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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Year in Review

It is the last day of 2006. I've decided to do a running summary of this years events (as I remember them with no looking back for ideas - so if I miss anything important, sorry).

[If you don't want to read all of the details, feel free to skip to the last paragraph, where there is a three sentence summary!]

I celebrated the beginning of 2006 with Marco and his friends from Google in Dublin, Ireland. We stayed out until almost dawn, called my family at East Coast time and watched Dick Clark's party (sans Dick) and the ball drop in NYC on the internet. It didn't really seem like the New Year until that.

January was spent teaching and saving money. (And turning in grad school applications.) I also got to play in some volleyball tournaments in the southern part of my region in France (Champagne). In February, I went to Nancy with Alice and Martin to visit Isabelle and Anne-Helene. On the return trip, we stopped in Luxembourg, Luxembourg - which was fabulous.

A week later, I picked Caroline up in Paris. We spent the day walking farther than any one person ever should and then stayed in the red light district (by accident). Braving snow, we got up the next morning and flew to Barcelona.

We met Marco in Spain and saw everything Gaudi, ate paella, drank Sangria, and touched the Mediterranean Sea at night. We missed our flight back but still survived. Caroline stayed in Charleville for a week. Then, we rented a car and saw Sedan, got stuck for five hours on the highway in Belgium (the Red Cross even came by), and finished by driving to Germany.

We spent a few days there, braved a snow storm in the Black Forest, ate in the town Caroline's family comes from, and saw two castles. We hit Straousburg in Alsace and visited a concentration camp before heading back. It was back to the USA for Caroline after that and back to work for me.

I spent the next few months realizing I was pretty fluent in french, hanging out with the kids from l'Aumonorie, and my French family (Alice, Hugues, et Martin). We had a film festival, baked cookies, and learned swing dancing before school let out and my time at Lycee Chanzy was finished. Saying goodbye to everyone there was difficult, especially since I knew I might never see them again. I also dealt with one of the most morally challenging experiences of my entire life (thus far).

My attention was refocused by camping at Taize for a week though. I loved the people I met there and felt a renewed sense of the spirit. Then, I went back to Charleville for the last time, said goodbye, repacked my belongings in a post office, and left for les Champagnules. We went to western France for the weekend and sang in a bunch of languages and I got to finish my time in France with the first people that really challenged me to speak French. I then said goodbye to Roger and his family - which was sad since they had so generously taken me in time and again!

I made it back to the States for my birthday - the first time I was home with my parents on my birthday in four years. Two weeks later I went to Norfolk for work at the VA HOBY conference, where I had gone as a high school sophomore. I was hooked immediately and have been working as a volunteer for them since.

In late May, I went to Colorado to visit my sister and had a blast seeing the Rocky Mountains with her and my parents. I spent the summer trying to find a place to live in DC, babysitting, and struggling with some very stupid boy problems (practicality is hard to find when your heart is involved).

In August, I moved into my first apartment in Maryland. I got a fantastic roommate who I've known since elementary school and landlords who are cool about almost everything. Dana and I almost immediately took a trip to Ocean City, NJ to see Grandmother and company. Nothing can beat a relaxing trip to my favorite place in the world. Nanny even remembered me! When we got back, I started classes at American University in the Public Communication program. It was a bumpy beginning, but I got used to the insane amount of reading soon enough.

We had plenty of football viewings at the apartment, and I got to hang out with some great friends from USC. Slowly but surely I started making friends at school too, and after that, life was basically perfect. We went pumpkin picking and watched movies and partied, and I've never felt like a part of the group like that before in my life. I also managed to see all sorts of places in DC, which is, of course, exciting.

Marco came in for a few days in October, and though I had to work for most of them, it was still good to see him again. Early November brought election time and I got to work for two different campaigns - on in MD and the other in VA. It was cool to be able to experience first-hand what may, one day, be my future job(s).

In mid-November, I went to Florida to watch them beat the Gamecocks by one measly point. The weekend was spent with family and people who might as well be family and it was really fun. I faced a person I never thought I could and was glad to have gotten past that first step. Paul, the newest member of the deForges family was born too. Then it was back to school and then down to NC for Thanksgiving.

