Thursday 28 February 2008

Cheaters Never Prosper... Or Do They?

Thanks to my sister and Barb (both of whom have watched in the past, and I am assuming they are watching this year), I've been keeping up with American Idol. I am not typically a fan of reality tv, but I make a few exceptions (this, kind of, Dancing on Ice, and Strictly Come Dancing). This year, however, I am very annoyed with them. There has always been talk about it being rigged, and I could kind of see that last year in the finale (the girl who fit the profile won, rather than the guy who was original and different). But never before have I heard of things being as bad as this:

There are three people (at least!) in the top 20 who have had worked professionally as singers. One girl put out a highly hyped album that bombed. One guy was in a pop group that toured with Britney Spears. Another guy has been performing professionally in an acapella group for more than five years. Seriously.

How, I ask, is this fair? Isn't the premise of American Idol about finding the next great music star from the unknown masses? Giving a shot to people who wouldn't get one otherwise, who don't have the finances or the contacts or the other things that help so much in breaking into the business? Did the judges not know their backgrounds when they put them through, and if not, how could that not come out? Does this prove that the contest is rigged? Does it spell the end for AI, as more and more failed professionals will start turning out to jump-start their comebacks? And if one of them wins, what will that say about playing by the rules?

Cheaters never prosper... or at least I hope not. I guess time will tell... but this is who I think should win. And I'm pretty sure I'm not changing my mind--especially after this!

Tuesday 26 February 2008

My Wish List

I'm feeling very selfish this week, so I thought I'd post my wish list. Some of these things are more *dreams* than wishes, but does that really matter? And some of them are for *here and now* more than for the long term (meaning, I have some of them at home somewhere, anyway), but again, does that really matter? I have received some really cool stuff this year (from Christmas, Valentines Day, stuff like that), so this is NOT a hint. It's just... well, just in case, and so I can have a place to organise what I want for the next time someone asks or when I have some money to spend. =)

indoor/outdoor thermometer
roasting pan
lettuce knife
chopper-thingy (like Pampered Chef)
water bottle (Thanks, Jen & Saum & Bubbee!)
girly handkerchiefs (Thanks again, Jen & Saum & Bubbee!)
rain hat
rice cooker
coffee pot carafe (IHOP style)
waffle iron/griddle
airtight canisters
kitchen timer
recipe box

crisco sticks
sugar free swiss miss
apple cider
canned pumpkin
peanut butter
mac and cheese
real bacon
flavoured coffee creamer/syrups
coffee filters (not the cone ones)

fitted coat
socks that won't slide, bunch or twist
new glasses/contacts
clothes that fit (this is hard, since I'm still shrinking...)
black trousers
colourful fitted knit (t-shirt like) shirts
warm tights
cool wellies
nice tartan skirt to go with my graduation gown (hopefully, ha!)

DS Lite
Super Monkey Ball 2
Donkey Konga drums
Super-huge iPod
books (academic, kid's books, classic lit, cookbooks, travel books, etc)
cds (Keane; Paul McCartney; Beatles; Chris Rice; etc)
comedies (Sorority Boys; Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle; Talledega Nights, etc)
anything with Christian Bale
anything with Johnny Depp (Pirates 2 & 3; Chocolat; Sweeney Todd, etc)
Disney films
Pixar films (everything since Finding Nemo, minus Ratatouille (thanks, mom!))
tv shows (Lost, Doctor Who, Smallville, etc-- minus Torchwood and Joan of Arcadia-- thanks, Masimba!))
good earphones-- jelly ones for my iPod, and noise canceling ones for travel
iPod dock alarm clock thingy

deep freeze (and the room to put it, ha!)
ice skating lessons
scooter (Vespa like)
nice jewelery
good jewelery box (my other is breaking... boo!)
photo frames and money for prints
overnighter backpack-thingy
money-- for spending, travel, weekly bottle of wine.... =)
nice pen/pencil set (fountain pen)
embosser (for my books, movies, etc etc)
nice thick warm down duvet and mattress topper thingy (to keep me warm and cozy)

I'll update this as I get things, or as I remember more things. So if you want to give me something, here's a good place to start, ha! =)

Monday 25 February 2008

2007 Update Photos: Sociality

Our 'Family' Easter dinner on the grounds.

