The Life of a Vegetarian Runner Who Fancies Mathematics

I know.  The title’s a lot.

The only explanation I offer for such an extensive title is the fact that summer has begun.  I am quite certain of it now; the signs of hot season have become manifest.  It’s bright at 5AM.  6:30AM is a very sweaty run.  The study room is {for the majority of the day} an oven.  Local schools are abandoned, and friends tweet of beaches and various adventures.  My alarm clock is now set earlier.  I go for almost an equal amount of early morning swims as runs {Runs sometimes feel impossible in this heat.}.  And I have to tie my hair up in order to be able to concentrate on French homework rather than the stickiness of my neck.  {No, I’m not much of a summer fan.}

But despite any distaste of mine concerning the heat, April’s been real good to me so far.  She really has.  Along with the sun, she’s brought with her long swims at the club, bike rides with yapping, stray dogs at your heels, and 3 wonderful hours of extra sunlight.  Plus, she brought along something she never has before.  It’s the word vegetarianism.

“No meat, no eggs, no cheese, no butter, no milk…no life.” – a dear friend

Hold up.  I am not a strict vegan.  I’m not even a vegetarian.  I am simply an April vegetarian.  I now eat fish and cheese and all the other things that come from cows and chickens; I just don’t eat the cows and chickens; at least, I haven’t since April 1, and I shall not until April 30.  And so far…so good.  I’m not sure if I yet resemble Belteshazzar {Ahem, Daniel reference.}, but I do feel stronger than Nebuchadnezzar.  Less heavy-set and indolent too.  You know how firemen always have to keep alert, ready to jump to their feet and run at any moment of the day {or night for that matter}?  Well, I feel like that all the time.  Effortlessly.   Without five cups of coffee.

Of course, it wasn’t easy at first.  The first week was the worst.  It seemed like we were having all my favorite meat dishes.  It was steak one day, parmesan chicken the next.  {I suspect my devious parents wanted to see how serious I was about this little venture of mine.} You’d think the eloquent description of the said steak by a loyal sister would have made it even harder, but eventually you really do get the hang of meatless life.  After that first week, it was all downhill.

Dad:  How’s the steak, guys?

Sister:  Great, Dad!  It’s the best chewing gum in the world!

Yes, all downhill.  Of course, my vegetarian venture is helping me with the uphills too.  I ran very rarely in March; summer was creeping into my cool mornings, and I quickly lost the zeal for hot, 6AM runs.  But with this little April venture came new energy, and so, yes, I am running again.  Quite happily.  Comfortably.  Easily.  I am running so easily that I find myself…doing spontaneous algebra problems in my head while on a run.

Algebra problems?  Ok, now I am not going to suggest that vegetarianism redounds mathematical genius.  I highly doubt it does; sadly, I find myself possessing very little genius.  xtBut the month of April has brought along not only vegetarianism and zealous runs, but also a sudden passion for mathematics.  I’ve never liked math.  Nor have I ever disliked it.  But this month, I find myself constantly looking at the world mathematically!  In a hot car the other day, I wondered how long it would take to fill the vehicle entirely with cold air if the A/C worked at ‘x’ rate and air escaped from the window crack at ‘y’ rate.  On a morning run at reaching a checkpoint, I turned around and headed home but not before spotting another runner, a friend, a little way off heading in the same direction as me.  I knew this friend to be a very capable runner and guessed that he was running at 10kph.  I guessed myself to be running at 8kph.  At the time I had spotted him, he was a kilometer away.  On that run, I found myself algebraically calculating how long it would take him to catch up with me if we kept our rates steady.  A simple problem of mathematics, as Nathaniel Bowditch would say.  {The answer’s 30 minutes, if you were wondering.  He never did catch up with me though, since I reached home before 30 minutes.  Thus, I never got actual proof my answer was correct besides the worked problem in my head.}  Then there was last Saturday.  It was a hot morning; I was alone, sitting in the kitchen and chugging down a mug of coffee {Don’t ask why I was drinking such a beverage with aforementioned hot weather.}  My grandfather came down and made himself a cup of coffee {Don’t ask him why either.}.  We soon found ourselves discussing functions, limits, and Euler’s number.  It was a Saturday morning well-spent, believe me.

