Archive for December, 2006

join in all the reindeer games

Posted in etcetera, Life, Uncategorized on December 23, 2006 by drbolte

so i’m still sick.  it’s not been pleasant. i’ve not been this sick in many, many moons.  i am so sick of being sick or being around sick that i can’t even tell you. i had been waiting to post until i was well, but i am tired of waiting and am moving on. 

on the good news flip side, i have a date on wednesday night. that ought to be fun, if i don’t hack and cough all over him the whole night. gosh, wouldn’t THAT be attractive?

i can’t believe christmas is already here. where did december go?  seems like just yesterday it was the 1st or 2nd, and i was so enthusiastic about the season. i feel like it flew by. 

now i’m off to bake. that ought to make me feel more human and more festive. 

merry christmas to you, dear readers.  you are friends, whether i know who you are or not, and i have realized this year how very precious and dear my friends are to me. 

i am richly blessed. 

now go have fun! i intend to do some of that, subdued as it may be, myself.

hoof prints on her forehead…incriminating Claus marks on her back

Posted in etcetera, Life on December 19, 2006 by drbolte

well, i woke up this morning feeling worse than i have in a really long time.

i mean, i’ve had colds, but…this particular carnival of horrors surprised me.

i knew it was coming, even when i posted last night. the telltale sore throat was my first clue.  you know how there are different kinds of sore throats? there’s the “i shouted my heart out and now my throat feels like raw hamburger”sore throat, the “i’ve been sleeping with the heater on full blast” sore throat, and then there’s the one i had yesterday–the “some vicious virus having its way with you and its coming to get you” sore throat.

i didn’t sleep well last night–kept waking up every two hours for some inexplicable reason–and every time i did wake up, i had this massive headache that brought me to my proverbial knees.  luckily, that’s basically gone now.  and to top that off? body aches and nausea.

oh yeah.  the flu hit me, ran me over, and then backed up just to make sure the job was done effectively.

so i’ve spent the day eating as little as possible, laying on my mom’s bed (which, let me tell you, is much more comfortable than the futon), and sleeping through multiple movies.  so far?  christmas in connecticut and signs.  Those make for some interesting half-sleep moments, i’ll tell you.  both great movies, though. 

i am, however, feeling a little bit better now.  mom’s still sick, so we’ll see what kind of party we’ll be having tonight when neither one of us wants to cook or even move and yet things need to get done.  ah…fun. 

hopefully, next time i write i will be completely well. hopefully that will be thursday. because i have shopping yet to do, and presents to finish, and things to do.  and i’d really like to not be sick on christmas, because i’m not sure that i’ll be able to go to the family shindig if i am.  my grandaddy in frail health on the best days–the last thing he needs is me, the walking petri dish, getting him all sick.

so i’m needing a roadkill resurrection. 

i have faith.  🙂

wild and sweet

Posted in Church, etcetera, Life, School on December 18, 2006 by drbolte

so i came home with several hopes.

the first was to get all of my work done. while i haven’t gotten it all done, i’m farther than i thought i would be and it has required very little stress on my part, surprisingly. grading, despite the unanticipated ridiculousness of certain students, went well.  despite a near disaster, i managed to compile four different instructors’ grades into a comprehensible whole–and submitted them 48 hours before the deadline.  now i just have evaluations to write sometime before monday. that won’t take long, and i’m waiting on something coming in the mail in order to finish them.  of course, that legitimizes my procrastination, but that’s okay with me. i’ll do a little reading, a little planning, a little more writing, and i’ll be okay.  i’m happy about that.

the second was to sort out my thoughts about a lot of stuff going on in my life in gainesville. no crisis or anything–just uncomfortably muddled thinking about a few key things that i wanted to get straight. i have not been the strong person that i wanted. i have been caving to ridiculousness, and that’s something i knew only distance could cure.  i woke up this morning realizing that the apathy and “meh”ness that i had hoped to achieve about one particular situation has arrived. what a blessing!  i really don’t care much about what i was so worried about before, and i have way fiercer belief in my own worth since i’ve been here.  funny how home can both buoy you up and strip you down.  i think home this time has done both for me–and in the process i’ve realized that i’m stronger, more amazing, and more successful and grown-up than i thought i was.

i want to translate that into stronger, fiercer self-confidence when i get back. i have hope for that. i consider myself to be fiercely loyal to those that i love–it’s time that i was fiercely loyal to myself.

i’ve been spending my days taking care of my mom, who has been wicked sick for the last week.  i’ve been feeling not so great off and on, but this morning i woke up with the tell-tale sore throat. i’ll admit to being a little mad–i had plans for this week, including a day full of christmas shopping. but instead, i slept on the couch and watched ridiculous movies.  i basically refuse to get sick, though–this is the extent to which i will allow it to happen.  i have too much to do.  plus, i am BORED.  i need an occupation, or i shall run mad. 

