Monday, August 30, 2010

Music: Garden by NEEDTOBREATHE

Won't you take this cup from me
Cause fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
Pray you'll save their souls with it

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

In this hour of doubt I see
Who I am is not just me
So give me strength to die myself
So love can live to tell the tale

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Excerpt: Lord of the Rings

"Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers!
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of Men fails
...When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship
But it is not this day
An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Man comes crashing down
But it is not this day!
This day we fight!
By all that you hold dear on this good earth
I bid you stand, Men of the West!"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

This summer:12: The Final Chapter


I am sitting in the Oklahoma City airport waiting for my flight home.  ahhhh... What a glorious feeling.  This has by far been the most challenging summer of my life.  But, just like I told the campers every week, it is in adversity that the largest potential for growth is found.  I learned so, so much, but first let's look back on what happened this summer, shall we? :)

May 16-19
Training-Cherry Hill, NJ

I had an incredible time hanging out with 11 hilarious, creative DI alumni and realized that even though I haven't been a DI participant for 7 years, I've still got the spark.  Destination ImagiNation was huge in helping me discover my passions at a young age and really developing a hunger for life.  Training made me wonder if I have a future in experiential education or even at Destination ImagiNation.  It was on the Wednesday of this week that I discovered I was selected to go on the Asia Tour with Charles.  I knew it was going to be a very significant time in my life, but had no clue what to expect beyond that.

May 20-22
Last Goodbyes-Bloomington, IN

I had 3 days to cram full with adventure, laughs, rock climbing and Redbox.  I got next to no sleep, but had an incredible time with my friends Javan, Broderick and of course Colleen.  We made a last second decision to go caving the night before I left for Globals, and tunneled deep into the ground laughing and singing Disney songs the whole way. :)

May 23-30
DI Global Finals-Knoxville, TN

16-hour work days could only be this fun at Global Finals!  I don't think I have stood up so much in my life!  I seriously thought my feet might just fall off or explode.  It was a good taste of what was to come in the summer and the amount of work it takes to keep a program like DI running.  This week, my new friend Charlie and I destroyed the town and hit up every dance party we could find. (If we could find one, we made one ourselves!)
This week also presented the harsh reality that I wouldn't be able to get in contact with friends and family at the drop of a hat like I am used to.  I had a friend hundreds of miles away in crisis and had to do my best to be there for her despite lack of sleep, crazy schedule and distance.

May 31-June 11
Waiting-Bloomington and Bourbon, IN

The next two weeks were spent painstakingly waiting to leave for my tour.  The first week was spent in Bloomington, avoiding cleaning the apartment, calling friends and rock climbing.  The highlight of this time was definitely taking a last paddle around Lake Monroe for a day with my friend Rachel.  We were able to just talk about life, eat our favorite healthy hippy foods, and take in the beauty of nature.  So lovely.
The second week was spent in Bourbon where I got to hang with my awesome parents and take a night out with my long lost friend Ben.  If not moderately awkward (haha), it was a wonderful time to see how far I have come since attending old Triton High.

June 12-19
Grand Forks AFB-Grand Forks, ND

This was my first taste of being on the road and Air Force life.  Charles and I didn't quite know what we were doing and ended up working 15-hour days all week.  We were both second guessing what we got ourselves into.  It all ended up being worth it though to see the incredible growth in our campers over only 7 days.

June 19-26
Minot AFB-Minot, ND

A new base.  A VERY different base.  The week before our POC was very present for every aspect of the camp.  At this base we sort of met our POC a couple times.  haha  This camp attendance was also compulsory and proved to be extremely challenging for most of the week.  Again, amazing growth was seen in most of the kids and the Youth Center Staff got a lot from our training.  Nearing the end of this week, I was getting so restless to get to Japan.  My hotel room smelled like smoke and the most appealing form of entertainment in town was a bingo hall.  Needless to say, I will not be moving to North Dakota any time soon!

June 27-July 4
"Free" Week-Minot, ND; Trans-Pacific; Fussa City, Japan
Now came our break week, which Charles and I have renamed "Hell Week."  It resembled nothing of a break.  We spent the first couple days of our week dodging tornadoes in North Dakota.  Then at 5 am Monday morning, we started out on our sickeningly long travels to Japan.  I actually loved the plane ride over there.  The guy next to me was really nice and helpful answering my questions, talking about life in Japan and giving me helpful hints.  ANA also has wonderful in-flight meals and adorable flight attendants.
Once we got to Japan we realized that we had lost another whole day on our way over.  Break week was already half-way over already.  Grand.  Charles got sick, and our next couple days were a fog of fighting off jet lag.  We did manage to spend a day wandering around Fussa City and a day navigating the Japan Rail Line to hang out in Electric City, Tokyo.  I was surprised how similar everything was to the US.  I expected to have a lot more "wonder" as I walked around, but no matter where you go, commercialism is commercialism.  Even the shrine we found had vending machines inside it's gates.  I also realized that the language barrier didn't really bother me.  It was even kind of fun.  What a world.

