Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Glimpsing the good of Humanity...on a bus

I've been staying at work much later than I should lately and yesterday was no exception. I had plans to go to the Holiday Stew at the Union Project, which started at 7:00 and I left my office at 6:35 (yes I know...I should just GO HOME). I was going to be late.

So at 6:50, I arrived across the bridge at the bus stop and started looking for my bus tickets. I frantically searched my coat pockets and every crevice of my backpack as the 71A approached...and passed me by. This shouldn't be too big of a deal, but after a long day of staring at a computer screen, I was pretty drained and my emotions were a bit out of whack. (Plus, the buses do not run as often after 7:00, so that means more waiting.)

I think I was checking the lining of my coat to see if they fell through the hole in my pocket when the 71D stopped to open its door. I made a desperate motion of resignation, indicating that I didn't have a way to pay my fare (I had a 20 dollar bill, but I would rather walk than give that much).

First relief, the guy waved for me to get on the bus.

As I stammered something about needing to be on the bus that just passed, he gave me a transfer and said I could catch one up in Oakland. Second relief.

I tried to sound as grateful as I could when I thanked him and found a seat on the mostly vacant bus. I called my friend to tell her I'd be pretty late.

After a few minutes, the bus driver motioned for me to come to the front of the bus. I hung up the phone and saw the 71A looming through the front window. He said, "You'll have to rush, but you can probably make it at the next red light up here."

I thought, "yay, I might be able to catch the right bus after all!" Then the bus driver made me pause.

"Now listen, I have a daughter in college who's about 20. And after I'm done here, I'm going to go pick her up... I couldn't have left you stranded out there."

He stopped the bus, he honked his horn a couple times and before I knew it I was racing over to the 71A as the light turned green. I made it on, thanked the driver for waiting and sat down in a heap.

And started to cry.

I know, I'm a weird emotional girl sometimes, but several feelings overwhelmed me at that moment.

Gratitude, for the kind actions of a stranger.

Joy, that somehow this one small act redeemed my perception of humanity in general.

Sadness, that I often do not live to serve and see the little things I can do for the others around me.

Awe, that these events could line up to make possible what I could not achieve on my own.

Perhaps that bus driver (I didn't have time to get his name) didn't realize it, but his action and words made me have a moment to reflect and see how God is good and how He works in the events in my life...big and small. It was just what I needed at that moment...a reminder that there is something bigger at work and there are more lives to consider than my own. That bus driver wasn't just a mechanical, lifeless robot who merely transports people from place to place. He's a human being with his own joys and struggles.

Mr. 71D bus driver, I thank you for that reminder, and I hope you and your daughter enjoy a very Merry Christmas together.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Taking on Screen writing.

I just got back from my first day of my new class at Filmmakers: Intro to Screen writing.

The woman teaching it is pretty hilarious, and seems to know her stuff. Tonight, we went over the syllabus and watched Die Hard in fast-forward, with the teacher pointing out the structure of the basic "3 act screenplay" as the action unfolded. It was interesting and highly entertaining at the same time. I have some readings to read for the next class, plus I may try to watch some movies in fast-motion.

(think of Spaceballs, I can watch fast-motion of the fast-forward part!).

I'm not exactly sure why I decided to pick up a screen writing class. I don't feel like I'm particularly talented in that realm. Perhaps that's part of the reason actually. It will be a good challenge. However, I don't feel like it's something I would really want to do for a living. I do not write habitually. I guess I just like trying different things...maybe wondering if I'm missing something that I could actually develop into something that I could utilize in a job or in my art?

It certainly doesn't hurt to be well-rounded.

At any rate, I did take a playwriting class and I know that my dialogue is lacking. I could use some work in that area. Also, I do not have a great knowledge of the movies in existence, directors, actors, I'll have to hop on and browse around for a while.

Or get into some conversations with some of my movie-fanatic friends.

And max out the Netflix account.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On a Razor's Edge...

Ha, as soon as I wrote that title I realized how suicidal that sounded...never fear, I'm not on my "last rope" or something.

