Saturday, May 31, 2008

Putting my writing skills to practical use.

My dad emailed me during finals week asking me to draft a description of his new listing. The fruit of my obliging study break was published in yesterday's Hemet Valley Chronicle.

My dad's website is also officially up:, where my handiwork can be found in the "About Me" section. If you're looking for an agent, he services all of southern California. After all, as we all know, now is the time to buy . . .

Friday, May 30, 2008

All the world's a classroom. Kudos to those of you who knew that was a reference to Shakespeare.

Last night we attended Dehesa Charter School's Riverside County Spring Expo. All the kids from the school were encouraged to contribute projects or perform in the talent segment.

Rachel and Shannon did what they do best—dessert. Fortune cookies replete with fortunes I printed out: "All the world's a classroom" (the school's motto), "You will be a lifelong learner" (one of the school's ESLRs) and "Seize the opportunities that lie before you"; Russian tea cakes; Irish ginger snaps; chocolate peanut butter bars; walnut chocolate cake; and chocolate shortbread.

Shannon also displayed her ceramics and acted as emcee for some of the performances, which included a little blonde seven-year-old doing sign language to "Sunshine on my Shoulder" by John Denver, a definite contender for Cutest Thing Ever.

All three of them put together posterboards of some of the projects they've done this year, like China, marine life, and biology dissections.

Angelica and I, watching the piano players, singers, and dancers perform far better than we ever could, joked that at least the four of us are good at important things, like cooking, painting pottery, and dressing up.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I wonder how many hopeful English majors end up working for trashy teen magazines...

"Live in the sunshine,
Swim the sea,
Drink the wild air's salubrity."

Flipping through, of all things, my sister’s CosmoGirl, I found a few lines of Emerson, and it made me really happy. Between the senseless fashion (if the captions below the photos of what “works” and what doesn’t were switched, would anyone know the difference?) and the uncomfortable boy-lust (they fall so easily into swooning over underage celebrities—what does it say about the adults who write this stuff?), I discovered a captivating example of the immediacy of words. See? Poetry is not completely irrelevant.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I love it when the visceral pleasure of reading the Journal combines with words as gratifying as the font they are printed in.

Best paragraph of today's Wall Street Journal (the rest of the article is intriguing as well), courtesy a widely accomplished Jonathan Miller:

"And that's what directing is: noticing tiny details. You remind actors that when people are thinking out loud or talking to someone they don't make huge gestures with their hands. They'll often just run their hands along the table, and their eyes will be absentmindedly preoccupied with the movement of their fingers. That's what it's about. That's all it's about: those heaps of negligible details which are us on the road to the grave."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cold hands, warm hearts.

My friend Emily Blunt came down from Palmdale Friday night. We drove up to Camp Maranatha Saturday morning and spent a very un-it's-a-month-until-summer Memorial Day weekend working in Idyllwild. In fact, the weather was not unlike December's, when we worked together last, during Christmas break.

Here is Emily admiring the rain from our little cabin. While some flurries floated down in Idyllwild, elev. 5500, they positively stuck above 7000 feet, and the peak was completely white.

Here we are in a standard cabin. Emily was excited to stay in one since she never had before, but we switched to deluxe the second night after one of the groups left, because, let's face it, we're sissies. Emily might have snowy winters at Liberty in Virginia, but she's desert born and raised, and I chose my school largely for its location. I'm a sucker for temperate weather. That's why I flee the triple digits and take refuge in the mountains. Idyllwild is perfection in the summer.

It wasn't that bad this weekend, either. The groups we served were a lot of fun; the Formosan family group braved the chill to do tai chi out on the grass in the mornings. A few summer staffers from previous years came up, and we worked quickly and easily. Josh Tate hosted us for cookies and conversation, and Lisa Richard got back from Norway with tales and chocolate from her trip. Just a few more weeks until summer actually starts . . .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Probing the university universe.

So it's not quite the Pacific Ocean, but the campus of Mt. San Jacinto College does have a nice view. My secondary reason for purchasing a laptop was so that I might take online community college courses this summer. I want to declare Point Loma's new writing minor in the fall, so I thought I should begin freeing up as many credits as I can to avoid scrambling in the end to complete my degree. I went to pick up Angelica the other day and paid for my courses while I was there. Six credits cost me all of $120. I'm paying more than $1000 per credit at PLNU. I knew community college was cheaper, but the difference didn't register until I was writing a check for less than what books would cost me should I buy them at the bookstore (not that I would do such a thing—I don't pay retail for anything if I can help it; my wardrobe attests to that).

The campus is also beautiful on rainy days, such as today. Angelica was at MSJC because she is currently pursuing her Associate's, though she's only a high school junior. Even if she doesn't get the degree, she'll have a pile of transferrable credit, saving her probably tens of thousands of dollars. File this one under "things I wish I knew when I was younger." She's also taking summer classes, to stay on track, and we're taking one together, so we can share books and help each other with homework and all kinds of fun stuff like that.

