Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Learning from San Juan de la Cruz

In tribulations, turn to God with confidence. You will obtain strength, light, and knowledge. In joys and successes, turn to God with fear and sincerity. You will escape all snares and be free of everything false. - St. John of the Cross

...or as I like to say San Juan de la Cruz, 'cause he is from Spain you know!

I'm slowly discovering more about him, and I have to say, I like him. A lot. Very inspiring.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where Love is, There is God

"This last week of Advent, I would like to invite you to take some more time to enter deeply into Christ and meditate on the Holy Family with the help of the rosary. Try to find Jesus in your own family, and even bring him there by love. For where love is, there is God. And God knows that where you have the deepest love, you have the deepest sorrows. For we all offend one another by our failures in love." - Father Antonio Giraldo

Though I wasn't actually at St. Thomas for his homily (I was scheduled to be a Eucharistic Minister at the 7:30am Mass at the cathedral), I was able to listen to it online. I'm really happy that I was able to.

Fr. Antonio said some rather beautiful, important things that I needed to hear. I'm not in a sharing kind of mood, but suffice to say that I have been dealt a funky set of cards and carry crosses that have become incredibly heavy.

If you've got the time, listen to the rest of the homily.

p.s. How many college kids do you know that go to 7:30am Mass? This is a statistic that I'm most interested in finding...

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Happy Kind of Sad

Ha, funny that I'm learning and questioning and thinking a lot these days...and I'm not even in school no mo', at least for the next month.

I think that I've maybe referenced "happy sad" before, perhaps not. But, just within the past week, I've learned more about it. I've lately been thinking of my departed dogs, Duke and Rocky. It was especially poignant when I was driving to the barn the other day when the realization hit that I was driving past the same exit that would take me to the same emergency vet hospital that we took our dogs to, to be put down. That was an awfully long sentence.

I was happily singing along to some song, when I looked up at the sign as I rounded the familiar curve. I thought, you know, if you were going in the opposite direction, you'd be heading straight for the animal hospital.

I stopped singing as I choked back tears.

I really miss my dogs. This Christmas will also be the first one without Rocky.

I went home on Saturday to help decorate the tree as well as a few other odds and ends. As I was going through the stockings to hang them up, I came across Duke's and Rocky's. I didn't know what to do with them. My sister and I decided to hang them up as we frowned at each other.

Then today, a friend shared this cartoon on facebook. It made me sad at first, but then I realized, I was more happy than anything, 'cause it's true. So there you have it, happy sad.


Also, yesterday's reflection still puzzles me.

"No man should seek his own good but rather the good of others." - 1 Corinthians 10:24

"The law of love obliges us to love what is good for us. But it also obliges us to love what is good for our neighbor." - St. Francis de Sales
What does that even mean??? I mean, I know on the surface-level what they're saying, but I was left with a nagging question.

At what point does seeking the good of others impede your well-being, your relationships with others and even with God? How do you love others and love yourself, without doing harm to both them and you?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm Just A Lost Kid

So, I'm trying this new blogger interface out...so if stuff looks dumb, well, it's still my fault because it all looks new to me here in the back-end of the site. If I'm trying to be funny, I'd say it's all Greek to me, but my roommate is taking Greek for her foreign language...and even this new blogger stuff still kinda looks like English. Anyway, there's a learning curve somewhere!

I have been struggling a lot lately with many things, but the one thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind is that of post-undergrad life.

I know I've already touched on this before, but the last few weeks yet again have provided me many opportunities, conversations, and thoughts to freak out about life.

Part of my problem is that I keep comparing myself to others. Another problem is that I attribute things to people that may not actually be true. For example, that person looks like they have it all together so then they must have it all together. "In reality, nobody does!" my friend said to me.

I just think other people do because I feel like I don't.

And it's maddening.

I don't believe in the gifts and abilities God has given me. At least, I recognize some of them but I don't act. In constantly underestimating myself, what am I saying to God? "Pppbbbttt, gifts? What gifts? I can't do this." That's what I'm saying. I don't have faith in my own abilities, and I struggle with letting go of my fears and trying to control things and to just let God lead.

Really, overall I'd summarize my current state like this: I feel lost, like I'm wandering around.

I don't want to keep feeling that way. So I guess the first step in the process of finding some semblance of peace, of finding the way back to complete and unwavering trust in God is to admit that, yes, I do have a problem. (No recovering anything-addict jabs intended. My problem is a problem too).

So what's next God?

And, am I really ready for whatever that is?

......yes. I'm terrified.

Good start, right?

My friend and I discovered the other day that we both struggle with listening to God. It was a beautiful thing when we both realized that at that moment in time, God was using the both of us to help each other out. I haven't talked to him in such a long time, and he had been on my mind recently. Turns out it was for a plethora of goodness and discovery!

Obviously, God knows how to reach me. I just don't know how to listen. But that conversation with my friend and listening to some really awesome lyrics just opened my eyes (and ears). It has also started to help me open my heart up, one teensy bit at a time.

Thanks be to you, God, for my friend and for "Lost Kid" by The Apache Relay. It accurately sums up the current me.

Sometimes I feel like I'm just a lost kid,
stumbling through these towns,
stuck in between the waves.
Nothing feels the same.

I need an anchor that never lets go,

I need someone to call, to hear a voice I know.
Something that feels like home.
Something that feels like home.

All my life, all my life, all my life I've been waiting for You

All my life, all my life, all my life I've been waiting for You

I've been searching all of my days, looking for any signs, reading between the lines, hoping for anything.


I've been living in this tension, I just pretend I'm fine, that everything's ok, but I'm about to break.
Yeah I'm about to break

All my life, all my life, all my life I've been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I've been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I've been waiting for You
All my life, all my life, all my life I've been waiting for You




The Apache Relay - Lost Kid from Live & Breathing on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thank You's

Dear God,

Thank you for Velveeta mac and cheese.

Thank you for the end of classes today. I know that I still have finals, but today is a momentous milestone.

Thank you for my 21st birthday, which, for my few but beloved readers, was November 20. It was most excellent.

