A Most Lamentable Tragedy

Yesterday, a guy asked for my number.

Now, before you get excited, you should realize that this occurrence isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Granted, I don’t have a boyfriend and have never been on a date, but I have my share of admirers. They compliment me, seek me out, occasionally proclaim undying devotion, and offer gifts ranging from chocolate (sugar-free, of course) to flowers to dinner. One even offered to name his firstborn after me. All these guys are really after one thing, though: my prowess with a pen.

My editing skills, grammar knowledge, and sheer awesomeness seem to draw far more male admirers than female admirers. I know students who will refuse to visit anyone else in the writing center (a practice which I do not encourage). Granted, several of these guys have become genuine friends, and I never mind when they show up with their papers and stay for an hour. Others, however, are just frustrating in their devotion…or clinginess.

I suppose it’s a hazard of my job that I tend to get semi-hit on by teenagers looking to improve their English grades. I’ve become a pro at rebuffing their requests to help them edit their papers at times other than when I’m in the writing center (“Can I get our number in case I have a question later?” or “What if I need you, and you’re not in the writing center?”–yeah, I get those questions). It’s a shame that the only guys who’ve been asking for my number lately are about 6 years too young for me–and annoying. 🙂

The First Day of School

I got a call around 4:50 last Thursday from my admissions counselor at Gardner-Webb, asking if I was coming to class that evening.

“Have I been accepted?” I asked.

Yep. Sure had. The committee had approved my application just that afternoon, three days after classes started.

I registered the next morning for a World Lit class specializing in Caribbean Women’s Writing. I’m behind because I missed the first night of class, but my professor (who is also my advisor) told me not to worry about catching up. She’s been incredibly wonderful, and I’ve communicated with her many times now on the phone and in email trying to figure out what class to take and such.

I’m heading to Gardner-Webb tonight for my first class. It’s a long drive (aobut 50 miles from G-W to my apartment), but at least I only have to make the trip once a week. I’m already intimidated by the syllabus, but in a good way. We have three major projects: a 7-10 page lit review, a 15-20 page final project on a novel not covered in class, and a 5-7 page theory/definition paper on Caribbean writing. That’s a major step up from Converse, where my biggest project was an 8 page research paper with a 20-entry annotated bibliography. This is real grad school. Thank God I did this kind of work at NGU. 🙂

I’m excited, but a little anxious. The perfectionist in me is a little antsy at the reading load (lots of novels plus extra essays each week) and the projects. Also, G-W is apparently on the 8 point grading scale (where a 93-100 is an A), so what would qualify as an A (at NGU) or an A- (at Converse) would be a solid B. I don’t like B’s.

But…I’m excited by the reading list. I’m excited that I’m enrolled at a new school (in another state, even!). I’m excited by the challenge.

Also, I’m excited about my notebook. Last night, I covered an ordinary composition notebook with fun scrapbook paper and pictures from islands in the Caribbean. It’s pretty much awesome. My classmates will be jealous, and they’ll all want to be friends with me. I’m sure.

At any rate, I’ll find out tonight! Yay for the first day of school!

Home for the Holidays

Last night, I arrived back in Greer after a week at my parent’s house, which is the longest amount of time I’d spent there in two years. This was one of the best Christmas breaks I can remember. It was restful, simple, and productive…everything I needed an extended break from my life to be.

Thanksgiving break was difficult, and in retrospect, I think that’s because I had planned so many activities into five days that I had no time to rest. I was still in the continuously frenzied, caffeinated mindset from this insane semester of working, teaching, and attending school, that I didn’t know how to slow down and just appreciate my few days off.

This time was different. First of all, the planned trip to Pennsylvania and New York fell apart less than 24 hours before we were supposed to leave, thanks to a freak storm front that moved across the east, dumping tons of snow on I-81, our route from the South to Pennsylvania. I spent those five days in Greer, shopping with Harvin, crocheting, watching The West Wing, baking, and thoroughly cleaning my room. It was as close to stress-free as I’ve been in months. Then I headed home for Christmas.

Highlights of my break:

1) The food. My family is a big fan of breakfast, so we either went out for breakfast or cooked delicious quiche and cinnamon rolls at home. Also, for Christmas Eve, my parents, brother, and I had Beaufort Stew and scallops. Delicious!

