Busy Bees

As LNDQ not-so-subtly pointed out in her most recent post, I have been remiss in updating all of you in my life. It's probably because I have recently turned into the busiest person in the history of the world. If the history of the world only consists of the past three weeks at the seminary. Which brings me to the topic of this post: busyness.

I hate being busy...most of the time. Part of me likes it because it means I'm moving and shaking and Doing Big Things, as Sarah likes to say. I usually feel really productive after an especially busy day. But seriously? I just want to have three consecutive hours between 8:00am and 10:00pm where I don't have to be somewhere or turn something into a digital drop box (God, I hate BlackBoard) or really do anything. Just one day out of the week.

Let's take a peek into a typical Tuesday for me, which is my busiest day by far.

6:30am- Wake up, shower, get ready/dressed
8:00am- Leave apartment, get coffee
8:30am- Old Testament class
10:00am- Work on homework (or socialize with other people who are supposed to be doing homework)
11:55am- Chapel
12:20pm- Lunch
12:50pm- Choir
1:30pm- Greek class
3:00pm- More homework, or sometimes a power nap if it's been a particularly rough day
4:15pm- Leave for DC, ride in a van for two hours and get absolutely no homework done
6:15pm- Arrive in DC for class (except sometimes, we don't arrive until 6:45/7:00...I also hate 495)
6:30pm- Youth Ministry class
9:30pm- Load back into said van and get nothing done, once again
11:15pm- Arrive back on campus

And from there, I either end up hanging out with two of my friends for a little while, because I've just had the longest day ever, or I go back to my room and crash. Seriously?! I hate this schedule. My other days are equally as crazy, I just don't have to trek down to DC. I don't have any time to just chat on the phone with my friends or get big chunks of homework done or anything like that.

So to sum up this entry: I. hate. being. busy. If you can avoid being busy, do it at all costs. It will make you go insane. And not update your blog for weeks. And apologize to your (few) followers, because you've been a very negligent blog owner.

I promise you something more exciting next time around.


Cue the sappy coming-of-age vignette

Last night, I went to visit Pink and JD (my friends who are getting married) and we had a fabulous night, just cooking, baking, eating, and watching the Penguins totally dominate the Maple Leafs (Leaves?). It was a great night, and actually, I kind of forgot that I wasn't still in undergrad just down the road; I mean, I probably spent about half of my evenings doing some variation of that all last year. So like I said, awesome night. It was just what I needed. What I didn't need? The emotional breakdown I had once I got to the parking lot (don't freak out, mom, just keep reading).

I got in the car and immediately pictured myself driving back to my college. I had to shake that thought out of my head and remind myself to go 35 miles beyond that down the road. That's when the waterworks started. Now, if you know me at all, you know that it does not take much to make me cry. I cry during almost every movie, when I'm sad/happy/angry/frustrated/excited/any emotion, and at plenty of other things. It's really just how I express myself, and it usually relieves some stress. But last night, I just let loose and basically cried steadily for the ten minutes it took to get from the parking lot to the exit that I used to take to get back to school. I felt this inexplicable pull to take the exit and just drive through my college campus.

So I did just that. I started around the road that encircles the campus and just drove slowly, remembering what it was like to be there. I drove past the academic building where I spent the better part of my class time (and the majority of last semester in general), the library where I used to do research for my senior seminar paper until they kicked me out at midnight, and the campus center where I checked my mail every day, worked in the snack shop, ate in the dining hall, worked out on the elliptical, and went to a bunch of concerts and dances. I kept going around and ended up driving along the Yellow Breeches, a creek that runs through campus. I drove over the covered bridge that I drove over every day last year and pulled into a space in that commuter parking lot I hated so much. I was just going to go sit by the edge of the Breeches, but then I realized that the grass was soaking wet, so I nixed that plan.

Instead, I decided to disregard my earlier post regarding "being smart" (as well as the fact that a girl was recently attacked on the campus...okay, so I'm giving away my location), and I walked along a path alongside the Breeches, towards the swinging bridge. As I walked, I figured out why I felt so pulled back to that campus that night: I wanted to be in a place that knew me. I love where I am now, don't get me wrong. But I can't attach my new home with my spiritual, emotional and intellectual development. That campus, however, is where I became who I am today and met some of the most incredible and influential people I've ever known. And as I continued to walk, I realized that I had never really grieved the loss of this place in my life.

