Something Inspiring

January 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm (Real Life) ()

I was browsing Cakewrecks, a site that I first started following because it is hilarious, when I saw something very interesting for a site usually concerned with bad decorating choices. In response to the Haiti crisis, they urged people to support Doctors Without Borders, a charity that they originally brought to attention during Christmas. Following links on the site, I found the info about their charity countdown over the holidays. Each day, a different charity was highlighted and a page created for donations. The goal was for each reader to donate a dollar to the charity, if not more, and with everyone’s help, to raise $10,000 dollars a day. Many goals were met, some were not, but the results were still astounding.

The charities highlighted over two weeks covered a wide range of causes: Heifer International , Share our Strength, Puffy Paws Kitty Haven , To Write Love on Her Arms, and Free The Slaves, to name a few of the charities.

The one that stood out the most to me was called Love 146, a group of people dedicated to ending child sex trafficking and slavery. The story of the founding of the organization is particularly touching and terrifying, and you can read it here if you would like.

I thought that this was an amazing idea, and a beautiful image of human kindness and love. That a couple of people with a blog could change so many lives by just asking people to donate a little time and a little money. In all the crisis, tragedy, evil, and greed in the world today, it is refreshing and reassuring to see people willing to reach out and help others.

For the full list of charities supported, as well as links to all the sites and donation pages, go to the Cakewrecks Charity Countdown page.

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Chicago Trip II

November 17, 2009 at 11:24 am (Real Life, Spiritual, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Part I

Well, I’m at work again and should be working on a paper, but my brain is still too fuzzy. Having this opening shift on Tuesday is not my favorite. Anything that requires me to wake up at 6:30 and brave the cold is not my idea of fun. But, that’s okay. I’ll make it through the end of the semester. So, since I don’t want to work on homework, I ought to work some more on all the Chicago stuff. It was such a great trip, and I really enjoy the processing of information that comes as I write this.

Well, I ended last time at the mosque. By then we were running pretty well behind schedule and needed to get back into the city to visit our last location of the day. This time we were on our way to a Soka Gokkai information center. Soka Gokkai is a branch of Buddhism that is centered around chanting and contemplation of the Lotus Sutra. We were greeted by a band of flag waving members, a victorious song playing in the background. They clapped and cheered, welcoming us to the center, and ushered us into a comfortable room to sit and learn. Two young guys came up to begin introducing the beliefs and quickly moved on to their chants for the evening. The main part of this chant is the repetition of a single phrase, “Nam myoho renge kyo.” They use something that looks like rosary beads in order to engage the sense of touch, and at various times strike a metal bowl to produce a beautiful ringing. The chanting is hypnotic, but a little unsettling as well. After a short while. the two men stood and closed the golden doors that housed a page of writing, revered as the Gohonzon. From there, another man joined them to further explain the beliefs of the Soka. Each gave his testimony, to borrow a typically Christian term, of how this chanting had caused positive change in their lives. By doing so, it awakened the inner Buddha nature and allowed the self to accomplish more through this determination. One man told the story of how he had gotten into college despite being from the wrong side of Chicago, how things had fallen in place to clear his debts. Hearing this, all I could think was that this chanting had so little to do with it. This religion, while appealing to many, seems to unfulfilling to me. There is nothing more than who you are, no source outside. Any benefit comes solely from the self, and so there seems little purpose in all the chanting. The main task is to create good causes, by chanting and doing good for others. That is admirable and I will never discourage someone from helping others, but it seems like religion without any real sacrifice of the self. In the end, it felt more like a relaxing, meditation than religion.

That evening, we had some time to spend in the city, though only a few hours. I went with some friends to the Hard Rock Cafe and spent way too much on delicious food, but it was a time for fun and fellowship. We discussed a lot of what we had seen and it was obvious that most of us were still figuring everything out. Soon, we had to head back to the hostel for devotional. There, we sang songs to praise God and then had a chance for anyone who wanted to, without comment, read a passage of scripture. It was very uplifting. Exactly what we all needed after hearing so many different viewpoints and having so much to think about.

