Saturday, January 30, 2010

What I Learned Today In Art Class

Well, I have started art classes. I used to paint when I was in 3rd grade at Mrs. Bereskin's house. I loved going to paint class, and actually the watercolor of the lighthouse I did in 3rd grade is probably better than anything I could pull off now. I dabbled in art again my senior year of high school, but college came and the artsy side of my brain was put on hold for the academic side (I refrained from saying the "creative" side of my brain because I think sociologists have to be extremely creative). Anywho, I decided since I had a bit o' free time that I would get a new hobby (or I guess in this case rekindle the old one). Maybe meet some new friends, you never know (although: side note--it turns out I have the hobbies of an elderly person, as nearly every extracurricular activity I have gotten involved in here has resulted in me being the youngest person in the room by about 25 years). So, I began painting classes. It's been a great experience, and has brought out things in me I didn't even know I could do, which is why I love art. I drew a very nice picture of a vase my first day and a glass jar with some cous cous in it my second class. I'm now working on my first painting EVER: a rendering of a famous painting by Hopper. It turns out that painting is a very spiritual experience. People have always said this, but I never understood it until I experienced it. Today there I was painting away and my teacher said something that struck me: she said something to the effect of how it is amazing that painting can satisfy the soul so much...that people simply love to create. And it made me think that maybe this is because we are mimicking our own Creator. It was just a thought I had, and it all made sense to me for some reason--that when we do the things that mimic God, it is as if our soul is awakened and peace can set in. I don't know if that's true or not, but I hope that it is.

Later in the class she came over to look at my work and she asked me if I was having fun or if I was frustrated. I said a little bit of both. It's always frustrating to me (and I'm sure it is to anyone) when they are trying to do something and for some reason what's in their mind's eye isn't coming out onto the canvas (or you can't find the right words or the right music notes, or whatever it is you are trying to do). And she said to me that she could tell that I have high expectations of myself, and that this was a good thing because my learning curve was going to be high. And I had never looked at that part of myself as a positive thing for some reason, I've rather despised that part of myself because it can be maddening. I've always struggled with perfectionism, and it probably contributes to 99 percent of my insecurities. I think sometimes high expectations can become negative if you let it consume you--sometimes you never really commit to anything because you don't want to be a failure and subsequently never let yourself become successful at very much. But to look at it as a positive--that if I keep aiming high I'll achieve a lot, was a beautiful concept and something I hope I will embrace instead of letting life weigh me down. Well, Law and Order: SVU is on.

Shoot! I've already seen it!!! Argh!


I miss Seattle most days. Nay, every day. Every time there is rain here it's nearly enough to send me running back to the space needle. I like Connecticut a lot, but my heart longs for the runs I used to go on to Kerry Park, Macrina, Trophy Cupcakes, my friends, Greenlake. I miss Sociology classes too. Well I could go on. I do love my job here. A lot. The women I work with are fantastic and I have learned so much from them, I just wish I could pick up my life here and combine it with Seattle. It makes me think of one of my favorite Donald Miller quotes:

Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same pages recurrently.

And I think this is true. The thing is, if I would have stayed in Seattle I know it wouldn't have been the right thing. I think I would have come to resent it in some ways: I needed a new challenge, I needed some adventure. I know that this is where I have to be for this moment in my life, and there is a lot of comfort in that, as painful as it can be sometimes. And as much as I loved Seattle when I was there, I will appreciate it all the more when I return.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Lion King Is Out of Control

Tonight I saw "The Lion King" on Broadway. I saw what the critics have been raving about--this show was M-O-N-E-Y to say the very least. I highly recommend it. The visuals are out of this world, and I think I must have ooohed, ahhhed and asked "how the heck did they do that?!" at least once a minute. I think I am officially a Broadway junkie. Next stop: "Wicked."

My Favorite Conversation with a Student This Year

Student: Jess! Come here! (waves me over)
Student's Friend: Shhh don't ask her out loud, it might be embarrassing (Student then gestures for me to come near her)
Student: (Whispering) We were just you wear a Bump It??
And then I got to share with them that my tease is all natural, and they were in awe. Later that day I was telling one of my RA's about this hilarious incident and how apparently students think I wear a Bump It, to which she replied that was "word on the street." Interesting. I didn't know I was that good.

Winter Wonderland is Right

Campus today.
(click to get a bigger view)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


God in the finest. This is what I got to look at all fall.

