A Flash of Red: Anna tells all (well, sort of)

Anna 2


What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?

I love cooking for my husband–he just loves my meals and he’s a little picky, so I love the challenge of making delicious things for him.  He’s really helped me become an expert in the kitchen.

Do you have any favorite recipes?

Sean, my husband, has a lot of fond memories of his mother’s cooking, so I’ve worked on recreating those recipes for him over the years. Chicken a la King. Strawberry Shortcake.  Nothing terribly fancy, but–you know, it’s really difficult to match your mother-in-law’s cooking. I’d definitely say I’m improving.

Did Sean’s mother give you her recipes, or is she one of those women who won’t share their culinary secrets?

When we were first married, I asked Sean’s father for them, but he couldn’t find them.  I’m sure, if she were here, though, that she’d be more than willing to share.

What about outside of the kitchen?  What type of work do you do?

I’m a professor at Ambrose University.  I’ll be up for tenure soon and, just between you and me, it seems likely that I’ll get it.  It’s been a lot of effort, but it should pay off in the end. Once I make tenure, I’ll be able to focus even more time on my home life.  I’m sure Sean will appreciate that.

What do you teach?

Psychology.  Right now I’m teaching a course in abnormal development.  We examine mental illness and its origins.

I’m sure your students enjoy that topic–it sounds incredibly interesting–but it must be draining to focus so much on how people’s minds can break down.

Yes, it can be. But, you know, I try to focus on the positive and not let it affect me.  I’m a firm believer that, if you work hard enough at a goal or a problem, you can fix it.

But surely there are some problems that require outside help? That you can’t solve on your own?

Other people’s problems and failings–yes, certainly those are out of your own control. Even in my own life, especially recently, I’ve been let down by the weakness of others.

But as for my own–what would you call them?  Issues? Disappointments?   I have yet to find one that effort couldn’t mold into success.

That type of attitude could sound domineering to some people.

I prefer the term agentic.  It’s empowering to believe that your life’s achievements rest in your own hands.  Quite honestly, I wish more people would realize this.

Not to belabor the point, but haven’t you ever encountered something within yourself that was entirely out of your control? 

As long as our mind is intact, we each have the capacity to overcome our inadequacies.

So what would you tell someone who struggles with negative beliefs about themselves–who feels immobilized by self-doubt? 

I’d tell them to get over it and get to work–or get out of the way and let someone do it for them.






A Flash of Red: The Bard Interview

Bard Church

What brought you to Ambrose University?

I really identified with the campus culture and its focus on both personal and intellectual growth. Although I’m a business major, I appreciate the comprehensive education Ambrose has to offer its students–so many other colleges are just degree-factories, churning out graduates who couldn’t tell the difference between Nietzsche and Donne.  In fact, I’m taking an incredible course on psychopathology right now.  It’s been revelatory–to say the least.

Why not study at a university closer to home?

Next question.

Sorry. Um, do you have any favorite authors or books to recommend to other students?

More than you could list here.  I’d start with The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, anything by Dale Carnegie, and Alice Sebold’s memoir, Lucky.

You’re quite an omnivorous reader!

Would you prefer I only read within one genre? Or limit myself to sale banners on Amazon, like my sister?

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply–

Of course you didn’t mean to offend me, but I really can’t stand it when people are impressed by someone showing the smallest amount of initiative. It implies that apathy is the new norm, don’t you agree?

Of course I do. Okay–moving on.  You enjoy cooking.  Where did your interest in food come from?

My mother was a wonderful cook–


Yes, was. She no longer cooks.

Why is that?

Would you prefer to continue this interview or to badger me into leaving? Right then. Yes, my mother was a wonderful cook and we spent many hours in the kitchen together when I was a boy.  She taught me to appreciate well-made food and, even as a university student, I am able to spend a decent amount of time in the kitchen preparing meals for myself. I find it a very agreeable way to spend an afternoon.

Do you have any favorite recipes?

I can share my recipe for quinoa salad with kale and chevre.  It’s rather delicious.

How else do you spend your free time?

I try not to have ‘free time’, as you put it.  I focus on my studies, I take care of myself and my home, and I have a part-time job to help with expenses.  My days are full, as they should be.

What’s this part-time job you have?

It’s a computer programming job, in a sense.

Oh, that sounds interesting. 

No, really it’s not.  At least–not interesting in the way it should be.  But it has its advantages.

Are you planning on pursuing work in computers once you graduate?  Why not major in computer science?

My father needs someone to take over the family business–we’re a coal family–and I have a head for it.  Computers are just a hobby for me and, in the case of my job, a means to an end.

One final question: If you could give one piece of advice for freshman starting their first semester at Ambrose, what would you tell them? 

Get to know your professors personally.  It just might change your life.