Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Looking for Heaven

(I highly suggest listening to the soundtrack above as you read this blog.)

I was required to go to SAM (the Seattle Art Museum) for my UCOR class to look at an exhibit on Gauguin… let’s just say it wasn’t the most entertaining thing in the world.

Sure, there were a few paintings that captivated my attention, but otherwise I glided through that exhibit like I was slipping on ice.  It wasn’t my style and now I have to write a paper on it.  How am I supposed to write about something I didn’t enjoy and have no desire to write about?  Guess this is where the “fake it ‘till you make it” part of college comes in.  Ironically, my teacher was talking about it in UCOR and that’s exactly where I’m going to apply it. 

Anyway, once I got myself out of the Gauguin exhibit, I proceeded to walk through the rest of the museum to explore the modern art.  There were various photographs, a room full of vinyl records, a huge black rat seated on a white pillow, a piece of armor made out of dog tags, glass sculptures, and too many other things for me to list off.

The SAM is rather spacious and allows for a lot of room to walk around, like most art museums.  When I was looking at certain pieces I felt like Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice during the sculptures of Pemberley scene (Kiera Knightly version).  Part of me felt like there should have been classical music playing in the background as I found my way from one work of art to the next.  Instead of slipping on ice I was merely flowing through the space, taking my time to admire certain pieces more than others. 

I got stuck in front of a few different paintings, including one called Puget Sound.  The artist painted it (sometime during the 1800s) without even visiting Seattle and therefore only knew what it might look like based on descriptions from the explorers who had already been there.

I was captivated. 

Somehow he gathered enough mental pictures to attempt to capture the essence of the Puget Sound.  Though it doesn’t match how we know the Puget Sound to look, there is a certain aspect of the painting that is incredibly beautiful… it’s the aspect of expectation, and excitement.  There was something to be explored; something that was yet to be obtained, and the artist desired to know what it was and attempted to predict the beauty.   

If felt as if I was looking at America through the eyes of someone from the 1800s—I was viewing it the way that people viewed America as they were started to explore toward the west coast.  If I didn’t live so close to the Puget Sound, I would have never known it was incorrect.

In a way I think the artist did a better job of painting what heaven could possibly look like instead of painting Puget Sound. 

But isn’t that what man is always searching for?  Something infinitely beautiful and breathtaking?

I think we all are. 

I think that’s why we have art. 

Puget Sound by Albert Bierstadt

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prayer Through Music

I’ve been quite homesick lately, for reasons I can’t even explain.  Part of me just aches to be home with my family in the beautiful Colorado.  However, I know that if I were there I would miss being here.  No matter where I go, I’m always be missing something or someone.

That’s just how life goes. 

Yesterday morning I was definitely in one of those moods and my friend Sam suggested that I go back to my room and play my guitar, which is exactly what I ended up doing for about an hour and a half.      Technically, I shouldn’t have been playing my guitar before 10am, since it's during quiet hours, but I couldn’t help myself and I figured most people were probably in class anyway.

I took me a few minutes to tune my seldom-used guitar and find the chords for songs online but, once I did, I didn’t stop playing until I had to go to Human Biology.  I ended up playing In Your Presence by Jeremy Camp over numerous times, amongst other worship songs.  

I love it when chord progressions become addicting.

Sitting down to play my guitar and worship the Lord on my own was the best decision I made all day.  Music is powerful worship, and also extremely beneficial during prayer.  I find that it is often easier for me to sing my prayers into lyrics than it is for me to journal or pray them silently.

I like to verbally set it on the table and say, God, here’s what’s up… 

Then I let my heart cry through the music. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Drawbacks of Growing Up

Seattle rain is similar to the rain in classic movies.  It falls straight down with no slant whatsoever.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s misting or pouring, it all falls directly toward the ground.  It’s rather uncanny and unsettling.

The way it’s raining right now makes it acceptable for people to pull out their umbrellas and rain boots.  Most of the time it just mists and I laugh at the visitors holding umbrellas over their head as if it were the end of the world.  Obviously, this won’t be the right place for you if you can’t stand a little moisture.   

The clouds that are squeezing out the rain frustrate me.  They are so thin I can almost see the blue behind them.  It makes me think they are about to disintegrate and let the sun take control. 

But I know they won’t. 

There is actually enough rain cumulating in the gutters to sail aluminum foil boats, something I haven’t done for years.  I was a pro at making them when I was younger, and I’m sure I’ve retained the talent. 

It’s just the matter of finding aluminum foil and finding someone to do it with.  Honestly, these moments cause me to miss my siblings the most.  I could easily drag one of them outside with me.  Other kids my age, not so much.

Oh, the drawbacks of growing up.       

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's About Time I Told You Why...

