Monday, March 31, 2008

How teaching is going

So when I say "I teach high school" I don't mean just any high school situation. I have the baddies--the ones with ADD and dyslexia and attitude problems. It's not bad at all, they are charter school kids after all which means all parents are at least mildly aware of/concerned with their kids. Nice. Also, I'm convinced that these kids are actually more fun to teach. Yeah, they talk out of turn, but they also take no crap from me or anyone and they are hilarious.
This morning my alarm didn't go off and my car was coated in rough sticky ice and the roads were icy and awful. I was ten minutes late not to mention the fact that my books and folders and everything got locked in my office so I hadn't prepared a thing. Walking down the hall to my classroom I hear a laughing grumbling coming from my room--a teacher's least favorite noise: mutiny! chaos! I open the door which has been blocked by some large piece of furniture, and I notice that the lights are off. I love Mondays, I do.
But I think my reaction was successful: "get out a piece of paper, and you guys could never pull off a coup, I could hear you from outside the building. If you're going to try to take over the school you have, at least, to be sneaky about it."
We spent the day on the 5-paragraph essay and the Romans and I aced it. Not my best 5-paragraph essay lecture ever, but they were taking notes and writing on the board and they had opinions.
I love my job.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Once my mom was teaching a Sunday School lesson on Easter. I was like 14 and so still pretty stoked about the candy/new tights thing (let's be honest: I spent all week watching anxiously for an Easter package from Michigan), but I remember her preparing really carefully and discussing with me Easter's true meaning to her. She shared it with me again this year--that her understanding of the atonement has strengthened and her appreciation for it deepened year after year. There are some things I know about my mom: she loves people through food (etc.), she pays her tithing, and she gets Easter, loves it, wants us all to too.
And this is me having a hard time knowing what to write or how: my brother-in-law said once "I'm just hoping that this grace thing is as powerful as God promised." And that's where I am right now. After a period of really steady blessed spiritual growth, I find myself busy and exhausted and distracted. When I've found myself in places like this before I've started despairing and toying with the idea of my own imperfection as well as, like, the atheism option. And I wonder if I should be more stressed out. I find myself justifying cut corners and lapses and general haziness and part of me thinks that I'm in big big trouble and probably setting myself up for a huge fall and ruining my life and my chances at happiness.
But most of me says no. Most of me says that I'm a good and a righteous person who is trying her very best and has way more on her plate than is healthy and that I'm working on growing into me. Most of me says that I have a lot to learn about unconditional love, particularly in the form of divine love, and that not being able to do all the outward performancey things can help me get in touch with the inward commitment things. I can do better and I want to and will, but for right now, God loves me even though I haven't not fallen asleep in the middle of a prayer for months.
So Easter: lounging on the grass in the sun with Brian Doyle and adorable Tim reading about grace I felt it. I felt the Savior's love and I felt it deep and clear and remembered that it's always there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Would you be willing to participate in a short survey?

This picture is:
a) adorable
b) creepy.

If it helps, it was in the tube station in London.

Monday, March 17, 2008

President Dr. Kearl, again

Turns out that President Dr. Kearl is terribly awkward one-on-one. This gives me hope.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


