...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sing the glory, Oregon...

...And to victory urged the heroes
Of our mighty Oregon!

This evening I went with Dad and Andy to the UO Ducks women's basketball game at Mac Court. What a game!!!! We were playing Stanford, the fifth-ranked team in the nation. They took an early lead--for the first 15 minutes or so, it seemed as though, as Duck coach Bev Smith said in her post-game interview, the Duck basket was covered in cellophane. We just could not get anything in. We were playing great defense, though, so we kept their score down. By the end of the first half, we were starting to claw our way back up, and by halftime we had narrowed their lead to five or so points. They pulled ahead at the start of the second half, then we went on a run and finally pulled ahead with about five minutes left. Dad and Andy and I disagreed about this on the walk home, but I thougth Stanford was playing dirty: they kept trying to foul Mizokawa, our point-guard, just because she's our weakest free-throw shooter and then they could regain possession. It's like purposely walking a batter in baseball, or bidding one dollar above someone else's guess on The Price is Right: it's legal, but it's a little dirty. And as strategy, it didn't even work for them: we won, 62 to 58!!!

Oh man, it was exciting! Mac Court was more full than I've ever seen it for a women's game: almost all the levels were packed. It was a sea of green and yellow; everyone was stomping their feet and screaming and cheering. It was just electric. And being there with Dad and Andy brought back memories of elementary school, when our whole family was really into Duck women's basketball. Andy and I were members of this Jr. Ducks club, and we got to do all of these meet-the-players activities and got trading cards and T-shirts and things. For at least a couple seasons, I think I went with them to almost all of the home games. I was even inspired to play basketball in fifth grade, my first and last forray into organized athletics. Dad and Andy kept going to the games, but I lost interest for some reason and stopped. I had forgotten how much fun it used to be.

On a different note: today, someone found my blog by searching "Out of the Whirlwind" on Google; apparently, because of this entry, I'm the second search result, even before Biblical references and religious pages!! (In last quarter or so of the Book of Job around, God speaks to Job "out of the whirlwind," and God's speeches are sometimes called the Whirlwind Discourses.) Someone also recently reached this site by searching mary ann spier, haircut. Sweet!

Monday, December 27, 2004

2004 in review, meme style!

Anyone remember the episode of King of the Hill in which Dale tries to seduce Nancy "Monkey-style!!" all jumping on the bed in his tighty-whiteys, hooting like a monkey? No? Well, it's very funny, and I considered titling this post "2004 in review, monkey-style!" but I thought that no one would get it and it would be weird.

I promise to never use the phrase "tighty-whiteys" again.

Anyways, this meme is from Gwen. I enjoyed filling it out; I hope you enjoy reading it! (Warning: this is long. Like, really long.)

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?

I voted in my first presidential election. I got drunk. I went to a hockey game. I co-founded a club. I got a job. Those are all memorable things that I can pin down to one moment in time, but there were tons of little things that I’d never done before: spoken up in situations when before, I would have held my tongue and later regretted it; taken the initiative to meet new people; gone to movies by myself without feeling weird about it; taken a trip all by myself. Actually, I feel as though I’ve grown up a lot over the past year.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make any actual resolutions, just a half-assed “Well, I guess I’ll try to get in better shape.” (Hee! I said “half-assed.”) I did lose some weight, so I guess I’ll try to do that again this year. My biggest resolution this year is to become better informed about world events and more literate/better read. Like, I should actually read the front section of The New York Times when I pick it up every day, instead of just reading the Arts and Leisure and Dining and Circuits sections then letting the old papers lay around my room for weeks because I feel guilty for not having read them and then sneaking out in the dead of night to recycle them. Also, I’m going to try to be nicer and less judgmental.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Jennifer, one of my professors from last spring, gave birth over the summer and I baby-sit her daughter Little C a couple times a week.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thank God.

5. What countries did you visit?

Canada—Vancouver, BC for spring break.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

A boy.

