Tag Archives: home

The Start Button

I microwaved ramen for dinner.

I am so way too old for this.  Freshman year of college, I watched my roommate crush her noodles, dump water on them, and hit the three minute button.  I thought it was genius.  We had no stovetop,  no oven, and only a tiny fridge.  Microwaved noodles were the closest I could get to late-night gourmet.

Now, I have a gas stove that boils water faster than I’ve ever known a liquid to vaporize, but I still used the microwave.  It’s actually almost a little ironic being that I didn’t even own a microwave for most of my senior year and fell out of the habit of using it.

But here I am: post-college house #2 and microwaved noodles are still in tow.  My bed frame arrives tomorrow, and it will be all up to me to put it together.  No doubt, it will involve at least one trip to the Home Depot, as my tool collection spans no further than three screwdrivers.  Although, I have made several advances in the homemaking department that are both noble and noteworthy.

My home has enough lamps to ensure a walk from one room to another without tripping, the walls are covered in the colors of my choosing, and I pinned an old world map in a shadow box and marked off the places that I’ve lived.  That’s homey.  I can cook now too (see herehere, and here for testimonies as to why this is significant)

Having said all of that, it probably says a lot about me that all my books were thematically arranged before my suitcase was unpacked.  For nearly a week, my outfit was whatever was at the top of my suitcase that morning.

This last move was #13 and the first that was completely of my own choosing.  It was the right thing to do, and I’m glad I’m here, very thankful actually.

Pumpkin spiced everything is starting to be replaced with wintery chocolate treats, and soon enough, Bing Crosby will croon over the Starbucks sound system again.   There are still variables to sort out. I’ve been on a few disastrous dates recently, and they’ll be some 750 miles between myself and the rest of my family on Thanksgiving.  But in both cases, I trust that alternative plans will come together yet.

I’m really tired.  I have been all week.  But, I’m also coiled up in a warm (new) bed (that I actually own now), and I can still see the sky from my pillow. I think that all counts for something important; at least it does to me.


Travel, Researching Rhythms & Rhetoric

Driving begets lazy packing.

Between Spain, school, and summer jobs, I have moved every four months (a total of five times) in the last two and a half years.  Life in two checked bags and a backpack is rough, but I’ve learned how to manage.  The prospect of coming home for Christmas in a car was an unusual privilege, which I monopolized by bringing an entire bag full of shoes and half the contents of my carrel.

The trip was 755 miles, 13 hours, and was only interrupted by a twenty minute stop for gas and food.  I avoided calling my parents before the trip in a thinly veiled attempt to avoid my father’s criticism.  While I appreciated driving through Akron and Youngstown without any traffic and tried to convince him that it made travel safer, he was sure that I was putting my life in danger by driving alone in the middle of the night.  I’m sure that there is some wisdom in his concern, but either way, I made it home without any trouble at 2am on Sunday night.

The recent change of scenery has played a major role in my mental switch from writing back to researching.  The accomplishment of having actually finished (mind you, not just start, but finished) four books in the last three days, is refreshing.  These books, being much less theoretical than much of what I’ve been spending my time on lately, have given me an informational/factual framework to apply the theoretical texts.

This application has resulted an an ever-growing frustration with writers who never seem to bridge theory and reality in their own works.

Women’s roles in the church is a sticky topic.  I get that.  Defined convictions and careful study have informed my strong opinions.  Furthermore, when asked or the time seems appropriate, I will happily share my thoughts and likely do so with obvious passion.  But there is a rhetorical flair to it that acknowledges the topic’s sensitivities and the role of utopian ideals in implementation practices and the processes of change.

What I find most offensive is not the writers who disagree with me.  Writers who make the same case as me, but disavow the healthy, reconciliatory potential of their viewpoint by failing to constructively articulate their position are the most offensive.

Acknowledging that we don’t all agree does not mean that all answers are right or that we should treat them as such.  However, one’s own limited knowledge, wisdom, and experience combined with the relative importance of a given issue within the context of a mission matters.  This ought to shape our rhetoric.

Embody conviction with humility.  Then, say what you mean, define your terms, and don’t apologize.

