Tag Archives: Hope

After Thesis

It’s all over next Friday.  And when it is, I will:

Dinner for champions.

Wesshop dinner for champions.

1. Eat normal meals at normal hours.

2. Play basketball.

3. Go shopping.

4. Sleep.*

5. Read a novel.

6. Read on Foss.

7. See a movie.

8. Go out.

9. Host a party.

10. Go to class.

11. Actually do the reading for class.

12. Listen while I’m there.

13. Call my parents.

14. Cook.

15. Attend neglected friendships.

16. Work normal hours.

17. Do laundry.*

18. Talk about stuff other than my thesis.

 

*Actually might need to do before next Friday.

 

 

 

 


Flatbread Crackers & Cheese

DSC00988One time last semester, life was falling in pieces, or at least I thought it was.  I really can’t remember why I was upset.  I just know that I was in my spot on the Dennison steps, legs dangling a few feet above the heads of students walking below.   Judy came along behind me, and speaking the universal code that is I wish I could help but really can’t, she gave me food.  Flatbread crackers, tomato sauce, and shredded cheese has been my thing ever since.

I work on deadlines.  I always have.  Pretty sure the over-achiever, ambitious timelines I set fall in rhythm with my own heartbeat.  Supposing this connection were true, it would explain why not meeting deadlines of any kind, include my own, sets my pulse racing.

Watching an idea larger than I can properly explain come together has been the achievement of my academic life.  Admittedly, there are things far more important.  Likewise, a few dozen mostly coherent pages doesn’t really count for anything truly “academic.”  While its stolen my life, interests, time, relationships, sleep, and is about to get away with my sanity, a thesis is an exercise, not book.  If I’m a lucky, a dozen people will actually read it, and half of them will be either paid to do so or share my bloodline.

And yet, it’s all I want tonight, because it still matters.  The sophomoric (literally, cause I was a sophomore) Thursday night stomachache of fear and tension and not actually being fully convinced of my ability to make my deadline is setting on with prodigious force.

I spent most of the day camping out in the CSS library, a location with the unique advantage of being unoccupied, large enough to pace, and far enough away from anything that matters to yell at my computer without disturbing anyone.  The introduction I wanted to complete on Thursday is finally written and the rewrite of Part I is at last underweight, but the gaps, unwritten conclusion, edits, and eight days I have until I need a complete draft rise on my shallow breaths.

I’ve never run a marathon before, but I’m pretty sure this is the intellectual equivalent, and I’m doing it on flatbread crackers and cheese.


In the present

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin a four day window, I started a new job, start my final undergraduate semester, will “finish” a chapter of my thesis, and will travel to North Carolina to attend a seminar having nothing to do with any of three previous activities.

I said I’d go to the conference because I was invited in October.  I remember the distinct thought, “It’s the first weekend of the semester.  What could I possibly be missing out on?”  I now have no less than three places I need to be this Saturday afternoon.

Knowing that this week would be uncharacteristically busy, I remember thinking that the drive back to campus in the evenings would be long.  Instead, I find myself wanting the road to be longer and wishing I could script the thoughts that come when I drive.  They’re always the most eloquent.

When I drive home, ideas come out in organized phrases that get strung together and rearranged like they would on paper, and in them is the reason otherwise absent in the momentous chaos and excitement that characterize this last week.  Slipping into mechanized motion (not zoning out, I promise), it’s so much easier to shut off the processor and just be.  And rest.  And pray.

Funny thing is, I don’t even know what that road is called or which way it goes.  It’s just the way home.  This is a slightly embarrassing fact, and I probably ought to look it up in case I need to give somebody directions sometime.  But it all sortof speaks to the point.

To that end, I will cope with the new phone that wouldn’t activate, the possibility of not being able to port my number, and the fact that the library closed at 5pm with all my books in it.  In doing so, I’ll funnel this week’s emotion and stress away from tense joints and toward my fingertips, step away from WordPress and back to Word, and finish draft one of chapter two, tonight. 


Crowd Harmonies, Healing & Hope

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hate it when the perfect words come out at the wrong time.  I never seem to have anything to take my notes down when the words come.

I have no idea how many hands passed over the ticket I took to this evening’s Night of Hope and Healing concert for Newtown other than to say it had to have been a lot. I got a facebook message an hour and half before the concert asking me if I was free.  I thought I’d just been invited to a fundraiser at a coffee shop.

Of course the timing was uncanny since I’d spent the last six hours in the library and was yet to interact with another human today, in addition to the much more important fact that the cryptic and thoroughly nondescript message indicated that it was some kind of memorial event.

We arrived an hour late and spent almost as much time looking for a parking spot as we did driving to Bridgeport.  As we walked out of the parking garage, I heard the traffic director yell at a guy the floor below that the lot was full and to send everyone else home.  Probably less than a dozen cars made it in after us.