7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Hmm…I guess I’m not the date-etching type, because I can’t think of anything.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Probably working at the Migrant Summer School again. This year I felt like I was connecting with the kids in a way I never had before. That, combined with going down to Eugene to hear Gustavo Gutiérrez speak at the UO, cemented my desire to continue studying Latin American liberation theology, and recently I’ve begun to look at graduate programs in theology. That feels like a pretty big accomplishment, but I think my greatest achievements were individual relationships with incredible people. And ordinary people too, heh.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn’t do everything I could to preserve a troubled friendship, and now I’m not sure where the friend and I stand or whether we’re even friends any more.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had one horrendous period episode, conveniently on the morning of the first unit test for Biology 151, and I threw up a couple times from the Norwalk virus in the spring, but that was it. I had a few colds, but overall I’ve been pretty healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Maybe my black wool peacoat that I got at the Buffalo Exchange in Eugene. I love it! In reality, though, the best things I bought were probably books.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

All the people who busted their asses working to get Kerry elected and to elect progressive politicians at all levels. Shout-out to LC Sarah, Matt, and Adam, my College Democrats/Students Against Bush/LC4Kerry compatriots!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Those who were apathetic about the election or did nothing to inform themselves about the candidates and the issues. People who voted for Measure 36. People who voted for Bush based on “moral values.” The friend I mentioned in question 9. My own behavior make me appalled and depressed sometimes.

14. Where did most of your money go?

God only knows.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going back to school in late August (I know: geek). My birthday. Seeing school friends Ryan, Chris K, and Mattover the summer—four months is a long time! Taking tango lessons with Home Sarah and then going to the Oregon Country Fair with her. Seeing Gustavo Gutiérrez in November.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?

Ask me again in five years, when 2004 is far enough in the past that I need to be reminded of it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier in some ways and sadder in some ways. That’s a cop-out answer, but it’s the best one I can give.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner by about fifteen pounds.
c) richer or poorer? Probably richer, but I feel poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Dancing, going on roadtrips, watching movies, reading for fun, reading the newspaper, hanging out with friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

The Three Ws: wasting time, worrying, and wallowing in self-pity.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I spent it in Eugene with my family: my mom, dad, and younger brother Andy. Christmas Eve we all went to the evening service at our church, watched A Christmas Carol at home (the George C. Scott version, not the Muppet one), then Mom and I went back for the 11pm service, and I performed with the bell choir. Christmas Day we spent at home, opening gifts, stuffing our faces, relaxing, watching DVDs, and playing games.

21. Did you fall in love in 2004?

Gwen’s answer is a good one: “I loved.” I didn’t fall in love romantically, but I nurtured relationships with those whom I love.

22. How many one-night stands?

None, ever.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Now and forever, The Amazing Race! Also, Freaks and Geeks, Joan of Arcadia, even though I don't get to watch it much, and King of the Hill. Also, um…America’s Next Top Model. There, I said it.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hate is too strong a word. I dislike some people whom I didn’t hate at this time last year, but I try not to spend too much time actively disliking those people.

25. What was the best book you read?
Tough question. Actually, I’ve read more “best books” this year than any other year. An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum was the number one best book I read, just because of the depth of emotion, honesty, humanity, and spirituality contained within it. Other incredible books included The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (and everything else) by Milan Kundera, Letters to a Young Poet by Ranier Maria Rilke, the poetry of Rilke, and Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics by Sasha Cagen. I’m reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig, right now, and I have a feeling that that’s going to be a great book as well.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Velvet Underground.

27. What did you want and get?

An iPod! A nice haircut. Friends.

28. What did you want and not get?


29. What was your favorite film of this year?

Maybe The Motorcycle Diaries. I also loved Mean Girls. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned nineteen on February 18. Cloe and I skipped Self Defense for Women and went out to dinner with Angela and Alyssa (Cloe and Alyssa’s birthdays were right around mine, so we celebrated together). Afterwards we went back to the dorm for chocolate fondue with Laurel (whose birthday was also the nineteen; she turned twenty), Jeannie, and a whole mess of other people. I had a great day. My birthday was on a Wednesday, and on Sunday, Matt dropped me off in Eugene on his way to the Coast with Chris L, Chris K, and Angela P, so that I could surprise my family. The weekend after, I bought a bunch of tickets for movies at the Portland International Film Festival and spent the day downtown by myself, as my own birthday present.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Falling in love.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?

Despite the repeated allegations by family and friends that I’m a hipster (or, more realistically, a wanna-be hipster), I have no fashion concept. I buy clothes mostly at thrift stores and at your cheaper retail stores, with a healthy dose of shirts from Glarkware. I wouldn’t describe myself as fashionable, but I’m not aggressively unfashionable, either. I try to find things that I’ll be able to wear indefinitely, that won’t go out of style…clothes that exist in a kind of vacuum that fashion doesn’t bother to concern itself with. (I do, however, suspect that I may have been the one to bring argyle back into style.)