i miss gainesville–more appropriately, i miss some people from gainesville–but i’ve never been so grateful for the respite that comes from home. now if everybody could just be healthy and i could have some fun, that would be awesome. 

there are no accidents, though. quiet and service is exactly what i needed to combat the chaos and selfishness i found in my gainesville life. 

it’s quite the christmas gift, honestly. 

joyous strain

Posted in etcetera, School on December 15, 2006 by drbolte

i finished the prospectus draft last night.

it was a low-key event, although i desperately wanted to celebrate loudly and with force. it has been four months of psychotic freakout in the making.  strangely, it was a surreally easy experience to finish. all of the thoughts were there, and they managed to make their way onto the page without weeping, wailing, or gnashing of teeth.

but when i finished, the moment passed quietly because my poor sick mom was already asleep, and there was no way i was going to wake her up with my ridiculousness.

so no celebration. no “yay for me” in that moment. and that was okay by me, honestly, because i don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than it really is.

but really, it is.

mainly because i made it that way. but now it’s done. and as soon as i can find a place with wireless internet, that bad boy is taking an express route to my director’s inbox.  do not pass go.  do not collect $200. 

seriously, yay for me. it intimidated the heck out of me, i spent a month avoiding it, but it’s done.

and it’s good, if i do say so myself. not perfect. not completely finished forever. but for a draft?

it’s good.

why did i doubt? i AM good at what i do, despite what i might think sometimes.  i am talented and smart and quick.  i don’t know why i let other people call that into any kind of question. 

so, yay for me! i shall shout it loudly here…


i mean, ’tis the season for the hallelujah chorus, right?

where you can see

Posted in etcetera, Life on December 15, 2006 by drbolte

so i wish that i could claim this model of telling you about myself, but i can’t. i found it, strangely, during one of my lyric google searches and found it utterly enchanting.  she’s a photographer–figures she’d be a poet too. her work is great–check it out here.  and since i’m always looking for new ways to tell you who i am (possibly because i’m still trying to define it myself), here we go.

i love: great jokes. almost everything about my family (including how crazy it is).  the way i feel when i know that i’ve made a good choice. 

i talk: too much and not enough.

i believe: in the power of a smile.  in the reality of true love.  in the capacity for one soul to truly do good. i also desperately want to believe in santa claus and tinkerbell.

i cry: when i am frustrated and angry.  at hallmark commercials.  when someone has cut me to the core. in essence, too much and not enough. 

i whine: when i am burdened. when i know i’m right and someone is saying i’m wrong. when i’m sick.

i dig: discovering new things.  feeling smart.  crossstitching.  feeling important.

i love: giraffes.  powerful hugs that communicate love.  getting my hair done.  possibilities stretched out before me.  friends who are protective.  good lip gloss.

i’m learning: that i am enough.  how to let go.  that i’m pretty.

i embrace: my lameness.  the contagious enthusiasm of children.  a stuffed lamb when i sleep.  my future.  chances to try new things.

i want to: be a mom.  go to europe. learn to play the piano.  waterski.

i love: strappy, sassy shoes.  spending money.  cold nights with lots of stars.  deep conversations.  my cats.

i’m afraid: i won’t get what i really want. that i’ll miss my chance. that i am, at my core, obnoxious and annoying.

a baby’s giggle is my favorite sound.

i don’t understand: geometry. arrogance. paris hilton. men.  abuse. 

i like eating: chinese food with chopsticks. ice cream. ribs from outback.

i like watching: good parents. lots of mindless tv.  myself grow.  

i love to say: “ostensibly” in normal conversation. what i really think.  i love you, and know that it’s reciprocated.

i’m bothered: by idiotic driving.

i’ve watched: the gators play, and that’s why i’m a fan. someone suffer and die, and that’s why i know the plan of salvation is true.  the world change.

i wonder: often why life isn’t fair.  how they get the little flag into a hershey’s kiss (and why it’s necessary).   when it will be my turn.

i own: too many books, and i keep buying them.

i hate: that i don’t think about the right thing to say until hours afterward.  cottage cheese.  that exercise is necessary for health.  the look of tennis shoes on my feet.

when i grow up i want to be amazing.

and in case you didn’t hear…

Posted in etcetera, Life, School on December 12, 2006 by drbolte

So I’m home now.  Still freezing, but trying to be industrious.

Mom wanted me to go through some old boxes, and in one of them were my journals from high school and college. Wow, was I an idiot.  But I found this essay I wrote for a class on extremity during my Masters program that I ultimately dropped because my professor was nuts.  I like it. I think it speaks to much of my personal philosophy on life and how I see things. I’ve been way introspective since I’ve been home–I need to write about that as well, but suffice it, for now, to say that a lot of things have been gelling and falling into place for me, things that people had been telling me but that I refused to believe about myself and about where I am at compared to before. 

