Technically, I'm in college, but it's just not the same. With this degree, I'm really doing it because I need it for job purposes, but not because I'm in love with the subject material or I feel like it's inspiring.
I'm talking about the college where my brain could actually hurt after a hard class because I could literally feel myself thinking on a different plane. That may sound ridiculous, but there were certain professors I can never, ever forget because they made an indelible mark on how I think.
One professor, who was very exacting of his students and passionate about his work, finally made me understand the deal with Shakespeare. (I had always thought of him as a mediocre entertainer, kind of like the Real Housewives of his time.) This professor pulled out the tiniest sections of his plays, spending some lectures on just one single word, and showing the infinite meanings that could be pulled out.
Or the professor who sat at the table in our small class, her hair always in a messy bun. She was very slight and petite, blonde, but she seemed larger than life when she took over a class. She would still be incredibly small, almost folding into herself, but her eyes were incredibly sharp. I would call her an educational sniper, actually. It was almost like she tried to make herself as small as possible physically until she was just a pair of eyes behind her thick-rimmed glasses. She would push you to think. She made us read about the beginnings of psychology in France and how scent, which really plays such a huge role in life, is always expunged from the history books. How different would the story of the French Revolution be if you could smell the narrow streets lined with human waste and yeast for baking? How different a world is it when Napoleon's architect, Haussmann, designed boulevards meant to stop rebels from blockading the roads but instead created a new culture of "see and be seen"?
I miss this- I miss being around people who made you feel smarter than you are just by being near them. I just finished Reading Lolita in Tehran and it brought up all this nostalgia. I love this book; it's about two of my favorite things- daily life in the Middle East, particularly from a woman's perspective, and literary analysis. The author was a professor of Eng. Lit. in Iran and her experience of the Regime is linked with the classes she taught- I love to see her compare Austen's heroines, who rebel against societal rules but still work within its confines, to how her own students find small ways to rebel (one girl wears nail polish, another finds strength and solidarity during the time she spent in jail) under sharia law.
She makes me want to be brave and smart and, maybe inadvertently, nostalgic.
So this Oklahoma weather is annoying me. I know that I should have some bigger kind of emotion, like fear or awe or excitement, even- but honestly, it just drives me nuts. It's like, are we going to have a tornado or not? What exactly are we worried about when we get a severe thunderstorm warning? To me, growing up in the north, rain clouds = rain. Done. Snow is a whole other matter, but usually if there's a threat, there's a follow-through, you know what I mean? This kind of weather, where pretty much every day my husband is forcibly dragging me to covered parking so we don't get our cars freaked up by hail, is just frustrating.
The issue here is most likely the fact that, because I'm still job-hunting, the weather really plays a role in my day to day goings-on.
Like today. I was planning on checking out a state park I've never been to, but decided to stick close to home because I don't know how to read these clouds fluently yet. So, went back to the Wildlife Refuge.
First, me and the pup thought to ourselves, should we try to climb Elk Mountain?
We walked for probably 5 minutes uphill before I got nervous about a snake biting my face off (thanks, husband, for freaking me out so solidly) and then I saw a TARANTULA.
We were out.
We decided to play it safe, stay in the car, and drive up Mt. Scott instead.
That was cool and everything, but we were restless. I needed an adrenaline fix.
I've learned a few things about buffalo since moving to Oklahoma; one of the most important things is that a buffalo, who usually keeps his head down to graze, will only look directly at you if he's thinking about flattening you in a stampeding blaze of glory.
Growing up in a small town, parades were always a pretty big freakin' deal.
I mean, people would throw candy at you. How is that not better than Halloween, when you had to actually do work to get that kind of treatment? At parades, you could just perch on the grass with your siblings and cousins and elbow a few people in the face and voila! candy.
Parades are magical.
Well, at least they were until my town got all lame and safety-fixated and candy was banned, using the excuse that they didn't want kids playing in traffic.
Thanks be to Jesus, this is not at all the situation down at beautiful Oklahoma! We went to the Armed Forces Day Parade this weekend.
Not only was there candy, but there were clowns, and armored tanks, kids marching with guns (loaded? not sure what the ROTC does with that issue) and folks popping wheelies on ATV's and whatnot.
In a departure from my usual frivolous nonsense, I have to put this out there for two reasons.
Reason 1: It will help a little girl who really needs it.
This is Albina.
"Albina is an orphan in Eastern Europe. Because she was born with Down Syndrome, she is considered a burden to her society, an outcast to be hidden away."
