March 31, 2006

Turning 22.

Yesterday I turned 22... from here on out birthdays are a tally mark. Wait, I think at 25 you can rent a car... that'll be an exciting one. :)
I feel like I should do a run down of the day... so I will. I woke up early for my regular Thursday accountability coffee with Lisa. I look forward to spending time with Lisa, so I was happy to kick off a birthday with her. She told me that she'd pick me up at 8. Usually I just walk the 3 blocks to "It's a Grind", but she said that it was supposed to rain the next day. I looked up the forecast on and she was wrong, but I'm notorious for ruining things, so I let her be sneaky. She took me out to a fun breakfast in Hillcrest at the City Delicatessean.. New York style! Conversation never lulls with Lisa and we had a great time.
She drove me to the Old Town trolley stop and I made the train by a minute (that kind of timing only happens on your birthday). I had a great ride and studied my ugly "Effective Public Relations" book for my test that afternoon. Let me say this- Public Relations does not need it's own class. The field is narrow and I could summarize the entire practice in 2 lectures... not the 16 weeks I'm currently experiencing. My professor wrote the book so everything is testable. I won't get too into it, but let's just say that it's ANNOYING.
Anywho.. I love the random birthday calls that occur. People you haven't heard from since 7th grade call you. It's a beautiful holiday. The student sitting in front of me I guess was listening in on my conversations and right before getting off at SDSU, he turned around and said, "Happy Birthday.. so you're moving to China". We both laughed. Then I got up and threw my backpack at the same time this small Mexican woman was getting up from her seat and I elbowed her head. I apologized profusely, but there was a language barrier. My spanish kicked in with "Lo siento... lo siento". She just nodded and held the side of her head. That was a convo-killer with my new trolley friend. He just walked off and waved.
I ran into some friends and tried to study more PR... eventually I just decided that I had mastered the material (without ever reading the last two chapters).. and started answering the Happy Birthday phone calls.
I took my PR test and the essay question was on a theory that I had read, comprehended, and eloquently reiterated. It was a beautiful essay and the 75 MC were easy enough. So far, so good on this birthday.
Once my scantron was handed to Professor Broom, I went to Chipotle for lunch with James, Sean, Ben and Ben's friend. James bought me lunch and we talked about thrill-seeking skydiving, bungeejumping, etc. They're pretty adventerous guys so it was a fun topic.
Then I had Marketing Research with Professor T(for short, in case he ever Googles himself, he'd fail me). This guy is seriously the most defensive guy I know. He takes everything personally. Asking, "Could you clarify this test question, I don't think I understand what it's asking"... you might as well be saying, "Professor, I don't understand anything through your thick Indian accent. You haven't mastered the English language... you probably shouldn't be teaching.. you're so dumb". That's not what I believe.. but that's how he reacts. It's the strangest thing. This guy is a legend at SDSU.. people warn each other about him. I thought he can't be that bad.. HE IS. He gave back our tests from the previous week and everyone had done poorly, because his wording of questions is so difficult. His English is not that advanced, so he forgets words like "a" and "the". Example: "Hello my name Professor T. Today we study how sample and how pick size." It's hard to take tests like that. It was 2.5 hours of him defending issues that were never mentioned. I'm feeling like this post is very negative... but I'll type onward.
I had Christianity next. We talked about Pluralism, Buddhism, and the similarities between the Cross and the lotus from a scholarly perspective.
I went to CRU and it was a very candid night. Asking ourselves questions like, "Are we fulfilling our call on this campus? Are we acting like a transformational community? What has gone wrong? What does the Bible say about these issues? Are we a prayerful movement? Are we acting like a movement?" It was deep.
Afterwards, about 10 of us.. including Kyle went to Cold Stone for some birthday ice cream. After that, Sean, Vince and I went to Yardhouse for a couple hours. They're humorous.
This weekend, my family and some friends from Kerman are coming to SD. I'm having a breakfast at Extraordinary Desserts on Union Street on Sunday morning. There's a stickball tournament in the streets of Little Italy on Sunday so that'll be fun to watch. I'm excited that about 30 friends are coming for the brunch. I feel extremely blessed by my friends. They're so good to me. This weekend should be rather interesting.

