A Photo Update

First off…

Here’s the pumpkin I carved last week for Halloween.

I was aiming for a cute wink and a grin, but I think I just got grumpy. Oh well.

But, on to more exciting things – pictures of my weekend in Illinois!

Friday night we drove into Illinois and met up with some of my friends from college for dinner. We had a wide range of people, from two newlywed couples, to a couple who’s been married for four years, to a couple who’s been married for eight and has two kids and another on the way! We had a great time and some great food too.

College Friends
With their families
Me being a dork
At Portillos
So good to see everyone so happy
Me, Amy, Kate, and Danyel
Us (again)

Saturday we went to a family wedding. I won’t actually bore you with all the pictures, but here are a few (so you can see how very different it was from our wedding).

Flower girls
Bride and Groom
Unity Candle
Me, cousin Kristen, and Mom
Sleepy Grant
First dance
Prince Charming and me

And Sunday, we met a friend of mine from high school (as far back as 7th grade, actually) for coffee, and then had brunch at my aunt and uncle’s house. On the way out of Illinois, we stopped at 7-Eleven for Slurpees.

Wish they had Slurpees here.

We actually did grocery shopping on the way home and had the car unpacked by 6pm, which was nice. It felt much later, though. It was a busy weekend, but overall I was very happy with our plans and how things worked out. I was quite surprised that everyone was actually free to get together, and it was good to see them. Most of my friends that we saw I hadn’t seen in at least three or four years, and none of them had met Prince Charming.

I also got a lot of work done on the baby blanket that I’m knitting for Sarah’s baby (who was born on our wedding day). There’s still a lot to be done though, and I’m not sure if it’s going to be finished by Christmas, which would be a vaguely reasonable time to get it to her. Oh well. I remembered the other day that the reason I stopped working on it was because my tendinitis flared up right before the wedding which stopped my knitting altogether. I’m back and trying to work speedily to make progress though.

Not much planned for this week – homework and house cleaning and so forth.

I think that was supposed to be easier…

Giving the blog a new theme, that is. Alas, it was not. I am… disappointed in that. This comes from not knowing or understanding PHP at all. I was essentially done at one point this morning, only to realize that the theme I’d modified wasn’t widget-ready, which, in the end, meant starting all over again with a new theme. Even now, I’m not using most of the graphics I created, but it will have to do for now. [Editor’s note: please let me know if you see any errors or if things don’t work for you, and I’ll get to work on fixing them next week.] There are only 22 minutes left in the work day and I will be out of the office tomorrow, so perhaps I should get things in order.

Tomorrow Prince Charming and I are driving down to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding. Friday night we’re meeting up with a bunch of my college friends and their significant others (and children, for one friend) for dinner. Then we’re staying at Dad’s house (supposedly in the RV instead of the pull-out sofa). Saturday morning we are hopefully having brunch or coffee with a friend from high school, lunch with Dad and Candy (and Alison and Josh and the Grantster), and then going to the wedding that night. Sunday morning there’s brunch at my aunt and uncle’s house (parents of the groom), and then we’re driving back up to MN. A whirlwind, a blur I tell you! I’m pretty sure we’ll be exhausted by the end, but, at least for me, it will be in a good way. I haven’t seen said college and high school friends in years (at least three or four for most of them, if not more), so I’m very excited about that.

OK, wrapping up work… Have a great weekend!


Mom was going to talk to her hairstylist last night about doing my hair for the wedding (since I made the error of not scheduling an appointment and now my stylist is booked, and ignoring my phone calls). Well, she did, and the lady kind of has an opening that day. But, get this, the stylist recommended I just do my own. Um… wtfreak? I know, I know, I’ve said myself that there’s no reason to panic about the situation because I could, in fact, do my own hair. But why would a stylist suggest this? Especially when I’m willing to pay her? Clearly, I’m going to have to look elsewhere. There are two other salons in my neighborhood to call. It’s not about not being able to do my own hair – it’s about letting someone else do it so I don’t have to stress about it, and getting pampered a bit. Like manicures and pedicures – I’m completely capable of painting my own nails, thank you very much, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone else do it for you.

Totally unrelated – this method for hanging pictures  [link removed] (found via Lifehacker) is genius! Why didn’t I think of it? I’ve done how many walls of photos?

Also unrelated – I have finally tried the McDonald’s Iced Coffee. It’s alright. I can see why people might like it. I, however, don’t actually enjoy it. It’s drinkable. It’s coffee. But… it’s lacking something. I’m not sure what it is, but something is wrong with it. But it’s a personal thing, so y’all might want to try it sometime, if’n you like coffee (which is, what, like one of my readers? how is it that I know so many people who don’t like coffee?).

