Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Well, I'm home(ish)! I'm actually at Dad's office, but I'm on my way home, and I'm mostly there. The trip was super and I'm so glad I got to go and see my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew (did I mention he's adorable?), and some friends. I also had some great time for thinking, many thoughts to process, and some great phone conversations with FavoriteBoy. I went to a graduation barbecue on Saturday, and I went to Blessed Sacrament on Sunday and then spent time with Sharon hearing all about Cameroon. Sunday evening I had pizza and watched Napoleon Dynamite with Libby and Jonathan... heck yes I did. Yesterday included going to the mall with Emily, Libby, and baby Jonathan just for fun, and then after dinner, Coldstone in Brea with Emily, Gabe, and Jonathan as a sort of early birthday celebration for me. All in all it was a very fun trip... whee!

Check this out: Stand on the shoulders of giants.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Efforts and Affirmation

When you play with someone's baby girl for a while, trying your best to entertain her and keep her happy, it's nice to hear the mom say, "you're really good with children."

When you try to be a sparkling conversationalist and keep things flowing smoothly while catching up with a friend, it's nice to hear her say, "you ask really good questions."

Friday, May 27, 2005

Torrey Graduation

When I was at the airport on my way here to SoCal, a lady in line behind me said, "Your hair is a really pretty color."

I went to Torrey graduation today and watched my friends - my former classmates - graduate, and saw some wonderful people like Courtney, Becka, Sharon, and many others.

Life is good.

Time With Family

I am in Southern California, spending my days holding, changing, cuddling, and playing with the most adorable baby boy currently in this world. Yes... my nephew is perfect and cute from head to toe!

Wednesday I babysat for almost nine hours while Emily and Gabe went out to celebrate their anniversary. We had a great time, baby Jonathan and I. Libby came over for part of the time too, and that was splendid.

Yesterday I went with Emily to her "Mom's group" in the park. I had a marvelous time and the whole experience was like a breath of fresh air. I got to play with three cute babies and observe three wonderful mothers, one of whom struck me as rather exactly the sort of mother I would be, if I ever become a mother. It was great. Then yesterday evening I went to the senior recital of a violinist at Biola, a girl I was friends and classmates with during my freshman year. I saw a few old friends and talked to the violin teacher here, whom I studied with for one semester during my freshman year. It's a small world - she used to study with the man who is now my teacher! It was nice to talk to her. I also talked to Kelly, another violinist graduating this year. It was nice to talk to someone who is basically in the same position in life that I am, grappling with the same questions, issues, and concerns, and dealing with the same sort of stress.

This morning I've held Baby Jonathan almost all morning. When I would put him down, he'd cry, but when I'd hold him, he'd snooze... so I held him all morning and it was wonderful. Emily took some cute pictures of him snuggled up against my chest as I lay on my back on the couch. He's just a cutie pie. I will post some pictures sometime, I'm sure.

Today is Torrey graduation!

As you can tell, I'm having a great time. It's weird; time in the world of a stay-at-home Mom-of-a-baby seems to go at once both incredibly fast and incredibly slowly - I can't really explain it but that's how it feels. I love it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Assorted Thoughts

A final post before lunch break ends and I return to the grind of creating help files for PatternSmith.

So, hi. Tomorrow I board a plane for Southern California, where I shall finally see my nephew Jonathan! I am excited beyond words. I'll get to spend some great time with Emily, Gabe, Libby, and other friends... and I'll also get to go to Laurel's senior recital, Torrey graduation, and... who knows what else! But it will all be so much fun.

I forgot to say that at the end of the semester I got a water bottle that says "100 mile club" because during the course of the semester I ran 100 miles. (Hold your applause...) It was an accomplishment for me and I'm glad I did it.

Jonathan's girlfriend visited this past weekend and she's super. People keep saying that she and I look alike - one man once thought we were sisters. Weird. I like her a lot, and I like how my brother is such a smashingly wonderful gentleman to her, too. It's all just great.