Why I Love My Exercise Buddy

We have this program at school via the gym called "Exercise Buddies." Basically, you grab a partner, and you have to go to the gym so many times in a month. It's sort of an accountability thing so people get more jazzed about physical health, because you have someone else to answer to. Anywho, I LOVE my exercise buddy. Because sure enough, when I arise in the morning and the last thing I want to do is go to the gym, I think, "I need to go, or Exercise Buddy will not be pleased." And this makes me get my butt out of bed (I also sometimes imagine myself as Rachel on Glee in that scene that shows her vigorously getting out of bed at 6 AM and very hyperactively running on her elliptical to trick myself out of bed). But I think there is a much bigger lesson to be learned here, much grander then The Exercise Buddy. We weren't meant to do anything alone. We are meant for community. We are healthier (and in the case of The Exercise Buddy, literally healthier) for it. We keep each other going, and there is someone else to answer to besides ourselves. It is much, much harder to fail. And I love that.

And it was the best sermon I ever did hear

This past week we had a program at school to honor MLK, Jr. For those of you who may not be familiar with this particular acronym, that is short for "Martin Luther King, Jr." I'd like to add "The Great" after Junior, but that's sort of like "Atilla the Hun" and might be a bit of a mouthful. And his acronym would be MLK, JR.TG. No. Anyways, a young reverend from a Baptist church came and spoke. And boy, was it a great sermon. One of the best I've heard in a long while. Its probably because I'm into sociology and I give a resounding "Hell yeah!" to anyone who is astute enough to see through the American myth of individualism, but rather that we are collective communities. And this is extremely difficult to see, and I still struggle with it. He re-iterated over and over the necessity of seeing ourselves not just as individuals, but as communities. I ate this up. For dessert. Because those are very sweet words to me. I try to teach students this every day of my life: You are not an entity, isolated, free-acting being. You affect your community. You affect the college. You can affect the world. This is why its hard to get people on board with environmentalism or the end of poverty: "I don't care because it doesn't affect ME." My least favorite answer: so please come up with something better. We have have have to start seeing ourselves as collective communities or we will never get anywhere, and Christians are the WORST at seeing this--because it comes down to you and your relationship with God, and why do you have to care about anyone else if its just about you and God? We would probably not say that aloud, but it's what we believe. But the Bible is much more about collective bodies. I once had a professor who challenged us to look through the New Testament and see how many times Paul in particular uses pronouns like "ours" or "us." And let me tell you, it's a lot. If we keep getting caught in the disease that is individualism we will never get anywhere. This reverend gave me hope. Let us pray, let us pray...and let us bring heaven to earth.

Why I Love Mariska Hargitay

I've recently become an avid fan of Law and Order: SVU. And when I say "avid" I mean "obsessed." As in after-sitting-and-watching-an-entire-SVU-marathon-via-USA-Network-I-still-want-more obsessed. I hadn't encountered the show before (yes, apparently I was living under a pop culture rock for the last 10 years), and this kid I met at the airport strongly suggested I watch it. And, low and behold, what was on when I arrived back in Boise? Thank you, Airport Guy from Yale for introducing me to an amazing show. But why is it that I love SVU so much? I love a lot of things. Cupcakes. Labrador Retrievers. Bon Jovi. But what I love about SVU is that it is actually an intellectually stimulating show (unlike some of the junk I watch). They present very real issues and very accurate information about issues like rape and domestic violence. I love Detective Benson because she is an extremely strong, intelligent character: the show rarely delves into her personal life, she's not sleeping around with everyone nor is she obsessed with getting married or having kids, and her relationship with Detective Stabler shows that men and women can indeed have a deep, plutonic friendship. She's not reed thin. She does not let people walk all over her, she sticks up for herself, and she's just all around kick ass. The show focuses on her as a competent career woman. I must say that it is AWESOME and let me reiterate AWESOME to have a strong female character to have for a role model. Don't get me wrong, the show isn't perfect and has some issues, but it is certainly a great step forward. Let me tell you, it is hard to find many female characters on television (at least the shows I watch) that are not obsessed with marriage, children, and don't look like supermodels. So, hats off to you Mariska Hargitay. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to. This is why I love you.

*Sidenote: as much as a fan I am of being politically active, voting, civic duty and the like, I was extremely bitter when, come 9/8 central Law and Order: SVU was NOT on NBC...and there was President Obama giving the State of the Union Address. Why not Thursday? Yeah, tradition, yadda yadda yadda. In the future, I encourage you to not schedule during a very popular prime time show. And yes I realize the importance of the State of the Union address, however I just needed this selfish moment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blast from the Past

I found this picture from my first year of college.

It captures the essence and the beauty that are my friends.

I remember these moments and simply think "joy."

Read Me! Read Me!

These are two books I hope to read ASAP (when I have $$$ to purchase them)

The first is exploring how being liberal and being a Christian can in fact go together and need not be mutually exclusive (and they do go together, quite beautifully in my opinion). I am also excited to read this one because sometimes when you lean to the left and are an evangelical Christian such as myself it can be lonely, one can be misunderstood and we tend to be in the minority. And for the record, I feel very hesitant to say "liberal" because that tends to put all sorts of negative, nasty, and unfounded connotations in people's heads, and I do not like throwing that term around and what it means for me without being able to dialogue it. But I digress. Bottom line: iwanttoreadthisbook.

The second is about the positive thinking, and how maybe we're not happy because we are...too positive...? Interesting and intriguing to say the very least. And a special thanks to Dr. Ehrenreich for always providing insightful sociological musings (she's the author of Nickel and Dimed in case you didn't know).

Grad Skewl is Kewl

Last night I had my first graduate class. It is entitled "Gender and Diversity," so you can imagine the immense pleasure I have that I should get to participate in something so fascinating and so right up my ally. My professor is a total hippie (which I love), and people were getting very feisty with their opinions (which they tend to do when it comes to these issues). I managed to speak up twice in class, which I considered quite an accomplishment, although this environment is a lot different from my undergrad where I was the front row squatter and didn't stop talking. Now its all I can do to a) get the nerve to speak in class and b) be able to get a word in edge wise even if I think of something graduate-level worthy to say. Well, any who, there I was enjoying the discussion of social class and what happens? My cell phone goes off. I was that person. And I can't STAND that person. Its really just in poor taste, and horribly disrespectful and distracting. And to make it worse, my cell phone ring sounds like a mixture between a toilet flushing and a light saber, so people began COMMENTING on said ring tone--WHICH I only selected because the RA's made me change it because it was the same as their duty phone ring, so they'd get spooked every time it went off because they were afraid that a horrible emergency could possibly be transpiring and someone was calling to tell them the campus is going down in flames. Anywho, I turned a lovely deep red color, dug through my coat and found my phone and promptly silenced it. Rob Sesser, for the record, please do not call me Monday nights between the hours of 6:45 and 8:45 Eastern Standard Time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I don't like blogs.

Well. I have decided to start a blog. I've been toying with the idea of whether I should enter the blogging world for a long time. I've been moderately opposed to blogging for quite awhile a) because sometimes I wonder if the world is ready for me b) I don't like the inability to have a conversation/dialogue about said blog. I could write something, and one could interpret it to be something entirely different then what it was mean to be, and this does not sit well with me and c) It seems a bit...dare I say...self-centered? I only say this because I was reading a book called "Generation Me" (totally fabulous, you should get your hands on a copy), and the author talks a lot about how our generation is basically obsessed with ourselves as individuals. We get personalized things when we're younger with our names on them, in elementary school you fill out worksheets called "All About Me," its all about how YOU want things all the time verses what might be better for the collective whole (I'm a sociologist, this is how we think). Why do you think we love things like facebook? Because we have entire pages dedicated to ourselves--our likes, our interests, our jobs. And blogs are really no different. "This is what I want to say, so world hear me!" And yes, I do realize the irony that I am indeed playing exactly into the thing that I oppose. So, all that said, I was a little bit hesitant to start a blog. d) I have a horrible, annoying fear that people will judge what I say and write me off. I don't know why I'm so afraid of this, but I am. And, in a form such as a blog, there I would be, completely defenseless. Plus, sometimes I think people read blogs and think that is ALL the author is thinking. Or maybe that's just me. But, it is my New Year's Resolution to stop caring so much. So, you ask, why did you start a blog? Well, Generic Blog Reader, I started a blog because a) Rob told me to. b) I live far away from home and my dear loved ones might be interested (or maybe not, again with the narcissism) to know what my life is like in Connecticut c) there are some things I am passionate about in life and I feel like they should be spoken about. One of my favorite blogs is dedicated entirely to social justice and has changed my thoughts about things and keeps me informed. Blogs can most certainly be positive as far as change and broadening perspectives is concerned. Finally, d) I'll admit I find writing very therapeutic, and sometimes more so when I feel like I am writing to an audience. Writing makes me stop and think and be. It makes me look more deeply at the world and appreciate it, and maybe I can share that with others in one common experience (for as individual as blogging may appear to be). And I love that.

So, anywho, should you care to read my blog that is awesome. If not, that is just as awesome.