Saturday, October 16, 2010

Moving

I will now be writing on

danamray.blogspot.com



Thanks!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some Brief Thoughts on Proselytizing

I'm not even quite sure how to spell that word. What I mean is: evangelism in all its forms. Or even call it the active role of someone to persuade someone else that their belief is true. Sound like a general argument? Make it about religion and you have evangelism/proselytizing. An offering, presenting, of a belief to another person, stranger or otherwise, to convince them of its truth.

I'm a fan of this.

Most people today aren't and I can understand a little bit of why. It feels too harsh to establish a conversation or the temporary relationship between strangers on a street that is based on the premise of "You are wrong. I think this is truth. Listen to me."

But here is something I realized last Saturday as I sat on Ben's front porch in a suburb of Philadelphia and two very kind, very congenial Jehovah's Witnesses appeared to encourage me to "read my Bible": I'm really okay with people telling me I'm wrong. They did not notice that the Bible's were already out, pages crinkling in the breeze until a few minutes into the conversation. The tone changed very quickly. But something very interesting that my new friend Paul repeated several times, in his calming and cheerful voice, was that "We're not here to talk about who is right and who is wrong." Perhaps what he meant was that he and Marianne (the other Witness) did not have that on their agenda for that particular day. But at the core of it, that is exactly why they came to talk to us. Why else would they bother spending their Saturday mornings trying to find people with nothing to do and talk to them about God's name?

I told them right away that I was fine if they thought I was wrong and wanted to convince me to become a Jehovah's Witness. I understand that. I really do. I also realized right then that it makes it a lot easier to have an honest conversation if both people agree to those playing rules.

It wasn't meant to be, however. While the conversation led a convoluted and very interesting course (a great deal about the divinity of Christ and me openly questioning their Bible translation), I could not get them to explain why it was that they felt it so important to come talk to us and tell us that Jesus wasn't God. They didn't even get to the part about us becoming Jehovah's Witnesses to be saved. I really wanted them to. I know that is what they were after. And I saw that my desire to have them just tell their agenda instead of coxing me into it was not going with their own evangelism training. I know because I have been trained in evangelism and have done it before in different, contexts, settings, and methods.

This isn't a new frustration for me, I'm realizing. Back at WVA, age 14, I was very upset when our witnessing Wednesday consisted of giving a "survey" about the 10 Commandments and then trying to slide into apologetics from there. It is why I was frustrated with the really sweet and kind mormon woman who stopped me by the library with a survey on the prophets. I don't want to answer your survey. I want to talk to you about what you believe and what you hold onto so passionately. Just tell me. I won't hate you if you think I'm wrong and I hope you won't hate me if I think you're wrong. We can still be friends. This can still be civil. This can be honest when we say what we're after.

And then, maybe, we can actually talk about truth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Restaurant Work

It is July 20 and I have been at the Nittany Lion Inn for over a month now. It is a steady job, steady work, very tiring, and exactly what I've needed this summer. I'm wondering what it will look like in the fall to be a server there, but for now, I'm a DRA: dinning room attendant. I set up and take down buffets, I clean things, break down trays, fill in the holes, take up room services.

It's pretty messy. And awkward at times. As my roommate said, "I'm still trying to figure out how a standard, classic like white dress shirt, black pants, and black apron could go so very wrong." I agree. First time I put that uniform on I thought "Good Heavens! I'm a marshmellow!" Other awkward moments have been waking the wrong room up to give them breakfast and really hating it when men answer the door in their pjs or won't turn on the lights. I just about told one groggy dude to pull his pants up. Other times have been wonderful, especially when I could bring food to a mom and her kids, or someone who is in State College because they are alumns and just wanted to come back for a time. I think the interactions with people have been my favorite part of this whole thing, which is why I'm training to be a server and should start that soon. While I can do the routine work and kind of like it, my favorite times are when I can interact with others and serve them somehow.