I read The Man Who Was Thursday, and it's left my mind all a-jumble. It's very odd, and I'm not sure I understand it at all, but at the same time I recommend it heartily, if that makes any sense.

I've had I Know That My Redeemer Liveth running through my head for the past few days. If you must have a song stuck in your head, I recommend this one. "And though worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God" - this is one of the best parts.

In other news, have I mentioned yet what my violin repertoire for the summer/fall is to be? Well, here it is: Tchaikovsky concerto (!!!), Ravel Tzigane (!!!), Mendelssohn F Major sonata, Vaughn-Williams The Lark Ascending, and Bach a minor solo sonata. Among other things. I had better get cracking.

I'm a bit lonely at the moment.

Reynolds on Homeschooling

This is very nice.
From Dr. Reynolds' blog: a Washington Post article on Phillip Johnson.

Doubting Rationalist

By Michael Powell


"The Washington Post is not one of my biggest fans, you know that."


The Washington Post reporter has just walked out of a spray of Pacific-borne rain into the living room of a modest bungalow west of downtown. There's a shag rug, an inspirational painting or two and Phillip Johnson, dressed in tan slacks and a sweater and sitting on a couch. He pulls a dog-eared copy of a Post editorial out of his shirt pocket and reads aloud:

"With their slick Web sites, pseudo-academic conferences and savvy public relations, the proponents of 'intelligent design' -- a 'theory' that challenges the validity of Darwinian evolution -- are far more sophisticated than the creationists of yore. . . . They succeed by casting doubt on evolution."

The 65-year-old Johnson swivels his formidable and balding head -- with that even more formidable brain inside -- and gazes over his reading glasses at the reporter (who doesn't labor for the people who write the editorials).

"I suppose you think creation is all about unguided material processes, don't you? Well, I don't have the slightest trouble accepting microevolution as the cause behind the adaptation of the peppered moth and the growth of finches' beaks. But I don't see that evolutionists have any cause for jubilation there.

"It doesn't tell you how the moths and birds and trees got there in the first place. The human body is packed with marvels, eyes and lungs and cells, and evolutionary gradualism can't account for that."

He's not big on small talk, this professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley's law school.

For centuries, scriptural literalists have insisted that God created Heaven and Earth in seven days, that the world is about 6,000 years old and fossils are figments of the paleontological imagination. Their grasp on popular opinion was strong, but they have suffered a half-century's worth of defeats in the courts and lampooning by the intelligentsia.

Now comes Johnson, a devout Presbyterian and accomplished legal theorist, and he doesn't dance on the head of biblical pins. He agrees the world is billions of years old and that dinosaurs walked the earth. Evolution is the bridge he won't cross. This man, whose life has touched every station of the rationalist cross from Harvard to the University of Chicago to clerk at the Supreme Court, is the founding father of the "intelligent design" movement.

Intelligent design holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the hand -- perhaps subtle, perhaps not -- of an intelligent creator.

"Evolution is the most plausible explanation for life if you're using naturalistic terms, I'll agree with that." Johnson folds his hands over his belly, a professorial Buddha, as his words fly rat-a-tat-tat.

"That's only," he continues, "because science puts forward evolution and says any other logical explanation is outside of reality."

Johnson and his followers, microbiologists and geologists and philosophers, debate in the language of science rather than Scripture. They point to the complexity of the human cell, with its natural motors and miles of coding. They document the scant physical evidence for the large-scale mutations needed to make the long journey from primitive prokaryote to modern man.

They've inspired a political movement -- at least 19 states are considering challenges to the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution.

None of which amuses evolutionary biologists, for whom intelligent-design theory inhabits the remotest exurb of polite scientific discourse. Darwin's theory is a durable handiwork. It explains the proliferation of species and the interaction of DNA and RNA, not to mention the evolution of humankind.

The evidence, they insist, is all around:

Fruit flies branch into new species; bacteria mutate and develop resistance to antibiotics; studies of the mouse genome reveal that 99 percent of its 30,000 genes have counterparts in humans. There are fossilized remains of a dinosaur "bird," and DNA tests suggest that whales descended from ancient hippos and antelopes.

