Sunday, December 5, 2010

it's the last week of classes, people.
the last freakin' four days.
and then finals.

(this is how i've been feeling.) 

[let's just get this out of the way. when i write things down they seem less overwhelming, less frightening.]

things ashley has to do before she comes home:

1. finish a 12 page paper on discrimination against refugees in the United States.
2. (start..) and finish a paper on adventure education programs in urban settings.
3. plan and give a 30 minute presentation on urban adventure programs.
4. study for, take, and pass three finals. (and by pass i mean get at least a B+ as the scholarship requires...)
5. apply to the Wilderness Immersion Leadership Development program (which might take place in British Columbia! Or California!) 
6. spread lots of Christmas cheer on this floor.
7. sing in a coffee house with hannah and other lovely friends. (play the finger cymbals!)
8. go ice skating at Frog Pond
9. take Alegra to the cliffs of Magnolia
10. go to the Wenham Tea House 
11. eat squash soup and celebrate the end of a semester at long hill farm
12. make a Christmas dinner with the wonderful RA staff
13. perfectly time Christmas surprises for the girls on this floor.
14. go sledding on cafeteria trays.
15. host a birthday chocolate fondu

Hm, looking at that list- there are lot more fun things to accomplish than serious, hurray! this makes me feel not so bad for spending the last few days knitting and listening to sufjan stevens Christmas album. it has been such a dilemma deciding how to use my time. just last night i was learning how to knit hats, which is GREAT! but also bad timing because now all i want to do is knit hats for everyone i know...and definitely not research and write eloquent and intelligent sounding papers... 

(oh, and if you happen to be wondering about those awesome red glasses. those are my study glasses. i put them on when i am having a hard time focusing. they are worn often during finals and midterms. they have little "blinders" on the side  which are supposed to help me not look at anything else. unfortunately i think they're so funny that i often  spend a lot of time looking around at people when i'm wearing them just to see what they do. (haha.) i do think however, that they help. i know it's all psychological, but seriously - how else is a girl supposed to focus when it's  CHRISTMAS TIME?!)

(i thought this post wasn't going to have anything really "thoughtful" in it, for i have been too busy to be thoughtful, (haha) buuuuut, maybe here's something. but don't get your hopes up. seriously, don't.) 

so i babysit these two children named maxwell and monet. approximately four mornings a week i get them dressed, feed them breakfast and drive them to school. sometimes monet teaches me how to dance, sometimes we spin around in circles on the kitchen floor until i feel like i'm going to throw up, sometimes we play monopoly but most days we do art projects. one day a week i pick them up after school too and on those days i really feel like a mom. anyway, so this week was monet's birthday (she turned 6). i gave her a birthday present on friday (a stamp pad and some animal rubber stamps- she loves all things art.) and we played with it for a bit before school. i soon realized however that time was passing quickly and it was approaching 8am - "brush teeth and comb your hair" for school time. so naturally i asked monet to go brush her teeth and comb her hair. she pranced off to the bathroom and came back with a headband in her hair (which seemed somewhat brushed, although every knot was carefully avoided...) but did not brush her teeth. i asked her again to brush her teeth after telling her that i didn't hear the water run... (not to mention that she wouldn't let me "smell her minty fresh breath" which is what almost always happens after they brush their teeth) and she refused. defiantly, she curled up in a ball on the little rug in front of the refrigerator and wailed. "i am NOT going to brush my teeth." (well, why monet?) "i just do NOT WANT TO!" and the tears flowed. (this girl is queen of all things drama, why do i always babysit really dramatic children? is this payback for something? or perhaps preparation? haha who knows.) so the crying continued, and continued, and continued. she remained curled up in that ball for a long time wailing and expressing what a tragedy it would be to brush her teeth when she just didn't want to. 

not knowing what to do, i tried to pull the "come on monet, you're 6 years old now" card and tell her that 6 year olds surely don't whine and complain about things so simple. i tried to tell her that 6 year olds don't throw fits. i tried, boy did i try to convince her that brushing her teeth wasn't going to kill her. (or even hurt her for that matter. haha) it took me threatening to take away her special privilege of choosing what song we get to listen to on the way to school to get her off of that rug and into the bathroom. . .  

but you know what? earlier this week i was just like monet. not in so many tears, but my heart was in that position - that fetal position curled up on a rug refusing to do the simple things that i just need to do. i was 5 years old again, being upset about all of the things i have to do. things that don't hurt or require so very much of me, but things i just don't want to do. like write papers, and study for tests and prepare presentations, like go to meetings and classes. i was overwhelmed and annoyed, frustrated at the workload that kept piling on. for one of the first times this semester i felt really stressed. every night that i planned on really getting work done turned into some kind of party or distraction. (haha) i was frustrated with the way i was spending my time and avoiding my studies. i was torn between doing the things that i need to get done, and the things that i want so very badly to do. (specifically the Christmas things...) 

but if 6 year olds don't throw fits anymore, then surely 20 year olds don't either. it's rather silly isn't it, to complain about the things that i must get done. these things that are helping me to learn and grow. these things that are helping me get a degree in something i really care about. it's silly to complain when so many people will never get to attend college, or even high school for that matter. it's really selfish of me. really terribly selfish. 

so i'm trying. i'm trying to buckle down, put on my study glasses, and get things done. (and not just get things done, but to get things done well. and with a smile, even.) at the same time however, i'm trying to slow down, to make time for the people around me and the little events along the way. i'm trying to appropriately plan study breaks and time to do things that don't involve work. i'm trying to make time to notice the sky, to run (in my new running sneakers!), and to sleep. i'm not very good at this yet, but i'm trying. 

[because as we were reminded in the most beautiful advent service this morning, when Jesus came to this world as a little baby, the busy and bustling people of the earth missed it. they were distracted and occupied with their own agendas. i don't want to miss hearing the baby cry this Christmas. i don't want to miss the angels shouting. i want to be as still and watchful as the shepherds. because the shepherds knew. and they rejoiced. oh, did they rejoice. ]

this whole Christmas thing is taking captive so many of my thoughts. 
Jesus, as a baby
The Word became flesh
God in-dwelling
Mary, giving birth to the Christ

it's the craziest, most beautiful story i've ever heard. 

(and to close,
a prayer for Christmas.)

From Guerrillas of Grace:
"Patient God,
this day teeters on the edge of waiting
     and things seem to slip away from me,
          as though everything was only memory
               and memory is capricious.
Help me not to let my life slip away from me.
O God, I hold up my life to you now,
     as much as I can,
          as high as I can,
               in this mysterious reach called prayer.
Come close, lest I wobble and fall short.
It is not days or years I seek from you,
     not infinity and enormity,
          but small things and moments and awareness,
              awareness that you are in what I am
                   and in what I have been indifferent to.

It is not new time,
     but new eyes
          new heart I seek,
               and you."

i will be seeing you soon dear lancaster family! 

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