What I mean by that phrase is, I feel like lately I've been on the edge of something big. However, it's like I keep floating back and forth toward that edge, like swinging on a rope over a swimming hole and not quite getting far enough over to let go. It's kind of frustrating.

Part of the frustration comes in that I'm not quite sure how to define that big something. I think it's spiritual, but it seems even bigger than that, if that's possible.

The edge might also mean that I feel the pressure of keeping life in balance and I feel that I'm always teetering like that single bowling pin that just refuses to fall when you're sure you've thrown a strike.

All of this balancing and swinging, it's tiring. (those circus types must get exhausted)

Now it occurs to me, perhaps the reason it's tiring is because I'm putting all of the pressure to do the balancing onto myself. I'm human and I'm not exactly built to do that sort of thing. At the same time, I do believe that we are given the responsibility for some of this stuff...inaction is not the answer. It's just, where do I focus my trust when it really comes down to it? When I act, do I have the faith that God will use that action? Do I "do all I can and then leave it up to God?" Do I believe that God works even when I'm not doing such a good job at "doing"??

All I can do is humble myself, spend time being thankful and remembering that I'm Beloved. It is only out of that identity that I can truly act with confidence. It's not that I have to always be in balance or always steady...I often learn so much more when I fall. I relate with people more through what I don't have together than with what I do.

Discipline AND Free-flowing. Works AND Grace. Flesh AND Spirit. This line is a paradox. It's about finding peace within the paradox...being able to live in it even if I don't completely understand it.

This razor edge existence is the only way to live...I just need to let go, move forward and lose my fear of falling.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bad Bike Karma Lately....

I've had more flat tires in the past two weeks than I've had for the entire lifetime of my bike (had it since May 2007). Today I blew out my back tire while crossing the Birmingham Bridge.

I'm wondering if it's time to buy new tires, rather than buying new tubes...?

Last night, I had another close call...this time in broad daylight. I was riding down East Carson towards the Hot Metal Bridge (going to my final video class). I was behind a bus and the light turned green. The bus went through intersection and I was right behind it. Some dude decided to make a left-hand turn into me. It was one of those times where everything seems to go in slow-motion. I thought I was going to get hit right in the side...started to brake and then decided to try to pedal through. I heard an unreal scream/shriek come out of my mouth. He nicked the very back of my back tire. I turned around with a look of WTF?? The guy's gesturing/expression seemed to say, "oh well, no damage done right?" as he kept on driving.

I probably should have tried to stop him and had a little chat about not turning left on a green light without making sure there was no on-coming traffic, but I was too much in shock. I probably should have been on the left-most side of the lane now that I think of it...I was just trying to get around the bus earlier.

Anyway, I'm trying not to think about this too much...time to go fix my bike tire and get out of the office.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another crazy night for biking in the Burgh

Maybe this blog will end up being my place to deposit all of my experiences while biking??

Anyway, tonight I stayed at Filmmakers late to finish a project for Monday. I was going down Baum and went past a car that was partially pulled into the Wendy's drive-thru. As I approached, one of the kids in the back seat had the door open...and threw something onto the street! I think s/he was trying to throw it at me or in front of my bike!! What?? Who does that? And what parents would let them get away with it? I turned back briefly and gave them an incredulous look (if they could've seen it). They were laughing so obviously it was intentional.

Oh well.

Luckily the kid had bad aim.

Coach, don't sign that kid up to play ball, he couldn't hit the broad side of a bike.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My brush with death...sort of...

...not really, but it was enough to get me shaken up.

I was biking home from Filmmakers in Oakland. I already had a bad night, realizing I had previously only captured video, with no audio...rendering my time spent there useless. The roads were wet and I was flying down Negley to get home. There was a green light ahead at East Liberty Boulevard and I was racing towards it.

When I was about 20 feet from the intersection, a cop car accelerating toward the same intersection with lights flashing suddenly appeared on the perpendicular street and turned on its siren. I hit my brakes, fishtailed and skidding off the the left to avoid what I thought was going to be a side collision. The cop car stopped (slowed down) in time and turned left to go down the direction in which I had come. I really thought that I was going to at least wipe out horribly in the middle of the intersection. I sat there for a second to get my bearings.

