Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This was written in the library. It's part procrastination part pep talk to myself.

All I can think about are my new summer plans. I don’t want to be in London just now. I want a romantic life of adventure in a new city. I want the idyllic life meeting my own deadlines, gaining knowledge for the sake of edification and not forced education. I want to wake up to the sounds of the city preparing for the day and take a run along the lake. I want to spend my mornings working diligently on my dissertation and career prospects and spend my late afternoons on the beach with family and friends. I want a life in which the worry of paying back school loans does not exist, nor sadness of finding yourself alone and grieving over family. I do not want to miss my family and friends. I want to be content again. I want to be happy in a moment looking forward to the next family and friend visit. I want to spend weekends in new cities around Europe. I want to be able to focus on learning French and have the proud claim that I taught myself.

What I need to do now is focus. I need to learn to be content now not hope and expect that with the future will come contentment. I need to get through the last few weeks of the semester with renewed passion and pursuit of knowledge. Enjoy the little things now, regain contentment, and enjoy the good moments when they come.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving in Nyon, Switzerland.

This was my first Thanksgiving away from home, the most crucial one I should have been home for. The reasons I should have been home are obvious and not the point of this entry. I have decided after this past Thursday that I will never again miss Thanksgiving at my parents house if I can help it. This not to say that I didn't have a wonderful time, for the most part, with my family in Switzerland but that it is a holiday too important to me not to be with my parents and sisters.

So on to the good details of the past few days. Wednesday evening I flew out of London and into Geneva. I spent the next three days at my cousin's condo in Nyon. Thanksgiving day I accompanied her to her eighth grade science class which she teaches three times a week at an international school in Geneva. It was the first time I had been repeatedly referred to by my last name only with the prefix of Ms. After a lesson in sound we returned home to pick up her two kids and go out for crepes. We then returned home to begin cooking the feast. Once the turkey was in the oven and a pie baked we took a walk along the great lake of Geneva. We stopped by a local playground so as to keep the kids and myself entertained on the swings. One is never too old to have a good swing. Upon returning home we set the table, put the finishing touches on the evening meal, poured the wine and waited for my cousin's in-laws to arrive.

Friday my aunt, uncle, cousin, her two kids and myself were loaded into the car to drive around the lake and up into the Swiss Alps. The switch back roads leading up the mountain threw us from one side of the car to the other with every turn giving us a new view of the mountains with each stretch of road. Growing up in the Midwest where the closest thing to a 'mountain' you see is a golf course, garbage dump or a combination of the two, the Alps have me in awe every time I see them. Once we arrived at our destination we picnicked outside with Thanksgiving leftovers, surrounded by Swiss challetts and the snow covered peaks of the Alps. It was after lunch that the fun began. My cousin had taken us to a "spa", D'Ovronnaz. We then spent the next four hours going from naturally heated pool to naturally heated pool. Two of the pools were outside. I sat for hours outside in a hot spring, in Switzerland, in the Alps, in November! This was one of many fist for me.

Later that night I was treated to a night on the town, just my cousin and I. We walked through the main streets of Geneva and into the old part of town. We found a cute little bar at which to chat over drinks before continuing our walk through the town. She took me to one of her favorite places to get dessert. There I tried creme brule for the first time. We then walked through her old neighborhood where she use to live explaining to me as we went the less charming aspects about the streets we were walking down. Around midnight we found a Turkish restaurant where I fed my craving for French fries (how embarrassingly American). Another first for me happened here, I was hit on by a Turkish man speaking French and had to be interpreted for me by my cousin. He complimented us both by saying how beautiful American women were. Apparently prior to us he was under the impression that all American woman were wildly over weight and seemed to be pleasantly surprised to find that we were not. He then apparently went on and on about how pretty my fair skin was and how he just loved looking at me. All of this of course was only explained to me after leaving the restaurant. After the flirting French session we returned to walking around the city waiting for our ride to whisk us back to Nyon where we eagerly awaited going to bed.

This morning I leisurely got ready and packed my things into my small bag for the return trip to London. We stopped by an orchid greenhouse to admire the beautiful flowers before driving back into Geneva for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I was very excited at the prospects of eating some Mexican food as I have yet to find any Mexican restaurants in England let alone London. After a delish meal I was driven to the airport with many thank you's and promises of returning at the end of January.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Right now all I'd love to do is get into my 1994 banged up, bummer-stickered college kid car and drive. Drive and drive and drive. Go west out of my hometown, towards what is left of the cornfields, chasing the sun as it sets in the sky lighting it up with pink and orange brush strokes. At the end of an unremarkable weekend, one not really filled with productivity nor excitement, I find myself exhausted. Drained of all motion, thought, or ambition. The sappy music I am listening to and candle lit room is of course not helping but nothing else would fit my mood.

