Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm avoiding homework that's due tomorrow morning. I know I'll feel better when it's done, but I just can't seem to focus! So here I am. I wrote an outline for this post, of things I wanted to talk about, and reading it back to myself two hours later, it sounds like code. "pwning the trilemma, fish on cars, u2 is the second most famous band?, infp friendships." What?

I remember what one of those things means: I have this friend who kind of gets road rage. Not like the deacon from Barrington who shot some guy with a bow and arrow, but in a I'm-going-to-tailgate-you-for-cutting-me-off kind of way. Which I empathize with. This is Rhode Island we're taking about! But, she has a fish on her car. I don't know, I'm not confident enough in my driving skills to run the risk of anyone associating my faith with them. I can hear it now, "Figures, that person to pull out in front of me is one of those Christians!" This is the same reason I took off my URI sticker; no need for the people of Wakefield to blame the institution for my spastic driving.

It's also a fact, you know, that the more car adornments a person has, the more likely that person is to be an aggressive motorist. These are the kinds of things I learn in college.

I just read a passage from "Beowulf" in my linguistics book [it was illustrating how language changes over time] and I am now laughing heartily at myself. When I was younger, a super over-achiever with no friends, I decided I was going to be all smart and homeschooler-y, so I read Beowulf in the original English. Um. This is hilarious to me, because the passage I just read in my linguistics book was even less intelligible than French is! So either I didn't actually read it and was only deluding myself as a hoity-toity homeschooler, or I've truly gotten dumber. Either way, I feel ridiculous.

Today was so unsubstantiatedly miserable, I can't bring myself to do anything but sit here and veg. And maybe watch videos of Lil Buck pop&locking to Yo-Yo Ma's cello playing. Legit, right?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Financial self-sufficiency?

A thousand dollars is a lot of money. Somehow, someway God paid for my school this year, so generously that I somehow had a thousand dollars left over. Relieved, I put it away in my savings account as a buffer against my living-paycheck-to-paycheck habit and to face the tuition hike coming next semester.

And suddenly there were a billion things vying to spend that thousand dollars.

I signed for a missions trip to Dearborn, Michigan with my church. It seems like kind of a random place to go until you find out that it's home to the largest population of Yemeni people outside of Yemen. So that's what we'll be doing, telling Muslims about Isa, and I'm a little afraid and a little excited. Unfortunately, it's easily the priciest trip I've ever been on, clocking in at $1300. And ironically, because of this trip, I'll be missing two weeks of work and the wages that could have helped to pay off the trip. I haven't the foggiest idea how I'm going to pay for it.

I woke up this morning, saw the rain, threw on my flip-flops. My second pair of Chucks are really worn out, and in the face of this justification I began to assess the possibilities. As I went through my morning routine I considered heading out to Urban Outfitters or Bob's to spring for a new pair of shoes. TOMS, Sperry's, or running shoes? I have the luxury of being able to consider it.

So then I head out to take my car into the shop for an oil change and to determine the mysterious bumping noise it's been making for a few months. And as usually happens when you take a used car in for repairs, I'm looking at a laundry list. The most pressing repair is replacing the exhaust pipe, it's going to cost me $700. I'm giving the contents of my savings account a tender farewell. And there goes my new shoes daydream with it. It's so easy to spend a thousand dollars! It's not as much money as I thought it was.

How am I going to pay for school next semester? Books and housing? Gasoline? More car repairs and the cost for the Dearborn trip? I don't know.

This is where I pull the Otto Koning. "God, this is your problem! Don't forget to take care of your problem!" I know so little about having to trust God to provide in this way, but I'm grateful to begin learning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This post is embarrassing, and not in an interesting way.

I have a passion for justice. And it kind of takes my head to crazy places.

So my school has a writing class requirement. And it's good that they do, because not only are strong written communication skills essential in the job market, but too many high school students coming into college are woefully inadequate in this area. My psychology professor literally has spent two 75 minute class periods [two and a half hours, for those keeping score] discussing the deplorable quality of the reaction papers we've had to write for class, and so, I'm feeling a little sensitive to the average writing ability at this institution. I applaud my university for acknowledging the importance of writing skills and requiring that every student receive writing instruction.


I do not want to take a writing class.

