Monday, April 23, 2012

*This was going to be a personal e-mail but I decided to be honest here:

It's been a week! Woo! What could possibly happened in 6 days? 

WELL, surviving an earthquake made me re-think a lot in my life. It was like someone was shaking the couch. Sweet as. Kirsty and Matt looked at me as we were watching Chuck and said, "This is an earthquake. Can you feel it?" "Naw, really?" I said. But instinctively lifted my feet off the ground because my first thought was, "Are there rats in here?" No lie. For some reason a shaking couch makes me think there are rats in the room.

I've spent the last five days in Christchurch with my friend Kirsty from Tanzania and her husband Matt. We totally went camping on Banks Peninsula which you can see photos of on my blog More and more I find myself visiting my married friends. I'm that person. The single, travelling, poor, hobo who sleeps on your couch and hasn't finished college yet. EWW, right? Never fear. I'm determined to finish. Even if it is snowing in April at RIT. 

You'll all have to stand being subjected to my too-personal-to-blog thoughts for a moment.

I've had wifi for about three days now and I no longer have much interest in the life of a photojournalist. There. It's out there. And I just bought Andy Stanley's book about Life Rules. Tomorrow I'm going back to the farm where I'd rather be any day than at school pretending I want to join the likes of the Getty and NYTimes elite. Because I honestly believe I totally could get there in a few years, but I just caught up on the NYT lens blog and saw a lot of photos of people dying and at war and I know there are people literally dying without food. I just ate half a chocolate bar. No small feat in my life because I put it down when it was only half, but I'm so not in tuned with what's going on outside of the Western world. I can look at photos all day long and still eat my chocolate and go to the gas pump and not be bothered. 

True. I think there's something wrong with me. Or something wrong that is completely normal among people and definitely Christians. 

I don't want to be a doctor, frankly because I wanted out of school about fifteen years ago and I'm over that. But a lot of photojournalists don't really help people. They exploit them. (Some definitely do help and get the word out). But I could "be the change I wish to see" blah, blah. Except there was an article in the NYT recently about the two photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros who died last year in Libya, one of which may have been saved if someone had been trained in first aid to stop the bleeding. 

I don't ever want someone to die because I was trained to take pictures of bleeding, not to stop it. 

Katie Davis in Uganda said, "somebody's got to stop the bleeding". It's not about saving the world, really. It's that I don't think the world needs more pictures. It needs relationships. Small lives here and there who have a great impact on those around them. 

I'm really, really glad and grateful that I'll graduate with a degree because if I could pick one, it'd be for visual journalism. I'm so lucky in that respect. But I'm so done with the idea that photojournalists need to tell stories and it's urgently important to document history. There are thousands willing to do that. So few are willing to be small in the world, insignificant, live a life that professors might call a waste- in order to have a great impact on a few lives. I am not one of those people. I want to be awesome, the best, and revolutionize the world with my amazing skills. Seriously. But Earth to Jesse...

I wonder, how beautiful would a young life be that didn't live for it's own pomp but grew up young and realized early that money doesn't make you happy? Success doesn't last. Not that no one should do them, but a lot of people in the West try to be someone else's idea of happy and successful. 

So now I'll graduate not wanting to be what I went to school for. Gasp, gag, "what the bleepedy bleep bleep are you thinking?!?" You'll get over it. I went for what I wanted. Am I going to join the Peace Corps and go off to start micro loans for poor people and save the world one starving person at a time? Okay, let's just be real for a second. No, that is not what I'm going to do. If I did join the PC it would be with some motivation for the $7,000 at the end to put towards a sweet motorcycle so I'm not saving the world. 

I don't know what I'm going to do next spring after I get that piece of paper in the mail saying I'm an accomplished, degree-ified, legit human being...Move into my parents' basement and play X-box? God, no. The rats really do shake the couch down there. 

Abraham Lincoln said, "The probability that we may fail ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just." At first, I disagreed. If it's going to fail then let's find a solution that does work. But life is not as black and white as I imagined a few years ago. Stopping one person from bleeding or saving one life rarely rocks the world. It certainly doesn't end the famines or stop the wars and I think world peace is a crock in this lifetime. 