The attitude towards work is very different than any place I've yet been employed. So far my credentials include: janitor, research/lab tech person, kids crafts store, writing tutor, RA, and camp counselor. Of all of these, janitor is closest to what I am actually doing each day. However, the setting of Hershey E Free under the superb leadership of Dain Kulp and Ron Hoover, combined with crazy detailed work people like Nate Davidson, Mike Wolgemouth, hard and long and never weary workers like Josh Wagner, eternally cheerful like Amy Nicholson and Hannah Ray (oh those Disney song hours in the bathrooms!), just seem a bright contrast to the attitudes that can spread like a cold in a day care center in the Inn! Part of it could be encapsulated in a conversation I had with a server when I was lamenting not being able to hang out with the retired faculty that eat lunch with us every Wednesday. She said, "Why should you care? You'll make better money doing this. I wouldn't do this job if it weren't for money." Hm... in a way, that is very, very true. Working in a restaurant doesn't exactly count as anyone's top ten favorite things to do. Getting paid is absolutely imperative. And yet, why shouldn't hanging out with a group of older folks who take an interest in your life and you in theirs be more interesting and desirable than making tips over at this table?

Another thing about restaurants: if they pretend to be fancy... they probably aren't as fancy as they want you to think. Or half as clean.

There is quite a cast of characters who work in the kitchen. It's a whole world unto itself and I get confused if I see them wandering around real life without their different uniforms on, whether its Chef Andy without his white jacket and fluffy hat (so I don't know real names of these things yet) or Samantha or Gail without their brightly colored, cold side hats and checkered pants, or even me at the end of the day when I change into normal clothes again. Gail would be one of my favorites. She's woman from China who knows what she wants and gets it, but also remembers your name and asks you cheerfully every morning how you are doing and tries so hard when you need something from her. Chef Andy is an older chef and sings when you get there in the morning over his eggs and homefries. He also remembers names and when you ask how he is, he replies (without fail to everyone) "Oh much better now that you're here!" There is Mills, the son of a military family who walks and behaves as if he was in it himself. Wes and Jon are the clowns, the perpetrators and the brunt of every joke and snide remark that goes on. It's an interesting crowd and one that I enjoy studying, all the while desperately keeping my head out of the drama. You can smell it in the place but I'm still ignorant as to what it is and where it started, for which I am quite grateful. If I can keep this up till next summer, it promises to be excellent!

Monday, July 12, 2010

India: HOINA, Vizak, 12 Days

It is hard to believe that in 12 days I will be leaving JFK airport and flying 18 hours to India. Hard to believe? I suppose I should call it impossible to believe. I don't think I've even talked about preparing for it that much. 8 undergrad students. 2 grad students. Andhra Pradesh on the coast for 3 weeks. In a children's home started by a Penn State alumn.

I don't suppose many will have been apart of this, but I was thinking about Mom's geography/missionary class in co-op back in the day. I was remembering the day we did races and games with different bags of laundry and buckets of water balanced on our heads that we pulled up from the creek behind the church. I was out to beat Tim Warren if it killed me. I think we both attacked the other with the water buckets at the end of the day.

And remembering Aradhna music group and the cd of worship music I have from them in Hindi. Their visits to the Efree church was one of the first times that I felt... what word would express it?... solidarity? Unity? Connection? Belonging? to a church and Body of Christ far beyond the small spaces I had known.

And now I am going through Penn State for 3 weeks. 21 days. Four of which are travelling to and from. A language I don't speak. A landscape I can't imagine. Knowing that I have only known spaces that were either American or frightfully close (Denmark at age 5 does not count).

A joy in going is that I will be sharing it with my two housemates in Patty's Place next year. Both Sarah Bednarcick and Maggie Cox will be on the team of students, for which I am so grateful and excited! Maggie and I took a picnic tonight and talked about going, about all the prep work we haven't done and need to do, finding nurses pants, buying baby powder, thinking about how to shave while we're there, how will the food affect our stomachs... and just getting our minds into believing that this inevitable and significant change is coming.

But then again, I remember something that Nellie (the Peace Corps recruiter at PSU) told me: don't expect too much from it. You might go and "feel" or see nothing. It might just be okay. It might even be a below average trip. That's okay. Just wait. Wait a few weeks, or months, or years. Wait until you go somewhere else. Wait until you meet someone from there on the street in an American city. Wait until you are in class and you understand a book that you've never understood in that way before. Just wait and don't count too much on your emotions to tell you what was and was not an important trip.

And so I ask for prayers. I ask for prayers in the confusing and slow preparations and in the many ways I have no idea what I'm going for or what I'll be "doing". It is hard to even know what to ask prayer for.

So a vague list, that I trust will be filled in by you:

-preparation itself is confusing and I don't even know where to begin. Pray that I find time and efficiency and quality prayer before I go.

-I am very easily emotionally drained and I know this will be hard. Pray that our spirits hold and that we will see how best to witness to and love our teammates and the people at HOINA.

