Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The blog post about nothing

I spent so much money at City Market in El Jebel yesterday, I saved $52.19 for using my SooperCard. Ima be eating really well for the next few weeks.
Katie sent me a package last week that included her pictures from San Fran, a teeshirt I left in her room back in May, a Runner's World magazine, the most delightful card (I put it up on my wall) and a mix CD of the songs stuck in her head. It made my week.
I just realized that even though I've watched this video a MILLION times (really - I think I account for 1/25th of its total views), I haven't posted it here. Please, if you haven't ever seen it, watch the whole thing. It makes me SO HAPPY.

And actually, while I'm at it, this video (Katie sent it to me) is pretty funny too:

State Radio is coming to Fort Collins in October! They're playing the Aggie on the 13th, and everyone who comes to the show ($15 a ticket) gets a free copy of their new disc. Um, yes please. How AWESOME is it that I will have seen all of the components of Dispatch in my own hometown in three months?!
Today started out SAD. MM left Snowmass (for good) this morning. We did everything together this summer - all the hikes, plus dinner a couple of times a week, movies, camping, etc. Since neither of us had anything in common with our roommates, we became the other's sanity. About a month ago he said he wanted to spend his last night in town going to a bunch of bars with all the people he's worked with in the last year, but then yesterday changed his mind and took just me to Woody Creek Tavern. It was such a great, bittersweet end to a really amazing summer. This place feels a little lonely now.
BAREFOOT TRUTH: my new favorite band. Check them out, please.
Four more days until the race! I'm ready, and I'm psyched. The beginning is going to be a beast - it's like 1.25 miles of 1,000'+ elevation gain (basically straight uphill survival-shuffle) - but the next 12 miles should be easy by comparison. I'm finally in taper mode, which means I'm only running 4-5 miles every other day this week; I finished last week with 30 miles under my belt, and was totally wiped out. I took Saturday off, and I plan on spending the post-race sitting on my couch with a succession of Fat Tire cans, alternately watching several games of college football and napping. Huzzah!

The blog post about EVERYTHING

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh...I can't believe it, but I'm actually done writing my candidacy essay!
To be fair, it's not finished - I want feedback from people whose thoughts matter to me, and as the consummate writing Nazi I'll be tweaking words and structure and grammar and syntax for a few days - but once and for all, I put pen to paper and out flowed six pages (SIX PAGES!) of heartfelt thought. And I'm really proud and happy with my first draft.
The candidacy essay is really the only thing standing between me and seminary, and therefore me and the rest of my life. The ELCA's application is very basic, a lot like a job application, save for the 2500-word Faith Autobiography they ask you to include. Because my candidacy committee is reading it - and uses it to determine my readiness for a seminary education, my spiritual fitness to follow through with my intended career path - it has intimidated the bejeezus out of me for over a year. It makes (or rather made) me nauseous. I couldn't think of how to start it, what to say, even where to write it. But yesterday I decided to buck up and get it over with.
I sat down in Starbucks and titled a piece of paper thus:
"Monday, September 21, 2009. Okay, essay: let's dance."
There were 5 bullet points the ELCA asks a candidate to cover in their essay; I opted to write what came to mind before I reviewed them, then go back and cover whatever I left out. Today, after I finished the sixth page and felt satisfied that my essay was an authentic representation of my reflection of my call, I went back to look at the bullets...and found that I'd covered everything. In detail. If that's not a Godwink, I don't know what is.
Right now, I think it's like I'm making muffins, and I put all of the ingredients in a bowl. Tomorrow I'm going to pick out a few bits of eggshell, mix the whole thing up, fold in some nuts...and see what happens. But at least it's all in there.
I'll post the whole thing once I have it typed and polished, but for now, here are a few bits and pieces:

-I was the first baby baptized at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. My baptism has always felt very...purposeful in the way it came about.

-Other than the notable experience of engaging in a knock-down, drag-out theological fight with an acquaintance in the FCHS library during junior year, I mostly stayed unattached from my faith through high school and into the start of my undergrad at CU.

-As a Mountain School Instructor at Sky Ranch, and then the ropes course coordinator, and finally the community director, I delved into my faith. I read, and I thought, and I ran, and I asked questions, and I played my guitar and stayed up late and woke up early and scrubbed the floor and played in the river. God was in every ounce of it.

-At my college graduation, having earned a degree I didn't feel I'd achieved and with very, very little idea of how I wanted to spend my life, I decided to think more radically: I prayed harder, and started planning a two-month solo trek through Europe for the time after camp was over. I was certain God would clearly show me my path on a night train somewhere between Belgium and Switzerland. I wanted holy spirit bullets!

-Last fall I found myself living with my parents in the town I grew up in, working a steady but menial job as a barista and moonlighting with a major presidential campaign. Because I knew I wanted not to make minimum wage for the rest of my life - and because of the aforementioned sense of responsibility to use my gifts - I started thinking more seriously about seminary, mostly because medical school sounded awful and I couldn't picture myself doing anything else. At this point, it wasn't an attractive proposition; it was just the least repulsive one.

