10 May 2013 Leave a Comment
The school year will end
in just a week’s time.
There will be tests and work
and we hope to chill a bit, too.
Amongst all that, what I have for you,
are some pictures from the year
that’s just gone passed.
Today the shot
is some tulips I found
in front of the clock tower.
06 May 2013 1 Comment
Midnight, she said she’d be back from work, back on the floor. 10pm, I’m back. I sit in Nelle’s room; she’s gone. I write, there: the post you read yesterday, the day before. I don’t like thinking about my church dilemma, I don’t like writing about it, but I do anyway. I write thoughts I’d like to avoid, and I tell you about the weekly struggle that I’d rather not have, and when I’m done, I close the tab, lie back on that scratchy blue couch.
It’s 11pm- maybe later- but not the promised midnight, and maybe I’ll not stop by, not catch up, anyway. I lie there, feet tucked askew under the blue guitar someone left out. My computer is propped on my chest, I’m scrolling aimlessly; reading blogs, mostly.
But the post I wrote just moments ago- the prospect of another Sunday- weighs heavy on me, the headache of frustrated tears not shed builds behind my eyes. I’m tired, too.
The door swings in, Nelle and a friend trip past the miniature pink throw rug, burst into the room. I remain where I am, sprawled on the couch. I flip my computer closed, slide it under the black Ikea coffee table, on top of a pile of white computer cord. I don’t know this friend and introductions are tossed back and forth as she sinks on the other end of the couch, moves the blue guitar across the room.
I stay in the room awhile longer. It’s getting late- almost midnight- and the two girls are preparing for the night; it’s been a long day and I catch snippets as they rotate around the room. Nelle pins her hair back, washes her face, tells me about the bus driver who took a wrong turn, just for them. Our new friend brushes her own hair, rustles through her suitcase, pulls pajamas out, tells me about the hispanic man whose question they couldn’t understand.
I lie there, tired, and watch night settle into the city, settle into the room.
Soon, almost suddenly, I stand up. Leaving my computer cord, I take my computer; water cup, homework pages, highlighter balanced on top. Two doors down, I pass my room. It’s past midnight, she’s back from work now, and I decide I do want to visit. I leave my computer on the floor outside my door and the faint hallway light reflects dull off its scuffed cover.
She’s on her bed, somewhere under a pile of black pillows and purple blanket, when I push through the door, two past my own. She looks up when I come in, probably expecting me to be her roommate. But I’m not and she smiles, nods a welcome. I sink onto the bed on the other side of the room. I ask about her day, maybe, or maybe I say something else- I don’t remember. But I remember the day I first met this friend- we were sitting in the lounge, she wore a printed tanktop- and these two years have grown communication strong. So she’s up there on her bed, tall because of the bed risers, and I’m over here on her roommate’s bed, and we talk.
We talk about church and friends and God and knowledge and boys and food and summer plans. She reads a quote from Augustine- she loves theology, loves study and I love her for that- and we laugh, too. Later, her roommate comes in, sits on the bed next to me. It’s late, we realize: almost 1am, but we just keep talking, only stopping now and again to remind each other of the time, exclaim that it’s late, and roll into conversation once again.
1:30am I stand up. I click the little lamp off, the one by the window, wish the pair goodnight, and then step towards the door. I’m halfway there, moving slowly, when she calls me back. It’s a joke, but this exchanging of stories and thoughts is too inviting, and I don’t want to leave yet. I sit back down on the bed.
Sometime around 2- even then a little after- I get up again, tell them goodnight again, leave. Collect my computer, water, papers from the hallway, push quietly through my own door. I slide my computer onto my desk, toss the papers alongside, and collapse onto my own bed. I’m tired, of course, but the weight of worry, of frustration, of isolation, has lifted in those talking hours. No one’s alone in this, really. We’re all together walking, talking, living, breathing through life, one day, one night, one conversation at a time.
03 May 2013 1 Comment
Alternately Titled: Natalia Guest Posts
Renee, mother to 14 and fellow blogger, was so kind as to allow me to guest post on her blog. Hop over to Renee’s blog to read what I wrote about my transition from being homeschooled to attending college here at Moody!
*The Roommate, never before pictured on Leadmewhere, appears not once, but twice in my post over at Renee’s blog.
Happy Friday, lovelies!
30 Apr 2013 Leave a Comment
I said last summer, lying on the rocks while the lake lapped easily at the shore, that I don’t like looking up. Star gazing scares me, a little bit.
Not because it’s so big, not even because it makes me feel so small. It’s because it’s so close.
