Monday, November 29, 2010

A Whole Lotta Nothin'

At around 1:45 Wednesday afternoon, a small sampling of my looming freedom greeted me as I walked out of the chemistry building. My last class was over extremely early because we had nothing to do but course evaluations. As a bonus for showing up on a day when most people cut class and leave campus, my TA gave those of us who showed up 5 extra points on our lab final. Not to brag, but holy mackerel I made a 98. Not many people pass or even do well on the Chem 130 lab final, but apparently I pulled that out of the, uh, fire.

My Thanksgiving break was full of a whole lotta nothing. It was exactly what I needed too. I literally did nothing but lay around in my pajamas for most of the day, showered way later than I usually do, watched movies, and decorated the house for Christmastime. I did throw in sporadic bits of working on my only assignment over the break...a 5 page paper about radiolarians. I was on the 4th page when I got back to campus last night, and I finished at 11:45p.m. I couldn't print it in my room because I have no ink, so this morning I printed if off in the library and with 5 minutes to spare, showed up to class only to find out that my suspicions were confirmed. The paper was due ON TUESDAY. Not Monday. Tuesday. The TAs said the paper would be due on the last day of class. A lot of us were confused. Did that mean the last day of paleo or the last day of classes? Those are two different days: Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Anyway, now I can take today to really proofread my paper and polish it off. I essentially gave up towards the end mostly because I didn't care much about the morphology of radiolarians. I just pray for personal acceptance of whatever my grade may be.

Here are some shots of my break. It was wonderful for a lot of reasons. Family, especially quick visits from family members you don't see ever. Food. Rest. Movies. Dogs. Cats. Couches. Sleeping in until 10a.m. You know the drill...a whole lotta nothin'!

Our cousin Zack came by for an overnight visit. He was on his way home from his latest job trip, and his way home took him right by us! I can't remember the last time I saw him before this visit, and it was really nice seeing him again.

Cousins on the couch plus Charlie, who is the center of the universe. We're just missing 3 other cousins: Luke (Zack's younger brother...I'm older by 2 days!), Charlotte, and Matthew (the other Aunt's kids).

It's not the most flattering shot of either of us, but I love my Charlie dog!

While I have been away, Squeak has found a new favorite spot. I think she believes that laying on the animal print makes her invisible.

Tomorrow is the last day of classes. Then finals begin. I have one on Monday morning and two on Tuesday. So my last day of the Fall 2010 semester will be December 7th. I'm so excited that I don't think you can understand. It's not the usual, "yay you're done with school so of course you're thrilled." It's more than that, but that explanation will come in another post, I promise...I've been meaning to write it for awhile now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leaves!

This is the view from outside/around my dorm. It's very yellow.




It was especially cool yesterday because it was windy. Leaves were going everywhere! It was like being in a yellow tornado that wasn't very dangerous.

This morning's weather was quite different as it rained hardcore. I left my dorm knowing it would rain later in the morning, so I am glad that I was mostly prepared for what was yet to come. It started to spit right before I got to my first class. During the test, it started to really come down. We could hear it loud and clear in the huge auditorium.

After my friend and I finished taking the test, we walked out into a deluge. She forgot her rain jacket but luckily had an umbrella. I have a rain jacket that is big enough to cover me and my backpack (thanks Fr. David, you'll never know how appreciative I am of your rain jacket generosity). I look like a turtle, but hey, it gets the job done. I hate wet backpacks.


What I did not have, however, were my rain pants. My jeans were soaking wet because it was raining so hard and the wind was blowing it sideways at some points along my journey home. Luckily I wore my Tevas, so when my feet got wet, I didn't care.

The only perilous part of my walk home was the courtyard full of leaves. Wet leaves are a sodden death trap for any who have the ill fortune of walking across them. I didn't bust it this time, but I know I will someday. Those wet leaves are also the only reason to not like all of the awesome yellow being everywhere in the courtyard.

I still love you though, ginkgo leaves. See you in the spring!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

20/20

Yesterday was my golden birthday. I turned 20 on 20.

It didn't hit me that I was 20 until halfway through the day when I was on the phone with my Dad, while driving in the car with my Dad (more specifically, Fr. David). What? Yes, the fact that I have 3 fathers will be explained in a later post.

