Category: old friends

Depth of life

For those of you who know me, it will surprise you to hear that I have not been dancing much lately.  I still can’t help but tap my toes whenever a catchy song comes on the radio, and I’m often walking with a swing in my step, swaying along to the music inside my head.  But when it comes to social dancing, I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.  I did go to a big dance event in Atlanta in October – and I placed 2nd in the competition that I entered!! – but other than that, I haven’t really done much dancing at all since May.

Me with Mike, my 2nd-place partner in the Strictly Swing competition

Me with Mike, my 2nd-place partner in the Strictly Swing competition

But I am ok with that.  I know that the funk will pass and I will love it just as much as I used to; but until then, I’ve been busy filling my time with plenty of other exciting things.  Michael has planned a few very exciting dates – a couple of my favorites were seeing Cirque du Soleil while they were in town (which was incredible, even though they didn’t let us take any pictures :[ ), and taking a ride on the giant Ferris Wheel that overlooks much of downtown Atlanta.  I don’t think I believe him when he says that his date ideas are boring :).

The only picture I got at Cirque du Soleil before they made us put our cameras away...

The only picture I got at Cirque du Soleil before they made us put our cameras away…

My friend Jess has made a yardsaling convert out of me.  If you know how much I hate to shop, you will understand that this is a very big statement.  But there’s something exciting about hunting down deals, about finding a treasure in the middle of a bunch of trash.  Perhaps I should take up dumpster diving as a hobby… 😉  But, despite my newfound affinity for yardsaling (I don’t think I’m converted quite enough to be able to say that I have an affinity for dumpster diving yet ;]), I haven’t been able to go very often.  My weekends have been taken up by other things – things like traveling, writing, seeing friends, or sometimes just baking yummy goods.

One of my recent personal culinary victories was making homemade challah bread.  Challah bread is a sweet ceremonial Jewish bread that takes hours and hours to make.  It’s not particularly difficult (except braiding the dough so that it bakes into a nice pretty pattern is somewhat challenging), but it has to rise 3 separate times, each time for several hours.  So, all in all, it takes close to half a day to make.  ANYWAY, I have this memory of making challah bread in our old house with my mom.  I don’t remember the occasion – it must have been over 10 years ago at this point.  All I remember is the sweet time that I got to spend with my mother.  Ever since then, I have wanted to make it again, but never had a sufficient reason to invest all of that time into it.

So when an older couple from my church invited me over to their house to celebrate Sukkot, the Jewish festival of the tabernacle, and specifically asked me to bring challah bread, I jumped at the opportunity.  It took me 2 days to make it, but seeing her face when I arrived was totally worth it.  She had been expecting me to just pick up french bread, since no supermarket sells challah bread.  Her genuine joy and excitement when I walked in with a homemade loaf was more than enough payment for any extra effort required on my part.

My challah bread - it came out beautifully!

My challah bread – it came out beautifully!

A curious thing has been happening to me in Atlanta.  I still yearn for adventures in other countries and cities.  But I am also learning that depth of life matters just as much as breadth, if not more.   I am beginning to experience relational profundity that I could never dream to have by spending a few weeks or even months in a foreign country.  I am learning so much about myself and God and people in general.  Some of it is hard, tough, ugly, painful stuff.  Life gets messy when you get that close to someone.  But I would much rather experience these things and grow from them, than to stay in my own blissful bubble of relational ignorance and bankruptcy.  I do still yearn for adventures.  But I am learning, as my roots are growing  (at least for now) here in Atlanta, that adventures are even more exciting when you have dear people that you love and care for to share them with.  And that is a truly thrilling thought.

The Amazing Race: Oregon edition

Every now and then, you meet someone with whom you immediately click.  Someone with whom you can share everything with, and no matter how many miles or months may separate you, as soon as you see them again you can immediately pick things back up where they were left off.  Many people only have one or two friends like this in a lifetime.  But I’ve been blessed with several; although they’re scattered all over the world, I’ve no doubt that they will be in my life for a very long time.What’s more, I actually got to see one of them last week!  Rachel, one of my roommates in college, had the nerve to get married and go off to Oregon to go to optometry school.  But I suppose I can’t get upset, since I left her for Korea, haha.  It had been a while since I saw her, and I was blessed with a fantastic deal on the flight, so after I finished up my finals, I headed out west to pay a visit.

