I just finished reading a recent entry of a good friend's blog who is currently finishing out her last semester/quarter(s) of grad school, and it makes me pretty happy to be done with that! Going through the program at UIC was a great learning experience and I really did enjoy much of it, but last year was truly exhausting. Sometimes it feels like I have little to show for it other than a flimsy piece of paper, but I know that God just needs to mold me to what He's got in store. A couple weeks ago, I started a fast in conjunction with the church Michael and I have been attending, and while I don't fast 100%, even just fasting most of the daytime after breakfast and before dinner has opened my eyes to what is truly important. (Or not important!) Some days, I don't make it to 4:30pm without having a light snack, but I do always think a lot more about God, His faithfulness, and praying (if I don't actually sit down and do so...) than I have in a long time, and maybe ever. I think part of that is also that I have had such a period of quiet schedules the past nine and a half months; I really believe it's made me more open to listening and improving that particular skill. It's easy during a fast to constantly feel like you're failing: I gave in to hunger, I forgot to pray, I didn't read my Bible as long as I wanted... But I'm learning that it isn't really about that. Of course, to try again the next day, but I think the most important element is that you think about those things, period. Our minds are amazing works of the Lord; even as we get older and the sponginess of them seems to dry up (i.e. we don't remember as much as we used to, learning new things is probably harder, etc. ), they can still be molded by practice and patience! Well, I suppose it's God who does much of that molding, but it still usually takes more time than WE would like :) So, that's been good, and I think coming into this year from last has intensified the experience quite a bit, and I am thankful.
Earlier this week, I got in touch with some people that I maybe should have about nine months back when I arrived back in Georgia: a tutoring center at the university down the road and a temp agency. Of course, as fate (and probably God, taking a little poke at me, and seeking to teach me from each tiny situation) would have it, I got ahold of someone at both places immediately, and someone - lo and behold! - helpful! What a breath of freaking fresh air. Not that there aren't any sweet, kind, helpful people anywhere here, but many are indeed just rushing around, nearly hitting or merging into you on the freeway and in various sumo-parking lots. And heaven forbid you ask them to go above and beyond their job description by asking them a question about something other than their usual tasks. Okay, that rant is closed. Moving on: so the sweet, sweet, enthusiastic lady at the Columbus State University tutoring center sounded even a bit excited when I explained I had my M.A. in French and had noticed they didn't have a French tutor listed on their website. [sweet lady:] She would get in touch with me as soon as they had someone come in asking for one, and we could contract directly, since I wasn't a CSU student. [me:] Could I post fliers even if we might arrange an in-center arrangement at some point? [sweet lady:] Well, don't YOU post them, just bring them to ME, and I'll do it! [back to normal blog] I barely recognized this overwhelmingly positive situation and experience. So, I must make exciting FLIERS. For once, a project that doesn't involve sifting through endless retail positions on Indeed.com and GreatColumbusJobs.com that I know won't even be something I want! Thank the Lord.
Finally, this week, I have been contemplating and discussing starting a French blog. My friend in Lille, Claire-lise, has kindly agreed to check for grammar and vocab slip-ups periodically, and I hope to write on a variety of subjects, thus taking me back a bit to more research-based writing. Of course, I won't be writing eight to twelve page dissertations, but I do think that it is important that I don't completely let my edge slip away during this interim from academia. So, for those of you who are French speakers and writers, stay tuned. And for now, this is me signing off from my English blog!