31 August 2009

Days 3-4 :: Colorado & Nebraska

Here we are in the Cornhusker State. And let me tell you, Nebraska is not lying. We have seen rows and rows of corn on either side of the highway for the past hundred miles or so. Adrienne has taken dozens of pictures of it, which I think is a little excessive, but it is a lot of corn! The land is flat and corny (hah!), but actually pretty beautiful. We are driving parallel to the Platte River and clusters of luscious green trees dot the countryside in a way that somehow seem to break up the monotony of an extremely flat landscape. Also, the day started out a bit overcast, but as the blue sky has gradually broken through, big, puffy clouds like cotton candy have opened up ahead of us and seem to stretch on forever in this flatland. We have entertained ourselves the way we used to when we were little kids lying on our backs facing the sky on a cloudy day: by discovering swordfish and stampeding elephants and tree-houses in these mountains of cumulous nimbus.

We started out this morning around 10am from Denver, CO, after a much appreciated, 2-day break. Our good friend from Concordia, Jyndia is going to grad school for Physical Therapy near Denver, and it was Adrienne’s birthday on Saturday, so we decided to spend a day of fun in Denver before continuing on to our next stop in Bellevue, Nebraska. It was great fun and definitely a huge blessing to spend some much needed time with Jyndia, especially as I am preparing to be so far away from all of my Portland family. We spent Saturday wandering around her school (University of Colorado Health Science Center) and downtown Denver. We also went to great coffee shop called Stella’s that reminded me so much of Portland coffee shops that I felt a twinge of sadness for the wonderful life I left behind in the Pacific Northwest. That night, we made dinner and played Apples to Apples and the Friends trivia game while we drank rum and Cherry Pepsi. We took a ton of pictures (which anyone who knows Jyndia should not be surprised about!) and had so much fun just being around people who knew us the way only great friends can. Jyndia’s housemates were pretty awesome as well and it was great to have a break from driving and spend some time with such laidback and outgoing friends. Overall it was a great day and an “awesome birthday” according to Adrienne.

In other news: Adrienne is getting pretty good at driving a stick shift – a feat which, in case you didn’t know, she couldn’t really do before we started! Yay, Adrienne! And I am about to start a new Terry Tempest Williams book, which I have been excited about for the past 3 months, but not allowing myself to break into until this great adventure. Our next stop tonight crosses the Missouri River and tomorrow we get to pass the great Mississippi on our way to Chicago. We are pretty excited for the next few days – expect some pretty cool pictures of national landmarks coming.

See you tomorrow.

28 August 2009

Days 1-2 :: Nevada, Utah, & Wyoming

Here we are in Beef Country. Along with its nickname, which we were informed of just after we crossed the border (and which automatically makes it my favorite state of course), Wyoming also seems to be full of a lot of wide-open space. Being girls from the West Coast and growing up in towns where mountains close in around us like a security blanket, we have been obsessively taking pictures – of bright blue skies that go on indefinitely, red rocks that are so huge and flat you could build a football field at the top, and miles and miles of land that stretch out until your vision fails. We have about 3 hours to go until we reach our friend Jyndia in Denver and if we see another billboard telling us to come to this place called Little America because of their new shower heads and spotless restrooms (yes, some of the ads do actually say that) we might throw ourselves in front of one of those million semis.

I am currently sitting in the car while Adrienne drives and guess who we have chosen to listen to off my iPod of 10,000 songs: the Jonas Brothers! Now before you start judging us based on our adolescent, teen-pop musical taste I must remind you that we have now been on the road for two days and have already gone through the musical likes of everyone from Bon Iver to Brand New and even a little Coldplay. We have also been driving on the same strip of flat road for the past 5 hours, passing about a million semi-trucks and plateaus – probably going a little bit crazy. So if the Jonas Brothers are the only ones who can keep us awake and driving we are going for it! (Note: After about 3 songs, we have realized our insanity is only getting worse and switched over to something else.)

