Monday, October 10, 2016

9th anniversary of Dad's Death

This morning I am supposed to be writing my dissertation.

I want to write this first.

Dad, thank you for taking me for a small coffee every afternoon I had a lacrosse game, in cold Colorado spring weather. It was like a reward for completing the game and a welcome bridge into heading home, having dinner, and doing homework.

You filled my life with these structured routines that made me so incredibly happy. Every day.

I pray for the things in our family that need healing and improvement in the next generation, and that I can be a parent who provides the kind of attention and simple pleasures of everyday life to my future children.

your daughter,

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pictures from Sweden/Helsinki/Copenhagen trip


Eastern Cemetery (designed by architect Sigurd Leverence)


Inside St. Peter's Church (also designed by Sigurd Leverence)

Me in front of St. Peter's Church in Klippan, Sweden.

In the surrounding gardens/park.


An impressive, modern addition to the National Library of Sweden, Kungliga Biblioteket 

Asplund Library, Stockholm. OK, confession, I stole this picture from Cathy 
as I did not visit this library with her but isn't it amazing?! 

The Vasa Ship -- NOT a Viking ship, rather a failed battle ship under King Gustavus Adolphus in 1928.

 Skansen Open-Air Museum, outside the bakery. I enjoyed a delicious, freshly-baked cardamom-like roll.

 Skansen, inside the lodger's home.

  Skansen, inside the furniture maker's shop.

Skasen, outside a farmstead, parts of which were built in 1470.

 Skansen, inside the farmstead.

Nordisk Museum. This advertisement is enough to motivate me in!

Absolutely gorgeous textile in the Nordisk Museum. It was a wedding gift to its owner, I think.

The finishing line at the marathon on June 4th: inside the 1912 Olympic Stadium!

 Me post-marathon in the subway station. Look at all that salt that dried on my sleeves! It was on my face, too.

Outside the street we stayed on for 7 days in Gamla stan, Stockholm. To navigate back home each day I could simply type in "Royal Palace" because it was across a plaza from it!


   Cathy and Me walking around Uppsala, Sweden.

A view from the train coming back from Uppsala to Stockholm.

 Our staple for last-minute snacks in Stockholm, the convenience store Presbyran, or as we called it, Presbyterian.

The Viking Line ship we took to Helsinki from Stockholm.
Me and Cathy en route to Helsinki. 

A view of the archipelago, leaving Stockholm


Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki


Roskilde Cathedral

Cathedral in Copenhagen which Kierkegaard frequented. Look how simple! I think it's because it burned down four or more time in its history.

A train station in Copenhagen


Me enjoying a slide post-Danish breakfast in the Superkilen skate park in Copenhagen

Coming down the Round Tower, the Rundetaarn

Pontificating with Kierkegaard in the National Library Gardens, where he sits.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Denmark-Sweden-Finland trip diary, May 25-June 7, 2016

An [incomplete] record of places seen, adventures enjoyed, and
memorable encounters with Scandinavian people

Note: This is by no means a complete account. Many details could be added!
Photos are coming soon.

We had a coffee at the airport train station. We then settled into Downtown Hostel in Copenhagen, I took a shower, and Cathy and I went on the afternoon walking tour, which featured a walk by Christiana – the “colorful counterculture squatter’s colony” as Rick Steve’s tourbook calls it. Christiana is a historic town of non-tax payers who are hippies and where doing gateway drugs (and perhaps harder drugs too) isn’t penalized. You can only live there by being born into it or marrying into it or having a special, needed skill. You’re not allowed to run or take pictures there, according to our tour guide. Then we had the complimentary dinner of lentil soup at the hostel and met a girl from Montreal who had just quit her 10-year job and was on a vacation before starting a new one – which she didn’t have yet! Two older, kind Asian women shared our bunk room with us.

Cathy and I took a refreshing, early-morning, 8-mile run (in preparation for my race on the following Saturday). The one downside was she tripped and her knee bled! She got a “plaster” – what they call bandages here – and it healed over the course of our trip. We then showered and enjoyed the hostel’s lovely breakfast spread of delicious fresh rye bread, deli meats and cheeses, scrambled eggs, little sausages, and coffee and milk. For the rest of the day, I mostly just worked at the hostel while Cathy explored.
We took the train to Malmo in the evening. On the long, long walk to our place, we took a break and stopped at a small grocery store, where Cathy bought delectable salted licorice ice cream and some beer. We drank the beer once we got home, but ate the ice cream outside while sitting on the only bench in sight: a bus stop bench. Three young Indian guys in a stationwagon jovially said they were hungry and wanted some, as they sat at a traffic light. We did not share, of course. When we got to our place, we watched the first half of the movie Frozen.
The most memorable thing that happened today was that at 12:30 a.m. (technically middle of the night Saturday), our Airbnb host realized he gave us directions to the wrong place. He has two Airbnb’s, and at 12:30 a.m. he came in the kids’ room in which we were sleeping and he turned the lights on and said, “Who are you?” “Jennifer!” I exclaimed. He drove us to the right apartment, and gave our two nights to us free of charge.

