Sunday, October 21, 2007

parential downpour

I was writing an email to my father a few minutes ago, and realized that my blog has been somewhat neglected recently. As always, I have a plethora of excuses, but that's a useless exercise, so we'll skip it.

My parents were in town this week, and that made it quite the whirlwind. I picked Mom up from the airport late Monday evening, and it was full speed ahead from there. Tuesday was quite leisurely for her, as I had class for most of the day, but on Wednesday we headed out to Lantau Island via the ferry and had a wonderful time. It was fantastic to be somewhere so quiet. We took a lovely little walk into the forest and stopped at a waterfall before heading back to the harbor for the ferry ride back. After spending several hours there, I decided that it's my medication of choice if I ever get overstimulated by the city.Dad got into town that night and we had dinner. It was wonderful to see both of them. I forget how nice it is to be loved on until they're with me. We explored various parts of downtown HK for the next few days, and it was nice to have renewed motivation for exploring the crazy metropolis in which I live. How easy it is to forget!

Their presence also helped me to regain perspective on my internal balance. I feel much better after their visit. People that truly know you have such a grounding effect! Thank God for that. We had ice cream together on a windy balcony in Central last night. That will make a very good memory. I must file it away for future comfort. It was also wonderful when Mom said goodbye and we stood in the middle of the Departures terminal in a three-person hug. There was never a sweeter little huddle of love in the world! It leaves a mark on your heart when people love you that much.

And now, for a something slightly closer to my real thoughts, an excerpt from my father's email and my response to it that I mentioned earlier:

Dad: "I re-entered the hotel from the Nathan Rd. side and saw the reason for the people with the open suitcases on the sidewalk outside the hotel door. They were doing a photo shoot of a model on the center divider of Nathan Rd. with the HKG traffic zooming up behind her in the background. The suitcases were for wardrobe changes.
Mystery revealed!"

Me: "Whoa! That's really cool. I feel I never notice when things like this are happening right next to me. I tend to think of everyone around me as mundane. I guess I should stop assuming that, considering what an oddity I am, huh? It isn't very common for a 19 year old girl from TN to be in HK, and still be serious about God. This is why I never notice the famous people around Malibu, I suppose. Ah well, with time I hope to be more observant. I'm happy that you solved our little mystery, though!

Church was great this morning, and I've had a blessed day because of it. Two people told me at different times today how grateful they are to be my friend--the very thing I needed on this day that my biggest fans are leaving me. God is very good!

In other news, BUDA only becomes more intimidating. I found out the official practice schedule today, and it is as follows for the next 2 weeks:

Th 1900-2100
Sat 1400-1800
Sun 1400-1800

Despite the daunting schedule, I'm feeling good about it. This is going to be a real dance--not some namby-pamby club bonding on stage! My muscles wanted to give up by the end of practice today, we'd done so much booty-shakin'. I don't care what anyone says--hip hop dance is an athletic event in and of itself! I hope that this hard training will help me get a real handle on the style, so that I don't have to put it down once I leave HKBU. I'm terrified of this week for more than one reason, as I've got a quiz Tue, a paper Th, and a painting of bamboo for Fr, but I know God will provide a beautiful way for it to come together if I let him."

Yes, I'd say this has been a very good week.

p. s. Peppertown's neighbors are on fire, and Malibu Pres burned down! How unhappy is that?

p. p. s. I am so tired from dancing and worrying about friends back home that I just fell asleep at the keyboard. At least with online journaling, there's no pen line running down the page when I wake up! :) Goodnight, all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

barely controlled fluidity

I'm completely convinced that I am happy in HK.

However, I have sudden, sharp pangs of discontent. They don't make much sense to me, but I guess in the end that's the human condition, right? I haven't been as devoted to staying close with God in the past couple weeks. Well, maybe that isn't fair. I've been relatively disciplined in making healthy decisions this week. Perhaps a more accurate description would be to say the struggle for internal balance and peace has been much more intense over the last few days.

I am completely confused by my relationships here. I really love the people I'm with, but sometimes all the experiences and secrets we share leave me hollow. Okay, so I know more about Mr. or Miss. X than anyone else on the trip. Big deal! I feel like I'm keeping score on some kind of cheap game.

Maybe I just feel disillusioned because I continue to have unrealistic expectations of relationships. I want a deep, tender, mutually beneficial friendship. Now! (As if that's at all reasonable.) I really thought I'd put aside such demanding ideals, but it seems old patterns die hard.

