Archive | July, 2008

Rules of Being an Adult

28 Jul

Rule Number One: Try to always plan ahead.
Rule Number Two: If you don’t plan ahead, don’t rush. You’ll make careless mistakes.
Rule Number Three: If you’ve made careless mistakes because you rushed because you didn’t plan ahead, don’t freak out.
Rule Number Four: If you’re freaking out because you’ve made careless mistakes because you rushed because you didn’t plan ahead, tell someone you’re close to immediately so there’s someone rational trying to keep you calm by telling you things will work out.
Rule Number Five: Once things work out, remember to thank said person for trying to keep you calm.
Rule Number Six: Start back at the beginning of the Rules of Being an Adult.

Sometimes life is kind of a “lather, rinse, repeat” phenomenom.

In preparation for Bruce and my upcoming move, I broke Rule Number One – I put off calling the utilities companies to transfer everything until this past weekend, only six days before we’re scheduled to move. Georgia Power was first on my list – that went off without a hitch. The power will be turned on in the new apartment August 1st and off in the old apartment August 5th. But that was chartered territory. I already had an account with them. Then came unchartered territory. The next name on my list was natural gas for my hot water heater. I called Catalyst, the company listed on the welcome sheet, but heard an automated recording that their office was closed for the weekend. So I looked them up online but realized I knew nothing about natural gas or what kind of plan to go with (fixed? variable? 6 month? 12 month?). I listened to a tutorial and took a quiz and it was determined that I should get a 12 month fixed. But I started to wonder if the apartment complex had a recommendation. So I went to their website and found a link to “set up utilities.” So I clicked on the link to an outside “set up all your utilities at once” online service and before I knew it I was applying for a 12 month fixed rate natural gas plan. But what I didn’t realize was that I had broken Rule Number Two – I had rushed and subsequently made a careless mistake. It wasn’t until after I recieved the confirmation e-mail saying that I would be notified when my application had been accepted that I realized I had applied for a natural gas plan through Georgia Natural Gas – NOT Catalyst. Well, there goes any chance of following Rule Number Three. I started to freak out. Bruce told me that it would probably be fine, that if I accessed the link to Georgia Natural Gas through the Arbor Hills website, then it must be a good option. He encouraged me to continue on my quest to transfer utilities.

Okay … onto Comcast. Comcast went without a hitch with the exception of the fact that I had broken Rule Number One, waited too long and now can’t get my cable and internet hooked up again until August 11th, ten days after we move. Jump to Rule Number Three – don’t freak out Sarah, you can always go to Emory to get online.

Jump to Sunday morning. A friend of mine (who moved to Arbor Hills last month) told me that he had set up his utilities through the Arbor Hills website and was using Georgia Natural Gas. I started to feel better. I talked to a friend about borrowing his truck so I don’t have to deal with renting one, so now all that’s left is renter’s insurance. Simple enough.

Now take a leap to Monday morning. I still haven’t recieved an e-mail from Georgia Natural Gas saying my order was received. I called customer service only to find out that there was no record of my order. I explained to them that I had gone through an online program and the customer service rep told me he had never heard of that. So I called the online program and the first man I talked to told me there was no record of my order and started to process another order from scratch (do they work on commission because I think I was about to be scammed?!). At that point Rule Number Three was blasted out my office because I started to freak out. There was an order somewhere in cyper-space and I knew it was there because I had gotten a confirmation e-mail, but no one could tell me the status of my order or if it had even gone through!! What was I supposed to do? Start from scratch and risk ordering another 12-month plan with a $50 early termination fee and having to spend the money if my order did, in fact go through, or wait and see and risk not having hot water when I move into my new apartment, which will hinder my plans of washing all of my dishes that had to deal with my gross kitchen in my current apartment?

Lucky for me, I finally got to a rule I didn’t break. I told someone. I less-than calmly explained what was going on to my mom on Yahoo messenger and then texted Bruce in a panic and told him we weren’t going to have hot water. They both told me to calm down and that things would work out. I realized at this point that Rule Number Four (tell someone) coincides well with Rule Number Two (don’t rush) – once I was talking to them I was forced to slow down. I did my research, found my account number for the application I submitted on Saturday, called the online utilities place again and the customer service woman I talked to finally found my order. Unfortunately – she said that because it was being processed through Georgia Natural Gas there was nothing I could do but wait until they comfirmed it, because at that point I couldn’t cancel the order.

