Monday, July 27, 2009

The Easy Button

Yesterday in church we had a lesson about prioritizing and putting important things first in our lives, and the teacher asked us to share some of the more trivial things in which we get caught up. I figured that in a room full of YSA Relief Society sisters, someone had to say the one that no one really thinks of... and even if they do, they're too embarrassed to say it, especially with the 28-year-old single member of the bishopric sitting in the back.

"Sometimes it's easy to get distracted with worries and concerns about whether we'll get married. Or our lack of dates."

Some girls looked awkward. Some nodded and smiled, agreeing completely and happy to know that they were not alone. Some looked around confidently, as if to say, "I NEVER worry about that" but you know that they secretly do. Because they're girls.

This experience reminded me of an event that happened soon after I returned home from Finland- one that sums up this eternal search for a potential spouse that all of us YSA embark on.

My Dad's calling is as a Family History Consultant. This means that he's an expert in setting up accounts on When I got home, he lost no time in helping me get started on the new After entering in all the pertinent details about myself, I was presented with a fascinating view of my family tree, showing my parents, grandparents, and ancestors all the way back to the 1600s on some lines (kudos to my Daddy for his stellar Family History skills). I kept myself fairly amused for about 20 minutes going back on various family lines to see where everybody came from.

Upon returning to my home page, where it showed me on the left-hand side and the two generations directly preceding me, I noticed a fascinating button right under my name. There, under the link of "Janine Louise Redd" was a handy button called "Add/Find Husband". 

Apparently it's that easy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hats off to Anne

On my little sister's blog, there has been a poll for the past several weeks: "Who is your favourite 18th century novel heroine? Yes, you must pick just one." Ever since it's been posted, I have scanned the list of various Jane Austen, Brontë Sisters, and Elizabeth Gaskell characters, thinking, "How can anyone expect you to pick just one?" and yet, at the same time, thinking, "They're all pretty good, but none of them is really that good that I would single them out as my favourite." Until this week, that is.

Since I started school again, I've had a renewed interest in audiobooks. When I ride my bike to school and back at least once a week, I like to have something to listen to (it's a long ride). I tried music, and it was kind of boring after a while. There's too much room for your mind to wander, which is not really what I need right now. Audiobooks, on the other hand, keep you completely engrossed, but just alert enough to be aware of the cars passing you as you ride down Silver Springs Boulevard. I got a bunch of cds from the library: short stories by Agatha Christie, some works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about Sherlock Holmes, and a Jane Austen classic, Persuasion

Now, I had always known that this story was my favourite Jane Austen novel- we own two movie versions, I've read it, and I love it more every time. But I didn't know that Anne Elliot was my favourite 18th century novel heroine. Well, she is. As I've listened to the audiobook on my bicycle this week, I've fallen in love with her- the real character, not the modernized girl-power one they show in the most recent movie. The book is kind of tragic at the beginning, everything is hopeless, Anne is twenty-seven and quite sure of her remaining single for the rest of her life. We follow her through a story of doing everything that He's Just Not That Into You warns us against: reading something into every single little action of Captain Wentworth and throwing over Mister Elliot (who is really into her) because of the tiny hope that the Captain might one day change his mind (but it's okay, Mr. Elliot turns out to be a jerk anyways). 

But in doing all this, Anne finds that like Gigi in the movie version of He's Just Not That Into You, she too is the exception to the rule. Love can find you after an eight-year hiatus, men can forgive you for breaking their hearts, and they'll even sometimes prefer a twenty-seven year-old with good sense and a kind heart to an eighteen year-old with spunk and good looks.

Anne Elliot is an inspiration to us all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dorky Me... Part II

I had a great day today. Kind of busy and stressful, but I really enjoyed it. Why, you may ask? What happened that was so much fun? Did you get free balloons or candy? Was there a circus on campus today?


However, something did happen that gives me the same kind of elation and delight as the aforementioned pleasures... that is, if I've studied enough. I had two exams today.

The first, a final exam for Art History, was multiple choice- not my favourite kind of exam, but I'll take what I can get. Tackling each question, with it's four possible answers, gives me a kind of thrill as I eliminate wrong ones and try to decipher all the little tricks that the professor has slipped in. True, the figure of Christ does refer to the painting on the opposite wall in Da Vinci's "The Last Supper", but the statement for option D is quite obviously true as well. Ahah! They've cleverly tried to tell us that the painting on the opposite wall is a Last Judgement, when it is, in fact, a crucifixion! Foiled!

The second, a midterm for Religious Studies, was much preferred. The entire exam was short, essay-style questions in various sections: choose 10 from Part A, 3 from Part 2, 1 short essay from Part 5, and so on. It's much easier to display one's own perceived intelligence on such a test. One can pick and choose- perhaps, for example, I've spent my study time on the Hellenistic period of Judaism and not on memorizing the various Yiddish words for synagogue. I can choose to answer the question I please! It was quite fun. I found myself running out of time because I was enjoying giving my answers too much. 

You see, for someone as much of a competitive show-off as I am, tests are great. I can prepare and study and, if I've done so well, I can show off to the whole world (or at least my professor) how much I know. Then, when I get my mark back, there it is in black and white: how smart I am. For a mind that attaches numbers to everything, grades are essential. How else can I measure my intelligence (or lack thereof)?

I'm getting better at this, though. I no longer sneakily peek at everyone else's grade to see how I did in comparison. I just like looking at my own number in satisfaction. Or horror at my apparent stupidity for forgetting that in the compass rose, up is always north. Yes, it's happened.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

10 Reasons I LOVE Being Back In School

1. Call me a dork, but I love learning new things.
2. I like to pretend I'm cultured and knowledgeable about high-class things like art and politics. My current classes (Art History and Religious Studies) assist me in this. Now, thanks to my Art History prof, I can answer that quintessential party question, "Who was the patron saint of gravediggers?" and everyone will think I'm soooo cultured.
3. Campus just feels good.
4. I recently discovered that I can ride my all the way from my home in Tuscany to campus and it's a delightful ride through old treed communities the whole way. Plus, I feel hardcore when I pull up to campus in my bike shorts.
5. I need the structure in my day. The relaxed break from regimented missionary schedule was nice for a while, but it was starting to drive me bonkers.
6. I've missed the quest for cheap used textbooks. Anyone who's scoured the bookstores and finally found the one awesome copy that's highlighted and falling apart (but only $20!!!) can identify.
7. It's fun to meet new people.
8. Now, when people ask me what I'm up to in post-mission life, I finally have a decent answer.
9. I get to write a RESEARCH PAPER!!!
10. It finally feels like I'm out of the weird post-mission bubble and real life has started again. Although I'm not sure that's necessarily a happy thing.