May 31, 2006

yesterday was amazing.

As I fell asleep last night I couldn't help but think of how great a day it was. I woke up at 7am in my new house for the summer. I live with 5 other amazing girls for the next 6 weeks while I'm in summer school. Sure, it's not Little Italy, but I've really appreciate life here. I live in a quiet house with a garage and front yard- contrasting with the 17 story condo with construction in the middle of downtown. Life seems incredibly simple, perhaps it's a good transition. So, I woke up at 7, showered, ate some oatmeal, and walked to school with my roommate Katie. I'm talking two summer school classes: Multicultural Education and Strategic Marketing Managment (talk about a contrast!).
In Multicultural Eduacation we talked about discrimination and racial/gender bias. It was a very interesting discussion and I got to share my Girl Scout affirmative action story. People love that story. In Marketing, we did a day of recap of our last 4 years of learning.. from consumer behavior to finance to accounting to advertising... we recapped it all with a little game of Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy combo. I was Vanna White for the morning and thoroughly enjoyed my job. My professor kept making little quips about people's answers that only I could hear.. super funny comments.
I walked home from school and Kyle picked me up for a lunch hangout. I talked him into the Cheese Shop, my favorite lunch spot in the middle of the Gaslamp district. The Cheese Shop's great, it's a local restaurant, super affordable, and great atmosphere. They have super high ceiling and the building in made of brick. The employees are down to earth, friendly, and frankly, I'm a regular now. Kyle really liked it and it was great to just catch up with him and talk about topics outside of college. He gave me some great pointers on raising support and I asked him about his responsibility of raising 3 kids.. what he and Wendy have learned over time, etc. Kyle is a perfect fit for San Diego Metro ministry and it's been a real pleasure to get to know him and do ministry together over the past couple of years.
When I got home from lunch I sat on the couch with my laptop to write my discrimination editorial that was homework. That lasted about 20 minutes, when I fell asleep for an amazing nap. I can't remember the last time I was both healthy and sleeping during the day. It was so nice to wake up refreshed.
At 5, my new roommates and I went to La Jolla Shores and went sunset surfing. The water was warm and the waves were decent. I felt a stingray slide past my leg, later to find out that they were pretty abundant because of the warm water. Aside from the stingrays, being in the ocean at near-sunset was so nice and relaxing. At one point, I was sitting on my board pretty far out, the water was calm, the sun felt nice on my face, the late sun glistening gold on the water. I just sat there for a couple minutes.. one of those slow down moments. I'm not artistic, but I seriously wanted to paint the scenery. I felt so grateful... grateful for pretty much everything in my life. The mellowness lasted just a few minutes and I was only interrupted by a great wave forming about 20 feet away. I turned my board around, paddled hard, and caught it. I could have kept sitting on my board and let it pass by, but I didn't. There's a great rush when you're being carried by a wave and I realized that that moment was no 'better' than the peacefulness of a moment before. Life is made up of the relaxing slow times and the crazy adrenaline times and it's not like they sit on opposite ends of some spectrum of enjoyment- instead they're both incredible and meant to be enjoyed for what they are. I think sometimes I value one more than the other..a grass is greener mindset.
When we got home, we all made dinner and sat and watched Grey's Anatomy. I'm not too good at the medical shows, but they really like it and I can see why. I'll admit.. I'm semi-addicted. LOST still has my loyalty though. I also found some support checks I had put in a safe place and had forgotten the safe place's location- such a nice surprise.
I went to bed pretty late, but totally content with the day. If I could find checks, surf, have lunch with a great friend, spend time with incredible girls, and enjoy summer school more often.. that's be ok with me.
I'm going to miss my homeless neighbors in the parking lot, endless trolley stories, Little Italy streets lined with white lights at night, It's A Grind coffee shop, the Embarcadero and watching cruise ships come in from my balcony, and riding my beach cruiser to Gaslamp. I'm taking the trolley to Little Italy right now to turn in my keys to Amanda. Change is good, I have to remind myself of that.

May 28, 2006

a tribute to the old Kerman by Mel King

....i usually take a drive thru town and get nostalgic for the place i love now and hated then....seriously many of y'all get to drive your little bro to school on a grey morning when the almond trees are in full bloom lookin like snow....the moss on the old farm houses is neon green...and u can see the snow on the huge mountains miles away that make this the central valley of californaiyae? drive doesnt take very long, i start out by passing a "mural" (really a billboard put up at the edge of the grapevines as u enter town) that says "Historic Kerman" over it and shows a boat on the San Joaquin river that has now been slowed to a trickle because of damming.....right after that is the back of Auto Zone and save mart (blank walls screaming for a REAL (i.e timely, community oriented, thought provoking etc) mural))......and the newly installed, suburban-Tope-colored Perkos Cafe and something i believe called Video Zone that must be our new corporately owned video store since the locally owned video store that had been around forever went out of business a few years ago....then comes Taco Bell, where a sign says they are "now hiring friendly people".....ah yes, kerman...where the 98Cent store is having a clearance sale, and you can get your hair cut at a place called "good haircuts" i finish my drive and round the corner where there used to be an old horse we liked to pet over the fence...I see its now called Quail Run (ive never seen a quail here in my life...) and there are track homes where the horse and grapevines used to be......