So I think I'm going to get down and dirty figuring out exactly what I believe and, if it's worth believing, how to live it and not just talk.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Blog Stats

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Some top keywords that led to this blog: japanese unshaved girl, unshaved female armpit, unshaved leg, empty gallon, emt with patient, girl smeared shit cow, locks of love, & look it up often.

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Other countries... New Zealand, Argentina, Columbia, Namibia, Brazil, Austria, Spain, Australia, Egypt, Czech Republic, & Portugal

And this is the ray of sunshine herself trying to get internet reception in Matamata last week. I'm still basking in the wonders of wifi for another day. Now do you understand why blogging's been tricky?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

our campsite :)



view over Akaroa 

Last Wednesday I flew to Christchurch to visit my friend Kirsty and meet her husband Matt. We went wild camping.

An excerpt from the first place we scoped out:

Matt: "What about this place?"
Kirsty: "Isn't this someone's farm?"
Matt: "Well, let's just check out under those trees."
Kirsty: "I don't really want to camp on someone's farm."
Matt: "If the farmer comes along, Jesse will just put on her accent and we'll be Swedes. 'Vee deedint know thees vas a fam.'"

So we followed 75 from Christchurch and took a little side road or two until we hopped a fence the first night and pitched our tents. By that time it was completely dark out and silent when Kirsty and Matt went for a walk. I was wasted tired and just as I crawled into my rather chilly sleeping bag I heard the unmistakable sound of a sheep and the sounds of a large cart rattling.

I'd just told Kirsty I'd be fine on my own. Duh. I've slept next to a truck in case the lions or hyenas came out and we had to crawl under it. I could totally handle New Zealand's "wildlife" of opossums. They don't even have snakes here. But I froze.

Matt's messing with me. I don't know him well, he could be the type. It's a pretty good sheep imper-


He's really good. 

(in the opposite direction at half the decibel...) "BAAHH"

That's definitely not Matt. They would hear this, wouldn't they? What's that rattling? What if some farmer comes along and I'm the only trespassing camper around? All the farmers seem so chill- they wouldn't come along with a shotgun, would they?

And the bahhhhh just continued. The rattling disappeared and I found it's source to be a truck going by the next morning. I probably didn't hear the engine over the sound of the sheep. Matt and Kirsty did come back and the next night just after sunset the same thing happened. It's like sheep have a radar. We figured they must say goodnight to all their brothers and sisters until they fall asleep and since there's so many they probably only get to T (Matt's proposition) so they pick up again the next night and it never ends.

We stumbled upon Akaroa's little food festival so we went around to all the stalls and as tactfully as possible tried everything without buying anything, made lunch (okay, I watched) on a picnic table, filled up our water bottles, drove some more until we found an isolated beach, I collected shells, we drove up above the beach and found our second campsite. It was beautiful. Again, we were on some farmers' land but we all appreciated his land and left no traces.

After dinner we looked up at the milky way (which we can't see in NY to my knowledge) until we were too cold and crawled into our tents. I finished my book at 8 and tried to fall asleep while freezing. This is where the Bible becomes real. In everyday life, I don't need a friend or man to lie next to to stay warm like the Bible talks about because I have dogs and a mattress heater. Will wonders never cease? Those are the greatest invention! But shivering on an isolated mountain that need for other people became completely real. That said, it was one of the best times I've had while travelling.

No cars, electricity or other people.

It was just us on a mountain overlooking the ocean with our books and the sheep. I so love open spaces and hills that just tumble over one another into the sea. So now the big challenge ahead is going back to life in the city and...DUN, DUN,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

2012 Bucket List

We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again. -Nathaniel Greene

2012 Bucket List
California, Yosemite and red wood forest
run in the Lilac Festival 10K
learn to work a chainsaw
learn to operate a tractor
learn to knit hats, socks, and a blanket
learn how to run the family cabin alone
learn how to play rugby
learn to cook polenta and cheese
(start to learn self-defense)
go bridge jumping
buy a motorbike
get some black combat boots (if my Tims wear out)
go out in a killer pair of heels
overcome my fear of cockroaches
try a deep fried Snickers bar
try wearing blue contact lenses
take someone out for or make dinner once a month
go out on a date with my parents every week
meet with a mentor every week
make a budget with a money man and stick to it
save percentage of every paycheck for the future and travelling
have a picnic with my friends 
read the Bible in a year
go skinny dipping
swim in a river
cook a nice dinner once a week
have a sabbath day
make pavlova
make sun-dried tomatoes
start a feather collection
learn to swim better/do laps

Totally doable. Though I don't know if I'll actually buy a motorbike this year or if I'll wait for a more weather suitable environment, but it's like everything else on this list: give it a go. Some of it I might fail at accomplishing but like Greene said, "rise, and fight again". 