Saturday came early, though we did have a little more time to sleep. We still had to be on our way bright and early to see all we had planned. We began at a Synagogue for Sabbath worship, where we met some of the nicest and most informative people of any encounter. It was obvious that they were more than happy to explain to us what they were doing, why they did it, and what it all meant, and it was definitely helpful that i knew the story of Judaism as well as I did my own faith. The two are forever intertwined. They sang mostly in Hebrew, explaining throughout in English for all the visitors. After numerous songs and passages, the Torah was brought out and read from for a fairly long time. After more songs, the rabbi stood up and presented a lesson about culture and Judaism that was very interesting and, fortunately, in English. Worship, a two and a half hour process, ended with a song led by the children, announcements, and then a reception. They had prepared cakes and drinks for us, and we all ate and talked before returning to the auditorium to ask questions. Our friend there was more than helpful and gladly answered any questions we had. He was a amiable, kind man and it was a pleasure to hear him speak and articulate so well the answers.

These two different meetings contrasted so sharply in my mind. Both are ancient faiths (though Judaism is the older by far), and both spent most of their time in a language that I was hopeless to understand, but they were really so very different. Soka Gokkai says the power is within the self, the inner Buddha nature, to accomplish all. Judaism relies on God among the whole of Israel to provide and save. One had very few guidelines, another has many times been defined by their multitude of regulations. In Judaism, I see people who have sought and found something everlasting, but I cannot say the same for Buddhism. Those in the Soka temple were looking for temporary relief in this world through inner strength, but Judaism finds comfort in the Lord. I do not know the Lord’s intent for those practicing Judaism today, and I would feel very arrogant trying to determine the Lord’s mind and will for anything, not to mention something so huge as the eternal fate of His once-Chosen people, but I do know that, if I had to choose one religion of these two, one would be fulfilling and provide something that I could truly call religion. Not that I would convert, of course, because I think Christianity is the way, but in a purely hypothetical realm.

And next time I will conclude with the trip, speaking about the Hindu Temple and Sikh service. Both were very interesting and inspiring, in their own way, but that must wait for a later time.
Until then,

God Bless.

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The Chicago Trip 1

November 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I know it has been forever since I’ve posted, but time has never coincided with something worthy of sharing. Finally, I have time to sit and type. In fact, it’s almost all I can do. My new job as a computer lab attendant leaves a lot of time left to sit and stare at a computer monitor. Homework out of the way, I figured I could put the time to good use.

I recently had the chance to go to Chicago. Sadly, after fourteen hours in a minibus, there was little sightseeing done and I will one day have to return to see the beautiful city. Sightseeing wasn’t our purpose, though, and so the trip was still immensely valuable. The trip was organized through my Bible class this semester, Living World Religions. IN the course of the semester, we have studied numerous religions that span the globe, and this trip was a chance to experience firsthand the cultures and people that our textbook had only hinted at.

Last Thursday, during the early morning, 105 students including myself packed up and left Harding’s campus for a long day traveling across Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. We arrived safely after a few bus problems, all a little tired and sore after so long. It took fourteen hours, as I said earlier, to reach the city, and by then we were ready to say goodbye to this day and sleep away the few hours we had until it was time to go again. Five o’clock felt like midnight, and by the time we reached the city at ten, most people were barely awake.

Friday came early in the hostel and I awoke to hair dryers going off at six in the morning in preparation to leave at eight. Sleep was apparently not high on the priority list for the week. Now, I suppose, would be a good time to confess that I had not been particularly excited about the trip. I was missing a lot of things going on back at campus, and it also required me spending about one hundred dollars I was not expecting. Friday morning, I was content to just stick it out and suffer through the long weekend. Always a little late, we left downtown Chicago and headed out of the temple towards a Baha’i House of Prayer. It was a magnificent structure. White with delicate, lace-like supports and walls, it had nine entrances, each surrounded by gardens and ponds. The morning was cold and, not surprisingly in Chicago, windy, and so the decorative outside was bypassed in favor of the warm interior.

