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Christmas in the City with Angie

I’m doing the holidays a bit haphazardly and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt-ey this year. It’s been fun, but it makes small talk very strange and complicated.

Person making small talk: So, where are you girls from?

Me: I’m from Oregon.

Angie: And I’m from Delaware.

Person making small talk: So…what are you doing in Washington DC on Christmas eve?

Me: Well, my brother lives here. But he went to Oregon for Christmas. I couldn’t afford to go until January 4, but it’s okay, we’re having our family Christmas later anyway. He said I could stay in his apartment.

Angie: And my sisters are having Christmas with their in-laws, so I decided to come spend Christmas here too.

Person making small talk that’s now turning into big talk: And…how do you two know each other? College?

Angie: No, actually, she lived with me for a month. See, she’s doing this thing where she lives in a different place each month…

Once people start asking questions, the explanations are never ending, and far more numerous than anyone asked for. Awkwardness ensues. I guess I’m living a pretty atypical life at the moment.

We each had something in the city we particularly wanted to do. Angie wanted to go to the Passion City Church for their Christmas Eve service, because she’d watched Youtube videos of the pastor, Ben Stuart, and knew he was a good preacher. I wanted to go to the Christmas Day service at the National Cathedral, because my mom went to the cathedral once and was in absolute awe.

Angie got in Christmas eve, and after a brief rest we went down to the subway and attempted to find our way to Passion City Church. It was remarkably easy. The green line went basically from the back door of Matt’s apartment to the back door of the church.

Based on Angie’s description of Ben Stuart’s preaching abilities, as well as the church’s affiliation with the Passion conference, I assumed we’d be in a mega church. We weren’t. Oh, it was bigger than Brownsville I guess, but it had a small church feel. Chat-with-the-preacher-on-your-way-out-the-door small.

It was like the perfect modern church service. Great worship band. Fantastic and engaging sermon. Theologically sound. Great chats with the friendly people around us who call Passion City home. Candles for everyone.

We were hungry after the service, so we rode the subway to Chinatown in search of food.

Long story short, we ended up at a busy McDonalds with no seating. We decided to streamline things by using the self-order stands. Which was a bad idea.

First, my screen went back to the start screen after I’d inserted my credit card. No recipt. Did the order go through or not? I had to get in the looooong line after all, just to ask.

Apparently it did go through, and I was given my cheeseburgers. Angie, however, had to wait ages for her food. The restaurant closed. The orders disappeared from the screen one by one. Still Angie had no food.

Finally, the lady called out Angie’s number. As she reached for it, a cute guy reached out too. “I think that’s mine,” he said teasingly.

“No,” said Angie, taking her food and heading for the soda dispenser.

“You’re beautiful!” He called after her, just to make sure she knew he was flirting.

“Thank you,” she said without turning around.

I was highly amused by this incident, especially when Angie told me that she didn’t even notice that he was cute. “I just wanted my food!” She said.

Usually I’m the one who doesn’t notice when guys are cute. But maybe I noticed because I thought his joke was funny, and Angie didn’t notice because she was not amused.

Note to men: joking about taking food from a hungry woman is not an effective flirtation technique.

We went home to eat our food while watching White Christmas.

The next morning we put a youtube video of a fire on the TV, played Christmas carols, and opened the gifts we’d purchased for each other.

Spoiler alert: we bought each other mugs. She also gave me a small box of tea.

After that we dressed and went to the National Cathedral.

The cathedral was a bit of a walk from the subway station, but we were walking through the most enchanting neighborhood.

“Do you hear the music?”

“Yes, what is that?”

“It’s the church bells!”

We rounded the corner, and there it was. Huge. Magnificent.

Well, the pictures I took don’t remotely do it justice, so this is the only one I’ll post.

The cathedral service was the perfect old-fashioned Christmas service. Huge and awe inspiring. Church bells. Organ and choir music. Scripture readings and liturgy.

It was breathtaking.

I generally avoid driving in the city but I realized that I could have easily driven to that service. The roads were empty and there was plenty of street parking, free because it was Christmas.