I worked my tail off late in the semester, but still found plenty of time between working and school to hang out with my pals from the PC progam. I also managed to get myself mixed up in boy problems again (stupidity really does kill, you know). As I slowly tried to extricate myself, I spent more time with friends (who are becoming better and better all the time). The Holiday Party, charity basketball game, final exams, Lindsay's blast (sleepover), and then our Caroling Party rounded out December in DC.

I headed to NC for the holidays, where my whole immediate family would be together for the first time in five years (for Christmas). We sang together at midnight mass - laughing the whole time and came home and opened presents ... finally traipsing to bed around 4am. Eve dinner by Mom, Day dinner by Lorien, Salmon by Travis ... lots of good food in a few short days. Then we got news about family friends, three of whom did not survive a plane crash. It's been sort of a rough patch since then, but we're all coping in our own ways.

Today a photographer came and took family portraits at the house. These are the first portraits we've had since I was fifteen - and that was only one shot from a cruise! As soon as I get them, I'll post some, but I warn you I'm wearing make-up ... a rare occurrence. We've stayed up late a bunch of nights this week, playing games and watching West Wing. I feel like the tragedy is helping us realize that we need to spend more quality time together.

2007 will begin with a family trip to Florida for the funerals. Then we'll drop Travis back at UF. Mom and Dad are keeping Rohan, Lorien's dog, in NC with them and Shadow, and Lorien is coming up to stay with me for awhile until she finds a job and a place. It may be weird sharing a room again, especially with my sister, but I like that she'll be so close by. Dad even has an interview in DC in January ... pray about him getting that!

So much has happened in the past 365 days. I've been to six countries, a bunch of French provinces, 9 states (and DC). Visited with both of my best friends, had a religious renewal, dealt with really weird personal life issues, taught in a French high school, started graduate school, lost and made friends, got my first apartment, managed straight A's, finally become social, and spent alot of quality time with my family. So many of those things are good and wonderful. I hope 2007 brings more of the same. May God bless you and keep you in this upcoming year. I hope to continue bringing you news of my adventures and looking forward to hearing about yours too! Love always, ~Heather

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Change in Plans

The only thing to say is that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and that there are parts of that plan we cannot control.

The longest I have ever lived in one place was 11 years, in South Florida from kindergarten to ninth grade. We lived in one of those classic 90's American neighborhoods where everyone rode bikes together, played kickball in the street, swam in each others pools, ate fruit off of everyone else's trees, and shared homes like they were toys. Most summer days were spent with half the neighborhood doing some sort of activity. "Can the kids come out and play?" was a common question. The little girl next door used to walk in and say, "Honey, I'm home."

She was seven years old then and I was fourteen - but I was her best friend (and babysitter). I'd known her since before she was born - I can clearly remember the stork in the lawn for two weeks after her birth. And the night we moved out of that house, she was the last person I hugged. I think I'll always remember her that way. It is the only way I can.

Both she and her parents died in a plane crash Christmas night. The weather near Atlanta, Georgia was just too awful, and even though her father was a flight instructor, there was nothing he could do after the Cessna hit that asphalt conveyor hidden by the fog. The only blessing in this is that her brother had decided to fly himself separately and wasn't on the plane. I bet he doesn't really feel like that was a blessing right now.

Everyone seems to be missing something different - and none of us seems to have had the idea really sink in yet. All I keep seeing is her round face and the dance costumes she wore. Or the time I helped teach her to swim. Sixteen years old. I'll never really be able to fathom how someone that young just isn't alive anymore. It doesn't seem real.

I changed my plans and I'll be staying with my parents a while longer before we go to Florida for the services. This was the first Christmas in five years my whole family was together. Blessing number two might be that we are going to get to spend more time together and see some people we haven't seen in years. I wish it were under better circumstances.

I guess the only thing to do is make the best of it; to know that God's plan is the right one, and that he knows what he's doing. If I didn't believe that, I'd hate Him something fierce for taking Sammy away. Sixteen years old. A brilliant, beautiful, and talented girl. Please pray for her and her family.

I hope when she gets to heaven she just walks right up to St. Peter and says, "Honey, I'm home." And everyone there would laugh like we used to, because you couldn't stay straight-faced for long when such a vibrant personality was around. I guess today she is surrounded by angels - I bet you'd have trouble telling the difference between them and her.

Love always, ~Heather

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Late Nights

I have been staying up really late lately. I need to get out of this habit. Two nights ago, I drove in from out of town and then stayed up reading (even though I didn't get home until after 1am). Then I stayed up until 3:30am playing cards with my siblings and Dad and then read until 5am. Tonight, I am determined to go to bed at my normal 2am bedtime (I know this seems late but I don't get up until 9am, so I'm getting plenty of sleep).

