Friday, January 4, 2019

2018

2018 happened in three chunks for me. So much happened in each of these chunks that it's as if I lived three separate years in one.

January-May
Spring semester is so far away that I can hardly believe it happened only this year. I took Writing of Fiction, Writer's Style, History of the Christian Church, Epic Literature, and a host of other classes, including a course about the history and geography of Israel to prepare for the spring break study trip to Israel that I went on! 
In the spring, I continued working as a Teacher's Assistant and as the Social Media Intern for the English Department. When my roommate Sarah and I decided we needed a break from sitting on the couch doing homework, we sat on the couch and watched sitcoms or Monk. One of the highlights of spring semester was attending my school's annual film festival with some of my closest friends. The lowlight of the semester was contracting some horrible plague, spending a day in the emergency room, and missing a week and a half of school because of it. 

May-August
School ended on Thursday, and over the weekend, my roommate and I moved into summer housing. On Monday, I started my first full-time job, cleaning the main dorm building with facility services. The work was hard (we moved desks, dressers, and mattresses; de-bunked bunk beds and put them back together again; vacuumed; vacuumed some more; washed walls, tables, and light fixtures; swept stairwells; mopped floors... If it was dirty, we cleaned it) but the company was great and made the job so much fun!
Summer wasn't all work, though... Sarah and I went to two weddings; Abby, Andrea, and I explored parts of the city; summer housing shenanigans abounded; I got to go home for two weeks to see my parents, bestie, and extended family; and I went kayaking for the first time and LOVED it. 

September-December
School began again, and this was the most exhausting semester yet. I'm no longer the Social Media Intern for the English Department, but I run the Instagram account for a student group, so I attended many of their events throughout the semester. I also continued to be involved in the English Department as both a TA and a member of Sigma Tau Delta. To keep a stiff upper lip as I faced such classes as Literary Theory (LACAAAAAAAAAAN), Structure of English Grammar, and Christianity and Writing, I dyed my hair blue and purple and, depending on my mood, felt either like a unicorn or an oil spill. 
Here on the blog, I participated in the Silmaril Awards and hosted The Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril. I wasn't able to post much else on here due to one of my classes where each student had to research a historical topic and build a website presenting their research in a user-friendly and interesting way. I did mine on the symphonies of three Soviet composers under the reign of Stalin. 
Check out my website by clicking this link.
One of my goals for this past semester was to be more focused on academics than on social life, but 2018 has turned out to be a year of relationships, and I'm glad. People are so much more important than grades. Sarah's family and Andrea's family have adopted me since my own parents live over a thousand miles away from school. Amidst the craziness of academics and obligations, my friends and I made time for wandering around a golf course, watching movies and playing foosball and Dutch Blitz in the basement, attending rad Halloween and Christmas parties (don't worry, most of the attendees were English Department people, so the craziest thing to happen was misplacing a modifier), playing board games and video games, attending school theater productions, and dressing up all fancy to go to the orchestra. 
Now, I am home on Christmas break, reflecting on 2018 from the comfort of my bed, even though it is 2:00 in the afternoon. I did a lot last year. I did well in school and at work. I made new and wonderful friends. We did and saw a lot of great things together. But what the pictures don't show is the emotional exhaustion and mental strain of trying to balance school, friendships, and self-care. They don't show the anxiety and self-image issues. They don't show the hard decisions and heartache. 2018 was rough (I know that because I only managed to read fifteen books the entire year!). I didn't achieve in full any of the goals I set for myself last year. 

Looking Ahead
Being at home for break—or, rather, being away from the pressures and responsibilities of being on campus—has been so so so good for me. I've been able to rest and recover from the total exhaustion of last semester, and 2019 doesn't look so dark as a result. I've felt the most myself that I have since Thanksgiving.
As some of you may know, I love lists (which is part of the reason why I started bullet journaling in 2018 and am going to continue this year). Usually, I make a list of goals for myself during the infancy of a new year, but I haven't done that yet because, frankly, I don't want another to-do list. I do, however, have a few vague ideas of things that I want to improve upon in 2019, which I shall put in a list for readability sake (also because I just love lists).

-I would like to move my blog to Wordpress and buy a domain name. 
-I would like to be confident about who I am so that I can stop the niggling voices at the back of my brain telling me lies about myself.
-I would like to stop being so self-sufficient and humble myself to trust God more. 
-And I suppose it would be nice to double my reading from last year and finish thirty books in 2019. (Okay, this is dangerously close to a goal. Time to stop.)