-Clarity of learning. This trip may have very little to do with what we bring to India but what India wishes us to take back with us through learning, through experience. Pray that we will learn as we ought, humbly, and see what needs to be done with it.

-The return process. We start school four days after returning. Jet lag. All three house mates moving into Patty's Place (our home) all at once on said jet lag.

-Reverse culture shock. First week of class. Sounds like a crazy recipe for disaster. I'd like it to be a fun adventure.


And what am I looking forward to (that maybe I will regret later)?

-Wearing Indian garb (pronounced "churies")

-Learning to play cricket

-Buying chai tea for less than 50cents every day.

-Reading aloud from books with the girls.

-Taking too many pictures.

-Meeting and playing with the girls at the school.

-Chapel and prayer with the kids.

-Arguing and laughing with Andy Goga.

-Helping with meals.

-Seeing mountains and the Indian ocean.

-Writing while I'm there and putting together a project when I get back!

Soon. 12 days. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Love Letter

Dear Websters Bookstore and Cafe,



I heard today that you are dying. I wanted to say before you are good and truely gone, as you are breathing your final breaths, that I love you. I couldn't let you go before I told you that.



I have so many memories with you. Of you. From you. In you. Around you. When I walked through your front door my first week of school three years ago, I knew State College was going to be home. Of all the things I have spent money on, I spent money on you. I bought books. I bought tea. I bought my first fruit smoothie in town right there and drank it in the front window while talking with Sarah Joy. Do you remember the first book I bought there? I don't. There have been so many. Many many hours of joy. And my first finals week, I went there on a Tuesday Night with all the Allen Street lights aglow and it was cold and I was scared to walk by myself so I waited inside until a friend came to go with me. I drank tea and read a book and thought, "My God, this world is a good place." And Sojourn Forum in the back corner, pushing our welcome past closing time. I took Emma to see you last week, remember? I brought Emma, the highschool student, and she said "I could come here knowing that Websters exists." Ben and I going there after our walk in the snow, cold and hungry, and eating a sandwich instead of watching the super bowl and being so much happier in that purple evening than anywhere else on earth. And the times I met with Katie Fisher and caught up with her on life. And trying to buy Katie Stick a mug of tea and she wouldn't let me. Seeing Charlotte Holmes at the counter and you mixing up our orders so that we got to talk longer and have something to laugh about together, professor and student all in an accidental and joyful encounter. And Seth Martin. Oh my, I feel like he is disappearing with you. I would come in to have him know who I was and say hello. He gave me cyan pepper tea when I had a runny nose and was so unhappy. And the days when I couldn't wake up and was depressed because of my parents... I would drink Elaine's blend and be comforted. So comforted. So many hours and days and dollars and coins. I am a college student. I don't have hours and days and dollars and coins. But I gave them to you anyway.



I loved your mugs. They were blue and green and brown and fit just so in my hand. I could even get a mug to go, one that had the world on it. Remember the time that Eric Levi and I drew on our mugs to show each other where we had been in the world and where we were dreaming of going? And smell of coffee and paper and people and fresh soup being heated up in the back. The smell of people smoking cigarrettes right outside the front door. The sound of rain off the front eaves and people sitting out there anyway in the coldest weather. The fog of the front window when it was warm and toasty inside, and cold and wet outside. The abundant, badly made fliers for local events. Local artwork that was strange and out of the ordinary. Seeing proffessors and friends and pastors and workers and everyone passing each other at the counter.



And when I was supposed to meet people at Panera, I would get tea with you and then go there. I liked your tea better. Always your tea was better.



I'm sorry Jesse and I broke the tea strainer. We didn't mean to.



I can't remember many times that I walked through and didn't buy anything. I'm sorry for the times that I did, though.



I am sorry for the times I cheated on you with Starbucks. I can say that nothing statisfied like you did. Nothing. I would take back every frappacino I have ever had in my life if that meant you could stay alive and well.



And the books. I bought a first edition of a Lloyd Alexander book. I wouldn't have known if the kind man at the counter who always finds me in the children's section hadn't told me. And Katherine Patterson. And almost every birthday and Christmas present for my siblings in three years. I even bought my dad a present there just last week. Tea. Royal Bengal Tiger. A new favorite. The education cartoons. My little brothers very first Calvin and Hobbes book that he bought with his own money. A copy of Shadow Spinner to give to a friend. Finding lots of Dorothy Sayers tucked away. The only store I know that stocks philosophy books.