I’ve grown a lot.  And shrunk a lot. But that’s another topic entirely.

So here’s my little essay–tell me what you think, if you’d like, or just let it be food for thought. 

Extremity–the outskirts.  The farthest away you can go while still being a part of something.  Often, when thinking about extremity, I think not of the literal places, but of the more figurative locations in which we try to place ourselves–a culture, a class strata, a group of people.  I think extremity is often erroneously thought of as exile, but it’s not in an important way.  Though one might be on the outskirts of society, that person is still contained within the whole.

The word extremity brings with it immediate negative connotations–at least it did for me initially.  The more I think about it, though, the more I recognize that, in my life, extremity has brought with it beneficial opportunities.  The place where inclusiveness is most desperately desired, where it’s almost palpable, is high school.  I never really fit in completely with any of the predetermined groups–I was smart, but uninterested in making school the center of my life; I was social, but unwilling to claw my way up the ranks of popularity.  Instead of seeing my pseudo-misfit status as a problem, I used my place on the outskirts of each group as an opportunity to make a wide variety of friends from different groups. I chose to situate myself happily on the perimeter–and, because I chose it, it worked for me.  Certainly there were times when I felt the somewhat mystical pull of the popular group (and still do, as an interjection), wishing that I could be a part of the inner sanctum that seemed to control everything important in high school–no honest 16-year-old girl would say any different–but the more I stayed on the outskirts, the more I realized that my distance shielded me from a lot of the pressures they felt. I never really felt the crippling peer pressure that often led members of my class to make really stupid decisions.  I didn’t feel that a fight with a friend would obliterate me socially.  I got all of the benefits of being a part of a large group–great friends, memorable experiences–without losing my perspective.  The distance became a blessing, not a curse.

So, to a certain extent, I completely understand the allure of extremity that is present in today’s America.  Everyone, it seems, is trying to be different, to separate themselves, to make a mark that’s wholly unique.  Even television demonstrates this trend.  The airwaves are cluttered with shows that feature ordinary people trying to distinguish themselves in a substantive way–to become the Ultimate Survivor, to be "the one" for the Bachelor/ette, to become the grand champion of one game show or another.  Those of us who watch often share their dream, and live vicariously through those who manage to do so in whatever fleeting, 15-minutes-of-fame way.

The irony of that desire is that it’s impossible–our desire to become something or someone unique stems not from a desire to separate ourselves but from a desire to truly be a part of something. My secret dream of being a published author is not so that I can do something revolutionary with the written word–it’s so that I can see my work quite literally become a part of something else, a collection of works on a library shelf.  I want to be published so that I can become a part of that enviable and admirable group of writers that I have studied and enjoyed so much. The same is true for the rest of us who, in our private daydreams, believe that we can be the next superstar or the next President.  We don’t want to achieve these dreams so that we can be isolated and separate.  We want to achieve them because we wish to be wholly embraced by the culture we are trying to differentiate ouselves from.  To desire to be different is quintessentially American–and is, therefore, ironically conformist.

The thing I love about America is our great history of being courageous outcasts.  Our country was formed and built by men and women who refused to compromise their beliefs in order to accomodate expectations.  In the early days of our country, quirkiness and individuality were accepted, even encouraged. One of our greatest American authors, Henry David Thoreau, was applauded for turning his back on American life to go and "live deliberately" at Walden Pond.  I wonder if that sort of acceptance still exists.  Men who refuse to pay their taxes, call the government a machine, and criticize the foundations of American society now are often casticated (mocked?) in the press or, worse yet, ignored.  Would a modern-day Thoreau be able to publish Walden?  Or would a publisher instead prefer a cookie-cutter romance novel or a predictable thriller?  I fear that the America of today does not honor the uniqueness of its citizens. Tolerance for those who really think, act, and behave differently is sadly lacking. That scares me.

Some of my greatest lessons were learned while I was on the outskirts, born of decisions that required courage and a willingness to go against what was expected or "smart" for me to do. With that distance comes perspective–that’s what Thoreau gained in his time at Walden. He was able to really decide what he believed. I wonder if our culture’s current press for conformity strips us of those opportunities.  I wonder what lessons I have lost from making deciisons that allow me to fit in instead of relishing the outskirts.

jack frost nipping at your nose

Posted in etcetera, Life on December 9, 2006 by drbolte

i am so cold.

it’s freezing here. i mean, i love it, but i’m freezing.  legitimately. 

it’s like 37 degrees–or it was–during the day, and it’s like mid-teens during the night.  i wear long sleeved pajama tops and pajama pants with socks to bed, lay under three blankets, and I’m not hot.

