How Do I Love Thee, Chevy Malibu?

Let me count the ways...

I'm so glad to have my car back. While it was gone, I made do and thought I didn't miss it that much. But now that it's in the parking lot ready for my use, there's a huge weight off my shoulders. When I need to go places, I won't need to beg and borrow and I won't need to wait around for someone else's schedule to clear up. It was okay for a couple years, but it's nice to feel more independent. I'm beginning to think that a small part of what made Princeton so unbearable for the past year or so was the inability to escape. Now I have that.

Now I can go home for Christmas without bumming a ride or taking the bus. Now I can visit friends in various places thinking only of the cost of gas. Now I can go to the grocery store or Target or the bank when I have a free afternoon. Now I can offer other people rides.

I forgot how much I liked my car and now it's sort of like getting it for the first time all over again. It runs so quietly and smoothly. It's roomy enough that my head doesn't hit the ceiling and that most of my junk will fit into it when I leave Princeton at the end of this year. It's an ugly color, but goldish cars don't get pulled over as often as some.

If gas didn't cost so dang much right now, I'd be going on joy rides all over town! Yay Malibu!

The 29th Olympiad

There must be something else going on that's making me a little emotional, but every time I've watched the Olympics in the past few days, I've begun tearing up. Sometimes it's during a particularly spectacular win, sometimes after a crushing mistake, and sometimes when folks are just going about their business of being incredible athletes.

It's amazing how inspiring it all is. I'm in awe of Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and Michael Phelps. In fact, I'm in awe of anyone who can make it to the Olympics. Sometimes I dream of becoming a champion curler and going to the Olympics but, fortunately, I have better things to do.

Maybe what makes me most emotional is the possibility of unexpected things. Every event has a favorite competitor, but sometimes, the impossible happens and some unknown from Burkina Faso or East Timor sets a world record or bumps a favorite out of contention. These small triumphs of the human spirit give me hope.

I'm not a huge fan of sports, but when the Olympics are on, I'll watch almost anything, including synchronized swimming and stopping just short of ice dancing. I love the stories. I love the interviews. I love the looks on the faces of parents and coaches and competitors.

There's been lots of discussion about the location of the Olympics this summer. I can certainly understand the impulse to denounce China, given its record of human rights violations, etc., but I can't bring myself to boycott these games as some have urged. Watching doesn't indicate my support of China's political structure, but rather my support of the athletes and enjoyment of the competition.

As it is, I'm going to keep watching, keep cheering, and probably keep crying.

To quote one of my favorite movies ever: "PARLE VOUS OLYMPICS!!"

Here I Am

Back in the "dirty Jerz," as I've heard some of my classmates refer to it. They aren't kidding either. After spending my summer in the Pacific Northwest, with the mountains and the ocean and the mild weather, this place feels dirty and crowded. It doesn't help that it's hot and humid and the thought of walking outside makes me a little nauseous...

Anyway, done complaining. My last few days at FPC Salem were busy, but great. It seemed like everyone suddenly realized I was leaving and that they would have liked to get to know me better, so I got about eight invitations to lunch or dinner. No complaints from me. Eating alone was getting old, anyway. Given a couple more weeks, I would have been attached to the point of tears. As it was, I didn't cry, but I sure wanted to.

Jarrod, the youth pastor, is getting married in September to Megan. Megan and I became fast friends and in the past few weeks especially formed this unit in which we laughed constantly about things a sixth grader might talk about. It was wonderful and fun and I already miss her. It reminded me of the way my friendships with Laura and Rebecca formed when we first started at Houghton. There was nothing to force, we just enjoyed each other's company.

This past Sunday was a little overwhelming as dozens of people stopped me to wish me well and ask what my future plans were. Everyone was kind and gracious and made me feel like my time there had actually meant something to them. If any of you need to do an internship at a church and think you might like Oregon, get in contact with First Presbyterian Church of Salem...stellar group of people.

Leaving wasn't fun, but it wasn't awful either. My flight didn't leave until 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so I spent several hours waiting at the airport after Audrey, the CE director, dropped me off. Other than a small boy watching Charlotte's Web at top volume in the waiting area, it was a pleasant time.

The flights themselves were not very restful. I understand why the cram airplanes full now, but that doesn't mean I like it. Usually I can fall asleep on any flight, but I don't think I got more than half an hour while I was in the air. I almost missed my connection because fog was delaying arrivals but not departures.

I rode the train into Philadelphia, where Geila picked me up after she was done with her CPE meeting. Then I was finally introduced to the hostel in Wissahickon Valley Park, where Geila has often found retreat. It was lovely to transition back to the east coast there rather than in a lonely, half-unpacked dorm room. After not having slept for nearly fifty hours, I finally nodded off while watching Aladdin. (tee hee)

Now I'm back. My room is bare... Better get started.

Especially for Becca and Rebecca

Earlier in the summer, I made apple crisp to feed to the youngsters who attended the weekly Wednesday events here at the church. It wasn't the best apple crisp I've ever produced, but with a little ice cream it was still yummy. Many of the children turned up their noses at it. However, there was plenty leftover for the church staff to enjoy a bit.

Anyway, as the church financial whiz and I were enjoying our after lunch snack, I mentioned how spoiled I'd become by the amazing Pampered Chef apple peeler corer slicer gadget, without which I hadn't made apple crisp in several years. Well, it turns out that Virginia owned just such a gadget, but had rarely used it. Unbeknownst to me, she went on a hunt through the storage areas of her house and, finally, uncovered it and brought it to me in a lovely gift bag yesterday. It's still in the box! Some of the pieces are still in their original wrapping.

All I can say is, "WOOT!"
What do you title a sappy post about how sad you are to leave a place? Whatever the answer is, place it above.

Given that my previous top choice for field ed placements was in central Pennsylvania, coming to Oregon was quite an adventure. In the process of working at the church and traveling about the state, I've fallen in love. If I can find an adequate job in the Pacific Northwest, I plan to move here in the not too distant future. I never really put much stock in the differences between the east and west coasts, but everything they say is true. And, fortunately for me, I fit really well out here.

I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do immediately after I leave seminary, but I'm pretty sure that I'll take at least one or two years off from any further schooling. Geila is trying to convince me to teach English in some foreign land. It's a tempting option. Taking part in a Christian Ministry in the National Parks is another interesting transitional option. Don't worry, though, I'll keep you, my five regular readers, up to date.



I know I already put up a bunch of pictures from my weekend, but if you're interested in seeing all 76 I posted on flickr, click on the picture of the funny, Dr. Suess-looking flower above and you'll be taken directly to a slideshow. Enjoy!