Daffodils are a common spring sight, and were beautiful along the Dee.

All of us, taking a break from our Deeside walk.

Carrie, me and Barb 'on top of old Scolty'.

Group photo from Scolty.

The countryside out around Banchory.

Laurie's back garden, where I spent every sunny afternoon while cottage-sitting.

Pipe band leading off the Torcher Parade

Typical Torcher float.

Matthew and Adam, enjoying sweeties from the fancy dress parade participants

Where the parade gets its name....

Sunday 24 February 2008

2007 Year in Review: Sociality

Is that even a word, sociality? It doesn't get flagged by my spell-checker, so it much be okay. Okay, however, gets flagged. How bizarre is that?!

Anyway. I get sidetracked easily, it seems, by random thoughts (like the ones above). Moving on now to something more organised. (Apparently my spell checker doesn't like the British way I spell things now... it flagged organised, too.) What was I saying? Oh, right. Sociality.

It was a pretty good year for me, as far as hanging out and having friends. Well, the first half of the year was pretty good, anyway. Mainly it was good because of one person in particular: Barb. (Hi Barb! Don't worry, I won't embarrass you too much in this post... I'll save that for later! =) I'll make a whole post, just about you and Monkey Ball, or something!) So, sorry, but y'all will have to wait for another post to hear all the details about Barb, but for now, suffice it to say that she is awesome and one of the best friends I've had here. Sadly for me, she was only here for one term... but boy, we sure did a lot during that term. Well, from Easter on. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.

I started out the New Year pretty well... I was originally supposed to babysit for my friends the Beckers, who were taking company down to the Fireball thingy in Stonehaven. But the weather was horrible, and everywhere except Aberdeen ended up canceling their Hogmanay celebrations. Aberdeen's headliner was Wet Wet Wet, so it couldn't have been more appropriate to keep going in the rain. And the wind, because that's all we get here, anyway. Since my friends didn't end up going down to Stonehaven, they invited me over instead for home-made mexican food and a party. I ended up walking the whole way (it's a pretty decent hike, too) because the bus service was all messed up due to the downtown party, and of course no one knew what was going on with the stops and the times and all. It was annoying, but that's life here. ;) It was great once I got there, exhausted from hauling games and food around in the wind and rain... great, because we ate real home-made mexican food and played Cranium (one of my favourite board games-- thanks to Becky, Laurie, Shannon and Lara, who introduced me to it while at Asbury). And I got a ride home, so that was nice, too-- I sure didn't want to have to walk it--again-- in the middle of the night. It was nice to actually do something with people for New Years for a change.

The next big event for me was also New Years-- Chinese New Years. It was on 18 February last year, which also happens to be my friend Noelle's birthday. She's from Malaysia, and we got to be friends at church, although she is also involved with the Chinese Christian Church. For Chinese New Year, they (the CCC) were having a special service (for which my friend was translating), followed by a pot-luck supper (or bring-and-share meal, as they are known here). AND after that, my friend was having some people over to her flat to celebrate her birthday. It was an awesome day, full of great food and greater fellowship. I hung out in town after my morning service at Crown Terrace, and then went to the CCC at 2pm for the service. It was nice, and drew a good crowd. I met loads of people and ate tons of wonderful home-made Chinese food afterwards. It is always amazing to me how the mere fact of believing in Jesus draws people together and helps us feel like family, even though we are strangers. It was great. After all that, there was still plenty more to come at Noelle's place-- we had more food and goodies, to celebrate her birthday, and sat around talking for hours and hours. I was just about the only non-Asian person there, but that hardly mattered... except that people either had to speak English for me, or get someone to translate. =) It was great, and I got to know a couple of people there that I am still friends with and see from time to time. Plus, it's always nice to be able to celebrate a friend's special day. It was a really long day, but well worth it. I wish I had a photo!

