Monday, November 30, 2009

Silence in the Classroom

I arrive four minutes late to class. The professor pretends not to notice my intrusion into his quiet classroom and continues etching algebra problems on the chalkboard. I clumsily pull out my notebook, pencil, eraser, and calculator. I awkwardly shrug off my sweater and place it under my seat. As I turn to my friend on the right, I notice that the man who sits behind her is not in his usual seat. I glance tentatively around the room, but he is no where to be heard. I grin inwardly, and then outwardly as I begin writing out an algebra problem.

I like how quiet the classroom is without the man who sits behind my friend. The rest of the students only speak if asked a question. I do not hear the incessant mutterings or obnoxious questions that usually mark his prescence. Thirty minutes go by, and I have not been irritated once. Then the door creaks open and in he walks. Everything about him annoys me. His blank expression. His brown, spiky hair. His worry lines that place him at over 30 years old--old enough to know better.

He sits down and starts writing out math problems. Before long I hear him finishing the professor's sentences. This is the man's worst sin of all. If I solve a problem quickly, my good feeling is lost when he works it faster and announces the answer to the classroom. His little comments are quiet and infrequent enough that he goes uncorrected. Today, I say to myself, this has to end. And I promise myself that the next time he opens his big mouth, he's going to get it. When the professor says, "And the answer is 5", I hear the man behind my friend say the answer as well, and congratulate himself aloud. I turn around and unleash my wrath on him.

I shush him.

The man continues to mutter after I have hissed at him, but as I turn around to face the professor again, I cannot hear him anymore. I keep working the problems, and there is silence. An awkward silence, because I have grown so used to his babble, but a silence nonetheless. He does not utter a single word for the duration of the class.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Year To Be Thankful For

A lot of great memories were made and my life was changed during this year. Since the last Thanksgiving I have gone from being a missionary teenager living with my parents in Africa, to a college student living with my grandparents in the United States.

I'm thankful that I found my calling. At the beginning of this year, I was sure I wanted to be a nurse. My love of human anatomy and heart to help children all pointed to becoming a pediatric nurse. One of my favorite shows was E.R. And while I still love that show enough to call my first-born son, Carter, I have realized that I could work in the medical field only in my mind. This year, I discovered that the sight of blood makes me queasy. I used to tell myself that I only felt sick when my little baby Jennifer was bleeding because I was emotionally attached. I know better now. When my sister asked me for sympathy because of a bloody hangnail, I felt the blood draining from my face. I began wondering if the nurse's life was really for me.

During all of these doubts, I was working at day-care and summer kids camp programs. The more I taught children, the more I grew to love it. I now teach at an after-school program, and even though there are some days I come home utterly exhausted, I have come to the realization that teaching is truly what I want to do with my life. Giving children what they need to grow up to be better people seems to me the highest calling. I'd love to have children some day, and homeschooling them would also be easier if I had a teaching degree. Everything fits in such a neat little package, and I thank my Heavenly Father for wrapping it for me this year.

I'm thankful for my family, especially for my sister, Jessie. She is the gooey marshmallow in the s'more that holds everything together. You might laugh, but I can think of no better analogy than the marshmallow. She makes sure I'm not terribly late for our appointments and then sometimes takes too long applying her make-up so I can feel like the on-time one for a change. She is also the sweetest person I know. If I begin losing my respect for human beings, she is always there to remind me to give people the benefit of the doubt. She also keeps everything interesting. Without the marshmallow, the s'more would be pretty dry. Jessie offers a fresh perspective on everything. Jessie also supports me, just like the marshmallow supports the chocolate bar. When it comes to the drivel that I write, she is my biggest fan. And lastly, the marshmallow that's been through the fire and has been burned has the softest, sweetest center. My sister will always be a better person for having gone through the life-changing fires of life. Love you, Jessie!