33. What kept you sane?

Solitude, friends, and faith.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Peter Saarsgard: I think he’s an incredible actor and not too bad-looking to boot. I loved Gael García Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries. I really like Lindsey Lohan: she’s a talented actress, and I want to root for her, but she’s making it hard with her constant presence in the gossip magazines. Girl looks rough, is all I’m saying. Like, lay off the sunless tanner, Lindsey, because no one looks good as a pumpkin. As far as public figures go: Václav Havel, now and forever, amen.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The election and all it encompassed. Issues facing migrant farmworkers.

36. Who did you miss?

Everyone who was overseas this semester.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

There’s no way I can choose something like that. How about, if I met you in 2004 and you’re reading this page, you’re included in this answer. (If I met you before 2004 and you’re reading this, then you’re also awesome, because I only give out this website address to cool people. Or, alternatively, you are cool for seeking out this site.)

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004.

It’s not very eloquent, but I guess I learned how to be more comfortable in my own skin and with myself.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“You’ve got to get yourself together / You’ve got stuck in a moment / And now you can’t get out of it / Don’t say that later will be better / Now you’re stuck in a moment / And you can’t get out of it.” And along the same U2 vein: “It’s a beautiful day / Sky falls you feel like / It’s a beautiful day / Don’t let it get away.”

Friday, December 24, 2004

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
Who mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, O Wisdom from on high
And order all things far and nigh.
To us the path of knowledge show
And help us in that way to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, O come, O Adonai
Who came to all on Sinai high.
And from its peak a single law
Proclaimed in majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, O Shoot of Jesse
Free your own from Satan's tyranny.
From depths of hell your people save
And give them victory o'er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, O Key of David, come
And open wide your heavenly home.
Make safe the path to endless day
To hell's destruction close the way.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by your advent here.
Love stir within the womb of night
And death's own shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, Desire of Nations, bind
All people in one heart and mind.
Make envy, strife, and quarrels cease
Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

It's the miracle of Christmastime!

I got a shortish haircut...that I don't hate!! I was cautiously optimistic as I left the salon, but of course the hairdresser had gooped it up and flat-ironed it (something I never do), so I couldn't really tell how it would end up looking. The day-after is really the test for how a haircut will end up looking. And I like it! It's actually a little too short (just past my shoulders), but you know what? It'll grow. By the time school starts up again, it'll be an inch or so longer, which should be about the perfect length.

Not that it's all about me or anything.

Yesterday I went to Toys R Us with my mom to look for a certain game, and I fell in line behind this hippie couple. As they wandered the aisles, looking for the sports section, I overheard the guy saying to the woman who was with him, "Baby, you gotta relax. I can feel your chakras are all blocked up, even from back here....Man, this place is a feng shui disaster."

I love Eugene.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Lithuania! Latvia! Lebanon! Uh...Lisbon!

In my family, we can turn pretty much anything into a competetive game. (A perfect example of this is how we compete to see who can be the first to guess what a commercial is for.) Sometimes this can be annoying. Other times, it's awesome.

Tonight was one of the awesome times. Dad and Andy and I were lying around idly when Andy picked up the 2004 almanac. "I'll say the first letter of a country; you guys guess which one it is," he suggested to Dad and me. The game sounded pretty lame at first, but Dad and I really got into it. It was pretty fun. We should play it back at school after the break. I think the high light may have been when I called out "Byzantine Empire!" and Dad nearly fell on the floor laughing.

Other games we've played: someone reads out the definition of a word from the dictionary, and we try to guess the word; someone reads the synonyms for a given word out the thesaurus and we try to guess the original word; someone calls out a state and we try to guess the state nickname; someone reads the state motto and we try to guess the state.

We're pretty geeky over here, but we have fun! And by the way, in case it comes up in the future: Oregon's state motto is "She flies with her own wings."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Apparently, there is life after finals

Ah, break: the time of year when my referral logs change from the ubiquitous lclark.edu to everyone's home internet providers. Because I'm a nerd, I like to try to figure out which domain name corresponds to which person: based on the times I know I've visited my own blog, I know that I'm dialsprint.net, for instance, and that Ryan is proxad.net, and I'm pretty sure Amanda P. is bc.ca or something like that.

Like I said: nerd.

