Almost there

Present my senior seminar?  CHECK

Attend my last class ever?  CHECK

All that’s left is to finish two papers, take an easy final, and I’m done with college!

I know that over the next week I’m going to go through a slew of emotions ranging from excitement to sadness to joy to terror and so on.  (Britta articulates the roller coaster particularly well, so check that out.)  For the moment, though, all I feel is relief.  It’s been an exhausting semester and the end is in sight.

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This is my post-senior seminar face. Can you sense my joy?

This post isn’t very substantial, but stay tuned!  Once all my papers are done, I’ve got a week with little to no obligations.  I’ve got a list of posts I want to write and will hopefully get to them.  I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging regularly.  I’ve missed this!

In which writing my senior seminar strips away my ability to blog.

Maybe it’s because really nice out, which is odd for Minnesota this time of year.  Or maybe I’ve spent too many afternoons pent-up in the library writing essay drafts.  Whatever the reason, every time I open WordPress to make a new post, my thoughts fly out the window.  My mind goes blank.  I sit back.  I think, “You know… maybe I’ll find the words tomorrow.”

I don’t want to abandon you, dear blog, especially when there is so much pre-graduation nostalgia floating in the air.  There’s not better way to make a good post than channeling as much sentimentality as possible!

Really, though, my focus is elsewhere at this point.

I’m a busy girl.

My senior seminar draft is in full swing–I hit sixteen pages this afternoon!  It’s nowhere near complete, but it’s a start.  I’ve spent three afternoons on it and fully intend on using a fourth tomorrow.  I wrote a different nine page essay earlier this week.  I’ve been thinking deep thoughts about Romeo & Juliet, which is WAY better than I remember last time we met back in ninth grade.  I have an interview for my dream internship next week.  I’m reading this AWFUL book for my Courtly Love class called The Rules: Time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr. Right.  (It’s one of the most sexist, offensive texts I’ve encountered yet.  My face contorts with disgust every time I look at the cover.)  I’ve been planning and attending Bible studies and meetings, preparing for my future career in ministry.  I’ve been trying to spend time with people I care about, which is a challenge ’cause it’s the busy time of the semester.  I’ve been going to the gym, taking walks to the wind turbines, and soaking in as much sunlight as possible in hopes that it will keep me going.

At this point, I’d rather do all these things and more than try to blog properly.  Maybe when my senior seminar draft is finished and polished, my inclination to write will come back.  Who knows?

Until then, you can find me in the library.  Or watching Netflix.  Or thinking about Shakespeare.  (I wasn’t kidding about being in love with Romeo & Juliet.  It’s a wonderful play and those poor kids need to learn to keep their hormones in check.)

On the Shelf

With three literature classes, life these days is a never-ending stream of new books.  Here’s what I’ve been reading for class lately!

The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

I’m reading this for my senior seminar.  It’s a biographical novel based on the life of Nat Turner, a slave condemned for leading an insurrection against his white owners in 1938 Virginia.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Styron imagines and explores the psychology of slavery and oppression.  Writing in the late 1960’s at the time of the Civil Rights and Black Power movement, he ties the cultural ideas of Nat’s time with the issues of the day.  Although it’s not something I’d read on my own, I’m enjoying getting to know Nat’s mind and delving deep into Styron’s complicated argument.

The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare

In this long poem, Shakespeare takes on the classical myth of Lucrece, a chaste wife who is violently raped by Sextus Tarquin in ancient Rome.  In it, he delves deep into the minds of his characters, exploring the psychology of rape and its deeply rooted consequences.  It’s an extremely disturbing text, especially since so much of the mindsets are still so prevalent in rape culture today.  Although it left me extremely unsettled, I found myself enraptured in Shakespeare’s words and deeply moved.

