Monday, February 25, 2008

Late Night Penn State

I'm sick with some kind of cold. I can't breath out my nose which may or may not be preferable to the fountain it was this morning. I can't sleep. Sarah may be alseep or just angry at me for being up with my computer and typing. Man, do I hate being sick.

I've also discovered that I really start writing well as I get sleepy at 9pm. I've been trying all day to work on things and as bed time roles around, I'm finally moving in a good direction with these essays.

My head hurts.

I've been reading from books recently. I'm having trouble starting and finishing a book all at once, but that really rests on the genres I've been reading from:

Through Painted Deserts
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
A Vocabulary of Faith
Intruding Upon the Timeless
The Man Born to be King.

Journey, identity, naming, becoming.

" through, pilgrim, intruding, born to be."


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tea and Harry

This was a long, slow, painful week. It was after Jubilee. Not only did it have four tests and two papers, but it was after Jubilee. Anything after such a weekend seems slow and painful.

I didn't like it one bit.

Except for that one day of perfect, glorious, summer light. The sky was so blue, and I realized I hadn't seen it in a while.

Tonight, THON begins. I have no idea what it is like or even the finer details of it, but to the start I am going!

Hannah is not coming, which is sad but unavoidable.

I want to get coffee with friends tomorrow. Hopefully that will happen.

I feel like I haven't been to Navs in decades. I miss my freshmen classmates especially. My company is oddly weighted towards juniors and seniors these past weeks.

In the vein of something more intriguing...
I reread the last Harry Potter book and cried like a baby through the whole chapter of Snape's memories and Harry going to meet...

I forgot. I have sisters who read this and who are only on the second book.
It suffices to say that upon reading it a second time, it could have used some editing. I would have made a stronger final page. But it still made me cry. Good work Rowling!

In other news, I have too many books to read. What a glorious state to be in! If only I could wish it on you as well!

Currently reading: Amazing Grace, British Lit, Pilgrim At Tinker Creek
Currently eating: crab cakes and rice
Currently dreaming: of summer
Currently in love with: the music of Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A little quiet, a little peace

Back in my dorm, I can hear girls wandering around heading out to dinner. I ate a late lunch so I won't be going with them. The light bulb above my desk hums in its obnoxious existence. I opened up a package from the co-op kids. The card from Jacob Black was the best. I look at the poster pinned to my buliten board: Jubilee: Re-Imagine 2008. A water bottle labelled "Jubilee" rests beside me. A blue t-shirt where a white tree grows, says "jubilee." My paper and pens remember "Jubilee."

This was indeed a weekend and a time of celebrating God's outpouring of grace in a moment of Jubilee.

I love that word. It sounds kind of silly or perhaps the connotation of "a goodwill type store" remained etched in my mind for longer than I realized. I'm extremely tired. This is the first time I've sat still in quiet since Friday. I've been running ever since. I wish I had taken more time to rest but to be quite honest, there wasn't time to make. I am becoming very tired as I was not at any point during my time in Pittsburgh. I wrote my schedule for next week out over a week ago. I wrote verses down fro each day and a friend's number who said I could call her when things get crazy. There is a lot to do and instead I sit here, listening to the quiet.

This weekend was not a disappointment. There were moments of "well, that could have been better" but in ways it couldn't. I've never seen such a large scale event flow without so much as a single hitch. It was amazing. We sang and spent time together, talking about books and what we had been learning. I saw many that I knew before and others I met for the first time.

Jenny Davidson was one face that I loved seeing. We ate breakfast together this morning in a part of the center that overlooked the river. I miss her. I saw Dr. and Mrs. Kearns and spoke to them a little when I had the chance. I saw Rodney Still of all people in the elevator. I couldn't remember his name so I just started talking to him until his name came out and then he paid attention. I saw Joy Gardiner, a girl I met last semester doing concession stand who goes to Grove City. I saw one chap from Faith for Thought and another from Leadership Advance. I saw Mike Schutt (WVA represent! Yeah!) and introduced myself. I met Derek Meleby for the first time (which is weird since we went to the same church for years!). I met Byron, the owner of Hearts and Minds bookstore, a bookaholic after my own heart. He ran around all weekend talking to students and speakers, listening to them talk about their dreams and he would find specific books that he thought would be perfect for them. That introduction was rather comical, as it was late in the evening and I was exhausted. Sentence just would not form and finally Steve stopped me and said "Dana, what is wrong with you? Can't you talk anymore?" Managed to pull myself together after that and have a conversation about the Image and Relief journals. And, of course, I hung out with folks from Penn State, that great and glorious school that I am coming to love.


I roomed with quite a set of people. Maggie and myself were the two who liked the indoors and the arts. Jess and Jamie were the Crux representatives. I loved it. We had a great time together, I think, even if we spent very little time in our rooms.

But what did I learn... hmm... that would be hard exactly to define. One regret I have is that I did not find a unifying theme of the weekend. It was something here, something there, but nothing specific. I appreciated the fellowship more than anything, the chance to be around Christians for a whole weekend as different as we all were, and yet unified in so many things. I was rediscovering old truths I already "knew" and being assured, "Rest. Be still, oh my soul, for the Lord is Your rock and your strong place."

