Live Long, and Prosper.

(Amanda, Kristen, John, Joel, Me, Brent, and Kali)

Congratulations, OBU Class of 2008! Now we scatter across the world, but may our friendships never cease. As Dr. Hagen said in my commencement address last year, “The things that matter never really conclude; they change as they continue.”

If I had a magic wand…

I created this blog in part to have a venue for some off-line things that I’ve written. From July 2007:

As much as the stability of a suburban, middle-class life is tempting, there is something deeper in me that stirs for fantasy. For a quest, for glory, and grandeur. For a struggle between good versus evil, where the sides are clear. This is the part of me that identifies with Éowyn, with Lír, who wants an Order of the Phoenix that she can join to fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. This is the part of me that “fears a cage, a life behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.” To stand beneath trees and actually hear the whisperings I fancy I hear. To see things. To know things. To do things. To feel the weight of responsibility that comes with power. To have an end for which to use that power.

The enemies today are political and corporate leaders, acting out human rights abuses and what have you, and the only way to fight them is on their political playing field. I have no heart for politicking. I have already tried. I would rather a sword, or a staff, or my voice with which to inspire others, and have my own grit and worth determine success, not the system.

I have to hope for the potential of mankind, in our ability to love and work toward the best of things. Yet every day I encounter utter selfishness in the people at work and just in normal people—well, they just don’t care. Maybe they’re jaded. Maybe they weren’t raised and instilled with the belief that we should be considerate and kind to all people simply because they are people, too. Fellow human beings. And not to be nice just because someone is making us or for our own self-interest. I care so much about having a purpose or doing something great—not for my own sake, my own glory, but just to do something for the greater good. But my hope that there are others like me is dashed every day.

What creature is man? So like an angel, so like a god, but so like a devil and beast as well. That we have such capabilities and potential for goodness and kindness, but how many of us choose selfishness and apathy instead. I see the rampant disease of apathy and it causes me to despair to the point that I become apathetic, also.

I firmly believe that the best heroes—Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Harry, Hermione, and Ron, Lír and Molly Grue, Ender and Valentine—did not ask to be heroes. It happened. The circumstances were set and they had to make a choice. They could only make the best choice from what they knew at the time. That is all I can hope to do, too. If what I do helps to steer the world in the right direction, ever so imperceptibly, well, that is all I can hope for, isn’t it? And I will ever have an unrequited love for the glory found in fantasy novels.

Much farther to go

Take a ticket from who you can,
And then drive that train.

     -“Railway” by Dispatch

And I have much farther to go
Everything is new and so unpredictable.

     -“Much Farther to Go” by Rosie Thomas

Tonight I had dinner with the Bylands, because Sarah was in town and Hannah was back from Oxford. After dinner we watched a slide-show of Hannah and her friend Emily’s trip around the Continent. Like Sarah and I two years ago, after her time at Oxford she took three weeks to tour the Continent. Hannah and Emily took a different route, visited cities we didn’t, but it was amazing to see where our paths did cross. We sat on the same bench outside the town wall in Rothenberg, Germany, watching the sunset and journaling. We stood on the same bridge in Venice, walked through San Marco’s insane plaza. We ate lunch near the same tree in the park by the lake in Geneva and walked down the Champs d’Elysee in Paris.

Afterward, we went to Starbucks to catch up and share our reminisces over tea and mango juice. It was a perfect trio: two sisters, two medievalists, two travel-companions, all overlapping. We understood what it was like being an American in the Oxford system and excelling in it, of what sorts of adventures you have when you’re back-packing across a continent in three weeks (being hit-on in Italy, pushing yourself to impress a terrifying tutor).

