Friday, June 28, 2013

Seattle & Joy's Graduation - Day 4

Amy and I awoke and left her uncle’s house at 3:30 a.m. to catch our flight home.  Ugh, I was so anxious for these early mornings to be over.  We dropped the rental car off, but I forgot my lumber support pillow in the front seat and didn’t figure it out until we were going through security.  By that time, it was too late to turn around.  As I recall, our first flight to San Francisco was uneventful, but with how the rest of the day would be unfolding, I no longer remember the first flight.  I know that I finished my knitting square, and did some more Sudoku puzzles.

This time we had some cushion in our layover, so I pulled out my United Club passes that I received as a perk of having a United credit card, and we got to hang out in the United Club lounge while we waited.  Free continental breakfast, free wireless, and comfy chairs to rest in.

We walked out about a half hour before our flight was scheduled to depart and when we looked at the board to verify the gate, we saw that the flight was delayed an hour.  So we shrugged and went back into the lounge.  After said hour, I got an auto call from United saying our flight had been canceled.  Another perk of the lounge: a whole service desk available only to people in the lounge.  So where usually there’s only one or two people serving everyone at a gate, there were three people helping a much smaller group of us.

The next two flights home were booked.  They wouldn’t rent us a car because of the liability issue (if I crash, United could be on the hook).  But they were going to arrange a shuttle bus.  Details pending, we went back to sit down.  An hour later, we still hadn’t been paged or anything, so we went back up to the desk.  Round and round we went.  We were just about to give up, rent a one-way car on our dime and drive, when a seat opened up on the 1:30p flight.  I put Amy on it, and—for the first time—the clerks offered a standby option.  Then a seat opened up on the 8:30p flight, and they booked me for that so I’d have a reserved seat and then issued me a standby ticket for 1:30p.

We went over to our gate for the 1:30p flight.  While we were waiting, I saw one of my FPU professors!  He was on his way home from China and had been traveling even longer than we had.  We talked for awhile until we boarded.  I was number 5 on the standby list, but I got on!  People were missing this flight because their flights into SF had been delayed or cancelled, so that’s how so many seats opened up.

We finally arrived home, a few hours later than planned, but it worked.  Amy’s sister picked us up with four of Amy’s five kids coming direct from school.  They dropped me off at home first.  The first thing I noticed was how tall my grass was, so I kept Titus with me to help with some yard work.  We got the lawn mowed and a little other clean-up done, and then I took him home.

Then I asked my friend and neighbor Greg to help me transport cars.  Heidi had driven to my house on Friday.  I wanted to get her car back to her apartment so that I could take her directly home when I picked her up at 10p that night without her having to do more driving.  I ended up leaving my car there so I could clean out Heidi’s car a little for her before picking her up.

I picked Heidi up.  She had to walk to me from the walk-out area to the cell phone waiting area because her cell phone had died and she couldn’t call to tell me she was ready.  I dropped her off and then drove home to sleep so I could tackle Tuesday.  Phew!  I did it!  Travel blog done!

Seattle & Joy's Graduation - Day 3

Sunday was another unintentional early morning, but not quite as bad as the day before.  We got up and got ready for the day.  We would be having breakfast with a family in Joy’s church that had adopted her during her time up here.  We met them at a cafĂ© near the church.  They are a wonderful couple with 2 or 3 daughters a little older than Joy.

We then drove over to Joy’s church.  She attends a small Foursquare church in Seattle.  I made it through the worship, but 15 minutes into the sermon, all the fatigue of the trip was crashing in on me, so I excused myself and went out to the car to rest.  I figured that would be better than falling asleep in the service.  It turns out Amy hadn’t been doing much better than me.

From there we went back to Amy’s uncle’s house to rest before the graduation.  Joy graciously agreed to go with Mom & Dad and have them get her to the ceremony the requisite hour early, thereby giving Heidi, Amy and me some downtime.  Amy and I each got a nap in.  It helped so much.  We were barely on time to the graduation, but we made it.  It’s times like these when I love Fresno, because parking is never an issue there, except in downtown, and even that pales in comparison to Seattle’s general traffic conditions.

