Thursday, August 31, 2006

Very Late RGBL Friday Five

1. What is your earliest memory of school? I remember one day in pre-school we were learning to distinguish left from right. I got very, very confused, because I realized that the position of right and left was dependent upon your perspective. Right and Left for the teacher, who was talking facing us, was different from our right and left.

2. Who was a favorite teacher in your early education? Mr. DeMille, who visited my house before school started because he heard I had the chicken pox and was unable to attend the First Grade "Meet and Greet the Teacher" (or something like that). He also wrote each of us personal weekly letters (some of which I still have). He helped me conquer my fear of fire drills. And he played the guitar. He was way cool.

3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now? In elementary school, we never ever had homework. Now I'm seeing Kindergarteners bring home worksheets to complete. We never had to do this until third or fourth grade!

4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned. I learned a bit of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in fifth grade, but I have long since forgotten anything beyond "By the banks of Gitchigumi, by the shining Lake-Sea water...". I also had to learn "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely, and more temperate..." in 9th grade.

5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share? Nothing that I can remember...perhaps I've blocked all the bad memories out! The one time I did get detention, however, was in sixth grade when my teacher forgot that my family had been on vacation and so I couldn't complete an assignment on time... or something like that. Oh...yeah, and in fourth grade I passed off a fake note from my parents instead of telling the teacher I didn't finish the assignment. That didn't go over well. I think that's the most embarassing thing that I still get ashamed about to this day.

Reason #27 I hate the administrative side of Drew

27. Groundskeeping has not touched a single blade of grass by my apartment building, which is on campus next to the famed Shakespere Theatre, all summer long. Yet they decide that this morning from 6 AM to 6:30 AM is the perfect time to mow, leaf-blow, and weed-whack. Right outside my apartment window. Thank you, groundskeeping, for making me a walking zombie today.

Edit: Upon examining their handiwork as I exited the building at oh-so-early in the morning, the grass still looks like a 2 year-old had been playing with scissors.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm alive...

Ok. Still alive, back from retreating this weekend. But things are crazy with orientation, so I'll outline posts to come:

  • A (very) delayed RevGalBlogPal Friday Five about Back-to-School
  • Simple thoughts from my retreat
  • A reflection on community
  • Great, positive, awesome orientation experiences. (I love these first-years; they are so awesome!!!!)
Catch you all once I start breathing again,

Melissa :-)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thoughts on Redrawing the Cube

The other day, I was reading an article from July 17th's edition of TIME magazine. This is uncommon for me, even though I enjoy reading magazines, because on a limited seminarian's budget, subscriptions are hard to come by. But I get magazines wherever I can, whether it's getting The Atlantic Monthly from my parents, or TIME from Ben (who gets it from his parents).

The article, Redrawing the Cube, is about how businesses are planning on reinventing the "time-honored" tradition of the cubicle: redesigning it to fit the needs of modern day workers and current technology. The photo slides at the top of the page show some remarkably creative ways of making something new out of what is otherwise...dreadfully boring. These workspaces are designed for aesthetics, comfort and meeting the needs of the workers. If you can manage it, try to get your hands on a copy to see more pictures of what people are doing. There are even businesses that are creating common areas that are designed much like the interiors of most cafes where workers can grab a cup of coffee while using their laptop or meeting with their coworkers.

Businesses are on the cutting-edge of redesigning their workspaces to meet the needs of their employees. They make use of inviting workspaces in an effort to stay abrest of trends emerging in the larger culture.

Why isn't the church doing the same thing?

One of the things that astounds me is this quote from the beginning of the article: "Employing advanced materials, tomorrow's technology and the fruits of sociological research, designers are fitting the future workplace to workers who are increasingly mobile and global." (Emphasis is mine). There isn't anything super-secret or mind-bogglingly intelligent in the approach that these businesses are taking to reach these solutions. They are going beyond their discipline into sociology to help them figure out what they can do to give the people what they need. There is nothing that prevents the church from following their lead -- looking beyond the theologians and pastors to examine current cultural and sociological trends to help inform us about church...and how we need to change to fit the needs of the people we currently aren't serving.