The Baha’i faith is an interesting one. I can see the appeal, but I also can see the flaws. I do not doubt that a follower could easily explain some of them away, but I also do not feel like that is possible without belittling my faith and misrepresenting it. See, Baha’i believe that all major world religions are, actually, the same. At the core, they claim, each religion holds the same beliefs and teachings. It is the social laws that set them apart, and so many different teachers have appeared in order to “update” the religion for a modern era. The most recent was their prophet Baha’ullah, and another is not predicted to appear for one thousand years. They teach the unity of all faiths, and believe that anyone faithfully following these truths will be rewarded by learning skills necessary to use in the next world for drawing closer to God. One disturbing idea explained to us was of the afterlife. A soul never reaches God, but only strives for His perfection. There is no existing in the presence of God, for this would mean equality with God. Instead, the eternal soul continues developing skills to draw closer and closer, while still always being apart.

After this very interesting experience, we were again on our way. This next stop was one I was very curious about, and a little nervous as well. We arrived at the mosque a bit late for the prayers, but fortunately they seems to be running a bit behind as well. The women in the group walked upstairs for prayers while the men stayed below. Everyone removed their shoes and, after a devotional thought was brought by one of the men of the assembly, the noon prayers began. I must admit, I was somewhat confused. I had begun sitting in the back of the group to allow the worshipers the front to see the imam, but soon a Muslim woman came and ushered us to the front few rows. Once it was time for the prayers to begin, they quickly shuffled us off to the side to stand and watch. Later, one young lady came and told us that it was because they could pray towards no one but God, and so we could not be seated in front of them. Watching and hearing the prayers was an experience. These people are very devout, very sincere and loyal to Allah. I was touched by the sight of a woman weeping during these prayers. So often I feel that we portray Muslims s the worst kind of lost people, those seeking only to mislead and destroy. In fact, they are so much like us, it is startling. The religion is different, and I believe that our loving God wants to be Father and not a distant and exalted figure, but there is no denying the sincerity these people have in worship. After the service, we put our shoes on and rejoined the men downstairs for an explanation of Islam by one of the leader of the mosque.

Mr. Dogar was an older man from Pakistan who spoke with a heavy accent and a great deal of authority. He explained the origins of Islam, the basic tenets, and how Muslims followed Christ better than Christians. He left us with a packet of information to support this claim, citing the fact that Jesus had a beard, wore robes, and never touched the opposite sex outside of miracles and ministry as evidence of a Muslim superior loyalty to Christ. He was an interesting man who intimidated me, but not a malicious character of any sort. In fact, the congregation (I suppose the term can be applied to any gathering of people) had cooked all 105 of us a meal. It was a very delicious taste of Indian/Pakistani food and after a lot of fast food already, a very welcomed break. Of course, we were still behind on our schedule and it had to be a very brief visit, but it was still nice. I was surprised by the hospitality. I cannot say that, should a group of Muslim school kids ask to come by many of the churches I know, they would be met with such hospitality and openness. We tend to see our only mission to beat the Bible’s truth into people before we ever offer to build a relationship with them or even explain who we really are. I think that’s part of the reason so many misunderstand the purpose and desire of Christianity.

I will continue with the trip later. There are, in fact, four more religions that we visited, and each had something new to add in my growth over the weekend. This post is long enough and I know that any readers I might have will not want to stare at the computer so long. Until later,

God Bless.

Part II

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Looking Back at Where I’ve Been

June 20, 2009 at 10:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

The spring is gone. My summer is…busy. I managed to go from sitting at home all day, to only seeing my house long enough to go to sleep and maybe say hi to Mom and Dad. Life has a funny way of doing that to you.

I am beginning to realize now how amazing last semester truly was. I always knew that it was an incredible experience, but it was reality. Reality is normal; it is what you live in day in and day out. I couldn’t understand what I was living, because I was there. It was all first hand, a thousand memories and feelings to sort through each night as I tried going to sleep. I enjoyed myself immensely, it’s just that not it is really starting to sink in. The Adventure is moving from reality to memory, with it returns that sense of wonder and awe at all the people I met, the ways they changed me, the things I saw, and the steps I took to becoming a stronger and better person.

