Friday, August 31, 2012

The Way It Goes

I am working this year as a Program Associate for a freshman living-learning community. This means I have the privilege(?) of living and working with 24 freshmen in a sociology course. One of my responsibilities is to set up the lab experiences that accompany the class, which involves a lot of e-mailing and calling various people in D.C. who work in areas studied by everything. One week, I am arranging for a speaker from the MPD Gang Unit to come do a presentation. I called him today to set up some logistical things about that event and he asked if he could call me right back. "Sure." Ten minutes later the phone rings and he casually says, sorry he was catching up with another officer after one of their colleagues funerals. "That's the way it goes," he says. Really? Is that how it goes? You mourn for a friend and then resume conducting business with a college student with an in-the-whole-scheme-of-things pretty damn trivial request? I mean, I guess that is the way it goes, but that sucks. And yes, "that sucks" doesn't begin to cover it, but is there anything I could say that would? No.

Monday, August 27, 2012

5:30 to 8:00

So this semester I have two classes that meet once a week from 5:30 until 8:00 in the evening. I actually "like" night classes (as in, I have no different feelings about them as compared to other time slots), and I also took one in the fall last year. Tonight, I walked into the class in the sunlight and walked out in sunlight, but as the semester progresses I will come to walk in in the sun and walk out in the dark, and then, eventually, both enter and exit in complete wintery darkness. Walking across campus after one of those classes today, I realized that approximately maps to my general feelings throughout the semester. Right now, I'm still pretty energized about everything that's coming in the next few months, but in a few weeks I'll be lethargically chugging along trying desperately to get through midterms, and by the end of November I'll be all but dead with a soupy brain. Soupy-brained, ready-for-Christmas darkness. So, basically, I'm deciding I really need to enjoy the sunlight while it lasts. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012


One of my favorite things is comfortable silence, not because I think silence is particularly invigorating, but because there has to be a pretty high level of ease with another human being to be happy just being. Quietly sitting or laying together and not having to speak at all is its own kind of magic. It happens between lovers, friends, family, and is most beautiful when they actually are communicating anyway. The completely silent moments of understanding always seem to me to indicate almost complete oneness. squeezing someone's shoulder and knowing what you mean is "I'm glad you're happy," or "I'm going to miss you," and them knowing that that's what you're saying. Those moments are phenomenal.  

Monday, August 20, 2012


English classes at my college are all themed. Oddly, in the first English class you take, the topic isn't published until after you've signed up, so it's a bit of a crap shoot as far as whether you'll enjoy it. I happened to not take freshman English my freshman year, so I'm about to take it now as a sophomore (it all worked out okay; it means I get to take it as an honors course which will be more interesting). I just found out the topic for our class is "Writing the Zeitgeist." Admittedly, I had to look zeitgeist up on Wikipedia. Zeitgeist: "the spirit of the times," "the spirit of the age." Before looking it up, I was apprehensive about the strange German term, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it's exactly what I write anyway. Journalism is, by nature, taking the events and attitudes of the current time and synthesizing them into meaningful information that will communicate to the audience the pulse of the subject. In my personal writing, too (including this forum), I mostly write about my take on the way things are in the world. I, for lack of better words, report and interpret phenomena I come across in my own life. I have yet to meet anyone who is dramatically disappointed with the topical class they end up in. Perhaps there's a larger cosmic power making sure we all end up in the right place?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Falling In Love

I haven't had the pleasure of falling in love since I was 14 years old, and four years later, man is it different. At fourteen, I told a "love-of-my-life" boyfriend "I love you," because it seemed like what people did. Four years later I was caught holding back "I love you,"s to save them for the perfect moment. Obviously, the perfect moment is in the moment and was a spontaneous conversation in a ridiculous setting, but it was right. This fall has been harder and faster than ever before, and yet, mysteriously, I'm standing up with a lot less bruises (which is, I suppose, ironic). This particular development came about very quickly and not at all in a manner I expected. It also conveniently happened to coincide with a lot of personal thought about the nature of loving. My boss said the other day "Love is a verb, not a noun," and cognitively, I of course know that, but I have a new goal of always trying to frame it as that. Loving? For a long time. In love? Maybe soon...maybe now?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wanderer, Worshiper, Lover of Leaving

We UUs, we have some funny hymns; it's just a thing. Many of these hymns I love dearly and will get stuck in my head for hours on end. Some, I picture singing with our youth choir and signing along to our words. Several, I can feel my mother swaying beside me as I hum. And different songs and phrases strike me more powerfully at different times. Recently, I've had this stanza running through my mind:

Come, come whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair,
Come, yet again, come.

I wrote a poem inspired by this song many years ago in which I chose to dichotomize those three positions as completely separate people: the wanderer, who doesn't know what they're looking for but searches constantly; the worshiper, who is decidedly comfortable with what they believe; and the lover of leaving, who rushes through life in an attempt not to deal with finding or practicing the answers. But as I grow into a new understanding of identity, I begin to realize that most UUs, by the very nature of the religion, are a vastly complex combination of these identities. I reject traditional scripture and worship as to rigid in favor of endeavoring on my own search, but I search in the structured environment provided to me by my religious community, and I realize that while I idly search I am avoiding being tied down to any particular beliefs. I find both fault and strength in all three personas, but I have yet to decide whether, when the three are combined they are collectively more faulty or more strong. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

When I Grow Up

I'm currently back at school in training to be a student mentor in the coming semester. Today, our group did a "Diversity Dialogue" which is an activity we also did at Orientation last summer. Last time, I spent a lot of time being annoyed by other participants' lack of openness. but this time around I was challenged to accept that my upbringing has been incredibly liberal and open compared to most of my peers. I shared an anecdote during the discussion about something I remember very dramatically from my childhood. On several occasions, my mother said something to the effect of "When you grow up, I hope the man or woman you marry will be...." or "When you have kids with you husband or wife..." I have always really appreciated that my mom especially, but even my extended family, made diversity and alternatives a norm. I don't always remember, though, that not everyone had the same experience as a kid, and I often find myself thinking people who really are just ignorant or unexposed to issues are narrow-minded. So my task for the duration of this job will be giving people a chance. Last year, when I was a freshman in the program I am now a mentor for, there was one very conservative boy in our class and he definitely felt the push from the rest of the class to open himself to the experience. Admittedly, I didn't expect a lot out of him in the beginning, but by the end, even though he still disagreed on some points, he became one of the most interesting and respectful people to have a discussion with. I try to model acceptance in the hope that it will become a societal norm. I also make a point of modeling respect (one of my favorites is telling the little boys I babysit that NO MEANS NO when one tells the other they don't want to do something just so that it is a concept they're very familiar with by the time sexuality hits the scene). I won;t begin to pretend that this will probably be one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but I hope that, in being open to learning as much from them as I teach them, it will also be one of the most rewarding. 

Holding On. Holding Back?

Fun fact: every time I eat at my grandparents house, I use baby silverware. It's awesome. I have a little fork with a red handle that I've been eating with there for as long as I can remember, and spoons I used to eat Bran Chex with. They still have a separate drawer for just my silverware. In some ways it's incredibly nice to have the relics of a life I only knew fleetingly and now is entirely gone. However, it clearly isn't the most effective way to transport food from plate to mouth. Am I holding on to a ridiculous memory that actually makes my life harder just so I don't have to feel like I'm growing up. If all that's grounding me to my childhood is a spoon I think I have a much bigger problem.