This will be brief, so I can reach that goal. But, I just wanted to ask the world (or the few of you fabulous people who actually read this) if they knew how to save a file from Windows Movie Maker to a DVD I can play on my parents television. I made my family this, I think, really cool Christmas present, and now I can't seem to get it onto the blank DVDs I bought. Ideas or assistance would be much appreciated.

Since I finished my fun reading book, have no idea how to finish making this present, and everyone else seems to be sleeping or pretty close to it, I think I am going to wrap presents and then dive under the covers. Tomorrow is going to be a big day, with church twice and the huge holiday celebration (we're Italian, we celebrate on the eve with a whole seven seafood dinner), I need my rest before we get started on that.

I'll try to post pictures though, because there are some available from the party Tuesday and my sister straightened my hair today - so for those of you who have never seen me sans curls, this will be an interesting thing for you.

Really bedtime and I promise to catch you up after Christmas. Until then, have a really fantastic holiday and I hope both the light of Jesus and Santa Claus find you and fill your hearts, minds, and stockings this Advent/Christmas season!

Love always, ~Heather

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Caroling Party

So most of my excitement about staying in town this weekend revolved around preparing for the Caroling Party. I baked like a fiend, cleaned the apartment, did some gardening (which no one can ever see because all our parties are at night, but whatever - I like it), and finished my laundry and such.

The party was super. Not everyone could make it (which was a bummer), but the people who came were amazingly fun. We ate an inordinate amount of baked goods (and I also made people take tons home) had an actual fire that lasted, drank cocoa, watched the original cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and sang a bunch of songs. Some notable classics were the "Twelve Days of Christmas," acted out respectively by each individual; "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which was making us laugh so hard Dana had to stop playing piano; and "Thirty Two Paws and Eight Little Tails," which was a song no one had ever heard before, but Dana and I think is hysterical.

Mike took tons of pictures and brough some killer pizza dip, Katie brought amazing quiche (for those with a more salty inclination), Kate brought mint glazed brownies with red sprinkles (totally festive), Christine brought toffee/saltines ... sooo good... and peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses, Lindsay brought leftover goodies from her party, and Dana and I had a spread of a bunch of other things out and about. We were not short of nourishment in the least bit.

So all went well. Christine got to poke (stoke) the fire, Dave wore his (now traditional) Santa hat, and everyone reminisced over 80's cartoons and video games. As things died down there was more piano playing of Nintendo game theme songs and Dana ran off to pack for Wisconsin.

And so went the Caroling Party. One of my friends stuck around until I found out whether or not I was going to have to pick my sister up at the airport. In the end, I didn't - which was okay. I am, in fact, still waiting to hear where she is - though I know she got in safely around 6am (text message).

The rest of this post is sort of going to be really vague and uninteresting to most of you, so I am not at all offended by you not reading past this point, especially if you have better things to do (I write to get it out of my system sometimes more than to actually inform people about what is going on). I'll be travelling tonight (hopefully), but should be able to catch up with you in NC tomorrow. Have a fabulous Wednesday ... less than a week until Christmas! Loveya, ~Heather

____________________________

In the party aftermath, I was trying to avoid doing the dishes by any procrastination method possible. One of these was convincing my friend to stay and hang out even after I found out I didn't need them to keep me awake until 4:30 to go get my sister from the airport. This resulted in what I am now considering normal banter between the two of us, since most of our late night conversations seem to go this way. ("This way" means ridiculously as one or both of us is actually exhausted.) So anyway, in what I thought was a benign way, I made a request. Now as far as requests go, there are the spur of the moment ones and the planned ones. This was a combination effort, one part spontanaiety and the other part previously pondered. I must say that one or both of those things came out way less benign than I had been hoping for.

As I crawled into bed later, I couldn't help but think how stupid I must have sounded. After my friend called me on my dumb "word vomit," I tried to explain myself rather inarticulately. But I was suddenly reminded of the scene from Love Actually where the guy has all the posters and gives his Christmas message to Kiera Knightley's character. As I lay there snuggled into my down comforter, I realized I felt alot like that guy must have as he walked away. It was a combination between a sense of accomplishment at being honest when a lie would have made things a hell of alot better, uncertainty whether or not the person understood exactly how you were feeling, sadness that you were walking away from them, and gladness that it was finally over - there was a closure to it.

