The story of Sh'Bob.

My sister is currently in New Orleans at the ELCA Lutheran Youth Gathering, and her being there reminds me of one of my favorite stories from when I attended the Gathering in Atlanta as a youth back in 2003.

When I attended regional youth gatherings in my middle school-early high school years, there was a guy who I kept running into all the time. He had been in my small group sessions in 6th grade, and I remembered that he was very interesting and personable. We were never put together in the same group again, and I was fascinated by him and wanted to be friends but was too shy to approach him. During those gatherings, we kept awkwardly running into each other in a very romantic-comedy type way. We'd be sitting at worship and I'd look over and he'd be in the next row, stuff like that. One time I was talking about this phenomenon with my sister, and I looked over to see him having a snowball fight with a friend right outside my window. The serendipity of those moments was undeniable, but I still could not work up the courage to go and say hi. Those gatherings have maybe a few hundred people tops, but that summer I was headed to the big Gathering in Atlanta, where 40,000 youth from across the nation all come together. I convinced myself that if I could still run into him in a crowd of 40,000 people, I had no choice but to walk right up to him and ask him his name. At this point my sister and I were calling him Sh'Bob, because all I remembered was that he either had an extremely rare name like Shedidiah, or a really common name like Bob.

On the second day of the Gathering, my friend Josh and I left the group to go get something to eat in the convention center. Right as we got out of line with our food, I looked around and noticed Sh'Bob sitting across the room with the other members of his church. I was stunned that I actually saw him again, and since I remembered my promise to myself I turned to Josh to tell him what I was doing...and Josh was gone. Assuming I was right behind him, he had headed back to the rest of the group, and I was completely and totally lost. (I had a really bad sense of direction back then.) I abandoned all thoughts of talking to Sh'Bob in favor of being returned to my group, and I missed my chance. Or so I thought.

On the last day of the Gathering, we all met in the Georgia Dome for a final service. Miraculously, our church got some coveted front-row seats right in front of the band, and I sat on the edge of the group with a line of empty seats next to me. As the service started, another church came and took the seats next to us. I glanced over and practically fell out of my chair--the people sitting next to us were from Sh'Bob's church, and Sh'Bob himself was sitting right next to me. After the service, eager to not let this moment get away from me like it had before, I turned to Sh'Bob and introduced myself. (His name was John--so, a little more on the "Bob" side of the Sh'Bob spectrum.) There was a bit of an awkward silence, and then John brightened up and started talking enthusiastically. Unfortunately, right at that moment the band cued up and started playing very loudly. I couldn't hear a word poor John was saying, and he talked on and on through the whole song while I just kind of...nodded. As the band wound down, his church got up and John said "well, I should be going..." and I kind of waved and sat there stunned with a "what just happened?" look on my face. I swear, it was unreal. It was like something out of a movie.

BUT. Are you ready for it to get just a little weirder?

When I was in college I was telling Alex the same story and talking about the congregation and where they were from. Turns out that's Alex's church, and he knew John. In fact, the friend John had been having that snowball fight with outside my window at the regional gathering? That was Alex.


So yeah, that's my favorite story to tell about the Gathering. :-)


Today, one of the first clients to come into my life through this job passed away. It's hard to describe how I feel about this. I heard about it while I was getting on the bus (literally, I came into work and J.'s 1:1 pulled me aside and said "hey, I need to tell you something. Eddie died today." That was followed by a little bit more information, but I got overwhelmed and maybe wasn't quite listening. I then had to get on the bus and just continue working while I tried to process that). When I got to J.'s house I closed myself in his bedroom and called Noah, and even though I was trying to keep it together until I got home I cried for a few minutes after I got off the phone. Then I didn't feel like crying anymore, but I was extremely preoccupied. I would do something like pick up the freezer packs from J.'s lunch box and start carrying them over to the freezer, but would be so lost in thought that I would drop them all on the floor. When I was setting J.'s room up for him to get changed, I put multiple boxes of wipes on the bed even though we only needed one, because I was so out of it that I didn't realize I'd already put the wipes on the bed and just kept getting more boxes. Then I looked down and had no idea where all the wipes had come from. Now I feel all emotioned out and exhausted, and I just want to sit and deal with things and not have to go and do all the stuff I need to do. But I know I will, because I have work tomorrow and clients to take care of and the world doesn't stop for me.