We went up on the roof tonight, the Jenny girl and I. Of course, there are taller buildings all around- this is downtown Chicago, after all- but ten floors up is pretty high. We brought her computer, for the purpose of watching One Tree Hill, but the rooftop Internet capabilities left something to be desired and then we were just lying there, looking up.
The clouds were fat, white, wispy and the sky it’s natural urban glow; I wondered if looking up would feel the same as last summer on the rocks. We could hardly even see any stars.
But while Netflix fought to load, the computer sat to the side, and I looked up and breathed in the orange Chicago sky. I waved my hand towards the sky, telling Jen something, and a second later saw that she imitated me. She laid there on the pillows we had borrowed from the lounge, one hand stretched up, reaching into the swirling clouds.
Do this with one eye open, she said, they’re so close. She opened and closed her fingers, and I imagined her grabbing the clouds, catching a handful of wet, puffy precipitation and twirling it in her hand.
I reached up, did the same.
And the sky is big, marvelously, shockingly so. It’s brilliantly created and beautifully painted, and when you lie on your back and reach hands high as they’ll go- the sky is vast and grand and stunning. And it’s so very close, too.
22 Apr 2013 Leave a Comment
It’s a rare experience, this quiet. School is a loud place, I’m accustomed to it. Doors open and close up and down the dorm floor, voices call out, shout out, laugh out. Classroom buildings hum and bustle, professor and student voices mixing with elevators, janitors, printers. The library is a quiet study place, of course, but people walk, books open and close, keyboard fingers type, type, type.
Even in the dark, when I lie with blankets pulled up around me, staring out at the city-lit sky, I can hear the city. Sirens blare past, cars honk, people yell at each other, at the bus, at passing cabs. It’s never quiet around here.
But it’s 11pm and I’m sitting downstairs, in the second floor lounge. This is a place for those who need refuge, who need quiet, who need free space beyond their own floor. I’ve come down here before, when upstairs wasn’t conducive to focus, and the library was too far away.
I’ve come down here and I sat tucked in the corner, fingers pounding out a paper, while ten girls did an exercise video across from me. Girls come down here to work, and they all sit around- chattering to each other occasionally- moving, working, writing, reading. They sit around on the couches scattered across the big room, and the sirens and the trucks rumble past outside, and conversations sound almost clear from the street outside, and I put my headphones in, turned the music up loud, to tune it all out.
It’s loud around here; the only way to escape is to make your own soundtrack louder.
But I came back tonight, almost by accident, and I’m sitting in a room on the side, tucked into a sinking, fuzzy blue couch, and the noises down here are quiet and few. I’m on the inside of the building, rooms away from busy streets, two floors up from conversations wafting in. The late hour has settled the masses, the girls who sift through this study lounge throughout the day: most of them are gone. They’ve taken their studying and their noise upstairs, outside, somewhere else.
And I’m here in the thick, insulated quiet, and I remember why I like the noise.
I like noise because it’s something to think about. Noise is people, places, voices, actions. Noise is going somewhere, doing something, being something. I like noise because it means I don’t have to think about the other things, the small, quiet things that hum gentle, undetected under all the noise.
It’s hard to escape the quiet thoughts when the noise leaves.
The noise is still there, of course, but it’s a little noise, just about swallowed by the quiet, the noise-less. Some would say quiet is peaceful. And it is, sometimes. But so many times, it’s in the quiet that my fears slide close; worry that can be noised-out is inescapable in the quiet. It’s in the quiet that bittersweet sadness comes; four weeks is a very short time, and this school year will be over in a blink. In the noise, we laugh and exclaim about the way the year flies. In the quiet, it all feels too fast, too soon, and I want to stop the clock and stay just where I am.
It’s in the quiet that God is feels so very close. He’s here all the time; eyes, heart, hands deeply involved in everything I say, everything I do. But His words, His will, grows loud in the quiet. The noise dulls His voice, not so the quiet. His words can’t be missed when it’s just me and the still. I can hear Him and my heart shifts, uneasy with the quiet and the close.
I’m not scared of Him. I’m not scared of the One who made me, saved me. But take away the noise, the busy, the loudness and the action, and the quiet is so still and His voice becomes loud and He’s so very big, and I’m so very small.
21 Apr 2013 2 Comments
I spent the night at my house last night. Home time is a wonderful hodgepodge of delicious food, jokes with the father and brother, chasing three little munchkins around the house, and staying up late with the mother. I love those weekends.
Then I came back to school this afternoon; rode the red line all the way back to school and walked back to campus in the warm afternoon sun, up to a quiet floor. The Jen and Mar Bear, on their mutual quest to watch all the dramas, are on season two of One Tree Hill, and I kicked shoes off, shrugged jacket off and climbed onto Jen’s bed to watch an episode.
