Thursday, August 30, 2007

little in the way of

I went swing dancing last night and it was grand. And I looked utterly foolish out there but I suppose everyone does in the beginning. Yeah, I was a beginner. These people do all kinds of crazy stuff that I never even dreamed of. And my feet ached gloriously and we quoted Shakespeare the whole way back to our dorms.

Mom and Dad are coming to visit this weekend. If you have large and expensive gifts to send along with them for me, please let them know post haste so they won't neglect to bring them. Because I know you all bought large and expensive gifts for the next time you saw me, right? Of course, right!

Homework time. And I can't think of anything else to say besides that it is ridiculously hot. I still have a pool of sweat drying on my back from where the back pack hung all day. I'm going to be hunched when I'm 40 at this rate.

-the end-

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

new every morning

I don't even know where to begin in telling about the past three days. From the pep rally to this afternoon at the involvement fair, I can feel myself growing more comfortable with my surroundings and the girls in my hall and His continual hand with me in everything.

Today, I looked up from the computer while sitting in the HUB and saw Heidi out the window. It was wonderful to see her and we ate lunch together. Yet another meal where I wasn't even slightly alone. And then I went to the second day of the involvement fair and I saw someone from Ligonier that I had met visiting Jenny. I was so excited. And then short story class promises to be wonderful and exciting even if science will be difficult and drawn out. And another girl from the floor asked about going to Cru. And last night as we got ready for bed, Sang ran in and asked if I could help her explain Christianity to her roomate. At this point, Michele must think I'm a radical enthusiast but then again, I am. And she isn't too normal herself. Lord willing, my thing about no guy visitors will not become a huge issue between us. Navs came up to our floor last night and talked about starting a Bible study. Sarah and I are quite interested in that but we are both torn between it and Cru. Everyone has been so encouraging to us that I feel it will be hard to choose between the two, or even adding RUF or Alliance into the mix. It will all work out though. I am confident of that.

There is so much to be involved with. I almost fear to do too much rather than too little. This semester... it holds nothing but promise right now. I am so excited about what it will bring. This is where I need to be. Every day convinces me of that more and more, even while I sit in class and wonder whether it could have been taught better by a Christian prof. Some things last longer than that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

That's What A Heart is Beating For

I walk down the sidewalks, thinking I just saw someone I know. So far I've seen a Tim, a Becky from Harvey Cedars, a Cameron Seavers, a WVA Miles, and a Liz Bertou (sp?). Things vaguely remind me of wva but without the delightful conclusions of dapping up at the end of every event.

Michele is nice. She lets me use her computer since I still don't have a cord that goes long enough.

Praise God for other Christians. There were six of us who went to the multi Christian group church service on the lawn of Old Main this morning. One of them, Sang, joined us half way there since she was going and didn't know we were. Perhaps we should more loudly advertize our Christianity... but we were all very excited to find one another. It makes it seem less lonesome and more like a home to know there are people praying in the dorms around you. Then I ran into Chris Lengerich who was wonderfully friendly and invited me to go with him and some others to lunch in another commons. Sang was also invited to go the same place so we walked over together. While I lost Chris in the dinning commons and ended up eating on the other side of the room with Sang and the Asian Christian Alliance, I still was vastly appreciative of him being friendly to me. Hanging out with the Asians though was delightful! And I find Sang a wonderful person to hang out with as well. We both felt so much better after eating lunch with all of them. Penn State will be bearable with other Christians around. This is something I am very grateful for, this growing dependence on the Christians around me. I can't take their presence for granted anymore. It isn't even a given that I'll find a way to church on a Sunday. Being with them is like having a home even when I forget their names every other minute. Above every good thing that has come out of these past two days, discovering this has been the best.

I do miss the worship team at home though. That is something else I took for granted. I miss guitar driven worship and a drummer who can drum and a solid beat to the songs. We didn't know what we had there until we didn't.

