Newness for a New Year

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Distractions from Grading

For those of you who know my teaching habits, or if you have ever had a stack of papers to grade, you know how easy it is to be distracted. Do you ever have moments when you are taken back to a memory that brings you pure happiness? This is my distraction for the evening.

Tonight, I was browsing through my pictures and I found these four. The first is of the stunning countryside in Southern France, at the Abbey I stayed at. It was like Brigadoon, rising out of the lush green hills.
The second comes from a touring day in Southern France. The Abbey provided a sack lunch that day, that consisted of a tomato, a hard boiled egg, some cheese, and an entire baguette (to share of course). Well, that isn't easy to pack around. So, in true European fashion, I attached it to my bag and kept touring. It worked well and no one seemed to mind that the bread had been strapped to my bag all morning (another distinctly European experience--bread without bags--incredibly unsanitary and yet no one cares).
And the last is a statue I came to love. I would walk there every morning and evening to study and relax. It stood at the top of the middle road at the Abbey. It is lovely.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

An interesting fact

I distinctly remember in 1985 when President Kimball passed away. He was the first prophet I had ever known of, and I remember watching his funeral. I guess he has always had a tender spot in my heart. Well, I was reading about him just now and discovered he had Bell's Palsy twice, not to mention a score of other sicknesses and illnesses. I am lucky to have only had it once, but I feel an even closer bond to him now. I guess it is always such, that when you can empathize with someone, you love him or her even more.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Apparently, I am an under-age faculty member

I just got back from getting some free fudge from the bookstore. They gave out coupons to full-time faculty and employees for the Christmas season--a free half pound of fudge. Well, I thought I was going to get through the whole thing without being questioned about my status, and I almost did. But right at the end, I was carded. She took down my ID number.

I shouldn't be surprised. It happens every time I go to check out a book or a video from the library. They tell me I can only use the video in the library and then I have to tell them, "I'm faculty." I am to the point that I just give them my card and tell them up front. The best is on the first day of class when I know my students wonder why I am going to the front. Or it is also good when someone walks into class to talk to the teacher and has to ask if I am the teacher.

You know that if I were 40 and looked a little more like the professor then I wouldn't have a problem. Not that I am complaining. I would much rather them think me a student than an older professor. It is just that I have never been "carded" so much in my life.

The End is in Sight

Good Friday to you all. I just found out that we will finally be able to move back into our place by the end of December. I am thrilled by that news. Thank you to all who have housed us and our stuff these past months.

Also, the last day of class was yesterday. The end of the semester is almost here! It seems that I am never quite able to really think about Christmas until after school is out. But, I know that this year will be one of the best ever--I truly have so much to be thankful for, and I know it is because of our Savior, whose birth we celebrate.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Beautiful Thought for a Lovely Day

I was thinking today about one of my favorite quotes. I hope you enjoy it as well. It is long, but it is wonderful.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you to sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

-found in Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Baltimore, dated 1692

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The World Without Us

I am starting to gather books for my Christmas break reading. I hope to share my reviews when I read them, but if you are looking for some books, consider The World Without Us by journalist Alan Weisman. I have been wanting to read it for a while, but will finally do so over the break. It poses an interesting scenario: if humans stopped existing today, what would happen to the planet? What would nature do? Intriguing concept, I think.

I listened to an Radio West discussion with Alan Weisman tonight. It was very interesting and piqued my interest even more. Check it out.

Also, on the book's website there are some multimedia features that show what the world would look like without us. I think this is an interesting concept. I will let you know what I think.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snow Storm and Salt Lake City

Friday night, Amelia and I attended Savior of the World, at the Conference Center. A friend called and said he had some extra tickets, so Amelia took him up on them. Well, I must say I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I knew it must be great since it is almost always sold out, but I was deeply impressed by it.

If you have the opportunity to go, then go. It is sold out this year, but plan on going next year. The acting was great, but more importantly, the way they presented the message was so powerful. It was a wonderful opening to the Christmas season for me. The snow also helped; it was enchanting. I don't think I will ever forget how stunning the temple spires where as the snow fell. The flakes were huge and there was just enough softness to them to be welcoming. Amelia and I had a great time running and sliding all the way to the car.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Small Things

Well, here is blog about small but good things. Sometimes the small things mean so much more than big things.

Small Thing #1
As most of you know, I drive a VW Jetta circa 1991. In the past two weeks, I replaced the windshield, had safety and emissions done, and got new tires. Well, during the safety and emissions testing, the driver's side door handle broke off. Luckily, he advised me to get it fixed. Blessed man. So, I ordered the door handle online that night.