Pastors and parents talk about stages of life and how some are stages of waiting. Well, I've been walking r e a  l   l    y slowly across that stage for over a year now. I have no idea what any serious aspect of my future looks like, and that's frustrating and scary. 
I'm hesitantly optimistic that 2019 holds the answers to some of the questions I asked in 2018. I'm beginning to look forward to heading back to school next week. I've got some great classes and some great people to get back to. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Indulging my Two Secret Passions: Tintin and Opera

In the Tintin books by HergĂ©, the opera singer Castafiore always sings "The Jewel Song" from Faust by Charles Gounod. If fact, she never sings anything but "The Jewel Song" from Faust. In the Tintin movie, however, Castafiore does not sing her signature song; rather, she sings something from Romeo et Juliette, which is another opera by Gounod. Seven years later, I still wonder why the movie makers decided to change her quintessential song from one opera by Gounod to another. Was it laziness? Did it have to do with copyright? Did they not do their research? Could their soprano not hit the notes (doubtful, since the song from Romeo et Juliette is the higher of the two songs)?

This image does not belong to me, so don't come for me, Image Police.
I have no answers, BUT I do have a new question. Today, I was listening to a Maria Callas CD, and "Una voce poca fa" from The Barber of Seville came on. I recognized the beginning melody as the song to which Castafiore makes her entrance in the Tintin movie. In the movie, after the first thirty seconds of "Una voce poca fa," the song switches to "Je veux vivre dans ce reve" from Romeo et Juliette, and Castafiore begins to sing.
It's one thing to mix up two songs by the same composer, but The Barber of Seville isn't even BY Gounod! It's by Rossini. Furthermore, it's in an entirely different language. Why in the world would the people in charge of the music for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn splice together two songs from two different composers who wrote in two different languages and lived about thirty years apart? Why in the world didn't they have Castafiore sing "The Jewel Song" like she was supposed to? Will I ever have answers??

Check out the scene for yourself:

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

And the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril Goes To...

An audience mills about in a field. They talk in low murmurs, as only confused and slightly annoyed people do. Everyone wears black tie attire and some hold glasses of champagne. Fifteen minutes ago, the audience sat inside a luxurious ballroom, watching the award for Least Competent Henchmen be presented, but they had been herded outside because of the fire alarm. Since there was no smoke or flames, they assumed some mischievous imp had pulled the alarm, though why anyone would do something so rude during an awards ceremony was beyond even the smartest attendee.

Suddenly, a bang! and everyone turns their heads. A firework explodes above the audience. Several more fireworks fly into the sky; miraculously, they spelled out several words: NOMINEES FOR THE MOST MISCHIEVOUS IMP SILMARIL.
Five more fireworks spell out the names of the nominees:
TIGGER from WINNIE THE POOH
TOAD from THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
CRISPIN BEASLEY from BEAUMONT AND BEASLEY
PETER PAN AND THE LOST BOYS from PETER PAN
TINK/KALMAR from THE WINGFEATHER SAGA

As the smoke clears, the audience claps and whistles. This was well worth standing outside for fifteen minutes. The applause slows and a small figure appears out of the smoke.
"Now that is how to make an entrance!" he says, waggling his curly head. "Don't you think, Merry?"
"Well done, Pip." A second short man appears at the first's side.
"The envelope please, Merry," says Pippin Took.
Merry hands his cousin the envelope with the winner's name in it. Pippin opens it, glances at the name, gives Merry a side glance and a wink, and turns to the audience.

"And the winner is... Peter Pan and his Lost Boys!!"
The audience explodes like a firework.
"The Silmaril please, Merry." Pippin takes it from Merry. Peter Pan flies up into the air from his seat and does a twirl. He walks on the air, preening and smiling, and Tootles, Nibs, Slightly, Curly, and the Twins walk in a line underneath their fearless leader until all of them stand in a line before Pippin. Peter holds out his hand to accept his Silmaril, but it is no longer in Pippin's hand!
"I just had it..." Pippin says. He pats his pockets and searches the ground.
"Fool of a Took..." mumbles a gray wizard in the audience. He draws his bushy eyebrows together as he turns around and storms back toward the theater.
"What do you mean by this? We are supposed to get an award," says Peter indignantly. He crosses his arms over his chest and his Lost Boys copy him.
"Let me see... let me see..." says Pippin. "Ah, there it is! What's it doing behind your ear?" Pippin pulls the Silmaril from behind Peter's ear. The Silmaril hangs on a piece of fabric, so Pippin drapes it around Peter's neck.


