Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why do I tire of counting sheep, when I'm far too tired to fall asleep?

With a blue background in my mind, precisely the same color as my flannel sheep-covered sheets, I conjur up a length of fence. It is a white fence, several planks in length, and rather short. Can't go too much longer or the sheep wouldn't be able to make it over. There might be some grass, there might be just the fence hanging in the blue; I never really bother to look at the spot where the ground would be. It's really only the sheep that matter, right? One by one, the sheep fade in at their last running step, then float in a gentle arc over the white fence, then fade away during their first running step at precisely the same instant the next one fades in. I don't watch the fading too closely; there is always one fading in and one fading out, but I focus on the jumping motion, I count that part. After a while I tire of counting these sheep. The new batch of sheep don't jump or move by themselves at all, they are not alive like the others. These ones are attached to one of those hanging, toy things that sit above babies' cribs. They move in a perfect circle around the fence, but I only see them once the reach the ground-level and while the soar over the fence. Then they go under ground again while the next sheep gets rotated in. After another three hundred of these, I tire again. The new sheep are more acrobatic than the last; dropped in from the side of my mental screen, they bounce off the carefully positioned trampoline over the fence, hit the trampoline waiting for them on the other side, and bounce out of the screen again as the next one comes in, like a sheep-counting screen saver. Why hasn't anyone made one of those?
My sheep, all varieties, always travel from right to left over the fence, quite the opposite of reading. Anybody else?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Step After Scuba

I like taking classes. All sorts of classes. My favorite are humanities classes at present; they used to be math classes. But regardless of what overall topic is my favorite, I have found a common theme running throughout my educational preferences. I like having variety in the classes I am taking. I cannot take all math classes, no matter how much I enjoy math, or all humanities classes. It is just too much of one way of thinking. I like to make sure the core classes I am taking each semester include various ways of exercising my brain. I've gotten more and more creative in my methods, fortunately, and I now try to take some unusual skill-based class as often as possible. So far I have taken three dance classes - two focusing on typical dances like chacha, waltz, and swing, and one focusing on folk dances from around the world - a carving class, a bike maintenance class, an organ (like, the instrument) class, and beginning and intermediate scuba-diving classes.
Today I attended a knife skills class. Now, I would love to report that the curriculum involved throwing knives and that I am now an armed expert, but alas, it is not to be. It was a cooking class! We learned what all the different parts of a knife are called, and how to make specific different cuts. We practiced on squash, carrots, celery, potatoes, basil, parsley, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and oranges. We practiced our rocking motion, our push cuts, we julienned, we diced, we sliced, we chopped, we shaved and supremed. I have a large bag of chopped-up vegetables to show for it. I will never cut bell peppers and onions the same again. Cutting those onions was one of the coolest things I've ever done - no joke - and I felt like Julia Child, except I wasn't chopping a live lobster in half, and I wasn't on national television. I'm going to buy onions next week, and bell peppers. I am going to practice. I am not sure just how much my mom will enjoy all the chopped onions and all the resulting tears, but I am sure just how much I am going to enjoy it!

In way of other news, I watched I am Legend for the second time this week. I saw it in theaters, and it gave me nightmares for months. One of the most memorable was the one where I actually was Will Smith, and for some reason I think I was flying up into a tree to get a back down, and I was getting very nervous because I couldn't seem to get that bag off the tree and the sun was setting... I have long held hopes that a second watching in daylight would eradicate these nightmares. Once the movie began, however, I was fearful of the opposite results, and so I actually made us stop the movie so that the mood could die down, and watch the second half in a different session. It worked. No more nightmares. I think it odd that the movie gave me nightmares in the first place; that doesn't normally happen to me. The only previous movies to have such an effect on me were The Birds (ironic, since I really like birds), and The Fly (which was the scariest movie EVER to my nine-year-old self).
That's enough babbling for now, I'd imagine. Don't watch any of those movies. And if you want, I'll show you how to cut an onion sometime.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ringo, Ulysses, and Harry

I realized that I have spent an entire semester being very dedicated to the cause of the Writing Fellows without once blogging about them. I love being a Writing Fellow - it's fun, informative, and worthwhile. In Writing Fellows, we are assigned to a cohort, and then our cohort is assigned to a specific class to help those students with two writing assignments. My cohort worked with Matt Ancell's Humanities 202 class. What a blast. Each cohort is led by a fearless Senior Fellow. Mine was the ever-glorious Sarah Waggoner, fellow fellow and BYU economics student. Every email she sent renamed the members of our cohort to match some historical of fictional group. Once she was Harry, and we were Ron and Hermione. Once she was Ulysses, and we were Abraham and Robert. Once she was John, and we were Paul and Ringo. We all pulled all-nighters every time we handed back papers in order to get our response letters written, Senior Fellow included. What companionship! What camaraderie! She really watched out for us. And now the end of the semester has come, and with it the end of our cohort. Sarah, being the Senior Fellow that she is, wrote each of us a note and put it in our box to bid us each a fond farewell. As part of her note to me, Sarah included some musings she had, in part inspired by a conversation we once had in a Y lot after a cohort meeting. As a shout-out for Sarah, I wanted to share this with all of my own devoted blog-reading fans. Here are the wonderful words of wisdom:

