Thursday, March 31, 2005

Last minute stress and long term decisions

I'm freaking out currently. I have a paper due tomorrow of which I'm only really half done. And I think I failed a stat test yesterday. I can't seem to get myself to that point of stress where I freak out and actually DO something. I keep re-writing the same pages...not making any significant progress.

This current stress and focus on the moment is paralleled with the fact that I just made the a long-term decision NOT to go to UT for my phd after my visit there. So I'll be in here in state college, pa for a few more years. This decision has taken a BIG weight off my shoulders and I'm really very happy to be staying here.

I hope to post something a bit more inspiring soon. Someone mentioned that my blog isn't a cheery lately...this is true. I keep waiting for the cheerier part to come to me so I can reflect it here. So far, that hasn't gone so well. Let's just hope I can stay sane enough to drag myself through the next weeks of the semester.

Times like this, I keep asking myself "Why am I doing this? Why I am going to school?"

Friday, March 18, 2005

Relationship Development

In our personal relationships seminar yesterday we discussed the relationship development perspective. Most models are linear and go from the first time two people meet to marriage. Then they end. I guess because there are so many different paths people take after that and it gets too confusing. We mayhave similar experiences when intimacy and committment are increasing, but not when it is decreasing and not when relationships end.

First, I'm not sure if I think relationships are linear. I mean, you can't stop time so in some ways relationships are "progressing" in the sense that they are accummulating more relationship history and people have more experiences with each other. But I doubt this means that relationships are always progressing in the sense that they are moving forward in some way. What would they be moving forward to? Especially after some milestone like marriage. Once you get to that level of committment are you just THERE? Like, you've arrived and you've reached some coveted state where you don't have to work at your relationship? Obviously this can't be true. But what would a model of that look like?

Some scholars have relationship development models that aren't linear but look more like charts. There are stages. But they still imply categories and movement. The social penetration theory (i know, weird name) conceptualizes relationships as onions that have many layers. People may have a large breadth of things they discuss with another but don't have much depth. Others may have depth of discussion about very narrow issues. I guess the most developed relationships have depth and breadth (two words that comm scholars LOVE).

Anyway, I just think its interesting to see how values are embedded into our scholarship and just in the way we think everyday about relationships. Increased intimacy is considered to be a positive thing while decreased intimacy is considered negative. But we can all think of times when increased intimacy may be exactly what we don't want.

I don't have some alternative suggestion for this, but it makes me think of Christianity and in general, just putting people into categories. I remember when I was telling my youth group leader in high school about the new guy I was dating. His first question: "Well, is he a Christian?" Of course I understand the importance of this question and why he was asking me. But to me, it really does no good to try to squish someone's spiritual journey into a yes or no question. Asking if someone is "in" or "out" of the christianity circle doesn't seem too helpful.

In the same way, it's interesting to hear how people give their narrative of their spiritual journey. Is it linear? Is there some "THERE" that people are trying to work towards? Do you ever really get there? Is that really the point?

I don't really know how these things all connect. I just think that sometimes in our attempts to make things neat and tidy and fit into theories and models and yes or no questions that we lose some of the real stuff. The real reason we were interested in asking those questions in the first place. And sometimes we need some other alternatives. Believing in models that paint some picture of life as moving in one direction that makes sense and shows some state that we are aiming to achieve just sets us up for disappointment and disaster, I think.

That's why narratives are so important. Unless it's a fairy tale you're reading that ends with "happily ever after," people's personal narratives are ever-changing. Our histories are constantly being re-written. We have to keep up with each other's narratives - make sure we know how our friends and family are telling the story of their lives and how we fit into it. This whole thing facinates me. Our pasts and our memories are so malleable, but yet they are so important because they impact things and affect things in the here and now. Finding out that your spouse doesn't think it was love at first sight and you do -- this difference in stories can be cause for conflict.

And one event can change the whole way in which we tell our story. It can change the things we highlight and the things we downplay. A person becomes a Christian and their whole narrative changes to before and after. To all the bad things you did before you found Christ to all the good things you do now. You finally come out, and you tell the story of how you've always been attracted to people of the same sex, but never felt able to talk about it.

This is all so tied into our identity. Our histories, our stories - they have to make sense with our current identity and the place we current occupy. Perhaps our identities shift and move and certain parts of us become more salient at different times and as we tell different stories about ourselves.

We try to make sense of things, but when our experiences are so malleable and can be seen from so many perspectives, what is the REAL story? Does it really matter? Perhaps there are a million ways to tell your own story. And each story has different implications for how you're going to live your life from this day forward.

So, in the midst of muddling through each day, I guess I have to ask myself where I am in the story I tell of my life? How will I look back on this period and re-tell it?

I guess we'll have to wait and see. And if you ask me tomorrow, it might be a different story than I tell next week.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Indie Bride!

Well, in an effort to procrastinate and also to search out the origins of some marriage traditions, I came across this site called indiebride. I have to tell you that I'm very excited to find this site for a couple of reasons.

First, I realize I am not the only one out there who is excited about planning a wedding and yet somehow feels like she is betraying her feminist ideologies by buying into the whole huge consumeristic mess. I mean, have you looked at how many wedding magazines are out there on the market? It's insane! All these articles and etiquette and honeymoon locations and special outfits.

Anyway, so this is a site where at least people seem to be thinking about issues a little more deeply. I'll let you know what I learn!


I can't believe it's March already. Where is this semester going?!

I discovered the other day that it is very easy to download sermons from CRCC's webpage and put them on my iPod. So while I waited for the bus (which was 20 minutes late) this morning, I listened to a sermon about prayer given by patsy f a few weeks ago. Technology is amazing.

Not sure where I would say I am spiritually lately. On one hand, I feel bad for not finding a church around here and on the other hand, I just don't want to go to church. Not that I don't want to put the time into god, but I don't know. I just feel disconnected from the church experience lately.

Then the other day, while I was in the nail salon (sounds silly, I know), I started talking to this woman while we were waiting for our nails to dry under those funny UV lights. I don't really even remember home the conversation started, but somehow she was telling me about her six kids, all of who are adopted, and her grandkids, and her husband who started this organization called the second mile. I remember seeing a program on it on local cable tv last year. I sent Jesse an email right afterwards telling him about it.

Basically they have all these outreach programs for youth. The program on it made me cry because this tough teenage boys were really being affected and having their lives changed because of the presence of the people at the second mile. And hearing them talk made me want to be involved in this.

So anyway, after talking to this woman (Dottie I think?) for a long time, I had to leave, but decided that it was a sign that maybe I should get involved there. They are Christians and go to a church around here, but I'm more interested in getting involved in their outreach and getting connected in a real concrete way. Maybe the church part will come later.

Okay, I'm sending in the interest form. Time to DO something!