This is my 100th blog post.  To be honest, I had no idea I would make it this far.  When I started it, I never gave an explanation as to why I was blogging.  I felt as if I didn’t need one.  In a way I thought it was partially self-explanatory as to why you would start a blog and I wasn’t about to waste my words on that when I had a story to tell.  My very first blog post, My Room Wants to Eat Me now has 123 page views and 6 Hours holds second place with 115.

I think it’s fitting that I explain now why I’m writing, whom I am writing to, and what I’m trying to accomplish.  I suppose it all comes in the form of a story, as do most of the things I write about.  This one starts a really long time ago.

When I was young my Mom couldn’t keep the house supplied with enough paper, scissors, and tape.  I was often taking paper, cutting it up, and taping it back together in various forms.  Then I would color it or do with it what I pleased.  Most of the time I made little books and drew pictures in them.  During one instance I invested a day into copying an edition of Martha Speaks into a cut-and-taped paperback book that I had created.  I loved that fact that I could flip through something I had made and read the words I had written down.  It didn’t matter to me that the work wasn’t actually my own, I was proud of it. 

A few years later in elementary school I was part of Beat Street, the program that my school ran for kids that wanted to “publish” their own books.  I wrote and illustrated two during my first few years.  I don’t remember what they were called but I vividly remember the pictures.  One was about a rainbow, and the other was about my zebra beanie baby getting lost at a circus.  

In 5th grade we were required to make an Autobiography, and in 6th grade we wrote and illustrated a children’s book.  On the side, I wrote in my journal fairly consistently and often wrote poetry.  It seemed like I was writing all the time.  I was good at math and understood science well enough, but I loved to write.  English wasn’t necessarily my favorite subject (I think P.E. was in middle school, but that was everyone’s favorite) but I knew how to write.  In 7th grade I won an in class competition for who could write the best patriotic poem. 

Middle school finished, and I entered the local high school.  My English class was dominated by technology.  We had fishbowl discussions by commenting on a blog and we were required to have a blog of our own, of which I’ve long since deleted.  The transition from paper to word document never appealed to me, and I continued to journal in a notebook.  Junior year I compiled a collection of my favorite writings from the year.  The project was a requirement and a lot of work, but every once and a while I enjoy going back through my binder and reading everything I wrote. 

My favorite things to write were the things I made up, or got creative control over.  I’ve always been a thorough essay writer, but my biggest passion was creative writing, which is why it has become my intended major.  When I was younger I wanted to be a waitress, a major league baseball player, a teacher, a vet, an astronaut… a lot of different things that didn’t pertain to writing.  Yet, here I am attempting to get a creative writing degree. 

Some of you are probably thinking this doesn’t have anything to do with why she started the blog.  I promise, it does.

This past summer before I left for school I was a nanny for Tricia, the widowed mother of two darling boys.  I learned a lot of things that summer, including the fact that I wanted to be able to write like Tricia someday.  She had a blog of her own and I read it every single day.  (Her current blog is The Thoughts and Writings of Tricia Lott Williford.  You should read it, she's going to be an author someday.)  Not once did it cross my mind that I should start my own blog.  Blogging had always been something I was required to do throughout high school, and I found it miserable that entire time. 

The week I was leaving for school my family invited Tricia and the boys over for dinner.  I wanted to be able to spend time with the three of them and my family before I left. 

After the boys and some of my younger siblings left the table, my parents and I began to talk to Tricia about her life and how the writing process for her book had been.  She had ideas for one and was starting to put it into form, and I was extremely curious how everything was going. 

The conversation shifted slightly and I found that Tricia’s next comment pertained directly to me.  “If you want someone to pick you up as a writer someday, you need to be writing every day and they need to see that.  Elisabeth, I highly suggest that you start a blog.” 

If I was going to listen to anyone about such a matter, it was Tricia.  I admired her, and still do, in more ways than I can count.  That night I created No Mercy for Mosquitoes and wrote my first blog post.  I felt silly writing something the whole world could see since I had no idea how anyone would react.  It’s amazing how far I’ve come.  It’s natural.  It’s a habit. 

And I’m writing my hundredth post… wow.  I have 18 followers and will hopefully gain more.  People from more than 30 different countries have read my blog and I have more than 7,000 page views in total.  This had gone way further than I ever thought it would.

I want to keep writing.  (I know that I will.)    
I really hope that I write something long enough to be called a book someday.
So that is why I’m blogging.  It’s practice.  And I love it.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Goodbye, Elevator

Lent has arrived once more.  In past years I’ve given up chocolate, meat, and Facebook, and all of them have been challenging in their own way to say the least.  It made me realize that I don’t need chocolate, I hate Facebook, and I would never be a vegetarian.