Today midday (after a lovely breakfast inside) Cathy and I went to the Malmo Eastern cemetery and flowershop, both designed by the architect Cathy loves and has studied, Sigurd Lewerentz. I worked inside for some of the day while she explored. We had Mediterranean food in an open outdoor shopping mall area for dinner.

Cathy and I made an early morning cemetery visit before our train left—good thing the sun rises so early in these parts in midsummer! She had more buildings to see and I had a long run (10 miles) to do, in preparation for the marathon. The Malmo Eastern Cemetery is beautiful, not eerie.
Arriving by train to Klippan at 10 a.m., we first asked a young mom walking with her child on a town sidewalk where the church was, and she said, “Sorry, I don’t know English.” This is when we met our “friend” – whose name we never learned but who we would see recurringly throughout the day. He was a slow-pedaling elderly Swedish man on his bike who directed us two times (and who we saw a total of four times) to St. Peter’s Church. Good thing for him—the google map wasn’t leading us in the right direction, and the sidewalks were pretty quiet at 10 a.m. At first he thought we wanted to go to a restaurant, and made a hand-eating motion, but then he realized we meant church (we had said kyrkan in our attempt at broken Swedish). “Oooh! Chuuurch!” he exclaimed when he knew where we meant. He gave us some directions, including a circular motion to indicate a roundabout on our route. Somehow I deciphered gas station from something he said or gestured. He knew some English, and said “right side” with perfect pronunciation. The second time we say him was 5 minutes later as he was checking-up on us. “Hello?” he said as he biked up alongside us, reminding us with a circular hand gesture the route we were to take.  The third time, we just saw him around town after the church service; he didn’t stop for us this time but nodded and we said “Thank you, we found it.” The forth time was at the train station as Cathy and I awaited our evening train to Stockholm.
After church service, an outstanding tour by the priest of the church, Ann-Marie Nelson, and an impromptu, makeshift photoshoot around the outside of the church and surrounding gardens/park, we had a delicious pizza lunch at a family-owned pizza restaurant in Klippan. Then we hopped on an earlier train on a different carrier than our own, because we wanted to get to Stockholm before 11 p.m. We were not aware that there were different brands of train carriers. Well, we got kicked off the first train and nearly kicked off another. But, we did end up making it to Stockholm at 9 pm. and not 11 p.m.  The first conductor who checked our tickets was a young guy with shoulder-length blonde hair who told us it would cost 799 kronor to stay on board this incorrect train. So we got off and waited for an SJ train at a remote station.
While waiting on that train platform, a youngish mom with shoulder-length, dirty red hair and a baby-carrier on her chest approached us and asked us if we needed help. I explained to her how we boarded the wrong train-- a small wooden train -- and she said, “that doesn’t sound good!” She was friendly. Cathy and I then took our chances on the next incoming train, and the older conductor (this one older and much more serious looking and sounding—he looked like the quintessential train conductor), told us upon inspecting our tickets, “You are on a later train. This is not alright. That train is a lower fare. Come with us to [town name].” At first Cathy and I thought he meant we were in trouble, for us to come with him to the car on the train where deviant passengers got their reprimand. But he meant, stay on the train until we reach a station where your correct train will pick you up. We got off once, prematurely, and Cathy asked him is this the place? He said no, the next one, so we re-boarded. Then, as we were about to get off at that next stop, the same conductor in a completely unexpected show of generosity and mercy, took us aside and quietly said, “Stockholm is your last stop, correct? If you move around your seating you can stay aboard on this train.” We were so thankful.
We found our next airbnb place, a small studio with a ½ bath (and shower next door that we used), easily. We did our laundry (with Freja’s, the hostess’s, generous help, as the machine in our studio was broken) that night, finished watching Frozen. Cathy’s hands and feet started showing signs of an allergic reaction—maybe hives? They stayed with her throughout the whole trip, getting worse and then getting better, but never fully going away. But she hunkered on without any complaints at all—amazing. I don’t know if I could have handled it as well as she did.

