Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No, Mister Frodo!

This week I hiked Gamla with my classmates.  Normally it is very dry and brown, but luckily for us winter semester kids, it looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings (see the photos below for comparison).


Now the following is a very realistic rendition of one of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings in which Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are having a tussle.  I'm sure you can clearly tell who is what and what is going on, but just in case you left your glasses in the other room- I'm Sam, holding back Frodo, who is being attacked by Gollum.  All centered around... a Hebrew CTR ring.  I love my friends.
Inline image 2

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quick Rundown

Things that happened this week:
  • I entered into a competition with a classmate to see who could win the most Freecell games in thirty minutes.  I won, completing ten games to his six.  I have seriously mixed feelings about that victory.
  • I visited a ma made pond full of teeny tiny fish that eat dead skin off your feet.  I didn't believe they were actually there until I stopped treading water and felt them nip at my toes.  Within minutes, they were swarming me, and I was filled with visions of teeny fish overwhelming me and dragging my body below the water to be lost forever.  I was biting down on my towel to keep from screaming, that's how terrifying the experience was.  I wish I had a picture, or the words to describe how simultaneously gross and fascinating was the sensation (in the words of my sisters, "groscinating").  I can only describe the sensation in two ways: as if my feet were full of pop rocks, or as if my feet were experiencing intense pins and needles.  On the bright side, my feet are nice and smooth now.
  • A couple of days before we left Galilee, another American tour group showed up.  That was weird. Seeing other white college kids in OUR Israeli resort during OUR semester abroad?  Who do they think they are? We hung out a little bit, but mostly avoided each other.  I don't remember how to socialize, which does not bode well for my imminent entrance into the BYU social sphere.
  • I rediscovered YouTube and have spent quite a bit of time in our little bungalow, frantically downloading as much American music as I can.  
All things considered, I'm happy as a clam.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hot, Hot, Hot

I come from a long line of sheltered, indoorsy people.  My heritage is predominantly European (with that one Native American princess thrown in there about 58 generations back), and as such, I have a very fair complexion.  That's a nice way of saying I have translucent, white as a sheet, makes me look like I have perpetual meth eyes skin.

This is something I've understood and embraced for quite some time now.  Aaaand yet... every summer I convince myself I'm immune to the sun.  This year will be different.  This year I'll rotate regularly and not burn.  Yeah, well this year I'll win the lottery and move to Cancun.  I always roast, regret my decisions, and spend the rest of the summer safely cocooned in SPF 50 sunblock

Well I'm not one to break tradition.  My first day on the beach I applied sunscreen to my face and figured I was good.  I briefly wiped off my hands onto my upper thighs and settled into a beach chair for a long afternoon of sun and sand.  At about four I started feeling a little crisp.  At five, the burn started setting in.  My face was fine.  My chest was mighty burnt.  But the best burn of all was my legs...

Like I mentioned previously, after I was done applying sunblock to my face, there was just a weensy wooney bit left on my hands, which I rubbed off onto my legs.

Four hours later, guess how my legs look?

 That white splotchy shiz is where I rubbed my hands on my legs... unburnt skin.  I honestly thought I had a rash for about forty five minutes.  Then I realized I'm just going to have the stupidest tan line in the world.  Story of my life.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Everyone's afraid of something.  It's something I like to ask people to break the ice, because the things that scare you and how you react to them are indicative of personality.  In my discussions, I like to break things down in to three categories: mental, physical, and irrational.  As far as I can tell, I have more irrational fears than mental or physical.  Dolphins are the biggest-but that's a story for another time.  The most pressing fear at the time is my irrational fear of birds.

At the moment there are three pigeons nesting in the rafters of our patio.  I didn't realize they were there until yesterday morning when I was sitting, minding my own business, and one flew down and scared the spit out of me.  Now it's Saturday morning and I've been sitting on the couch for the last hour, catching up on things, watching the same one pigeon fly down, pick up the same thin piece of wood, fly up to the rafters and drop the wood.  Then repeat after a minute or two.

I thought it was the same few twigs... until I walked outside.  Our table is covered in twigs and wood.  These stupid sky rats are bringing in nest material and littering our patio with it.  I just chased them off, but they'll be back.  Bless their hearts, they won't let a giant with a broom get in the way of building a nest on a four inch wide slab of concrete.