"Thank you very much," Peter says. "Thank you. I'd like to thank my Lost Boys. They are the most loyal friends I could ever ask for. We shall have lots of adventures and continue being imps the rest of our lives! But I'll be sure to take better care of this Silmaril than Pippin here." Everyone laughs.
The crowd parts to let Peter Pan and Pippin follow the gray wizard back to the theater. Everyone else files back into the building after them. Just as the last guest enters the theater, it begins to rain, and the last of the smoke clears.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Productivity: Healthy Habits


I'm a busy college student, so I wanted to share some productivity tricks that I've learned that have helped me a lot. I can't say that I follow these tricks all of the time, but when I do, I feel healthier, happier, and less stressed because I know that there is time in the day to get everything done. These are some healthy habits that I'm cultivating:

1. Get up at the same time every morning.
Over the summer, I had a job working Facilities at my school, and I had to give up at 5:30 every morning to get to work at 6:00. After a few weeks, my body got used to getting up at the same time every day, and I knew that I wanted to continue that into the school year. I'm not still getting up at 5:30, because that's ludicrous, but I am getting up at 7:00 most mornings. When I get up earlier, I tend to get more done in the day because I'm awake earlier and don't feel groggy from sleeping in.

2. Go to bed early.
I need eight hours of sleep in order to be a functioning member of society. It helps me to focus better in classes and while doing homework, it makes me happier, and it makes getting up in the morning a whole lot easier. Also, sleep is amazing, so, if you can, make sure you are getting enough sleep for what you need to get done in the day.

3. Eat good food.
I am on the over-21 meal plan, which is only $235 a semester, so I do a lot of cooking for myself. In the past, I have not been great at this. My roommate and I always reach a point in the semester where we give up and just get fast food several times a week. This is not only unhealthy, but it is also expensive, so I have vowed to myself to cook more this semester, and, so far, it has been working well. This is better for my body and my bank account and is definitely a healthy habit that every busy person should develop.

4. Take breaks.
I take a lot of breaks. Mostly, it's between assignments. Sometimes, it's in the middle of assignments. My breaks are never long; I keep them to 5-15 minutes. Usually, I'll do something productive during these breaks. I'll clean something or make myself food or wash dishes. It's a brain break for me, but it gets chores done, too!

Do you do any of these things? Are you going to try any of these things? Tell me about healthy habits that you have!

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Silmaril Awards 2018: Voting

Thanks for all of your voting and seconding last week! There were 33 nominations! Five imps, however, were more mischievous than the rest... Here they are, the top five nominees for the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril:

1. Peter Pan and his Lost Boys from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (15 nominations).
Peter Pan is happy-go-lucky and it often seems as though he cares for no one but himself, but it is only because he has no mother to set him right. He refuses to grow up and, instead, leads his Lost Boys from adventure to adventure. From losing his shadow, to flying around Neveland, to facing crocodiles and pirates, Peter and his gang get themselves into no end of trouble. Tootles, though clumsy, is caring; Nibs is the bravest; Slightly is no good at make believe, but he's wonderful at exaggeration; Curly frequently gets himself into pickles; and the Twins are simply the Twins.

2. Crispin Beasley from Beaumont and Beasley by our very own Silmaril Award host Kyle Robert Shulz (12 nominations).
Many have questioned why Crispin—early twenties, boyish good looks, cheerful demeanor—of all people, was gifted with exceptionally strong magical powers. Those who know him best would describe him as flighty, easily distracted, and far too quick to laugh during moments of danger. He’s not really someone you’d want casting spells anywhere near you. However, in the darkest times, Crispin has been known to show surprising maturity and resourcefulness. Prophecies, paradoxes, and peril loom over him, but he remains steadfast, a dependable ally and friend even when all seems lost.

3. Tink/Kalmar from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (9 nominations).
Tink Igiby (whose given name is Kalmar) is an adventurous lad with a nose for danger and trouble. Not the best of qualities, but he’s never one to back down from a challenge, a mystery, or even a ghost. Such a tendency has gotten him into hard spots and has helped him escape them, too. That, and his ability to run like the wind. An excellent artist, Tink’s foremost interest in life is filling his never-satisfied stomach (though if you ask his older brother Janner, it's to cause trouble and ignore level-minded directions).

4. Toad from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (9 nominations).
While a decent animal at heart, this posh toad is far too fond of leaping into wild adventures and regaling people about them afterward--with a healthy dose of embellishment, of course. His greatest passion is for driving motorcars, even in cases when he is not the vehicle’s rightful owner. He tries to be gentlemanly and dignified, but he is a little too ridiculous and clumsy for that. Though he consistently ignores the advice of his patient and concerned friends, he is loyal to them, and does his best to overcome his selfishness for their sakes. 

5. and Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (9 nominations).
To find out more about Tigger, watch this short video:

Vote for your favorite here (or, if you've already voted on someone else's blog, comment below and tell me who you want to win!):



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Voting ends on Friday, but come back soon to find out the winner of the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril!