Friday, September 17, 2010

Theological Musings + Knitting

I've been thinking about how I refer to my knitting, as compared to how non-knitters talk about it. The most common question that I get when it comes to my knitting is, "What are you making?" My answer is almost always, "It's a sock," though it might in rare cases be "It's a shawl," or "It's a shell." The point, though, is not that I mostly make socks, but rather that I think of my knitting as already being the finished product. Sure, I'm working on it right now, sure, it's in progress--but really? It's a sock. It's not going to be a sock when I finish, it already is one. (Perhaps that's why it hurts so much to rip things out--you already consider that you have the thing you're making, even though it isn't finished yet.)

This morning in history, instead of being asked, "What are you making," I was asked, "What is that going to be?" As usual, I answered, "A sock," but it got me thinking. I see my knitting as something which already exists--as the finished product which is not yet manifest (or visible--sorry, I'm thinking about the theological aspects, and manifest is a very theological word).

All that is interesting enough on its own (and knitters, feel free to chime in--do you think of your knitting as the product even from the beginning stages, or do you say "it's going to be"?), but of course, being me, with my background, this whole concept immediately struck a familiar chord. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). As Pastor describes it, faith is saying that I have it, even though it isn't in my hands; hope is saying, it's coming! It's coming! Someday it will be here! --I wonder if this is the result of long training, that I see even something very prosaic through eyes of faith--seeing what isn't there as if it already existed? Does walking by faith in your spiritual life change your outlook on material things? Am I boring my blog audience out of their skulls? ;-) Do comment--and feel free to tell me if you think the topic completely uninteresting.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meditations about Professors

I haven't had a single professor that I didn't like. Curious, isn't it? I have had, in three semesters, only one professor that I didn't particularly gel with--I still like her, don't get me wrong, but given the choice I'll take classes from anyone else. I would probably be fine if all I had to do with her was hang out--fortunately, I'm to the point now that I can pick classes based on which professors I want to study with, as well as what I actually want to study.

I also seem to get far more than my share of cute professors--not that I'm complaining, mind you! I am all in favor of eye candy. ::insert lascivious emoticon here, if you feel that you must:: Even if the professors aren't cute themselves (or not my type--like my psych professor, Dr. Nicole), they have tremendously good taste in TAs. (One such cute TA even had the added attraction of a faint German accent--I think he was from Munich.) Perhaps it's a university-wide plot to keep susceptible students coming to class......

Honestly, though, at least one of these observations have to do with attitude, more than chance. I find professors to be both nice and interesting, because I go to class prepared for them to be, and I don't find them hard and unreasonable, because I go into *every* situation assuming the best. And I suppose that finding my professors and their TAs to be funny, cute, interesting, and so on is just a variation on looking for the best in every situation. But I think I like the university-wide plot idea better than that last one. ;-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Horoscopes--Not everything they're cracked up to be

In light of my most recent blog post, I thought that this article was hysterically funny. So, my birthday is April 16th, which means that apparently I'm an Aries. The first sentence of the article is, "As an Aries, you are the one who gets things started." *snort* Also, apparently I get bored easily--excuse me while I rofl. I joke that if I wasn't easily entertained, I wouldn't knit, but it's true--who would spend hours pulling loops of string through other loops otherwise? Discuss.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

About Thinness

I have a friend named Teresa, who is newly diagnosed diabetic. (She blogs at I'm Sweet Enough.) She posted links (on Plurk, of course--where I get all my links) to some stories about new weight-loss discoveries/attitudes about weight loss, and one such link (posted in her thread, but not by her) really got me thinking. This blog post by Kate Harding I found particularly thought-provoking, because I know whereof Kate speaks, though from the other direction.

See, I'm not fat, and never have been. I know that thinness isn't the be all and end all, because I, despite my average weight and trim waist, do not have an ideal life. In particular, I find it near impossible to start a conversation (though I have few problems joining a conversation that's going, nor am I cripplingly shy when addressed). Because of this, I have almost no friends in real life, and even fewer who are around my age, though this last doesn't really bother me, since I've always preferred the company of adults. I think before I speak to a painful degree, which is why I much prefer the online existence, where I can edit my image and words as endlessly as I choose without missing many opportunities to make friends. On a college campus, though, few people stand still long enough for someone to compose the perfect introduction speech (and no doubt script the first few exchanges of words as well--I find my interior life much more entertaining than any out there).

