Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Before her death, Fran charged my grandmother with the task of giving her granddaughter, Meredith, a Christmas present from Fran. My mom ordered an Amish dollhouse, and we have spent the last month painting it with cathartic intensity, My grandma, mom, and I went down to their house today to give Meredith the house, and the ride was normal, except for being heavy with each of our fears that we would start crying the moment we walked in. We didn't. I spent the afternoon playing with Meredith and chatting with Fran's daughters. We joked, told family stories, and shared Christmas goodies, but everyone skirted the elephant in the room: Meredith's dollhouse was from Fran, Fran who wasn't there, Fran who will never share another Christmas with her only granddaughter. Fran was my surrogate grandmother years ago, 18 years ago, when my grandmother was welcoming me, and Fran was sad that her own children weren't popping out babies yet. Just before we left, Meredith's mom and Fran's daughter, Carrie, said offhand to my grandma that she was now Meredith's surrogate grandmother. Eighteen years apart, I'm trading places with a darling year-old baby who never got to know her own grandmother. Except it wasn't a fair trade; I got an extra, and Meredith gets a replacement (albeit an exceptional one). Granted, Fran and my grandma are kind of the exact same person. They met as librarians, were in the same book club, both gardened intensely, and both love red (my grandma wore a bright red jumper to Fran's funeral and no one so much as gave her a look). I'd honestly become less close with Fran in the last few years, but it was comforting to know she was there, and she was an excellent extra grandma to chat and share accomplishments with. Her husband, Hume, I had never really been close with. I'd see him, we chat politely, but never much more. Hume hugged me as we were leaving today. On the ride home I got to thinking that it isn't fair to say her death was good, but when God closes a door, he always opens a window, right? We have become so much closer to Hume, Carrie, Anne, and Meredith in the last year as Fran got sick and past. Perhaps that's my window.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Measure in Love

Today I remember. Seven months ago I listened to a teacher and a mother present an award honoring her children to two other members of what would have been her daughter's graduating class. Four and a half years ago I read a poem written by my best friend about a spectacular young woman. Five years ago next week I sat in an overflowing church with that best friend, crying, while Rent, a musical we were far too young to understand the power of, inundated us with emotion we were far too young to handle. Five years ago this week I didn't go to a viewing because I was afraid of what I would have to see. Five years ago tomorrow morning I sat in our health classroom in a circle of what were soon to become my seven best friends in the world, all crying. Five years ago tomorrow morning I prayed (I do not pray). Five years ago tomorrow morning I walked into school to a silent, dead gymnasium. Five years ago tonight my mom woke me up to come listen to the news. Five years ago right now, Dustin and Courtney Muse hadn't gotten in the car yet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Three Cups of Tea

Why is it that we feel this need to classify people as all good or all bad? Especially people that garner public attention must either be saints or villains in our society. Greg Mortenson is a fabulously committed social entrepreneur who started an organization that builds schools targeted at girls' education in Afganistan. After a trip there, he liquidated his entire life's assets to fund the project. It's a wonderful program that has helped immensely, particularly in rural areas. Last year, some documents came out suggesting he had embezzled some money from the organization and that portions of his book, Three Cups of Tea, may not be accurate accounts of what happened. Media quickly jumped on the story and utterly villainized Mortenson. Now, my argument here is not nearly that he did nothing wrong, I'm sure there were some shading dealings that led to the accusations. However, I do find it odd that we cannot cope with a figure who may be both good and bad. People often say that the best presidents are not particularly spectacular people. Why is it then, that when confronted by other such individuals, we are incapable of handling their character dichotomy? 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Half the Sky

Ok people, calm down. So what if I'm madly in love with a 50 year old man I've never met. HE CHANGED MY LIFE. I mean really, I put him in my Self-Image project (see the video in a previous post). Nicholas Kristof, is, as my Women's Studies professor, Jill Shultz, would say, "my favorite straight white guy." I'm not kidding, his book, Half the Sky, changed my life; perhaps not tangibly, but my life is definitely different. I have always been a feminist. Always, since falling in love with "Margaritaville" because at the end he realizes it's his own fault rather than a woman's. Nicholas Kristof, though, was a tipping point. No longer can I just be a feminist; I have to be a feminist. If you aren't letting it inform almost all of your opinions you probably aren't doing it right, because if you're a feminist on one thing and don't give a damn on another you sort of negate what you're doing by allowing it elsewhere. That isn't to say you have to fight it on all front, or even be confrontational, but you have to recognize the gender imbued in everything. Jill Shultz said a very wise thing in my first class with her. SShe told us there was going to be a point when we realized we were angry, and that if we weren't ready for that we should leave, because once we got angry we would never not be angry again. Then, it seemed a tad exaggerated, but it isn't. All semester, she kept asking us if we'd had our ah-ha moments yet. Half the Sky, and many little moments leading up to it, were my ah-ha, and I'll never not be angry again. I frequently have this sense of confusion as to how anyone can be completely happy when they see all the terrible things going on in their world. In fact, I went to a current professor's office hours and posed a similar question. "How do we live in a world where we know so much is wrong?" She told me I had to pick something I was passionate about and work on that; also that I'm just a Freshman and, really, truly, I don't actually have to have my entire life completely planned out yet (I may still disagree about the second point, for posterity). I see so many happy people around me, fighting for the world I want. I fight, but I think I fight from that anger; the passion to me is the anger, the fire, the desire to get things done and make things happen. And how can we ever stop to breathe when there is always so much to be done.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Never Look Back

Potentially, I over-think things...
Like it would probably be to my benefit to spend less of my time worrying about the state of the world and why we matter and what everyone's doing here anyway. At any rate, I think it gets me into some trouble inside my own head. College has made me sad largely because I feel like I can never go home. The first night I spent in Letts 3 North, marked the end of Bethel Rd being home. Now, technically, that isn't true; I get to spend at least four more summers there if I want and could probably even live there for a while after I graduate (even though I'd never let that happen). It just seems like the elephant in the room that we all just moved out, we just threw something away that we can never  get back, ever. It's depressing.