One thing I am so grateful for, though, is that in the year or so that I knew Eddie (I was his pool 1:1 for my first 6 months at my job), I did not waste one moment of our time together. I approached him every day with love and did not spend any time mired in bad feelings or annoyances toward him. Sometimes when someone is lost it is easy to get caught up in feeling guilty about how you spent your time with them, but I have no regrets. Our friendship wasn't perfect, but no matter what I always felt good towards him, and that makes the grieving process easier.

My subconscious/the universe/Eddie did give me a little wink and a nod today, though. During work today, J. asked me if I would read to him from a book. We'd just finished Alice in Wonderland, and I hadn't picked out a new book yet, so I went into his room to find something that looked good. I chose a book I'd heard was good, and was in the middle of the first chapter before I realized the subconscious reference. The book that I'd picked, without thinking about it? The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. :-)

So goodbye, Eddie. It has been an honor to be your friend and to be a part of your life. Loss is hard to deal with, and it may take me a little while to feel 100% okay, but I know that you are no longer in pain and experiencing all the things that held you back when you were alive. Here's to you, sir.

High school hijinks

So, I was looking something up in one of my old paper journals for reference, and I started reading back on my main journal from high school. Realizing how different high school relationships are from adult relationships is pretty hilarious. I had one boyfriend that I dated for most of high school, and it's amazing how high school relationships have an entirely different character (even when he was a few years older and was a few months from graduating when we started dating, and I was a sophomore). For one thing, I kept writing entries where I it had been something like 3 days since I'd talked to him on the phone or emailed him, and I was worried about seeming needy if I got in touch from him. 3 days?!?! I don't think I've been out of touch with Noah for 3 days in the entire time that I've known him, and that INCLUDES the period before we were dating! We talk at least once a day now, usually twice and sometimes more, and I am not at all worried that this could be needy. I can't imagine going 3 days without talking to Noah and being worried that I'd look needy if I called him. Also, it's funny how slowly high school relationships move and how little this occurred to me. I started dating my high school boyfriend on January 21 of my sophomore year, and we didn't kiss (even on the cheek!) until March 17. It never crossed my mind that normal people don't spend the first 2 months of their relationship just enjoying holding hands and hugging. We didn't even do that on purpose; we just didn't get around to kissing for a couple months. It just didn't seem like something we needed to do. I think there's a time vortex in high school relationships.


So I was reading back on old LJ entries and I found this quote in a comment I made to Alex.

"I love your brain too. Except when I'm a zombie. Then I love your brains. There's a distinct difference?"

For some reason I found that incredibly hilarious.

It must be Nostalgia Day or something, because I was also looking back at old photos on facebook from Italy and ended up realizing just how much Noah and I have grown since we met in 2008. In the pictures from the airport on our way home, we look like kids. Then I look at pictures from right now, and we look like a grown man and woman! It's crazy to think about how much we've changed in just a couple years. I'm also proud of how much we've grown personality-wise and how many bad things about my life I've let go of. One of the things I was thinking about recently was that, before I was with Noah, I had a tendency to have these weird unwritten standards about relationships that I expected my significant other to just live up to without actually being told about them. I would spend a lot of time silently fuming that whoever I was with didn't do some exact thing that I wanted, while expecting that he was just going to intercept my brain waves or something to find it out--because I certainly wasn't about to tell him or anything. I even did that for the first year and a half or so that Noah and I were together. But after several years in a relationship, I find that I've just let those things go without noticing. Not only am I better at telling Noah when I want something, but those unrealistic expectations just disappeared as well. I don't need them anymore, I guess. Right now every day I spend with Noah, and every time I remember that we've vocalized our intent to stay together no matter what, is enough for me. Knowing someone and accepting them for who they are is better than anything else I could have dreamed up.

Well, Noah will be here in like 2 hours (we're going to New Orleans tomorrow yay!) and I still want to do the dishes, neaten up the living room, finish my book, and watch a movie! Better get cracking!

Who me, busy?