For anyone who may not know, after being in school in Florence, I traveled to Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Bern, Venice, Rome, Southern Italy, Apennines, Cinque Terre, Munich, Prague, Berlin, Luxembourg (to catch a train), Brussels, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London before finally heading home. It was a long journey, but one I am so glad I took.

I really am so grateful for every single person who spent those three months in the villa with me. Each person brought something new and interesting to the mix, each person had their special place. For the most part, we all got along wonderfully. There was always someone there to encourage and support you, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to laugh with. We really turned into a family. Everyone had their own struggles throughout the semester, and each time, people jumped at the chance to help their brother or sister. I had the most wonderful roommates. WE talked and teased and stayed up way too late, but it was all fun. Our room was probably too small to have the three of us crammed in there, but we survived, even with a bathroom built for maybe half a person. And it was fun. When life got tough, there were always two girls who would be there to put things into perspective. I have so many wonderful memories of the people I spent last semester with. Climbing up into the shadowed heights of Vernazza after a beautiful seaside devotional. Dancing on tables our last nights together. Running around Florence in crazy costumes for the Carnivale that apparently wasn’t celebrated. Sipping hot chocolate at Abetone with as many people as could fit around a table. Sitting in the basement and singing, praying, and praising God with such a beautiful group. I could go on and on. So many people that just made my heart feel so light. I know that every single person, student or staff alike, was a blessing I can hardly comprehend.

I saw things I never imagined. I think back now at all the places I went, all the images that will be forever in m memory. Why was I so blessed? I saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Coliseum, Park Guelf, Big Ben, Pedro the Bernish Bear, the market Easter Sunday in Prague, the Berlin Wall, and finally the image that will never leave me, that of the Doumo in the heart of Florence. That’s only a few of the wonders I saw. I never really imagined getting to see so much in such a short time. So beautiful. All the Churches, Cathedrals, Crypts, Monuments, and fountains that seemed to rise majestically around every single corner. Sants Chapel in Paris is still something that makes me marvel. Thank you God for such an amazing opportunity.

And I definitely gained a new appreciation for my family through all of this. I missed them a lot, so it’s nice to get to see them more than once a week now. I never could have gone if not for their financial and emotional support. I love them a lot, and it was hard to be away. But, sometimes you have to get away from all you know to finally appreciate who you are and what you have.

My greatest blessing for this trip was definitely the one that has been a blessing in my life since I met him. Sam stood by me for all of this, watching me run around the globe, sometimes disappearing for days on end so that I could finish my adventure. Thank you, Sam. You were always a ray of sunshine in my day, especially when I started to feel homesick or tired. You never let me give up on this experience. You always encouraged me to take hold of it with all I had and enjoy it to the fullest. If I had a dime for every time I cried missing you, I would be set for life. But, through all of that, we came out stronger. You are one of the greatest things to ever happen to me, and I am so thankful that God saw fit to put you in my life. Thank you for waiting for me to come back, even though the waiting was never easy. Thank you for all the things you had to put up with from me, the frustrations and annoyances that I vented to you. Thank you for taking time out every day to talk to me. Thank you for caring about the stories I had to share. Thank you for being a phenomenal boyfriend.

So, I have finally gotten a chance to look back. It was good. It was an experience I needed. It was difficult. But, God put me there for a reason, just like everyone else. And in the end, I just have to thank Him for leading me safely through it with a smile (most of the time) on my face.

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A Busy Few Weeks

February 26, 2009 at 9:07 am (Uncategorized)

Well, time has been flying past. In a week, I leave for spring break free travel. I’ll be going to Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris before returning to the villa. But it seems as if there are a thousand things to do before we get there! We’ve gotten plane tickets, but there’s many more reservations to make and plans to finalize. I’ll be traveling with Robert Cook, Maggie Davis, and Lindsay Wagner. We’re a small group, but that just gives us more flexibility in our plans.

