Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lists: Things I will never look at the same again

egg nog
Japanese people
Saint Christopher
Wilson volleyballs
fly fishing
film slides
Cookie Crisp
mailing labels
utility lights
Canada geese
pine needles
jean jackets
mardi gras beads

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music: The Tallest Man on Earth, Thrown Right At Me

These lyrics make me swoon.  I think it's safe to assume that this song was written for me.

Jump 'long the creekside
The rock's crooked line
Fun curls your hair and
The days open wide

And horses trot faster 'til sparrows fall down
But you just fall, laughin', to the snow on the ground
You grew up by playin' the valley so wild
And that's why
You're so beautiful now

And, dancin' your bike to the lonesome, young mare
You call up her owner; say your heart will be there
You'll build a collection of scars on your knees
To learn how to count the impossible trees
You grew up by climbin' the birches so high
And that's why
You're so beautiful now

And we live so close that we probably seen
The same bird, the same time
They solumnly scream
One day, I'll find just that friend who can see
All this weird beauty
Thrown right at me

Growin' by playin' the valley so wild
And that's why
You're so beautiful now

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coffeehouse Chat and the Start of Camps

On Saturday I woke up for the last time at my hostel, ate a breakfast of nutella/almond butter/trail mix burritos and kissed the resident pugs goodbye.  I decided to explore the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, which proved to be much less exciting than I had planned and took up much less time, so I ended up camping out at a nearby coffee house until my internet stopped working. 

While debating buying some lavendar mate', a baristo named Ryan started chatting me up and gave me a free lavendar white chocolate mate' latte.  SWEET!  It was so good.  I finished my drink and decided it was a good time to start walknig to the airport before the sun went down.  As I was paying for my mate' (and sweet Argentinian straw!) one of Ryan's friends walked in and offered to give me a ride to the airport.  He seemed normal enough, so I agreed. (Sorry family.  I know, not entirely on-par to stranger-danger, but the potential ride was still 6 hours off and I had plenty of time to bail if any red flags went up.)  I ended up chatting with the friend (Jace) for the next 5ish hours at the coffee shop.  He works on "the slope" for "the devil" aka for BP.  We talked a lot about life and I was able to share my art journal and Bible with him.  It was sweet because he kept writing down things that I said and I think we both learned a lot from the conversation.

Anyway, around 9pm I got to the airport to wait for Kristen (my co-worker) to land so we could drive to our air base.  Our hotel is pretty standard for airbases and I  enjoyed the stale butter mints on my pillow that I got so used to this summer.

Sunday was tricky.  Usually we get in contact with out Point of Contact early on Sunday morning to prepare our materials and see our camp facilities, but our POC wasn't returning any of our calls or emails.  It wasn't until 5pm that we were informed that our POC was in Japan.  That explains a lot.  We finally got to see our facilities, but learned that half of our camp materials were never mail from DIHQ.  Good thing we are good at improvisation!

Monday started without a hitch, and Kristen and I were set up for camp 15 minutes before the kids were to show up.  Ironically, this was the exact time that our new POC told us that we could no longer use the two rooms were had been allocated for camp.  Whoops.  We ended up moving to the gym and finished set up just in time for the arrival of the first campers.

Camp Day 1 went great after that, and Kristen and I finished our day by going to the World Ice Art Sculpture Garden.  It was incredible!!!!  We went after dark, so all of the ice sculptures were lit up with different colors and palced through out winding wooded paths.  There will be pictures to come soon!
Today was camp Day 2, and it started out BRILLIANTLY.  The kids were really on the ball, well behaved and coming up with wonderful solutions to the challenges.  After lunch was a different story.  It appeared as if the appeal of video games and snow cones won out in the minds of our campers, and their focus was definitely elsewhere.

I worked out the issues of the day at the air base rock wall, and although it was only 20 feet tall, entirely plastic and I looked like an idiot wearing a helmet, it really helped me ground myself and prepare for work tomorrow.

So, that's where I am.  Over half way through my trip to Alaska, slightly exhausted, but gaining all kinds of new experiences and loving it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hidden Talents

As it turns out, the first two days of my Spring Break have  revealed/confirmed some pretty nifty talents I might not have otherwise discovered.

List of New Talents:
1. Not sleeping
2. Sleeping anywhere
3. Taking/making opportunities
4. Attracting/befriending crazy people
5. Endurance
6. Making people laugh


1.  My Spring Break started after classes on Wednesday.  I went to Canvas as usual at 6pm, then hung out with friends afterwards late into the night.  I didn't get to sleep until 3am and woke up at 4am to set out on my journey.  Considering I was running on one hour of sleep, I did pretty well for myself, getting to the airport and onto my plane without a hitch. I even made sure the excessive amount of miles I would be flying could go to my Frequent Flyer account. No sleep required.

2.  But, once I got on my first plane, I became a sleep warrior.  Even though I sat in the center seat for two flights, I balled up and dreamed my way across the country.  Neither height nor depth, nor any other creature in all creation can keep me from sleeping when I set my mind to it.