Does it make any more sense to challenge Darwin than to contest Newton's theory of gravity? You haven't seen Phillip Johnson floating into the stratosphere recently, have you?

William Provine, a prominent evolutionary biology professor at Cornell University, enjoys the law professor's company and has invited Johnson to his classroom. The men love the rhetorical thrust and parry and often share beers afterward. Provine, an atheist, also dismisses his friend as a Christian creationist and intelligent design as discredited science.

As for the aspects of evolution that baffle scientists?

"Phillip is absolutely right that the evidence for the big transformations in evolution are not there in the fossil record -- it's always good to point this out," Provine says. "It's difficult to explore a billion-year-old fossil record. Be patient!"

Provine's faith, if one may call it that, rests on Darwinism, which he describes as the greatest engine of atheism devised by man. The English scientist's insights registered as a powerful blow -- perhaps the decisive one -- in the long run of battles, from Copernicus to Descartes, that removed God from the center of the Western world.

At which point a cautionary flag should be waved.

Scientists tend to be a secular lot. But science and religion are not invariable antagonists. More than a few theoretical physicists and astronomers note that their research into the cosmos deposits them at God's doorstep. And evolution's path remains littered with mysteries.

Is it irrational to inquire if intelligent life is seeded with inevitabilities?

"Give Johnson and the intelligent-design movement their due -- they are asking terribly important questions," says Stuart A. Kauffman, director of the Institute for Biocomplexity at the University of Calgary. "To question whether patterns and complexity, at the level of the cell or the universe, bespeak intelligent design is not stupid in the least.

"I simply believe they've come up with the wrong answers."

Johnson's early life was, by his own accounting, a rationalist lad's progress. He grew up in Aurora, Ill., a cocky kid so razor sharp that after his junior year in high school he packed off to Harvard. "I attended church in high school, but it was just part of the culture, like the Boy Scouts," he says. "We'd drop my father off at the golf course on the way to church."

He finished Harvard and then law school at the University of Chicago, where he graduated first in his class. He dabbled in Christian philosophy, read some C.S. Lewis. "I found it mind-stretching but I remember thinking: It's a real shame it's not true." Johnson became a clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren at the Supreme Court. In 1967, with a wife and two young children, he went west to Berkeley, where he would gain international renown as a teacher of criminal law and legal theory.

His life was marching to an up-tempo beat.

"I wasn't working very hard intellectually. My motives were shallow," Johnson says. "I was a typical half-educated careerist intellectual with conventional liberal politics."

Johnson possesses a tenured professor's inability to hold his tongue, whether assaying a reporter's dumb question or his own life's arc. In the 1970s, Berkeley was roiling. Johnson opposed the Vietnam War but grew disillusioned and turned right. His wife, an artist, found feminism and wandered another way. Their marriage swept away like flotsam.

"I had been very happy for a long time," he says. "I was shaken to my core."

Johnson's daughter, Emily, remains close with each parent. She recalls a time of upendings. "Men of my father's generation really expected that if they did their job, and provided, how could their marriage fall apart?" she says. "They didn't know what to make of the new questions and new demands."

The night his wife decided to leave in 1977, Johnson attended a church supper with Emily, who was 11. The pastor spoke passionately of Christ and the Gospels. The professor doesn't remember a Lord-sundered-the-heavens moment; he wasn't rending his tweed jacket.

He just heard the words, perhaps for the first time in his life. "I wasn't convinced," Johnson says, "but I said to myself: 'The minister's presenting me with a real option.' "

Johnson drove home that night and pulled out his books of law and philosophy. If this was to be his epiphany, he would experience it with his rationalist lights on.

"I was concerned that I could be just throwing my brain away," he says. "I needed to know if I was adopting a myth to satisfy my personal hunger."

