Virtual Travel Letter #1

Hello everyone everywhere,

I’m taking a break from paper writing, so apologies if this letter is bizarre.

Sorry that it’s taken me so long to write. As I think I mentioned in a blog post a week or so ago, they keep us pretty busy here. “Busy hands make idle hearts” or something, right?

Week one was perhaps the busiest due to the various orientations they had scheduled for us. We listened to people talk and walked around a lot. Week one here was also probably the weirdest week one I’ve had in a while. First week at college I was the guy bouncing off the walls saying hello to everyone that I recognized from Facebook. First week sophomore year at college I was the guy bouncing off the walls saying hello to everyone that I recognized from Facebook and their mom (whom I typically did not recognize from Facebook) because I was dorm president. It was my role but I was genuinely excited to meet everyone and love on everyone.

I was very excited to get here, but I was a bit more exhausted by all of the activities than I normally am in week ones. The other people in the program are greatbut the transition away from college was a bit rough. At college I feel known and good about it. Being put in a completely new place with completely new people was an adjustment. I’m all settled in now, though!

OH—I’m studying abroad at Oxford, not sure if that was clear!  I just realized that up to this point, I haven’t mentioned any specifics in this letter. If you don’t know where I am and what I’m doing, this letter could just as easily pass for an update from an optimistic person beginning their sentence in Siberia—that is not the case. I am indeed lucky enough to be studying abroad in Oxford, at Wycliffe Hall. “Hall” pretty much “college with religious affiliation.”

Anyhow, week two was the first week of our regular schedule (pronounced “shed” + “djool,” by the way). We have a lecture or two in the morning along with an education film now and then. Thursdays are for field trips.

I’ve found a nice coffee place called The Missing Bean. It is filled with beautiful hipsters and pretty good espresso. It reminds me of Seattle. It’s odd though: no one has aeropress or Chem X here. Instant coffee is pretty big, as is tea. They’re all about tea here. Who knew?

We’ve visited many cool places in a short amount of time. Please enjoy the pictures I’ve included with my card:

Much love to the family and to the pets. I hope the project you were working on turned out well.

Also, please send money when you can. All of the decadent meals out are surprisingly starting to drain my funds.

Peace and love,

you know who

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the end of a sophomore year

A collection of images from the last week of my sophomore year at SPU. All of these were edited with the recently updated VSCOcam app—perhaps the best photo editing app there is (that I have seen).

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The study of Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, the wonderful woman whom I have had the opportunity to work for this year.

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Kitten.

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Grace and Kitten.

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The sunset as seen from the Ballard bridge.

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Maddie and myself, passed out from the intense wonder of Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee.

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Myself, in a nest of thriftables, fresh from the dorms. My last day with the beautiful people of Hill Hall.

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Lazaro, my new and good friend from Southern California. He now blogs at whosaidthiswasokay.wordpress.com/

holy rollers for love

Ask anyone on campus how they are doing and the response will inevitably involve something to do about death, hell, or research papers. It is the week before finals at SPU. Third quarter finals—the final finals. I have certainly been feeling the Pull these past couple of weeks. The Pull is the raw gravitational force that constantly tugs at the corners of your mind saying Go to bed. Just go to bed! Wake up in a week. Finals will be done and it will be summer. Oh it will be summer! But the Pull is a lie. Last night I got a solid seven and a half hours of sleep and still I awoke feeling as if God, going for the extra point after a touchdown, had kicked me intending to fly me victoriously through the goal posts but in fact sending me on a beautiful arc ending in the unforgiving track that surrounds the football field. The crowd stops cheering and sits down knowing that their team will lose because of that one lost point.

Tonight I went to a coffee shop that closes at 1:00 am in Capital Hill with some friends to finish off an assignment due tomorrow. Due to the craziness of the day and the week—read the chapters, write the reflection, map out your fourteen-page paper on the Brothers Karamazov that’s due in less than a week, get to a Post Office to drop off the form that was due a week ago, rush back to speak at an admissions panel, go to the Hall council meeting, and try to polish off the 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto—I was bordering on an embarrassing meltdown while attempting to read about China’s economic turnaround in the late 20th century.

I unfairly hoped that someone would interrupt me.

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notes from Frontier 846 SEA-DEN

These are a few thought-remnants from the first leg of my flight to Michigan last week.

a.

You never see car commercials with the car driving luxuriously through the suburbs. Mountain passes are great, as are roads curving through hills, the occasional Gotham-esque city street, and long stretches of straight-and-narrow country roads, but never the suburbs with their cul-de-sacs, kachunk kechunk kachank kachink architecture, and general aura of futility. They could use a sports car or two tearing up their asphalt.

b.

I’ve been in Seattle long enough to feel ignorant and slightly inferior in a nice café but also like I’m really stooping if I go to a Starbucks. A good way to distract myself from these sister emotions is by checking in on Foursquare—and for the check-in picture, instead of taking an aerial picture of my drink’s latte art with a fancy filter, I take an up-close, unfocused “still life” of absolutely anything. This can include the table supporting my beverage, the socket that my laptop’s charger will soon be filling, or the side of the mug. We might as well let the content follow the ridiculous form.

c.

Death walked onto the plane carrying a long tube, the kind architects use to carry blueprints. He was an old white man wearing a white polo tucked into his jeans. His eyes were once blue, but they had long since fogged over. His pupils occasionally peeked out from behind the grey swirls contained by his eyelids.

old white men

The first full week of the second quarter of my sophomore year of college is over. And, as it often happens at school, I have gone the week without a post here. Here are a couple of fragments about two strangers I’ve seen in the last week or so.

The first one is something I posted on Facebook while flying back to Seattle a week and a half ago:

There is a bearded old man sitting across the aisle from me in the airplane. So far, he has written a couple stanzas of poetry, the first line of which ended with “solitude,” and ordered the cheese, crackers, and fruit box—he fumbled with the crackers’ wrapper for a solid minute. Now he is on ebay looking through hundreds of antique Persian rugs. When I started writing this status, my intent was to say, “Well isn’t he weird,” but I’ve just realized I might be intruding on the privacy of my future self.

At several times during the flight I felt the strong urge to strike up a conversation with him. I waited for the right moment. Asking a stranger about his solitude poetry seemed inappropriate, but asking to see if he wanted help opening his crackers after watching him struggle for a while might have been a nice gesture. Or, I suppose, it could have made him feel pathetic. After an hour of his persian rug browsing, I considered tapping his shoulder to tell him “I like the pattern on that one” but I didn’t want to make him feel obligated to buy a rug he wasn’t all that interested in. They were at least $150 each, so it would have been an investment.

I didn’t talk to him.

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The Coffeeshop.

While interning, reading, playing, and hanging out in Michigan, I’ve missed out on what I’ve heard has been a very beautiful summer in Seattle.  Maybe I’ll live there next summer…

The following is a piece written by my future roommate about his summer in Seattle.


The Coffeeshop.

by Jake Wiebe

There is a coffeeshop in my city. There are many, actually. I live in the most caffeinated city in America. I live in the most “coffee’ed” city in, arguably, the world.

Welcome to Seattle. My city.