I must admit…I don’t think I could ever live in Oregon (**knock on wood**).  The fog and creeping chill is something that I’m not used to, and I imagine would have a very hard time acclimating myself to.  But nasty weather is easily overlooked for a few days, especially when you’re with such lovely people! 🙂

Rachel still had to take a final the first day that I arrived, so Ryan and Seth (an old friend of theirs and also their housemate) took it upon themselves to entertain me while she was taking her test.  We went to a Sherlock Holmes exhibit at a hands-on science museum in Portland.  It was really excellently done.  They had some artifacts from the time period on display, as well as a lot of biographical information about the author, Arthur Conan Doyle (did you know that he was an army medic?  The character of Watson is modeled after himself).  There was even a recreation of Sherlock’s living room!  But after that, it got even cooler.  They had recreated a “crime scene” in the exhibit hall.  We had to go through the clues and compare the evidence to the official police theory, and see if they were right or not.  Eventually we cracked the case!  The police had it all wrong :).  It really was a fantastically done exhibit…I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The next day, Ryan and Rachel and I went on a walking tour of Portland.  There’s an app called Stray Boots Tours that you can get that sends you on a scavenger hunt around the city, so we bought it and followed the clues.  I felt like I was on the Amazing Race – actually with both the Sherlock Holmes exhibition and the Stray Boots tour, but particularly the walking tour.  I had to remind myself several times that there was no need to rush, we were not going to be eliminated if we came in last.  In fact, between the clues, scavenger hunts, and trying lots of new things – from homemade beer to lockpicking driving super fast cars to videogames – the entire weekend felt somewhat like a tamer version of the Amazing Race, haha :).  They were definitely my kinds of activities, though!

One of the first stops on the Stray Boots tour was a vintage record store
Another clue took us to Powell’s, the largest new and used independent book store in the world.  We spent quite a bit of time there…. 🙂
The rare books section.  I thought I found the most expensive book.  I found out later that apparently there’s a book there that costs around $200,000!
Check out the Christmas Tree – it’s made from beer bottles.  Rather fitting for a famous pub, I’d say 🙂
A map of tea across the world in a cute little tea shop

The rest of the week was marked by board games, an introduction to the video game Portal (every level is basically solving a series of puzzles; I’m not a video gamer, but that one was pretty darn fun), seeing Rachel’s campus and meeting her friends, and oh yeah…a Tesla test drive.  Teslas, for those who may not know, are premium fully electric vehicles (they start around $70,000 and go up from there).  And they are gorgeous.  Ryan arranged for Rachel and I to have a test drive while I was there.  Oh my word.  It was like a dream.  I’ve never really had car envy, always been perfectly happy with my beat up little Subaru; but I must admit, car envy may have reared its ugly head during that test drive :).

It goes without saying that the week flew by all too quickly.  I’m so grateful to have been able to go, and I missed them even before I boarded the plane back to Atlanta.  No time to mourn their absence, though…it’s time to get geared up for Christmas!  Only 3 more days!!

Ryan really liked the Tesla shirt that Rachel got him for Christmas 🙂
Rachel’s campus – doesn’t it look eerie with all the fog and devoid of students??

The daily grind

They say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  If that’s the case, then I am becoming very dull, indeed.  Ever since I came to Albany, it seems that all I’ve been doing has been work.  I’ve been working for my dad’s medical transport business, and I often feel as if I’m trying to do the work of 2 or 3 people all by my lonesome.  I’m doing scheduling, and billing, and filing, and handling the phone, and administrative stuff, and yada yada yada….oh, and on top of that, I’m also driving an average of 3-4 hours every single day.  It’s been so unbelievably exhausting…but hey, at least I can’t complain about being bored!
I have been able to do a few things outside of work.  I went to Matt and Hope’s piano recital – they have really progressed by leaps and bounds!  I was super impressed.  Also, my first weekend back was Mother’s Day weekend, so the whole family (including my grandmother) went down to Pensacola for the weekend.  The kids and I had some little gifts and cards for mom and Grammie, and we had a nice dinner together, and basically just enjoyed each other’s company.  I went with Dad and the kids to the naval aviation museum, which was really fascinating.  Seeing all of the different planes was cool enough, but we also got to go on a hands-on science-y tour that was part of the museum which was super interesting.  I really enjoyed it. 

