Productive time in Philadelphia

It has been a remarkably productive/positive week for me out here on the Right Coast.  This is surprising in some respects, particularly given that it is spring break in Harvardland, and I would have assumed the week would therefore have been more or less forgettable in the wonderfully relaxed sense that a break often is.  And indeed it has been.  At the same time, I have managed to make headway on some big stuff, have gotten some good news and have achieved some pretty neat things.

To begin:  Harvard loves to do things like, lets say, make your final draft of a senior thesis be due the day after break is over.  So naturally, the expectation of many of us last-years is that our break will in fact be a mad dash to fill some paper with meaningful thoughts.  Now, I like to think of myself as someone who plans ahead, and I did for a great deal of the paper. However, after my first draft I generally let the thing sit around and collect dust while I pursued more “pressing” issues.  I had received lots of feedback but hadn’t followed through on any of it.  I was worried therefore that I might find myself living by the light of my Mac out here at midnight in PA, frantically typing and thinking and freaking out about the meaningful/meaninglessness of what I have to say.  Instead, the revisions were relatively straight-forward, and in many cases I have found myself to be generally pleased with the way I am writing.  I finished most of my first round thoughts on the revision on the train ride down to Philadelphia, in fact.  I will go back again before I turn it in on Monday, but it is safe to say that the thesis is under control.

Other good news: right before I left for Philadelphia, in fact while I was at work hours before stepping on the train, I received word that I have passed all of my ordination exams. Yippee!  I was excited to know that those are a few less hoops to worry about, and I feel confirmed in my confidence coming out of polity in January.  One step closer to a real job!

A and I had planned to run a 5K out here in PHiladelphia, today in fact.  I had been worried because I pulled a muscle in my hip and have been a bit on the limpy side when it comes to running.  Thankfully, I was feeling sufficiently restored to actually run the 5K…. only it turns out that both of us did so well that we won our age groups, and got medals.  A made it zippy with a 21:56 time on the 5K, and I rocked it out at 22:05.  He was beaten by a lot of 20-year olds, and I found myself losing the women’s overall title by three minutes to a fourteen-year-old.  Man she was fast.

Job-wise, I interviewed for a CPE position out in Philadelphia this week and it went quite well.  I didn’t really take CPE very seriously when people first told me to consider it, but I am thinking that it could be a really important and meaningful opportunity, especially given the denominational job search.  Which isn’t to say that the job search isn’t going bad–there are a few things out there, I just recognize that it is going to take time, and CPE is definitely far from the worst thing I could be doing with my time and energy.

Friend-wise– caught up with two friends I haven’t seen in a while, Ne and Shawn.  Both were fun to see, and of all things Ne asked me to be in her wedding party, so now I will get to see how it is from the other side.  I have never been in a wedding, so my own and hers will be a new frontier for me.  With Shawn, it was fun to catch up, talk, enjoy some tasty fries and beer and talk about living in Philadelphia next year.  He is an awesome dude, along with his really cool wife, and I look forward to being in the same city with them next year.

On the wedding front, A and I stopped over at a few shops on Jewelers Row to check out wedding bands.  It was kind of fun, mostly just checking styles and pricing, but I liked watching A look at rings.  I want something relatively basic, and he does as well, but the guys wedding rings are so diverse in terms of options and it was really neat to check them out and see what A is into.  He actually found some really cool styles, and we will probably be buying our rings come May.

There’s lots going on, really, and I am just happy to look back with fondness on the last week.  It is nice to be able to spend time with a wonderful person like A, and to visit with my friends out here in PA.  I miss them all when I am in Boston ( and I miss my boston friends while in PA), so it was great to catch up.  I go back tomorrow, 35 days and counting until classes end, so there isn’t much time left to make my mark in Boston.  I am starting to feel the horizon, and I can’t wait to see what is beyond it, but I also want to enjoy the time I have left where I am.

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hittin’ the hump

So as of this afternoon, I am officially 50% done with my MDIV, which means that I am halfway done and a year and a half away from possibly being an offically ordained spiritual guide.  Whew. And I have to say, that man this feels good!  The past few months have truly been challenging and so I am grateful to have survived them.

A look back on the past 8 months–

June: I was dead set on getting the heck outta Cambridge.  I was convinced that Harvard was a mistake, that I had let my selfishness and my need to seem successful get in the way of my vocation.  I had internalized HDS as “The Harvard Death Star” as Prof. Patton aptly put it, meaning that I had blamed this institution for many of the frustrations that I had experienced.  If I could get out, and go to a Presbyterian Seminary, I thought, perhaps I could save my vocation.  I spent a lot of time hashing this out with my pastor and with my boyfriend at the time, Tim.