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And so I come to my conclusion.  It is namely this: maybe Archimedes (3rd best mathematician) and Carl Friedrich Gauss (best mathematician) were runners and vegetarians.  What do you think?  ^.^

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16 on 16

Someone once said that education is like mountain-climbing: the higher you get, the more you realize how much farther there is to go.  I think that young adulthood (I refuse to recognize teenager or any of its derivatives as real words.) is like mountain climbing.

I think I’ve grown a lot this year; at least, more than I have in the span of any one year before.  I was once nine, I grew up a little, and I turned ten.  I turned fifteen precisely three hundred and sixty-five days ago, I grew up a lot, and I’m sixteen today.  I’ve discovered so much about God, myself, the world.  I’ve seen so much, felt so much, read so much, learned so much.  But one of the things that I’ve been taught this year is that there is still so much for me to learn.  In the growing up I’ve done, I’ve realized that there is still so much of this growing up business to be done.  There is still so much to be seen, felt, read, changed.  And to realize that you are still so very young and little, I think, is to become just a little bit bigger and older.

Young adulthood is like mountain-climbing; the higher you climb, the more you realize how much farther there is to go.  God, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my books, even my photographs, have taught me plenty this year.  But they’ve also taught me that is still so much to be taught.  God has changed me and shown me a little of Himself and myself this year; but He has also shown me that there is still much to be seen, changed, and discovered.

I’ve enjoyed my bit of growing up this year, and I’m glad I’ve been granted another one, one where I might again discover and rediscover more about God, myself, and everything in between.  Thank you, God, for an amazing year.  I’ve no doubt of the grandness of this next one.

 

*On a lighter note, one thing I’ve learned about myself this year is my incurable inconstancy.  Thus, I have produced a list of various, rather silly things to be done this year.  A list, I hope, I might at least half finish.

1.  Read 6 of C.S Lewis’s books.  {Narnia doesn’t count.}

2.  Don’t eat meat for a month.

3.  Begin/continue writing novel.

4.  Cook something new every month.

5.  Run more regularly.

6.  Learn a chapter of scripture every month or a verse a week.

7.  Don’t eat dessert for a month.

8.  Plant something and watch it grow.

7.  Let the bed alone and sleep elsewhere for a week.  {In other words, become something of a hobo.}

8.  Bake something for the fam every month.

9.  Take wicked photographs and videos.

10.  Sketch more.

11.  Learn an incredibly awesome tennis serve.

12.  Memorize two poems.

13.  Drink an entire glass of wine without any help from Mommy or Pappy.

14.  Write a very, very, very deep letter to my older self.

15.  Hold my ignoble, forked tongue behind my teeth for an entire 24 hours.

16.  Do a 5K barefoot.

why I like marmalade better

In a word name, C.S Lewis.

I’ve always liked breakfast.  I’m a breakfast person.  In fact, I usually have two breakfasts every day (my dinner often consists of bread and milk or a bowl of cereal).  If I had a list of favorite foods, half of it would come from the kitchen table in the morning (namely, waffles, marmalade toast, tea, strawberries, bagels, muffins, coffee, hot chocolate, scones with cream, etc.).  Of course, yes, I like all the other meals.  But I have a particular attachment to breakfast.  Honestly, I can’t say why.  It may be I’m just exceedingly hungry in the morning.

a57c547fba6daca492a5c54147c13153 But perhaps that’s why I’m so fond of C.S Lewis.  Anyone who has read him extensively must know the man had no great lack of appetite.  I’ve read Screwtape and Narnia, and I have come to the unshakeable conclusion that C.S Lewis held a dear, dear, dear affection for food – and like me – breakfast.  One has only to consider this quote:

“He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast in his heart.”  – C.S Lewis

But there is more evidence than one, mere quote.  The man is known for Narnia, isn’t he?  In reading them again recently (which I haven’t done in years), I find the Chronicles as delightful as ever.  I also noticed for the first time how wonderfully the man describes things.  He had a wonderful gift of description, C.S Lewis.  Whether it be a faun in the woods or the great and terrible Aslan, C.S Lewis conjures up such charming pictures that delighted me then and still do now.  And imagine my surprise in reading his books again and finding how well and how often the man describes the table things!