I should have started following the rules at number one.

In the end, it all worked out. Georgia Natural Gas finally confirmed my order and I should hopefully have hot water when we move on Friday. We apparently don’t need to be there to get it hooked up because the hookups are already there.

Okay … now I’m onto Rule Number Five. Bruce and Mom – THANK YOU for keeping me calm while I was having a minor utility-transfering meltdown. Some days I’m better at being an adult than others.

I’m going to try to follow ALL of the rules next time …

With Grace,
Sarah

Disappointments a Part of Growing Up?

25 Jul

I was getting a little bit frustrated yesterday. I’ve been trying to learn how to say and properly utilize the word “no” but I never thought that I would have to use it three times in one day, particularly when I didn’t necessarily want to say no to any of those things.

For starters – my parents are driving down to help Bruce and me move next week. They’re going to get us settled and then drive down to Florida to visit Jen and Tim. My mom really wanted us to not only drive down to Florida with them, but then to also drive back to Connecticut with them to see the new house and then they would fly us back to Atlanta. I had to say no to both of those offers because Bruce and I just can’t take the time off of work. We just don’t have the flexibility in our jobs to do that and we can’t really afford it – paying our bills depends on us working and taking time off really hurts us financially. I hated having to say no – it’s another reminder to my mom that I’m no longer a college student running around and traveling on a whim. It’s a reminder to my mom that I’m actually on the cusp of being an adult and of having my own life and my own family. I hated saying no. But I looked at things from the rational and responsible side of my brain and realized that I had no choice.

Then came “No” #3. R.T. (Tim’s son) wanted to come up and visit Bruce and me. We had told him and Lauren that they could come up whenever they wanted, that it depended on our work schedule if we would be around, but that they door was always open. He wanted to come up starting this weekend and staying throughout the week and after a lot of agonizing, I finally had to say that it probably wasn’t the best time for him to come. Bruce and I have to work and we wouldn’t have been able to do anything with him. The fact is – Bruce and I just can’t take time off a work because we’ve got friends or family coming into town. And I HATE that. Sometimes I think about my life and think about how wonderful it is that I’m really starting to become an adult and then there are other times when I think it just sucks – there’s no better way to describe it.

When I was younger, one of my aunts lived in San Fransisco. She had some pretty high-powered jobs, so we didn’t get to see her very often. I used to think that it was too bad that she had to work so much that she couldn’t come back east very often, but now I realize that that’s reality. I was lucky – my dad was a public school teacher and had all of mine and my sister’s school holidays off. But that’s not reality. The reality is you have to work hard to make a living and sometimes that means having to say no.

Growing up means having to say no.

I don’t, however, want to leave this on a negative note. There are some absolutely wonderful parts about growing up. Waking up in the morning and calling you cat – the closest thing Bruce and I have to a child – onto the bed and having her listen and jump up and melt in your affection. Realizing that another month went by and we successfully paid all of our bills. Going to IKEA and dreaming about the house that you’re one day going to own – and realizing that every day you’re a little bit closer to that dream. Those are all the wonderful parts about growing up.

Disappointments are a part of it – but they’re not everything. If we focus on the negative we’ll be inclined to always see them overshadow the positives. So while I disappointed – and while I feel like I’ve disappointed people – when I said “No” three times in one day, I’m going to force myself to think about the things that I said “Yes” to in the same day. I’m going to force myself to think about all of the wonderful things going on in my life. I’m going to realize that I’m making a move that is hopefully going to help Bruce and me turn the page to a new chapter on our live in Atlanta. I’m going to realize that if I work hard maybe one day I’ll have the flexibility to visit my parents more often than now and have people come visit me when it’s good for them. I’m going to put one foot in front of other and walk forward.

