And on to the Big Rigs

Surf\'s up in Santa CruzContinued from Redwoods, Big Rigs and Glowing Grapes

Okay, back to that surprise. Turns out, Bruno lives in someone else’s backyard… in a shed turned tiny, cabin-styled home thingamagig. He has a toilet outhouse jimararig near his “room.” The room has electricity. He gets access to the bathroom and shower inside the house whenever needed. Whoa! People do that here? Awesome! I found my way to live dirt cheap in Cali and with no rent contracts!! Yay!! Also turns out, it’s quite a common thing. I guess rent is so high in Cali that people do what they can to generate a little extra rent money. Perfect for a roving adventurer like me! I can have a small base of sorts to keep stuff. But, nothing extravagant or costly. And all just blocks away from the beach! Perfect! I’m heading abroad again very shortly, but, you can put money on it that’ll I’ll be operating out of one of those when I’m back stateside again for my spring/summer “blogging” season here in the U.S. Seaside yoga in Santa CruzI’m quite excited about that prospect actually.

Bruno treated us to a scrumptious breakfast in downtown Santa Cruz the next morning. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was delicious! Bruno then took Dustin and I on a tour around Santa Cruz, showing us all the different beaches and surfing hot spots. Bikers and runners were everywhere. Surfers were scattered among the waves like pods of dolphins. A young woman was out on a small outcropping, moving gracefully through her lone yoga routine, the expanse of God’s beautiful sea in front of her. As for us three, we just slowed down and took it all in. Continue reading “And on to the Big Rigs”

More Sights and Sounds from Chi-Town

Last week’s trip certainly wasn’t my first visit to Chicago. I’ve blogged about past Chi-town based adventures including my first-ever couchsurfing experiences, The Passion event, and coverage of the 2007 Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 (actual coverage of the race can be found on DomesticFuel.com).

This time, the U.S. Africa Agribusiness Forum brought me to Chicago for Novus International sponsored coverage on AgWired.com. You know, the event that reaffirmed my inspiration for the “Dollar-a-Day” Charity initiative. (Nope, haven’t forgotten about that!) The Novus crew that I worked with was great. Very welcoming and easy-going. The best kind of people to work with! Jeremy, one of the Novus clients, and I sprung for a “cheeseborger” at the infamous Billy Goat Tavern. The “Gotham city” tavern and the curse of the Cubs was a frequent theme and popular skit for a while on Saturday Night Live. The burger joint dates back to 1945 and is located underneath the viaducts on Michigan Ave near Navy Pier. Our visit came complete with “cheeseborgers” and little, paper souvenir hats.

Anyway, after work I jumped right back into Chicago’s urban playground. As luck would have it, the Taste of Chicago was just kicking off as I got into town. Restaurants throughout Chicago set up booths in Grant Park and offer single-serving sized portions from their menus for a specific amount of tickets. Twelve tickets could be bought for eight bucks. The ticket system meant things were a bit pricey, but hey, when else can you skip around trying dishes from a slew of restaurants?

I managed to track down some couchsurfers who planned a cs outing to the Taste of Chicago the very Saturday I was going to check it out myself, so I had a band of “instant friends” to share the festival with. I enjoyed a wide array of cuisine including African plantains, Indian something or other, gelato, ravioli… and even shark! Shark was an absolute new one for me. Not bad. Tastes like fish, but more dense. Not quite as dense as chicken though. Continue reading “More Sights and Sounds from Chi-Town”

The Language of the Spirits…

…is, if you ask me, the ‘Language of God.’ This past weekend I spent a lot of time speaking such a language with dear friends that have, in a matter of days, become dearer. And with new friends that have, in a matter of mere moments, become close ones.

So, to start from the beginning….

Since my latest bought of worldly wanderings, I’ve truly missed living like a traveler… everything I own on my back, getting around by foot or bus, occasionally airplane or motobike. Not owning much of anything. Just exploring most everything.

