Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I am starting out another day in the Portland airport bright and early. I got here at 5:15 am after crashing in my friend Kate's room at the Sheraton. My bag apparently made it on a 5:30 am flight to Newark, but I unfortunately was not on that flight. I also will not be flying in to Newark I don't think. This is assuming I get out of here at all.

My spirits were pretty high yesterday despite the continual delaying of my flight. It wasn't until I had been in the airport for 12 hours and then they canceled the flight that I really lost it. I tried to find my bag, but the baggage claim area was a zoo, so I eventually gave up and called my friend Kate. She let me stay with her and she also was pretty miserable because she has been trying to get home for days. A shower and some food made the outlook a little brighter, but I don't think I'll be ok until I'm actually home. Hopefully today is that day.

I have three flights today, one to JFK via San Francisco, one to LaGuardia via Denver and one staight through to Newark. My plan is to try for the earliest one because getting out of Portland seems wise.


I hate this city.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fricking Portland

I have never seen a city that is so completely unable to deal with snow.

I may or may not make it home for Christmas...it's beginning to look a little dismal. I was supposed to be home first thing tomorrow morning.

I won't be.

I've spent the last several hours looking for flights and crying. I hate the west coast, I hate continental airlines.

I hate Portland.

I just want to go home.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Six minute reflections for Advent

Yesterday was our first real snowfall of the winter, and boy is it cold here in Yakima. The weather for today is 2 degrees. Needless to say, I am relatively miserable. But it is really pretty, and I did get to mass and back successfully, which was good. I should hopefully be a decent snow driver by the time I leave Yakima. It snows a lot during the winters here. I was more than a little surprised that they haven't plowed or anything yet.

I went and got my stitches out yesterday, which was a relief. I still have to keep the hand clean and dry, but hopefully it will heal quickly. Kudos to those who got the "Babe" reference in the last entry's title. It was far from a tragic day and not serious at all, but I thought it was funny.

Our community has hosted two large dinner parties in the last two weeks, and while it has made us keep our house spectacularly clean, it has also been a huge headache. I'm glad that this week we have few parties, but none here, so we can relax a little more. I can't believe how close Christmas is! This time next week, I'll be in New Jersey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (In case you can't tell, I am more than a little excited about this.)

I may or may not be dancing at the middle school drama class performance tomorrow, which could be interesting. The drama teacher has decided that I am wonderful and amazing and she is determined to get me involved in theatre here in town. While I would love to do some acting or dancing or singing, I also know that teaching takes a lot of time. But it's still funny to me how she is resorting to writing me into "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" which my seventh graders are performing.

Hopefully I will see you all soon soon soon!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Tragic Day

Currently Reading: Where's God When It Hurts? The Lamb's High Feast

So I just got home from the program's winter retreat. We spent the weekend in the mountains near White Pass, and last night it snowed a few inches up there. We had beautiful weather and a great time. The retreat was a good opportunity to reconnect with some of the people I haven't seen since this summer and also to just get away from school for a little bit.

Our community was the host community for the weekend, so there was a lot of planning to be done on our end of things. We had to cook dinner for about thirty people on Friday and it went surprisingly well. We had three different kinds of soups and some salads, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the food.

Unfortunately, in preparing said soups, I had a disagreement with the knife I was using to carve a pumpkin. I wanted the knife to cut apart a piece of the pumpkin, but the knife preferred my left thumb. After it wouldn't stop bleeding for two hours, I had to go to the hospital to get stitches. It was my first hospital visit since I was born, and while it was smooth and the people were nice, it's not an experience I would like to repeat. So for the next ten days I have to keep my left thumb dry and protected until I can get the stitches out. It is currently very difficult and very painful to write anything. School should be interesting.

Only two weeks til I come HOME!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

an advent miracle...

Ok, so the sheer multitude of updates is a little ridiculous, but this is important.

We are having all the people in our program up to Yakima this weekend, including the ones from Salt Lake, so we have been cleaning like demons. I mean REALLY cleaning. Moving furniture, cleaning under things.

So two months ago I lost my flashdrive. It had all my coursework on it, lesson plans, two completed novel drafts. I cried for a week after the tragedy.

Last night we moved the couch, and guess what had been under it for two whole months!

I cried again, said some things that shouldn't be written or said by a Catholic school teacher, and then proceeded to me SUPERhappy.

I thought you should all know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let the countdown commence!

So today is officially day one in the plan to get my life back on track. For advent I am reading no novels, only spiritual stuff...or at least attempting to read spiritual stuff. Obviously I'll read the stuff I have to for school as well. I am also making an effort to keep my area at school and my area at home very clean. I think the mess was depressing me. I'm also going to try my best to start writing again.

When I got back to Yakima from Thanksgiving, there were so many packages waiting for me. I had one from home, one from Kentucky, and one with my new teacher edition of the Language Arts book! It's kind of depressing, I was almost most excited about the grammar book. I showed the kids today that I had this great new book and they weren't nearly as impressed as they should have been.

Sometimes I forget how young seventh graders are. I attempted to do "Advent Angels" with them, which is a tradition we had at my old school when I was their age. It involves doing secret nice things for people, and basically just being a good person. Well the one class was really good at this and really cute and excited. The other class turned typical seventh grade on me and didn't want to do the person they had, because they had "issues". I told them to grow up.

Well I'm off to have my coffee and get ready to go!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Give thanks...

So it's obvious that I've been having a hard time, but I'm going to try to concentrate on the positives for a bit. I know, you're breathing a sigh of relief that I'm finally snapping out of it.

I left my phone in Yakima by accident, so I have been cell-less since Wednesday. This is a surprisingly refreshing development, but I also didn't want anyone to worry about the fact that I responded to none of the calls or texts I've received in the last few days. I will do my best starting Sunday to get back in touch with humanity. I've been spending the holiday in Portland with Kristin and her family, and it's been a lot of fun. Of course, it's not being at home with my family, but hers is pretty cool too. It's fun to see where she gets so much of her personality from.

Last night we went to the Blazers game, which was a lot of fun. I've never been to professional basketball game before, and the Blazers are a fun team to watch. I'm on my way towards becoming a fan. It was me and Kristin and her sister and one other girl, and we had a good time. We did a little shopping yesterday too, which was good. I got some bargains. My entire wardrobe (all two pairs of jeans) is beginning to completely fall apart, which is no good at all. Also, looking like a grown-up every day is hard.

Kristin had a hair dying catastrophe yesterday, so she is getting it fixed right now and I'm getting some planning done. I have to write subplans for Friday and Monday, which could be an adventure. I've never done that before. I'll try to update soon.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


I suppose that everyone who moves away from home feels like this eventually. Like "what the heck am I doing living 3,000 miles from everyone and everything that I know?" I think it would be easier if there were people to meet in Yakima, and things to do. I'm just feeling more than a little trapped right now, living in the middle of the desert where the nearest city is 2.5 hours away. I know things will get better and Christmas isn't that far, but I want to go home.