Ventured to Uppsala! I discovered on my email at 10:30 a.m., after taking a refreshing 6-mi run in the morning (the riverside route of which Cathy figured out for me the night before), that an American academic who I knew was fortuitously having an overlapping guest lecture at the university today at noon. Cathy was game for hopping on a train right away. We got there in 2 hours, slightly late. We found the lecture room, but foolishly I was too timid to walk into the lecture 25 minutes late. If I could have a do-over, I’d walk in that room! The secretary who helped us find where it was was unsure we could barge in mid-flow. After saying hi to Heather afterwards, it was clear that we could have just gone in there. It was on her recent book on the magazine industry. Cathy and I walked Uppsala and had a great lunch at a pub before heading back to Stockholm.

Looked inside Royal Palace and I got reprimanded by a worker there for taking a picture up on a balcony and making it look I was sitting there (I wasn’t, it was an optinal illusion—Cathy did it before me and didn’t get caught). Then we spent 4 fun hours at the Modern Art museum and ate a delectable traditional Swedish lunch in the large cafĂ© there; we opted for this rather than the reocmmended fika just because we were hungry! We left for our Helsinki cruise on the Viking Line at 5:30. Cathy and I had some great conversation with the two of us, and then later we met two very vivacious (one funny and one intellectual) Swedes -- they worked in sales for IKEA and this was a 2-day break for them -- who we had conversations with on political and cultural topics while enjoying beers and refreshments on the top deck of the boat.

Helsinki, Finland! We awoke at 8:15, just in time for the ship breakfast buffet we paid for. Turns out that roacking boats and a room with no windows can make you sleep for a long time! We got off the boat at 9:30 or so and had the day in Helsinki. We toured around on foot (using Rick Steve’s book as a guide). It’s a very fishermany-porty looking city. The highlight was seeing the main square that reminded me so much of Columbia’s  Low Plaza, nicknamed the “urban beach” (the central walkway and stairs leading up to Low Library, where students often sit, chat, and even lay out in the sun.) In Helsinki, in this plaza has the same brickwork pattern on the ground, but the buildings around are different (of course). The cathedral is strategically placed between the government building and the university building (the latter two being mirror images of each other), the three buildings forming a 3-sided perimeter around the plaza area.
Cathy held my bag for me for 40 minutes while I ran a beautiful 4-mile route along the river. I delighted in spending about 4 hours in a city library working on diss stuff and drinking really, really good coffee while Cathy explored. She was so good to push me to explore with her at least for half the day.

Returned from Helsinki; Cathy and I visited the Vasa ship museum and had a wonderfully tasty lunch at a restaurant we passed by, called Broms. We also visited the Stockholm City library (not sure of its name) with a modern addition by an architect that Cathy LOVED. It was really, really fun. At the restaurant, she had cod and I had an excellent salad with fresh asparagus, avocado, spinach, tomato, hard boiled eggs, bread, and a veggie I didn’t recognize that looked like tubular celery. We then split up and explored separately; she went to an H and M to get long sleeve shirts and I walked to Skansen but they closed at 4. When I returned, I took a run along the water. I brought some money with me so that afterwards I could immediately look in stores and maybe buy myself a refreshment before heading back to the apartment. So I walked around Gamla Stan looking vaguely for some souvenirs for loved ones. I saw a sign propped outside a coffee stop (called The Coffee Stop) advertizing in-house roasted coffee blends and decided to peak in. My conversation with the front-cashier person turned into her offering me a percolator-made sample of the coffee before making my choice. Honestly, I didn't expect to buy it on the spot until she did this. Then, as I was about to leave, she offered me to sample some of the lunch menu that the owner and her co-cook were getting ready to unveil tomorrow. It was cold shrimp salad on italian bread, open-sandwich style. They served me a full serving! And wanted my honest feedback. Honestly, I found it very hard to say anything negative about it. It was about 1,000x better than the similar cheap cafeteria-prepared, in-a-plastic-box dinner I had bought on the Helsinki boat 2 nights ago. Then the front cashier person (a friendly blonde woman probably about 35 years old, from Gothenburg) told me about princess cake, a very traditional Swedish dessert with almond creme in it and green icing on the outside (they also had a pink option in their glass case). "You must try some somewhere before your trip is over," she told me, and I told her I had never heard of it but that I would. On a culinary impulse, I decided that in the precious 7 minutes before they closed, I would run back to the apartment, get Cathy, and go buy a slice of that cake. Cathy immediately said yes, and off we went. Well, guess what! The cashier let us in seconds after locking the door and turning off the lights. While the lights remained off, we got a slice to go and then the store owner said again, "I want you to try another lunch selection." (coveyed to me through the cashier-- I assume she's the one in the store with fluent English as she kept translating back and forth between me and the two ladies in the kitchen in the back) So Cathy and I enjoyed a cold-curry chicken salad on bread too! Like, I'm talking, two full portions basically! This was to be our dinner. When I tell you this whole thing was marvelous, I can't convey how truly awesome this was. Tasty, I felt loved, I felt God just being so fun, generous. and playful in this moment by showering us with this totally lavish expression of hospitality and friendliness on the store owners' part. The cashier asked for a review on Trip Advisor which I promptly did that evening. SO AMAZING!
In the evening we attempted to go to a clinic to get Cathy a steroid shot but all the places we went were closed or did not have an ER.

