What a wild start to 2019! Sitting here at my desk in my apartment in Atlanta, it’s hard to believe that this month I traveled to 5 countries and said goodbye to my life in Prague. It feels like a lifetime ago already. This month was split in three—my wonderful solo adventure in Scandinavia, our final weeks in Prague, and returning to Atlanta.
After 8 months of pretty much living out of suitcase, I have never been so happy to be home. Of course, I’m grateful for the opportunity to live in such incredible places, but I’ve also learned how important it is for me to be rooted. Believe it or not, I’m a homebody at heart. There is nothing I love more than a home that really feels like home. I am so fortunate to have space in Atlanta that feels safe, secure, and like home. I know that I’ll be moving in four months when I graduate, but for now, I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on investing in my community, diving into my classes, and enjoying my last months in Atlanta.
What I'm Learning
One of my last essays in Prague was for a film class about the afterlife. I chose Harry Potter 7 Part II because of the “afterlife” scene at King’s Cross Station where Harry is without scars or visual impairment. My paper became a paper on theologies of disabilities, which was in many ways, a benchmark of what I have slowly been learning over the past few months. One of the greatest gifts the internet has given me is the ability to listen to people I wouldn’t otherwise interact with in my daily life. I now follow several people on Twitter who are very vocal about ableism (discrimination against those with disabilities).
I’m embarrassed at how long it took me to understand ableism, to see my own ableist tendencies, to see the ableism on Columbia’s campus. It never applied to me and so I didn’t pay it much attention. Thankfully, that has changed. I have learned about ableism in practice (moving electric scooters off of sidewalks because they are a huge barrier for people using wheelchairs), in language (no longer using the word “lame” to mean “bad”), and in theology. Writing and researching disability theology, particularly disability in the eschaton, was an eye-opening experience for me. I strongly believe that our eschatology affects our actions and beliefs about people today. Will they go to heaven or hell? Is their body made in God’s image or not? Those have significant implications for how we treat people and their bodies and it’s long past time that only able-bodied people are equal participants in that dialogue. I have so much more to learn about disability and ableism, but this month feels like a significant point in my learning journey.
What I'm Watching
Like seemingly the rest of the internet, I am hooked on Marie Kondo’s show Tidying Up on Netflix. I started watching on my way back from Prague and went into immediate KonMarie mode when I got home. I think I spent a solid 75% of my first few days back home sparking joy all over my apartment! I’ve always been relatively minimalist, but I still had so much more than I truly need. I found apparently every card and kind note I’ve received in my adult life, which reminded me what a gift it is to be so loved. My church family gave me countless cards over the years and it was such a joy to read through all the encouraging words.
I also gave away over 50 books, which inspired some critical comments from theology professors who were slightly offended I gave away my theology books. However, I’ve come to realize that capitalism & consumerism applies to books too! Bookshelves shouldn’t be status symbols, they should be useful and sources of joy! Giving away books that I know I’ll only open once again (if ever) means they will get more use! It means someone else doesn’t have to spend money (or add to their carbon footprint) to learn. Now that sparks joy.
What I'm Eating
After 8 months without an oven, I jumped right in to baking mode. Since I was gone for the traditional pumpkin season, I have to do all my pumpkin baking now! This rosemary pumpkin bread is a bit more savory than traditional pumpkin bread and it’s one of my favorite pumpkin recipes. Since I’ve been home, I’ve also made homemade bagels, my favorite bread, a delicious winter soup, a big batch of meat sauce (that I used for pasta al forno or over polenta) and the greatest chocolate chip cookies of all time. As you can see, I’ve been finally updating my food blog, so that’s worth checking out!
What I'm Reading
I’m not sure where I originally came across this recommendation, but I put it on hold at the library a few months ago and it finally was available in early January. I read the whole book on a lazy Saturday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. How to Walk Away is a relatively lighthearted book, which is always a nice break from the heavy reading and learning that Seminary requires. It’s a great book to check out from the library.
What I'm Listening To
I love the way that John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All The Way Down, thinks and writes. He has a way of seeing the world from perspectives I would never even consider. His podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed, both humorously and seriously reviews aspects of the human-centered planet on a 5 star scale. He reviews everything from Kentucky Bluegrass to the Taco Bell breakfast menu. The episodes are only about 20 minutes long and there aren’t many of them, so it’s easy to catch up. If you like learning random trivia and good narratives, I think you’ll love this podcast.
What I’m Thinking About
In the past month, 6 major candidates have announced their candidacy for President (and none of them are straight white men! What a time to be alive!). If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably seen all the squabbling and criticisms flying left and right but I won’t engage on that level right now. As the primary season starts to ramp up, I thought I’d share with you how I’m thinking about politics right now.
I believe that the most important thing we can be doing right now is using “I” sentences (and see how I modeled that already! ;). It’s tempting to start every sentence with “the Democrat party should…” or “America needs” or “They’ll never beat Trump” but I think that misses a key fact— we are voters, not pundits. Our job isn’t to weigh in on the candidates, it’s to vote for them. Our job is to listen to their messages and see who inspires us; to see who we want to lead our country. I’m committing to using phrases like “this is who I’m excited about” rather than phrases that make the primary sound like a game.
I’ll start talking about who I’m excited about soon (I’m not afraid to admit I already have my dream ticket!) but here’s what I’m particularly paying attention to:
Character and Charisma. I will be supporting a candidate whose character I trust (though none of us are perfect) and whose story and platform inspires me. I want a leader of this country that makes me proud. Luckily, there are already several women in the race who fit this description!
Commander in Chief. Commanding the military is an incredibly important part of the President’s job, yet many Democrats hardly focus on it in their campaigning. As a pacifist and sister of an active duty member of the military, I am uniquely interested in the running of our military. It’s important to me to vote for a candidate who I trust to run the military justly and wisely.
Well Thought Out Ideas. I want good ideas, big ideas, and new ideas on how to solve our biggest problems. I’m excited about many of the policy positions that the major candidates are already promoting, but there are still major differences (eliminating the private insurance industry vs. public option, for example) and i’m still learning myself. I want a smart president who knows a heck of a lot more than I do. I want a new rhetoric to talk about old issues. I want creativity, not weaken their positions straight out of the gate. I have high expectations for these candidates.
I’d love to know what issues are important to you in the primary process and how that is shaping who you are thinking about supporting. This is an exciting time as we get to decide who we want to nominate and hopefully have as the leader of our country!
Saying goodbye to the beautiful architecture, stunning vistas, and most of all, our dear friends, was so bittersweet. Getting to study abroad with Keith was one of the biggest blessings of my time in seminary and I am so grateful for his friendship. I made lifelong friendships with the roommates and classmates I had in Prague and I miss them already. One of the surprises of studying abroad was that many of our closest friends were also studying abroad. We shared the same feelings of loving the adventure and missing our home countries. What a gift it is to miss your home and know you’ll get to return there soon. There is much more to be said about my time in the Czech Republic and I’ll be posting it soon. It was hard to say goodbye to my friends and that unique seasons of life and I’m left so incredibly grateful for the extraordinary opportunity.