There's something to be said about borders, limits, boundaries, call them what you will. Something about only eating cake for dessert, about getting your sleep all in one go instead of trying to make it up by napping, about sitting down and conscientiously eating meals instead of munching around all day long, about only checking your blog or facebook or email at certain times and not ad nauseum throughout the day.
I've been thinking a lot about limitations lately because I'm in transition--all of my limitations are in question, in the process of being reevaluated. Because I'm trying to hold together two completely different lifestyles (I'm a college kid who gets up at 5:30, dresses business casual, does the put-together enthusiastic role model thing, then starts my second day up on campus), and working really hard to make everything work I'm constantly rethinking: is this the most efficient/enjoyable/enriching way to be doing this?
In addition, I'm trying to figure out what my priorities are and how much time and energy they all require. So, yes, it's important to me that my body stays healthy, but is it important enough to give up handfull of hours to yoga every week? Could I be using that time to do something more productive?
And this: I think that there's a lot of truth in boundaries. We're asked to keep the sabbath holy. We set aside that day as a different day where we do different things and forget about the rest of our worries. There's something deeply edifying in that. I love fasting for the same reason: a day or two a month we conscientiously shift our focus, tell our lovely bodies that they are not getting the food they like so much so that we can think in a different way, about different things. And when that break-fast meal comes, how sweet it is, how much we appreciate it.
As a girl who distrusts duplicity, who would like everyone to know and love each other, who is not good at saying no to good things, I struggle with boundaries: with making them and with keeping them. And I'm starting to feel it, a certain messiness, a certain lack of control (which I hate), a certain shallowness in my commitment to things and my efforts in them. And the week will start again and I will start again...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I heart Kenneth

So, no disrespect to Mr. Branagh, who I adore with many sections of my heart, but what's with the trend to misread Hamlet? I understand that it's a demanding role, but I think that no adaptations of the play have really captured/capitalized on the true creepiness that Shakespeare wrote into the script.
1. We never get the adolescent Hamlet, and I swear he is. I think that Olivier, Branagh, and Gibson have had to go to great lengths to dramatize the role of Hamlet because the character is not supposed to be a middle-aged man. We're looking at a teenager here. I think the drama of the play makes much more sense in this context. If I were to cast the part, I'd cast Hamlet as an oily, peach-fuzzed, just-at-the-ripest-point-of-puberty kid. I think this would explain his madness, it would add depth/creepiness to the Ophelia thing (who would be like 12, which would work if my next point were true, wait a sec), and would make the Oedipal references that much more wrenching. Oooh, I can see it now.
2. Aren't we supposed to be in medieval Denmark? Can't we play that up? Gibson's production did a decent job, but I didn't think it took advantage of the dark ages thing--there was altogether too much sunlight and too many fresh-swept surfaces. I'm imagining dark and dank and cold and dirty. A place where a 12 year old Ophelia could definitely be taken advantage of by a tribal prince.
Gross, yes; dirty, yes. But right, right?


Sometimes you're walking through a warm spring rain wearing your favorite sweater listening to songs about springtime with a blond-haired friend and the music and the just-up-from-a-nap buzz and the smell of the rain combine into deep satisfaction and an at-one-ness with the universe.

I love the spring.

Monday, March 10, 2008

President Dr. Kearl

So my stake president is a genius. I think just empirically probably he is, but he's also a great teacher, and he's great at reading/working a crowd. For example he teaches Econ 110, which I took from him and enjoyed in spite of myself and the 14-hour review sessions made possible by my stepdad, an economist himself, and the B+ which is not a great grade for me but was the hardest-earned grade of my life.
Yesterday we had stake conference. The topic was the restoration, and President Dr. Kearl talked about agency. Specifically, he talked about agency as God's mandate/allowance for us to make something of our lives. Some really interesting points that he brought up and which I'd like to remember/share:
1. Decision-making isn't a one-time thing, it's a process. The point he was making here, which sets my poor mistake-hating soul to singing is that you make the decisions that you've already made the right decisions every day of your life. That is, we act in ways to justify the decisions we've made, we accept them and make the best out of them and make them the right decision.
2. Wasting time in regret is an error akin to sin. I loved this point (which is of course related to the last). We make decisions. We live with them. What a waste of time and resources to revisit and agonize over decisions we've already made. "They're in the past" he said, "and so you have no power over them any more. Stop wasting time thinking about them." Sunk costs, in other words, are sunk.
3. God will not make decisions for you. Your agency was bought at too high a price for God to undercut it by telling you what to do. He cannot answer a prayer that says "tell me what to do" and so instead we should pray to find out if the decisions we've already made are right and for self confidence, to make decisions, and to make them work, without doubt or fear.
4. He talked about choices that have consequences tied to salvation and ones that don't. The point being that some decisions have eternal consequences in that they help to form your personality/character in ways that will effect you permanently, but just because their consequences are eternal doesn't mean that they have anything to do with salvation. This is a huge relief somehow.
5. Stop thinking about right and wrong decisions, start thinking about smart and dumb decisions. I liked this one, mostly because President Dr. Kearl got to be blunt and mildly abrasive, which suits him. Also because I think we (I) tie far too many decisions to some external morality which takes control away from me so leaves me feeling powerless. I don't not hang out with cute boys alone in my room at 3 a.m. not because it's necessarily wrong to do it, but because it's dumb.