My finals ended up going pretty well, for the most part. I studied like mad for my Old Testament final, but it ended up not helping very much for the identification and multiple choice portions of the test. I mean, I made 139 flashcards about different scriptural passages that proved certain scholarly perspectives and names and dates and battles and imperial powers and kings, but the questions just didn't pertain to things that I had studied. That was frustrating. The essay segment, though, went very well, I thought. It was essentially a document-based question about this passage from the Psalms of Solomon; since we hadn't studied the Psalms of Solomon (which are distinct from both the Psalms in the Bible and the Song of Solomon) in class, we just had to apply knowledge we did have to analyze about a dozen verses. My other finals--Religion in Modern America, Modern Mexico, International Affairs, and Spanish--all were fine. Old Testament was just a hard class for me. Kugler's a tough professor.

My last final, International Affairs, was Wednesday morning, so since I wasn't leaving until Thursday, I had the rest of the day to get my affairs in order and say goodbye to people and goof around. I ended up taking the 2:00 shuttle downtown to do some shopping, then I met Sarah and her roommates Hee-Sun, Kristin, Laurinda, and our friend Tim for dinner at Typhoon, then watched the finale of America's Next Top Model with Riana, Amy, Peggy, and others, which...okay, maybe Yaya was a little arrogant and pretentious, but she was way more gorgeous than Eva. Anyways, I'm totally hooked. Damn you, reality TV! Damn you, Tyra Banks!

The rest of Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning was spent hanging out and talking with Matt and Sarah and her roommates. It's pretty incredible and more than a little tragic that those who are going abroad next semester, I won't see for an entire year. Matt's going to be in Russia (by way of India, Korea, and China), Sarah'll be in the Dominican Republic, and J. Lee will be in Chile this spring, then I'll be in Chile next fall.

On the other hand, it's exciting that soon I'll see those who have been abroad this semester: Ryan from France, Chris from Japan, and J. Ho from the D.R. I can't wait to see you all and hear all about your experiences! This coming semester will be one of change--welcome change, I think. I'm looking forward to all of my classes--even Game Theory!--and I'm looking forward to reuniting with old friends and strengthening and developing new friendships.

That's enough for tonight, I think. I'll leave you all with some excellent quotes, and the promise of more later:

Kristin: "These people from Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado--they're all obsessed with fresh air. In Massachusetts, we're like, 'Yeah, open the window--let in some fresh smog.'"

Mom: "Wait a minute. P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg are different people?"

Monday, December 13, 2004

Say hello to your friends (Baby-Sitters Club!)

If you know me at all, chances are you know that I carry an Olympic-sized torch for the Baby-Sitters Club series. In a nutshell, the BSC books were about a group of middle-school girls who baby-sat for the kids in Stoneybrook, Connecticut, a small town of indeterminate size.** Oh, but they did so much more. They went on Caribbean cruises, solved mysteries, went to Europe and New York and Hawaii and Iowa, won the lottery, invented slang words like "dibble" (short for "incredible," you know) and "chilly" and "stale," saved the planet, obsessed over boys, fought, commited sartorial crimes, and fought some more, all while exerting a Mafia-like monopoly over the baby-sitting business in Stoneybrook. Here's a hint: if you aren't in the BSC, you should not be baby-sitting, and they will run you out of business.

Looking back on it, they were total bitches to each other, all Mean Girlsy with their descriptions of one another. For instance, in Dawn and the Disappearing Dogs, Dawn describes Mallory thusly: "No one would ever mistake Mallory for a ballerina." When Mary Anne dares to get her hair cut short in Mary Anne's Big Makeover, the other baby-sitters won't even talk to her. And in Stacey vs. the BSC, when Stacey throws a party without inviting all the members of the club, whom she's beginning to find a little embarassing, the shit really hits the fan, and she gets kicked out of the club. (She rejoins a few books later in Stacey and the Bad Girls after learning the Very Important Lesson that the club members are the most true friends she will ever have, and also all non-club members like to steal and drink at U4Me concerts.)

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I'm obsessed with the Baby-Sitters Club.

So you can imagine my glee at finding the BSC discussion thread on FameTracker. My people! Even better, the various people posting on the thread have begun a round-robin fan fiction BSC Super Special Viva Las BSC! in which the club members, some of their classmates, and Kristy's family go to Las Vegas! I spent far too long reading it and trying hard not to totally crack up in the library last night. Dawn's chapter, in particular, is spot-on. I never realized when I was reading the books for the first time how sanctimonius Dawn was with her vegetarianism. Girl has a serious superiority complex.

