Tuesday, December 30, 2008

my 43 things...yes, I'm a dork

The previous two posts were from My 43 Things--I've set it up so that I can post entries from that site on this blog. In order to better understand what's going on when those posts appear, you should visit my list.


i've got help!

I started learning Spanish about a month ago. My friend Alethea is teaching me—she’s fluent and has been to Mexico about ten times! I’m so excited. I hardly know any words yet, but I’ll pick it up soon enough.

the beginning

Well, I have started this afghan. It’s going to be a bunch of interesting colors: since it’s practice afghan, I’m trying to use up some yarn that my grandmother gave me that’s not too fancy. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and I think it’s going to take a while…


I wish I had a good camera. I have this icky old one (we're talking like, six years old) that doesn't take very good pictures and is really bulky. I don't like carrying it around because it doesn't fit anywhere...the point is, I wish I had a good camera so that I could take great pictures of my adventures to put up on this here blog! I mean, my tire was REALLY flat the other night, and there were two other flat tires in the vicinity that I could also have photographed to add to the visual interest of the post. Perhaps soon...


Sunday, December 28, 2008

midnight adventures

Nothing really exciting has been happening over break, and I've been sorta bummed. Admittedly, I didn't really expect much to happen here in Plainfield with my family that doesn't go out or invite people over. However, it seems that fun little adventures (or misadventures) always seem to find me no matter where I am.

I decided Friday that I would go to vespers at All Saints' this past evening. I called a friend for a ride, but she wasn't going, so I took myself and my black currant (deep purple) car, Elliot (it's a girl Elliot), all the way up to Chicago. With a moderate amount of traffic, it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to drive to church from Plainfield. I was able to get there faster today which was a wonderful blessing.

Vespers was a glorious hour or so spent in God's presence and if another parishioner hadn't been chatting with Father Pat, I would have stuck around to pray alone in the sanctuary if he'd let me. But, on my way back up the stairs I ran into Olivia, a fabulous young woman from choir who has always been very nice to me and whom I rather like. She asked if we could go to dinner. Of course! So we had great food and very beautiful conversation. I love when you can just talk to someone very openly, like you were meant to be friends.

After two and a half hours of joyous fellowship with my sister in Christ, I began the long and tired journey home. Things went smoothly--I was able to cruise again (twice in one week!) and I cranked Viva la Vida and was snug as a bug in a rug. Finally, I made it to good ol' P-ville and got stuck behind a POLICE OFFICER going about fifteen miles under the speed limit...grrr.

Cop left, I continued to drive, and was three miles away from my home when the event occurred. Now, I was on Rt.126. I've been driving down this particular strip of 126 since I've had my liscence. So here I am, cruisin' along, when all of a sudden---BOOM!

I heard a noise like an explosion. Immediately I assessed all sensory information I was receiving from Elliot--noises, balance, changes in equilibrium, straining, etc. I was sure that with a noise like that and its accompanying jolt I couldn't possibly get away without a flat tire.

I was right.

Sure enough, about a block later as I was turning right, I noticed that I was having a difficult time with both steering and accelerating. Once I'd made the turn, I was positive. I had a flat tire. The right front end of my car was leaning down quite noticeably, and my poor steering wheel kept trying her darnedest to drift off to the side of the road. At this point I said a few inappropriate words and had a little fight with the evil pothole demons, while at the same time searching for an appropriate place to pull over. By the way, after I had turned on my hazards and began pulling into a parking lot, the truck behind me finally decided to flash his brights. "Hey, little car! You've got a flat! Thought I'd let you know!" Elliot replied, "Thanks a lot, genius. Ya think I hadn't already figured that out?!"

Called Dad. Assessed damage. Attempted tire change--spare was flat. Went home.

My poor car is still in that parking lot, looking all sad and lonely next to TWO--count 'em, TWO--other cars with flat right front tires. Hmmm...

Also, I must say that I was driving home from the Christmas Eve service at All Saints' just this Wednesday and there was no pothole. Now, there is a gigantically deep pothole capable of serious damage, a pothole that also happens to be invisible in the dark. Oh, well. At least figuring out how we're going to fix it will keep Dad and I occupied for a day.

And the moral of the story is: don't drive down familiar streets at night because there might be a brand-spankin'-new pothole waiting for you, complete with evil pothole demons.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

reflections from the desert: part 3

With the sounds of "Pleasantville" drifting down from the loft, I sit here in my parents' living room next to the Christmas tree to end my tale.