I don't want to trivialize the grieving process; I've experienced the death of loved ones, and this is not the same situation. But in a way, it is similar: I had a deep connection with the people and the place, I lived and breathed it for four years, and all of a sudden, I wasn't a member of that community anymore. At least, not in the same way. I spent my senior year getting ready for grad school and living off-campus, so I had already mentally disconnected myself from much of the community. This really helped me move forward, but I think it led to the setback I experienced last night. I had this sudden realization that I had basically wished away the end of this experience while striving for the next one. And this past summer, I didn't have a spare second to just sit with that loss. A month and a half of moving home, tying up loose ends, planning and packing; sixteen days backpacking in Europe; five days of unpacking and re-packing; a week in New Orleans; five days of unpacking and re-packing; a week at the lake; five days of unpacking and MAJOR re-packing; moving to a new place. Last night was the first time I really thought, "I miss this, and I miss it a lot."

I kept walking (being mindful of the time, because there is a midnight curfew and I didn't want to start my life as an alum by being arrested) and eventually got to the bridge. I walked across, and stood in the place where I stood just over a year ago, in the midst of a fun photoshoot with my housemates. At that time, we felt like we were right in the middle of our lives; we were about to graduate from college and get jobs (or, in my case, pay for some more education) and start this whole second half of our lives. And as much as that's true, I feel even more in the middle right now.

While I am kind of straddling that gap between college and real life (grad school screws with your head, guys), I'm also stuck between living in the present (as well as for the future) and embracing my past. I'm trying to figure out what it means to appreciate and really love where I've been without trying to get back there. Without needing to get off that exit every time I drive past.

After that slight revelation, I felt way more at peace, and I walked back to the parking lot, where I literally started the car at 12:01 (but there were no PSafe around, so I was good), and finished driving around the circle. I drove back to Civil War Land with much less stress and a new perspective. I'm still working on how to balance those two extremes, but at least I'm not an emotional wreck like last night. Stay tuned for further developments, my dear readers.


My relationship with coffee- Part II

Yesterday, I decided that I would go one day a week without coffee, to try and lessen my dependence.

By 2:00, I was legitimately falling asleep in my class, and I had felt groggy and totally off all day.

Needless to say, that plan = OUT THE WINDOW.

I love coffee.


Let me get out my liberal theological soapbox

Yesterday, I was headed over to York for my teaching parish (field education, whatever you want to call it) on US-30, also known as the Lincoln Highway. As I got to the outskirts of Gettysburg (doesn't that sound sketchy?), I happened upon a Rescue Mission. This Christian organization helps out the poor, homeless and needy, giving them a place to stay and food to eat, among other things. Awesome, right? I'm a pretty big fan of all of those things. What I'm not a big fan of? Terrible church signs, like this place was sporting.

In order to give you a better idea of the church sign, I've created a rendering of it on the church sign maker (ps, that can provide a lot of entertainment on a rainy afternoon...)

Of course, this did not come from Zion Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, but you get the idea. GOOD WITHOUT GOD IS O. I have some strong opinions about that sign, to be honest with you.

First of all, I don't understand what "O" is. I mean, I know it's a letter, but I can't quite figure out the implications of such a letter when related to "good" and "God." I mean, maybe they're saying that good without God is a big donut? I can't be sure, but I can only assume that they are playing on the visual similarities to the number "0." In which case, I have some even bigger concerns.

What this sign says to me, and I'm sure to the others who drive past it, is that, unless you have God, any good you do is worthless. Maybe it's just my steadily-increasing liberal mindset (more about this another day), but I'm pretty sure people who don't believe in God do good every day. If you're talking on a large scale, Brad Pitt has participated in some huge humanitarian efforts, and he says outright that he doesn't believe in God. On a smaller scale, I have plenty of friends who volunteer in soup kitchens or donate money and time to other charities aiding those in need who don't do it in the name of God.

Do I think that all Christians should be doing things for the poor and homeless like the Rescue Mission? Absolutely. But do I think that all those who do good things need to do them in the name of God? Absolutely not. If we start taking all of the things done solely out of the compassion someone has for others, not having anything to do with God, our world would be in a sad state of affairs (well, more than it already is). If anything, I think Christians need to be doing more than we are, and working with those who have great models for service, almost regardless of motivation.

It concerns me that this organization would immediately alienate so many people. There are homeless and hungry people who don't believe in God; would they feel welcome in this place? There are people who probably have time and money they would like to give to such a worthy cause, but why would they help an organization that assumes their good works are worthless? I'm also concerned about putting a label on things done in the name of God as being inherently good. Look at how many wars were started in the name of God, how many people were killed and had their land stolen from them because Christians thought they had a right to the land. If we start making blanket statements about what is good and what is not good, Christians are going to have a lot to answer for in the end.

One thing I'm learning about myself is that I have an extremely negative reaction to generalizations. I really dislike when things are lumped into one category because of a seemingly common thread among them. This one sign spawned a lot of thinking for me yesterday, because I was so offended by the generalization that all things good are done because of God; not because people of all beliefs care about other people or want to improve the world we live in. So my message to you all is this: if you are doing good things, keep doing them. If you attribute them to God, awesome. But if you don't...keep doing good things. Some Christians sure could use an example like you.


