Monday, November 29, 2010

You May All Go to Hell, and I Will Go to Texas!*

I've had to make exactly four difficult decisions in my life. The first involved changing my major from pre-med biology to English, the second involved turning down my first professional job offer, and the third was about a boy. The fourth decision was about which graduate school to attend.

Remember when I told you I had to make perhaps the biggest decision of my life? (See When We're Helping, We're Happy.) Well, that was it: I had to decide where to go to graduate school.

First, I'll tell you why I'm going . . . I'm going to get a master's degree in information science. I want to study information architecture, usability, and human-computer interaction. I want to help nonprofit organizations, business owners and individuals create accessible and user-friendly Web sites. I suppose there are several ways of getting to that point, but I chose the graduate school way. Amazingly, I was accepted into all of the programs I applied to. I had hoped that I would only get into one school; that way, it'd be an easy decision because I wouldn't actually have to make a decision. I have found, though, that God wants me to make decisions. That's why we came to this world, after all.

So it was down to two schools: Indiana University and The University of Texas. I went over and over the pros and cons. I thought of little else day-in and day-out for about two months. The decision consumed and overwhelmed me. In the end, I decided on The University of Texas at Austin. I start in January.

Was it the right decision? I don't know. What I do know is that it's not the wrong one. I prayed. I fasted. I asked family members and close friends for advice. I even flipped a coin. But I never received an impression that one school was better for me than the other. I did, however, feel prompted to just make a decision. Just make a decision. I felt Heavenly Father's trust in my choice. He knows that wherever I go, I will try to live the principles of the gospel to the best of my ability. He knows I will obey His commandments and keep the covenants I made when I was baptized. Apart from that, I don't know if much else matters.

And so I made the decision to move to Austin. Sometimes I doubt myself. Sometimes I feel like I am stepping into the dark, and I have no idea whether moving to Texas will turn out to be the best thing for me, the okay thing for me, or the worst thing for me.

Most of the time, I feel sad. Atlanta is my home, and I love the friends I have made here. People are the most precious parts of life, and they are what make it worth living. And I have met the most incredible people here in Atlanta. I will miss watching my nieces and soon-to-be nephew grow up. I will miss late-night talks with my sister and brother and their spouses. I will miss trees everywhere. I will miss knowing my way around.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I don't like change. And I don't. More than that, though, I don't like being left behind. I don't like watching other people move or get married or get advanced degrees, while I stay in the same place, doing the same comfortable things. I want to progress.

And so, in January, I'll move to Austin. I'll try to be happy, and I'll pray that my life is going in a better direction than I feel it is at the moment.

At any rate, you all will have a new city to visit. :)
Come see me sometime. Better yet, move! Move to Austin, and keep me company. :)

*Davy Crockett reportedly said this to his constituents after he lost his election bid for the House of Representatives. The original title of the post was "Working My Way through the Alphabet, One City at a Time." I changed it because I didn't think it had quite the verve I was going for when I wrote it.

Thing I'm thankful for: cozy Christmas decorations.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1

Who didn't like this movie??? I loved it! I thought the dark and sinister look of the film cast the perfect ambiance. It gave the story a desperate and cold tone that matched exactly with the story in Book 7, and yet it still felt like a Harry Potter movie. I thought the length of the movie was wonderful, too -- it just kept going and going. There's not a lot I like more than a long, good movie. I also thought the director emphasized all the right scenes; though admittedly, I don't remember the book very well anymore.

My favorite part* of the entire movie, though, was most definitely the animated sequence about The Tale of the Three Brothers. The animation was just phenomenal. It looked more like a play with shadow puppets. There's not much more I can say about it, except that I was absolutely enthralled with that part of the movie.

It's definitely a movie that sets up everything for the final part in the series. It's not a movie that I would want to randomly watch again, as I do sometimes with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. As a whole, though, it is such a well-made movie. I have friends who thought it was just okay, and honestly, I really can't understand why . . . I know there were some complaints about the Harry and Hermione kissing scene. Maybe I was expecting it to be much worse after I heard a friend say it was superfluous. I suppose it was a bit much, but it wasn't as horrible as I had expected, either.

All in all, I'd give the movie 5 out of 5 stars. A faithful adaptation. And now I'm so excited for Part 2!

*My least favorite part was the scene with Ginny Weasley. She asks Harry to zip up the back of her dress. Cheesy. I did not like it at all. Not at all.

Thing I'm thankful for: being able to see movies on a weeknight. What a treat!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A New Tradition

Yesterday, I finally opened the puzzle of Neuschwanstein Castle that I've been holding onto for at least six months. After last winter's puzzle, I just couldn't find another good one that I wanted to put together (I am very picky about my puzzles), and then when I did find one, it was summertime, and I wanted to be outside.