I wrote most of my stories within your walls. I would sit at a desk for hours to escape my dorm room. I wrote most of the second college story and all of its revisions in a back side corner. I started drafts for Hummingbird and for The Women while drinking tea. I tried to think about Gwyn and her life on a dark and gloomy day there as well. Where am I going to go now?



I loved you so much I even started leaving tips in the tip jar. You were my first mention of why I loved State College when I moved. You and trees. What other business in the world would be equated with trees in my heart?


It can't be true. Please tell me it isn't true. You can't leave me.



Ever Yours,

Dana

Sunday, June 06, 2010

"Christian Aesthetics"; or Thoughts on Apartment Living

I have been living in State College nearly two weeks. #12 Grimmauld Place (the code name for my apartment on Vairo Blvd) is clean and in order. Jillian and I are settling into a routine of very different work lives and cooking and eating and cleaning and spending vast amounts of time at the Duplex in town. Much of it has felt like "vacation" to me and not like living in a real place at all but it begins to feel less and less so as I go about grocery shopping weekly, buying my own milk, doing laundry in machines right by my room, and having/using/cleaning a kitchen. While there are overlaps and similarities between this kind of living and the life of a residence hall dweller (I have turned the living room into a kind of "office" that my old desk used to be), there are also some significant differences. I think comparisons will grow as I move farther and farther through time away from that brief three year period of res life existence, but one that has been brought to my attention is the way hospitality and aesthetics are considered.

The word "aesthetics" (especially when I say it with confidence) makes me sound really smart and pretentious. However, I've had my own fear of that word carefully and thoroughly dismantled as I've read "Rainbows for the Fallen World" by Calvin G. Seerveld this past week. I'm not finished reading the book, but his remarks on the role of art and creativity as work in Christian life have been humbling and perspective giving. One thing he has discussed in the second chapter "Obedient Aesthetic Life" is the necessity and glory of a full, complete life faithfulness to Christ that includes a new way of experiencing and knowing even our bodily senses. That is what he means by an "aesthetic Christian life": a life where the things we choose to see, the things we choose to touch, the things we choose to hear, the things we choose to smell, and felt, are not only chosen "things" but are renewed by seeing Christ's creative and sustaining hand in them. This can be done, he suggests, by even seeking out the humor and comedy in life, in doctrine, in worship, rejoicing even as God rejoices in His creation. I've really appreciated that none of this gets and abstract head nod from him in the book. He backs it up with sections on very immediate areas that this can be practiced, places we desperately need to consider how God would have us live in this world, without giving a new list of "laws" for us to follow.

-What do our clothes say about God's delight in the created world?
-When we use styrophoam cups, what are we saying about man's craftmanship? When we serve the food that keeps us alive on such utensils?
-How and when does eating food make us delight in that food and not in its utilitarian uses?

These are simply leading questions and areas that we could consider how to give God glory in everyday things. He isn't saying we have to go buy fine china, but it makes me wonder exactly why I would choose a mug over a paper cup if I could, and even more so a mug that has a nice handle and fits in my hand over just any mug, and why if my friend Maureen (or Sarah!) made it in her ceramics class I would enjoy that tea even more than I would in almost any other container. Not elitism, which, as he points out, is an aweful offspring of humanism that espouses man's continual movement upward on our invisible tower of babel towards God. I whole heartedly agree with Seerveld when he says that this is not to take our time and attention away from other things but it is a practice to infuse all things, from evangelism to preaching to quiet devotions, teaching, etc. It is not to be an "either/or" between the question of sending money to world missions and making our worship places beautiful. And it is not, on the small scale, means that for poor college students we must go out and spend heaps of money to have "beautiful" or "high end" things. That is consumerism. I think it has much more to do with taking what we do have and making of it what we can in the moment, buying, as we do, much of our food on coupons in the local paper and clothes by second hand and hand-me-downs from friends and dumpster diving to find our couches to glorify God in the made and crafted things.

All of this seemed to speak to the different way I've experience apartment life than residence halls, and even shed light on some of the smaller things that irked (or delighted) me about those three years. There is a lot more room for crafting a space around this kind of awareness in one's own apartment. Jillian and I unwittingly participated in this desire when we cleaned like crazy women the first day we had a chance in our summer home. There was greater ease, greater pleasure in having a place when it was clean, the dishes were put away, and we had a candle lit on the side table. While I valued the housing staff in Simmons Hall, there was something important about cleaning the place myself and feeling responsible for its appearance and atmosphere that I couldn't have sharing a building with 600 people. Res Life at Penn State, to their credit, really wants to make life a communal and even "aesthetic" experience though I don't think that last word is on any of their res life goal sheets. It isn't always possible in a res hall, but they try by giving us the chance to paint our hallways or make us do bulletin boards (I can't believe I'm saying this!) or door tags or at least getting the trash into the trashcans! An aesthetic life is, in its truest form, a life of considering others better than yourself.