That’s why when I wanted to head to my old college town to catch a friend’s band perform, I decided to take the Megabus. Sitting in my seat on the top floor of a double-decker bus, I felt home again for the first time since I’ve been “home.” And that’s just it, I feel most at home when I’m on the move, embarking on adventure.

When I arrived in Columbia, a quick phone call clued me in to the whereabouts of my friend Justin, whom I had planned to crash with for the weekend. He and others were congregated at a corner in downtown Columbia, not far from the bus station. Perfect. The fact that my friend was outside enjoying the wonderful Friday afternoon outdoors with other friends was the first sign that this weekend was going to be one of the goodies. My arrival to that particular corner moments later meant a surprise for my friend Stephen, the one whose band I came to see. He didn’t know I was already in town. Accompanying Stephen and Justin were two girls whom I hadn’t met before, Randi and Lindsey, and another chap I had yet to meet, Ben. Great! I’m always up for meeting new people!

Then, the next thing I knew, we were all packing ourselves into Lindsey’s car, headed for Barnes and Noble. ‘Awesome!’ I thought. I mean, c’mon, it’s not your average gaggle of young adults that gets together for a trip to the bookstore. Clue number two that this weekend I would be surrounded by not-your-average-college-kids… and I liked that.

Until then, I hadn’t thought about what a great place a bookstore is to first start getting to know people. A lot can be learned about a person from the books he or she has read and wants to read. We spent the first several minutes lighting up as we found books we had already enjoyed, explaining them and urging everyone else to read them. Then, we wandered around perusing books on our own, occasionally bumping into each other. I’ve since logged ‘bookstore’ as a good, not-so-ordinary place to break the ice with someone new.

Later that evening, I got a surprise. I hadn’t realized Randi was a musician too (as are both Justin and Stephen). We watched Randi sing on stage, with only a guitar for accompaniment at the Blue Fugue. A fan of books and a woman who isn’t afraid to share thoughts and music up on stage, Randi was definitely proving herself to be a girl to get to know. One particular thing to note is one young man who was in the crowd enjoying the music: he was holding a turtle in one hand the entire time. That spectacle was a first for me. I thought it was funny. We stuck around for the bands that followed. The last one was particularly worth seeing, as all the musicians had a ton of talent. If I remember correctly, the band’s name was Providence.

More surprises in store for Saturday. I thought I was going to be spending my Saturday morning playing soccer with all my old international soccer buddies. But, the park where we normally played was under some construction, and we discovered we couldn’t play. So instead, I met back up with Justin. He was meeting Randi and her friend in the college’s music department where they planned to share some music they had been working on. ‘Cool!’ I thought. ‘That would be fun to drop in on.’ Turns out, Randi’s friend was the turtle guy from the night before. ‘Haha. Awesome.’ Any guy that can kick it with a turtle while listening to live music is definitely worth knowing. ; ) And, definitely worth listening to… as I discovered. Jessie studies music in New York. In a tiny room with just two others (Randi and Justin) and a piano that practically took up every inch of the room that we didn’t, I got to listen to some of Jessie’s latest pieces. A talented pianist with a beautiful voice… Skipping and pirouetting through clouds and floating down river on giant leaves, watching all kind of exotic worlds slowly drifting by, are some of the many visions I dreamt up while listening to his songs. One of his songs is titled, The Dark Side of Neverland. I’ll be buying his first album. No question.

Justin hopped on the bench and lit up the black and whites for a bit as well. His music is rich and exciting, with tempos that jump from fast to faster then to a sudden lull that just as suddenly races away again. His music is composed in such a sporadic manner, yet somehow all comes together in one great, harmonious track. His music connects with my being. I live in just the same way.

What an enchanting way to start the day! Full of music and the baring of souls…

After that, Jessie, Randi and I headed out for some Greek eats at the International Cafe while Justin ran off to play racquetball with a friend. Over hummus, falafel, and gyros I got to know more about Randi and Jessie. I discovered that Jessie is one of those rare young men full of purity, romance and life. His girlfriend is lucky. As far as Randi, that’s when I really began discovering she has so many wonderful layers. The more petals you peel back, the more wonderful treasures you’ll find.

