Sunday, September 27, 2009


Remember how after I came back from the Pacific I was all torn up and perishing without a vision? I felt like there was too much to see and do and I was just stuck in middle Tennessee.

I just watched the first segment of Ken Burns National Parks: America's Best Idea. And have that very same restlessness reignited. I am ready (yet, again) to sell off everything I own and go explore the world around me. I recently saw a job opening in Palau...

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. ~The crazy, bearded, insanely passionate John Muir

Alas. I have a paper to finish and a decent bedtime hour to keep. Tomorrow starts another Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

yo ho ho and donuts

As ye may well know, one sunrise ago be International Talk Like A Pirate Day. So me hearties and me did. All captains be gone (Jim was at Chickamauga, John was on annual leave, and Gib doesn't work on Saturdays) so we proceeded to have a swashbuckling good time. 

We practically had to paddle to work, with all the rain that fell. And fell. And fell. Then, the saucy wench Elena and I brought in a box of donuts... of which we consumed almost half of by 9 turns of the hourglass. Then we proceeded to greet fellow shipmates in the proper tongue. "Top of the mornin' to ya!" proved to be the best greeting we could come up with. There weren't any visitors for the first hour of the day. So we took turns wearing the bejeweled pirate patch. The day really started at 9am, when a posse of bikARRRS came in for a brief orientation. They were jolly fun. Then the visitors kept coming steady after that, in spite of the rain (or maybe because of the rain). The influx of people kept the day rolling pretty smoothly. 

I'd say I'm upset over the fact that I will have supervision tomorrow and will have to speak in a civil tongue, but why should I care? Yar! I'll skewer anybody who decides to cross this saucy wench. Then I'll set sail. I can hear the rain still falling... it might be necessary for me to set sail, anyway.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Park Ranger Elizabeth

While cleaning out some of my purses/backpacks/assorted totes this morning, I ran across a letter I received at the park a few weeks ago. "To Park Ranger Elizabeth" from Scales Elementary. My very first school-group thanks! I've been sent generic thanks from school groups, but usually they are addressed to the park or to Ranger McKay. The letter made my day, as the visit had made my day the week before. 

I had visited Ms. East's class dressed as a Civil War soldier. The other male rangers were not going to be able to come in that day, and questions were raised about the effectiveness of me being a girl dressing out. I don't fool a lot of people when I dress out. I was only with the class for about an hour, but it was so much fun. 

I used my obvious female traits to talk about Frances Clalin. I walked into the class, introducing myself as Elijah from Minnesota. Eventually, I told the class if they wouldn't tell anyone, I could tell them my secret- I was a girl. They were so funny. "We know!" they exclaimed, exasperated and giggling. I talked about daily life as a soldier. My favorite technique to relate soldier life with their lives is to show them a toothbrush. 

"What's this?" I ask.

"A toothbrush," they reply.

"Right. I need to keep my teeth clean, just like you. Do you know what these bristles are made of?"

(At this point I get lots of very good guesses, ranging from caterpillar fur to horse hair) 

"Ew, horse hair!?" I ask. "Do you want to put that in your mouth?"

"No!" replies the class.

"Let's not be silly!" I say with a playful smile. "I don't want horse in my mouth! That's gross." Then I deliver my next line very seriously. "This is pig hair."

The shrill squeals of the delightful horror from the thought of pig's hair in one's mouth make me giggle with the class. The whole session is fun. That is the idea. The kids have fun and are learning, too. 

I eventually switched out of character entirely to talk about being a park ranger at the battlefield and how the battlefield is a part of the National Park Service. The class engaged with a variety of thoughtful questions ranging from the Civil War to working as a park ranger. "How come you know so much about the Civil War?" one girl asked. (Because I am a dork...). Another asked how did I become a park ranger. That's right. Start cultivating those Junior Rangers early. 

Finding the letter this morning renewed my gratification. "Miss Elizabeth, Thank you soooo much for coming out to school today. Now I am totally interested in the Civil War!" wrote Grace C. Knowing I helped spark a child to be "totally interested" makes me feel all warm inside and encourages me to keep on keeping on. That's what we are here for, right?

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I am sitting at my desk for the first time since I can remember when I am not freaking out about something coming up. I assure you, I still have things that concern me. But the events that I have been in charge of pulling together have come and gone. The exhibit opening went well. The living history program went well. I am going to go to bed early tonight to work on the sleep deficit that I have created these last few weeks. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And (no) Break

If you have been pondering about my hiatus from blogging, ponder no more! I have been insanely busy! Not that I plan on un-busy-ing myself in these upcoming months. In fact, I have recently confirmed that my busy levels will be increased before December. Yay for me!

Again, though, I take a dose of life daily and move forward. I will graduate in May 2010 and I think the only thing that will stop me at this point is Jesus's* return. 

And no, God, that was not a challenge.

Tomorrow evening I am helping/hosting/planning the opening of our cultural landscape exhibit opening. Then this weekend I am the ranger leading the living history programs at the battlefield. Woo. In the meantime I am getting back into the swing of school/thesis writing/researching/living. I also have comprehensive exams to study for at the end of this semester. I have contemplated quitting school and living in a van by the river no less than 17 times these last two weeks. Or living a life like Roxy

On this awesome day of 09/09/09, I am committing to finishing my thesis by early next spring, rocking my comps, and graduating by May 2010 (so I can... do something else). Bring on the day.

*According to Kate Turabian, I have correctly made the Lord's Name possessive. For the record (even though my computer keeps telling me otherwise). 

I Have My Reasons Why

I was biking today, riding along Murfreesboro's beautiful Greenway, pondering decisions. Past ones, ones that I have to make in my near future, ones that I should be making but am delaying, and why I made/make/should think about them. Then Nickel Creek's song "Reasons Why" popped in my head. I think it fits. 

Where am I today, I wish that I knew
'Cause looking around there's no sign of you
I don't remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead

I'm holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this sort of a love that we once knew
I'm calling this home when it's not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed

Standing on a darkened stage
Stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses
But I have my reasons why

We get distracted by the dreams of our own
But nobody's happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall

And climb high to the highest rung
To shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses
I have my reasons why

With so much deception
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away

I think I especially appreciate the part about standing on a darkened stage, stumbling through the lines. Sometimes I overwhelm myself with thoughts about what I should be doing or with the ideas that I should know what I am doing. Oftentimes, though, I have no earthly clue about what I am doing. I am taking life daily (multivitamins, too). I think many people stumble through their own lines on their own darkened stages and that helps me embrace my own stumblings.