On Sunday, we went to church with the Chatraws, our old paster and his wife from when we went to Cornerstone Church in Americus, a loooong time ago.  That was wonderful seeing and catching up with them….strange how little they’ve changed!  Josh made a comment as we were driving down there, saying something to the effect of, “I can just feel the stress melting away the farther we get from Albany.”  I couldn’t agree more, and I think it was exactly what our family needed.  Because it was right back to the grind when we got back Sunday night!  It’s times like these when I’m so very grateful for my friends and family who keep me grounded, and remind me of God’s faithfulness when I’m apt to forget it.

There and back again

Well my nerdy book-worm friends will recognize the title of this blog as a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” which I suppose is rather fitting considering the fact that I’ve just spent the better part of an hour downloading dozens of free literary classics onto my Kindle to keep me occupied during my numerous upcoming flights.  But other than that, there is really nothing relating to Tolkien or Middle Earth or Hobbits in this blog.  This one is about Christmastime in America :).

The trip to America was long and boring, but I would not go so far as to say grueling.  It was uneventful, and marked mostly by sitting and watching movies, but not a particularly pleasant trip, nonetheless.  I started at 2 in the morning from Gyeongju, catching a bus to the airport in Seoul.  I met a girl from California while I was waiting on my flight who was doing the same thing I was, and we got some coffee and had a nice long chat.  It was a much better way to pass the time than just sitting in a corner of the airport :).  So anyway, 1 bus, 2 planes, 3 customs and security checks, 4 airplane meals, and 27 hours later, I finally found myself in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.  My friend Sylvain met me at the airport.  We got some airport pizza, he got a good laugh at seeing me so completely jet-lagged, we caught up for a little bit, and then I took a shuttle to Columbus, where my family was there waiting for me.  Actually, I ended up waiting for them for a little bit, but it was ok, because I got to meet lots of interesting people while I waited.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy striking up random conversations with strangers I meet in my travels.  That’s not really something I can do in Korea, as usually there is a pretty large language barrier that makes communication of any depth really impossible.

So anyway, my first week in America was marked mainly by just spending time with family and friends, punctuated by Christmas, my birthday celebration, and visits from Grandparents.  I went on a picnic with my friend Tyler, saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie with James, took daddy to see Mission Impossible, and played lots and lots of games with my siblings.  I went to a Christmas Eve Eve service at my church on the 23rd, got a hair cut and a pedicure with my mom, and went shopping with my grandmother.  Christmas day was a relaxing affair – we waited to open presents until after church, and then just hung around and visited with each other.  It was also the only day that I got to see Chris, which was a nice treat.  Mom and I hosted a tea at our house with some of her lady friends who had been wanting to meet me, which was fun – I’ve been wanting to meet them, too, and I haven’t had a real tea in years.  Then my grandparents came down to visit on the 27th, and stayed until the 30th, so I got to spend a lot of time with them, too.  That was awesome – it had been close to a year since I’d seen them.

Josh’s birthday present – Joshua 1:7 in Korean

Tyler’s Christmas present – Kimchi!!  He was so happy 🙂

My first picnic in years 🙂

She’s such a cutie pie <3

The Fenner family, all together!  Such a rarity these days…

Merry Christmas!!!

I love, love this picture!!

Spreading the Korea love….