2) Christmas morning. The first gift I opened was the Director’s Cut of Watchmen that my brother bought for me. The DVD case is a Rorschach mask. It was seriously awesome. He did a great job. But the best part about Christmas morning was what I’d been looking forward to for months. My brother bought my dad a really awesome leather fire helmet, which is quite expensive. Berry bought himself one a few months ago, and he and Dad in all their conversations have talked about the benefits of having a leather helmet for a long time. Dad had no idea Berry was getting him one. It was something Dad had always wanted but never would have bought for himself. He cried when he opened the box. Then he wore the helmet around the house and sometimes just sat and looked at it. Berry wins big for best Christmas present ever. Buying gifts is the way my brother shows his love, and it pretty much made my dad’s year, I think.

3) My mom bought me the new Monopoly Deal card game for Christmas. On Saturday, Mom and I sat down and played for an hour or so. Then after dinner, my dad joined in, and the three of us played that game and Uno for three hours. We haven’t played games together like that since I was very young. It was a lot of fun.

4) My dad has recently taken up model railroading again. It was a hobby he really enjoyed for years before I was born, up through the time when we moved eleven years ago. For years, he’s talked about doing it again, but only when my brother moved out and Dad found a viable space to set up a layout did he dig out his old supplies. In the past few weeks, he’s built a platform around my brother’s old room, laid down foam and track to start the layout, and started putting together buildings. I’m super excited he has a hobby at home now. Every time I called him, until recently, if he was at home, he was sitting down watching TV. Now, he’s up, moving around, spending hours in the train room, or the “mancave,” as I’ve dubbed it. It’s good to see that my dad isn’t wasting time so much. He seems younger and more lighthearted now.

5) My parents are often planners who rarely follow through with plans. A year or so ago, they bought this huge steel shelving unit to put in our utility/laundry room. The intent was to give my mom a place to neatly organize all of her crafting and VBS supplies (she was the county association’s director for years and has tons of decorating and planning materials). Unfortunately, the nook where the shelving unit was to go was stacked with old boxes that have been in the corner since we moved in 11 years ago. Sunday and Monday, my parents and I thoroughly cleaned the entire room, getting rid of a ton of dust, dirt, and needless items, sorting through all the boxes, constructing the shelving unit, and organizing supplies into plastic bins. The result is that I sneezed a lot, we threw away huge bags of trash, and the room looks great. I have every intention of going home as often as possible and encouraging my mom to throw away stuff and organize. It felt really great to help my mom out.

Reading this post makes it seem like I had a super-busy week, but it was really quite peaceful and relaxed. I finished crocheting one scarf, crocheted a full one, and got a great start on a third scarf, all while watching The Big Bang Theory (a Christmas gift from my parents) and The Mentalist (my brother’s gift to Mom), so that was delightful. And I enjoyed being around our two cats, two dogs, and seven adorable, playful puppies. In fact, my apartment with its three residents seems a little strange now, having been around more animals than people over the last week. Maybe I should go buy another fish. A New Year’s gift to myself. Hmmm…I think I might do that today.

In other news, today is my two-year anniversary of being diabetic. I’m having much more fun today that I was two years ago.

Also, on Saturday, adventure will be had. Ticcoa, Harvin, Jessie, and I are heading to Savannah to see the childhood home of Flannery O’Connor, and maybe go to Fort Pulaski and Tybee Island (yay lighthouses!). It’s going to be awesome. Expect an exuberant post next week.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Get excited.

A list of things that I’m super excited about right now:

1) I applied to the M.A. in English program at Gardner-Webb University…to start in January (hopefully, with Coa!). It seems like such a sudden change, but I’ve known for months now that the M.A.T. program isn’t right for me. I don’t want to teach high school, and the student teaching and certification progress to do that would be a waste of my time and energy. With the M.A., I can take just English classes (yay!), write a thesis, begin teaching full-time at the college level (hopefully!), and eventually decide where and in what concentration to get my Ph.D. I applied to G-W last week, and I’m working on getting the rest of my documentation in. Then, I’ll work on financial aid. With the peace I feel about this decision, I’ll be shocked if everything doesn’t work out perfectly.

2) Next week is Thanksgiving Break! It’s going to be wonderful to have a few days off from work and school. I’m going to Sullivan’s Island with Chris on Wednesday (and eating at Poe’s Tavern!); Thursday is Thanksgiving Day with my family; Friday, my family is going shopping in Charleston; and Sunday is a surprise for my mom (that you’ll all hear about soon)!

