Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tears at 30,000 ft.

I do my best grieving on airplanes. There's something about hiding my face against the window and completely losing it, knowing the person next to you, has no social obligation whatsoever to ask you the nature of your tears. Even more so, that person has a social obligation to REFRAIN from asking questions or trying to help. It's freeing, really.

My only goal is to remain silent. No vocal sobs, sniffling, gasping, nothing to make me seem hysterical. Just a girl with a good reason to be sad. My scarf works quite nicely as a mask and a medium to sop up the tears. If I cover my face and press my eyes, it looks like I am just thinking hard or showing that I am tired.

This trip, I deviated from my usual plan. It started as usual. I turned, I hid, I cried. But I guess this time I needed some sort of human connection or just general comfort. So... my seatmate wasn't under the same social obligations... he was engaged by the girl next to him. And bless him, he was wonderful...

Me - trying to recover: 'Is Denver your last stop?'
Guy - 'yep. It's my home. What about you?' (aw - pretending he didn't notice!)
I shake my head - 'nope', try not to start crying again
G - 'where are you headed?'
M, still choked up - 'I-I'm moving to Russia....'
G - 'wow, that's great! Have you lived overseas before? Are you excited?'
M, unable to talk, so I shrug
G - 'mixed, huh? Yeah, that's hard.'
'Did you volunteer for it or will you go to prison if you don't show up?'
I laugh a little
G - 'Well, I have lived all over the world. Easy places, though, like London and Paris'
I nod.
G - 'I think it's excellent. More people need to do things like that. You'll love yourself for it'

Calmed down. Decided to blog about this wonderful middle aged man seated next to me. So, I used my napkin and his pen to write the first draft of this post. When we landed in Denver, the lady sitting in front of me turned around and handed me a green pen. I said it wasn't mine (I thought she found it on the floor and assumed it was mine), but she said that she knew, but that she thought I should have it because I might not be sitting next to someone so helpful next time. Sometimes you can find humanity in a big metal capsule high in the sky.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's tough.

Last night was pretty weird. In my old apartment, with my old roommates, in a totally different place in my life. Half freaking out, half bored out of my mind, tired, but can't sleep.

I got about an hour of sleep last night, and during that short nap, I dreamt that I overslept until 2:30 this afternoon. THAT was not a good feeling.

Church this morning was good, and sad. I've gotten everything I could need or everything that I could be given to make it easier. I just need to GO now. During the 'joys and concerns' time, I was called up to the front of the sanctuary and Amanda gave me a gift that was perfect. A little black rock, symbolizing... things. She was crying and I was trying not to cry and so I couldn't really listen too well. Something about getting food and water from hitting a rock with a staff? And about Paul being the rock and how I am strong like a rock. Basically it's a worry stone from Amanda's office - that explanation would have been enough for me, probably. Something like this rock is exactly what I wanted. Something to keep with me, something physically FROM the church, the added symbolism was just icing. (HEY-A, if you read this, ya wanna send me via email the meaning behind the rock? I would appreciate it.)

After the service I got to say goodbye for real. I have my card... probably should have waited till I left to let her open it, but I am so easily coerced... (where's the 'like a rock' symbolism now?!)

Really, being away from such a supportive and fun environment is going to be a challenge in itself. In the spring, when I was going to Trinity, but I wasn't really involved as heavily as I am now...er...was in the last month or so, I would go to church on Sunday, and by Wednesday I would start counting down to Sunday, whenI would get to go back. It was hard to go a week away, before I even knew many people. I am going to be away about the same amount of time that I have been going to Trinity.

WELL, it's going to be a long week till next 'Sunday'...

Friday, October 24, 2008

My mom and Me

Don't mess with us. We'll lay you down.

From the 'Dead Zone'

That's what I am calling my mom's house, since it doesn't have internet. I wrote this last night:

Blog for 10/23/08

What I should be doing right now: packing.

What I’ve spent the last 2 hours doing: editing photos.

A lot less productive, but so much more fun. It’s a great task to focus on… let me make things look better, without changing the reality right in front of me.

Everyone everyone is sick. My mom has a fever and is ‘physically ill’, as was my dad today, and my aunt, who lives next door, was sick yesterday and the day before. So – I made my mom chicken soup. J Aunt Dede helped (and by helped, I mean she did probably 70% of the work, especially the gross stuff, like cutting apart the chicken).

