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.

Movin’ and Shakin’

Things have been seriously B-U-S-Y this semester, and since I don’t necessarily get graded, or a job, or a husband out of blogging, I have to be honest and admit that bloggin’ hasn’t been a priority for me.  However,  things have indeed improved, for a few reasons:

1) I did the math and I am past the halfway mark for finishing my FINAL semester at HDS, which means I feel like I am on the homestretch these days.  No, I haven’t exactly started counting the days, but the true academic-nerd-girl in me is most definitely counting how many assignments I have left until I turn in my last (at last count, 4 major papers, a book report, and 4 reflection papers.  SWEETNESS!)

2) Wedding planning is going surprising well, which translates into a reality in which I don’t quite feel the need to constantly think about whether it is going to go well or not.  At this point, the food, the sites, the music, the pastor, the cake, the dress are all booked.  There are still some important things to do, like, make the invitations (yes, I am making my own), but that is mostly a matter of knowing how to lay out a page and print without making dumb mistakes.  Generally, it has been fun and I am enjoying the sense that it isn’t cause for imminent stress.

3) there just isn’t much I can do to change the reality that the job search is going to take as long as it takes and there is not much more that I can do than what I am already doing.  Of course, I do have the enormous help of knowing that even if I don’t have a job when I graduate, A and I won’t be destitute, but still, it is frustrating to know what you want to do and not be able to make it magically appear in front of you.  My problem, at this point, is that there just aren’t many open positions in the Philadelphia area, so lately, rather than obsessively checking the job postings, I have been entertaining alternative options for what I might find myself doing in the Fall, or the interim as I like to think of it.  Right now, I am thinking about doing some intensive CPE if I can get into a program in the Philadelphia area, and if I can work it right, I might be able to find a place that would pay me a stipend.  Other options are some grant money I know about, some non-profit connections I made last summer, and some fabled part-time church work that I hear tell is going to be available.  So yea, all of this is keeping me from feeling too immanently worried about my employability.

4) My internship at St. Francis House is pretty straight-forward this semester, and is even fun, which means that I don’t have to spend too much time worrying about what to do with my time… I easily occupy my time between spending it with the women there, my bible study, and the meditation classes I have been leading…. getting paid to lead meditation, btw, is SWEET!

5) I am essentially done with my thesis, which means that, aside from a few tweaks, the big and daunting paper I anticipated would rule my life this year is more or less behind me.  This, of course, is a good thing.  Yes, I liked my thesis, but I am also happy to see it with a big fat “passed” grade on it.  No joke.


So yea, that’s pretty much my life right now.  I am incredibly blessed to have the awesome family and friends that surround me, who are keeping me from feeling too crazy or confused about all the plates I am spinning in the air, and it is great knowing some of those plates will stop spinning and start getting used (aka, my diploma) pretty soon.  I am looking forward to this summer, but I am also loving this moment of calm that I am in right now.

What it Takes to Finish a semester….

To- Do List:

1 final comparing Calvin’s concept of idolatry of God to Coomaraswamy’s argument that religious exclusivism is equal to idolatry of God. (currently I have an introduction and ideas), Due in January

1 final comparing Calvin’s exegesis of Genesis 18-19 to Origen’s analysis of the same passage. (currently I have an extension 🙂 ), Due in January

1 final explicating the role of art and the aesthetic in public theology (currently I have an art piece and the majority of a paper), Due on Tuesday

1 first draft of a 40-page thesis on hospitality  (currently I have 31 pages), due in January



This is what I have before me as I prepare to return home for Christmas. It seems like a lot and not a lot at the same time.  Mostly, I am concerned because I need to finish it before I leave on a cruise in early January, so it has to be done by the end of December.  I am sure I can do it; if only I FELT like doing it….. 😉


 What to do what to do what to do.  It has been a neato week, in which I completed my Public Preaching course with a final whoop-dee-doo sermon on Acts 17.  It didn’t go quite so awesome as I had hoped, but I did indeed take risks in that class this year and learned quite a bit about myself and my skillz…. like, don’t NOT practice what you are gonna say in an extemporaneous sermon out loud in front of another person, for starters.  I tried doing it with people and doin’ it alone, and when I practiced in front of real witnesses, it always turned out better. So yea.  Lesson learned.