My relationship with coffee

One of the things you'll probably read here is me whining complaining talking about is my lack of a steady income. I know, I'm in school right now, that is my job (thanks mom). But nobody is paying me to sit in a classroom and write papers and the like. I consider this to be a tragedy, but the federal government does not seem to agree.

I've been looking for ways to support my shopping habits (there is a Gap Outlet four miles from here. FOUR MILES, people!) and oh yeah, those loans I'm going to have to be accountable for come November 2011. I got a once-a-week babysitting gig with possibly the most pleasant baby I have ever encountered, so really, I would do it for free, but once again: GAP OUTLET. Luckily, a few weeks ago, the Admissions office asked me to essentially be the Seminary Weekend work study for the next few weeks. Between now and said weekend, I am working about 15 hours total putting together folders, stuffing welcome bags (um, they are awesome...each participant gets a sweet backpack with Utz chips, Snyder's of Hanover pretzels, a Hershey bar, York peppermint patties and Mott's apple juice...jealous), printing nametags, loading up Admissions USB drives, and pretty much anything else Admissions wants. Then, during that weekend, I belong to Admissions. But they're paying me pretty well, so I'm not complaining. Plus, I get to set my own hours, it's really low stress, and I love the people I work with. Excellent deal.

Anyway, while I am putting applications and brochures into folders and salivating over the contents of the bookbags, I have a lot of time to think. Hopefully, this will result in engaging and well-developed blogs. Or maybe just a lot of random subjects that I don't have time to think about otherwise. You are getting one of those delightfully random posts today.

Today, I dedicate my post to coffee. Here at the seminary, we semi-jokingly refer to it as the Third Sacrament (the other two being bread and wine...come to think of it, if you combine all three, that might be a nice hangover remedy). We drink coffee all. the. time. The seminary is a pretty small place, so there aren't any food shops on campus or anything like that, but you had better believe we have our own honor-system coffee shop. Every morning, the coffee shop coordinator makes a few pots of coffee (and we've gone totally fair trade!) and students come down, get a cup of coffee and hang out a little before class. The running price of such good coffee and fellowship? A mere $.50! And for a travel mug? Only $.75! A total bargain, especially when you consider that it's all fairly traded. Take that, Starbucks (just kidding, I still love you).

So here comes the confession: I kind of hate coffee. But I kind of love flavored creamer and sweetener. And my God, when you add those to that black death, it is the greatest thing ever. People make fun of me because my coffee usually ends up looking like this:

Or maybe a little lighter. Sometimes, it kind of looks like I'm just drinking creamer. But I'm not, I promise. Also, can you show me someone who regularly drinks their coffee on a white tablecloth with a full sugar bowl framed by freshly cut flowers? How unrealistic.

Anyway, so yes, I love to drink some coffee with my cream and sugar. Because as repulsive as coffee is by itself, as soon as you add some CoffeeMate Hazelnut creamer and two packets of Equal (or Sweet-n-Low, if I'm in a pink mood), oh my God. It is the greatest drink ever created.

I think part (read: most) of my coffee obsession lies in the fact that it is heavily caffeinated. Hi, my name is Julie, and I am addicted to caffeine. The little caffeine monkey on my back commands me to consume this so-good-it-should-be-illegal drug prior to 9:00 a.m., or else it takes control of my ability to function, and I am in a zombie-like trance until lunch. A few times I've drank soda in the morning, trying to mix it up and eliminate the calories that come with creamer. But it just doesn't feel right to be drinking a cold, carbonated drink before lunch. Because coffee is hot, it is the perfect remedy for chilly mornings. And in the summer, you can pour it over ice (side note: right now, please make some coffee, let it cool off, pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, and then use it to make iced coffee. AMAZING.) and have your own little trendy drink. Perf.

All this to say: I freaking love coffee. I drink it every day. Sometimes, I drink a cup while I'm getting ready and then fill my travel mug before class. And on a really long day, I'll refill that mug after class. With plenty of creamer. Fat-free Hazelnut is my default, because it is so delicious (one day, I will make a list of all the delicious hazelnut-flavored items in my life), but I do like to mix it up. Irish Creme is a close second, with Amaretto coming in next. Which reminds me, I also love coffee after dinner, especially when it comes with some Frangelico, Bailey's or Disarrono. Maybe that explains my favorite creamers.

Wow, this was a really long post just to exhort my passion for hot caffeine. I'll try to make my life more interesting for my (now two!) readers. Speaking of which: hi M! Welcome to my blog. I hope you like coffee :]