Also enjoyable: The BSC meets CSI! (Chapter two is here.) Oh my God (or, as Claudia would say, "Oh my Lord!"), it is perfect. I bet Kristy's the culprit...or Claudia. After all, job-hogging (taking a job without offering it to everyone else first) has a long and storied history in the BSC of creating violence and hostility, including the near disbanding of the club in #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day.

Oh, the BSC. How I love thee.

**Kristy Thomas, the club's president, had the Great Idea (viz. BSC #1 Kristy's Great Idea) to start the club and invited her best friend Mary Anne Spier, their neighbor and friend Claudia Kishi and Claudia's best friend, recent New York City transplant Stacey (don't call her Anastasia!) McGill to join. In Book #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day, Dawn Schafer moves from California to Connecticut and in #5 Dawn and the Terrible Three she joins the club. Mallory Pike and Jessi Ramsey, eleven-year-old sixth-graders, join as junior members in #15 Dawn and Little Miss Stoneybrooke. Aside from some minor change-ups (Stacey briefly moves back to New York, then returns; Dawn moves back to California; Kristy's former nemesis Shannon Kilbourne and Mary Anne's boyfriend Logan Bruno join as associate members; Mallory drops out for awhile after she gets mono and a girl named Wendy takes her place for one book; Abby Stevenson joins in the late #80s) the club remains fairly static until the BSC series ends after book #121 The Fire at Mary Anne's House; after that, Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey continue a scaled-back version in the Friends Forever Series.

By the way, bonus points if you know how to sing the title of this post. Yes, there was a song.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Jessica sings of cheese and Nico in times of stress

Five of my favorite things right now:

1. Those little cheese rounds that come wrapped in red wax. I love those things, and yesterday I treated myself to a mesh bag of them, which I'm now joyfully working my way through. My elementary-school best friend Ashley always had one with her lunch, and I was so jealous. I was jealous of Ashley a lot, actually. She also had two American Girl dolls! One day I begged and begged my mom to buy me the wax-covered cheese, which were only available at the Friendly Street Market in Eugene, so she had to make a special trip. Then I found out that I didn't actually like the cheese; I just wanted to play with the wax. I feel guilty about that now. Sorry, Mom! I do love the cheese now.

2. The Velvet Underground. I don't have any of their music, but throught the wonders of iTunes music sharing I can access other people's music libraries and I've come to love the album "The Velvet Underground with Nico" or whatever. It's funny: sometimes I develop these ideas about things I should like, things I really want to like, based on some image I have of myself or my identity. For instance, I really, really felt as though I should like Ken Kesey, since I'm from Eugene. Then I tried to read Sometimes a Great Notion, and...no. I got about 50 pages in and gave up. I'm going to try to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest over winter break, so we'll see how that goes. But anyways, I really wanted to like the Velvet Underground because they were instrumental in Czech history--the Velvet Revolution is so called because Václav Havel really loved them, I've heard--and I was kind of afraid that I'd hate them. But I don't, so..hurray.

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It's such a good book. I read it for the first time over the summer, and then I just finished it for the second time this afternoon. It's pretty heartbreaking, especially if I apply it to my own life, because on the surface I kind of think the protagonist and I have a lot in common, and I identify with a lot of what she says. It's like...where do we diverge? What's the one factor that leads her to a downward spiral into insanity, while I continue living my life normally...you know? Is it because I have hope and plans for the future? Because women have more opportunities in 2004 than they did in 1954? Maybe. Maybe the most heartbreaking thing about the novel is that within it, her madness seems almost normal; her insanity seems inevitable.

4. Unexpected compliments. The other day I was trying on what I was planning on wearing to this semi-fancy thing at the Art Museum that I went to yesterday, so I was checking myself out in the full-length hall mirror. This friendly acquaintence down the hall was like, "You look great!" It meant a lot to me, because he normally does not seem particularly effusive. Great for the ol' self-confidence.

5. My plans for tomorrow. I'm going to the Art Museum and the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens and the Barnes & Noble that's in the Lloyd Center and maybe the Saturday Market. I just have to get through my Religion in Modern America first, but I don't think that'll be any real problem.

I hope all of you have a fantastic weekend--and to those of you at LC, stop reading this and go back to studying!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Out of the whirlwind

Remember last week when I was all excited and relieved about having finished the three-final-papers-and-a-presentation-in-four-days death march? And how I said that I wasn't going to worry about my Old Testament paper until later?