So here’s a tip for all you Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, etc people who are just a few hours from the city. If you want to see the cathedral but don’t like traffic and paying for parking, consider coming Christmas day.

However, if you do so, coming early would be a good idea. Angie and I arrived right on the dot, and all the best seats were taken.

Back home after the service we embarked on the task of making Christmas dinner.

First, the oven didn’t work. We decided to fry the ham.

Then, my attempt at mashed potatoes turned into such a gluey mess that the beaters wouldn’t even spin. It was lumpy and sticky and awful.

I googled. Apparently red potatoes make gluey mashed potatoes. Here I thought I was saving time by buying potatoes I didn’t have to peel, LOL.

“We could make baked potatoes instead,” said Angie.

“The oven doesn’t work.”

“Well, we could fry potatoes.”

So Angie sliced potatoes very thin and fried them up. The broccoli turned out fine, and overall we had a fantastic, if a bit breakfast-like, meal.

We ate, lounged around, took naps, and then decided to hit the town again.

We ended up walking down the National Mall, checking out all the outdoor monuments. Then, tired of walking around, we sat on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and chatted.

The cold wormed itself into our bones.

“Where’s the nearest metro station?”

Angie checked on her phone. We had to use hers, because I’d forgotten mine at home. “We could walk to this one up here.”

“Or look! We could walk across the bridge and catch the Arlington cemetery metro! It would be so magical, walking across the bridge at night!”

So we took a loooooong walk across the bridge, and it wasn’t quite as magical as I’d hoped, due to aching feet and bones.

“What’s that?” Angie asked when we were across the bridge. A white wall loomed up in front of us.

“I don’t know.”

We found an elevator that led to the metro. But we were so close to the big white wall, we just had to check it out.

So we kept walking.

A strange phenomenon occurred. We might as well have been on a treadmill, because though we walked and walked and walked, the white wall remained just ahead.

When we finally managed to catch up with it, it was disappointing. It really was just a white wall. It was a memorial to women in the military, but there were no fountains or anything…just a white wall and locked gates.

“Look,” said Angie softly.

I turned around. Right behind us was a white temple, lit golden in the night.

“What’s that?” I asked, confused.

“That’s the Lincoln Memorial,” said Angie.

I tried to wrap my head around this information. We’d been walking away from the Lincoln Memorial for what felt like a lifetime and a half, and yet here it was, looking so close.

My only conclusion is that if you construct something huge out of white marble, and light it brilliantly in the night, it will seriously screw up people’s depth perception.

We trudged back to the metro. The up escalator was running, but the down one was still. I began to descend it like a staircase, before I noticed that the entrance at the bottom was gated off.

We went to the elevator. Pushed buttons.

Nothing.

Angie pulled out her phone.

It died.

Thankfully she had an external battery pack. We sat on a statue and waited for her phone to charge. Weary to the core, we had no interest in taking one more step.

Now, we decided, would be a great time to figure out how to use Uber.

It really was quite fairly simple. We could’t remember Matt’s address, so we just typed in the Metro station that’s basically in his back yard. And pretty soon we were in a warm car, zooming home, while “Silent Night” played softly on the radio.

That was our Christmas in the city. The next day we did more sight seeing, since things were open again, and then Angie left.

I should note that until I get another computer cord, I can’t promise a blog post every other day. The last two posts were partially written when the cord met its demise, but this post was 100% done on my phone and it’s been brutal. The wordpress app gets really glitchy when things get this long.

Here is a parting shot, of me at the Cathedral, taken by Angie.

Blogmas 2018: Cozy Books to Read During the Holidays

Nonfiction

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, by Meik Wiking

“Hygge” is a Danish word that doesn’t really have an English translation, though it could be described as “cozy togetherness.” Think of a group of friends sitting in front of a fire, sipping hot cider. The Danes carefully construct their lives so that they experience as much Hygge as possible. For instance, having candles burning at the office and in school classrooms.

Wiking decided that the rest of the world was missing out, so he wrote an entire little book on the subject. I don’t usually read much nonfiction, and I only picked it up because I was looking for cozy/winter-themed books for this blog post. But I thought it was irresistibly charming.