My request was significantly more friendly than the one in the film (which I had a hard time explaining because apparently, for a communications student, I still don't know how to use my words). And although I feel like I completely weirded my friend out (I'm obviously hoping I didn't), I'm not unhappy it happened. I was my usual pouty self for about three seconds until I realized that as friends, we had totally passed a test (my friend significantly moreso than I). There were four possible scenarios that could have played out, and this one was by far the best.

So now, as the character said, "enough." I can't worry about something that I can't change (it is highly impractical). If things can't ever be the same, then maybe it is a good thing and our friendship will just get stronger. I don't really believe there is any other option. Considering the fact that I have also said WAY stupider (I know it isn't a word) things before without major event is a good sign. (This one just came out wrong - every other time I have meant exactly what I said, and this time I meant something different than what I said, but it didn't sound that way ... oh goodness, if this is comprehensible to you, you are a better person than I).

I have alot of faith that this vacation is going to do alot in terms of relaxing me and letting my brain have a break. As Dana said yesterday, I need a vacation from my brain. But it sticks to me like glue, so that isn't going to happen. Plus, I am going to need all my faculties as it is a whole family home for the holidays Christmas ... our first in awhile. Pray for my brain to be functional during this time, please.

And to my friend (who probably wimped out on reading my rambling long ago, as I know they have better things to do - like watch my DVDs!), thanks for standing up for what you believe in. Although my intentions were slightly misconstrued, your explanation was valiant. But since you totally busted one of the throw pillows, I am more determined than ever to beat you at least once. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Okay, I really have to get ready for work and clean the apartment now. Ugh. Morning after party stuff kind of stinks. But a great party like that is worth it. Shower time. And I'll post pictures when I get them. Love always, ~Heather

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Thumbprint Jelly Cookies

These are my all time favorite cookie:
They can be made entirely sugar free (if you want to) and filled with your favorite flavor jelly. I fill them with a variety of flavors. Above are apricot, black cherry, Bonne Maman Quatre Fruits, and strawberry. I discovered that there are some serious tricks to getting them to NOT crack in the oven, but even with that, total prep time for a batch of 12 is about a half an hour (add about five minutes more per batch if you want to make more than that). If you are interested in the recipe, let me know.

Anyway, Mom has been making these for years, and theses are my first ones ever - all by myself, so I'm proud. I wanted to make something a little different for the Caroling Party we're having tomorrow.

It is amazing how weird it is to have free time. I almost don't know what to do with myself. I figure I better enjoy it though, because when I have to be out in the real world next year, I'm really going to miss this. Back to present making. Love ya! ~Heather

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Rosy Sunday

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. It is a fabulous day - one week from Christmas Eve and quality time with my family. I spent most of the day indoors again (mild bummer). But, my cold is basically gone and there are three types of cookies in my kitchen.

The biggest challenge of the day was thumbprint jelly cookies. The first obstacle was not having the right extract, which was solved with a simple substitution (and a call to Mom). Then, I didn't have a pastry brush. But, my landlords lent me an unused barbecue basting brush in return for a taste of the cookies. In the end, my cookies came out marvelously (if I do say so myself)! This was my first pass at them, but I think that came out an awful lot like Mom's!!!

I also made oatmeal cookies. Now, I didn't actually buy a container of oatmeal (because I knew I wouldn't use it all). Instead, I dug into the economy size box of individual oatmeal packets my Mom gave me at the beginning of the year and found all the regular flavored ones. I don't really like them anyway, so this was a perfect use for them. Each packet is one third of a cup (in case you want to do this too!). The recipe called for three cups. And I had exactly nine packets. My cookie making was destiny. Sweet fabulous two raisined flavored destiny.

The chocolate chip batch came out okay too. I can't wait to make a good sized set of the jelly kind tomorrow. I don't have much else to talk about at the moment. I think I am going to kick back on the couch, finish It's a Wonderful Life (maybe) and then snuggle down into my bed for the night. This certainly is a day of rest. I wish the best for all of you too. For those who are still in school, good luck on your last bits of work and exams. For those already finished, safe travels. And for all the non-students, a restful and rosy week before Christmas!!! Love always, ~Heather

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

One Sweet Day (x3)

It is definitely not a good idea to eat as much chocolate as I have tonight. Chocolate is good. Chocolate is yummy. Everything has its limits.