The Church should teach airplane-sharing-the-gospel. It should be a chapter in Preach My Gospel.
Seriously. 51.2% of all member-missionary gospel sharing takes place on airplanes. (I just made that up.) Think about all the famous airplane gospel lessons of our dispensation. Gene Cook and Mick Jagger. Or, that story you tell every other week in Sunday School. Or just today, I had a conversation with a fellow student, Rebecca, who shared the gospel with a young man from Nigeria who in turn told her that he wanted to start a home with her, all on an airplane.
The chapter could include tips on how to make Word of Wisdom conversation from the drink service. How to casually bring up the gospel using the church literature one is reading. How to mention eternal families if one's seating companion does so much as touch their wedding ring.
Actually, we should make pass-along cards especially for airplanes. Something like: "people die on airplanes. Sometimes airplanes crash into buildings and into oceans. But, don't worry: no matter the outcome of this flight, you can be with your loved ones again. For more information about eternal families, please visit" Businessmen could carry them in bulk in their briefcases.
Church membership would explode.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turkey or Ham? Mulan or Pocahontas? Bathroom Stall Doors that Swing in or out?

Many years ago at Girls Camp my friends and I brainstormed endless list of these two-option, quick-fire questions. Through all these years, I have firmly maintained that I prefer bathroom stall doors that swing out. But now, I'm not so sure.
There is a certain logic behind bathroom stall doors that swing in. 1) Many public restrooms can become quite crowded. Should the stall doors swing out, there would be a much greater liability of someone inside a stall injuring someone outside one. 2) With a stall door that swings in, the occupant of the stall has greater control over their privacy. Sometimes, as we all lamentably know, locks can come loose or not work in the first place. And sometimes people push the stall doors open when there is someone inside, unaware of this fact. If the stall door swings out, there is absolutely nothing the person inside the stall can do: the door is far out of their reach. If the door swings in, however, they could kick it with their foot or block it with their hand while shouting "hey!" and thus regain their privacy much more quickly.
On the other hand, we all know how difficult it can be to get in and out of a stall with a door that swings in while wearing an overly-filled backpack. No one really wants to have to stand on the toilet to accomplish this often very difficult task, especially to the balance-impaired.
What a quandary.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Counting Down

Now it is 4:30 am. 7 down, 4 to go, 5.5 hours left. More than halfway!

To Sleep, Or Not To Sleep...

Right now it is 1:11 am, and I am listening to the song from which the title of my last post was drawn. You might now be asking yourself why. So am I. Why, I ask myself, am I pulling my second all-nighter in all of college for schoolwork? Ironically, the first was also this semester, and was for the same task. There are thirteen lucky students in a certain Humanities 202 class that get to turn their papers in to me before their professor. As a Writing Fellow, it is my job to read their papers, comment on them, and then write each one of them a response letter giving them suggestions for improvement. I have precisely one week from the time I get the papers to finish all of them. My week is up at 10:00 am tomorrow morning (or would you call it this morning?), and so here I sit, struggling to finish response letters. The tally thus far is depressing: 2 down, 9 more to go!
I love my job, truly, I do. But these all-nighters are killers. I managed to make it through my first three years of college without ever staying up all night for school (moving out of my apartment, however, is a different matter altogether, and another story for another time, unless by unanimous vote it is decided that I adopt the Ovidian narrative habits of embedding stories within stories up to many layers - and hopefully I won't be pulling an all-nighter to finish up that lovely paper I get to write this semester). Considering my normal amount of procrastination all through high school, and even in college, that is a truly remarkable feat. But alas, no more. No more. Now I stay up all night to finish things due the next morning. Now I will buy a large bag of chocolate candies (probably Reeses peanut-butter cups) in the morning to help me stay awake during my classes. Now I am only making the situation worse by writing this post instead of finishing up my third response letter.
Alas, alack, and other pithy phrases! Maybe I should bring the wonderful Waldo out to keep me company. After all, we have only a limited amount of time left to us before an 18-month separation. Tragedy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nothing but dark blue....

My breath moves in slow, measured increments. I hear every aspect of it. Sound moves 4 times faster through water than air, I've learned. The bubbles from my exhale mask my vision every few seconds; this takes some getting used to, like adjusting to the blur of windshield wipers when learning to drive. I check my air gauge - only 500 psi. So I swim over to my buddy, and motion in scuba sign language: I point at myself, tap my fist over my heart, and move my fingers back and forth between my regulator and theirs. She knows that I've just said, "I am low on air. I need to share air with you." In slow, underwater motion now we arrange to share air, and slowly flap our fins until we break the surface.
Every Tuesday night I spend my time floating, swimming, and breathing underwater for hours on end. That's right, I'm in a scuba diving class. When I'm down there, I feel suspended in the middle of nothingness, and like all the rest of life is suspended with it, in nothingness. All that matters is my breathing, and the small air pocket around my eyes.
Finally, tomorrow, after many hours of practicing drills like the air-share ascent, I will complete my basic course in scuba diving. I will be 22 and scuba certified, looking at nothing but dark blue.