And then there was Easter. One of my friends lives out in Banchory, which is a little village about 30 minutes west of Aberdeen-- out Royal Deeside, towards the mountains. I have friends from church who live there, as well, who have had me out before (thanks, Bob and Anne!), and I like it there. This year, for Easter, my friend Laurie invited a group of us out to celebrate with her. Some of them (Barb and the Beckers) spent the night on Holy Saturday, and it sounded like they had a blast. I wanted to worship at Crown Terrace, so I caught a bus out after church. The weather was wonderful, so we had our Easter Mediterranean dinner in Laurie's back garden. It was such a treat, in every way. After lunch, we met some friends of Laurie's for a walk along the River Dee, and then later we all climbed up Scolty (the neighboring big hill, with a fantastic view from the summit). My memory is failing me, but I think this was also the night we all stayed over, as well (Barb, correct me if I'm losing my mind on this one): Scot, Matthew and Adam in the bedroom; Barb, Carrie and I in the lounge; Laurie at a neighbor's down the road. And I think Barb and I took the bus back into town together... which, if I remember right, is when the fun really started for us. Before that, we knew each other and were in the same groups together, but I think this was where our friendship started properly.... =)

Especially when, soon after that, Laurie left for a visit in the States, and let me come cottage-sit for her. It was so wonderful for me to get out of town, and be out in the country. The weather was great, and I sat in the sun in her back garden for a part of every single day. And just having my own space for a bit was nice, too. I love Kenny, but it was a nice little free holiday for me. One of the weekends in there, Barb came out to stay. We planned to hike up Scolty again, but the weather (which has been so wonderful!) did NOT cooperate. It rained pretty much the whole we ended up staying inside and talking. And watching dvds, but mostly talking. Until 2am. Which I hadn't done since... well, probably since I'd gone to visit Bren more than a year before this. And that was that. From then on, Barb and I were fast friends and did lots of things together. Of which you'll hear more later....

Later that spring, I went downtown with Barb to meet Carrie and the boys to watch the Aberdeen University's Torcher Parade. This is a parade to raise money for charity, where each organisation and group dresses up in fancy dress or decorates a themed float. It gets its name from being led by the fancy dress folks carrying torches (real, flaming ones, not just flashlights) at the end, after dark. It was... interesting. The boys had fun, though, putting their coins in the buckets. And I had fun, standing around visiting with Carrie and Barb.

Most of my summer activities were done with Barb, so I'll save those for her post. =) There is one, though, that I'll add here, as it was a bigger group event. The local schools did a production of Les Mis: School Edition, where all the performers auditioned from, well, local schools. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was amazing! It was abridged, of course, but was plenty to get the story across as well as showcase some great talent on the well-loved numbers. I was truly impressed, and would recommend going to see it if ever your area puts on a performance. You might be surprised by the quality of talent in your local schoolkids! Anyway, it was a fun evening, spent with Laurie and Scot and Barb, enjoying great music. And it made me cry, as that show always does. =)

Jumping finally to the fall, my last social kind of activity of note was a late Thanksgiving feast (in early December, ha) with my friends Hannah and Cam. They aren't Southerners, but Hannah's parents had worked at Trevecca Nazarene University for a while, so she has an appreciation and (some) love for the South and her ways. Which makes me happy, since I'm generally one of the only Southerners around these here parts. ;) We had chicken (turkey was crazy expensive!) and dressing and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and biscuits and brown gravy and coffee and wine and it was soooo good! We watched a few Christmas specials (courtesy of Cam's dvds and YouTube), but mostly we just talked. I think I was there for 8 hours or so, since I came over early to cook there-- easier than cooking here and then carrying the whole dishes over. They are great folks, and it was so nice to just hang out with them... and get a taste of home, as well!

I think that's enough for now. I have pictures from many of these things, but they aren't currently on my laptop... I'll upload them and share them in their own post, once I get around to digging out the discs where they are stored. =)

Saturday 23 February 2008

Nothing Really to Say...

...but as my sister points out, it's been a week since I posted. It's just been a long and tiring week, and I haven't had any energy to come up with a post. Nothing much has happened to write about, or at least that I want to write about. So instead, I'll give you a few reasons why I love TV here.