It has some etymology, some recipes, some exploration of culture, and various tips on how to incorporate Hygge into your life. After reading, I promptly went out and bought an oversized wool sweater from a thrift store.

Christmas Stories

P.S. These are all children’s books. I don’t know why there aren’t more good Christmas stories aimed at adults, but alas. I tried to find some and had little luck. If you know of any good ones, let me know!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

This is probably my favorite Christmas-themed story ever.

First, because Robinson has a John Crist-level grasp on the idiosyncrasies of American Christian culture. They’re a wee bit outdated, as this book was written in the early ’70s, but still hilarious.

And you know how I wrote, once, that you can tell when an author knows her/his subject because they know what goes wrong? Well let me tell you, Robinson certainly knows what goes wrong while directing a Christmas Pageant.

The Tailor of Gloucester, by Beatri

This little book is so charming and delightful. The Christmas theme isn’t super heavy-handed, but the book hinges on the fact that a wonderful coat needs to be finished for the mayor to wear on his wedding day, which is on Christmas morning.

Somehow this books makes getting married on Christmas morning seem like the most charming thing ever.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis

This classic introduction to the Narnia series (and trust me, it’s a much better introduction than The Magician’s Nephew) is the perfect cozy book to read over the Christmas holidays. So wintry! So charming!

While it’s not a “Christmas story” per se, Christmas is an important part of the plot. I’m not quite sure how Christmas existed in Narnia at that point, as Christ had a different name there, and hadn’t even died yet. But it’s still a cool bit of symbolism to play with. You know, Christmas coinciding with the savior coming, the end of winter’s grip, etc.

Ramona and her Father, by Beverly Cleary

This book begins with the start of a new school year, and ends with a Christmas Pageant. It’s a very rainy Christmas, being set in Oregon, and that felt like a nice touch.

P.S. Did you know that Beverly Cleary is 102 years, 8 months, and 12 days old?

Lovely Classics that Feel Wintry

There’s something about a classic novel that feels cozy and wintry, like it should be read in front of a fireplace. Here are some that feel dramatic and wintry, but still feature a good cozy happy ending.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

I actually looked up a timeline of this book to see if it was set in winter. It takes place in all seasons. But I still feel like, between the orphanage and the giant mansion, Jane is cold a lot. So it feels like a winter book to me.

Persuasion, by Jane Austin

I read on a random blog that Persuasion is the most wintry of all Jane Austin’s books. I agree. I have no evidence to back this up. It just feels wintry for some reason, Haha.

True-ish Books Set in Harsh Climates

Mrs Mike, by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

A young girl moves to Alberta for health reasons, and falls in love with a Mountie. What follows is a fascinating account of the harsh realities of life up north.

There are several scenes in this book which really fascinated me and stuck with me. But I’m afraid telling them would spoil key parts of the story.

Tisha, by Robert Specht

Tisha is similar to Mrs. Mike, only with more idealism and less tragedy. The book follows a girl named Anne who moves to Alaske to become a teacher, or “Tisha,” as her students call her.

I haven’t read this book in ages, but I recall it being lovely.

Kyra, by Kyra Petrovskaya

While all three of these books are based on true stories, Kyra is an actual memoir of a woman who lived in the Soviet Union during WWII.

Her story was enthralling. I could hardly believe so many things, and so many husbands, had happened to one person. Particularly fascinating was her account of living through the Siege of Leningrad.

It’s interesting to me that although we have countless books, movies, etc based on WWII, most of them are from an American, British, or German perspective. But the Soviet Union had far and away the most deaths. Kyra was the first WWII book I’d ever read from a Soviet Union perspective.

That’s all for now. I was going to add a section. I was going to add a section about cozy topic memoirs, like food memoirs and home renovation memoirs, but it’s Christmas eve y’all and I’m too tired.

Blogmas 2018: Christmas In the City, Part 2

I opened my computer.

BANG!

There was a mild explosion, as my charging cable gave up the ghost.

