Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Adventures of the Min. Wage Kind

It's funny how I spent most of last week fretting so much about needing to get the motivation to study for Greek.  The most popular excuses were:
1. Naptime! Who doesn't need 2 naps per day?
2. A walk around the Berkeley Hills is refreshing and, of course, exercise is completely as important as studying, right?
3. Lord of the Rings! Yes please, let's take a 3 hour break from studying to watch Orks get killed!

Those three points being said, I still was able to get at least a few hours of studying done every day.  Greek is beginning to settle into my brain and I hope that it will stay with me for a long time.

This week has been and will be a different story entirely.

Yesterday, I started my first day of training at a local cafe in Berkeley--and I will be spending 4 days there this week!  I feel so grateful to have been able to find part-time work within two weeks of moving into the Bay Area.  The first few days are always the most difficult, so I am glad for the patience and kindness the staff have shown me when I ask a question every five minutes.

I am excited to be a part of a coffee-shop once again! My nose has missed the coffee-shop scent--for me it is a mixture of espresso grounds, buttery pastries, and wooden tables.  One whiff of that scent and I go straight back to the hours I spent at Deja Vu Coffeehouse (the first job I ever had).  Every morning, as I stepped through that brightly painted door, I would take a deep breath of the coffee-shop scent and smile.  It felt great to be a part of that coffee-shop and I will always hold Deja Vu in my heart.  I'm looking forward to making room for another wonderful cafe!

Since I am juggling Greek, training/work, getting to and from work, and those minor things in life like sleeping and eating, I have a pretty busy schedule this week!  My multi-tasking skills feel a little rusty--it is funny how easily I adjusted to only having a job to worry about every week.  I am glad to be able to adjust to this during this summer so I can be ready and prepared for my first semester!  I also cannot imagine how people adjust into seminary (or any schooling, for that matter) after spending years in the full-time work mindset.

Even though my schedule is a bit hectic, I love being able to enjoy the little things.  The 45 minute walk to work is full of great views of the Bay Area ( I first mistyped that as Gay Area, had a little giggle at the non-irony of that statement, and then fixed it- I hope that entertains you as well).  While making my way down the hill to get into downtown, there is a block on Spruce St. that is lined with blackberry bushes.  Two girls were eating from it yesterday, so I had a few today--they were pretty tasty.  Oh, the little secrets that the Berkeley Hills holds only for the pedestrians. :)

People in Berkeley, well, the Berkeley Hills at least, operate as if everyone that walks by is a neighbor.  It is quite nice to be greeted by every person that is out gardening, walking a dog, or grabbing mail--it's almost as if I'm in the Midwest. But, wait, I can see the Golden Gate from here! What a blessed life I live.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Greek nerd what?

It seems that I have become a Greek nerd.  The past two nights, as I have faded off to sleep, the thoughts in my head stop being English but turn into the sounds of the Greek language.  I wish that would mean that I hold the secret knowledge of the intricacies of Greek, which is not true.  But guess what? Two days into the course I could translate a sentence.  Then, when declensions and pronouns got involved, I totally lost all confidence that I could do this whole "read Greek" thing.  Many hours of studying later, I feel pretty good about my first week of class.  1/6 of the way done! :)  Though I've heard a rumor that there are 4 different past verb tenses......

I am starting to get the hang of the crazy winding, incredibly tiny Berkeley Hills streets and I feel quite proud that I no longer require a GPS and a few curse words to get anywhere nowadays.

My birthday (aka first day of Greek!) was absolutely splendid.  The PLTS students and staff that were on campus surprised me by singing to me in front of the whole class!  It was a very kind welcoming into the PLTS community.  I am enjoying comiserating with the 10 other students in the course; it is helpful to know that other people are studying and quizzing and want to give up right at the same times that I do.