Thank for today's celebratory outfit of comfy shirt, sweatpants, Christmas socks, and wickedly cool patterned underwear.

Thank you for finding new music. Though it may not have actually been recently released, it's still awesome and wonderful to find it.

And lastly, thank you for a new translation of the Mass. I'll admit, I wasn't too excited about it, but after having to really be aware of what I'm saying and praying, I'm thankful for the change. It's nice to have to wake up.

Amen.

*Dear readers, if you're still there that is, sorry I don't ever write anything anymore. I wish I could say it's because I have no time. While there is some truth to that statement, it is also due in large part to big ol' helping of the lazies!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fuddy Dud

I was reminded by a wonderful person and roommate that I hadn't blogged in awhile. Naturally, a story Megan told me the other day makes for perfect blog material. We'll skip the story and get straight to the point:

For the record, I'm not a stick in the mud!

I mean, I'll be the first to admit, I used to be one. Though, I wouldn't trade the things/events/people/situations/whatevers from my past that have apparently made some (if not a good majority of my graduating class) think that I'm a stick in the mud, uber goody two shoes.

Well, whether or not they'll ever read this, I don't think that I am one, anymore.

I frequently (probably more than I should...) use curse words. I drive way over the speed limit. I've had a few stereotypical college experiences (hey hey now, not that crazy...I am still kind of a goody two shoes). I shirk responsibilities. Also, I don't have everything together like everyone thinks or thought I would. I think and sometimes say mean things about people. I have a sense of humor and can laugh at the corniest of jokes to the raunchiest of them all. I have fun. I laugh. I break rules. I go to bed at awful hours. I'M NOT PERFECT, nor should I be the poster child for perfection.

For some reason, I was a little sad when Megan recounted the "...wait what? Ashley isn't a fuddy dud?" story. But then I thought, why am I sort of sad? Some of the things I've listed above may not make me a stick in the mud per se, but they certainly don't make me a better person.

So, then what? Who am I?

I guess I've discovered that I'm still in the process of trying to figure out who I am. Who I'm supposed to be. But then, isn't that sort of thing a process and experience that lasts your entire life? I don't know.

What I do know is that I'd rather be the person God wants me to be instead of the person that society thinks I should be (or, in light of the story, thought I was). Not that sticks in the mud are bad or aren't fun, but you know what I mean? I hope so, 'cause I can't explain it.

For now, I guess I'll be a way-less-than-perfect, rule breaking fuddy dud who loves Jesus.

Also, in preparation for my rapidly approaching 21st birthday, another friend of mine, lovely Sarah, created a Facebook event titled, "Ashley Siferd is finally LEGAL!" She really made me smile.

I guess if anything could tie it all together, it would be the discovery of a new song, just days before Megan told me her story. It's actually pretty legit and applicable to so many things. My favorite lines, so far:

So I pointed my fingers, and shout a few quotes I knew
As if something that's written should be taken as true

Yes! Though, for my particular story this evening, I would go a step further and apply the spoken word rather than the written word.

"When My Time Comes" by Dawes

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Predictability for the Win!

If nothing else, college students are for the most part predictable.

Take for example, this post. Predictably, when I should be studying for my exam tomorrow, I'm here writing this and listening to youtube videos of Mumford & Sons, The Civil Wars, Carolina Chocolate Drops, plus a hodge-podge of other artists/bands. Also, I repeatedly check Facebook like something is going to change. OH! A notification! Hooray!

Really, all I wanted to convey was that if I have learned anything from college and life so far, it is that a degree of predictability is good. At least for me it is. Last Friday my 9:05 discussion was canceled, and I had at least one week's worth of notice. So I presented myself with an idea...how about, let's not go to campus early for no reason. Because of the cancellation I would only have my 12:20 class.

Reason after reason to not go to campus early kept piling on, namely the fact that I hadn't had a chance to sleep in at all the last week.

So then I compiled a pro/con list of my idea. I knew Friday's forecast...and for college students, especially commuters, it spelled a mild form of doom. Not full blown doom, just a mild version. It wasn't really supposed to get above 40 AND it was supposed to rain all day. Add to the recipe for "awesome" that it was going to be Friday + our football team is doing awful this year (don't ask why that factors in, I don't even know) + hell, we're college students and we don't like to go to class on Fridays and you get...

The perfect storm.

So I set my alarm for way later than usual Friday morning. I got up, leisurely showered, and I ate biscuits and bacon while I watched the Golden Girls. (The fact that I ate a hot meal that didn't consist of poptarts is a feat in itself). Unlike most of my collegiate peers, I gleefully trotted off to the car and happily but carefully drove through the wet to school. And whaddaya know?

The parking lot I use on Fridays was only 1/3 full! If that! It's safe to say that I'm counting that spectacular moment as one of the greatest days of my life. So proud of being able to cook up that recipe.

Though I do know that pride cometh before the fall, so I will be sure to carefully consider this decision should the opportunity arise again.

I will say that as much as I do enjoy predictability, it certainly does get old and boring. Especially if whatever is predictable is not healthy, bad for you, not entertaining, etc. So don't let it fool you!

And now, if you'd like, you can watch/listen to some awesome.

"Captain" by Abigail Washburn and The Sparrow Quartet


"Corn and Beans" by Carolina Chocolate Drops


"Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars


"Beneath the Piano" by Devil Makes Three


"Feel the Tide" by Mumford & Sons


Though I do love alphabetizing things, for the record, I did not alphabetize the videos on purpose. It honestly happened by accident, which is awesome.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me - put it into practice." -Philippians 4:9

Though the draft for this post is a few weeks old, I wholeheartedly believe that it is applicable to every single day. For whatever reason the day of this idea's inception, I struggled with "practicing what I preach", as the saying goes.

As you may well know, if you've been reading long enough, I tend to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. Usually it's over silly little things that cause me embarrassment. There are those times though when my behaviors and actions and words don't reflect those of Christ. I am not being who God wants me to be.

The other day in Spanish we worked on translating proverbs, and one of them was something along the lines of, don't say anything if you can't say something good. Or whatever. But you get the idea.