First, even though we have to pay a TV tax (about 150 pounds a year), we have far less adverts. Less breaks, and shorter breaks. It's hard to come back to the States and watch tv now, especially since I'm used to recording things and fast-forwarding through the adverts as it is.

Second, in large part, the adverts we do have are of better quality. The best ones often start out in the cinema and then wind up on tv, which is always fun. We don't have to worry with home-made adverts for the used car dealer down the road, or the ambulance-chasing lawyers... it's great! We have Super Bowl quality adverts more often than once a year. Here are a few examples:

I don't really see the point, but I do love it! This version was aired during the Rugby World Cup last fall.

And another:

This is Scotland's soft drink (and one Coke is always trying to acquire as it's the only thing that outsells them), and a great take on a British classic Christmas special. All of the landmarks they fly over are Scottish-- how many can you name?

This one is for my brother-in-law, ha! =) Lynx and Axe are basically the same thing, but our adverts here aren't nearly as chauvinistic and offensive to me as the ones in the States.

So, there you go. A little bit of fun for you this evening. I'll try to write a real post before the weekend is over. I promise.

Saturday 16 February 2008

Yessss! and Nooooo!

The eternal debate: do you want the good news, or the bad news first? Mind, *good* and *bad* are used rather loosely here... but still, I would rather you leave this post feeling happy and excited. So, the bad news first.

The Bad News

You all know, if you've been reading along, that I am addicted to *Smallville*, because I love Lex Luthor (among other reasons; I generally just really enjoy the show). Last winter was wonderful, because ITV started showing it three days a week, from the very beginning. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7pm. Woo-hoo! They went through seasons one and two, and I was happy. This year, I was anxiously awaiting the start of season three-- and they did not disappoint. Even better, this year they showed it FIVE times a week, Monday to Friday, at 7pm. WOO-HOO! I was very happy. I watched, two weeks ago on a Thursday, the season finale for year three: Chloe and her dad blown up in their new home, Lex poisoned by his scotch again, Lana at the airport for Paris, Clark sucked into the fissure in the cave (if you haven't watched the show, never mind the details). I was so excited to not have to wait to see what happened, like all you suckers who were watching it as it came out. But my next few days were busy, and I just recorded about a week's worth. I hadn't read the plot synopses on the tv guide, just set it to record-- I didn't want to ruin the surprise of what happened. And then, last Friday, finally I was going to have Smallville night! I had a whole evening to catch up on at least the first few episodes. I popped some popcorn, poured me a Cola Max, settled in on the sofa, clicked play and... was taken back to the pilot episode of season one. What the...?! That can't be right! I stopped, went back to the library list, and checked the info for each of the episodes. Those jerks at ITV had actually done it-- skipped from the end of season three back down to season one! Nooooooo! I can't believe they would do this to me. WHY would they do this to me? It's not a licensing issue-- they are currently showing season seven at another time. And it's not like they started with season one all over again at the beginning... they jumped right from the middle to the beginning. I don't understand. I nearly cried, I was so angry! Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I was not happy! How am I going to get my Lex fix now?! I'm just hoping they'll pick back up with season four soon, and not wait til next January.... Nooooooo!

The Good News

Life isn't all bad on the tv front, however. At least for now, there is hope on the horizon. We've already got Torchwood going strong, and *coming soon*-- Doctor Who! I am a little worried that this is going to be its last season... but I'll worry about that one later. For now, every time I go to the cinema, I see this (and please excuse the fact that this is obviously pirated-- I can't find it legally anywhere!):

And every time... I just want to stand up and shout *Yessss!* I don't really like Catherine Tate, who will be the new companion for at least part of the season. Bah. But Martha... she looks ticked! And Rose... she looks not particularly pleased! And the Doctor... ah, the Doctor. Who can tell what's going on? I can't wait! If you don't know Doctor Who, I highly recommend you look it up. The first season (with Christopher Eccleston) and seasons two and three with David Tennant are all on dvd... so gear up now! Season Four is COMING SOON! Yippee!!!!

Tuesday 12 February 2008

2007 Update (Eventually) Continued-- Visitors

I'm finally getting back to my update from last year... or at least one more installment, for now. There are just other things that come up; I will get everything dealt with eventually, though.