I've spent the day resting up after a really great night with my SOC pals. I must say, I haven't slept with that many people on a couch since high school!

Other events from the past few days:

I took my last final on Thursday. I wasn't overly excited with the questions the professor chose, but I guess it came out alright in the end. Then Thursday night, completely hopped up on DayQuil, I went out to a Celtic Bar with a few people from the Principles study group. Amanda caught up with us and so we moved on to the Dancing Crab (there were no actual crabs there, nor dancing). Afterwards, Theresa came over and we stayed up talking until after 3am. I love the kids in my program!!!

Friday, I slept in due to severe NyQuil and sleep deprivation. I headed out to school to work with Nisbet. I got like ten phone calls while I was at work. First of all, no one ever calls me. Second of all, I almost never actually GO to work. But, all the calling did convince Nisbet to let me do SPSS work for him - which is about ten times more exciting than what I have been doing.

One of the phone calls was Napolean, who I caught up with downtown to see the freshly re-opened National Gallery of American Art and Portraiture. It is usually caleld the portrait gallery - however there is a decent sized "modern art" section upstairs. No Jackson Pollack, but the freaking "Blue on White" was still there. I really think that is the lamest piece of art ever (though I must say it is slightly more intricate than I remember - meaning it wasn't an exact circle). The coolest thing was definitely a gigantic neon sign shaped like the US, with all of the states outlined. Inside the states were different sized televisions each playing something that had to do with that state. I think we were both a little confused as to why SC was cigarettes (when that should be NC), but oh well.

After that, we walked over to Union Station, which is celebrating Christmas thanks to Norway, which has apparently paid for the decorations. Did you know they have a claim to land in Antarctica but America doesn't? I'm fairly certain my compatriot was convinced they should stop paying for decorations for Union Station and just give us the land down south.

After deciding NOT to eat there, I grabbed a Metro back north so I could get ready for Lindsay's "ugly sweater" extravaganza. Unfortunately, I left all my overtly Christmas sweaters in NC, so I used an outdoor red bow (about a foot in diameter) as my tacky decoration, tying it onto my belt loop.

Best drink of the night: hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. I had never had it before, but it was fantastic! Luckily, there weren't any mugs and I didn't really feel right drinking it out of a plastic cup, so I only had one serving. And although there were plenty of memorable events, I must say I have never won "never have I ever" by that much, or been to a party that was that loud where no one complained. Also, any carbs I took in with the yummy snacks was completely worked off on the "dance floor" (otherwise known as the 3.5x6ft rug in the middle of the family room.

The party was obviously a blast and by the time it had completely died down, I wasn't sure my eyes would stay open for the twenty minute drive back up to NW (though I was more than legal to drive). Hence the couch. Which, by the way, was a sectional that kept sliding apart. It is always an adventure with the SOC crowd. I love it.

Today was spent entirely bumming it. I also need to put restrictions on the number of girly/romantic movies I am allowed to watch in a day. They were on mostly in the background while I was working on Christmas presents, but still, my couch got way too much use. Oh, I also think I have perfected my barbecue salmon recipe for those who want to have a yummy and healthy meal sometime.

Seriously sleep time now. Choir, present making, cookie baking, apartment cleaning, grocery shopping, and hopefully some quality time out in the fabulous fresh air tomorrow. The third Sunday of Advent is upon us. Trice the hope and anticipation. This holiday season is shaping up to be one of the best yet, thanks to all my family and friends. I wouldn't be this happy without you. Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - I'll post pictures when I get them. Hugs, ~HB

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Spinning

In this post, I am going to "reshape the image of an unpopular idea." This is my classmate Amanda's way of saying, "spin." Many communications professionals are really spin doctors - whipping everything up and pouring it out to make what they want. So here is my "spin" version of this weeks events ...

Today I spent the day working hard. At home, I completed multiple questions in preparation for study groups this afternoon. I proctored an exam and then worked with a classmate on an SPSS project. I then, productively, read over 60 pages of notes in preparation for study group. This was done first on a bench (watching birds fight over a chocolate chip cookie) and then lying on the floor outside the "Hub" on the third floor of MGC (which has become my surrogate home).

The study group met, which resulted in a number of positive revelations and resolutions. All members are looking forward to an exceptional score on Thursday's final. Although the group was in session for four hours, another meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday to cover more periphery topics.