Since my computer won’t work unless it’s plugged in, this means I’m finishing this blog post via thumbs tapping on a smart phone.

Fun times. Where were we? I have extra catching up to do, since I didn’t post yesterday.

I’ll try to post tomorrow as well to make up for it, so long as my thumbs don’t give out.

Thursday

Matt’s apartment was much too warm. I slept without a blanket.

Friday

Matt made steak and eggs for breakfast. He gave me his keys, and showed me how to deposit the trash.

“Anything else you need?” he asked, packing up his stuff.

“Is there any way to turn down the heat?”

He laughed. “Sorry, the building has central heating, and it doesn’t always keep up with changes in the weather. But here, let’s open two windows and get a cross breeze.”

Matt left for the airport. The cross breeze didn’t help much. I was absolutely sweltering.

I checked my weather app. It was 67 degrees outside.

67 degrees!!!

Outdoors I bounded, wearing a t-shirt. I stuck a couple sweaters in my backpack just in case, but it was decidedly short sleeved weather.

With the weather that nice, I didn’t exactly want to be in some indoor museum. So I went to the downtown holiday market and looked at a lot of stuff I couldn’t afford. And bought an empanada and some tea. And listened to live Christmas music.

For a bit, the weather slipped into my favorite weather pattern–sunny with a slight sprinkle of rain. But then the sunshine disappeard and the rain dumped, and I dashed over to the National Gallery of Art to wait out the storm.

Saturday

Saturday was colder and less rainy, so I spent most of the day in museums. Particularly the American History Museum. The display of First Lady dresses may be my favorite part of the entire Smithsonian.

Then I went to a Starbucks to do some writing. DC doesn’t seem to have a lot of cute independent coffee shops, so Starbucks it is, I guess. I peeked into the windows of a different shop but they had very little seating.

Starbucks seating was rather limited too. One artist had a huge canvas that took up two tables. Yep, he was just sitting there, painting in Starbucks.

I’d just sat down on a bar stool when a little round table near the back door opened up. Woo hoo! I snagged it.

It was terribly wobbly. It’s hard to get writing done on a wobbly table. I grabbed some wooden coffee stirrers and tried to wedge them underneath to stabilize it, but it didn’t work.

The table was round, with one post in the middle, and a base. Maybe it was coming unscrewed? So I spun the tabletop in a complete circle, and it was still wobbly so I spun it in another complete circle, and just about the time I was looking like an idiot who just spins tabletops around and around like they’re lazy susans, everything tightened up suddenly and what do you know! The table was no longer wobbly.

I felt very proud of myself. I get such a kick out of fixing things in public. When I relayed the story on Instagram, Mom thought I should do a blog post about fixing things in public places. Bit really, it’s mostly just been toilets.

Sunday

This morning I put on my fuzzy red sweater and walked across the street to Christ United Methodist Church. I knew nothing about it, but it was a church, so I went.

There were very few people there, but they were extremely friendly and excited to see me.

At least, the adults were. One confused teenager looked at me and asked, “so where you from?”

“Oregon,” I said.

“Is that why you do your hair like that?”

Anyway, everyone greeted me and shook my hand or hugged me, and I was given a welcome gift and two Christmas cards. So it was a nice morning.

This evening hasn’t been so great. After my charging cable exploded, the sink overflowed. Sigh.

Oh well. It’ll be a Christmas to remember, I guess.

Saying Goodbye

It’s been a busy, tough, strange week. But my journey has officially begun. I write this from the road.

I said goodbye to friends, went to Church camp, and vacationed on the breathtaking southern Oregon coast. A dear friend gave birth to a healthy baby boy, while another couple of our dear friends gave birth to a beautiful baby who had already gone to be with Jesus.

Asher Kai, they named him.

I’m not even sure what to say about this, as his parents are private people, and it feels presumptuous to try to tell their story on my blog. At the same time, it feels weird, almost silly to post about anything else…as if anything else matters right now.

Amy and I delayed our trip for a day, and went to Asher Kai’s burial and graveside service on Saturday. He lay in his little casket, that beautiful, perfect little boy, and we saw all the things that could have been but will never be.

