Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I was walking, far from home

That song by Iron and Wine runs through my head when I walk down my street in Delhi. I'm in Paharganj, a very hectic, packed part of Delhi.

Hey all, I am in India. I came here from China. I have not travelled outside of the U.S. for about 4.5 years, so it was nice to get out while I'm still young. I've sent out a few mass emails to my family and a few friends, so let me know if you want the back story and I can forward you a few old emails.

So, I had this opportunity to go to China. My cousin, Jonathan, and my friend Chandler, were doing the "flagship program" with the BYU, where you study Mandarin for a year at BYU and then a year in China. They teased me that I should come out, and I took them up on it. I was like, 2 Mandarin speakers, yes please. And when I was about to buy a plane ticket, my coworker, Eric, was like, hey, we''l be in India, you should come. And I thought, a trip I can walk into? Perfect. But there was a gap of time between Chandler leaving China and my coworkers and friends flying into India. And Eric suggested I volunteer with an organization called Salaam Balak Trust. They work with street children, encouraging them to enter one of their homes and go to school and have a better life. So I am currently volunteering teaching English and some math to 5-15 students aged 10-16 years old. It has been so hard but so good. The reasons kids become street children is varied, including abuse at home, having dreams of the big city, or parents saying, get out of the house, you're old enough to get a job. I cannot imagine being a street child. These kids are hyper, and crazy, and get in little skirmishes all the time. I've become incredibly expressive with my hands. And it is really emotionally draining and hard. But these children are so precious. And I'm grateful I can be in their lives for a bit. It's wild because new kids come and old kids leave all the time. The goal with Salaam Balak Trust is to get kids back with their families, but if the children can't or don't want to go, they don't force them.

Luckily, I'm not doing this alone. Another girl is volunteering at the same time, a girl from London who is doing this as part of her teaching course (how cool is that?). So that makes it nice and less unbearable. My favorite moment each day is eating lunch with them. Sitting on the floor. Eating with my hands.

I'm negotiating the balance of taking people's friendships but then not sure if they are friend or foe. So I am erring on the not reciprocating this friendship side. I began by giving friendly strangers my number ( I got a supah cheap cell phone here) and arranging safe, public meetings. Then the next phase was giving strangers who helped me my number, but then not texting or calling back. And my final phase is to flat out say no. Like a rando guy when I was waiting for the metro (air conditioned, fixed price, yes please; no thanks autos or rickshaws!). He was like, hello you are from America, I love America, do you have facebook, can we meet again? (All in about 1 minute conversation). And I said no, we cannot hang out. Yes I have facebook, no I will not meet up with you. In a very friendly manner. Talking to an Elder who is Indian serving in Delhi (a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) about when to be friendly or not with calling back, he said, Indians are good at being annoying. So that comforted me. I know I sound like I am being Ms. Snubville, but I am making connections! I have been a part of my branch (my church group) in Delhi. There are so many amazing people here. It's been nice connecting with the women here. I have been to one woman's home for dinner, another lady and I are planning on having cooking lessons together, and I am friends with a girl my age from Afghanistan. She's a refugee here. I looked at the map, and didn't realize how close Afghanistan is to India.

China! I am neglecting China. China was so clean and orderly. Talking to Chandler a few days ago, he said I should have gone India, then China, and been less disappointed. But I'm glad with how these things have turned out. China was such a good experience being totally surrounded by a language I don't know. I had travelled to other places, but I was more in a tour group setting, so things were Englishy the whole time. China, the signs, the sounds, most things were totally incomprehensible to me.  Jonathan and Chandler were awesome hosts and tour guides for me. I think my favorite things in China were the gardens in Suzhou and Nanjing. And the Great Wall. We went to a less touristy section of the wall that was further from Beijing, and it was so nice being kind of isolated on the wall. So beautiful and amazing. I took many trains, many overnight trains, ate with chopsticks very well, and got to see dead Mao. My one China wish. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It was the plow that broke the western plains, and it’s just my heart gets rejected by my veins

If you peruse my blog, you'll see that I post not too often. But most posts have been in December. I guess that's when I'm the most reflective, and find the heart to post some adventures.

