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Classes start today, and in a ritual that is one hundred percent ingrained into my psyche, I am wearing a “first day of school” outfit; which really only amounts to my favourite pair of jeans and a new top.  I spent all weekend getting to know new seminary students, only to know that since I’m in the advanced track, most of my classes will be with second and third year students.  It’s all the familiar questions: Will I fit in?  Will they like me?  Am I smart enough?

I was originally planning on getting my MABS (including bridge year to achieve MDiv equivalency) in two years; however, due to an unfortunate fact of life, I never took any Greek in my undergrad.  Therefore, I am a year behind in Greek.  And I am required to take two years each of both Greek and Hebrew, but cannot start Greek and Hebrew the same year.  All that to say, I think I am going to take smaller class loads (10 or so credits instead of 16) each semester and extend the two years to three.  I can start Greek this year and Hebrew next year.  Then, let’s not forget, there will still be an additional year for my ThM.

Now, in other news, I am all settled into my apartment.  I even went grocery shopping the other day.  I’m going to be the RA for my apartment (how’s that for a laugh?), and I think I will get along with my housemates.  I am meeting a lot of people, people who seem friendly and nice.  And so far, I am glad I moved here.

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I’m here and mostly unpacked.  After two grueling days of packing, my mom and I drove to my school today.  I’m exhausted.

I’ve met both of my housemates; they seem nice enough.  I’ve met a bunch of other people, in line with seminary, mostly men.  I can’t really remember any of their names.  I need to go grocery shopping.  And people keep asking what classes I’m taking, as if I can remember (no matter that they start on Monday). 

I can’t tell you how many times on the way down that I decided it was a mistake, and I should have just stayed at home, where I belonged.  But this will be an adventure.  I just need to make some friends, settle in, find a job, get into the swing of my classes and everything will fall into place.

I’ll try to write something more coherent after my mind catches up with the rest of me.

I am in the midst of packing my life into boxes.  I’m certainly not taking everything with me this time (someday when I am more permanent, I will bring the rest), but it is amazing how much it amounts to.  And much of it is books and clothing.  There is a fair amount of kitchen type things, and I haven’t even begun on bathroom stuff yet.  Not to mention all of my computer/desk/extra crap I’ve accumulated and feel the need to bring with me.

I’m not good with transitions.  When I interview and they ask me if I am flexible, I frequently give the right answer, but not the true answer.  I am not flexible.  I need time to process, time to consider, time to accept change before I can fully enter into it.  Two and a half weeks has not been enough.  And even though I can see the piles of boxes growing ever larger, I am still in disbelief that I will actually move in two days.

I’ve never truly left home before.  When I did my undergrad, I came back every Christmas break and nearly every summer.  And I knew I was coming home when I finished.  This time, I don’t intend to come back except to visit.  It’s strange to say goodbye to an area I grew up in, to people I’ve known forever. 

Wednesday will come too soon.

During my years in undergrad, I learned a lot about myself.  One of the things I learned was that I am not capable of making good decisions past about 10pm at night.  In that vein, I also learned that I am most susceptible to telling my secrets later at night.  My friends did two things: one, they informed me I was not allowed to make any sort of important decisions past 10pm, and two, they would come to my room after 10 or 11pm to weasel my secrets out of me.

I say this not because I have been making decisions post 10pm or telling secrets, but because I will think something is a great idea at about midnight, but when I wake up the next morning, I am always glad I did not follow through.  With my being out so late so frequently, this has been happening more and more.  For the last couple of years, I’ve generally gone to bed at a very respectable hour, so none of this was an issue. 

But with dancing and now grad school coming up, I know I’m going to have to remind myself (without the help of my dear friends) to keep my head on.  To not make decisions because it just seems like such a good idea in the middle of the night, to not tell all my secrets to strangers, to be careful at night.

I sound a bit dramatic, but if I followed every impulse I feel so strongly in the middle of the night, I can promise life would not go very well for me.  :)

Today, I am going to watch all four of my nieces overnight until tomorrow night.  I think this is the first time my brother & sister-in-law will have had a night to themselves in years.  They are going to the city at a hotel that William Shatner found them.  Apparently they will have coffee with him at Tully’s.  (My brother is hilarious.)

To gear up for the next two days, for breakfast I am having a piece of DQ ice cream cake (my sister’s birthday was yesterday) and a cup of black coffee.  So delicious.

I don’t think the kids know I’m leaving for grad school.  I think my brother & sister-in-law are waiting for me to tell them, which I will today.  Which will probably ensue in crying from the oldest one.  The two youngest won’t understand and the second oldest won’t like it, but she’s not as emotional as the oldest.  At least I won’t be that far away.  And it’s nice that I get a solid weekend with them before I leave.

So, me and four children, ages 2 years, 3.5 years, 6 years and 8.5 years, for two days.  And let’s not forget their labrador and their kitty.  I just hope the weather is nicer than it promises to be so that we can go outside.

In my everyday life, I fear that often I live like I’m 60.  When I have the house to myself, I clean it.  One of my favourite pastimes is reading.  And I crochet doilies. 

When it comes to conflict in my life, I tend to revert to my 4-year-old self, who simply wants to run and hide at the first sign of unpleasantness. 

If I am dealing with men, either ones I like or who like me, my 13-year-old self makes an appearance.  I never know what to do or say, and usually do exactly the opposite of what I should have.  I am awkward at best.

And sometimes, I am certain that I have a 15-year-old boy on the inside, the one who laughs at the inappropriate jokes and whose mind makes the connections it should never make.  (I told this to a girl I’d met recently who thinks I can be feminine, and she seemed aghast.  She, apparently, does not have a teenage boy inside of her; she is all girl.)