I never thought I'd say it, but I miss New Jersey. I miss diners and taylor ham. I miss ordering plain old coffee and having people know exactly what you meant. I miss having random breaks in the middle of the day to eat or nap or work. I miss going to classes. I miss the people back at home, especially my family and the Henderson gals.

I've been struggling with a lack of direction these days. I was so sure this was where I was supposed to be, and that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I even thought that this would be a great time to take the next step in discernment. But the more I try, the darker it gets, and the murkier my future seems.

I'm slipping back into my anti-social mode, which isn't that surprising when there's no one to socialize with. But I'm getting into the ignoring my phone stage of things, which in the past has been bad. I promise I'm trying. I'm being melodramatic and making this sound worse than it really is.

On a happier note, my roommates and I dissected one of the 22 pumpkins donated to us. We had pumpkin soup for dinner and are currently in the process of cooking down and pureeing the remainder. It's taken us the better part of 3 hours and there's still tons to go. It's a good thing we like pumpkins... Right now Kristin is making pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Tomorrow I'm making pumpkin bread. And there's still tons of pumpkin to go in the freezer. Also, 21 more pumpkins lining our hallway...

If you know any recipes...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I need you to know....

Currently listening to Superchick's "Beauty from Pain" Album

I'm having a rather rough time spiritually right now. I know this blog is supposed to be happy stories of silly things my students say and do, and while I definitely have plenty of those, this is kind of where my focus has been for the last week or so.

I've seen a kind of spiritual breakdown heading towards me in my peripheral vision, but I've been so busy and school has taken so much of my time that I think I thought if I ignored it, then it wouldn't happen. I've talked to some people in the past about the lack of support post-graduation, but nothing really prepared me for what I am experiencing. I haven't prayed with a friend or roommate for almost six months.

Six months. Without spiritual community.

The cracks that started when I left Jersey have deepened, and I feel like I've been cut adrift. I haven't talked to anyone here who is serious about faith, or who wants a personal relationship with God. My roommates are wonderful, don't get me wrong, but they're just not spiritually supportive.

These days I am struggling to pray, struggling to care, slipping into old bad habits. New bad habits are coming in as part of the spiritual loneliness.

Superchick says it better than I can:
I need you to know,
I'm not through the night,
Some days I struggle just to walk towards the light.

I'm sorry to be downer. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Currently Reading: The Westing Game (to my students), Educating for Life, Seeds of Hope

Yesterday was officially the longest day ever. I had foolishly promised my students that I would make them pumpkin muffins for a Halloween party in Religion, so I woke up at 5:30 to start baking them. Then my classes were leading the school in the All Saints Day mass, so I got to school bright and early to make sure that everything was set up right for it. My students were amazing. They read slowly and clearly, sang loudly and beautiful, and just overall did a wonderful job. I was really really proud of them.

Classic my school moment, we had an assembly this afternoon for the raffle fundraiser, and it was insane. They pulled ten kids' names from a jar holding the names of all the kids 6-8 that had turned in raffle tickets. These ten kids then got to play dodgeball against the principal and vice principal. Then they thought it would be a good idea to get the teachers involved... So I had to play against ten middle schoolers, who thought there was nothing funnier than trying to peg their teachers with dodgeballs. The other problem with being the youngest teacher on the staff is that I was the best at dodgeball...At the end it was me against ten rabid middle schoolers. It did not end well for me.

Then we had to stay after school and set up for the halloween festival. My booths toke a long time because we had to hang mats on the walls for the radar gun throw. Our record for the night was an eighth grader who could throw a 61 mph pitch. The carnival went until 7:30, but I didn't get home until 9. So from 5:30 to 9 I was working. It was slightly ridiculous. I then went pretty much straight to bed. Kristin and Kristin went out...I still haven't seen them this morning.

Here are some pictures from yesterday....Kristin and I dressed up as our students. Literally. I was wearing an actual uniform for the school and the mismatched socks that the seventh graders find particularly fashionable right now.
Much love to all,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Salmon and apples and grades, oh my!

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, 33 short stories by seventh graders

Last night was the school's annual salmon dinner dance. We volunteer teachers went in style and one of the people we know here in town had purchased a table for us, which was really generous of them. We had an amazing time with the people who bought our table and it was a lot of fun to dance and just see people. A lot of parents were there, and the food was great. They raised a lot of money for the school, and we raised 17,000 dollars specifically to buy computers for the classrooms. This will be a godsend to my class, as we currently have a ridiculous system where I save things on my laptop and then sign in as a different user, save them to the server, and then open them on the one computer that turns on. This takes an average of 15 minutes, because word documents take about 7 minutes to open on the computer. Needless to say, I am happy about the new computers. I just wonder when we'll be getting them.

Yesterday I went on a vocational discernment retreat in Toppenish, which is about 45 minutes away. Parts of it were really good. We had some time to pray and just be alone, which isn't something I get very much of these days. It seemed like most of the other people on the retreat were a lot farther along in discernment than I was. They were at the exploring religious communities stage, while I feel like I'm still kind of floundering around trying to figure out why I'm in Yakima and what God wants me to do with my life. It was still really good to come back to thinking about that a little more. I've kind of put it on the back burner since starting on the West Coast.

Grades are due this week. Pray that I get them done.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A good thing about living in Washington

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Short stories from 7th graders

I got my ballot in the mail the other day. All Washington ballots are mail-in ballots, so I have to wade through a bit of paper-work before I mail it in. The thing I'm excited about is the way that Washington doesn't make you register with a political party to vote in a primary. The rule is that you can only vote in one, but it can be either major party and it doesn't register you for that party. I've never been able to vote in a primary before, because I've always had a problem with the whole system. This is my happy moment voting wise. And it only took four years at Rutgers to make me a semi-liberalish person. I still don't like to label it.

My students are convinced that I'm the least patriotic person ever. I won't let them talk about politics in my religion class because I am a strong believer in the separation of Church and State, and I don't want to waste time arguing politics with 12 year olds in a class where I'm supposed to be teaching religion. But today in my literature class, Iraq came up, and I said something about destroying their country and one of my kids asked me, in all seriousness, "Miss Appert, are you proud at all to be American?" I tried to explain to them that disagreeing with a war has nothing to do not loving one's country, but eventually we gave it up and moved on with the class.

A funny Yakima moment. We were making lists of sounds of Autumn, and without realizing it, we compiled the following list on the board.
Sounds of Fall

I think I laughed for a good fifteen minutes about it. Only in Yakima are gunshots the first sounds that come to mind when brainstorming about fall.