Another unrelated detail – Dad called last night (again) to tell me that my grandparents are coming to the wedding, and that he and Candy are bringing them up here (even got them a hotel room next to theirs). He also said that Candy is having back surgery (herniated disk, nothing related to the cancer) on August 27th. They hope she’ll be able to make the trip up here, but it’s uncertain. If she can travel, they’ll have to stop every hour so she can get out and walk for 15 minutes. She’s not allowed to drive for a while, and can’t go back to work until November (she’s been on disability since June). Dad described Grandpa’s surgery last week as outpatient, and said that his last bout with pneumonia took a toll on him but that he’s doing well. I’m glad to hear it, but hope that Prince Charming and I can go down there for Christmas, especially since my aunt is sick as well (and Prince Charming wants to experience all that is Christmas Eve in the Johnson family, which is sure to disappoint).

Finally unrelated – I got a comment on this very blog yesterday from an old friend from college that I’d lost touch with. So exciting! We exchanged updates last night via email – it’s amazing how much there is to relate when you don’t talk to someone for five years. Susan (who probably didn’t even know she has her own name graphic, because I so rarely talk about her) goes in the category of friends from college who have a very special place in my heart (because there are also those friends from college that are just that, good friends and nothing more). Sarah is another. Kate would be, but we had that falling out and things have never been the same since, even though we did restore our friendship. Betsy is in the same boat, though we didn’t go to college together; we’ve been friends since high school when we attended the same church / youth group. Anyways, I’m thrilled to be back in touch with Susan (if you can’t tell, that’s a chick singing with a microphone).

Don’t Hate Me

I did some math today (shock and awe, I tell ya) to figure out exactly how hard I had to study for my final exam next Monday. With Alison hoping to be induced at the “end of the week,” (I’ll know more by tonight or tomorrow morning, when she calls/emails, I thought it would be fortuitous to know how much studying I needed to do. Here’s the breakdown:

If I get… then my overall class grade is…
0/100… 84%
50… 92%
75… 96%
80… 97%
85… 98%
90… 99%
95… 99.5%
100… 100% (actually, 100.5%)

So, yeah, there will be no stressing out about this. Sure, I’ll write up my notecard and do some studying, but no stress allowed. Especially since I’ve been averaging 95% on my exams. NO WORRIES.

And before I get hate comments, let me just say that at no time in college or high school was I the one with the best grade, and I never had a 4.0 GPA. I did fine in school, mostly As and Bs in mostly honors classes (except for Chemistry, which killed me), but I certainly wasn’t a superstar. I got an academic scholarship to college, but not the best one. My ACT score wasn’t high enough, though I suspect that GPA probably played into the equation too, and it wasn’t high enough. So there. I can be a superstar once in my life.

End-of-workday humor

While over at the Dating Dummy [link removed], I was referred to this article on “Guidelines for Platonic Friendship” [link removed]. While you all know my opinion about sex outside of marriage… this is very funny. I liked it. In fact, it was almost helpful, if I 1) had any guy friends, or 2)… um… see #1, because I’m pretty sure I broke a few of these rules with my guy friends in college. Quite a few times, actually. This is why people got hurt, myself included. I’m not feeling clever enough right now, but does someone have the energy to pull together a similar list from the female perspective?

3x Thursday

  1. In general, are your friends your age, or are they older/younger? If they’re not your age, why go with the younger/older crowd? My Minnesota friends are all younger than me. My college friends are exactly the same age as me. My one friend who doesn’t fit in that category is Betsy, and she’s a year older than me. It just kinda happened that way. Betsy is a kindred spirit, so age has been irrelevant. The people I met in Minnesota just happened to be younger than me, and in college we were a small enough school that we knew everyone, but a regimented enough major that you really kinda stuck to the people in your class. Plus, by senior year, most everyone was working off-campus and engaged/married, so that made it difficult to forge additional relationships. Oh, and I was a student mentor, so some of the kids in the two classes below me had been in my mentor group. And, all the guys were eternally interested (the single ones, that is) in the current freshman class, and the rest of us were kinda chopped liver.
  2. Do you believe that age makes a difference in certain situations? Why/why not? Sometimes it does, but “relative” age difference. Like some people have had enough experiences or the right kind of experiences so that they’re older than their age. Or, the inverse, haven’t had any life experiences at all, and are still 12 years old. I think it’s this… experience of the world that makes a difference in relating to each other, not so much the year we were born in.
  3. What about in relationships? Does age matter? Why? [Assuming we’re speaking on dating relationships specifically.] Yes and no. I think relationships with huge age differences are a lot more work, because you don’t have a collective generational memory or as many shared experiences, and may have to spend more time explaining yourself or what you mean. But, those things can be overcome if you work at it. Usually, small age differences (a couple of years) don’t really matter, unless the relative age difference is larger.

