مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Monday, July 25, 2011

See you in 2013.

by Herman Hesse

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.

The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slave or permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.


Well, folks, I'm reaching the end of my rope.
I enter the Provo MTC this Wednesday afternoon, إن شاء الله.

I'm saying goodbye to the people I love and it feels weird. For me, leaving for months on end isn't abnormal because I've spent various semesters in various places around the globe since I was 15. This just feels like I'm leaving on another one of my adventures, but for some reason everyone's making a big deal about this one and hosting goodbye get-togethers and singing dramatic songs and giving me things. Last Sunday's farewell talk went over well; my topic was meekness and I was able to incorporate a lot of my language learning experiences by comparing them to learning the language of the Spirit. I was overjoyed to see some of my very favorite people in the audience and hope it won't be the last time I see them, though life moves fast and that is a very real possibility.

I spent my last week of normal life at our traditional family vacation spot, Hebgen Lake, Montana, with my family and best friends/cousins, spending six fluid days sunning my pale skin, rereading some books I love, eating to my heart's content, sleeping late and watching moves later, sitting in the shade discussing politics, and zooming around on boats and jetskis. I might be the only sister missionary in the MTC with a peeling summer sunburn in places I won't be able to display for a year and a half. :-)
I said goodbye to most of my family after Sacrament Meeting outside the quaint little brown-tiled church in West Yellowstone. My brothers hugged me for a long time and we all got teary-eyed. I'll miss Ryan for three full years; he'll go on his mission before I return from mine.

And then tonight I got to have late-night dessert with as many of the Friendship as were in town. I love these girls. :-)

I have a few more things to check off my list and then I'll be ready to go. I think my last good meal will be Mexican food--Los Hermanos--but I'm still deciding what to watch for my last movie and what to listen to for my last song. Again, it just doesn't seem real.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


try to realize it's all within yourself
no one else can make you change
and to see you're really only very small
life flows on within you and without you

when you've seen beyond yourself then you may find
peace of mind is waiting there
and the time will come when you see
we're all one and life flows on within you and without you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

مع السلامة يا درس العربية

I spoke my first Arabic words in a room with a view of the Dome of the Rock. Our class was casual--a quirky supplement to a summer in Jerusalem--but the language made an unforgettable first impression. I remember pronouncing the letters of the alphabet slowly and in sequence, exaggerating the خ and stuttering over the غ. At that point I could not have fathomed that choosing to take this class seriously would change the direction of my future. I could not have imagined the way I would spend hundreds and maybe thousands of hours poring over the spidery script, the way I would so easily leave my lifelong dream of a medical career to compose sentences and paragraphs, to memorize verb forms and decline participles. But maybe my subconscious knew more than it let on.

After diving into an intensive first semester with the language--and long before any thought of changing my major crossed my mind--I wrote, "Arabic has catalyzed my intellectual expansion for the first time in years." I detailed my ecstasy at discovering I could read, my ongoing frustration with speaking, and the pieces of artwork (!) I made to describe my feelings. And throughout my two-and-a-half-year struggle to read, write, speak, and listen, this blog assumed its true form. It is, passionately, a love letter to the Arabic language. Nearly a full twenty percent of my five hundred and eighty-six posts mention Arabic, chronicling my frustrations, challenges, successes, and failures. This is why I was so sad this morning after walking into the last Arabic class in which I will participate for eighteen months. We translated an article from al-Jazeera, reviewed the حال construction, ate my goodbye donuts, and then I left the JKB, beginning to understand just how much I will miss all of this. "Because Arabic is my first second language, my oldest child. And I love her more fiercely than I can explain."

"Well, I hope you come back to Arabic after your mission. You're really good at it."
--Dil Parkinson

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I am doing just a few things right now in my calm before the storm:

1. Attending and loving Arabic class
2. Working as a research assistant for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
3. Putting the final touches on my mission shopping
4. Going to the temple as often as I can
5. Thinking about doing more actual, doctrinal, linguistic preparation for my mission (I know I should be doing more, but with three months in the MTC it's hard to feel motivated during my last two weeks of freedom)
6. Fearing that my visa will be denied or something else will go wrong and my mission will have to be postponed (this just barely happened to a friend of mine--he was supposed to enter the MTC today--so I am incredibly freaked out!)
7. Spending time with my fabulous family
8. Sleeping as much as I like
9. Eating as much as I like (probably not the best idea, but I figure I'll lose weight subsisting on kimchi)
10. Reading as much as I like

My farewell's on Sunday, I spend the following week at Hebgen Lake with my cousins, and then I come back and enter the MTC. Two weeks from this minute I will have been at the MTC for two and a half hours. I can hardly believe it.

After Arabic this afternoon I attended a lecture given by an Egyptian professor from the American University in Cairo. He spoke on his personal experiences in ميدان التحرير (Tahrir Square) during the Egyptian revolution this January and I almost cried. I've never cared more about a political event in history as I did about Egypt this spring, and I'm sad that I'll miss the election scheduled for September and the developments surrounding the new constitution. It's strange to think about how much politics I will miss, strange to realize that there will be an eighteen-month void in my newfound political consciousness. On the bright side, though, Cairo will probably be calm enough that I can study there with BYU when I return from Korea. إن شاء الله

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I saw The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams performed at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City yesterday and came away entranced. I love to stumble into good literature; it's rare I pick up a classic novel or play without any background, but walking into this one I couldn't have told you a thing about it. I surprised myself by how strongly I identified with Laura, the adult daughter nicknamed "Blue Roses" who, remaining unmarried, dissolves into her own imaginary world populated solely by delicate glass animals. The only "gentleman caller" the family can persuade to come meet Laura, Jim, not only breaks her favorite glass animal--a sparkling unicorn--but totally shatters her fragile psyche. The play is heartbreakingly beautiful and if I ever marry I want blue roses in my bouquet. Enjoy my favorite scene.

Jim: Now how about you? Isn't there something you take more interest in than anything else?

Laura: Well I do - as I said - have my glass collection.

Jim: I'm not right sure I know what you're talking about. What kind of glass is it?

Laura: Little articles of it; they're ornaments mostly. Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie! Here's an example of one, if you'd like to see it. This one is one of the oldest. It's nearly thirteen. [He stretches out his hand.] Oh, be careful! If you breathe, it breaks!

Jim: I'd better not take it. I'm pretty clumsy with things.

Laura: Go on, I trust you with him! [Places it in his palm.] There now, you're holding him gently! Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him?

Jim: It sure does shine!

Laura: I shouldn't be partial, but he is my favorite one.

Jim: What kind of a thing is this one supposed to be?

Laura: Haven't you noticed the single horn on his forehead?

Jim: A unicorn, huh?

Laura: Mm-hm.

Jim: Unicorns, aren't they extinct in the modern world?

Laura: I know!

Jim: Poor little fellow. He must feel sort of lonesome.

Laura: Well, if he does he doesn't complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don't have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together.

Jim: How do you know?

Laura [lightly]: I haven't heard any arguments among them!

Jim [grinning]: No arguments, huh? Well, that's a pretty good sign. Where should I set him?

Laura: Put him on the table. They all like a change of scenery once in a while.