That afternoon was full of more music. Justin, Randi and I headed out to Les Bourgeois Winery where Stephen’s band, Cannery Row, was performing. A trip to Les Bourgeois on a beautiful, sunny afternoon is always fun. The winery is tucked between rolling river bluffs and you can sit outside near the A-frame on the edge of a cliff with a great view of the Missouri River snaking off into the pine forests. There we met Lindsey and her friends and we all just relaxed listening to the music and playing some card games. A rather enjoyable afternoon.

After that, it was off to the theater to see The Happening. Crazy movie. One of M. Night Shyamalan’s better movies. Much more to it than most might understand… at least for us. And, that movie turned out to be the spark our little group needed to really start connecting on a different level, speaking “The Language of the Spirits.” It’s when your conversations go beyond the normal everyday subjects like activities and sports or even movies and books. It’s when they start with a sharing of philosophies and move beyond to revealing the thoughts, ideas and feelings that you thought no one, and I mean no one else shares. It’s not just thinking outside the box, but living outside the box. The best part is, finding out that not just one, but many, share those same thoughts that you considered would be evidence enough for people to think you were crazy, even though you knew you weren’t. You venture out, say something literally out of this world, brace for the yourself for the “looks,” but then, instead, you hear “That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. I’ve felt that exact same way.” And then you know, really know, that the complexities, the beauty, the truths to this world are so much bigger and so beyond what most dare to even consider their entire lives.

That evening Stephen’s band was playing again, this time at the Forge & Vine. The Forge & Vine is one of my favorite restaurants in Columbia. I love the restaurant’s salmon. Though, this time I didn’t have anything to eat. The restaurant has a wonderful rooftop bar area where there’s often live music. That night, Stephen’s band Cannery Row truly came alive. The band was chilled and mellow earlier that afternoon, but that evening the energy was extremely high. Most of us in our group couldn’t help but get up and shake it on the dance the floor. After the performance, a TON of people came up and complimented the band, saying that was its best performance yet. And I just have to say, the lead guitarist, Eric, is amazing. Everyone says he’s a prodigy and doesn’t know it… yet. ; )

The rest of that night and most of the next day, our little clan couldn’t stop talking and sharing our “bigger” ideas of life and what they could mean. Our spirits were connecting in ways beyond the physical. I’m sure that for those of you who’ve never felt such connections, think I’m talking the “crazy talk.” And that’s why I’m not going into further detail… yet.

But, I just want to say. This past weekend was a magical one, full of remarkable people who are more alive than most ever care to be. They are true blessings in my life and will always be with me.

Coincidences…

I had wanted to make this certain point in my discussions with Silviu: Too many coincidences have become entangled into the story of my life for me to actually consider them coincidences. Silviu is, as I mentioned before, is a self-professed atheist or agnostic (depending upon how you look at it). And, as I also mentioned, we consistently found ourselves delving into debates about spirituality, religion, humanity and God. And I must say, Silviu has given his arguments a lot of thought. I didn’t always have an answer for him. Although, sometimes I knew there was an answer… I just didn’t yet have the ideas in which to properly articulate them to someone who doesn’t possess the faith that I do. Nonetheless, the foundation of my spirituality was left, admittedly, a little shaken after my conversations with Silviu. Shaken, but still standing. Personally, I cannot deny the Heaven that I know lies beyond the veil of cynicism that lies over modern society. As a Tengri Mongolian put it in one of Paolo Coelho’s novels, The Zahir: “Welcome to the place where we say the sky is blue even when it’s gray, because we know that the color is still there above the clouds.”

