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.

 

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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.

  • Campfire marshmallows–they’re as big as your face!
  • “Striped” as a two-syllable word
  • Harmonica/melodica musical fun sessions with friends on campus (or in class)–once we almost got a trombonist to join us
  • The way my professor (who claims to be Russian) says “rrisky”
  • Knowing Labor Day weekend is just around the corner
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Having a sister in town who lives (literally) a hop, skip, and a jump away

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.

There is the lesson of “Cinderella,” which is the same as that of the Magnificat–exaltavit humiles. There is the great lesson of “Beauty and the Beast”; that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. There is the terrible allegory of the “Sleeping Beauty,” which tells how the human creature was blessed with all birthday gifts, yet cursed with death; and how death also may perhaps be softened to a sleep.

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

It’s been a while.

Fall semester started TODAY, which is terribly exciting! Actually the really thrilling news is that Anne is here!! She is one of the new little Sooners, and we moved her into the dorms on Tuesday. I think she likes it here. Sometimes she tries to convince me she has no friends, but as far as I can tell, she has more of a social life than I do–she keeps hanging out with people and declining my invitations. And living in a building with over a thousand other freshmen puts you on the fast track for friend-making, so I would say she’s doing quite well.

My classes for this semester include Communication Theory, Risk and Crisis Communication, Symbolic Logic, and Freedom in Greece. So far I’ve only been to the first two of those, and they seem like they will be moderately interesting. Risk and Crisis Comm should come in handy, I suppose, since risks and crises are lurking around every corner. I shall be prepared! At one point though, the teacher expressed concern about cramming too many kids in the room and violating a fire code. So I guess we’re trying to avoid risk? I think I must not understand what this class is about.

The ISS office has been INSANELY busy these past few weeks with all the incoming internationals. It is simply flabbergasting. I am hoping with every fiber of my being that things calm down. This semester I will be working about twenty hours a week, splitting my time between the law library and the ISS office.

I’ve met a few new exchange students. They have different visas than the internationals, so they check in at a different office, which means I don’t meet them unless we cross paths in Kraettli. So far I have met friends of Lily and Milena (two French students from last year) and a friend of Yu-Chieh (a Taiwanese student from last year). Yu-Chieh sent a present for Rachel and me that consisted of an assortment of keychains and brochures from a Taiwanese museum, and posters he made from pictures around Taiwan. I don’t think I can fully capture the glory of these posters in words, so I hesitate to try. But let me tell you, they are hilarious. The captions on the back are informative, off-the-wall, and sweet (my favorite was “your smiles are sweeter than the sheeps”).

My friend Laura (a French exchange student from two years ago) was in town today with her family! She is writing her masters thesis on Route 66, which obviously necessitates an epic family journey for research purposes. It was reeeeaally good to see her. We went to Wendy’s and I had trouble explaining how a Frosty is different from a milkshake. …Is it?

In other news, I tried to make meatballs the other day. They turned out soupy, which was not unforeseen for a few reasons. I used a meatloaf recipe, didn’t measure anything, and substituted in some very incorrect ingredients. They taste edible though.

The OU marching band practices in my front yard! How obnoxious. They are good at what they do, but they are ever so LOUD and the theme this year seems to be Lady Gaga. (Rachel almost fell out of her chair with delight when she found out about this.)

Time to eat some watermelon.

  • A hammock – I ordered a knock-off version of this hammock (from here) and it came in the mail the other day! I was on my way to the pool at the time, and ended up ditching that plan in favor of quality hammock time. It is AWESOME. I want to live in it. I have been taking it everywhere I go (it’s quite light). Happy sigh.
  • A piano – One of my friends is going out of town for a few weeks and I offered to babysit his piano. Yesterday he and his piano appeared on my doorstep, which is hilarious because I live on the second floor. It was an unexpected sight. How perfectly pleasant to possess a piano!
  • The answer to the question, “When were skittles invented?” The book I’m reading, which was written in the 1890s, keeps declaring that life is “skittles and beer.” This seemed anachronistic to me, so I asked Wikipedia and discovered that the candy was invented in 1974, but it is also a sport, which dates back to 3300 BC in Ancient Egypt. Whoa. (It’s basically bowling.)
  • A lot of international students. Their visas allow them to enter the country thirty days prior to the start of the semester, so they have begun trickling in. My experience in Israel involved getting yelled at by everyone (including the lady at the check-in office at the university) so I am doing my best to be super nice to these people.
  • A bird that looked like a tiny chicken came up to me as I was walking to work today. It had some red feathers on its head that looked like a comb. (And it was not a cardinal.) It wanted to be friends. Speaking of chickens, … never mind.
  • Jury duty summons. Ugh.
  • New contacts – thanks, Mom!

It kind of reminds me of Oscar (remember him?), but larger, rounder, and less resentful. And also it’s a different animal.

My life has been so musical lately! It’s refreshing. I found some pianos at the dorms that I’ve been playing, and when I was there on Sunday, a fellow I don’t know came over and gave me some pointers. For about an hour. Yesterday, my friend Maggie, who is a Music Composition major, took me to play the organ in Catlett Hall, which was great! Swell! Positive! (Haha! Organ pun.) I haven’t played an organ in a while, and I miss it a lot. Hopefully this will become a regular occurrence. Also, Maggie and I agree that the OU organ department needs a falcon. Maybe someday this dream can become a reality. In other musical news, my project for this evening is to learn a song on the banjo.

Summer is nice. I’m enjoying the slow pace – mostly I’m reading extensively and making frequent runs to various libraries, going on walks with friends, cooking and eating with friends, watching movies with friends, painting fences, eating cherries, looking for buried treasure, etc. On Sunday night some friends invited me to a “game night,” and when I got there, they were all sitting on the sofa in the dark, talking, and someone was playing the banjo. I wish every social gathering could be like that. In short: nothing thrilling is happening and I looove it.

At the ISS office we got a new air freshener that perches atop a cabinet and puffs out fragrance every 36 minutes. She reminds me of the white robot from Wall-E, and we call her Clarisse. I’ve been trying to get everyone in the office to say, “Gesundheit, Clarisse” every time it puffs, but so far I’m the only one who thinks this is funny. (And only gets funnier, every 36 minutes.)