Lived a song and Drove to Chicago in October.

Living the dream at summer concerts in SLC.
This photo sums up 3 great things: Mountain W. Burrito, my lil bro Adam as a freshman at the BYU with me, and my dear friend Whitney about to leave on her mission.
I went to Alaska this summer!
And San Francisco!
But Coyote Gulch stole my heart last April.

I taught another year at Walden, the hippie charter school. The first funny story that comes to mind was when I asked my junior high Utah Studies class who some famous Utahns were. And one student said David Enchilada. When we corrected him with Archuleta, instead of agreeing quickly, he became more adamant that it was enchilada. Then he asked why enchilada was so familiar, and using hand motions, I explained the tasty Mexican dish.

I also taught 1 class at the BYU, a multicultural education class for Elementary Education majors. So I got to sign emails, Prof. Litster.

Grad school. Part time. Finding time to work on my thesis always takes a back seat. When I have so many other immediate, pressing crises, thesis work doesn't make it. And writing is so painful for me. I'm trying to negotiate the balance of maintaining my voice in my writing, but also keeping it at an academic level and audience. But weaknesses can become strengths.

And I'm Relief Society president. Again. I'm a church leader of the women's organization in my neighborhood for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints of about 90 women. I have amazing counselors, other women who help me with the lessons, activities, and service for each other. My testimony and belief in Relief Society and the incredible good it can do because women are strong has grown so much these past few months.

Another this year milestone: I celebrated my 5 year anniversary of becoming vegetarian. I had a dinner party with some friends. One friend brought a card with a picture of puppies and kittens that read, "Thanks for not eating us!!" My order of vegetarianism priorities is 1. Environment 2. Health 3. Animal Rights. I'm grateful I have explored so many recipes and for spices. I've felt really peaceful the last few years with this "lifestyle choice" (as my mom put it, November 2006).

identity crisis fears: can I move on to the next step? what if I can't find a job? am I rejecting my present situation for the allure of the unknown, or should I stay put? or is that part of growing up and moving on, moving out? I've spent almost a third of my life in Provo, UT. I'm so grateful for the amazing people in my life.

New York City, you're so pretty...

I've been on a spiritual quest understanding women and Mormonism and feminism and marriage and it has been beautiful and enlightening. I feel so much peace. Dr. Valerie Hudson is my patron saint right now. I love this article: Please read.
and these two books: Women in Eternity, Women of Zion (Cassler & Sorenson) and The Veil Worker (Cordray).
It's been nice uncovering and realizing the secret fears I've had with marriage and motherhood.

A few truisms in my life:
be patient and let the beauty of life unfold

honoring your parents: live your life so they would be happy/proud of you

go confidently in the direction of your dreams, and you either achieve your dream or something else comes along

I'm not that big of a deal: I went through a season of feeling super obligated to go to everything someone invited me to. I don't have to. Simplify my life. But I also realized I can't resist fun.

josh ritter truisms: I'd rather be the one who loves than to be loved and never even know
Every heart is a package tangled up in knots someone else tied
Sometimes babe we all have to wait for love

favorite songs:
Sister Winter
Rivers & Roads
Call Your Girlfriend
Northern Lights
Everlasting Light
Breakin' Up

Concert of the year: Arcade Fire. My mom enabled fun and drove down my lil bro Adam from Boise to go to the show with me in Utah.

I'm headed to my old roommate's wedding in DC next week. I realized recently that I have adult friends. I keep forgetting that I'm an adult, but I have a few friends that I will be in touch with for life. Forever friends. My house has been the halfway home for a few friends the past few months, with a few comfy couches in the front room that transforms into the guest room. I have gratitude for the ways they've helped me grow. And I gain hope as I see where they've gone. That I can get out too. But I'm happy with the present as well.

Music has helped me stay happy. I do a lunchtimejamband with another teacher and a few students. A cello, accordian, guitar, guitar group. And I've instituted music nights on Sunday evenings, where friends come over and we play and sing. Last week we had a Christmas edition with 2 cellos, 2 ukuleles, 2 guitars, a banjo, a keyboard, and singers.