We had open house tonight, the guys came over to the floor and we played games and yelled and ate, ate, ate all the food. But in between Chad Michael Murray drama and open house, there was a delicious Guatemalan meal, sitting around circle tables in the student center, tossing English and Spanish back and forth across fried plantains and tacos.
Then open house, games, fun, treats. All the guys left at 9- that’s school policy- and it’s Katie’s birthday, of course, and all these girls, we sat around in the lounge and celebrated that sweet girl.
Now it’s 10pm and another week, only three more until finals week, begins tomorrow. I’m tired, right now; so very tired. But I don’t want to stop. Sometimes, Sunday nights are quiet, closed in my room, preparing for the week to come. But not tonight. Not tonight because this floor, these girls I live with: this time doesn’t happen again. Things change every month, every semester, every year, and the days of this school year are ticking down.
So I’m not stopping. Nelle’s room two doors down on one side, the JenMar room two down on the other side, with The Neighbor in the middle. On Friday night, The Neighbor and the Jen and I braved heavy April snowflakes for a Chipotle dinner, and then back and school, Di slept in that hallway end room. Mar came back from work late, found three girls almost asleep, One Tree Hill playing quietly while the snow fell outside.
The episode ended and the lights flicked off and we talked and laughed until it fell silent and when I woke up later, I realized that we had laughed ourselves to sleep.
And I burst into Nelle’s room after classes, toss book bag on her bed and we catch up. And The Neighbor and I are Target buddies; I’d never turn down Target. And Ellie Rose and those sweet ones at the end of the hall and of course, I could never stop now.
I’m tired, but sleep comes soon and then another week, and I’ll never have time to soak up this life, these girls, these relationships, times, blessings. I’m so blessed.
15 Apr 2013 1 Comment
We have these meetings just in April. Three of them, each on a Monday night. We climb those musty concrete stairs, into that classroom. It’s one of the big classrooms, at the end of the blue carpeted hallway. We all meet up there and we sit at the long tables, the skinny ones that seem barely wide enough to hold a notebook. We all sit there and we prepare.
We’re preparing for August 21st. It’s a Wednesday. The Wednesday when the half-circle parking lot in front of the clock tower is filled with cars rolling, rolling through. Cars stacked with bins and suitcases, pillows tucked into back seats, mini-fridges always fit awkwardly.
Then, in August, we’ll all stand outside in the hot city air, and we’ll wait for all these new students. In August, we’ll pull carts bumping down over the short curb, and we’ll balance bins on boxes, pile baskets on top, grab hold of the pillow because it’ll probably fall off.
In August, we’ll talk those new students across the Plaza; a Plaza full of tables, booths, teams. There are more than thirty student groups here at Moody, and their all in the Plaza on that move in day, waiting to talk to these new students. And we’ll pull those heavy-loaded carts right across the Plaza, snaking past all the clubs and the teams and the groups and organizations. We’ll pull those carts right into the buildings, up the elevator- two carts fit, I know- and then in a second, those new students have seen their room for the very first time.
In August, we’ll welcome all these students to a brand new home: Moody Bible Institute.
But it’s April now and we’ve no need for carts because the Plaza is empty and full of rain today. It’s April and we have these meetings and we’re a team working together and talking together and laughing together, and planning together, of course. And we design the shirt and the schedule, and we talk it over, shout it out, from our seats at those long, skinny tables.
And then when the meeting’s over, we walk in the rain back to dorms and homework and another week ahead. And weeks turn into months quickly and it’s just over four months, August 21st comes bright, hot, early, and the new students come, too.
13 Apr 2013 2 Comments
It occurred to me recently that maybe I should spend more time in the library. I should be in the library, with my computer and my notebooks, and my textbooks and pens and pencils. I’d be productive down there in the basement library. There are people who do just that, people whose lives are class and the library, back again and back again. They work hard in that library: it’s a wonderful thing.
I thought about that this week.
Rather soon after this thought occurred to me, my mind argued right back that it’s not the school work that I’ll remember when I look back on my college career in ten, twenty, thirty years; it’s the relationships built. So I decided that a lifestyle at college marked by excessive and reclusive time in the library was a poor decision, and a day like today is just what’s needed to prove such an assertion.
I got up early this morning, when the sun was still working on rising and I was one of four people on the entire train platform. I got off just barely into the Loop and walked amongst the tall black buildings while tiny white snow pellets bounced off my coat and tangled into my hair. I signed into the front desk of one of these buildings, and I took a Praxis Test. Just to make sure I’m smart enough to be a teacher.