Jen and Machias on the North Sea coast

My Bubbee, in my flat! =)
Just over a year ago, Jen and the bubbee came to visit me for about a week. I hadn't seen them since I had been home for Machias' birth in July 2006, so I was thrilled they could come. Bubbs was six and a half months, and we had such a great time with him! We mostly just stayed around Aberdeen, and I showed off my nephew to anyone and everyone. He's such a cute and happy boy, and everyone loved him. He's nearly impossible not to like, as he's so friendly! Even Dillon (our wild cat) was taken with him, and let Machias 'pet' him every so often, which thrilled the boy. =) We spent time just hanging out at home, as well as out and about town, and we took two days to go down to Edinburgh to meet up with friends of Jen's who live in York (or somewhere down in England...). We ate Papa John's pizza while there, which was a huge treat for me, at least. I'm praying for a franchise up here, but so far no luck. =) We didn't really do too much there, except go on a Ghost Tour (even with the babies!). It was fun, but we didn't see any ghosts. Oh well. There's always next time!

Jen and Machias, in my flat

Too-cool Bubbs, ready to go out

As great as it was having them here (and it was!), it was miserable when they left. I hadn't realised how much harder it is to have visitors here, in my everyday life, and then to have them leave-- compared to going home to visit, and then coming back to my 'real' life. It was horrible! And I always thought leaving the States was hard... but it is nothing compared to this. I would do it again in a heartbeat, even though I was horribly miserable for a while afterwards. It was just so great to have them around. Come back, Bubbee! Auntie Amie loves you and misses you! And your mum, too, of course.... ;)

Mom and Kathryn at Edinburgh Castle

Inverness by night

I had another set of visitors in September for about a week-- my mom and her best friend, Kathryn. They kept me busy while they were here, too! It's great, though, because whenever I have company I get to sightsee and play the tourist instead of the student. =) We spent time here in Aberdeen, of course, seeing things like the university, Footdee (the original fishing village on the sea coast), and the city centre. We also did a few little trips out of the city itself, including down to Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle one day, and up to Torry Battery and Girdleness Lighthouse another day. The weather was hit or miss-- actually, it was the worst September weather we've had since I've been here. It was unseasonably cold and wet, but the times we did see the sun were even more beautiful by comparison.

Mom and Kathryn at Urquhart Castle

Elgin Cathedral

We had a rented car the whole time (it was fantastic-- a silver five-door Volkswagon Golf), so we took a road trip. We wended our way up through Inverury and Elgin, where we stopped to see the ruins of the cathedral. I hadn't been there before, and it was awesome. We ended up in Inverness (eventually), and walked from our b&b into the city centre for dinner and a drink in a pub. There was supposed to be live music, but they were apparently very, very late in starting... so we went back to bed. The next day we drove out to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, which is always awesome. Except for the freezing cold weather and precipitation, it was awesome. After that, we wound our way back home-- stopping off for a tour and a dram at the Glenfiddich Distillery. Another day, we took the train down to Edinburgh and back. We saw the castle and the Royal Mile, had coffee at the Elephant House (always on my list of capitol stops, thanks to it being a haunt of Jo Rowling while writing the first Harry Potter book), did a lot of shopping and a bit of eating. It was a loooong day, but a good one.

Rainbow over Stonehaven Harbour

It was nice to have mom finally get to see where I live and study and all, and I'm really glad that Kathryn came along as well. Unless you've been here, you can't really understand what my life is like. So if you really want to know, come on over! ;)

Sunday 10 February 2008

It's the Little Things...

Ever done something on a whim, not really expecting anything to come from it?

Last week, I went online looking for a recipe for fruit tea. I couldn't find one I was happy with, because I have had the best and nothing else quite measures up. I tried a few, and they just weren't right. So I decided that, even though I figured the chances were small of actually getting a response, I'd go right to the source.

I emailed Legends.

I told them my situation, how I got addicted to their fantastic fruit tea while I was a student and living in Pulaski, and how much I missed it here in Scotland. Was there any way they would be willing to give me the recipe?