It’s been packed getting to this point. A week ago, I had just returned from a ski trip in the Apennines. It was a really fun trip; I actually learned how to ski. Sadly, one of the girls broke her leg and had to return home for surgery and physical therapy. We were all very sad to see her leave, but reports say everything is going well.

Since I last wrote, we’ve been to Siena and San Gimignano, both very old and beautiful cities. They are just a few hours from Scandicci, so it wasn’t very long trip. We saw i Pagliacci in Italian, of course. It was a slightly modernized version, though all the songs were original, from what I can tell. (We cheated and watched it with subtitles at the villa before actually going to see it.) I had a taste of Italy where I ate entirely too much food. They served 15 different items and I sampled each. There was a chocolate festival in Scandicci that had free samples.

We’ve been to a Fiorentina soccer game and watched them win in the final seconds. The stands went crazy. And we even had a chance to celebrate Carnevale with masks and traditional desserts. And tacos, which, for some reason, I don’t think are traditional Italian.

Tomorrow we finally get to see the Uffizi. I’m very much looking forward to that. We’ve seen some very incredible works of art. Next Monday, we leave for Lucca/Pisa, and then on to Cinque Terre. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this trip. I have a day and a half back, and then it’s off to Spain. Time is just flying past.

Love and miss everyone. God Bless!

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Another Day in Italy

February 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm (Real Life) (, , , , , )

Well, Italy is still treating us pretty well. It’s been raining, so the weather isn’t quite as wonderful. But we all went into the city today.

Florence is an incredible place. We met a woman on the bus with her 8 month old child. Well, Corbin met her. She talked about the city and the people. Apparently, we won’t know how cold the Florentine people are until we see how friendly southern Italy is. She’s been traveling since she was five from all around Italy to Mexico and Guatemala. She worked odd jobs to support herself and continue her travel. In fact, she had just returned from Germany where her son’s father lives. It was a very interesting experience.

We found a really incredible church today off the beaten path. Everything is older here than anything in the States, and the art is breathtaking. It was called Ognissanti, and the painting on the wall were beautiful. Then I happened to look at the ceiling and I was amazed. It was really beautiful. Sadly, we couldn’t take flash photography, so the pictures came out a little blurry. But some of the beauty still translates.

We made our way to the market and I bought another Pashmina. I can’t help it! They’re soft, pretty, and moderately cheap. Hopefully I can hold off on buying more stuff for a few days. About the time we were packing up to come back for dinner, it started to pour. We got to make the twenty minute walk back to the villa in a downpour. I was soaked, to put it lightly.

Tomorrow we’re onsite in Florence for some HUmanities classes about the churches. We will also be going to the Academia where the David is housed along with many other statues. I am looking forward to it. Classes are going well, but everyone knows that isn’t why we’re here.

To Justin: Happy Birthday (in a few days…) little Brother!! Hope it’s great!
Mom: I’m going to have to bring home some recipes. Hope you can make time for some cooking this summer!
Dad: You’re going to love it here. Just so you know.
Sam: Still miss you a lot. Study hard and have lots of fun on campus.<3

Calea is in Israel, so keep her and the whole Greece trip in your prayers as they travel.

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Italia!

January 31, 2009 at 10:44 am (Real Life)

Well, I made it here. I’ve now seen Scandicci and Florence. Plus I have an awesome room (though small. We don’t really have a place for our bags and stuff…). It has a door that leads out to the terrace from which you can see Scandicci. It’s lovely. The weather has been nice. We’ve done a lot of walking and looking around. Nothing too exciting right now. The food is incredible!! Really, that’s something that is going to be nearly impossible to give up!

We started classes today, and that was interesting. I don’t think they’re going to be too bad, but there is definitely work. I have gotten a cursory glance at a lot of the sights in Florence, but I can’t wait to really see everything. I’m not going to give a day by day list, but things are going well. AS we start doing more, I’ll put in more information. As for now, I’m just excited about getting gelato tonight. Now a few pictures. 🙂

Mom and Dad, I’m doing great.
Sam, I miss you. Hope you’re having fun in Searcy!! ❤
Keep all the other trips in your prayer. Calea leaves for Egypt and Israel on Tuesday. I think.