Really, St. Ignatius of Antioch hit the nail on the head when he said, "It is better to say nothing and be a Christian than to speak and not be one. It is good to teach, if we practice what we preach." Rather than make a fool of myself, or worse yet make a mockery of the faith that I love so much, I should keep my mouth shut. In the same breath, I should apply the same thought to my actions.

I think we could all heed his words. Instead of just talking about things, why don't we actually do what we say we're gonna do? Instead of saying, "I love Jesus for x, y, and z...so should you!"...let's actually LOVE Jesus for being x, y, and z by ourselves being x, y, and z.

As I've heard often, be the face of Jesus to all you meet.

Then try using your words.

Monday, October 24, 2011

That Question...

Lately I keep having this recurring conversation about my life. You know, hey, what do you want to do after college?

I used to know the answer. But now, I'm not so sure.

It's a little terrifying.

I came into college with some semblance of a plan. First I was a history interest because that's just what my summer advisor put me as. It wasn't a lie, but the first thing that came out of my mouth was something about being interested in being a teacher. There was no dialogue or exploratory conversation about other avenues.

Then I officially switched to geology a semester-ish later because being a volcanologist had always been a dream of mine. Plus, unlike my first advisor who cared nada, my professor actually conversed with me. Was encouraging.

Then I discovered that as much as I loved learning about volcanoes and the processes of the earth, geology just wasn't for me. It didn't feel right. But when I was a geology major, answering the question of "What do you want to do after college?" was much easier to answer.

Now I'm a communications major with a minor in Spanish. For some reason, this isn't clear cut for most. I know this is just a huge perceptive and attributional error, but I feel like some people think I'm not doing anything worthwhile because of my major. People, like always, ask me what I want to do. Rather than freak out and have a meltdown in front of them, I just say that I don't know. I tell them the truth. This answer seems to pacify some, but does it really?

I don't know. The point is, I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA WHAT I WANT TO DO. Anymore. And it sucks. A lot of my friends have really great and wonderful ideas and plans that are already set in motion. Social work here, clinical psychologist there, accountant here. Grad school after undergrad. I'm so happy and proud of each of them.

And then there's Ashley. The comm studies major who likes to learn Spanish but complains about it a lot. I have no plans for grad school right now because frankly, it doesn't make one lick of sense to go to grad school if I don't know what for. In the back of my mind, I also think that part of my problem is that I feel some sick, weird urge to fulfill my high school superlative of being voted "Most Likely to Succeed." But success is measured differently by everybody...I feel that maybe my definition might not be the same as most.

Really, all I want to do is help people. That answer seems easy enough for me, at the moment. It isn't specific enough for most though. Why should I have to apologize for that? Or rather, why do I feel the need to apologize?

It's just mildly terrifying that I can't answer the question people ask me a lot these days.

...but perhaps I'm not supposed to know the answer quite yet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finally, A Hike

I went hiking today.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. It was incredible. I can't even begin to describe just how awesome it was to be outside.

Initially the hike was rough due to an older hiking injury rearing its obnoxious head, but with the right companions, you can safely put your pain and discomfort behind you so that you can enjoy the journey. Though it did serve as a sobering wake up call that:
1) Need to do more hiking, stat. The last time I went on a hike was April 21, 2011. That's disgusting. Today is October 14.
2) Seriously should start exercising and take better care of myself.
Today was an amazingly wonderful day.

Thanks be to God for a fall that is actually behaving like fall should, for making new friends, and for the countless other blessings in my life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Never Gonna Give You Up...

It was more than fitting that the reading I was given to proclaim this weekend was this letter from Paul to the Philippians,
Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Normally, I spend a little time each day (the week before I read) going over the reading...not just practicing but also listening to what God may be saying to me.

This time, however, I needed only to read it to myself a few times and say it aloud once before the gravity of His message took root.

I didn't need a lot of time to understand this message, this lesson, because I have experienced it. I have lived and still live it and most likely will again in the future.

My understanding isn't just because I'm a college undergrad who supplements living off-campus with a mostly part-time, minimum wage job with the occasional babysitting gig. It isn't because I do not come from wealth. It just, is.

And I'm okay with that, strangely enough. Some days it's a hard pill to swallow, these humbling circumstances and going hungry days and being in need moments. Some days these things aren't mine, but sometimes they're close enough to me that they in effect become mine.

I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Yes, others share in my distress, but even more beautiful than that is the fact that with Christ, all things are possible. I am not alone. You are not alone, no matter how much you want to believe that you are. Because the riches given to us by Christ are not of this world, and those are the ones that really matter.

In addition to Sunday's reading, this tweet from @UnvirtuousAbbey really put it all in perspective, with a little help from Rick Astley of course:

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you," saith the Lord.

Heehee!

If you've been reading and following long enough, you'll know that I love the joy of finding God in all things. Even in the timeless words of Rick Astley...hahahahaha. But seriously, this Sunday's reading spoke to me in a way that I haven't been spoken to in a long time. I guess there are just those days and those readings where God puts up a big, "HELLO I'M HERE" sign and you actually see it. Sometimes I feel that I don't do a good job of proclaiming the readings so that God can speak through me. This time though, I felt that I did because I realized that God was talking to me and through me simultaneously. If no one else but me was reached, well, at least God found the missing sheep. I miss a lot of obvious things you know.

God's never going to give you up, let you down, or desert you. Really.

Hasta luego.

p.s. I honestly am not trying to Rick-roll you. Promise...but if you have no idea who Rick Astley is or where the reference comes from, here you go.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Never-ending Hiatus!

The hiatus never ends!

My fall break got off to a fun start yesterday afternoon. Fun as in, sarcastic! Perhaps I'll tell you the stories one day.

Right now, I'm being a big nerd. I created a huge, detailed study schedule for next week. You see, I have 4 exams, count 'em, 4 exams after fall break. Talk about a suckfest. Don't forget that verb quiz, oh and those 2 chapters you have to read for 2 different classes.

I'm currently in the stages of picking out/designing my possible spring semester schedule. We'll see how much of my hard work gets blown to pieces after I meet with my advisor. Hooray!

For now, I'm quite content to work on my take home mid-term exam while my roommate sits on my bed playing guitar. She's singing now too! And we're giggling about silly things, funny things, and amusing stuff.