Yesterday we drove 580 miles from Lake Tahoe to Salt Lake City through Nevada, my least favorite state in all of America. It was boring and flat and I got a speeding ticket from a incredibly rude and patronizing police officer for driving too fast in a construction zone that I didn’t even know was a construction zone. Whatever, Nevada. The only cool part about the entire state was when we finally saw the “You are now leaving Nevada” sign. We then proceeded to drive through the Bonneville Salt Flats, which was actually rather beautiful with its vast plains of white desert and low mountains that seemed to float on the horizon line. Passing by Great Salt Lake, I was reminded of Terry Tempest Williams and her narrative of natural life in Utah, which I have now come to believe is a vastly, underestimated state. It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Salt Lake City was pretty amazing too – a city that both Adrienne and I wouldn’t mind living in if we ever wanted to live anyplace other than the West Coast. This morning we headed over to the Mormon Temple for a whirlwind tour of the Tabernacle with perfect acoustics and world-famous choir (Mormon Tabernacle Choir, of course), and a quick walk around their Temple Courtyard. Incidentally, we saw three different sets of wedding ceremonies taking place and some pretty awesome statues of Joseph Smith.

We just passed yet another sign informing us of a nearby state penitentiary and that we are not allowed to pick up hitchhikers for the next 2 miles. Damn, we were just about to pick up a nice-looking man in an orange jumpsuit.

See you tomorrow.

27 August 2009

Carrie & Adrienne are Off to DC!

When I decided to move to Washington, DC for the next few years of my life, I don't think I really thought of the fact that I would have to drive over 2500 miles to this new city on the opposite end of the country from my beloved Pacific Northwest. So as I was preparing to pack up my life and drive across this great nation, I was somehow able to convince my old college roommate, Adrienne to drive with me. So on Thursday, with my car packed to overflowing and my mom tearing up in the driveway we headed off. I will be documenting our road trip, as I will be doing with my adventures in DC for the next year or so. So I guess this is my first Washington DC entry! Here is our plan:

Thursday, August 27th: South Lake Tahoe, CA - Salt Lake City, UT
Friday, August 28th: Salt Lake City, UT - Denver, CO (we are staying two nights here with our good friend, Jyndia)
Sunday, August 30: Denver, CO - Omaha, NE
Monday, August 31: Omaha, NE - Chicago, IL
Tuesday, September 1: Chicago, IL - Pittsburgh, PA
Wednesday, September 2: Pittsburgh, PA - Washington, DC

Once we get to DC, we will pack about a week of tourist fun into 2 days before Adrienne flies out on September 5. Then I will start my program on Tuesday, September 8.

See you tomorrow.

P.S. In the interest of saving A LOT of time on my part and giving you more to look at, I will post pictures on Flickr and give you link as soon as I get them up!

13 August 2009

Fireflies - Owl City

(Sorry you might have to watch an ad first! It was the only way I could get it on. It is well worth the wait, I promise!!!)

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
Cause they fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude, but I
Would just stand and stare.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.

Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightening bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance.
A foxtrot above my head,
A sock-hop beneath my bed,
The disco ball is just hanging by a thread.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.
(When I fall asleep.)

Leave my door open just a crack.
(Please take me away from here.)
Cause I feel like such an insomniac.
(Please take me away from here.)
Why do I tire of counting sheep?
(Please take me away from here.)
When I'm far too tired to fall asleep
To ten million fireflies.
I'm weird, cause I hate goodbyes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell.
But I'll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
Cause I saved a few,
And I keep them in a jar.

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep,
Cause everything is never as it seems.
(When I fall asleep.)

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly.
It's hard to say that I'd
Rather stay awake when I'm asleep
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams

09 August 2009

Blue Like Jazz - Chapter 19

“Love your neighbor as yourself…He was saying I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe that it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself.”