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Something Awesome

January 12, 2009 at 5:32 pm (Random Thoughts)

#854 Crying « 1000 Awesome Things.

First, this site is a lot of fun. They have some reall wacky posts on there that often confuse, always amuse. It’s a lot of fun to check out every day.

Second, I really liked this Awesome Thing. There are just days when you need to cry, and I like that there’s actually a reason for this. Haha. And I thought it was pretty interesting that women cry five times as much as men. Figures. Well, hope life is wonderful!

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So Long 2008 (And Thanks for All the Fish!)

January 1, 2009 at 11:50 pm (Random Thoughts, Real Life, Relationships, Spiritual) (, , , , , , , , )

2008 has finally gone the way of every year and passed into memory. It was a long year. Okay, so it was only a day longer than three fourths of the others, but I’ve come a really long way. I mean, January 1, 2008 seems like a lifetime ago. I can barely remember it.

What was I doing last New Years? No idea. Maybe shopping. I know that I spent midnight at church, wondering why my phone had not rung with a New Year’s message and somewhat unconcerned with the sudden disappearance of every youth group couple. It was a great night with my friends. What it should have been.

So, what did 2008 hold for me? There was the end of one relationship, which led to a lot of growth on my part. I learned to lean on my friends, to find strength in God. I learned to rely on myself. There was a lot of sorting through issues that had not been completely resolved from the previous summer. I grew up a lot and finally discovered who I was. Now, I’m pretty happy with who that is. It took some breakdowns, some nights where I just shook my head and wondered who I had become. I had been trying really hard to succeed in life all on my own, and that wasn’t working. So, God tore me down to the foundation and I’ve been working to rebuild since then. This time, the right person has the blueprints. As long as I can keep myself from grabbing them out of His hands, I think I’ll be content with who I am.

I started a new relationship. It’s been one of the greatest blessings in my life to date. He accepts who I am and doesn’t ask me to be anyone else. He encourages me, inspires me, and makes me one of the happiest people alive. I couldn’t ask for anyone better. And I thank God for showing me someone so incredible,

I passed another semester of college and received my first B in five years. The perfectionist in me was upset for a time, but I’m really grateful for that B. Now, I’m not afraid of not being perfect. I want to do my best, but now I’m okay with the idea that my best may not always be perfect. In fact, it’s pretty arrogant to have thought it should be.

I had a great job working with two incredible children. I learned a lot about how families with small kids work, how a family is built. I learned a lot. They were a great example to me, since I’ve really never been old enough to notice the way a young family acts. It was a lot of fun.

I went to El Salvador again and learned that God is amazing, powerful, and always at work. I saw people brought together. I saw forgiveness. I felt my heartbreak, and felt a lot of hugs putting it back together. I saw examples of servants and I saw some things very opposite. I made a lot friends. I lost a few. That’s life. It sucks, but that’s life.

I got to go to Baltimore a couple of times. ☺ Definitely a fun experience.

I saw a new president elected. I got to watch all the conflicts and debates on campus, watch as people took their stands and began to care. I did see history, as the first black president was elected. And I pray that God blesses his term and our country.

I returned to Harding and had another incredible semester. I got good grades, even if there was another B. I learned some really great study habits. Spending 3-5 days of the week in the Library does that. My spiritual habits got a lot better as well. And I can thank the boy I’ve spent an amazing 9 ½ months with for both of those things. He encouraged me to study and to make sure that God was always number one in my life. It was a blessing of a semester. I got to live through my first Pledge week from the other side and it was great. I made a lot of friends and strengthened many relationships. Again, I lost some, but time and distance does that.

So. That was 2008. What do I want to see in 2009?

I want to see my anniversary and my year and a half with Sam. (Also the year and 9 ½ months, but that’s just not as concise).

I want to have an incredible trip to Italy and enjoy myself completely.

I want to continue growing closer to God by improving my prayer life and learning how to study His word better.

I want a good paying job for the summer.

I want to continue to strengthen my friendships and to always be a friend.