I'm off in an hour so I think I'm going to nap. My feet ache. Classes start tomorrow which is a relief in a way. I don't think I'm going to get lost anymore. I'm the one finding everything for the girls on my hall. They keep getting lost and I've wondrously been able to keep my head. Thank goodness!

PS. There are hardly any Classics and Philosophy majors here. I find that sad. We would be great friends, I'm sure of it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"all worlds come to an end, little one."

I've been here at PSU for less than 24 hours. My room is cozy and homelike but the full effect of whatever it will be isn't yet because my room mate won't be here until tomorrow. Tomorrow as in Sunday. That is frustrating but I suppose I should enjoy the peace of it while I can. Internet isn't hooked up yet so I'm in a computer lab typing away and finding out important times online.

It will be a long day.

And my stomach is very very angry at me. It hurt like crazy a few minutes ago and I don't know why. Part of it could be the fact that they don't feed us breakfast on weekends or at least none that I could find. So I ate a granola bar and a clementine was I thought that was good until my stomach started yelling.

So far, so good. I love my RA. I'm having trouble getting to know the girls but then ya'll know how I am with new people. Desperatly trying to pretend I'm back at WVA where being friendly and getting to know people was so easy and so natural.

I'm going on a walk to find my classrooms, visit the bank, visit the library, and perhaps, oh just perhaps, find a copy of Foyles War to watch during the first week of school.

Please pray for me. While the new isn't scaring me right now, it isn't helping my nerves either. I need courage and confidence to meet new. It'll be easier (I hope) when I start classes.

I'm off. Cheerio!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Famous Last Words

Tim: Frat parties are dangerous. Don't go there!

Cindy: Don't take bets you don't want to pay. And it takes three hours to move into a dorm room.


Andrew: Aren't you lucky? You get a hug from me!

Emma: Who will I snuggle with?

Beth: Ewww! Dana that was so gross!

PC: The Ray girls are like chocolate covered licorice. They start out sweet but with a biting finish.

Kent: So we're just trading battles.

Nate: Don't drink too much.

Squigy: Have fun.

Alright. I will.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"and out of her heart grew a red, red rose"

Once upon a time, there was a book by Robin McKinley and it made Dana exquisitly happy.

There was also a time when large masses of people went on a yearly migration to such places known as "colleges." I'm going on such a migration Friday for the first time ever. I don't think that last years 3xs a week trips to PSU Harrisburg counted too terribly much. I was frightfully lonely there and it won't be that way this time. My RA promises to be wonderful (her facebook said that she likes Pride and Prejudice and that is the basic requirement for at least superficially getting alongness). Hiedi (who hasn't spoken to me in years) promised to eat lunch with my next week. Rebecca from Campus Crusade said to call her in the next few days so I could get together with her. And Kent declared that Michelle is my sister whom I simply haven't met yet. His confidence in our ability to get along is actually quite an encouragement.

And Mrs. Kearns is praying for me, so what do I have to worry about?

(other people are too, I know, but she was one who told me very specifically about it)

Saying goodbye to friends this past week has not been hard and I don't know why. Seeing Kelly, Megan, Christy, Rachel, and Emily off was completely an unemotional event. Saying goodbye to Mim after spending a day being completely unlike ourselves (we went shopping) felt far too common. Why am I not upset about this? Why do I not feel dreadful over loosing Hannah as my roomate, Gretchen to hang out with, Jen to snuggle with, and Isaac to tickle until he yells and hollars at me? One theory is that I am too excited and pleased over new dishes and food electronics to make dorm life less dormish. I have two plates, a bowl, a spoon and fork, cups, tupperware, and a water heater to make water scalding hot for mugs of tea. Another theory (and far more likely) is that it hasn't quite struck me that I am leaving. Every goodbye feels like a goodbye until the next Thursday youth group or the next Sunday church service or the next evening at Starbucks or the next sports night.


Today is a fall day. It is my favorite temperature, the weather that calls for longs sleeves and long pants. Any more clothes is overkill and any less is cold.

