From this place I can see the tops of the mountains

If anyone has wondered where I've been, it's an almost sure guarantee that you can find me at most hours of the day on the 4th floor of the JSFB on campus. I will most likely be sitting with a book in my hand and a pen in the other, or I may simply be typing away, or in a classroom, (I somehow have three of my five classes in the same room). I sit in a different seat each class, so as to trick myself. You may have to search a little bit because I try to rotate my homework spots and sometimes I even venture down to the second or third floors.

I will say that I am grateful to be in a challenging program with so many intelligent and kind professors and students. I'm grateful to be on the top floor of a beautifully designed building with giant windows where I can look out onto the first frost on the tops of the mountains. I'm grateful that dear Carl packs me a lunch most days and that it is autumn outside. I'm grateful to be in school and to be reading, reading, reading novels about the caribbean, about india, about maps, about teaching, about theory, about writing essays, about writing poetry, about how to be a graduate student.

I will say this though, yesterday I cried a little in my lone reading spot when my sister called and told me that all the cousins, sisters, sister-in-law and my mom were at my house for the afternoon making salsa from the last harvest. I still had a full day of class and homework and couldn't go. I had a panicked feeling that I would be the aunt that no niece or nephew remembered or knew because I was too busy at school. Carl later reassured me that this is not the case, but sometimes I wonder how to balance a supposed passion, a job, or school with the rest of life.

I've wanted to go camping all week, wanted to savor the last warm air of autumn, wanted to romp around in the falling leaving and hike up a stream, back to the place where I once saw an eagle, wanted to throw a tinfoil dinner in the fire and play songs on the ukulele by the campfire. Carl and I planned, even got the camping stuff out and strewed it on the living room floor, but somehow, every night he or I ended up staying on campus for one reason or another until it was nearly dark, and then by the time I sat on our big chair and wound down for a moment, it seemed much too difficult to pack up and leave again.

Sensing my brief despair about losing myself the things I once cared most about, Carl put me in the car and took me straightway to eat some salsa at my parents house. Dane and Nicole and Dash were still there, the salsa-making was still going on, and Darcie even came over. I looked my new nephew good in the eyes and wanted him to understand that although I may spend a lot of time reading books, and trying to write, I don't think of him any less. We read chapter 4 of second Nephi in circle style as a family and I particularly appreciated this verse:

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my aheart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may bwalk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

My life is not hard, no, not by any means, just dealing with some human things. When we got home, Carl set up the tent in the back room and after I finished some attempts at writing, we climbed in and I imagined I heard the crickets chirping outside, the cold night wind blowing through the trees that covered us and kept us safe.


julianne rose said...

hi dear ashmae! :) i haven't commented in so long. i just saw your wedding pics below and thought them perfectly stunning.

i just wanted to say that looking back at my time in grad school, it was the human interaction that mattered most, that even made me a better student... study with people if you can, and don't stress about leaving the library for a few hours to see your fam etc... i was in england living alone, far far away from all my loved ones, but even just skyping for an hour back home was the hugest boost and absolutely necessary to me writing successful essays :)

balance is hard, but don't stress too much or feel guilt over it: when your priorities are there (which they totally are!), then everything works out and i'm certain you'll do fabulously in your courses :)

good luck in your program, have so much fun, and much love!

Sofia Deyanira said...

Oh I am so happy that you and Carl are married and can get through this life together! What a loving husband you have! Setting up a tent in the room for you, reading your heart to be who you are even though grad school is calling your name all day long, and supporting you and your endeavors to further your education. You are perfect for each other. The most kindest and most delightful/thoughtful couple I know. I should stop thinking about it so I don't cry.

shelly said...

Ashley -- this post of yours touched my heart and I identified. I'm thankful that you write, and so very beautifully! You pull my heartstrings and make me think, "yes, THAT'S how I feel." And by the way, I'm SO happy you and Carl have each other!

Nicole Christensen said...

Dearest Ahley,
Dash loves you so much and is so proud of you for being the student you are (and that his mother is not). He will be needing you to share with him all of your knowledge, teach him about writing essays, show him how to read a map, tell him about poetry, and one day teach him how to be a graduate student. You will be more valuable in his life than you even know. Thank you for being so dedicated and inspiring. We love you. Dash loves you!

k. double-u. said...

I think balance is one of the trickiest things about the program. Things seemed to ease up a bit after the first semester for me.