Tag Archives: new

In the present

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin a four day window, I started a new job, start my final undergraduate semester, will “finish” a chapter of my thesis, and will travel to North Carolina to attend a seminar having nothing to do with any of three previous activities.

I said I’d go to the conference because I was invited in October.  I remember the distinct thought, “It’s the first weekend of the semester.  What could I possibly be missing out on?”  I now have no less than three places I need to be this Saturday afternoon.

Knowing that this week would be uncharacteristically busy, I remember thinking that the drive back to campus in the evenings would be long.  Instead, I find myself wanting the road to be longer and wishing I could script the thoughts that come when I drive.  They’re always the most eloquent.

When I drive home, ideas come out in organized phrases that get strung together and rearranged like they would on paper, and in them is the reason otherwise absent in the momentous chaos and excitement that characterize this last week.  Slipping into mechanized motion (not zoning out, I promise), it’s so much easier to shut off the processor and just be.  And rest.  And pray.

Funny thing is, I don’t even know what that road is called or which way it goes.  It’s just the way home.  This is a slightly embarrassing fact, and I probably ought to look it up in case I need to give somebody directions sometime.  But it all sortof speaks to the point.

To that end, I will cope with the new phone that wouldn’t activate, the possibility of not being able to port my number, and the fact that the library closed at 5pm with all my books in it.  In doing so, I’ll funnel this week’s emotion and stress away from tense joints and toward my fingertips, step away from WordPress and back to Word, and finish draft one of chapter two, tonight. 


A New Rhythm

The first week has passed largely with a rush of stories, experiences, and emotions that could constitute at least a half a dozen blog posts in and of themselves.

Unfortunately, time just didn’t permit those posts, and I can’t help but feel that really is something tragic in that.  See, my mind still bubbles with ideas that eventually become carefully articulated words.  When I don’t write, it’s just because the dictation just didn’t quite make it to my fingertips.

a little pre-semester/post-abroad number crunching

Like all my writing, I picture my blog posts as if I were presenting it to a crowd.

I feel the emotion and hesitancies and body movements as they align with my words.  That’s why writing used to annoy me so much, because prose alone felt like expression in isolation.

I can’t say that sense is fully gone.  Though I have learned how to put more meaning in my words, and I appreciate that ability immensely.

Besides that fact that I just expect it to be fun, that’s one of the reasons I’m taking Acting 1 this semester (3rd semester you try to get in is the charm:)  I’m very fascinated with the relationship between text and presentation and look forward to increasing mastery of communication techniques.

Aside from acting, I’m in your standard junior CSS classes, which are such a blessing.  No kidding, I was beside myself with happiness last Thursday/Friday as I wrapped up my first paper.

The familiar rush of fear, time, failure, and dense readings mixes perfectly with new ideas, ruthless editing, a nervous,slap-happy laughter coming from distracting company, running to the other room to share the thesis you’ve finished after 4 hours of labor, and that final feeling when you realize it is 2pm and there is nothing else that can be done.

Then you go to class and pray that you can actually explain what you wrote to the class, if called upon to do so.  You do so, just hoping that in first 10 minutes of class someone doesn’t say something to make you realize your essay doesn’t have a major factual error (cause that seriously happens in CSS).

But then the professor talks, and other people talk, and you talk, and you talk some more.  And then you realize that you actually do have a grip on the material. At tutorial, even the driest of readings come to life.  It’s like you can physically feeling your brain grow.

And then when you walk away from CSS and experience a little bit of the so-called real world, you are stunned to find the most-impacting text on your life is the desperately boring one you throughly fumigated over as a complete waste of time (shout out to Ricardo’s theory of rent).

It’s hard coming back, because the whole world moved on and filled in your place.  But despite all that frustration, I’ve found comfort in a few friends and the familiar feel of intellectual stimulus like I’ve only ever known in forums like CSS and ISI.

The Destination is the Dare

If I hadn’t hit that point already, then I’m finally ready to admit that I really have no idea what I’m doing…and I haven’t even boarded the plane.

Truth: I don’t think watching 2 seasons of Gilmore Girls with Spanish subtitles quite did it.  I haven’t spoken Spanish in 18 months, and reading the news in Spanish is a lot harder than it should be.

Truth: I have no idea how to register for classes.  It’s my understanding that there are 3 different types/levels of classes that I should be looking at, but I’m clicking on all the links I can find and am yet to actually understand how the whole system works.  The program director has sent very detailed, long emails, but unfortunately, I think I’m more confused than ever.

Truth: I told myself that this semester, I would take a sabbatical from political activities.  I thought this would be easy, because I don’t follow much activity within the EU.  Plus, I could really just use a break.  Unfortunately, having now read class descriptions for the subjects I’m interested in, I don’t think it’s going to be easy at all.  Syllabuses are awfully telling.  I’ll sit and learn, but defending my principles in English is exhausting, so…

More Important Truth: I’ve done this before.  Yes, I might not have anything figured out at this point.  Sure, the list of stuff to do before I leave the US gets longer with each passing thought.  And yeah, I don’t know anyone in Spain, but I’ve done this before.   I know exactly where I was standing when my parents left me at Wesleyan for the first time.  I distinctly remember the feeling in my gut when I got out of the taxi and rolled my 80 lbs. bag up the driveway at the intern house in DC two summers back.  I spent my first three days in NYC wondering how life was ever going to feel normal.  Spain is just Wesleyan, DC, and New York all over again.  Now that I’ve finally started figuring out how to use public transportation, and given that it’s my fourth time settling someplace new on my own, it’s about time to mix it up and change the language or something, right?  Otherwise, it’d just be too easy 😉

An Oh-So-Starry-Night and other works of art

…mostly above my head, but I try to be a good student.

