Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Place I Call Home

Not sure if I just like my new apartment a lot more than past residences, or if it's just a matter of being used to living in an apartment, or if it's a function of finally feeling settled in my third year at school...whatever the reason, I've adapted to this place much faster than any so far.

In the dorms, it was 'the box','the hole', 'the dorm', 'the room', and my favorite, 'the cave'.

Last year, it was 'King Henry', 'the apartment', or 'the place'.

This year, we have a red kitchen. There is a serious lack of storage, but it is so worth it to have a red kitchen. We've all moved past Ramen or Pasta Roni this year, and have actually begun developing our cooking skills. Sometimes it pays off - as in the case of delicious Pear and Brie chicken we had last week, and sometimes...well let's just say one of us learned not to cook chicken by placing it frozen in a frying pan. (Our apartment was so thick with smoke it looked like we lived in a cloud, but at least we learned that the smoke detector is broken.) Anyway, I attribute our new exploits in cooking to the pleasant aura created by the red paint.

The bathroom/sink area is a little small this year...two sinks for six of us - but this is where the magic happens. Six disheveled and sleep-deprived girls emerge from their bedrooms, but after considerable time spent in front of this mirror, which includes lots of negotiating of various cords, and in some cases massive amounts of makeup and/or hairspray (to the point of causing a fire hazard - if one of us lit a match in front of that mirror in the mornings we'd all be toast, literally), six well-dressed girls in varying degrees of glamour emerge ready for the day. That is to say nothing of the bathrooms themselves. There are shampoo bottles on the floor of the tub because there isn't enough room on the edges and the hot water is so flaky that we have all resigned ourselves to the fact that we will be going without showers or be dealing with frozen hair this Winter.

Our living room is much larger than last year, and despite the ugliness of the plaid couches we actually enjoy hanging out in there. This is where we study when we can't stay awake on our beds, where we play marathon card games, where we do roommate therapy sessions, and where we watch Grey's Anatomy religiously every week.

And then there's my room. Well, our room. I have transitioned from having my own room last year to sharing a room this year. It has actually worked out pretty well, with the one exception that it is MUCH more difficult to go to bed at a reasonable time when there is someone five feet away to lay in bed and talk to about the big picture philsophical issues, the minor details of the day, and everything in between. It's fairly small, but we handle it. I just have to keep my mess to my side, and Ainsley keeps her order on her side. So far we've managed not to overflow but it's only been a month.

Anyway, that's the new place....this year, it's 'home'.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A New Era of Responsibility

Parker - that is his name. My new pride and joy...well neither actually. Can I just say that getting a car is far less exciting when it's one you are paying for and that you are responsible for? When I finally got my license and could drive my dad's old 1994 Ford Taurus (Bruce - see blogpost dated March 2nd, 2009 for more on him), when I got to drive that car I was ecstatic. There was nothing better! I volunteered to run every errand under the sun, I spent every minute in that thing that I could, despite the fact that it had no air conditioning and for music the choices were either radio stations full of static or good old-fashioned tapes.

Oooooh how times change. When I bought Parker, which name he shall be called, I could barely bring myself to go 70mph on the freeway. I would leave a good twenty feet between me and the car in front of me at stop lights. I tried not to accelerate or break too fast for fear of damaging something. It was much less a toy or source of fun, and more a prized possession, needed for transportation to work, and something I felt a real sense of stewardship over. It was all I could do to let my dad take it for a test drive up and down the street the night I bought it. And when he came zooming past the house, clearly giving the accelerator a good test, I determined that I would never let anyone get behind Parker's wheel ever again.

Now the cautiousness has worn off a little, I've returned to my normal, faster, more efficient method of driving, and I've already gotten two speeding tickets since I started driving Parker. In fact, the second officer to pull me over felt it necessary to inform me that the most common cars pulled over by his officers were Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords, like Parker, because apparently they run so smoothly that people don't realize how fast they're going. Hmmm, but was he going to let me use this as an excuse? Heavens no. $260 ticket, signed and binding. All of you in Millard County out there, it's poor Accord and Camry owners like me that are paying for the frivolous expenses of your country leadership. I hope you feel good about that.

Anyway, while my driving style hasn't changed, there is definitely less of a sense of fun when driving Parker. It's much more sophisticated and responsible. I notice every scratch, every crumb, every noise. I feel like I have to up my game for Parker, he is a car deserving of NPR and nighttime Jazz. He represents a transition to a more grown-up and sophisticated phase in my life. It's sad to see the fun driving days end, but at the same time I enjoy my morning commutes with the Diane Rehm Show and evening commutes with All Things Considered. Besides, this new phase of life calls for different types of thrill-seeking and rebellion, and Parker won't be a part of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Be Still a Man

Life since Europe has been an absolute whirlwind of school and work (I thought this was a perfect representation of the uniqueness of being a Philosophy major at BYU - two books laying on my bookshelf - very different reads.) Anyway, it got to the point where I was barely sleeping...and when I was asleep I was dreaming of forgetting things at work or missing class and bothering my roommate by apparently snoring like a bear and mumbling to myself during the night. None of these things are signs indicating a restful night's sleep, or good mental health for that matter. Anyway, life was insanely busy so I decided to take this last weekend and chill for a little while by joining my family at Lake Powell.

I was looking forward to getting away from all the couples and relationship garbage that is thrown in our faces down in Provo, but, what was one of the first things I heard after arriving on the houseboat with my family? A girl that I used to babysit (she and her family were in Lake Powell with us) was telling people about her boyfriend of 8 months! Yikes, so much for that.

I was looking forward to getting some much needed sun - it was cloudy and too cold for a swimsuit most of the time.

I was looking forward to eating more balanced meals instead of the junk I have in my apartment. However, my two greatest food nemeses won out at Lake Powell - I basically lived on Cheetos and chocolate covered raisins, with a few glasses of chocolate milk thrown in for good measure.

I was looking forward to a few days without worrying about messing anything up - no stress or obligations or expectations to maintain. Well - the very first day I got roped into a game of California speed, the epitome of stressful, and managed to lose - killing what had been a 3-year winning streak in the game.

I was looking forward to being out of the reach of email, so I wouldn't have to think about work for a few days. However, whenever we went out into Padre Bay, my phone would randomly get service for seconds here and there...just enough time to download the emails to my phone with their subject lines and the first couple words of the email body - but not enough to show the whole email. So I kept looking at the emails, trying to figure out what they said, and wondering the whole time what was going on and what I was missing.

However, despite the fact that the trip didn't quite go as planned, it was marvelous. It was a great break from the stress of daily life, and it allowed me to re-evaluate my priorities. There were certainly some unexpected difficulties but I realized I hadn't spend that much time talking to and enjoy the company of people I really liked in what felt like forever. I realized I had checked out of a lot of things that were really important to get too involved in work, and especially school. I think this idea is best summed up in something I read from David Hume, he was speaking about and to Philosophers specifically, but I think it applies to any profession or preoccupation that gets in the way of what's important. "Be a philosopher, but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man." So that is my plan...to be still a human being, amidst school, work, school and work...and more school and more work.