3.  In between my 2nd and 3rd flight of the day (Indy->Dallas; Dallas->Seattle; Seattle->Fairbanks) I had a six-hour layover, so I decided to grab a taxi and explore Seattle.  I decided that in order to say that I have actually visited Seattle, I would have to leave the airport, and I am so glad that I did.  A nice man at the currency exchange booth advised that I visit Pike's Place Market (the one where they throw fish).  It was so cool.  I felt like I was on the Travel Channel.  I loved to wander through the booths tasting samples, admiring musicians and people-watching.  I settled on an Alaskan cod roll for lunch and placed myself near a big window where I could watch the rain and waves roll into the bay.

4. I then ran into a man named Mauel on the street.  He wasn't quite on his A-game, but we had a fun chat and even sang a little "Victory in Jesus" for the heck of it.  Here's Manuel:

I kept walking and this funny old man's hat blew off, so I helped him chase it down.

Finally, I waved goodbye to Seattle and headed off to Fairbanks.  I again slept for most of the flight and awoke just in time to see the Northern Lights from my plane window as we landed in Fairbanks.  The final leg of my journey was to find my hostel, which proved to be rather difficult for my newbie taxi driver... eventually we found it (after pulling over for me to read the map in the glove box), and I settled into bed, sharing a room with a mom (Rebecca) and her son (Roan) from Anchorage.

5. In the morning, I had few plans of what I wanted to do, so I started with breakfast.  Fairbanks has 6 bus routes, so I thought that would be my best bet to get around, but the schedules were inaccurate, and I was impatient, so I just ended up walking.  I did get to chat up the Mogolian team for the World Ice Sculptor's Competition, so that was cool.  I spent a good deal of time eating almond butter, Nutella and gorp burritos at SafeWay, then purused shops downtown and finished with stopping by the Fairbanks Curling Club (awesome) and the World Ice Sculptor's Garden.  All in all, I walked over 12 miles today in sub-freezing weather.  It was truly a test of endurance.

6. I finally made it back to the hostel just as the last light was leaving the sky.  Two other hostel guests were chilling in the living room, so after a hot shower, I went down to say hello and cook some ramen.  Their names were Rie, a woman from Japan, and Joe, a deceivingly sweet Alaskan man.  As I ate, we watched Tom Cruise make a fool of himself in The Last Samari.  Joe, Rie and I had a few good laughs as we made fun of Tom Cruise, and I was once again encouraged how similar the inhabitants of this planet really are.  It's so cliche', but the fact that a rough and tough Alaskan man, a gorgeous Japanese young woman and a quirky Indiana girl can just sit down together and have a laugh makes the world seem a little bit smaller and more kind.

Tomorrow I am planning to take a hike through Creamer's Game Refuge and assuming I don't get mauled by a wild animal, I will probably spend the rest of the day exploring the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus and hanging at coffee shops and used book stores.  I also pick up Kristen from the airport tomorrow, and we head to Eielson Air Force Base.  I am so unbelievably tired, so I am going to bed now.

I love you all.  Live your dreams. ha


Monday, March 7, 2011

Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now!

So, I figure it's time to get back in the blog game...  I wish I could have finished the 60 Days Challenge, but my computer broke, school started back up and I was sick for literally 7 weeks straight.  boo.  Perhaps I will finish the second half another time.  It was a great exercise and encouragement.

Anyway, I am halfway through my last semester of college and couldn't be more excited to see where life takes me from here.  I am looking at a few options right now including teaching nature education (much like Ben has done) in California, teaching English in South Korea, or sticking around Bloomington for one more year, working and enjoying the amazing community.  My plan right now is to work for a couple (few?) years making money, gaining interesting life experience and teaching experience, and then pursuing a teaching certificate through a Transition to Teaching Program.  TTP allows people with any college degree to earn a teaching certificate or teaching master's degree in 3 semesters (one being student teaching.)  Also, since i am in no rush, waiting will allow me to save up money, figure things out and not go into debt paying for school.

I realized after working with Destination ImagiNation Air Force Camps last summer how much I love teaching, especially in the experiential realm.  It's funny because my freshman year here at IU I almost switched my major to education, but decided that I would like the journalism classes better and by majoring in journalism and then pursuing teaching later if I so chose, I would have more job options.  This looks like the case, but we shall see.

On Thursday morning I leave for Fairbanks, Alaska, to lead another creative problem-solving camp for Air Force kids.  I AM SO EXCITED!  I think Americans in general have a strange fascination with Alaska, so when you add in my thirst for adventure and love of nature, well, you can imagine my excitement.  I am going a couple days early so I can be sure to have some time to explore.  It is always unclear what kind of access civilian contractors will have getting on and off base, and I would absolutely die if I didn't get to do some exploring in Alaska.

I will be staying at Billie's Bed and Breakfast (aka a backpacker's hostel: http://www.alaskahostel.com/).  Billie seems to be a wonderful older woman and has run the hostel for the past 20 years (Alaska's oldest hostel!)  She also raises pugs, so that should be interesting!  I read on the Official City of Fairbanks Website that March is a great time to see the northern lights, so I am also pumped about seeing that and taking sweet pictures.

That's all for now, but check back for Alaska and travel updates soon!!!!