Off to eat and then to trivia!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Autumn is my favorite

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, The Blue Sword, 33 Middle School short stories

This has been a rough week, making it two in a row that have drained me of pretty much all my energy. I'm trying to come up with ways to relieve the stress, and the best one I've come up with yet is to take a walk around my mountainous neighborhood. This also serves the purpose of allowing me to make phone calls, as I have no reception in my house. I'm worried about what to do when it starts getting cold, but I think I'll just bundle up and keep walking. I'm making up several different routes to walk, which is good, because it keeps things interesting. Also, the hills make it relatively good exercise.

I have an absolute mountain of correcting to do this weekend, so I currently have a pot of coffee being made and laundry being done as I settle in for the long haul this morning. Steve and I may go apple picking this afternoon when he's done with school meetings, which would be fun. We're the only ones in town this weekend and I don't really feel like just sitting around. So I'm hoping to go apple picking and then come home and make a pie and some hot apple cider. There's a beautiful orchard only two miles from our house, so we may go there....the joys of living in the middle of nowhere.

Kristin and I have been rewriting the words to Taylor Swift's song "Love Story" all week. We wrote "Work Story", which involves the struggles of two young teachers waiting for payday, and "PACE story" which involves the prospects for Steve's romantic future. Needless to say, he was not amused. But it is pretty silly, and we've been having a good time. The teachers at school think we're crazy.

I talked to Sara last night, which was incredibly therapeutic. I miss being able to see her every day. And we're both such grown-ups now, with jobs and lives that are so separate from each other right now. It's weird.

Well I'm off to eat and start the mountain of grading that awaits me.

Much love,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Fated Day has come

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, looking for a copy of some of the books my kids are reading these days

It was bound to happen. One can only live in the middle of nowhere for so long before things are bound to get messy. It's just that I thought I was immune...I had held off for so long, carefully avoided the danger...

I actually enjoy listening to certain Country Music songs.

It's appalling, I know. I understand if you are reading this and have to stop in disgust, carefully shut your web browser and never read this blog again.

Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but it's been a rough week and I've been missing home a lot. Each time I set down another root in Yakima, another thing that ties me to this place and these people, it gets a little harder for me to imagine what this experience is going to do to the rest of my life. My students and their families are already asking me to stay for a third year, even though I'm only committed to two. I'm finding a parish, looking for a spiritual director, going on a retreat in the diocese. I go to small town football games and know half the people there. Kids smile and wave when they see me in the store. And now I listen to some of the same music too. Pretty soon I'll start saying pop and tennis shoes.

I had to video myself teaching this week, and it was an interesting thing. I'm only a third of the way through the video and already my voice is driving me crazy. I'm also realizing that my class is not nearly as disciplined as I thought it was. Ack. Maybe my supervisor was right and I'm really a bad classroom manager.

On a more cheerful note, my roommates and I went out to trivia night at one of the bars in town and we totally won! It came down to a tie-breaker question and we won first place! My dad and Kristin would have been so proud of me. I almost single handedly matched 15 presidents to the terms they served, and some of them were really random: Pierce and Tyler and Harrison. And one of my roommates teaches history and he didn't know them all. I was ridiculously pleased with myself. And now we have a 35$ gift certificate to said pub. We're planning to go back every week now.

I am buried under work to do right now, but I'll try to update again soon.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall is here

Currently Reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, Spirituality at Work, The Twilight Series

The cold is coming...I actually can feel it in my bones. I'm freezing almost all the time, and I need to figure out a way to stay warm at school, buy an extra blanket for my bed and invest in some sweaters. It's only the beginning of October, so this doesn't bode well for the winter. Apparently last year the snow started in October and went pretty much straight through until April. Those of you who know me well know that I do NOT deal well with the cold, not even a little bit. I'm anticipating being thoroughly miserable for the next six or seven months and wishing that I had been placed in Portland.

I'm putting this up as a disclaimer: if I ever talk about students, I will never use names. This is to protect their privacy.

That being said, I had a moment on Friday that made me remember why I teach at a Catholic School. The parish was having Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel on Friday, so I took my two seventh grade religion classes over for about a half hour each. I prepped them pretty thoroughly for the behavior I expected of them in the chapel, and told them that there were no allowances made for bad behavior. I gave them each a bible study sheet and we trooped over together. They were soooooooo good, and I was so proud of them. One of them finished early on his bible study and went to pray before the Eucharist. Afterwards he asked me if this was okay, saying "I just wanted to go closer." This was moment number one that warmed my frigid fall weather heart. The second came at the end of the period. We were back in homeroom and the kids were getting their clothes for PE, which was the next class they had. One student was hanging back after the others and looked like he had something to say. I asked him if he had a question or something. "Miss Appert," he said, "I don't know why, but when we were there, I just felt really happy." I almost teared up. it was the first time I felt like anything we did in Religion class had any impact on them. Of course it wasn't me at all, but the Eucharist. Nonetheless, it's the most exciting thing that's happened here yet.

I think God knew I needed some encouragement on the spiritual front. I'm still really struggling out here, but there are bright spots here and there. I've had some really good conversations with one of my roommates about relationships with God and the like, and though he still doesn't really see the need for having one, it's still good to have someone to talk about that kind of stuff with.

I'm hoping to go on retreat here in a couple of weeks. I miss the Catholic Student association and Br. Ken and Fr. Kevin and Fr. Peter sooooooooooooo much.

I'm doing well, trying to keep warm. I miss you all. Much love!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wake me up when September ends

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Educating for Life, The Twilight series

So the end of September is finally here. It's hard to believe that I've already been here for more than a month. I've been having pretty vivid dreams about going home for a few nights now, but alas and alak, that will have to wait until Christmas time. It's not that I don't like it here, but more just that I miss home. On Saturday K and I went to the Sunfair Parade downtown by the school. It was a pretty hysterical little piece of small town America. There were all sorts of Marching Bands and lots of trucks because we live in a farming community. Some of the floats were pretty classy. It was nice to get out for a little on a Saturday, even if our options here are really limited.

I have my kids writing a short story right now, and it's interesting to read so many different kinds of stories by so many different kinds of writers. It's also WAY too much writing to correct in a reasonable amount of time. I also had a kid out last week for the whole week, so we have a lot of work for him to catch up on. I only hope that he was able to get some of it done while he was gone.

The headaches are getting better thanks to Megan's idea about the Clariten. I'll try to post again soon, I know this is short. I have to leave for school soon.

I miss you and love you all so much.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I don't have a creative title for this post

Currently Reading: Educating for Life, Seeds of Hope, Seventh grade literature

I had a roughish week at school this week. I may or may not be allergic to Yakima, but whatever the allergy, I have had a migraine for almost four complete days now. This used to happen every now and then at Rutgers, but it's a little bit more of a problem when you have to be pleasant to students for 8 or 9 hours a day. One of my kids said to me this morning, "You look really tired, Miss Appert. Is your headache still bad?" Thank goodness it was only a half day.