And to be quite honest – I had to say “No” to people who either wanted to visit me or who wanted me to go places with them. A true testament to the wonderful people I’m surrounded by and who love and care for me and for Bruce. I should consider myself lucky to have those kinds of options that I have to turn down.

Maybe having to say “No” wasn’t such a bad thing. It made me think about all of the wonderful things going on in my life …

With Grace and Peace,
Sarah

More Emotions

21 Jul

It was kind of an emotional day. The associate pastor at Pilgrimage is leaving and today was her last Sunday. I had never experienced a church goodbye quite like this before. Every time my mom left a church it was because she was at her wits end and she didn’t look back once. But the situation is different here. By the end of the service, everyone was either in tears or fighting back tears. It was an amazing testament to Kristin’s ministry, though. I can only hope and pray that one day a church loves me as much as Pilgrimage loves Kristin. I hope I was able to learn as much as possible from her in the nine months that Bruce and I have been attending PUCC.

After Bruce and I got home from church we tried to clean and pack a little bit more. After an emotional morning, I’m not sure packing was the best thing for me to do. At one point I broke down and started crying because our apartment is sort of in shambles at the moment. I’m not really sure when I let it get away from me, but I’m making a promise to myself that I don’t let it happen in the new apartment. This past year Bruce and I have been focusing on making sure we stay afloat and I think we lost focus of why we’re living together and that a strong physical house nourishes a strong spiritual house. I don’t think we really took pride in where we were living. It was only our first year of being on our own, so I’m trying not to beat myself up over it too much. I also realize that we’re getting married in less than a year so anything that I don’t absolutely HAVE to have I should wait until we get married and I can register for it. If we’re going to have as many people at the wedding as it seems right now then I’m going to need a big registry!! So for right now I’m just going to wait out the next two weeks, and then start a new chapter of Bruce and my life in Atlanta.
Right around this time last year, I was getting ready for Bruce to come home from Africa. I can’t believe it’s been a year. I think back to where I was and then think about where I am now and I realize how much I’ve grown since then. Life has taken me in some pretty crazy directions this past year, but they’ve all been amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing!!
Blessings,
Sarah

Cry Me a River …

16 Jul

I’ve decided that Tori Spelling and I are very similar. Granted, I didn’t grow up with money, my parents let me chart my own course (perhaps even when they should have stepped in – particularly when it came to choosing my own clothes at a young age) and I’ve never been in a TV show or movie (unless you count being an extra for Mr. Deeds, but that was only because the entire band was there and I’m not even sure you can see me – maybe if you paused it and looked really carefully). But I was watching Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood last night and it occurred to me that Tori Spelling has so much love and compassion in her heart. She genuinely wants other people to love her, she’s not naturally good at communicating verbally and she doesn’t like that, and she’s an over-achiever. She’s also very emotional – I’ve been watching Tori and Dean all season and she’s broken down or cried during most (if not all) of the episodes so far. Granted this probably has to do with the fact that she’s pregnant and also that it’s a reality show, meaning the producers create a plot based off of footage, but I don’t think you can cover up the fact that she is full of emotion. And sometimes I feel like I’m the same way. I’ve cried a lot lately. It’s an emotional time – school is over, so I’m finally processing some of what went on this year, and what still is to come before I can be called to a church, I’m engaged and planning a wedding, my parents moved into a new house and I haven’t been able to visit them since then, and Bruce’s job has us both stressed out.

Poor Bruce has had to deal with me for a lot of my break-downs. I think it used to bother him when I would start crying – he would want to fix it SO badly. But now he reacts differently. He just holds me. He knows he can’t fix everything, but that he can be there to hug and hold me and remind me that I’m not alone in the world. I think he’s starting to find my emotions endearing, actually.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to move past all of my emotions. When I’m in survival mode, I have a tendency to tell myself “this will be better when this happens, that happens, this is over, this starts, etc.” I don’t think it’s a bad way to look at things – when you’re at a low point in your life, sometimes you need to remember that just around the corner is a new day – and that you’re going to survive. But I do think that there comes a time when you just have to take a deep breath and embrace your emotions – something I’m starting to do.