“…and immediately, mixed with a sizzling sound, there came to Shasta a simply delightful smell.  It was one he had never smelled in his life before, but I hope you have.  It was in fact, the smell of bacon and eggs and mushrooms all frying in a pan…” – The Horse and His Boy, by C.S Lewis

“…Mrs. Beaver brought out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out…”

It was the latter quote that influenced my preference of marmalade over jam.  Ever since I as a nine-year-old read that lovely description, I’ve preferred marmalade to jam.  A silly reason, yes.  But the description was so delightful to my young self that I forever let alone Mom’s bottle of jam and kept to the one of marmalade.  Now, fortunately, I honestly and truly do prefer the orange flavor.  Now, I do truly enjoy marmalade toast.  And I have C.S Lewis to thank for it.

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Yet one might say my preference for marmalade was rather amusingly formed.  And it was.  But C.S Lewis, de facto, is a good writer.  And naturally, he has influenced me in matters other than those of the table.  But truly, of all these, it is in the matter of marmalade toast that I am most grateful to him.  Being particularly fond of breakfast, naturally.

A Little Dollhouse

I can’t believe it; I’m turning sixteen in precisely a week.  The day I turned twelve I came to the conclusion that birthdays are sneaky, little things and considerably inconvenient.  I uphold the belief to this day.  I mean, it takes a long while for one to remember that he is twelve now not eleven, that he must say and write so, and that he must look, speak, and act like so.  I have scarcely gotten used to being fifteen and another birthday comes round to unnerve me as it did last year.  But this is a rather pessimistic view of birthdays, isn’t it?

The strange thing is, these weeks leading up to the aforementioned inconvenient event, I’ve found myself doing very…childish things…and enjoying them exceedingly.  I’ve been re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia whose covers I’ve not touched in years.  Then again, I’ve been listening to them, really.  (I found the audiobooks in one of our dusty shelves).  I’ve been sketching and doodling, things I haven’t done in earnest since I was eleven.  And I’ve played with my old dollhouse a number of times this week(the one which I may or may not have received as a present on my fourth birthday).

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Strange, isn’t it?  Growing up?  I’ve told you that I’ve been enjoying such things of my four-year-old or nine-year-old self, and I have.  And yet, somehow, the things are different.  I read the books differently, I look at the world differently.  I finger an old, worn adventure novel and play with little furniture but never the same way.  Childhood will remain simple that: a lovely memory.

A quote from a novel I’ve read recently:

“You are no longer a child, Reuven…It is almost possible to see the way your mind is growing.  And your heart, too…Three years ago, you were still a child.  You have become a small giant…You do not see it.  But I see it.  And it is a beautiful thing to see.” – The Chosen, by Chaim Potok

A Lazy Saturday Afternoon and a Little Yellow Car

Saturday afternoon found me twiddling my thumbs {a rare thing for a sophomore busy finishing what’s left of the school year}.  But due to my refusal to study anything, it happened.  So I took the opportunity to rescue my rather dusty camera; I’ve been rather inattentive to her the past month, and she’s spiteful.  But she’s forgiven me now.

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Out the Window

Sometimes, we’ve just got to look out the window.  And really look.  #fromaterrifedmortifiedpetrifiedstupefiedstudentfacingexamssoon #abeautifulmind #littlebrothers #hashtags

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Monday

– 2nd Corinthians 12: 9-10

– morning run

– whole-wheat, chocolate chip pancakes

– Aristotle’s Rhetoric and viparita karani {legs-on-the-wall stretch} {photo above}

– creation of my notebook of lists {I am obviously a list person.}

– mom’s cajun chicken

– reading A Young Person’s History of Israel

Agnes Grey

– crazy photo with the sibs

This is what I did today.

I liked today.

+ I played tennis.

+ I finished The Chosen and forever transfixed Potok in my heart as one of my most beloved authors.  {Hugo and Dostoevsky, your places are threatened.}

+ I made various lists of even more various things in a notebook for the most various reasons.

+ I wrote letters.

+ I listened to this sporadically throughout the day.

+ I studied some history.

+ I opened and was enchanted by a children’s book again.  {Haven’t done this since I was nine.}

 

“We real cool.”