I love her.

Peace out. See ya later. Here's to fall break!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Heeyooo!

Hokai, so 5 things:

1. Yes, I'm still alive.

2. I have a serious backlog of posts that are in the various stages of the writing process. Maybe someday I will finish them? I could just churn and burn 'em (and by that I mean, finish & publish them), but the experiences they stem from mean an incredible amount to me. So hopefully with some better planning and less procrastination, I'll finish them.

3. Today in my World Civ lecture, we talked about Classical India and the formation of Buddhism. At the end of the lecture, my professor wanted to spend a little time discussing/comparing the founders of Buddhism and Christianity.

Aside from knowledge gained in the comparison of the two, what I really enjoyed was examining (just briefly so) Jesus Christ from a secular view. This was not a religion class. It was a history class. Naturally, the perspective was different.

And you know what? Despite what some of my collegiate uber-conservative Christian peers may think, this examination of Jesus not in the context of a religion class or Sunday school lesson was awesome. It was wonderful because I found myself saying, yes, I really like this guy. This Jesus, he's alright. Well, you know, he's more than that. His teachings are sharply focused. He called people out and associated himself with those considered to be outside of decent society.

4. Today the crazy anti-abortionist goons were on campus. Remember my swagga post on them? I haven't seen them yet this semester, though I know that they were here last week. Usually they only come once or twice throughout the entire semester. It would seem that they've grown some marbles, as this is at least their 2nd week and back-to-back no less!

I saw them from afar. I thanked God that today was a rainy and windy day because I brought my rain jacket. I put it on and pulled the hood up, letting it fall over my face. It created a kind of protective shell. I didn't want to see the display of bloody children and aborted fetuses. I don't need to see that. NO ONE NEEDS TO SEE THAT.

You see, I don't think that tactics or evangelization like that will stop women from having abortions or bring us idolatrous college students to Christ. You know, I'm sure there are faculty, staff, and students alike who have had miscarriages. How do you think they feel about those pictures? How do you think women who have had abortions feel about your vitriolic message? God doesn't hate! HE DOESN'T!

I peeked out of my protective sphere and immediately regretted it. I saw two pictures, and they were more than enough. I'm glad that the people who set up this display were all preoccupied with others because I actually wanted to talk to one of them. I wanted to learn why they think this particular display and message would be instrumental in bringing people to God and to ending abortion. Again, I'm glad they were all in conversation with someone else because as you know, I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. I really wanted to say, go to hell bastards.

But that would have done nothing for those gathered around. I would have felt a brief moment of catharsis, and knowing myself, I would have regretted my mouth later. So kudos to God for keeping me moving along.

5. I caved and ordered a Mumford & Sons poster from eBay. After being "out there" for almost 3 weeks, it finally arrived. It doesn't look quite like I expected it to. Marcus' head is cut off more than it is in the original photo, and there's less space between Winston's feet and the border. That's okay though. This little lady is pretty happy just to finally have given the gents a proper place in her pantheon of awesome posters.

So I said 5 things. How about a bonus or two? :)

Mumford & Sons cover Neil Young's "Dance Dance Dance"


...aaaand here's an original, of course. If I had to pick one favorite song by Mumford & Sons, "Roll Away Your Stone" would take the crown.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Letter: The Abridged Version

Dear God,

I'm sorry that I'm annoying a lot of the time.

Thanks for loving me even when I don't love you back, whether purposefully or unintentionally.

You're pretty awesome.

Love,
Ashley

If I ever find the time to breath, let alone write, you'll hopefully get to read the longer, more in-depth version of this letter thing that I started writing when I should've been working on a Spanish paper.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Awesomesauce

So, no time to write it all down, but....

LIFE IS AWESOME. God is great, friends are wonderful, classes are (still) fun and interesting, and music is just plain awesome.

Sorry for using awesome so many times. But when you've got lots of...awesome blessings to be thankful for, you just can't help but use the word.

Hasta luego, mis amigos!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rocky


So, a lot has happened within the past few days. 

-I moved into my apartment on Saturday. I believe it's rather awesome. I'm living with a lovely lady that I've been friends with since 5th grade.

-Classes started on Wednesday. I'm learning how to be a commuter student, so hopefully I'll share those funny-ish stories as they happen. A few already have.

-For being such a big university in terms of the number of students as well as the size of the campus, I have been amazed at the number of awesome people and friends that I've come across the last two days. It is extremely easy to become just a number here at UT, so it is refreshing and reaffirming to the soul to run into people who just brighten your day by simply crossing paths with you. I've needed that.

You see, I started my fall semester on an incredibly difficult and sad note. My dog Rocky has been sick the past few weeks and after a vet visit that yielded little hope, he took a fast turn for the worse (worst? ...whatever). So Sunday morning I met my family at the emergency vet clinic. The same damn place that we took Duke exactly 18 months before to be put to sleep. But in my heart, for the few days before we even took Rocky to the vet, I just had this feeling that he was getting ready to leave. And then I found myself mentally and emotionally preparing for what that day would feel like.

And I felt terrible doing that. Is it okay to prepare like that? I don't know. It still sucks, preparation or none at all. The wound left from the loss of Duke healed (as much as such a thing can, anyway), but then it was opened anew with losing Rocky. Another part of this newly festering wound is how Charlie is handling it all. Seriously, this dog is not completely a dog but has distinctly childlike qualities. He mourned and moped around, and when I went home for a few hours one afternoon, he hardly ever left me alone. He's alone now and only has the cats to keep him company, which doesn't say too much haha.

I took him outside to play. There's something about our backyard that is uniquely Duke and distinctly Rocky. It was sad for a few minutes as I knew it would be, and then suddenly I began thinking of all the things that made my boys happy. These thoughts in turn made me happy. I smiled at the bee Charlie snapped at, the blades of grass he tried to eat, the dirt caked between his toes, the sun warming his back, the sticks he used in place of dog toys. In each instance, I saw both Duke and Rocky through Charlie. And though I am sad that the boys are gone, I am happy knowing that they lived. I am happy knowing that Charlie boy had a good teacher and big brother in Rocky, as Rocky did in Duke.



