Saturday, September 27, 2008

Something to Hold Onto

- A letter from Emma Witwer
- An encouraging word from Jenny, another RA
- Pat buying each of us flowers and leaving them outside our doors
- Daniel reminding me of how much bigger God is through an IM conversation
- Talking to Justin for five minutes
- Sitting around the fire at Katie's house and encouraging her
- Dad coming home early
- Watching the Presidential debate and the Cosby Show with my family
- Sleeping twelve hours in my own bed, in my own room
- Drinking chai tea on my front porch in a rain storm

"Something to hold onto, and a reason to stay"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Long, Long Night

And not in a good way.

I went to bed at midnight after celebrating Katie Fisher's birthday. She sent me home with extraordinary cupcakes to share with Sharon and I was in bed so fast. I'm tired. Two AM found me up trying to figure out who kept slamming their door shut but to no avail. I then found that I was incapable of sleep. I tossed and turned and prayed and finally gave up when there were sounds of loud talking in the hallway. At 4:30. I go and tell this girl to take herself and her boys somewhere else and they make a nasty comment to me as I return to me room. She then starts to sob how much she hates me to these boys. I just slump into my computer chair and let her go. She's drunk. She probably won't hate me as much in the morning. Maybe she'll be embarrassed. I don't know. I've never been drunk to know.

We are creeping toward sunrise now. The quiet shifted in the building and it is quiet for the first time, really, tonight, but the quiet that comes right before we all get up and have work to do. It's cold. It's lonely.

I'm going home tomorrow night. I need a mental health break. I'm going insane.

This last evening, the evening that belonged to yesterday and not to this morning of 4:30, I went to a poetry reading at the Nittany Lion Inn. The room was full as we listened to a poet read his work. I'm beginning to feel that poetry itself is more alive when shared in a communal setting such as that. It is a drama and a song, performance and word craft. It was lovely in intangible ways that can't be recreated even with an example of a poem he read. Some of the beauty was in his pausing and gentle speaking. I then sat outside the inn and called family. J-Redd answers and he's on his way to speak at Awana. It was so good to hear his voice and to think about everyone we miss.

Katie's house is a welcoming place. We gathered around a smokey fire in the yard and ate from a feast she and her mother had made for us all. Conversation came easily and we remembered the past year and where it has brought us. Erica Reitz was also there for a few moments and brought so much to the laughter and delight of the evening. I miss her being "Erica Young" but I'm sure Craig is delighted about the last name change. :-)

Ah yes, but why not end with the lyrics to a song by The Wailin' Jennys? I sing this song a great deal. It gently sings itself to every mood I feel. Perhaps I should point you to the music instead of the words... the very first lines at least are exactly where I sit in this small, cage like room at Penn State.

Don't know what time it is, I've been up for way too long
and I'm too tired to sleep
I call my mother on the phone, she wasn't home,
and now I'm wondering the street
I've been a fool, I've been cruel to myself
I've been hanging onto nothing
when nothing could be worse than hanging on
And something tells me there must be
something better than all this

I've fallen many times in love and every time
it's been with the wrong man
Still I'm out there living one day at a time
and doing the best I can
Cuz we've all made mistakes
that seem to lead us astray
But every time they helped to get us where we are today
And that's a good a place as any
and it's probably where we're best off anyway

It's a long and rugged road
and we don't now where it's headed
But we know it's going to get us where we're going
And when we find what we're looking for
we'll drop these bags and search no more
'Cuz it's going to feel like heaven when we're home
It's going to feel like heaven when we're home

There's no such thing as perfect,
and if there is we'll fnd it when we're good and dead
Trust me I've been looking
bu tonight I think I'll go and take a bath instead
And then maybe I'll walk a while
and feel the earth beneath me
They say if you stop looking
it doesn't matter if you find it
And whose to say that even if I did
it's what I'm really looking for

It's a long and rugged road
and we don't now where it's headed
But we know it's going to get us where we're going
And when we find what we're looking for
we'll drop these bags and search no more
'Cuz it's going to feel like heaven when we're home
It's going to feel like heaven when we

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It is my personal opinion that smoking should be a stationary and not a mobile activity. If I die someday from the second hand smoke exposure I receive from walking around campus behind people intent on committing suicide by killing their lungs, I am going to sue the world for all its worth. Mostly PSU for not banning it themselves.

I also went around today to take pictures of my favorite places on campus. They consist mostly of shots of the sky through the tops of trees. I love trees. I love Penn State trees. I love the way this day felt and tasted and how akin to the coming fall it was. It is fall. I keep forgetting that it was official two days ago.

But so happy to be here. Now. Because I am.

-dana

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Night Live

I was with friends last Saturday evening eating cake after the Nav's Barn Dance. A few had gathered to continue the fun of the evening. I was firmly settled in the couch's corner seat with my injured ankle and so had no way to not see what was about to happen. Someone turned on Saturday Night Live, an American staple that I had never been privy to. Michael Phelps was on but that was inconsequential to the event that causes me to write this post.