3) On Tuesday, I got my tickets to see Switchfoot at the Orange Peel on December 4! They’ll be playing the entire Hello Hurricane album from start to finish, plus some “old favorites” and “a few surprises”! YAY!

4) The end of the semester fast approaches. I’m finishing up final projects, grading my students’ final essays, and looking to Dec. 7 with mixed feelings. I’ll give my last final exam that day and take my last final exam at Converse. On that day, I’ll officially finish my first semester of teaching college English, which has been marvelous and challenging, and I’ll also officially end my academic career at Converse after a year and a half. I’ll definitely miss my very first students, and I’ll also probably miss the people and experiences I’ve had at Converse. But, alas, life continues on.

5) This morning, Michele, Harvin, and I had a discussion about Christmas. Right now, we’re planning a little trip. We’ll all drive up to Pennsylvania the weekend before Christmas, stay a few days, take a day-trip into New York City, and then we’ll leave Michele up there for Christmas with her family while we drive back home in time to get back to our families for Christmas. It looks like I’ll be heading back up north for the second time this year! I’ll see new states, and I’ll be in NYC at Christmastime! It’s gonna be amazing, and I hope we can make it work.

So there we are. Changes, adventures, life. 🙂

Happy Thursday!

I took my midterm yesterday afternoon for 20th Century American Fiction (lots of writing in a short period of time). Then, I headed to Educational Psychology to give a presentation and sit through two more hours of class. Rough day. But it’s spring break, and I don’t have class again for almost two weeks!

When I got home last night, I celebrated by supporting Threadless‘ Spring Cleaning Sale! Check out my new purchases (for just $5 each!):

poetic-irony

 

Poetic Irony“:

One of my favorite Threadless designs! And…it’ll be perfect for wearing when we visit Poe’s grave in Baltimore on our way to Boston this summer!

 

 

hide-and-seek

 

Hide and Seek“:

A really creative design featuring fairy tales? Of course I’ll take one!

I’ve waited so long.

Happy First Day of Spring!

Officially, winter must leave now. I’m sure. After overcast, cold, windy days; a random, relatively heavy snow fall; and a few faux-spring days that raised my hopes before crushing them again, spring is here!

I can walk barefoot in the grass now, drive with my windows down (unless it’s raining),  and pretend to do my homework outside while I actually just daydream. I’ve already spent a lot of those almost-spring days exploring in the mountains with my friends, and I’ve started listening to all the happy music that makes me think of spring and summer.

I love spring: fresh grass, sunshine on my face, and sudden rainstorms that make everything fresh and new. Yay! 🙂

daffodils-and-girl-reading

“The earth spins and the moon goes round. The green comes from the frozen ground, and everything will be made new again like freedom in spring.”

– “Golden,” Switchfoot

A Snow Day To-Do List

1. Don’t go to work or to class.

2. Stare out the window at all the blinding whiteness and marvel that it’s March 2.

3. Dig out a warm purple hat and matching awesome scarf.

4. Wander around your apartment complex with your roomie/BFF (wearing Converses that leave you with numb feet…).

5. Discover that your apartment has a swing set hidden in the back.

6. Swing on the swing set and jump off like a little kid.

7. Engage in a snowball fight with the actual little kids in your apartment building (they started it…and they were adorable!).

8. Build a miniature snowman to put on your roommate’s car (he’s sitting outside my apartment now…I need to give him a good snowman name…).

9. Warm up by curling up on the sofa and watching 8 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with your roomie/BFF, whose flight to Toronto was canceled until tomorrow.

10. Celebrate said roommate’s departure by driving through Greer and admiring the snow-covered cemetery and then enjoying a delightful evening meal at Copper River Grill.

(I enjoy snow days, maybe. I’m ready for spring to get here, though. But today was really nice.)

Learning How to Die

Disclaimer: This blog may be a sort of eruption of everything in my head. Hopefully, it’ll all make sense in the end.

Lent begins on Wednesday. I’ve never participated in Lent before because no church I’ve ever been a part of has encouraged it. I’m not even sure I knew what Lent was until maybe middle school. That changes this week, with Ash Wednesday fast approaching.

At church, we’ve been working through the book of Galatians. We’ve been talking about grace and peace–how we can do nothing to earn grace, and how striving for grace cheapens it. How peace comes when we accept grace with no strings attached. It’s obviously been on my mind a lot–I’ve been constantly reminded of grace in unexpected ways. I’ve found peace even when I’m exhausted and stressed out. (This is such a watered-down summary of all I’ve been thinking about that it doesn’t even seem to be scratching the surface.)