After getting home at 9:30 and eating cake and cookies (yum yum), I proceeded to answer more questions in preparation for tomorrow evening's exam. Tomorrow morning I will complete the rest of my writing assignments before turning in a professional quality media kit.

Tomorrow will consist of this, office hours to ensure I haven't mistakenly utilized AP style, a writing exam, a study group for theory, a theory exam, and then hopefully sleep.

Wednesday I'll be working. Then holding study group in the apartment followed by a partner session to finish the last of my class projects. The last of my exams is Thursday.

Friday I'll be working during the day and then I predict controlled debauchery at the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party at Lindsay's. This event is closed to be sensitive to the needs of all grad students who REALLY deserve to unwind after this week.

I think spin was made for weeks like this one ... the kind that send you spinning. You can't help but think positive and hope for the best. I'm obviously procrastinating and need to get back to work. In less than one week, finals and my first semester will be over. Not sure how I feel about that, except maybe tired. Love always, ~Heather

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Disappointed?

I wanted to drop a quick line to say that Hoops for Home, the charity basketball game I played in on Friday, went outstandingly. The SOC Dance Party II at Rumors downtown was amazingly fun (how could it not be with that crowd?). The rest of Friday night went basically like I thought it would, but I wound up staying up waaaay too late, and then slept through a good portion of Saturday.

Costco was, well, an adventure as usual. Theresa was the greatest friend Saturday evening, being not only completely supportive but a great motivator for productivity (lots of homework finished!).

Choir this morning was a ton of fun and did alot to set the right tone for this second Sunday of Advent. I checked Dana's paper(s), cleaned my disaster area (aka bedroom), made Christmas presents, caught up (a little) with the newspapers, and got the soap scum out of the shower. Aunt Rosemary was her usual expert self on the phone and helped me realise that the emotion that was plaguing me was disappointment.

I used to think, "How can you not know what you are feeling?" Now I understand it. But, now we've narrowed it down to disappointed. I'm glad that is what it was. Disappointed is a good emotion because it is sort of temporary. It is something that can be easily mended or washed away with feelings about something else. And with all the exciting things I have going on in the next week straight on through the end of the year, I am looking forward to a new feeling tomorrow.

Tomorrow is full with exam prep from 10am-7pm (yes, really that long, at least). So sleep is in order. Missing sleep always seems to catch up with you two to three days after you missed it, and I don't want to spend tomorrow yawning. Love always, ~Heather

P.S. Dana, don't think I forgot about you. You're marvelous too. And eat some of that cake - please.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Devoirs

Ah, les devoirs! (English summary below.)

C'est le fin de semestre et ma vie est les devoirs. Les projets, presentations, essaies, et examens. Oh, oui, j'etude un peu aussi. Depuis dimanche j'avais fait presque 40 heures de devoirs. Super! Apres presque 12 heures a l'ecole aujourd'hui, j'ai fait mon travail.

Mon job n'est pas tres difficile. Je travaille a la maison et pour le plupart, je lis les articles et categorize les differences. Ce soir, grace a Excel, j'avais fait les tables et "graphs" (le mot en francais?). La bonne nouvelles: mon recherche va etre publie dans un livre! Pas demain, mais bientot. C'est comme un bonbon apres tous les legumes (j'adore les legumes, mais ce n'est pas le meme chose n'es-ce pas?).

Je suis super fatigue et il y a toujours deux "papiers" important (je ne suis pas super fort a L'Ecriture), et un paquet de media. (C'est un cahier avec les photos et bulletins pour un evenement specifique qui tu distribue aux journalists. Moi, je vais le donner au prof, mais quand meme.) Mais c'est presque fini. Mon premier semestre comme un etudiant de masters.

Vendredi (apres tous les cours de semaine), je vais me fatiguer physiquement aussi (c'est seulment mon cerveaux au moment). Je vais jouer le basket avec les autres etudiants et profs. On essaye de gagner l'argent d'aider une etudiante de department (department c'est un peu comme un division d'ecole. Pour example, tous les gens qui prendre les cours de communication publique (comme moi) sont dans le meme programme ou division, qui est un part de un grand department de communications (inclus: films et journalism).

