Books, Travel and Adventure, Wild Card

“Let Us Return to the Pilgrim’s Progress”

My blazing adventures in Greece have settled down to a simmering ember in my memory. The warmth of the sun, the taste of the sea in the air, the exotic languages– it all feels so distant as I shuffle from class to class in the rain and attempt to play golf with layers of jackets on. Yet life is not over, simply because I am no longer being spoiled by an incredible climate. Better yet, these last few weeks have been exciting! I love seeing my old friends and walking the campus of Wheaton College as a senior. Everything is once again familiar and comfortable. Somehow, though, these sentiments have not seemed important enough to put into writing.

But a friend of mine recently confronted me, saying, “You have a blog. That’s a real life commitment.”

And it’s true. I wanted to create a public space for my writing, not just keep a travel journal. I tried to recreate my experiences vividly so that my readers could enjoy a sense of escape from their reality (as entertainment is wont to do). My foreign adventures provided an enormous amount of material for me to work with. So now, I have a new challenge: how can I make my college experiences into worthwhile reading? Is there a way to engage an audience as a narrator living in the suburbs of Chicago, rather than at a 5-star resort in Greece?

I like a good challenge.

I am currently writing this blog in my ’18th Century Literature’ class (I’m also taking notes on a Word Document– don’t worry Mom and Dad). Let me tell you, if this class was not required for my English major, I would not be sitting here right now. Give me any book written in the last hundred years and I will read it in a week. Hand me a manuscript from 3,000 years ago and I will soak it right up. But I am entirely unconvinced that there is enough decent literature from the 18th century to fill a course syllabus. Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, William Wycherley… oh, please. We are now stumbling through Bunyan’s famed Pilgrim’s Progress. I know it is a great novel of the Christian tradition, but when it comes to personifying virtues and vices, I think the play “Everyman” is more engaging. And Dante’s Inferno certainly has a more interesting storyline.

There are only nine of us in this class: seven girls and two shy boys, all trying valiantly to stay awake as our professor reads us line after line of archaic-sounding text. The tables have been set up in a rectangle and we sit around its perimeter. “How do you guys feel about the literary heroism of this passage?” the professor asks. How do we feel? (The rain keeps up a constant rapping on the window panes). Ask me again later.

Thankfully, there is a much more engaging world outside of this small, fourth-story classroom. I will be off to the library shortly to work my afternoon shift. Buswell Library is slightly out of date; the computers are slow and the book selection is heavily weighted towards ‘Bible/Theology’. The atmosphere is comfortable, though, and my coworkers are wonderful. Linda and Cheryl are in charge of the Circulation Desk, where I am stationed. Linda and I gab about new books, her son’s baseball team, music, what creepy strangers have caused trouble in the library lately, etc. I always try to get a little homework done at the checkout desk, but that rarely seems to happen. There are too many opportunities to engage grad students about their thesis’ topics or recommend “fun reads” to bored freshmen (who have not yet felt the full brunt of a college workload).

Class is nearly over, so I will close this post as well. Now that I have breathed some new life into my blog, I will make sure it receives its regular word-nourishment. Have a blessed day!

Wild Card

And When I’m Home…

“And when I’m home/ I think I’ll go eat cereal/ And stare out the window” – Relient K

Jefferson Aero Plane has always been my favorite Relient K song. Although, I realized tonight as I read through the lyrics that I didn’t really know the words at all. It’s one of Relient K’s more mellow tunes and I guess I’ve always connected with the mood of the song.  Matt Theissan, the lead singer, sounds rather wistful, maybe even remorseful. He speaks fondly of the good times and is rather cavalier about the bad ones. He’s waiting for things to get better; waiting for himself to be better, stronger, less lonesome. Regardless of the highs and lows, the “show must go on”. It is a sentiment that has resonated with me often over the years. You win some, you lose some, don’t let it get you down. But what I truly appreciate is that the song does more than simply carry on– it truly bounces back at the end. It picks up the beat, bringing with it a powerful sense of optimism and courage.

I had a bit of a rocky end to the school year. Finals made everyone flustered and I got caught up in the anxiety and rush of it all. Then having to say my good-byes and turn around and coming home… It just didn’t sit well. I was anxious about my time home alone. I’ve kept myself busy the last few days so as not to think about anything too closely. I kept propelling myself forward without a real sense of joy. But tonight, sitting at my kitchen table, surrounded by big arched windows and listening to Relient K, I stopped for a minute and let it all catch up to me. And it didn’t “hit” me. My thoughts didn’t pummel me with anxiety or burden me with my past mistakes. Instead, I took a breath… in total and complete peace. I am ready to truly enjoy my life again, rather than just move through it. I don’t need to wait for Greece to come and sweep me off my feet, I can love every moment right now.

“…Oh yes, I’ll go
And hope the new me shows so everybody knows
That I’ve found myself able to fly away
Without magic feathers
Or jefferson aero planes
I’ve got with me all that I need “

Thank you, Matt Theissan, for a little perspective on life.

Wild Card

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Exams are completed. Papers are printed and turned in. Rooms are packed, cleaned, and emptied. Lots of sleep has been lost…

And now I’m home! I made it back to Indy around 6 o’clock today (thanks to my TomTom who saved me every time I took a wrong turn) and enjoyed a lovely dinner with my parents and some family friends. I will drive them all to the airport tomorrow morning, and watch them fly off to (where else?) Greece. It is quite a horrible tease to have to send my parents off to the country that I shall be going to in precisely 16 days. But, duty calls: I am to take care of the house while they see the sights and celebrate their 25th Anniversary.

It’s not too terrible, really. After a year’s worth of cafeteria food, I’m thrilled to have a kitchen and fully-stocked fridge all to myself. I have an endless pile of books to keep me entertained. I’ve got a gym membership and the determination to get back into shape. I cannot wait to have a full-day Pirates of the Caribbean marathon, leading up to the premiere of the new movie.The weather is warming up enough for me to fully enjoy playing golf again.  And, lucky for you, I’ve got this blog to motivate my writing!

Goal for the next 16 days: Write at least once every other day. 8 entries? From Indiana? Oh yes, it will be a challenge. But I like stepping up to the plate.

(Musical inspiration: Tom Petty’s “The Waiting”)