My birthday dinner consisted of a night in of cooking two kinds of spaetzle: cheddar onion and swiss sauerkraut.  For those of you not hip to the German food world, spaetzle is a homemade noodle that is versatile because you can add anything to it and its instant delicious. :)  Making spaetzle reminds me of the lovely woman, Sophie Schmid, who taught me how to make it.  I remember crouching over a boiling pot and slicing little bits of dough into the pot, while thinking, "How the heck are these weird floating things going to taste good?" But oh, they are amazing.  My mother made her famous dark chocolate pound cake that is melt-in-your-mouth, fattening-your-waist-line delicious.

Berkeley continues to be a beauty.  These past days have been quite sunny up here in the Berkeley Hills; which isn't too helpful when one should be inside studying their second declension endings.  I was lucky enough to see a deer and her two fawns tonight just outside of the dorm.

I think back on how far I have come in this past year and wonder what lies in store for my faith these next months.  I've heard multiple times that the first year of seminary breaks your faith completely apart so that it can be built back up, stronger and more malleable.  I'm glad for the aspect of a building back up from the ruins, but I worry for the breaking down.  What lies in store for me during my first semester here?  The best I can do is be myself in every direction I take and trust that there is a greater plan for me.

I have heard from a few people so far that I have the Berkeley look about me.  If Berkeley means awesome, which I'm pretty sure it does, I'll take that compliment whole-heartedly. :D

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 2 and 3: Reno and Berkeley!

Rounds 2 and 3 of mountain driving survival were successful. :)  Utah and Nevada are both much more gorgeous than anyone gives them credit for.  Perhaps that is because I am not talking to the right people, but usually the common references are Utah--Mormons and Nevada--gambling.

Now, when I think of Utah, I think of the miles and miles of the salt flats.  I-80 drives straight through what used to be a bigger salt lake that has dried up and left a stunning view of blindingly white layers of salt on the land (All I wanted to do was get out of the car and go taste some salt but I'm guessing that is horribly unhygienic).  Utah means %5 declines on the highway with views of mountains abound as you tear down the mountain at 75 mph.  Utah is red soil and rock formations so steep and so formed that it seems as if they were chiseled by thousands of artists who wanted to demand more beauty out of Utah.

When Nevada comes to mind, I recall the slight cool breeze that lowers the temperature of the desert climate as soon as the sun goes down.  Reno means views of the Sierra mountains that force you to intake a breath and soak up the beauty.  Reno is elaborate architecture and outlandish style that covers the buildings of casinos.
And even better, California might be all that it is cracked up to be.  As we passed over the state line, the high divider was no longer a stretch of brown desert grass but flowers, pink and red and white and purple.  Miles and miles of blooming flowers, full of prosperity and beauty. Full of hope. :)

My dorm room is HUGE! It was built to be a double but now all of the rooms are used as singles so I have plenty of space for organizing as well as decorating.  Only 4 people will be living in the dorms during this next 6 weeks so I get to stretch out a bit until the rest of people show up for fall!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 1: Salt Lake City!

Wow. Yesterday, I would have told you that mountain driving is strenous but managable.  After trekking across Wyoming and Utah and encountering semis that are passing me at 75 mph during a decline, I feel much less of a Westerner in my ultimate pansy reaction to the whole situation.  5 years of flatland have done me in.

Dramatics aside, today was a beautiful day of discovery.

While driving in Northeast Colorado to get to I-80, there were many patches of soil that were deep shades of red.  I hadn't seen the red soil that is the namesake of the state that prominent.  I can no longer make jokes about the supposed "colorful" Colorado--it really is that red.  How the heck am I supposed to be funny now? :)

The rolling hills in eastern Wyoming make it clear that this whole part of the land used to be an ocean floor.  The sandy hills dotted with little green bushes would fit right into a picture of the Australian reef.

 Utah is gorgeous. Absolutely breathtaking. Terrifying to drive in, but the vistas. Oh, the vistas (I am mainly using this word because my mother used it about 7 times today and also fancy words are the coolest).