Bonus Question for Comments: Do you think that how you resolve conflict changes with age? Why/why not? I think how you resolve conflict changes with experience, which is generally acquired through time, which means one ages, so… yes. I know that I am not so good at dealing with conflict, mostly because I rarely experienced it growing up. So most of my life has been spent avoiding conflict, or minimizing it, or pretending it doesn’t exist. As I’ve grown and had experiences and (hopefully) matured past my childhood home, I’ve come to realize that perhaps that is not the healthiest way to deal with conflict. And so I’m slowly changing my ways. (Emphasis on slowly.) And I can only hope that, as I age, I will continue to get better at it. I also hope that I won’t, at some point, stagnate and get stuck in my ways, which is the way that older people get stuck in their ways. And while I understand why that happens and how comfortable it is, it isn’t necessarily healthy.

Wednesday Mind Hump

  1. What’s the longest distance you’ve ever traveled? I flew from Chicago to Romania (via Austria) in 2000 just after graduating for a mission trip. Within the states, I’m not sure which was worse – driving to Atlanta from the Twin Cities, or driving to Arizona from the Twin Cities. Both were freaking long trips.
  2. What’s the longest distance you’ve ever walked? That would have to be the time this summer that Prince Charming and I walked from his house (or relatively nearby) to the MOA and back. Actually, that’s not true at all. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I went on a camping trip at my church camp that was actually a hiking and biking trip. We spent the first week hiking along 12-mile beach in the Upper Peninsula, about 6-10 miles per day with 50+ pound packs. The second week was spent biking back to camp, about 60 miles per day (at least, that’s what they told us – what did I know, I was only 14).
  3. How far away is the friend/relative who lives the longest distance from you? Sarah lives in Boston, and that’s pretty far away. Mentally running through the list of other far-off friends, is in Wisconsin, and Betsy are in Illinois (as well as a slew of other people), my grandma lives in Florida, and my aunt and uncle and some cousins live in Michigan. So, yeah, Sarah wins.

Catching Up

Well, let me tell you, this has been some week. Not that anything terribly eventful has happened, but it’s just seemed… active.

Monday night I ran errands and managed to get many fun accessories for my Halloween costume at the dollar store, including binoculars, a horribly fake walkie-talkie, a compass, and most strangely, a plastic toy gun. I say most strangely because I grew up in a weapons-free household. Alison and I weren’t terribly interested in toys like that anyways, but if my memory serves me correctly, my male cousins weren’t allowed to bring over their toys like that either.

I also got the quilt I’ve been lusting over at Target for months now. It was the last one left, and labeled $41.99, which for a full/queen quilt was pretty cheap (though I wasn’t sure it was actually a full/queen – it only had the makeshift tag, not a real one, but it didn’t matter since I’ve got a twin bed). But then I scanned it and it came up $14.99. Who’s to argue with that? I don’t even care if it was mislabeled – it was the only one left. There was no choice now – I had to buy it. I was so happy with it when I got home that I took pictures.

Isn’t it pretty?

It’s white, but not glaringly so, but not cream either. And it has brown and black, so that opens up decorating possibilities. And it has some red and yellow squares too, which provide color without being overwhelming. I love it. And it’s pretty warm. Or, at least warm enough that unless it’s super-cold, I don’t need other blankets on my bed.

See the pretty pictures hanging over my fireplace? I did that last week. If it was a better picture, you could see that half of the pictures in the frames are sideways, but one project at a time.

Last night, I did all of my homework for this week and next, which included reading a few chapters in my textbooks and writing a paper. Aren’t I awesome? Yeah, you know it.

Plus, Dad called to firm up plans for this weekend. It was strange, because that’s the second time he’s called me in, like, six weeks, and I’ve called him too, which means that I’ve talked to him almost every other week, and I’m seeing him on Friday, which is just unheard of. I may have actually talked to him more than I have to Mom. Wait, that can’t be right.

It looks like Betsy and I are going to be able to get together this weekend, too, which is very exciting. I haven’t seen her since her wedding, which was… two years ago? And she’s pregnant and starting to show (according to her), and that’s exciting. She can meet Prince Charming, which would mean after this weekend that I have almost no family or friends left to introduce him to. Friends from college, perhaps, but I so rarely talk to them anymore – we’ve all gotten so bad with email, and are spread all over the country, and most of them are married and have kids, which is just a different stage of life than I’m at, so we don’t necessarily have tons to talk about (and with the whole being married and having kids thing, their lives are pretty busy and full, and I’m sure it’s hard to keep in touch with anyone who doesn’t live close by at that point).

I got my hair cut yesterday, which was desperately needed, especially before my cousin’s wedding this weekend. Supposedly she cut off an inch (which means I’ve netted 2 inches of hair in six months, if my hair grows at the average rate), but I can’t tell any difference in the length. All I know is that it looks and feels healthier.

