August 22, 2009

All Things New

The other day my friends and I met for sushi at Ichiban in Hillcrest. As we updated each other on our summer adventures, my friend Bobby exclaimed "New house and a car? It's like I don't even know you anymore!". Of course his statement was hyperbolic, but it got me thinking how much my life has changed in just a few months.

New Job- I just started a position with Campus Crusade at SDSU. I was involved as a student in college, and now I'll be a staff member on my alma mater's campus. I'm still raising support, and excited to get on campus in just a few days! Here's a blurb if you want to hear more!

New Car- The car isn't actually new, it's 11 years old with plenty of miles, but Honda Civics are reliable right? After 4, count it, 4 years without a car, I finally have wheels! I have a very special relationship with my bike and the SD Metro system, but for now our daily hangouts have come to an end. I could write a book with all the fun and frustration of living in California without a car, but I'll just say that I'm so very grateful for my little white Honda.

New House & New Housemates- I have four new housemates- Kate, Rianne, Shawn, and Emily and together we have found an incredible Victorian craftsman home in Golden Hill. It's an older place, with wood floors throughout and loads of 'fix-it' projects but we're all equally ecstatic to move in and start the process. My room was once the formal sitting room, so I'm researching solutions for a small room without a closet. Armoires from Craigslist and IKEA are options, but I'm still looking. My favorite feature of the house is the fully equipped wood shop in the basement! I can't wait to make picture frames.

New Neighborhood- After a year in 92101 (Little Italy) and a year in 92103 (Mission Hills), I'm excited to be a 92102 resident on Golden Hill. We're close to Balboa Park and walking distance to Krakatoa Coffee Shop. The neighborhood has character galore and super friendly neighbors.

Amidst all this new-ness, some things remain unchanged. I still listen to Rod Stewart, I still eat oatmeal almost every morning, and I'm still a self-diagnosed narcoleptic. Everything else is different.

August 5, 2009

Safely Home

I read an article today on about Laura Ling and Euna Lee being released from a labor camp in North Korea, and I cried. I'm not really a crier, but this story has been one that I've made a point to follow. I wonder why this story out of the thousands has captured my attention? Perhaps it's the intrigue of North Korea- the fact that the little we know of the country comes from aerial images from Google Maps. Or maybe because I've been in a few hairy situations in Asia- ones where I wasn't sure how the law would fall, and who might be watching. I think there's a hope when you're an American traveling overseas that there'd be a diplomat on the other side of the pond that would work on your behalf, if something went wrong.

After seeing the movie Brokedown Palace (about two Americans in Thailand) in high school, I wondered what it'd be like to be in jail in a foreign country. It would take the language and cultural barriers to an all new level. I love that Bill Clinton was the diplomat and that when the two ladies flew back into the US, he had them go first to be reunited with their families. He silently followed, minutes later, and didn't say anything to the press. For all his faults, if I were in a North Korean labor camp with a 12 year sentence, I'd want Bill Clinton to be the guy chatting with Kim Jong Il for my release.

The article ends with journalist Lisa Ling discussing her sister's return to the States. From

"She said her sister was looking forward to eating fresh fruit and food for the first time in four months, after many meals of rice that often contained rocks.

"I can tell she has gone through a lot," Ling said.

"My sister has an amazing, amazing spirit, and she's a little bit weak right now, so I think it's going take a little time for her to gather up her wits and be able to talk about what she experienced."

No doubt that Ling will be writing a book in the next few months, among some counseling and plenty of media interviews. I'll be picking up a copy, and interested to hear about her four months in North Korea. Note to self: Don't get 'lost' in China and wander into a country that Bush labeled in his "axis of evil"... there won't be a warm reception.

June 18, 2009

Congratulations Abundant

I feel like I've said the word congratulations more times in the last month than all the other times in my life combined. Graduations, engagements, weddings, promotions, new babies are all great reasons for celebration.

To the following incredible people/couples, I say "cheers, felicitations, hats off, and well done"!

To James and Laura, Ann and Beary, Kent and Rachael, Anya and Matt, and Jordan and Sarah on your recent engagements. Tis the month to get engaged! And from what I hear, there will be plenty of fall weddings to attend :)

To Ben and Megan, and Katie and Cody on your wedding day within the next week. Look forward to plenty of dancing at the receptions.

To Mikayla on your new job in Spokane, you're going to rock it.

To Cori, Daisy, and Katie on graduating from nursing, 5th grade, and grad school respectively.

To Denise and Dustin, Trisha and Sean, and Omar and Cynthia on the new additions to your families.

Huge congrats!!!

May 11, 2009

Almonds and Raisins for Rudolph

Today I helped my mom sift through old photos, scan them, and then put them on a digital picture frame. I did about 25 pictures to get her started and then step-by-step led her through the process. (I resolve to NEVER teach computer science in any capacity! Especially to a 50+ class, haha). She was a great sport and in the process we found this napkin that I left next to a healthy Christmas snack for Rudolph.

Transcribed for your enjoyment...apparently I knew the power of persuasion early.. using his (Santa's) name repeatedly. I dictated the words to my mom and then signed the bottom. I'm guessing I was around 4 years old.