Here’s a clip of an actress performing a musical rendering of the text:

The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capelanus

Commissioned by Marie, the Countess of Champagne in the late 12th Century, this is one of the most important texts in the Courtly Love tradition.  It’s written as a treatus addressed to a young man named Walter.  Cappelanus writes out the rules and guidelines of Courtly Love.  It’s a strange text, filled with discourses, rules, and statements that are shocking to readers today.  Honestly, this text was really hard to get through.  Although entertaining at points and definitely disturbing, it was really boring.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn

I’ve been sneaking chapters of this book in my free time.  I have to write a paper on it for my senior seminar in a few weeks.  Inspired by Dickinson’s letters and poetry, Charyn imagines the life of the beloved poet.  The novel begins with young Emily studying at Holyoke seminary and follows her life and development of writing.  What’s interesting about this book is that writing isn’t the emphasis–Charyn seems much more concerned with events in Emily’s life and how they impact her consciousness.  I’m not sure what I’ll say in my paper, but I do know that I adore this book so far.  Unlike so much assigned reading, it feels like reading for pleasure.  I’m about halfway through and find it utterly delightful.

Leaning in

On my way out of the gym this morning, a man offered me a Bible.  I always find it awkward when this happens.  At least once a year, the Gideons position themselves around campus and hand out New Testaments.  I do my best to smile politely, not wanting them to feel discouraged, and explain that I already have one.

When it happened unexpectedly, at the gym of all places, it got me thinking.

This semester is extremely challenging in many ways.  The apartments, which have been my home for three years, suddenly feel WAY too small.  My workload is immense.  Being in three literature classes is insane.  I’ll sit and read all day long and still not feel like I accomplished half of what I needed.  Preparing for the Bible study I lead is taking a lot more time.  Speech season is coming up, which means my Saturdays will soon be spent judging meets all day instead of getting ahead.  In addition to all this, the head copyeditor of the student paper is away for the semester and requested my assistance to help the paper stay afloat.  (Do I say yes when I really don’t want to?)

Then, there’s my senior seminar, which is the most challenging class I’ve ever encountered.  I knew it would be hard going in, but good grief.  The professor is one of the most intelligent human beings I’ve ever met.  All my classmates have had him before, so they already know how to handle his intense, direct, probing way of teaching.  I know I’ll get there, it will just take time to adapt and get a grasp for the ideas.  What’s most frustrating for me, though, is that he’s very into philosophy, tied intimately with theology and religion.  I’m not irked by the fact that his views and treatment of Christianity are flawed, but by the fact that I find a lot of that strain of discourse pointless.  My brain doesn’t naturally function philosophically.  I’m much more practical.  I like to see the work before me and do it, not sit back and ponder the philosophical meanings behind things.

Last night, I woke up at four in the morning and spent an hour having a hypothetical, half-asleep theological debate with said professor.  Back and forth I went, mentally finding scripture passages that validate my points, all the while knowing he (who is an atheist) will not understand.  The whole time, I knew it was stupid and dearly tried to fall back asleep.  But the thing is, part of me knows that my professor will push me and put my faith on trial when he finds out I’m not only a Christian, but one headed into a lifetime of ministry.  He’s going to batter me with empty philosophy, wisdom of the world, in attempt to push my critical thinking skills.

That’s why the man at the gym offering me a Bible stood out to me so much.  It was a reminder–God’s on my side.  I don’t have to debate or defend myself.  Because my faith is not his business.  It’s not his job as my professor to push that.  It’s his job to teach me about American biographical novels and help me learn.  In turn, it’s not my job to try to win him over.  This isn’t the movie God’s Not Dead (which I haven’t actually seen ’cause I find the whole concept too heavy-handed).  It’s my job to be diligent, write my big paper, and move on with my life.

It’s incredibly comforting that, even though this semester feels like such a burden and weight in so many ways, I don’t have to worry or fear.  All I have to do is lean in and trust that God will bring me through.  He’s called me to a life of serving, doing, encouraging, loving, and building the Kingdom and He is going to get me there.