I had been apprehensive about my decision to move to Europe for three years. Hannah’s return could not have come with better timing. Reliving my trip through hearing about hers, remembering the UK, seeing pictures of familiar places, have reignited my wanderlust. I can’t wait to go, to be back in my Gothic element of cobblestones and castles, to walk into a pub that will have Strongbow, to buy my groceries from Sainsbury’s and a lunch from Boots. To live in the library and speak in Middle and Old English. And after that, to return to sunny Spain with baguettes and orange juice and a style of architecture I can’t describe but makes me smile in recollection. Not to mention the friends I’ll have in Oxford, the Lake District, Sweden, Germany, and Portugal that I intend to visit. We talked about how I could go to Oxford for my DPhil, and be a Junior Dean at CMRS or SCIO, or I can go to TASIS in Switzerland and teach. The possibilities are endless.

Old Friends and Bookends

I began today with a surprise visit from Sarah: my roommate at Oxford, my travel-companion around Europe, my comrade-in-writing through our senior year, Super America to my Captain Teamwork (as with all best friends, inside jokes abound). I continued the day with an informal presentation by Kali on waterborne pathogens and something to do with microbial ecology (I got to draw pictures with crayons) and Star Trek: Generations with Kelly and her fiancé. And I ended the day with Trivial Pursuit and Scattergories with the the science nerds and the two or three of us who kind of tag along, during which we determined that none of us know anything about pop culture and paid homage to the Splenda Gods, who are apparently more reliable than the ever-trusted coin toss.

Friendship is laughter. If there is anything I am going to be nostalgic about from this town it is going to be the living room of the Little Red House, and the home we created there.

Official update

The official things are falling into place regarding graduate school: I am definitely going to Scotland for university in September, and I am going to Saint Louis University in Madrid in Fall ’09.

This September is as far ahead as I am capable of thinking, let alone the abstraction of actually moving to Europe for three years.

Angry sky-gods

It’s spring-time in Oklahoma, which means storms that can become quite severe. I awoke this morning to one of the most eerie experiences of constant crashing thunder and a sky that would not stop flashing, yet there was no rain. The following lines tumbled into my head and I, as Coleridge recommended, recollected them in tranquility.

The crack of the whip, and crash:
the rolling, tumbling of cosmic bowling pins;
the rumbling growl of giants;
the war between Chronos and his sons,
As the dark room is lit by the lightning flashes,
Flickering.
Silent save for the war cries,
and birds chirping because it is morning.
Awoken out of a dream about a girl in a faraway country,
who, like Sheherazad, would use stories for her escape,
who, like any dream, is inaccurate,
who, like any child, is interrupted.
It incites fear in children, shortened breath in adults,
watching warily, wondering how this would affect their morning commute.
They breathe a sigh of relief when the rain begins,
hissing in a whisper to calm mortal fears,
“Shh…”
Standing in a small white space waiting for the black,
the dark that is inevitable;
Feeling redundant: water inside, water outside,
sopping wet hair either way.
Cringing at the dragon on the other side of the wall,
but without it
you might not have heard the
Siren.

So many words…

Went to Dylan’s thesis presentation tonight on Sayyid Qutb. Fascinating and excellent and has incited a desire to do further research into this subject. Spurred thoughts about the Ramirans in Orion… wanting to base the political climate off of Egypt in the mid-1900s, also play around with Pakistani folklore–problem: requires research! Not a problem except that there are already so many books I want to read before I add Milestones, books about Pakistan, and yet more of Oxford University Press’s “Very Short Introductions” (of which I already want to read at least 20 titles…).

This summer is the best opportunity for me to write because I will have time to do so; the next one-to-three years I’ll be back in school, which will monopolize my reading and writing to be on academic subjects. But, how do I balance research with the actual writing? And on top of this, I often can’t read fiction books and write creatively at the same time; I can only exist in one world at a time, so to speak. I have a list at least 40 books long that I want read by September. …I also went to the microbiology lab with Kali this evening, which made me want to review my science textbooks this summer as well. And, math… geometry, calculus? Ah, me!

How fortunate am I that my greatest dilemma is that I have too many books to read! I just want to know everything…