Category Archives: assignments

how to exist when a giant is sitting on your chest

  1. wake up weary and coughing
  2. fan biscuit flames away from the smoke detector
  3. inexplicably cause Keurig to explode all over the kitchen
  4. drink mediocre coffee remnants
  5. chain-smoke How I Met Your Mother
  6. don hoodie and purchase supplies for nachos
  7. eat said nachos
  8. try to comprehend scholarly journal articles
  9. give up
  10. eat more nachos
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In Which Skiles and Hannah Assess England’s Psychological Health through Dancing

In doing research on the Kinetic Family Drawing for my Psychological Assessment class, the world’s largest library catalog sprung this glorious surprise on me:

Dear Skiles Howard, I want to meet you

The Politics of Courtly Dancing in Early Modern England by Skiles Howard.

Hey, thanks.

I have a multitude of thoughts on this.

  1. [the obvious] WHAT EVEN THE HECK. How does this relate to my search for psychological assessments? (I also got results for a book about Mickey Mantle and one about Gas Service Technology.)
  2. I need to inter-library loan this book and find some obscure way to incorporate it into my paper.
  3. This is an extremely specific tome.
    • Courtly dancing does not seem to be an expansive field for research. Oh, but you are much mistaken. Sorry, then. So not only must we deal with courtly dancing, but the interpersonal intricacies found therein.
    • Can this courtly dancing and its politics have occurred anywhere in the world? No, I dare say, most emphatically notPerhaps we shall narrow our scope to the European front? Never. This is heresy you speak. Let’s pick England, then.
    • Surely one book would suffice for an exhaustive history of such elite dancing wars. I can’t believe you and your simple mind. Know you nothing of the politics of courtly dancing? Apparently not. Shall we then restrict this treatise to the modern period in England? No. There is too much to say. How about the middle of said modern period? Ah, you jest. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore. What do you think of Early Modern England? All 222 pages support this final thesis of yours. And to whom am I speaking? Hello?
  4. What the heck I don’t even understand.

I just have to include the Amazon summary.

Scholar Skiles Howard examines the social and semiotic complexities of dance in Renaissance England as it changed over time and performed different work in court, city, and playhouse. Interdisciplinary in its approach, this well-researched study explores issues of power and the body, gender and rank, popular culture and European expansion.

Dearest scholar Skiles Howard of the University of Massachusetts, how narrow and impractical are your erudite pursuits.

However, do congratulate your parents on the brilliant first name with which they endowed you.

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So Here’s the Problem.

So now, for those whom I haven’t alienated by seeming exceedingly arrogant, I’ve got thoughts on education.

I’ve always been a good student, and I like learning. Yeah, I’m one of those. Now one of my part time jobs is being a classroom aide, and I get to see my own high school teachers’ perspectives on educating. The English teacher I work with says that it’s so much more fun and rewarding to teach students who may not get the best grades but who are engaged in the material, as opposed to kids who put forth effort only to get the grades, putting no heart into their work.

As an obvious college expert (having graduated two months ago), I’ve seen this same attitude in the typical undergraduate’s approach to college, especially general education classes.

I don’t mean at all to place myself outside of my scathing comments, having made many of these remarks myself, doubting the value of a class, bemoaning the ineptitude of a boring professor.

But what’s got me thinking recently is the common expression, “Why do I need to take [Class X]? It has nothing to do with [Profession/Major Y]!”

I can see two problems with this line of thinking. First, career paths change, and many graduates follow completely different paths than their majors would suggest. So it’s not too far to suggest the possibility that a class will have bearing on a future profession. Still, it is a stretch to imagine that Finite Mathematics will come into play much in the life of a studio artist, and that’s where my second point comes in.

It seems to me that we’ve lost the desire to become Renaissance men and women. We’ve gone so deep into our specialties that it’s no longer valuable to have a breadth of knowledge or skills. Our view focuses so much on what I want to do but forgets that that’s not the only element in who I want to be.

I often mention what I would have done in my “other lives,” interests I would have pursued if I weren’t going into counseling. These include photojournalism in dangerous/obscure locations, potter/hermit, teaching literature, and linguistics.

The difference between these pursuits and gen ed classes is the fact that I’m actually interested in these while the typical student wants nothing to do with “pointless” classes. But they’re similar in the fact that both are completely unrelated to my future profession.