Bucket List. For Life.

Be not afraid of absurdity; do not shrink from the fantastic. Within a dilemma, choose the most unheard-of, the most dangerous solution. Be brave, be brave! - The Cardinal in Isak Dinesen's A Deluge at Norderney

I don't want to not do something just because it's unpopular or unsafe. I'd rather not die just yet but I could just go. I simply don't want to suddenly be stricken to my death bed dying to be dying somewhere else. 

I read the other day that Heaven has a sound like hundreds of wings in flight. It's my favorite sound in the world. So I could go, but as long as I'm here...

Oldonyo Lengai

Go To
Thailand, eat mango sticky rice and see the candlelight balloon release
Brazil, see the Amazon R. and Christ the Redeemer statue
Israel, float in the Dead Sea and walk where Jesus did
to the Serengeti in Tanzania to see the wildebeest migration
to Kalahari Desert, Botswana for the first rain of the season on the Okavango Delta
Namibia, camp out, check out the world's longest water slide (if it's been built), see the second largest canyon in the world
California, camp in Yosemite and the red wood forest
Lake Naivasha and Lake Natron for the flamingos
the Sahara
Australia, Sydney and the outback
Cape Town & Durban, South Africa
Monument Valley, Utah
Zanzibar, Old Stone Town, ride on a motorbike
New York City, take a taxi, take the subway
Paris, eat a croissant, go to Notre Dame Cathedral
Italy, eat a cannoli, go to Tuscany
New Zealand
Arusha, Tanzania
London, master the Underground, go to the Tower of London

to make sun-dried tomatoes
how to lay bricks
to hot-wire a car
to pick locks
to make pavlova
to play the violin and/or cello
to drive a lorry 
to work a chainsaw 
to operate a tractor
the Argentinian tango (it looks the best on YouTube)
emergency response things like how to stop bleeding and set bone
to speak at least two other languages fluently, including Swahili
to knit hats, socks, and a blanket
to run the family cabin alone
how to dress a dead animal 
to fly a plane
how to roll my Rs
learn self-defense
to play rugby
how to successfully graft plants
to cook polenta and cheese
to swim better. like laps and that. 
to play the djembe (I tried enough to realize I don't have great rhythm and don't enjoy it)
drive a manual on the other side of the road
to shoot a gun
how to use a Hasselblad
to ride a horse
how to change oil on cars
to milk a cow
make rice without the fire alarm going off

bridge jumping
to a desert for that one time of year it rains
run in tide pools with phosphorous in them (again!)
swimming/diving in the Great Barrier Reef
on a hunting trip
on a road trip for as little money as possible- beans and rice every day sort of trip
on a date
on a roller coaster
skinny dipping
paint balling 

Own a
Land Cruiser
.22 single-shot rifle
house with a long driveway with trees lining it and a porch with a view of the sunset
pair of black combat boots (I had a pair but they were too big) 
pair of aviators
little black dress

go out in a killer pair of fashionable but outrageously high heels and look good in them
try eating gross things including but not limited to: grubs, bugs, and that Maasai concoction
tame a zebra/have one as a pet
overcome my extreme distaste for and need to escape cockroaches 
scare fainting goats into fainting
make a quilt or duvet cover
try a deep fried Snickers bar
write a book
drive a 6 speed car
have a pet monkey
get a deeper SCUBA license cert.
survive a bout(s) with malaria
donate my hair to Locks of Love one last time (fulfilling the goal of 3x)
get my picture taken in front of the Durban, S.A. city hall/parliament building to have it match the one of me in Belfast
have a wild and beautiful vegetable/flower garden with heaps of peonies
have dinner with my grandmother every week I'm in town
go out on a date with my parents every week I'm with them
adopt a kid (or two)
have a hard, manual labor job outside
ride in a hot air balloon
work on a coffee plantation
save a life
ride a camel
try wearing blue contact lenses
keep a feather collection
take someone out for dinner once a month
meet someone I admire (Sam Childers who's life inspired the movie The Machine Gun Preacher)
get a motorcycle license 
have my own darkroom
kiss someone I love
try fried-dough
try cotton candy
try being vegan
drive a convertible
work in a coffee shop
run out of gas and have to walk for gas 
get a tattoo
run up The Hill on our aptly named Stone Hill Rd
grow out my armpit hair (thank you No-Shave November 2011)
work in a stable with horses
eat a whole hamburger and hotdog
have an opinion printed in a magazine
spend a night in an airport (T4 Madrid is very nice and warm)
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Catch 22 (I only read until I found out what the Catch 22 is)
Chronicles of Narnia (in order)
Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer
Confessions, St. Augustine
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith (I only have The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, hint, hint)
Cost of Discipleship, Deitrich Bonhoeffer
the entire Bible in a year