Yeah, so...I probably should have started worrying about it a little earlier. It's in now, and I think it came together pretty well--it was just frustrating as hell to have to write it all last night and this morning and this afternoon, and to know that I had no one to blame but my own self. Damn you, self! Last night was the closest I've come to an all-nighter in my college career. I did sleep from about 1:30 to 4 or so, but aside from that...I was working all night. And then I took a break and read some recaps and listened to some music and took a shower and ate breakfast and went to class and fell asleep just a little bit in class then woke up then wrote some more then went to another class then another class then babysat for Little C. then wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and stuffed eight and a half pages under Kugler's office door at 5:07.

I'm really going to try super-hard to not fall into this pattern again next semester.

In case anyone's interested, my paper was about the mythological significance of Leviathan, the sea monster that God presents to Job in the Speeches out of the Whirlwind in Job 40 and 41 and that God destroys in Isaiah 27:1 and Psalm 74:14. It's pretty widely accepted by scholars that the Hebrew concept of Leviathan was based on the Canaanite Baal Cycle, in which Baal, the hero-god of the Canaanites, destroys Yamm, the god of the sea and chaos, who is personified by Lotan, a sea dragon. I argued that in writing about God's destruction of Leviathan, the ancient authors saw God as not just triumphing over the forces of chaos (or bringing order to the chaos, as in Job), but as triumphing over the Canaanite mythologies and the non-Hebrew nations. I initially chose the topic because of my interest in marine crypotzoology, as you know if you've read my little bio dealie over to the side--my first idea was to try to argue that Leviathan and Lotan are best identified as giant squid, just because I'm really fascinated by giant squid and I know a lot about them already. Kugler was not so enthused about that idea; I think his comments on my prospectus included the phrase "rather peculiar notion." And now...yeah, I agree. The only people who really care about finding a specific animal for Leviathan and Behemoth are the fundamentalists, and that's just because they want to prove that they're dinosaurs. Anyways, I think the paper turned out pretty well, especially considering how rushed it was. I wish I could have spent more time talking about the later development of Leviathan in apocalyptic and messianic Judaism and the rabbinic traditions surrounding it, but I was already over the page limit, and it was like 4:57 by that point.

But you know what? Today was the last day of classes! Now there's just two reading days, two weekend days, three week days, and I head home. I can't believe the semester's almost over.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I got ninety-nine problems but offensive music ain't one

When I went to the gym this evening, I was heartened to see a sign that had been posted by the attendant's desk: "Regarding Music at Pamplin Sports Center: The content and volume of music played at PSC is at the discretion the gym attendant. Music must be appropriate to PSC. If you can't play it on the radio, it shouldn't be playing at PSC!!!"

I hope this doesn't come across as all pearl-clutching FCC-ish, but the music they've been playing at the gym really has made me uncomfortable several times, but I've never been sure what to say. I mean, sometimes it's not so bad: I didn't love the Milkshake song, but it was never more than just mildly annoying; same with that gigolo one that played all last year. But some of them? The song that's on the radio now, with the refrain or hook or whatever it's called that goes "I got ninety-nine problems but a bitch ain't one?" That does offend me, as does a song that includes the N-word. What's worse is that often the music is playing so loudly that there's no escaping it: even unobjectionable songs become oppressive when they're playing so loudly that I can't clearly hear my own music coming out of my headphones which are right next to my own ears with the volume turned all the way up. I often take reading with me to the gym, as do a lot of other people, and it makes it so hard to concentrate when the speakers are about fall right off the walls.

Also, the desk where the attendant controls the radio station and the volume is all the way at the front of the gym; the weight machines and cardiovascular equipment that I use are at the back, so there's no way to go up to the desk and ask them to please turn down the music without losing all the calories and stuff that I've already done. I've thought about writing a letter to the gym staff addressing my concerns, but I always chickened out.

The point is, apparently someone else was uncomfortable as well, or the management realized that the situation was not ideal. I just hope it gets better, because if I have to listen to that "I got ninety-nine problems but a bitch ain't one" song again, at a volume that rivals a space-shuttle take-off? Well, I don't know what I'd do. But I wouldn't be happy, I can tell you that.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Study break!

The library is packed!

Kathleen and I are studying for the in-class part of our Modern Mexico final, which will be tomorrow. I'm pretty confident that it will go well, and then that class will be over--thank God. I mean, it wasn't bad, so much as it just seemed sort of...inessential. I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know or hadn't already learned in Modern Latin American History last fall or IB History of the Americas in high school. I'm glad I took the class, but I'm glad it's ending.

