Sunday, September 23, 2007

I still can't dance

But I can pretend I can! Because we went swing dancing last night!

We arrived at 730 for the 8:00 lesson, and stood around in the foyer of the dance floor doing one of my favorite things in the world: being loud and nuisance-y if there had been anyone around to be a nuisance to. But there was only one of two older gentlemen and the musicians and we didn't bother them too much. There were arguments about binary, however, until eight when the lesson started. We learned the basic step and three turns, the Charleston and the Cha-Cha Slide by nine o clock and then the band started and chaos ensued.

Even if I was really bad (and I was), it was great fun. And then, because I'm sick with a head cold, I went home to bed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I should be doing homework right now.

This could alternatively be titled, Marie Gets Smacked Down By Her Islamic Civilization Teacher.

This semester I'm taking a course called Intro to Islamic Civilization, which so far has been history of the Islamic religion, and today in class we covered things like how Islamic law developed. This is an 80 person lecture class, but the teacher still encourages participation--in fact, it's around 15% of our grade. So there is a good bit of question and answer going on.

Question: Do non-Muslims come under Muslim courts?
Answer: For most civil things they have their own community courts

Question: What happens when a Muslim and a non-Muslim have problems--say, a non-Muslim murders a Muslim.
Answer: That would come under the Sharia (Muslim courts). Anything involving Muslims comes under Sharia.

So I sit there and ponder that little exchange (btw, those weren't my questions). Much brou-ha-ha is made in our textbook about the Islamic ideals of equality and justice. So I raise my hand and ask:

"What about the other way around? If a Muslim were to hurt a non-Muslim...?"
"That would be Sharia. Everything with Muslims is Sharia."
"I meant, what chance would the non-Muslim have of being heard...?"


"How are Muslims treated in Europe? What chance would a Muslim have outside Muslim lands? Don't ask that. Don't ask charged questions." And then she changed the subject while I sat there feeling a little stunned. I'd like to say that I looked studious and unflustered, but in truth I probably either had bright red ears or an open mouth. Possibly both. I've never had a teacher tell me not to ask charged questions. Irrelevant questions, maybe, but I've never been told to avoid questions that made the teacher feel uncomfortable.

I have a personality such that my initial reaction to this situation is to be embarrassed and feel bad about myself. I went to the TA's office hours after lecture (because I am lost on this week's material), and the first thing he told me was to keep asking those kinds of questions.

If I hadn't gone to office hours, if he had reinforced what the teacher had said, I'm not sure I would have said anything in that class ever again. Now, after a day of thinking about it, I'm--not mad, exactly, but something close to it. Of all places, university should be a place where you're free to ask questions...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Row Row Row Your Boat

Row, Row, Row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a ...cucumber

(cucumber, fyi, because that's what my father used to sing to us and because of all the things life is, a dream is not one of them. Crazy, yes. Busy, yes. Fun, yes. A dream, no.)

Today marks the start of the second week of rowing on the water. Last week, I didn't know what I was doing, what all the words mean, or how the heck this group of uncoordinated strangers is going to turn into a crew team. I think I can see the beginning of it, now. I still only vaguely know what's going on (by the end of Saturday practice, though, I wasn't doing too badly: at least vastly improved over the beginning of Saturday practice). Our first race (regatta) is in three weeks.

We're learning together: rowing vocabulary, like "port" and "starboard" and "wain off" (stop NOW) "let it run" (stop) and "stroke" and "catch"; and how rowing on the water is from the rowing machine.

Also, the last weekend in October the team will be heading to Philadelphia to race on the Schukyll. :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

>insert pithy title here<

It seemed appropriate that it was pouring bucketfuls of rain this morning when I got up. With the blinds closed, it was as dark in our room at nine o clock as it was in the middle of the night--a little bit darker, perhaps, since the bright floodlight located just outside our window was turned off.*

But I didn't even realize the date until yesterday when I got a homework assignment with the due date, 9/11, written on the top. I've been so busy with school and crew and social things that I've lost track of the days, and today is like any other Tuesday except for the date at the top of my notes for Islamic Civilization class. And I wonder to myself whether or not that's right, whether or not I should mark the day somehow.

I really don't know.

*this floodlight is bright enough that I don't actually need my bedside lamp to read before I go to bed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I Have A Question!

When you stood up in your micro mini skirt, four inch heels, and tight tube top, was it wrong of me to laugh on the inside when you said you wanted to learn Arabic because you wanted to convert to Islam?

Friday, September 7, 2007


Well, this little blog thing started as a way of keeping in touch with people while I was abroad and then died a little when I was back home. Since I'm away at school now, I think I'll revive it to it's original purpose.

So today marks the end of the second week of school. Which is a scary thought. What, two weeks?! Really?! Crazy! I feel like I've spent each day scrambling after an extra hour to get everything done. I like school. I like my classes. But the truly staggering.

Of course, this is all my own fault because of course I cannot do the sane thing and take a light course load first semester. No. I have to take not just third year Japanese, BUT ALSO fourth year Japanese. And Arabic (first year). And Intro to Islamic Civilization. And a couple of classes that aren't as intense. But that wasn't enough for me, either, so I'm joining the crew team. Two hour practices everyday except Sunday? Pish, I didn't need any free time anyway. Or the use of my leg muscles or hands.

If I speak honestly, though, my lack of free time has a little to do with the enormous amount of homework and a lot to do with my habits of waiting to do it until the last minute. These first couple weeks, I've been feeling out what I need to do and how. I think next week will be much better, now that I know the rhythm of the classes and what needs to be done when. (It also helps that I now have the syllabus for every class, something I didn't have until Wednesday. When I finally got the syllabus for the last class on Wednesday, there was a "Wait...this is week two...there's a test in two days!!!" moment.) I will let you know how my time management skills step up to the plate.

So tomorrow is the first practice on the water for crew team, and I am very excited. Up until now we've been learning the motions of rowing on the rowing machine (hereafter referred to as an "erg" upon which you "erg" or perform "erging" (ergging?)). Which, frankly, is boring. Crew is perfect for me since I cannot run at all on my leg, and rowing is completely non-impact. But it also means that while the rest of the novice team splits their time between erging and running, I just get to erg. Alot. Lots and lots of erging, which is where the comment about hands comes in: I'm developing calluses, which is great, except that it's going through the blister stage at the moment, where the skin peels off and leaves painful little pink baby calluses behind. But hopefully once I actually get in a boat and fully understand the point of all this erging, it'll be much more bearable.