Straight Ahead

Like a tumbleweed atop a spinning vortex in the middle of Kansas on an early spring morning– life progresses. Biding its time and darkly lit, summer came.  But alas, once it did…

The final weeks of May faded out like the aforementioned twister, each day like the morning I cranked out 10 pages on entrepreneurship in Poland during eras of crisis and then literally ran cross-campus to a meeting that started the same time the paper was due.

It was all like that, except doubly intense because of its speed and content.

A dozen quick decisions and lots of goodbyes later– I was back in Fort Wayne.

A curious location, given that I left three years ago with no real intention of coming back.  With high school blazing behind me and an east coast liberal arts education glittering in my eye, I let “oh” and “mmhmm” get me through year one.

I’m a proud Cardinal and if CSS isn’t the best thing that ever hit me, I don’t know what is, but.  But, it is Wesleyan and for all its prickly points, pain, and talk, it’s a long way from home.  And yet, it was.  It had to be.  What else would be if it wasn’t there?  Remember, I wasn’t coming back.

Fast forward, DC and bigger dreams than this nineteen-year-old could handle.  The city stopped being just a bureacuracy as soon as I was there and learned how it worked– where name-dropping and plastic niceties met actual work.   So  I ran, flying back and forth to every intern event possible and collecting lunch dates and business cards like it was my job.  But isn’t that the point?

I left with my Jimmy Stewart/Jefferson Smith loving heart beating clear out of my chest, ready to “fight for the lost causes harder than for any other.”  My pre-arranged internship for the next summer was put on hold when opportunity in New York rapped on my door.  After all, who doesn’t want to spend a summer in the Big Apple?

A second detour through Spain and a perfect day in Paris radically changed my trajectory again when “shoot, I really only have one summer left.” shot straight from my heart to my head.

With Chris Malagisi’s “Field of Dreams” networking lecture firmly engrained in my head, I took advantage of my month at home at Christmas.  I met, talked to, emailed, phoned, follow-uped my way through 14 informational interviews.  And would you believe it?  I’m here, minus the whole I-don’t-actually-know-many-folks-in-Indiana-and-that’s-kinda-annoying thing, it’s phenomenal.  I’m here.

Here. I ran to Connecticut, DC, New York, Spain, Portugal, France, and Morocco, but I find myself here, back in good-ole Fort Wayne.  And you know what?  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Not because I’m so timid that I can’t make a home at Wes or any other place or because I couldn’t cut something different or because I have family here.  Not at all.  Quite simply, it’s just because.

How’s that for running in circles?

M.P. vs. Rice

On Sunday night, I went to a dinner at Lighthouse, and it was one of those off-nights where rice just didn’t taste good.  I wanted mashed potatoes.

I love it when my friends cook for me.  I love confusing mushrooms with eggplant and having them describe all the new flavors and textures to me.  But Sunday night, I was tired and I just wanted to know what I was eating.

Spain and a year to look back on the explosions of sophomore year have given me some kind of perspective.  I’ve never been so consciously aware of my ability to just get up and leave.  While living in Spain, I hopped a plane to Africa, scrubbed a last minute trip to Ireland, and wandered around Paris at 1:00am.

Now, I’m not talking about running away, not even in the slightest.  Rather, I am describing the get-up, get-gone, go-and-run-to-it part of life.  I do that, a lot.  I think that’s how I ended up at Wesleyan, and if it is not, it is certainly why I am still here.

But lately, I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about mashed potatoes.

This summer, I’ll be back in Indiana, where potatoes outnumber cups of rice 3:1, minor league baseball is a summer highlight, and lawn signs are more common than pacifist bumper stickers.  I’ll be home.

Home’s a vibrant place, a place I return to intentionally, and with great desire, but its not the same– which is all I’m hoping for.  I want to prove the real value of my liberal arts education, by using it in context.  I want to learn, experience, and network.  See home as a city, not just the place I went to high school.  Finally learn the downtown restaurants.  Use the libraries.  Thesis research.  Hang out with my mom.  Meet people.  Make friends.  Read books.

I need this summer to be good.

…But you know, as soon as I get there, I’ll totally be making pad thai.