The businesses understand this. They realize that aesthetics is an important value people hold. These new designs have a definite aesthetic appeal, making them much more pleasant than the old metal and fabric wall. They capture the senses (beyond sight!) and create a different feel than the old box. Churches seem to be a bit behind in getting this piece. Sanctuaries may be beautiful, but that beauty doesn't always engage one holistically like it did before. The current postmodern generation resonates with a different aesthetic -- not necessarily a visual one.

Even though in some way these cubicles are new variations on an old theme, I get the sense that they represent a new way of projecting forward into the future. To a certain extent, no matter how you dress them up, they'll still be cubicles; workspaces emprisoning employees designed to improve productivity. But what's most telling is this: our businesses are doing a new thing. Why aren't our churches?

I think it's deeper than the fact that dead great-aunt Mildred sat in that pew for 70 years, how dare you replace it! And I'm not necessarily talking about redesigning our worship spaces, although that may be a component of the greater package. Businesses are changing to meet the needs of its employees in a very fresh and innovative way. Why can't we change to meet the needs of our communities?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Stray Cat

I just saw a stray cat in the main Drew parking lot. It made me so sad...the cat didn't even get scared off when I pulled into a parking spot near it. It didn't move an inch; it just stared at the me. It seemed to me that this was a cat that was used to being out on the streets. So sad...:-( If I could be sure that it didn't have any diseases or fleas, I would have tried to befriend it and figure out a way I could put some food out for it or something.

I have a soft spot for animals. Ben says that I don't care when people in a movie or on TV get hurt, but when someone does wrong by an animal, I'm ready to cry. Harsh assessment, but it's so true.

A quick update

Another slow day at work, so here are a few tidbits as to what I've been up to!

  • Lamenting the horrible 4-0 series vs. the Yankees (though as of right now, the Red Sox have a prayer, it's still 0-0!) Edit: Now it's 1-0 Yanks...we're doomed...
  • Ben's trying to get an emergent cohort started at Drew, and here is our blog!
  • Finished The Shadow Rising -- now onto The Fires of Heaven!
  • In case you haven't guessed, no retreat this weekend; it's planned for next weekend. I figured that it might be better to take a weekend off right before Orientation starts, so I can be in a better frame of mind to meet the new Drew Theological School students!
  • I've been invited to be a small group leader at Exploration 2006, in Jacksonville, Florida. I'm so excited about this! A chance to help out young people discern God's calling for their lives...I can't wait already.
  • Made an excellent zucchini and sour cream dill side-dish last night. I'll post the recipe once I get back to my apartment.
  • I have a post in the works about an article I skimmed in a TIME magazine from a few weeks ago about businesses reenvisioning their workspaces and connecting that to our churches being 50 years behind the times.
  • I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get back on the "get healthy, lose weight" bandwagon, espcially since I have a target weight for a target day...but at least I have a year to do it. It would help if the workers stopped being lazy and actually finished the tennis courts they have been working on for a month. I don't think my body can take any more 3-miles in 45 minutes at this point. I need to get my cardiovascular strength up in a more engaging manner than walking outside around multi-million dollar homes.
  • Today's been an off day...which isn't fair, especially since I've gotten better about praying every day. :-P And yes. That's me sticking my tongue out at God...which I have no real reason to yes. That's me being immature. :-)
  • There's a leak on the second floor right outside the office. The second one this summer. In the same spot as the first one. I called Facilities (who had apparently been called earlier) confirming the fact that yes, it is dripping. A lot. That was about an hour ago. Have they showed up yet? Of course not.
That's all for now. I'll write up my more profound thoughts later on. Right now, I want to put my brain in a jar and read mindless fantasy novels. :-)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Me and Alexander

Yesterday, I felt like Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. For those unfamiliar with the book, Alexander has a day in which everything goes wrong, from waking up with gum in his hair to going to bed that night in railroad pajamas. Nothing went right.

I suppose my own, personal Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day started the previous night, where I couldn't for the life of me fall asleep. The minutes rolled by slowly and with each passing moment my insomnia only seemed to gain momentum rather than weaken and melt away. I resorted to booting up my laptop and playing online word games, hoping that some moderate mental activity would speed the process of falling asleep. I managed to get myself drowsy, and what after seemed like an eternity I feel asleep.

Only to wake up again a couple hours later, faced with the same interminable problem of getting some rest.