This little girl lives in an orphanage where she has lived without love of family or enough care to meet her needs. She doesn't have someone to hold her and comfort her when she is scared, lonely, or sad. She is a poor baby we can help!
Reason 2: Someone will be winning an awesome camera!
Who doesn't want to feel good about helping someone and have the chance to win an awesome paparazzi machine?
For as long as I've known J, he always said that someday he wanted a motorcycle.
His parents are big-time bikers- they are part of an association called HOG (Harley Owners Group) and his brothers both ride Harleys as well.
Basically what I'm saying is that he was like a kid on Christmas morning when his parents rolled in with his bike this weekend.
During deployment J found a great deal on a used bike and we bought it, having it shipped to his parents. J had not seen the bike in person until his parents came in on Friday, and as soon as boy and bike met, it was love at first sight.
J hasn't been on a bike in years, so we all packed up and went out to the refuge to find a deserted place for J's dad to give him a quick refresher.
J did really well. He's a natural!
After an hour or so getting his bike legs under him we got back into the truck and decided to go up to Medicine Park, this interesting biker/artisan community off the Refuge.There was this one particular store we wanted to stop by:
My husband's schedule has been FANTASTIC since he came home from deployment! Because his leave won't be for a little bit and most of his unit is gone now, the few remaining basically just show up for PT in the morning and call it a day. Come 10am (after I've been up just long enough to brush my teeth and wash my face) J is home for the day! I'm not working right now since I'm still on the job hunt, so we really just hang out all day, every day. It's awesome.
The other day we had some gorgeous weather and J and I decided to pack up the puppia and head out to LETRA.
LETRA= Lake Elmer Thomas Recreational Area
It's this park/lake area right on post, which means it's free to get on (have you noticed yet how cheap I am?) and that anything you'd want to rent is there and really inexpensive. Later this summer we're planning on renting a party boat for $35/day and spending a day on the lake with the in-laws- I'm pumped.
So, we walked around for a while exploring.
And then Q heard the Sirens' call of Canadian geese.
You know, the first time I realized our 3-legged dog could swim was when he jumped off a 5-foot ledge to go after a duck floating in a creek.
The first time I came out to Oklahoma, I was in shock.
I had always been under the impression that buffalo were extinct. (Yes, I'm aware this is not particularly bright of me.)
To my surprise and childlike delight, buffalo, in fact, not only are NOT extinct, but they run around like they own the place at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (which is conveniently located less that a half hour away from where we live!)
(He looks like Where the Wild Things Are.)
This Mother's Day, we decided to celebrate by taking our dog out there to see if he would try to commune with the wild animals. (We enjoy non-related celebratory activities pretty frequently, actually.)
Anyway, to answer the question burning in your mind: Yes. Yes, our little three-legged domestic dog was like King of the Forest and had the cows lowing at him and the buffalo eying our vehicle to weigh whether or not they were willing to attack us. (We took the minivan, knowing that this situation was likely to come up.)
I love the refuge and not just because it's free. It's just so different from where I grew up. J isn't nearly as enthusiastic about it, seeing as he has childhood stories about trying to piss off bison and cow-ownership. I tried to explain- I thought bison were dinosaurs. As in, try to compare this situation to if I took you to a park full of velociraptors.
I found out today that my husband gets weirdly uncomfortable when it comes to the idea of packed lunches.
This morning, when I asked him if he wanted to bring some sandwiches while we went adventuring looking for maybe some trails or swimming or something, he got really weird about it.
On our two-hour drive (we were in search of Magnetic Hill) he explained that his family always, ALWAYS did packed lunches and it made him feel like a little kid, but not in a good way. (Apparently in a weird way- not totally sure.)
Either way, we eventually found ourselves spread out on a towel on Sunset Beach at Lake Murray State Park. I was just happy to be out of the car, out in the sunshine, trying to force Q dog to swim by dragging him out by the leash. (Clearly, I am a little kid). Q hopped right into the water, laid down at chest-height, and leisurely drank some of the lake. I looked like a crazy person, out there taking pictures of my dog while everyone else is photographing their kids.
Unfortunately, J was settling into even more of a funk after looking around. The people there...well, it wasn't really family-friendly, even though it was all families. It looked like an episode of Cops, to be totally honest. Lots of Caucasian men with sunburnt arms and bellies sporting rebel flag and white supremacist tattoos and women in bikinis bearing lots of scarring from C-sections and cigarette burns. I didn't mind- I was totally in adventure mode, but I can understand why J was ready to pack it up early.
Verdict: I'd go again, if I was closer by, but we'll probably stick to the lake around here.