Saturday, December 8, 2007

a date which will live in ignorance?

On Fridays, Andrew and I work at the adult high school program at the community college. I don't consider myself a cynic, but if I worked there every day I just might become one. I have so little faith in our public education system to begin with. Yesterday, Dec. 7th, I graded U.S. History tests. Now, I hardly think of myself as hyper-patriotic, but imagine my surprise when I read in one girl's paper that on Dec. 7th, 1941, the Americans were attacked at Pearl Harbor by the CHINESE. Yep. All these years I thought it was that other Asian country. Oh, and did I mention that it was during World War I that this attack happened? My second favorite answer of the day was in response to the question "What was the strategy of the North during the civil war?" The answer? "Fight." ..... brilliant. Usually I'm not sure whether to get extremely frustrated with the system or laugh, so I do a bit of both just to be on the safe side.

On a more hopeful note (please pardon the pun), my students played a lovely Christmas piano recital last night, and I was so proud of them. I had been biting my already-short fingernails all day after having found out that my college professor would be attending, but I didn't give my students enough credit. They really done me proud.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

you don't know the half of it

So last Sunday morning my many hours of running and classic rock finally came to fruition at the Outer Banks Half Marathon. 13.1 miles of windy, gorgeous, flat running, interrupted at mile 8 by a daunting bridge over the sound. I was pretty excited when I got there Saturday night, so much so that it took me forever to get to sleep. My sister-in-law and I woke up at 5 the next morning, ate a quick breakfast, stretched every muscle we could think of, and headed off for the starting line of the half. There were thousands of people milling around, of all shapes and sizes. We knew that thousands more were 13 miles further up the island, ready to start the full marathon, which would end at the same finish line. After a quick but pungent visit to the port-a-johns, Kristi and I opted to get in line with the people who looked a little shorter, slightly less fiercely competitive, and a bit less Kenyan than those who were stretching and bouncing up and down right by the starting flag. The world record for the half marathon is somewhere between 60 and 70 minutes. I've been running 10 minute miles. We stood at the back, the very back, of the line.

They started us in 3 or 4 groups, and by the time our group started, it became clear to us that only a few of them intended to actually run this race. The man next to us actually had ski poles in his hands. I don't know what he did with those, but I know it was not running. So we were feeling pretty good about our speed as we passed one group of people after another. Motto: surrounding yourself with mediocrity sure boosts your self-esteem.

I really enjoyed running this race. The scenery was lovely, and like I said, practically the whole thing is flat. I was feeling pretty good until disaster struck, right before the bridge at mile 8. Knees have always been a problem in my family, and mine are no exception. They had bothered me before, but nothing compared to this sharp, shooting pain. So I gritted my teeth, threw back some more Gatorade, and decided that I was going to finish no matter what.

Around mile 12, my resolve began to weaken. At this point, there are people all along the road, and the tears are streaming backwards on my face. I'd like to say this was due to my breakneck speed, but actually I was running into the wind. As I rounded the last curve and glimpsed the finish line ahead, however, I was met by a heart-warming surprise. All around me, people were standing and clapping, yelling and cheering. I began to smile through the tears. After all, these people, who didn't know me from Adam's house cat, could see that I was struggling, and out of the goodness of their hearts, they stood and were cheering me on to the finish line. The theme song from Chariots of Fire began to play in my head. I could see the finish line, I was just yards from it... and then a loudspeaker cut into my moment of glory: "Half marathon runners, please stay to the right to make way for Mike Wardian of Arlington, Virginia, the leader of the marathon!" The crowd erupted in cheers as a skinny man whose legs were roughly the length of my entire body zoomed past me and crossed the finish line just in front of me. There are moments in life that you will always be able to summon into clear visual memory for the rest of your existence. I will forever see Mike Wardian's sweaty back, the frenzied onlookers, the bright blue sky above the rippling flags, and the look of total shock tempered by amusement on my own red face as I crossed that finish line. I thankfully grabbed the towel and the Gatorade held out to me by the race staff, plopped down on the grass at the side of the road (to the great relief of my knees), and laughed my head off.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

who is my neighbor?

So I quit my job at the Conservatory, and now I teach ESL at the community college. Talk about a change in demographics. I went from dealing with rich, over-acheiving, white-collar familes to laid-back, dirt-poor field workers. Personally I think I get along with the field workers better. I absolutely love teaching English, and speaking Spanish. My students don't turn in their homework half the time, and they're almost always 10 minutes late to class, but they bring me homemade enchiladas and "cake of three milks" (a kind of gross, soggy white cake) and they laughingly correct my Spanish mistakes and say, "Ay, tee-chair, tee-chair" whenever I ask them a question in class. In the mornings I have a class of 15 women and one lone man. Last week he came up to me during the break and asked "Tee-chair, is worse to say holy crop or holy sheet?" Sometimes it's hard not to laugh.

