مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today in linguistics class we began a unit on morphology. To illustrate the concept of an infix, my Overzealous Grad Student brought up different conformations of the Arabic root ك ت ب. Not-so-close English transliterations flashed up on his Powerpoint slides, and my heart skipped twelve beats as I listened to his oversimplifications, acutely cognizant of the half-truths that left so much to be explained. The pièce de résistance, though, came when he picked up a white board marker and attempted to write كتب on the board to illustrate his point. His shaky, kindergarten letters made me laugh out loud--the misshapen kaaf, the elongated taa--and before I knew it I felt myself zoom up to the front of the class and snatch the pen from his awkward fingers to draw my own version of the fluid letters of which I've become so incredibly fond. In that moment my quiet self wanted to talk for years, or at least until I ran out of things to say about Arabic. I wanted so badly to explain what I saw in those letters--long nights of practice, meticulous voweling of verb forms, Khaled and Maha, hours and hours of vocabulary and grammar and syntax and writing and homework--! All at once I was so excited I could barely hold my pen to take notes as we moved on. Because Arabic is my first second language, my oldest child. And I love her more fiercely than I can explain.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Check this out. It's me! My fifteen (seconds) of on-screen fame came in a straight-to-DVD Mormon film for which I was an extra a couple years ago. I found this clip while searching for the Boise, Idaho one in the post below and was overjoyed to see myself on YouTube. :-) I'm the one sitting in front of Kirby Heyborne who turns to him all skeptical and annoyed when he claps for Diva Girl. I'm famous!

Sunday story.

Today I was set apart as the Assistant Stake Indexing Director (you probably know this calling as  Ward Indexing Co-Chair). To be honest, I was not too happy after receiving this calling. I really wanted to be an Old Testament teacher, and last week the bishop basically told me that's what he wanted me to be. I was so excited that I'd already planned significant Hebrew vocab words to incorporate into my lessons! :-) But today my bishop approached me and told me he knew I had skills in other areas, but that this program really needed to get off to a good start and thought I was the one who could get it done. My heart fell, but I accepted the calling with conviction (and a smile). In reality, though, if there was one calling I never wanted to redo, it would be this one. I failed the first time I was called as an Indexer--flat out failed. I was so indifferent to my job that I don't think I indexed one name all year. So this time must be heavenly payback. Well--payback or a second chance. Because this time I'm in charge. And this time I'm taking it by the horns, because I want to fulfill God's plan for me. If I can't do this, who's to say I can go on a mission anywhere I'm called? What if I go to Boise, Idaho like the guy on The Singles Ward? (There's nothing wrong with Boise, by the way; it's just an example!) I want to know that I'm totally okay with that. I want to react like this guy (sorry for the editing job; I don't know who does these things).

So starting today, I have to prove to myself that I'll go where He wants me to go.
♪ I'll index if you want me to index, dear Lord! I'll beeee where you want meeee to beeee! ♪


Monday, September 13, 2010


Homemade challah bread at 2 AM.
This is why I love my roommates.

In other news, support my good friend and fellow BYU student Cary Crall, recently lauded by our university for receiving a nearly unprecendented 44 out of 45 on the MCAT. A few days ago, Cary published an incisive but respectful Daily Universe editorial (cached version here) examining Perry vs. Schwarzenegger (the legal case that overturned Proposition 8 in California) and whether the reasoning used by our church membership to support the controversial proposition deserved to stand up in court. The editorial was almost immediately pulled from the DU with this vague explanation, calling national attention to an opinion that got people talking. Whether you agree with him or not, follow this story for the sake of supporting independent thought at BYU--and if the university decides to take action against my friend, please help me speak up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Ms. Sagers, tell us a little about your future. Rumor has it you're going in a new direction.

Well, as of now I'm planning to graduate in Linguistics with an emphasis in Arabic. I will minor in Chemistry.

. . . What do you mean? Won't that take forever?

No. With all my language experience, my counselor says she can get me in and out of the Linguistics major in seven classes, and I just have one more class to take for my Chem minor. I expect to complete my bachelor's degree in April 2014 at age 23.

. . . Age 23? Why?

I'm going on a mission. I decided.

I know, right? You didn't expect that.
I'll be 21 next August and I'll put my papers in this coming May.

What do you mean? Just where is your rationale for this decision?

For a while now I've been freaking out. Everything's happening too fast, and I feel like I'm hurtling toward something I don't even know if I want--something that costs fifteen years of full-time work and hundreds of thousands of dollars. This coming summer I'd either have to put in my applications for medical school or my mission papers. I haven't considered going on a mission since I was a little girl; I just never thought it was in the cards for me. But this feels right. I need time. I need time away from school and time away from the future I always thought I wanted. I need time to focus on other people. I need to grow. I am not ready to make a thirty-year decision in the next four months. So much has changed in just the last two months--my major, my interests, my goals--I can't speak for myself or the way I'll feel in five years, let alone ten. What if I get married? What if I go to medical school and make it halfway through residency before deciding I want to have a baby? Once I have a baby, what if I want to stay home and teach things to my baby? That constitutes neglecting an extremely expensive education and leaves me hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. What if I work for a while? What if I work myself out of debt and want to leave work? I can see myself trying so hard to be the best at being a physician and the best at being a mom and killing myself in the process because those two things are almost mutually exclusive. Don't get me wrong. Some people do it. I just don't know if I want to be one of those people. I've known that for years but haven't allowed myself to really think about it until now--now that medical school is becoming real, now that I have the resume for it, now that I have the GPA, the premedical coursework, and a MCAT date. I can apply in June and receive a white coat the following year.

For me that is way too soon. I cannot make a decision like that yet.

I need time. So I'm taking some.

What will you do when you return?