Um… maybe that was it. It’s seemed like a long, full week, and it’s only Wednesday morning. Tomorrow afternoon I have a staff meeting, and I have Friday off, so that’s not too bad.

I really like our new manager – she’s super friendly, which is a huge change from her predecessor. Just had a lovely little chat with her.

Anyways… now I feel like I’ve done my bloggerly duty and caught y’all up. Sorry for the blog silence. My camera seems to be working fine now, so hopefully when I get back from Chicago on Monday I’ll have pictures to post.

Let’s go back to 1996, shall we?

Somewhere around August 18th, 1996 is where this story takes place. My parents drove me to college to move in. I was a freshman and terribly nervous, and preliminary meetings with my assigned roommate had gone OK, but not fabulously. We were not going to be best friends (in fact, she ended up transferring to another school at the end of the year because Judson was not the place for her). Scores of upperclassmen were hanging out just begging to help take boxes into the dorm for us (it was a service I was to provide for the next three years as a Student Senate officer). All moved in, there wasn’t much left for my parents to do but go home (a whopping 30 minute drive if you go the speed limit – 15 if you’re really “talented”). But, there was something later that day for parents that they were waiting around for, so they decided to go “out” and would come back later. I unpacked boxes, made my bed, probably hid from people and wasn’t terribly social (sound familiar? maybe I haven’t changed that much in ten years). They came back a few hours later with snacks for my room, because we hadn’t thought of that. Included was a bag of Snyders of Hanover pretzel pieces (this is the only thing I remember) in Honey Mustard and Onion flavor, which I adored at the time (despite how gross they sound, they’re fabulous). I think they got me some other stuff for my room – ah, yes, they bought me a window air fan. So sweet.

I bought a big bag in the Skyway last week and have been slowly munching on them. They remind me of… a different time. Not necessarily happier, but definitely more innocent.

I’d post some pictures from 1996, but I’m at work and don’t have any here. Bummer.

Tuesday Twosome

  1. Where were you 2 hours ago and what were you doing? Two hours ago I was… sitting right here in my cube, checking my email. Boring, I know.
  2. Who was your 2nd boyfriend/girlfriend and how old were you? Officially, the second person I could actually call my boyfriend was… Michael. It was freshman year of college, so I was 18.
  3. Who are your 2 closest friends and explain why you chose them? While I’m going to refrain from listing people, because it totally depends on the context for who’s closest (I share more with them on a daily basis, I have a long history with them and we can catch up with no problems after months of absence, I have the most in common with them in terms of beliefs and ideas and that sort of stuff….), I do have to say that, generally speaking, I don’t choose my friends. They choose me. I’ve always been terribly shy, and never good at making new friends. In college, in life, all of the new friends I’ve made in the last… ten years, have been because other people made it a point to include me and draw me into their lives. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have chosen to be friends with any of them – in fact, I would have pursued friendships with many of them, were that my personality. But I tend to take a rather back-seat approach to friendship.
  4. What 2 accomplishments are you most proud of and why? Right now, I’m proud of… starting school again, and making it to one year with Prince Charming. As you know if you’ve been reading here, I had quite a few frustrations with finding a class to take in the last few weeks, and was originally going to start last year, and I’m proud of figuring out a way to make it work and forcing the issue. And my longest relationship before now was with the boy mentioned in #2, and that lasted 3 months (OK, 2 weeks, then we broke up for two weeks, and then another 2 1/2 months). Plus, it’d been a really long time since I’d even had guy friends, and you relate different to guys versus girls. And I was pretty sure for the first several months of our relationship that I was going to somehow f* things up. So… we’ve obviously overcome all that.
  5. What were the last 2 television shows you watched and did you enjoy it? Um… two episodes of Friends that I wasn’t terribly familiar with (they were from the last season, so they haven’t been on reruns that long), and an episode of Stargate SG-1 (I’m now caught up for the season!). I enjoyed, but wasn’t overly thrilled with any.

Question of the Week

How’d you get that scar?

As best I can tell, I only have one visible scar remaining. I used to have one on my knee, from a very embarrassing incident in college that involved coffee, a set of stairs, and a cute boy, but most people have heard that story and I won’t bore you with another retelling.

The one scar I do have is on my left elbow. I got it the first night of high school youth group, freshman year. We were playing… some team sport outdoors (Ultimate Frisbee perhaps?) in the church parking lot, and there’s this spot underneath one of the lights that is kind of in a corner and collects gravel. I ran through it and slipped and gashed up my elbow pretty bad. I believe there was gravel embedded in it at some point. I don’t think I cried, because I’m not that type, but I’m sure I complained a lot. (I am that type.)

