Thursday, November 26, 2015

Getting In Touch With My French Side

My dad tells me his great-grandfather was French. We've never done an official ancestry search to confirm this, but I'll cling to his word and say that I am part-French.                      

I never cared about whether I was or not until I became obsessed with the French language. That love in and of itself was a surprising development given the fact that I hated my first two years of French classes. In the whole of those two middle school years, I learned four verbs ("aller", "manger", "avoir", and "être") because our professor would spend our class time telling us fabricated stories about himself -- in English. He wove spell-bounding tales, such as one about how he used to be an African king with hundreds of wives. What a bizarre waste of time!

However, I remember one moment in those two years that made me stop and wonder if this French thing could actually be cool after all. I was sitting in class, probably trying to mentally block out my professor with a daydream, when The Beatles' song "Michelle" began to float through my head. I knew that part of the song was in French and I began to wonder what the words were.

Fast-forward a couple of years. I was now in high school French Level 3, completely failing because of how little I'd learned in Levels 1 and 2. During the process of trying to catch myself up, I began to explore francophone music. This step transformed learning the language from a duty to a source of entertainment. This is when I began to fall in love with the language and culture of France.

Though I spent a high school summer in France for a foreign exchange program, I unfortunately haven't had much opportunity to use the language since then. However, while I've been waiting for another chance, I've devised other ways to regularly experience French language and culture. Here they are!

I daily check the blog of Garance Doré, a French fashion photographer and illustrator.
You can view her site in either French or English. 

I watch Amélie all of the time... As in, about once a month. 
I know there are other great French movies out there, but I just can't get over this one.

I regularly check Le Monde for news updates. 

I follow a number of French YouTubers. 
The ones I've been following the longest are (moving clockwise):
 Antastesia, Marie Anne Oohlala, Cyprien, and EnjoyPhoenix.

Lastly, I listen to a lot of francophone music from around the world.
(Though I also enjoy French musicians that sing in English like M83 and Phoenix.)
I made this playlist to give you a sampling of the artists I listen to:

I want to end this post on two notes -- a happy one and a sad one.  

The happy one is this video featuring French-American model Camille Rowe,
comically portraying the difference between French and American women. 

The sad one is a quote from Antoine Leiris, a man who lost his wife in the attacks on Paris two weeks ago.
In a public letter in which he expressed to the attackers that he does not hate them, he wrote:

"Si ce Dieu pour lequel vous tuez aveuglément nous a fait à son image,
chaque balle dans le corps de ma femme aura été une blessure dans son coeur."

Translation: "If this God for whom you blindly kill made us in his image,
each bullet in the body of my wife would have been a wound in his heart."

I believe they did wound His heart.

I pray that those belonging to the groups that commit these evil acts would come to know that too.  

Image of Garance via Garance DoréImage of Amelie via

Friday, October 30, 2015

Reconnecting with My Canon

I wrote the following five days ago but couldn't post it because I was on a "Web Fast" for a class I'm taking:)

When I was in my early teens my dad got me a Nikon FM10 and taught me the basics of film photography. I loved it. I especially loved the excitement of taking my full roll of film up the street to CVS to be developed. In today’s world of digitization I can’t even comprehend how I was okay with not being able to review and delete my pictures before getting them printed. Perhaps it’s that development of my digital mindset that lead me to eventually forget about that precious Nikon (I don’t even know where it is) and move onto other methods of keeping myself entertained.

…Until I was in the middle of grad school. I think I felt so overloaded on all of the academic jargon constantly streaming through my brain that for sanity's sake I needed some sort of wordless form of expression. But there was one problem: I no longer had a camera. As I was becoming obsessed with the array of beautiful photography on blogs (I'll admit it, mostly “mom blogs”), I knew something had to change.

One day I was sitting at Starbucks with a friend. She was studying and I was probably leisurely reading a book. I suddenly remembered that there was an Office Depot next door. I told my friend I would be right back, walked across the parking lot, went inside the store, and purchased a Canon Rebel XS I had been checking out online (not my dream camera, but affordable). Purchase completed, I walked back over to the Starbucks and sat back down across from my friend. I think I had only been gone about ten minutes.

When she saw my bag she asked what I’d gotten. I pulled out the box and her jaw dropped.

“You just walked over there and bought that?!”

“Ha, yeah.”

“Like, were you planning on it or you just randomly decided to go over there and buy a fancy camera?”

“Ha, well I had been thinking about it... So I figured, 'Why not now?!'”

My friend, still slightly thrown off by my randomness, just began to chuckle.

And that was the beginning of my relationship with my Canon.

If you look back on some older posts you can see my photography from that era of my life. They were posted on other blogs back then (I started several), but all of those are now password protected due to their embarrassingly immature nature:). Therefore, I transferred some of the old photos onto this one (some of which I'm kind of embarrassed of too:).

When I moved to Missouri this August I didn’t bring the camera with me because I hadn’t used it for a while. But as I’ve been getting back into school again (I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself!), I’ve been missing it a lot. Well guess what? A couple of weeks ago I got a box from my dad in the mail and assumed it was some sort of birthday present. Right as I was grabbing the scissors to begin cutting the package tape, I thought, “Sometime I need to ask dad if he can send my camera to me.” So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the box only to find my Canon and all of its accessories inside!! How did he know?!