However, I still consume excessive amounts of chocolate and check Facebook way too many times every day.   During the 40 days last year it was a relief for me to not have Facebook at all.  I didn’t waste my day away doing nothing and it gave me time to do important thing in my day—plus I wasn’t consumed with information about everyone else’s lives. 

This year I decided to do something a little different.  I didn’t give up something that I can consume, and I didn’t give up social networking or media or sweets. 

I gave up the elevator.  Well, elevators period. 
Goodbye, Elevator.
But “the elevator” mostly refers to the elevator in my dorm.  I live on the sixth floor, so six stories of stairs is a sufficient climb.  I figured if Jesus died on a cross for my sins I can easily climb six flights of stairs every time I leave the dorm or come back.

People view Lent in different ways.  Some people get rid of the things that distract them from their faith, while others give up things that are unhealthy for them in order to honor the body Jesus gave them.  I wouldn’t say the elevator distracts me from my faith and I guess it can be considered healthy to not use it, but I mostly gave it up to have a constant reminder of what Jesus did for me. 

I figured I can also use it as I time of prayer.  Taking the stairs takes longer than the elevator, so why not pray every time I’m climbing them?

It’s going to be good for me to get off my lazy bum and add a little more exercise to my life, and a little more one on one time with God.  Sometimes I get so busy running around I don’t take time to thank God for everything I have, or time to pray for my friends and family.

Overall, it’s going to be beneficial.  I’m a little worried I’ll end up going somewhere and having to climb to the 40th story of some building, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  And if it does happen, I’ll just be praying the whole time. 

If I like this enough, which I think I will, I might just make it a habit.

It would be a good one to keep.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TOMS: From One to Another

I have a beautiful pair of olive green TOMS.  I’ve had them for more than a year and they’ve served me well.  Except for the fact that I’ve sewn them up numerous times since my big toe always breaks through in both shoes, creating a gaping hole.  I’ve had numerous people tell me that my shoes have holes in them, and I always nod my head and agree.  Yes, yes they do.  Nice of you to notice.

I think I’ve sewn them up at least 3 times and I’ve placed duct-tape on the inside of the shoe to act as reinforcement.  In the end it didn’t help because my toes broke through again.  I reached a point a few weeks ago when I decided that it was about time to get a new pair. 

Picking a new pair of TOMS is one of the hardest choices in the world of apparel, since they all seem to be so darn cute.  I’m not much of a sucker for shoes, but I do love TOMS and would buy every pair if I had enough money.  I sat down at the computer and browed through shoes for about an hour, then I went back the next day and picked a pair and ordered them. 

They were metallic light blue and cream, and I was extremely excited about getting them and wearing for the first time. 

A couple of days later I went back and checked the reviews on the shoes… during the few days since I had bought my shoes several reviews had begun to appear about the shoes being way too big and not fitting correctly.  One of the reviews was titled too long and skinny.  Great.  My feet are short and wide, the exact opposite.

The shoes arrived right on time and I walked down to the mailroom to pick them up.  I walked back to my room and sat the box down, then proceeded to just look at it.  I knew they would be too big and that they wouldn’t fit correctly.

I opened them anyway.

I was right.  Bummer.  Major bummer.  I’m kinda ticked about this.  I showed a couple of my friends the TOMS and put the new size 8s next to my old size 8s.  There was probably a difference of at least an inch in length.  I didn’t understand how in the world that could have happened.

At first I considered sending them back, but I didn’t want to pay for the shipping.  As I sat there and thought about it I decided my best option would probably be trying to sell them to someone at the school.  I posted to a few different group pages on Facebook, advertising the fact I would be more than willing to sell some brand new TOMS to whoever wanted them and fit in them. 

A few of my friends tried them on, and I met up with a girl from another dorm so that she could give them a try.  I can’t begin to imagine how flustered the prince from Cinderella must have been when he was trying to find Cinderella and allowing hundreds of other girls along the way to try on the glass slipper. 

If I was him I probably would have given up.

Suddenly, I had a major Ah-ha moment, which we had ironically been talking about is Psychology that week.  Something sparked in my brain and I picked up the shoes and marched toward the elevator.  I got off on level two and ran to my friend Kendra’s room.  (She and I went to the same high school together.  We were close friends before SPU, and remain so.) 

When I didn’t find her there I ran to the longue at the end of the hallway and was thrilled to see she was there.  “Kendra!  Do you want some TOMS?!” 

She laughed and asked if these were the ones I was trying to get rid of via Facebook.  I sighed and answered yes.  Then I handed her the shoes and said, “I remembered randomly that your feet are probably long and skinny and I guess I just assumed these might fit you really well.”

They did. 

Then, since we’re great friends, the argument about pricing began.  I insisted that she just take them, but she wanted to pay me.  In the end we decided she could pay me about half, if I let her.  I ended up letting her about a week or so later when she knew for sure that she wanted to keep them and had received several compliments on them. 