My second response to thinking these things was feeling guilty and inadequate. I am not a very excellent person to craft a living space around such ideas. Going into Barb Baldner's home last week to make cinnamon rolls was itself a beautiful time, getting covered in flower and deliciousness, made possible by a very beautiful kitchen. She has many details in her home that communicate ease and hospitality from small pictures to the choice of her wallpaper, things that I would be very bad at choosing on my own. I imagine that making her house so easy and welcoming through sensual details has come over time and with practice.
( Barb Baldner, my Navs discipler, teaching me how to properly roll cinnamon roll dough!)

 (The flour was flying and ended up on my nose!)

And it isn't just possible in one's own home. Again, I think of apartments that college students live in. It says a lot about values when you walk through someone's space. I visited another friend's apartment just yesterday and enjoyed how they arranged their shoes on the staircase going into the entrance, the color blue of their bowls, flowers in a vase, and pictures everywhere. The space wasn't huge but it was enough and they had clearly made an attempt to make it a good place to be in.

But as anyone who has lived with me can tell you, I am a terribly messy person. Not dirty, but my things tend to clutter up and my books fall over from their standing orders and my clothes fall out of the closet, and I tend to forget details in their entirety. Whatever am I to do? One thing I considered was that each has their own way of participating in this. Our WVA friend and faculty member, Mark Bertrand, does this through caring passionately about the production and printing of his Bible (http://www.bibledesignblog.com/). His wife, Laurie, through more craftiness than I've seen in anyone else I know (http://www.liquidpaper.typepad.com/)! I'm looking forward to living with my house mates for Patty's Place in the fall, with Sarah's care and attention for details and creativity, from making her own purses and welded and soldered bracelets (say "soldered" as "saudered", carefully and with attention. Isn't that a wonderful word?) and making each of the house inhabitants our own mugs, each colored to her interpretation of our personalities. Maggie cares for her appearance, for style and clothing; not in vanity but in wanting beauty in what she chooses to put on. It is very possible for part of this to be taking delight in the appearance of another, in the well chosen summer dress or head band or whatever.  My current house mate for #12, Jillian, does it not through visible details (I insisted on the candles) but through an appalling skill in the kitchen (ours is currently covered in flower, dough, and the smell of yeast from her bread baking adventures!) that feeds many college bellies almost completely out of her own pocket. Even the Duplex, a place not associated with care for details or aesthetics especially if you pitched it to them as such, does act on a desire for it in their expertly assembled sound system for our frequent movie nights.

I'm left asking the question of what my role in all of this glory giving to God is in this new area of apartment living. I'm not good at any of the things I just listed, so I suppose I can begin by making sure that I am paying attention enough to enjoy and point it out when I find it. But that seems like it is not enough. I want to not just enjoy but participate in the making of such a living.

Perhaps I can start with making some of those Ray classic chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Bear Story

As you know, this story will include a bear. This bear, as the title of the story, will play a central role. Sorry for spoiling it but you must know that this is one of the most magnificently absurd things I have experienced.

I received a text from Mooney saying that there were folks going camping. I was immediately in on the plan and went back to my apartment after filling out work paper work to throw a sweatshirt, socks, and my glasses in a backpack. Mooney and Robbie appeared outside of #12 Grimmauld (code name for where I'm living this summer) and we visited Walmart to purchase the obligatory smore foods. While there, Mooney and I again discussed how we would handle being attacked by a bear. We had gone on a short trek up the side of a ridge just the week before and had heard strange animal noises down the ridge the other direction and this had sparked a long and humorous imagining of what it would mean for Dana to drive stick shift to get Mooney (who had valiantly defended her from attacking bear) to the hospital for severe mauling. Robbie laughed at said at least we should try not to mock anyone like Elisha and get bears called out on us. Mooney didn't know this story and it was shared with gleeful violence attached.