I bought a yoga mat last weekend. When I had a meltdown in college, I tried different kinds of exercise. I tried tae-bo tapes, yoga, pilates, biking, running, walking. Some were more effective than others, but I found that I really liked pilates, particularly a set of DVDs that I had. So I did them religiously for awhile but have since stopped. I bought a yoga mat in the hopes of forcing myself to do pilates four or five times a week and do AM yoga when I really just need to stretch and clear my mind. Hopefully by taking this small step I’ll start to gain back some of the energy that I had when I was spending a lot of time exercising. I don’t have as much time to exercise as I used to but I’m going to make time – even if it’s just 20 minutes for a DVD series. I’m going into the ministry – I need to minister to myself while I’m in seminary so I don’t enter a congregation empty and drained.

Does this mean that I’m going to grab hold of and control my emotions? Doubtful. Does this mean that I’m going to start crying? Probably not. But I am going to start living through my emotions, not allowing them to define who I am, but allowing me to define how I am going to handle them.

And I’ll keep watching Tori and Dean … I need reassurance that I’m not alone in my emotion-filled life!!

With Peace,
Sarah

Let’s Get Out of This Town …

11 Jul

It’s been a week full of up and downs.

Bruce and I decided to live the Carrie Underwood song, “Get Out of This Town” last weekend. The Fourth of July was last Friday and, surprisingly enough, the dealership was closed and Bruce had the day off. He was lucky that this Friday off happened to coincide with with his Saturday off (he has every other Saturday off) so we decided to get away for the weekend. We drove down to Florida to visit Jen, Tim, RT and Lauren. It was the first time we had been down there since either of us had been engaged so we got to celebrate on both ends. Bruce and I always seem to be more exhausted leaving than arriving when we got to visit them – they cram so much into a day!! We got in late on Thursday night and woke up Friday, took the motorcycles to Jen’s friend Carol’s house to drop some stuff off and then to Tim’s dad’s lake house for a Fourth of July picnic with his family. His family is always very hospitable and his dad remembered us from Easter and was happy to have us back. Their lake house is beautiful – because of the conservation bill placed on the lake, the twelve existing houses around the lake will be the only houses to ever be built there, so it was really quiet. We were really the only people with boats out. Bruce and I learned how to drive jetskis!! It was the first time I had ever been on one but Jen and Tim were really good about riding with us and explaining to us how to drive them and then they let us go off on our own. At one point Bruce’s jetski ran out of gas so he dropped it off at the dock and then hopped on with me. We switched drivers out in the middle of the lake so Bruce could teach me some of the “tricks” he had learned and he ended up flipping me off into the water!! And there were gators in the lake!! It was funny, though, I didn’t mind – it made a fun story to tell. Tim also took us out on the boat later on as the sun was going down – it was a beautiful sunset. The next day RT took Bruce to the beach to teach him how to surf and Tim, Jen, Lauren and I went riding. Other than a guided trail ride in Arizona in college and a couple times around the ring last January, I hadn’t been on a horse since middle school. Needless to say I was a little rusty – but I didn’t want to hold anybody back so I held on tight!! I had fallen off the jetski the day before so I was bound and determined to stay on King!! I did stay on, though, and Lauren was really helpful when it came to how I was sitting and how relaxed I was, etc. Every time we cantered, she would ride behind me and call out suggestions for how I could sit better and it made me a lot more comfortable. Once I got more comfortable on King, I had a lot more control when we were cantering. And I stayed on!! The next day we went to the Flea Market, which was a lot of fun. I tried on a diamond ring that was worth more than a year’s tuition plus room and board at Ursinus!! I will NEVER own something like that but it was fun to just try it on. Bruce and I also bought some cool pottery stuff that had come in from Mexico. All in all – a fun trip, but we were definitely exhausted at the beginning of the week.

