Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Go Time!

I have a lot on my mind. I figured I should sit down and write about it; that always helps me to sort things out and let my mind stop mulling it over.
The past two weeks have been, and I do not exaggerate, the absolutely most stressful time of my life.
I've been told, and I'd have to agree, that I'm normally the calm one amidst any chaos. The past two weeks dissolved that cool constitution into a more frenzied and anxious version of myself.
I can sit down and write about it now, because I've braved the worst of it and worked through things. I want to sort of spell out all that's happened, just so you'll have an idea of where I'm coming from. This is not a "surprise, you were expecting a blog post and instead got thrown into a pity-party!" I'm trying to avoid that tone; as I said, the worst is past. And I'm now calm, collected, relaxed ...ish.

First, I only just yesterday finalized my schedule for the semester. I'd visited the Academic Advising center 3 times, each time I got a different take on my situation. On my last visit, their conclusion was that I was 1 credit short of graduating and that I had no other choice but to come back to school for another full semester to finish one credit. I explained what that implied for me and asked if there wasn't anything else they could do. They wouldn't budge. I think they're trained to respond that way.
So in despair, I went to a miracle-working man who is the chair of the geology department, Dan Moore. He looked things over and within a 5 minute visit, he had signed his name to a paper authorizing a change that would allow me to graduate in December. He had also, in that brief time given me some sound advice about weathering life's storms, what steps I should take to prep for grad school, and how to cope with challenges. He really merits the title "game changer".
Two weeks back, on Friday, I noticed an itch in my throat. I checked things out in the mirror and realized my tonsils were bright red and swollen. So I went to the student health center. They tested me for mono and strep. And then tested me for mono again 5 days later. Both tests were negative. So I'm fighting some sort of sinus infection, taking antibiotics since the steroids they gave me didn't seem to help the inflammation.
I got a call last week from the secretary of the VP of the University. One worries when one gets such a call -even if one hasn't done anything they think would merit such a visit. My mind was busy reviewing all my recent actions, scrutinizing every act that might have been out of line with what the university expects. The anticipation of that visit tormented me for a full day. On the day of the appointed visit, I called the secretary to see if I could get the interview moved up: I couldn't endure the wait any longer. An hour later, I was in his office having a chat. He's an amazing man and he approached the issue as "I'm sure I can learn a few things from you and I'd like to teach you a few things if I can." The issue at hand: I posted a picture of a campus banner on my facebook page, having added a twist to it by throwing in an additional line to the message on the banner. All that agonizing over something I had considered so laughable.
On top of that, I hadn't yet received my financial aid funds, and I was feeling the squeeze.
I was taking 5 classes, all labor-intensive.
I got called in for an interview with the Stake President. He talked a bit with me, and then instead of issuing me a call explained that he could tell that this semester was not the semester for me to take on a calling. The interview was to extend a call, but he decided not to even issue it. I didn't want to have to refuse a calling. I was saying an honest prayer of thanks on the walk home from that meeting.
There's more to the list, but I think this paints enough of the scene for you. One of the beautiful things about life is that things end. Tonight, for the first time in almost 2 weeks, I am able to breathe easy; my stomach is not in knots, and I am smiling. I have to send a thank you to those people in my life who have empathy, to those who listen patiently while I spill my woes, to those who send much-appreciated aid my way. You know who you are, and your timing is uncanny. If you take anything from this, it's that life will send you Hell sometimes. But Heaven is still where it's always been, and it's closer than you think. The phrase "this too shall pass" is really a wonderful truth (and it sounds best when said in the voice of Sister Encarnacion).
Now, onto something else. I recently read "The Help". Now, my usual book choice is chosen from the classics. I rarely pick up a modern best-seller, because a lot of the time they provide entertaining reading, but nothing very meaningful or worthwhile. The Help was the surprise of the year for me. It was endearing from the first chapter. I was able to finish it in three days. After reading a few chapters, I got an idea. I added the "Patsy Cline" station to my Pandora list. I found it to be an ideal mix of music for playing in the background as I read. The day I finished reading, I knew I had to send the book on to my sister. So that afternoon, I packaged it and sent it. She read it and passed it on. While I did yearn a bit to hang onto it, I wanted even more to share it. If you have any interest in reading at all, read it. And pass it on. It's full and deep and will get you thinking and laughing, loving and crying. It's a book that touches you deeply.
Now, I make an announcement. I am taking a trip. I've been trying to announce this to my family over the phone, but haven't gotten an answer yet, so it's being blogged first. I'm heading down to Salt Lake City for general conference weekend. I'm spending the weekend with my besties Perla and Misty. I can't tell you how excited I am for that. And on Sunday, I'll leave my car in the care of friends in Utah and I'll travel with my Perla and Misty straight to Arizona! I can't express how excited I am. I need to see my sister Ju before she leaves for her mission. I explained this decision to one of my instructors, and she totally agreed with my choice. (Her name is Sister Hansen, and she is amazing).
So for at least 4 days I'll get to be in Joseph City sort of taking a break from school and enjoying a long-overdue visit with the people and places I love the most. I know that after a few days on the road, I'll miss my Rexburg friends, I'll miss my bed, I'll miss the gym, and I might even miss school. When I get back to Rexburg, it will be October. And despite any reason school gives me to fret, I will have plenty of reasons to be content, to be calm amidst the storm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I suppose it's time for another entry.

