Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In which I've got all this free time and it's super weird.

Yesterday I learned that there is no graceful way to answer the question, "What are you up to these days?" when you're up to absolutely nothing.

See, I graduated. And then I was substitute teaching. And then I was taking a two-week Kodaly course at BYU. But all of those are over now, and I've got about three weeks until the next adventure, which isn't enough time to get a job or anything, so I'm still kind of working on figuring out ways to use the time. Which makes answering questions about my daily activities kind of interesting. Explaining the situation in its entirety takes a little long, and, well, I'll let you see the other answers I've come up with.

"What are you up to these days, Karissa?"

  • "Oh, you know...nothing."
  • "I'm between life stages at the moment."
  • "Being unemployed. It's great. Oh, no, you don't need to put in a good word for me anywhere. I don't actually want a job right now.../"
  • "Well, yesterday I cleaned my apartment so thoroughly that I ran out of cleaning supplies!"
  • "Donating plasma as often as possible. Did you know they give you a free T-shirt the first time?"
  • "Trying to use up all of the gift certificates I've acquired in my time in Provo. I'm almost halfway done!"
  • "I mostly just sit on the couch counting the hours until my boyfriend gets home so I can make out with him."



Yeah, my life sounds pretty lame from the outside. But I'm working on some good ways to fill the time. I have a few musical instruments I need to learn before the school year starts, and a crock pot that has still never been used. So maybe I'll have better answers soon. In the meantime, any good suggestions for how I can succinctly answer people's inquiries about my life?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

If I were still a blogger...

I feel like I've lost the whatever-it-was that made me a blogger. That fire where words would build up inside of me and I had to rush to my computer and type until they were out. Which is a shame, because if I still had that fire, if I were still a blogger, there is so much I would tell you.

I would tell you about the bike ride I went on the other day, and how I stopped by the river and watched it awhile, thinking of how such a calm thing can seem so terrifying when you watch it long enough, trampling itself in a rush to get downstream, like a stampede out of a burning movie theater, or tomorrow morning coming sooner than you'd like.

I would tell you about the 5.10c I climbed day before yesterday, and the satisfaction I felt when I high-fived the chains at the top.

I would tell you about how I'm sick this week, and spend every minute of my sub job hoping that the next class will decide they don't need to come to music today so I can rest...and how, since it's the last week of school, my wish is often granted.

I would tell you about how so many of my best friends are getting married and having babies lately, and how happy I am for them.

I would tell you about the amazing roommates I've had this year, the job I found for the fall, and my sweet, wonderful boyfriend.

I would tell you how hard I find it to lose weight while still maintaining a positive body image, and how I wish I could go back to my high school metabolism.

And maybe I will later. But for today, I am all out of words.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In which student teaching is a bit rough

Here's the thing about kids:

They are incredibly easy to love.

They are also incredibly easy to become frustrated with.

Today was my first full day soloing; my mentor teacher was at an all-day meeting, so it was all me.

And I said some things I regret.

And slipped into my impatient, sardonic voice for too much of the day.

And responded to too many requests by sighing and staring at the ceiling.

These kids are so tough, but so fragile, and I worry that one of those sighs, frowns, or tired outbursts will permanently break a small part of them.

All I can do is try again tomorrow. Write a few more kind notes, and recognize the wonderful things my students do, and mete out discipline in a measured, even tone, rather than sniping.

All I can do is remind myself that I love these munchkins, even when they're doing all they can to make me forget.

And then keep doing it again and again for the rest of my life,

because even when I get tired of hearing it repeated ad nauseum,

My favorite name to be called is "Teacher."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

In which the cold never bothered me, anyway

This weekend, I went with my family to see Disney's new animated film, Frozen. And I was blown away. I loved almost everything about this movie. The music! The animation! The fact that the romantic subplot is a subplot, and not the story's main focus! The music! Sisterly bonding! Olaf the snowman! The music!

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that I walked out of the movie theater with a mind full of new thoughts and a resolution to change my behavior in accordance with these thoughts. Here are a few things I learned from Frozen:
  • When you are blessed with a gift, you can use it to create or to destroy. When you seek to control a gift with fear, it will almost always lead to destruction. When you use your gift with love, you create beauty and joy.
  • Trying to solve a problem by shutting yourself off from others and from your own emotions is often more damaging than the problem itself. Letting people into your life can be scary, messy, and complicated, but it also allows love to flow into your life, which increases your capability to face challenges.
  • "People make bad choices when they're mad or scared or stressed, but throw a little love their way, and you'll bring out their best": When people act in hurtful or destructive ways, it is most often out of pain or fear, rather than maliciousness.
  • True love is putting others' needs before your own. True love can be found in any relationship, not just romantic ones.
  • "Everyone's a bit of a fixer-upper": we've all got flaws and challenges, but we can help each other to overcome them.
  • Reindeers are better than people, but people smell better than reindeers.
I've been thinking a lot today about what my gifts are, and how I can use them with love instead of trying to harness them with fear. I also wore deodorant today, in an effort to continue smelling better than reindeers. See, people? Life-changing epiphanies all over the place here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In which I attempt to set a New Year's Resolution

Today in church, someone made the statement that God's defining characteristics are creation and compassion. I haven't been able to stop thinking about that all day. How wonderful, that the two most godly attributes are the ability to create beauty, and to love each other.

