Friday, November 30, 2007

It's amazing what you can accomplish in 24 hours, when you only sleep for four.

So on my break Wednesday night, I discovered a voice mail from Josh and Lisa, who were down here at a Christian camping conference! They spent the rest of my library shift with me, and afterwards we went out with Steve Leader, RD of Goodwin Hall and good friend of Josh's brother, to Denny's, which was the only place we could get coffee (and pie!) at that hour of the night.

This is the only (terrible) picture I have, but that's what happens when you neglect your camera all night.

Well, I don't know how everyone else felt the next day, but I was strangely euphoric. Lisa was right--four hours of sleep, and I was golden. Well, okay, so maybe two traveler's mugs of coffee and one ibuprofen might have helped (this combination, incidentally, works better in tandem than either alone, according to a recent double-blind study--I don't take chances). I totally went to the 7:30 class that I detest, and the 8:30 class, and the 10 am class, for that matter. My 11 am was cancelled, so I lingered at lunch, then went to work and persisted with my prof's manuscript (it came back, and I have a lot to do, and it will be a great story when it's all over, I'm sure).

I worked until 5, then trudged over to Nease to retrieve the kitchen key that I had faithfully reserved earlier in the day. Well, the key was not there, and the RA couldn't get the master key to work, and it turns out the kitchen is on a different lock than the master is, so I tracked down the last person who had the key, but then the real key wouldn't open the door, and even though it was almost 6 and I should have started cooking at 5:30 and I had only had four hours of sleep and hadn't eaten since noon, I didn't say anything I would regret. I just found graciously reliable Elizabeth, and we hiked down to Young Hall, in the dark, with all our cooking accoutrements.

Everyone got the location change message in time, and we still served at 7. Dinner was delicious and amazing and enjoyable. Two of the girls who came had never had cabbage before, and a non-mushroom eater tried the ones that were in the peanut sauce. That's what I call success.

Peanut garlic chicken (white meat--what a concept, a concept the caf does not seem to understand...)
Steamed brown rice
Cabbage onion saute
Elizabeth's heritage apple crisp (Young style-- apparently pancake mix is an excellent substitute for flour)

When I told everyone how much (or rather, little) sleep I had had, they immediately insisted on taking care of clean-up. I enthusiastically accepted and took pictures instead.

And here is a picture of me after dinner, just because I have one and because I like my headband, aptly a gift from our Chinese exchange student, since after this I led a China World Civ study group from 9 to 10, for the exam we had today. I went to bed at 10:05.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What a difference a day makes.

This is what the sky looked like when I left my dorm this morning.

And this is what it looked like when I returned.

In between was a long, long day of frustrated effort and three weeks' impending work making itself painfully known. But at least it was beautiful outside.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I bought a camera on Thursday.

Our family one had broken, and I thought it would be tragic to pass Thanksgiving without any pictures to remember it by.

Mom set the table with her wedding china.

The first course was butternut squash soup.

Dad followed an online NY Times tutorial to carve the turkey perfectly.

Shannon delighted in the artistic tableau she made.

We think it's hugely hilarious to pose with the wishbone.

We drove out to our land in Anza after we ate.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Important life lessons I learned this weekend.

How to sleep in until 10 am:

Go out to dinner with the newspaper staff for Thai. Order pad ped with grilled eggplant. Attend the PLNU homecoming variety show, smirk at the tuba player's bad taste in humor, and eat a piece of celebratory cake. Go to the Driftwood editor's house and play Risk until 2 am. Drape a blanket around your bed to make a snug, dark cave. Sleep.

How to run a new route:

Map out a 3 1/2 mile loop from campus to Shelter Island and back. Grab the mp3 player your sister recently loaded with exciting music. Enjoy the easy jog into bucolic blissful suburbia, down past docked sailboats, through the quaint bayside downtown. Reach the foot of Talbot St. and realize that it is All Uphill From Here. Go at it anyways. Play California by Phantom Planet, summiting the apex of the highest point just as the drums swell into the chorus ("California...California...Here we come!"). Break out some triumphant yoga moves in Nease's backyard.

How to [generously] feed eight people for $11.32:

Get a ride to Henry's from your next-door neighbor and her obliging upperclassman boyfriend. Purchase 3 scoops of cornmeal, 1.72 lbs. hot pork sausage, a can of crushed tomatoes in basil, 1 yellow onion, a bag of brussels sprouts, a head of cauliflower, 2 potatoes, and a pumpkin pie on sale. Silently curse the powers that be for cancelling open dorm that night so that everyone would go to the homecoming game that you and your dinner guests are skipping out on for various reasons. Get a ride from the aforesaid boyfriend down to the boys' dorm, where the kitchen is always open. Chop, steam, sauté, and simmer. Serve the savory goodness:

Italian sausage
Crushed tomato sauce
Steamed cauliflower
Sautéed brussels sprouts
Pumpkin pie

Go to bed at 9:15 and sleep luxuriously for 10 or 11 hours (optional).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So I officially finished editing my professor's manuscript.