As this blog is evidence of, I'm not a writing genius or anything. My writing style annoys even me. [Which really makes it quite difficult to get anything done around here, honestly.] Nevertheless, I feel it is fair of me to say that I am most certainly an adequate writer. My ability has been confirmed by independent measures such as standardized testing and writing contests and Mr. Pudewa's instructional rubric. I can string word together to form [usually] grammatical sentences that [usually] form semi-intelligible paragraphs that [usually] make perfectly literate papers. I've been published. That's more than most students who have completed a college-level writing course can say.

But my school will not even allow me to take a writing proficiency exam.

See, what happened was, my advisor told me that my AP credit would fill the university's writing requirement. And like a naive freshman, I believed him and went on my merry way. Though I had the opportunity to take the proficiency exam in my first semester of college, I passed it up because I thought I didn't need it. Then came second semester, when I switched advisors and found out my AP did not, in fact, cover the writing requirement. And that the proficiency exam is only offered in the fall of one's freshman year.

For two months I patiently but persistently hounded the administrative assistant of the writing department and sent the writing & rhetoric chair several emails. If anyone could give me alternative credit or an extension on the proficiency exam, they could!

I got a response today.

They told me to take a writing class.


I'm considering going to see the writing & rhetoric chair in person to tell her that taking a writing class isn't good enough for me, that it's a waste of my money and that I'm bringing the matter up with the dean. I don't know, am I behaving ridiculously spoiled and entitled? Would taking a writing class really be so bad? When I'm trying to double major and double minor, yes, yes it would be so bad. I literally have every class accounted for until the last semester of my senior year. And normally, I don't put up a stink about anything. I go with the flow. I'm only taking five classes this semester, because I didn't want to put my CVS leader through the hassle of getting me a tuition waiver to take six. Look at me, the picture of accommodation!

This whole situation strikes me as very unjust. But I feel badly, because I'm certain the chair did what she could. I don't think she's holding out on me, I believe her when she says that I really truly have no other options. And I feel like a brat, for whining about my fate instead of accepting it. Mostly, and this is equally unjust of me, I am mad at my advisor, who lead me astray in the first place. If not for him I would have taken the proficiency exam when I could have and I wouldn't be in this mess. Blah blah blah. It's my own fault. Should have done my research. Should have taken the exam just in case. Personal responsibility, Hayley!

At any rate, I need to stop being lame and complaining. [A conclusion I conveniently come to after I've gotten all the complaining out of my system.] It's also some comfort that I am not confined to lower-level writing courses but can instead choose from things like "travel writing", "writing for community service", or "writing culture". [Do they have food writing? No. No, they don't.] I should also probably take scientific & technical writing simply because it's useful. College is supposed to be useful. That's supposedly the point of taking a writing class!

That's my rant. The end.

[I am thankful for every ounce of this luxury.]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"The ugliness I see is evidence of who I need"

On Wednesday I sat with Peter in the library and we talked about being judgmental. Very briefly. Because one of us was studying. [Guess which!] I've been so burdened this week, catching glimpses of myself in my introspective mirror, seeing the silhouettes of my unbending judgments regarding the way my friends conduct themselves. I keep hearing Matthew 7:1 on a scratchy loop in my head: judgenotjudgenotjudgenotlestyoubejudged . . .

I don't like being opinionated. I don't like that everything is fraught with value implications. I wish I could go with the flow, and meet people where they're at, and see past the tension points. Instead I get hung up on their blatant selfishness and narrow perspectives. It's pride, plain and simple, when I snidely smirk at the assessments of others' stupidity, and I shake my head, and I think to myself, "Don't they see how foolish we all are?" It is not that I think myself superior, only that I frame each interaction in the context of a moral dilemma where we're all on the wrong side. Too often, too often.

My judgments aren't all bad, of course. My coworkers were talking about jail-breaking their new iPad 2s: "Why would you want to do that?" -- "So I don't have to pay for apps." -- "But, that's stealing . . ." -- "You're my personal Jimminy Cricket." This is the conversation I end up having most often, the anti-pirating, ethics of torrenting, don't steal stuff conversation. I try to keep it casual, and ask a lot of questions, not to be manipulative but to understand their logic.