As my Grandpa said in the waiting room, "dog in the mirror spells God." I am so thankful for the time that God gave my family and me with one of his angels. We'll miss you Rocky, you "Big Dog", woolly mammoth, Chewbecca look & soundalike dog you.



He absolutely loved playing in the snow. Other than rooting around the dog food bowl and making a huge mess, snow was probably his favorite thing.



Rocky always chased after bees and wasps...and was stung several times.

 
 


He always hated getting his hair cut during the few summers when it became unbearably hot outside. Rocky as a clean-shaven dog was always a funny sight, but he wore it with pride, at least after the initial embarrassment wore off.




Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cat Lady

Let's face it...I'm most likely going to be a cat lady. Not the type of cat lady that ends up on animal cruelty tv shows and what not. I'll be the crazily fun lady with cats.

I guess I just really love them. Though I do love my dogs, they're my boys. But I'm being honest in saying that I'm definitely a cat person, so deal!

How can I not be after watching this (...several times...)?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yay!

So I have, like, no time for much outside of work and trying (note the word trying) to get stuff ready to move into my apartment and find, buy, and/or sell a piece of my soul to get textbooks for the semester.

But...the other day I was on campus because I was having dinner with two lovely friends that I don't see much of, and as I was walking to the University Center, I felt this wave of happiness. By that I mean, it felt good to be walking on campus again. Sure, I've only been out of class/away from academic life for almost a month, but the lull in having no class was incredibly rejuvenating.

So basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm a bit excited for the fall semester to start. Don't get too crazy now! I am relatively sure that it's your typical "first day of school" excitement. And boy, does the novelty of that wear off quickly in college. I can just imagine myself upon receiving the syllabi (?) for my classes, teehee.

Anyway, yay for school! Yay for new things! Yay for lots of other things and people!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Cave

This was a good song for me to hear. It's also a song that I hope others will hear. And not just hear, physically, but really hear it. Feel it. In a way that the words speak to you.

Or, rather that Someone speaks to you through this song.

Once again, Mumford & Sons eloquently sing what I can barely put together in thought.

"The Cave" -Mumford & Sons

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Because I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's land

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Because I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be


And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again


And unfortunately, I can't get the video for this song to embed. So if you really want to make your day, in addition to making me happy, go here to listen to the song. Por favor.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

It would appear that this summer I have accidentally stumbled upon this habit of not blogging a lot or with some degree of measurable frequency. And I like it. For awhile now, I've felt this strange need to have to write something every single day, and to be quite frank, that's impossible for me! Especially this summer.

So to continue with this state of infrequent blogging, I'm hopefully going to write a quick post. You see, I'm on a real vacation now. Though class ended a few weeks ago, I've been working every day since. Which is totally fine! But at the same time, I also just needed a chance to chill.

Literally, chill. Wake up without an alarm, stay in my jamjams until an almost ridiculous hour, lounge around on the couch, eat too much food...you know the drill. And I get to do all of this while simultaneously visiting my family up in Ohio. I haven't been here since summer 2009, so it is really wonderful being able to see them all. Oh and about eating too much food...earlier my Dad, step-mom, and I went out for breakfast. Dad and I ordered the same thing, and we both ate all of our food. Let me tell you, it was a lot. I mean, I ate the same amount of food as that of a grown man. Holy moly, I still can't believe I did. I was a little disgusted with myself actually. But hey, I sure can pack it away.
With this vacation, I also earned another pair of big girl panties. For the first time ever, I drove all 430ish miles from Lenoir City to Findlay, Ohio. The most Interstate driving that I've done alone before was maybe around 60 miles, but that was all in the state of Tennessee. The whole drive I kept thinking to myself, "Yes. You're really doing it! You, Ashley, are driving." With the exception of the mildly terrifying drive through a bad-a thunderstorm IN THE MIDDLE of Cincinnati, the entire drive was great. Only stopped twice and I made excellent time.

I'm also proud that I overcame my bad case of the Sunday-don't-go-to-Mass-lazies. Usually when I go on vacation anywhere, I often overlook the fact that it is Sunday. Oops! Didn't go to Mass. And a lot of the time, it is a purposeful oversight. In an attempt to circumvent the problem, last night I found out the Mass times for the church just down the road from my Dad's house. Though I almost let a case of the Mass lazies consume me, I did in fact go today! It wasn't in the morning, but then again, I haven't been to too many Sunday evening masses. So that was a nice change.

Though I did catch myself wondering if it was in fact the right decision. If that makes any sense. Though I was thankful for the chance to go to Mass, I felt rather disconnected today. I kept going in and out of paying attention and really struggled with being present. Perhaps it was the fact that the priest who celebrated tonight was the same one who presided during my Grandma's funeral 3 years ago. Maybe it was because I felt like their music oscillated between Mass of Creation parts/joyful-ish hymns and some funeral dirge sounding pieces...pick one or the other, don't do both. Perhaps it was the fact that their ushers for the evening were young teenage girls who wore Daisy Duke shorts. Don't get me wrong, the girls were extremely nice and knew exactly what they were doing, but I found the shorts a bit distracting.

Many things distracted me, but I too was part of the problem. So hopefully with this vacation and time spent with my family, I'll be able to find my center again. Recharge. Realign, what have you. Here's to being present, not just during Mass, but all of the time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Catch Up!

I meant to put these up a few days ago. I still have loads more horses to photograph because I haven't brought my camera with me to the barn for, I don't know, the last couple of months. Anyway, meet some of my new friends!

 Shelton


 Elvis
 
Shamrock


Ricky


Denver says no photographs, por favor.


Duchess likes to stick her entire head out of the hole. It's quite comical, especially when she yells at me when I walk down the barn aisle. She's one of many, actually, who start neighing and nickering when someone walks into the barn during "dinner time." It's one of my favorite sounds, a bunch of horses yelling at me.


Frankie (left) and Madden (right)


Eeyore! Love him.


Annie


 Clover looks so much better now than she did when she first arrived!