I think this entry in my personal journal pretty much sums things up:

"These next couple weeks are going to be crazy! This week I have a paper and 2 article critiques to finish for my Teaching Strategies class, and I'm trying to squeeze in all my stuff before Thursday. On Thursday I'm going to work in the afternoon, then Sarah is going to pick me up and drive me to the Gaithersburg Metro station. From there I'll take the Metro to Union Station, and from there it's an 11-hour bus ride to Toronto, where I'll be for Passover! I'll be there until Sunday night, then Noah and I will take another overnight bus to NY, hang out in the city for a couple hours, then I'll take the bus back to Union Station, the Metro to Gaithersburg, and then go back to my parents' house for the night. Then Tuesday morning I'll get up early and get driven straight to work, and that very afternoon I have a presentation due for my Diagnostic-Prescriptive Assessment class. I'll careen through that week until the Saturday, when I'll pack my bags get on a plane to New Orleans! Ack! Considering that the person we're staying with advised us to be ready to go out immediately after getting off the plane, I'd say it's going to be a whirlwind trip. Then I only have a little over a week until I have to take the Special Ed. PRAXIS and serve my first sunday as a Worship Assistant at church, then the next few weeks are a zillion fun spring festivals combined with final projects and my semester ending, then it's my 25th birthday and I'm going to NY to visit some relatives on Long Island and eat at my favorite NY restaurant with Noah and his family, then it's Memorial Day and Halley's wedding, then I'm going to NY again to see Noah's JPPC concert and finally introduce my parents to his parents (it's only been, what, 4 years?), then it's only a matter of weeks before I take my leave of absence from work, drive down to Florida with Noah to have a food road trip and visit his grandmother, and then start my student teaching! Before you know it, I'll be presenting my portfolio, graduating, going back to CHANGE to work, getting a teaching job, and moving on to my next stage!"

tl;dr: My life is busy.

Oh, the places you'll go!

GUYS I'm almost halfway done with the meme. I've been doing it since last year. I promise we'll get through it and I'll try to make them interesting so you're not rolling your eyes whenever you see that I've posted an entry.

Day 13: Somewhere you'd like to move or visit

Well, I'm planning to stay on the East Coast in terms of moving, so that's pretty uninteresting. Let's talk about places I want to visit, instead!

The real answer is "everywhere", but here are a few examples.

Russia: I've been interested in pretty much everything about the country since college, I guess. My freshman history teacher's specialty was Russian history, and it seemed to permeate our all-inclusive history class pretty prominently. It's one of the places I most want to go.

Various places in Southeast Asia: Noah and I are very focused on the culture (and especially the food!) of Southeast Asia, and I think it's long been a dream of ours to go together. We even considered spontaneously going and spending a year teaching in Southeast Asia, but it didn't really happen, which is good because it probably wasn't the right time now.

India: Noah's been a little apprehensive about India until recently, but this is another place I've been interested in since I studied it intensively in college (I took a lot of religion classes, including one particularly centered around Hinduism. Fascinating stuff).

Peru: Really I was thinking I wanted to go to some Latin American country somewhere, and then I thought about it and decided I'd really like to go to Peru. It would be very cool to see some Inca ruins, practice my Spanish, do lots of hiking, and eat delicious Latin American food.

There are so many more, but for some reason they're not coming to mind as readily as they usually do. I think that I haven't thought about cool travels for the future as much lately because there's so much going on that I'm intensively and single-mindedly focused on getting through each day (which is how I suddenly didn't notice several months going by, and then woke up and it was March and I don't know how that happened). I'm definitely in that last-gasp phase of grad school where you're working hard and trying to get through things and trying to get productivity out of every minute of the day. I can't wear myself out though, because up next is student teaching and that will be even harder work! Luckily I'm really close to finishing everything I need to do for right now, so maybe soon I can relax a little more.

As a final note, I was watching Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment this evening and didn't like it, even though it was a good performance. The other day I watched Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and didn't like it (I know, lots of people love it, it was too silly for me okay) even though it was a GREAT performance (I finished watching it because Anna Netrebko was, well, Anna Netrebko). I've decided I'm probably just not much of a fan of straight-up comic operas. I have 3 categories of opera I really like:

1. Straight-up drama (Otello, La Traviata, other things that are also like that but not by Verdi)

2. Dark comedy (my favorite opera, Don Giovanni, fits well into this category. It's hilarious, but the main character gets carried down to Hell in the end--doesn't get much more "dark comedy" than that.

