Monday, June 30, 2008

California meets Oregon

It was obvious they were Southern California girls.

The clippity-clop announced the arrival of 7 fancy ladies. They delicately cascaded down steep stairs to the wedding rehearsal, overlooking the lake and resort village.

4-inch high heels
Tan-ish (a little orange, even)
Heavy makeup
Long, black, fake eyelashes
Perfectly highlighted, big hair
Flawlessly manicured fingers and toes.
Dresses that showed all their curves in all the right places.

My childhood best friend, the only Oregon girl, was also a bridesmaid. She lined up at the end and it was obvious she was not a Cali girl.
Flip flops covered in Mexico dust (she came straight from 5 months of volunteer service at a health clinic and orphanage).
A simple, cute shirt and skirt combo.
Choco tan lines on her feet
Her unpierced ears couldn't wear the 'bling-bling' the bride provided. The mother of the bride panicked at the absurdity of the non-earrings.
A very natural tanned complexion, and she's a natural blonde.

I do not mean to stereotype. It's just that the California culture was much different than what I'm used to. The wealth, money, and material emphases made me feel so out of place. I did not expect to encounter culture-shock from my own country, let alone a neighboring state.

The Father of the Bride titled the weekend's events as "California meets Oregon" and it couldn't have been more appropriate.

Catching Up

Oh my. It has been a long time! Must catch up!

I am back in the USA...again.
I took a week off and spent a week in Mexico/So Cal with Hallie, my best friend since 3rd grade. We gave piggy back rides to her favorite little girls at the orphanage. took walks around the macadamia nut orchard, ate lots of tortillas and beans, and shared about our happenings (aka boy stories) since we'd last seen each other 6 months ago.

Then, we hitched a ride via car and 2 trains to a fancy shmancy resort in the mountains outside of San Berandino, CA for her brother's wedding. (More on this later)

I feel refreshed, which is a good thing, considering I am back at work and some things are requiring my immediate attention:
  • Tomorrow (July 1st) NCC become Northest Christian UNIVERSITY! New signage is in place and we've all been advised to change our voicemail greetings and email signatures to reflect our new name.
  • So many females are enrolling for on-campus housing that we are filling up... a very good and complicated problem to have. Which guys can we coax back into the dorm to open up apartment space for some gals? Hmmm. That is going to take a LOT of coaxing.
  • The Track and Field Olympic Trials are being held at the U of O and we are hosting some competitors/visitors on campus. There are lots of unfamiliar faces in the dorm and now I have to share the big screen tv in the lobby, which I've adopted as my extended living room.
As Hallie said her goodbyes to her friends in Mexico as she packed up to return to Oregon, I was remembering my departure from Bolivia. Someone asked me if I was ready to go back yet and I replied "no - I'm ready to be in the country for a while."

It's true. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sad Day(s)

Admittedly, I haven't been my chipper, upbeat self. Well, no guarantees for tomorrow, either.
I am bummed because it's my boss's last day of work.

My supervisor/mentor/friend is leaving NCC and moving to Michigan. I haven't even completed a year in my current position, so it's daunting to think about facing this job alone, without my immediate support system to guide, correct, teach, and encourage me. I know I can do this. I am sad not to be doing this with her.

I am grieving for my loss and hate that I have to say goodbye.
Things were starting to look up. We hired a new team of RAs... together. We planned RA Training... together. We talked extensively about our hopes and dreams for our future residents... together.

Our one-on-ones always lasted 2 hours instead of 1. Sometimes, our conversations would begin fairly shallow - both of us feeling pretty drained from the week's events and hard conversations. Without fail, though, I would walk out of her office feeling more confident, capable, and competent. She left me notes thanking me for our weekly meetings, saying how encouraged she was by our conversations.

We went deep and talked about REAL stuff.
When I was frustrated about the way my Student Development staff was handling things, she is the one I would vent to. She was my collaborator in the office and I really clicked with her supervisory style.

This year at NCC has been much more tumultuous than I ever thought it would be. Jolyn was a huge reason why I accepted this job in the first place, and a huge reason why I've stayed. (take that, Retention Committee!)

It was her idea to bring a birthday cake to work today to belatedly celebrate my birthday since I was in Cambodia on the 25th. Her thoughtfulness, wisdom, honesty, and depth will certainly be missed.

Calvin College is so blessed to be receiving Jolyn. As she puts it, she gets to work with 7 "Elizabeths" and collaborate, which is what she loves. Me, too.

Jolyn and I

Also - my 1 year Bolivia anniversary is on Sunday, and I've been asked to share about Bolivia Sunday night. I wonder what this will be like...?

And - my brave sister is going through Teach for America training in Texas and we've been playing phone tag because our schedules just don't align. She's battling late-night irrational thoughts and I can't call her since she's 2 hours ahead.

One more thing - some of my colleagues were talking about ocean waves today, and someone made a quick remark about "how a girl from GFU drowned a couple years ago, didn't she?" Ummm... yes, she did. And she happened to be a friend of mine, and I happened to be at the beach when she died, watching the search crews scan the ocean for her, with her family when the Coast Guard told them they found her body, etc.

Oh, sad day(s).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cambodia Journal

I'm finally sleeping at night and properly digesting yummy food. Hooray!

What an interesting, tough trip.

I'm processing my time in Cambodia through conversations, pictures, and my journal.
I'm adding my handwritten Cambodia entries to my blog.

May 13th begins it all... (they are backdated, so you may have to scroll down quite a bit)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jet Lag

I am suffering from the worst case of jet lag in my travel history.
It is 4:38am and I am still awake, for the 2nd night in a row, not to mention the 4 sleepless nights preceding my return to the USA (thanks to barking dogs, biting bugs, work-related anxiety, and daydreams of several foreign amenities).

Also, I have indulged myself with ice cream, a white mocha, and Olive Garden.
My stomach is confused why it hasn't been consuming rice 3x a day is therefore struggling to accept the phenomena of "preservatives," "dairy products," and "processed foods."

I am an insomniac with stomach pain and so happy to be home!