Turns out that I mistaked coffeeshop acoustic guitars with Chris Tomlin, Mandesa, Laura Story, TobyMac, Casting Crowns, Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, and Stephen Curtis Chapman.  The truth is, I care very little about seeing these people live.  As far as the music, I’d just have well preferred to sit on my bed and looked out my massive windows with my ipod up a little too loud and quiet prayers falling out my fingertips.

But it really isn’t about the music.

It’s about the people and the worship and the healing.  At one point, a very specific moment, as I don’t know how many people sang the line of some chorus acapella, I remember wishing that they’d have dimmed the spotlight like all the other lights that had just faded.  It didn’t matter who was on stage, backstage, or in the crowd; it was the single loudest, most melodious and pleasing sound of praise I’d ever heard.

I know the night was for healing and hope, but the whole evening left what felt like a shaving over the top layer of tissue on my heart.  I scraped my way through AP bio some years ago, and while that’s as impressive as my science background goes, when I say layer of tissue on my heart, I mean that I am literally thinking about the muscle tissue making up the organ.

To me, this is an odd image, especially given the context of the situation.  I had the perfect words to explain it on our way out the building and they are escaping me now, but I think it comes down to that moment of praise.

I heard harmonies that rarely appear in choirs so large.  In our words melted anger and desperation, and while there was not yet resolution, there was hope, but it was not offered to or received by any one individual.  In simultaneous praise, came simultaneous peace.


And it was good

The beauty of Connecticut fall catches my breath.  The firestorm on the the tree beneath my bedroom makes me smile.  So does the quiet hope that wells up in my soul.

For every exasperated sigh I swallow in my carrel and long hour with an un-exhilarating paper are a dozen moments of sweet smiles.  Ideas excite me.  Despite the realization that most people don’t care, I am incapable of saying anything about my research without getting all bright eyed and smily.

And when the brillant professor I fumble my ideas to says that my argument sounds great, the fire burns brighter.  Likewise, I gladly give my time to the teaching that forces my thoughts deep into the recluses of my mind for reevaluation.  Ideas are like that.

In the last 72 hours, a friend and I hosted a make-your-own gourmet personal pizza night, complete with fancy cheese, fresh sausage, jalepenos, and eight of my closest-don’t-talk-to-often-enough friends.  Saturday, I drove to Providence for an ISI conference on the American University.  I’ve never wanted to read Plato so badly in my life.  I figure something like The Republic or The Odyssey ought to count as an appropriate beginning of the Western Cannon : )

Today was simply beautiful, and a few friends and I will be driving  up the Connecticut coastline in the morning as we run away with every last remaining precious bit of fall break.

This overcast night hides the moon from my bedroom window, but with a monstrously soft brown blanket draped over my shoulders and the quiet beat of my fingers, keeping time with the Bublé in the background, I just can’t help but feel at peace as the dreams and reflections that can’t quite make their way out dance on my heart.

Providence, Rhode Island

 


Worst of the Best

Life is good, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Last week, in CSS junior econ tutorial, transitioning economies, we investigated the relationship between stabilization and economic growth.  I argued that the two are necessarily tied.

google calendar

Stabilization didn’t guarantee any specific results, but growth doesn’t come without stabilization.  It’s a painful process, but one that pays off.

See, pain comes before growth. You know, like…

1. When exhaustion tunnels through lethargic legs and I can barely lift my head— and I still make it through 8 1/2 hours in food service.

2. When the part of my schedule out of my hands self-adjusts— to fit my needs (academically & sleep-wise).

3. When I bust my tail, write with all I got in me, and screw up— and the professor patiently meets with me (every week).

4. When people who usually yell at me— start calling me by name and saying thanks.

5. When post-semester abroad bank account— starts to look like a financial-savvy, broke college account again (emphasis on the starting).

6. When amazon saves the day—again.

7. When people I was waiting on—-email me back.

8. When I needed more hours— and the librarian gives me an extra 20 hours during finals week and agrees to take me on as regular staff (for next year).

 

 

 


Electronic Communications Captain

Verging on the front of blog failure…

The longest time between posts (ever) has just past and I am left with these thoughts.

1) In its own inexplicable way, I am facing “busyness” with a new urgency.  I literally could not let an hour pass today without a massive pileup of meaningful (read: necessitates a thoughtful response) emails.

2) I am in pain.

Yesterday, I hurt my back (again).  I’m always cautious about doing academic work while on pain killers, but that fact that I can’t move doesn’t make the world stop.

It was actually quite comical.  The pain was mild enough that I was mostly fine so long as I didn’t move.  This led to a rather epic conception of how to get around the house.  I slid across the floor, pushing myself with my legs and a pillow under my head, and my friend, who came over because I couldn’t reach my food (shelves/drawers are a bit high from the floor), pulled my arms.

3) This is going to be great.

Sleep flew out the window with spring break, and I’m due for another pack of highlighters (I spend $60/year on highlighters, true story).  But I’m lost in what I love, doing new things, and filling new roles.

…and I’m going through it with all the right people.