They were her first pair of TOMS and I had aided in the process of getting them to her.  I was actually rather proud of that fact.  Ironically, looking back on the pair that I picked, they would have looked way better on her from the very beginning.  The colors on them fit wonderfully with her blond and beautiful self, and I was happy that I had bought them.

Guess they were meant for her all along.

Which I’m quite happy about. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Girl Who Gulps Her Tea

A lot of SPU students go home on the weekends, especially when we have an extra day off from school.  Which means I’m normally always ready to get off campus and go on some type of random adventure.

By the time this past weekend hit I was exhausted.  Probably because I was sleep deprived from my 36 hour California visit the weekend before.  Also, I discovered that on Monday I had missed the opportunity for test corrections in Bio, and I had missed a reading quiz in my UCOR class.  I wasn’t very thrilled about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to make up either of them.  Then on Wednesday I talked to my Daddy on the phone for an hour during the time I should have gone to one of my classes…the week dragged on and on until I finally came to the end of it.

Since it was President’s Day weekend nearly everyone left to go home.  Even people out of state left to go home, leaving me wishing that I had planned to go home.  Home is a thrilling word when you seem to be alone.

Except I wasn’t.  There were still people staying on the floor and in the dorm for the weekend, so it was just a matter of finding something to do and I didn’t feel like leaving to go anywhere.  I ended up walking down to the gym to go to the last home basketball game of the season (which we won) and the night was still fairly young after that ended. 

About midway through the game I brought up the idea with Taylor of heading back to the dorm after the game, putting our pajamas on, making tea, and reading.  She thought it sounded like an excellent idea, so that is exactly what we did.

In fact, we ended up turning it into a floor activity and inviting anyone else from the floor that hadn’t gone home for the weekend.  We turned the lounge into a comfy reading space by placing the couches and chairs around one of the tables.  We turned off the bright ceiling lights and instead used various lamps to create warmer lighting.  And we all brought a comfy blanket to curl up with. 

The night ended up being incredibly relaxing and exactly what I needed.  I drank quite a few cups of tea, ate more biscotti than I should have, and even snacked on some popcorn.  Plus I managed to get several more chapters into the second book of the Hunger Games Trilogy.

Occasionally someone would ask a question or say something that would spark conversation, but we would quickly continue reading once again.  One of the girls joined us and painted her nails while another crocheted and a third did homework.  In totally there were about 9 of us that stayed in there for a couple of hours doing.      

I was sitting on a couch between the two Taylors on our floor.  The sophomore sat to my left and the freshman (my best friend) to my right.  At one point Taylor, to my right, turned and asked, “Do you always gulp your tea so loudly?”

Everyone stopped reading and started laughing, while I smiled.  “Yes?” I replied, confused.

I didn’t realize that I swallow loudly.  Or gulped for that matter.

Apparently I do, and apparently it’s loud enough for her to hear and for it to be distracting.

I guess that makes me a tea gulper of sorts.

How… unladylike.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

My New Favorite Season

The American culture is all about shoving as many activities as you possibly can into the span of one day.  Which means we rarely sleep, or get enough sleep.  Yet, there are days when I simply love taking my time.

Today I took my time walking to breakfast, eating my food, writing my notes, thinking about what I would say in class (there is nothing that drives me more crazy than a person speaking blurbs of nothingness), and walking back to my room. 

Walking up the Ashton hill can be quite to exerting activity, unless you walk slowly. 
So, one step at a time I walked up that hill and took time to breathe in the crisp Seattle air.  Seattle is somewhere between Winter and Spring—and I think it is now one of my new favorite seasons, even though it doesn’t have a name.

When I take time I pick up on little details that I don’t normally notice, like extra cracks in the sidewalk and the different textures of the pavement.  I love letting the breeze touch the tip of my nose and play with my wispy bangs.  For a brief moment I closed my eyes and let it touch my eyelids.

I was suspended between worlds of emotion, yet I felt nothing.  I initially labeled it as borderline grumpy, but that wasn’t it either.  I was just quieter, more subdued, and peaceful. 

Life flows in a happy medium when I take my time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beauty Through Pain: The Story of a Small Inconvenience on Valentine's Day

The last time I had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day he didn’t answer my phone calls or texts.  This time I was quite happy to know that Will had planned something for us and was willing to skip class to take me out.

I was pretty excited, and I spent time planning what I would wear and how I would do my hair… the typical thing any girl would do if they were going on a date. 

I had one tiny dilemma.  I didn’t have a curling iron and I wanted to curl some hair to frame my face and then put the rest of my hair in a chignon (for any guys that might be reading this, chignon is just a fancy word for a cute side bun.)  I knew exactly how I was going to do it and what I wanted it to look like.