As I said previously, I had been seeing our campus pastor for guidance and prayer and whatnot. At this time I was also seeing two others: my wonderful professor Joel (of Euangelion) and a counselor named Anna. Joel and I would meet about once a week for prayer and I cannot tell you how helpful that was to me. His care and support have been a great blessing in my life over the past two years, but especially in these last four months. However, this Anna was a whole other ball game. I had three appointments with her before I realized that she wasn't taking my issues seriously and that she was trying to befriend rather than counsel me. It was not entirely unhelpful, but nearly so, and so I stopped going to see her. I also stopped going to see Judy for the same reasons.

My counselors became God and my friends. It was hard for me to pray, but my friends advised me to set up a regular prayer routine anyway. I did so, and I continued it until I came to my parents' house (my entire rhythm of life has gone out the window since I've been here...). They made sure I was eating and going to church and not stressing about my homework. I don't know what I would have done without them and their late-night rescue sessions with me.

The end of the semester was rather bittersweet. On the one hand, I was grateful to have made it, to be at that place where all of the work must eventually be completed. I could finally be free of the academic trappings of the semester and have some time to read and relax and catch up on the music I was supposed to be learning all semester. On the other hand, my work was so backed-up that I was incredibly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it all, and the need to finish that work prevented me from spending adequate time with my friend-family in those last weeks.

The last week of school was torture. It began the Saturday before with what turned out to be the bright spot of the week: our eight-hour stake-out in the library. We brought tea and slippers and sat in a rather large and beautiful room from 10am to 6pm. The rest of the week, however, proved to be the most academically stressful week of the semester. I did homework almost non-stop through Friday morning. Two bright spots: I finished Theory and Aural Skills at 8:21pm on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008; and I had breakfast with the magnificent Mary Veeneman on Thursday morning. It was a glorious two hours of eating, coffee-drinking, and chatting--she has also been a wonderful blessing to me this semester, and I cannot express how glad I am that she has come to us.

It is now over. The semester that was the worst and best of my life is over. I experienced the pain that comes from reopening old wounds and letting them air out (or, you know, flushing them with rubbing alcohol), the stress of falling behind in classes, and the awful temptation to forget it all and run away screaming. But, thanks to God's infinite love, I survived the semester through His help and guidance and blessing in friendship and comraderie. Praise be to the Lord!

That's my story. I'm looking forward to surviving Christmas break and beginning the next semester. Then, I'll be a SENIOR. I'm not ready...ach.


Friday, December 19, 2008

reflections from the desert: part two

As I was saying, the whole Opera thing was only the beginning. I had two people very very upset with me for about two weeks. Then it just disappeared, and a good thing, too, because after that little bit of drama came the rest.

Two weeks into school, I decided to finally get rid of this burden of sin that I was carrying around with me for about six years. I was at the University Ministries Student Leadership retreat and I had been feeling especially guilty for two months, and that evening at the worship service I realized that I just couldn't keep my secret inside me any longer. Honestly, it was the worst and best feeling, which is how I have come to describe this entire semester. I had a bit of a panic attack while I was waiting for the darn thing to be over--I'd decided very early in the service that I needed to tell someone about it, and decided shortly thereafter that it would be our campus pastor, and I was made to sit there for what felt like an eternity. Then I needed to go to the little girls' room and I had to make Judy wait...THEN there was someone talking to her for twenty minutes when I returned and I just stood there freaking myself out. She finally called me over, and I told her. When I left, I cried a lot. I thought I was done.

HA! Boy, I do often wonder how God puts up with me. Seriously, he must just be laughing at me most of the time. I like to make my little plans and think that I control my life---not so! He always comes up with something better.

Well, I wasn't done. I started going to see said campus pastor about once a week for accountability and direction. A week after the retreat, my roommate suffered a severe family tragedy that took her away for a week and left her and our apartment in shambles. It was at this point that I began to be very anxious, and after being anxious for a week or so I also began to be depressed. I realized that I needed to tell some other people about "Bob the Onion", and first told my friend Laurel. That went okay, so I felt a bit better, but my mom still didn't know about it and I was starting to dig up some other things from my childhood (which I now think are quite funny) and I couldn't handle it any more. I called her and sobbed and sobbed and told her everything I could think of at the time, and I told her some more things later as they came up. Every time I felt a bit better, but I still hadn't told my friends.

I didn't feel like I could really trust anyone. I've had trouble trusting people for some time, and this was a big thing that I needed to trust them with and I didn't know who to talk to. Slowly, one by one, I began telling people, especially those in our morning prayer "group". I grew so close to those people this semester, and I am so grateful to God for putting them in my life and teaching me how to trust. Anyway, I started with Josh, who became one of my favorite confessors because of his understanding and care. After Josh came Cindy, Janna, Kasey, Alethea, Matthew, and Melissa (in no particular order). With each confession, my story became easier to tell, and all of them still talk to me! And Alethea and I hang out all the time and we can't really remember when we started hanging out or how our friendship came to be, but we're both very very blessed. She's teaching me Spanish. =)

I suppose I will pause now since I've started to ramble...more lata!