I sent it to him, and he forwarded it to his publisher, and it's official: I am a completely legit editor. It took me seven hours to do the initial edits, and six to enter them and format everything in Microsoft Word. That's more than $15 an hour - twice what I make at the library. In fact I made it, in large part, while working at the library. If only I could edit full-time . . . but hey, that's what I'm going to school for.

What I really loved were the comments my prof scribbled in the margins while going over my improvements. In one section, he had referred to figures like Aristotle and Socrates as "Big Name Scholars," and I had accordingly crossed out the superfluous uppercasing. "Keep these capitals" was followed by, "lowercase all - you are right." What delicious deferment to my good judgment!

I had the pleasure of typing myself into the acknowledgements. My prof's endearingly impulsive addition: "Kaitlin Barr, a student in my World Civilizations class, saved me fixed helped edited the final draft."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In the library.

So maybe I'm not quite as enamoured with our collection after yesterday, when a friend came to the front desk while I was working and asked for something interesting to read, and catalogue searches for Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Scarlet Pimpernel both came back void (The Princess Bride, however, popped right up). Still, nothing can eradicate the joy and satisfaction that the 19th century British literature section has brought me these past few months, as I've stolen chapters out of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in a corner on the third floor.

I love Anne Brontë. She is so grounded, so accessible. Just look at this precious exchange between her hero and heroine:

"Why have they left you alone?" I asked.

"It is I who left them," was the smiling rejoinder. "I was wearied to death with small talk--nothing wears me out like that. I cannot imagine how they can go on as they do."

I could not help smiling at the serious depth of her wonderment.

"Is it that they think it a duty to be continually talking," pursued she, "and so never to pause to think, but fill up with aimless trifles and vain repetitions when subjects of real interest fail to present themselves? or do they really take a pleasure in such discourse? . . . I kept up my attention on this occasion as long as I could, but when my powers were exhausted I stole away to seek a few minutes' repose in this quiet walk. I hate talking when there is no exchange of ideas or sentiments, and no good given or received."

The story is an appropriately convoluted one of imprudent marriages and the resulting emotional tragedy. Brontë explores one's duty and responsibility, especially in light of poor choices. Her heroine ministers as best she can to her husband, dying of complications of alcoholism:

"Think of the goodness of God, and you cannot but be grieved to have offended Him."

"What is God--I cannot see Him or hear Him?--God is only an idea."

"God is Infinite Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness--and LOVE; but if this idea is too vast for your human faculties--if your mind loses itself in its overwhelming infinitude, fix it on Him who condescended to take our nature upon Him, who was raised to heaven even in His glorified body, in whom the fulness of the Godhead shines."

All the ends--moral, romantic, theological--are eventually tied up nicely in the compulsory Brontëan style. It was wonderful, and I'm sad it's over. Now, it's on to Love and Freindship (that's right; I said Freindship) by Jane Austen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yesterday was an unexpectedly nice day.

And not just because the sun was shining when I woke up. I coasted down Catalina to church like usual, but this time I finagled my bike into my friend Melissa's station wagon after service and we went grocery shopping.

I met Melissa the first or second week I came to Calvary Chapel Point Loma. She's a recent UCSD grad who majored in biology and is currently working in a biotech lab doing something involving nucleotides that I couldn't begin to comprehend. She spent a month touring Europe over the summer and just moved into her apartment down the street from the church a month ago. And she's incredibly nice.

We walked around the new Vons, awed - a bicameral layout joined by an open-air market area, grind-as-you-go peanut butter machines, savory artisan breads to sample - at the dexterous display of marketing genius. Then we headed to her place.

We decided to improvise a version of her mom's Hawaiian chicken and also make dessert for the evening college Bible study. I butterflied the chicken breast and she made me rich, chocolatey espresso in a tiny pot her hostess gave her in Italy. We dipped French bread in olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette while the cupcakes baked. Just before the chicken was done, I steamed some fresh green beans.

We savored our meal and finished it off with the freshly frosted cupcakes, agreeing that everything tastes better when you have someone to share it with. Afterwards, she drove me home, and we pledged to do it again sometime.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

You're not going to believe this, but...

I got every single class I wanted. Every one. Life is good again.

Right before I left the library last night, I sent a half-hopeful e-mail to the Lit 203 professor whom I had been told myriad times by many people I needed to take, the same one whose 48 spots were occupied by 50 people as of mid-afternoon yesterday. That jarring sense of post-midnight incapability did not make a nice bedfellow.