It smells like the end of Gilead when they sat on the porch swing in the evenings and he tells about his walks down the avenue of oak trees.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Or Carriages that Work!"

Home is a lovely place. Herbal Essence Shampoo is lovely shampoo. My own bed is a lovely bed.

But I really missed that shampoo while travelling.

In a week (.5) I will be at Penn State. Rather crazy and exciting but Hannah gets grumpy when I talk about it, Gretchen and Jen go from alternate moods of ecstacy at room changes and depression, Isaac demands that I wrestle with him since it will be the last time EVER (or so he says), and Cait tells me to shut up. Well... not in those words. Cait wouldn't say that exactly but that is what she says.

"It seems, its always the crazy times..."

I got shots today and they hurt and now I feel really oddish. Thank goodness we only did two and not three like the nurse threatened. She got rather huffy when I asked about the lack of long term studies on a new vaccine and Hannah made signs to me to let it go. So I didn't get that shot.

Last night I went to Hotel Hershey with Cindy, Amanda, Hiedi, Megan, and Christy. It was a crazy time talking about plans and sharing old stories and making new ones. Christy got lots of money by taking a bet. Poor Cindy is a very poor woman now.

Time to get back to work.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday as Pagans

We drove and drove and drove. And I take back what I said about Oregon being prettier than California. It is very different but not an ounce prettier. California has a fascinating way of being beautiful even with atrociously twisty roads.

And I just ate a ridiculously good salad. I can't even tell you how good it was.

In other news, I miss home. I've seen the West Coast and the green woods and corn fields and tourist abominafied Hershey is waiting for me.

I've been making Dad listen to Fellowship of the Ring and it is incredibly boring. I can't believe how bored I'm getting listening to my favorite story. Part of it (a large 75% of it) is the narrator whose voice is good when narrating but fails utterly in the dialogue. It simply is dreadful the way all his voices sound the same and how he butchers important lines. Actually, the parts of description he tries to read in a sweeping, epic voice and comes off as melodramatic. I've never noticed before how steeped in mythology Lotr is. In some ways, listening to it instead of swiftly skimming the history parts makes me wonder if the plot was simply an excuse to tell Middle Earth mythology without detection. But I love those parts now (if I wasn't trying to convert Dad into a fan right now) as part of Tolkien's craziness and wonder.

Perhaps I've simply been reading too many modern novels and thats why it stands out.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

LOST: The West Coast Version

My camera battery died yesterday before we even reached Redwood National Park. I was under the completely false belief that it would last me through the trip. I was wrong. There are no more pictures to share with you for the time being. Perhaps forever.

Maybe not that drastic.

Redwood trees are big. All we could manage was "Woah, thats a big tree," as we drove down the dirt roads through the forests. It was like walking through a giants land, half expecting to see large people peeping around the trees at our littleness.

Saying that, I like the Oregon coast better than California's. California has seen fit to allow billboards along the roads which is exceedingly frustrating. That, and Oregon just seems bigger. (note the again use of "big")

Last night we were without hotel and couldn't find one. The town of Eureka was pretty large but ever single hotel was booked because of a county fair and a car show. It was completely full. The nearest towns were 1.5 hours north and who knows how far south. We went south. Reaching Garberville (a shady hamlet of questionable origins) soon showed us that we were without hotel there. The only option was to keep going. We even stopped at campsites randomly passed to see what was up. They only had a few places left and gave us a faint hope of finding a motel either down 101 or 1. We chose 1. It was a nightmare twisty and turny drive up these mountains that weren't shown at all on the map. Fort Bragg was our destination, about 30miles that took an hour because of the strange roads. As we drove in (around 11:15), we were again greeted by No Vacancy signs blaring. One had a vacancy sign but a note on the door saying the light for the word No was broken. By miracle, there was one hotel with a vacancy, 1 room left because of a cancellation not 15 minutes before. We took the last hotel room in the town.

It was the longest ride I'd ever been on, beating out even the ride to Liberty with Kim and Mrs. Harris where we got lost on mountain roads.