Higher education truly is a privilege. I was looking at my report card (guess who pulled an A in the class where she got a B- on the midterm?) and I just marvelled at all I've learned this year. Some of my best experiences were in my gen eds, and my only reservation about taking classes this summer is that I will be missing out on some potentially amazing professors in departments I'd otherwise never enter. But looking at how much I'm paying goes a long way in assuaging some of that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Oh yeah, I totally used to write for the Press-Enterprise..."

Talking this week to last year's Point Weekly copyeditor, who's currently interning at the Press-Enterprise, put me in mind of my stint as a writer for the Young & Sharp feature of the Sunday Opinion page. I visited the website, and lo and behold, my 10-second intro is still posted, and accessible here (I'm in row 2, column 4). But only if you feel like laughing at my expense. I definitely look young, but I can't vouch for sharp—seventeen, nervous, and sporting the worst haircut of my life, without exception. Longest awkward adolescence ever. I don't think I'm even out of it yet. My submissions were decent, but only as spectacular as two or three paragraphs on a current issue can be.

It was a golden time, that year between high school and college. Ben Shapiro was my hero, and I actually could generate a response to a current event on cue. Now I've started hedging my positions and looking at the sides of issues to a deeper extent, and at times I'm almost paralyzed by an unwillingness to adhere to any opinion that I might change later. Heaven forbid I should look stupid.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I got a new laptop!

I really wanted to go all four years of college without buying a computer, but realized, when I filled in for the copyeditor last semester, that the library's abbreviated weekend hours were not going to cut it. I started searching for a reasonable option and found that I could get a Dell Vostro, their small business model, for the same or less than what I would pay in a store, sans the annoying start-up software that usually clogs a new desktop. There's something about making purchases online that always makes me feel super capable and grown-up. The process only took nine days, and my laptop was delivered today; I'm typing on it now. Kudos to Dell for a streamlined experience.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Waxing nostalgic, because that's what you do when you sleep in your old bedroom.

Going through old pictures this week, I found a snapshot of my room right before I left for college. My little 10 x 10 space had reached perfection at that point. The saltillo tile pleased me to no end, cool and pleasantly worn in, with a footprint, said to be good luck by those who know these things, pressed into one square by a passing coyote when the clay was drying down in Mexico.

My bookshelves, loosely alphabetized, bore the fruit of years of thrift store culling. The shelves themselves were yard sale discoveries; the one in the picture was actually free at a Memorial Day sale in Idyllwild. I sanded and restained them myself, matching them to the dresser I'd used without fail since I was born, which featured a changing table on top that I used to hide my treasures in when I was in elementary school.

And then I had to unceremoniously pack it all up and leave. Much as I would have liked the room to remain a shrine to myself, I realized that wasn't going to happen. My younger sister Rachel got her own room for the first time in her life, and I was definitely happy for her, but she couldn't entirely efface the remnants of the room's previous occupant, and for that I was glad as well. The walls are still "London fog blue," and the quotations I inscribed in a light grey still float subtly in the background.

A couple of years ago, I became enchanted with the idea of surrounding myself with words. I collected phrases from some of my favorite literary figures, and together they form a fairly comprehensive portrait of my philosophy on life at the time.

"We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship," said C.S. Lewis. I was a lonely, lonely kid throughout my adolescence, and so Lewis was one of my best friends. I like to think I've grown out of that, but I'll never forget what that felt like and what comfort these words gave to me.

"I'm just going to write because I cannot help it," Charlotte Brontë declared to her detractors. "Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery," Jane Austen wrote in Mansfield Park. I was resolved to do the same: to write ineluctably, and to write of things that made me happy, in a word.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So begins the gospel of John. This verse, more than any other, I think, embodied my view of Christianity. Aside from my obsession with words, I delighted here in metaphor, and not just any metaphor, but one that found an exquisite culmination of the Greek pursuit of knowledge and wisdom in the salvation of Christ.

So that's who I was. That's who am I still, really; I don't think I've changed fundamentally since I was 16. If anything, I've just become more myself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cookies for breakfast? Yes, unashamedly yes.

Waking up to a dish of chocolate chip cookie bars and a fresh pot of coffee: I love being home. Shannon whipped these up last night because "I felt like it." We were out of both eggs and milk, but she simply found a recipe on the Internet that required neither, and commenced baking while most people were sleeping. Home ec is the one subject that everyone benefits from when you're homeschooled.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Let's just hope he doesn't disgrace the family name.

So Bob Barr announced his formal candidacy for this year's presidential race. He showed up on my radar last fall when I was conducting research for my informative speech on secondary candidates, and he caught my eye not just because of our common name, but because at the time I was intrigued with the concept of libertarianism and he was listed as a possible contender for the party.