And these are some of my musings.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I read with every broken heart we should become more adventurous

I will forever love Rilo Kiley, Mason Jennings, and Josh Ritter. I feel like I could listen to them forever. I love when a certain lyric stands out, such as this line (which constitutes my blog title), from the Rilo Kiley song, More Adventurous. Oh Jenny Lewis, you are so wise.

Something I was reflecting on today is how people can kind of disappear out of your life. And how much you have to make the effort to keep someone there, and it's easy to let people slip away. Yet the ease in people slipping away can also help with the healing.

My heart is not broken at the moment; don't worry. I keep learning from each experience. Learning how to be who I'm supposed to be.
Biggest exciting news of the moment: I bought a ski pass to Sundance.
Biggest exciting news of the quarter (I have not posted since August):
1. I was engaged on facebook (cruel prank by some friends). Quite a reaction from my adoring fans.
2. I went to New York City to play, and I played hard.
Serendipity for pricey desserts with my bro, sister-in-law, and friend from Provo/Boise who randomly was also in Manhattan the same week as me. Oh Jetblue $160 SLC to NYC fares...
face down pictures: Columbia University, NYC. I still want to go to school there some day.
my fake engagement on the facebook and the explosion of reactions.

oh yeah, and I'm in grad school and teaching part time at the hippie charter school. Things are going pretty well with both of them. Heavily disenchanted at times from grad school, but most days I am glad I am still here.
working on being patient and letting the beauty of life unfold.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well, I just realized I haven't blogged since DECEMBER. And it is nearly September. I am ridiculous. Or busy. Or something. is a photo taken by cousin Jennie that epitomizes Lake Powell. Here we are, about to embark on another round of TUBE WARS. Tube wars: two giant tubes pulled behind a powerful boat, 10-15 people, try to rip each other off the tube, no scratching, no pulling life jackets, no kicking, everything else is fair game. Aunt Elaine is in the background with the jet ski. She corrals the people who were mercilessly ripped off the tube. It is what we do in the family. Fight, commiserate, love, do it again.

Updates on life: I am feeling a bit stressed. Today is my wait what is going on this semester day. I am doing 3 big things and 3 side projects, but tend to ebb and flow into all big things or somewhat all big things.
3 big things: 1. GRAD SCHOOL! at the BYU (Provo for life), so it doesn't feel real still, though I started summer term. It is a program in Teacher Education. It is a part-time grad program for full-time teachers. What I plan on doing with it? Make education better in America. Too many kids hate school and drop out. Prison is preventative with more educational opportunities. What if schools were focused on students and student learning rather than bureaucracies, pensions, and politics? omg!
2. Teaching part-time at Walden (the hippie charter school in Provo). All of my classmates teach full-time, but I wasn't able to land a full-time job, but I am happy (I think) with the situation. I went to Turkey back in the day with this charter school, so I really like the school. It is Walden, School for the Liberal Arts, where it's more of a hands on education, Montessori K-12. Our first week of school was backpacking in the Uintas. I was the group leader for 10 high school boys (aged 14-18). They knew I grew up with 5 brothers and could handle it. It went better than I thought it would. About 9 miles altogether hiking in and out, so not too rough.
3. Being a research assistant at the BYU for 2 professors in the education department. They are also training me so I can teach an undergraduate class next spring term, maybs winter semester.
All of this starts this week.
3 minor things:
1. Gardening! I have been gardening all summer and it has been a dream. I work with about 20 people in a garden in west Provo. It is beautiful. Tomatoes and squash are our main commodities at present.
2. Provo Bike Committee! ( A little more productive than critical mass, we are working to have better relations between bikes and cars and Provo is on its way to becoming a more bike friendly and safer city. I am carless, so it has been nice commuting this summer around Provo. Walden is about 3 miles away, and with the ol' Peugeot, I am set for life.
3. The Upside ( I'm working to open a restaurant with some friends. Still not a tangible place yet, but we are on our way.