So yeah. The Fantasy of Being Thin struck a chord, and made me realize that either I need to accept that this is how I am, or push myself consciously beyond my comfort zone, till I can actually start a conversation. Most people are nice, after all, and small talk is an essential skill. And really, probably the solution is not either/or, but both--accept that starting conversations is not something I'm naturally comfortable with, but something that nevertheless I need to do. And I can't very well learn it any younger, can I?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Revelation

I spend a lot of my time doing what I call "self entertainment," in which I basically laugh at everything I encounter. It's a process that is vital to my mental health in many ways, because, let's be honest, I'm in college, encountering stresses that I never have had to cope with before, including a roomie who is my polar opposite in nearly every way. I'm not sleeping enough/restfully enough, mostly because of aforesaid roomie (who BTW is not the one I started out with--she was fabulous), and my sense of humor is the only thing that stops me from coming unglued on a daily basis.

Tonight, I had a vivid glimpse of what I could have been. This same bent, which I use to radiate amusement and reinforce contentment, can be used with malice aforethought. I could have become a bitter cat instead, old before my time, spiteful, mocking, nasty, vengeful, but God has changed me.

I know that a lot of people don't have much use for religion. Honestly, I don't have much use for religion (and what most Americans mean by "religion" is what you get when you attend church without knowing God). Religion can really mess people up, but God changes lives. I'm proof of that. I am not in the process of becoming my Grandma Becky, even though I'm just like Dad who is just like her.

Post Scriptum: Y'know, this is not a post I ever anticipated putting on this blog. I did not ever intend for the blog to be about my spiritual life (partly because it is a very hard thing to write about without becoming sanctimonious), but nevertheless my life revolves around my church, the Bible, and God. So since this has become an existential blog anyway, y'all can just cope with the occasional post that involves God. I'll try not to be pompous about it, but I'm officially no longer self-editing to not mention the biggest part of my life. It is, after all, my blog. ;-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When you sing in choir

There's a lot of breathing in choir. That may seem like an obvious statement, so I'll move on quickly. It turns out, that if you get sick during a mid-semester break, after you have been consistently exercising your diaphragm (through almost 3 hours a week of singing), that the muscles you then strain while coughing are muscles that you use for darn well everything. Standing up straight, for example, and biking. And walking, and balancing in heels. And a different facet of breathing.

The little random stabs of agony have almost gone away, and I can stand up straight again, and walk again at my normal clip, and I have managed not to acquire an ibuprofen habit while getting to this point. I have to laugh though--choir, in addition to its multifarious advantages (like getting to sing for almost 3 hours a week :-D), has given me new and more interesting ways to hurt myself.

Once my intercostals, or whatever muscles I managed to strain, are fully healed again, you can bet that part of my regimen will be strengthening them so I don't go through this again. Ow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And now for something completely different

Backrub chains are one of the best perks of choir (though getting to watch conductors during performances is pretty awesome too). The director--Dr. Z, Dr. L, or sometimes Graduate Assistant Extraordinaire Ian G. (to be hereafter called Ian, cause that's one heck of a title ::laughs::)--says, "Okay, massage this way," and the choir as a body turns to the left and rubs shoulders, and then the director says "Switch," and the choir turns to the right and rubs shoulders that way. You see, for singers, your instrument is your body--all the effort has to be mental, because if it creeps into your neck, shoulders, back, legs, it's going to affect the sound. It's wonderful, by the way--two of my favorite activities, singing and relaxing, rolled into one.

Yesterday, instead of having a backrub chain in the warm-up, we had one in the middle of the practice for Elijah, which means that Ian and Dr. L were lending their voices to the tenor line, since we have all of 5 avowed tenors. *ahem* All right, the point of all this lead-up is that Ian gives very good backrubs (he wears overshirts which make it very difficult to rub properly, incidentally, but on his other side was Dr. L, who undoubtedly did a much better job than I did)--I practically floated back to my seat because I was so relaxed, and I can drop my shoulders fully without agony now (apparently some aspect of college life has installed a permanent knot in my right shoulder which, until yesterday, meant that it was painful to drop my shoulders, and in fact I couldn't entirely). See, this is why he's Graduate Assistant Extraordinaire.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Self-Justifying--A Model

So, just to be perfectly clear, this post is not picking on my roommate. I'm not mad at her, nor upset by her behavior--sure I wish she would change, but mostly for the sake of the people who will live with her (I can testify from personal experience that it is not easy). If she never changes, I can still cope--in large part, admittedly, because I only have to deal with her until the end of the semester. :-D

I freely admit to mocking her though--just a little bit.