Yay for seeing grandparents!! 🙂

Tea with the ladies! 🙂

Haha we’re silly 😀

Christmas presents from the host family 🙂

On the 30th, we packed everything up and made the long drive to Birmingham, Alabama, to spend New Year’s Eve with our friends the Roberts’.  This has been an annual tradition with our families every year for as long as I can remember – we take turns hosting each other in our respective homes, and it’s always a lot of fun.  However, I haven’t been able to be present for several years for one reason or the other – usually it’s because I’m out of the country, lol – so it was especially nice for me.  So we had lots of fun, played lots of games, watched the ball drop in New York City (and for a special treat, watched the moon pie drop in Mobile, Alabama!  Gotta love the south, lol….), went to church, and then headed back home.

Games with the Roberts’ are always super intense, lol…

Happy new year!!

Friends… <3

On the way back to Albany, my parents dropped me off in Atlanta.  So that was goodbye to my family, and hello to Atlanta.  Bittersweet for sure, but it was good to see my friends in Atlanta.  So Rachel and her fiance Ryan picked me up from my parents, and we wasted no time.  That night was spent playing putt-putt with J-Parr, and then going to Jonathan and Jessica’s house and playing games until wayyyy too late at night.

The next day, January 2nd, was the day before my 22nd birthday.  However, since my 22nd birthday was going to be spent on a plane, the 2nd was the celebration day.  I got to watch the tournament of roses parade (my favorite parade…ever!) for the first time in like 3 years.  After that came lunch with David and the Knights and then more games.  And then the evening came.  What started off as a simple dinner with friends morphed, because of my fabulous friends, into a full-blown birthday dance.  They even had a steal dance just for me.  As I was looking around the dance room at all of these dear faces, half of whom didn’t even dance, but had come just to see me, I was overwhelmed.  I felt so loved.  It was a wonderful way to wrap up my visit to the states.

They were calling me the “princess” because of what I was wearing.  I think that’s why I was making that face, lol.  But…I did win the game!! 🙂

Soon-to-be newlyweds….love those guys

Jonathan and Jessica
Me ‘n David 
Old friends from Berry <3

again….spreading the Korea love.  What can I say?  It’s infectious 🙂

My friends are silly 🙂

Yay for sisters 🙂

So, armed with my suitcases and enveloped with the wonderful new jacket that they had bought me for my birthday, Rachel and Ryan took me to the airport early the next morning.  I was fighting a cold, but I sat next to a really friendly lady on the plane who made the trip a whole lot more bearable.  When I finally arrived in Seoul, the plan was to meet Sarah and Leora and Adam and go up to Hwacheon to see the ice festival.  So I met them and they gave me a little birthday party and it was great to see them.  But by then I was REALLY sick, so instead of going north to Hwacheon, I went south to Gyeongju.  I know my limits, and that would have been just too much.

Brand-new fiancees!  And I get to be in the wedding!! <3 

So I finally got home to Gyeongju…and my host father took one look at me and hauled me off to the hospital.  Within an hour, and after much poking and prodding, I found myself with an IV needle sticking in my arm and a bagful of medicine.  Add to that extreme jet-lag, and my host mom’s constant fussing and overprotectiveness was NOT appreciated.  All I wanted to do was sleep, and that was the one thing they didn’t seem to want to let me do.  Although I must say, sleeping with a needle in your arm is most certainly not the most pleasant sensation.

Today, the next day, was mostly spent in bed, with a short foray into town to swap stories with Elizabeth.  I’m glad I got to see her – I needed to get out of the house, and I think talking with her restored a sense of normalcy and acceptance to being in Korea again, which I had been lacking since my arrival.  So yeah, that was America!  Winter camp starts in 2 days – keep me in your prayers!!  I’m super nervous about it – I’ve never done anything like this before.  I’ll have my students for more time in the span of 2 weeks than I had them for the entire semester, and I’m terrified that I will run out of material.  I guess it’ll just be another chance for God to show His bigness!! 🙂

The beginning of the end

Hello, all! Well, it’s been a few days since I’ve written anything, so this post will have to sum up the entire past week. Sorry if it gets really long…I’ve been going nonstop!! I want to squeeze absolutely everything I can into my last few days – there’s only 1 week left for me here after the end of this weekend. I tell myself that I keep so busy because I only have a very finite time left in Atlanta; but honestly, I doubt the validity of that statement. I’m pretty sure Atlanta would be just as exciting and my schedule would be just as full if I was here 7 weeks, or 7 months, or even 7 years.

