Tag Archives: Hopes

Ambition’s Shadow

When I was in high school, I wore my MIT sweatshirt on the day of important exams– SATs, ACTs, APs, and Honors Physics.

I considered it the academic equivalent of the guys who do pushups every time the football team scores and the girls with their boyfriends’ numbers painted on their tank tops and faces.

On one hand, for nerds like myself, I suppose this is terribly arrogant behavior.  Wearing the MIT sweatshirt on the steps outside Southside High School meant something.   Clustered among a small group of overachievers, all of us nervously clutching our graphing calculators and car keys, the sweatshirt served as nonverbal intimidation– to the SAT, to my friends, but mostly to myself, as it was a willful proclamation that I was good enough for that kind of school.

Because everything rode on getting into that kind of school.

It really did help though.  Not in some crazy good luck charm kinda way, but in a real way.  It was a visual way of saying what I believed I was capable of.  That’s a mindset shift, and while the intimidation end of it might have been a little intense, the starting premise was good.

Yesterday, I read about a girl who, as an entry-level analyst, courted a major new client for Merrill Lynch when she was 22.  By the time she was 25, she was COO of an industry revolutionizing activewear company in Sweden.   Suddenly, I felt like such a major underachiever, but not in a green-headed jealous kind of way.

I kept reading and nearly every story I came across, I was like “Shoot, I could do that,” “I’d make that decision,” or “OOhhh, for the opportunity.”  In some cases, I was like, “I’ve done that already.” 

Yesterday, I wore a pair of pointed-toe, bright red, patent leather stilettos.  I’d literally been searching for this particular pair of shoes for seven years, and I finally found them about a month ago.

Granted, I went by myself and no where important, but the shoes still fit a little bit like my old MIT sweatshirt.

The only difference between then in now is that there’s no admissions counselor standing in the way.  I’ve “arrived” and am free to do whatever I like; I just need a platform to do it.


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.

Sunday Endeavors

I was really looking forward to church this Sunday for several reasons, but there was one reason unique to this week.  Like I said earlier, I don’t know a lot of people in the city, and I knew church would be a place that I would be able to connect with people who would understand what I’m doing this summer and begin building relationships.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to join a small group or something for a couple of months.

I went to a church that Jeff recommended, and it was a good experience, although I’m not sure I’ll be going back.  Of course, I’m not sure that I’m not going back either.  I spoke to a couple of people at church yesterday, but I still don’t really know how everything is set up.  I read something about small groups online, but no one said anything about it yesterday.  The girl I spoke to after service invited to an event the church is having this Friday, and while I didn’t quite get what it was, I think I’m going to go.  It will give me an opportunity to find out what they’re all about, but between now and then, I think I’m going to have some conversations with Jesus about where I should get connected.

I’ve been in lots of different churches with lots of different kinds of people in different size congregations with all kinds of different styles of worship.  I like that.  I think it’s really cool to see people sincerely worshiping and seeking God and see them do it in totally different ways, but  I also have a strong inward aversion to church-hopping.  I’m here for three months, which is enough time to go someplace, get settled, and build some relationships.  I don’t really have the time or interest in taking a month to visit various churches in the city, which to a extent would be cool.  I would learn a lot by observing, but not much in terms of getting to know people or having any system of accountability.

After church, I came to the church I live in and enjoyed a nice long nap.  (fyi: I can’t go to the church I live in because service is in Portuguese).  In the evening I had a rather comical run-in with a bug.  Gerald and Miriam were out showing some friends around the city, so there was no one here to kill it.  I ended up turning all the lights on, dancing around the fellowship hall, and calling my mother for directions about how to catch it.  I hate actually killing bugs, although not for the dear humane reasons that some people cite.  I mostly just don’t kill them because that requires that I actually get close enough to the bug to touch it.  I ran to the kitchen to grab a pot to trap it, and then resolved that it would be better to use an empty trash can.  I figured I could throw the trash can from a longer distance with greater accuracy.  Mind you, during this whole fiasco, I’m still dancing around, now talking to my father on the phone, and still in pursuit of just one bug.  Anyways, by the time I emptied the trashcan the bug was gone, although I did stuff a towel under my door to make sure it didn’t make it into my room.   I’ve been facing bugs and spiders my whole life, I should really be over my fear by now, but I’m not.  At least I have the sense to recognize how silly I look, even if it isn’t enough to break my fear.

Departure and Expectations


Tomorrow commences the beginning of summer, which is always an adventure.  I put all my stuff in storage a few days ago and have one ginormous suitcase sitting on an empty floor, ready for what will undoubtedly prove to be a rather uncomfortable train ride from New Haven to New York City.

So happy it doesn't have to be <50lbs

This summer I will be working with NewYorkIsCalling.  I will be overseeing the ministry’s development with some long-term goals in mind.  Over the last seven months, I have watched plans for this position come together in surprising and extraordinary ways.  My family and I have been praying over this position since October, and despite other plans and opportunities in another city that I have long-since planned on pursuing, I am confident that New York is where God is sending me instead.

NewYorkIsCalling connects leaders, families, and students who love New York City and are committed to loving New Yorkers the way Jesus does.  The ministry does this by coaching leaders, tutoring children before placement exams, serving the homeless, working to alleviate sex-trafficking in the city, and doing whatever else it can do to meet the needs of communities in practical ways.  My primary responsibility with NewYorkIsCalling will be to put together a long-term funding strategy that will allow the ministry to pursue its mission in even bigger ways.

I will do my best to keep this updated, so you will know how it is going.  I’m not sure to tell you what to expect, because I’m not sure what to expect.  I suppose that’s why they call it an adventure…

What I know is this.  I’m here because of God and whatever comes next is up to Him, so with that in mind, I’ll just take it one step at time.