I want another two good semesters of college where I learn a lot.

So, we’ll see where life goes. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a ride. And I can’t wait.

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An Update

December 13, 2008 at 5:23 pm (Random Thoughts, Real Life, Relationships) (, , , , )

It’s been forever, but it’s been pretty crazy busy. I made it through club week in one piece. I even kind of enjoyed it in the end. There were some rough spots, a whole lot of frustration, and a little bit of anger, but I made it. And it was worth it.

Thanksgiving break was wonderful with Sam in Nashville. It was incredibly relaxing and fun. My family was surprsingly tame, which shocked me to no end. I got to have a little Christmas spirit, getting the house ready. I love Christmas. Yay for Christmas songs!! It was a really great vacation.

Now, the real news. I wantd to talk about my recent “fieldtrip” to Memphis with my Human Situation class. For anyoe unfamiliar, this is a class that mainly looks at the arts and their impact on the world. We’ve covered art, music, literature, theater, architecture, dance, film, and even ecology. (Which isn’t exactly an art, but it fit well in the course.) One week, we had publisher Holly Root in class and discussed issues of gender, sexuality, and religion in society today. Since Hopper is one of the most open-minded professors on campus, it was a really fun class.

So, this past Tuesday we went to Memphis. It was a lot of fun, even though I only had four hours of sleep and had to be on the bus at eight in the morning. In the rain. So, maybe that wasn’t fun. Well, it was a short(ish) ride to Memphis, and the rain had slackened off by the time we arrived. So, Dr. Hopper turned us loose in the city to look and analyze some of the surrounding architecture. I took some pictures, but they’re on Sam;s camera, so I can’t show any of the fun buildings. There was one very strange sculpture that was a funnel-like shape, seating on the inside. It was intersting. Well, after getting a good few blocks away from the bus, a monsoon sprung up and drenched us. So, it was a very wet day. We met a homeless man sittig in the burned out doorway of a church that we were hiding in. Interestingly, he had worked at the church before it burned down. And now he sleeps there, which seems very literary to me.

After getting soaked, we headed to the Brooks Art Museum. It was fun, though a rather small museum. And very maze-like. I finally found my way to most of the rooms, though not without a good deal of exploring. There were a few interesting galleries. A couple rooms were devoted to medieval and Rennaisance art which was interesting. So much was religious. In fact, almost all of it. And then there was a really strange African Art exhibit. There were some really awesome pieces in there. All very exotic, which is exactly what you’d expect.

From there, we went to lunch and everyone ate entirely too much food. It was just at Piccadilly’s Cafeteria, but I hadn’t eaten much taht day, so it was amazing. Then we were off again to study art.

We went to a music store and went upstairs to a recital hall. Hopper began playing, and it was amazing. He played Chopin, Scarlotti, Mozart, Schubert, and Lizst. it was incredible to listen to. He played this beautiful nocturne that left everyone in silence. Waltzes and minuets and all kinds of beautiful pieces. He was an amazing pianist. It made me wish I could play that well, but I simply do not have taht much time to work. Maybe one day.

Well, from there we went to a movie. We saw The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which sounds relatively light, but it really very depressing and dark. It’s about a boy whose father is in charge of one of the concentration camp. It shows how it appeared to an eight-year-old, and all the confusion and conflict that it caused. Very poignant. It left all of us touched, silent, and pensive. There was a good deal of talk about it over dinner. I would highly suggest the movie, but do not expect a happy tale.

We wrapped up the day with dinner at Rondezvous, a rib place in a dark alley in Memphis. It’s apparently pretty famous, and definitely should be. Delicious food. Sam had lamb, so I finally got to try that. It didn’t taste too much different. But, it was wonderful food, and we had a lot of fun just hanging out with classmates and passing the time.

It was an incredible trip, and so much fun. I got to spend a day enjoying art and not worrying about school. Now, it’s finals and I should be studying. But, I’m not too worried. I’ll make it. And in a month and a half, I’ll be chilling in a sixteenth century Italian villa. Sweet deal.

Love ya!

Katherine

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