the sun rise and set on the Grand Canyon
a pride of lions take down an animal and eat it
goats in trees
the mosque in Djenne
the pyramids at Giza
Lake Victoria Falls (with my Uncle Deano if possible)
salt flats
an albatross
my dad get to know Jesus
U2 in concert
a hyena 
Fight Club
the Rosetta Stone
aurora borealis
meteor shower

That leaves a little over seven years to get crack-a-lackin' before I turn thirty.  I hope some of you will come with me on these adventures, because I don't want to be doing them alone!

Other lists I've started:

If I could have any job in the world…
a transporter/driver
FBI agent/investigator
videographer for BBC or the like
teach people about Africa and show it to them
horse caretaker
screen printer for t-shirts
race car driver

If I could do anything not supernatural... 
ride in an endurance race, horseback, on a motorcycle, in a truck, whatever.
eradicate mosquitos and cure malaria
have a pet hyena
have an incredible singing voice and go busking
marry my best friend and love and be loved by him all my life (sorry, no one on the horizon, folks)
have as many dogs as I'd want
be able to make leg hair to grow and disappear at will with my mind
have half of me in a rain storm and half out
win the gallon challenge and the saltine cracker challenge
ride a zebra bareback and chase an ostrich
own a skull and row every day
end racism and social class divisions
understand math
cure my fear of falling
give my life for someone

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Return of the Phantom Mullet Brother...& Being Different

Okay, okay. It's not a true blue mullet, it's just longer than I had it when I was thirteen. Ick. He's saving that hair to show Mom when he gets back. 

This is Ian. Ian caught a trout in the river today after we all left him there. Glowing with pride, he is! He sliced his toe in the excitement and still walked his arse all the way back to the house. I was rather proud of him when he appeared with his fish. 


Yesterday's news...

I am a little bummed the very attractive worker next door never did call to ask me out this weekend. However it was rather overshadowed by the words, "Want to drag on that flat paddock over there?" 

Of course I couldn't resist the chance to race the motorbike. It's so hard to find fun people these days. I actually won a couple times and didn't drop the bike once. What else do grounded, studious, 22 year old women do with their Saturday morning?

Well, have more fun. Like the hour before the race and ride around the paddocks when I watched Adam wrap a strap around scrap plywood, attach it to the back of the motorbike and drag Sam around on it. It's like tubing. In the yard. With scrap wood. Unwilling to miss out, I went and got a helmet and went for a little joyride on the plywood myself. 

You could say I'm filling in the role of "boy". But that's like telling me while I'm cleaning that I'll make a good wife someday. It's sickening. Can't a woman enjoy a good drag race and clean floors without being compared to boys or housewives? 


In other news...

I have a theory about living that goes like this: it's okay to be different. Not "everything goes" or the cheesy "we're all different and if we weren't the world would be boring" but honest to goodness, it's okay. I've been called weird more than once or unique and usually, I'm rather proud of it but it's kind of like, "well, you have 'weird' things too and maybe everyone else should be a little less like everyone else." It'd be so much more fun and entertaining. 

 To be different is to be marked and some people have an idea that it's a ruse to get attention (though sometimes it is). Here's my theory: if you'd do it alone in the middle of a desert or if no one else was doing it then it's not for attention, it's just you being you. 

