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Apparently a few people still check this blog everyday! I feel bad about this, since my posting has been subpar lately. Thanks for not giving up on me, guys. (Although to be honest, maybe you should consider it.)

I graduated a few weeks ago, which is exciting! I’m done being a student, after sixteen years of knowing no other life.

What is next? Ugghghhg everyone is asking me that. And my answer is this:

  • This summer I am continuing to work at the international student office at OU. I love this job and it’s in the field I’m interested in, so it’s a sweet setup.
  • I’m applying for grown-up jobs. What kind of job can you even get with a linguistics degree?? Glad you asked! I think I could teach ESL, work for the CIA (oooh!), or something along those lines. But my passion is international students, and I’m hoping to get a job at some university, maybe as an international student advisor.
  • That’s all I know.

Now that we all know exactly the same amount of information about my future, I will tell you the other things that are happening.

I have moved out of Kraettli! This is sad because:

  • I lived in the same apartment for 3 years and it felt like a home.
  • I had the same roommate for 3 year and she felt like a sister. (On a very happy note, she is studying abroad in Austria all next year! Glückwunsch an Rachel, ja?!)
  • The people in Kraettli are marvelous. Before we left, the Armenian family next door had us over for a tasty dinner. I’ll miss all the Kraettlians.
After finals ended, I went to Florida with friends from the campus ministry I go to, RUF. It was glorious! Lots of quality time with the beach and people.

A few of us drove back to Norman by way of Tuscaloosa to help our friends there clean up from the tornado. It was hard work but quite fun, and everyone was so very hospitable.

Now I’m living in a house near campus, working working working. A house?! Is it nice? Yes! It has a giant kitchen and a big front porch and lots of windows. It has other important attributes, but those are the pertinent ones. It’s also got friends living inside it. Last night during the tornado scare, we hunkered down in our creepy basement with a guitar, a gerbil, and a bottle of port. Ahh memories.

You are now pretty much caught up. I hope your summer is off to a splendid start! Mine is.

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Things I’ve been doing lately:

  • Going to class. I’m taking Hebrew Grammar, Hebrew Bible as Literature, Freedom in Rome, and Evil in Modern Europe. They are all wonderful, which is a nice way to end my college career.
  • Playing the accordion. Funnest instrument ever (THANKS GRANDMA)! I played it at a friend’s concert and sometimes play it in worship at church. No one has complained yet, although my suggestions that we “polka it up” go completely unheeded.
  • Putting six snow days to good use (aka gleefully squander them). I spent most of my time with friends–we built a blanket fort, went on loooong walks, read, had jam sessions with strangers, made bagels, painted pictures (of an owl, a woolly mammoth, and six meerkats).
  • Met with an adviser to get a degree check. I will indeed be graduating this semester, as we suspected.
  • Dealing with various scary grown-up institutions, like the pharmacy and Department of Human Services.
  • Swing dancing. And Israeli folk dancing. And the Charleston.
  • Attending book sales. I need more bookshelves!

Things I have not been doing lately:

  • Writing on a blog, obviously.

I think I destroyed a squirrel this morning! There was one merrily scampering around my apartment and when I stopped to greet it, I startled into a two-story drop. It rolled around on its back for a minute, flipped over, immediately ran into a brick wall, staggered over to the wooden fence, ran into that, and then squeezed through the slats. It didn’t seem injured other than possible brain damage, but it may have just been really disoriented. I saw it a few hours later and it seemed fine (unless that was a totally different squirrel). Either way, this weighs heavy on my conscience. I hope he feels better soon and can get back to playing acorn croquet with all his little creature friends.

I made a raspberry cobbler with this recipe, and it is magnificent. I made it just because I had raspberries and felt like cooking something, and now I have to hurry up and make other people eat it before I do. A LOT of butter had to die to make such bliss possible.

On Monday, the furniture fairies are bringing us new furniture! I cannot wait. We currently have old, scratchy, uncomfortable furniture and tiny beds that are too soft. Every year, they raise our rent so they can buy other people new furniture, and ever year, we throw a little fit. But apparently our tantrums have paid off! Extreme apartment makeover in two (2!) days. This does mean that we have to clear off and clean out everything–dressers, desks, bookshelf, etc. Somehow this is a much bigger job than I anticipated and has occupied most of my Saturday so far, but I sense it will be worth it.