Something about wintertime, though, makes me want to whip up some hot chocolate, cozy up in the living room, and solve a jigsaw puzzle. I do some of my best thinking while putting puzzles together. Sometimes, I don't even think at all. I enjoy the solitude of working on a puzzle alone or the camaraderie of solving a puzzle with other people. My favorite puzzle companion is my roommate, Carrie. I like to draw her into late-night puzzle-solving. It's one of the only ways I can get her to stay awake with me. Plus, she's really good at the extremely difficult puzzle sections.

At any rate, puzzles make me happy, and I think it's my new tradition. Every year around Thanksgiving, I will start a new puzzle.

Do you have any new traditions that you're starting this year? What are they?

Thing I'm thankful for: catching up with old friends

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When We're Helping, We're Happy

Almost a week ago, I had to make perhaps the biggest decision up to this point in my life. I will blog about it later, but for now, I'll just say that it was a struggle. I weighed the pros and cons over and over and over again in my mind. I went over everything with my best friends and family, I took a poll, and I flipped a coin. The day came when I had to make a final decision. So I made it, and I promptly started crying -- maybe out of discomfort and maybe out of catharsis.

At any rate, I left work that day feeling crummy. I got into my car, and I headed to The Atlanta Community Food Bank, where I was scheduled to help organize canned food for people in the Atlanta community who don't have enough to eat. I started to cry again, and then because of heavy traffic, I had to find an alternate route to the Food Bank. I was lost and frustrated and upset, and the first few people I called for directions didn't answer their phones. Finally, I called my brother, and he helped me find where I needed to go.

I was late for my session at the Food Bank and my eyes were probably a bit puffy, but I was determined to help because I said I would. I am so glad I did. After a while of going through packaged food items, it occurred to me that I hadn't once thought about myself or my situation. I just worked alongside other volunteers and let my mind focus on the food at hand. It was a good feeling to just set aside my reality for a while and focus on the reality of others.

So what am I saying here? I'm saying that service is my comforter. It makes me happy when I don't think I can be. It helps me forget my troubles -- at least for a little while. I guess Christ knew what he was talking about when he commanded us to love one another, as he loves us (John 13:34-35). It wasn't an empty commandment. At least, it's not for me.

Thing I'm thankful for: blessings

To My Roommate

I awoke yesterday morning at 3 a.m. with the urge to throw up. That urge hit me about every 45 minutes or so. I had extreme nausea, chills, stomach cramps, and a headache. I cried and I prayed. A lot. I felt like I might die of dehydration.

Around 7:30, my roommate, Carrie, woke up and asked me what was wrong. I think I might have cried a little as I said, "I had a rough night." But it wasn't over. I was still dry heaving and weak, as Carrie found a nearby doctor for me and checked to see that he used my insurance. I could barely sit up for more than five minutes, so Carrie drove me to the doctor's office. She picked up my prescriptions, and bought me ginger ale and saltines. She stayed home from work for half of the day, just because she knew I needed someone to help me.

I am still gathering my strength today. (Really, it has been a horrible two days, and I wouldn't wish this kind of pain on anyone.) I don't know what I ate or what kind of bacteria might have made me feel this way, but I have been reminded of some things that I had forgotten:
  • Having a healthy body is the greatest gift. Not much matters when your body is in pain.
  • Our bodies are amazing machines that fight foreign matter with relative ease.
  • Vomiting is humbling.
  • Roommates can be lifesavers.
Carrie is a classy person in general, but yesterday, I was especially glad that she lets me live in her house. She is one of those people who makes the world a better place. I'm astonished that somehow our lives intersected and am grateful that somehow, they did.

Thanks, Carrie!

Monday, November 08, 2010

I am Iron Man

No, not really. I was Pepper Potts, though. For Halloween. I know, I know -- I was a character played by Gwyneth Paltrow last year. What can I say? I like her characters. And I like Pepper Potts from the new Iron Man movie. So I decided to be her for Halloween, and in order to get the complete look, I had to dye my hair red. I used a non-permanent color, and this was the result (Those are my friends Lina, Brandy, and Jackie.):

I think I looked pretty similar to Paltrow. See?

The only thing I didn't have time for was curling my hair. That would have made the costume perfect. Would you like to know the top two responses to my costume?
  1. "Where's your Iron Man?" :(
  2. "Your hair looks really good like that!" :)
Apparently reddish hair suited me. So the next day, I bought a box of Nice 'n' Easy Natural Reddish Blonde hair color. My friend Brandy dyed it for me. It did not look like a natural reddish blonde.

To make a long story short, I kept the red. I went to a salon to have them even out the color a bit and add some blonde highlights. This is what my hair looks like now (Please disregard that this is a bathroom-mirror shot and that I was really tired when I took it.):

What do you think, Busy Nothing readers? People who know me have extremely different responses. Some like it a lot, some like it okay, and some don't like it at all and have no problem telling me so, which I don't actually mind. As for me -- I think it's okay. Just okay. I'm having somewhat of an identity crisis. I don't really recognize myself in the mirror, anymore. I mean, I don't feel like me. But it will grow out, and I think I need practice with change, anyway.

Thing I'm thankful for: long e-mail conversations with my family.