Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finals and Roommates and Christmas, oh my!

Yes, this tired senioritis-suffering scholar just used the Wizard of Oz reference. I can't decide if it's quaint or overdone, but right now I don't care.

I have one final exam to tackle tomorrow morning, and then I will be able to say that I officially only have one semester standing between me and my Bachelor's Degree. It's bittersweet, really. It will come as a long-awaited victory in my life, but I am even now hesitant about what's to come after this precious chapter in my life comes to a close. My time at NU has brought so many blessings that I never imagined.

Including this girl:
Beth. :)
Beth is going to be my roommate next semester, and (as I'm sure you can see) she brings abundant amounts of joy and color to my life. I'm excited for this next season!

Speaking of seasons, now that Christmas is upon us, I've been quite reflective. Christmas in our family has been somewhat strange the last few years, and I haven't quite been able to pinpoint why. I think part of it is that things have just been off-kilter since my grandpa passed away. It was 5 years ago today, actually, and I miss him heaps. He was such a great guy, and he gave so much to his family with love, wisdom and humor. There is definitely a void in our family without him, especially during the holidays. 

Christmas is weird now since there aren't any children in the family anymore, either. My youngest cousin is almost 17, and none of us grandkids have started having children of our own yet, so we just have adults around at Christmas right now, which kind of takes some of the magic and excitement down a few levels. It's not like Christmas has lost its meaning - in fact, I feel like it's become an even more reverent and spiritual occasion for me in the last few years since I've had more opportunity to focus on Christ and his birth, but it's just different than it used to be. Not bad. Just different. It's a hushed, quiet moment in the morning when I wake up, not to hurried footsteps to see what's under the tree, but rather to stillness and peace - 'all is calm, all is bright.' 

I really want to give people gifts that mean something this year - something that reflects the fact that I am thankful to have them in my life and I appreciate who they are. So, I'm contemplating that, along with these grown-up Christmas thoughts while my brain melts from finals. I'll let you know what I come up with.

If I don't see you before, 
Merry Christmas! May you be filled with the peace and hope that Christ offers!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

swiss cheese stories

I am in the process of writing the draft of a novel right now, and it's a complicated and scary process. However, I am also in a fiction writing class this semester that involves submitting what you are working on to the rest of the class for workshop sessions where you receive critiques and all kinds of helpful suggestions for what's working and what you could be doing better.

I am not an outliner when it comes to writing fiction, which is both fun and a downfall, since I have a lot of ideas and characters, but I can't quite get everything to lay out clearly in a nice pattern. After spending time today in workshop being asked really important questions about my work in progress and realizing I didn't have all of the answers that I needed, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about what's going to happen next in my little novel-to-be. One of my classmates had a similar experience today in trying to figure out the logistics of his novel, and when the class was over, he turned to me and said, "Well, we both have a lot of holes in our stories!"

I just laughed and said, "Yay for swiss cheese stories!" It was after that exchange and the conversations in class today that I realized truly how helpful this course has been, and how sad and helpless I will probably feel after this semester when I can't bring my work to my classmates (now friends) and get honest feedback to help make my work better, and in exchange hopefully do the same for them.

But in the meantime, I am appreciating the value of being able to identify for others and receive with gratitude the holes in our stories. They do say that cheese gets better with age, right?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

cloudy with a chance of hyperbole

There's a possibility that I might be a tad overdramatic when contemplating and talking about my life. I don't really know how to fix this. I think it just might be how I operate.

Sometimes I think I would give anything to be normal, but then I remember that without quirk, life is just black and white. And I would hate to live without color.

This blog post doesn't really have a unifying purpose. But here it is anyway.

I need more sleep.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

55-Word Story

This week in my fiction writing class we received the challenge to write a short story in no more than 55 words. In order to be considered a "story," we determined that it should have a setting, character(s), a conflict, and a resolution.

Oh, and just for fun, we had to incorporate 2 out of the following 3 nouns: volcano, train station, or backflip. So, here's mine. Feel inspired? You should write one, too! (The title doesn't count against word count.)

A Sticky Situation
by Dana Black

"Stupid thing won't budge!" I cried, a volcano of panic erupting inside at the realization.
"Let me try," Amy turned to me after parking in front of the train station. She grabbed my hand, wrenching the sparkling offender from my finger. I protested, but the ring for my brother's girlfriend was safe from my envy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

brought to you by the number 4

My favorite number this week is 4. There are many reasons behind this, but I don't particularly feel like detailing all of them right now.

I will tell you that my life has changed significantly in the last four months. I (finally!) started my senior year of college at NU, and I can see a light at the end of the journey that has been my undergraduate career. I have changed so much in the last year that it's remarkable. I am even a different person today than the girl you may have known four days ago.

Four months ago today, I started a job that radically altered the way I view my skills, and helped me not only to discover that I was capable of something I had previously considered myself inept at (teaching), but that I genuinely enjoyed it. I also realized how much I miss theater, and I saw a number of possibilities for my future open up before my eyes. Aside from a wonderful summer of employment, I was also blessed with incredible new friends and the chance to strengthen other relationships that had fallen to the side.

About four weeks ago, I took a test to determine my top strengths for a leadership conference I attended, and I was surprised to gain insight about four of my top five strengths (one was not surprising to me at all). Going through the conference I discovered that aspects of my personality and life that I have long viewed as weaknesses or oddities are actually things that have the potential to be my biggest strengths if I learn to apply them correctly. I was so encouraged to see how my strengths can work with the strengths of the others that I work with, and that the things that I've viewed as strange (or have been informed by others of this) are actually key elements of the way that God created me for a specific purpose.

This week, I attended four chapel services at NU that had marvelous amounts of impact on my life. Reflections on that would probably require another post entirely, but I will say that I was handed a number of truths that I desperately needed to know, and I am now pondering those things and attempting to apply them to my life.

As I careen into the last half of this semester, I am reflecting on everything that has happened in the last four months that I am so grateful for. Some of it has been trying, to be sure, but I can promise you that I wouldn't trade a single second of it if it meant that I would lose any of the wonderful things that I've experienced or any of the people that I've gotten to know. So, for now, I will return to my studies in order to finish out this season in as positive a manner as it began.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

summer check point

what a strange and wonderful summer this has developed into so far.

and yet, I am in conflict.

I feel like I have two distinct and separate lives right now - one at "home" and one at school. the disconnect between the two feels startling right now. More than I thought possible, I love both of these current existences, but I have not yet discovered how to bring them together. How can I? They are starkly different.

I'm finding that I'm not willing to give either of them up, but at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will have to choose one direction or the other to walk toward. Stay up north or come back? It's too deep a thought to think in the midst of summer (even if the weather here feels more like early fall), so I will put off such thoughts until absolutely necessary and focus instead on the adventure in front of me right now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

shaking off the dust

Phew!  Four months into the year already? How did this happen? My second semester at Northwest took off at a lightning-fast pace, and it hasn't slowed down yet at all! Hence my utter lack of updates. There are too many things to talk about now, considering my lack of time (study break is almost over), but know that life is blurring past and I am simply trying to live in the middle of it and take it all in so I may the memories of this time in the years to come.

Just about 3.5 weeks left of the semester, and then my first year here will be finished. I still can't believe how quick and how amazing this year has been! I am exhausted from my studies, though, and ready for a break, but not as excited about seeing some dear friends graduate and move on from here. Next year will definitely be different, but hopefully no less wonderful!

In the meantime, I am slogging through papers, hoping for sleep, and looking forward to my much-anticipated adventure to Southern California in a little over a month!