Yesterday, I took my car in for what sounded like some congestion under the hood. Turns out I have a bad water pump. I also have a slight coolant leak and an oil drip. Well, Frank is nice enough to fix the later two under the labor of the first. But, here comes the good part. I wasn't expecting to have my handle in for another few days, but Amelia had been home to Centerville yesterday. As we were coming out of the temple last night she mentions that she has a box for me. I was thrilled. It indeed was my door handle, and now Frank can also fix my door. (By the way, Frank is such a great name for a mechanic.) This will be very convenient since I currently have to open the back door and pop open the front. That small thing made me so happy. Sometimes all we need is a little goodness to keep us wading through the not-so-goodness.

Small Thing #2

This little drawing made me laugh. My friend Amy Morris sent me to a blog that had this joke. Amy has the amazing ability of finding the coolest blogs out there. Thanks Amy.

For those of you who don't know, the Grover Family has this often-criticized fetish for orange circus peanuts. We grew up eating them, and we still love them. Most of the in-laws and other friends love to tease us about our unusual taste for them. But don't worry, we are passing the tradition on to the little ones. I had to laugh at myself and all the Grovers when I saw this--

So the small orange goodness that I love despite any criticism and the small laugh-at-yourself moment you take for liking something that seems to resemble packing peanuts makes for a wonderful Friday.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Revisiting an Old Favorite

For those of you who don't know, I used to have the biggest crush on Andrew McCarthy and I love him in the 80s classic Pretty in Pink. If you haven't seen it--see it, this weekend! But, one of the signature songs from that movie is "If You Leave" by OMD. Well, the point of this post is not to rave about my old crush, but to say that a group known as Nada Surf has done a great remake of the OMD classic. Check it out after you watch Pretty in Pink.

Rambles on a Monday

I am sitting in my office at 4:32 p.m., staring out at Y Mountain. Snow clings to the slopes and to the ledges magnificently. It is currently saturated in sunlight, which is inviting and yet brimming with the chill of December. I can’t help but think about all the daily wonders we are given to enjoy. I hope to offer something about one of those wonders, something that has been on my mind lately. I believe I have spent a great deal of my life trying to capture in words what love means. That love has been directed toward different people and for different reasons, while also being directed at me. Some aspects of love include familial love, romantic love, friendly love, and of course, Godly love.

Although I do not profess the skills or knowledge to capture all that love is and how it exists, I hope I can get a least a portion right. And in the larger scheme of things, I believe that love interacts with us all so differently throughout our lives. It changes and grows as we do.

But, for December 3, 2007, I believe the essence of love is joy.

My thoughts begin at romantic love. How do you know you romantically love someone? I have always wondered this. I doubted that I could ever really love someone to a depth that ensued marriage. I couldn’t imagine knowing you could love someone that much, especially since I have dappled in love many times but never really given myself to it. But, I don’t think it is as complicated as knowing and proving. I have learned that it comes as naturally as all the things that resonate with my soul. I could never tell you when I started to love literature, or how I know I love the beauty of an autumn day. There are certain parts of us that love without knowing why, and yet we know as certainly as we know when it is cold outside, that we love. You might not be able to know exactly when it happened or how that person became such a living part of your being, but it did, and he or she did.

And maybe you don’t realize how deep that love is until they leave you for a short time or for a long time. You feel their absence as part of your own soul is absent. When you can feel such longing for someone in your life, then perhaps you begin to realize the magnitude of love you hold for them.

I also believe that saying such a love is merely romantic love is problematic. For the type of love that is soul-love means so much more than shallow descriptions of romance and wooing. Perhaps when you truly love another then you begin to understand charitable love. It suffers long, is kind, and envies not. It forgives. It is not puffed up, seeketh not its own, and is not easily provoked. It thinketh no evil and rejoiceth in truth. And of course, it produces hope in all things while enduring all things.

And you can’t measure that kind of love; it just consumes you. Ironically, to try and explain it with words would lessen the extent to which you could love, for it would be reduced to the descriptions and configurations of a language that could never match the glories of what we feel.

When you know you love someone and you know you are loved, I hope you never take it for granted. It is such a beautiful and rare gift. For all we love and for all our interests, realizing that you love someone should be the most precious part of your soul. To give yourself, imperfect and struggling, to someone else who is also imperfect and struggling, takes a lot of courage. It isn’t always easy to allow yourself to love. Sometimes there is pain involved, and other times it seems to take so much energy. But, it is always worth it. Our capacity to love one person stretches our hearts to allow others in as well. This whole world and our own souls rely on love. Not only do we need to feel love, we also need to love others.

Whomever you love, take a moment today to tell him or her about it. It doesn’t have to be eloquent or long--just sincere. Not only will the recipient enjoy it, but you will also feel more love for that person. Don’t ever be afraid or ashamed to express love; it is the most lovely joy we can feel.