Enough with the blow-by-blow; I'm sure you get the picture.

I woke the next morning, fumbled my way downstairs where I enjoyed my ritual Morning Cup of Coffee (or 3) at the Davis house. However, I came downstairs only to learn that the windows of the car had been left open all night long had rained last night. Figured, that the car that my dad brought down to exchange would be the car with the nifty feature of being able to control the windows via the car keys, and that in addition to locking the car right before my father left, I also managed to roll down the windows. Smart, Melissa. Real smart.

Additionally, with Ben's allergies, the car needed to be vacuumed, due to the dog hair sprinkled about the interior of the vehicle. But before the car could be vacuumed, the water needed to be sucked out of the seats (because, of course, a wet-dry vac is rather ineffective when it comes to picing up dog hair...or at least that has been my experience). I gave the wet-dry vac a go, and when it looked like that would take forever, I started using towels and hair dryers (thanks Matt!) and de-hairing the areas I could with a normal hand-vac. The job wasn't very thorough, as Ben started getting an allergic reaction about three-quarters of the way back to Drew, but it was passable, especially with copious amounts of anti-allergen Febreze.

I tried to nap before we left for Drew, and that wasn't a successful venture -- at least shutting my eyes for a bit helped. We left around 1:30 or so. I loaded up the CD player with music, loaded up the rest of the car, and we were on our way.

Only to find out that the CD player isn't working. We pulled over to try and fix it, or to at least discover the root of the problem, but no such luck.

I decided that I needed some silence on the trip back.

I eventually gathered myself together, just in time for the AC to break down. I knew that the AC was making some weird noises; the previous evening when my father had pulled into the driveway, it sounded like there was something seriously wrong with the motor. Not the case - just the AC doing weird things, and it only happened when the car was going slowly or idling. Well, we were on the highway, when we started hearing a weird resonance with the motor and thought it might be the AC (which was working rather well at that point). I turned off the AC, and the sound stopped. So that made us feel better, and so I turned the AC back on. The light went on, air started moving -- but it wasn't cold air...and the strange sound didn't come back. I left it on for awhile, and turned it off again but left the vents on. Sure enough, there was no difference in the air temperature. We pulled into a gas station along Rt. 15 in CT only to find that when idling, the strange motor sound had really gone away. So we traveled the last two and a half hours without air conditioning.

We hit traffic. Not fun. We managed to get in around 6:40, so despite everything, we made OK time. I skipped out on the orientation team meeting, after deciding that for my own mental health I needed some time to myself.

I intended this post to be more reflective and instead it turned into a regurgitation of the day in (most) of its gory detail. But getting it out on screen was cathartic, and I'm sure in a month or so I'll look back on it and laugh.


In the meantime, due to stress, feelings of anxiety, being overwhelmed, and very off-center (along with many other pressures), I have decided to retreat this weekend. No cell phone. No computer. No outside distractions. Just me, nature, and God (and perhaps Robert Jordan can come along for the ride as well). I'm hoping to get away to a retreat house run by the convent that one of my classmates is a member of. I think it'll be good for me to get back in balance after all the crap that has happened recently. And because I've been seriously needing this since 2nd semester.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

No more TV!

I haven't felt much like writing lately. Between recovering from my sinus infection and a whole slew of other things that have sent my brain into a quagmire, sitting down to write something reasonably intelligent was rather low on the priority list.

But, now I have drugs (hooray for amoxicillin), and I'm quickly going crazy due to all the television I have watched over the past week. I have seen Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban three times already, and right now I have the option of watching it for the 4th time on HBO. Perhaps I'll switch to it later for some background noise.

As much as the TV has been a steadfast companion for the past few days, I've realized also how poisonous it can be. It hasn't been the programming I've been watching, but the commercials.

I'm not used to watching so much television in a week, and I'm definitely not used to being constantly bombarded ads for laptops, clothes, diet supplements, restaurants, candies, cleaning supplies, other shows, home appliances, sales at stores, and new cell phones. Seeing a few of these commercials repeatedly started to affect me, as I thought, Hmmm, that's a cheap price for a laptop - and it's got a funky cover. Neat! or I suppose I could stop by Old Navy to update my "look" or That Olive Garden ad looked great. I didn't want to cook anyway tonight. Perhaps I should order in. All these commercials made me want, made me think I needed something, made me feel the urge to go out and buy something - to somehow improve my existence through whatever I could purchase.