Since then, I haven’t yet gotten into my old everyday photography habit, but I think some inspiration today might have served as a catalyst to jump start that again. As I was untying the laces on my boots after walking in the door from church, I was struck by the beauty of the light hitting them. I rushed to get my camera, quickly change the lens, and went back to where I had been standing. I snapped a few pictures and then sat down to my computer to play around with Photoshop. I’m still new to the program (I used to use a different editing software but lost it when I got rid of an old laptop), so I really have no idea what I’m doing. Anyway, here are a couple of my attempts from today.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Random Trip to Springfield

For the training program I'm going through I have to give up my beloved Internet for about a month, starting tomorrow morning. So I guess tonight is my last chance to post anything here until November. Here goes....

Yesterday I hopped onto a spontaneous trip to Springfield, Missouri with some friends from the training center. It's about an hour and a half drive from where we live. In Springfield we got lunch, coffee, and Krispy Kreme donuts, visited some thrift and pawn shops, and took the long trek around the original Bass Pro Shop. I didn't think the latter would be that interesting but it actually was. The place was like a museum/ zoo/ shopping mall - though it was just one store.

Anyway, most of all it just felt amazing to be in an actual city! I've never realized how much of a city girl I am until not being in a major one for two months straight:)

Here are some pics from the day:

 I took a picture of the chair because it's from the same dining set I grew up with.
I took a picture of the Christian record cover because it was just so cheesy I wanted to remember it:)

 So the interior design style of Bass Pro Shop is definitely busy:) 
I was pretty impressed by them having Teddy Roosevelt's pistol!

The funniest picture of the day. It actually wasn't planned:)

Ok, goodbye Internet! I'll miss you!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Four Things from the Last Week

I'm at home trying to recover from a cold :( To ease my feeling of being unproductive, I'm going to write about a few things that have happened in the last week:

1 - Last weekend I got to visit a nearby Mennonite community with a friend. We stopped by a cute bakery to pick up some doughnuts:)

2 - After that, I went with some friends to a country church's 50th anniversary celebration. By "country" I mean off a dirt road, surrounded by nothing but farmland. I loved the community's whole way of doing things. They were so casual and warm. A highlight was when they invited anyone to spontaneously perform a song and these two guys got up to play some hymns together.

3 - At the training center I live at there's a room called "The Mission Barrel". It's basically where anybody can leave things they don't want and take anything they do want - for free! Yesterday when I was dropping something off I grabbed this cookbook.

When I got home I opened up the title page and noticed that the drawings were attributed to someone named "Andrew Warhol." Does that refer to the Andy Warhol?, I wondered.

I consulted Wikipedia (and a few other sites) and found that it does in fact refer to him. Apparently before he became famous from his pop art exhibitions he was a commercial illustrator. The book I picked up yesterday was an original copy from 1961!

4 - This weekend the center is hosting a fundraising event for which they've been using a Kodiak airplane and a helicopter. We all had a chance to sign up for a ride in the helicopter yesterday. Unfortunately, even though I was signed up to fly at 4:30, I got there at 4:25 only to find out that my seat had been given away:( But I'm not bitter or anything... ;)

Well, that's all folks!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Recommendation: Washed and Waiting

It's past midnight and I can't sleep. So, I guess I'll write something:) Considering the hour, I can't guarantee how much sense it will make!

Last night (which feels like tonight even though it's now the morning of a new day), I finished reading a book called Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. Wesley refers to himself as a a homosexual Christian. However, due to his devotion to Biblical teachings on homosexuality, he chooses to remain celibate.

I originally wanted to read the book in order to better understand homosexuality and to understand how someone can handle the difficult tension of believing one's homosexuality will not go away and yet choosing to believe the Old and New Testament's teachings regarding it.

That's what I originally started reading it for. I had no idea that I would end up reading a book that seemed almost as if it was written for me. Now, I'm in no way inclined toward homosexuality. However, as Wesley Hill talked through his own unique and painful journey, he ended up telling the story of universal brokenness. As he wrote about his intense pain from loneliness, unfulfilled longings, struggles with sin, and feeling overwhelmed by shame... I could relate to almost every word. Honestly, this was one of the most comforting books I've read in a long time. It took me from feeling like I was reading a book about "those people" to giving me relief in knowing that I'm not alone.

I wish I could write all of my favorite quotes that I highlighted, but that would probably mean transcribing half of the book:) So I'm just going to write one:

"Over a period of several years, I went on a search to find books that would describe my experience as a gay Christian (I wanted to know I wasn't alone) and help me know how to keep living it. Lining the Current Issues shelf of my local Christian bookstore were numerous paperbacks suggesting ways churches could stand up for traditional marriage in the public square and soundly refute the arguments of liberal gay rights activists, but these books seemed removed from my situation."

