Tuesday, May 20, 2008

update #2

Hello again! I *loved* getting all the replies that I did to my last little update...it's wonderful to hear that things are going well for all of you. So thank you for writing back to me, and please, continue to do so! :)

I think I'm going to do things a little differently this time and go in reverse chronological order. Maybe it's because I spend 4 hours of very weekday looking at resumes, maybe it's because I'm tired, but whatever the case, that just seems like the easiest thing.

This Sunday and the Sunday before I've practiced with the church choir. We sound great and it's fun to realize that, even though I sang alto for a choir class the past two semesters, I can still get to that high F with a little warm up! We're doing a song with a rather high soprano part, but I think once we all get the hang of it, it'll be really pretty. I was also asked to direct the music for the women's meeting every Sunday. It's a very low-stress kind of calling, plus I get some more practice with my 3/4s and 4/4s and such! I just really enjoy singing; my roommates humor me when I walk around the apartment singing whatever happens to be in my head, I listen to music (turned up loud) while I do homework, I love to take car trips with the stereo going and everyone singing along. It's just a good thing.

Speaking of car trips though, yesterday SO fun -- and it explains why I'm tired today, and slightly sunburnt. I did put on sunscreen, by the way, I just missed a spot or two. About an hour north of Rexburg, within the Targee National Forest, is Mesa Falls. Natalie and Chelsea and I drove up there yesterday, and none of us had been there before so we didn't know what to expect.There's a picture attached -- it was so beautiful. The funny thing is that there's enough snow up there over the winter -- like 8 feet! -- that even at the end of May, with 80 degree weather, there was a ton of snow! Every time we got too hot, we'd start a snowball fight, in our shorts and t-shirts. It was great -- there's a picture of me in the snow attached too. The waterfall itself was splendid. The smell of misty wet air, plus pine, plus the sound of waterfall...ahhh. The only thing that would have made it better would be if Cindy Lynn had been there with us. But fortunately she'll be here THIS WEEK, and I'll get to hang out with my best friend for three weeks STRAIGHT. It's going to be wonderful.

This week my supervisor, Barbara, came in to observe me at work. I've been working on my own (without Rachel, my trainer) since 9th, but Friday was the first time that Barbara has seen me in action. And she said I did great! "I'm saying kind of nit-picky things, but you did so great that they're really the only things I have to tell you! You have a handle on it that some new mentors don't ever get their first semester, but you've totally got it already." I was so glad to know that she thought I was doing a good job! I really love my job. There are certainly days when I wish I could sleep for another hour or two, or some appointments that are like pulling teeth to get people to understand, but overall I'm really fortunate. I'm basically teaching life skills to people...the things I teach them could help them to get the jobs they really want, to support their families. That's so cool.

Classes are going well, too. I had a presentation in Spanish and got way more anxious about it than I should have. I had to speak totally in Spanish, but since I was aloud to notes it was completely fine. Plus the class was really good about participating and answering questions. I was the very first person in class to present, because I wanted to get it over with, and my professor, Brother Widdison, said I really set a high standard for the rest of the class. I'm satisfied with the effort I put in. Oh, and get this -- no one was really aware of this before, but Brother Widdison said recently that the readings get progressively harder as the semester goes along. So I'm REALLY glad I got my presentation over and done with! Spanish class is a lot of work to begin with; why would I want to translate, understand, and then present a particularly hard story? Oh -- and then I also gave a presentation in my Dating, Engagement and Courtship class. To those of you who helped me with that, THANK YOU! It went really well and was very relaxed because we had a "panel of experts" -- people who had written papers and conducted interviews on the toped -- so it wasn't like it was just me. I think the class (including yours truly) got a lot out of the experience.

Let's see, I also went on a date recently. My roommate Caitie has a boyfriend, Doug, and they set me up with one of Doug's former roommates. It actually ended up being a triple date because one of Doug's current roommates and his fiancee were there too. We had dinner at Doug's apartment (it was soo yummy) and then the plan was that we'd all go to a movie afterwards. However, my date, Anselmo, had to go to work, and I had homework to do anyway, so we were just going to part ways after dinner. I thought that everyone else could just drop me off at home at the way to the movie -- but then Anselmo offered to drive me home! He was very much a gentleman, opening the car door for me, walking me up to the door of my apartment. If it hadn't been for the fact that there were 6 people at dinner, the conversation would have dragged. But, in the car and walking me to my apartment, Anselmo and I chatted and it was great fun. Chelsea, my roommate, was so funny -- she was in her room when she heard us come in, so she decided to "get a drink" and see what my date looked like! He was very very cute, by the way, Brazilian at that. But since there wasn't any big **chemistry** or anything, I'm neither surprised nor disappointed that I haven't heard from him since our date. All in all it was just a good experience ...there really ARE nice guys around here! ...And for the record, there are some cute guys in my classes, and at church, but no one that I know very well. But I'll be sure to keep you posted.

And I think that's it! As you can see, life is going really well -- busy, but excellent. And it'll be just about PERFECT when Cindy gets here for her visit! I'll be able to tell you all about that in my next letter. In the meantime, however, please fill me in on how your life is going. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

an update to...everyone I know!

Well! Here I am, back at school! Last week was all getting ready, getting used to things, etc., so this week it was just Life of a Student in full force. I love it though, I've gotta say. Yes, I'm insanely busy, but I feel so productive and things have this fascinating habit of always moving, requiring adaptation and focus.