It gets harder when the abortion thing comes up. I am so sick of these people who say, "Abortion isn't a good thing, but it should be between a woman and her doctor." As though murder should be between a psychopath and their therapist! [These are the kind of enthusiastic absolute statements I bring into my conversations on ethics.] My conviction gets the better of me. I get sick thinking about this atrocity, I have to sink deep into myself to find any dregs of compassion and empathy for opposing viewpoints.

But that's what it comes down to, isn't it? Speaking the truth in love? I have worked so hard to develop a sense of accord for each facet of thinking, to see things from another perspective that I may answer them in their language . . . but I'm losing the truth as I'm losing my love.

I don't know everything about right living. I should stop pretending that I do.

The mouth is a mirror // we must watch what we say.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fully functioning

Ugh. It's been a busy week. I'm not even going to talk about it.

I have this almost creepy and definitely gross habit of rescuing pens from the sidewalk. I'll be traipsing along, from class or to my car, and I'll see a poor abandoned pen on the ground, and I'll pick it up and put it in my backpack . . . because good note-taking pens are hard to come by! And so easily lost! I try not to think about where the pen came from before I happened upon it; I like to think I've given these pens a new lease on life, a second chance. Win-win. But I definitely wash my hands after using them.

And speaking of health implications, I got my first migraine ever on Monday night. I cried myself to sleep after swallowing one of my dad's Fiorinals and vowed to never complain about a headache ever again. Which was a Big Deal for me because I learned that I am completely devoid of the capacity to empathize with people who suffer from migraines chronically. I can scarcely imagine a more miserable condition.

And speaking of things that are miserable, yesterday I gave blood for the second time in eight weeks and it was literally 100% less traumatizing than the first time. NO BRUISE THE SIZE OF TEXAS! I can actually bend my arm, guys! While I sat in the interview awaiting the finger prick, I was wondering to myself if I can really keep doing this every eight weeks for the rest of my life, like, when the pizza at the end ceases to be an incentive.

And speaking of pizza, I'm a little bit obsessed with my English teacher. The guy might be one of the most educated people I've ever met. So he's Polish, right, with an MA in Linguistics and a PhD in English AND an MBA. He teaches British, American, and Latin literature, as well as film, writing, and French. It mostly blows my mind how many languages he knows. [Polish is one of the most phonetically nonsensical languages out there, so he for sure has home field advantage.] I hate his class because every time it meets I'm reminded that I don't know anything about literary analysis, which actually gives me a lot of peace about killing the English major aspiration. The professors are the best and worst thing about this school.

And speaking of school, I sat in the library, part talking and part working [as has become my habit lately], and I listened to this highly articulate and insightful and good-natured individual muse not self-importantly, but just very sincerely on life and living. He has something I want. Granted, first impressions are first impressions. It's very possible he's a selfish psychopath like the rest of us. But the way he spoke with an honest and genuine humility, I want that. I want his wisdom and experience and rad prescription glasses. It's a relief to know that we're not all self-important college students.

And speaking of these college students, I discovered one of my new friends is an INFJ, and folks, it was like therapy. He sat and smiled and listened while I ranted about brain-typing and my personality glitches, and he empathized with the merciless over-analysis and feeling-internalization. We gossiped a little too, and I feel burdened by a poisoned perception of one of my friends, and I'm learning that people are people and I love them for that. I stayed up way too late chatting with him, which set in place a chain of sleeplessness that left me bemoaning the existence of Saturday morning, but I venture to say it was worth it.

Yeah. All this to say that like a typical college student, I am sleep deprived. Functioning is the goal, fully is optional.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

four-oh-one, eight-seven-four

Every time I give my cell phone number, I start to say the store number. It's awful. Because there's nothing worse than reneging on numbers! I feel so awful rattling off a slew of numbers when asked, only to go, "Oh! Wait! Sorry, wrong number." Scratch those ten numbers, replace with these ten numbers. I don't know. It seems like a lot to ask.

You know what it is? I start with the area code. If I didn't start with the area code I wouldn't go on autopilot and things would be fine.

Well, not fine. Much of my job at the store involves accessing records and making phone calls. I type the service tag number into the computer to pull up the phone number. I punch the phone number into the telephone. And somewhere along the way I always mix up numbers. I whisper the numbers to myself, and it's funny that my brain tells my fingers to hit the right numbers even when my ears hear my voice whispering the wrong ones. What does that say about my brain, my inability to translate number sequences? My inability to give my own phone number?!