Awesome (probably not a proper art critic word, but it's the most-fitting word that I know)

If you google “free stuff to do in New York,” you get a lot of hits.  Despite my health, I needed fresh air, so this evening, I actually took advantage of one of these offers.  On Fridays the Museum of Modern Art has free hours.

Now, I knew going in that anything with the words “modern art” is probably not going to be anything that I am going to enjoy too much, and I sort of was right.  But it was still a good time, especially since I spent a good two hours in a picturesque garden reading classical political philosophy and Little Women (still can’t believe Laurie ended up with Amy, although I haven’t finished it yet).

I did learn something important today though, I like art to tell a story.  That’s why I throughly gawked over the Norman Rockwell display at the Smithsonian last summer.  Every picture tells a story, a deep one.  Now, I am absolutely positive that everything in MoMa has a very important meaning, otherwise it would not be in a world famous museum, but there was a lot that I did not get.  I wandered to the top floor and there was a display of German art that included explanations of the pieces in relation to history.  I thought that was cool.  Then I got it.  I love art when I can see the story (like Rockwell) or when I see how it fits in a big story (like history).

My lack of deep appreciation for certain pieces is likely to come across like a freshman whining about having to read Shakespeare, and it is with that thought in mind that I wish to make very clear that I mean absolutely no disrespect.  I’m just being frank.  I figure that stating it how I see it might help me actually help me better understand it later.

Now, I love the Campbell’s soup label just as much as the next guy, but I don’t think I get Mr. Warhol much beyond that.

Despite years of Spanish class and my best efforts, Frieda Kahlo just makes me think of alabaster brows. (again, meaning no disrespect).

I probably shouldn’t admit online that I don’t really appreciate Picasso, but I really don’t.

I did really like Monet though.  I didn’t get it until I read the title of the piece, The Japanese Footbridge.  Then I saw it. (It’s better in person).

My evening was topped off by finally gathering enough courage to go into a nice restaurant and enjoy a meal by myself.  I’ve had some nice meals here, but always with company.  Getting the guts to go some place nice alone was totally new.  After dinner, I came home and found a good movie on netflix.

…And I’m feeling much better (minus that fact that I’m still barely eating)

And I thought I was young…

First team from Swan Creek Community Church in Delta, Ohio arrived yesterday.  In the 24 hour period they’ve been here we’ve done a lot, including meeting up with some folks with Urban Impact.  We worked at a South Asian Community Center and advertised for their English Language Classes.  That was an experience.

Normally, something like passing out flyers to strangers wouldn’t phase me at all, but having been in the city for a couple weeks, it actually did.  I knew that the information we were handing out was really needed and would be well accepted, but since I’ve been here, people have constantly been trying to shove stuff in my hands.  I was afraid of being blown-off.  That couldn’t have been further from what actually happened.

Sure, people on the street won’t take paper from a stranger, but the small restaurants and stores did, eagerly.  Many people in the community we were working in do not speak English.  It is predominantly Muslim and has many immigrants.  Free English classes aren’t just a pastime.  The ability to speak English opens huge opportunities, allowing individuals to better provide for themselves and their families.

One group knocked on the door of a law office.  The lawyer came out and took our flyer.  He circled the phone number and the address and said that he would be getting the information to lots of people who would be contacting us.  The man also asked us why we were doing what we were doing, and like lots of people, asked how we were able to help people out for free.

It was only a couple of hours, but the man from Urban Impact said that he expects 80 new people to show up on Monday because of what we did.  Jeff said he anticipated us having a positive experience, but even he was a little overwhelmed with how well everything went.

The afternoon was jam-packed with cross city walking and part 1 of our prayer walk.  I’d been to Ground Zero before, but being at St. Paul’s, where all the rescue workers rested after 9/11 was unbelievable.  There’s something amazing about how the whole space was used, looking at the pew George Washington sat in and reading on the plaque behind it how in a time of need, even this great piece of American history was used to provide for rescue workers.

Reconstruction at Ground Zero

inside St. Paul's

We had dinner in China town, and I had my first try at haggling.  After that, I ran the group through Central Park, and we sat down for a devotional time.

Even though it takes the few extra minutes I have, I’ve made a point of talking to the girls on the team every time I can.  I figure the work we are doing is great, but the relationships, among ourselves and those we are serving is how God’s going to be working.  The point of everything that we are doing is to build those relationships.

I’m young and energetic, but after a day like yesterday, today, and what’s coming tomorrow and Monday, whew let’s just say it’s a lot of work.  Good work though.