Some time ago--I think it was a Friday--we had a little altercation, which might be named To Lock or Not to Lock by someone who was a little too fond of literary allusions. Ahem. In summary, it boils down to roomie coming in after I've locked the door so I can change into pjs, complaining about how inconvenient it is that I lock the door before she comes in (despite that she, on occasion, never comes in at all), me pointing out mildly that I was going to change, her objecting that "no one is going to just walk in without knocking," and me NOT saying, "like you were just about to?" That was strategy, as my next move was to bring up that she doesn't lock the door, like ever, and I'm not comfortable with that, and her answer to that was, oh so surprisingly, that no one is going to come in. She then called me passive-aggressive for not bringing it up until then, and I countered by admitting that it was p-a, a bit, but trying to imply, or in general say more gently than blurting it out, that I was not and am not comfortable talking to her (because she does not freaking respond. At all. Really creepy to someone from a highly verbal family), and she responded with the incredibly profound cliche, "it's a two-way street."

Now, what I find fascinating about this whole thing is that we were both responding according to our conditioning--at least I was. It's an absolute in my house that no one is perfect. So I gave ground at the accusation of being passive-aggressive, expecting a similar response from her, because that's how discussions (i.e., not yet fights) work in my house--but instead, I smacked into a brick wall. Roomie, on the other hand, sort of approached things with an "I'm never wrong" attitude, and managed to very quickly self-justify out of any fault on her side. I don't know what background gave her that attitude, but the odds are rather better than even that that is how her family of origin acts during discussions.

So, fast-forward to a night the next week. I was changing clothes, but hadn't locked the door, because I'll let no one say that I'm not reasonable on issues that do not darn well matter. She walked in, while I was in an in-between stage (just pants, thank heaven), and I said, in a voice which my family would recognize as protest but not outrage, "You could knock!" I then listened, with far more patience than I would have had if I actually had been upset, to her righteous indignation about not expecting to knock to walk into her own bedroom. I thought, after the fact, that her word choice there was interesting--I would never say, "my bedroom" when referring to my dorm room, because it isn't "my bedroom," it's my home away from home. My home on campus stops at the door which she so often does not lock--but for her, this same space is chiefly a place to sleep.

She objects to me locking the door, because it's inconvenient for her, and never considers that any other perspective could be possible. She objects to my reasoning, because "no one would do that"--herself excepted. She rejects my concerns about unlocked doors because "it's passive-aggressive not to have brought them up earlier." She could be a model for the wonderful new how-to show, "How to be right in any argument, no matter how reasonable or well thought out the other side is." It's really fascinating to discover how someone's mind works--and I mean that not at all sarcastically! I probably have a better idea of my dear roomie's motivations than she does right now--it's largely academic, since even given her motivations I have no clue how to deal with her, but I do feel better knowing that I am not her real problem.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

German Practice to Life Truth

Whatever is the world coming to? Two posts in one week?--It's only because I have a score which I need to number my measures for (oh, I forgot to tell the blog since I haven't posted since the end of last semester--I'm in choir, taking it for 1 hour of credit; half the room is charming, musical women and the other half is charming, musical eyecandy I mean men), so this is basically an avoidance method. Not to mention, I had a thought which wouldn't fit into 140 characters. Amazing, ne?

So, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my fun days, with choir starting at 11:30 and running till almost 1, and then 4th semester German at 3pm. Herr S is a lot of fun, and since we have two oral exams (in which the point will be not to be grammatically correct but accurate in pronunciation and able to get the point across to a native speaker), he makes a point of making us get up and talk--always about hard questions that you can easily say a lot about. One of today's topics was, "What are your personal faults--what do you have trouble with in your relationships?"

After a little bit, I came up with, "Ich will immer, dass ich im Zentrum sein [probably should be bleiben, but I was talking]. Weil ich sehr ruhig bin, ist es nicht deutlich [again, probably not correct usage, but I didn't have a dictionary--that's sort of the point of these], aber ist's so." The rough translation of that is, "I always want to be the center of attention. It's not obvious, because I'm very quiet, but it's nevertheless so!"