July 4-11
Misawa AFB-Misawa, Japan

We flew in through dense fog that barely lifted for the entire week.  Our POC met us at the gate, and we sleepily settled into our air conditioning-free hotel.  The whole base seemed to have an aversion to AC, but I didn't mind since the fog kept us cool enough.  Our POC was so nice and took us all around the area.  Misawa is located in the northern countryside of Japan and was my favorite place to visit.  Within an hour or two of driving, you could go coastal, flatwater or whitewater kayaking, surfing, swimming, rock climbing, bouldering, deep water soloing, hiking, rafting, snowboarding, cycling or just cruising around marveling at the vast array of local farms.  The people's faces were just incredible.  I wanted to just meet them and take their picture.  This was when I decided that I needed to take "Audrey Adventure Time" everyday to make sure I wasn't missing out on all that Japan had to offer.  My favorite experience of the summer occurred here as peddled to the ocean in the rain and danced on a black sand beach in the fog.  Wonderful.

July 11-18
Yakota AFB, Fussa City, Japan

Enter Patrina.  The nicest woman and POC ever.  She was so helpful and took Charles and I out to dinner several times.  She even celebrated her birthday with us!  What sticks out most about Yakota, though, is that it was here I realized how little effort so many of the Air Force people take to explore their new home.  Virtually everyone we talked to said that they don't really leave the base for much, if ever.  It makes me so sad to think about people choosing to just be content living their lives in a literal bubble.  The world has so much to offer, and endless opportunities are at your doorstep!  I know it is hard for military families that are constantly changing locations to be motivated to plant their roots, but I never want to be at a point where I am so content.
On a final note, I met one of my two favorite campers at Yakota.  His name was Jacob, and started out as the most rambunctious of the bunch... but he had spunk.  He ended up being such a great camper, and I teared up a little bit when I hugged him goodbye. 

July 18-25
Osan AFB, Outer-Seoul, South Korea

This was when I got sick.  Call it stress, call it weariness, I felt bad.  I was really tired all the time and nearly lost my voice.  I still made time to explore the city a bit though, since I knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime.  The streets were dirty and packed with little shops where you could barter over prices.  it was fun, and I felt like a really world explorer as I wandered through the tiny winding streets as shoppers buzzed around me.  My camera batteries died, and I had already lost the charger, so this is where my pictures stopped.
Our POC was incredible here as well.  Her name is Miss Lee, a tiny, feisty Thai woman with a hunger for living life.  She is around 60-years-old, a cancer survivor, skydiving enthusiast, and proud mother.  Basically I want to be her when I grow up!  When I visit Thailand (notice, WHEN) I am going to stay with her family.

July 24-July 31
Kadena AFB-Okinawa, Japan

Welcome to a beautiful tropical paradise!  What a wonderful place.  It again reminded me of an American resort town, but was a lot of fun.  I was unable to get an unescorted base pass here, but was determined to explore the island, so one evening I set out on my rental bike, rode along the sea wall, listened to beautiful street music, ate my favorite meal of the summer at a shack along the road and found my way back in the dark by light of my headlamp strapped to my handle bars.  I met Charles a sweaty mess at the gate after he had enjoyed a relaxing evening on base.  haha  I figured that I ended up riding 17-miles that night and loved every second of it.
All I wish could have been different was that I could have bouldered on this island off of a beach and gone snorkeling.  I love the ocean and was pretty sad that I didn't get to take advantage of it while staying in a beach town.
The last night was fun, though, as Charles and I spent the evening with our POC's daughters at an American-style boardwalk shopping center.  Charles got to participate in a street performer's act, and although he almost hit him in the head with a flaming baton, it was a good time.  I also got a close-up look at the MASSIVE Okinawan bats as they fed in the trees on the board walk.  I am surprised to hear myself say that they were actually pretty adorable!

July 31-August 7
Trans-Pacific; Tinker AFB-Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

July 31st was the longest day of my life... literally.  On the bus ride to the Tokyo airport I asked Charles when we were supposed to get to LAX, and he said, "two hours ago today."  Since we gained time on the way back, we saw two sunsets from planes and still arrived on the same day.  Craziness.  Life got unexpectedly more chill as we returned to the States and Oklahoma City treated us well.  Charles and I saw two movies (Salt and Inception), visitied a waterpark (where my swimsuit broke!), and had a wonderful camp.
My other favorite camper was met here.  Her name was Haley, and she was the sweetest, most graceful girl I have met.  I would love to have a daughter like her when I get older.  After our last day of camp, Charles and I got to go on the infamous Dolphin Slide that the kids had been raving about all week.  It is a 30-foot-high inflatable waterslide/fun machine.  This was probably my favorite camp of the summer.

August 7-14
Vance AFB-Enid, Oklahoma

Another great camp and great time.  We had our first group of teens, which made things more interesting and our brightest group of elementary-level campers.  I was SOOOO thankful to have a room with a kitchen in it and cooked most of my own meals.  Charles and I also realized that we are bowling naturals and took total advantage of the 75 cent shoe rentals and $1 games.