I am TERRIFIED of getting sick right now, so I am holed up in my room in the basement, far away from my ailing mother. That sounds mean, doesn’t it? Quarantining myself, when I could be keeping my mom company. It would be just awful if I got that sick tomorrow, or Saturday or, gasp! Sunday. I need the goodbye hugs on Sunday – if I were too sick to be around people, I might just….die.

Truthfully, I am dreading Sunday. It’s harder to say goodbye over and over. Right now it feels like I have already left, that I have already said goodbye, but I haven’t. I have to face everyone again, be strong and say goodbye for real… Which, I actually DO want to do, I HAVE to do it. I just know it’s going to be the hardest part. For my own sake, I better face up to the reality that I am leaving, and this will be the last I see of these people that I care so deeply about. I want to feel the emotion that goes with that and let them know how much they mean to me. This is why I purposely didn’t invite my parents to church on Sunday. I almost can’t physically cry in front of my parents. I am not sure exactly why – maybe I am too committed to convincing them that I am not their little baby, that I am a strong, independent woman. What a show.

I love my new toy – the Nikon D80. I’ve gotten to play with it a little bit at church and today making soup. He (the camera) will probably be my bestest friend in Russia. We’ll go everywhere together. Maybe you will get to see what we do together; hopefully it will be a beautiful relationship.

Ok, back to reality. Packing seems incredibly daunting right now. I just need a non sick person to come downstairs and hug me and tell me that I can do it. Not because I think I can’t-I am an amazing packer- just because it would be helpful, emotionally. Plus, I know those hugs are numbered.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Totally found my happy place. Ready to launch.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You mean... it's real?

I cannot find the excitement buried somewhere deep inside of me. I can't! I am like the 5 year old dreading her first day of Kindergarten. 'what if all the kids are mean?', 'what if I miss the bus?', 'what if I can't find my classroom?'

Remember how I said I would really crank up the denial machine? Yeah. Totally worked, and now I am waking up to the fact that I am fucking leaving everything in 5 days. The choice must be made... try to keep the denial up, or face the music and try not to freak out...

Because I know SO FREAKING little about what is going to happen, I envision a blank. I mean, I see the city of St. Petersburg (what little I have seen in pictures), but there is nobody there. There might as well be nobody there right now, cause I don't know a single soul in about a 3,000 mile radius. I am personable, I will talk to people, I can make friends. It's just terrifying to think that I have to do it all on my own. I could fall through the cracks. It's amazing that everyone believes I can do this...I need to find that faith in myself somewhere before I leave.

I have done this before - I was so convinced that I would hate Madison. I love love love Madison now.

Oh, maybe this is doable. These next three days are going to be ultra challenging for me though, because I won't have anything to do. Sit at home. No internet. No friends. Why in God's name did I agree to come home? Sigh. I have pockets to make, I guess.

Saving my tears for Sunday....

It's getting creepy

I really don't put much faith in these things, but lately my horoscope has been eerily on.

"You may be in a state of high anticipation, for the Sun's supportive sextile to intense Pluto can put your feelings on edge. You have been on a magical mystery tour, but now it's time to settle down and make crucial decisions about your path ahead. But you cannot push the process any faster than it's going, so set your frustrations aside and connect with others while you can."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On a lighter note...

The slide show I will be presenting during worship tomorrow about our trip to Church of the Resurrection's Leadership Institute in Kansas City.

I'm pretty proud of it.

Rationalizing Fear

After my going away party and reading all of my friends' feelings about me and how proud they are of me, after listening to countless people call me gutsy, bold and strong (some people implying that I am pretty stupid), and after watching the surprised looks on people's faces when I tell them of my plans - I feel like I need to set some things straight.

First of all, I am scared shitless. That's right. You probably already knew that after reading yesterday's post, but, unless I have put you through the lovely task of calming me down during one of my many 'crazy times' (we'll call them), you don't know what's really going on. Maybe you don't want to know, but you are here for a reason, right?

There are so many reasons to be um... apprehensive about this trip, adventure, move, new job, change - whatever you want to call it. The obvious includes health, safety, missing people, challenge, all of which would happen if I moved to Detroit to teach English. Normal fears. Then there's the issue that where I am moving isn't Detroit. It's RUSSIA. So we add some distance. Also, I don't speak Russian, so we add a language barrier. For good measure, let's add in some political unrest, shall we? Good. Now we have our base. Gutsy/Ballsy, strong people can handle all of this. This is where my fears are believed to end. It's just not true.