I spent the majority of today lounging around in my bedroom watching movies. The reason? My tonsils are red, inflamed, and swollen. I don't really feel sick, except for the fact that it hurts to swallow. This set in on Friday night and I think I might go in and have it checked out at the Student Health Center tomorrow morning since it shows no sign of clearing up.

Isn't that life for you? You have a beastly first week of classes, and instead of a weekend of recovery, you are fighting sickness and stacks of homework. I keep trying to focus on the positive.

After being in my room nearly all day, I had to venture out. A walk gets me out of the house, gets me some fresh air, fresh imagery, and gets the blood circulating. It was refreshing to notice the subtle beginnings of autumn approaching. I love the fall season. I only hope my school schedule will allow me to enjoy it, at least a little.

My walk was just over 3 miles and at the perfect time in the early evening to catch the prime warmth and glow of the setting sun, enjoy the hint of breeze, take in the smells and sounds of the outdoors, and stop at a few bridges to sit and watch the water flow in the canal.

I know I had more to say ...

Oh, yeah. One of the coolest things happened this week: the reunion of Team 109. All my pre-mission roommates from the Fall of 2008 are now home from their missions and are all now back at school here! We met for dinner Wednesday night and had a blast just reminiscing on old times/inside jokes, and getting caught up. How did I get so lucky that semester? We were all really good friends. I've had some great roommates since, some that I've become great friends with, but never since that semester has the whole apartment been 100% awesome like that.

Speaking of roommates, I feel 100% isolated at the moment. All of my roommates except one are big time geeks. I am not exaggerating. I don't feel I can relate to any of these guys, except one. The one exception is the one I share a room with. He is really easy going and down-to-earth and considerate. But he's also engaged, and his fiance has a house here in town. So he is never around, except to sleep.

I think I need to start planning to spend more time on campus. Because sharing an enclosed space with 4 sci-fi/computer/gaming enthusiasts is just starting to make me cranky. I keep telling myself it will all be over in 12 weeks; that still seems a long way off.

I finished reading the book "The Help" this week. I haven't enjoyed a book that deeply in years. I'm usually not one to go for more modern novels, especially those that are super popular. But this book was well worth reading. I was amazed by what I found in it. I finished it within a week, and I highly recommend it.

I am still awaiting financial aid money. When it comes, I can book a flight down to Arizona. There is a danger in this: if I go to Arizona, I'll have to leave it again. And I may not want to.

By the way, I've decided something this week: I am not going straight to grad-school after graduation. I know it's not the conventional thing to do, but it is my choice. I need a mental break and some time to shift focus for a bit. Since I can, I will. Now I've got to find a job. The world is open, and I'm ready to seize it.