I haven't (knock on wood) been in an accident yet with another person/vehicle. I mildly wiped out on the Hot Metal Ped Bridge twice...once from ice, once from taking a turn too quickly on the wet. That's about it. I'm not looking forward to my first actual accident, since I'm sure that's going to happen at some point. Getting doored or run off the road. Anyway, my bike riding has been blessedly safe thus far.

Maybe I should be more careful at night and maybe I should not fly through intersections for this reason, but I don't understand why a cop wouldn't just keep their siren on well before an intersection? It doesn't help when your momentum is already carrying you through what is a solid green light, especially if you are on a bike.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beauty Everywhere

Sometimes beauty is just so in your face, you have nothing to do but sit and gawk at it.

...unless you have a camera, then you take a picture!

This photo was taken on a Wednesday Wake-Up Paddle with Venture Outdoors.

I swear that these breathtaking images are set before us to remind us that it is GOOD we are here on this earth. Despite how tired I might have felt at 6:30 in the morning, despite my muscles being a little sore and feeling my weakness, despite how crappy I might have felt the day before, despite being splashed with a little bit of dirty (albeit, much-improved) Allegheny River water...there was a beautiful if an Artist painted it just for those of us who were on the water that morning.

We just need to slow down enough to enjoy it.

Larger image:
More photos:

Bike funnies...

I found these strips on this page:

Gah, I love Calvin and Hobbes...

Someday, this will be true for think I'm hardcore??

Hey this guy kind of looks like a grown-up Calvin...don't you think??

P.S. I got a bike rack! now I'm ready for some longer-ish stuff.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

half-year review...

Man, I should write on this thing more often!

I just realized over a half of 2008 has passed...I figured I'd take a look at the goals I wrote at the beginning of the year to see how I'm doing:

1. Value sleep more...
Well...I haven't been doing so well here. I'm not sure of my problem, but part of it is that my schedule has been kind of crazy lately. I need to work on this one.

2. Ride my bike at least 75% of the time...
I think I'm doing pretty well with this one! Next bike goal: get a bike rack and try to bike home one day...Pittsburgh to Saltsburg. Anybody want to come with me?

3. Take Sunday, or some other day and spend...a true sabbath of sorts...
Working on this one...I think I'm getting the rest part down, but again, that's not really spilling into the rest of my week. Sabbath should also be a daily mindset, not just what you do or don't do on a particular day. Plus spending a good portion of that time with God is kind of a requirement of a true sabbath. It shows where my priorities lie and in what/whom do I put my trust.

4. Try to play guitar for at least 15 minutes everyday or every other...
ugh, failing at this one...(note to self: replace internet time with guitar time)

5. Go to the Homeless ministry every Saturday if possible...
Well, I've decided this wasn't really working out, mostly cause I'm a lazy punk, but also because I've been doing other things over the weekend...but if I do a yoga thing down there like I'm thinking, I might end up staying to do Homeless ministry. This will be less of a goal and more of a, if I feel the spirit move me, I'll do it. Service should not feel forced anyway and maybe there's another way I'm being called to service.

6. Cook at least twice a week...
Off and on...right now I'm off. :P

7. Get a setup for digital video and start making a movie...
I DID get a firewire port for my computer! And I've obtained a copy of Adobe Premiere Elements. I'm helping a friend create a video of our Mexico trip. Now however, I realize I either: A) On my PC: need a new BIG harddrive for my files and shift my program files onto a bigger harddrive, B) Build a better PC with all the video capabilities in mind, C) Buy a sweet, beautiful iMac/Macbook. And make sure I have the funds to do it. This is aside from any 3-chip camera I might want to purchase...gah. $_$

8. Figure out...what I want to do when I grow up?...
Well, I'm pretty comfortable (ugh!) in my job right now, and I'm taking a Filmmakers class, so I'm in a "wait and see what's next" mode. When it's time to move on, I'm certain that I will realize it.