Fun Times:

-Steve's road rage and the middle fingers it incited. We were even chased down a highway in downtown Pittsburgh.
-Steven Johnston's dancing in the front seat
-Becoming the banner when Steve forgot it. This involved all of us screaming "We are... PENN STATE!" This got ugly looks from our Ohio brethren. Or maybe that was us giving the ugly looks...
- Walking up and down twelve flights of stairs when the elevators never came.
- The traffic and the rain.
- Strange meals in 513.
- Tarun's 1st spiritual birthday! yay!
- Breakfast with Jane over the river
- all of us straining to stay awake in the politics panel discussion
- getting lost again and again during the first few hours.
- jumping over the railing when we went down the wrong stair case to get out. Maggie had to follow. :-)
- Running into Rodney in the elevator.
- Spilling my lemonade on the carpet right after I commented to Maggie about how I hoped I wouldn't
- Playing "knock the person beside you over" in some strange game during worship.
- I still don't know what that "This is heavy, let me throw it at you," game was about.
- The opera time warp
- Any others, dear friends?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"In the Morning, when I rise."

"Let my desires be enlarged and my hope emboldened that I may honor you with my utter dependency and greatness of expectation." -The Valley of Vision.

This past weekend still stands in violent contrast to call weekends before it. I failed, was forgiven with grace, and had some crazy adventures that I won't be forgetting in a hurry. I am blessed to have such friends here. I would never have imagined the friendships I would have when I came here six months ago (wow... was it really that long?!). I feel like I've known these people for longer and at the same time a much shorter time than I have.

Some highlights:

-Navs chasing little kids around and worshiping with Unity (a black church from State College)
-Brownies, Candylane, and laughs with Katie Fisher and the gang.
-Sledding (or trying to) with trays from the dinning commons.
-An emotional disaster Sunday morning but with Katie Stick and others right there to help me through. The hugs from Annie, Janelle, and Kadi were imperative!
-Driving two miles in twenty minutes during a blizzard. (And hoping against hope that we weren't crossing through streets...)
-Lunch. (grin)
-And youth group!

Monday, I began tutoring a Korean grad student in English. I have no clue why we only say "Here, we..." instead of saying "In here, we..." or why we say "on the bus" as compared to "in the car." Or how to explain the word "stuff" or gerunds or infinitives in a way that makes sense. I forgot that "journal" is something different in science so when I asked her to journal it took us 30 minutes to figure out why she was still confused. I've never had to analyze my language like this before. I also know now to NEVER use sound effects when describing something. She thought it was a word and asked what it meant. Even sound effects for conversation means something completely dependent on my culture! WEIRD!

But I'm growing under the stress and all these experiences. Ack, but this weather makes it rather miserable too. I just wish I wrote more, started a rewrite of that story, or started a new one. None of my classes involve creative work in assignments. At least this week anthro was actually interesting and had a homework assignment I understood and could complete without carefully choosing my words so as not to lie.

Now someone explain this to me: every school district in our area was closed yesterday. Five other PSU campuses closed including Penn State Harrisburg where snow was actually not that bad. But here, as we faced ice and almost a foot of snow, we managed to risk the lives of every faculty and grad student by making them come to teach and every PSU undergrad by exposing them to frostbite. Idiotic, if you ask me.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Saturday in Perfect Confinement

I was awakened by my alarm half an hour ago (it is 8am) to get going on a group trip to the Elmcroft Nursing Home but alas, there is at least two inches of snow in the ground that prevents such an outing. So now I am quite awake, listening to David Crowder, and wondering exactly what to do with a completely unexpected free day. Yes, there is much school to do, but say I finish most of it by lunch, I have an entire afternoon and evening to do with as I wish.

It is time to call on Navs freshman everywhere for a snow outing!

These past few days have been rather revealing about how I function and keep my head above water. I was not able to "hang out" or have a fun conversation with a group of people from Sunday evening to Thursday night. In that time I was consistently in my dorm room when not at class, working on the ever growing demand homework is placing on my life. But by Thursday, I was a complete basket case (just ask Mom...) and immobilized in the face of all I have to do in the next few weeks. I was just stuck. This is when I spent the evening with IJM/Aequitas/Doulos folks hearing Paul Rusesabagina speak at Eisenhower Auditorium. Not only did we to hear him speak together but afterwards we went to the Spiritual Center, ate pie, drank tea/coffee, and reflected on some of the things he had encouraged us in. It had been a challenging talk and we all knew it. There were about 20 of us, lots of thoughts thrown out, questioning of our own motives and emotions, and, of course, laughter and teasing and general pleasant banter. And I realized that I had not felt so alive or ready to work in about two weeks. The key is this: I need to be around people, not just my roommate or Kate down the hall, but leave time, make time, to play and fellowship. I do on weekends like its my job but during the week it gets depressing to continually face day without speaking to many in class, and only quick "hellos" as you rush from one building to the next.