As one who doesn't buy many things, it made me feel rather disgusting. That my mind could be so manipulated by the ads on television...I must say, advertisers do their job remarkably well.

I started thinking about how most people watch a lot of television each week (I think the average is around 5 or 6 hours per day per person), and how a lot of that airtime is devoted solely to get consumers to want, to need, and then to buy. No wonder our culture is so materialistic! We are always made to feel like we need to improve our lives, and that the newest car/product/fashion is the ticket to our happiness. I've never before realized what a powerful force the media is until this week, when I probably watched 8 hours every day. At least.

I think I'm going to declare a no-TV week as a way to purge all of this out of my system (or perhaps a no-TV-show-from-the-cable week, as there might be sports games to watch and there is definitely some Babylon 5 to watch on DVD!).

Anyhow, thanks to everyone who has commented on the engagement post! It's going to take me a bit to catch up on all the blogs that I have missed reading.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Getting to know you... (or, I have lived through 82 of these 158 things)

I'm generally not one for surveys, but I'll do the memes from time to time. I found this one off of a deviantART journal entry, and decided that it might be fun to do since there are those of you out there reading that don't know me very well. So here goes:

1. Put numbers in the boxes instead of x's (example: 1, 2, 3, 4...)
2. Repost as "I have lived through ___ of these 158 things."