Saying that, we are now very near San Fransisco, two full days a head of schedual. Craziness.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What are men to rocks and mountains?

Today has been indescribable. I felt as if the world was suddenly much larger than I had ever imagined. This morning in particular as we drove up to Hurricane Ridge at 7am, watching the morning sun cutting through the clouds, so high up above the world that my nose made funny twitches because of altitude change, so high above the world that it was a freezing 43degrees at the very top. The only words that came to mind when faced with such beauty were trite Sunday School songs that gained depth when faced with such vast greatness: "I am so glad that Jesus loves me." "My God is so BIG, so STRONG, and so MIGHTY, there's NOTHING my God cannot do!" "He's got the whole world in His Hands."

Enough words.

A view half way up to Hurricane Ridge.

Some pictures from the top. My camera is too small to capture the scope of the distance and size (and I'm not very ept at doing what I can with that I have either).

Olympic National Park also has its own rain forest.

I had never seen the Pacific ocean before, never walked along it, and looked out across it. It felt distinctly different to imagine Asia waiting over there, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and all of those places, instead of looking across at Europe and Africa. How have I never seen this before? The ocean looked much bigger.

Today we have gone from Hurricane Ridge in Northern Olympic National Park to Newport on the coast of Oregon. The distance we have gone is over 300 miles, up and down countless mountains, and numerous stops to take pictures and stand, mouths open, at the beauty of the North West. This has been an amazing day. And I am completely exhausted. Goodnight all!

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; 5
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 10
Praise him.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

From Foreign to Mountains

This bathroom is for headless, maimed people with most of their limbs missing. I felt slighted.

Morning found us at Starbucks with scones and muffins and hot tea in transparent glass mugs.

Then we headed downtown, dropped our bags off at the ferry location, and headed out to see the sights in the hour we had before the ship left. Victoria is really a lovely city.

This is me looking stunning beneath the snazzy totem pole.

Those of you who were with me in Quebec City will think this looks familiar: as the parliament building of British Columbia it is pretty close the the parliament building in Quebec City.

The Empress Hotel

A side nitch of the building. It was really quite lovely.

The ferry ride was uneventful in terms of scenery but in terms of company, it couldn't have been better. We sat next to a young couple and chatted the entire 2.5hrs to Seattle, WA. They were really quite lovely. Turns out they were Mormons so Dad got them talking about their faith a bit. It was wonderful to hang out with them. Simply, new people make traveling worth it.

Seattle was a whirlwind as we found a car and headed out. In no time at all we had weaved in and out of all the traffic in our clever and oddly shaped hybrid car (pictures of that later) and got to our hotel near Olympic National Park. If you look at the map, go right from Port Angeles (near the top of the map) and go right to Sequin. That is where our hotel is. We'll be leaving here tomorrow and going to hike in the park.

I can only be thankful that things have been going smoothly so far. Everyone has been wonderful to us, we haven't gotten lost, and meals have been found quite regularly. Tomorrow, the real adventure begins as we leave civilation and plunge into the wilds of western Washington.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Of Trips So Almost Not

You find me in a hotel room, merrily stuffed with Red Robin goodness, and exhausted from a day of flying across the country and out of the country to Victoria, British Columbia. I was awoken this morning with the assurance that despite some conversations to the contrary, we would indeed be heading on a week long adventure to the west coast. So here I am and here you aren't.

It is indeed wonderful out here.

We flew out at 8:15 the morning and arrived in Vancouver at 12:30 or so this time. That means I was travelling from 8:15 this morning to 3:30 your time.

But we were not even close to our destination, oh ho, not even close. This is where the plans of getting where we wanted to go was very, very sketchy. Plans for a rental car had fallen through so we were basically stranded in one sense. We followed odd signs that said "Victoria, This Way" which made no sense seeing as we hadn't left the hunting lodge feel of the Vancouver International Airport. However, we obeyed and met a lost looking man standing beside a bus that was heading to Victoria by way of ferry if the ticket man ever came back. Ten minutes of waiting with this said lost man lead us to take drastic measures: we took a taxi. We invited this lost man to come with us and share the fees that would take us to the ferry which would take us to Victoria. He accepted and we squished into a cab that whisked us away to a port with a large ship looking thing waiting for passengers.