Even though this year we haven’t been having our weekly gatherings with the international students, I’ve still been getting to spend a lot of time with several of them. Lately I’ve been hanging out with Ying-Hsuan a lot–she is from Taiwan and knows Lin (remember him? Oh, the adventures we had). Her roommate, Marie, went home to Austria for a few weeks, so Ying-Hsuan has been spending time with Rachel and me. She goes to church with me every now and then and joined us after church last week for a duck pond picnic. Bagpipes ensued. (See photographic evidence below.) The geese were not amused / alarmed by our piping shenanigans, which I must admit surprised me a little. We’ve also had mini-potlucks and gone out for schnitzel (which she liked), and a few days ago she brought over her drumsticks and sang me “Happy Birthday” in Chinese while drumming along (she’s taking an Intro to Drumset class). It was adorable. It’s been fun to get to spend so much one-on-one time with her and get to know her, even though she does make fun of me for still liking coloring books.

A girl at work told me her aunt has a pet bobcat that she toilet-trained. Several things about that statement intrigue me. Must investigate.

School is keeping me busy. Actually, I should rephrase that: school will make me be busy this weekend and all of next week. I have projects and exams eevveerryy day next week, and I intend to get started on all this homework and studying in the very near future. Like… now.

 

Damon, Maggie, and Ying-Hsuan revel in the glory of Music.

 

I feel alarmingly wonderful! Basically I have been steadily improving since I left the hospital last week, which I expected to plateau at some point. But I keep feeling better and better! I have been trying to think of why this might be, and there are so many variables floating around that I can’t pin it down exactly. Let’s discuss. It could be:

a) The three blood transfusions I got last week. I don’t know what exactly was in that blood, but it must have included Magical Energy Potion.

b) I basically took a week-long break from classes and spent it with family instead. If that’s not good for mental health, I don’t know what is. Aunt Holly and Uncle Glen were in town, and I got to spend extra time with them.

c) Catching up on schoolwork has been less tricky than I anticipated. One minor hitch was that my Symbolic Logic professor assigned me extra homework to get me caught up (so mean! and not even logical!) BUT it ended up helping me understand the chapter. Surprise, surprise.

d) My tummy does not hurt anymore. (applause)

e) The weather has stopped being soul-witheringly hot. Instead it is delightful! I try to be outside as much as possible.

f) I’ve been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. It’s good for my brain and good for my heart.

g) Friends who are concerned about my iron deficiency keep offering to take me out for steak.

h) All of the above?

Well, well, well. It has been a while, has it not? Trust me, I have a good excuse.

As you are possibly aware, I had a brief stint in the hospital recently. I had been feeling sick to my stomach since around Labor Day, but it was intermittent enough that I kept thinking I was better. These vain delusions kept me from seeking medical attention. Finally, late Friday night (or early Saturday morning), it got bad enough that Anne drove me to the ER, and I stayed at the hospital until yesterday afternoon. I won’t get into all of my issues, but my weekend involved: anemia, an ovarian cyst, surgery to get rid of said cyst, an internal hernia that may or may not exist (please pray that it doesn’t), and getting lots of holes punched in me. If you want to hear more about these lovely things, you can call me and we’ll discuss it.

Even though all of that was pretty miserable, everyone was so nice to me! Anne stayed up with me all night at the ER and made subsequent visits whenever possible. Mom drove down early Saturday morning and stayed with me the whole time, talking to the doctors, sleeping in a chair next to me, keeping people updated on my condition, etc. I was visited by a lot of sweet people. My friends drew/painted me lovely pictures, and played me music on the banjo and mandolin.  Gordon and Dad even drove down on surgery day. Basically I feel very loved to have so many people looking out for me. And thanks so much for all your prayers! They seem to be working. God is good!

Now I am back in Kansas for the rest of the week, since my parents figured kidnapping me would be the most effective way to get me to chill out (definitely true). I am in moderate pain but getting better, and a bit woozy from the pain meds. I plan to do some serious napping this week before I have to start in on all my homework. One benefit of this unforeseen vacation is that I get to spend more time with Uncle Glen and Aunt Holly, who are coming to Wichita today.