My kids are doing well. I had to give my first detentions this week, and it was not fun, but I think it also convinced them that I wasn't a complete pushover. There are some disadvantages to being the only middle-school teacher under 60. We did a scripture scavenger hunt in my Religion classes today, which was a huge success, and also served the purpose of helping them learn how to look up things in the Bible. Getting them to read the Bible is one of my biggest challenges this year. It was pretty gratifying today that one of the girls I've been having the hardest time reaching stayed in at her break to chat with me. She had one of those really obnoxious brainteaser puzzles that she wanted me to solve, which I eventually did, but it was even better to just talk to her outside of class.

I miss my family a lot. My nephew and brother-in-law are running a half-marathon this weekend in Philly, and more than anything I would love to be there and cheer them on. I miss taylor ham (no one here has ever even heard of it). I miss rain. I miss my nieces and nephews. I talked to Meg on the phone today, and I could hear Phoebe in the background and I really just wanted to go home and see all of them.

I really do like it here...I just have to figure out what is giving me this headache...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Three weeks down...

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, "The Ransom of Red Chief" and other highlights of seventh grade literature.

I am exhausted. I just thought I would throw that out there in acknowledgment that I crawled my way through Friday and into the weekend. It's been a long week of school, perhaps because it was our first full week since we started. I had my first official observation this week and the feedback I got was generally pretty positive, which was encouraging. Obviously there's still so much to learn and to work on, but it was still good to realize that I'm not completely hopeless. I also wasn't as incredibly nervous as I thought I should be, which was good. I feel like I'm finally settling in and this is what I'm supposed to do. It's definitely a good feeling.

My roommates and I stumbled across a House marathon on television last weekend and now we are hooked. We just rented half of season two and it's a pretty good show. We're a little like old people because we are all so tired at the end of the day. S, one of the roommates, and I have developed the habit of watching Fraser each night before we go to bed. It's definitely an old person thing to do. I never used to be a tv kind of gal, but I'm just tired at the end of the day and it's nice not to have to think.

I still wake up every now and then and wonder what I was thinking when I decided to move all the way out to Yakima to teach in a Catholic School. There are so many at home that I don't even know why I'm not there. But then I remember that this is where I'm pretty sure God wants me to be right now. It's just hard not to get really really homesick sometimes. I miss everyone, especially the Rutgers crowd. I think about you and pray for you all the time.

Please keep a friend of mine in your prayers...he's about to start something really important and service oriented. I miss you and pray for you always.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week Two has come and gone

Currently Reading: Seeds of Hope, Seventh grade literature

So I've now officially survived two weeks of teaching. Survived is the operative word here. Actually, it hasn't been as bad as everyone made it sound to me, but it definitely has been incredibly challenging. Some of the kids are really great. There are two in my homeroom in particular who really have helped me figure out some of the really strange things about the school. On the first day, when I forgot that the last homeroom of the day we were supposed to pray together, my one student said to me, "Miss Appert, we need to pray now." The same student brought me hops to put on my window sill because it's Yakima, so of course the students bring hops instead of an apple or flowers.

Times are incredibly financially tight right now, especially with the price of gas. I guess that's part of the volunteer deal...trying to make ends meet and live incredibly simply. It's a good thing that I already kind of did the living simply part of things. But I'll be glad when hopefully money isn't quite such a big stresser. It makes me tired to think about.

Today we are supposed to be going for a hike, if my roommates wake up in time. The original estimated time of departure was 8 am, but I have a strong suspicion that isn't exactly going to happen, as it's currently 7:45 and I'm the only one up. the one problem with not drinking a whole lot is that you kind of get the designated driver status. As a result, I was up much later last night than I meant to be, and I'm the only one who naturally wakes up early.

My kids are a lot of fun, even if the one group is much more difficult than the other. Seventh grade is such an interesting age, because they are all way too cool for their own good, but at the same time surprisingly sweet sometimes. My homeroom had a locker decorating contest, which was a blast, both for the kids and for me. They all, for the most part, took it really seriously, and we had some amazing lockers. They got bonus points if they used something from or about NJ, and one kid actually turned his entire locker into the New Jersey Devil, and used caution tape and cones to "contain" it. It was hysterical and really imaginative.

Please keep one of my friends out here and his family in your prayers. They are going through a rough time and his dad is really sick. I miss you all lots and lots.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Miss Appert

Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, Seventh grade literature

So I’m slowly but surely getting used to being called Miss Appert. I’m also getting used to being called MRS. Appert, Miss Ay-pert, Mrs. Ay-pert and just plain Appert. Today was my first actual full day of teaching and it was relatively exhausting. I teach six 45 minute periods a day, two language arts, two literature and two religion. Classroom management is most likely going to be the hardest thing for me, especially because I have some really bright but really difficult students. The school is a pretty strange place, but I really like it.

Community is one of the strong suits of the school, but this also results in some pretty odd situations. We haven’t actually had a normal schedule yet due to performing acrobats on 12 foot poles. Apparently it was more important to have a school wide assembly in the parking lot to watch some rather bizarre performance art group from Australia. What on earth they were doing in Yakima, Washington, I may never know.

Life in the house is going well, but it’s a little tricky getting used to living with three new people and it can be stressful. It’s also difficult sometimes that all three of us are teachers and so this is the first week of school for all of us.

I know this is short, but I’m tired and we don’t really have internet or phone reception at the house, so I have limited amounts of time for updating. Thank you so much for all your support and all the birthday cards and wishes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Currently reading: Seeds of Hope, The Pearl, Lots of teaching stuff

Please excuse any mild cursing of technology that may occur in this post. I've moved up to Yakima at this point, and the internet here is sporadic to say the best. So I typed up a lovely long post for this and then went to publish it and the internet conked out and my post was lost forever to cyberspace. The real kicker is that I knew it was going to happen and thought to myself "Self, maybe I should save this in Microsoft word or something". I should listen to my own good advice sometimes.

So yesterday morning I packed up my lovely Dodge Intrepid, which FYI, has an incredible amount of trunk space, and drove three and a half hours up to Yakima. It was a pretty pleasant drive, and I left well before the heat, which was also a good call. I've discovered the hard way that my car REALLY does not like the heat.

The last week in Portland was a lot of fun, but as a result of said fun, I kind of look like I've been beaten. MJ, one of the girls in the program's house down there, and I did all sorts of Portland-y things. We hiked a waterfall, adding an assortment of bruises to my legs, took a fast food tour of the city, went to a cowboy swing concert, took some tourist pictures at a mansion overlooking Portland, and did a slip'n'slide in the back yard...hence a ton of bruises. My one arm is in pretty bad shape in terms of cuts, bruises and general pain, but it was definitely worth it.

I also had a chance to see the Ruffner brothers in Portland. We wandered around the town together, and I got to see some parts of the city I hadn't seen before. It was a lot of fun just to hang out for a few hours with people I already know. :) We walked a lot and ate some West Coast pizza, and just had a generally sunny afternoon. I was hot and tired afterwards, and my car overheated on the way home, which was not a whole lot of fun.