He was nudged along by his interest in "critical legal studies," a left-wing movement that holds that the law is prejudice masquerading as objective truth. Asked to contribute a conservative critique for the Stanford Law Review, Johnson embraced the movement -- sort of.

"I disliked intensely their infantile politics," he says. "But their critique of liberal rationalism and the sham neutrality of rationalism helped me become a Christian. I became the entire right wing of critical legal studies."

In time, he converted and married his present wife, Kathie -- who also was an adult convert. They met at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, which was, like most everything in that town, a very liberal institution. "We have never felt," Johnson says, "a need to be around only people who agree with us."

All of which laid the groundwork for Johnson's sabbatical in 1987. He traveled to London nagged by the sense that his intellectual gifts had been put to mediocre ends. One day while browsing in a bookstore, Johnson picked up a copy of "The Blind Watchmaker" by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins argued that life was governed by blind physics, that free will was illusion, that religion was a virus.

Johnson devoured dozens more evolutionary texts. He found extraordinary minds and polemics, but the evidence didn't much impress him.

"I was struck by the breadth of Darwin's claims as opposed to how scanty were the observable changes." He peers at you with that unwavering gaze. "I said to my wife that I shouldn't take this up. I will be ridiculed and it will consume my life.

"Of course, it was irresistible."

This was more than a middle-age exercise in mental gymnastics. Johnson discerned in Darwinism a profound challenge to the faith he had embraced so passionately.

"I realized," he says, "that if the pure Darwinist account was accurate and life is all about an undirected material process, then Christian metaphysics and religious belief are fantasy. Here was a chance to make a great contribution."

The image remains a tad incongruous, this tweedy law professor from Berkeley with the hair combed carefully to the side of his pink forehead, making the rounds of London's scientific conferences, ambling up to prominent biologists and paleontologists and peppering them with questions. He was not impolite, just persistent. "Sometimes they pinned my ears back," Johnson recalls. "Sometimes I made friends."

Stephen C. Meyer, then a young graduate student studying the philosophy of science at Cambridge, got word of this "law professor who was getting some odd ideas about evolution." Meyer, who harbored his own doubts, walked to a tavern with Johnson and they talked for hours.

"Phillip understood that the language of science cut off choices: Evolution had to be an undirected process or it wasn't science," says Meyer, who today directs an intelligent-design think tank affiliated with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. "He knew the rhetorical tricks.

"By the end of that day I knew we could challenge Darwin."

So what does that mean, "to challenge Charles Darwin"?

Darwin wrote "The Origin of Species" in 1859. In the broadest terms, Darwin had three insights: Evolution is responsible for the vast profusion of life, as all living organisms descend from common ancestors. Species are not immutable -- new species appear gradually through micro-mutations known as speciation. Natural selection guides all of this, acting as nature's drill sergeant, culling the flawed genes.

It sounds so tidy. But evolutionary theory -- like most scientific theories -- trails behind it no small number of unanswered questions, lacunae and mysteries.

Darwin, for instance, noted that different species tend to have similar body features, and attributed this "convergence" to a common ancestor. But that often isn't the case. The complex eye of a squid and a human are nearly identical yet lack a common genetic inheritance. The renowned biologist Simon Conway Morris has found many such examples in nature and proposed that it's "near inevitable" that species converge toward an intelligent "solution" to life.

Morris's theory treads a touch too close to Heaven for many biologists.

Then there's the inconvenient fact that most species evolve little during the span of their existence, which leaves the mystery of how to account for evolutionary leaps. The late biologist Stephen Jay Gould speculated that species become isolated and mutate in revolutionary transitions of a few thousand years. That remains a controversial explanation.

"Some biologists still argue that you can get to high evolutionary forms purely through natural selection," says Theodore Roszak, a noted historian of science. "That involves more faith in chance than religious people have in the Bible."

Darwinian theory also presupposes an "inconceivably great" number of links between living and extinct species. But paleontologists have discovered only a relative handful of such fossils. And scientists still puzzle at the great explosion of life known as the "Cambrian explosion," when thousands of multicellular animals appeared over 10 or 20 million years (a blink of the eye in evolutionary terms).