You think I would have figured out sooner that “church can hurt.” Oh well. Really, it’s not church’s fault. I was (and am) a generally clumsy and graceless individual, and at 14 was still growing at weird rates. I grew 6 inches in junior high, my feet kept pace, and my limbs did as well. So I was generally … gangly and awkward. And never really good at team sports that require talent and competition (I’m much more for leveling the playing field and games like “Wacky Ball,” or at least playing games for fun and not competition).

I don’t think anyone has ever actually noticed the scar without me pointing it out though. Handy.

I do have a red spot on my chin where I had the ringworm. And a spot on one of my fingers where I used to get warts as a kid.

Wow, I sound sexy in this post. You know you all want me.

I think I protest!

Most people who know me know I’m about as political as… socks (or pick something absolutely non-political), and so consequently politics and all things government are almost never discussed here on ‘wonderment.’ I’m going to have to stray from that path for a moment and discuss a recent law Las Vegas passed [link removed]. Read the article first. I’ll wait.

Done? OK.

I don’t want to sound like an extremist here, or, God forbid, liberal, but I think that’s the biggest load of [Republican] crap I’ve heard in quite a while. [Nevada is a red state – I looked it up. And, for the record, before anyone gets offended, I’m just slightly Democratic, like… 51% or something. I test right down the middle of the road. And if you’re easily offended by things political, I can understand why you might enjoy reading this blog, since we never discuss that stuff, but you might have to go read someone else’s blog today. It’s alright. I won’t be offended.]

Now I realize I have a slightly different perspective on homelessness and that whole world than the average citizen. Take into account the following:

  • I grew up in a Christian home and have been part of several Christian communities where serving those less-fortunate has not only been encouraged but sometimes promoted as saintly.
  • In high school, our youth group went to a soup kitchen to volunteer a couple of times. We also had events where we collected soup cans for the food bank or otherwise did something beneficial like that. When I was volunteering with the junior high youth group, we took a weekend trip into Chicago and painted apartments in Cabrini Green (so that they would be available for people to move into, something that the management couldn’t keep ahead of, which resulted in fewer subsidized housing units unless the community helped out). That was an eye opener (especially when I temporarily lost a junior higher, but that’s not relevant to this conversation).
  • In college, we had a group of students that went down to lower Wacker Drive in Chicago (Ctrl-F to search the page for “Wacker”) to feed sack lunches to the homeless there once a month, and I often participated, until I 1) had a boyfriend, and later 2) they closed lower Wacker Drive and “cleaned it up.” [link removed]
  • Also in college, I chaired the Missions Committee, a part of Student Senate. We planned the spring break Missions trips (which I’m getting to), and also local missions opportunities. We went to Nashville several times and worked in an extremely impoverished neighborhood with a children’s’ program. I remember clearly a little girl sitting on my lap on the swings, maybe 6 or 7, telling me about how her dad beat her mom and that’s why her mom lost the baby. In Chicago, with CSM, we went on a prayer tour of the city, which highlighted areas that were in need of God’s hand (that would be you and I, by the way), including housing projects, government buildings, parks where the homeless would sleep, neighborhoods with high volumes of adult entertainment centers and bars, etc. This was a pivotal experience for me, that resulted in my summer spent in San Francisco.
  • Then I spent the summer between my junior and senior years of college working for CSM in San Francisco (Dana was my boss, if you read partway down the page, and all those projects outlined we worked with). We lived in the Salvation Army building in the Tenderloin neighborhood (you really should read the first few paragraphs of that article), which was an experience in itself. There I daily worked with the homeless, the impoverished, families in transitional housing, people who chose to be homeless, people dying of AIDS, etc. I cannot go into enough detail to explain how this changes my view compared to the rest of America.
  • I also spent a summer in Arizona, and while nobody was homeless, we did work with a community that had a very low income rate and the majority were unemployed (70-85%).

So, you see, I have seen first-hand how government money, community efforts, kindness of strangers, hard work, etc, can positively work in people’s lives. Don’t misunderstand me – I refuse to give money to people on the street, but if I had a granola bar with me, I’d certainly pass that on. Especially in communities where the housing vacancy rate is around 1% and affordable housing is non-existent (like San Francisco), sometimes throwing money at the problem, like in the case of transitional housing shelters for families, does work.

And at the very least, even if there’s absolutely no government assistance whatsoever, there are [almost] always caring individuals in a community who want to make a difference in an individual’s life, or who want to bring more meaning to their own lives, or who just want to give back. And just on an individual level, what right does the government have to take away the satisfaction that helping out one less fortunate than you can bring?