Who got to see the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake? THIS GIRL.

At the Great River Platte museum in NE, there was plenty of information about the trek that the Mormons made from the plains to Utah.  As I viewed these mountainsides, I could not imagine how those people stuck it out through the desert conditions that cover these huge mountains.  Directing houses that are hauling wagons made with wooden wheels.  Must have been an abundance of perseverance and hope for what the Wild West could offer.

Thanks to the lovely Elizabeth Pierce for hosting us in Salt Lake City! She was a great tour guide to the Capitol, the Mormon Mecca (ha probably not the correct word but it gets the point across), and University of Utah!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I am I doing this again?

I found myself asking this question while driving around my beloved hometown this morning.  What was I thinking?  I left a fulfilling job that I loved, my boyfriend, and amazing support systems in Ohio.  Tomorrow, I'm leaving my hometown, my family, and wonderful friend groups behind.  I'm leaving to go somewhere I've never lived to be surrounded by people that I have never met.  I'm going out into the unknown.  The part of me that is scared of this whole new frontier asks, "Why?"

I'm quite glad that I have a clear answer for this.  One of my best friends from high school met with me last night and we discussed the turning points that are happening in our lives.  She mentioned a quote she had heard that struck a chord with me: "The worst enemy of the best is not the worst, but the good."  When life is good, it is easy to feel content and happy with your life.

The goodness of my lives that I lived in Columbus and Fort Collins make it seem so easy to drift back into the patterns full of happiness that I have been a part of these past years.  God does not want me to be in the path of a good life.  God wants the absolute best out of me, not necessarily for me but for all of the people that I will be able to help grow in their spiritual journey.  The greatest threat to me is my own comfort zone.  I am scared for this next step of life but I know that the outcome will be better than anything I can imagine at this point.  It's funny to feel quite nervous about this even though I feel positive that this is what I am supposed to be doing.  I am grateful to have people supporting me and reassuring me that this is exactly what I am meant to do.

I am humbled to be the first recipient of the Hayes Memorial Scholarship from Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Los Alamos, NM!  God is working through many people to show me how amazing it is that I am going to seminary to follow my call to ministry.

One more day until Roadtrip Part Deuce begins!
3 more days until I live in Berkeley.
5 more days until I turn 23 and take my first summer Greek class! On the joy....

Fort Collins has been absolutely amazing this past week.  It was a delight to show Jillien around FoCo and witness her eyes filled with wonder at the mountains, the wildlife, and the general awesomeness that is Colorado.  She would make fun of me every time I said, "Wow the smokey haze makes it hard to see the mountains today." Her response was to stare at me and say, "Colorado problems." Oh how I adore Jillien because of the wit and intellect she adds to my life. :)

We took a haunting trip up to some of the burn area in the Poudre Canyon.  The brevity of this fire keeps all of the Fort Collins folk abuzz on how many people and animals that have been affected.  The barren mountains, covered in black, stab at all of our hearts; the rivers run black and cover the river rocks with a layer of soot.

I am thankful for the firefighters' neverending motivation to keep this fire from spreading and I pray for all of the living things that are trying to feel normal after having their homes/habitats destroyed.  Keep Sky Ranch in your prayers as they continue camp this week and manage to steer the bears away from camp!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 3: Home!

Our last day of the roadtrip to Colorado started out great--with DELICIOUS chocolate chip banana bread made by the acclaimed cook, Teri Drury (Thanks Teri!).  Ron took us into Lincoln to the Haymarket district, where we enjoyed walking around and looking around in two bookstores, where we picked up the next two books of the Hunger Games and coffee for the long hours of driving.

Of course we had to stop at the Mormon Island Rec Area!