There was a "sketch" as they call them, of random, well known trivia between a team of "highschoolers" and "homeschoolers". These were the definitions given. The highschoolers looked like spacey teenagers. The homeschoolers were dressed in some cross between traditional menonite attire and an impersonation of a red neck. They proceeded to put these two teams at odds with the questions. The homeschoolers always rung in. And they were always wrong. They innocence with which they proudly stated answers such as "gremlins" being responsible for oxygen being carried to the heart was astonishing. That was nothing compared to their portrayal of a homeschool mother as a brain washing maniac.

I sat and gaped. I was homeschooled all twelve years of my traditional education before coming to Penn State where I am majoring in English and doing quite well, thank you. The actual schooling I received is never mentioned unless I volunteer it of my own free will in a conversation pertaining to our high school experiences.

Being homeschooled, I know that we are far from perfect and we are far from being outside the realm of mockery. We have our quirks. We have our foibles. And we laugh at them all the time. The one thing we never mock is our anti-intellectualism. That is not something that has ever been something so prevelant that it was common fodder for our self-laughter. The last thing home schooling is anti-intellectual. If we are anything it is the opposite extreme, desperate to have the best education possible and to have all the right answers. So to be made fun of for something we aren't even close to being on national television was in a word:

Infuriating.

I went home to my dorm more than a little irate. This was a show that is played for hundreds of thousands and a show that I know that very few homeschoolers would actually see so that they would understand how they are being portrayed nationally. This went a great deal deeper than a simple self-mockery. This was someone else from a system that does not understand our reasoning for what we do at all, laughing at our inability to understand or appreciate modern science, or technology, or the arts, or anything that comprises a well rounded education. I would challenge them to find anyone with a more well rounded education than those students I grew up with.

I also took issue with their portrayal of a homeschool mother as one who chooses to teach her children at home to keep them just that: children always in need of her knowledge. To brain wash them with myths that she herself fanatically believes. A homeschool mother is one who gives up so much time and energy and love to teach us the best way possible. If that doesn't happen to conform to the government's or Saturday Night Live's idea of a perfect education, well then so be it. I would wager we are much happier in our intellectual pursuits. You have to doubt the legitimacy of a program that doesn't even do enough research to know what to make fun of us for.

Of course, looking at what is happening in California with homeschooling on the verge of being outlawed, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

The last moment was the one that sent shivers down my spine: the moderator told the homeschool students to stay put because the social services was at the door.

Where, oh where, did we receive this image?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Right

I admire, more than anyone or anything at this moment, the girl who stood in front of Willard this morning, and read The Great Gatsby to the unlistening world. I stopped.

----------------------------


Today is the first day in a long time that has felt....

...right.



It started yesterday as I finished another long day of work that felt as if it meant nothing to me. I was tired. And a friend IMed me and wished me a stupendous evening of encouragement. Then there was Bible study which begins to feel like a home for the first time. We take apart scripture together and ask hard questions and learn from Paige and Maryn and from each other. We sit on the beds for a long time after finishing time to catch up and hear about each other's lives. It was in a quiet but still somehow not complete. I was too late to walk to Aequitas so I went alone to the HUB lawn and lay under a clear sky in the wet grass. I stared at the stars and couldn't quite see them as the abyss I could fall towards but eventually as the sky that I could reach out and touch as it stood in front of me, not above. They were so clear and I saw a strange coordinated flight of balloons. I think I must be going mad or dreaming except Leah was talking to me on the phone at that time. I called friends. Hannah and I talked. Leah and I talked and prayed. Daniel and I talked. It was late when I went to bed, so happy, so content.

"All that is gold does not glitter
Not all who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not whither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire has woken
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king."

I spent today away from my room to be with friends and in the sunlight. I talked with Elizabeth Jenkins about plans and to gather ideas about the next few semesters and years. I did the same with Maryn and with Erica. I ate lunch and listened to music in the Edge house. I grow restful when I can express the passion and the nervousness I feel about the coming years. I love the uncertainty now that I have said how afraid I am of it. I have direction now that I have said that I have none. Friends are beautiful things. (as are advisors who care and want to help and encourage you to keep visiting random people in the department and get to know them well. An invitation to friendships is a beautiful thing).

I want to stand and read Lord of the Rings to the world on Willard Steps. What a beautiful thing...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ecouter

Dana is listening to The Wailin's Jennys cd 40 Days.

Again.

This makes it the most listened to cd she has ever owned.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Emergency Calls

I called 911 for the first time in my life today. All those years in training as a little one have come into use! Those three numbers...

It was just a resident who cut her finger and passed out a few times but was concsious by the time I got to her. I definitely was freaking out, mainly because I had to call 911 and I could hear the sirens coming even if it was a minor incident. I couldn't get a hold of the coordinator on duty but the cops called him and he came. I called Aaron who was the first number in my phone for help but he was too far away so he called Yanni but by the time he called me it was all taken care of. Phew. I'm quite shaken.

"She cut her finger and we thought she was going to die." Oh camp for happy quotes in dire moments!

That is all I have to say.

:-)