I understand the concerns of a community with a growing homeless population. And the argument that people need more than a sandwich, they need social workers and doctors etc, is valid, but slightly off. Yes, people who are homeless, who desire to change their situation, will usually need the help of a community to do so, in the form of social workers and shelters and doctors and clothing and job readiness and …. the list goes on. But not everyone who is homeless desires to change their situation. And I’ve seen first-hand how that isn’t always a bad thing. I met some wonderful men in San Francisco who chose to be homeless and were perfectly content – they knew that the confines of life as you and I experience it were not for them, made them unhappy, or they just couldn’t adapt. And that was OK. Not everyone who is homeless is violent or belligerent or constantly asking for handouts or drunk. Sometimes they’re just people who step to the beat of a different drum. And in a community like San Francisco that is so open to the homeless population, there are social agencies that help, by providing free showers and toothbrushes, vegetarian soup kitchens, cots in shelters, etc.

The idea of actually making it illegal to make a tuna fish sandwich at home, pack it up, and take it to the homeless guy in the park across from your house… is abhorrible to me. Where does the law stop and start? If I walk over there and instead invite him into my home for dinner, is that a crime? Because it’s probably less safe for me than just handing over a sandwich. What if instead I hand over a business card to the local shelter or soup kitchen? Can I let him sleep on my front lawn? Can I give him things that aren’t food, like blankets or money? If I offer him a job in my warehouse, is that wrong too? Because all of those things could be construed as “enabling” and encouraging homelessness in a community.

Yes, that last part was a little extreme, and I did say I was going to try to avoid such statements. And I know some people have mentioned that when I write such long posts, even if I ask for comments, no one is going to leave them because it was too long. But I’m still going to end by asking for your comments. Amanda and Liz, you’ve worked with some diverse populations of people and probably have some good views on this. And I’m going to stop talking before I sound like the guy on the bus last night who was militant that the US government owed him millions of dollars of restitution for the enslavement of his ancestors 300 years ago. Because that just made everyone uncomfortable.

Today’s Frustration

So, of the two history classes that Hamline will let me transfer from St Paul College being offered this fall, my options are to take the Thursday night one (which I’d prefer not to do) or to do it online, which I didn’t want to do for a history class (economics, however, I’d gladly take online).

Which originally had me questioning if I should just give up on Hamline, since Bethel will let me transfer several of the other classes. Looking into it further, however, that doesn’t actually give me any more choices for a class this fall, unless I take one during working hours.

So do I give up on St Paul College then? Try something besides history? Take another semester off? If I take a class at Metro State, transportation home from a night class is a nightmare. (And even with the addition of a bike in my life, there’s a freaking huge hill to be surmounted from downtown up to my house, and things get cold and icy around November, and that just doesn’t seem like a viable option.) (Furthermore, even if I owned a car this wouldn’t help, since I’d have to bus to Metro State directly from work, and then bus home anyways.)

Will somebody please just tell me what to do? I’m tired of being a grown-up and having to make these decisions for myself. I’m tired of putting my life on hold, tired of my current job, tired of the frustrations that not majoring in anything transferable bring about….

If it were an option, I’d just take 9 months off from my job and enroll full-time at one of the local colleges and just get all that undergrad stuff out of the way. But seeing as how I’m not independently wealthy, and would feel incredibly bad leaving my current job…. that’s not going to happen.

Oh, plus, to muck up the waters more, the “tuition due date” is in 10 days. Of course, you can add a class up until 5 days into the semester, which gives me until about the 25th of August, at which point I could probably find most of the tuition for one class. August just kinda snuck up on me – this summer has gone by quickly, and I just haven’t been able to save the money up. Cuz, you know, rent and groceries are important.

Wow, what a whiny sob story. My apologies. All in all, it’s not a huge problem, given all the things that could be wrong in my life. I could be starving or homeless or an unwed mother or dying of an incurable disease or in an abusive relationship or… I could go on. So really, this whole “difficulty starting down the path to a new career” problem is just a speed bump.

And I know Amanda is just going to pipe in here and tell me to contact Pastor S about the website designing job, because that could pay for a class right there (potentially, or at least pay for a credit), and she’s right, I should (I’ve been avoiding doing so all week). But that still doesn’t clear up scheduling conflicts and general frustration with my options.

It’s really just too bad that my first career option made me so unhappy, since I actually enjoyed doing it (if that doesn’t sound contradictory, I don’t know what does). Maybe if I knew how to work a crowd or schmooze or play along or didn’t have strong opinions and ideas about all things church-related, I wouldn’t have gotten so burnt out so quickly. But that’s a lot of maybees. And maybees don’t really get me anywhere, do they.