But anyway, I digress…. I hung out with Julia again on Tuesday, and then ate dinner with her, Jonathan and Jessica, and then went and played Ultimate Frisbee again, like last week. It seems to be becoming a tradition with us…but I have just long enough to make the tradition, and then I have to leave the city :(. [I apologize for my morose tone today…I only have a few days left in Atlanta, and it’s starting to get to me 🙂 ]

Before dinner, Julia and I went thrift store hunting around Ponce de Leon street. I wouldn’t call it shopping, because we didn’t buy anything, and we were really looking for the stores themselves, not any particular item in the store. But we found some exciting stores, as well as treasures within them. The last one we went to, an old antique store, was my favorite. It was absolutely jam-packed full of old treasures – shoes, fans, TV’s, couches, pictures, fondue dishes….you name it, it was there. There was a second floor that had a small window in it looking down into the first floor. That was really cool; you could look down and survey the treasure trove and all of the people milling around it from above. I found a pair of beautiful flats that instantly made me think of Cinderella’s slippers. They were lovely, and fit me perfectly….the woman who owned them said I was the first person in months with feet actually small enough to wear them. I was too cheap to actually buy them – they were $35 – but I did make an important discovery. I need to start looking for shoes in antique stores. Apparently people’s feet used to be smaller. I’ve never seen so many shoes in one store that were actually too SMALL for me :).

Well, after our antique store romp, I had Johnathan and Jessica and Julia over, and we made dinner before our Ultimate Frisbee excitement. It was quite good. I made a pan-fried steak in a creamy mushroom sauce concoction and cheesy buttery mashed potatoes, Julia made a white chocolate and strawberry pudding dessert, and Johnathan and Jessica brought a yummie salad. They asked me what I had made, and I told them a Lauren Special. My experiments in the kitchen generally turn out quite well, but I can never tell you what I did – I just throw random ingredients together, lol :).

After dinner, Julia was craving coffee, so we walked down to the Starbucks in the GA Tech square (which also happens to be located a Barnes and Noble!). So Julia got her coffee, and then we all walked around the books for a while. It was excellent to be surrounded by fellow book lovers. We had quite a fun time looking at the title of some of those books…. :D. At 8, we went to play frisbee, which was a great romp, as usual….

Wednesday was an excellent and awful day all at once. Mostly excellent, though. We had to do pictures for my internship’s website in the morning, so I had to get all dressed up in my formal business attire. As much as I hate wearing tights, I now realize why I always do with that outfit. I forgot to bring tights with me from home, so I just slipped my bare feet in my heels on the way out the door. They had rubbed my ankles raw and bleeding by lunchtime. I also have huge blisters all over the backs of my ankles. It was pretty bad :(.

But that’s the extent of the awfulness, now onto the excellence. I ate lunch with Alan again; we went to a little hole-in-the-wall deli called Reuben’s. After getting our food we took it outside and ate while talking and people-watching and listening to the curb-side singer who was right next to us and enjoying the breeze. In the evening I met up with another friend, David, who had just gotten back from several weeks in Europe. We went to a tapas restaurant called Pura Vida (pure life). It was really cool…here’s the website: Oh, and for those of you who don’t know what tapas are, here’s a brief overview (gotta love Wikipedia! :]): We got 2 tapas: one with King crab that was really acidic and I didn’t much care for, and one with coconut-marinated goat meat – that one was really good. I feel rather proud of myself that I can now say I’ve had goat meat :). Afterwards, we went to Steak ‘n Shake to get milkshakes, and he showed me all of his pictures from his trip. It was great to catch up with him :).