My goal is to be my age, 28, in all my life interactions.  I am definitely working at it, but I fear it is an uphill battle.  Going out late to swing dance is one of the ways I am trying to integrate my life into my age.  And it is helping.

How many ages do you have?

There are 11 days left until I move.  My parents will get home on Tuesday, which is terrific, because I am hopeless at packing and need my mom’s help.  Next weekend, all day Friday and through Saturday evening, I am watching my nieces so my brother and sister-in-law get to have a night to themselves.  My last Sunday home, I am throwing myself a “goodbye party” at a dance I like to go to.  My plan was to dissuade anyone from trying to throw an actual party (I had a few inquiries).  I figure if people want to come, they can, and either way it doesn’t make a lot of difference to me.

I’ve been going back and forth between feeling really good about my move and really sad about leaving everyone behind.  I found a couple of swing dances to check out when I get to my new city, and I think that will help.  Plus I have at least a couple of friends in the area who are already looking forward to seeing me.

Finances are, of course, a huge concern to me.  If you think of it, include that in your prayers for my move and transition to grad school.  I am confident that God will provide; I just need to rest in Him instead of worrying about it.

It won’t be long now, and I’ll be starting a whole new chapter in my life.

I’ve always considered myself to be a planner, to the -enth degree.  But I’ve noticed an interesting tendency in my life to make impulsive decisions whenever it comes to large life changes.  I wonder if I get so annoyed at my own planning and need for detail that I sabotage that part of me by making big decisions, spur of the moment.  And yet, many of those decisions have been the best I’ve made.

That said, I’m going to grad school in 2.5 weeks. 

I called up my school yesterday, asking about attending in January, since I knew I’d missed the boat for this semester.  They said, “are you sure it’s too late?”  And that’s how it all started.  I had to update my application (done), apply for housing (done) and submit my updated FAFSA (done).  I’ve paid the fees, including the registration fee.  And it even looks like I have a very good chance of getting my own room in the housing.  (They offer two bedroom apartments, with between 2-4 students per apartment.)  Move in date is August 25, with orientation on August 27.

The timing could not be better.  I finished VISTA, have no other job lined up.  Yes, I’ll be leaving friends and the class I teach at church, but that would always be the case.  I don’t have any money, but I never will (here’s to hoping student loans will cover everything).  So I’m taking this huge step of faith, but it seems like everything is lining up perfectly.  And this decision feels right and feels good.  I really think God cleared the way for this to work out.

I am incredibly excited.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E. B. White

Does E.B. White get it, or what?  This is exactly the conundrum I find myself in on a regular basis.  I came across this blog today: The Key to Unhappiness: The Pleasure Flash.  You really should read it; it’s short but good.  And then I read the following quote on a friend’s facebook page the other day:

“Did I firmly believe,” he said, “as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences destiny in another, religion to me would be everything. I would cast aside earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as follies, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. Religion would be my first waking thought and my last image before sleeping. I would labour in its cause alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences would never stay my hand or seal my lips. Earth, with its joys and its grief’s, would occupy no moment of my thoughts. I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me so soon to be everlastingly miserable or everlastingly happy. I would go forth into the world and preach to it in season and out of season, and my text would always be: ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’”  (From an Atheist to C.T. Studd)
 
So.  I am torn.  I am confused.  My mind is muddled with choices.
 
Here is part of the problem.  I could have gone to grad school this Fall.  I could have been getting to go right now.  But I chose to stay because I had these things here, this friend group, these commitments at church and so on.  I thought, one more year, then I’ll go.  However, my friend group has mostly disintegrated (not to say they are not there, but that it is not what it was), I am not continuing with one of my ministries and the other, while it would be sad, would manage without me (as it will eventually anyway).  So I chose to stay and now find that my reasons to stay are not as compelling as they once were.
 
Then I thought, if I can’t go to grad school this year, which kills me, perhaps I should just be ridiculous and ignore the idea for a while.  (I am an all or nothing type person, after all.)  Yet…  While I can fill my time with things I love doing, with dancing in particular, I know that it is not something that will fulfill me or give me joy long-term.  It is a cheap replacement for a future I desire but can’t seem to attain.
 
But now I don’t know what to do.  It doesn’t help that my friend, DC, is a huge proponent of moving to the city where my grad school is, if I feel the need to move at all.  He does not like the idea of me simply moving out and wasting a year of my life.  Forward motion and all that, I suppose.  He asks me good questions: questions I resent, but that I know are valid.  And I respect his opinion.
 
I could start in January.  The idea itself is seductive.  But it might be possible.  Do I consider it?  I really enjoy dancing, but it is not what I want from my life.  I want to teach.  I want to be back in academia.  I want to be surrounded by papers and books and research.  I want to delve into the mysteries and deep places of faith.
 
So what’s a girl to do?

Today is my last day at work.  I didn’t think I’d make it.  No, really, I turned in my notice to quit twice and was talked out of it twice by my supervisor.  The first time was six months ago.  The second time was a week and a half ago.  And so here I am; I’ve finished my entire year of service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA.  I’m not entirely certain if I truly finished strong or if I merely limped over the line.  But I finished.

It’s a good feeling.  And I can look back over the year, over my accomplishments and know, with a certainty I didn’t feel during my year, that I got things done.  I did some pretty good work, and I have left resources behind me that can be used for some time to come.  My portfolio is fairly impressive, if you ask me.

Of course, now I am onto the next step.  I am not sure exactly what that will look like, but I have an idea of what I’d like.  And, of course, the entire thing fills me with great amounts of anxiety.  I do not like the unknown.

Here’s to the next year.  Let’s hope it goes smoother than the last.