Part of education’s purpose is to give us tools for our professions, but there is so much more to it than that. We are being equipped to be better, well-rounded people, members of community, citizens of the world. It saddens me to see that in so many ways we have lost the love of learning, only seeing it as a means to an end.

But without more than a basic understanding of science and math, I could not appreciate books like these as fully. Not that I’ve read that book specifically. That’s definitely beside the point.

I must be growing up.

And here are the signs:

  1. I actually understand the point of reflection assignments.
  2. I have a post office box.
  3. I just requested information from 863079369296838 grad schools.
  4. I take out the trash on my way to work.


In doing research for a project this past semester, I came upon this report. It details the use of forced labor (including child labor) in the Uzbek cotton harvest. Uzbek cotton is one of the largest exports of the country, and from there is often processed in Bangladesh, a country notorious for the exploitation of workers. The process continues until we buy the clothes from well-known stores here in the US.

I was aware of many of the parts of this process, but reading that report about forced labor in Uzbekistan has really stuck with me. I can’t get it out of my head. Since then, I’ve tried to find a way to get involved. You can petition corporations to boycott Uzbek cotton, but what I’m wondering is if there are any organizations working in Uzbekistan directly with the children, or trying to persuade the government.

Anyone know of anything or have any leads?

why my brain hurts this semester

My classes this semester have hit me with some of the hardest questions I’ve ever come across. I will let you ponder them as well.

  • Industries are impacted by consumers. The supply will meet the demand. Child labor and sex trafficking are both industries. What do you endorse (perhaps unintentionally)?
  • What does “missions” really mean? Are the Gospel and social justice distinct?
  • How do we share the gospel to survivors of sex trafficking, who have so many attachments of shame and stigma?
  • Do we believe in a just world?
  • What does it mean to “have church”? Are we doing church wrong? What’s the balance between sermons and service?
  • Can inner growth be expressed in service? We are so “I” focused.
  • What does it mean to be Christian? Have we narrowed our definition too much?
  • If a part of the reintegration of the wounded includes a healing ceremony, how do we integrate that with Christianity?
  • Can you love others as yourself when you don’t love yourself?
  • Is there a tension between physical/mental care and spiritual care?
  • In sharing the Gospel, what is your end goal? What is success to you?
  • Is there a “psychology of conversion”?
  • How do people heal?
  • Do NGOs perpetuate trauma? Overstate it in order to get funds?
  • How do you bring aid to a trauma situation without creating systemic dependency?
  • At what point does a cultural value become a problem?
  • Is pulling older street kids – the leaders – off the streets the best idea?
  • Are human rights a biblical notion? Or have “human rights” usurped the role of Scripture?
  • Why aren’t churches a safe haven emotionally and spiritually?
  • What do you do when, as a missionary, you meet a Christian polygamist?
  • What do you do when the closest family for an orphan is dysfunctional?

And here’s some statements to ponder as well.

  • There are more children who are HIV/AIDS positive in the US than there are gay people.
  • “To preach the gospel to a brothel owner, you’d probably have to risk your life.” – John Molineux

very important questions

In the course of writing my exegesis (and in the surrounding life I have been leading), there have arisen these questions which beg for answers.

  1. Why do “undertone” and “overtone” mean the same thing?
  2. Why are all the good Hebrew resources written in Greek or Latin or German?
  3. Why do people keep having dreams that I get pregnant?
  4. Is there a ghost in the corner of the Geek Room? Some guy’s stuff has been here for a week or so but I’ve not seen him once.

rock and reel

a paltry summation of the earth’s response to Yahweh

at the coming of Yahweh
at his voice
his thunder
I am changed.

my foundations are shattered
his lightnings flash before me
and I am all lost.

I am a mountain
I am a rock
I am strong
(I dance like a lamb)

I am a king
I am a river
I am the vastest ocean
(I flee)

I am a cedar
I am a redwood
I am old and honored
(I splinter like brittle bark)

I am foundation
(I convulse)
I am immovable
(I melt)
I am eternal
(no longer)

Come, thunder of Yahweh
Come from your holy place
Come and bow your heavens low
Come and uncover my beginnings.

I am not my own
for Yahweh has changed me.