Friday, February 24, 2006

long and rambling, as usual

It's been a hard week. I cried a few times this week. I'm doing okay, but I feel tired, drained. I'm feeling things that are missing in my life. There is some serious self-questioning going on about my priorities right now.

It's always interested me that there are things that people naturally do well and things that they don't. For example, (and this is a pat on the back before a whole list of negatives), I feel that something Nate and I do well is to manage our money. We're far from perfect at it of course, but on the whole, I think we have habits of spending money wisely and not struggling with our finances the way that many people seem to. Nate and I have almost never fought about money in our entire relationship, which is a huge blessing, because money is apparently a big issue for a lot of couples (i.e., people get divorced over it.) If we had kids and truly couldn't provide for them I'm sure we'd be stressed out and conflicting a lot more, but, at least as two working adults we are quite content living on salaries that a lot of people seem to consider pretty low. And we are, on the whole, happier to pre-pay student loans or save than to get many of the luxuries and conveniences that other people think of as necessities. I praise God that we have this in common and that we are overall at peace about our money situation (we have plenty of other little things to disagree about!)

On the other hand (here's the long list of negatives), there are many, many things that come naturally to other people that I pretty much stink at. (sorry for the preposition there.) Keeping physically fit is one of them. When I look at my life since adolescence, I see oscillations between periods of minimal exercise (i.e, [very] sporadically going to the gym and doing little workouts or walking a few times a week) and periods of absolutely no physical activity whatsoever, with much more of the latter than the former. As of right now, I think the last time I engaged in any kind of legitimate cardiovascular activity might have been last August. My excuse this year has been: the Lehigh gym will only allow 30 minutes on a treadmill at a time, which really isn't enough for warmup/workout/cooldown when "workout" consists of mostly brisk walking and little jogging. (I need to do about 45 min. of brisk walking so I need about 55 min. on the treadmill.) And it's cold out. Still, in my head I know these are only "excuses," not good reasons to get any exercise. If I exercised I would improve my overall health, relieve stress, and probably experience less fatigue. But whatever it takes that makes people get their act together and get their running shoes and schedule that time on the treadmill just doesn't seem to kick in for me.

I'm also not naturally gifted at running a house. I read other people's reports of cooking exciting, complicated things for dinner and think, "wow." Good food is good, but putting in the time and effort required to find recipes, plan menus, shop for ingredients, prepare food and clean up is not at all something that comes naturally to me. I end up eating spaghetti-o's, or scrambled eggs, or applesauce. Usually a little more effort is involved when we have guests over, but the level of work I do for guest meals is what many people put into dinner everyday. I wish this weren't the case because I know that I'm married to a man who likes good, homecooked food and I know he would be thrilled to have a wife who found it to be the most natural thing in the world to come home at the end of the day, go into the (clean?) kitchen and whip up something tasty instead of a boring rotation of chicken and rice (at best) and frozen pizza or chicken strips (at worst). But cooking and keeping a kitchen clean do not come naturally to me.

(And while we're on the subject, housekeeping in general doesn't either. I much prefer a clean home to a dirty one, but the energy required to keep it that way simply isn't there.)

And here's the big one: praying and reading my Bible, those two simple, deep, daily acts that make one's spiritual garden grow. My spiritual garden in the last few weeks has gone the way of my patio container garden: once doing okay, now, due to lack of water, dried up.

In summary, my life seriously lacks balance right now. These are the things that are getting done: attending classes, doing homework (although that's been a struggle and some has been turned in late), eating (mostly sugary junk), bathing, getting dressed, sleeping (not enough), and a random assortment of little bits here and there of TV, internet, and phone calls- usually not because I consciously choose to sit down and relax and watch TV for awhile, but because I'm tired and I just sit and zone out for awhile. These are the things that are not getting done: daily devotions (not just quickie chapters of Psalms. I need actual time for reflection), exercise, planning a little bit so that I can have more nutritious meals, doing dishes and vacuuming and taking out the trash and mopping and cleaning the bathroom and dusting (I guess I could have just said "cleaning," right?), laundry, reading anything to help my mind grow, any involvement in ministries or church activities beyond Sunday morning, spending quality time with my husband, and a few other odds and ends.

It boils down to this: if you asked me, "What are your priorities in life? What do you want to be good at?" I would tell you, I want first and foremost to be a good Christian. I want to be growing in my faith and growing closer to God and growing more like Christ. I want to be a blessing to others. I want to share my faith and be a person that others turn to in times of joy or sorrow. I want to be more than just a passive attender of my church.

And secondly, after spiritual development, my next priority (which is not really a separate thing) is that I want to be a good wife to my husband. I want to meet his emotional and physical needs and be the companion that I promised to be when I married him. I also want to be a good daughter, and sister, and friend to those people in my life I'm really close to.