I don’t regret my undergraduate degree choice, or the five years post-college I spent in ministry. I had a great time in college, made great friends, learned a lot, and grew as a person. And all of my jobs after that, at least I learned something about myself, if nothing else, and I grew a lot spiritually (for a while, at least). I was doing what I was supposed to do (I mean that God-wise, not society-wise). And I don’t regret taking the last year off. It meant I could emotionally recover from that last job, and spend more time with Prince Charming and my friends, and could relax and have free time for the first time in a looooong time. I’m just getting frustrated that the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems to be fading, getting further away, instead of closer like I want it to be. Like quicksand, slipping through my fingers and out of my grasp.

[Editor’s note: I’m not actually having a bad day, nor am I in a bad mood. Just needed to get that rant into words and out of my head. Plus, this way, I don’t have to rant separately to the three of you who I know read this. Lazy, I know.]

Where I Should Live

Took this test  [link removed] (found on a new blog I’m reading), and here’s the list of the top 24 places I should live. Liz should be overjoyed that her hometown is my #1 compatible city. I’ll leave my comments, when I have them, after each suggestion.

  1. Cincinnati, Ohio Of all the places in Ohio to live (and several made it onto this list), this one’s my favorite, though I’ve never been there.
  2. Bloomington, Indiana Um, no. No Indiana. Not ever. Bah. Indiana is only good for camping (they have great state parks, or did 15 years ago at least) and making fun of.
  3. St Louis, Missouri Not a big fan of Missouri, either. Drove through St Louis on our way to Arizona; didn’t really care for it. Plus their Six Flags sucks (went there on a family vacation when I was in junior high).
  4. Springfield, Missouri See notes about Missouri above.
  5. Jacksonville, Florida I like Jacksonville. Spent a day there during a college Thanksgiving break. Nice mall with a Barnes & Noble (or maybe it was a Borders). Kinda surrounded by nothingness, though.
  6. Charleston, South Carolina I like the idea of living in South Carolina. For a long time I wanted to go to college there. We took a family vacation (our last) to Nag’s Head, which is on the coast, and it was wonderful. Love the ocean.
  7. Cleveland, Ohio I’ll say it again, not really a fan of Ohio, and all I can think of when I hear “Cleveland” is the Drew Carey Show. And those are not my sort of people.
  8. Minneapolis – St Paul, Minnesota Glad that where I currently live made the list. I really do like living here, and don’t plan on moving, especially now that Mom lives here, because that’s like 3/4 of my immediate family unit. I could wax poetically about MSP, but I won’t. My only complaint is that the Twin Cities were considered one unit, and Minneapolis and St Paul have their differences, for sure.
  9. Ann Arbor, Michigan I like Ann Arbor. I applied for a couple of jobs there when I was looking to change jobs when I lived in Michigan. Love the college town atmosphere, how it was big city without being industrial. Beautiful city, too. Just be careful driving around the stadium during a sporting event – the streets are packed.
  10. Indianapolis, Indiana Again, Indiana, in any shape or form, is not acceptable. Moving on.
  11. Grand Rapids, Michigan I like Grand Rapids. I have family there. I applied for jobs there – I think I even interviewed there at the end of college. Beautiful city, on a lake, kinda hilly.
  12. Rochester, Minnesota When considering moving from Michigan, I figured Rochester would be an acceptable city to live in – get me closer to Alison, still a decent-sized city. I haven’t been there, though, so I can’t actually speak as to how well it’s fitted for me.
  13. Overland Park, Kansas Um, I haven’t even heard of this town, so it’s automatically off the list. As is Kansas in general.
  14. Knoxville, Tennessee Ah, Tennessee. So beautiful. Don’t really want to live there, but I probably wouldn’t complain all that much if I had to.
  15. Topeka, Kansas See #13
  16. Orlando, Florida I don’t think I’d like Orlando. It’s a little too… touristy (there weren’t any questions about touristy towns in the quiz). My grandma would be close by, and that’d be nice, but I think I’d burn to a crisp. The ocean would be nice, though.
  17. Duluth, Minnesota Having driven to/through Duluth several times, I think I could live there. I’d complain more in the winter, since there’s more snow and it’s colder, but I could still be happy there. I think I’d like it more than Rochester (#12), but I can’t be sure.
  18. Seattle, Washington I love Seattle. We went there in high school on a choir tour and I fell in love. Actually applied (I think, or at least strongly looked into) going to school there. My cousin and her husband (the ones that just got back from 2 years of missionary work in Indonesia) went to school there and live there, as does her brother (also my cousin). The market, the ocean, I’d even love the rain. (But is it sunny enough for me? Maybe not.)
  19. West Palm Beach, Florida Eh, I don’t think so. Not sure why. Maybe for the reasons mentioned in #16.
  20. Omaha, Nebraska Definitely no. can perhaps comment on this, since I can’t definitively, having never been to Omaha or Nebraska in general, but I’m quite sure that I would die in Nebraska. Wither up into nothingness.
  21. Evansville, Indiana Again with the Indiana!?!
  22. Columbia, Missouri Again, not so fond of Missouri. Haven’t been to Columbia, though.
  23. Toledo, Ohio Definitely no. Of all the places in Ohio that I’ve driven through, Toledo was my least favorite. , wasn’t Toledo the place with the really, really disturbing Motel 6 we stayed at? I shudder to think about it.
  24. Columbus, Ohio I don’t know Columbus at all. I’ve got nothing left to say about it.