Plus, a little part of me died the other day when the professor called Vicente Fox "Vincent Fox."

I mean, Vincent Fox.

Kathleen lent me the handout that was...well...handed out the day I was gone. Next to Cuahtehmoc Cardenas' name she had written, "Mother-fuckin' bad ass."


Saturday, December 04, 2004

A branch will spring forth from the stump of Jesse...ca

Just kidding.

I just got back from the Holiday Gala service in the chapel. Kugler, my adviser and Old Testament professor, was the second reader during the service--he read Isaiah 9:2-7, which prophesizes the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah for Christian readers of the text, of course, is Jesus, although the evidence in the text isn't as strong as fundamentalists usually say it is. (You might remember this class discussion I wrote about in September.) When I saw his name in the order of service, I was curious what he would say, since in class he's all about the historical and textual criticism and how it's all ex eventu prophecy, in which one forecasts a prediction of something that's already happened onto the past, in order to establish legitimacy for prophesies of things that haven't happened yet.

Hearing him read the text, though, reminded me of something the pastors at my church always say when they introduce a Biblical story to the children: "I don't know if it happened exactly this way or not, but I know it to be true." When I heard Kugler read Isaiah 9:2-7, I sensed that even if, as a Biblical scholar, he doesn't believe Isaiah to have written specifically forecasting the birth of Jesus Christ, as a Lutheran pastor and as a Christian, he knows it to be true. And so do I.

On my way up to Portland to visit Chris over the summer, I sat next to this friendly strawberry-blond 14-year-old. We began talking, and before long the conversation turned to religion. He was a Biblical literalist and evangelical; I'm a liberal, non-evangelical Protestant. He asked how I can be a Christian without believing the Bible to be literally true--every story, every ancestral line, every prophecy. While trying to be respectful of his religion and faith, which are no less authentic or valid than mine, I explained that I believe that stories and teachings can and do have a metaphorical value that is even more meaningful than if they were literally true.

This evening's service was important for me. This Advent season, when I hear the Isaiah prophesies read, I'm going to remember Kugler, and keep that saying in my head: "I don't know if it happened exactly this way or not, but I know it to be true."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

J is for Jessica updating her blog

Don't Trip
You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little
anti-social, and may want to start gaining new
social skills by making prank phone calls.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Perhaps now I can get more than two and a half hours of sleep at a stretch

Thank God, my Religion in Modern America paper is now in. I can't tell you all how relieved I am. You know how at the beginning of the semester, having large reading assignments seems so oppressive? And then paper season hits, and reading seems like an enjoyable break from writing. I've never felt so relaxed to have a hundred pages of reading due tomorrow.

I'm in the mood to lounge tonight. I was thinking of going downtown for First Thursday, but I think instead I'll stay in, read, do laundry, watch The Apprentice and The Daily Show, visit people, and get to bed before 1 so that I can get at least seven hours of sleep. Yes.

Thursday is just a good day in general, I find. It's the second-best day (after Friday) for The New York Times, section-wise: Circuits, House & Home, and the Arts section; I enjoy both my classes (well...I don't totally enjoy Modern Mexico, all the time, but it's all right); I've got a 4-hour break between classes during which I can take a nap, talk with people, make appointments, get work done, go to the gym...

A nap sounds good right about now.

But! Before I go, I want to wish a very happy twentieth birthday to Ryan! We're thinking of you over here and looking forward to seeing you in a month and half. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Hundreds of thousands of books, all to myself!

Being the very last student out of the library gives me a perverse kind of pleasure. I remember Jeannie saying last year that when she'd spend the night at the library, every once in a while she'd get up on the tables and dance and sing and walk around and stuff. I haven't hit that point, yet.

I have, however, just hit my most dangerous sleep state: it's nearly five, but I'm not tired at all. I took a 45-minute nap from 1:30 to 2:15 (Kathleen and I were working on our IA papers, so she woke me up), and I got a lot of sleep last night. I need to be up in three hours anyways, so it's tempting to just stay up--but I know that if I do that, I'll totally crash tomorrow (Wednesday--technically today, I guess) and I've got a 4-6 page paper due Thursday, so I'm going to need to be able to work on that.

After Thursday, though? All my papers will be in! Except for the Old Testament paper on the 8th. But that doesn't count quite yet.