We live next door to an elderly couple. I'll call them the Harrisons. They both grew up in this area, and are well into their 80's. The week we moved in Mrs. Harrison sent over a delicious nutty, caramelly bundt cake that I'm sure would have made Paula Deen envious. When I went to return the platter (which I filled with my own chocolate chip cookies, even though it was embarrassing to pretend I could bake in front of the woman who made that cake), I ended up staying in their sitting room for most of the afternoon, listening to story after story. If I had the time and skill, I think I would like to write their biographies. Mrs. Harrison said when she was growing up they had the only radio of all the surrounding farms, and she and her sister used to hate Saturday nights because everyone and their cousin came over to listen to the Grand ol' Opry, and they made such a racket 'til she couldn't get a lick of sleep.

The other day I had in interesting thought, which I must credit in part to Madeline L'Engle. What if there was once a perfect language, one that could truly express our deepest thoughts and feelings and humanness? (I'm pretty sure I read such an idea in one of her books) I think we had such a language until Babel, and then all the languages got split up and no one speaks that human language anymore. I think it would be like music, but more specific. Poetry also comes pretty close. What if when the disciples spoke to the crowd in Acts 2, they were actually speaking that perfect language that everyone's soul understands, but everyone's tongue has forgotten how to speak? And what if we speak (or sing) that language in the new earth? I hope we do!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cinderella, Beach Towels, and Roman Society

These are some notes I took during Bible study last May.

Like Cinderella, trapped in my soot-stained rags, I suddenly find myself transformed into glittering royalty by the act of a fairy godmother, who clothes me in a glorious filmy gown. I become what I am wearing.

Like a kid emerging from the pool just after the sun has dipped over the horizon, goosebumps beginning to prickle my skin, the wind breathing its sharp breath on my wet back, my rapidly bluing feet pounding on the concrete, almost running under the lifeguard's poised whistle, longing for the comfort and warmth and homeness of that suddenly comes in the form of an overlarge, fluffy beach towel, flung and pulled tight around my shivering body. I scrunch my legs beneath it, tucking the edges around my feelingless toes, and sigh with relief and ecstasy. This is all I've ever wanted in life.

Roman women wore clothes to indicate social and legal status. A child went out in a toga, symbolizing the protection of her father's house. A married woman wore a stola, which showed that she was under the protection of her husband. A prostitute wove purple into her garments, and put gaudy golden trinkets on the hem. She was under no one's protection, and could legally be taken advantage of with no retribution.

Romans 13:14 "But put on (or clothe yourself in) the Lord Jesus Christ"

Luke 14:22 " But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.'"

Monday, April 30, 2007

running thoughts

I wish the first post of this blog could be inspiring, thought-provoking, or at least stunningly well-written. I like to think of myself as an intellectual, a person with an active and thirsty mind. And while I do love philosophy and the finer things of life, very often the thoughts going on in my mind go more like, "what am I going to cook for dinner tonight" or "my, that is a cute little bird in that tree" than, "hey, listen to my new thesis as to the causes of and solutions for poverty". To be honest, that's why it has taken me so long to write anything here. I feel intimidated by all the deep and philosophical thoughts my friends are thinking into their computers. I feel like I need to be always thinking thoughts like that, and spinning them out into beautifully worded entries that will inspire and enlighten all my friends.

But I had a conversation with Bethany the other day, and she said that I was being silly. She said that I didn't have to live up to any standard of profound content or lovely language. She said that my friends will probably love me anyway, even if I'm not extra clever or talented. And she's just about always right. So I decided that even though I may not have anything to say that you, dear reader, will be even slightly intrigued by, I am going to go ahead and spin my little thoughts into this computer, just for the heck of it.

And here are some of those thoughts:
I have recently started training for a half-marathon with some girls in my Bible study. Honestly I didn't think that I could do it at first, but so far it's going well. And in the process, I have discovered a few things. First, I really like running. Well, maybe it's just that I really like spring weather and sunshine and a little breeze in my face and the chirping of birds. I think it's a bit of both. Also, I have discovered a new passion: Classic Rock. Man, I love it! There is nothing that can get me motivated to run like "Back in Black". Andrew has always loved it, and it's rubbed off on me a little bit since we've been married, but ever since I made a running mix on our iPod, I can't get enough of it! I chalk it up to my homeschooled past. I guess most kids discover this kind of stuff, I mean rock n' roll, cussing, alcohol, drugs, things like that, somewhere around middle school. But all that stuff was kind of delayed for me (some of it indefinitely). When I was in middle school, I remember thinking my friend Mike was headed down the path to destruction because he listened to Weezer and Nirvana. So AC/DC and Aerosmith and Led Zepplin were clearly out of the question for me. I mean, I was a Christian, for heaven's sake! Well, I got over all that Christian vs. secular stuff a while ago, but I guess it took a bit longer for it to trickle down into a love for good ol' rock n' roll.

Well that's all for now. Perhaps next time I will venture into more profound subjects, but I trust you will be my friend even if I never do.

Friday, April 13, 2007

You say goodbye, I say hello

With newfound inspiration from Bethany, I have decided to have another go at this! More to come soon...