I mean, I knew yesterday was my birthday, and I knew how old I would be...I guess it just didn't sink in. On the phone, Dad said "do you feel old? You're 20 now. You're not a teenager anymore!"

"What?! Oh wow! I'm not a teenager anymore. I am 20 years old. Eww! That's so weird. I'm a big girl now." Or at least it went something like that. Meanwhile, Fr. David chuckled as I came to terms with my revelation. FD later asked me if I had any words of wisdom now that I have had two decades here on Earth.

At the time, I had nothing off the cuff to say except to recount one thing that I learned that morning. When I turned on the TV to find something to watch while I ate breakfast, Kingdom of Heaven was on. It is one of my all-time favorite movies, so naturally I watched the 45ish minutes that were left.


I started watching at the part where Jerusalem's army is being sent off to fight Saladin and his ever-encroaching army. Because the king is dumb and power-hungry and has an obvious lack of common sense, Balian knows that they will be riding to certain death. He stays behind to defend the people of Jerusalem. He sees his friend the Hospitaller in the line to leave, and they have the following conversation:

Balian of Ibelin: You go with the army?
Hospitaller: My order is with the army.
Balian of Ibelin: You go to certain death.
Hospitaller: All death is certain. I shall tell your father what I've seen you become.
[rides away]

What I had never realized before in the many times that I've watched this film is the true meaning of what Hospitaller says. Balian sees the futility and the risk of riding into battle, leaving food and water sources. He knows what will happen. And so does Hospitaller.

Balian knows that death is certain as he has seen enough of it. But I think he doesn't really understand. The wiser Hospitaller does know though.

All death is certain, for each and every one of us. No matter what we are doing...if we are riding into a predictable battle outcome or staying behind to defend the city or driving across the country or crossing the street. Death is certain for each of us.

Whoa. That is an interesting thing to finally understand on your birthday of all days. But as I see it, it is a good way to appreciate life.

In two decades (that is still weird to say!), I have been blessed with many wonderful people and things. So far I have had a pretty good life, and I am thankful. It was a humbling yet fun and excellent birthday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birthday!

I am almost finished with my 14th week of classes. I can taste the finish line (the 17th week), though its taste is tainted by mixed-citrus cough drops.

I've been in a schoolwork lull, so to speak, and other than having a cold, I have enjoyed my sort of free time. Judging by my calendar, the lull ends this weekend after my birthday. I have a chemistry lab final on Monday, a communication & information test on Tuesday, and then Thanksgiving break. I can't classify that break as a lull in work because I will most likely be working on my 5 page paper about radiolarians for my paleobiology lab. That, my friends, will be a ton of fun.

And that last sentence was thick with sarcasm.

So to finish this week and start celebrating my 20th birthday early (which will be my "golden" birthday!), I am going to see the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 tonight/Friday morning.

I am going to take a nap. Hopefully I will have more to blog about soon!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Being Thankful

Yesterday I found myself incredibly thankful for all of the many blessings God has granted me.

Every morning and night when I pray, and even during the day with my little random bursts of prayer, I always find something to be thankful for. Last night, I wondered if God ever got tired of hearing me say thanks all of the time. Personally, I don't get tired of hearing thank-yous, but I know that on rare occasions, I don't always enjoy hearing the same story over and over again.

Then, as if to answer my wandering mind, last night's reflection said:

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's Will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Ingratitude is the enemy of our immortal souls. Ingratitude empties our souls of merit, scatters their virtues, and deprives them of graces. - St. Bernard

God appreciates many things, of this I am sure. Now I know that yes, even though to me it seems rather repetitive, God loves it when I say thank you. He loves it when we all say thank you!

Yesterday, I went to bed all happy and warm and fuzzy and thankful for many reasons. I know I said that at the beginning of this post, but I must reiterate goodness! I think the biggest source for all of that happiness started when I made a mixed CD for my friend. You see, about a month ago I promised Katie Ann that I would burn her a copy of a CD we listened to in my car. I totally forgot about it until yesterday afternoon when I had plenty of free time to do whatever.