I worry sometimes. That I am inconsolably airheaded. Which makes me even more nervous when my friends complain about all the stupid people at college. How long until they find out that I am one of those people?! I have such empathy for these so-called stupid people who own my friends' annoyances. I have their back. Solidarity.

So one of the girls I work with invited me to a blacklight party. Which, not gonna lie, sounds AWESOME. I can't go, due to previous commitments, but it did make me wonder. Would it hurt my witness if I went to a party? On the one hand, I don't want to be stuck up, holier than thou; I want to befriend these people. On the other hand, I'm supposed to be different, supposed to protect myself; I am set apart. Part of me feels insecure about going to a party [/HOMESCHOOLER], another part of me feels a conviction to step outside my comfort zone.

So oh-many-counselors-producing-wisdom, what do you think?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Folks, let's collaborate.

So one of my friends broke up with his girlfriend. I was asking him about it, and was really shocked by his philosophy about it: he wasn't getting what he wanted out of it, so he broke it off. It was too much work. And this was so shocking to me because what I've always been taught it 1) relationships are hard work, and 2) relationships are about self-sacrifice. When I articulated this to him, he responded with his essential philosophy: that you have to take care of yourself before you can help other people. That there is no such thing as true sacrifice. That relationships are utilitarian, ways for you to use people to fix your problems.

We went deep in this conversation, talking about depression and suicide and drugs. And I got a chance to ask him, why does he believe in God but not the God I know? He told me about the God he knew, a lonely guy sitting in a bar, watching a hockey game, wishing someone would talk to him. Because the only times people converse with him at all is to thank him profusely or ask him for something. And the God my friend sees is just a being like us, with flaws and imperfections, who is lonely and wants someone to ask him how he is. My friend says that because we're made in the image of God and we're obviously flawed, God must have his share of imperfections, too.

We talked about Jesus a little bit, my friend saying how Jesus was a pretty good teacher, but it's far too narrow to say He's the only way. And when I explained that it couldn't be both ways, that someone who teaches narrow things must either be right or wrong, it didn't matter. We talked about the cross, and my friend said Jesus died to teach us about sacrifice, to show us that if he had to die, he would. [Because that's what love is . . .] We ran the gamut of absolute truth and philosophical consistency, but none of it seems matter, because this is a little more personal. Not intellectual understanding but heart understanding. How do we fix ourselves?

The lonely and flawed God in the bar has nothing to do with Jesus, a prophet who was brutally killed to teach us to live a sacrificial life. The God in the bar is lonely because he has no friends, because we see him as perfect when he's not. And my friend left for his class, leaving our conversation with a to be continued . . .

So, apologetics question of the day: how would you respond?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Always watch the movie first.

My mom is channel surfing, flipping between a lawyer show and War of the Worlds. Having read the book first, I am a little irked by altered expectations. But the little girl, Rachel, she's freaking out and screaming and crying. She's very good, this Dakota Fanning. In the book, Tom Cruise's character didn't have to worry about his kids: they were safe in another town with his wife. Though he has several close encounters with the aliens, he only had himself to worry about. The movie, however, is ten times more stressful. Keeping up the brave face for the kids. Having a plan. Calming that screaming girl in the backseat. [She's very good, this Dakota Fanning!]

I've been thinking about forgiveness, and the challenge I'm discovering as I try and explain the difference His forgiveness has made in my life. Some people have really great before/after stories, you know? Like before they did this horrible thing, and they felt so guilty about it, and then they found God, and His forgiveness made all the difference. We best understand the depth of His love when we understand the depth of our wrongs.

But I worry [perhaps needlessly] that there is no dramatic change in my life. Having been "brought up in the faith", the line between before and after is a little fuzzier. Even though I have sinned, and messed up, and done awful things, my offenses are not the kind of felt-evil that would offend someone who didn't value God's law. My testimony is real to me, very real, but to my amusement, I'm wondering how to show my friends what a bad person I am, and how much I need saving.

I hope you didn't think those ideas were connected. War of the Worlds and talking about forgiveness. They're not connected, by the way. But I guess I can try to connect them, if that would be more stylistically considerate. Nope. Too lazy. As you can see I'm falling to pieces! It's been a busy week. I don't know where my standards are. That is all, really. I wanted to say something, just to say it. Forgive me.

