Friday, October 31

Deep Thought

This is simply beautiful. I had to share. It's changed my life. :)

"I’m a Christian not because of the resurrection (I wrestle with this), and not because I think Christianity contains more truth than other religions (I think God reveals himself, or herself, in many forms, some not religious), and not simply because it was the religion in which I was raised (this has been a high barrier). I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (I know, I know: he was quoting the Psalms, and who quotes a poem when being tortured? The words aren’t the point. The point is that he felt human destitution to its absolute degree; the point is that God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.) I am a Christian because I understand that moment of Christ’s passion to have meaning in my own life, and what it means is that the absolutely solitary and singular nature of extreme human pain is an illusion. I’m not suggesting that ministering angels are going to come down and comfort you as you die. I’m suggesting that Christ’s suffering shatters the iron walls around individual human suffering, that Christ’s compassion makes extreme human compassion—to the point of death even—possible. Human love can reach right into death, then, but not if it is merely human love.

"Such a realization should ease loneliness—even for the griever who is left alone; it should also, in time, help to propel one back into life. Nothing is served by following someone into a grave. Somehow, even deep within extreme grief, the worst pain is knowing that your pain will pass, that all the bright particulars of life that one person’s presence made possible will fade into mere memory, and then not even that. Consequently, many people fight hard to keep their wound fresh, for in the wound, at least, is the loss, and in the loss the life you shared. Or so it seems. In truth the life you shared, because it was shared, was marked by joy, by light. Cradled in loneliness, it becomes pure grief, pure shadow, which is a problem not simply for the present and the future, but for the past as well. Excessive grief, the kind that paralyzes a person, the kind that eventually becomes an entire personality—in the end this does not honor the love that is its origin. Is, not was: our dead have presence. You don’t need to believe in some literal heaven to feel the ways in which the dead inhabit us—for good, if we will let them do that, which means, paradoxically, letting them go.
“But the world’s evil,” cries out the woman in “Home Burial.” “I won’t have grief so / If I can change it. Oh, I won’t, I won’t.” She’s right: the world is evil, and grief is too little acknowledged and honored in our culture. But I have a feeling that I’m speaking here to people who, like this woman, are conscious of this fact and determined to resist it. I don’t know if the woman in “Home Burial” is pathological; I don’t think so. What I do know, or sense, is that within the love that once opened up the world to you—from the birth of a child to meeting your mate—is a key that can let you back into the world when that love is gone."
-Christian Wiman, in "Mortify Our Wolves", The American Scholar

Wednesday, October 8

How I Take Notes (As of a week ago . . .)

I feel like college is a never-ending quest to discover 1) how you learn best, 2) how to take notes that you will actually use, and 3) how to avoid procrastination.

Now, having been in college for . . . like 5 years (sigh), I have finally stumbled upon something that is actually working.

First, you need to find a flash card website. Personally, I favor Quizlet, but I know there are a ton out there so I don't suggest you have to go with Quizlet (though it is fantastic.)

You go to your lecture.

Every time you talk about a word, a concept, etc that you are unfamiliar with or that you will need to remember, create a flash card for it. (This where Quizlet is useful to me. If you buy the "plus" version, one of the features you gain access to is the auto-define feature, meaning you can auto-define any term using the quizlet database. Meaning, it will look for other sets made by other people that have used the same term and present you with a list of possible definitions that you can choose from. OR you can write your own. Either choice makes for quick notes.

I create a folder per class, and each day (or each subject, depending on the amount of information being presented) I create a new set of cards.

Following class, take a time or two and glance over your cards to review what you've learned. If you have trouble with any cards or you had any words you weren't able to clearly define, you know what you need to focus on a little more or what you need to study more carefully.

I do this with reading as well! As I read, I take notes in flash cards.

Then I don't have notebooks full of information that I won't readily go back and look at. My notes are in my phone. Heck, if I have a few minutes I can play a matching game to look over what we talked about in class the day before. Then when it's exam time, I can flip through my cards to see what I remember and what I don't.

This is still a beta-concept. Meaning, I've only just really started doing this. But let me tell you, my retention of each molecular biology has increased by 110%. Now I'm not just writing stuff down to review frantically during the few days preceding the exam. I'm actually learning and becoming fluent with concepts as I go.

So . . . comments? What has worked for you? Does this sound insane?

Wednesday, October 1

Update: Inadequate feelings do cause stress

A few posts ago I came up with a hypothesis about feeling inadequate and how I can basically maintain any schedule and provide any service as long as I feel adequate and competent.

THIS IS TRUE.

Being a pseudo-scientist (as we all are), I've been tracking stress levels since I wrote about this, and I am pleased to announce that, yes, I am only truly "stressed" when I feel inadequate.

Now that I write that, it is a no-duh.

But look, I have a pretty basic schedule right now. I work at various times throughout this, but work currently consists of sorting through dirt which, face it, is a mindless process.

I will highlight these days green or red depending on if I feel calm or stressed. (The strength of the color is also indicative of the level of discomfort.)

Monday
Genetics
Chemistry
Great Questions

Tuesday
Plant Bio
Chem Recitation

Wednesday
Genetics
Chemistry
Great Questions
Institute

Thursday
Plant Bio
Chem Recitation
D&D (sometimes.)

Friday
Genetics
Chemistry
Great Questions
Hang out with Ian

Saturday
Whatever needs to be done.

Sunday 
Church.

WOAH. So true! A few observations:

1- I feel inadequate in my science classes because I am playing catch up and I am surrounded by medical students. My great questions class is full of honors students who discuss philosophical concepts and extravagant ideas, etc. They are all very talkative, versatile, and experienced (or portray themselves as such.) Of course I'd feel stressed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

Note, however, that while Monday is hard, Wednesday (and the prospect of teaching institute) make a substantial difference. I am immensely more stressed throughout the day because of the prospect of standing in front of my students and feeling basically ridiculous. 

But it's cool, I'm getting better at it. I estimate in a few weeks Wednesday levels will be closer to Monday levels.

Also, Fridays are hard, but the prospect of being with Ian (who has the power to make me feel perfectly adequate at everything) tempers it drastically.

Other days I feel basically calm. But playing D&D and going to church are things I am super confident about, so the whole day gets a bonus. 

So, anyone want to try this? It's interesting. You don't have to be weird like me. :)
I guess I need to do some things I find really easy and really enjoyable on Wednesday. Hmm . . .

Final note: I visit Facebook, blog, and Pinterest at random times. This doesn't seem to significantly impact anything for good or bad. (Though if I spend too much time doing them inadequacy sets in because I am not using time wisely . . . which OBVIOUSLY is something only inadequate people do.)

Life!

Also, now you all have a pretty good guide for when to ask me for stuff. Haha, who'd have thought? I wish my professors had this guide. XP