May 21, 2006

commencement complete.

The title of this post is a contradiction because commencement means beginnings, but I can't help feeling like more things are coming to an end. I am so emotional lately, something very new to me. On Thursday before my last final I found myself with my face in the pillow on my bed listening to Norah Jones- that translates to depression. So I jumped out of my bed and went for a walk in downtown. I know that this will all pass, but it's hard to say goodbye to almost everything I know right now.
I'm most definitely excited about China, but I'm also very aware that it will stretch and challenge me along the way. I don't know anyone going, I don't know the language, should be interesting.
The last couple days have been a blur.. I'll try my best to recap. Thursday I had my last final, which comprises the solo A of this semester (I've never gotten such a low GPA ;) After we finished, we went to our graduation party already in progress. It was a super overcast afternoon on South Mission Beach, but there were so many people at the bonfire to celebrate. It was great to share the party with 7 other graduates and just to laugh and enjoy the company of good friends. Afterward, Vince, James and I went to Denny's for some marching down memory lane. There was a little 3 year old celebrating his birthday at midnight. His dad was wearing an ivory net t-shirt.. it appeared to be the same material as a basketball net.. and they had a huge cake that they cut up and gave to people in the Denny's.. it was all very strange. Tourists for SURE.
Friday morning I worked at Aveda with Ashlyn, we always have a really good time at work- productive, of course, but fun. Friday afternoon my mom, grandma, and sister came into town for the graduation festivities. We went out to dinner, but before we did my mom gave me a graduation present. I think I stuttered when I opened the box.. an Emerald cut pink Tourmaline ring with 26 tiny diamonds surrounding it.. so amazingly beautiful. The above picture isn't the exact ring, but it's pretty close. The ring itself has been a joke for well over a year. Whenever I'm in Fresno, we'd stop by Rogers Jewelers and they'd let me walk around with it on... never believing I'd ever have it. I'm not an expensive jewelry wearer, but this ring is quite nice.
Friday night a group of friends and I went out for drinks.. We went to Yardhouse, until it closed. Then to Cafe Lulu, until it closed and then we finished off the night dancing in the streets to music from Vince's stereo. I learned my limit on celebration champagne, enough said about that night.
Saturday morning I graduated at 8 am, on 1 1/2 hours of sleep. I was struggling staying awake during the ceremony. I got an energy pill from a girl and it definitely helped out. The people there for my graduation was a great group of ladies.. my mom, grandma, sister, Aunt Kathy, cousins Amelia and Daisy, and Regina. We picked up Jen after the ceremony and went to Cafe 222 for brunch. My little cousin Amelia is pure comedy. The tourmaline products from Aveda that guarantee radiance must be working because 9-year old Amelia said that she's going to call me 'The Reflector'. She said I'm always glowing "like an angel, Alli Jo". I don't know if I want to be called 'The Reflector', but I appreciate her acknowledging any radiance. She's the same little one that 3 years ago at our huge Thanksgiving asked when the table got really quiet, "Alli Jo, were you born with those pimples?" Talk about an observant, inquisitive little one.. the stories go on and on with interactions between Amelia and I. After the graduation ceremony, I took off the cap and gown and she begged me to wear it. I loved watching people's reactions thinking this 9 year old must be some sort of genius. She walked so confidently through crowds of people, staring at this little girl owning her graduate status.
I was so tired Saturday afternoon, I don't know if I had more than 5 hours of sleep any given night for the past week and a half, so I feel asleep watching TV at 4 in the afternoon.
Now, I'm home.. doing laundry, cleaning up from the whirlwind of family, watching the news (I can't believe Ray Nagin got re-elected!) and trying to take in the last week. It was odd at the graduation party on Thursday saying good-bye to people I'll potenitally never see again... people that have really influenced me over the past 4 years. Sure, it's part of life, but it doesn't mean that it's easy.
I'm so excited to see what the future holds, but I also want to not forget the incredible memories, lessons, and people of college. Laying on my bed with my face in the pillow and Norah Jones playing on my computer doesn't help, I guess..but I feel like a little Norah right now.