So, there you go. Now, if only someone would make up a localized version for the Twin Cities metro area, maybe Prince Charming and I could come to some sort of agreement or compromise. It’d have to include all the suburbs individually, as well as each of the neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St Paul. That’d be a lot of work.

Looking back over the list… I sure have been to (or at least through) a lot of places! You could almost say I “get around a lot.” (Stifling laughter.) [Editor’s Note: my apologies for the horrible joke. I was temporarily taken over by Dad’s sense of humor.]

If you follow the link for the test and take it, please comment on what your results were, if you’ve got the time/energy/will. I’m very interested!

Today’s Reading

I frequently find myself looking for ways to entertain… myself… while at work. This leads to a lot of reading on the internet. One of my standbys is Christianity Today’s Single Minded column. There’s a new entry every couple of weeks, so occasionally I forget to check it for a while, and then have several columns to get caught up on. Today was such a day – four columns since last I’d read. Let me give the quick breakdown of my thoughts:

Surprised by Marriage [link removed]
by Jason Boyett, excerpted from Pocket Guide to Adulthood
July 19, 2006

I liked this article, except that for being an article that’s supposed to encourage single people, it seemed way too “go out and get married already!” I’m not sure how that’s going to be received by … others.

Found in Translation [link removed]
by Camerin Courtney
July 12, 2006

The Goodbye Girl [link removed]
by Camerin Courtney
June 28, 2006

These two were alright, but didn’t exactly resonate with me. They’re mostly about the author’s recent trip to Bulgaria. They’re good, but don’t go out of your way to read them.

The Gift of Loneliness [link removed]
by Peter M. Nadeau
June 21, 2006

This is the one that surprised me. Not because of the content, exactly, but because it got me thinking. And I realized that since college, I haven’t really struggled with loneliness. Not that much in college, either, except for the times that it seemed like everyone was getting married, which tends to emphasize your own singleness (and the fact that you haven’t had a date in … how long?). High school was lonely, but I think perhaps more because of the social structure than anything else. I’ve had some lonely times since college, true. I’m thinking specifically about my first few weeks after getting fired, when I had just moved into a new apartment with new roommates I barely knew, had just moved to a whole new state for a church that had just dumped me, and other than Alison, I didn’t know anyone in Minnesota. Those were some rough times.

More so, however, I’ve felt “alone” rather than lonely. When I was working down in Arizona, I made great friends with my team. But when it came down to it, I was their boss, and sometimes there were things I had to deal with that I couldn’t talk to them about (like when my boss told me they might send me home, aka fire me, at the end of the week, depending on my performance that week – no pressure there). And then I felt alone.

When I moved to Michigan, I had a lot of alone time. That was OK, for the most part. The worst part was in April (I was only there for a year and a half), driving back from a trip home to Chicago, when I realized that I was unhappy and was going to have to start looking for a new job. I sobbed almost the entire 4 1/2 hour trip, feeling absolutely alone in this decision and… horrified at the implications.

But lonely? This is something I rarely feel. Even before my weekends were spent almost exclusively with Prince Charming, and before we had SNB regularly scheduled where I knew I’d see Amanda and Liz once a week… even then when I spent most of my time working or working at church, and my free time was spent at home watching TV… I rarely felt lonely. Is that strange?

We all know that I’m not a highly social person, that “recluse” is a much better word, and I’m perfectly comfortable describing myself as a “homebody,” regardless of the negative connotation that may hold. I’ve never been one to have tons of friends – two or three close ones is about what I can handle before feeling stretched too thin. And I need my alone time, to regroup, to not have to be “on” for others, to relax.

There are other things as a single person that I felt the absence of stronger. Like physical touch. The opportunities to touch and be touched are sometimes few and far between. Or when I really wanted to do something but had no one to do it with (go to the movies, go out for coffee, things that are more enjoyable with company).

These days, I don’t have those struggles. I have more of a problem making sure I have enough time by myself to get done what I need to (laundry, reading, whatever), and enough alone time to not get frazzled.

I guess, perhaps, I’m lucky? Blessed? I’ve been trying to write this post for over an hour now and keep getting interrupted, so my thoughts have kinda fallen apart.

Miles walked since 6/1: 53