3. Crazy modern stuff. 'Nuff said.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled meme!

By which I mean, here's the meme entry I intended to do yesterday. :-P

Day 12: Bullet your whole day

I used to do this with my sister, where you write down everything you did that day, so I was already familiar with this! It's a lot harder, however, when you have a job where you're always on the go. Trying to write down everything I did while chasing clients around and stuff is pretty hilarious! Anyway, here's my day from way back on February 7.

8:00am Alarm goes off. Had a bit of a restless night with weird dreams and nightmares. Ed. notes: just like today! Was a little chilly last night, but now that it's time to get up the bed is suddenly warm and cozy.

8:09 After picking out clothes (jeans, cream-colored shirt with hearts on it, Snoopy sweatshirt) I head into the shower. I've been showering in the morning more often these days. I have to was my hair later, so this one will be quick.

8:25 It took me 16 minutes to shower, get dressed, and do my hair! It would have been shorter, but I had a hard time getting out of the shower today.

8:32 Finish making my go-to breakfast-- some bread with olive oil, and a glass of water. My favorite is oatmeal, but I was lazy this morning.

8:34 Check email, facebook, lj, webcomics.

8:44 Pack up stuff for work/class.

8:51 After putting lotion on my woefully dry skin, it's off to work. Proof of my awesome "commute": this is when I start walking...

8:59 and this is when I get inside. And it only took that long because I had to go back and get something.

9:03 While putting away my food I run into my friend/coworker/former roommate. She was talking about being recently sick with the stomach flu, which, while unfortunate, turned into a rather hilarious story.

9:06 Didn't get to check to see if my daytime 1:1, G., is here yet because I spontaneously started dancing with another client. Oh, my job.

9:10 G. was, in fact, here. I help him get his outerwear off.

9:25 After several detours, get G. out of his wheelchair and into his stander to stretch his legs.

9:33 The pledge of allegiance is over and I go to fill up my water bottle.

9:35 We check the weather and talk for awhile about winter sports.

11:15 Lots of time goes by in which we're introduced to a new client and I take G. to the bathroom. We continue doing our daily exercises.

12:10 More time goes by. I finish exercises, G.'s mom arrives and we eat lunch together. I have lentil soup and pasta, and my coworker gives me half a Reuben sandwich as a surprise! Then we head down to visit another area and to check our mail.

12:44 We head in to the pool!

2:37 Got in the pool, then got changed, had a drink, and got a picture from a recent Chinese New Year parade we participated in. Now I get on the bus with my other 1:1, J.!

3:23 I finish discharging everyone on the bus route and leave J. with one of the people who does my 1:1 job on the days I have class. The bus drops me off at the college and I check email, facebook, and lj in the library.

3:44 I work on some assignments for tonight's class--choosing and rating 4 assessments from a list of ones I could give a student, and writing questions on Post-It notes for a guest speaker tonight.

3:58 Tonight's work completed, I go upstairs and read The New York Times.

4:40 Head over to class after dropping a yoga DVD into the library return--it was due soon.

4:52 Class starts! We have a presenter today talking about special ed. law.

6:30 Class goes on break and I do a word find to decompress.

6:35 Break is over, we move on to more presentation and a brief instruction for next week.

7:20 Class is over! I start my walk home.

7:50 Home, yay! I check email/facebook/lj and take a hair-washing shower.

8:24 I call my sister and fix dinner (stuffed cabbage/daal/cauliflower).

9:10 Settle down to watch an episode from season 1 of Battlestar Galactica.

9:30 Paused to talk to Noah!

9:55 Aaaaaand, back to BSG.

10:23 I decide to be a good American and watch the State of the Union address, very belatedly. I'm a good American, not a prompt one.

11:35 I read an article for tomorrow's class, then brush my teeth and get ready for bed.

12:03 Bedtime!

The meme continues!

So I totally did the Day 12 portion of the meme without realizing that I hadn't done the Day 11 portion yet. Luckily, I hadn't gotten around to posting it yet. So let's backtrack!

Day 11: Put your iPod on shuffle and write 10 songs that pop up.