First put out the toys. Santa when you're done with the toys, Santa you better bring Rudolph down if you have him. Santa, I've been good, real good. Wake me up I'll come out and I'll see Rudolph out there. (Previous sentence is crossed out.) Here's some milk and cookies for you. Sit in this chair and some almonds and raisins for Rudolph.
xoxo Allie"

Some observations: I had no problem bossing Santa around! I like that I decided against being woken up to see Rudolph...missing snacks was enough evidence for me. And despite correcting people for years that I had no "e" on Alli... I guess at one time I did.

April 11, 2009

I'm a little hard of hearing...

A cute dark haired guy kept passing the booth I sit at 8 hours every day. He'd wave or nod or smile.. or a combination of the three, but no spoken interaction for 5 solid days.

Then yesterday, he walked right up to me and said in a THICK Irish accent "What's the tame?" I smiled, "I don't know the tame, sorry. " He shook his head, "Do you have the tame?" If I don't what the tame is, how can I have it? I said "The tame...uhhh....?" He looked puzzled and said "Do you have the team?" Relieved I said, "Oh no! The team is in Centre Stage. (The band was leading worship in a building name Centre Stage). I was so happy to have figured it out. But I hadn't. He said "No, no, the taaame...." and pointed in the direction of the box under his arm. On the cardboard was written Christianity Magazine. The magazine team/tame?

Finally I said, "I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about..." I spoke slowly and annunciated each and every word. In return he said "What... tame... is... it? T....I....M....E....tame"

That's right, he had to spell it. He wasn't pointing to the cardboard box, he was pointing to his wrist, the universal motion for the time.

I quickly turned around, grabbed my purse and cast my embarrassed face down to find my phone. "It's uhh, 4:11" I turned it around for him to see in case there has been any miscommunications. I think I said something lame like "Sorry, I'm a little hard of hearing..."

April 10, 2009

Love Actually...

As I stepped out of the International Arrivals of Heathrow Airport last week, I imagined I heard Hugh Grant's voice in Love Actually smoothly saying, "Love actually is....all around". The reality is: I didn't have anyone waiting for me, arms open wide, flowers in hand. Instead, a Costa Coffee held her arms wide open offering some caffeinated alertness despite the two Dramamine that ran through my system and allowed for solid sleep throughout the entire flight.
Speaking of which, I'm convinced that I should be hired for Dramamine's marketing team. Forget motion sickness! This product insures that I sleep through the night when I'm camping in the middle of the desert. This product allows me to board an international flight, eat dinner, and wake up as the Customs Arrival cards are being passed out. A wonder drug! The only side-effects are grumpy (and jealous) co-travelers that watched as you slept through turbulence/crying babies/boring movies.
While we waiting for a van to carry all of our luggage and instruments to Penge, London we were approached by a nice Jewish man with a kind "Shalom". We responded with "Shalom" and he gave us a glossy card with the 'messiah' on the front. He looked to be about 65, with salt and pepper hair. Unfortunately, I left the card on the table.
After a day of rehearsal, we took the tube (subway) into Central London for a whirlwind walking tour. We started at Westminster Abbey, walked to Big Ben, shoved 8 people into a red telephone booth, watched street performers by the National Museum and drank coffee in Piccadilly Square. We've eaten fish and chips, I've tried a Turkish Delight, and consumed more tea and salt &vinegar crisps than I thought possible.
At dinner one night, my new friends, Sam and Rich gave me a tutorial in British slang. When it was my turn to share California slang, I defaulted to Sean's lingo with words like gnar, shred, and steezy. The other day I heard Rich say "buckets of steez!" As a team, we've even made up our own slang and have fun defining situations of use and its figures of speech. The bass guitarist, Manu, is from Germany so we've been learning random German words. I now know the German for words like plumber's crack, swallow, and sweat. Instead of saying we're hungry we'll say something like "I'm ready to schlook (swallow) some breakfast."
With fake rats in backpacks, exploding Pringles cans, and salty coffee I find that I'm on the defensive with this group of pranksters. The other day a woman approached the CD stand. She was dressed perfectly normal, but when she opened her mouth she was (as the British would put it), "absolutely mad!" She started exclaiming, "Where's the celebration?!" in a thick Irish accent that was almost unintelligible. I started laughing and looking beyond her for our electric player Joe from South Africa or Manu who have become a tag-team. I was sure she had been sent by them. Turns out this woman was indeed insane and my laughing just made her more crazed. I don't know if it was even possible for me to help her find the celebration she was looking for.

February 16, 2009

Accidental Photography

Real photographers scoff when I mention that I use iPhoto. They're appalled that I've never used PhotoShop or Aperture. They roll their eyes when I ask about exposure, lenses, and shutter speed.
I used to take compliments about my pictures in stride and say "Oh, thank you." But I have this fear of being found out. I picture the complimenter and I in South America when I pull out my little 'common' camera. They would turn to me, jaw drops and they'd say "You're not a photographer!"
The truth is, I've had the opportunity to be in situations that would be a photographer's dream and I take my little Canon Elph, point it in the direction of something interesting and push down the button.
So, I appreciate your compliments lately, but I really am below amateur status. Someday, I'd love to take a course and find out what all your terms mean and how to take a picture that was more than an accident. Here are some that I have up in my house and a bit of history behind them.

