Monday, January 31, 2011

This is why I love being an English major

Oh, the power of words.

"Recessional" by Rudyard Kipling
God of our fathers, known of old--
   Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
   Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
   In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
   And guarding, calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

13 things I wish I could do right now

Right now it is 10:25 pm on a Saturday night. I just got back from a volleyball game and finished grading a stack of German tests. My roommates all left to play elsewhere, and I am sitting in our arm chair listening to halves of songs until I get tired of them, and trying to figure out what applying to Grad school is really going to take. It is dark and cold outside, and although my foot is asleep from being tucked underneath me, I'm too apathetic to move it. If I could be doing any number of other things at the moment, these are some of them:

I would be...
1. sleeping on a plane headed to Tonga.
2. eating a salad at Cafe Rio.
3. in the middle of a tickle fight with my little brother. 
4. on a beautiful, long, taxing and totally-worth-it run to the lake with a friend.
5. sitting in a kayak skimming across Lake MacDonald at Glacier National Park.
6. looking at the stars through the top of a tent while camping with my family.
7. waiting for my little sister to get home from her date to preference tonight.
8. talking to my best friends.
9. driving a really big truck.
10. cheering at a Rugby game.
11. feeding people Pumpkin cookies.
12. lying in the sun after a day of tubing on the Snake River.
13. watching the moose while sitting on a bank fishing the Snake River.

No, I'm not dissatisfied, just dreaming. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011


Lots has happened this past week. Procrastination and/or laziness (aside from just being busy) has kept me from posting about them till now, but here you go:

1. I heard back from the Fulbright committee. I didn't get it. Feelings? Initial disappointment, followed by a whole lot of relief. At least I can finally make some plans! Simply not knowing was the hardest part. Now I can begin researching other scholarship options and who knows, maybe an even better opportunity will present itself!

2. I found out that my Great Works Responses for my honors portfolio passed. Hallelujah! First hurdle cleared, I now *just* have to pass my defense and pose for my senior portrait. :)

3. I found out that I got another undergraduate research grant. BLESSING!

4. I LOVE MY POSTCOLONIAL LITERATURE CLASS. That has to be in capital letters because I'm serious about it. Love. It.

5. BYU Rugby won their first two games. The first one was against Claremont Colleges, 86-0. Painful. The second, USD, 25-10. Wish I could have seen the games, but don't worry, I've read all the news articles and almost feel like I was there anyway. :)

6. I get to do a poster about my research for the annual Honors Thesis Symposium. fun fun. Creativity and inspiration, please come to me.

7. I was assigned a chair for my honors thesis defense. ... haha, this last piece of news is actually very humorous, but in order for you to understand why I have to delve into a little story: Last March I presented at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with a group of other honors students from BYU. While we were traveling there we talked about honors program stuff and one student asked one of the administrators who was there chaperoning us exactly how Thesis Defense Chairs are chosen. The adminstrator explained how, after you turn in your thesis and portfolio an email is sent to all of the professors who do honors thesis chair work and they pick (based on topic, educational genre,  how long the thesis is, etc.) who they want to chair. The student then asked who the most difficult chair was, from a student perspective. The administrator laughed and then named an English professor who is already infamous for her intense and intensely difficult classes. I had heard of this professor before, and although I've never taken a class from her, I have heard from many friends how difficult she is, especially when it comes to what you write for her. The honors admin explained that she is the most difficult because she really picks the thesis and the portfolio apart and gets the student to examine and defend every part of it. I started shaking in my shoes that day in the bus, and silently prayed that she wouldn't pick me to chair. I really worried about it for awhile but then realized that my fear was probably irrational; out of all the students who wrote theses, what was the likelihood that she would choose a random thesis about Germans in Tonga to chair?

You guessed it. Today I opened my email and there, sitting in my inbox, was a notification that my defense chair will be none other than, that's right, the very same English professor. After the initial punch-to-the-stomach kind of fear/shock, I started laughing uncontrollably. Oh, the irony. Needless to say, I'm a little bit more nervous now, but actually, I realized that I'm stoked! What better way to prepare myself for graduate school and really show that I know what I'm talking about than getting into a situation where I REALLY have to be at the top of my game? I know that any other professor would be challenging, but I have a suspicion that Heavenly Father gave me this one so that I could really stretch and humble and prepare myself. It's going to be AWESOME!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hurrah! and done

(My bro. That's right, we're an eternal family. No, you can't have him.
But you can be jealous. He really is that awesome)

Guess what?
I'm done.
The project that I have been working on for the past two years is finished.
There is a pile of 300 pages of a portfolio + a 77 page thesis now sitting neatly in a tall printed pile on the desk of some honors representative.
I am $25.67 poorer and the copy center is $25.67 richer. But they're out at least a ream of paper.