[1] I have read a lot of books.
[] I have been on some sort of varsity team.
[] I have run more than 2 miles without stopping.
[2] I have been to Canada.
[3] I have been to Europe.
[4] I have watched cartoons for hours.
[5] I have tripped UP the stairs.
[6] I have fallen down an entire flight of stairs.
[7] I have been snowboarding/skiing.
[8] I have played ping pong.
[9] I swam in the ocean.
[] I have been on a whale watch.
[10] I have seen fireworks.
[11] I have seen a shooting star.
[12] I have seen a meteor shower.
[] I have almost drowned.
[] I have been so embarrassed I wanted to disappear.
[13] I have listened to one CD over and over and over again.
[] I have had stitches.
[] I have had frostbite.
[] I have licked a frozen pole and got stuck there.
[14] I have stayed up 'til 2 doing homework/projects.
[15] I currently have a job.
[16] I have been ice skating.
[17] I have been roller blading.
[18] I have fallen flat on my face.
[19] I have tripped over my own two feet.
[] I have been in a fist fight.
[20] I have played video games for more than 3 hours straight.
[] I have watched the Power Rangers.
[21] I attend Church regularly.
[22] I have played truth or dare.
[23] I have already had my 16th birthday.
[24] I have already had my 17th birthday.
[25] I've called someone stupid.
[26] I've been in a verbal argument.
[27] I've cried in school.
[] I've played basketball on a team.
[] I've played baseball on a team.
[] I've played football on a team.
[] I've played soccer on a team.
[] I've done cheerleading on a team.
[28] I've played softball on a team.
[] I've played volleyball on a team.
[] I've played tennis on a team.
[29] I've been on a track or cross country team.
[30] I've been swimming more than 20 times in my life.
[] I've bungee jumped.
[] I've climbed a rock wall.
[] I've lost more than $20.
[31] I've called myself an idiot.
[32] I've called someone else an idiot.
[33] I've cried myself to sleep.
[34] I've had (or have) pets.
[] I've owned a Spice Girls CD.
[] I've owned a Britney Spears CD.
[] I've owned an *NSYNC CD.
[] I've owned a Backstreet Boys CD.
[] I've mooned someone.
[] I have sworn at someone of authority before.
[35] I've been in the newspaper.
[] I've been on TV.
[] I've been to Hawaii.
[36] I've eaten sushi.
[] I've been on the other side of a waterfall.
[37] I've watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies.
[38] I've watched all the Harry Potter movies.
[] I've watched all of the Rocky movies.
[] I've watched the 3 Stooges.
[] I've watched "Newlyweds" Nick & Jessica.
[39] I've watched Looney Tunes.
[] I've been stuffed into a locker/I have stuffed others into lockers.
[40] I've been called a geek.
[] I've studied hard for a test and got a bad grade.
[41] I've not studied at all for a test and aced it.
[] I've hugged my mom within the past 24 hrs.
[] I've hugged my dad within the past 24 hours.
[] I've met a celebrity/music artist.
[42] I've written poetry.
[] I've been arrested.
[43] I've been attracted to someone much older than me.
[44] I've been tickled till I've cried.
[45] I've tickled someone else until they cried.
[46] I've had/have siblings.
[47] I've been to a rock concert.
[48] I've listened to classical music and enjoyed it.
[49] I've been in a play.
[] I've been picked last in gym class.
[] I've been picked first in gym class.
[50] I've been picked in that middle-range in gym class.
[51] I've cried in front of my friends.
[52] I've read a book longer than 1,000 pages
[53] I've played Halo 2.
[54] I've freaked out over a sports game.
[] I've been to Alaska.
[] I've been to China.
[] I've been to Spain.
[] I've been to Japan.
[55] I've had a fight with someone on AIM.
[] I've had a fight with someone face-to-face.
[56] I've had serious conversations on any IM.
[57] I've forgiven someone who has done something wrong to me.
[58] I've been forgiven.
[59] I've screamed at a scary movie.
[60] I've cried at a chick flick.
[61] I've watched a lot of action movies.
[] I've screamed at the top of my lungs.
[] I've been to a rap concert.
[] I've been to a hip hop concert.
[62] I've lived in more than 2 houses.
[63] I've driven on the highway/been on the highway.
[64] I've driven more than 40 miles in a day/been in a car that went more than 40 miles in a day.
[] I've been in a car accident.
[] I've done drugs. (Note: I did not inhale)
[65] I've been homesick.
[66] I've thrown up.
[] I've puked on someone.
[] I've been horseback riding.
[67] I've filled out more than 10 myspace/LJ surveys.
[] I've spoken my mind in public.
[68] I've proved someone wrong.
[69] I've been proven wrong by someone.
[] I've broken a leg.
[] I've broken an arm/fingers.
[] I've fallen off a swing.
[] I've swung on a swing for more than 30 minutes straight
[70] I've watched Winnie the Pooh movies.
[] I've forgotten my backpack when I've gone to school.
[] I've lost my backpack.
[] I've come close to dying.
[] I've seen someone die.
[71] I've known someone who has died.
[72] I've wanted to be an actor/actress at some point.
[] I've done modeling.
[73] I've forgotten to brush my teeth some mornings.
[74] I've taken something/someone for granted.
[75] I've realized how good my life is.
[76] I've counted my blessings.
[77] I've made fun of a classmate.
[78] I've been asked out by someone and I said no.
[] I've slapped someone in the face.
[] I've been skateboarding.
[] I've been backstabbed by someone I thought was a friend.
[79] I've lied to someone to their face. (Long time ago, and still not proud of it)
[80] I've told a little white lie. (Not proud of that either)
[] I've taken a day off from school just so I don't go insane.
[] I've had an argument with someone about whether cheerleading is a sport or not.
[] I've pushed someone into a pool.
[81] I've been pushed into a pool.
[82] I've been/am in love.

Now it's YOUR turn! Come on, it's not that bad!

Note: After filling it out...I realized that it was pretty lame. But I'm going to post it anyway. Sorry.

Monday, August 07, 2006

*coughs, hacks, sneezes...*

These past couple of days have been miserable ones for me. On Friday, I stayed home from work due to an impending cold (I sounded like death walking), and over the course of the weekend, things steadily progressed downhill until this morning, where I nearly passed out on a trip back from the bathroom. Fortunately, I'm at the stage where I'm spewing phlegm from my lungs, so I should be rid of this bug soon. The funny thing is, my roommate recently got back from a trip to Taizé in France, and she ended up getting sick as well. My apartment should definitely be under quarrantine.

Ben was such a good fiancé and came by every day to wait on me hand and foot. I essentially moved into the common room - brought out my TV, set up the internet hub so that both of us could access the internet simultaneously, and set up three fans for the purpose of keeping the room relatively cool.

