This idea was further cemented when I recalled the line directly before this one in which Woolf remarks upon the shortcomings of passive sight. She says, “The thing it cannot do (one is speaking of the average unprofessional eye) is to compose these trophies in such a way as to bring out the more obscure angles and relationships.” Woolf begins to appreciate irregularity as beautiful and this change marks the emergence of her cognizant mind into her observations. After this switch, Woolf describes beauty in ugliness. She finds beauty in the foot of a dwarf and attributes a strange sort of grace to the walk of two blind men.
As Woolf begins to redefine true beauty, her detachment in surveillance melts. I think that this is because originally she was looking only at beauty that can be taken in at face value but as she switched her focus to the beauty found in ugliness she was required to react or at least think in order to understand its beauty. This evolution from surface beauty to hidden beauty stood out to me in another way as well. I felt a contrast between detachment and connectedness in Woolf as she describes the various things that she observes. She was able to stay detached from the “simple, sugary fare, of beauty” mentioned earlier because visual pleasure was the only thing it had to offer, however, the raw emotions of pain or humiliation found in the beauty of the ugly, deformed, and unusual draws us in and makes us feel. We are required to think when confronted with such things because there is great depth to the subject. Woolf shows us this ability to connect to pain in her description of the street crowd’s reaction to the shoe-shopping dwarf. After returning to her ugly self after her momentary glimpse of normality, the dwarf “started a hobbling grotesque dance to which everybody in the street now conformed,” and Woolf later reinforces that “all joined in the hobble and tap of the dwarf’s dance.” Woolf originally claims to desire detachment from her surroundings but finds later on that visual and emotional pleasures require a deeper look into subject matter and a connection to it.
I noticed a similar contrast between detachment and connectedness in Woolf’s morphing identity in regards to the crowd around her and her changing environment. The quote mentioned earlier about Woolf’s emergence into the streets of London, “The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken,” demonstrates the idea that our identities are altered when we leave behind the familiar things that define us. Instead of assuming her normal responsible identity in the crowd, Woolf adopts the position of a removed observer becoming “an enormous eye.” This forced detachment is, I think, brought on because of a lack of the familiar. When we no longer derive our true self from our familiar surroundings and those who know us, we automatically morph into the crowd’s perception of us. Woolf’s detailed scene with the dwarf demonstrated this theory. The dwarf was able to see herself as normal and beautiful when her feet were the center of attention and she was engaging in the familiar behavior of shoe shopping. However, when she returned to the streets and no one could see her perfect feet Woolf says that, “she had become a dwarf only.” It is as if Woolf is saying that, when the things that we love or know about ourselves are not apparent, then they cease to matter.
At the same time she is expounding upon this point Woolf is also explaining the antidote. Woolf shows us that by not limiting what defines our self identity to the familiar but by also allowing our desires and the experiences of others to shape our person, we can avoid being lost in the flurry of street- wandering in London. At first, Woolf limits herself to what can be gleaned in glimpses but eventually she lets herself imagine and think and in that context she truly finds meaning and pleasure. We see that it is our innermost thoughts and experiences whether real or imaginary that influence us most and that by finding our connection to the crowd we discover true freedom and escape. Near the end of the essay, Woolf emphasizes the importance of connectedness in our identity and experiences saying “And what greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality and deviate into those footpaths that lead beneath brambles and thick tree trunks into the heart of the forest where live those wild beasts, our fellow men?” Woolf encourages us to dig past surface appearances and find where we connect to our surroundings because it is only in this way that we achieve a true identity and effective escape at the same time.
“Street Haunting: A London Adventure” impacted me for several reasons. I was drawn into the story by Woolf’s brilliant depictions and identified with the open emotions she conveyed. Woolf’s exploration of true beauty stood out to me because I tend to deem things beautiful that are unique or have sentimental value over things that are perfectly visually pleasing. I felt like I journeyed alongside Woolf as she evolved from detachment in identity and observation to a more connected stance. Most of all, the theme of escape in Woolf’s essay spoke to me. I enjoyed seeing how Woolf struggled so hard to elude her thoughts only to discover their importance in the end. I felt as Woolf must have as she wandered the streets of London on that winter night while reading this essay. I banished my more analytical thoughts at the beginning of the essay in order to truly appreciate the beauty of Woolf’s descriptions, but, as the essay progressed, I realized that there was so much more to the scenes than what can be gleaned from near subconscious reactions. I had to slowly let in my perceptive thinking in order to fully understand the import of Woolf’s accounts and achieved a rich experience that I had not expected.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Warning against silence

The scene with the rake from David Mamet’s story made me think about how even the most innocent people can turn into the things that they loathe. Mamet describes the beatings that his sister received as a child throughout the story and then details how he ends up hurting his sister in the same way. Though Mamet didn’t intentionally hurt his sister, his actions derived from similar emotions. He was frustrated about having to rake leaves on a lawn that he hated and was disappointed in the life he was living in what he described as the middle of nowhere.

I think that Mamet incorporated his absence into the scenes where his sister was being mistreated to show that while these things were going on he remained silent. The fact that Mamet didn’t speak out against his mother and stepfather’s cruelty towards his sister emphasizes the idea that, even though we may disagree with something that is going on, unless we take a stand against it we are actually condoning those actions. Repetitive refusal to acknowledge what we think is wrong can make us grow accustomed to those things and even breed that kind of evil in our own lives. Mamet throwing the rake at his sister made me think that he had unknowingly let a part of what he hated so much influence him. Reading the final scene with the rake caused me to think about the things that I fail to speak out against and the things that I disagree with but accept as normal. I began to wonder if I have let any part of the things that I loathe into my life and if the things that I ignore affect me in the same way that the domestic violence affected Mamet.

Mamet had been constantly exposed to cruelty and violence in his own home to the point where he came to expect it and probably even view it as normal. I think that we run this same risk of recognizing deplorable behavior as acceptable in our culture because of the numerous ways we are exposed to such behavior. Television is a huge way that we are influenced to see something that in real life would be considered horrible as acceptable because it is being dealt with in a very everyday approach. So many TV shows (like the ones on the CW) depict young adults as wild and irresponsible; constantly having sex, drinking, and doing drugs. Most of the people that I know don’t behave anything like this but in our culture we have come to expect this from teenagers and I think that young people have become influenced by this type of behavior. While I disagree with the conduct that is depicted on TV, I tend to assume that is how most people act. This scene made me think of how the Christian church is guilty of the same things as Mamet. In many areas, Christians have allowed things from our culture that the Bible clearly defines as sin to become acceptable behavior or at least refused to acknowledge that it is happening. I think that it is because of this silence towards sin in the church that has allowed many Christians to commit those sins. As I read Mamets final scene, I felt like he was warning us to speak out against violence and other things we view as wrong so that we will not eventually become guilty of those same actions.