So the plan for today is to finish settling in here in my room and trying not to make it look like a hurricane struck. Tomorrow and Tuesday will most likely be spent at the school, putting my classroom in order and adding some personal touches. If anyone has a map of New Jersey they'd like to add to the endeavor, I would appreciate it very much. I want to make sure that the Garden State is appropriately represented.

I miss you all tons. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back in the PDX

Currently reading: Life with Jeeves

So I'm back in Portland and I am pleased to inform the general public that I am currently registered to vote in the Yakima County August primaries. This is not only fantastic in the way that small town middle of nowhere politics are, but also because it means that I have officially become a resident of Washington State. I have the world's fakest temporary license and a registered car and car insurance too. It was quite a trip up to Yakima, which consisted of much driving around and many failed attempts at legally changing residency, but it eventually all worked out for the good. I have my car and I made it safely back to Portland, where I am currently staying with a friend for a week.

Nicholas just left for New Jersey again, and it was good to see him. We did some good Portland stuff, including hiking to a waterfall, Powells, and also went to Mass and dinner. It was really nice to see someone from home, but it was also hard not to get really homesick afterwards. I haven't talked to Dave yet, but I'm really hoping to be able to get together with him sometime while he's out here. I'll probably call him a little later today.

I think I'm going to just relax for a little today...it's been a stressful week. I'm a complete Olympics junkie, so I'm going to try to organize my life and teaching stuff a little bit today and hopefully plan out the first few weeks of Religion for the next year. I'm hoping to really get some things together for the beginning of school and just get the materials I'm going to need and write a welcome letter for the families. That's my goal for tomorrow...get the letter in the mail.

My first contract day is in a week and I am SO nervous!!!! I'll try to write some more soon.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

First summer's end

Currently attempting to read: The Summer of the Swans, The Four Loves

So I've officially finished my first summer of classes and I now have a full 9 graduate credits under my belt. As of Thursday, I am also officially an AmeriCorps member. It's been a busy time, but a thoroughly rewarding one as well. Yesterday we had the graduation and commissioning mass, which was nice, especially for the third years. It was exciting to get commissioned too, and I'm really looking forward to getting up to Yakima and getting ready to teach. I'm probably about as prepared as I'm going to get.

The current headache is trying to establish residency in the state of Washington. They have a very specific set of verifications and the nature of a service program renders it rather impossible to obtain these proofs. This wouldn't really be a problem except that I have to have a Washington license to register the car. And I really need to register the car. sigh. So keep that in your prayers on Monday and Tuesday as I scrounge around for circuitous methods of proving my address.

I had a really fun day today. One of the girls from the new Draper community and I spent the day together having Portland adventures. We went to Saturday market and Powells, and then down to the waterfront to watch the
Red Bull Flugtag. It was amazing fun to watch people try to fly out over the Willamette River, and Team Yakima took the honors for the day, which I found slightly symbolic. Some of the dance routines that the teams did before rolling their machines off the runway were really silly. But there were 80,000 people in a not very large space, which was not that much fun. Then it was off to the party that one of the third years was throwing for the graduates. It was nice to see everyone and hang out, but I am really tired from all the walking and socializing. I'm also pretty well burnt. But Erin leaves for Draper on Monday, so it was nice to spend the day with her before she left.

I'm off to Yakima for a few days and then taking the ORELA this weekend. I'm hoping this is my last standardized test. sigh. Nicholas and Dave will be out here this weekend, so that should be wonderful.

I'll let you all know how the residency thing goes.

Monday, July 28, 2008


This is part of a larger project that I am working on. I'm not entirely happy with the octave...but it's a start.

His silence speaks the truth that in me grows,
the blessing given though the time had passed
for blessings. Years have travelled by so fast-
My heart stops hoping as my body slows.
He comes to me, his face with light now glows
and signs to me our son has come at last.
Elation blots out sorrow, no downcast
faces greet the news of late-blooming rose.

You've travelled long to meet this baby boy
a greeting from your lips, my dearest kin
the sweetest sound this heart has ever heard.
The babe within my body leaps for joy
God's work of man's salvation now begins
when son of silence meets the Living Word.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Home Stretch

Currently Reading: Lots of short stories for my first lit unit in the fall.

It's hard to believe that I'm almost done with my first summer in Portland. Classes end on Thursday, so I'm working like a mad woman to finish projects and readings by then. My work sample is coming along, albeit incredibly slowly. A work sample is collection of lots of things, but it's basically all the things you do to teach a unit. My work sample is going to be on the short story, so I've been looking through the text book and reading tons of stories to pick the ones that I would like to teach. The hardest part is actually writing all my goals and objectives and matching them to Washington State Standards. Objectives have to be written in specific and measureable language, and I'm struggling with this currently. My roommate Steve has been a big help with this.

Last night I went to see the Batman movie with Steve. It was a really good movie, but it's hard to believe that it was only PG-13. It was a very intense movie, psychologically speaking. My Rutgers roommates would have been proud of how well I handled it though. I didn't cry or anything, but I did gasp a lot. The movie theatre here was super cheap, and there were table-y things in the back rows and you could eat pizza and beer while you watched the movie. I had already eaten, so I just watched the movie. But the theatre had a lot of atmosphere, which was fun.

So after the 3rd I will be semi-homeless for a week or two. I'm staying with one of the girls in the Portland house for some of the time, and hopefully working out all the car stuff during the first week of August. I have to get a Washington license and register the car and get insurance and everything. It's more than a little overwhelming. I'm not really that good with stuff like this.

I've had a few chances to catch up with some Jersey folk this week, which has been lovely. I got to talk to Nicholas and Mike and Sara and Chris and Dave, and it was so good just to hear what's going on in everyone's lives. Dave is going to be out this way in the next few weeks, so I'm hoping to meet up with him when he's out here. It's weird...it seems like forever since I left, and at the same time, like it was just yesterday. But already so much has changed, and people are growing up, moving on and doing some pretty amazing things. I'm excited for a chance to go home and actually talk to people in person and see what's going on in their lives.

I miss you all, and I'll probably post again after classes are done. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Also keep Genna and Rosie in your prayers on Monday, because it's scan day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Live the Funk

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, When You Teach in a Catholic School, Esperanza Rising

Hello all. I'm realllllly tired, so please excuse any terrible spelling or grammar errors. We had Friday off from classes, which was a huge blessing, so on Thursday night I flew out to Reno to visit John, who was running an ultra-marathon on Saturday. It was really nice to see him as I don't think I have since he came back from Iraq almost two years ago, if not more. I spent a lot of time with Wendy, his girlfriend, on Saturday while he was running, and she's wonderful. I'm really glad that John found someone like her. The race was at Lake Tahoe, and it was 50 miles on trails with 10,000 feet of altitude gain throughout the course, so Wendy and I only really saw John at the halfway point and at the finish line. He was racing to raise money for NF research, and he's doing a 100 mile race in a month. It was great to be there for such an important thing.

