Friday, October 19, 2012

It's just minutes & highways

It entertains me to try to measure my time in Dayton by things other than minutes and hours and days.

Like, tissues used at my desk.
As of today, one whole box worth.

or Legal Pads consumed:

Puzzle pieces connected (out of 6,000):

Pairs of cleats destroyed:
½ (granted, this pair is about 14 years old).

Miles put on my Corolla:

Frisbee Players with Names Starting with ‘T’ I Have Injured:

Times I’ve been asked “Why the heck did you move to Dayton?”

or “You’re from North Carolina? Where’s your accent?”

or “You’re cold now? You’re gonna freeze in winter.”

or “Well if you’d been here last year, we barely even had a winter.”

Not that I've been counting.

But for real, I've been here almost four months, and it's been hard. But I don't think I can blame any of that on Dayton. I think those first six months after graduation can be hard for anybody. But thankfully I think I've finally turned a corner and found a place where I'm content with where I'm at.

Some unexpected comments in the last week or two have helped me come to that.

I got to talk to my mom for a while last week, and it was great to check in with her. I'm so proud of her because she decided this year to become a leader in the children's program of Bible Study Fellowship. If you've never heard of it, look it up; it's a really great organization. Recognizing how much she had benefited from it, and how much we kids had benefited from the kids program, Mom committed to co-leading a children's class, which means many hours each week of preparation and dedication, and the whole experience is a bit outside of her comfort zone. None of that was a surprise to her going into it, but she felt strongly that she should do it this year, so she has stuck with it, even though it has been a real struggle at times.

As we were talking, Mom said she had come to a point where she was learning to be thankful.
"Wait, say that again, Mom?" I said, a tear running down my cheek as stab of conviction pierced me.
"God has put me in a place where he's stretching me, and I realize I need to be thankful for that, and just trust in Him to provide," she said.
"Ouch," I said.

Somehow, even though I've heard that a lot -- this idea that God takes us out of our comfort zones to teach us about who we are, who we're not, and who we wants us to be -- it hadn't hit home like it did with Mom last week. I don't know exactly why I'm here, but it's sure as crap not so I can be comfortable and stagnate in the sinful, naive, self-absorbed life of my 21-year-old, college-graduated self. 

I'm here to grow. And He never said it would be easy.  

And today I got an email that just made me grin from the inside out and reminded me I'm in a really good place in life. 

I had the privilege of getting lunch with a local bank president today, which I consider one of the top perks of my job, even above the candy jar at the front desk, Thirsty Thursdays and the aforementioned 6,000-piece puzzle.

The reason I got into journalism is not the reason I stayed. I tried it out on a whim because I liked writing. It captured my heart because of the people I got to meet. Even just writing for the City Desk at the Daily Tar Heel back in Chapel Thrill, I knew I'd found something amazing. A job where you get to meet and get to know people in every walk of life, including people you have no business sitting down and having lunch with and would never expect to give you the time of day, is special. I get to pick the brains of the people who run this town, but I also get to find out what makes them tick. 

So today while crammed into an awkward circular booth marked "Reserved for Couples" with a gray-haired bank president, I found out I had something deeply in common with my lunch date. He is the fourth in a family of seven kids, I the third in a family of six. We shared some stories from our childhood, even though the entirety of mine spans less than the length of his tenure as market president. I really enjoyed meeting with him, and followed up with him afterwards to thank him for such a pleasant lunch. He sent back this reply:

"Well we found out that both of us are the forgotten middle child in large families. I believe that helped us both because if we were to amount to anything then we knew that we had to do it ourselves."

I love my job. :-)


Last thoughts for the night. I just got back from seeing the movie Looper. It's good, but it's a time travel movie, so I know I'll be up half the night trying to figure out all the different implications and possibilities. 

A few years ago I picked up the habit of making a wish on 11:11. I've always been mesmerized with numbers and symmetry, so I guess that's part of it, but I also like the reminder to pray twice a day for the one thing I wish for most.

And I actually did this consistently last year every time I looked at the clock on 11:11. I asked for one thing, and I told no one about it. In retrospect, of all the things I could have been spending my wishes on it's kind of insignificant in the scheme of things, but I wanted the last hour of UNC Dance Marathon -- a 24-hour symbolic stand that completes a year of fundraising for N.C. Children's Hospital -- to go off without a single technological hitch, since as the publicity chair I was in charge of all the multimedia elements. My experience on the Publicity committee from the year before when almost everything that could go wrong did was so harrowing that I wanted to do everything I could to prevent a repeat performance, including dedicating all my 11:11 wishes for a year. 

Well, lo and behold the whole thing went off so technologically brilliantly that the hour or so of lag time we'd built into the whole 24-hour schedule (which has like 18 columns and is broken down into 288 five-minute increments) just to be safe, was completely unnecessary and we ended nearly 45 minutes early. Which normally in event planning isn't that big of a deal, but when you advertise to thousands of people that you're going to be standing on your feet for 24 hours and you end at 23 hours and 15 minutes, some people feel shortchanged. I'm not gonna lie, the vast majority feel overjoyed that they finally get to sit down. But we're still going down in the yearbooks as the most efficient Overall Committee in history.

And I had to laugh, because I realized my wish hadn't been specific enough. "Please let all the technology work perfectly at the end of the marathon" apparently didn't cut it, since I could never predict all the other contingencies.

So does that stop me from trying to guarantee some little aspect of the future with my little daily wish? No. I've got a new request, and I won't tell you what it is until it's happened, which might be never.

Anyway, this brings me back to Looper. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler. It just got me thinking. We're all so obsessed with time travel because we think if we just knew the future, it would make everything in the present so clear, or if we could just return to the past and change a decision, it could fix everything now. But every time you do that, you realize it's all a loop and you end up causing the bad things you were trying to prevent.

I guess it's just another reminder that we will not, do not and cannot know the future, nor can we do anything to change the past and we have to focus on the now. I have to ask, am I right before God right now? Are my immediate needs provided for right now? Yes? Good. Go to sleep and quit worrying. No? Please read Acts 16:30-31.

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