As my friend Esta said so eloquently, “There are no earthly words for the inconceivable loss of a tiny, perfect son. Only tears.”

Sarah Beth’s Wedding/Austin Texas

My dear, dear friend Sarah Beth…who I’ve adventured with at Island Lake, and in Portland, and in Bandon…who almost died three years ago…who converted me into a lover of personality assessments…THAT remarkably magical Sarah Beth Wilcoxson is now Sarah Beth Boyer.

She was married, in Texas, last Friday. August 10.

August 10 also happens to be my parents’ anniversary, so they flew out early and vacationed in Texas for a few days. Amy and I took a red eye from Portland to Austin, arrived early Friday morning, and then got a few hours of extra sleep in our parents’ hotel room before driving north for the wedding.

I was a bridal table server, which is a specific niche in the wedding honor hierarchy that I’ve never occupied before. I got to the church early, arriving in the middle of a typical pre-wedding flurry. Bridesmaids lounged in the nursery, re-curling their hair and drinking Red Bull. Sarah Beth and Andy’s families stood outside in the sweltering Texas heat and attempted to get every child looking pleasant for the photos.

I loved the fairy look of the bridesmaids, with their tulle skirts and lavender crowns.

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Rachel, Rachel Lynn, and Lois Sophia

The ceremony went off nicely, with Sarah Beth looking radiant and beautiful, and Andy looking handsome and proud. They did a unity painting, the way some people do unity sand or a unity candle. I’d never seen that done before.

Then they were married, and he carried her down the aisle, and the rest of us were ushered out. I was on the end of the bridal table server bench, and we got ushered out first (before family even), so I was the first person ushered out of the church after the bridal party. I know I’m focusing on the least important part of the wedding here, but after so many years of waiting and waiting and WAITING to be ushered out of weddings, being the very first one for once felt nice.

To me, the strangest part of the wedding was the way that very few people seemed aware of just how amazing Sarah Beth is. In Oregon, she’s spoken of as almost a legendary figure. But out in Texas people didn’t seem to know her that well.

Although most of Sarah Beth’s roots are in Oregon, her family moved to Oklahoma several years ago. She stayed on in Oregon for a while, then moved to Oklahoma for a bit, before moving down to Texas to live nearer her boyfriend Andy. When she got married she considered coming back to Oregon for the wedding, but eventually decided to just get married in Texas.

At the open mic, her family members and friends from Oregon stood up and spoke of the huge impact she’s made in our lives. Tears were shed. Maybe now these Texas people who don’t know her very well…maybe now they’ll understand the gift they’re getting, I thought.

Sarah Beth and Andy left the venue in a shower of sparklers, tin cans clinking behind their car. I wish them every blessing and happiness.

Part 2: Austin Texas

Mom and Dad were leaving from Austin in the early afternoon, but Amy and I didn’t need to leave until 8 pm. So we got dropped off at the capitol building. We planned to spend our afternoon exploring Austin.

First, we toured the capital. It was extra special because it was India’s Independence day, so there were a lot of Indian Americans at the Capital, doing traditional dances and such.

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The capital dome, as viewed from the underground expansion.

After our tour, we went outside hoping there would be some traditional Indian food set up as part of the Independence day festivities. But we were out of luck. As the oppressive August heat beat down on us, we searched Google for food near us. Please don’t make us walk very far, dear Google. It is very warm today.

It looked like there was some Korean food close by. But as we neared the place, we saw that first of all, it was a food cart instead of a restaurant, and second of all, it appeared to be closed.

“Can you spare a dollar?” there was a woman sitting in front of the food cart. She looked like she was strung out on drugs.

“Is this food cart open?” Amy asked.

“I’m blind,” said the woman.

“But do you know if this food cart is open?” Amy asked.

“Oh. No, it’s closed on the weekends.”

“Thank you,” we said.

“So, are you gonna give me a dollar? Surely you can spare a dollar.”