I set off down the hall in a mission to find a curling iron and one of the girls lent me hers after she had finished her own hair.  It was a different kind of curling iron than I was used to because the hair had to be wrapped around it by hand instead of the usual way where the hair clips in and then gets wound around the iron.  I guess it’s supposed to create more of a wavy beach look.  There’s a specific name for it that I can’t remember. 

I adjusted to the new technique fairly quickly and before I knew it I had wonderful curls that framed my face just how I wanted.  Then I looked at my bangs and decided it would be cool if I could curl them a bit too.

I started with the right bangs and I was about to wind my hair around the iron when I felt a burning sensation on my forehead.

Slightly obvious, I'd say.
I quickly pulled the curling iron away from my skin and set it on my dresser, then turned around and grabbed an aluminum can of apple juice out of the fridge to hold against my forehead.  I knew I had burned myself badly and I took time to hold the cold can on the fresh burn before I lowered my hand to inspect the damage.

When I did, an oval mark the size of a large kidney bean was just beginning to appear on my forehead above my right eye. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was right where my bangs parted and, therefore, in plain view.  Dang it.  I figured by then that I had curled my hair enough and continued to get ready.  There was only so much I could do about it and I was just going to have to live with it. 

Will said that he probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t told him (a smart move on his part) and Sarah said, “At least it’s in a cute shape,” which provided a bit of a silver lining. 

If the saying beauty comes through pain ever meant anything to me, it was probably right then.  (And when I had braces of course, because that was just miserable.)

The rest of my night turned out to be absolutely wonderful and full of good food… 
I was a happy girl regardless of a silly burn.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making the Best of It

I was the luckiest girl in the world the minute I stepped off that plane.

The California sky was clear and bright blue and it was 65 degrees out.  I couldn’t contain how bubbly I felt—I wanted to skip through LAX to get outside quicker and breathe in the sunny air.  There was more to my excitement than just air though…one of my dearest friends was waiting to pick me up and drive me to my aunt and uncle’s house and I hadn’t seen her since winter break.

Over break I learned quickly which of my high school friends I wanted to spend time.  Friendships in high school were easy because I saw everyone, every day.  But once we split apart some people were easier to remain friends with than others.

Aubrey has been one of my close friends since 3rd grade.  It seems like our friendship is indestructible.  We’ve both had moments where one of us was more out of reach than the other, but we always ended up meeting halfway and reestablishing our friendship.  (It’s also beneficial that we live a 2-minute walk away when we’re both home.)

When she found out that I was going to be in CA for 36 hours she was determined to spend time with me and I’m so glad that she came up with a way for us to see each other.  It was the perfect plan.  My aunt and uncle wouldn’t get back from church and lunch until 1pm and my flight got in at 10:30am.  So Aubrey picked me up from the airport and we spent the best two and a half hours together.

I easily picked out her bright red car, LMac, from the line of cars outside the baggage claim and she got out to greet me with a hug.  There was a lot of laughter those first few minutes, and the rest of the time as well.   

It’s in those moments that it feels like no time has passed at all.  But then again I could hardly believe we were in the car together, in California.  Maybe when we were younger we had dreamt about visiting the beach someday and taking a vacation together and now we were actually in the same spot together with our parents a hundred miles away.

Who cared that it was only for 2 hours? 

The first stop was In N’ Out, since making a trip to California and not eating there at least once is unacceptable.  I didn’t have breakfast that morning, so that burger and milkshake were some of the best fast food I’ve ever had in my life.  Aubrey and I were chatting up a storm and catching up on everything we had missed in each other’s lives since we last parted. 

When we had finished we hopped back into the car, stopped quickly at Whole Foods to grab some flowers for my aunt and uncle’s family, then drove toward the beach.  Our internal map seemed to be pointing us there and we could sense that our feet needed to touch the sand and feel the cool, foamy, waves.

We ended up parking by Venice Beach and we wandered through the stands of a market before we ventured out onto the sand.  It was as if I was filled with life the moment I walked onto the beach.  I think Aubrey could feel it too because we both threw our heads back and laughed.  It took a few minutes to reach the water and the salty sweet air stuck to my face as the wind blew through my hair.

The ocean is freeing, and seemingly endless.  It love looking at it and being near it.

I asked Aubrey, “Do you think I’ll get in trouble if I throw all my clothes off and jump into the water?”

She gave me the don’t even think about it look and smirked. 

We spent the next half an hour taking pictures, chasing seagulls, running from waves, and basking in the sun and each other’s company.  It was too short and ended far too soon.

As we walked back through the Venice market we stopped by a stand with various bracelets and beach bags.  At first we intended to only look, but once you try something on and you like it you end up buying it.

Both of us got a bracelet.  Mine with red, yellow, and green strands and Aubrey’s with sky blue.  It was fitting for both of us.