Grace


This is Horse Haven's newest arrival...Lisa Marie. She's the cutest little filly ever and very independent. Loves loves loves to play and is incredibly curious. This little girl isn't afraid of too much.


And a shot of momma Reba and Lisa Marie

Friday, July 8, 2011

Freedom

I came home from work today after having a rather horrifically gargantuan incident of terror, and that's putting it mildly. And comically.

Anyway, when I got back to the house, I fiddled around on the internet, checking this and that. I was also a bit tired and decided to take a catnap. When I woke up because emergency vehicle sirens went screaming by my window, I sat there and my mind started racing. What do I have to do? What do I need to get done today and this weekend, before Monday?

And you know what?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Yes! With the exception of a few minor yet regular weekend items, I don't have to do anything. For the first time since the first half of August 2009, I have a real summer break. Albeit, my break started later than most of my friends, but that was because I decided to take summer classes for 2 summers in a row. Class ended on Wednesday, and it ended happily and awesomely. I don't go back until August 17.

So I now know what freedom feels like again! No more school...for a month! I've had a whirlwind of a time these past 2-3ish weeks. Some parts were exhausting, amusing, hilarious, terrifying, sad, stressful, and character building. But I think I rather enjoyed myself once I look back at the big picture.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just Thinkin'

For some reason over the past few days, and in particular today, I've been thinking of my Grandma and my dog Duke. But they are happy thoughts.

I guess you could say that I'm at a stage when things that trigger my grief don't trigger an onslaught of sadness and tears. They in fact bring out smiles and warm feelings. I'm sure there will be days when that's not the case, but s'all good for now.



I miss you. I love you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mistakes into Gold

Lately it would seem that I have developed this habit of thinking a lot about what I wanted or should have said, after the fact. When it's too late to do anything about it!

Does that make any sense? I've really only had this problem after some of my speeches for class, but there have also been a few times that I've run into this problem when I've just been having normal conversations with people. For some reason, way after the speech or conversation, I'll still mull over everything that I said.

Then I start to see holes and gaps that I know I could fill in right now. Why couldn't I have said this? Why didn't I say that? Or, man I really wish I would have said that. Literally, I kid you not, I'll spend much more time than is necessary (or even healthy, I'm sure) thinking about the stuff I could have filled the holes/gaps with. It's a problem. What's wrong with me?!

The last time I had a bad case of "oops, shoulda said X", I was getting ready for bed, trying not to think about what I should've said. As I plopped down onto my bed, I started to sing one of my favorite songs, "Rise" by Eddie Vedder. It's from the Into the Wild soundtrack, and it is also my phone alarm...it's the loudest quiet song (if that makes any sense, it's not obnoxious loud) that I wake up to every morning. Anyway, this stood out to me: Gonna rise up/Turning mistakes into gold.

I was reminded that tomorrow is a new day, and I can choose to rise up and make it better. I have the opportunity to turn my mistakes into gold.

Now, perhaps my shoulda coulda woulda moments weren't mistakes, but at those particular times, I felt like they were. Maybe they really were, but more than likely they were not.

I definitely think that I'm doing better with not worrying or thinking about the what-ifs too much. Yesterday I gave my biggest speech so far this semester, and afterward, I didn't have any thoughts about what I could or should have said. That may in part be due to the fact that it was a well-outlined, semi-rehearsed speech. But the point is, I didn't let the monster in.

I like rising up and turning mistakes into gold. It feels awesome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hooray for Pentecost!

It is not true that some human beings are by nature superior and others inferior. All human beings are equal in their natural dignity. -Blessed Pope John XXIII

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. 

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Hooray for Pentecost! Happy birthday to the Church! Today I was reminded that no matter how different we may be from each other, we are all united in Christ. Today God awakes our souls so let us no longer hide behind locked doors, for we have received the most awesome gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, we are filled with it! Let's not squander the many beautiful gifts we have received on petty things and situations.

We learn in today's readings not to hold on to grudges and the sins that others committed against us. Though I will say that I struggle with letting go, but when I do, it is a truly wonderful feeling. Holding onto those things really doesn't get us anywhere. Forgive, as hard as it may be at times. And in the same breath (ha--breath, get it?), let's not allow differences to prevent us from loving our brothers and sisters.

Let's renew the face of the earth, one loving act at a time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Walk Slow

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe--but believe that you may understand. -St. Augustine

I walk fast. My natural gait is not an ambling one. I'm a mover. For someone of my height (which is short, mind you), I've got long-ish legs. My sister used to yell and whine when we would walk home from the bus stop because I would quickly outpace her. "Slow down! You walk too fast!"

In the 5th grade, my school held a fundraiser in which the students and teachers participated. You raised money from your sponsors for every lap you went around the blue track. I distinctly remember my friends repeatedly asking me to slow down because I was walking too fast. "Ashley must be a power walker or something."

My brief middle school stint in track and field had me run the 800 meter and 4x800meter relay, and I was actually pretty good there for awhile. I wasn't a sprinter, but I sure as heck couldn't do the 1600m and whatever else was super long, the half-mile was my thing. Good times.

I remember in middle school and for the early part of high school, I always imagined what my future would be like. I would daydream different scenarios. Those scenarios usually were about college and related years. But then, when I would arrive to that next chunk of time/transition point, I would pine for the days of old.

Now though, instead of dreaming about it, I'm actually living it. Not that any of my ideas came true (did they? I'll have to think about that), but you get the idea. I went from fiction to reality. I look back and think, wow, that school year went by really quick. Was I really in middle school that long ago? High school? Funny that during a school year or even just one semester, I find myself way too excitedly checking off days on the syllabus as I plow through the semester. I want it over now! During, it takes forever. After, it feels like nothing much went on, and I'm left with proof that the semester actually happened because I have graded exams and papers.

Sometimes, I feel that life moves too fast. But when I really get down to it, the earth isn't moving any faster. I am the one who is going too fast. There are days or even weeks where I don't slow down. I just go, go, go. Being from a culture where time has to be measurable and where it is something to have, to share, to waste, to whatever...that only compounds this feeling of moving too fast.

