Burn the House Down

davidsedarisOn Wednesday, I ushered for a talk given by David Sedaris (author of Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and most recently When You are Engulfed in Flames) in which he detailed his hilarious personal experiences, primarily in France and Australia. Unfortunately I missed quite a bit of the show because it was a full house (the ushers were dismissed later than usual and my friend and I had to leave the show early in order to get a good spot in line for the book signing afterwards). However, Sedaris was outrageously funny yet also insightful during the part of the talk that I was able to see.

A memorable moment for me was when Sedaris talked about stove tops as a metaphor for life. He recalled a conversation with a friend in which the friend tells him that each person has four burners on their stove top: Family, Friends, Work, and Health. In order to be successful, a person will usually have to turn off one burner. The really successful turn off two. For Sedaris, those two burners were Health and Family. 

Since that night, I have been thinking a lot about my stove burners. What will I have to give up in order to achieve my goals? Although I continue to hope, I don’t really believe in having it all. There are too many examples to the contrary. So I guess the question becomes an impossible one: “What can I learn to live without?” Maybe the smartest people are the ones who answer, “Success,” but I don’t know many people who would actually go through with cutting that ambition out of their lives. I know that I tend to ignore Health until I get sick. Friends and Family also flicker occasionally when life gets too hectic. I worry that one day I’ll turn around and realise that I have nothing but Work to keep me warm at night.

The best humor tells us something true about ourselves. Even through the laughter, we learn to ask questions previously unthought of and start to think about our lives in more meaningful ways.


 Which stove burner have you neglected lately?


A Brief Break in the Storm

Wow. I did not expect Junior year to be this hectic. Especially in the first half of this quarter. Unfortunately, my expectations have been direly compromised. In the span of the last 23 days (in which I have sadly not had the time to post), I’ve written 2 English papers, taken 1 Philosophy midterm, done about 80 pages of GRE work, completed 386 Logic2k problems, and read (or am in the process of reading) 11 works of literature. Seeing as this is only Week Four, I’m probably not crazy in thinking that it can only get worse. 😦


No, I do not supply this laundry list to brag. I, Sophia Literaria, am overworked, sleep-deprived, and seriously contemplating whether I really want to be this tired for the rest of my life (Oh, academia! Why must you make me feel so wretched and pathetic?). Nevertheless, I apologize for not posting lately… I’m just a little tired…

So, in order to cheer myself up on this wonderful post-midterm Friday, I’ve decided to compile a happy list of pick-me-ups that keep me going through a long day.

1. POWER NAPS – I am not a healthy girl. I sleep around 3 to 4 AM regularly, and my tired mind seems to think it’s hit the jackpot whenever I get in bed before 2. I’ve resorted to using three alarms to get my silly self to class in the morning and lately I’ve taken to napping in the library (Actually, I’ve noticed about half of the people at the library seem to be sleeping). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have a 2-3 hour gap between classes in which I like to find a comfy chair in Powell and power nap. Its a double-plus-good gold star day if I find an entire unoccupied couch. Naps are beautiful. Everyone should take naps. 

2. Buying new/rare/pretty books (among other guilty pleasures) – I try not to be materialistic, but sometimes spending money really makes a person feel better. Whether its new clothes or lip gloss or nicely bound novels (all three of which seem to be a part of my stress-coping mechanism), I am a firm believer that purchasing material goods is a perfectly good form of therapy. Just this week, I bought myself a copy of selected poetry by T.S. Eliot and I keep a secret stash of unworn clothes in the closet for an especially rainy day. Sometimes I think it makes life easer to place a portion of your happiness on concrete objects; it makes for such an easier quick fix.

3. My current television obsession Pushing Daisies – Perhaps I should dedicate an entire post to this show someday, but for now, I shall simply summarize what I love about this show. It is CUTE. Sappy even. Quirky and strange. And in my opinion, one of the most original and fresh shows on television at the moment. I love the outrageous murder mysteries and how hilariously clean the show is and the awesome funny ways that all the characters’ names seem to reflect who they are.

4. The new and very much improved season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy – I like to think of Grey’s Anatomy as a televised allegory for my life – so I was pretty disappointed at the ungloriousness of Season Four (save for the finale). But I really think the show is rediscovering its sense of humor this season and the season so far has been absolutely fantastic (“We’d be happier people if only we loved lotion!” – Ah yes, I wish I loved “lotion” more too…).

5. Fun and happy reading assignments – I’ve developed a preference for comedy lately and it’s always so much more fun when English reading is absurd and hilarious. I owe much to Anthony Trollope and George Bernard Shaw for getting me through the past few weeks. (On a side note: the word “guttersnipe” really tickles me to pieces.)

6. Making colorful notes/cards/study materials – Perhaps this is just a girly thing, but I really like COLORS. I carry six different highlighter colors with me (although I scorn the yellow one) and probably own more than 10 shades of post-it notes/tabs/index cards. My logic binder is currently covered in multi-colored flashcards titled “Inference Rules”, “Derivation Strategies”, and “Enabled Theorems” in red, purple, and blue. The inside of my closet door has my quarterly goals written out in colored markers and accompanied by strange doodles. I like to decorate. Maybe I just can’t stand blank spaces (definitely won’t find a Minimalist enthusiast in me), but filling in the emptiness never fails to cheer me up a little.

7. Good skipping music – I just think its a super way to start off the day walking to class to a favorite song. Current recommendations:

    • Chairlift – “Bruises”
    • Christina Aguilera – “Love Will Find a Way”
    • Counting Crows – “Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)”
    • Foy Vance – “Homebird”
    • Guster – “Center of Attention”
    • Hairspray – “Without Love”
    • Kate Voegele – “It’s Only Life”
    • Leigh Nash – “Ocean Size Love”
    • Moonbabies – “War on Sound”
    • Nena – “99 Red Balloons”
    • Robert Randolph & the Family Band – “Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That”
    • Sara Bareilles – “Bottle It Up”
    • Snow Patrol – “You’re All I Have”
    • 林俊杰 – “豆浆油条”

    8. Strange but loveable BEST FRIENDS – Sometimes I think I don’t show enough appreciation of my bestest friend, but hopefully she knows it anyways. We’ve been late-night homework buddies since we first learned to pull all-nighters (darn those AP classes) and whether it’s griping over some assignment or randomly discussing nice names for our future children, it’s nice having a kindred spirit to talk to late at night (and be sleep-deprived with).

    Also, here’s a brief list of things for me to look forward to the rest of this quarter!

    1. Two-year Anniversary con el novio
    2. Lang Lang concert avec ma meilleure amie (& company)
    3. Daylight Savings!!! (More sleep! Woot!)
    4. Ushering for a John Updike reading
    5. Ushering for a performance of Robert Lepage’s “The Blue Dragon”
    6. Ushering for a concert featuring the Guarneri String Quartet & Johannes String Quartet
    7. Going home for Thanksgiving (Mmm.. Chinese food.)
    8. Winter break trip to China

    So cheer up, Sophia. Life isn’t so bad after all.

    Besides, I suppose it’s always daunting looking at all the great things that still need to be accomplished. I came across this quote in Pygmalion today and it seems most appropriate advice for me to start taking:

    “It is these little things that matter, Pickering. Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves is as true of personal habits as of money.” -Higgins