I am a connector, an overshare -er, I thrive on intimacy with the people who are important to me. I am super sensitive and I think and think and overthink everything that happens around me. Don't think you can lie to me or subtly mock me or my friends, I can tell what you mean. I define myself BY these relationships. When it comes to loyalty or devotion or support...my people get everything. They deserve everything.

So. Nearly everything that means something to me is going to be 4560 miles away from where I am. Part of what defines me will be half way around the world. (ok, not true, I just did some research. At 42 degrees north, the earth is 18,000 miles around) While logic and emotion clearly don't coincide often, I logically know that it is possible and probable that I will forge these bonds in St. Petersburg. And then what?

Lets say I make some great friends. YAY! Now it's August 2009 - goodbye great friends! I could never see them again, I am heartbroken. I come back to Madison. I cannot expect to find the relationships that I left will be unscathed (thanks Alanis - its a good word). Now I have some weakened relationships in WI, and some fledgling relationships spread throughout the world. Does this put me in a better place then when I left? Nobody knows.

Luckily for you all, I am in a good, stable place tonight. I can hypothesize to the positive right now. There are some good things that can come out of this (lets hope so, or those people calling me stupid are totally right). I could make some really great friends in SP (YAY) and realize that I can maintain long distance friendships and not give them so much of me. I could come home with a relationship. I could come home and realize that my friendships don't needs as much TLC and energy and work as I thought. They could be stronger than I am giving them credit for. Most profoundly, I could realize that I don't need my relationships to define me. I can define myself.

At present, I am afraid of being alone forever. The very best outcome of this adventure would be me getting over that in some way. I need to learn to live for myself and trust myself. I am not there right now, but I think this might be the hardest and scariest lesson I am about to learn.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I think this is what growing feels like.

All weird and uncomfortable, but full of hope.

Stretching possibilities and understanding.

Muscles tear, to be built again, stronger and faster.

People jump, fearful, to learn to fly.

Sometimes they are so right.

Scorpio's Horoscope today:

"Before things settle down into a more regular pattern, you may find yourself getting exhausted trying to keep up with everything. Although you are able to do what's expected, your life could feel overly complicated now. Instead of attempting to push back toward the basics, resign yourself to staying in touch with your complex life until it starts to reintegrate and simplify."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


If there was another word that didn't specifically denote God or religion I would use it. Maybe 'lucky'? The amount of love and support that has been showered on me lately is amazing. Last night I got all that I could ask for from someone who, whether they know it or not, holds the most influential position in my life right now. Absolutely invaluable travel advice, encouragement, laughter and a little bit of alcohol was exchanged.

I couldn't have imagined a more perfect way to relieve some of my fear, guilt and anxiety about this trip.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Today, I met the person who seems as though she will take my place at church. Today was her first day at Trinity. She lives a couple of blocks away and walks. She's a senior @ UW, majoring in Elementary Ed. Baptized Methodist, parents divorced, generally the same history as me.

She is coming, I am going. :( She better be nice, cause I'll be back (Hi Arnold!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ten Ten Eight

If you were to go back and look over my past posts (who would?), you would notice that roughly 75% of them center on how boring my job is or how much I hate it. Sad, but true. That's what this post was going to be about too, because that aspect of my life hasn't changed.

Something new was added to the mix this morning. Conservative talk radio. Let's just say that boxing up milk chocolate peanut clusters is a lot more interesting with high blood pressure and adrenaline. Basically, I was tortured for a couple of hours, but I have come out a stronger woman.

During the torture, I replayed some of my favorite moments from the meeting last night... Actually made me smile and make other faces to myself - I swear if someone saw me they would have been able to tell exactly what was going on in my mind. I was having a conversation in my head, and, as crazy as that sounds, it was probably even crazier in real life. After the imaginary, mind conversation to block out the raving lunatics on the radio, I started to realize that I am EXCITED for the big move! Not scared, not dreading, not ohmygodiamgoingtodie. I am excited! This, my friends (hi McCain!), is a good thing (hi Martha!).

Have you heard? I am moving to Russia. RUSSIA. Can you think of a better time for me to splurge on a winter coat? Ok, besides Antarctica. Didn't think so. So, at the North Face store, I tried on some coats, and fell in love with one. THEN I found it on REI.com - I am a member, gimme the dividend! THEN I saw that REI.com was having a fall sale - 20% off any regular priced item! 20% doesn't sound like much. Until...until the item you want to purchase is $300. Then, $60 is a lot. Ok, enough chit chat about how much it was. I know you can't wait to see it.