In conjunction with that, I’ve been a part of a community at North Greenville with people who are quickly becoming my family, people I genuinely love and care for. It’s been incredible. And we’ve all been working through the book of John, where over and over again, I am reminded of how vast Jesus is. The past few days, I’ve been reading through chapters 11 through 15, and over and over again, I’ve seen the theme of how everything–Lazarus’ death, Judas’ impending betrayal, the story of the vine and the branches–everything points back to God’s glory. Everything happens because God will be glorified.

All of these ideas combining in my head have made for an interesting few weeks. And I feel like it’s about to get even more interesting…and difficult. See, at church Sunday night, Stuart (our pastor) encouraged us all to participate in Lent, communally, if possible. He encouraged us all to die to ourselves in every way that we can, to get rid of any sin that’s separating us from God–from his peace, from his glory. To leap off the cliff and follow Jesus in every way that we can.

Yikes. Scary. Difficult. Invigorating. Enthralling.

So after meeting with my community tonight and spending some time wrestling over how we can die to ourselves, I’ve made a few decisions. First, the easy thing. I can’t exactly fast in the traditional sense of the word (because of the diabetes and all). But I can certainly give up something that has become my crutch: caffeine. Starting Wednesday, no more Coke Zero, no more real coffee, no more tea from the NGU caf. Be prepared. 🙂

But more importantly, can I die to myself emotionally? Can I fully turn over my heart and my mind to Christ? Can I learn to overcome my impatience? Can I hand over the desires of my heart and fully trust that God has a greater plan in mind? It will require constant vigilance, an unceasing awareness of moments when I attempt to wrestle control away from God. Intentionally letting God pervade my thoughts instead of all the crap I tend to get focused on. Choosing to rely on Him instead of my own imperfect plans. And doing it all unselfishly because I want to glorify my Father and not have pride in myself.

I can already feel that the last part may be the most challenging. (To be honest, even writing this seems a bit prideful–as though I want you all to know how self-sacrificing I can be. But that’s not my intention at all.) But if I love Jesus, then I’ll want to follow his Word, right? And if He promises that whoever loses his life will gain it, what do I have to lose?

Here’s the cliff. I think I’m about to start free falling.

Grace and peace.

Three Things

1. I’ll begin with the most unpleasant. I’m reading Gertrude Stein’s Three lgsteinLives & Tender Buttons for my 20th Century American Fiction class. I HATE GERTRUDE STEIN! There…had to get that out once more. Why? you may ask (but only if you’ve never read her…). Well, let me tell you:

a) All telling, no showing. Dry and boring narrative. Ugh. Tedious to read.

b) Overuse of direct address. Seriously, in one paragraph, less than a page long (in a mass market paperback-sized book), one character used another character’s name 17 times. Two or  three times, Jeff began a sentence and ended a sentence with Melanctha’s name, and threw it in the middle for good measure. I’m sick of reading her name!

c) Overuse of adjectives. The most notorious example involved 8 adjectives before finally getting  to the main noun, “summer.” Completely unnecessary.

And I still think she looks like a man. Wouldn’t you agree? That, of course, has nothing to do with her writing. I just wanted to throw it out there. I’m very glad to be nearly finished with this dreadful piece of work. Can we hurry along to Faulkner, please?

2. Moving on to better things. Jess, Ticcoa, and I watched Into the Wild on Saturday. It’s as heartbreaking and haunting as the book. And Emile Hirsch did a fantastic job playing Chris McCandless. I’m eager to see more films that he’s been in.

3. Good news on a Monday morning! Word has officially made its way down the hill that all non-critical areas of campus (i.e., the library) will be closed for the entirety of spring break! Usually, we get Monday off, and our boss lets us work half-days the rest. But this year, we get the entire week! I’ll still have class on Monday and Wednesday, but to not have to work will be incredible. Ticcoa remarked this morning about all the day-trips we can make if we’re all free! Hmmm…Flannery O’Connor’s home in Georgia. Thomas Wolf in Hendersonville and Asheville, perhaps. Joel Chandler Harris’ home. The Blue Ridge Parkway? More scenic mountain overlooks? Let’s also throw in my sometimes-roommate, Jessie, who might be in town that week, as well. It will be so exciting!

Happy Monday, everyone!