This was perhaps my favorite day. I got up early and visited Skansen, the Nordisk Museum, and ended the day by attending the Zest Pasta party (as part of the marathon festivities) and picked up my marathon bib at the 1912 Olympic Stadium (“Stadion” in Swedish). I left the apartment at 8 a.m. and was back at 8 p.m. Today was the first day I used the subway (called the “T-bana”) and tram system. I met two young men from Germany traveling together who lifted by spirits by telling me of their travel woes (ironic, I know), how their things were stolen out of their car and the Swedish police weren’t much help after the fact.
            At Skansen, I focused on the old town portion and decided the zoo portion wasn’t a priority for me. So I visited about 12 old-time, real reconstructed buildings that served as the bakery, printer’s house, ironworks workshop, furniture factory, a lodge for day workers, a spice store, an old farmstead from Smaland (built in 1470!), among others. Talking to the museum workers, who acted in character for each of their jobs in their respective eras, wearing period clothing, was the COOLEST thing. Made me feel very connected to my Swedish heritage and probably some of the experiences my own distant relatives had. I had lunch there and it was superb: baked chicken, roasted potatoes, strawberries, green salad with corn and delicious mustard dressing, and cooked snow peas.
            Then I spent from 2-5 at the Nordic Museum. This basically seemed to fill in the rest of Swedish history, and had artifacts from daily life in Sweden from about 1700-present. I took the tour there as well.

Marathon day! Cathy was an amazingly supportive friend. Cathy found me at the stadium when I finished (around 3:40 p.m.) and I enjoyed a non-alcoholic ginger beer there—Ed- something brand. Afterwards I showered and we treated ourselves to a very nice Swedish dinner at Sturehof. Cathy totally spoiled me and called it my princess day. I think one thing I learned on this trip was the power of friendship to help us accomplish great things! My time was way better than I anticipated it would be: 3:35:32! Honestly it’s because of her.
            I also received good news today via email about the status of the IRB report I filled out at Emory—I am free and clear! Upon taking my 2nd shower of the day, I felt overwhelmingly thankful and I thought that this was my favorite day of the whole trip.

Traveled to Copenhagen on a 5-hour train ride; got there at 1:30. I did not take any further adventures; today was a rest day for me. We planned out our Monday—Cathy was an expert with her map and travel guides. She is like the ultimate Puzzle Assembler! I have benefited immensely from her problem-solving and planning skills on this trip. She says I have an ease with asking strangers for help that has made a huge difference for us, too. I’ll choose to believe her.

We started our day with fantastic lattes at The Coffee Collective (a small shop).  Then we visited Superkillen park, basically an outdoor skateboard park which Cathy thought would be cooler than it was. From there we ventured to many places that Kierkegaard frequented, as directed by a NYT article, in which the travel journalist gives a much more lively alternative to paying homage to the theologian-philosopher than just looking at his plaque and furniture collection at the City Museum (his former home was converted into a bank). We visited on foot, with the help of buses in between:
1.     Assistens Cemetery, where he’s buried (and many, many bikes were passing through, commuting to work!),
2.     On the bus, passed by the Peblinge So lake where he took many walks and I think the opening scene of one of his novels is set. It is a nearly-identical lake nearby the one where Cathy and I took our first run – and she, her first fall on the cobblestones, scraping her knee – on our first morning in Europe (May 27th).
3.     [At this point, we took a break to visit Roskilde Cathedral and have an excellent smorgabrod lunch at Aamaan’s, as recommended by an information desk person at Superkillen Park.]
4.     Then we went up the Kobmagergade Rundetaarn (round tower), in the shadow of which Kierkegaard lived. In close walking distance were both the church and the cathedral he frequented. The cathedral was very simple and it had burned down 4 or more times in its history!
5.     Lastly, we saw Kierkagaard’s statue in the Royal Library Gardens, another place he frequented (I think). This was on the same grounds as the Black Diamond library – a modern extension to the Royal Library.
6.     At 7 pm, we went to the Aquarium and especially enjoyed (among all the fish) the otters (who we named Vernon and Fluffy) and the dragon seahorses. The architecture was supposed to be impressive, but which I think looked like a Big Mac box.