The ceremony was being held at the Key Arena.  We found Mom and Dad who had saved seats.  As I took it all in, I just started crying.  I was so immensely proud of Joy for making it to this point and so overwhelmed at the realization of how much she had grown up.  I missed a lot of her life during my time living up in Fresno.  I reflected on the road trip she and I took where we first encountered SPU.  I remember hoping she didn’t pick this school because the two guys we met in admissions had no concept of how to tie a tie.  If you don’t know how to tie it, ask for help or don’t wear one.

We were able to find Joy and keep track of her during the ceremony.  Well, Dad wasn’t able to.  Amy graciously kept re-directing him to where joy was sitting.  The ceremony was LONG.  The commencement speaker was graciously brief.  He was one of the SPU board of trustee members, the President of World Vision, and past President/CEO of Parker Brothers.  Heidi and I tried to clap for the names that didn’t have a lot of cheerleaders in the stands, partly out of support, and partly to keep ourselves occupied.  Thankfully Joy was near the end.  I don’t like how people were getting to leave mid-ceremony, I think it’s rude, but I am sympathetic in that I would struggle if Joy had been graduated early in the ceremony and I had to face the prospect of listening to hundreds of names that I don’t know.

Afterward we rendezvoused with Joy and the extended family that had been able to come.  I coordinated all the requisite groupings of pictures so that we could be done quickly and leave.  Even with the nap, I was still pretty worn down.

Amy’s cousin Andrew had started dinner so that she wasn’t starting from scratch when we got back to the house.  Her Uncle Mark and Aunt Kathy returned from the graduation they had attended so they could join all of us for the dinner.  After eating, we all drove down to Green Lake to walk the 3 miles around it.  Everyone but Mom and Dad got ahead of Heidi and me.  We later found out that Mom and Dad gave up and went back to wait by the cars.  Heidi and I had some solo time to talk until we caught up with everyone else about halfway around the trail.

We drove back up the hill to the house and then wound down for bed.  Before crashing, I remembered that we would be better off filling the car up with gas tonight than trying to do it in the morning, so Heidi and I went on one more errand to get that done.

Then we all crashed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Seattle & Joy's Graduation - Day 2

The light shining in the windows in the living room woke me around 5:30.  Though annoying, it was a partial blessing, because light had been streaming in since 4a.  I had anticipated this and slept with a towel over my face.  So as frustrated as I was to be awoken so unnecessarily early, I had received more than I normally would have gotten.

I had borrowed Joy’s laptop to get my seminary homework done that weekend.  My IT department was working on mine and so I couldn’t—and didn’t want to—bring it to Seattle.  I typed out my forum post which I would post later when I got over to Joy’s house with internet access.  I knitted some more rows on my square and worked on memorizing a few more verses of Psalm 139, another class requirement.  Amy woke up and made us some hot chocolate.  Yes, Amy is such a chocolate lover, that there are no qualms about having it for breakfast.  After Heidi woke up a little later, we started to figure out the day’s plans.

Joy wanted to run with me while we were both up here.  Amy was open to running, but since Heidi’s knee issues prevent her from running, they were planning to power walk.  Amy’s uncle lives in striking distance of Green Lake with a running route of its perimeter, but Joy also had a route near her school to consider.  It ended up that Amy and Heidi walked around Green Lake while Joy and I ran the canal route by her school.

I was so glad Joy and ran her route.  It wove a little through the Queen Anne district and ended with us sprinting up a short hill opening to a beautiful view of Puget Sound.  And it was so great to get some solo time for the two of us.  It’s amazing how we’ve bonded over our road and air trips to Seattle, and being the two kids that went away to school.

After showering and a lazy slow late morning breakfast, we ended up late on the road to the big family dinner at Gram Helen’s apartment.  Thankfully Gram has never cared about people being punctual.  We arrived and greeted my grandma, uncles, aunt and cousins.  We had a wonderful afternoon with all of them.

I had told Amy and Heidi to bring walking shoes to Gram’s place.  I hadn’t told them the plan, but Joy remembered as we walked into the complex.  As we left, I made sure we left ahead of Mom and Dad.  This was a thing that started 11 years ago between my sister Rachel and me.  We went exploring one day while visiting up here over Spring break my senior year of high school.  We discovered that the access to the roof was not secured in this complex and took much delight in being able to get up there and goof off atop a 3-story building.  I come up here every visit for a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape, and was glad to get to share this ridiculous tradition with Amy and Heidi.  I had showed it to Joy on our road trip here four years ago.  We took pictures and then climbed down to leave.