So that's it. The season for feeling like it's my last semester.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It Begins

Today was the first day of my last semester (fingers doubly-crossed) here at BYU-Idaho. I don't usually like to share things that make you fret, so please don't. I'm only writing this because this is my online journal, and it's my creative outlet. Right now, my stomach is in knots. I'm stressed. It's nothing I can't manage, but if it's prolonged, I may need some sort of professional help (I need Ramses!). Here's what's on my plate: 7:45am Calculus II 9:00am A computer programming course ( I don't care to remember the name) 10:15 am Physics. Again. Yipee. 11:30am Persuasion. I have friends in all of the classes except persuasion (which is a comm class). I know that 'ere long I will have enough friends in that class too. Of all those courses, the only one that excites me is persuasion. It will undoubtedly be my saving grace, refreshing my mind and bringing excitement to my academic realm. That does it for classes. Now, I've also been given the opportunity to be a student coordinator over talent exploration activities on campus. That means that I oversee all the managers of things on campus like dance workshops, writers workshops, stadium singing, ...yeah. Totally voluntary, and a fun thing to be involved in, but one more thing to take care of. And I've had two phone-calls in the past week, both of them from the executive secretaries of two different stakes. The first was to confirm that I was still a "student rep" for the Institute of Religion in Rexburg (a calling I got a year ago, and never had any follow-up contact about). They still want me to do that calling, whatever it is. And the second call came today from my own stake. I find out tomorrow what joyous calling they are considering adding to my life. Did I mention that I work? And that I donate plasma? And that I am still waiting on my financial aid funds to be made available? The reason for my stress, in this instance is that my current world involves all give and no take. Dear stake president, please say just kidding. Ok. So the photo at the top is what I've currently got as the desktop background on my computer. Sometimes images can do so much to enhance my mood. When I see that photo, it's a reminder that I do, in fact, love the fall season. I love the smells, the change in temperature, the colors, the fun. It reminds me that the holidays are right down the road, and with them, family and friends. The photo below is what's hanging (a photo-on-canvas print) on my bedroom wall. I, in the years of transferring my belongings from one apartment to the next, have learned not to decorate. It's a sad reality that bare walls are much less hassle when moving time comes around. But I saw this piece of wall-art at Ross. It was ten dollars, and that made the decision easy. It's now adding some warmth and life to my once bare off-white wall. I'll end with that. Any good stress-management insights? Feel free to share them!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Summer is Waning

I don't know why, but I'm feeling poetic today. 

I'm hanging onto these last few slices of summer and trying to savor them for all they're worth; school starts for me on Monday. And while that comes with an excitement all its own, coupled with the thrill of the change in seasons, I'm just not ready for summer to be over yet.

I thrive on days that were meant to be spent swimming in a river.

I live for afternoons when the sun invites you to lay out, when the breeze is just right.

I can't bear the thought of not enough time in the afternoon for a quick nap with the summer sun warming my skin through the window.

But in anticipation of a season of change, I am starting to get ready. Here's where I tell you the things that will most certainly jeopardize my man-card holding privileges.

I bought some L'oreal exfoliating scrub. I use it every night and it's heaven to my face.

My friend Diana offered to wax my eyebrows ---and I accepted.

I went and had my back waxed. (Now that should redeem some man-points. That took some real ...cojones). I was reminded of the scene in the movie Hitch where Albert is getting his back waxed: "Sweet Georgia Brown!"
After the waxing, I got a massage.

Today, I go in for a trim.

I will be ready for school. All these little self-indulgent things are helping me to get excited.

Note: the eyebrow treatment took a total of maybe 10 minutes, and let me put it this way: I never thought I could love my eyebrows this much.

The gym has been good to me. I continue to make progress, losing flab and gaining that dense, strong, lovely stuff we call muscle.

Friends are coming back into town -friends I haven't seen since my first semester here. Reunions will be joyful.

I fear that the fun of the Fall semester will pass all too quickly and that before I know it, I'll be plunged into real society to decide my next move and determine the path that I will travel next.