I'm also incredibly thankful for my newly-found social life! Being isolated in Africa, where my only contact with like-minded people was over the internet, was really tough for me. Even here in the United States all my social contact is through the internet! Just kidding. I have had the opportunity, through college life, my church, and my work, to meet a lot of people, many of whom I consider life-long friends. It is refreshing to find friends who bring so much more than great conversation to the table. The friends I have made not only keep me grounded, but also help me fly. It is amazing to me that God could turn the shy little recluse hunched over her computer into the social caterpillar that she is today.

I am so very thankful for all that is available to me here in the United States. When I lived in Africa, my life was fullfilling and packed with love. Ever since I moved back to Texas, I have become increasingly aware of how many opportunities there are. The sky's the limit! I can be anything, do anything, go anywhere! I can make my own choices and walk on the path I think God is leading me. I look forward to the new year with an anticipation that keeps my eyes, arms, and heart wide open.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

It seems that whenever I have too much to do, I pile even more projects on. This semester is coming to an end, and so I am up to my eyelashes in homework. There are equations to solve for math, a historical book critique to critique, a government final coming up to study for, and an English research paper that refuses to write itself. That reminds me of a joke.

As I was working on my research paper this morning, I got a little distracted by my blog. Finding out I have a comment on my blog is the highlight of my day. Then I remembered that yesterday I had found a wonderful blog called the Recipe Shoe Box, and that it had a cute recipe for little turkeys. One link brought me to another blog, and so on, and so forth. Then I thought how great the Beatles' song "All You Need Is Love" is, so I just had to listen to it on youtube. Then I drifted to and found play lists that had Fall Out Boy on it, whose music I actually like. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I had thirteen tabs open in one internet browser!

I was feeling random today, probably due to all of the blog surfing, so I decided to post a bunch of the pictures I came across that I loved.

This is a Belle and Boo picture, my new favorite!
You can look them up here:

Someone actually tattooed a Belle and Boo picture onto her ribs!
Sounds like something I would do. Lol

Isn't that the most adorable picture you've ever seen?
I found this at:

I think I've bored you enough with my overly cute pictures. Have a great Saturday, full of randomness and procrastinating!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maybe I Watch Too Many Cop Shows

It was dark as I hopped out of my grandfather's car. It was cold outside. The wind blew right through my knitted sweater. I flipped out my phone to call my sister.

"Jess, should I go ahead and order hamburgers for you?" A pause, then "Okay, fine, I'll see you when you get here."

I was being short with her for a reason. I was a little frightened. To get to the Jack-in-the-Box, I had to cross a very busy street, and then walk across a dilapidated gas station.

I stood at the curb for a few seconds that crept by as the cars flew by, blowing gassy fumes into my face. I chose my moment, then walked across the street as quickly as I could. I resisted the temptation to run--I did not want to have any chance of tripping and falling flat on my face.

The other side of the road greeted me with an ominous expression. Almost absolutely black, with patches of light here and there, the abandoned gas station loomed before me. I tried not to think that this would be a perfect hang out for homeless bums. I tried not to see the beggar with torn clothes and gloves that my mind projected into the picture. The walk to the Jack-in-the-Box was the longest I have ever taken.

Finally, I leapt over the curb and onto the white pavement, trying to seem casual as I strolled into the fast food joint. I had to be somewhere in 10 minutes, so I willed the food to come quicker than usual. I snatched the burgers and drinks when they arrived, and left the shelter of the lighted restaurant.

Was I crazy to struggle to hold the drinks and the burgers and the fries in one hand, so my other hand would be free to fight? Maybe. Maybe I was imagining things. As I crossed the street back to the other side, I felt alert, strong, and ready for action. When I walked into the building bright with neon lights where I was to meet my sister, I noticed that my shoes had picked up some mud and had tracked it onto the carpet.

With this discovery, my mind's eye, which had endured many Scooby-Doo episodes during my childhood, began to invent scenarios where the police came in and interrogated me. A murder happened at that old, abandoned gas station, and the mud on my shoes linked me to it.

"But Officer, I have a time stamped receipt placing me at the Jack-in-the-Box at approximately the same time the murder occurred."

"The Jack-in-the-Box is right next to the crime scene, you would have had plenty of time to kill him." And to his fellow crony, "Lock her up!"

Okay, so maybe watching Bones, and Castle, and the Mentalist, and CSIs on ocassion has corrupted my mind a little. But isn't life more fun this way?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Reality of a Ball for a Clumsy Girl

After reading Jane Austen novels and learning about the debutante balls of old, I felt a little disappointed when returning to my mundane party-less life. I've wondered how much more exciting my life would have been if I could just float from one party to the next with proper etiquette and grace.

I had my taste of that life when I attended a fund raising banquet that was held for my grandmother's pregnancy resource center. I looked forward to this dinner for days, wondering how I was going to dress or wear my hair. On the night of the dinner, I finally pulled together a classic black outfit and, as it was a special occasion, wore make-up. My sister wore a pink dress. It looked like it had been made just for her and her bubbling personality. Even my grandfather dressed up.

When my grandfather, sister, and I drove to the venue and walked towards the front entrance with other arriving couples, I first got the thrill of how fabulous this all was. I held my head high and smiled graciously at everyone I glanced at. There was a slight moment of awkwardness when I walked into the main dining area. There were many tables and I could not find my place at first, but then I saw my grandmother, and that bothersome wrinkle in my plans was smoothed out.

I sat tall with my hands folded in my lap, and then realized that everyone else was eating the salad in front of them, so I began eating too. Everything was going well until the main course came out...then everything began to unravel! I began eating my chicken like a civilized person, while talking to my neighbor between bites. I felt pretty pleased with how affable I was being. Maybe I could do this whole posh socializing thing after all. However, after a few bites I realized I had been eating with my salad fork this whole time! Egad! So much for being the perfect socialite! I discreetly placed my salad fork down and started eating with the bigger fork. Oh, why hadn't I watched Titanic more closely and remembered the advice about multiple silverware!

When I had finished dying of embarrassment, I was able to listen my grandmother deliver her speech about how much the Pregnancy Resource Center had improved over the past year. I was excited for my grandmother; this was a big night for her as the director of the Center. As she was nearing the middle of her speech, I had finished eating the delicious chocolate cake and the folds of icing topping it. Scraping the last delicious bits off of the plate, I sat back (while still very refined and polished) and sighed inwardly, so happy to be me. Then I moved my right arm and caught a glimpse of something unexpected there. Chocolate icing smeared from the middle of my forearm all the way to my wrist. This epidemic had also spread to the front of my black top. The horror! I couldn't believe my bad luck. In the back of my mind, I remembered leaning over my piece of cake to reach a sugar packet for my iced tea. That was probably when it happened. I knew that sugar could rot your teeth, but had no idea about its party-ruining qualities!

I rubbed my arm subtly with my thumb to get the chocolate off. Thankfully, most of it came off quickly. My top had many folds and could cover up the chocolate stains, so that too, was saved. The rest of the night went by without any more exceptionally inelegant mistakes on my part, and was very enjoyable. A woman spoke about the reasons she had for having an abortion, and how she chose instead to keep her daughter. She sang an absolutely beautiful and powerful rendition of "Jesus, Lover of My Soul". I was deeply moved and forgot about my chocolate stains and thought about all the young ladies who have to make tough decisions like this all the time. And then, just like that, the night was over. After chatting for a few minutes, we all went home. The night had been a success.

When I arrived home, I felt emotionally drained. Social events might have been fun for a lot of people at first, but after a while, it must have gotten tiring. I had not been involved in the hosting, or inviting, and had been a very little-known person at this dinner. Imagine how tired I would have been had I been the hostess! I think I prefer the fantasy I had in my head before reality set in...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Friends Through a Common Enemy

Every student who goes to college has to have that one class that is just a waste of time. It's just the way it is. I have such a class and its name is Government 2301. Before I began attending the class, I was hardly interested in politics. When I showed up on Day One, finding not my professor, but a different man sitting at the desk, I had an ominous feeling. As it happened, the new professor (let's just call him Engels*) had to take on our class because the original professor had gotten promoted.