Wonder of wonders, I got a response... from Johnny Fleeman, the owner! And he very generously gave me the recipe! I can't tell you how surprised and thrilled I am. It made my day. Now I just need to empty a couple of milk jugs so I can brew me up some nectar of the gods.....

So if you are ever in middle Tennessee, stop in at Legends for some fruit tea! Thanks, Johnny! =)

Friday 8 February 2008

Is There Really Any Hope For Me?

I am having mixed feelings today....

We had a lunch party in the office today, to celebrate with David, one of our own (he's the very relaxed and happy-looking bloke in the middle of the back row). Last Friday, he had an excellent viva and is now practically done. I am genuinely happy for him; he is a great guy and has worked hard for three and a half years. We actually came in together, and had to suffer through one of those stupid ice-breaker group activities in our beginning orientation. =) So today, we had a feast in his honour: soup, bread and cheese, fruit, couscous salad, peanut butter cookies ala Lorie Cornell (which means double the peanut butter in the recipe), and drinks. Plus, of course, great fellowship and plenty of laughs-- I do have an awesome office, after all. David told us a little bit about his viva, and his plans now... and he told us *If I can do this, anyone can!*

This is where my mixed feelings come in. My first instinct was, *Yeah, right!* I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with feeling stupid, like I won't ever finish this thesis. But even when people like David today say that, I just don't believe it. Lately I have been really struggling with this, and it seems like no matter how much time I put in or how much I try to move forward, I'm just going nowhere. I feel like this will all have been a colossal waste of time and money, and I won't pass even if I get to a point where I have a finished product to turn in. I want to be done around May, but that seems daily more and more impossible. I am stressed about it, which just makes it worse, and I feel like up to this point I've just had everyone fooled-- this is the time when they'll figure out that I'm not as smart as they all think I am.

Yet I know that everyone feels this way; I know that I've been successful in my academic career to this point; I know that my supervisor and friends and family believe in me; I believe that this is where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. Does anyone ever really feel competent enough to do things like this? Does anyone ever feel able enough to do what God calls them to? Not on our own, I am pretty sure. I know that I have gotten this far only by the help and grace of God, and that is the only way I will finish. Talking with friends like David makes me a bit jealous, honestly: I so want to be able to actually see myself reaching the point he has, but I just can't see it. Yet at the same time, it should give me hope that I will reach the end. It's how to reconcile those opposing feelings that's the problem.

Please don't tell me that I can do this because I'm smart and wonderful and I've done it before and blah blah blah. I know all that, I really do. And I know that y'all all believe that, and believe in me. I appreciate that so much. But right now, hearing that is not helpful. What I need is to figure out how to get though, how to keep going even though it feels like an impossibility, how to reconcile what I *know* with what I *feel* or at least how to not let the one make the other seem like a lie. God help me-- I need it!

Thursday 7 February 2008

One Less Thing To Worry About...

I'm no longer here illegally! Thank God, my passport-- with an extension until 31 January 2009-- came in the post this morning. I would say *Halle...* you know, but it's Lent. None of those til Easter. =) Yet still, I am so thankful that two months and two attempts and three hundred pounds later, I can breathe a little easier, at least about that. There are plenty of other things to be stressed about, and believe me, I am stressed! But at least I can be stressed right where I am in Aberdeen and not have to worry about being here. Whew! Thank you, God!

Now I just have to see about getting a National Insurance number so they can officially take taxes out of my check for the National Health Service... ah, bureaucracy!

Tuesday 5 February 2008

My Lenten Fast

I've been trying to write this post for about a week now, and it's just not coming together for some reason. So this may be scattered and rambling, but I'm posting it anyway. So there. =P

I am a list-maker by nature. If I don't write it down-- be it groceries or directions or deep thoughts-- I don't really know it. I was a Girl Scout, and must have taken to heart the motto: Be Prepared. I like being prepared. I always pack more than I perhaps should, because you just never know what you might need. I feel much more confident by the time an event rolls around if I have been preparing along the way, and I can actually enjoy myself rather than stress out about it. I think this is why I traditionally like Lent...and Advent, but that's another blog for another time. (If you aren't familiar with what Lent is or how it is observed, you can check it out here.) I like pretty much everything about this season-- the pensive, dark tone of the music, the time set apart to reassess my life and my faith, the practice of *fasting* from something in order to intentionally focus more on God, the preparation spiritually to be really ready to celebrate the resurrection. It appeals to me, this six weeks of getting ready. If you've never observed Lent before, I would encourage you to consider giving it a try-- if not this year, perhaps next year.