And thirdly, I want to be a good student of mathematics. And fourthly (there's a tie for fourth), I would like to be a good homemaker and also develop other parts of me besides the spiritual and mathematical parts of my mind by setting aside a little bit of time once in a while to read, or mess around with crafts, or find new music I like at Borders, or go to an art museum, or write. Not a lot of time, mind you, just a few hours now and then.

So to summarize (in case any of you may have nodded off by now), if you asked me "What are your priorities?" I would say 1) spiritual growth and involvement 2) relationships 3) mathematics 4) homemaking and activities to make my life more balanced (physically/emotionally/mentally.)

The problem is, this ordering of priorities is not the way that I live my life. If you look at the actual reality that is my life, you would think my priorities are 1) mathematics 2) whatever is urging and pressing at the moment, like putting gas in my car (so I can go to math classes) or eating (so I won't be hungry and can think straight to do my homework) or getting dressed (so I can go to math classes.) 3) "other" (minimal and sporadic "spiritual" or "relational" or "homemaking" or "life-balance" activities, squeezed in only if my math activities will permit.)

So, there it is. Living my life according to the ordering of my priorities is, like exercise or cooking, something that simply does not come naturally to me. In two words- I'm undisciplined. If I could watch a tape of a week in my life and go back and change how I spent much of my time, I feel that I would. Maybe this is not something that comes naturally to many people. I know that "time management" is a struggle for many people just like "eating management" and "money management"- all three require discipline. So I'm not alone. But it seems like an ongoing frustration in my life. It's been there as long as I can remember. I've gone through seasons of better time management and seasons of worse, and I guess now is just a time of "worse."

It just seems like there's a huge disconnect between what I think I should be able to do in a week, and what actually gets done. Here's what I think I should be able to do in a week:

1) get up and dressed and ready for school every day, go to classes and come home
2) do all my homework
3) cook dinner (an actual meal, not just frozen pizza) a few times a week (Nate likes to cook too)
4) Keep things like laundry and groceries and dishes running on a daily basis instead of letting them pile up (or, in the case of groceries, run out for a few days)
5) Spend some time- quality time - with God, every day.
6) Spend time praying with my husband every day.
7) Not only go to church but maybe be involved in one (small?) ministry activity and/or Bible study about once a week.
7) Exercise (probably walk briskly for about 45 minutes, a few times a week)
8) Have a few hours a week to do things like blog, email, talk on the phone, or fun/relaxing things like reading, etc.

As I've said already, what's actually getting done on that list is essentially items 1 & 2 (and sort of, 8, except it kind of doesn't count because during all of the time I spend on the internet, etc. I feel kind of guilty because I could be doing things that are "higher priority" on that list.)

Okay I think I'm now repeating myself here so I'm going to stop before all of your ears start bleeding from hearing this hopelessly messed up woman blather on and on about the Confusing things in her life- I'm really tired- does any of this even make sense??? I shall have to reread it later, and probably cringe. Anyway, the bottom line is that after this week, I've come to the realization that if I contine to do all of my homework, realistically speaking, I just won't have time for the other things that are truly important to me.

So I'm thinking about just doing some of it, and getting B's.
:-) Love, Neb

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Uh, yeah...

Hey y'all. I do Combinatorics homework fulltime now. I sleep, I eat, and I do combinatorics homework. I don't blog. So if any of you were wondering, that's where I am. Which, you probably weren't wondering, but anyway...

Oh, yeah, so I got my hair cut. It's short now. So that's Something.

Love, Neb

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I want to tell you about my day!! And you want to listen!! (Yes you do, too!!)

1) I was up for a good part of the night trying to prove that {nz^n} converges absolutely and locally uniformly on the the unit disc:
Note that 1)you know you're Truly Crazy when wikipedia doesn't have articles on the terms you're using, and, 2) that's a pretty version of the unit disc. Mine was black and white.

2) I lost my contact this morning and found it on the bathroom rug tonight.

3) I am SO totally wearing my shirt backwards because that's what people end up doing who insist on wearing white T-shirts and drinking coffee while driving and wearing leather gloves.

3) Professor Friendly, who greets every student by name when passing in the hallways, engaged me in the following conversation this morning:

PF: "Hi, Nancy."
Me: "Hi."
PF: "How are you?" (Surprise! we are moving beyond "hi" for the first time!!!)
Me: "Good thanks. Except that I'm stuck on a complex analysis problem. [...]"
PF: "Ah." (or, "oh" or something)
Me: "How are you?"
PF: "Good, how are you?"
Me: (fearing an infinite loop) "Um, good..."*
PF: (slight awkward pause) "So, you're going to be a TA in the fall, right?"
Me: (risking a slight attempt at humor) "Yes-- that is, if you decide to keep me!" :-)
PF: (looking completely horrified and concerned) "Oh, no! No, no! You're doing fine!!! I mean, as far as I know, you're doing completely fine! Of course we'll keep you!"
Me: (wanting to soothe him) "I know I'm doing fine. It's okay."
PF: "Okay!! Well, see you later!"