So it was back into the grind today with schoolwork and classes, and it's crazy to me that I only have two more weeks of class before they turn me loose on Yakima to teach. I still have so much to do before I'll be even remotely ready! I have three preps next year, and I will be teaching six periods a day. It's so much work to get ready. Ack. Double ack. Ok, sorry for the minor moment of panic there. I'll move on.

Tomorrow is two of my three roommates birthdays. They both have the same name and the same birthday. It's a little creepy if you ask me. We're all so busy here that I baked a coffeecake for their birthday, thinking breakfast might be the best time to have some. Even then we won't all be together, because the one girl doesn't start classes until 9, lucky dog :)

Please continue to keep me in your prayers...I miss you all so much. I'm still getting to know the people out here, and I know that I'm making some wonderful friends, but it's so hard to find support for my spiritual side out here. It's ironic to me that my super secular university had a better support network than this Catholic one.

I know this is short and boring...I'll try to think of some incredibly intellectual and interesting things to say soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, Dicey's Song

I'm wrenching myself away from real work to take some time to write instead. I think my brain is officially fried at this point, and I still have so much to do this week. Sigh. At least I have a job that compels me to read young adult fiction. I'm trying to get a head start on some of the reading we'll be doing in the seventh grade at school this next year, so I'm reading like a madwoman. At least that's what I should be doing. In reality I'm reading lots of textbooks and falling asleep while I should be studying.

I have to confess, I'm more than a little worn down right now. We had an amazing time in Yakima this weekend, which was great. I think I'm really going to like living there next year. The house is nice, and each of us will have our own room. Two of the girls share a bathroom and the other girl and the boy will each have their own bathrooms. The city is kind of in the middle of nowhere in the desert of Eastern Washington. We drove for about three and half hours from Portland, and Seattle is also about three hours from there. I got to see my school and my classroom and get some books and I met the vice principal. It was really fantastic to see the school and get a feel for what I'll be doing next year. I'm really excited to set up my classroom! It's also getting scarily close to time to be a grown up...I met one of my future students at mass on Sunday. My first day of school is the 25th of August. Ack.

I'm struggling a little bit in the spiritual sense right now. I knew that I was leaving a really supportive environment and setting out into the unknown, but I'm struggling without the support now that I'm actually here. It hit me a little when I was on the phone with Chris the other day and I realized that I hadn't talked about spiritual accountability with anyone since I got here. I miss the people who called me on spiritually, encouraging me and giving the hard word when necessary. I miss the luxury of having a spiritual director. (That's something I'm going to try to remedy when I get to Yakima.) I talked to Sara a little bit about it the other night, which was definitely a blessing. I just really want to be able to talk to someone and have them ask me about my prayer life or where I've seen God acting in my life. I'm hoping this is somewhere we can get to in community, but we're not there yet.

That being said, I feel more stongly then ever that God is with me and that this is where He has called me to at this time. I've been consistently confirmed in this, whether through talking with teachers, reading scriptures, or even just hanging out with my community. And I know that if this is where He wants me, then He's going to provide for my spiritual needs while I'm here. It's just so hard not to give in to the lonliness and to trust that His plan is going to work out for my future full of hope. But I know that it will.

Sorry that this post is a bit of a downer...maybe I can put up a quote one tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A few thoughts

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, The Screwtape Letters

So this isn't quite as newsy as some of my posts, but I thought it might be interesting to write something else for a change. I'm not used to writing so much that other people can read...it's a new experience for me. I guess it's a good thing for someone who wants to be a writer someday to begin sooner rather than later, and this is as good a forum as any, because I know that only a few of you are reading it anyways, and you're all good friends.

I've been thinking a lot about faith recently. Before I left home, Sara and I started a Beth Moore bible study that focuses on believing God and experiencing more faith, and as a result I have started thinking more about my own faith, and also seeing a lot more faith in action. Recently, when writing a reflection for the graduate program here, I found this quote in Benedict XVI's Spe Salvi:
"Faith gives life a new basis, a new foundation on which we can stand, one which relativizes the habitual foundation, the reliability of material income."

This may not seem to be a particularly significant quote to very many people, but maybe I can explain why it had such a huge impact on me. As part of the Beth Moore bible study, I am currently looking at my life up to this point and tracing the ways that God has been at work in my life since I was born or even before. And I came to the realization as I was writing that I barely ever do this. I seldom look back at my life through the lens of faith and see God at work in my very early childhood, but the truth is, He was setting me up for some pretty great things! This gets me to the quote. My father and mother made the decision to step out in faith long before I was even born, and they haved lived almost their whole lives on that foundation, not the foundation of material income. Of course this wasn't easy, and I'm certain that it wasn't always fun, but at the same time, what a blessing it has been for me to grow up with such godly parents. Their faith was always the most important thing in their lives, and as a result, I have gotten to see the fruits of having an active and living faith in God.

The quote also struck me when I started to look at some of the people closest to me and the decisions they are currently making with their lives. These decisions seem foolish to people who value material income as the only foundation for a life. Sara's decision to run a non-profit, Nicholas's decision to look into volunteerism, my decision to move to Yakima and teach in a Catholic school...these things make no sense. Except, that is, through the lens of faith. It also reminds me of the famous quote from Jim Elliot, a martyr: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Obviously I'm not being called to give my life for believing God in terms quite so physical, but I am called to give my life and service in faith to God, trusting that He'll take care of the rest. He hasn't let me down so far.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An A-maze-ing day in Portland

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, StengthsQuest:Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond, The Wisdom of Father Brown

So it was a busy week and weekend, but ultimately a lot of fun too. We had off for the fourth, so a bunch of us from the program went up to one of the second year's (he's a Portland house guy) parents house in Olympia. I've never been to Olympia, but I really liked it. His house was right on a lake, so we went swimming (even though it was NOT warm enough to do so) and rowing in a rowboat, and they had a hot tub too. It was a pretty relaxing day, which was nice after two weeks of classes. We just kind of hung out, eating and drinking and chatting. We also played a card game that never ended, which wasn't my favorite card game ever. At night we sat down by the lake and watched everyone shoort off fireworks from their docks. As someone who grew up in a state where this is illegal, it was mesmerizing to see people shooting firework show quality stuff, right in their backyards. I also had my first ever sparkler, which we took pictures of. Then we slept over and drove home the next morning. It was just nice to relax and hang out with everyone, because we're normally all pretty busy and stressed out.

