After counting it all up, I think January included over 53 hours on airplanes, not to mention the countless trains, buses, cars, and boats I road in. This month I got to see a new part of this world and be in all three of the places I call home. What a gift! As I settle into 2018, I'm realizing that this year holds great excitement and melancholy. I have three cities and communities that I call home, which is both a wonderful gift and means I never feel fully at home. I have a feeling this feeling will only grow since I'll be spending almost 8 months of the year not living in my apartment in Georgia. It's becoming important for me to name both the hard with the good. I'm basically a recovering lifelong complainer, so in an attempt overcorrect, I usually try to only show the happy parts of life on social media, but it feels like I'm lying to myself or to my community. So while I know what an incredible privilege it is to travel and take advantage of this unmoored season of life, I also know that it's going to be a new kind of challenge for me.
This year I started using the One Second Everyday App, which I'm loving. While I was traveling this month, each little clip was something fun and exciting, but the few days I spent back at my home in Atlanta, I struggled to find interesting things to record. I realized that's okay too. The next four months are all about study, work, and learning. My 1SE might not reflect anything fancy, but I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.
What I'm Studying
At the end of this month, I've been studying for my last two Ordination Exams- Theology and Biblical Exegesis. The Exegesis exam is on a different book each time and this time it's on the book of Galatians, so I've been brushing up on my Greek. The Theology exam requires you to have a thorough understanding of Reformed Theology. Since the exam has now closed, I can say I was tested on theological views of reconciliation, theodicy, and God's particular concern for the poor. I felt pretty good about the topics, but it all depends on the grader. I'll find out my results sometime mid-February.
What I'm Reading
I downloaded this book on my Kindle for free, as part of Amazon's Prime Library, before I left for India. It ended up being the perfect book for traveling in India since it's a book of short stories about Indians and Indian Americans. I didn't know anything about it when I started reading, so I thought the stories would pick up later in the book. Once I realized that each chapter was a complete story, I slowed down to enjoy them more. I'd highly recommend it to anyone. Easy to read, compelling stories, and great writing.
What I'm Eating
Homemade bagels! I saw a friend make homemade bagels over break and thought it was a fun idea. Once I got some of Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning, I knew I had to try and make some. They were easy to make (finger burns and cuts, notwithstanding) and so delicious. I'm trying to save money this semester, so I'm thinking about trying to make these on a regular basis. I made them twice this month and I think they would freeze pretty well too!
What I'm Wearing
While in India, I got two dresses, known as kurtas. When worn with slightly baggy pants, the top is part of an outfit called a Shalwar Kameez, which is traditionally worn by women and men in India. I know the question on at least someone's mind is, "is this cultural appropriation?" After listening to several people whose cultures are often marginalized and appropriated, I've come up with some criteria to help me avoid cultural appropriation:
1. Don't wear clothing of another culture as a costume.
2. Buy clothing or jewelry from the people who are from that culture.
These rules mean it's not okay to dress up like Pocahontas for Halloween, but it is okay to buy turquoise jewelry from Native American artists. It's why I choose not to shop at Urban Outfitters in general. In my case, it meant not buying a sari (since I don't have an environment where I could wear it without it seeming like a costume) but buying these tops from responsible sellers in India. These guidelines aren't all-encompassing, but I've found them to be very helpful and thought this might be a good place to share.
What I'm Listening To
Another month, another Crooked Media pod. Keep It, hosted by Ira Madison III (@ira) is a show about pop culture and entertainment. I love a good political podcast, but it gets a bit weary after awhile. I've been looking for a good entertainment podcast and this one is perfect. They’re only a few episodes in, so it's a great time to start listening.
What I'm Celebrating
My little brother got married this month! Ian is joining the US Coast Guard in March, so he and Ashley had a small family wedding before he leaves. They're going to do a bigger wedding and reception after he finishes basic training, so I wasn't planning to go to this service. But when I got back from India, my Dad decided it was really too important for me to miss, so he flew me out as a surprise for my brother. It was an incredible surprise and I was so glad I got to be there for their big day!
Where I’ve Been
Obviously, India was where I was most of this month. I actually started the month in Seattle, had a few odd days in Atlanta, and then a surprise trip back home to Oregon. It's been a whirlwind and I haven't been in the same bed for more than a week since November! I'm grateful for the last two months, but ready to start settling down into the routine of spring semester.