I sectioned off five hours of my day for the exam, but I finished ahead of time and after riding the train the rest of the way around the Loop and back to the Chicago Avenue stop, I arrived back at school before noon. All the free time I had! All the time to accomplish tasks! What about the homework- so much could be done!
So I perused Pinterest. Took a brief nap. Worked on my take-home quiz. Spent some time with the Mother and the baby boy she brought along for a visit. Ate a chocolate egg. Ate another chocolate egg. If relaxing was on my checklist, I nailed it. But if it’s homework, papers, reading, and a quiz that I was hoping to accomplish this afternoon, I fell sadly short.
But this evening? This evening was when I remembered what’s important; when I remembered exactly what it is that I’ll look back on in the years to come.
Sometime in the late afternoon, after the Mother and the toddler boy left, I swung my door open, shoving the clear doorstop under it with my toes. People walked back and forth, the hallway’s always moving, but an open door means come on in, and 5pm found Jen, Di, and I perched on my bed, while Mar leaned leisurely against The Roommate’s raised bedframe. I could have written then- a blog post, I was thinking. But those three in the room are the three I’ll remember anyway, not the blog post, so I didn’t.
And there was dinner downstairs, stacking bruschetta next to chicken breast, settling into that long SDR table, Mar’s on a cucumber kick, too. And upstairs again, more time for homework, but there’s voices coming from a bedroom down the hall, and I want to do what I’ll remember.
Mar and Jen share a room, we watched a movie, all lined up on Jen’s bed last night. And Ellie Rose kept her room open this weekend, white light from the window, shining square on the hallway carpet. Late in the evening, Nelle is gone but her room’s open and there were five of us in there, sitting on the bed, the couch, the floor. Talking, laughing, being together.
I could have sat in the room, computer on desk, type, type, typing away, but that didn’t feel right today. So I left homework on the side and I followed relationships that are growing, and I had a wonderful Saturday and these things? These are the times I’ll remember about college.
10 Apr 2013 Leave a Comment
I returned to the floor just a bit ago, after nine hours away. Yesterday evening, I came back to my school home to find eight neighbors and hallmates sitting huddled on the flat brown hallway carpet. Just because, they said. We’re having hallway time.
But no one was in the hallway when I came upstairs two hours ago, and I’m just alright with that. I went into my room, to leave book bag and shoes and find sweatpants and hoodie, and then I left again. Looking for some place quiet. There was a room, two doors down: door propped open, lighting soft, empty, quiet. So I went back, just a little bit up that hallway and borrowed the book to do the reading for tomorrow, because, of course, I lent mine to someone else, and I don’t have his number.
So I borrowed a book and I sat on someone else’s bed- laid, really, because today was a tired day- and I read in the quiet.
This floor is not loud, really. We’re not screamers, for the most part. We did scream when Madie got engaged, though, even though she didn’t get back, we didn’t scream, until 70 minutes past quiet hours, and there was a scolding involved, somewhere.
Not really loud, but loud or quiet, life makes noise, of course.
I couldn’t decide what to tell you just now and I sat on my bed (I’m in my own room now) and I breathed slow and silent and I listened to the floor. Sounds I hear, sounds that shift in and out of my ears without my own attention, sounds that go all day long.
It’s never silent in the city. Never silent anywhere.
I hear these sounds all the time, but I sat and looked quiet around the room, and listened hard. I wanted to hear; the floor, life, the city, movement. Anything.
And I did.
Cars roll past downstairs in the street. Someone’s always going somewhere. Next door, The Neighbor opened her sink faucet and the water whistled all the way up into the pipes. Then something fell into the sink, scratching and bouncing hard and metallic against the ceramic sink. Doors make such odd sounds when the open, and again when they close, but the bathroom door is different than the rest, somehow.
Voices sound quiet from down the hall, even from the room that touches mine, and I don’t mind because I’m not hoping to hear what they say. Except sometimes Mar and The Neighbor talk loud and they know I’m listening and they make jokes and tease while we live on opposite sides of the little dorm wall, and I bang on the wall to show them I’m heard; their joke worked.
I heard the elevator ding down the hall, around the corner, and I guess it worked like an alarm clock, because everyone should be up here on the floor, everyone should be asleep now. Including me.
So I’ll do that, and maybe in the interim, you’ll listen, listen quiet; to hear sounds you’ve never heard before, and sounds that fling in and out of your ears every day, every moment. Whatever you hear, well, those sounds are what makes it life, makes it home, makes it real, no?