When I got back, I pulled out my computer and wrote for an hour, something I had not been able to do for a while. I just wouldn't focus. And I got up the next morning at 6:30 and made it through the day in rather better spirits than I had been able to manage all week.

I'm glad I got that figured out...

Last night at Navs, folks from Unity (?) Church came to lead worship and fellowship with us. I got there early and was rather confused at the large number of black folks hanging out in the worship area and all the ADORABLE kids running around in a game of chase. Katie Stick was already at work with one little boy in her arms and I soon followed by joining in the running around and games of duck-duck-goose. I kept the little girls close the whole time and took care of them during the singing and Barbara Farmer's talk. Now THERE is one powerful, God driven woman! I've never encountered anyone quite with that combination of sweetness and utter honesty and straight talking. She's believes in God's love firmly and speaks boldly and joyfully about it in an astounding way. I really appreciated what she had to say to all of us, in a humor and spirit that made you incapable of not accepting what she was trying to tell you.

And it was interesting... at one point, she did this "exercise" where she told every "pretty girl in the room, stand up!" There was such a strange reaction. Some didn't move, others sort of hesitated to get up, others stood shyly. We had no idea how to respond to such a direct question of how we thought about ourselves, particularly in the face of our peers. The ironic and startling (or just a "woah" moment, at least for me) was that in half a second, every single black woman and girl in the room as on their feet, while we sort of hemmed and hawed about what to do. I just don't know if this says something significant in the difference in how we were brought up, how we have taught ourselves how to view our beauty, or if it says something about how we respond to direct challenges in a large group of people. Thoughts anyone? [particularly to Mom... she never writes on here and this could be something she would be able to shine light on.]

Well, the snow keeps coming down and breakfast doesn't open for another three hours. Time to get to work!

Friday, February 01, 2008

"If your life was a musical, there would be a number for this cookie."

I tried to post last week but alas, it would not allow me to post and every word I wrote for your edification was lost into the abyss of internet nothingness. Those poor people in the world of Thursday Next and all the pointless words I throw away...

I have noted a distinct difference in my approach to school this semester. It has either come from an increase in the demands on me, or I am realizing for the first time that I must work for the grades I receive. Many evenings, finally, are being spent in complete obsession over essays and projects and workbook pages. It is a focus I have not achieved since my junior year of highschool, when I was taking chemistry and a Mrs. Bell class concurrently. I'm slightly grateful for this demand. I make lists so I won't forget what needs to be done and find at the end of days, lists completely marked through, a sense of pride and accomplishment that, again, I have not had in years. I'm looking at the work I'm doing, all the effort I'm putting in, and think "Yes, that was a worthy effort." Unfortunately, very few of my grades have been returning to me as of yet. If my grades do not reflect this focus, I think I will extremely upset.

Now I wish to share with you my experiences in Anthropology 21. Dr. Kurland has spent the past two weeks pounding our heads with facts and statistics and evidence for the presence of evolution, lambasting those fools who would claim that a god created this universe in a three day time period, or that a god was involved at all. I am (and as of right now, still intend on being) a Creationist. What I am finding, is that every time I say that word, I am growing more hesitant to say it firmly, loudly, as if somehow it was a shameful, backward, unintelligent thing to believe. In these falterings, I assure myself again and again that what one believes about the beginning of the world has very little to do with one's faith in God. And then I grow afraid of the open door that statement allows. In essence, I am in a class where every day I come out more afraid and uncertain, bombarded by doubts with little to stand on (it seems). I wonder if I've been wrong the entire time, if maybe there isn't a loving God out there at all. And I think of all I was taught at Worldview and somehow it seems far away and I can't manage to think of anything Bill Jack said in that talk he gave, or anything Dan taught in the pods on this topic, or anything at all except the recurring fact: I am no scientist. I have no one in class to sit by me and whisper contradictions, to spend hours with me on the computer and help me find things to refute what he says. And it is more frightening than I can say.

But then I call Dad and we talk for a while and he sends me links and I know he's praying for me. And I look at my life and how it has been and what has happened; and I look at the lives of my friends and see their love and their passion; I think of those who have seen ages where nothing ever went as it should and their very lives were almost taken away from them, and I think of how they still believe; and I think of sitting in the kitchen at Hershey Free during the summer and Nate commenting "You never argue anyone into the Kingdom of God."

And I think, "What on earth... look at the changes in my life, in those I love and have been loved by... look at the small miracles and how beautiful this earth is... how certain I am in my heart that God is a God whose name is Jesus and who died for me."

I won't be argued out of the Kingdom of God anymore than I was argued into it.

I just wanted to share that with you, asking you to pray for me, that my head would stay on straight through this semester; that I would speak truth in my lab and in my essays; that I would pray for Dr. Kurland and mean every word of it, not hating him for being angry at God.

In other school related thoughts, my British Lit prof consistently isn't there and is replaced by subs. And I enjoy the subs more than him so I'm getting all kinds of view points on the reading. Perhaps it is even better that way.