One lesson that I HAVEN’T learned, unfortunately, is how to get through blah-times. (btw, I am currently in a blah-time as we speak… hence the posting more than twice this week.)  I had been seriously chugging along, gettin’ it done, and then I got down to a semi-short list and once everything looked manageable, all of a sudden- WHAM- I lost my motivation.  I have spent the last two days, for starters, avoiding homework even though it would be a REALLY good idea for me to do it.  Seriously.  GOod idea.  I could say that avoiding helped me do other things, like buy Christmas presents online for most of my family, but that was really an avoidance tactic, really.  What I really should be doing is writing my thesis, or bangin’ out my final paper for Public Theology that is due on Dec. 16th.  Those would be smart things to do.  For realz.  

But try as I might, I can’t seem to put it together.  I can’t figure out how to get myself movin’.  And the distance between my emotional state and my desire to be workin’ is causing me some serious stress/feelings that I might just be the laziest good-for-nuthin’ out there.  Which is not so great a feeling, I might add.

So if anyone has any suggestions, I welcome them, and my thesis welcomes them too.



*It occurs to me that I title many too many of my posts with stress-sounds… like ack, or blah, or bleh, or hrmmpph.  Interesting… I wonder what that could mean?

WHEW! It’s finally OVER

Finally… we have a president-elect, and its none too soon.  I have spent the last 6 months or so checking too many politically-minded websites, reading article after article on who did what and who said this or that and what poll predicted what where… it was exhausting, and yet I couldn’t drag myself away.  I literally averaged 5 to 6 checks per day on a handful of sites, no joking.  And as the race was called around 11:15 and my fellow Divinity school friends were screaming and yelling and dancing and pouring champagne, my body finally relaxed and I exhaled, both because the Hope was for real and because I could finally get back to doing my homework.

So yea, maybe now that my internet time is down per day, I can devote some time to this blog, which has been seriously ignored since august or so.  Because I have had a lot on my mind to be sure, especially when it comes to the freak-out realization that I need to start looking for a job, that I am graduating in 7 months and that the world is opening up in a whole new direction for me.  I have been trying to hide from that reality-check a bit, but I knew it was on the way so I can’t say I didn’t expect it.  I mean, I am cramming FIVE classes into this semester to get that degree + ordination-worthy by June.  All I need are a handful of classes, a passed polity exam, and I am set (did i mention i failed my polity exam?  Boo!  I passed the other three though…. expect an encore on the polity thing in Feb.).  My pastor is working on getting something pulled together so that I can start looking for a job soon, and in the meantime I am working on getting my info together to make me attractive to church positions, writing my thesis (sometimes), eating some tasty food, and knocking out homework (Speaking of homework, I *should* be working on my sermon for Peter Gomes tomorrow… I have the outline but I have yet to practice it outloud–oops!)

So yea, it’s all good, i hope.  Then again, of course it is.  Hope won this year.

Ords AHH!

Shout out to all yall in the Presby world—

I am studying for ords and its getting down to the wire… and I know I am not alone in this but it is often difficult to sort out how to prepare for these things (esp when you aren’t at a presby semianry.)  So it occurred to me to ask– does anyone have suggestions for the theology and worship exams?






ack! Finals madness is upon me!

It’s finally here- finals season.  I knew it was coming.  I knew for weeks, years even (if i had cared enough to care, the Harvard calendar is set years in advance) so there was no reason for me to be surprised.  And yet here I sit, one week left until all of my finals must be submitted to the grand facilitators of my classes, and I am STILL at a loss for what to do.  I am STILL unsure of how to proceed.  In one of my classes, I am still struggling, grasping even for a topic to write on (update: progress has been made on this front.  Slow but BEAUTIFUL progress).

One good thing, however, has come to pass in all of this: Dan F and I came up with a wicked project for our Reformed Thought class that is going to KICK A$$.  We convinced our professor to let us experiment with a modern psalter.  The basic idea is that we are going to try to arrange some psalms into modern music, the sort of music that is not only scriptural based but heartmovingly awesome.  We got to talking about this idea, basically, whilst lamenting the state of contemporary music and joking about how nobody sings the psalter anymore, especially not PCUSA folks.  IN fact, I have witnessed Presby Pastors exclaiming “destroy the psalter!” in response to my stated interest in the PCUSA Hymnal Project that is afoot.  So we are gonna experiment with the always reforming bit of our tradition and try to make the psalms come alive in contemporary fashion.  (an added perk happens to be that we won’t have to write as much…. 6-10 pages of theological and theoretical reflection as opposed to 15 pgs each of a research topic.)

The rest of my finals, to say the least…. are dragging/slogging along.  One is due this Friday, so at least there is that.  But I guess now would be the time to ask for …. *gulp*…. prayers, patience, and a good dose of concentration…..

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!