9. Call/write people more often...
Been keeping up with the fam a lot more than usual, though I could be better. I'm realizing that I just know too many people. What I mean by that is that I feel like I have many relationships that I sort of half-ass. And I meet new people with the expectation that they are all going to be on the same level of friendship. I need to relax this view and realize that there's no possible way to keep up with everyone on the same level. I don't like to half-ass things, and I'm trying to find a few niches of people I can remain close to, while figuring out how to stay open to the people in front of me. I need to find the balance of community for myself, and myself for community.

10. Hold more babies...
Been doing this actually! And when I move in July, I'll be moving in with a family, so I'll get to get my share of baby-holding in there. :)

So, I'm not doing too shabby! But there's still half a year to go, so I hope I can continue working on this stuff.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

So I just got back from Mexico this past Monday and I'm still processing the trip. I had never been on a mission trip before, so the whole experience was new and exciting and mind blowing. I was struck by the beauty, the simplicity, by the community and difference in culture, and by the hard work and mindfulness of property that most people I deal with (including myself) know nothing about.

My hope is that I can take this experience and see how it relates to my life here in the States. My fear is that I'll be assimilated back into a culture that often takes things for granted. Alternatively, I fear that my heart will stay behind in Mexico and not be able to live in the present. I hope to find that middle ground...mindful and grateful existence, seeing God at work all around me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Democratic Primary map-interactive goodness

I found this really cool interactive democratic primary map (there's one for the republicans too) at The New York Times website. It breaks down each state by county as well. I don't know how accurate the information is, but the visuals sure beat looking at just plain numbers in my opinion! The site also has some other neat interactive features for other information such as super delegate lists (including quotes) and voting schedules.

Let's not forget who's running this circus...

I love that the audience in the background is the figure in Edward Munch's The Scream.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A South Side Spring

Spring has finally arrived on the South Side!

I took the opportunity yesterday to check out the section of the South Side Trail extending from the Hot Metal Bridge to where it ends near a concrete factory. 2 1/2 miles out and 2 1/2 back. I stopped to sit on a rock to read and take in the scenery, with no rush to leave. That is, until the cold breeze became more than I could stand sitting still.

Aside from the occasional train that roared past, it was pretty peaceful. I'll have to do more of this impromptu riding as the days grow nicer.

Which makes me wonder: Do days grow? Would a day in the middle of summer be 6' 5" whereas a winter day would be 4' 8"? Does a day have a personality to which niceness can be attributed? Does niceness grow much like leaves grow on trees?

Hmm, I'll have to think about that for a while...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone all the best for 2008. It's a new year and a good time to start fresh. Every day is new, so every day is a good time for change, but there is something about looking to a new year that makes people introspect and take stock of their life.

Thanks to all for your part in shaping my life! We are not meant to live in a vacuum, and so many of you have been very involved in the details of who I am and will become. I am forever indebted to my friends, family and community.

Here are some things that I'm looking forward to in this year:

1. Value sleep more...try to get at least 7 hours every night if not more...try to go to sleep around 11:00 PM more often.
2. Ride my bike at least 75% of the time, with at least 1 - 2 days per week in the winter months.
3. Take Sunday, or some other day and spend at least part of it in solitude/meditation, the rest just relaxing, reading books, hanging out with people etc. A true sabbath of sorts.
4. Try to play guitar for at least 15 minutes everyday or every other.
5. Go to the Homeless ministry every Saturday if possible.
6. Cook at least twice a week.
7. Get a setup for digital video and start making a movie.
8. Figure out if I REALLY want to go to grad school, and for what (aka: what do I want to do when I grow up?)
9. Call/write people more often, even if it's just for a few minutes. Especially my 93 year-old grandma. Sorry if I've been a punk and haven't been in touch...hope we can catch up soon!
10. Hold more babies.

I think slowing down and rest are the big priorities for this year. Slow down to enjoy the things in front of me, and rest so that when the right opportunities are presenting themselves, I'll be alert and ready to go for it. A little less fear, a little more trust, and a lot more grace. Keeping the number one priority of loving God and loving people ever before me.

I can't wait to start.