-By this point, I had plans to move to Aspen to be a ski instructor for the winter - my first "baby step" towards really moving away from home. Packing my car on Thanksgiving, I made sure to take all of my candidacy files - applications, viewbooks, contact information and the like. But after a month in the mountains, working my first full-time job and swimming through life in the early stages of adulthood, I got cold feet thinking about going back to school just nine short months later. My whole existence was so stress-free (and fun!); the thought of being a student again (which I found difficult and sometimes frustrating the first time around) made me anxious. I saw no urgency in applying, and decided to put it off for a year.
That little decision became the pea under my mattress. By March, I was downright bitter with myself for what was an inherently lazy choice. I was already sick of living a self-involved lifestyle; the idea of doing the same for an extra year then became the source of anxiety. I wanted to use my brain, to DO something with my life! I wanted to get the party started!
So I spent the summer just like that. I had long theological discussions with my buddy Mike on the back porch of my apartment, and he'd remark that my eyes sparkled when I talked about the apostle Peter. My boss ensured I always had Sundays off, so every week I drove the 49 miles to Good Shepherd, the closest ELCA church to Aspen. I decided to get back in shape by training for a marathon, because my body and mind weren't in tune. Just like at camp, I read, and I wrote in my journal, and I prayed, and God was in it all. Little by little, I grew so much less anxious and so much more excited.
Which brings me here: 24 years old, ecstatic to be alive and truly blessed beyond all reason. My people - my family, whom I adore, my relatives, my wonderful and extensive network of friends and peers and colleagues - enrich my life to a greater degree than I have ever thought possible. Between working, running regularly, and really exploring my surroundings (hiking, biking, swimming and lots of travel), I have created a life for myself in these mountains that fulfills me. I feel confident that I know what God wants for me next. My eyes are wide with anticipation, and I'm ready and excited to move forward.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The life and times of Firecracker Girl

What a month it's been.
Where did I last leave off? The rest of our San Francisco trip was amazing. Of course, the girls and I could go to Detroit or Fargo or somewhere equally loathsome and have the time of our lives, but still...the trip was amazing. We laughed so hard we cried; we rode the trolleys until we actually knew our way around the city; we ate out A LOT. (Dim Sum, by the by, was disgusting.) When we take these trips, I get the feeling from the people around us that they're not only jealous of our tradition but also jealous of our relationship with each other, and I think that's valid. I'm so blessed to have these cousin-sisters.
My other August Adventures:
-I hiked Mount of the Holy Cross with my buddy MM (my best friend in Aspen this summer) - his first 14er, my third. As the peak is outside Vail, we camped at the trailhead the night before and got an early start. It was a long day - 14ish miles and an elevation gain of almost 8,000' - and we polished off the hike at DELICIOUS Larkburger in Edwards. (I think that should be its real name - "DELICIOUS Larkburger".)

Our peak

On top of the world

The best organic cheeseburger and truffle fries in the universe
-The week after that, MM and me and two other friends from the Ute hiked the Lincoln Group, a collection of four 14ers (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln & Bross) that can easily be bagged in a day. We had fun (I have fun pretty much everywhere I go), and it wasn't really worth writing about.
-A couple of weeks later, AJS joined MM and I to hike Mount Elbert, the tallest 14er in Colorado. We intended to hike Mount Massive, Elbert's neighbor, specifically because a Black Hawk crashed on its summit just a few days prior to our hike, but we found the trailhead taped off and decided not to mess with the military. That hike, too, wasn't notable, but we had burgers afterwards and had a great day.
KH & SD's wedding - Salt Lake City, Labor Day weekend
To be blunt, I've been looking forward to this weekend since approximately September 2004. KH is my best friend from college - someone I refer to as my brother, all hyperbole aside - and his dear wife has been by his side since their junior year of high school, so there was never much question of if they'd marry, only when. The really grand part of the weekend was being back in the company of my people, my truly best friends - KH of course, plus AJS, BB and KK. The latter 3, Courto and myself shared a hotel room that was next door to one shared by some other pals of ours, so we spent the long weekend as a 10-some. The Residence Inn, it should be said, is a fabulous establishment. For $89 a night - a mere 20 bucks a pop after taxes - all of us broke postgrads had a spacious suite (with enough bathroom space to prepare for a wedding, natch), a pool and hot tub, a grill, a full breakfast each morning, a stocked kitchen bigger than the one in my apartment, internet access and a gym (which we actually used). Using the hotel as home base, we came and went all weekend - KK and I ran down the bike path; AJS and the other boys did their groomsmen thing; all of us went to Snowbird for the afternoon, then checked out the Temple the next day. It was especially clutch to have a big place on Sunday night, when we watched YOUR Colorado State University Rams destroy the CU Fluffs with standard creature comforts (Papa Murphy's and Fat Tire) not usually afforded in college-student-unfriendly Sandy, UT.
Anyhoo, here's the weekend in pictures:

As soon as BB landed, AJS appropriated his attire. SO funny.

BB and myself at the reception (note the merlot):
BB with, from left, JN, best man MG's girlfriend KD and JT (KH's fraternity brothers)
We went Aunt Karen a drink text of this picture:
That brings us to the present. Currently I'm training my buns off (literally) for the Golden Leaf Half Marathon from Snowmass to Aspen this Saturday. I'm psyched - I haven't been in shape in a long time, and it feels really good to have my running legs back. I figured out that I have free yoga videos on Comcast OnDemand, so I've been doing yoga every night before bed, too, and drinking water like a fiend. I have a happy body.
A couple of Unexpected Sparks:
-The title of this blog comes from the nickname MM christened me with: Firecracker Girl. He was amazed at how much crap I could pack into a day, and how uncomfortable it made me to sit around. I found the moniker more than endearing. I hope it sticks.
-It snowed at my apartment yesterday.
-My fantasy football team is OWNING the league right now. My team name: The New Sheriff in Town. Peyton Manning is so money.
-Part of why I love summer is the reading time it affords. In the last week, I've cranked through Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan, Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh and Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, in addition to about a dozen magazines (two months' worth of Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Real Simple, Glamour and Marie Claire).
As it is the autumnal equinox, I leave you with a parting shot that sums up my summer:

"You have the opposite of poker face. You have, like, miniature golf face." - Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love