There's a quote I've been thinking of for a few weeks now that goes like this, 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (emphasis added)
Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

I'm tremendously fond of that one. When you meet someone from the get-go who's unashamed and unapologetic about being themselves, it either makes you really uncomfortable or more free to be yourself. Ironically, this goes with a couple other quotes in my collection that follow it about being bold. It comes from a January 31, 2012 podcast from North Point Ministries by Andy Stanley (available on iTunes for free). LOVE me some Andy Stanley sermons and free stuff. 

"Bold is deciding to say something when it would be easier to say nothing. 

Bold is taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Boldness is creating opportunities.

 Our threshold for pain and our threshold for discomfort is so staggeringly low.

Some of the rest of us, we're just too busy. We've just gotten too distracted so consequently we're not bold. but that can change, can't it. and it's simple and it's normal and someday somebody will thank you…for being bold."

I could say, "So get out there and be yourself and be bold!" Which is obvious. But if you just think about those things for a while and what that would actually mean, well, I find the initial concept of it frightening, but the potential outcome liberating. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Climbing Wairere Falls

view from the top

my feet!

Georgia and Sam comparing knee injuries

No, I didn't climb it barefoot- it just looks like it! I panted like a chain smoker most of the way up. There's no way around it: I breathe heavily whether I'm running or sleeping. Rowing is more my sport. 

I don't have a good picture of the falls since they were out of sight for most of the hike. We booked it down in record time though running almost the entire way! We all felt wasted by the end of it and collapsed on the couch when we got home. 


Last Easter was a pre-dawn trek to Cobb's Hill to watch the sun rise (which we couldn't see) where someone played the guitar and we all convened at our apartment for pancakes afterwards.

Yesterday, I woke up in a tent with Adam and Sam (who ended up rolling his sleeping bagged self onto my mattress and flailing me in the face half the night) whereupon we all staggered to the living room for breakfast and chocolate eggs. Glenn and Tracey had been up since 5:50 to milk and shooed us out to cause mischief elsewhere. We mucked around at the little quarry for a while watching Adam build a rather successful BMX ramp and Sam shriek like only a little brother can when Adam retaliated with clods of dirt to Sam's own impish barrage. Georgia (also 10 and another rental) and I just wandered a bit until Adam suggested we find the caves.

Adam came in sixth overall for his age group in last week's motorbike race so our ride on the quad involved wheelies, skids, and small jumps. It was really rather impressive with all four of us holding on for dear life to the back. We tried in vain to find the caves and ended up down by the river where Sam "went swimming" as he told it which amounts to him stripping and getting in half-way before hightailing it back out of the cold water. We skipped rocks; Adam and Sam tried to make a boat out of an old log to no avail, and then we hear the shrieks of an animal and realized Bella was missing.

Adam looked along the river and we looked from above and found her along the river bed shaking the life out of an opossum. It took a few whacks but Adam finished it off. I was only a few feet above on the steep embankment when he picked it up by the tail and held it out to me.

"Here, Jesse. Take it." Duh. Of course I reached for it and slid down to the same level as Adam and then I took it by it's tail and found it surprisingly heavy and bald where Bella had gotten to it. Adam scampered up to higher ground and took it off my hands.

Things became a little more tame after the morning's escapades, but Tracey made some delicious scones after and we discovered just how cheesy the first Superman The Movie is. We went to Matamata to the hot springs and Sam and I went down the pool slide and counted to three before jumping off the side with Georgia. I went for a run when we got back and considered how much damage running barefoot is doing to my knees. All in all not a bad day. Tracey also made this fantastic concoction called pavlova which is basically egg whites, sugar, vinegar, and cornflour that has been whipped into submission and slowly baked. The neighbours came over just after we finished that off. Their son James was supposed to stay over in the tent with Sam (hence the pile of my sleeping bag and pillow on the floor inside) but his three older sisters convinced him there were monsters that would get him so he went home with his family and my stuff went back into the tent.

I dreamt of people dying by lightning, my ninth grade biology teacher saving his daughter's life, me nearly adopting a puppy that was a periwinkle- tan colour, and making pavlova. It was only disturbed when Sam woke up flailing around (this time I was a safe distance away) and shouting. I've just learned a good night sleep is a bit boring and I can function fine on a few solid hours.

In less than a month I'll be in California, reunited with my best friend and hightailing it up the famous west coast!