Every Saturday that I have sacrificed,
every Friday night I spent sequestered in the attic of my house,
every green and pink sticky note still stuck in the pages of dozens of old research books,
every awkward moment that resulted from answering "worked on thesis" to the question of "how was your weekend?",
every weird look David Bowie* gave me over the summer,
and every phone call/text message/email that never got returned because I was busy

will soon be worth it.
Soon I will gather with some of the people I love most in life at a decorated table in a banquet hall to eat a catered meal on BYU plates. We will wear our Sunday best and drink with our pinkies up and smile as we listen to a speech about the prestige of graduating Summa Cum Laude from a University like BYU (and knowing me, I will probably cry.)

But that's not why I did it.
I did it so that I could show the little freshman Kasia who had no confidence in her future that indeed, with the help of the Lord, she can do hard things. She can make it happen. She can reach her goals. And if she can, you can too.

So Hurrah! Hurrah for finishing what we start! Hurrah for dreaming dreams bigger than we are! Hurrah for challenges that seem insurmountable and Hurrah for surmounting them! Hurrah for the Spirit of God which makes it possible to move mountains! The challenges are not over, nor will they ever be. In the case of my thesis there's still a defense, revision, publication, and classes in the way before I'm finished. Not to mention dealing with the terrible realization ***shudder*** that I will be graduating unmarried from the University with the most eligible bachelors in the nation. haha. There must be something wrong with me. :) But for real. I know it's not over yet, but I feel so much lighter now. The end is in sight! Hurrah for Israel!

*haha! Excerpt from one of my family letters this summer explaining David Bowie: "Funny story: there is a man who works as a librarian at the Archive who, for no apparent reason, does not like me at all. The first day I came in he wouldn’t speak directly to me, and instead spoke through his coworker who was seated next to him. “She’s looking for what?” he asked, as if I wasn’t standing 18 inches from him. “Did you ask her why?” “What does she expect to find here?” “Tell her to go to the search books.” Really weird. The next time I came in he rolled his eyes as I handed him my card to check-in, but still didn’t say anything. The next time I accidentally dropped the converter plug for my laptop on the ground as I walked through the door and when it fell to the floor he spun around and glared at me then walked over quickly to snatch my card from me and walked back to his desk. Nice of him to spare me the walk there.  :) This situation is made even better by the fact that the man just looks so CLASSIC. Haha—picture 6 foot tall, medium build, leather pointy-toed shoes, button up shirt, glasses, and shoulder-length David Bowie hair. Seriously. He can hate me if I can laugh about his hair. :)"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

good day

lunch break.
sitting cross-legged on my office chair eating a ham sandwich.
listening to alan jackson.
dreaming of moving to the south
and road trips after graduation.
life is good.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

a small break....

 (note: this is not my picture)

Right now it's portfolio crunch time, and the floor of my living room is buried under stacks and stacks and stacks of papers while I try to cram five years of my greatest undergraduate achievements into one 3" binder. While digging through my files for old papers I found a gem of inspirational literature. I feel that I can justify a 20 minute break from my 15 hour sorting frenzy to share it with you.

"Are You One of The Priceless Few"
by William H. Danforth

I am on a voyage of discovery. I search for those of you who will go on a great adventure. I am looking for you, one of the audacious few, who will face life courageously, ready to strike straight at the heart of anything that is keeping you from your best; you intrepid ones behind whom the world moves forward. To you, I am going to unfold a secret power that but few know how to use--the secret power of daring and sharing which carries with it tremendous responsibilities. Once you have it, you can never be the same again. Once it is yours, you can never rest until you have given it to others. And the more you give away the greater becomes your capacity to give. Deep down in the very fiber of your being you must light an urge that will never be put out. It will catch this side of your life, then that side. It will widen your horizon. It will light up unknown reserves and discover new capacities for living and growing. It will become, if you don't look out, a mighty inferno that will consume your every waking hour. And to its blazing glory a thousand other lives will come for light and warmth and power.

It is going to take courage to let this urge posses you. My life in business and my contacts with young people have convinced me that the world is full of unused talents and latent ability. The reason these talents lie buried is that the individual hasn't the courage to dig them up and use them. Everybody should be doing better than he or she is, but only a few dare. Prospectors for gold tell us that gold is where they find it. It may be in a bed of a river or on the mountaintop. Prospectors for courage tell us the same thing; the one who dares may be found in a cottage or in a castle. But wherever you live, whoever you are, whatever you have or have not--if you dare, you are challenged to enlist in a cause.

H.G. Wells ells how every human being can determine whether he has really succeeded in life. He says: "Wealth, notoriety, place, and power are no measure of success whatever. The only true measure of success is the ration between what we might have done and what we might have been on the one hand, and the thing we have made and the thing we have made of ourselves on the other."

I want you to start a crusade in your life--to dare to be your best. I maintain that you are a better, more capable person than you have demonstrated so far. The only reason you are not the person you could be is you don't dare to be. Once you dare, once you stop drifting with the crowd and face life courageously, powers harness themselves for your service.

Who wants to do unimportant and uninteresting things? To desire something permanent in life, to develop your gifts to the largest possible use-that's your dare. You have a wealth of possibilities, but maybe up to this time you have lacked a definite aim. I dare you to aim at something worthy of the best that is in you.

Makes you want to be better, right? Yes! Yet when I look around at all the papers on my floor and think how much more work I have to do before my goals are met, it's a little discouraging. BUT, I am trying to aim. I am trying to shoot high. Who knows where the arrow will land? Whether we live in a "cottage or a castle," the secret is in learning to dare. Amen.

Okay, now back to the books.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Brand New Year!

Two years ago, when I had just gotten back from Vienna, I watched a program for youth online called "A Brand New Year." This program influenced my life (I would say changed, but I feel like that phrase is overused and therefore, getting cheap). It got me excited (more than I already was) for all the good stuff that is to come in life, no matter who or where you are. Tomorrow can ALWAYS be brighter than today. Faith is for the future. Anyway, I can't find the exact video that I watched and loved so much, but this is the home site for "A Brand New Year," and here is this years version. Enjoy!

As the old year passes, like you, I've taken several moments to reflect on the year come and gone, the experiences I've had, and the miracles I've seen. I've taken stock of where I am now compared to where I thought I would be, and set some goals for where I want to be this time next year. Some of my resolutions:
1. Say hi to people I see that I know (I sometimes struggle with this, mostly because of plain shyness--if I seem to have snubbed you in the past, I'm sorry! I'm going to be better!)
2. Keep up on my reading in classes!
3. Stop being afraid. Of people, of situations, of events to come.
4. Study the scriptures
5. Do what matters most
6. Smile.

So far I've been doing pretty well. I've found that the best way for me to achieve a goal is to follow the SMART rule of goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Also, reminding myself of my goals helps me to stay motivated because I never forget what I'm working toward. 

This new year is going to be great. I can feel it. Specifically I'm looking forward to a few key events this year:
  •  Rugby season! starts this weekend, with our first home game on Feb. 16th. See for more info. 
  • Graduation! woot! woot! I can't wait to attend the honors banquet with my fam and take pictures next to the BYU sign (not to mention everything else graduation entails, haha)

  • Rugby world cup!!!!!!!! To be held in Auckland BEGINNING ON MY BIRTHDAY in September. How much more clear could it be that this is going to be a good year? It starts on my birthday! Not sure yet if I'll get to go to any games, but I'll keep you posted. Definitely watching it no matter what/where I am!
  • Road trips! California, the South, and the East Coast. 
  • Lots more learning! really,  I'm not all fun-focused. I'm super excited for my classes and the remaining papers I do have before I graduate. I'm planning on soaking in all the rest I can of the BYU experience before moving on. 
  • and last possibility---maybe presenting at a few more conferences and receiving some special scholarships/grants? We'll see!
 So those are some of the biggest things in my life that I'm excited about this year. I hope you enjoyed the holidays and are gearing up for a whole slew of wonderful new experiences too. As always, with all the possibilities that exist in our lives and the truth that the Lord lives and the Gospel is restored, we have such great reason to rejoice!