It was the most wonderful boat ride I have ever had. We rushed across the water for an hour and a half, seeing a 360 view of the marvelous landscape of the mountains and water ways of British Columbia. We stood outside the cabins most of the time, getting wind burn, tangled hair, and huge breathfuls of unhumid, chilly air. The rest can only slightly be explained by pictures.

Another taxi ride brought us to the hotel, where our path left that of Dickson our accidental companion. Dinner was lovely, and a rather happy set of Red Robin workers, and a surprisingly splendid Christian bookstore. Has anyone ever heard Robin Mark? He's selling well up here and is quite good but I've never heard of him before. Without a car we aren't able to see much of Victoria but thats okay. The ferry ride was worth it.

All in all, its been a long day. You are all asleep (most likely) at 11:30 but I'm still trying to stay awake and get used to the time change. If all goes well, we're taking another ferry to Seattle in the morning, getting a car, and driving to Olympic National Park. Until another internet location finds me, this is farewell.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Library Book Sale

Sunday afternoon found me with Jen and Gretchen purusing the isles of used books at Hershey Public Library, not looking for anything particular a lethal and dangerous threat to the remnant of cash resting peacefully in my wallet. Unfortunately for it, I found an enormous mound of titles I've always wanted to read and as they were a mere 50cents a book I decided for buying most of them. Hannah was not very happy with me.

The newest additions to my library without shelf space:

The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
Water by Robin McKinely
The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
Elements of Style by Philip Bloch
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
The Painted House by John Grisham
Cold Mountain by Frazier
French Women Don't Get Fat by Marielle Guillo
A Guide to Distinguished Reading (yeah, it made me laugh so I got it)

I must depart and go figure out what dinner is going to look like. Farewell and all of that. Read well.

(ooo... a perhaps addition to WVA line: Think Hard. Think Well. Read Hard. Read Well.)

Friday, August 03, 2007


Mom and I went to a piano store yesterday. The piano that sits in our living room now is over fifty years old, was originally a puke green color and was used in outdoor tent revival meetings in the Georgia humidity. After being drug from state to state (its travelled with Mom and Dad every location move they've made) and being pounded on for twelve years by a number of Ray pianists, there is only one conclusion: it's dead.

This has lead us on a new piano search. We visited a piano store in Lancaster yesterday and were inundated with information by a knowledgeable sales man. Actually, he made a very bad sales man as he spoke with love and admiration for pretty much every piano I touched. We were there two hours while he explained the companies and the different ways of building them. I did not know that pianos were a work of art as opposed to a tool, an "instrument" to make music with. In Europe companies, they hand build the pianos and analyse them after production to see what its strengths are and make adjustments to enhance those. No two pianos are ever the same. And no two pianos have the same response to the same musician. I played two pianos that are the same make from the same company and they sounded very different with different feeling in the keys. "They just came from two different trees." But as he insisted and I sense when I compared them, the one of the right had an especially beautiful sound. Since yesterday, I've concluded that I'm in love with it and want it to sit in my living room and be our instrument for years and years. Gretchen and Jen are still playing and Isaac might begin soon. Jen is starting violin.

The guy at the store told us that for concert pianists there are special display rooms right beside the factories where the pianos are built. In this room are five pianos, polished, and unplayed. The pianists are invited to try the pianos. When they decide against one, the keyboard is closed and they keep playing the others. When it is down to two, they go for lunch somewhere, give it a break, while experts pour over the pianos and try to make them both have the qualities that attracted the pianist to one or the other. And when lunch is over, they fall in love with one of them and have them taken away to be theirs.

I no longer wonder at the price of pianos.

(Don't be fooled by its shape and size. It is nothing like the church pianos)