Really, it's their beady little eyes that seem to follow me and their flappy little wings that send me into a frenzy.  I feel like they're watching me, waiting for the opportune moment to fly into my hair and carry me away to their nest where I'll be pecked to death.  Then I remember that I'm probably at least six times bigger than most birds.  And losing my composure in public because a bird startled me is just embarrassing at my age.  
Real life photos of bird induced panic
You can't fake this stuff.
Maybe it's because my ninth grade English teacher made us watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, and I still vividly remember how the birds pecked people's eyes out (mostly because the blood looked like ketchup).  Maybe it's because they really are mental bullies of the sky.  Either way, they give me the heebie jeebies and I'll be relieved to get back to my bird-less patio at the JC.

UPDATE: I swear the momma bird is STARING at me, challenging me.  If it came to a fight, I honestly think she'd win.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wait, This Again?

Clearly I have space dissociative problems or something.  This morning I came back in from the beach.  I popped in the bathroom, started brushing my hair, realized I was using someone else's brush and stopped.  I came out of the bathroom and went to the couch to grab my computer.  Alas, it wasn't there.  Nor was my iPad.  In fact, as I looked up, I realized that NONE of my things were there, namely because I was in someone else's room.  Without saying a thing or making a noise, I turned and walked out of the room.  Thankfully it was a bungalow housing my classmates, and even more thankfully, whoever was in the bedroom didn't notice me making myself at home.  They say the third time's the charm, but this is the third time this has happened this semester.  What does that mean?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Mom Deserves the Praise on This Day (Not Me)

It's that time of year.  Time for me to write up a list, send out invitations, and buy a cake.  Yep, I'm talking about my birthday.  I didn't actually tell anyone because I get uncomfortable when people wish me happy birthday.  I don't know what it is- something about being the center of attention causes me to freeze like a deer in headlights.  It's the same awkwardness that overtakes me when people compliment me, and I almost always answer with "you too!" then uncomfortably walk away like an idiot.

Although only a small handful of people knew it was my special day, and the morning started with three solid hours of New Testament studies, my twentieth was the best birthday of my life.

I spent the afternoon swimming (read: burning on the beach like an albino in the midday July sun) in the Sea of Galilee.  I skyped my parents for the first time in months.  My classmates sang "Happy Birthday" to me in Hebrew.  I played night games at a bonfire on the beach.  I almost ruined my surprise birthday party, and was subsequently delighted by my surprise birthday party (no, but really- I love surprises).  Finally, I ended the night with sparklers on the beach.

I'm 100% freaked out that I'm not any kind of teenager anymore, but 100% excited to welcome in a new decade.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Try to Get As Much of the Scenery in as Possible!"

Every week we see something important and experience something new.  Everything is different and exhilarating here, and we are eager to take it in.  We are even more eager to remember it.  And what better way to remember a moment than to photograph it?

Since there is a grand total of 81 students clamoring for individual photos on separate cameras, there is a lot of camera trading that goes on.  It’s the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” concept… JC style.  “Will you take a picture for me?  We can trade places afterward and I’ll take one of you!”

Of course things were only exacerbated in Turkey, where every moment became a Kodak moment and there was a lot of “will you take another, but long ways this time?” going on.  I wish I had kept count, because I’m sure there were days where I took more photos than I was in.

Anyways, this wind up is leading to a story, I promise.  Apparently my subconscious is through with taking pictures.  Last week I dreamed my classmates were asking me to take pictures for them.  They handed me their camera, and I backed up to try to get a better vantage point.  Apparently I was super serious about getting these pictures, because I woke myself up moving backwards, looked down at my empty hands and realized I was dreaming.  In my sleep deprived state, I wasn't sure if the camera was missing or just not real.  At that point, I went back to sleep and tried to explain to the subject of the photo how their camera was suddenly AWOL.

It would be funny if that happened to me once.   Unusual if it occurred twice.  But after a third time, it was just obnoxious.  I try to get the most out of the little sleep I get, and I don't appreciate dream shenanigans getting in the way of my REM cycle.  For sanity's sake, next time someone asks me to take a picture, the answer is going to be a sound "not for a million pitas."  

Monday, March 25, 2013

(Insert Asinine Song Lyric Here)

I am in love.  Nineteen years old and I've found love.  Ain't I the luckiest?

Once upon a time, Jerusalem Center students went to Egypt mid semester.  Then the Egyptian revolts began and the Egypt trip was cancelled.  When I found out I wasn't going to Egypt, I was very disappointed.  Who doesn't want to visit an Egyptian pyramid and incur the wrath of an angry dead Egyptian pharaoh, accidentally bring angry pharaoh back to life, become the bride of said undead pharaoh, then send him back to the grave?  (Okay, so everything I know about Egypt stems from The Mummy, get over it.)  Since the overthrows and government upsets began, the Egypt trip has been substituted for a week in Turkey.