I think you can now consider yourself updated. I hope all of this made sense–I’m afraid the Percocet has compromised my capacity for logic and chronology. One last thing: until further notice, please do not make me laugh. It really hurts.

I have now been to all of my classes and am so far feeling wildly ambivalent about them. Other than my communication classes, which I told you about last week, I am also taking Symbolic Logic and Freedom in Greece. I’m not sure why Symbolic Logic is required for my major or how to feel about it yet. It doesn’t seem hard–so far we are working with arguments like “All females are pretty. Jenny Craig is a female. It follows that Jenny Craig is pretty.” Freedom in Greece is basically storytime, which is exciting! The professor paces around the lecture hall and tells us stories from the Iliad that will make us better human beings, and sometimes he pokes at us with a stick. Maybe that last part is why I still have reservations about this class, because the rest of it is pretty great.

It’s been a busyfun weekend. After work on Friday, I went to “Art After Hours” at the OU art museum with some friends, where we learned about Turkery fashion in portraits by John Singleton Copley. Then we cooked some burgers and went to a free Ben Kweller concert. There I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen for a year (she was studying rice farming methods in Indonesia) and we talked for a long while and then I hitched a ride on her bicycle back to Kraettli. (This is my new favorite way to travel.) On Saturday, Anne and I had a delightful homework picnic (we were so productive) and I took some brownies next door to meet my new Armenian neighbors. In the evening, I took a friend out for a birthday dinner. It was slightly chaotic–we had to go quite late because she is fasting for Ramadan, and we were joined by an American, a Korean, five French girls, and a Moroccan. So much fun! They all thought Johnny Carino’s was a very beautiful restaurant. When we got back to Kraettli, we all went to a party some Koreans were having. I love Koreans! They are adorable. They were sitting around a giant bowl of potato chips, which they dipped in ketchup. This morning I went to early early church and then hammocked and watched the squirrels romp about. Then Anne bought me a panino at the Union. Good day, yes?

My favorite Copley painting. Maybe my favorite painting ever?! Hmm.

So, what’s going on with Kraettli the Greatly this year, you ask? Excellent question. The weekly gatherings will not be happening, for various reasons that I can discuss with you if you would like. This is a big bummer. But I’m looking forward to getting to know international students better in one-on-one relationships, and hopefully we’ll still have a lot of movie parties and game nights. Also, a lot of my new neighbors seem to have children; maybe there is babysitting in my future. Basically it’s going to be a lot different this year than it has been in the past, but probably just as greatly, if not–dare I say–greatlier?! I have high hopes.

Happy belated Fourth of July! I hope everyone’s fingers and eyeballs survived the festivities. I got to go up to Kansas for the weekend. It was a packed house – my roommate Rachel went with me, and Frances was in town from Chicago with her roommate Megan. There was an abundance of delicious food, and I got to spend a lot of time with old high school friends from the foggy past. There was a magnificent party on Sunday evening and some of the guests brought a cannon! It was amazing. Whenever I tell people this, a common concern is whether cannonballs were involved. Nope, just gunpowder. I got to light the fuse one time, and  sang the Indiana Jones theme song to myself.

I bought a big bag of cherries this afternoon and have eaten about half of it I believe. SO DELICIOUS. Other happenings include: dozing on a park bench in the rain (I meant to read, but ended up using my book as a pillow), going on long walks, investigating recipes for Bombe Alaska, watching bits of German movies with Rachel (Milena sent her a few in the mail), playing with Play-Doh (that spelling looks stupid, but I promise it’s how it’s spelled on the can), shopping for pepper grinders, listening to good banjo music, teasing a friend who has recently taken up shuffleboard (and secretly studying up on strategy in case I get challenged to a match), watching the World Cup, reading a lot, and giving some thought to Kiribati phonology. Oh yes, also going to work.

Currently I’m pining away for this hammock. It is made out of parachute material so it’s breezy and cool! PLUS it folds up to the size of a grapefruit. So I could take it with me everywhere I go and whip it out if I get tired of walking. I am mildly obsessed with the thought of this and intend to buy it the first second I don’t feel poor.

I would use that everyday. Look how happy he is! THE POWER OF LEVITATION CAN BE YOURS.

What a splendid weekend! Let me tell you some of the things it involved, in vaguely chronological order.

