Tuesday, February 27, 2007

my daughter, odd?

What makes me weird?

I wrote most of this a couple of weeks ago, but then got stuck on what to put for the sixth one. Martha, I didn't forget that you tagged me! I really enjoyed writing these, and it actually helped me out in one of my graduate school interviews. During a student-led interview, one of the questions asked was, "What makes you weird?" I told them about dressing up to go to movies. Yikes, if I go there, I'll have quite a reputation to live up to! So, here goes . . .

"Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post telling 6 weird things about themself as well as clearly state the rules. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you’re tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means."

1. My Own Special Accent. I was born in Chicago, but raised in Texas. However, I say certain words in certain ways that do not resemble vernacular from either region. In particular, I seem to pronounce "il" words with an "el" sound instead of "ill." I say, "pello" for pillow and "melk" for milk. I never thought this was odd until friends started pointing it out to be. I have no idea where these pronunciations arose from, but I have no desire to correct myself. I should starting saying, "It's just my accent, I'm from ----" and make up a town.

2. 60 to 0 in Three Minutes Flat. Especially driving home from work on late evenings, I like to play the coasting game. When it's late, and no other cars are around, I like to exit from the highway and just remove my foot from the gas and break and see how far I can coast. I go up the off-ramp, turn a sharp curve at about 25-30 miles per hour, and am able to coast nearly to the stop line where I would make the next turn. I don't know why I get so much enjoyment from this game, but now I'm confident that if my car were to stall or run out of gas while I'm driving 65 mph on the highway, I'd be just fine :)

3. Hygienic Paper Particulars. I fold my toilet paper, whereas most people wad. I never thought this was strange, until I began to find out that most people just wad. Wadding sounds disgusting to me - how can you be sure that your hand will be protected when wiping? However, I have met a few fellow folders (though I've learned that it doesn't mean we're soul mates), but I have never met anyone who does what I do to my tissues. I fold my tissue in half, and blow my nose at the top point, roll it down a little ways, and continue blowing. I can get 3-5 good blows out of one tissue, without risking coming into contact with my snot! My friends who notice this have commented that it looks like I'm rolling a joint or something.

4. The Fan Personality. This is how my former roommate Heather described it. I'm not a geek, I'm not super-obsessed about one thing in particular, I just am easily sucked into things like Harry Potter, LOTR, LOST, etc. While Heather introduced me to LOST, I'm the one who's always sending her links to new LOST websites and convincing her to buy LOST magazines with me. Whereas Heather dreads trilogies, I relish in them. I think movies are best enjoyed when you dress up for them or go see the Thursday night midnight showing. To date, I've dressed as a pirate wench twice, a Hogwarts student, and a Bond girl. I've also been known to host bizarre theme parties, such as a Chuck Norris party this past summer. Sadly, I found myself reading that Harry Potter conference article Martha posted thinking, "You know, I'd kinda like to go to that, minus the Potter porn part. That's just disturbing." Still, yesterday my coworker and I both admitted to flirting with our Magic Time Machine waiter who portrayed Harry Potter. I only admit that knowing I'm not the only one :)

5. Compulsions. I think I have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I always count the steps I walk up (16 steps in my home staircase, 48 up to the third floor of one of class buildings, etc), and have to start left foot first so I can end on my right foot. On the rare event that I encounter an odd-numbered staircase (and I can tell you which ones those are in my alma mater) I just feel completely off. I also crave symmetry and balance. I often feel off when I scratch on side of my body, until I scratch the other corresponding spot as well. When I'm walking along a sidewalk, if I notice that one foot has been stepping on too many cracks or ridges, I have to make sure my other foot touches a corresponding number. I don't count this, I just go by how I feel, which often means I'll start stepping on more cracks with my left foot, only to feel that I'm over on the left, then I switch to the right food, and switch back and forth until things feel "right." Also, this compulsion for balance and symmetry extends into my typing. Only one friend has noticed that my rapid typing is actually typing mixed with me compulsively hitting and deleting keys, so my fingers will feel balanced.

6. Spring Flings. I am notorious for having spring flings. Since starting college, every spring break I have hooked up with a guy. By "hook up," I mean, connected with a young man who I soon started dating - definitely not the MTV spring break kind of hook-ups! While not all of these relationships were "flings," unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which of my friends you talk to) none of these spring break romances lasted into the fall. I'm hoping that now that I'm out of college and don't have a spring break this year, I will be free from these yearly "flings." I've noticed that many of my relationships follow the seasons, beginning in the spring or summer, and ending in the fall or winter. It's interesting, now that spring is approaching, I'm noticing a few of my single friends starting to get more guy attention - is there really something in the weather that makes men start pursuing? This could be an interesting research project. Doesn't sound like a legit thesis? A TCU finance professor recently published a finding that the success of stock trading days in Chicago corresponded with high or low windy days. I think human behavior is more affected by weather and climate phenomenon than we'd like to admit.

I tag Laura (again), Sheri, RC, and that's it. The rest of you guys have already posted this.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

paradoxal owl

We sat in the long white and red checkered covered table, eating our pulled pork and baked potato when I decided to tell her about the young woman I'd just met. A new friend, with whom I stayed in a graduate students' house with and who, like me, had read the same book about these graduate schools, who, like me, had prepared a list of questions and tried to be over prepared to make ourselves feel less nervous. A new friend, who listens to Christian music, has introduced her agnostic friends to Christ her Savior, who will be a virgin until marriage, who went to Rice, played saxophone in the mob, and was invited to interview with 11 graduate programs. A new friend who is a lesbian, who has a male identity, loves her girlfriend the young artist who makes a mess out of her apartment, and who wants to study transgendered individuals.

As we drank our tea, I didn't tell this old friend all these things about this new friend. I told her just enough. Then I told her about the professor studying the religiousity of the GLBT population, who had found that many Christian homosexuals aren't just liberal Christians, but identify with conservative, evangelical denominations. With other friends, I would have anticipated their reaction. With this old friend, I had no idea what to expect. Part of me wanted some kind of reaction, but didn't ask, "What do you think about her?" She just asked where the study was done, and mused, "Hmm," then continued with her baked potato and the conversation moved on.

Why did I tell her? Did I want a reaction? I just wanted her to think. I wanted to show her that the world God has created isn't as black and white as we think it is. Was that it? Did I just want to enlighten her? Perhaps my motives were more selfish. Maybe I wanted to stir things up, confuse her a little, present her with this paradoxal individual who's lifestyle and morals go against all that we have been taught about "us" and "them." I wanted her to be thrown off. Maybe a small part of me wanted her to wonder and question too. Am I envious of her? There she sat across from me, with her almost empty potato skin, so confident and secure in her beliefs. Everything was understandable. God will give us all wisdom. God does give wisdom, but does he want us to comprehend everything? Does he want us to have the same knowledge that he has?

Whatever my motives, pure or not, I am thankful for old friends, new friends, new questions, new perspectives, and the same God who rules them all.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I think one reason that I like good books and movies is because everything has meaning. Every little detail, somehow contributes to the plot, character, or setting development. A character knocks over a glass at a restaurant, spilling the drink and breaking it. It wasn't accidental - that action means something. It tells you something about the character, or their state of mind, adds a comic or tragic effect, or foreshadows another event to come.

However, in real life, things aren't that way. Accidents happen, random events. Your best friend kicks the table, knocking over her martini glass on Valentine's evening, the drink spills over the table, and the glass makes a clean break. As the waiter acts understanding and she looks ashamed and apologetic, you want to say something, "Oh, so that's what you think of Valentine's day." But you keep quiet, because such a statement seems inappropriate. Attempting to add meaning and depth to an accident is simply absurd. Perhaps she was stressed from work this evening, no, this could have happened any night, it could have happened to you. Stop trying to give it meaning. This is life. Glasses break, cardinals hit windows, and all it means is that it happened. A broken glass is a broken glass, nothing more, nothing less.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

what I am not

In becoming a more honest and genuine person, it's good to admit what you are. I believe it is equally beneficial to admit what you are not. I've often fallen into a trap of trying to be someone that I was not - sometimes because I thought others expected it of me, but more often because I just wanted to be someone different. By admitting that I am not these things, I hope it will help me to avoid trying to be something that I'm not. Here goes . . .

I am not . . .

1. A Fajita Eater. For years, I've gone to Mexican restaurants with my mom and split fajitas with her, when I would much rather eat enchiladas. Fajitas are fine, but every time I order them, I'm disappointed. About a year ago, I realized this disappointment might be because *ta-dah* I don't like fajitas! This was a revolution, and since that moment, I have stopped ordering them.

2. A Beachgoer. I've always preferred the mountains to the beach. I don't really like the sand, I'm not huge on swimming, and I sunburn easily. I enjoyed my time at the beach this past spring break, but I went on that trip for the ministry opportunities, not for the beach. Beaches are pretty and relaxing, but after about an hour or two, I've had my fill.