I think I want to make these two attributes the focus of the coming year, but I'm not sure how. I think I'm pretty clear on what compassion is, but how encompassing is the idea of creation? Is spending time with a friend an act of creation, because you're creating a bond? What about playing an instrument? If you didn't compose the song, does it still count as creation, because you're creating the sound itself? Does a product have to be completely original to be creative?

Readers, what do you think? How do you exhibit creativity and compassion in your lives?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In which I'm longing to escape

I just really want to run away to the mountains right now.

Forget about my classes, my job, the event I'm running for work tonight....

I just want to hop in my car and drive up the canyon until I can't see the valley anymore....

and then wander through the orange-red-yellow trees until I feel myself disappear...my thoughts, hopes, and worries dissipating...until I am nothing but legs and lungs in a forest....and then when I return to myself, I will be that much more refreshed and reenergized.

but sadly

though "the woods are lovely, dark and deep...

I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."


Sunday, September 29, 2013

In which I actually talk about my life

So. Hi.

I don't post about my actual, day-to-day life very much on my blog. But for some reason, today I really want to. So here you have it: an update on the life of Riss.

I'm in my last semester of school before I student teach. I would say it's bittersweet, but it's not. It's just straight-up sweet. I love school, and I love learning, but if I had to spend one more semester sitting at a desk listening to someone else lecture at me about how to teach, I would tear my hair out. I am so incredibly excited to start practicum next month, and then to start student teaching in January. Not so excited for the job hunt that will inevitably follow graduation, but...c'est la vie.

After 3 years of living in the same apartment complex, I've finally moved. I'm living in a house called Ingleside with two friends I've had since I was tiny, and three fantastic new friends (yes, the name of our house is an Anne of Green Gables reference. Yes, that may be why we chose it). Our house looks creepy from the outside, with its partially broken picket fence and its peeling white paint, but on the inside, it is the most charming place I've ever lived. Every room is painted a different color (mine is lavender), the couches remind me of my great-grandmother, and the bathroom is the nicest I've ever had in an apartment (we're talking marble-looking counter and Ikea space-saving shelving here). Also, we have a washer and dryer in a tiny closet off the kitchen. I will never be able to go back to doing my laundry in a laundromat.

In what feels like the most grown-up thing I've done...ever, I bought a car. I am now an official adult, assuming that making a monthly car payment is what makes you an adult. She's a navy blue Subaru Outback that I've named Lydia and decorated with a stuffed T-Rex on the dash and my Timeturner and Scout camp totem hanging from the mirror. She's got a little bit of work that needs to be done, but I love her just the same. It's incredible the feeling of freedom having a car brings me. If I want to go to the grocery store, I just get in the car and drive down the street. If I want to plan a social outing, I don't need to purposely invite someone who can drive. It's sort of wonderful.

I started therapy again, after taking a two year break. I'm hoping my counselor can help me work through some of the questions I raised in this post. Goodness gracious though, I had forgotten how much therapy hurts. It was like spending an hour getting Band-Aids ripped off of various wounds, only to be sent out the door without any additional treatment, just a cheery, "See you in two weeks!" This better be worth it.

I honestly kind of feel like I'm drowning in the demands of school and work lately. Oh, and I get to present at a conference in Portland in a couple of weeks, but instead of the excitement I should be feeling, I mostly feel overwhelmed at the prospect of getting my presentation over with while also staying on top of my homework. There are so many things I miss doing that I wish I could spend my time on (hiking, camping, rock climbing, and playing the piano, to name a few), but I just don't feel like I have time. But maybe if I spent less time taking homework breaks to watch Lizzie Bennet Diaries...

I'm reading Moby-Dick right now. This isn't actually breaking news, since I've been reading it a bit at a time since about June. Melville is a master of the English language, but my goodness is his prose dense. I feel like I've been reading for ages and they just barely mentioned the whale by name in the last chapter. I may need to find a lighter, more compelling book to read on the side while I plow my way through Ishmael's adventures. Any recommendations?

I have this lingering sense of discontent that I can't identify the source of. I wish I knew how to eliminate it and feel excitement for life again. Because there's a lot to be excited about in my life right now. New (to me) house and car. Practicum. Road-tripping to Portland. General Conference this weekend. Leaves changing color. I just need to figure out a way to let myself enjoy it again.