Anyway. A genius because the most useful thing for an auditorium full of college students to hear is: cowboy up. Make your decisions, make them right, don't be afraid, and trust. A genius because we're so young still and have so much time to make something of our lives. Love it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You know what I hate?

Lina: You know what I hate?
Me: What?
Lina: Those conversations you start by saying "you know what I hate?" You should be in love with more things.

Good call.

What I love: there's a baseball field behind my house. They've started to play already and the sound the game and oooh the springtiminess is making me very excited for warmer days and very excited to be alive.
Liann came home from Arizona Sunday night with fifty pounds (or more, there is a lot) of citrus. We've got grapefruit, oranges, tangelos, cumquats (brought just for me, Liann's adorable). Her parents have trees and it's all fresh-picked and I've plowed through like 5 tangelos and a handfull or two of cumquats. There's nothing can beat a good tangy juicy delicious tangelo.
When I run in the morning I go all glowy and even if I'm not feeling great I still feel great.
I got to teach Aristotle today. Some (most) of my kids were completely zoning out, but some of them got it. How cool is that? Ninth graders getting into Aristotle. Sooo cool.
Also, one of my students who is one of the harder ones to reach completely went beyond the mark and filmed and edited this trailer for Oedipus Rex--he had friends and family in togas and there was an extended sword fight (which may or may not have happened in the play, but it was so great I sort of overlooked that.)
Our bathtub is unplugged! I showered without wading around today, I love it.

Life is good.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Feminity and Me

I've been working through the girl thing lately. The girl thing: I'm a girl. Girls do dumb things, I do dumb things. Sometimes men don't like women, sometimes I don't like women. I feel torn because I feel like I should really like and appreciate women and who they are and what they do (and I do) and at the same time, the things that frustrate me most about dumb girls are things that I feel like I have a tendency toward. Irritating.
I watched Olivier's Merchant of Venice the other day for class and Joan Plowright did this really creepy Portia. Creepy: she was older than her suitor Bassanio, they emphasized lines that brought out her kind of domineering self ("you will be loved dearly for you were bought dearly" and Bassanio cringes), and they did this camera angle thing when she was monologuing that demonstrated that everyone else was bored and impatient and she continued to monologue, clueless. I always had like Portia--she's smart and gutsy and gets things done, right? Turned into this selfish rich wench with a castrating smile.
And literature. I'm reading lots of McCarthy. He's brilliant but his women are goddess-virgin-whores. Dr. Snyder is super idealistic about all of this, arguing that McCarthy's heroes really just want a good women to settle down with, but the blatant comparison of women to horses just doesn't set well with me. And it seems to me like in general the literature that I really love is very androcentric and women play either static or abrasive characters.
And then there's Julie Beck who I want dearly to like, but who puts me on edge after her conference address (and, I'll admit, a round tearing apart by the gang).
My sister read Juno in an interesting way--that she, more than most female protagonists, was the hero of the movie. She took control of her situation: when she got pregnant, she decided to put the baby up for adoption and decided on the parents and even pushed the adoption through to the end. Cool. Also cool: the Jennifer Garner character ends up not being the witchy domineering wife but the irresponsible husband's irresponsibility is highlighted.

My stake president encouraged the Relief Society to find women role models, women to look up to and emulate, and it's a pursuit I should probably undertake. I just am unsure of how to be a girl. And a strong girl and a smart girl and one who tries to see the best in people.

This is very half-chewed through still.