Let's do this with my iTunes! Here were the first 10 songs:

1. "Collide", Howie Day
2. A song from Lost & Found's solo piano album, "Just George". I couldn't find the track listing online. It's, uh, track 4?
3. A song by a group called Medieval Baebes that Alex and I saw at RennFaire about...5 years ago? He bought the cd and I stole it from him. I didn't label these very well when I was putting them on Stanley, my old computer, so I don't know the title of this either--it's track 12, if you're wondering.
4. The brilliant University of Georgia a cappella version of Ben Folds' "You Don't Know Me"
5. Variation 16 from Disc 2 of Glenn Gould's performances of Bach's Goldberg Variations.
6. "Dante's Prayer", Loreena McKennitt
7. "So Sally Can Wait", Oasis. This is from a breakup mix CD that Gina made for me freshman year of college.
8. "Work Your Way Out", Ani DiFranco
9. "The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!'" by Sufjan Stevens. Of course iTunes chooses a song with the longest title ever.
10. Another song from that Medieval Baebes CD.

Apparently iTunes chooses the most random songs ever when on shuffle, because those are really bizarre and not at all representative of the music I have on there. My iTunes also goes through weird fixations--there was one time when I put it on shuffle and it played nothing but The Beatles in various combinations.

Hopefully I'll update tomorrow with what I actually had planned for today!
  • Current Music
    a random "Dancing in the Moonlight" cover

A welcome sense of calm.

Today started out a whirlwind, stressful day. This weekend my landlord lost a rather large rent check, and with the holiday my bank was closed and there was no way to get in touch with them to stop payment on the check and flag my account just in case fraudulent activity occurred. So this morning I had to start my day right out the gate with frantic phone calls to the bank to get the stop payment sorted out (luckily, it wasn't very difficult). Then once I got to work, I had to get ahold of one of my supervisors to talk about a minor issue that, while not serious, was still a knot that had to be figured out. Thankfully, that got solved quickly as well. Everything seemed like it was rush rush rush busy busy busy all day, and then I got home and watched some mindless Netflix TV and drank a beer and took a short nap, and when I woke up I was suddenly feeling completely centered. It was like my world just completely slowed down. Since I start an even crazier schedule than usual next week (classes 2 evenings a week and work the other 3 evenings, plus my usual 5 days/week of daytime work), which will leave me consistently not seeing my house until at least 8 or 8:30pm every weekday, stress relief is important this week, and finally feeling like my world is moving slower really helps with that. I feel like I can actually enjoy all the things I'm doing, instead of trying to speed through them so I can pack more in.

Why don't we end with another day of the meme? :-)

Day 10: Discuss your first love and first kiss

Let's start with the first kiss, since that usually comes before the first love and is also a shorter story.

My first boyfriend's name was Scott. I think we started dating when I was 14? a freshman in high school, sometime in May. I can't remember what age I was about to turn, for some reason. Scott was a couple grades older and was one of the many older friends I was suddenly able to have now that I was in high school (middle school isn't particularly good about introducing kids to people in other grades). He asked me out backstage right before the performance of Crazy for You we were both cast in, while I wore a rather unfortunate pink dress with green butterflies on it and the entire female portion of the show's cast eavesdropped from inside the girl's dressing room (true story. The entire room erupted into girlish screaming when I agreed to go on a date with him, and he was terribly embarrassed). We didn't kiss until a couple days later, when we went to the traditional drama club cast party at IHOP. Scott was tired and was resting with his head in my lap, and we kissed. That's honestly all I remember about that. We dated for about a month and a half and then let it peter off, though we didn't actually break up for real until about 3 months later when we came back from summer break, and at that point I was just wondering when he was going to get around to doing it and wasn't particularly upset.

Needless to say, Scott was not my first love. Sure, I told him I loved him when we were together, because he said it to me and I didn't want to be rude or anything, and anyway I had no idea what really loving someone was like. My first love came sometime the next year, when I started dating Mike. We were together for a year and a half before we broke up the summer before my senior year, and it was the first time I really knew what it was like to fall in love with someone. I was kind of vaguely aware that Mike was dealing with a lot of things that were way out of my depth, but I was willing to be completely self-sacrificing because I thought that's what you did when you loved someone. He broke up with me when he left for the military, and I had always said I would never give up on him, but in my heart I had resigned even though I didn't give up trying to achieve that closeness that it was clear to everyone else I was never going to have with him. I think that love taught me that it really is a two-way street--you can help someone break down the barriers they've set up, but you can't do it alone. I could only pretend to be really close to Mike because there was only so far he would let me in, and if there was no willingness to meet me halfway, there wasn't going to be any success.