3. A Camper. This came up recently in a conversation. I like the outdoors, I like forests and mountains, I just don't like spending the night in them. I like the idea of camping much more than the actual experience. I don't mind not showering, but I'm rarely comfortable sleeping in a tent and often frightened of the animal noises outside.

4. A Music Guru. Man, I sure wish I was! I love music more than some people, but less than others. Most of the new music I listen to is from recommendations from others - though I have fallen in love with some good tunes playing on the local college radio station. I say I love going to concerts, but then friends invite me to go see bands that I've never heard of - reminding me, that as much as I love music, or as much as I would love to love music, I am not a music guru.

5. A Teetotaler. I mostly avoided alcohol until I turned 21, but not because I didn't like it. I'm a social drinker, I enjoy having a beer or margarita at a concert or a rum and coke when I'm out at dinner with my manager and coworkers. I've also recently enjoyed smoking hookah, and wouldn't mind trying a cigar sometime either or even *gasp* marijuana in a country where it was legal. But, I've also never gotten drunk. I believe almost anything can be enjoyed in moderation.

6. Maternal. I love babies, and I volunteer with preteens, yet, I just don't connect well with children. Babysitting has always been awkward - I don't know how to stop a baby from crying and I don't really know how to talk to a four year old without going crazy. While some of my friends dream of being mothers, I dream of having a husband, a career, traveling, and plan at some point to have children. My mom was this way too, before she had me, she wondered, "What's the big deal? It's just a baby." Then I was born, and all that changed. I think it'll be that way with me too.

7. A Bible Scholar. Despite having led Bible studies four semesters at TCU, I do not consider myself a Bible teacher. I have memorized scripture, I have a basic familiarity with most books of the Bible (though I haven't read all of them), and I'm comfortable having conversations about the Bible, but I think that sometimes I have portrayed myself as having more knowledge, and more dedication to studying the word of God that I actually do.

8. A Researcher. Then why oh why am I getting my Ph.D? I must be a masochist. No, I have many valid reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree, none of which is my love for research. I will research, I will complete a dissertation, but research is not my career goal. I hate literature reviews, I dislike hypothesizing and designing experiments, and I dislike scientific writing. I sorta like running experiments, I like analyzing data, and I enjoy the conversations that research sparks with faculty who are much more knowledgable than me. I had a love/hate relationship with my undergraduate thesis.

9. A Promise Keeper. I all too easily let commitments slide. I know it's irresponsible, but when I get sick of something, I'd just prefer to drop it quietly and hope no one mentions anything. Also, I need to stop telling my friends, "I'll give you a call this afternoon, and then not call them until two days later." I think the less promises I make, the better.

No worries Martha, I'm glad you tagged me! I had already written this post, and while many of these may fall into the category of "things that make me weird," I'm sure I can easily think of 6 things that are even stranger . . .

Thursday, February 01, 2007

awful feels softer

I'm glad you guys enjoyed my last post - thank you so much for the encouragement. The night I wrote it, I stayed up very late, talking online with friends, reading blogs about theology, and discovering a cool site where you can download 10-12 minute guided prayers to listen to on your mp3 player or computer.

That night, I listened to a "Review of the Day" guided prayer before going to bed. As the sacred music played, the soft voice of a British woman asked me to remember the gifts I was given this past day. My mind immediately went to Cara, whom I had called after finding out the bad news about the school earlier that day. The empathy she offered was a gift. I felt grateful and at peace, realizing that if I never experienced heartache and rejection, I would also lose the gift of empathy that my friends and family give to me when I'm hurting. I think that gift is beautiful enough to make enduring the heartache worth it.

Then, I entered my bathroom to get ready for bed. I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled. I just stood there grinning for a moment, believing that smile, feeling that everything was going to be good.

After getting ready for bed, I checked my email one last time. There, in my inbox, was an invitation from another school to come visit them in March! I just wanted to laugh at how up and down this process has been. I saw that the email had been sent at 10:30pm, and for a moment I wished that I had checked it earlier before I wrote that long post, pouring out my heartache. But on second thought, I realized how good it was for me to deal with this rejection without the glimor of hope from another school.

For about 12 or 13 hours, I was rejected and without any tangible hope. But God picked me up and gave me that smile. I hope I never forget that hope, that smile, that arrived at 2:30am on the evening of an awful day.

"If life's not beautiful without the pain,Well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again."

Sorry, Modest Mouse, but I don't agree with you. Not this week, anyway.