Johnson composed a sort of prosecutor's brief. Natural selection? It strengthens existing species, but there's "no persuasive reason for believing that natural selection can produce new species and organs." Mutations as a driver of new species? Much too slow to account for grand changes.

By the end of his 1991 book, "Darwin on Trial," Johnson was convinced that he had peppered Darwinian theory with intellectual buckshot. So he posed the question: Why won't science consider that an intelligent hand operates alongside chance and physical law?

Let it be said that Johnson's book did not change the world. The scientific reviews weren't so hot and a few law school colleagues looked at him as if he had lost half a brain lobe. But Meyer, director of the Center for Science & Culture, remembers reading it and feeling a sense of relief.

"A lot of creationists are unctuous and earnest and begging for a place at the scientific table," says Meyer. "Not Phil. He was a star academic, he conceded nothing, and he's got rhino hide for skin."

The building blocks of the intelligent-design movement slowly took form. A few like-minded souls in academia e-mailed Johnson. He called back, connected one with the other, and often traveled to meet them.

"I found a lot of people ready to challenge the culturally dominant orthodoxy, but they didn't know how," Johnson recalls. "They thought if they just dutifully presented evidence, the Darwinists might listen. I said we have to think more strategically.

"I evolved -- if I may use that word -- as a leader of that group."

After all those years in Berkeley lecture halls, he had a thespian's feel for a crowd. Once he debated the famed biologist Gould. Gould was learned and merciless, but most critics say Johnson held his own. "It was like playing Jack Nicklaus and losing in a playoff," Johnson says.

As Johnson explained to Touchstone magazine, a Christian journal: "I do not want my audience to go away thinking: 'That's one clever lawyer who can make you look like a fool. . . . I want them to go home saying . . . 'There's more to intelligent design than I thought.' "

You want to talk Cambrian explosion? Fine. But how about a little perspective?

"We have to acknowledge the reality that it took place more than 500 million years ago," says Kenneth Miller, a Brown University microbiologist and author of "Finding Darwin's God," arguing that theism is not at odds with evolutionary theory. "It's not as if there was some sort of instantaneous injection of complexity into an ordered world."

Miller pauses a moment.

"Look, I can admit that fossils might be the result of a super-intelligent or supernatural form -- I'm a Red Sox fan. But it's surely not very likely."

Johnson finds precious few fans in the scientific establishment, particularly among biologists. They see conservative money spent on academic conferences and publicity and public debates. Johnson thrives, they say, by the law professor's tactic of attacking soft targets and then raising his hands in victory.

The best scientific theories, scientists say, offer overarching explanations for natural phenomena even while acknowledging that many details remain to be worked out. If Einstein supplants Newton, that's the joy of science.

"Anytime the intelligent-designers find a mystery that scientists can't yet explain, they shout: 'See!? See!?' " says Provine, the Cornell biologist. "I like having Phil come to Cornell to debate. He turns a lot of my students into evolutionists."

Maybe mysteries aren't so mysterious. Intelligent life, Provine says, is understandable as adaptations accrued over hundreds of millions of years. And the cell falls short of miraculous.

"A lot of the DNA in there is not needed -- it's junk," says Phillip Kitcher, the Columbia University philosopher of science. "If it's intelligently designed, then God needs to go back to school."

Harvard professor Owen Gingerich has studied the cosmos as senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and is a devout Christian. He enjoys talking to Johnson and doesn't care for the insistent secularism of many Darwinists. But he doesn't buy intelligent design's utility as a scientific theory, not least because he sees no way to test its ideas.

"Johnson tends to avoid questions he doesn't want to answer -- such as what accounts for mankind if not evolution?" Gingerich says. "If he says that the first man literally came out of the mud like Minerva from the brow of Zeus, he knows he would be ridiculed.

"Looking for God's direct hand is a very fuzzy business."

So what of God?