What I learned:

I learned that I am fiercely independent.
I learned that just watching families laugh together can bring tears of joy to my eyes.
I learned a new dimension of culture shock.  
I learned how essential serving through volunteerism is to my well-being.
I learned how intensely I love my family and friends.
I learned a new level of endurance.
I learned that I want to see more of the world.
I learned how important sleep, healthy food and exercise really are.
I learned that I don't mind hot weather.
I learned that I really enjoy riding bike.
I learned ways to empower kids to think for themselves.
I learned drawing is good processing outlet for me.
I learned that my hunger for adventure is not equally share with others, even with people choosing to live in adventurous places.

Whew.  This was a summer I will remember for the rest of my life, and I don't think it will be especially the good things or especially the bad things that I remember most.  I will remember how much I learned about myself and others and the world and how that has affected the rest of my life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Music: Thank U by Alanis Morissette

how bout getting off these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I'm full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

the moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it
was the moment I touched down

how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping

thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you thank you silence

Monday, August 9, 2010

Excerpt: East of Eden, Timshel, תִּמְשָׁל

By John Steinbeck
“Do you remember when you read us the sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis and we argued about them?”
“I do indeed. And that’s a long time ago.”
“Ten years nearly,” said Lee. “Well, the story bit deeply into me and I went into it word for word. The more I thought about the story, the more profound it became to me. Then I compared the translations we have—and they were fairly close. There was only one place that bothered me. The King James version says this—it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”
Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.
Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made.”
Samuel put his palms down on the table and leaned forward and the old young light came into his eyes. “Lee,” he said, “don’t tell me you studied Hebrew!”
Lee said, “I’m going to tell you. And it’s a fairly long story. Will you have a touch of ng-ka-py?”
“You mean the drink that tastes of good rotten apples?”
“Yes. I can talk better with it.”
“Maybe I can listen better,” said Samuel.
While Lee went to the kitchen Samuel asked, “Adam, did you know about this?”
“No,” said Adam. “He didn’t tell me. Maybe I wasn’t listening.”
Lee came back with his stone bottle and three little porcelain cups so thin and delicate that the light shone through them. “Dlinkee Chinee fashion,” he said and poured the almost black liquor. “There’s a lot of wormwood in this. It’s quite a drink,” he said. “Has about the same effect as absinthe if you drink enough of it.”
Samuel sipped the drink. “I want to know why you were so interested,” he said.
“Well, it seemed to me that the man who could conceive this great story would know exactly what he wanted to say and there would be no confusion in his statement.”
“You say ‘the man.’ Do you then not think this is a divine book written by the inky finger of God?”
“I think the mind that could think this story was a curiously divine mind. We have had a few such minds in China too.”
“I just wanted to know,” said Samuel. “You’re not a Presbyterian after all.”
“I told you I was getting more Chinese. Well, to go on, I went to San Francisco to the headquarters of our family association. Do you know about them? Our great families have centers where any member can get help or give it. The Lee family is very large. It takes care of its own.”
“I have heard of them,” said Samuel.
“You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong war over slave girl?”
“I guess so.”
“It’s a little different from that, really,” said Lee. “I went there because in our family there are a number of ancient reverend gentlemen who are great scholars. They are thinkers in exactness. A man may spend many years pondering a sentence of the scholar you call Confucius. I thought there might be experts in meaning who could advise me.
“They are fine old men. They smoke their two pipes of opium in the afternoon and it rests and sharpens them, and they sit through the night and their minds are wonderful. I guess no other people have been able to use opium well.”
Lee dampened his tongue in the black brew. “I respectfully submitted my problem to one of these sages, read him the story, and told him what I understood from it. The next night four of them met and called me in. We discussed the story all night long.”
Lee laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t dare tell it to many people. Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, they were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”
“And you?” said Samuel.
“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh, the lovely thinking—the beautiful thinking.
“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”
Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”
Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”
“Yes, I see. I do see. But you do not believe this is divine law. Why do you feel its importance?”
“Ah!” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time. I even anticipated your questions and I am well prepared. Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.
Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”
“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”
Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”
Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness.”
Adam said, “I don’t see how you could cook and raise the boys and take care of me and still do all this.”
“Neither do I,” said Lee. “But I take my two pipes in the afternoon, no more and no less, like the elders. And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing—maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lists: Warm Fuzzies

adventure, Amelia Earhart, aprons, babies, banjo, bare feet, bare toenails, beards, Big Fish, blackberries, blanket forts, boardgames, bonfire smell, boulders, burnt orange, chinchillas, cookies, dragon flies, fake tattoos, fairs, family, floating, freedom, freeze pops, gangsta rap, getting lost, gifts, ginger, harmony, homemade jewelry, homemade popcorn, incense, letters, life, light, magpies, maps, melon, microscopes, multivitamins, Native American crafts, New Orleans, nightingales, Norman Rockwell, old trees, pancakes, peas, photo prints, picnic blankets, poignant children's movies and literature, polka dots, sanctuary, scars, singing too loudly, sketches, spiders, sunrises, surprises, Tae-bo, tasting new foods, tea, teal, tee-ball games, Tennessee scratch-offs, the smell of libraries, travel, understatement, unnecessary friendly competition, whispering, wind, wool socks, zucchini.