The Perils of Northern Living

January 31, 2011

According to the ever-authoritative weather map, it looks like we’re gonna get a real doozy of a snowstorm in the Midwest tonight. Reporters are using words like “colossal”  “massive” and “historical.” Even Oklahoma is supposed to get 8 inches of snow and I thought all they ever had was tornadoes.

In preparation for the incoming storm, campus residential life sent out an advisory to all RAs to have our flashlights ready. Oh my.

I’ll end on the happy note that a weather website left us with: “A reminder, there is a little less than two months of winter left to go.”

 

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ˌɪntərˈnæʃənl fəˈnɛtɪk ˈælfəˌbɛt

January 30, 2011

Tonight I had my first homework transcribing things into and out of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The IPA is fun and makes so much sense.

Imagine if we all used the IPA, then we could avoid mistakes like this Kijabe road sign:

(Road Closed)


100 Days

January 29, 2011

One hundred days. That’s how long is left until I see my parents.

In first grade we had a party on the hundredth day of school, and I remember a hundred days seemed SO long.

But this is different. After all what’s a hundred days? Barely over three months, it’s easily in reach, and almost tangible.

Tomorrow starts the long-awaited double digits. Can’t wait.


Why History?

January 28, 2011

“A history major, eh? What are you going to do with that?” Believe me, I get this question ALL the time. I’m not really sure if other majors experience this question as much as we history students do, with the possible exception of philosophy majors, creative writing majors, and … ok, fine, a lot of us in the humanities get this question.

The question is usually followed by some joke like, “Bet you’re gonna end up in a cardboard box playing guitar for passers-by. haha.” I then wince and  think that perhaps I should have majored in something “useful” like Bio-Chem, but that train of thought lasts about thirty seconds before derailing into reality. I am definitely not wired for that.

I still remember the moment when I thought I might become a history major. It was a vacation night during highschool and a group of station kids were over playing catch-phrase and drinking chai. Natalie was trying to get me to say the word “round” and so she prompted me with “a merry-go” which I heard in my head as “Amerigo” and without hesitating shouted out “Vespucci.” If you don’t know, Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian mapmaker who supposedly bestowed his name on the continents of North and South America. Clearly the phrase “a-merry-go” could only be hinting at “Vespucci,” right? Right.  I suppose there was no escaping a history degree after that.

Towards the end of freshman year I declared my History/International Studies double-major, and to be honest it was a bit anti-climactic. I went into the registrar’s office and announced that I was declaring a major. “Ok,” the lady behind the desk said. “What is it?” I proudly told her and watched as she  typed on her keyboard for a bit and then smiled up at me. I waited expectantly for more to come. Fanfare? Trumpets? Certificate? At least a little bit of paperwork to fill out? Nope. “You’re all set. You can go now.” Oh.

But, regardless of how I got there, I still think that history is a really important field.

Lindsay Brown, in his book Shining Like Stars: The Power of the Gospel in the World’s Universities, writes that without an awareness of history our lives become shallow. Especially for the Christian, an understanding of history is essential.  Over and over again, God tells us to remember. Why? Brown gives three reasons.

First, history reminds us what God has done in the past: “significant answers to prayer, evidences of his supernatural power, and the way he has intervened.” The result of reflecting on the past is always praise for a God who acts in history. Second, history tells us who we are and that we have a heritage as part of a long line of saints. We are not alone, but running a race surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.” Finally, Brown suggests that history is important because in remembering the great things God has done in the past, we are better able to create a vision for the future. “We see that if God has used fragile, broken and dysfunctional people, he can use us.”

Amen! History contextualizes our lives and places us in the middle of a story that is much bigger than ourselves. It is God’s story of pursuit, of wooing, of rescuing, of redemption.

Yes, history might not be “practical,” but I’m passionate about it. It excites me to look into the past and then into the future and to know who I am and what I am a part of.

So bring on the cardboard box, I’m a history major and proud of it!


Soaring

January 27, 2011

Two nights ago, I had a rare flying dream- my favorite kind.

To me, spending the night in the sky is a form of escape where pushing off and moving upward seems completely natural.

I find myself so free and light it is truly delicious.

And when I wake up in the morning still fully under the influence of gravity, I can’t help feeling a hint of wistfulness.


A Guilty Pleasure

January 26, 2011

Last year, my sister Katie introduced a potent new addiction into my life: audio-books.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, as I much prefer to hold a book in my hands and be able to skim ahead through the slow bits. Besides, who has time for audio-books? But, after being lulled to sleep each night by a man with a splendid British accent reading  Treasure Island, I thought I would give it a try.

The first book Katie shared with me was The Help, a story told from three different perspectives and narrated by three different women about life in Mississippi in the 1960s. I was hooked.

After that, I listened to Operation Mincemeat, the intriguing and true story about how the British fed intelligence to Germany during World War II using the body of a dead man planted with falsified documents and washed ashore in Spain.

A short while later I heard My Stroke of Insight,  the account of what a stroke is like from the inside written by a brain scientist who herself experienced and recovered from a stroke.

Next, I was whisked off to the South Pole in Shackleton’s Way with one of my heroes, Sir Ernest Shackleton, in this story of his incredible leadership of the Endurance expedition.

This was followed by Unbroken, about Louis Zamperini, who was a world-class sprinter in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, joined the Air Force during World War II, crashed in the ocean and survived on a raft for 47 days, was captured by the Japanese and put in a POW camp, and after the war, returned to the States, found Christ, and became a speaker telling his story around the country. How’s that for a run-on sentence? But his life was just that packed.

Over winter break, Katie and I spent time together working our way through three giant puzzles while listening to Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World which taught me more than I ever could have imagined about the Mongol Horde.

And as for this semester, I thought I would have no time for audio-books until Katie called me up a few days ago and said “You have to listen to Hunger Games.”  I don’t like fiction that much, and this story is bizarre to say the least. The two of us decided that it is a cross somewhere between Lord of the FliesGladiator, and 1984. Despite my doubts about the merits of this book, however, the personality of the main character and the unusual plot-line pulled me in. So much so, in fact, that  for the past few days my homework, friends, and mealtimes have all had to compete for attention with this absorbing story.

Still, it is really nice to be read aloud to- even as an adult. At least it was nice until Katie just informed me tonight that this book I am listening to is only the first in a trilogy. Oh dear. If you don’t see me for a couple of days please send a search party. You are sure to find me hunched over my computer, eyes bloodshot, hair matted, hands shaking, unable to pull myself away.


Chai

January 25, 2011

“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.” – Bernard-Paul Heroux

As a child I did not particularly enjoy chai unless it was black. I do not know what on earth was wrong with me. Later, I came to my senses and discovered that chai is one of the little things in life that makes all the difference. I mean, what circumstance exists that can’t be improved by chai? Especially smoky chai with a few tea leaves still swirling in the bottom.

My friend, Rebekah Frost posted this on her facebook:  “Good day? Bad day? Sleepy? Can’t sleep? Headache? Cold day? Visitors? Bored? Procrastinating? Need a break? CHAI.”

Sooooo true!