Oh! Veritas Forum. A deep, genuine, smiling thank you to those who came - from a purely selfish point of view, I felt so loved and affirmed to see those faces, I now understand this concept of "thank you for your support." I did, I felt supported, thank you so very much. The event did not end up being what I had expected at all. On the one hand, I was the teeniest bit disappointed: none of my URI friends came. Only 400 seats were filled, and the Christian community was more well-represented than the URI students were. On the other hand, after the event I sat on the stage and talked about Jesus with two non-believing acquaintances: genuine, sincere, earnest seekers. God's doing a work in their hearts, it's a freaky sight to behold! Also, I was emceeing, and so, I was horrifically fearful of doing or saying anything that would detract from Dr. Guinness and his message, because I am so wont to do such a thing. Self-absorbed and all that. Thankfully, they gave me a script, and I stuck to the script, and did very little awkward embellishing, and read the thing stammering like a spelling bee rookie, and it was fine. One of these days I will wake up a competent public speaker. [When? When?!]

God's plans are not our plans, His ways are not are ways. It was an encouraging night, and a decided success. Thank you for praying.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Everybody's looking forward to the weekend, weekend"

Somehow, strangely, today has been a really good day. It started with a peaceful ushering into consciousness, where I fleetingly considered skipping philosophy class. And then a brief text conversation with one of my favorite people three hours in the past. And after an uneventful commute through the rain, I scored a sweet parking spot and sat through another scintillating lecture on Aquinas's five proofs. I don't know, the class has been interesting to this point, but now it's just gotten fascinating.

The professor wraps up the ontological argument for the existence of God, and turns to the class and asks who's convinced. And of course, no one is. As I'm reading this book on the emergent church [and coming to terms with how post-modern I am in my thinking] I'm intrigued by the relationship between reason and faith. I love what Aquinas has to say about the relationship between the two, how they must be informed by each other, how reason equips faith but can only go so far without it. There is so much logic in Christianity! And yet, that's not the wondrous thing, is it? Faith is the whole point! Aquinas himself despairs of the ontological argument because the argument is concerned with the mind alone, and not real life. Real life is what's convincing; we exist in reality and ought to be concerned with reality and reason. This is the part of my testimony that is irrefutable: my personal experience. One can quibble over logic, but can't challenge the reality of a changed heart.

I had the opportunity to give the gospel [straight-up, textbook, role-play, practically circle-diagramed gospel, it was entirely uncanny] to two of my friends on Wednesday. And though their curiosity was sated [or piqued, Lord willing?] they were of course unconvinced. Why? What is this mysterious thing we term "conviction"? What is it made of? How does it work? I have come into conviction, I have been drawn through it, seen it made real in my life before I thought to ask if it wasn't. And so, more than ever I am deeply intrigued by "rescue stories", the explanations of the steps from skeptic to subscriber. What does it take surrender to that way of thinking? It's so much to swallow . . . and yet here we are. What do I have that my unbelieving friends don't have? Oh Father God, have mercy.

Anyway. After philosophy class I worked. And took an exam. And went back to work. I was happy because all day the store was really busy and there was lots to do and I felt wonderfully productive and competent. And when the last customer finally left, and I concluded my dance sesh to "Two Princes" [okay, I'm going to bless you here, best Pandora station ever: Jessie's Girl Radio. Try it and see.] and literally skipped out of the store. I left school feeling gleeful. Three exams behind me, a stressful speech over and done with, no catch-up work to do in school, I was set! Plus, I got a free DVD rental from Redbox, and buy-one-get-one-free ice cream, and gasoline for $3.53 a gallon, and I came home to my sisters and my house and the blessed, blessed weekend! This is what they mean by TGIF! I can't even bring myself to feel cynical about this facet of the over-privileged American lifestyle. I just totally get where Rebecca Black is coming from! Gotta get down on Friday. Word.

Veritas Forum on Monday. Hm.

One of the girls I work with found out today that I have a blog. "What do you write about?" she asked me. Ummm. I like to think my blog is a step up from an internet journal, with intentional entries that read more like articles than a diary. But obviously, I have been deluding myself. :P [I mean, obviously. I just used an emoticon!] It seems my blog is about how I see living, and I'm okay with that. Thanks for humoring me.