From the very first class we were given the impression that Professor Engels did not want to be there, and soon, it was a feeling we adopted as well. I left every class angry and frustrated, mainly because of how he got easily sidetracked onto racist topics. Recently, I have found a more rewarding way to vent my emotions during class. I sketch now in class. I have tried gleaning the good notes from Professor Engels's lectures, but this leads to me being angry, because I'm actually trying to learn. Here's my most recent sketch:

After a few days, I got to know a few people from that Government class, and we began to meet before every class. We started calling ourselves The Breakfast Club, because of all of our different personalities, and because we all loved the movie. Our meetings were like a cleansing salve over the rest of the day and made it easier to bear Professor Engels's egotistic comments. His tirades did not seem half as offensive when I imagined him as the ticking crocodile from Peter Pan, imagery courtesy of one of my fellow classmates.

Before long, the meetings before class were joined by meetings after class. My classmates and I ate comfort burritos after a difficult test or an especially trying day. We made jokes about the professor and conspired about grading him lowly on I wonder how many of his classmates actually take him for a second semester. Even though I won't be taking the honorable Professor Engels next semester, I might have him to thank for the close friends I now have from that class. As I learned from the John Adams miniseries, "Nothing makes greater friends than a common enemy."

*Name has been changed to protect the guilty and innocent alike.

Doctor Who in Person

I just met Doctor Who in person! Well, nothing quite so exciting...

I was walking out of Math class on my way to the library to study some formulas, when I saw a most peculiar sight. He was standing on a ledge as straight as a board. His fine hair was cut right above his ears. His trench coat is what really struck me. Long and brown, it was an exact copy of the one Doctor Who wears. I was breathless as I walked by him. I wondered why he was standing on the ledge, but was too scared to ask. I ran through the library doors and hid behind them. Peering around the edge surreptitiously, like the James Bond I am, I took mental snapshots of him. I eventually sat down to study Math, but (no surprise) I could not concentrate. Jess told me to talk to him, but I felt like a deer caught in headlights. She said, "Fine, I'll go see what he's doing up there." Brave girl. She came back a few nerve-wracking minutes later. Apparently, he was just waiting for a friend (boring!). Jess said, "He's no Doctor Who." But she did admit he had a slight accent. She urges me to forget about him. I will. Until I think of him again.

I had to buy a scantron, and because my own personal Doctor Who was still standing on that ledge, I chose a route to the bookstore so I could walk right past him. My courage gave out and I only looked at him once. When I looked back-- just like that-- he was gone. I wonder if he'll be back tomorrow. I continued to the bookstore to pick out my scantron. As I neared the shelves, I found one of my Math classmates looking for the right scantron. We got to talking about our class, and she mentioned that she noticed I was pretty outgoing. I beamed. Since I was a young teenager, I've struggled with my shyness. Coming to college and working has definitely helped me open up to more people and be less afraid. This is a turning point!

I came home to study my Algebraic formulas after work, because, needless to say, I had not been able to concentrate on them before. I studied for a bit, but then got distracted on the computer. I was reading my Mom's blog, which took me to a blog with a doughnut recipe on it, which showcased a blog about good Christmas presents for children. This made me think about how I needed to find some cute homemade gifts while I still had some days before Christmas. I signed into Google Reader so I could search for blogs, when my eye wandered to the only blog, other than my mother's, that I'm following: Planet Gallifrey. It is a blog for Doctor Who fans.

A few weeks ago, I stopped reading Planet Gallifrey because it had nothing useful to say, but this time, as I checked the blog posts, I found information on the next Doctor Who special, Waters of Mars. I'm excited because it is due to air on November 15th. Finally! I've been waiting so long! And that's not all! I found that an interview with David Tennant was included in the blog post. EEK! Oh, his Scottish accent was so beautiful! And -- get this -- he actually used the word, 'burgled'. Isn't that fantastic? I love watching any BBC shows or news because they always sound so refined. David Tennant rounded off the interview by saying it was "a great pleasure". No one talks like this anymore. I love it!