Now each of us have memories on our wrists of the day we got to spend 2 hours together during my mini trip to California.  It was definitely one of the best 2 hours I’ve ever spent with Aubrey, which is saying something because we’ve spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours in each other’s company.

I can’t wait for the next time I see her.  

First: U-District with Sarah
Second: Orange Women (my dorm floor)
Third: Venice Beach

Friday, February 10, 2012

Studying in Color

I’m a visual learner, and I like using mnemonic devices to learn terms.

This is called creative girl attempts to fit in to the shoes of an analytical thinker.  

I couldn’t blog yesterday because my brain was attempting to think analytically all day while studying, and I’m not joking.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a photographic memory and I don’t have the ability to just hear a term and know it, which makes it really hard for me to study and memorize straight-up definitions.      

I have to see what I’m studying, which can be a bit difficult when it comes to psychology since it is a study of thought processes.  Basically, thoughts are unseen no matter what, so how am I (a visual learner) supposed to learn what everything means without being able to see it?  

The solution dawned on me last night.

I could draw it.  I ended up making charts, graphs, pictures, tables… all in color.  By drawing them and visually reproducing the facts I memorized them and learned them much quicker.  I also made various mnemonic sayings and analogies for the terms.      

Will thinks I’m ridiculous.  “Why don’t you just say the term for what it is and learn it like that?” 

I probably explained numerous times that I simply can’t do that to save my life.  Even flash cards don’t work very well for me.  When we discussed the meaning of cultural “separation” he gave a very point-blank definition and I went a very roundabout way of explaining how someone was on an island and didn’t want to swim in the water with the rest of the world.  (Or something like that.  The point is, I actually remembered what it meant because of the silly analogy I came up with!)

He just looked at me like I was crazy.

I studied my notes several times through, reviewed my colorful tables and charts, and then called it a night. 

The next morning I woke up and slightly surprised myself with the realization that I remembered a lot of the things I had studied.  I was able to let myself relax during breakfast and laugh a lot.  There’s nothing worse than going into a test with a bad mood burdening you.

There were only a few questions that caused me to second-guess myself.

Otherwise, I felt like a pro.

My crazy learning techniques paid off.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Drifting Thoughts, Late at Night

Last night I studied a lot for my bio exam.

I studied until the point that the words on the page weren’t registering with me at all.  I decided to call it a night and then wake up a little early to go to breakfast and study a bit more. 

Due to the fact I had taken a power nap a few hours earlier it was near impossible for me to fall asleep with the ease I normally do. 

I lay on my left side…
I turned to my right side…
I lay on my stomach…
I flipped over to lay on my back…
And I eventually went back to lying on my left once more.

I tried rearranging the covers, switching the position of my arms and legs, and repetitively fluffing my pillow in different ways.  Nothing was helping.

With a sigh I turned myself slightly and lay on my back, allowing myself to trace the outline of the Colorado flag on my ceiling.  My eyes moved up and down, up and down, around the “C”, and up and down once again. 

The window was open slightly, allowing some cool air into the dorm room and I appreciated its clean scent.  I’ve taken to leaving my blinds open at night and cracking the window a bit.  I like being able to see outside. 

My thoughts began drifting.  I don’t remember a thing I thought about, but I must have thought about a lot since it felt like I was lying there forever.  At one point a car passed outside and the lights streaked against my rooms ceiling, creating a random flash back of how many times that used to happen at home in Colorado.

I let my eyes take in the flowers hung from my ceiling, the posters and paintings on my wall, my roommate’s photographs, the cut-out snowflake on my window, and the texture on the ceiling.  I think it’s the first time I really took time to survey everything, and soak in what I have here. 

I felt peaceful and comfortable. 
I felt like I belonged.
I felt like I finally accepted Seattle and, in return,
It accepted me.

Somewhere in all of that I fell asleep.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Our Shoes Were Off

I went slacklining with my PA and a few other girls from my floor today.  It has been absolutely beautiful in Seattle as of late and all of us needed to opportunity to get outside.

I fell off more times than I can count, but eventually I managed to get a few steps in and then called it a day.  It’s going to have to be something I get better at time after time.  As great as those few steps felt, it felt even better to have my shoes off and to be walking through the damp grass, letting my toes squish the soft earth. 

I picked up a worm at one point and totally grossed my PA out.  I guess I’m sometimes too much of a tomboy for my own good. 

Afterward, Sarah and I decided to walk back barefoot.  There was no point to put our shoes back on since the sky way clear and life was good.  As we were talking we discovered both of us love to walk barefoot any chance we get, and we hate getting pedicures because the ladies always remove all the calluses from our feet in the process. 

Simple connections can be the most bonding.