The one thing I really appreciate about being sick is being forced to take some time off to relax. I could lie around all day and do nothing and it was perfectly justifiable; I was sick, after all. I was under no obligation to do anything, go anywhere, or see anybody. Pure bliss...except for the hacking and coughing and the not being able to sleep through the night. But such is the price one must pay for a few days of relative vacation.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Revive Us Again - Brief Thoughts

Last week was the "Revive Us Again" music institute sponsored by the continuing education program at Drew University. I was able to attend the last day (as part of Ben's ploy to get me out of the apartment), and I thought the 'Question and Answer' session was worth attending. However, it also alerted me to how many people have misconceptions about the emerging church.

First of all, art, candles, and coffee do not an emerging service make. The emerging church is not about a different style of worship. It is about a different way of being church - a different way of being a Christian community in the world. I think this is the biggest mistake that people make when talking about an emerging church: making church and worship synonymous with each other. Many emerging churches don't even use the language of 'church' because it denotes that hour on Sunday morning where one goes for worship.

Secondly (and this is related to the first), adding creative elements to one's Sunday worship hour doesn't make a service necessarily 'postmodern' in nature. Media, art, and creative rituals may be characteristics that would make a modern service more engaging for people, but fundamentally, it's built upon the same modern principles and functions in the same modern paradigm. Even a shift to using "inclusive" language doesn't make your worship service more postmodern. There are some deeper, philosophical shifts that one needs to make before a service can be truly branded "postmodern."

Now I'm not an expert on the emerging phenomenon by any means; I'm just someone who's interested in the conversation that's happening. But it seems to me that these common myths are ones that are relatively easy to dispell. All one has to do is spend some time on the internet. Sites like emergentvillage, or even googling it will bring up a load of resources one can use.

Currently, I'm reading a book on the emerging church (you can see it on the side). So far, I'm rather impressed by the process they took to create this work. They interviewed 50 emerging church leaders and then identified nine characteristics that collectively, these churches exhibited. I can't remember if any of the churches had all nine, but each church showed at least three of these trends. I'm still in the beginning of the book, but I'll review it once I finish with it. You will all probably be subjected to my thoughts on the subject as I read through it, however.

So I think a little education is necessary on all sides. I think the desire is there to start creatively reaching out it new ways, I just don't think that the willingness is there (yet) to truly start breaking out of our modern boxes.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A little bit of news.

It began as a relatively normal Saturday.

I woke up earlier than usual, because Ben had been an RA/gopher for Drew's "Revive Us Again" music institute and he had encouraged me to sit in on the last day because this conference had been so fantastic. I took his suggestion and attended the closing worship service/closing Q & A session about emerging worship (which I will make a separate post about later this week).

About halfway through the morning, Ben (who was sitting next to me) said, "Oh, shoot! I forgot to copy something for Tanya -- Melissa, I need your keys so I can get into your apartment and use your color printer." Now, to some, this might seem a little far-fetched, if it weren't for the fact that earlier in the week, my printer was pressed into service for the conference because Staples' color copier had broken down and Kinkos' rate was ridiculously expensive. Ben can also admittedly get a little spacey, so this frantic "Oh crap!" moment wasn't anything new either.

I forked over my keys, and he thanked me and asked if I wanted to do lunch because he wasn't sure if he was going to make it back for the rest of the conference (which ended at noon). I said sure, because that's nothing out of the ordinary either. We take most of our meals together anyway, and I had assumed that we'd be doing lunch at my place because (a) to my knowledge, he still hadn't gone grocery shopping for himself and (b) we were already on campus.

The closing worship service ended a bit early, so I called Ben to let him know I was coming over. After all, he did have my keys and so would need to let me in to my apartment building. As I started out the door, Darlene started to talk to me about the fact that she was going to be our new apartment-mate. Since Drake moved out, Beth and I have been using that third bedroom for storage purposes, but next school year Darlene will be living there and using it as a commuter room. So she was asking all sorts of questions about the room; what she needed to bring, what was it furnished with, questions about the bathroom, etc. While she probably would have come to talk to me anyway, little did I know that her minor diversion was a part of some larger scheme.