Pour ma part, c'est ridicule que je vais jouer. Je suis seulment sportif au volley (et peut-etre badminton maintenant). Je ne peut pas attraper le ballon. Penses-tu que c'est un probleme? Dommage. Ils avaient besoin des jouers, et je suis libre.

Demain, mon dernier classe avant les examens de fin de semestre. Je suis triste qu'ils vont terminer bientot. J'adore mes cours. Au meme temps, j'ai un petit vacances entre dec.18 et jan.14 et apres je recommence. J'attends avec impatience (et je ne suis pas deja fini!).

Rallentissez!

Patience c'est mon mot du mois. J'ai un theme du mois, un but, pour m'ameliorer. Decembre est le mois de patience. C'est bien choisi (franchment par hazard) parceque c'est le temps de Advent (le meme mot pour vous catholiques?). J'attends l'anniversaire de Jesus, le fin et commencement des cours, le temps libre avec mes amis et famille, un reponse d'un question en l'air, et le fin et commencement d'un nouveau annee. Moi, je suis super impatient pour le plupart, mais ce decembre, tous va bien et gentillement ... je suis patient. J'attends janvier et le change de theme aussi - je suis impatient de change (je rigole :)!

Okay - il faut que je dort. Je vous embrasse, mes chers! Tout mon coeur, ~Heather

Les photos: a gauche, de le musee d'art a Nancy; a droit le frontier entre Belgique et France - tous les deux du weekend a Nancy et Luxembourg avec Alice, Martin et Isabelle!

The pictures are from the museum of art in Nancy, France and the Belgian/French border; both taken last February. The first is because with all my homework and regular work I feel like I am trying to jump through hoops (and tiny ones!). The second is in reference to the decreased speed limit (10 km/h is about 6mph) since my word and focus for this month is patience.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Psalm 119: 165

Quick catch-up
  • I've been working on papers non-stop for approximately two days.
  • I have three projects and three exams left until the end of my first academic semester of graduate school.
  • The advent dinner party went fabulously, and I had so much fun that I didn't even mind how much work I've done since Sunday.
  • Tonight there were three deer in the ditch behind our apartment. They were so close I could have spit a watermelon seed and hit them.
  • Studio 60 is wonderful. I don't care if it isn't as good as the West Wing. It makes me happy.
  • It is freezing in the apartment.
Now for the narrative. In my five to ten minute breaks over the past two days, I have had a chance to clean up my room (you can't tell) and spot read a few blogs. This wasn't procrastination, it was necessitated pauses. Seven hours straight discussing the history of science communication and the popularization of science is enough to drive even me batty.

I found this on Pritcher's blog.
"That's the secret, of course, of Augustine's exhortation to 'Love, and do what you will.' It's not that we should do whatever we want so long as we're nice about it, but rather that we should seek to know Love, and do what Love compels us in Love to do. And always that means sharing Love."
A while back, a friend of mine was explaining the difference between this Love and romantic love. Then tonight, Dana was looking for verbs that had more than one meaning. I'm pretty sure she wound up using "swear," but it still got me thinking.

There is Love, as in God and his love for us. There is love, as in the kind you have for your family in friends. There is also loving something, like a sport or cooking, etc. And finally there is being in love.

(I warn you that any potential gushiness is likely a result of sleep deprivation. This is, however, when I seem to have the most thoughts on random existential subjects.)

So, I am obviously a big fan of Love. I tell God I love him, but I often think it is just appreciation. I'm not loving him with my whole heart or hard enough, or something. I feel like this is something that builds up over time. It is interesting that I have no problem telling God I love him even though I'm not sure I'm there yet. I don't think I could ever do that to a person. I would always wait until I was sure. I think Love is also the part of you that wants to take care of other people ... you know, the "love each other," bit.

This leads me to family and friends love. I don't think all families love each other, but I do believe they have to condition themselves OUT of it. Or I am incredibly lucky, because it seems to come pretty naturally. Friends are a different issue. This also builds over time, but it has limitations. I think many of my friends are defacto family and therefore work into this general category quickly.

I'm pretty sure that loving an activity (or something like that), is a matter of finding a connection with it that gives you inner harmony. I'm fairly certain this is Love in disguise.* God is trying to sneak in a bit here (not that I mind). Some people like their spiritual satisfaction in silence and others like it spiking a volleyball. I like mine as a combination. :)

*From the dictionary in the back of my Bible: "The love of God expresses itself in his many interventions of creation (Gn 1,3; Jb 38)." In other words, he's being sneaky. I love it!