One step at a time, I suppose. I used to have agendas for people. Somehow I thought I had all the answers for their life as well as mine. I could love them beautifully--they just had to understand my way was right! Talk about conditional love--thinking back on it, I feel quite ashamed. With God's grace, that prideful attitude will remain a vanquished foe.

How exactly this ties in, I'm not sure, but my artistic pursuits seem to be connected to my ups and downs. My hunch is that in deciding to be newly flexible in the ways that painting and dance require puts me in a state of flux. Therefore, my normally ironclad confidence is too brittle to keep up as I change. Maybe that's a good thing.

Overall, I love change and growth, but I tend to forget the birthing pains that come along with truly dramatic growth. Thankfully, I am learning to appreciate the exhilarating but frightening sensation of slipping towards change.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

post-Nam disorder

There are so many things that have gone on in my life since my last blog that I don't even know where to begin. I've developed and gotten over two small crushes, watched and enjoyed a movie I swore I never would, bargained with and fussed at little Vietnamese market women--and the list goes on. Needless to say, my trip to Viet Nam was full of new experiences. I can't figure out what to talk about first, so I'll just try to give a few glimpses of the most important parts of my trip.

Without a doubt the most awesome part of the visit was our overnight excursion to the Mekong Delta region in the extreme south of Viet Nam. We rode a traditional boat along a stretch of the river, stopping at a couple cool shopping shacks along the way, plus a lovely house-cum-restaurant that's been inhabited by the same family for over 300 years. Our river tour culminated with a stop to hold Anacondas (yes, I mean the huge constrictor snake!), followed by a hike through the countryside and into a village by the main finger of the Mekong River, where we jumped back on the boat for the journey back to our bus.

Ah yes, the bus. That was insane. On the way to the delta, we were blasting music, and I ended up in a dance-off with Kris while the whole bus cat-called. That was weird and exhilarating enough, but when we trooped on board from our river adventures, music was again blasting, except this time the driver turned off the lights and switched on built in strobe lights as we drove. Why in the world this bus came equipped with strobe lights, I have no idea, but we literally had a party bus! It still seems like some odd thing out of a movie, but it sure enough happened. Dancing with everyone crammed into the aisle of a moving bus was hilarious and entertaining beyond belief.

We got back to Saigon the next afternoon, and I, along with Aaron and Maurice, took motorcycle taxis to pick up the custom-tailored suits we'd ordered earlier in the week. Our three drivers were nuts, and it was a ton of fun just getting there. On top of that, all of our suits were perfect--we didn't have to get a single adjustment after trying them on. I have to say that my grey skirt and blazer with white pinstripes is quite flattering. I'm excited to have something professional for interviews and such--especially for only US$120!

Once our exclamations over our own attractiveness was done, we cruised over to the internet cafe, where the three of us ran into Kris, and decided to take a 30 min motorcycle ride around the city as a last kick before our farewell dinner. That was pretty cool, but we cut it close to time for dinner, so I had to run up to my room and practically perform a magic trick to get myself looking like a girl again after all the sweating in my sports bra and t-shirt. I hustled though, and made it back down in time to walk with everyone else to a really nice buffet.

As we filtered out of the restaurant after dinner, I ran into Shawn, who mentioned he was going bowling. He invited me, and that proved to be wonderfully fun. Dr. S, Andy, Dave, Shawn, and I played a fierce two games. Well, more like they did, while I tried to wrap my brain around the basics of bowling. The good news is that I now understand how to do it correctly, thanks to their tutelage.

The weirdest thing about this day? I spent almost ALL DAY with guys. What? Leann Wolley? Since when? I know--when I realized it, I was in shock. I'm so excited though. Getting to know guys and be their friends has always been a tricky business for me, and this intensive exposure is probably the best practice I could get. Plus, the guys on this trip are really interesting, gentlemanly, and fun so far. Yay for personal progress!

Those measly few paragraphs are woefully inadequate to express the eye-opening and relationship-building that happened over this two-day period. Suffice it to say that it was a turning point in my friendships with most of my fellow Pepperdiners.

Oh--I also got a cold, but that's on it's way out, so no worries! My schedule is crazy right now, with all the stuff I left undone before my trip, but I have faith it'll all work out. Anyway, time for our group dinner--have a lovely evening, everyone!