So this evening I was thinking about this--things which you say tend to stick in your mind, for good or bad--and I thought, "I managed to basically sum up every human fault, or at least the root of every human fault, in two sentences and in a foreign language, no less." Joe (I feel safe putting his first name on here, since it's very common--there are even two Joes in our classroom) came up with, "I'm very stubborn, and I always want my way and never to give in"--more or less the same thing. You might have to substitute a word or two--I'm thinking chiefly of "center of attention" here--but basically it expresses the same outlook. "I am the center, the most important thing, don't mess with me, don't try to substitute your clearly inferior way/person into the space where my way/person so obviously belongs......"

Almost any conflict between humans--I don't mean rationally expressed differences of opinions, but real fights about ways things should be done--can be put into these terms, I think, of each thinking himself the most important person.

Profoundly misguided, when you consider the self-evident truth that the sun would stop shining without my existence...... ;-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a very bad blogger, who went for, oh, about 2 and a half months without blogging at all. (This is particularly heinous because in this blog break fell Christmas, and our blogger made out like a bandit, yet didn't show any pictures of the loot.)

Now this blogger was a college student, and she cordially disliked her roommate. It was nothing personal; they just had nothing in common. The blogger was a very quiet person, keeping regular hours for bedtime and mostly sticking to her room. She also, and this is important to the story, needed quiet while sleeping--not absolute quiet, but for the room to be mostly dark and mostly quiet. ("What happens on the other side of the door can stay there, and I'll ignore it, but don't let it come in," was her general philosophy.) But the blogger's roomie, whom we shall call X in the time-honored fashion, was a social butterfly, often not coming back till the wee hours were getting quite large, especially on the weekend, and then turning on her light (admittedly necessary, as her chair tended to migrate into the middle of the walkway), go through her bedtime routine fairly quietly, and then, then, my friends, she would turn on the TV.

For you see, this X could not sleep without noise from the TV. Our blogger vainly suggested music, podcasts, perhaps even episodes on Hulu--something which could come through earbuds!--but to no avail. As humans often are, X was persuaded that only the way to which she was accustomed could possibly work. (This opened our blogger's eyes to that particular bad habit in her own life, and she thereafter tried to take advice that went against her inclination but that she knew was good for her.) At the time of this story, our blogger's college had just reconvened after Christmas break, and there had been an extra-long weekend because of a nasty storm which piled snow atop ice.

The scene was the wee-to-largeish hours of Monday morning. The blogger is quite certain of this, as she finished a particularly gripping book around 11:30, and thus wasn't in bed until midnight. She vaguely heard X come in, put on her "black-out shade eyelids," turned herself away from the light, and restarted her podcasts, so she wouldn't be drawn into the stories issuing glibly from the TV. The TV was louder than usual, the hour was later, the blogger's sleep more fragile as she had recently been on break--for any or all of these reasons, the blogger spent nearly 2 hours half-awake, until the sleep timer mercifully shut the TV off--eight or so minutes after which, her trusty Clip ran out of battery. Our blogger reflected later that the timing could not have been more perfect.

When morning broke, more than it had already, our blogger turned off her alarm and promptly fell asleep again. When she was jolted out of sleep by X's phone alarm, her words were--and I believe this is accurate, though the blogger would be unwilling to testify its truth in a court of law-- "Crap crap crap!"

She climbed hurriedly out of bed, thanking heaven she had laid out her clothes the night before, and whisked through the shower in 12 minutes flat, leaving her precisely on schedule despite the unexpected half-hour sleep-in.

Our blogger thinks, despite everything in her which tells her that the relationship was thoroughly dysfunctional, that she is grateful to have had the experience of someone who is utterly careless of anyone's comfort but their own.

"It gave me confidence that I can recognize dysfunctional relationships, steer clear of them while they aren't large commitments, and that I can cope with one if forced into it," says the blogger. "I have concrete experience now of how selfish people can be, and reason that I should not get emotionally involved with anyone with these characteristics--and reason to never let myself get there, to change while the habit is small. Furthermore, I got all of this experience without the messiness of romantic attachment or being married!"

She has a point, don't you think? How much easier to get learning experiences from a roommate, whom you aren't committed to, than even a boyfriend!