Joy directed us to a game shop, where they not only sell games, but have hundreds of open games and about 15 tables available for people to play the games free of charge.  Before we started, we walked down the street for some frozen yogurt.  The game store had Dominion, so I taught the game to the girls, and I think they all liked it.  Heidi won, just barely ahead of Amy.  Then we played a few rounds of Legretto (similar to Nertz) before packing it up.  Joy took us on a short walk out to a beautiful vista looking out at the night skyline of Seattle.  We stopped by the grocery store for Amy to grab supplies for a family dinner she would cook at her uncle’s house tomorrow after the graduation, and then we went home to again crash after another wonderful but long day.

Seattle & Joy's Graduation - Day 1

As much as I was looking forward to this trip, I was frustrated that it was coming at the beginning of the month (when work is heaviest) so that I couldn’t take more than Friday/Monday off for sightseeing and visiting friends all over the state of Washington.

But nonetheless, I excited to see my sister Joy for her graduation.  Amy, a friend who's like another sister to me, has become part of my family, so she was coming too.  We purchased plane tickets over a month ago and were planning to flight out before dawn on Friday morning and hop a flight home before dawn Monday morning (layovers in San Francisco both ways).  I would later realize how tough this would be.  Joy’s baccalaureate was Friday night and her graduation Sunday afternoon.

Between booking flights and traveling, Heidi and I started dating.  We discussed it, and I booked her a ticket, too.  Amy had graciously agreed to give up her seat to Heidi, but with TSA, that’s not an option.  We couldn’t get her on the same flight as us, but we did find other flights for her.  A long layover in Phoenix on the way up early Friday morning, but a direct flight home on Monday night.

The layover was tight in SF, and we had to run, but we made it with only a couple minutes to spare.  My standard time-occupiers on planes are knitting and Sudoku puzzles.  I have little success reading anything comprehensively in flight.  I need something to do with my hands that only slightly engages my brain, and those activities fit the bill perfectly.  I knit quilt squares for, an organization that asks for 8” x 8” knitted or crocheted squares to piece together into blankets for orphans in Africa.

When Amy and I arrived, we got our rental car (a 2013 VW Jetta), settled in at Amy’s uncle’s house, and drove over to see Joy.  We went over to her Sociology department open house for her to have her final farewell with her profs.  Then we booked it back to the airport to grab Heidi and jet down to Tacoma for the afternoon.

We spent the afternoon visiting Corban, the seminary I’m attending.  I saw my long-time friends Leroy and Karen.  Joy and I introduced them to Amy and Heidi.  Karen gave us a tour of Weyerhaeuser mansion which was donated to the seminary and houses its Tacoma campus.  Afterward, we caravanned with Leroy & Karen back to Seattle for a family dinner with Mom & Dad, and then went back to SPU to attend the baccalaureate.  It was a beautiful service, but I almost felt bad for Joy.  She worked hard to finish in three years and everyone on stage kept referencing a four-year journey, and I wondered how much connection she felt to this graduating class.

I was exhausted from an early morning and a long week at work leading up to this, so I was near dead at that point.  We made it through the service, several group photos, and the drive back to Amy's uncle's house.  After being awake for almost 20 hours (for the second time this week, no less), I crashed.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Embracing Change

I just read an article where I was nodding, and uttering silent "uh-huh's" and "amens" think of other people it related to, only to be slapped in the face by the end of it with a very sneaky "this applies to you too" at the end of it.


This article was written with public accounting firms in mind, but I think a lot of the theory can be applied to many businesses and ministries.


It proposes an eighth deadly sin: nostalgia.  It addresses business model ideas that the author proposes are obsolete, such as a professional dress code when you're only among coworkers, promotion track models, and emphasis on physical presence.  My old firm has done a lot toward improving on some of these ideas, but others they're still holding onto.


The turn in the article came toward the end.  One of the reasons cited for leaders holding onto the past was "desiring to defer the work or pain of change until we're well on our way."  I've hoped for or done that.  Ouch!  I've heard of a big change happening, and been glad I was or would be gone from a previous employer or school until after that went into effect.


The article ends with a quote from Helen Keller, "When one door … closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."  Wow.  This was the challenge I needed in moving forward to embrace what's ahead and not dwell on what's gone.