Well, I don’t like to judge who is worthy of a dollar and who isn’t, but this lady looked like the last thing she needed was a dollar to spend on drugs. So I tried to politely decline, and she started cussing at us, and we moved on.

We ate at Subway. I will never make it as a foodie.

However, as we sat there munching sandwiches and sipping iced tea, Amy got excited. “Those ladies are speaking Thai!” she said.

“Really?” I asked. “What are they saying?”

I was hoping for something juicy. Maybe they’d be gossiping about us, with no idea that my very American-looking sister could understand them the whole time.

“She just asked what time it is,” said Amy.

Blast.

“Well, you should go talk to them,” I said.

So she did, excited for a chance to jabber in Thai again.

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Three excited ladies, and one calm one.

After we finished eating, we had to, again, walk pass the “blind” lady who’d asked us for a dollar. She cussed at us some more, and then yelled, “YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY AMISH!!!”

And you’re not actually blind. Guess we’re even now.

After that we visited a cool old bakery-turned-museum we’d happened to pass, but eventually we ran into a conundrum: Everything we wanted to do either cost more than we wanted to spend, or else involved being outside in the oppressive Texas heat.

That’s when we decided to go swimming.

Now. My dear, dear sister Amy, knowing that I like to swim, had researched places to swim in Austin. She herself had no intention of swimming, but was happy to sit and read while I played in the water to my heart’s content.

I thought that was really, really sweet of her.

We rode the bus to Barton Springs Pool, and then got off and walked on a path along the river. The closer we got to the pool, the more people we saw in the river, swimming or kayaking or paddleboarding. At the end of the path, a large fence separated the river from the pool. It looked like someone had poured concrete around a section of the river to make it pool-like. However, peeking through the fence, the pool looked just as crowded as the river, so I figured, why pay the extra $3? I’ll just swim in the river.

(I feel like “why pay the extra $3?” is my real life philosophy, and it’s a little embarrassing.)

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The river. On the left, where you can see the concrete wall and fence, is where the pool was. 

 

 

The river was a mixture of frat boys, young families, and hippies. Amy parked herself next to a young blond guy who was sitting on the bank strumming a guitar. She pulled out a book, and began to read.

If you are wondering how I managed to change into swimming clothes, I just wore the t-shirt I’d been wearing all day, and swapped my skirt for a pair of swimming trunks. I could do this perfectly modestly, but it still felt kinda weird to change in front of people, so I went into the woods for a little privacy.

And then, emerging from the woods wearing my t-shirt and trunks, I jumped in.

Splashing around in the water on such a hot day felt amazing. I didn’t even mind all the people there, because it felt like I was getting a taste of the real Austin. The real Austin spends Saturdays in August at the river, playing with their dogs, splashing their brothers, and lounging on watermelon-colored floaties with their buddies.

After my swim, the day no longer felt too hot. It felt perfect. Perfectly perfect.

Amy found some public restrooms on Google, so we walked through the pretty park until we found them. The wind whipped through the trees in beautifully refreshing gusts.

“A storm is coming,” said Amy.

The “restrooms” were actually port-a-pots, but they still provided ample privacy, and I changed into dry clothes. Outside was a dispenser of small plastic bags, designed to carry dog poop. I took a couple, rolled my wet clothes up in them, and stuck them in my backpack.

Just as we stepped onto the bus that would take us back to the airport, a few drops of rain started falling. The drops turned to torrents. Thunder rattled the sky.

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View from the rain-soaked bus.

Looks like we’d picked the perfect time to curtail our adventures and get on the bus.

The TSA guy had to search my backpack because he was suspicious of the dog poop bags full of wet clothes, but other than that our trip home had no real hitches or glitches.

Sarah Beth, thanks for being in our lives. It was an honor to attend your wedding. I wish you God’s richest blessings in your marriage.

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Photo credit: Amy Smucker

The Weirdest Idea I’ve Ever Had?

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I mentioned in my May Life Update that I’d like to move away from Oregon. I’ve just been here a really long time, and I figure if I can make it as a writer, I can write from anywhere.

Right?