Isn't there, Johnson is asked, a risk inherent in trying to toss out Darwin and discern God's footprints? Why would He use his hand to create the tyrannosaurus and the Cro-Magnon only to discard them in great extinctions? What of gamma blasts and dead stars, and the cold maw of the universe?

If science proves that the wonders of the cell and the machinery of the eye are the result of a material process, what becomes of faith?

Johnson listens and folds his hands in his lap and remains silent. He's had two strokes, the latter a few months back. His mind remains a fine instrument, the levers and wheels spinning sure as ever. But putting thoughts into words can be laborious. He shakes his head and dislodges a stream.

"One answer is that it's hard to evaluate unless you know what the Designer was trying to create," he says. "I suppose the Creator could have made it so that we would live forever and be bulletproof. Flawless design may not be his point."

Many in the intelligent-design movement shy from overt talk of religion, wary of handing a rhetorical gun to their critics. God, Gaea or super-intelligent alien: They do not presume to pierce the veil of the Designer.

Johnson pays no heed to these worries. Darwinists and Christians alike, he says, "start from faith, just as every house has a foundation." His friend Provine, Johnson says, has found faith in materialistic atheism. Johnson has found Christ.

Johnson, who is already back on the lecture trail, is not content with a Creator so deferential to natural processes as to fade into the cosmic woodwork. Johnson is convinced, intellectually and emotionally, that His hands have shaped human life -- and the evidence likely is there if only science will look for it.

Johnson works his way to his feet and walks slowly to his living room window. The lemon trees are in bloom. Mist rises off the sidewalk. "I think it's very possible that God left some fingerprints on the evidence," Johnson says, his words rattling out now. "Once you open science to that possibility, we're poised for a metaphysical reversal."

He smiles and catches himself. "I'm content just to open science up to an intellectual world that's been closed to it for two centuries."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Love and Acceptance

I want to be better.

Music brings with it a nastiness, in a way... that of comparison and being judgemental and critical. In a sense that's good - to be developing the skill of having a discerning or critical ear - but at the same time I wish I could go to a concert and just enjoy it without the internal criticism. Is it wrong to talk to friends after a concert and criticize aspects of it?

What is love? People always seem to be wondering and deliberating about this, but it doesn't seem that complicated to me. The Bible tells us that God is love, and then tells us also the attributes of love - that it is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude or self-seeking or easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. So to me it seems that we know what love is and the difficulty is not just knowing what it is... but knowing how to put it into action, how to love as God loves. I always pray, "Lord, help me to see people as You see them," even while I know this will not be fully possible in this life - yet I know that I am to love them anyway.

The sermon at church this Sunday was fabulous - it was about accepting one another. It was interesting because I had already been thinking about all these things concerning the state of my heart towards others (and by others I mean not just my friends - everyone), and then the sermon really gave me some good food for thought. The pastor at my parents' church is great at giving real-life sermons that matter and that really have something to offer to everyone, no matter where you might be in life. Even if he's saying things you already know, you also know that they're things you need to hear again.

He talked about how there will be people in life who drive you crazy, and you need to accept them. He called some people "heavenly sandpaper" that rub us the wrong way - here to smooth out our own rough edges by being particularly difficult in some way or other. He said it's important to ask yourself, "am I perfect?" and then remember that okay, neither is anyone else. It puts you more in the frame of mind to offer extra grace if you internally add a Pauline phrase like "of whom I am the worst." A big part of it is humility.

The pastor also talked about how too often we judge people based on where we are now, instead of remembering where we've been, which can also add an extra measure of grace as we work to accept others. He talked about working to be approachable, thoughtful and considerate, understanding, and helpful - these are characteristics of a person who receives others warmly.

He also said something funny: "I can get along with anyone as long as one of us is asleep."

To sum up my thoughts: I'm a bad person, but I want to be better.

I want to reflect Jesus.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Well my friends... I am home for the summer.