After a few hours of driving, we got to Kearney, NE where the Great Platte River Road Archway Museum is located over the highway.  It was great fun to go through the interactive exhibit and take a pause to write postcards!
The rest of the trip included a frantic reading of Hunger Games (we were only 10 pages away from finishing the book when we get into Fort Collins), beautiful views of Nebraska farmland and plateaus, and a 10 minute rain storm that Jillien drove us through.

Coyote metal work since I didn't get the picture of the Wyoming sign!

I've found that the sky is hazy with smoke from the fires, but it is still the awe-inspiring Colorado that I know and love. :) It's good to be back home for a while to see friends and show Jillien my favorite things about Colorado!

It's crazy that I am here at home and that the wonderful life that I had in Columbus is still there in the East, moving on without me in the picture.  There a bigger purpose for this, one that I cannot see just yet.  I trust that God knows the plan and that Berkeley will be bringing more wonders than I can even imagine.  I am ready for the change and eager to begin my new adventures there!  Still, I carry all of you Ohioans in my heart and will miss you so much as I begin this new life stage.  Just as I did when I left Colorado to go fall in love with Ohio.

I keep thinking, my heart is so full of people and places and memories.  How can it expand to include new people and new adventures?  It feels at capacity right now--I feel like I am brimming with the love that people give me and the love I cannot help but hand out in abundance.  I am one very blessed woman and I know that the love that I encounter by giving and receiving will never be too much; it will continue to grow and expand my life in ways I never thought possible.

Quotes of today:
"Banana Bread do do do do do"--Drury household song
(to the tune of the Muppets song)

"READ WOMAN"--Jillien
"But we are really close to home--can't I soak it in the neighborhood?"--Kaitlin
"NO. READ."--Jillien

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 2: Firth, NE!

My favorite thing about this roadtrip is having Jillien by my side, always ready with a quip about something I said, but I especially appreciate when she referrs to Missouri as Minnesota/Montana, which has occured about 9 times now. :D

Our second day of roadtripping went smoothly, albeit a bit more tiredly.  We breezed through much of the Hunger Games, so we will be on the lookout for Catching Fire today!  In the early afternoon, we drove through Kansas City and I decided to take a small detour to the area that I grew up in Kansas City.  It is quite difficult to describe the emotions that coursed through my body when seeing the overgrown grass, chipped paint buildings, sidewalks with grass creating huge cracks in it, and the overall feeling of neglect in the neighborhood I spend my early years in.

I have so many beautiful memories of Kansas City: riding my bike in a circle in the basement of our house (it was too dangerous for me to ride on the streets), playing for hours with neighborhood kids in our backyard playset, singing passionately with the people of Fountain of Hope (the mission church in which my dad was the pastor), being passed secret donuts from Mr. Brown (an elderly parishioner with a young heart).

The wonderful church where I had so many people that I adored and seen my Dad change so many lives is boarded up.  This place that seemed to be pulsing with life is stripped of its soul and lies to rot. There are no other words for my feelings but empty sadness.

We passed through Kansas City and up to Firth, NE.  It's a small town south of Lincoln where our family friends, the Drurys, live.  Ron greeted us with their new dog, Nike! We ate outside of their patio with a beautiful view of the Nebraska farmland--Jillien said she could see Ohio from here. :)

 It was great fun to get schooled in music; I have now learned to love Van Morrison, Radiohead, Wilco, and the Black Keys.  We also watched Up! for the first time (well, for me, it was the first time), which was absolutely amazing ( as I knew it would be, which is why a hipster like me wouldn't watch it until way after it was a fad haha).
Crazy building in Kansas City

umm at least you can tell that it's Nebraska?

We got lost so we took a picture with cornfields

Quotes from today:
 "Dinner will be so easy, everything comes in a bag! Chips, salad, cheesecake..."--Ron
"Mmm nothing like cheesecake in a bag."--Jillien


"He looks ornery"--Jillien.
*Kaitlin gives Jillien the glare of death*
"What does ornery mean, Jillien? I'm pretty sure it means stubborn and ill-natured..."-Kaitlin