Did you see it? The complete missing of Wit? Perhaps he is partially autistic and cannot read irony in a person's voice. He's so sweet though. What can we say...?

4) I got the quintescential Free Lunch today by going with members of the department to The Big (Fancy-Pants) Cafeteria to help welcome a visiting algebra candidate, Hans Jurgen**, or something like that, from Asouthwestern State U. As we departed the math building to trudge (slowly) up the hill, Mary Ann, our fabulous department secretary, noted pointedly to Professor Algebra that we students had not been introduced to the candidate yet, as a not-to-be-missed hint that he should introduce us. Social skills not being high on Professor Alg.'s list of specialties, he then proceeded to stare at his shoes*** and murmur to the candidate that here were "Mary-Elizabeth, Stephanie, and Chris..." I'm so pleased he remembered my double name!!

5) There was a Drive-Behind Recognition Waving Incident (D-BRWI) as we left school, and I couldn't really see who it was, but I think it might, just might have been Professor Random Processes!!!!! Someone in a beige Plymouth Acclaim/Dodge Spirit was behind us and honked and waved and I saw him in the rear-view mirror and peaked over my shoulder but still couldn't make a definitive identification. Still!! The Possibility!! He must have been very excited to see that we drive the same kind of car...(^4*)

6) I took a nap and dreamed someone was lecturing (probably Prof. Prob.) and woke up when I was given permission to wake up, which was just as the lecture ended. Nate said my nap was about the length of a Lehigh class. So disturbing.

7) We watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony at Mike's house tonight, and laughed a lot. Parts of it were cool, like the choreographed skier and the acrobats, and parts of it were just laughable, like Yoko reading a 4th grader's essay about peace, and the Mohawk spandex body suit external heart guy. Um, yeah, I guess you had to see it to understand...? Seriously, though, what is with all the Shiny Spandex? So much shiny spandex. And the YMCA? What are they thinking? The ladies that preceded each group of athletes coming in were wearing black and white dresses that had a complete set of Italian alps constructed in each skirt. The athletes might not be doped, but I think the ceremony planners are...

*In the interest of full disclosure here, I want to note that I was Very Sleep Deprived when this conversation happened so that there is a slight chance that I was actually the one responsible for the "how are you" redundancy. However, the evidence points against it: it is known with certainty that Prof. Friendly initiated with "how are you?" #1, meaning that "how are you" #3 was his as well (that's what we call a "parity argument" in mathematics), unless I was so sleep deprived that I asked the man how he was and then asked him again right after he answered. So I think there's a large probability that HE was the conversation bounce-back instigator.

**Not his real name. But close to it.

***Okay, okay, I admit it: social skills are not high on any of our lists, so we were pretty much all staring at our mis-matched socks and hoping for the Awkward moment to pass so that we could continue to talk about elliptic generating functions of exponentially Riemannian compact differential manifolds* while not making eye contact and giggling nerdily.

*Not a real thing.

(^4*) This could totally be wishful thinking on my part. After all, Prof. Prob. is all Russian and uptight and proper and wouldn't likely do something like honk and wave at a student. He would be so embarrassed to see a student outside of class that he would look the other way and turn a little pink, I think. Still, let me dream.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Where I am (or, Where am I?)

Hi, nebiverse fans, this is just to let y'all all know that there would be an Extremely Long post about camp right now (hi Laura!) and a witty post about something called Camp Neb if it weren't for the fact that I am 1) Sick and 2) Completely Overwhelmed with school. Professor Cowboy is laying it on thick and forcing us to wear Latex gloves, apparently, for our next big-as-the-Wyoming-sky lassoeing homework, due next Thursday. Professor Random Processes (same as Prof. Probability from last semester) and Professor Complex Analysis (same as Prof. Real Analysis last semester) want to test (our faith) on Wed. and Mon. of next week, respectively, leaving little stress-out time for the numerology problems. And, furthermore, the imaginary numbers converging absolutely and locally and so forth are dancing around me on the Riemann sphere, Heckling me to the point of mathematical infertility.

As Bhama once said: "Everything is in pieces."

Love, Neb
PS Today's reading was Psalm 3. I think Absolom wanted David to solve math problems.
PPS On a happier note, we are going to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo tonight at Lehigh!! :-D I loved them even before I heard Graceland.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Neb: "I'm sorry, I'm just busy right now, with homework and all..."
Jesus: "You know, I created those numbers."