Plus friends, family, church, life. Things are always crazy town, but I think I like it that way. I find ways to be peaceful and hopeful in the everyday. Sun comes up and we start again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So this is Christmas...

My last roommate just left for home. Here I am. In Provo Utar. Not at home, celebrating Christmas. Oh no. Secular Orem is making me teach tomorrow and Tuesday. The kids don't want to be there. I don't want to be there. 

Well here we are. 

This photo is of my olive wood nativity set I bought in Jerusalem. The alpaca is a nice addition. One of my roommates did the strategic placing of it.

Here are a few Christmas musings I have had as I have read the Bible and Book of Mormon refocusing again on Jesus Christ and His infinite sacrifice. And what He can do. 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
"I promise that if we unclutter our lives a little bit and in sincerity and humility seek the pure and gentle Christ with our hearts, we will see Him, we will find Him—on Christmas and throughout the year.

It is all too easy to get too busy to think about the spiritual aspects of ourselves. As we seek Christ, we will become more whole. Modern life is trying to teach us to keep our spiritual and secular lives very separate, very compartmentalized. But that is not what will make us most happy. Yes, we may feel more in control. Yet that is not what it is all about. 

I keep remembering again and again, Christ is about love. He teaches how to treat and love others. How to forgive. Give the gift of forgiveness this Christmastime. Reevaluate where you stand with your Heavenly Father as well as those around you. Give and accept service; that is how I am coming to Christ and understanding how to love others. Through trusting and loving others.

Isaiah 9:6

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Updates All Around

Again, adoring fans, my apologies. A quick update in the life of me. Shalom. Salaam. Still teaching high school. According to a school countdown, 14 days til Christmas break. No separation of church and state at my Utah high school (Christmas music blasted through the halls, Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE), yet our Christmas break does not begin until December 22nd. Sick. Luckily, I've spent a lot of time with the family. On November 21st, my brother Eric married his wife Audrey in Denver, CO. I now have a sister. I was a bridesmaid. The Saturday before that, November 14th, I went to the Mason Jennings concert with many of my friends. And, luck be a lady, I met Mason. He was just wandering around during the opening band. And I was a brave girl and said hi. And told him I like his music. So many good things. Thanksgiving was nice. Made and ate several epic pies. My family also acknowledged that my 3 years as a vegetarian (marked this November season) is not a fad, but a lifestyle change. Yet they still have the ad ripped out of a magazine for the beef industry: We love vegetarians: more meat for us. Update on school: it is getting so much better. I've come to terms that I can't be the most perfect teacher, and that everyone else is expecting less of me than I am of myself, and I am enjoying it more and being more confident and I'm getting praises from administration. One of my happiest updates: I am dating someone wonderful. His name is Mike. Our first kiss was in the Great Salt Lake after the Bob Dylan concert back in October. 2 more great things: 1. We have a Christmas tree. And it smells divine. 2. The next 2.5 days I will be in Salt Lake City being the co-advisor for RHSMUN (regional high school model united nations). So, back to my modeling days. Yet now I'm the advisor. Crazy town. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Well here we are

To all my adoring fans:
I apologize for the long lapse in my blobbing. I have been crazy busy.
Feel bad: I am doing my student internship (I teach high school all day, every day, to surly Orem city youth for half pay teacher's salary), I am Relief Society president of my student ward (my church group, I'm in charge of all the lady folk), I am finishing up my research so I can bring glory, fame, and honor to myself, BYU, and my professors I was research assistanting for, and trying to be normal and have fun with my hoodrat friends. Luckily I'm not dating anyone; baby, you ain't got the time. Ha. 
le crazy life.
But, life is good. 

we went camping for the 8th year at my happy place, Ohanapecosh, Mt. Rainier, Washington

free Iron and Wine concert in Salt Lake City. Met Samuel Beam, the singer, before the show. He was out taking a smoke a few blocks from the concert. 

roadtripped to Madison, Wisconsin to visit my friend Whitney. Riding a tandem on the bike path.

Lake Powell with the family. I went for 4 days, then started teaching school the next day. 

yes I tagged that stop sign

Summer was a success.