And then, as if in a special, reassuring gesture, another coincidence materialized before my eyes. The moment I grasped it, I was also able to grasp how recent events had to occur and recent decisions had to made just as they happened or else the “coincidence” would have been lost to me:

When I flew to Munich, I had the option of trying to find a couch to surf for one night or to move on to Graz. I did have time to just continue on my way. But, for reasons I wasn’t quite sure of, I decided to stay in Munich. ‘Get some rest after my flight,’ I thought. It’s because I stayed at Martin’s in Munich that I discovered The Zahir. Oddly enough, the Zahir was one of the few books in English on Martin’s bookshelf. Paolo Coelho was the author, so I was immediately interested, because the two books of his I had already read greatly affected me. Even though I knew I wouldn’t finish before I left, I began reading the book. Unsurprisingly, this book, like the others, began impacting me greatly. Then I had to go, and leave the book unfinished. I really don’t like leaving things unfinished.

Upon my arrival in Graz, I learned that Claudia is struggling with some personal issues. Immediately, I thought of the book. From what I had read so far, I thought The Zahir would have some excellent insight into what Claudia was facing at the moment. So, I made it a point to purchase her a copy in German. I also picked up a copy for myself in English. Now, I would get to finish it! Claudia, also a big fan of Paolo, insisted that I should buy a copy of one of his novels that she had read, the Witch of Portobello. She said I would identify with it just as much as she did. (Claudia and I have already realized we are cut from the same cloth, though, there is a bit of a difference with the pattern we are weaving with it.) Claudia had also already purchased Into the Wild for me. So, after finishing the Zahir, I tackled Into the Wild, saving The Witch of Portobello for last. I had just finished Into the Wild when I arrived in Salzburg and met Silviu, my Translyvanian host. Although, the Dracula/vampire myth was created by an Irish man who had never been to Transylvania, I still thought it was interesting that the Transylvanian I met was passionate about death metal and, often enough, spent time in dark, underground dives. (Now, I’ve already described how this is just one element of Silviu’s complex character. There’s a good deal more to his personality that veers away from death metal and dark, underground dives. He’s a great guy!)

And finally to the point of all this, after extensive, challenging debates with Silviu, I finally crack open The Witch of Portobello on the train from Salzburg, Austria to Bern, Switzerland. Page three reveals the opening setting: Transylvania. Page three also reveals the main plot: there is a world of energy and magic beyond that of our everyday existence… a world of spirituality and God. Thus, by page three, the Witch of Portobello was already making an argument against what I had been hearing from Silviu: “that anything science cannot explain has no right to exist.” Another suggested point of Silviu’s was the apparent need for all those who are spiritual to “force” their spirituality upon others. On page five of the Witch of Portobello I read: “No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind a door. The purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.” Hence, the inherent quality of spirituality (so often likened to light) is to share its energy. That same idea is echoed in Luke 11:33, the verse that opens Paolo’s book: “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” It’s the nature of belief to shine upon those who don’t believe.

So as you see, it could have been just a mere coincidence that the plot of the Witch of Portobello is rooted in Transylvania and that a Transylvanian had just hosted me. It could also have been just a mere coincidence that the book in question also tackled the very issues my Transylvanian host and I debated. But, then, when you consider the intricate complexity it took for that “coincidence” to even take place, you realize… there is simply too much design behind the event, to call it a mere “coincidence.”

And another thing to ponder… I was struck with the desire of wanting to meet Paolo Coelho. Interestingly enough, despite my lifelong love of reading and writing, I can remember only one other time I had actually wanted to meet a writer in the flesh. When I was young, I wanted to meet Jack London. But, unfortunately, he had already passed. Paolo, on the other hand, is still alive and well and still writing. Just a couple days ago I had a tentative invite from a friend to plan a trip to South America this summer. Paolo is from Brazil. Hmmm… just a though. Could be nothing. The SA trip might not even happen. But still… the parallels are too strong to ignore.