In all honesty, I'm not sure. Don't get me wrong. I want to go to medical school, more than almost anything. It's all I've wanted for years. I'd love to be a physician and I think I have the capacity to excel in the field. The career fits my personality and I think I'd enjoy the entire process. If my life were just about me, there'd be no question about whether or not I should go. If my life were just about me, I'd take the most specialized surgical residency, stay in school for twenty more years, and live at the hospital until I retired--because I would honestly like that. But I have to consider more than myself, and that's a scary thought. If I take a gamble on getting married sometime between age 23 and 29, I need to take a different route. I could go to PA school. I could spend some time in a hospital (neonatal occupational therapy?) or get a Ph.D. in Arabic literature or one in stem cell physiology. I could take the LSAT and end up in law school; I could take the MCAT and decide to go to medical school. I could take an internship at Disney, work for a few years, and get an MBA. My resume supports all of these choices. After all these years of surety, I'm just beginning to realize that I don't know what I really want. I have never explored any other career options.

So what will you do now?

For now, I will proceed as planned. I'll finish up my organic chemistry sequence so if I do choose to enter medical school when I return (and, hey, there's a good chance) my premedical resume will be rock solid. I won't study for the MCAT this spring, but I'll compile all my notes and study materials so I'll be able to take it easily when I return if I so choose. I won't take the Medical School Application class I have planned for the winter; instead, I'll take a law lecture series, just to see what I've been missing, and a Mission Prep class. I'll put in my papers after the end of Winter Semester and hopefully leave sometime in August.

. . . You're crazy. You might be ruining everything you've worked so hard to build.

Maybe. Really. But I'm excited for this change. A mission is an experience you only get to have once. Yes, I'm freaked out. But yes, I think this is the best choice for me. Because I need time. As my parents remind me, I'm only twenty years old. And I'm a year younger than my school colleagues; I graduated high school at 17. If I want to go to medical school, I can do it. And I mean, I can do it and still fit in with the class that's coming straight from a four-year bachelor's degree--they'd come out of school at 22 or 23, and I'd enter at 23. I still have the resume for whatever I want to do. Time's not running out, even though sometimes it seems that way.

Are you happy?

I think so.
And that's a big deal, for me.



Friday, September 10, 2010

Dimensional analysis.

As of last weekend, I'm obsessed with this show. It's fantastic.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge . . . You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; you've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.[1]
—Rod Serling

Nobody speaks like that on TV anymore.

Right now life consists of work, reading, homework, TA-ing, Arabic verb forms, Hebrew vocab, apartment renovations, and the occasional second during which my mind concerns itself with organic chemistry. I'm still in Happy-Go-Lucky Fall Semester Mode, an excited state in which I'm motivated to complete my homework and always thrilled to learn. Reality will hit me around midterm season, I think, at which point I will ionize into my more abundant, lower-energy isotope: the tired, sloppy mess of blonde hair and Granola Bites you're lucky to scrape off the floor before 4 AM. Oh, the perks of suffering from an insatiable desire to be The Best At Everything.

In other news, I'm incandescently outraged about the evangelical pastor who intends to burn copies of the Qur'an tomorrow. Nothing irritates me more than when people blindly (and sometimes violently) condemn what they don't understand. As a Mormon stem cell researcher, the sentiment is nothing new.

Article (Time): What Christians Can Learn from Koran Burner the Rev. Terry Jones

weird. i'm in the cougareat and this guy just sat next to me, poured four packets of taco bell hot sauce all over his oreo ice cream and gobbled it up without a spoon (ice cream to face). i didn't even notice. he then asked me if i wanted any, at which point i politely declined, and he walked away. i just realized what it was he was doing, and i think i just ruined his sociology experiment. ha.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The Friendship reunites in my apartment's spare room. 
Angel lives in Springville. Liz is very recently engaged. Katie Cr. lives in San Diego. Katie Ca. is interning in Illinois. I'm back from Boston. Faith's here at BYU. Louisa's at the U of U.

Coffee cake and orange juice with the f-ship at Mimi's Cafe and a subsequent Skype chat with the only absent member of our ten-years-young sisterhood made for an emotionally fulfilling Saturday morning. We feel whole when we're together, and thanks to all of us spreading out over the world, that hasn't happened since last Christmas. I guess all we need is a pair of traveling pants.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Leila tov w Laila saiida.

In the history of BYU, there has never existed a more complicated syllabus than the one I have for Arabic 201. It took two full class periods of questions just to begin to make sense of the massive document, and to satisfy its demands I've completed three to four hours of Arabic alone every night since Day 1. It's paying off, though. My reading and writing is totally back and my comprehension is sharp. I still have to go over many verbs and really practice my speaking, but for the most part I'm finding myself pretty well off. I even aced my quiz today. Both of them, actually--I had a very important one in Hebrew, too, and as of last night I can officially read my Hebrew copy of "Goodnight Moon." It never fails to surprise me how rewarding studying languages--and I mean intensely studying languages--feels.

I love science, but it's incredibly exhausting. The goal of everything and everyone around you--fellow students, professors, counselors, requirement lists, admissions criteria, even your courses themselves--is to make you fail. Everything is simultaneously unfair and impossible. It's designed to be that way, and after a while you just accept it. You figure it out. You memorize and internalize rules and diagrams and abstractions and methodologies and equations and spit it all back up and walk away tiredly clinging to your A, regardless of how much you've "learned." But being in so many humanities classes this semester has called my attention to other students' reactions when a professor mentions something that doesn't seem just. Science majors expect it. We scribble your unreasonable demands without a word knowing full well we'll try all semester to meet them, knowing that in the end we won't succeed. But watching colleagues protest such statements (and watching professors respond like actual people) reminds me that other people here are consistently being treated with respect, and it's a weird feeling not to know whether to pity or envy them.