I feel like with each subsequent relationship since Mike, I've refined my love a little more and learned to love a little better. The person I dated after Mike was a wonderful person. We dated for 6 months until it became clear that we shouldn't be dating. We both pretended that we didn't care, but we did. Luckily we took that closeness we were trying to express romantically and instead fashioned it into what turned out to be one of my closest friendships. So that relationship taught me the difference between caring about someone deeply and feeling that draw to them personally, and being romantically compatible with them.

The most important thing I learned about love from Alex was that the wonderful, passionate love we had took a level of upkeep that was hard for me to sustain. It was the kind of love I'd thought was the epitome of love, the kind of love I'd been trying to attain with every other person I'd been with so far. It was the kind of lover I thought I was. But being in that relationship for 2 years made me realize that this wasn't the right kind of love for me. If it makes any sense, I just got so tired from loving Alex. More often than not I preferred to sleep alone than sleep with Alex because at the end of the day I loved him so much that I was exhausted. Sometimes I wouldn't be up to hanging out because it was taking so much pure energy to love Alex with every waking moment. I didn't have to try to love him, and it wasn't necessarily difficult, but waking up every day and having that love with me took more out of me than I realized. Had I been more skilled in how to approach love, I could have learned how to rein that in and our relationship would have been better for it. But I wasn't ready then, and seeing how much better of a person Alex is now that we're just friends made me realize that I made the right decision.

All I can say about Noah is that I feel more whole when I am with him because I can see a mirror of myself through him, and when I look in that mirror I see the person I've always wanted to be. When I look at him I realize that every single moment and experience of his life up to this moment has culminated into the living, breathing human being with me today, and it's like a microcosm of the whole world right in front of me. It is beautiful, and I am awed. And really, that-that-is what I had been looking for the whole time.

Meme day 9 (how many months has it been?)

Finally on to meme day 9! At least I'm getting slightly better at this...

Day 09: How you hope your future will be like

"How you hope your future will be like"? What? I just copied it the same way it was written, believe me. But as to WHAT I hope my future will be like...

I'm hoping for mostly an indefinite continuation of all the things that make my life wonderful right now. Not that I'm hoping for my life to always go on exactly like it is right now, but the things that make my life so good are the things I'm hoping will make my life good forever.

Things that make my life so good right now (and how I hope they'll continue):

-I work with people with disabilities in a job that is super fulfilling and only feels like work a small percentage of the time. I hope that I will keep working with people with disabilities in some way, as a teacher at least for part of the time and maybe in some other way later.

-I have a wonderful Noah who is my partner and makes me so happy. I hope that I will always have a wonderful Noah.

-I see my family a lot, and they are all healthy and happy. I hope I get lots more of these family times.

-I'm starting to simplify my life and make sure that I'm not using more than I need, and that everything I have is something I need. I want to not get too overwhelmed with things and keep my life in perspective.

-My health, though worse than it was last year, is still excellent. I am very invested in making sure it stays that way, and I hope my health will always be good.

-I am part of a community where I have friends and places where I am known and comfortable activities to be involved in. I also have friends all over the country (and at least partially all over the world, now that I think of it) and I want to always be able to have a community and be able to be in touch with my friends, even the far-flung ones.

And that's pretty much how I would like my future to be!

Right now I'm intermittently watching the Sugar Bowl Michigan/Virginia Tech game while doing various other things. I had a terrific New Years at a CTY reunion with great people, and I'm working long hours at work (9-9 on Wednesdays for the next couple weeks, and picking up various hours here and there), and classes start again in a couple weeks. I'm tired, but happy. Though I am very nervous because I have a blood draw on Monday and I have a serious phobia of needles (my sister described it as "you're likely to cry, and hyperventilate"), but Noah will be in the doctor's office with me so maybe that will make it a little better. But I have an anxious feeling in my stomach when I think about it.