“We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
die soon.”

-Gwendolyn Brooks

I spent three weeks studying Postwar America and the Roaring ’20s.  I read many books and many chapters.  This beautiful, but dark poem caught the entire essence of that part of history in 24, simple words.

Evening: French Wine and Pajamas

On every other school day, I allow my brain to fizzle and die at precisely 5PM.  But on Thursday, it is not allowed.  It must stay fresh and active until 10:30PM. {Online French Class: 9:00-10:30PM.  Yes, Madame S, it’s pretty late, so I listen to your lovely voice whilst in my pajamas. :}  And naturally, French class being the joy and pleasure it is, my brain is only too willing to oblige.

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Credits to sissy!

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On the night I watched my first French movie {Au Revoir, Les Enfants.  With English subs, of course}, love for the language of Paris was forever fixed in my heart.  The language was absolutely beautiful.  After the first couple of classes, I had not only fallen in love with the language, but the culture.  And of course, the food.  Yes, the food.  After precisely 11 sessions, any thought of French class immediately brought to mind FOOD.  Ah, oui.  In truth, one thing I must say about French class is that I’m positively famished after {AND, when the class is over and the entire family is asleep, I’m too scared of the dark lazy to go downstairs to get something to eat.}.  Naturally, it all started with the chapter on faire des courses, or errands.  In that chapter, we studied the little shops in which the French buy their groceries {Very few supermarkets in France.}.  The food bought in the first, few stores learned were not that appetising.  Les boucheries, les charcuteries, les poissoneries, les boucheries de chevaline {butcher’s shop, pork butcher’s shop, fish market, and horsemeat shop; the latter being the least appetising}.  La pâtisserie with its lovely delights was the worst of it, and I’m not very fond of sweets {Don’t get me wrong.  I do like ’em.}.

But it got worse.  Because the next chapter was entirely about food.  Not the stores you buy them in.  The food.  Torture.  I learned about the five courses {One course is entirely for cheeses.  How awesome is that?} and the things eaten in each course.  I learned the names of various cooking methods {à point, au beurre, bien cuit, saignant, sauté}, and finally, I learned how to order from a French restaurant’s la carte.  Indeed, our oral test was just that.  Ordering.  Dinner.  In a fancy, French restaurant.  How it went for me was beyond hilarious.  More or less, it went like this {The test was all in French.  I’ll translate it as best I can.}

ORAL TEST BEGINS

MadameS:  Good evening, mademoiselle.  What will you take for your entrée?

Me:  Ah…I’ll have de la salade niçoise, please.

MadameS:  {This part she spoke very fast; I can’t translate word for word.  But this is what I got.} Ah, very good.  But that is a very big plat.  That is already a plat principal.  You must skip the second course.  What will you take for your next course?

Me:  I’d like pommes frites, please.  {I’m not sure of the English equivalent of that dish…:)}

MadameS:  And le fromage?

Me:  Camembert, please.

MadameS:  Good.  And the dessert?  I suggest la crème de marron chantilly.

Me:  Ah, yes.  La crème de marron chantilly for me, please.

MadameS:  Very good!  Now your drink?  Coffee, tea, water, or wine?

*Pause*

Ok, reader.  So far, all the students who’d gone before me had chosen either coffee or tea.  I, however, am not accustomed to drinking either for dinner.  So…

Me:  Ah, I’ll have some wine.

MadameS (rather amusedly):  Ah, good.  A bottle or a glass?

Me (pretty bluntly):  I’ll have a bottle.  {Though I can’t hear the rest of the class, I can imagine their giggles and chuckles.  I only chose to say bottle because it was easier to pronounce, and I wanted a good grade.}

MadameS (rather surprised):  Ah, yes, mademoiselle.  A bottle of wine for you.  (She pauses.)  Though as your teacher, Bea, I hope you’re going to share that bottle with the class!

ORAL TEST ENDS

A COUPLE OF MINUTES AFTER MY TEST HAD ENDED

Me:  Madame, I’m starting to feel rather dizzy…

MadameS (laughs):  Bea, you’re NOT driving us home after our dinner.

Classmate:  I’m sorry, Madame.  I let her have my share of the bottle.

J’adore French class.