Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Last Day of Classes and Work

Today Lila and I celebrated our last day of college classes by jumping around the kitchen and shrieking before breakfast. I victoriously concluded my day by writing notes to myself during African Civ and giggling to Kim during Islamic Civ. High fives all around.

Last night, John K was so kind as to drive me up to Andersonville so I could go to the quarterly dinner held by Kim, the Norwegian teacher. I played with her kid and her dogs, ate some very tasty food, and hung out with the death metal kids. I was surprised at the number of people there who were also taking ancient Near Eastern languages--Rob and Ryan, the death metal kids from my old class, are taking Hittite, a grad student was taking whatever it is that Zorastrian texts were written in, someone else was taking hieroglyphics. There seemed to be a lot of overlap between people drawn to Norwegian and people interested in the ancient Middle East. Very strange. Perhaps we can just conclude that people who take Norwegian are fascinating people with great linguistic capacities.

Today was also my last day of work at the Blue Gargoyle. The kids were touchingly sad to find that out, even though Arion sulked for quite awhile after I had to take her outside and give her the "you WILL listen to us when we tell you not to do something" talk. Today we talked about what year we were born. I was shocked that some of them were born in 2001. That seems absurdly recent, and it is especially impressive that in such a short time they had developed very distinct personalities. I know it sounds obvious, but for some reason it seems remarkable how much kids achieve in 6 years or so. I mean, 6 years ago I was more or less the same size I am now, and Arion, for example, was an infant! Such progress!

After we went outside we played chicken fights, and by "we" I mean, Keith started it. We each had a kid on our backs, and would sortof run at each other, the kids' legs kicking away. Probably not the most responsible idea ever, but really fun. No one got hurt anyway, and hopefully they won't tell their parents.

I'm kindof sad to be leaving. They are so interesting. Although I won't miss having to yell at them, and the noise and chaos, and a distinct lack of respect for authority (ahem, Danasha, Kenija, Rikaya, Kamariah), whining, sulking, and throwing fits. I will miss the constant comments on my hair length ("you cut your hair!"), my sticking-up eyebrows, and my imaginary relationship with any male tutor("ew, you drank off the same drink! are you dating?"). I might not miss Taylor launching herself on me or picking me up against my will (the kid is 9 and can carry me around), but I will miss all the hugs. Today we determined, to the astonishment of all, that my hands are the same size as the 9-year-olds Muhibat and Taylor. Jamie is clingy but it's kindof sweet, until you have to practically sit on her to make her do her homework. The era of me obsessing over their personalities and waking up with disciplinary ideas is over. I told them I'd be back to visit, and I think I'll probably volunteer as a private tutor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Today I thought I'd resurrect this blog, because some of my friends have lovely blogs I'd like to figure out how to link to, and because it's been almost a year since I left for Egypt and I'm feeling the wanderlust again.

I know that lust is bad, according to the church, but what about wanderlust? I know it's a cute and stupid pun, but think about it: I want what I can't have, isn't that coveting? Moving to a new and exciting place every few months, as I've done for the past year, is a way to escape from my problems and relationships. I freely admit that I went to Wyoming to get away from people. I can reinvent myself in every place, leading to a lack of honesty with myself and the temptation to do bad things that I wouldn't ordinarily just for the "experience." I wouldn't subject a family to this many moves, so it's not a long-term solution. I tend to lose touch with people more quickly, thus weakening my ability to create meaningful relationships. But, I love it. I'm not planning to stop traveling, although I do plan to stay in Chicago at least for this academic year. I'm just sayin.

Today I had a very encouraging meeting with my college adviser, so encouraging that I may never have to talk to her again. She cleared me for taking a leave of absence for winter and spring, confirmed that I've completed all graduation requirements, and asked about future plans. She seemed impressed by the Wyoming story, and she said that it was one of the experiences I'll probably remember forever and generally a more excellent way to spend my summer than some "career-minded" internship that I wouldn't enjoy. She said that the fact that I don't know what I'll do next year is totally fine, and the fact that I am ok with not knowing shows maturity. She also seemed relieved that I did not stress about picking my major (when asked how I got on track with my major so quickly, I told her that I realized that I was half-way there during my second year and decided just to finish) and about getting honors. It seemed to me that she was fed up with uptight UofC students who obsess over everything, and was happy to find someone who thinks like she does. She says that, especially for me, who is not applying to grad school, most of these things don't really matter. I'll probably have many jobs and do many things, perhaps I'll even decide to go to grad school later, perhaps I won't. I might not get a job in my field, and that's fine. I won't remember my GPA or my grades a few years from now. It was nice to hear this affirmation of my general assumption that freaking out about all this is completely unnecessary. Added bonus: she grew up in Columbia, SC. And, she called her husband who might have an opening in his firm where I could perhaps work in the winter.

It was especially nice to have this conversation at a time when everyone I know is completely beserk over post-graduation options. Grad school, no grad school, where to live, where to work, paying back loans, health insurance! I suppose some people are more relaxed, and realize that things will work themselves out, but I think a lot of people are dazzled by the options spread before them. Fortunately, I feel less pressure than even choosing a college, because whatever I choose now can be changed if I don't like it, with less hassle and emotional trouble than transferring colleges. And also college is so formative, and I knew that wherever I chose would significantly shape my interests, my perceptions, my options, and my perspective.

But it's not like I'm not thinking about it. It's hard not to, when the first thing any relative said to me when I went home for Thanksgiving was "what are you doing next year?" Today (in class, shame on me) I made a list of "cool things to do next quarter," the blessed quarter when I am not taking classes. It's mostly dream options, but also a way for me to think of what I would like to do, not what I think I should do. The UofC says I should want to do something really intense, high-powered, and important. Or at least something in my field. I've thought about those things too--journalism, international NGOs like Human Rights Watch, some sort of Middle East analyst/consultant/professional thinker, the CIA, even law school. But, the more I think about it, the less attractive those sound, although I don't want to rule them out for the future. Unfortunately for me and my student loans, what sounds most attractive does not involve a lot of money, at least not at first.

And now, off to my old Norwegian teacher's house in Andersonville for dinner.