Once Upon a Time…

…far far away, in the land of rolling hills and rocky cliffs, lived the Von Trapp family. Okay, okay. I know, my posts are enough of a novel as it is… But, Salzburg, the city that served as the storybook setting for the movie The Sound of Music is, well, something out of a storybook. Churches, shops, jewelry stores, banks and apartments of old Austrian design are huddled between an alcove of towering cliffs and the banks of the Salzach river. Europe’s best-preserved castle, Festung Hohensalzburg, rises from the peaks of the most prominent rocky crag, guarding and protecting the winding cobbled streets that twist and turn along ornamented buildings below. Signs of gold, red, yellow, green and blue sway overhead the cobbled lanes, hanging from intricate iron brackets. Then, suddenly the tight, winding streets open up into cozy piazzas marked with elegant fountains and enclosed by grand cathedrals, theatres, opera houses and government buildings. For me, it was love at first sight. Salzburg, the home of Mozart, has captured my heart.

When I arrived in Salzburg Monday afternoon, my cs host Silviu accompanied me on a stroll through the charming city. He introduced me to the main landmarks so that I might be able to easily navigate my way around the next day, when I more thoroughly explored the city on my own. One of my favorite landmarks was the old “car wash.” An ornamented wall with paintings of gallant horses served as the background to a decorated fountain that was surrounded by a bigger trough of water with steps leading into the bowl from opposite ends. This is where carriages and horses would be washed during the first half of the twentieth century. That night, we relaxed to the smooth sounds of the sax at Jazz It, a local dive near Silviu’s apartment.

Silviu is an intriguing character. His strikingly handsome face and piercing blue eyes are largely shrouded by a long mane of hair and a full scruffy beard that gets bushier at the chin. His look matches that of one of his biggest interests: death metal. Silviu, a Romanian, thoroughly enjoys nights of heavy metal, head-banging in dark dives. Yet, outside of the metal bar scene, Silviu is perfectly comfortable in the subdued setting of a jazz lounge or in the academic and artistic setting of the university café that’s popular with music students (where we ate at earlier that afternoon). His manner is gentle, even a bit tender. His eyes speak of compassion. His thoughts, though, speak of distrust, a distrust in anything that can’t be explained by the physical world around him. Silviu is a self-described cynic and agnostic.

Silviu is also an open man, however, and willingly discussed and debated ideas on hope, humanity and God with me. Silviu has traveled to India – where there exists a world, which many say, is a far cry from the conveniences and comforts of Western civilization. Thus, Silviu certainly has experiences from which he can draw sound arguments that support his ideas. I too have seen the different worlds of the Cambodian people and the villagers of Vietnam and Laos. So, I can understand many of his arguments.

And that was Silviu’s only qualm with engaging me in debate. He didn’t want to come across as a person who wanted to pull me away from the hopeful optimism and spirituality that marks my own personal views of the world and of humanity. I continually reassured him, though, that challenge is good. Challenging debates help us fully measure just how much faith we do possess in our supposed beliefs. They help us identify the areas where the foundation of our faith might be weak and faltering.

It turned out, Silviu and I couldn’t really stray from these debates whenever we spent more than ten minutes together, even when others joined us in our activities. Our exchanges were always respectful and completely amicable, and we usually wound up sucking those around us, no matter how hesitant they might be, into the debate.

My exchanges with Silviu were leaving me with a lot to ponder and consider and were quickly flagging places where my faith needed further exploration and instruction. And that was okay, because I had a lot of time for self-reflection the next day. Silviu had to work on his doctorate’s program at the university, so I set off to discover more of Salzburg. First, I met with a cheerful young cs student for lunch. Cordi’s sweet disposition and easy smiles were like a refreshing breeze after the deep, dark discussions with Silviu. Cordi took me to a little café popular with students in the old city, called Picnic. Then, we went to a new 60s café she had just discovered, called Afro Café, for desert. Both places had a fun, easy-going atmosphere. After sharing tales of our travels and adventures and our plans for more to come, we parted ways. She was off to statistics class. I was off to wander the city.