So, I will admit, it isn't that much to look at. But it is WARM! And it looks better on a body than laying down like this one. AND... the fake fur comes off the hood, which is good because I don't know how I feel about it. Tell me how YOU feel about it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Goats,eggs, boobs, pillows

Last night I had a dream about:
  • Visiting a petting zoo where the goats charged and rammed me with their horns.
  • My 18yo niece dropped a big carton of eggs, the force of which actually got egg on my shirt.
  • Changing in a bathroom with no lock and a random guy catching me topless.
  • Feeling lost and scared in a middle eastern-esque styled hair salon.
I am guessing this is at least partially due to my drinking over a bottle of wine in 90 minutes while watching a couple of powerful men restrain themselves from killing each other in a small area suspiciously resembling a fighting ring surrounded by 'real Americans'.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I wanna ride, the rollercoster, baby baby...

Yesterday afternoon my mood dropped to epic lows. It wasn't just sadness, no, it was irritability, frustration, pent up anxiety, exhaustion, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed. Maybe it was the 9 hours spent in the tiny backseat of a minivan driving through America's heartland with six people. Maybe it's because I don't have as much control over my life as I once did and I can't imagine AT ALL what my life will look like tomorrow, next week or next month, say nothing about next year. Coming to terms with my decision has been harder than I thought it would be.

When I started MTTP in July, I was more ready to move than I am now. Everyone had moved away. All I did was go to class and come home or go out with MTTP people who I knew from the get go were leaving in a set amount of time, so I didn't get too attached to them. I was running down the road to my future with blinders on, giddy with the possibilities. Since then, I have reconnected with people, become severly attached to those people, places, ideas, events. Besides having a job that I dread going to and not having a guy in my life, I am doing so well. And those two downsides are the standard, the norm, so I try not to tally those in the final score anyway.

This morning was the U2 Eucharist at church. Basically that means that the service was comprised of U2 songs, a sermon and communion. It was very very good. I mean, Trinity isn't the most 'up to speed' church out there (I know that for certian now, after seeing the church in Kansas City), but we try so hard. We had a great band and vocalists and an amazing pastor today. That's what matters. Amanda spoke of when she and her husband lived in Guatamala for a year and how she got sick from the water after a couple months and when she went to the doctor, she found out she was pregnant so she couldn't take any of the medication. She tied this in to the 'one campaign' by showing us the privalige we all have. She knew that because she was a US citizen, she could leave at any time and recieve the best medical care in the world. Because she is who she is, she stuck it out and stayed to finish serving, but returned to the US to have her son, Zane. During the offeratory, Julie (choir director) sang "Yahweh", with Bill (guy who went on the roadtrip this week) accompaning on guitar and back up vocals. I lost it. I just started crying because the song was so pretty and I am generally on the verge of tears everyday now anyway. This marks the VERY first time I cried in church, during a service that wasn't for someone's death. After the service, I got great hugs from people I really love, was encouraged by people's advice and sincere well wishes for my future and I felt goooood about life. I was secure in my decision, confident that I could make it, ready to go.

Right now, I am riding out a trough in mood and confidence again. I swear it comes with the setting of the sun (and lack of communication via internet, phone or in person). Going to bed early might help, but I just distract myself until the wee hours of the morning when I have no choice but to sleep. Otherwise I get myself worked up and I make rash decisions. Those are nothing but trouble.

I have promised myself that I WILL NOT start missing people before I leave. I always do that, and then when I leave I am already over it. But! Then I wasted all that time with the people that I was already mourning, being a dumb ass and not enjoying myself. So now, I am going to put my best denial skills to work, and just plow forward with my horse blinders on. I will save the ugly cry for the strangers sharing my 18 hours of flying. At least I have goals, right?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kansas City

A few hours ago the small group of TUMC members and staff returned from Kansas City. The leadership institute we attended there was pretty cool. Mostly it was intimidating, scary and made me feel very uneducated in the relevant subjects.

We met at church at 6am (6AM!), and it was dark and cold. 8.5 hours later, we were in KC, touring the largest church I have ever been in. That night I had a panic attack in the sanctuary - it was so large, and they turned the lights almost all the way off, so the room started flipping. Sad.

I think I gathered some relevant information for Trinity and overall I had a good time. Amanda, Bill and Tina are so great... great great people. They are crazy and fun, intelligent and inspiring. Why they want me around.... Now that's the Great Mystery.