July: Still convinced that Harvard was a problem, but I was beginning to realize that perhaps it was salvageable.  I began to notice that more than anything I was just tired–tired of working, tired of studying, tired of school.  I thought back and realized that I hadn’t had a break since sophomore year of college, meaning that I probably was just exhausted more than anything else.  Of course, I realized this in the midst of working 40+ hours a week in the summer… so go figure.  Anyways, I resolved to put the issue of transfer on a shelf and sit with the idea of rest for a while.  At least I knew at this point that my advisor and my pastor were there to help me out if I needed it.

August:  I completed the petition to transfer and indicated interest in Austin Presbyterian, Columbia Theological, Union PSCE and Princeton, with the natural consequence that I was inundated with literature about the programs.  Columbia and Austin in particular were enticing because they were small and they went out of their way to talk to me in person.  I still get emails from them, in fact.  However, I was beginning to doubt my plan to transfer.  I figured out that if I transferred I would more likely end up with an MTS at Harvard and then start over again with an MDIV somewhere else, meaning that I would be 26 or older before I actually got around to ministry… and if anything I was NOT down for even more school.  I wanted to be working, not studying.

September: I withdrew my petition to transfer.  Tim and I broke up.  Life sucked for a bit, but it also got better.  I started my internship at Clarendon Hill and began meeting regularly with Karl, my advisor.  He has been a great person to chat with, even if his views on ministry are a bit unique, to say the least.  He has been a great influence though.  This month did have a lot of ups and downs though.  I spent the first half working up the courage to break up with Tim, and once I did I felt horrible, but then felt better.  Something like relief I guess.  And deciding not to transfer had a similar result… relief.  I was going to stick to Harvard and stick it to the institution…. meaning that I wasn’t going to let Harvard get in the way of me doing what I needed to do to get ordained.

October: interesting month, to say the least.  I plugged into a group on campus around now that has ended up being my main source of support, the Emergent Group at HDS.  Anna, Roger, Matt, Tyler, Laine, and the others have been wonderful people to me, and I think they helped me the most with getting through the suck.  Especially Matt, though.  He has turned out to be an awesome friend, and definitely helped me when I was feeling crappy.  Renee informed me around now that she was going to get married next year and that she wanted me to be a bridesmaid.  Sweet.

November: I feel like I started to feel my groove in November.  Classes were challenging but not overbearing, my internship began to feel less scary, and I got to know my friends better.  Had a few get-togethers at the house, and those were fun as well.  My birthday was in the middle of the month, and my roommates constructed a fantastical cake for me that can only be described as “one-of-a-kind.”  Matt and Ramy and I hung out a bit, one of my favorite times being the time we spent the WHOLE DAY watching TV and movies together.  That seriously rocked, guys.  I won’t forget that anytime soon.

November also became significant because that is when I got asked out on a date by Alex, a guy from my church.  It was both exciting and nerve-wracking to get asked out… because he was at the church I work at.  But we knew each other from before.   But I didn’t know what to do.  I am so glad we went out together though… after alot of consideration and advice-sessions from Karl and others, I decided to go for it, and it ended up being an awesome date.  We met up at 7pm and I didn’t get home until 2am.  And we talked the whole time.  Then he walked me home from church twice in one day.  It was literally amazing.

December: The semester drew to a close and I began to realize that time was moving faster than I expected.  Which is bittersweet.  I want school to end, but I also want to spend more time with the friends I am making.  It’s tough I guess.  Anyways, school was going fine, in fact it was quite unstressful.  Alex and I were getting more serious, and he invited me to visit him at his home in San Rafael during Christmas.  I in turn invited him to the mountains with us at Tahoe.  Both experiences were awesome.  His family was so nice, so kind.  And my family liked Alex a ton, even though he is profoundly nerdy 🙂  And Christmas was awesome.  I got to preach and help do communion at Foothill, and I felt super-confident with the experience.  Ben freaked me out a bit about dating Alex (I hadn’t told him about it yet) but it ended up okay.  By the end of December, I was more than ready for my red-eye flight back to Boston.

January: These days have been going fast.  I hit the ground running at about 75% when I got back, and finished my finals pretty quickly.  This afternoon I completed my last exam.  Alex told me he loved me, and we have been dreaming together for a few weeks now.  He decided to go to UPENN for his first Junior Faculty appointment, meaning he will be leaving this summer, but for some reason that hasn’t scared me yet.  For now, I am just happy to be with someone that makes me feel the way he does, and am happy to be halfway done with school.  I started working out my schedule for next year as well, and I have come to the conclusion that I am gonna rock this semester.  Bring it!