Coffee Collective again today for us! We went by metro to a bigger location this time and had a scintillating early morning convo (sooo refreshed from yesterday), complimented by the BEST Danish pastries (which we discovered on our way) – a raspberry one, a cinnamon roll one, and a “birthday cake” (my name for them) ones, with yellow frosting and sprinkles – and while watching people out the window. (Best part: we discovered the pastries by accident when walking the wrong way!) One pedestrian was bringing her tiny toddler daughter, clad in a pink coat and purple leggings and a hat, to the park across the street; another put her bike on its kickstand and walked inside in a carefree manner, not locking it.
The remainder of today was a study day for me. I sat at the Urban Hostel and moved (for change of scenery) to the Copenhagen Central Train Station nearby while Cathy explored. Then we ventured to the airport at 4:30 pm.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Never Give Up!

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I interviewed a young adult science fiction/fantasy writer, TA Barron. He told me the story about how he got 32 rejection letters for his writing before succeeding with his published Merlin book series. Here's an except of an interview he did with someone else where he talks about the inevitable experience of rejection whenever you want to get your writing/ideas/research/whatever out to an audience.

"What advice would you give to a young writer?

Three things: Notice the world around you. Live your life, follow your dreams. And practice writing as often as you can.
And then a fourth: Don’t take rejection letters to heart. Everyone gets them, even established writers. They hurt, but they are just part of life. If you have something to say, and refuse to give up, you absolutely will find a way to say it and share it with others."

I recently had this happen to me-- not 32 letters, but 6. On the 7th time submitting one of my research projects, it received an R&R (i.e. Revise and Resubmit)! Oh, joy!!!!! On this 3-year road of trying and trying again, last year I printed out this page from a journal's web site that said, "the research project is not complete until you get it out the door." I think Howard Becker said something similar. Now is the hard work of revising. But oh that I would celebrate and remember this as a marker of this new year!!

TA Barron -- as well as an army of encouraging others in my life -- were right!! Refuse to give up!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Haitus Breaker

After 1.5 years away, I think it is high time that I write again. (What on earth was so important that kept me away so long?!) Today was an exhausting day of an exhausting week and looking at what I'm doing tomorrow makes me exhausted already. To stave off fears of tomorrow, what better than to watch Pretty Little Liars? My, my, my penchant for adolescent TV dramas strikes again. Maybe it'd be good to bring some prayer and thanksgiving to the day. Nothing fills like these.

My prayer tonight is that I be filled with gratitude for things past, present, future. To be able to put everything in its right place (cue: Radiohead beats). To be happy about what God has provided, about what God has taken away. To love others better. To be grateful for the paths God has led me on. To be thankful in my heart for caring friends and generous helpers that God puts in every ordinary day. For meaningfulness in routine activities. For the rythm of sleep, awakening, searching, striving, resting, repeat.

And I ask God to increase my seeking, searching; to replace my stone heart with a flesh one; to align my memory and consciousness with the truth of his good purposes; to emphasize his blessings rightly when I reflect on my life; to focus on forgiving over fairness, and celebrate moments of courage and change that he's let me see and choose, for myself.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

PPR: another reason I need to keep being a time manager

I was researching the "Content is King" reform movement as it has influenced changes in teacher education programs (that is a movement away from BAs in Education towards other disciplines), and ran into a website based on a book, "Chalkbored."  This is pretty interesting and I didn't want to forge the author's idea. He contends that students of this generation have trouble getting intellectually stimulated in school due to how teachers' PPR, or Preparation to Presentation Ratio (which basically means "production values") -- is far lower than movie producers', for example, so of course the scintillating quality of the information presented to them is going to pale in comparison. This gives me important food for thought as I contemplate the fact that I am teaching a NEW PREP next semester!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Picturesque Father-Daughter Picture, and another reason to be proud of Jackson

This is a picture of African-American novelist Richard Wright and his daughter, Julia. I finished Margaret Walker's Jubilee recently, and it's made me want to delve into the genre of African-American Lit and Historical Fiction with themes of US race relations. Perhaps Wright's Black Boy is soon in my queue. Did you know both Wright and Walker lived in Jackson, MS, at some point in their lives? Wright spent much of his boyhood there; Walker was a professor at JSU.