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'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.