Monday, December 15, 2008

reflections from the desert: part one

And here I am. Sometimes I have moments when I remember that I actually do exist, that my name is Heather and that I have friends and family and talents and work to do. I had one of these moments recently and I realized that I hardly recognized myself anymore...and it was a good thing.

Normally, when folks say they don't recognize themselves anymore, they mean to say that they have hit one of these reflective places and they realize how sinful and backwards they have become. I mean quite the opposite, but I am just as confused as to how I got here. I guess I really shouldn't be confused. Perhaps I should say rather that I would not have planned my life to go this way this year, and especially this last semester. I am quite appreciative today of how God's plans always work out so much more beautifully and intricately than I could ever have planned or imagined for myself.

So, you may remember that this past spring semester I was having a very difficult time with all of my schoolwork. I was completely bogged down, unsure of what I wanted to do with myself and unsure of what God wanted me to do with myself, and full of questions. That semester turned out well and I survived, so I thought that things were good. At the end of the semester I applied to be a summer RA and that didn't work out, so I was a bit upset, but I figured I would just go home and work and visit my friends at school a LOT.

This I did. Quizno's had by that time been transformed into "Tastee Grill" (clever, right? that was my boss's brilliant plan) and was not doing well. I'm pretty sure that at one point we were not even making enough money to cover labor for the week, let alone pay all of the bills. So, work was slow and I didn't feel too bad about going up to the city every two weeks or so. Then, at the end of June while my family was in Seattle, all of those unpaid bills finally piled up and exploded in our faces, resulting in a shut-down store and weeks of worry about bounced paychecks and future employment. I applied to about five places before I realized that it was useless for me to try to get a job for six weeks. I mentioned this to my boss in the Writing Center at school and she hired me to house-sit for her for two weeks.

Those two weeks were the beginning of the end, really. I was very anxious the whole time because I had not been prepared for how creeped-out I'd be that I was sleeping in a room with so many windows and the back door right in front of my bed. I hardly slept, and only really when my good friend Christina was there...It was also during this time that I began to feel very badly about what I have and will continue to refer to as "Bob the Onion". I had not yet told anyone about Bob, but I really felt like I should, and really felt like I couldn't.

The girls and I moved into our apartment in early August and made the necessary adjustments to apartment life--cooking, cleaning, locking up, sorting out whose stuff goes where. School began and the first day of class I dropped my Opera Scenes class. This was the first in a series of unsettling events that led to what I now call both my worst and most painful, and also my best and most beautiful and healing semester of my life.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

can you say 'pfs'?

I cannot believe how whiney I've been since Thanksgiving. Seriously, I've been whining about everything. It was a discussion of our changed behaviors around finals that brought about the following conversation between Cindy, Josh, and me:

Me: "Arrgh! I'm just so whiney! I can't seem to stop!"
Cindy: "I know, right? I'm so cranky and I have weird cravings..."
Josh: "Haha, yeah. I think finals just does that to you."
Me: "You know, I think the week before finals is like PMS--"
Cindy: "YES!"
Me: "--because you're all cranky and tired and sore and you eat horribly and snap at everyone around you...it's like PreFinals Syndrome!"
Cindy and Josh: "Yeah, PFS!"

I will stop there, because at that point the conversation took a turn into Inappropriateville...guess it's just PFS.

The great thing about this is that we've had an enemy besides our poor professors to blame our trouble on. Can't focus? PFS. You're overcome with an isatiable urge to bake and/or clean? PFS. Can't sleep? PFS. It's amazing. It is also a testimony to our obvious need for a scapegoat because we refuse to blame our problems on ourselves (umm, procrastination, laziness, willful ignorance...)

Anyway, tomorrow I will no longer be suffering from PFS but merely FS because it's the beginning of finals! I'm actually mildly excited to take finals because it signals the beginning of the end. Once they get going, it will be all downhill. I had my very last class today, and it was more freeing than I expected to be finished with it. I still have my final on Thursday, but I turned in the last of my assignments and so it's OVER.

Well, thus ends my disjointed musings on finals. Until next time...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

i think i can, i think i can

We're in the home stretch, folks! Ten days left of the semester and counting! Despite the incredibly huge amount of work I'm supposed to be doing, I am still excited to be finished with Theory and Aural Skills soon. I mean, four semesters of the same class over and over and over again begin to wear on one's psyche. Theory and Aural Skills are like Chinese water torture--little drips of information in the same place at regularly-spaced intervals until it drives you mad!

So, please pray for my soul. And my mouth--I tend to get a little fiesty in these last days and say some things that nice Christian women should simply never say.