I just finished reading the 19th chapter in Blue Like Jazz about how to really love yourself. It is amazing that I never looked at how I love myself. For my entire life I have striven to follow God’s greatest command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I have tried (and failed many times) to look at others with love first and then with judgment. I have found my passion in the physical act of loving people who are oppressed and impoverished and sick. Even in the more “secular” sense, I have striven to treat others how I want to be treated. But now I think there is a reason God did not word his command in the same way that the world words its own golden-rule. In the world, I am supposed to treat others how I want them to treat me. Ultimately, my own actions depend on what I hope others will do in return – I treat others well so that they will treat me well. But in God’s world I am supposed to love others how I love myself. That means I have to take the initiative first and actually accept God's love for me. I can live and love sacrificially only because Christ did it first. If I don't allow God to love me how can I expect to love others?

I walk around thinking that it is not right for me to be loved – I have to be humble first, which apparently means that I cannot receive love. But really, isn’t that a bit more like pride in the end? Thinking that somehow I must be above the need for love and acceptance while everyone else needs it? Plus, as Donald Miller puts it, “if it is wrong for me to receive love, then it is also wrong for me to give it because by giving it I am causing somebody else to receive it, which I had presupposed was the wrong thing to do.” Basically, if I am going to believe with all my heart that all people deserve to be loved and treated as beloved creations of God (which I do), then shouldn’t I first have to believe with all my heart that I deserve to be loved and called beloved in the same way? I need to change my thinking. It is not wrong to receive love, it is wrong to believe the lie that I am somehow not worth it. It’s just not healthy. If I want God to change me – if I truly am willing to let Him into my life – I have to accept that He loves me and that He has placed people in my life to love me. And then I have to go love others in a way that understands this love enough to live sacrificially.

“And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength, comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it. I think apart from the idea that I am a sinner and God forgives me, this is the greatest lesson I have ever learned. When you get it changes you…God’s love will never change us if we don’t accept it.”

Simple enough idea, I guess. But I think it will take me a little while to really understand and find as truth in my own heart.

Blue Like Jazz - Chapter 18

“The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money…with love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did…It is not a commodity. When we barter with it, we all lose. When the church does not love its enemies, it fuels their rage. It makes them hate us more.” P.218-219

I just finished reading the 18th chapter of Blue Like Jazz about how to really love people. It is amazing that I never looked at how I love people. Or how we love each other. We hold out our love for others to try to reach for, but we quickly pull it back if they offend us, or disagree with us, or hurt us, even if it may be unintentional. How often have I decided to make it known that I am upset with those I love or that they have hurt me, in the hopes that they will change? How often have I withheld love from them, thinking that will somehow get me what I want? And how often have I simply loved them for loving me and sometimes making mistakes? How often have I judged people for disagreeing with me? How often have I looked at people as “valuable” or “priceless” or worth “investing in?” How often have I looked at my love for people through the metaphor of money: that which must be earned and then given away carefully and on a strict budget?

Donald Miller says he had to train himself to stop looking at his love for others economically, but instead through the lens of a “free gift” or a “magnet” that, if he gave to people as if it were unending and unconditional, would pull them “from the mire and toward healing.” He says that he knew that was the right way to do it because that is how God does it. He says, “God has never withheld love to teach me a lesson.” And it’s so incredibly, indelibly true. Who am I to treat my love as a commodity that must be earned or paid for when my Creator loves me infinitely and unconditionally? Miller says that after he realized this, he was “free to love.” He was able to stop disciplining and judging and looking at people as if they were not worthy of his love. He says he could “treat everybody as though they were my best friend, as though they were rock stars or famous poets, as though they were amazing, and to me they became amazing.” I guess it sort of goes along with that phrase, “fake it until you make it.” If I stop training myself to treat my love as something I must give in order to get – if I stop treating it as something I can trade for goods – maybe I will learn how to really love people. Maybe I will finally realize that it is not even my love to give. Maybe I will understand that it is really God’s love to give – it just has to come from this confused wreck of a person. Because after all it was Him for first loved me – outside of all economic metaphors.