All those days of cleaning and packing were a little crazy. I'm tired of having to pack up everything I own into a few boxes at the end of every year. I'd like a nice house, please, where I can settle down and stay for as long as I like.

I went to the "Last Blast" concert done by the various brass ensembles, and I am going to miss the quintet SO much next year. There's simply no one to fill the shoes of Lauren, Jaana, and Justin. It'll be a big hole. I love the Gordon College Brass Quintet.

The end of the year was great, and poignant as well since so many of my good friends were graduating. Choir sang in Baccalaureate, and then I went to the graduation ceremony the next day and watched my friends become official college graduates. Wow. In a way I felt the most sentimental about Jaana graduating; not only because she's a great friend but also because she's a fellow music major and her life shows me a picture of where I might be a year from now.

You know, I am turning into a grown-up and it's scary...

I have spent a great deal of time considering what my plans for the future will be. Mom suggests I try to graduate in December to save all the extra loans that Spring semester will bring, but it's really impossible - especially since the community college here is lame and offers nothing, nada, zilch in the way of courses I need... not even Spanish II! At least that's not the only thing standing between me and a diploma in December, or else I'd be really frustrated. I have other classes that I need and a senior recital to give that I can't possibly be ready for in the fall (especially since I'm playing The Lark Ascending with the orchestra in the fall!). Further, it's really important that I have the time of Spring semester anyway, to practice and sort things out, especially if I'm considering grad school... which is really up in the air as of now. I'm really wavering back and forth on that one at this point - am I even good enough to get in anywhere? Do I really want to go to grad school? What kind of life do I want to have? The answer is a big question mark for now, but that's okay I think.

There are other things to consider too, like the fact that orchestra may be taking a tour (!!), choir is most definitely going to Italy next summer (!!!!), and all of these things require money... which will be scarce and precious to me as I approach graduation and realize that I will soon be out in the open, facing the big bad world with nothing to protect me but my little violin and the meager skills of playing it that I've hopefully aquired over the past few years. (Me, dramatic? Nah...)

Favorite Boy is home in Erie PA for the time being, and he'll soon return to Gordon for the rest of the summer to take up the position of organist at another church... it's a new job and a great opportunity for him. Hopefully he'll also be able to come visit me out in CA later in the summer.

I leave this coming Wednesday to visit my sister Emily, my brother-in-law Gabe, and my adorable nephew Jonathan, whom I have yet to meet! I'm so excited. I even get to babysit Jonathan while Emily and Gabe go out to celebrate their anniversary. I'll also get to attend the Torrey graduation ceremony of my former class... which includes among other people, Libby! I'm excited about that, too. By the way, it's positively weird how my friends are spread out all over the country.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I forgot to mention that my sister has a blog now, and it's great, so you should all go read it. I've added it to the links on the right, too.

On Wishing For A Certain Friend

I had a great day today which included being done with Writing and Rhetoric forever, watching the Pelkey video Michael put together, having smoothies at Not Your Average Joe's in the afternoon, dinner at Panera later, and finally ice cream at Captain Dusty's. (Hah, I sound like I eat out constantly!)

Well, I have succumbed to the campus epidemic: Facebook provides me with a new way to waste time! Whee. It has also been the cause of an interesting coincidence: a girl I've been blog-stalking for a few months now happened to join a group I created. Of course, she still has no idea that I exist, much less that I read her blog and think she's fabulous.

Her name is Miriam and she's a student at Gordon. Or rather, she's sort of a student at Gordon; she's deferred this semester and I think she's going to Oxford next year, so the fact that I've decided that she and I should be fabulous friends and get along famously is basically irrelevant, because I've missed my chance. She's from a big family, was homeschooled, and loves books and languages. She's smart and witty. She's cool because she says things like this:

History tells us that humanity is evil.
Art tells us that it wants to be better.

and this:

I realized that music is the most natural art. It's as fleeting as Spring, and as inexplicable as the smell of rain. It moves as the world moves, with rhythmic, though sometimes unpredictable, motions. A painting cannot change, it only captures a moment. But a symphony can be experienced as often as a sunrise, yet no two renditions will ever be the same. Music is as natural as love.