The idea that if people are left alone, they will take care of themselves is appealing and seductive, but ultimately as unrealistic as believing that a government will always act in the best interest of its citizens. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing or capable of acting in their own best interest without impinging on the rights of others (and such impingement would not essentially be in their best interest anyway). My line of reasoning in this area originally issued from a conviction that all people strive to achieve what is best for themselves and their families, which reasoning, incidentally, led to my heavily reactionary Point Weekly article regarding the homeschooling case a few weeks ago.

Initially my reaction to that issue ran along the lines of, "If I want to homeschool my kids off the grid, the state shouldn't be able to stop me." The state just wants productive citizens, I reasoned. Parents, however, act primarily with their children's best interests in mind, so even a sub-par homeschooling experience would be as good or better than compulsory enrollment for a child whose educational needs cannot or are not being met by the local public school. But then, my professor kindly pointed out to me, all parents do not actually act in their children's best interest, as evidenced by the child abuse central to the case in point. Not everyone thinks the same way I do, or acts from the same motives, I realized then.

So the Libertarian Party must be put in the category of things that look great on paper, but just don't work in the real world, along with Communism and Point Loma's dancing policy. What I don't understand is why Mr. Barr believes he has any chance, or why he would want detract from McCain. Surely he must find his political views more closely aligned with the Republicans.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A very happy Mothers' Day.

My sisters came up with a sweet idea for Mothers' Day—savory herbs planted in painted pots. We packed up and headed to Oceanside to celebrate the day.

The clouds had broken by the time we reached the coast, but the crowds had apparently been discouraged anyway. We enjoyed the sun and took turns attempting to surf without having to worry about dropping in and cutting off people who actually knew what they were doing.

Proof that Dad was there, too. We stopped for Chinese on the way home, then picked up some ice cream and rented the second season of "The Office." Dad popped kettle corn from scratch (one of the most delightful foods to ever come out of our kitchen, I think) and we stayed up past midnight in intermittent periods of uncontrollable laughter. We don't usually (or ever, actually) watch tv, so we're usually behind the curve on current shows. But it only took a couple of episodes of "The Office" this year before I knew I had to bring it home.

It was after this clip, in fact, that I realized I had no choice; I was going to have to give in and love this show wholeheartedly.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Because a setting sun is not an overt metaphor at all. . .

Thursday night, as I finished packing, I made sure I got a picture of my last Loma sunset of the year. I have a love-hate relationship with finals week. Between the intense cramming and the never-ending good-byes, there's a ton of free time and the impetus for everyone to let everyone else know how much they've meant to each other during the semester. It's a pausing point; all the relationships that have been developing throughout the year culminate in this moment of gratification. We reflect and realize how much we've learned and grown.

At least I did. I was certainly ready to go home; my sister had been texting me all week with enticing promises of a comfortable bed, homemade pizza, and lemon squares. But I have so much to look forward to for the next year. I feel like I am finally beginning to adjust to the rhythm and routine of university life, and I think I have yet another place I consider home.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wrapping up.

I made the most of my last weekend of the year, biking to OB on Saturday to meet some girls from my hall for sunning and strolling and peering at hermit crabs in tide pools. They weren't so enthusiastic about swimming, so I took a brief but giddily refreshing dip in the water while they watched me onshore, dry but not nearly as ecstatic, I'm sure.

My dad came down for a pre-emptive carload of my less essential possessions, so we had dinner together Saturday night. Sunday, my biologist friend and I went out to lunch after church. That was my first good-bye for the year. That afternoon, I went in early to the newspaper. I'm officially going to be copyeditor next year, so I took on more responsibility this week. The paper was also twice as long as a normal issue, this week being commencement, so there was a lot to do.

I wrote an article on LEAD Week, nothing terribly interesting, but it needed to be written, so I took it. I was just glad to get a commencement byline.

Our news editor's story on the new furniture policy preceeded mine, with an excellent Facebook graphic depicting the controversy that is being hashed out on the site everyone checks multiple times a day. Utilized effectively, Facebook, my demographic's main point of web entry, could be the venue for an unprecedented interchange of ideas and more comprehensive, encompassing modes of communication. The majority of it may just be silly social sites, but the potential is there, as evidenced by the discussion above.

That she tied the Internet with print so appropriately is also remarkable. I can't say for sure where newspapers as a breed are going, but embracing technology, rather than balking at it fearfully, is absolutely necessary if papers want to remain at all relevant.

Sunday evening I took a break from editing to attend my Honors Comp final, which wasn't a final at all, but rather a day-early fiesta. We ate burritos and munched on chips while our classmates read aloud pieces they'd written this semester. Super low-key, super enjoyable, super not a comprehensive exam.

Afterwards, I went back to the newsroom, where I stuck it out until eleven. I found out today some of the editors didn't leave until four or five this morning. Yikes. But at least the paper looks great . . .