For example, I am working while I am in school. This is the first time I've done this, because I was so terrified that it was going to go on my "Worst Ideas Ever" list. In past semesters I have been quickly overwhelmed, so I thought adding in 4 hours of work Monday through Friday would put me on the edge of a nervous breakdown. It's been quite the opposite, however. Being so busy has really helped me to stay focused on what I need to do as far as assignments and deadlines and all that goes, but also just my personal needs: "Have I had enough social time?" "Did I take 15 minutes to meditate today?" "Which is more important right this second -- cleaning my room or chilling in front of the TV?" It's a helpful and interesting way to study me, while I study English. -grin-

And, of course, it doesn't hurt that my job is just really interesting. I work in the Career Preparation department on campus as a CP Mentor. I'm still in training, so I mostly just observe for now. Within the next week or two, however, I'll be spending more and more of my time teaching resume-writing principles, conducting practice interviews, and reviewing cover letters. I never knew there were so many things that go into impressing a prospective employer -- among my first thoughts was "How on earth did *I* get hired?!?" -- but when you do it right, it really makes a difference. Rachel, the girl who is training me, is so nice and sometimes we sit and just chat between appointments. I asked her today if she thought it would be OK if I started heading our appointments (still under her supervision though) since observing was really getting boring. She said yes, so next week I'll jump in to talking the students through their resumes and asking them intimidating interview questions. Bwahaha.

Since I work from 8:15am to noon, I zip home and eat lunch, only to walk out the door again to go to classes. I'm enjoying all of my classes so far... but do you ever suspect that you're the annoying kid who always has something to say, but never really says anything important?? I feel like that a little in my Grammar class, because my professor is so funny and silly, and I sit at the front of the room, so I find myself making a lot of smart-aleck comments. I mean, I contribute in other ways as well, of course. Like asking questions -- I've never done sentence diagramming before in my LIFE, but fortunately I'm picking it up pretty well. Mostly. (Pop quiz! What's a subjective complement? ...Eh, don't worry, I'm not sure I know either.)

I'm taking my last Spanish class -- it's required as part of my generals, but it's a Hispanic literature class. I was so intimidated by this class. I love literature, but surely expecting me to read, write, and analytically converse *in another language* is a little over the top! Much like work, however, it hasn't been nearly as big of a deal as I thought it would be. We sing hymns in Spanish, and answer questions on our reading assignments for homework, and talk about basic plot and character and setting. "Lencho es un hombre de mucha fe" is much easier than say, the symbolism of the lemonade that the old woman gave the architect. In Spanish. :-P

I was taking a business class, but after a week of trying to figure out the simulation (like SimCity, but SimBusiness, basically,) and not feeling like class time was at all productive, and spending 3 hours every night doing homework, I decided I just didn't CARE enough about it to put in that much work! So I dropped the class and, after much hunting, and some groveling too, found a different class that fit into the same slot on my schedule. Get this though -- I'm taking Family Studies 200: Dating, Courtship, and Engagement. How's that for ridiculous??? ONLY an LDS school would have a class like that!!! ...All "silly Mormons!" comments aside, though, I think I'm going to enjoy it. It's a definite study of what love is, how and why people date, how we have to focus on who WE are rather than anyone else, and what God has to do with this equation in general. We're reading some very wise doctrinal stuff to this effect.

I'm also taking a World Religions class. It wasn't the religion class I wanted to take this semester, but it fit too well to pass up, so I took it anyway. And I'm so glad I did! I'm so intrigued by other cultures, and really, religion is a HUGE part of any culture -- even ours, as much as we Americans try to deny it sometimes. Plus there's is a lot to be gained from seeking out the good and true in other religions. I think that God works with truth in whatever form it comes. Oh -- and my professor is teaching us meditation. It's not as Eastern and cheesy as it sounds. Here's a metaphor for you -- think about the sky. It can have big fat storm clouds, or clouds that seem to race by, or, ideally, fluffy, floaty clouds. The clouds are your thoughts, and the blue sky behind them is your mind. The point of meditation is to calm your storm- or racing-cloud thoughts so that you can just watch them float by. By letting go, focusing on your breathing, and relaxing, I've found it's actually way more productive for problem-solving because you're inviting God to be a part of it. So cool.

And that brings me to my favorite -- Creative Writing. Honestly, I came home from this class and told everyone, "I fell in love today." Needless to say, this created much more excitement and raised eyebrows than I was planning! They were all a little disappointed that it was a class and not a boy. But really, it's a FABULOUS class. We're analyzing poems and literature and such, but from a writer's perspective, and our textbooks are funny (I didn't know that was possible!) and being in a room with THAT many writers all together was like coming home. Nirvana, I swear. (and I am actually allowed to reference nirvana now -- we talked about it in my World Religion class!)

You know what else is pretty great? Getting the cream of the crop when it comes to roommates. Chelsea is from last semester, and Cindy and I loved and adored her and decided we'd keep her. Then there's Natalie, who is Cindy's uncle's wife's sister, and who I just love already. She's a girl after my own heart -- silly bordering on just a little crazy, and low-key too. Then there's Caitie, who doesn't spend a lot of time at home -- she's got those "popular" girl vibes, but is really sweet. And....-sigh-....there's the OTHER love of my life (other than my class I mean)...Cindy. Cindy won't be at school with me for another couple of weeks. It just KILLS to not have your best friend around, in the one setting you actually HAVE had her around nonstop, much to your delight. But, like we keep telling each other, it's only a couple of weeks and we talk on the phone every day. Somehow we'll manage...maybe. Hopefully. -sniffle sniff sniffle-

Anyway....I don't think there's much more to tell right now! This is like a MILE long, but if you're reading this you've stuck with me, and I much appreciate it. Don't feel obligated to reply at similar length, but please, do reply! I want to hear how you are doing and make sure you know I think you're pretty great. :) (...Oh, and if you think anyone else would like to hear from me, please feel free to forward this to them!)

I don't know how often these updates will come out -- that will just depend on homework and life in general -- but I look forward to writing you again at some point with another moment in the life of Sara!

Take care, and much love to ya.