Of course, the difficulty is deciding where to move. The way a church or community looks, from the outside, can be so deceiving. There are “liberal” churches where everyone judges each other and no one goes into missions, and there are “conservative” legalistic-looking churches that are totally chill with people just being themselves. I had a terrible experience once with a church that looked much like mine, from the outside, but inside was this whole culture of “ha-ha-no-big-deal” racism. Yes, racism. 

I realized, upon reflection, that I don’t want to just pick a place and move there. I want to try out a bunch of places.

So here’s my weird idea:

What if I spend a year or so living in a different place each month?

Of course, it’s still true that I don’t know where the good communities are. Help a girl out?

I’m open to just about anywhere, although at this point I’m mostly looking at Mennonite communities in the U.S.A. I would maybe consider Canada as well. Right now, while I’m still building my career, sticking with my tribe seems like a good idea. I’ll wait to live in Thailand and England and Venice and Kenya until I’m a bit more established. 😉

So here’s where you come in. If you live in a community that you think is awesome, PLEASE send me an email at Jemilys@gmail.com, with the following information:

1. Where do you live? Tell me a bit about your community.

2. What sort of lodging would be available for a single girl who wants to stay in your community for a month? Does your aunt have a basement apartment? Are there a group of single girls living together in a house down the street from you? How much would a month’s rent be? (I’m chill with approximate guesses, for now.)

That’s it!

Thanks for your help. Maybe I’ll write a memoir about the experience or something. We’ll see 🙂

P.S. I just realized that the title is a bit misleading. I have had much weirder ideas than this. But this may be the weirdest one I’m actually going through with. This is weirder than crashing a party at a college I don’t attend, right?

May Life Update

One of these years I would like to have a calm, relaxing May. It’s probably the prettiest month of the 12, yet I spend most of it in some frantic end-of-the-school-year rush.

Last week my giant task was to get the yearbook printed. I’ll spare you the details of the 297 things that went wrong, but in case you ever have to print something large and complicated like a yearbook, let me tell you the one thing that solved 99% of my problems. CONVERT THE DOCUMENT TO PDF BEFORE PRINTING.

It took me WAY too long to figure that out.

This week I was the substitute teacher for the 8 high school students who didn’t go to the ACE International Student Convention. While I don’t usually enjoy teaching, it was nice to actually get more time to spend with the students. One thing I’ve discovered this year is that as secretary, I often end up with the loneliest jobs.

I’m trying to think if there are any stories from this week that are blog safe. Hmm. Okay, here’s one.

One afternoon, a student said something that reminded me of a story from my college days. Of course, storyteller that I am, I had to tell it. But instead of appreciating the story and moving on, they latched onto the fact that there was a male friend in the story, and proceeded to insist that I probably wished I could date him.

I gave them several logical reasons why I obviously didn’t want to date this guy, but that didn’t convince them whatsoever. So then I admitted that this particular fellow had actually asked me out, and I’d turned him down.

“What?!?” One of the students gasped. “You mean, you’re single because you turn guys down, not because no one’s ever asked you?”

“Um, Yeah, I guess…” I said.

For some reason, he was completely amazed by this. Several minutes later another student entered the classroom, and he yelled across the room at her. “Jessyca! Did you know that Miss Emily is single because she turns guys down, not because no one’s ever asked her?!?”

Oh goodness. And here I thought they saw me as a cool educated career woman/adventurer. I guess they actually see me as a lonely pathetic old maid? LOL

Yesterday was the last hard day of my job. Most of the students are done. Next week a handful of them will come back to finish up their work, and I’ll have to make sure all the paperwork and such is in order for next year, and then I’ll be done for good.

So what are you doing next year, Miss Emily?

Next year I want to try and make it as a freelance writer. So no, I’m not coming back to Brownsville Mennonite School. In fact, I will probably move away from Oregon altogether. I’m getting itchy feet, and I’ve been here way too long already.

I’m not sure where I’ll move to. I can write from anywhere.

But on the note of freelance writing, if you have writing or editing projects you want done, feel free to contact me at Jemilys@gmail.com