March 20, 2006

Kate Boland writes...

Sitting in 4 day old jeans that've traveled through airports and towns in a 7 passenger van that defied all rules of capacity. From New Orleans to D.C. to L.A. and back here to San Diego.

This past week was a journey, a story, an encouragement and a frustration. Led by Campus Crusade for Christ 12 friends and I flew to New Orleans to do Hurricane Katrina relief work for our Spring Break. We stayed at Light City in the 9th Ward, which is basically the Compton of New Orleans. In a warehouse with 2500 other college students from across the country we slept on cots and bathed in makeshift showers. Let's just say we know how many water bottles it takes to wash your hair and I now have a new definition of clean.

The story of the storm was told on every building and house through a spray painted x with numbers and letters on each side indictaing the date the place was searched, how many evacuees, the number dead found and number of animals found. It was a bit hard to imagine the eeriely quiet, desolate state of New Orleans as a thriving community. No sounds of dogs barking or children playing, the streets still filled with abandoned cars, front doors open to empty homes many people will never return to.

We spent 4 days working, gutting and clearing out houses that were ruined by Hurricane Katrina. Breaking down sheet rock, taking out nails, prying base boards off and doing what we could to rid the home of the mold and debris that seemed to infest the place. We wore lovely masks, made huge piles of trash in front of the house and saw awesome snowflake patterns of every color of mold you could imagine. It was hard work, disgusting and amazing.

Our last day in town we went about 2 miles from Light City to the Lower 9th Ward, which is right next to the levee which broke and got hit the worst. Mounds of debris and decaying wood lined the streets. Roofs detached, wrecked cars on top of eachother, stuck between or underneath houses, some houses pushed from the floodwater to the middle of the street. Remnants of what used to be homes and memories and peoples lives piled up in hills of trash. Most all the people we met told us how different and depressed people have been since the storm and were super appreciative for our help, though we all felt it was the least we could do.

I arrived and left the 9th Ward thinking 'This is not America." 6 months after the devastation of Katrina and most of the city still looks as if the storm hit last week. Where is everyone? Where is all the help? There just seems to be so much destruction and so little help. And this is where frustration entered. Upset by the conditions, annoyed by the lack of aid and most of all disappointed in America. A nation that claims to be the best of all looks to be too busy to help it's own country. So we know the response to Katrina was late and insufficient from the President and Government. Okay. Now get your act together and do something. Act on your beliefs and bring about the change that only gets talked about too much. Get your hands dirty. Listen to real stories of loss, love and hope. And take action to help our neighbors.

I know that this change starts with me. Acting upon my beliefs. Doing more and talking less. This trip will stay with me the rest of my life. Because it wasn't just a spring break or a relief trip. It was an experience. Trying to understand the faith and the pain. A lesson. About what a true servant is and what it means to be humbled. About real lives and hearts and stories. It was about community. The 13 of us working, laughing and getting lost together, becoming a family over the week. And it was an awakening to what's really going on in New Orleans, in the world and in my heart.

Wow. I guess this is what happens when your life is changed by something, all these words just flowing out from somewhere.

March 19, 2006

back home

I got home from New Orleans early this morning. It was a great trip that taught me so much, and reinforced things I'm already learning. If I had to throw a theme on this year of college, I think it'd be something like, "Life:Simplified". Last May when I went to Thailand was probably the beginning. I saw and encountered people that had lost every single thing they owned. When I got back from Asia, I lived with my grandmother for the summer. Life there was simple, to say the least. I taught swim lessons in the mornings and went on walks with her in the evenings. On weekends, I went to BBQs at friend's houses. When I moved back to SD, I didn't have a car. That's an instant simplifier. Friendships went through changes and gained clarity. School is definitely harder, but now that I'm a senior I think I've finally grasped some time management and study habits that are making 19 units bearable.
And all last week, was spent in the 9th Ward of New Orleans (Google it for more details). We visited where the levee broke and the houses were completely wiped out. We saw houses lifted from their foundation, moved into the street, with cars underneath. My first thought was that it looked like a war zone. The same thing kept ringing through my head.. that the things of this world fade. That we can accumulate and store possessions, but they don't last. I could work in Marketing and make a lot of money, and have nice things, but I wasn't put on this earth to have a huge home and Egyptian cotton sheets. I was put here to serve others. I don't know exactly what that means right now, but it'll come in time. I'll write more about New Orleans when I find time, it was definitely an experience I want to write about sometime soon.