When I read that, it broke my heart. I think it provides a picture of where the Church's priorities often lie in dealing with homosexuality. It becomes mostly about standing up in the public square and refuting arguments of liberal activists. In the midst of all that, it seems like the individual human beings that the whole debate is about seem to be forgotten. Or at least what seems to be forgotten are the painful, personal struggles they each face on a daily basis with being who they are. I often wonder what it would look like if the Church made it a priority to connect with them in our mutual brokenness... instead of devoting our energy to trying to make them follow laws they have no reason to keep unless they've encountered the One who reaches out to embrace them in the midst of their brokenness. Something tells me that in all of the Christian debates about and protests against them, they don't get a very good picture of that One who's reaching out.

I probably wouldn't have written that if it wasn't 1 in the morning:)


Image via

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cultural Immersion

Yesterday was hilarious. It was an Ozark cultural immersion kind of day:)

I set out in the morning in search of a coffee table. I didn't want to spend the money on a brand new one, so I did a quick Yelp search for local thrift stores. While I was driving around a nearby town looking for the place I had in mind, I stumbled upon a few I hadn't heard of. In each of my stops, I came across some fascinating items... and people:)

Thrift Store #1:

Croc Purses?!

Thrift Store #2:

I'm not actually quite sure what kind of store this was... It was just full of so many different random things. While I was perusing, the guy working there came up to me with a jar in one hand and a cracker in the other. He said, "Alright, right here we've got the hottest item in the store. We completely sold out of all of them yesterday, so they're going fast. It's 'Gringo Goose Poop'. It's called 'Gringo' because it's the mildest of them all. You need to give it a try." He then handed me a cracker with the 'Gringo Goose Poop' on it. As I tasted it, he went on to explain to me how his wife eats it on her eggs and how you can put it on anything... It was all so random. 

But you know what? It tasted so good! I bought a jar!

While I was waiting at the cash register, I heard him give his pitch to the next customers. One of them said that she's friends with the lady who makes the Goose Poop! I can say that I'm eating local:)

Thrift Store #3: 

I know this is a blurry picture, but hopefully the story behind it makes you see its beauty:) So this store is called "Bear Market"... in honor of the random stuffed bear in a glass case at the center of it. The whole ambiance of this place was cracking me up. The old men lounging on the couches around the bear. The fake tree trunk columns all over the room. The children's Sunday School songs playing over the speakers, getting occasionally interrupted by a recorded voice listing off random bear facts. As my friend Ashley from Georgia would say, "It was blessing my heart!"

As I was lifting up my phone to snap a picture of this scene, I was accosted by a huge panda. Like, a person dressed up in a bizarre, large-and-round-headed panda suit. The panda just stood there, looking at me. I looked down and saw it was holding a basket full of small popcorn bags. I wasn't sure if the panda wanted money for her popcorn, so I just stood there. The panda motioned for me to take one, so I did. I kind of stood there for a second, still wondering if the panda wanted something from me, but then she just walked away.

Though I was by myself I could not hold back my laughter. As I stood there chuckling from the awkwardness, I noticed a guy and a girl standing a little bit away, also in a fit of laughter. The guy came up to me with a huge smile and said, "Pretty creepy, huh?!" I laughed and agreed as the girl came up behind him with a sort of scared expression on her face. She looked in the direction the panda had walked and said, "Is it gone?! I don't do fake-dressed-up-panda-things!"

I then tried once again to snap a photo of the bear. I was still laughing, which is probably why it's so blurry. After that, I happily continued on around the store, snapping more pictures of hilarious oddities and searching for the panda in hopes of getting a photo. Perhaps the panda had been an angel because she was suddenly nowhere to be found;)

Some of my other finds:

The skull and antler table. That's not something we have in San Diego thrift stores:)

The stuffed deer on the wall above the shirt section. That's not something we have in San Diego either:)

Oh and no, I never found a coffee table.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Arrived in Missouri

Hey, so I had a wonderful road trip out to Missouri with my dad. We left last Thursday and arrived on Saturday, stopping in Arizona and Texas along the way. It was really so much fun, even in the midst of some hiccups here and there:)

Dad helped me move into my apartment (as well as some staff members that were assigned to be my hosts). He and I spent the next few days making runs into town to get food, some decorations for my place, and of course, coffee:)

It worked out that my dad would fly home yesterday, which, unfortunately, was his birthday. I felt really bad that he had to fly on that day. Even though our family had celebrated before we left on our road trip, I tried to make the day still feel like a birthday. When it turned midnight on the 11th I gave him a present to open. After we woke up in the morning we watched a few episodes of Good Mythical Morning together (it seems to have become a father-daughter ritual for us, ha). Then before we left for the airport we went down to the lake that's on the edge of the campus I'm living at.

We took selfies. I love how he's laughing in this one.

And then at the airport we found some cheesecake and I stuck a straw in it to serve as his candle.

I'm not going to lie, I was definitely crying when I left him... But mostly out of thankfulness that I have a dad who is also my best friend. I know that is a blessing that not many people get to have. I tend to dwell on what God has not given me, but in my dad I see how much God really has given me beyond what I deserve.

I love you Dad:)