May 16, 2006

commencement prep

the last few weeks have been pretty emotional for me. i've been so busy, but have also desired to write about them to help me remember what i'm feeling and thinking.

about two weeks ago we had our last CRU meeting. it brought a lot of closure for me, and in some ways it felt like that night i graduated. the night started with the band of Josh, James and Donnie. it was so fun just to be with good friends and sing out in the classroom, i kept thinking that it was sweet smelling incense to Him. next, each graduate was introduced by a person they had influenced over the years. i was reminded how impactful we are as leaders and upperclassman, and how often times the small stuff is what sticks in people's lives. jen intro'd me and said some super nice and thoughtful things. ariel jumped up to add on some final thoughts.. it was great because we're three different ages and share the same sense of humor. after we were intro'd we shared 5 things that we've learned in college. sean rapped about his college experience and called me up to beat-box. i made a fool out of absolute fool. i think my beat was super lame and eventually tailed off because i was trying to hear why everyone was cracking up at sean's words. all that to say, it was so much fun.

after the little speeches, we had a great slideshow that vince prepared. it had new orleans, urban immersion, australia, imperial beach, ensenada, kickball, gap nights, thailand and so much more. i was so happy to look around the room and see most of my closest friends smiliing and watching the screen. i got home that night and cried.. i cried because i realized how much i love these people, how much i'll miss 'running into' them on campus, how i've truly shared life with them.

i've had people congratulate me on graduation and frankly i'm waiting for the sweet part of bittersweet to come into play. right now the only positive aspect is that i won't be bubbling in scantrons on a weekly basis. being a college student affords us many opportunities we wouldn't otherwise have. we can be irresponsible, we can skip obligations to grab coffee, we can hear incredible (and often boring) lectures on real world conflicts, we can be activists on almost everything, we can have an empty bank account and laugh, we can stay up late and talk, and dream about the future together. i'm so lathargic right now, it's good that i'm writing, it helps.

tomorrow at 1:30 i have my final interview .. then i'll know for sure about going to China!

the other day on the trolley i had a funny experience. i was on my way to aveda for our PURITY event. we had to wear all white. i was wearing a great linen white skirt, a white tanktop with a cashmere white cardigan on top. i had on white bohemian flat sandals and a white shell bracelet on. i had on silver angel wing earrings.. really trendy from a local boutique.

i got on the trolley aware of my appearance which contrasts sharply with the red interior, not to mention the attire of others onboard. there i sit in white head to top, my hair tied back, legs crossed and angel wing earrings and i pulled out Tozer's book to read which has in large font, "The Pursuit of G" as the title. The man sitting across from me, looks up from his book to look at mine.. his eyes go upward to my face where he looks at each ear and then he looks at me with the widest eyes. i think he repented that very moment. ha.

it's 12:43 and i just woke upself because i fell asleep sitting up on my couch. i am so very tired.

May 1, 2006

Shawn Haggerty met Jacob.

I am so thankful that I got to meet Jacob.

For those of you who have seen Invisible Children, you know Jacob as the 14 year old boy who cried after being asked what he would say to his brother who was murdered by the LRA. The one who said he had nothing, and that he would rather die than stay on earth.

When I first watched Invisible Children, it was this moment in the film that broke my heart and changed my life. When he cried, it was a cry of real, raw pain, the kind of pain most of us, especially me have never come close to feeling. Something inside of me snapped and I realized that this is REAL, and its happening NOW. Inexucusable atrocity and horror. All I could do was silently apologize to the Jacob on the screen, crying tears of regret. How could I have turned my eyes away for my 19 years and done nothing? Right there I promised that I would never again live that way, unfeeling and apathetic.

So that was February 9th..
And yesterday was April April 27th..

And I got to meet Jacob.

We were at the Invisible Children offices, standing in the hallway with a few of the people who work there, and Jason and a boy walk out of the office. Jason goes, "have you guys met Jacob?" and I saw a very familiar shy face looking at me. And immediately my heart was in my mouth. Jacob? Could it be the same Jacob who forever affected me, who I cried for and prayed for, who I apologized to and promised to never look away from? And there he was, shaking my hand with a shy smile and then reaching to hug me. They had flown him from Uganda to the states for the GNC, getting him a passport last minute.

I was truly in that moment. I was right there, my heart and mind and soul, all of me was right there in that hug. It was a moment planned by Him. A gift to me, a gift to him. Theres so much I could say if I had hours but I just had a moment, and I took it. Its so hard to put into words, but moments like those tell me I am on the right track, that there is nothing more important than people and compassion. Everything else fades into the background. The fact that I am flat broke, the fact that I have a million finals and papers coming up and no time this weekend to start, the people who have been bugging me or hurting me lately.. Its all gone. It might make no sense but I really experienced Him in that moment. I'm learning more and more that He doesn't make sense to me, or that I can't make sense of Him, and it makes Him all the more wonderful and mysterious. It was like a taste of what it is to fulfill my purpose. Jacob was only one, but he represents the hundreds of thousands of war-torn kids in Uganda. I plan to hug all of them.