So I wish Miriam and I were friends.

She doesn’t like Herbert and I do, but I believe we could work through our differences.

She also owns Invitation to the Classics, and I do too. (I bought it quite recently when the bookstore put all Os Guinness books on sale. They put all the others out on the front table, and I ran to the back and grabbed that one and told the cashier rather persuasively that it really ought to be discounted too, since it's co-edited by Guinness.)

She also hardly ever uses comma splices; she employs the semi-colon frequently instead.

And she’s from Chicago, and I went to Wheaton for a year, which is quite near Chicago, and I like Chicago a lot.

Miriam, will you be my friend?

I'm sure I now sound like a creepy stalker, so I will bid you all a fond goodnight.

Monday, May 9, 2005

Bach Double, Opera, and Choir

Well, well, well.

So much to say.

The orchestra concert went pretty well. It was great to see my family yet again, and they were wonderful and helped me find and buy a dress, which my Mom then helped fix up to be just perfect. So I played the Bach Double and quite a few people came and it was fun. Some of the best compliments I received were actually directed at FavoriteBoy: "Your woman was really tearin' it up." "Your woman can sure play the violin." "Your woman is a lean, mean, violin-ating machine!"

That weekend I also saw Opera Scenes here at Gordon, which were marvelous. The scene from Il Barbiere di Siviglia was absolutely fantastic; I laughed, I cried... it moved me. (Okay, minus the crying part.) Zauberflote was funny too, and The Mother of Us All was weird but rather hilarious. Patience was humorous, Albert Herring was funny, The Pilgrim's Progress was beautiful (and the Three Shining Ones were amazing and gorgeous and everything wonderful), and all the scenes were well done.

Speaking of the Shining Ones, Irene Idicheria is amazing, and I like her a lot. A few nights before juries she came into the recital hall while Nathan and I were there and asked if she could run through a song or two. Nathan ended up playing for her for a while, and she can sound SO good. It's like the voice of an angel. A big, black, manly angel. (Not that Irene is big or black, but that her voice sounds like the stereotypical big black lady voice. Not that she is manly either, but that she makes me understand what Brooks means when he says, "I want my men to sound like men, and I want my women to sound like...men.") At one point when she was singing it made me cry, and I'm not sure I've ever heard a singer who made me feel quite that way before.

Speaking of singing, I had my choir audition and it went something like this:

Prof. Brooks: sing
Sarah: I've been sick for a while and lost my voice, and my talking voice is back but I still can't really sing.
Prof. Brooks: sing a note
Sarah: "la" *grin*
Prof. Brooks: Amazing. The subtlety and nuance astounds me. Your musicality is wonderful. Want to sing first alto again?
Sarah: Sure. But actually I don't really know yet if I can do choir again next year, but I wanted to audition in case.
Prof. Brooks: why couldn't you?
Sarah: Well, Mr. B. and Dr. O. think it takes a lot of time, and they want me to prioritize better.
Prof. Brooks: Priorities, sure. I understand. Well, if Nathan's not a priority... if you don't want to be with Nathan... if you don't want to go to Italy on tour with Nathan... I understand...
Sarah: *laughing* I know... but they don't see it that way. But, well, okay.

and that was about it.

In other news, it rained and was amazingly blustery for a few days, I wrote a paper on Intelligent Design and did really well on it, I had to conduct Symphonic Band in part of a rehearsal and one of the clarinetists was really mean and nasty (not a student here, but a community member), my family is awesome, my apartment is awesome some of the time, packing is going to be a huge hassle, I went to the BSO with FavoriteBoy and it was amazing and all kinds of fun, I am arranging How Great Thou Art for band, Instrumental Methods is finally over, Writing and Rhetoric is practically over too, Holland is super cool and I'm sad that she's leaving us, and Cara is also super cool and I'm excited to be living with her next year. I think that pretty much covers everything.