Okay, and the big one. The Valentine's Day, sappy movie, romantic novel, wedding stories kind of love. I have to admit I am quite a sucker for these things. I fall into the trappings of believing in this idealized, classical music blaring in the background, sweep me off my feet romantic love. And I LOVE it. I usually consider it girly. Somehow it has crept into me that being in love weakens you. In truth, being in love makes you stronger.

I don't really know how to describe this kind of love, except to say that it is maybe having your eyes opened to the Love in another person. You can see all of the absolutely fabulous and wonderful things about them. You don't have blinders to the bad things, they are just completely outshone by the good ones. That's why people "glow" when they really like someone. It's like Moses needing a bucket to cover his head because he saw the light of God. Except it isn't direct light, it's filtered through the object of our affection, so we just glow.

I have recently fallen in love with an idea (as opposed to a person or sport). I don't think I am glowing (I can ask Dana though if you're interested), but I feel like I am being brought closer to God through it. It is kind of bizarre to love something that you can't feel or see or hear. I'm not sure I am even ready to articulate the idea. But, to bring it back to St. Augustine, I am compelled to silence as opposed to action (I'm not sure if this is permanent). If I am to share Love, I think I first need to get a grasp on human love. Then maybe I'll be ready to try something a little more challenging. I'll keep you updated.

For now, I am going to sleep. Tomorrow brings me one day and half of one project closer to the end of Fall 2006. I'm going to need all the rest I can get!

Love always (in whatever sense you think it applies to you), ~Heather

Photos are from Barcelona, inside the Sagrada Familia (left) and a lighting fixture from Casa Battlo.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

SOC Madness & SEC Matchups

This week has been a whirlwind. The Holiday Party for the SOC was last night. What a blast! Well worth the time and energy exerted to make it happen. I haven't heard a single bit of bad dialogue (which is a first). After the actual party almost everyone I know from the program was out at Nolan's in Adams Morgan.

Watching my friends get completely plastered was no more fun than it usually is, but getting to watch them dance and carry on with each other was incredible. I love seeing the "other" side of people. It helps me appreciate the fullness of human beings. It also makes me laugh, because no one, I repeat, NO ONE should lie down on the floor waiting for the Metro. Yuck.

But enough of the debauchery (because if you were there you know what happened and if you weren't you can just imagine an experience you've had with fellow classmates). Today I crashed at home, splitting my time equally between productivity, relaxation, and procrastination. It sounds silly to waste three or four hours doing mindless activities instead of my boatload of homework, but I needed to rest up.

My homework list for the weekend is paper-writing intensive, with a project thrown in for good measure. I've been editing my literature review for the past few hours. I'm supposed to have 20 pages double spaced. I have 16 single spaced at the moment (down by four from earlier today). I think I am going to fudge the double spacing, because it seems silly that after reading three to four 40 page articles a week, my article is only allowed to be the equivalent of ten. My professor can suffer through my writing. I certainly did his.

Tonight's big event though was football. The SEC Championship game was on and absolutely fabulous. I love good college football, and the timing was excellent. Right as halftime started I flipped to the USC/UCLA game and witnessed a miraculous interception that clinched the game for unranked UCLA! This was good news for Florida and Michigan fans everywhere. Then, the Florida/Arkansas game was back on, and Florida seemed to be losing their touch (20 unanswered points!) - but they recovered. Which was good news for Ohio State and Florida fans everywhere.

I am not a voter for the BCS. And, they will probably not do this, because they obviously had their helmets knocked off too many times when they were players, but ... Florida should be playing OSU. Michigan is a good team, and certainly put up a good fight the last time they faced the Buckeyes, but their strength of schedule includes that game and Notre Dame. Period. If Michigan would like to add LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina to their schedule they might stand a chance. Until then, the national championship won't be a rivalry rematch. If only I were a BCS voter.

I'm not saying that I think Florida will actually WIN the championship game, but they should get to go. It'll be fun to see what happens. The BCS decision show is on tomorrow night ... that'll be on in the background during my advent dinner party ...

For now I must say goodnight. I was up until 4am last night (a combination of being mother-hennish, relying on public transportation, and not wanting my bed to smell like an ash tray) and have at least ten things on the to-do list before Monday. I hope singing at church and the evening advent prayers will make up for me working on the sabbath. Love always, ~Heather

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