Tomorrow I set out with two friends to begin our search for an apartment. This will be a welcome distraction to my current emotions. I can not wait to move out of the current dorm/cell that I'm in now. I'll only be in our soon to be new apartment for about six months before probably going back to the dorms for the summer then, moving somewhere yet to be determined. I look forward to the day when six months will pass without me having to move. I look forward to the day when a sad thought crosses my mind and soul only once a day instead of the present uncountable amount of times. I look forward to the future. Hope must be clung to. Love and beauty must be recognized and appreciated. That is what I must endeavor to do day to day, hope, love and see beauty.

Monday, November 13, 2006

While at Camp of the Woods two summers ago I met an amazing woman. Encouraged by my Grandparents to get to know her, I was instantly amazed by her faith, insight, wisdom and honesty. She shared with me openly on God, life and all that came in between. She was a refuge to which I could and did on many occasions seek out through a stressful week or for advise on an issue I was dealing with. She was bold, had a heart to help those who sought out the truth to be found through faith. She was a mentor to me that summer. Last fall she visited me while I briefly lived in Chicago. My last memory of her is us talking, praying and crying on the couch in my parent's living room. Only a few months ago she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Thursday I was informed that the doctors did not expect her to live to Thanksgiving. Friday my Mom told me that she had died. Two people that were more than amazing have left this earth and were called to Heaven. I now mourn the death of two people that have for ever affected me, as have their deaths. At present I do this alone.

I don't want to continuously write on death, mourning and my recent bouts of loneliness but know that it will probably be mentioned at least for a long while. But as I stated before, the world goes on. It doesn't stop, even when it feels like it should. So here is some commentary on the happenings of the rest of the world.

Saddam Hussein's first trial has ended with the a death sentence. Has justice been served? Was it a fair trial? What do you think of the sentence? Should we care about the answers to any of these questions? First of all I'm no legal expert (not yet anyways) and so will refrain from commenting on the fairness of it. I do think, however, that the fact that defense lawyers were killed and one judge resigned with the explanation of political pressure felt hardly indicates a 'normal' trial to say the least. As many of you know I stand against the death penalty. As a graduate student attempting to get my LLM in Human Rights and holding a B.A. in Political Science, you can hardly claim I don't care or know of the atrocities he has committed. But as a human being and a Christian I do not agree with the idea that we hold the power to judge another to the point of condemning them to death. I do not hold that ultimate authority, nor do I believe any other earthly person does. I also think the answers to the questions posed above are important. One of my favorite quotes is by Martin Luther King Jr. "Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere".

My other favorite quote is by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman's thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government", which brings me to my next subject, the recent American mid-term elections. We now have our first female Speaker of the House. Ms. Nancy Pelosi is now third in line to the Presidency should anything happen to President G.W. Bush or VP Cheney. I have pins on my curtains in my bedroom at my parents house. One of which says "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of a good woman president", (although personally I'm currently rooting for Obama). While at home I had the unexpected opportunity to vote in these elections. My first mid-term vote. I felt proud, patriotic even. I also for the first time felt like I was part of that force that brought about change. I helped get that Democratic majority in the House and Senate. I took part in democracy and it felt good. Now lets just hope they do something with it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I don't know how to start...I don't want to publish all that I'm feeling right now but I need to be able to talk about it or at least get it out of me. Then again there is the very distinct possibility that those who I know read this will be saddened by me spilling out my emotions about something that is all to real to them.

Its not fun crying in public for multiple reasons. My chin goes all wripply as my lower lip begins to quiver and my eyes water. Random bouts of emotion, memory, hurt, sorrow and general grieving strike when no one and everyone is looking and the world spins by. That's the most surprising part about all this, the world kept going, people went to work, kids to school. When I was home one of my sisters friends came to the door dressed up in costume and it wasn't until later when Halloween was mentioned that I realized why she was dressed up. I didn't know or rather had forgotten it was Halloween. Days are a blur. If you asked me right now what I did each day I was home I could only tell you three of the seven what I did. Even then I could only recall parts of those days.

Im alone out here. I say this not to invoke sympathy but to describe how I feel. Its true I have a cousin and family in Switzerland, to which I am thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with but right now at this moment and until I fly out there I am alone. Mostly I just want to be on my Aunt and Uncle's couch jumping up to answer the phone, coordinating who needs what done and being there to grab the closest tissue box. I want to be there for my sisters, for my mom, for my family. Instead I sit in the computer room of the law library wishing I could concentrate on just one case law, read just one chapter and cry just one time less.

If I've learned anything from the past week and from Hadi it was live to the fullest, and that the only thing to get you threw life is your faith, family, friends and lots and lots of food. Hadi never held back, she never sat at home or if she did it was most certainty not alone. She praised God with all her heart and now she is sitting with him. Although that thought puts a brief smile on my face I miss the amazing cousin that grew up across the river from me.