  • Pool party with the International Programs department at my boss’s house. I took gingersnaps, which were a failure in several different ways, but the pool party was fun!
  • Walked around at the nature park after dark (not allowed) and admired the fireflies.
  • Went to the farmers market and flea market with my friend Claire, even though neither of us needed farmers or fleas. I bought a sweet belt. In fact, I am wearing it now. They had goats for sale at the flea market! I seriously considered buying one, but fortunately, I am poor.
  • Librrraaarrryyy
  • I bottled beer with some friends! That was an experience. I was in charge of putting the bottle caps on. I smelled like booze for the rest of the day because I was bad at my job.
  • We crammed seventy billion people into a friend’s living room and watched the USA-Ghana game. I had fun, but some of my friends cried. Later to cheer them up, we started to watch a documentary about the “Homeless World Cup.” I don’t know who thought that would be a pick-me-upper; it just made things worse.
  • I finally got to see Toy Story 3! It was SO GOOD. I recommend it heartily.
  • Pool time at the OU pool. It is conveniently located across the street from my apartment.
  • Last night I went on a walk and played in the sprinklers in the marching band field. I convinced Rachel to come out and join me, and we had a grand old time. I hope to make this part of my daily routine.

I started my new job working at the OU International Student Services office! I am enjoying it so far, but it’s quite a change from the lawbrary, where I was being paid to be a body sitting at a desk. It looks like this job won’t leave me much time for activities like creating library-wide scavenger hunts for law students in my downtime. Or leisurely perusing the statutes section. Or examining all the plants to see if they’re real/carnivorous. (Just kidding, I never did any of that.) At the ISS office, I do actual work. I do various officely duties and help internationals fill out various forms. I guess it’s a little bit similar to a thing called “the real world,” of which I have heard tell but never experienced.

Last week I took three good friends to the airport. On Saturday Christine (our former neighbor) headed home to Taiwan, where she will teach English to high schoolers. Our friend Geraldine, from Mauritius, left on Tuesday for Germany, where she will finish her masters degree in English literature and marry her German boyfriend. My good friend Deah also left on Tuesday for Wales, where she will care for young pregnant women and new mothers. Sigh. It was rough, and it’s hard for me to look past my selfish thoughts of how much I will miss them and HOW CAN THEY LEEEAAVE MEEE and instead be excited for the cool things they are doing with their lives.

I rode a bike tonight for the first time in almost a year, since this hellacious experience. And it didn’t kill me and I enjoyed it. Many many thanks to DAD for helping me fixing up my bike with no help from me and on very short notice!

One of the Google searches that has brought someone to my blog was the phrase “how to spell potluck in japanese.” I hope they were able to find something helpful.

Anne is coming down to Norman tomorrow to enroll at OU! Boomer sooner! Anne – once you enroll, there is no turning back. I hope you’re sure about this.

  • In case it’s been bothering you, NAFSA stands for “Association of International Educators.” Since when is that kind of acronym-finagling allowed??
  • I get to ride a lot of escalators.
  • My mentor took me out to lunch yesterday. She is a very wonderful lady who works with international students at a university in St. Louis. I got some delicious soup and wise advice for free!
  • Christine (my erstwhile Kraettli neighbor from Taiwan) and I have thermostat issues in our hotel. She wears leggings and a sweatshirt to bed and sleeps under four blankets and is still cold. I sleep in a cotton nightgown under one sheet and still feel like the room is on fire.
  • I saw Salman Rushdie speak yesterday, which was amazing and probably the highlight of my week. Now I just need to read his books.
  • I’m getting a lot of business cards from interesting people and a lot of free pens from organizations about which I don’t give a hoot. But hey, free pens.
  • Oh, I’m also attending interesting sessions. Topics include: advising Middle Eastern students, explaining academic integrity to internationals, and world peace. I’ve also walked out on a few that weren’t helpful, since apparently that is socially acceptable here.
  • I’ve been going to bed at 9 pm every night. Whoa.
  • Tonight Christine and I went out for Gates barbecue, which was splendid! Their classic sauce made my heart sing.
  • Later we went to the Plaza, where we crashed a protest of the Gaza blockade and took pictures in front of seven billion different fountains. These pictures are all on Christine’s camera, and she claims she’ll share them with me. Time will tell.