Saturday, December 30, 2006

Arrows 2006

2007 is only two days away, which means that every media outlet is releasing top ten lists and "Best *insert category here* of 2006" features. Some reminiscences are cheesy, others are funny (I rather guiltily admit that I watched the best commercials of 2006 special and laughed. A lot.), all are carefully selected and presented in such a way as to be entertaining. I make no such promise. But, as it is the end of the year, I wanted to do a little introspective ranting and raving. I wanted to present this in the Newsweek style with up arrows, down arrows, and side-to-side arrows, but I'm not particularly good at html, so if it doesn't work, forgive me.

↑ Moving to a new city I adore the city where I now reside, I love the southern weather, and being near my aunt is fabulous. It's amazing to have so many resources at my fingertips and my apartment isn't even too tiny. In addition, my roommate is awesome. While my furniture leaves a bit to be desired, the new location is definitely a step up.

↔ Graduating I got my college degree this year. When this happened, I was a bit shocked. I didn't feel like I'd done enough work to suddenly be a college graduate. I felt like I just showed up for classes for 4 years and they were giving me a degree. Beyond that, it isn't even a particularly useful degree; when I tell people what my degree is in, they look at me VERY confusedly and demand an explanation. And graduating meant moving away from some really incredible friends. But, as boring as the ceremony was, I had a great time over the weekend of graduation hanging out with family and friends. Not to mention that I learned a TON in undergrad and grew up a lot. I'm just still amazed that it's over.

↑ Travel I went on an incredible mission trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil this year that reminded me of the beauty of the world, the commonality of people across the globe, and the enduring tragedy of poverty. I got to make a summer trip to visit family out west, which was unbelievably fun, and I got to make my annual pilgrimmage to my grandparents' house for Christmas. I didn't go 9000 miles this year, but it was still a good year for travel.

↑ Work I know, an up arrow next to "work" seems a bit incongruous, but I had several jobs that I enjoyed this year. I picked up Statistics tutoring in addition to my usual Geology, which meant more fun students and (thankfully) more income. Then I spend the summer doing my favorite job of all: ASP staff. I won't elaborate on that here, since I have before and probably will again later. Then I spent a semester blissfully unemployed, focusing on schoolwork, before getting a fabulous job opportunity for next year. Suffice it to say, I was pleased with my employment (and unemployment) this year.

↓ State of the World As I spent the year insulating myself in my bubbles of school and work, I grew more and more frightened and irritated by the state of the world. Domestic policies were enacted that make my blood boil. The U.S. continued to bully and alienate our neighbors. The violence in the Middle East intensified, poverty and disease plagued most of Africa, yet celebrity culture continued to rule the headlines.

↑ Graduate School I thrived in my first semester of seminary. I can finally be accepted as both liberal and Christian at the same time, by the same people. I enjoyed the coursework and realized that I can handle the level and amount of work quite well. Above all, I met and made friends with some incredible people. I can look back on my struggles to decide in March/April and say decisively that I mad the right choice of schools

↔ Romance This year I attempted to obey the cliches by "being true to myself" and "following my heart" with mixed results. I strived for the amazing, and on the way I hurt someone wonderful. I did what I felt I had to. Perhaps it was selfish. I don't know. Since then I have been in pursuit of fireworks. And maybe I've found some. But that is another story for another year.

↑ Family With every year older I get, I learn to appreciate my family more. We play Confusion and Mafia together, we talk on the phone, and we hug whenever we meet. We are all as stubborn as mules, so we nag and argue with each other constantly. The political and theological views some of my family members hold make me want to scream. But, in spite of it all, I love them and I'm glad I have them. I got to see all but one of my cousins this year, and all of my aunts and uncles, which was an incredible blessing. This was likely the last Christmas at the house my grandparents have lived in for two decades, and seeing my family together there reminded me of just how lucky we are to still be able to do that.

? The Future I have no idea what the future holds in any of these categories and I'm not going to speculate about it here. I'm also not going to list my New Years resolutions (because I wouldn't stick to them anyway) or give some bland platitude about faith for the future. I'm just going to wish you, whoever you are, a close of 2006 with no regrets and a 2007 that starts with hope.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Goodnight Dear Void

Please pat me on the back: I have finished my first semester of grad. school without failing anything, getting totally overwhelmed, or freaking out. Score one for me.

I've got a lot of stuff rattling around in my head aching to get out into long, rambling posts, but none of it is crystallized enough to write about at any great length. Instead, I leave you with these questions:

-How do we trust God with our futures when our minds are busy imagining worst-case scenarios for how our lives will play out?

-What's the proper level of disclosure when an application asks for "a reasonably full account of your life, including important events, relationships with people who have been significant to you, and the impact these events and relationships have had on your development"?

-How many books is it logical to take on a six-day vacation?

-What does it say about me that I care more about the quality of dialogue and character development in movies and books than I do about the plot, writing style, or cinematography?

-How many trees die for the sake of holiday celebrations between the Christmas trees and the use of wrapping paper?

-How do I find my place in the tension between causes that impassion me and the institutions working on those causes that infuriate me?

-Why is it that, despite wonderful feedback in most areas, we focus on the few bits of criticism that are sent our way?

-What am I doing spouting off these questions at 2 a.m. when I should be sleeping?