March 7, 2006

8 months

On July 7th, 2005, I got in a gnarly car accident that ultimately left me carless. Granted, this was a decision I made- not the car accident (I was rear-ended), but the decision to not get a new car. I was moving into a Little Italy condo, working at Fashion Valley and going to SDSU (all with trolley stops).. so it made sense to try the SD metro system. Besides, I work for Aveda... they love that I'm so eco-friendly.
Tonight I was reading "To Own A Dragon", a new book by Donald Miller with my feet up on the seat, when a guy got on the green line and started yelling. He said, "The chronic has arrived. Let all be pleasured." I had to do the silent laugh. He had a joint held carefully between his pointer and thumb, as he gently swayed it back and forth to the 4 passangers on board. The smell of it filled the whole trolley car.. and I have to admit that I like the smell. I wish I didn't, I've never partaken of marijuana, but I'm always the first to say "weed" when it enters my nasal cavity. At that point everyone sniffs the air and says, "Oh yeah, sure is". Then it's always fun to guess its origin, usually it's the guy with his eyes 1/2 open, chuckling to himself, and not looking at anything in particular.
So then the Chronic Man looks at his girlfriend and informs her that he's a "dog in heat". Next, a 'lady' starts yelling in Spanish and I notice at that point that she isn't a lady, but a man dressed in drag. I'm so taken aback that I didn't notice the manly characteristics right away, that I only remember the word "Tijuana" from her/his entire rant... a rant directed at no one in particular. The business woman across the way looked super scared. She stared back at me with wide eyes.. unbuttoning and rebuttoning her business casual blazer and checking her phone every 20 seconds.. even though no one was calling. At that point it hit me. This doesn't shock me anymore. Over the last 8 months of this nonsense, I've grown to think of it as entertainment instead of horror. I've learned that homeless men and women don't necessarily want a handout, they really want an ear to listen. That tourists are some of the nicest people on earth. That it's healthy to take time and unwind from a long day..even if it's forced by a 30-40 minute trolley ride. I've learned that trolley cops that work for the Metro Transit Board, think they are actual police officers and grip their ticket books when they get really upset. But tonight as I sat and looked at the Mexican drag Julio/Julia.. and the Chronic Man with his girlfriend.. and the scared business woman.. that in the eyes of God- he loves us all equally. I've earned no extra points because I've attempted to serve him the last 11 years. I've done nothing to earn this beautiful salvation. I'm still a sinner, just as much as the next person. But I'm experiencing a wonderful thing called grace.
A local journalist just wrote about her 'carless experiement' in San Diego Magazine. She attempted to live 2 weeks on the Metro system. She made it 12 days. She also had 2 small children, but I think my 8 months deserve some credit.
When I was walking home, I got this overwhelming sense of thankfulness. I think I'm really enjoying life lately, partly because I'm experiencing sharing life with others, partly because I'm asking for the Holy Spirit's presence constantly.
I looked at the white lights that line Little Italy and then it started to do that really light sprinkle. I walked slower, because since I've been little, I've loved walking in the rain. I started humming Lisa Lobe's "You Say".. and then I smiled that giant grin for no reason at all. I was the only person walking down Columbia Street, and it was so great. I think it's in those moments, when you feel alone in a big city (literally and figuratively in this case) that I felt like it was just God and I. And I felt like he really wanted me to just enjoy Him, feel his unconditional love for his creation, and throw down some great raindrops.. because he knows I like them.