I called Ben again, apologizing for the fact that I was going to be a little late. As I walked toward the apartment building, I noticed that the door to my section was propped open. While still on the phone, I started reaming out this person who had propped the door open, because we had a huge problem second semester with door propping and our section was assessed a fine for it. I told Ben that I was going to check my mail and then be there at the apartment. I ended the conversation, and decided that my first order of business would be to remove the prop from the door. As I walk toward the door, I look and's my box of recycling that is holding the door open. Ben was the one propping the door open. I yank out the box and put it in recycling where it belongs, and headed over to the student center to check my mail.

After that, I walked back to the apartment, and called Ben telling him he needed to let me in, and asking him why on earth he would prop the door open. He said something about having easy access and running all over campus and copies. Right. So I'm at the door waiting for him, and down he comes, dressed in a suit and tie. I thought that was somewhat odd (ok, really odd!), but I figured it was something related to the music institute (even though it was over). I started asking him about it, but he just said, "you'll see" as he opened the door to my apartment.

The common room was completely redecorated. 30 tealights in votive candle holders were strewn about the room. The table was pulled out into the middle of the room with a nice white tableclother over it, and the coffetable was pushed back to the wall with a bunch of roses in a vase on top of it. Sheets covered the more unsightly things in the room, and the table was set with nice plate settings, and Norah Jones was on as background music.

I'm getting more than slightly suspicious at this point, but figured that it was a good time to celebrate our one year anniversary (which was yesterday). I couldn't be farther from the truth.

I changed into something a bit nicer, and he sat me down at the table for the first course: caesar salad. During dinner, I'm asking him all sorts of questions, like: When did you find time for this? or Where did you get this? or How'd you find that out? He aptly remarked, "A poet would be utterly swept away by the beauty of it. Only a mathematician or a scientist would ask these sorts of questions." Despite all my questions, I did let him know that I was extremely flattered.

After the salad was done, he pulled out a piece of paper and read me a love poem he had written. He did the same after the fettucine alfredo with chicken and broccoli we had. By this point, I knew what he was going to do.

After the desert course (angel food cake with vanilla ice cream and strawberries), he pulled out his guitar, and I saw him sneak this tiny white box into his pocket. He sat down on the couch nearest me and sang me a song that he had written himself. I nearly broke out into tears it was so sweet. He then got down on one knee...and proposed. And naturally, I said yes. :-)

Needless to say, I was very surprised. We had been talking about getting engaged, and we had said that August would be the best time. So this past weekend, I really hadn't been expecting anything -- it was still July, after all!

We enjoyed the moment...but only for a moment, because he said, "Ok, you have 15 minutes to pack your bags, we have a supper date with my parents at 6!" So I threw a bunch of stuff together for the weekend, he cleared everything away as fast as possible (except for the fact that we had to call public safety to unlock the third bedroom where he had accidentally shut the door after putting all of his stuff in there). We were on the road by 1 PM.

I called my parents with the news while we were on the road, and then we surprised Ben's parents by randomly showing up at the house. We had a co-conspirator in this project; Ben's brother Matt made sure both of his parents were home. They were thrilled; Jan couldn't stop hugging us and crying and jumping up and down. We went out to dinner with them, came back to the house for the night, and on Sunday had breakfast with my parents, announced our engagement at Green St., went out to lunch with the Freys, Olive, Ami, and Ben's family, took a quick nap in Fort Williams, saw my grandmother, introduced Ben to my high school friends and ate supper with them, and then we went back to Ben's parents' place to look at their wedding photos and get a good night's sleep. We came back from this whirlwind tour on Monday, and stopped in to the Dean's Office and the Admissions Office to let people at Drew know. Karen knew, because obviously I was going to be late for work on Monday - but I had a very good excuse.

Last night we sent out an e-mail to our friends and family announcing our engagement. Fitting, that we did so on our one year anniversary. I also attached a picture of the ring I had taken Monday evening when I was playing around with my camera:

Everybody loved my ring. :-)

My relatively normal Saturday turned into the once-in-a-lifetime experience of engagement. Ben and I are engaged, and we're planning on getting married in August 2007 at Green St. UMC. Part of me is still stunned - something that Ben and I have talked about for so long is finally a reality. I really, honestly, have a ring on my finger! But I am also so excited that God has truly called the two of us to spend a lifetime in partnership with one another. I couldn't be more happy. :-)