We walked along many sidewalks and nearly all of them had a different texture.  We walked much of the same route we do everyday on the way to classes or to dinner, but the experience was completely different because we had no shoes.  Sometimes you don’t feel connected to where you are until you can take your shoes off and get a real feel for it, without the barrier of a sole.  When my bare feel touched the pavement, it was suddenly tangible and understandable. 

We walked through Martin Square, which is paved with brick.

Sarah said to me,
“You can’t feel the subtle curve of the brick
when your shoes are on.”

Sometimes you have to take a different approach.  When you take something at face value and remove barriers, you realize a lot of new things.  I think that analogy is quite applicable for many situations in life.   

By the time I reached my dorm room my feet were pleasantly tingling.

I like the fact that the bottoms of my feet are dirty once again.

It’s been too long.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Premonition of a Calling

In my UCOR class we are talking about what it means to have a home, and where we find our identity.  We are also talking about gifts, and how people manage their talents.  It seems like we have extremely in depth conversations every day, something I’ve been longing for in a class since I’ve been here.

I’ve finally found it and it’s like a breath of fresh air.

Today, a gentleman from Tent City (which is currently located on the SPU gym track) came and spoke to us about what it’s like to be homeless.  He felt that he had constantly burdened his family by always couch surfing between their homes when he lived in San Diego, so he traveled to Seattle for something new.  Now he lives in Tent City, a community of homeless people that has a few simple rules.

           1)   You must be 18.
           2)   You cannot be listed as a sex offender.
           3)   No form of drugs or alcohol is allowed. 

I listened extremely attentively to his story and soaked in every word that he said.  For being homeless he is extremely literate, I thought while he gave a simple and straightforward speech about his living style and how he felt about other peoples’ reactions toward him. 

Turns out, quite a few homeless people have jobs, but they don’t have enough money to pay rent.  They would rather use the money for food, clothing, or things that they consider more important and essential.

I was shocked to find out how ashamed and embarrassed he was of being homeless.  It wasn’t something that he could help and it hurt him that other people looked down upon him because he didn’t have a consistent roof over his head.  He was burdened by the fact that homeless people have the reputation of always being drug addicts or criminals, something that is far from being the truth.  

Our guest speaker was clean-shaven,
Dressed accordingly,

And homeless. 

He told us, yes, sometimes people are on the streets because they have substance abuse issues, but a lot of the time they simply can’t afford a home.  They don’t have enough money to sustain themselves on the “typical” American lifestyle. 

He now speaks to the mayor and advocates on behalf of the homeless people and the community of men and women that live in Tent City.  Every few months they need to move locations, and someone has to figure it out for them.

At first my classmates and I were timid about asking questions, but once one person raised their hand everyone else had something to ask as well.  Eventually I raised mine.  “Have you ever considered writing your story down so that people can read it and learn from your experiences?  And so they can understand what it’s like to be you?”

He looked at me, smiled, and then answered, “I would love too, but I don’t have time.  There are so many other things for me to take care of and I wouldn’t have the time to write out my story.” 

Bummer.  It would be such a great story to write.  I bet it would be a great story that a lot of people would read.

My mind became a whirlwind of thoughts as I continued to listen to the rest of his answers to various questions, including one about religion, which turns out to be a sensitive subject in a camp full of people without homes.  (I find that totally understandable.)

Before I knew it the questioning was over and the man I would have never taken for homeless if I had passed him on the street, left. 

Then I bowed my head and without warning tears started slipping from my eyes.  I couldn’t stop and they were spilling over my cheeks and down my face.  I wasn’t making a sound, but I was gushing tears everywhere.  What is going on?  Why am I crying? 

My friend Rochelle saw me.  “Oh my goodness, what’s wrong?”

I started spewing something about how lucky we are and how much we have and how I wanted to help them somehow.  I just couldn’t believe they were right down the street in tents in the middle of Queen Anne, Seattle while the rest of us were snug in our dorms and pretty houses.

It was if some kind of spring inside of me had burst loose.  I have known for a long time that I have a heart for homeless people, but I didn’t know it was so strong that it could cause me to be perfectly content one moment and spewing tears the next.  All I wanted to do was run down to Tent City and spend the rest of the day talking to the people who live there. 

The wheels in my mind were, and are, still turning.

What if working with homeless people is my calling?  What if I can somehow pair that with the incredible gift for writing that God has given me?  What if, what if, what if…

I’ve decided I’m going to seriously pray about this.
My heart is telling me that this isn’t something I can ignore.
I’ve gone my whole life seeing but I feel as I’ve I finally need to DO something. 

It would take far too long for me to explain how these puzzle pieces have fallen in place the last few months but I do have a general idea of what I need to start doing, and I’m slowly working on that.

The rest is unknown, but I will be keeping everyone updated.  That’s for sure.        