And then yesterday I met up with Ruthann in downtown Portland at the Saturday market. It was definitely an adventurous day. I took my first ever ride on Public Transportation in the city, and made friends with the busdriver, who walked me through the whole thing and where to get my connection and everything. Her nephew did AmeriCorps, so we quickly became friends over that. When Ruthann got to the Saturday market we just wandered around for a bit and she did some shopping while I just browsed. (I don't have any income currently, so I'm trying to be careful and only spend money on food.) Then we met up with various members of her family and walked a few blocks to Powells, which is the largest bookstore in the country, and they sell used and new books there. It's pretty amazing. It was really crowded there though, which was kind of a bummer. I think I'm going to go back on a weekday and see what it's like then. It's so big that they give you maps. Then we met up with all the rest of Ruthann's family in Powells, before splitting off again in separate directions because Ruthann and Andrew wanted to go to this chocolate stand and buy some really fancy chocolate. It was a lot of walking, but it was nice, because I got to see a good bit of downtown Portland.

After Ruthann left, I wandered down to the waterfront, where there was a blues festival. I was waiting for some friends from the program to come down, and it took a little longer than I expected for them to get there, so I just sat on a bench facing the river and made some new friends. The first was Jeremy, who teaches abroad and also helps teach yoga and breathing workshops as part of some mystic Indian religion. He invited me to one they're holding downtown, so I politely took a flyer and then listened to some of his stories, which were really interesting because he's pretty well traveled. His parents are from Paterson, so we bonded over the New Jersey thing. He invited me to a vegetarian dinner with him and some friends, but I declined, saying that I was going to the Blues Festival with friends. Eventually he had to go meet up with his Indian mystic friends, so I made a new friend.

His name was James, and he was sitting across from me selling hand drawn mazes, which really were pretty incredible. They were only 50 cents, which was nice, so I bought one to send home to Genna and Rosie. I didn't have enough cash to buy two. We talked for a while and he was telling me how he had also just moved to Portland from California, and he was selling mazes so that he could make enough money to eat, because he didn't want to pay taxes because all the money just goes to killing people. So we chatted about various things and he asked me if I wanted to go to a party later with him and I said no thank you because I was going to the blues festival. Then two kids came up on bikes, and while one was looking at the mazes, the other muttered to me, "hey would you be interested in mumble mumble mumble?" I couldn't tell what he was offering, but I got the gist, so I again politely declined. My new friend James made a purchase, and I thought perhaps it was time for me to move on from my spot by the river. This thought was confirmed when James offered to share with me. I thanked him for the conversation and told him I was going to meet up with my friends. So I walked away and wandered until everyone got there, and then we went to the festival, which was loads of fun. Perhaps if I have time I will write about that later.

I'm off to church...no Portland adventures there I hope!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Birthday Season

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, The Wisdom of Fr. Brown

Well, it's birthday season in New Jersey and I am missing it. Happy birthday to Anne and Elizabeth (yesterday) and to Steve (two days from now) and Miguel Jose Antonio (the 8th). I miss you all and I've been thinking of you and praying for you all lots and lots. For some reason or another, I've never actually been around for Mike's birthday, and this makes me very sad. I'll have to stop going so very far away from home.

I've decided to add a currently reading section to this, because I'm constantly reading interesting things here, and I think some of you might like them a lot. For example, Spirituality at Work would be a great book for all my friends with grown-up jobs, because it's not about bringing God into the workplace, but finding Him in the work itself, where he already was. I like this idea very much, especially because I can already see how this idea will affect my teaching in the fall. If I can see God in each and every one of my colleagues and in my students, of course I will be a very spiritual person. I've only read chapter one so far, but I will continue to spin out some thoughts on the matter here as I read along.

I just finished the book that Steve and Jess gave me for graduation, and now I feel very intellectual. It was that kind of novel, I think. I didn't like it at all until the very end. It had a throroughly unlikeable cast of characters, and throughout my reading I found myself wondering why on earth they had given it to me. But after I finished I think I understood a little more the humour of it. In case anyone is interested, it was A Confederacy of Dunces, and it actually is indeed well worth the read. It's not a quick read though.

I like it here more and more each day, especially as things with class and community really pick up. I'm going to be starting my work sample soon, which is the plan for an entire unit of teaching. I'm really excited about that, but a little intimidated by the process. It's going to be ten whole lesson plans and objectives and state standards etc. I think it should be incredibly valuable, but it's also looking pretty difficult. I think I'm going to do it on a short story unit, so that I can use it early in the year teaching wise. It's weird to think that this is where I am now...a professional teacher. It's something I've wanted for a long long time, and now it's actually beginning to happen and it's more than a little overwhelming.

Ruthann is in town this week, so I'm hopefully going to spend a good amount of time with her. I'm excited to see some New Jersey out here :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Post Number Dos

Hello again. I promise this isn't going to become a trend, posting twice in one day, but this was originally going to be at the end of the last entry, but I erased the whole thing by accident. I still am getting used to the whole laptop keyboard thing. I took the link to this off my facebook because I don't want to get in trouble with my program for blogging about this, even though I'm not techinically breaking any rules.

It's been a busy but rewarding week. I'm taking nine graduate credits in six weeks, teaching summer school and putting together lesson plans for the fall, so I haven't been getting tons of sleep or anything like that. Classes start at 7:10 or 7:30 in the morning four days a week and then often go as late as 4:10. Then there's all the reading! But I love the classes and the people here and it's totally worth the lack of sleep and general anxiety.

It's been a week of firsts for me. I played Ultimate Frisbee for the first time, and for the two days after I thought I was going to die, I was so sore. I'm relatively useless at the game, but that's ok. Everyone was really nice about it. I also had my first beer, because Portland is famous for its micro-breweries. I have to admit, I still didn't like it, which is good, because it will make eating out a little cheaper. But at least I can say that I gave it a try.

Last night I got to go to a Death Cab for Cutie concert, sort of. They were playing an outdoor concert outside of Portland and we went to a restaurant that overlooked the field kind of, so we could hear almost everything. The sound was a little bit garbled, and we couldn't see them, but the music was great, and they're one of my favorite bands, so it was a good time. And there were a lot of people from the program who went, so it was just fun to spend a few hours hanging out and chatting after a LONG first week of classes. And the best part was that it was FREE. Well, except for some food, but I was starving.

I'll try to email the blog link to people, because I realize that if it's not somewhere, no one can find it :) (There's an observation for you!) I'm sorry for all the emails I owe people...I'm going to get to them this weekend, I promise!

Some Quotes for the quote lover...