this follows living, for many moons, in a place where ceiling fans and air conditioners are essential for good sleep.

i am so cold.

my mom just gave me a sweatshirt straight out of the dryer to wear until i warm up.  it’s bliss. i believe that heaven will be a winter day when you’re perfectly warm inside a cozy home with people that you love and warm apple cider.  and cats on your lap. and a dog by the fireplace. and the people that i love nearby.

but i digress.

i’m cold.  but i’m home. and it’s totally worth the exchange. 🙂

a shining star upon the highest bough

Posted in etcetera, Life, School on December 6, 2006 by drbolte

i’ve done it.

well, that’s a little premature.

i’ve done the first section.

of the dissertation prospectus.

you know, the one that i’ve been freaking out about for like three months, afraid that i would have nothing concrete or constructive to say? the one that loomed over me like a behemoth, mocking me with its indeterminateness and calling my very existence as a phd student into question?

(as an aside: others, apparently secure in their own positions as masters of the universe and essential contributors to the collective good, have done that recently too. gosh, it’s been a great semester. darn if i’m not glad it’s over.)

yeah, that one.

i’ve made my (drafty) claim for why my dissertation is worthwhile–and for why my work is somehow groundbreaking.

and, if i do say so myself, it makes some good sense.

i’d buy it.

i was going to post some of it, but i think not. everyone that i know has their dissertation stuff under lock and key. the last thing i need is some jerk to come along and steal my ideas. this is an uber-public forum.

i’m excited. i think i might go to bed, though, because i think i’ve gotten to the spot where i need to dig in and do some research and it’s 1 a.m.. i’m not sure that i want to delve into the multitude of competing defintions of traveler right now.

plus, that is going to require a trip to the library. and more solitary reading and notetaking. sigh.

i’m pretty stoked, though.

finally. something to show for these months of thinking and fretting and worrying and freaking.

and the good part?

i’m MORE excited about my project the longer i work on it.

that’s a good sign, since i’ll be living with it and breathing it for years.

makes me want to basically say “hey–if you don’t think that my project is worthwhile, you don’t know much.”

unless, of course, you’re my director.  and then i bow at your feet and do your bidding.but she’ll love it. she already loves it. she has more faith in me than i do.

so this is my shouting from the rooftop, my ostentatious display of pride.


it’s a christmas miracle. i’m not even close to kidding.

prayers work. so does work. but the prayers? they made the work happen.

now if i can just keep it going…

you’ll go down in history

Posted in etcetera, Life on December 5, 2006 by drbolte

so i have this strange competing desire–to both be well-known and anonymous.

i was sitting in the institute, and a friend came in from a tough final that he felt badly about, and he said that he just wanted to hide from the world.

it’s funny, because i feel, in some ways, like i want to do the same.

i want to be able to stay in my house and get everything done that I need to get done.

but at the same time?  i don’t want to hide.

for the first time in a long time, i feel no reason to hide from the world.

i want to enjoy it all–and make it count.

but i’m tired.

and i have a prospectus to write.

and keys to make.

and a house to clean.

and a visiting teaching lesson to prepare.

…and you get the idea.

i guess making it count is going to have to wait. that’s probably okay–because i’m really tired.

i’m so looking forward to going home.

36 hours!

just like the one(s) i used to know

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2006 by drbolte

I got a letter from my best friend on Saturday.  He’s in the MTC, and he’s doing phenomenally well.
He’s writing me once a week, like he promised. I’m really happy about that.

This letter, though, sounded much more like my best friend than the first one. The first letter was awesome, but it was so different–he was such the missionary, such the spiritual giant. I was always impressed with his thoughtfulness about the gospel, but that letter got me thinking that he didn’t really need anybody at all.  He was doing great, and all of my supportive letters seemed a little…superfluous.

But this letter, while still amazing and full of the Spirit and full of great updates from the MTC, sounded much like the best friend that I know and love.  I’ll admit that I was a little worried–had he changed so much already? I should have known better–this isn’t my first time around with writing to missionaries.

I feel back to my old self a little bit–after a week and a half of drama and angst and stress and nuttiness. That’s nice. I felt the glimmerings of the Christmas spirit last night as I was watching the First Presidency Devotional.  Giddy, silly, amazing feelings–I love them.  I love that it’s happening on the 3rd of December, too–that makes me hopeful for an amazing Christmas season.

I’m so excited to go home–Thursday I will be homeward bound on I-95, taking my seasonal tour of the best burger joints and gas stations on the corridor. Maybe I’ll take pictures this time–I’ve never done that before.  But when I get home, I’ll encounter real winter, loving cats who will remind me why I love pets, and a family who has MISSED me something fierce.

Yay for the familiar!