I ambled along snapping pics of the winding cobbled lanes, ornamented churches and the towering castle. Along the way, I munched an original Austrian Brez’l and bread from the oldest bakery in Salzburg. Before too long, I found myself in an old cemetery with unique graves. Some of the graves and headstones were monuments gated in arched alcoves, similar to the gated alcoves that the Von Trapp family used to hide from the Nazi soldiers. This cemetery backed right up to one of the sheer cliffs surrounding the city and from there I could spy old houses formed straight out of the sides of the rock. How cool would it have been to live on the side of a cliff?!

I spent a long time in the cemetery… thinking and taking pictures. It turned out to be the same cemetery that Silviu has pictures of hanging on his wall in his bedroom. Eventually, I wandered away from the ancient bed of the dead and headed up the side of the cliff toward the Festung Hohensalzburg. I had planned to hike up to the castle and see first-hand the best preserved castle in Europe, but my curiosity veered me off course and the next thing I knew was I was wandering down a path along the rocky crags… away from the castle. I still got some great views of the city… and, I was able to take in the landscape, the smell of the surrounding evergreens and limber, the calls and chirps of the birds, alone and in peace, instead of with a throng of tourists on the terraces of the castle. I was more than content with where my wandering feet had led me. I had found myself amidst the pages of a fairytale storybook…

Later that evening I met up with Silviu. He and the couchsurfer he would be hosting that night were at a local brewery. Silviu says the brewery scene is the epitome of the truly local Austrian experience. You grab a litre or half litre mug from the shelf, pay for the beer, bring the receipt to the barman at the tap and fill up your mug. You can also stop along any one of the stands along a strip of shops selling Austrian sausages, brats, breads and more. Before too long, Silviu and I were back at the questions and debates, and our fellow cser pitching in from time to time. A metal head like Silviu (though you wouldn’t think it from his preppy style of dress), the cser tended to side with my host.

By midnight, I was on the way to the train station to catch my train to Bern, Switzerland. My train left at 45 past the hour and arrived the next morning around eight. I would do my best to get some shuteye, before another full day of wandering in more lands of the fairytales…

Passion in Chicago

The Passion event is touring the U.S. and will soon be appearing at venues across the world. I can say first had the event is time well spent! It’s a weekend of delving into your relationship with God while listening to great music from the likes of Chris Tomlin and Watermark and Matt Redman and others.
Louie Giglio gives one empowering speech after the next and John Piper delivers a though-provoking message as well, calling the youth to rise up and make their stand against the decaying morality of current pop culture. On a complete whim I met up with Audra in Chicago. She flew. I drove and picked her up at the airport. We crashed with my couchsurfing confident Dustin and simply had a wonderful weekend catching up (it’s been a year since we met in Greece!). I’m simply amazed at how knowledgeable Audra is in her faith. She’s without a doubt one of my Christian role models. In that short amount of time, I felt God working with me immensely and I’m so grateful Audra came to share that with me!

He Will Deliver…

As I’ve been praying to God for Him to lead me to where he wants to use me next… He’s provided an answer to my prayers! I’ve been feeling compelled to travel and explore foreign places and cultures for as long as I can remember. Already, I’ve been blessed to visit so many wonderful places and encounter so many people, cultures and experiences. I’ve grown from each one of them. But, the more I travel the more I feel called to include more in those travels. For the past several years I’ve felt called to serve through travel. I’ve explored various options such as the military, the Peace Corps and others. I’m still strongly considering them… but, God has opened up another opportunity that I’m very excited about! My previous youth group leader has invited me to join her and her ministry in a mission trip to Tijuana the last week of July. We will be visiting a very poor community, offering whatever help we can and we will be sharing the truths about God and Christ. I think this trip will be particularly interesting in light of the growing controversy over immigration from Mexico to the U.S. It’ll be interesting to hear the stories of those struggling just across our border.

An added bonus is I’ll be working with my former youth leader to film our trip. I’m very excited about this! One of my biggest goals is to film a documentary and this trip will most certainly let me try my hand at documentary filming. I’m not looking for anything spectacular… just the chance to get my feet wet and see what I might come up with.

This opportunity is an absolute answer to my prayers… and as I said before…. I am eager to be God’s faithful servant! I’ll be compiling information on Tijuana as I find it.