Wired and nervy, I got out of bed an hour earlier than usual and compulsively checked my e-mail. Apparently a little bit of flattery goes a long way, because that professor had graciously and promptly responded, informing me that he had cleared me to register. The roiling tempest abated somewhat.

But I was still unsure about the rest of my schedule. I endured 7:30 am Old Testament and dropped by my World Civ professor's office to see if he had finished evaluating my edits (nope) before 8:30 am Spanish. After escuchando a that squawking woman for an hour, I bounded back to my dorm and switched books. I spent all of 20 minutes in Psych, making it to the library just in time for my 10:30 web registration.

I got into most of my classes, but two were blocked - their prerequisite is College Comp, but since I'm going to be in Honors Comp next semester, I haven't been able to take college-level English yet. Thus began the mad dashing.

I went first to find my academic advisor, the head of the Lit department, but his office was empty. Sighting some other English faculty nearby, I appealed to them, but all they could do was direct me to the course's professor, who, despite the office hours posted on her door, was absent. With some time left before my next class, I went to Student Relations to turn in my RA application. I checked back in the English department, again unfruitfully, then made my way toward Communication.

After sitting through five or six informative speeches, I resumed my search once more, and finally my persistence was rewarded. I corralled my advisor, had him clear me, and then asked him if I could register then and there on his computer. And just like that, the best schedule ever was created:

Elementary Spanish II - a different prof this time, one whose first language is English
Masterpieces of World Lit III - a core class! With the highly recommended professor!
Honors in College Composition - the one I qualified for with that test I thought I failed
Introduction to Music - super easy, and marked well on
Masterpieces of World Lit I - another core class! Who cares who's teaching it?
Newspaper Workshop - I've spent this semester checking it out; I'm making it legit now

And the crowning achievement: Tuesdays and Thursdays I begin at 8, but MWF I don't have to be anywhere until chapel at 9:45.

Then my small group leader brought burritos to our meeting this afternoon. I was giddy with relief and Mexican food, and I laughed harder than I have possibly since I've been here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Oh, good and bad, like everything, I guess.

So I'm really discouraged about my classes for next semester. I can't register until tomorrow, and one of the classes that I really wanted is already filled; a lot of the others are getting there. A girl I work with was nice enough to offer to register for the one course and then withdraw right before I could get on, saving the spot for me. But it was too late. It sucks to be a freshman.

To make myself feel better, I went jogging this afternoon. Apparently I self-medicate with physical exertion. It's unavoidably autumn around here, brown leaves and grey skies, the whole bit. But it's not bitterly cold - even in a tank top and yoga pants, it only takes a few steps to feel peachy warm.

I followed my new favorite route: a mile and three-quarters out and back along the point, down Catalina Boulevard into the naval base. Unlike a lot of Point Loma, the slope is gradual. I don't have to plunge suicidally down Hill St. - the street sign is missing at one end; apparently someone thought it was redundant - or hike back up on tiptoe halfway through.

A mile or so's steady pace out, and I am embraced by a naturally preserved ocean vista to the west and a sweeping view of downtown San Diego to the east. The Coronado Bridge spans the water and the landmass gently curves toward Mexico. Bucolic sailboats ply the bay. On a clear day, the picture is sharp and immediate. Today, it floated wistful and distant.

I jogged back, showered, ate dinner, and came to work. So maybe this melancholy is a bit of pathetic fallacy on my part. I just wish I could get into those classes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

More on food: An ode to my father's cooking - or, a testament to how much my family loves me.

My sisters conveniently had a soccer game here in Point Loma on Saturday, so everyone came by afterward and we went out - we had hot chocolate in OB, they bought me groceries, it was great. And remnants of their visit lingered until lunch today, for my dad had saved me pieces of the two of the most delicious wedge-shaped items a person could eat: pizza and pumpkin pie.

Not just any pizza, but homemade whole wheat-cornmeal pepperoni-pepperoncini pizza. Even though it had narrowly survived a trip to San Diego and then spent two days in my fridge, it was still amazing. I can only imagine what it was like fresh out of the oven. The pie, too - superb. "Almost as good as Grandma Barr's," he told me. And it was, which just shows you how much they love me; food that good normally doesn't leave the table at home, let alone make a two-hour pilgrimage.

Friday, November 2, 2007


So I determined this week's menu the way I used to do it at home: make whatever was on sale at Henry's into a palatable, coherent meal.

Seasoned pork tenderloin before...

...and after.

Granola apple crisp

Pear-apple walnut chutney to go with the pork

The baked sweet potatoes and the apple crisp

The requisite happy, fed people

Me editing my prof's manuscript (woohoo!)

Elizabeth and me posing for Natalie