Monday, January 31, 2011

Two Minutes of Meditation

Several of my good friends do other things while they're brushing their teeth. It seems super-productive, so I tried it once. I couldn't do it.

I prefer to focus on my teeth. Sometimes I'll just sit down and brush and zone out for a couple of minutes. Sometimes I think about important things, and sometimes I don't think about anything at all, except getting all my teeth. For some reason, I've really relished those two minutes lately.

How do you brush your teeth, readers?

Thing I'm thankful for: making friends

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cold, Hot, Hot, Windy, Hot, Cold

Today's post title reflects the daily weather patterns in Austin. I wear a light jacket in the morning when I leave for school, and by mid-morning, I don't need it anymore. By noon, I wish I had worn a t-shirt, and when the sun begins to set, I need to put my jacket on again.

People weren't kidding when they said Texas was hot. I mean, I always believed them, but I figured it couldn't be much worse than the heat of the Deep South, right? Wrong. The sun feels hotter here, somehow. It's probably because there aren't nearly as many trees to provide shade. But what happens when summertime is here? I think I'll melt . . .

Still. There's the wind. Even though those trees don't provide much shade, they also don't block the cool breezes that often break up the heat. And when the wind blows, I'm reminded of my childhood in Oklahoma. I remember the feeling of being young and playing all day.

It's amazing that an invisible thing can bring up so many memories . . .

Thing I'm thankful for: Google video chat

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Love to See the Temple

I knew moving would be hard, but I didn't expect it to be as hard as it has been. It seems like everyone in the world likes Austin, but honestly, I am having a difficult time finding the fun. I know I haven't been here long, but so far, I've felt awkward, out-of-place, and uncomfortable. I get lost nearly every time I leave my apartment, and I haven't had much time to organize my stuff yet. I've cried a lot and doubted whether I made a good decision to come here.

Things changed just a bit on Thursday, when I went to an Institute class. There are several classes offered at UT, and for various reasons, the family history course stood out to me. As I sat in the small classroom with eight other students, I had a moment of peace. It was nice to be surrounded by familiar things: blue carpet, cream walls, missionaries, scriptures, hymnbooks. I listened to the lesson intently, and something that was said touched my spirit. It was a quote from John A. Widtsoe: "[...] the things that make our days dark and dreary will be lifted from us if we go to the House of the Lord to perform holy work therein."

And so I sent a text to my mom after class, asking if she'd meet me at the San Antonio Temple on Saturday. We completed an endowment session and sat for a while in a quiet room of the temple. I didn't have any grand revelations while I was there, and in fact, I cried my eyes out later to my mom over dinner at Olive Garden. But Elder Widtsoe was right; things that made my days dark and dreary last week were temporarily lifted. Since then, those things have even gotten better. Perhaps it's just from the passing of time, or perhaps it's because my mom comforted me in a time of need. And perhaps it is because I performed holy work in the temple.

There are four temples in Texas: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Lubbock. I plan to see all of them before my two years of grad school is up. What a treat to be near so many temples. :)

Here are a couple more pictures of the San Antonio Temple:

Thing I'm thankful for: maps

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Times -- They Are A Changin'

One thing I've noticed in my first week back at school is that professors flood inboxes with e-mail. When I was in college, professors gave students reminders at the start and end of each class. There was almost no communication outside of the classroom, unless the student chose to talk to the teacher of his or her own accord. I guess this new system gives professors more assurance that their students can't go into class saying, "I didn't know that was due today . . ."

Still, it's odd to me. Am I going to have pages of e-mail for the next two years? Yikes.

Thing I'm thankful for: Lexia


Guess who isn't in Introduction to Programming anymore?!?


I still do have to learn how to program later in the semester, but at least I don't have to learn JAVA. I'll be learning about HTML and CSS and whatnot, and then at the very end of the semester, I'll have to learn some JavaScript, but hopefully, it won't be too bad because I'll actually use that program someday.

That's not to say that I wouldn't have learned anything useful in Intro. to Programming, but I wouldn't have been excited about it.

Thanks to my sister and my ever-mindful Father in Heaven, I am now signed up for the following courses:
  • Designing Dynamic Web Pages
  • Understanding and Serving Users
  • Information Architecture and Design

This is gonna be a hard semester for me, but I know I'll have learned a lot by the time it's all over. Just pray for me, people . . . :)

Thing I'm thankful for: Lexia

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gone to Texas, Part Four

Nearly six years ago, I started this blog because I planned on getting a job in New York City. I was going to live with my sister in her cute East Village apartment, and I was going to blog about all the wonderful and exciting things I would do. I was going to use a blog to let my family and friends know what I was up to in The Big Apple.

Of course you know now that that was not how my life panned out. I stayed in Georgia and found interesting things to post about there. I think I mostly wrote my musings and posted pictures of the parties I threw or events I attended.

I will keep doing all of that, but now, I will use this blog as I originally intended: to let my family and friends know what I am doing in another part of the world. So first things first:

I made it to Austin. It was odd to come "home" to an empty and unfamiliar apartment. Even with my things here, it doesn't feel quite right. Hopefully in a few weeks, things will be better, and I'll be more optimistic about this move. I don't really have time to be too sad, anyway, because school starts tomorrow. My first class is Introduction to Programming. What a class to begin with, eh?