I planned on dropping it off in her room on my way to the library. Where she lives now (not in a dorm), it is easy for me to just waltz in inconspicuously. My goal was to put the CD where she would find it and hope that she would figure out it was me. But to my surprise, she and our friend Genoa were in her room already! I completely surprised them when I magically appeared in the doorway.

It was funny, with the sort of cheerful shouts and "Ashley Siferd!" and hugs going on. I don't think they'll ever know how happy I was to see them and witness their reactions. It always feels good to know that you are loved.

It made my day, my year, heck...it made my life. I am thankful for wonderful friends, especially Katie Ann and Genoa.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Holy Heart

"The temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." - 1 Corinthians 3:17

When Christ came, He banished the devil from our hearts, in order to build in them a temple for Himself. Let us then do what we can with His help, so that our evil deeds will not deface that temple. - St. Caesarius of Arles

I have struggled as of late with the inability to keep my heart open and clear of obstructions. It wasn't until last night's reflection when I fully realized that, though it is not always easy to do, I must keep my heart, my temple, clean and full of light.

If I don't allow my heart to be open, then I shut out the Light that is trying to enter. It becomes not a temple of light for Christ but a temple of something dark for sin.

I went to bed the other night with a very angry, upset heart. I could not calm down. And I don't enjoy not being able to do so. I guess the other evening was just a breaking point for me (the millionth time this issue has come up, only this time it was magnified), but luckily for me and those involved that my resolve didn't crack.

It could have been very ugly, not just in words potentially said but in the feelings that I would inevitably harbor inside after the fact.

I have so much to be thankful for! Why let some dumb, idiotic, stupid, pointless issue cloud my judgment? My feelings? My very being?

My life is full of decent grades, an almost over semester, interesting fall weather, quirky yet lovable friends, a family that loves me no matter what, a car that works, a home, horses, dogs, cats, and visiting family members that I hardly see.

The issue will go away eventually. Until then, I will just have to work harder on keeping my temple clean and full of light. If not, Christ can't enter. I strive to have a holy heart.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nerdfest #2

I have basically had no life since, um, this Sunday. After I got home from Mass, all I did was study for hours. No joke guys, it took me 4 hours to do 2 chapters worth of chemistry problems. Can you say B-O-R-I-N-G? Yawntastic. Frustration-central.

My chemistry test tonight is over weak acids and bases (which is only half of the acid/base equilibria chapter), aqueous equilibria, thermochemistry, and chemical thermodynamics. I think I just died a little when I reread that. But I have been studying a lot, been quite the studious little Ashley every day since Sunday. Here is just a taste of what I will most likely see tonight...


Yesterday afternoon, however, a little of my resolve cracked. To an observer, I may have looked like a total jerk because I wasn't paying attention in chemistry discussion. The TA and a few students took most of the class period to do the SAME PROBLEM 3 different ways. After the millionth attempt at reaching the answer, I casually threw in that the exact problem we were doing from some random worksheet was in fact, in the book. "Yes, we know that, but..."

My poor TA was just having a bad day, and he misunderstood what the goal of the actual problem was. A few other students in the class only exacerbated the problem by asking repetitive questions. I had already answered the problem correctly, so I felt justified in tuning out.

I thought I was going to shoot myself. Instead of offing myself, though, I started doodling. At first, I just did this curvy little line, and then I realized that I could actually turn it into something cool...


Nerdfest alert! I turned a squiggle into a dinosaur. Then I went a step further and turned it into a "gaited" dinosaur. I only did that because for the first time in my life, I can finally remember what a gaited horse is. Not that you care, but whatever. To all of my horse-knowledgeable friends, I hope this answer is an adequate description. Gaited is when two legs on the same side of the horse move forward together. Like my right arm and right leg moving forward at the same time, etc.

But the fun doodling is not over yet! And the having no life part isn't over yet! I have an anthropology abstract due on the same day as our second test, which is this coming Tuesday. Here is the list of tribes that we have to have memorized. I'm thankful that he didn't make us learn all ~560 federally recognized tribes. This list only has 138 on there. I've got them all memorized by area.

Oh such is the life of a nerdy college student. I lead such an exciting life.