Metaphoric showdown: chin-up > pull up

With the ability to do what I want when I want to, the Paris white board pressure’s (nearly) dissipated, which has been not in the least assisted by that fact that I’m back in Indiana.

I have enough proof to indeed verify that there are folks here who could properly deliver their props to Dolores Umbridge herself.  However, this is the real exception in this community.

Honest to goodness, I’ve known hundreds of truly kindred folk from all kinds of places, but generally speaking, people are more friendly in the midwest than anyplace I’ve ever been in the world.

The security guards at the federal courthouse here in town acted just like what you’d think your grandpa would be like if he was hanging out with his old college buddies, the lady sitting next to me in the lobby at the pizza shop told me all about what her Fridays are like at work, and some stranger (noting that I was sitting alone, not drinking my coffee, had no work in front of me, made eye-contact with everyone walking into Starbucks, and was dressed in a non-dressy, but clearly showing that I really care Saturday morning outfit) took to openly teasing me about my job interview.

People do that kind of thing here, and I love that.

I haven’t the slightest idea where I’ll live after I graduate, but it is nice to be comfortable here now.  And somehow comfortable has led to clarity, and six informational interviews, a couple phone calls, a fistful of emails, and all the thank you cards my mom had in the house.  I still don’t know where it’s all going, but it’s nice to know it’s going somewhere.

Something else amazing emerged out this whole process, a flexible plan, one that builds on my month-by-month LSAT study schedule from last summer by adjusting some dates, re-prioritizing, and finally integrating a concrete long-term goal.  I didn’t throw anything out the window.  I just learned, added, adjusted.

So for now, looking at work and career plans seems to be a lot less like a dark mass and a lot more like freedom, and much needed peace.

And a huge part of that is the recognition that I could never pull myself up to where I want to go.  It’s all just been seeing who’s around and willing to lend a hand.  Can’t do that with your chin down or trying to pick yourself up off the ground.

See cause for someone to lend a hand, you gotta look up let go to grab it.

Productive ease

Confession: I really have no idea what day of the week it is, and I love that.

There really was no particular reason that I needed to know today either.  Oftentimes, schedule-less days quickly descend to couch potato restlessness that eats away at nearly all my interest in the books in my kindle queue.  But not this week.

A perfect mix of basis tasks (errands, bills, tearing down the Christmas tree) and family has maintained enough order, and it has been perfect.  I’d criticize myself for not tearing through job research, networking emails, and most other real-life related tasks, but I can’t help but think that this continued non-mind numbing rest is actually productive.   I’ve come to think, just maybe, that the the what-am-I-going-to-do-next-summer-and-how-am-I-going-to-get-there-exactly feeling might clear up a little bit if I just take a couple days.

So that’s what I’m going to give it, and in the meantime, categorize, label, and subdivide every photo and video in my iphoto library.  Spain already feels so far away, and I need to keep it real.  I’ll finish an imovie project on the trip by the start of the spring semester.

Grip the moments

I’ve been struck by a few things so far this Christmas season.  Among them, how truly nice it is to be home.  The mountains in Santiago may have floored me, but the flat land and triangular roofs feel much more comfortable than the red clay tiles ever did.

Though it is more uncomfortable than ever to fit the six (seven when Andrew’s girlfriend was visiting) of us into the van, we do it fine.  Mychelle still yells to have the music turned down, “please turn the radio on” still means Rush to dad, and he who sits in the middle left seat, being by the controls, still determines whether everyone else in the back of the car is cold or not,  but other than that…it’s been great.

Like Tuesday night when I took the younger two out for Starbucks downtown.  I made a real big deal of it, and we walked around outside with our coffee.  Watson even went as far as to offer both of his arms to his sisters and escorted us by the Embassy Theater and Botanical Gardens.

We ended up in front of the large wreath at the Summit building where Mychelle and I took turns dancing with Watson.  I can’t recall ever having so much fun with my younger siblings.

We have been taking advantage of some great deals over at Pro Bowl West, where we’ve been twice this week now.  Having not bowled since high school, I’ve been far from impressive, but it’s been fun.


Honestly, just about every moment has been perfect.