Thing I'm thankful for: surprise notes from mom

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gone to Texas, Part Three

I arrived in San Antonio today at about 4:00 pm. My parents are not at home and will not be home until later tonight. They hid the house key and told me where to find it, so I was able to easily let myself in.

I'm grateful for the safety I've experienced on my journey so far, but on finding myself in a strange new place all by myself today, all I wanted to do was go somewhere familiar. I wanted to forget about the fact that my life is full of change right now. I wanted to find comfort in bright lights and well-known aisles . . .

I went to Target.

What is it about Target that is so comforting? I only bought a few things, and they were things I needed, not wanted. So I wasn't shopping my problems away . . . Maybe it's because Target is clean, and there aren't boxes of product on the floor, obstructing my walking patterns. Whatever it is, it is good. I really needed to wander around a place that made me feel like not everything is topsy-turvy.

Anyway, I'm here in San Antonio, alone. But safe and warm. I'm trying to figure out how to use my parents' new TV remote. So far, I haven't been successful, and it bothers me a lot. Why can't TV remotes be intuitive? And why do I feel the need to throw it at the TV? Violence never solved anything . . .

Thing I'm thankful for: Maine blueberry jam. Yummmee!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gone to Texas, Part Two

After being stuck in Georgia for 3 1/2 extra days because of the snow (and they were the best days ever), I left for Texas on Thursday afternoon. I cried when I said goodbye to my family, especially my nieces, but they consoled me by saying things like, "Don't worry; we'll write you lots of letters" and "You can visit for Christmas" and "You will live by grandma and grandpa, so that will be fun." It was so hard to leave. :/

But I made it safely to central Mississippi, where my friends Rose and Daniel live. They live in a tiny town with only one main street and no dependable cell phone service. The trees, however, probably make it all worth it. It was a charming little place, and I loved Rose and Daniel for letting me stay with them and feeding me chicken enchiladas for dinner and French toast for breakfast.

Friday morning around noon, I left for Houston, where I am now staying with my friend Andrea and her husband. (I had absolutely no idea that Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. It seems like a fun place, and I am very much looking forward to coming back.) They took me to a Tex-Mex place for fajitas and The Chocolate Bar and then gave me a tour of the city. It was an excellent evening! I was so impressed with their knowledge of the city.

Here are some of my thoughts at the end of Day Two of my journey:
  • Talking on the phone really, really helps to keep me awake on solo road trips.
  • Listening to the soundtrack to "Funny Girl" and loudly singing along really, really helps to keep me awake on solo road trips. (I sang "Don't Rain on My Parade" as I drove into Texas.)
  • Driving alone at night in unfamiliar places is spooky. I never want to do it again.
Tomorrow morning, I'll drive to San Antonio. And soon, Austin.

Thing I'm thankful for: People who care about my whereabouts

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gone to Texas, Part One

Every time I see inches of snow covering the world around me, I think of Dr. Zhivago. All is peaceful and breathtaking. I always want it to snow. Until tonight.

It's the first time I've ever not wanted to see snow. I had planned to drive to Texas tomorrow morning, and my plans have now been thwarted. Here's what happened (as told to my roommate Carrie, via e-mail):

I must have been living under a cave or too busy packing this week to not know just how bad this winter storm was going to be. Had I known, I would've just left church early today to make sure the drive to Carrollton was safe . . . BUT. I still had to load my car, which took a lot longer than I thought. Thankfully, I had Carolyn and Chelsea to help me, but it still began to snow just as I drove away. I thought I'd be okay, but what I didn't realize was that the storm was coming from the west. Believe me when I say that I have never been so scared in my life (even when I hid under the blankets at night to shield myself from UFOs). Really, I prayed like I haven't in a while, and I even cried a bit. I didn't know whether I should turn around and go back home, but then, I didn't really want to spend a lonely night and entire day stuck in an empty, roommate-less house. (I didn't even really get a chance to say goodbye to it because I had to try to beat the snow. That's sort of sad . . .)

And beat the snow, I didn't. I was okay on I-85 South, but as soon as I got to I-20, I knew I had made a mistake by leaving tonight. The road was completely covered -- I couldn't see the lane divisions at all. There wasn't much traffic, which is amazing in Atlanta. Everyone just sort of drove in their own, made-up lanes, and there were spots where cars had slid or driven off the road and couldn't get themselves unstuck. At one point, ice started building up on my windshield, and I came very close to driving off the road into a very large ditch. My body was so tense that my back ached. Add to that -- my possessions piled high behind me; I couldn't see out of any windows in the back at all.

I arrived safely, though, to my brother's house in Douglasville. It took me about an hour and a half to drive 30 miles.

So I'm stuck in Douglasville for at least Monday and possibly Tuesday. Hopefully, I can drive to Carrollton in the afternoon on Tuesday and spend the night there with my sister and her family and leave on Wednesday. At any rate, I'm not leaving until at least Wednesday. I am actually pretty bummed about that. I don't know about registering for classes now, and I won't have as much time to set up my new place. :/

Here's one final thought: I don't think it was wise to leave my house tonight. If I had paid attention to the Spirit, I probably wouldn't have left. But I was determined to be with my family on such a cold, snowy night. And so -- Heavenly Father let me choose the wrong. And then He helped me fix it. I'm thankful for my family for praying for my safety. (My brother says I may have overreacted, but it was pretty bad out there, and I have never driven in so much snow!)

Thing I'm thankful for: answered prayers