After many delays, we made it to the Firetower in Rothrock State Park at 9:45 or so. We sat in the dark for a long while until some other came. Started the fire, took a short walk in the woods to an overlook (which was, as I'm sure you can imagine, rather dark and gloomy with very little to see), and enjoyed not saying much of anything and eating. Our company was this: Jason Hunter, Eric Mooney, Robbie Parks, Carren Stika, and myself. Jason cooked some excellent chicken in tin foil in the fire. Carren had brought hotdogs and we ate them off of sticks since there wasn't any bread. Lots of chocolate was consummed. And then, heavy with food and warmed by the fire in the heavy, storm promising winds, we decided it was time to bed down.

The chose spot was in front of a small cabin near the base of the fire tower. It was locked but we thought that if it really did rain we could get on the porch pretty easily. One place that was considered was under a pine tree away from either of these locations and toward the start of a trail, but it was rejected when we realized that most of us didn't have ground mats. Here is the location: Jason and Robbie were by the cars. Mooney and Carren were moving her hammock over to the cabin. I was ahead of the lot with all my things in my hands moving towards the cabin. And just as I got to the edge of the trees, the cell phone tower blinked in just the write way to illuminate a moving shadow. My heart caught but I was certain I was seeing things (having just scared myself silly by thinking about the book "No Country For Old Men"). I turned on Jason's head lamp and there indeed was a black bear caught in walking right across the grass where we would have been sleeping in five minutes. I backed up and got back to the cars yelling "Guys! There is a bear!"

Jason and Robbie dropped what they were doing and tried to shine the light on the bear. Mooney and Carren didn't seem to hear though and kept walking towards the cabin. We all started yelling and they stopped. My heart was racing and I had no idea what we were going to do next. So we just stopped and watched it for a few moments. Mooney and Carren finally moved over towards us and we had the cars between us and the bear. But the bear wasn't going away! It just stayed there even while we put lights on it and talked and yelled and had no idea what to do. The food had just been put away and we could only imagine it had smelled things cooking and had come to find us.

We were all moving and confused and weren't sure what to do. When the bear wouldn't leave, Mooney finally said, "Get in the car." I didn't move and at that moment the bear started coming towards us. "Dana! Get in the car!" I ran to Jason's car and the doors were locked. "Jason!" I yelled but Mooney's door was open first and I lept in and kept my eyes on the bear. I heard Jason yell, "Dana, you have to get in or no one else can!" I realized that I had stayed in the driver's seat and moved over. I don't know how Robbie got in so fast behind me and climbed to the back. Carren was in a moment later on my lap and we were laughing and clinging hands. I had not been too frightened until I saw Mooney and Jason get nervous. but we were all in cars.

That was when Mooney realized that Jason had his keys and so we were stuck for the time being with two packs outside of the car and the door wouldn't shut.

Umm...

Jason called someone's phone and we were trying to come up with a plan. There were way too many plans going around when we realized that we no longer knew where the bear was. Jason thought he saw it by the fire. Then Carren and I screamed because it walked on our side of the car within four feet. Jason turned his car and and began to flash his lights. The bear backed up and began nodding its head and looked like it wanted to run at us. Jason revved his engine. The bear moved forwards and then back and then we all started the car horns at once. It ran off into the woods. We grabbed the packs as soon as we could. Mooney was quite brave in getting out the car at all in order to put out the last of the fire and get the backpacks. We were going back to State College.

We were about twenty feet down the road when this bear appeared again. It ran along side us and then out in front of Jason's car. It was big and lumbering. Mooney (a hunter) guessed 350lbs. It kept up at 20 miles an hour before disappearing again. We were flying now.

Jason took his time coming down the mountain after us. We stopped on 322 without a sound of cars in any direction. It was strange to see the busiest stretch of road in State College so empty. I got out of the car and laid in the middle of the road laughing. It seemed safer than anything else from the past hour had been and I was so relieved that everyone was safe and laughing at the ridiculousness of how we had all behaved in our fear. Jason caught up and called Mooney. "What is Dana doing?!" "Umm... I think she is letting out some jitters."

Seidle was still up when we got back to the Duplex. Mooney lept into his arms and started telling him how we had all almost died. Then he backed up and attempted to tell the story in a way that emphasized his manliness and defense of the helpless. Jason made it a comedy where he attacked the bear with a hatchet and Carren knocked it out with her maglight. Robbie just thought people were funny and wasn't scared at all. I was alternately the hero for seeing the bear in the first place or the brunt of much teasing because of how fast I got in that car. It took us til 2:30 to fall asleep in the backyard of the State College neighborhood. We were still laughing until suddenly we weren't and everyone was asleep.