Less than 20 miles south of downtown San Diego lies the world’s busiest port of entry –
the international border crossing between San Ysidro, CA and Tijuana, Mexico.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-05-border-crime_x.htm

Starting off with my best foot forward… the one that follows God.

The excuses and the procrastination are over! I’m FINALLY starting a blog… and I’ll start with the first thing I can’t seem to say enough these days: “I’m so ready for what’s next in my life!” Problem is… I have no idea what that might be. The question I keep asking myself daily is a question posed in ‘The Sacred Romance’: “What is it that I’m supposed to be doing to live the spiritual life in any way that is both truthful and passionately alive?” That question particularly strikes a chord with me now… as I feel restless… waiting for LIFE to happen. Plus, I thought that would be a sound question to ask at any point in my life… to make sure I’m on the right track with the right goals in mind. Hence, the name of the blog. I’m hoping the blog name will serve as a constant reminder. ‘The Sacred Romance’ is a good tool for that too… for reminding yourself to ask the right questions and strive for the right goals. I’m not even close to being finished with it… which is odd, because I normally blow through books. But, this is the kind of book that’s meant to be digested slowly… so you can turn each piece of advice over and over in your mind… hopefully cementing it into your memory… so you can use it later. A friend that is invaluable to me recommended the book, and it’s been a guiding light. I pass along the recommendation with the hope that it can offer you something as well…

Today was another very mediocre day at work (aside from lunch with the boss and co-workers… that was fun!) There’s a poem I wrote in high school that comes to mind though… it conveys how I feel… part of an assignment after reading ‘Death of a Salesman”. I’ll see if I can find it when I get home and post it later.

As mediocrity persists at work… there’s no question that I’m actively seeking something to offer the passion, excitement and spirituality for which I’m so desperately yearning. As I’ve sought those things, various “opportunities” have arisen… many of which conflict with prior committments… one of which has been the most challenging and continually enlightening experience of my life. One I know I’ll never forget… and one I know I’ll take with me everywhere.

Speaking of everywhere… a quick glance up from my computer leaves my eyes to feast upon the collage of Italy pictures that are taped to the wall next to my desk. The pics are from a desk calendar that my Aunt Diane gave me… thanks Diane! Excellent gift! My heart is continually calling me back to Italy… and to travel. There was a roundtrip ticket available to Rome for about $750 on hotwire the other day… it was everything I could not to ‘click’ purchase. Roundtrip or not… I don’t think I would have come back this time… not for a good while.

But, this mediocrity at work is teaching me very valuable lessons. I’m learning about things I do and don’t want from a job… from life. I’m learning the value (and certainly the trials!) inherent in patience. I’m learning to appreciate things I might not have appreciated before… and even those things and experiences I appreciated before… I’m learning to appreciate more fully.

And there have been some experiences that have been absolutely “sweet!” and “amazing!” I’m talking about blasting skeet with shotguns, bullseyes with rifles and action targets with a pistol baby! Yup. All thanks to my awesome boss! Well, my boss’s boss actually. He says I’m a pretty decent shot… I say… I’ve got a lot of work to do before I become a spy! I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Er… weeeeeelll… actually… most of you probably know I”m really not kidding. I’d love to be snatched up by the CIA, trained to master any weapon, including my own body and my own intelligence, and use it to take out bad guys… Boondock Saints style! (An aside: GREAT move! Go watch it!) Wow… what a crazy, exciting life that would be! Intelligence, travel, elite exercise, arms and continual challenge and mystery! Mom, I know you’re cringing as you read this… but I’ve always been drawn to such things. And, Mom, if you’re asking where’s the spirituality in that… God waged war with Satan. Taking out bad guys is completely legit. And any good guy on the wrong side… will have eternal life… sooner. I admit… I hope I’m later than sooner! Periods of medioctrity and all… life’s a trip!

I’ll leave off with that for now… Crazy Laura wants to be a spy! Gosh, I’m such a little kid sometimes…