I came across the aforementioned St. Augustine quote, and in conjunction with a few lines from...you guessed it...a new Mumford & Sons song that I discovered literally by accident the other day, I have come to realize that I do go through life too fast sometimes. I don't see.

In order to understand, to process, to be present, to see, I must slow down. If I walk too fast, I try to understand and then believe...when it should really be the other way around as St. Augustine pointed out. It's hard though, for me at least, to believe when I'm moving too fast. So I need to walk slower in order to believe so that I may understand.

But my humanness makes it difficult sometimes to just stop and slow down, and I need help to get me where I am supposed to be. I need to live my life for God and for no other, including that pesky little thing called time, which we humans think can be bottled up and put into a clock.

The song in which I discovered that "understanding = walking slow(er)" deals with a different subject matter all together, but I don't really care. Particular stanzas just speak to me! Listen to the song here, por favor. It's great.

From "Lover's Eyes" by Mumford & Sons:


And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, help me on my way.
And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, I'll be on my way.

And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, help me on my way.
And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, I'll be on my way.


Take my hand, Lord, help me on my way.

Help us slow down so that we may believe and then understand.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Amalgam

Amalgam is my new favorite word, so I had to use it somewhere in here. It is really just going to be a list of random things that I want to tell the world, so amalgam is a fitting word for the post. 

As I write this, I'm listening to my "My Grass is Blue" playlist. It really isn't all bluegrass music but rather a combination of bluegrass, Americana, and folk rock. However, since most every song in this list has a banjo and/or mandolin involved, I'm sticking with the title. Plus, it's an awesome name for a playlist. In the past, I've mentioned that I truly love a little bit of every musical genre, but in particular, bluegrass/Americana/folk rock and classical/movie score both hold special places in my heart. I thought I could refrain from linking up to a Youtube video...

Surprise! It's another song by Mumford & Sons. If you're sick of hearing me talk about them or if you just don't like them, I really am sorry. But I just can't help myself. God I love them. Thanks be to God for them!


I'm quite enjoying life at this particular moment in time. It isn't perfect, but life never is! I've just had an excellent couple of days. My mini-term Spanish class ended, and I feel relatively okay with my effort. I won't know my grade until next Friday. What I do know is that if I can avoid it, I will never take a mini-term class again! I love Spanish, but 3 hours a day of any class will probably put me over the edge. Though I already miss my Spanish class family. Nos llevamos bien.

My first session summer class started. I'm not as deathly afraid of this class or public speaking as I was last semester before my first speech/public speaking class. Experience does help! Plus, the professor is seriously, legit awesome.

By the grace of God I was able to find a place to live in Knoxville during the summer. Since both of my classes were/are everyday, commuting just didn't make sense to me if I had the alternative of staying in Knoxville. When my original plans fell through, I randomly (or, not really random...more like a bump on the noggin from God) thought to ask my best friend Katie Ann if the Tyson House would let me live there over the summer. For some reason, I didn't consider it at first, but I'm grateful for the reminder! Tyson House is the Episcopal-Lutheran Campus Ministry at UT. It's a really wonderful place and ministry, so you should check them out here! Since Katie Ann is a camp counselor over the summer, she is letting me stay in her room. Bless her, she's a lovely and wonderful friend.

One of the things I love about Tyson House is that the wood floors are really creaky. The noise that wooden floors make (you know, that classic/old house sounding sound) is one of my favorite noises, period. I get to hear it everyday now!

I literally just started my new job (uh, internship, according to one person...) at the Chancery for the Diocese of Knoxville. I've always loved the building and the atmosphere when I would come by for whatever reason in the past, but now, I actually get to be a part of that environment. It's really awesome. I find it incredibly cool that I work just down the hall from some nuns and Bishop Stika! The little Catholic nerd in me is essentially acting like your typical child or child-like adult would at a theme park. I'm like a Christmas tree, all lit up and everything.

Even though I am insanely exhausted from the past few days, I'm strangely euphoric and happy. I've made it through the past 2 days with maybe 5 hours of sleep for each day, and I haven't done that in a long time. So naturally, I'm really tired. I didn't think I was going to make it out of the shower this morning. Miraculously I made it through work, but I almost fell asleep right before I had to leave for class. Somehow I survived class, and I was looking forward to a long overdue nap afterward. That changed when my friend and future roommate, Megan, asked if I wanted to go to dinner with Elizabeth, who was one of my first friends that I made when my family moved to Tennessee way back in 2001. I haven't seen her in forever, so it was really nice hanging out and talking and eating lots of great food. Though I'm pretty positive that half of what I said after 4:45 (the end of class) made absolutely no sense, it was a good evening.

I stayed up way too late and woke up way earlier than usual the past two days. Add that to really no wiggle room (or nap time!) while I transition from one class to another and learn the ropes at the DoK, I'm one exhausted yet amusing-to-listen-to little girl.

I drank a can of Coke and 1.5 big cups of Mountain Dew today. Didn't do much for me.

Yeah, I'm that tired. So I say good night. I'm going to sleep for, like, a million hours.

Oh, and just so you know, there were several times throughout this post when I started to write words/phrases in Spanish instead of English. Is it safe to say that my mini-term class had some lasting effects?

It's going to be a swell summer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Late Arrival

I slept in late today and skipped my usual Mass. Instead I went to the 11:30a.m. and arrived late, on accident of course. The opening hymn was over as soon as I crossed the threshold, and Fr. Tom began his greeting just as I found a seat in the very last row. Though I will say that I really enjoyed the change in perspective from my usual seat.

Is it really all about location, location, location? Perhaps. Today, though, I felt that I paid attention a bit more and the readings stuck with me. They haven't for awhile, so that's surprising! More often than not, I tend to get distracted and accidentally zone out.

Today's readings were just perfect. I don't need to say anything else, really.

2nd Reading - 1 Peter 3:15-18

Beloved:
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.