I'm starting off this post with a homage to my lovely old roommates and our strange habit of writing quotes on scraps of paper, random white boards, etc. Here are some of the random things that get said in graduate education classes:

"Don't even think of my applesauce" -Classroom Management

"Teachers have dogs too, that they have to kick at home"- CM

"You always have to have Darth Vader, you know, to balance out the force" -CM

"Someone is a little wad here on the great sidewalk of life." - CM

"This makes my brain hurt less" -S my roommate

"I want to know a little about odd ex-nuns teaching economics" - Theories of Learning and Development

"I cut her just a little bit of slack for the whole 'giving birth' thing" -TLD

Two positives make a negative. That's sarcastic." TLD

"If you don't get it the first time, it turns out, louder and slower just freaks people out." TLD

"It's not saying you're wrong, it's a competing alternative truth" TLD

I'll be back with an actual post later...have class soon!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Into Deeper Waters

So I got back from my first ever program retreat. It was even better than I had expected it to be, which was lovely. It was really great relationally, and I'm beginning to feel like I know my community out here a little bit better now, and it was nice to get to know all of the 10s and 11s a little bit better. (10 and 11 are our cohort numbers. I'm an 11.) i had a fair amount of time with the group, but also a good bit by myself which was a blessing, as I think I needed a little time to process everything.

Spiritually speaking, it was a pretty good retreat as well. I got to talk to my community a bit about spirituality, which was good because I got more of a sense where they all are spiritually. It confirmed a few of my fears about the spiritual support this program will have, but I also was glad to here that community spirituality is something that we all want to work on. I'm just going to have to be very disciplined personally to make sure that I don't burn out completely.

The theme of the weekend was "Into Deeper Waters" based on the scripture where Jesus goes out in the boats at dawn with some of the men who will become apostles and tells them to put out into deeper waters. I feel like it was particularly appropriate for where I am right now. I feel like this is my moment to trust the wisdom of Christ and put out into deeper waters. Mary, the program director, read to us some excerpts from different spiritual writers about not looking back once you've made the decision to follow Christ, and that really resonated strongly with me right now. This last week has been rough, because I've had a lot of time to look at what I've left behind at home in New Jersey. But the disciples left their nets and their boats and followed without looking back. That's what I need to do right now. And the reward will be both spiritual and material- I'm going to come out of the next 27 months with a masters, amazing classroom experience, great friends, and a really strong professional identity. That's pretty amazing, I think.

Friday, June 20, 2008

To Protect the Innocent

So I found out while reading my program handbook the day before yesterday that I'm not suppose to be blogging as a member of this program. The caviat was that if you don't use names of schools, students, etc. you still could. So this may end up seeming a little vague, but that's ok. It's good practice for all the papers I write this year where I have to protect the innocent by changing their names, etc.

The pace is picking up a little bit here. Yesterday I filled out miles of paperwork and became an official member of AmeriCorps. Today I have the actual graduate school of education orientation and then I have to buy a few books. S, one of my unnamed new roommates, gave me a bunch of his old ones, which was really nice of him and helps me out A LOT. Last night everyone in the program went to a Portland Beavers game, which was a lot of fun, even though I was yawning almost the whole time as a result of my insomnia. I need to start sleeping later.

Connecting with the new roommates is a little tricky as the three of them are good friends already, but they've been incredibly welcoming and encouraging. I'm the only first year moving into an established community. The other four are all starting a fresh one, so it's hard not to feel like the odd man out in both situations. But I know things will get easier when classes start on Monday. I'm excited for that.

I've been thinking about home and missing you all a lot. I'm trying to be good about emailing people back, but please be patient. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers too...it's going to be a long but rewarding two and a bit years.

PS- my family will be apalled at this, but I've been drinking skim milk, because that's what my community drinks, and I don't mind it! It's crazy the things you learn about yourself when you move away from home. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Impressions

Well, in case anyone was seriously concerned, I made it to Portland alive, albeit barely.

Putting melodrama aside for a moment, I'm thinking of writing a memoir of the airports I have experienced as a part of the PACE program. When I first arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, I thought it might top the already sizeable list of airports I have had layovers in. It was clean and easy to navigate and the people were friendly and helpful. I made my connection with time to spare. (Even though my flight was a continuation of the one from Newark, I still had to change planes.) So we get on the plane late, and once we're all seated, the captain announces that the mechanics are putting the finishing touches on a repair to the cabin pressurizer, which will allow us to breath at high altitudes. At this point maybe I should have been alarmed, but I wasn't. He apologized for the heat, and promised we would be on our way shortly.

After about thirty minutes, his voice comes on the loud speaker again, telling us that the air conditioning is broken and they're fixing it. It shouldn't take much longer. At this point the cabin is about a gazillion degrees and it was beginning to smell. Even the flight attendants looked bad.

After we had been on the plane over an hour, the pilot has another piece of news which inspires confidence in the airlines. "One of the baggage men has found oil on the ground below the plane, and they are investigating." At this point people are passing out from the heat, which has risen to over 100 degrees. Eventually they took us off the plane and put us on a new one and we got into Portland much later than originally planned.

My Uncle Don and Aunt Linda were waiting for me at the airport, and I realized as I was getting off the plane that they probably had little to no idea what I looked like. I mean, although my family sends out pictures every now and then, there are nine children, and we look very much alike. And I've only seen Uncle Don and Aunt Linda once in my life. But family is family, especially when you are moving to the West Coast. As I said hello, Aunt Linda turned to Uncle Don and said "I told you she's not one of the ones with curly hair." I laughed about that. But it was lovely to see them and they came to see where I would be living and all in all I felt very loved by their help.

I'll try to update with more about the school and the program later.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


"His heart was moved with pity for them, because they were troubled and abandoned, like a sheep without a shepherd." "Matthew 9:36

Last night may have very well been the last time I will ever be in the Catholic Center at Rutgers, which was a very odd feeling. CSA is running summer bible studies on Tuesday nights, so I decided to stop in and do one last CSA bible study. I'm so glad I did. Buh led my group, and did a marvelous job, especially considering it was only his second time running a bible study.

We were reading in Matthew about Jesus sending his apostles on mission, and as always, I found the words particularly applicable for the move I am about to make. What struck me this time though, was not the fact that "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few" but the bit in verse 36 that I have posted above. We were discussing the need to reach out to those around us in terms of a mission, and while it's incredibly true, I felt like we were missing the most important part. Jesus looked at the people around him and his heart was moved. He didn't just know the concept of reaching out was important, but seeing people who were troubled and abandoned, his heart was moved. His mission was not a project, but a result of seeing and loving the people around him.

This is something that has always been difficult for me. I'm great at organizing things. I'm pretty good at running an event, or anticipating a need. But just loving people, really being vulnerable with them and not seeing them as projects but friends, this is so hard for me. I've been incredibly blessed with some great friends who I think live this the right way. Because this is something that has been on my heart since last summer, I've been on the lookout for people I know who are really just loving their friends and family who are troubled and abandoned, and it's amazing to me how many people I know who do this. Sara, Lisa, Chris...the list could go on and on. And it's something I want to be part of.

So I'm excited for this move, and to see what God has planned for me on the West Coast. I'm looking at this as a fresh start, new people to meet and to love. Forget about the mission for right now, and the harvest and the fact that I am only one laborer. I'm just going to try my best to see enough of what's going on around me to have my heart moved by each person that I meet.