I was riding on a the back of a motorcycle in Cambodia, heading to Angkor Wat. My motorcycle driver was behind this guy in traffic, we sped up and passed him. I held on with one arm and raised the other one to take a picture. I love that the speed is captured...but not on purpose.

This is what Thailand looks like. There's no enhancement needed when it's paradise. In the distance you can see Burma.

After some pad thai on a small island named Koh Phayam, my friends and I walked to the pier to see all these fisherman mending their nets. I love that the lights from their boats casts such dramatic shadows. It's rare to get a picture in Asia without someone looking at the camera. I took this before they realized 4 American girls were standing next to them on the pier.

This picture comes from a day with the Panga tribe in the mountains of Orissa, India. The Panga women tatooed their faces and wore dozens of earrings for decades. It dates back to when India was British India, and British men would come take tribal women from their families. Panga women in an effort to be less desirable to the British men tatooed their faces. It worked and they were able to stay with their families. The tradition has continued. This is the tribe leader's wife and son.

I took this picture in Xi'an, China (the home of the TerraCotta warriors). We were walking down a back alley looking for a cheap restaurant for dinner. I saw a woman reaching into a giant burlap bag and grinding peppers. When she bent down to pick something up, I reached over and snapped this. I expected it to be blurry, but my trusty Canon pulled through again.

January 27, 2009

Aliens and Santa

On Sunday afternoon, I found myself in Orange County, book in hand, laying on a blanket, watching a church soccer game. Nearby a 5 year old and 8 year old were impatiently waiting for their parent's game to end so they could go home and get warm. It was overcast and I was cold as well.
After a couple minutes of attempting to read 'The Weight of Glory', I invited them over to the blanket to hang out. We played paper, rock, scissors and the hand slap game. Then we played duck, duck, goose... the game just isn't fun with 3 people. After about 10 minutes of being the goose, little Eden (the 5 year old girl) suggested that we switch games and play 100 Questions. JT (the 8 year old boy) joyfully agreed. It seems that this is an expanded form of 20 questions, minus the pressure.
Eden started the game. A person... kind of, dead... no alive, poor... no rich. I thought, "This is going to be such a long soccer game." Finally JT asked, "Is he brown?" A nod from Eden. "Jesus!". Wow, I should have known...
JT was next. About 15 questions into the game, he could see the frustration from Eden and I, so he offered, "He's imaginary.. he's not real." Without thinking I blurted out "SANTA!" I was so proud of myself, I got it! Their reactions were raised eyebrows, with their big brown eyes staring back at me. Confusion, utter confusion.
I backpedaled, I said "Just kidding", I laughed, and then said "Leprechauns?" They had never heard of them before. I filtered out the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny to avoid any further damage.
Finally, JT just shrugged his shoulders and said, "It was an alien".
As a peace offering and to get their minds off of Santa, I offered them each a piece of sugarless gum. As we chomped away at our minty gum, Eden gave me princess stickers and JT showed me his slinky crazy eyes glasses. I wonder what the conversation that night at dinner looked like?

January 14, 2009

Here's my card, call me.

On a crisp Monday morning at 7am, I rode my bike to the Washington Street bus stop. I put my bike on the rack, and stepped onto a fairly empty bus. The bus driver greeted me with a "Good mornin' dah-lin!" Great first words of the day, right?

A couple minutes later, iPod in ears, a guy sat next to me. He said something but I couldn't hear him through my morning dose of Phil Wickham. I removed one small white earphone. "What's that?"

He said "Would I offend anyone if I sat here?" "Um, no." Slight smile.

"Do you mind if I talk to you?" "Uh, no." Bringing purse closer to my body.

"It's just that you're really beautiful." Oh stop. Really, stop.

"I'm a musician, I pay all kinds of music all around San Diego." Pulls out business card. It has his name, the word "Musician" and his phone and email. He tells me that the best way to get a hold of him is "just to call".

"Can I take you out for a cup of coffee?" I say, "I'm headed to work." He chuckles and says, "Well not right now..."

There's no kind way to put it. "No, thanks." He says, "It's been a pleasure, keep the card."

This is the 2nd time this has happened. The random business card pick-up... only the first time it was name, "Mattress King", phone and email. I wish I were kidding.

When will things move beyond Mattress Kings and Musicians?

Just moments after the musician moved back to his seat, an old Chinese couple boarded the bus. I offered them my seat in the front. The old woman responded with a confused face and "Wo ting bu dong." (basically "I don't understand"). I responded in Mandarin, which resulted in 5-7 minutes of excited conversation between us. I looked back at the Musician mid-way through the convo and he was wide-eyed and staring. The old Chinese man ended our conversation with "I like the look of your teeth".

All of this happened before 8am on a bus in San Diego. I'm convinced that if you want a foreign country experience, get out of your personal car and take the bus. You, too, can get great morning greetings, coffee offers and practice your Mandarin.