While most of what we are supposed to be focusing on during Lent is not outward but inward--the state of our own soul and our relationship with God-- there can be some ways that we can outwardly observer the season, as well. Fasting, in order to focus our thoughts away from the body and to remind us of our dependence on God, and hopefully directing us to spend more time with Him, is one way this has traditionally been done. For nearly ten years, I fasted during the day-light hours as part of my observance of Lent. It was an amazing discipline for me. I have also given up various other things along with it-- red meat (not years I fasted, though!), chocolate, caffeine and coffee, french fries. In the past few years, however, I decided that rather than giving something up I would take something up-- I made it my Lented resolution to write a letter a day to someone I love. There is giving up involved in that-- time; the walls that often distance puts up between people, at least for me; trading my self-sufficiency for vulnerability with others. It is always a great challenge, and a great blessing for me. This year, I am going to try and write letters as well, but I'm aware that one a day may be a higher standard than I can live up to. We'll see.

What I am giving up for the next six weeks, however, are my internet distractions. I will keep up with email and with my blog, but everything else that isn't study related is gone. I have been realising lately how much time I waste playing around online. I love Facebook; several of my friends are on there, and it's been a fun way to keep in touch. But there are so many little games and quizzes and this and that... it's not good for my work. Neither is my online forum of which I am a moderator, and I dearly love. The conversations are always interesting (if not very profound), and as I've been there for more than a year now, it is a community I know and have come to appreciate. But again, I get caught up in chatting there and neglect my studies. There are other places I check out now and then, but those are the major two. For the next six weeks, instead of conversing and playing and spending time there, I hope to instead use the time I'll get back to be, first and foremost, as productive as possible on my thesis. I also hope to have more time to write to the people I miss (email and real letters), to play my flute some for fun, to enjoy some face time with friends here without feeling guilty for not working, keeping up with my journal and devotional time better. I am hoping that, after Easter, I will be able to rejoin my online friends and celebrate with them-- but in a much more responsible (on my part) manner.

So today, I play! And tonight I eat pancakes (it's not Mardi Gras here, but Pancake Tuesday.) I like overindulging on pancakes better, anyway. Tomorrow I start my preparations....

Friday 1 February 2008

Where Does the Time Go?!

Wow, this resolution is turning out to be harder work than I thought! I can't believe it's Friday already... and five days since my last post. It feels like yesterday!

Is it just because I'm getting older that the time seems to pass so much quicker? I am getting older, after all. Or is there more to it? Like, I don't know... maybe I'm having so much fun? No, that's not it. It's January in Aberdeen, and I'm not done with my thesis. Okay, perhaps it's because I'm so busy all the time. Not exactly... I work on my thesis, but sitting on my bum in front of a book or a laptop isn't exactly *keeping busy* in order to make time fly. What about because there is so much to do? Yup, that one fits-- I feel like no matter how much I do, there is four times less time left to do the rest in. Time is going very disproportionately. That's just so unfair.

What kind of things make time go slower? I need to add some of those to my life. I know! Waiting for something exciting to happen-- like looking forward to a holiday, or visitors coming (hint hint, folks!). Normally January, and winter in general here feels really slow, so that's no help (or not enough help, I guess). Having nothing exciting to do also makes time go slower, but that seems like a contradiction with my first thing. Nevermind, it still does... except in my case just now, I guess. Usually having a paper to write makes time drag... but I guess I'm feeling the pressure to be done by a certain time (which is too quickly approaching... hence my problem). I need a time-turner-- where is McGonagall when you need her!

Something to make me not quite so brain-dead would be nice, too... but I can't have everything. =) Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel more like tackling something serious, or at least less rambling!