And what a week it was.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the fifteen or so pictures I included still don't do the country or my trip fair justice.  But it'll have to do:

Turkish "Delight."  All I could think was "holy crap, that Narnia kid sold his siblings out for this shiz?"
Blue Mosque
Hagia Sophia

This man had the most phenomenal mustache I've ever seen in real life.
You bet I (literally) chased him down to ask for a picture.
Oh this old thing?  I bought it in Istanbul... but no big deal.
WHY would they only allot an hour in the Grand Bazaar when treasures like
 taxidermied goats modeling men's trousers are to be found?
4,000 shops = 4,000 shopkeepers to bully me into buying their marked up trinkets. 
That giant black hole behind us is the out-of-operation Trojan Horse that tourists usually
 climb into and take pictures. Unfortunately, it was covered for fun killing purposes (or
maintenance... same difference), so we made our own photo op.  Hooray for Troy!
I LOVE the Mediterranean Sea!
Honoring the Isle of Lesbos behind us
Mom I didn't even have to carve my name into this one... the Romans beat me to it!
A little piece of home everywhere.  My single regret of the trip is that I didn't try the McTurko
I honestly don't even remember where this was taken.  Somewhere historic or something. 
We got to walk off the plane and it was phenomenal.  I felt like a movie star.
(Also yes, that's my ukulele in hand.  I really enjoyed playing that in airport lines before
AND after our red eye flight.  Everyone else... probably not so much)
Our teacher played the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" at least eight times during the week.  We spent over 20 hours on our travel bus.  I had lentil soup twice a day almost every day of the week.  The Turks include more mint in their food than I've ever heretofore experienced.  Stargazing is a completely different experience on a dock of the Marmara Sea.  Fresh, non commercialized oranges are good enough to eat four in one sitting.  White chocolate hazelnut spread is heaven.

Egypt schmegypt.  Turkey is where it's at!

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Believe In YOU, Ryan Gosling

Yes, I printed out that picture and put it on each classroom door to boost student morale this morning.  Yes, I believe that Ryan Gosling believes in me.  Yes, it is almost undeniably true that his support is what motivated me not to break down in the middle of my Old Testament exam.

That's right, I'm done!  It was not my finest exam.  For the questions I wasn't able to answer, I inserted jokes or pictures instead.  Please explain Isaiah 1:4-5 and the corresponding Hebrew phrase discussed in class, including relevant scriptures?  Please accept my drawing of a snowman in lieu of an answer.

Again, the important thing is that I'm finished.  Today marks the halfway point of the semester, which is unbelievable.  Our teachers keep saying that the better half of the semester is about to begin, which is baffling.  The semester is going to be measurably better than it already has been?  How?

As we finish classes and prepare to begin our studies of the New Testament, I've been thinking a lot about goals and habits and how our every day actions shape us.  I had no expectations upon arrival, no goals, and no direction.  I only hoped that I would make friends and find direction.

Since my arrival, I have indeed made friends and maybe established a major for myself.  I'm still goal-less, and a little unfocused, but I am making big plans to change all of that.  And from what I hear, the best way to keep a goal is to write it down and share it with friends or family, to motivate and inspire you to keep said goal.  So here goes:

My goals for the rest of the semester are
  • Follow a pattern of daily personal scriptures study
  • Set small daily goals that are easy and worth accomplishing
  • Start every day with a positive outlook
  • Follow every verbal complaint with two positive affirmations
I don't know where this will leave me in two months, but I hope it's somewhere worth noting.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Study, Facebook, Eat, Sleep. (Repeat)

In some places, people are packing their finest beach wear, prepping for a week of debauchery and wild, crazy parties.  In some places, people are sleeping and de-stressing.  In some places, people are having fun and enjoying their life.

In the Jerusalem Center, people are frantically trading notes, reviewing flashcards, memorizing terms, and praying to God for help on whatever mountain is ahead.
Studying: the world's leading cause of
spontaneous napping

Welcome to finals week, where everything is made up and the points don't matter.

Unfortunately, the more important a task is, the more likely I am to panic and shut down.  I've probably read more books in the last three days than in the last three months.  Fortunately, I have a great short term memory.  Suddenly I'm having flashbacks to December of my freshman year.  I'm living in a small, confined space with the same small group of people.  None of us are really sure what to expect, so we prepare for the worst and hope for a miracle.  Luckily, I wrote a guide to this exact scenario once upon a time.  This semester, my focus is "C's Get Degrees."  So far, I'm doing a little better than C's... but the sentiment is the same.

Three papers, two finals, and one  midterm down.  Two finals, one research paper to go.  Here's to hoping I still have a future ahead of me after Friday.