Friday, February 3, 2012

Humans vs Zombies

Last night I made a huge mistake.

I ended up running away from the human pack, and stranding myself while being surrounded by zombies.  Therefore, I have been turned into a zombie and will remain as such.

Most of you are probably extremely confused at the moment, and rightful so.  It’s a bit complicated to explain, but in simple terms hundreds of people on my college campus are participating in a game called Humans vs Zombies.

Everyone starts as a human and one zombie is chosen.  Within a day there were at least 80 zombies, on the second day there were around 100.  And then the humans that remained were required to go on a mission.  We had to meet in the middle of campus and then collect various anecdotes to try to keep ourselves alive longer.  (I’m really sorry, this probably doesn’t make sense to many people.)

Also, humans defend themselves by throwing socks at zombies.  If they hit a zombie they stun it for 15 minutes.  The rules go on and on about where you can be tagged and how you have to tag them etc, etc.  The cool part is, everything gets documented online so you know exactly how many humans and zombies there are in the game.   

I teamed up with another girl from my floor and several guys from our brother floor.  We left in a human pack and then joined up with the rest of the humans in the middle of campus.  I was proud to have made it that far.  My boyfriend and I were still both in the game and, due to our competitive natures, we were both taking it pretty seriously. 

Once the moderator gave us the rules for the mission, the humans began to bond together and plan how they wanted to go about retrieving the anecdotes.  There were several different plans and most people ended up splitting into groups.  The night was crazy and apparently screams could be heard across campus the entire time the mission was happening. 

We were also required to travel from one safe spot to the next since they changed every 15 minutes.  I made it from the first to the second.  But instead of going to the third safe zone, the humans bonded and decided to go to the last safe zone and defend it until the mission ended.  Brilliant.  (It actually was a very smart plan, but not for someone like me.) 

We moved together in a giant group, which caused most of the zombies to stay away since they didn’t want to be stunned.  But once one human started to run, everyone started to run.

I ended up in a tree.

I was in the tree for probably 30 seconds before I got back down and ran to the area where the humans were starting to defend themselves. 

We were in a giant circle, facing outward and throwing socks at any zombie that tried to approach us.  I was standing next to Will.  Suddenly, a group of about 20 zombies charged the side I was standing on and before I knew it I ran out of the circle, away from the human pack.  When it comes to fight or flight instincts I possess one of them.  Flight. 

It cost me my life.

I dodged the first four I ran past, and then found myself confronted by one more.  I turned to run and went straight into the arms of another.  I didn’t even have time to think about throwing a sock at them.

Later, Will was telling me, “I didn’t know where you went.  One minute you were next to me and then the next thing I knew you were out by the other zombies, tying your bandana around your head.”  (Clarification: Humans wear their bandanas around their arms.  If you are turned into a zombie you have to wear your bandana around your head.  If you are stunned as a zombie you pull it down and wear it around your neck.  So many rules, right?) 

I knew exactly what I had done wrong, and was frustrated with myself for not standing my ground.  My legs honestly had a mind of their own in that moment.

The zombies didn’t stand a chance after that.  The humans knew what they were doing, and we couldn’t get near them without being pelted with socks.  I tried to tag one of them and got stunned. 

Game over.

I was turned into a zombie 15 minutes before I would have been safe the rest of the night.  And now the humans have been safe all day since they collected all of the anecdotes last night.

If I don’t kill a human within the next 18 hours, I am considered a “starved” zombie. 
But I know exactly who I’m aiming for next.

After all, my boyfriend is still a human.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spoken Word in Written Form

Lately, spoken word has been the biggest fad,
Where you talk pretty quickly and sometimes rather fast,
Spewing thoughts and witty words
And being all poetic. 
But for me, it’s more like a rap
With a rhythm I can’t track.
It suits me, and I can relax when I find
A pattern of words to convey
And give meaning. 
It is not my strong point, if fact it’s my weakest
Rhyming during poetry I often consider form,   
And form for me means “cold” not “warm”. 
I like my words to flow smoothly, full of emotion,
Flowing like water and finding a way
To travel and embrace, to hold and give grace.
Often they don’t have much beat— 
Which seems to be rather unique,
And rhyming… it’s never been my cup of tea.
Ironic, since that’s all this poem seems to be.
But sometimes I like to be caught in the moment,
Thrown into words, for my pure enjoyment
And when they swell like the ocean,
They become a sea, and all I see are words
And me.    
I’ll let you in on a secret,
I’ve never tried this before.
I’ve written poems before, but not rap,
That’s for sure.
I’ve always been about breaking the mold
But spoken word is more than mere poetry,
It’s bold, 
like the letters that stand out in a text
Like memories that we’ll never regret.
WORDS are all I need.
That, and a bit of rhyming poetry.