Thursday night was such a trip!! I went to Wicked Westie, as usual. This dance, however, was special. They had a Jack and Jill competition. For those of you who don’t know, a Jack and Jill is a competition is which you enter as an individual, not a couple; then, you are randomly paired, and have to dance to 2 songs, a fast and a slow one, completely on the fly. So the day before, while we were eating lunch, Alan had asked me if I was planning on doing the Jack and Jill. I’ve never competed before, and the thought of doing it completely improv was really nerve-racking to me. But the more I thought about it over the course of the next day, the more I thought I wanted to do it. I almost chickened out right before I left for the dance, but my friend Lindsey used my words against me. I told her about my apprehensions, and she reminded me of what I had written earlier about grabbing life by the horns. I hate it when people use my logic against me, lol ;).

But anyway, I did it, and it was proven to me once again that life is always better when you don’t shy away from challenges. It was so much fun!! We didn’t win…but then, I wasn’t expecting to. We did, however, place second, I think (the voting was by audience applause, so it was a little hard to tell :]), and in addition, I got to say that I’ve competed in a Jack and Jill, something I’ve always wanted to do. And I have photographic evidence, too! Check out these pictures someone took during the competition:

Alright, now I’ve finally made it to Friday! Whew! The interns got to go on a field trip to see the Federal bank of Atlanta. That was really cool. I learned alot, and it was very interactive. I also got to see 5 million dollars in $5 bills, which was exciting. They didn’t let me take any pictures, but they did give me a bag of shredded money as a souvenir…not sure what I’m going to do with it, but it looks neat :).

After work, myself and another one of the interns, Naomi, went to Shakespeare’s Tavern to see Hamlet the Musical. It was a musical adaptation of Hamlet, with a modern twist. Pretty cool idea, and the actors were brilliant, as always. We also got to see it for free, which was excellent. If you volunteer to bus tables at the Tavern, you get free admission and discounted food. So I got to see a great play and eat a really tasty “king’s supper sandwich” – Succulent slices of pork loin stuffed with apricots and prunes, roasted with herbs and served on a crusty baguette with rosemary butter, served with a mixed green salad – for under $10. Oh, and I also had peach cheescake, too, mmmm….. 😀

Well, it was about 11:00 before I got back to my apartment. I noticed I had a missed call from some friends of mine from college who graduated last year, Wade and Oscar. I called them back to see what they wanted; apparently they had been in my area of Atlanta and had wanted to hang out. But since I missed them, they asked me to come hang out with them at their place instead. It was late and I was tired, but for some reason I agreed. I hadn’t seen them in forever, and besides, I was feeling the desire to be spontaneous. Having lots of things planned is all well and good, but I need something to mix it up every now and then :).

So anyway, I went, and it was great. We hung out and talked for a while. We watched the end of a movie that they were in the middle of when I got there. We made blueberry pancakes when they got hungry. We talked to Oscar’s girlfriend for a while on Skype :). Finally, after trying to leave several times and continually getting distracted by the next topic of conversation, I firmly told them that I needed to leave – at 4:30 in the morning. I didn’t crawl into bed until after 5.

I had to get up only a few hours later, however, because I was meeting up with Matt, my boss and friend at Berry. He was in Atlanta visiting his girlfriend, so we went to lunch at Atlantic Station Grill. It was nice to see him and catch up with him, even if it was just for a few hours. In the afternoon I went to a pool party / cookout with some of the interns. We brought fruit and chips and drinks and made hotdogs and went swimming and listened to indie music on a portable mp3 player and had an altogether jolly time. I haven’t really hung out with any of the interns much this summer, it was fun to get to spend some time with them :).

I spent the evening at the Mellott’s house, old friends of ours from Americus. I used to babysit their daughter, Priya, when we lived there. She was like 6 or 7 years old. Now she’s in 6th grade, and has a 2-year-old sister (who’s just as adorable as she was when she was little). It’s so crazy how fast times goes by!! So we spent the evening eating Indian food and reminiscing. It was alot of fun. As much as I would love to go into more detail, I can feel my brain turning to cotton and my eyelids to lead. Apparently I don’t function well on 4 hours of sleep :). So, I’m going to say so long, farwell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye…..until mañana!