I came back to Atlanta to Vacation Bible School at the church. I knew there was no way I would have the energy to drive to Marietta all week and then still go to work so I opted to go to VBS two days and then still try to get at least four hours worth of work in. That seemed to work pretty well. This was the first VBS in a long time that I was really a follower and didn’t have a lot of participation in the planning process. That was very strange for me – I’m not used to taking a backseat when it comes to things at the church. I’m in a very strange position right now, church wise. Because I’m in school in Atlanta, I can’t be as active as I would like at the First Congregational Church of Kent – it’s hard to make meetings when I’m 16 hours away!! But because Kent is sponsoring me as I walk through the In Care process I have to maintain my membership there, which means I can’t become a fully active member at Pilgrimage. It’s frustrating because I really want to be ordained in my home church – I owe it to the people who knew I was called to the ministry long before I knew or acknowledged it myself. But while I’m on one of the most crucial stages of my journey I can’t be fully involved in a church the way I would like to be, or the way I’m used to being. I think I can become an associate member at Pilgrimage, but I think that only gives me voice without vote and that’s a frustrating position to be put in. Sometimes I hate the politics of the church!!

I’ve also been spending a lot of time talking to my parents while they finish up their move to Kent and get their house in Gaylordsville ready for the renters. This was such a good move for them and I know they made the right decision. It still, however, is really hard to be so far away from them while they’re doing this, relying on pictures e-mailed to me when they have the chance to see the progress. I wish there was more that I could be doing. I didn’t think that, a year into my living away from home and after four years away at college, that I would be missing CT so much – it’s not home, but I still miss it. I think once I see the house I won’t feel so sad about not being there, but it’s just hard right now. But I’m still so happy for my parents and this new stage of their life that they are embarking on.
On a sad note, I heard word today that Jen’s yorkie, Tank, died yesterday. It’s SO awful. He was such a wonderful dog with such a great spirit and I loved to watch him play with all of the other dogs. Jen loves her animals like they are children and I know this must be so incredibly hard for her. I wish there was more I could do.

I guess I continue to think: “I wish there was more that I could do.” I suppose I’ll always be saying that. In an effort to spread my wings, and experience life in a new place, I’ve had to leave behind some of the places and people who are so close to my heart. But I pray that my time in Atlanta will be well-spent, and that my thoughts and prayers will be with those that my physical presence cannot be.

With Grace,
Sarah

Let’s get out of this town tonight
Nothing but dust in the shadows
Gone by morning light
Somewhere we won’t ever get caught, ever be found
Baby, let’s just get out of this town
-Carrie Underwood, Get Out of This Town

With Pride

1 Jul

I had the honor and the privilege in attending a wonderful worship service on Sunday morning.  Pilgrimage United Church of Christ, an Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ, joined the celebration, the remembrance and the fight of thousands around the country with a Pride Sunday service.  Together, members and visitors of PUCC joined in hearts, voices and prayers as we remembered the strife of the GLBTQ community, celebrating the small victories along the way, and were empowered to continue to be advocates for change and equality.  It was a wonderful service.

Bruce and I had never experienced a service like this before.  At various points throughout the service we looked at each other and kind of mumbled that what was going on would not have gone over very well in our home churches.
I’ve learned a lot about the UCC since I’ve been in Atlanta – and what I’ve learned hasn’t come from polity classes or books (that will come eventually).  I’ve learned from the people that I’ve worshiped in church with, the members of a relatively young congregation.  Pilgrimage UCC was founded in 1978.  At 30 years “young” it is a much greener congregation than the churches that Bruce and I grew up in, churches whose membership includes people who have been members much longer than Pilgrimage has existed, people who were members before the merger that gave birth to the UCC in the 1950s.  Pilgrimage isn’t a congregation that agreed to take part in a merger that was going on in the wider church, they are a congregation that consciously decided to become part of the United Church of Christ and what they stand for.  I think (and I don’t know this for sure) that there are more churches in the south who joined the UCC after the merger than in the north.  And that is a different UCC to be apart of.  There is a different kind of pride – pride of who we are and what we stand for.  There is a feeling that we are underrepresented which only means that we need to speak louder, longer and with passion.  It’s an incredible community of people.
I don’t know if I’ll stay in the south after I graduate.  As much as I feel at home at Pilgrimage UCC there is still a strong part of me that feels like I’m a northerner, through and through.  But hopefully with grace and courage I’ll be able to bring the pride that I’ve experienced at PUCC back north with me – or wherever I go – after I graduate.
With Pride,
Sarah