Gospel - John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some Semblance of An Understanding

The other night, I went to bed after praying. It was a good, meaningful, fruit-bearing meeting. I heard and finally understood what I had been trying to soak up for quite some time now. My evening prayer started with this reflection:
"It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should both believe in Him and suffer for Him." -Philippians 1:29

The greatness of our God must be tested by the desire we have for suffering for His sake...Bear the cross and do not make the cross bear you! -St. Philip Neri
And from here I was led to a new place of understanding. Within the past year, I have struggled with the concept and actual, physical nature of suffering. It manifests in various forms, and sometimes, it's a sneaky little thing. Sometimes, it is a garish brute that comes at you from straight ahead. I've asked myself and God, what is suffering's purpose?

I still don't have the answer, and I know I will never fully grasp what suffering is and why it is a part of the world. What I do know, however, is that it maybe sorta kinda is a necessary part of life.

Yes. Because without it, I feel like many people would think that because nothing was going wrong in their lives, they would feel no need to have a relationship with God. If life was perfect, we would still rejoice and be thankful of course...for the only thing that we would know - the good, material stuff, but I don't think we would rejoice and say thank you for the very reason that we should be thankful.

But if all of a sudden suffering existed in this pretend-world where everything worked and life was peachy, what would happen? When we think we need God, when we're in whatever crisis, that's when we would reach out. That's when we pray. That's when we say, oh hey God, could you help me out? If you felt that you didn't need God, would you make any effort to sustain your relationship? I'm afraid that many, perhaps even myself, would not feel the need to recognize God's presence. That's a scary thing to think. Perhaps because there is some truth in that statement.

Oftentimes I am guilty that when things are great and awesome, I at times forget to say thank you. In moments of suffering, I do reach out, with both arms and every cell in my body. But I shouldn't be conversing with God only when I feel that I need Him. I, you, we need to be constantly growing in faith and praying and nurturing our relationship with God...all the time.

We shouldn't do those things only when life sucks. We should be doing those things all of the time. When life is beautiful and wonderful, when the sun shines on your face and you receive the summer's first sunburn, when you make excellent grades and pass that test, when you score that sweet deal at the store, when you enjoy good food with your loved ones...rejoice and be thankful. Pray. Talk with God.

When your house is leveled by a natural disaster, when people go their separate ways for whatever reason, when physical pain becomes the rule instead of the exception, when you save every penny just to make sure you can get food on the table, when the million things that could go wrong in one day do...when life just really sucks big time...Pray. Be thankful for what you do have. Recognize the blessings that are around you, because they are there. Though it is at times really difficult to see, peace and love and goodness are there. We should rejoice always, and we should also make sure that we are thanking the right person...God. We don't need to turn objects and situations into idols. Thank the Creator, not the thing itself. And know that suffering doesn't have to be a characteristic but a state that you will pass through, periodically throughout our earthly life. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that suffering ceases to exist once we leave this earth and join our Father in heaven.

I mean, would we really have learned anything if Jesus didn't suffer on the cross? Every year with the start of Holy Week, we hear the Passion. So we all know what happened. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't painless, physically or emotionally, for all those who loved Jesus and were present. Just as they suffered at the foot of His cross while Jesus was in agony, so too does God hurt when we hurt. He doesn't enjoy when we suffer. In fact, God knows what it feels like because Jesus himself was fully divine and fully human.

In my sufferings, yes, I reach out to God. Through them, I do learn more about myself and about my relationship with God, but I also grow more in my appreciation for everything that is in my life, good and bad. I may not understand why it all happens the way it does, but I'm not supposed to!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Few Thoughts

Keeping it short today...lots of Spanish homework and studying to do for this little lady!

A few days/short weeks ago, I talked with two of my friends, on separate occasions. Through our meandering conversations, we talked about what we're majoring in and what we think we want to do after graduation.

I still harbor some reservations when I answer because, well, I know myself and my often fickle tendencies. But, I am pretty positive that I won't be changing majors again. I'm pretty happy with communications and the possibility of minoring in Spanish.

After graduation, heck, even before that...I think I want to work with immigrants and refugees or work in the non-profit sector. If it's in the cards, at some point in my life I'd also like to volunteer for a year with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos.

I'd also like to see Mumford & Sons live and then be best friends with all of the guys from the band. But that's a completely different dream...

I'm feeling quite cheery today, in spite of a looming oral quiz over the imperfect subjunctive that is sure to be loads of fun! Que tenga un buen día!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Say What?

I've been taking my mini-term class for over a week now, and surprisingly, it isn't that bad. I mean, it isn't the most exciting thing I've ever done, but it has a little more than slightly exceeded my expectations. I kinda maybe sorta like it. Say what?

Upper level Spanish class for 3 hours a day every day does get a bit tiresome, but the way my professor teaches the class, most days it doesn't feel like I've been there for 3 hours. And to my initial surprise and joy, my classmates and I are quite chummy. I think it has something to do with our mutual bond of "part self loathing, part self-imposed insanity, part just-plain-we're-all-funny."

We all, for whatever reason, purposefully signed up for this 3 hours a day for 3 weeks, intensive, upper level Spanish class. All of those descriptive words basically sum up why most people look at me (or my class friends) with such amusing looks of pity and awe. I love it.

What's also interesting is campus life. I should actually say lack of campus life. There is literally no one else here! Most everyone cleared out by the last day of spring semester finals, which was May 10. Mini-term started the 11th, and the only people I see are: guys working on various road and campus building-related construction projects, UT staff and maintenance people, professors, and lethargic looking mini-term students. Some grad and undergrad students are here doing research as well, but for the most part, there is no one! It is so different. Campus is its own little ghost town.

That'll change come June when official summer classes start. Freshmen orientations and the like will probably start around then or sometime soon after, so campus will liven up a bit. But not that much.

Spring semester grades came out today. With the relatively new (and crappy) online system, you can't see any of your final grades until over a week after the last day of finals. The anticipation sucks. I made 3 A's and one A-. An A- isn't much fun because it drops your GPA. I don't know one student/friend on this campus who loves getting an A-. Just give me a B instead, seriously. Give me a few more hours though, and I'll stop lamenting. As my friend reminded me earlier, there's no use crying over spilled milk. Or grades that you can't do anything about.

So I leave you with a video that I accidentally came across just a few minutes ago. It is something actually worth getting a little teary-eyed over (if you're a mush pot like me). Be proud! I understood most of the Spanish without the help of subtitles.