Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 45 (Papers Papers Papers)

I basically spent the entire day (5 hours) writing a 3 page summary. Five hours!!! That is unacceptable! I can't believe it took me that long! It was kind of weird though because I don't think I've had to summarize anything since I was like in high school. My brain kept wanting to write and essay, it was really hard actually to just summarize the reading. I think I was making it harder than it had to be.

Just watched Glee. I'm not sure about that show. It started out really strong, but it seems to be losing steam. They just need to get those kids to a competition!

Back at the student lounge to write a paper for Old Testament. Not sure how to classify this one, research paper maybe? 1,500 words this time, I definitely like the word requirement much better than a page number requirement. Number of pages is too vague; with word count, there's no messing around. Gotta get to it! Pretty sure I'm not gonna finish tonight, but I need to get as much done as possible.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 44 (Study High)

If anyone was paying super close attention to the SFTS facebook updates yesterday evening, one would have noticed a preponderance of "bunnies." This is because we were studying for the Old Testament quiz today and Ryan and Terra got really tired and started relating everything in Genesis to bunnies. 3-fold promise of land, descendants and blessing? Bunnies. Be fruitful and multiply? Bunnies. Leaving alters everywhere? Bunnies. Human sacrifice? Bunnies. Circumcision? Bunnies.

BTW, the "bunny" in the picture is a Flemish Giant, which can weigh up to 28 lbs. I am determined to own one some day. I'm hoping they can be house trained.

So, I joined in on the flash card session and pretty soon we were all laughing about the stupidest things! I'm sure anyone that has had a super long study session can relate. You study for 5 hours, you wait too long to eat, you start feeling delirious and all of a sudden God's covenant with Abraham is the funniest thing you've ever heard of in your entire life. I learn from Terra, the former med student of the class, that this is because after a long session of studying, your brain runs out of the normal sugars that it's supposed to use as fuel and starts burning ketones, which are alcohols. We had literally gotten drunk off of studying and started laughing like idiots because of it. This would explain why I enjoyed studying so much the other day. In hindsight, studying for 10 hours straight actually does feel a little bit like drinking a glass of wine. Of course it takes much, much, much longer to get the same effect, but you do slip into a semi-coma relaxed state after a while. Which leads to the question that my "Drugs and Jesus" professor would hate, "Can studying be addictive?"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 42 (What a Difference a Dot Makes)

Today's title is brought to you by Terra Mitts, proprietor of the Dotless Dalet, proudly serving the Hebrew dot needs of Marin county for over 5 years, "Make every day a dalet day!"

My family left today. I was sad to see them go, but I was able to get some much needed study time in...not that I'm done studying. Still have laundry to do...*sigh*

Today I studied for Intro to Ministry, Biblical Hebrew, Sacred and the Substance, and Old Testament. I also have papers due in Old Testament and Church History due this week, but I haven't started them yet. Not really sure where all that extra time is going to come from, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

The plan was to make curry chicken today while I studied, but my parents brought me a lot of food, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to cook more.

Hebrew is getting more and more complicated. So many stupid little rules! I'm not really having a hard time with it, but I can totally see how frustrating remembering all the rules is going to be in a few weeks, not to mention all of vocabulary memorization.

All of this studying is having a strange affect on me. I'm actually starting to like it in a weird way. It's very peaceful. I kind of like the rhythm of class and studying and food and sleep. Also, not working is a very big plus. A person could get used to this, if only it didn't cost so much.

I'm also enjoying the reading that's being assigned to me. There's too much of it, so reading all of it is basically impossible, and what I do read, I have to read very fast. I wish I could read these texts without having to rush so I could really wallow in what they have to say. There's a lot of interesting things to learn out there. Maybe someday, when I don't have so much to do, I can pick some of these texts up again and read them at my leisure. I'm just worried with all of these things that I'm saving to do for "when I have more time" that I won't ever get to finish them all. At least I won't get bored.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 41 (Run, Charles! Run!)

OMG! I am SO out of shape...but if you've been reading this blog you already knew that. Some of us took the ferry to the city today. Since I had managed to convince my family to come last night instead of today, I was able to take my brother and sister with me. Tasted a pawpaw for the first time today, sorta tastes like a mango. We spent some time at Pier 39, then had lunch at Joe's Crab Shack. The food was okay; typical of a chain seafood restaurants, too salty and ever so slightly freezer burned. We decided after that we wanted to catch the 4:40 ferry back to Larkspur, but we didn't realize quite how far away we were from the ferry when we started heading back. We started walking faster and faster; I was at the front trying to keep up the pace. But all of a sudden, everyone was running past me saying we only had 3 minutes to get there, and I started running too. We were going pretty fast because we were seriously short on time, but my stomach started to hurt and I had to slow back down to a walk. Besides, there were still four people behind me, and if they didn't make it on the ferry, then I wasn't going to get on it either.

End of story, we made it on and got back to Larkspur, where our cars were waiting for us. Brian, Dianne and I had dinner at an amazing italian restaurant called Lo Coco's on San Anselmo Avenue, which I HIGHLY recommend to everyone! The food was deliciously fresh tasting and the service was impeccable.

Then, we got together with Laura, Terra, Ian and Tom to watch Stranger Than Fiction, which I also recommend to everyone. Will Ferrell plays an IRS employee who is auditing a baker played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The movie, on top of being wonderfully original, is about writing and cooking, two things near and dear to my heart, and every time I see it, it pushes me to spend more time doing those things. Please, please, please see it if you have not yet done so. I normally can't stand Will Ferrell as an actor, but I think he does an outstanding job in this movie.

I haven't gotten any homework done this weekend, nor have I done laundry. Sadly, my family will be leaving tomorrow morning, but hopefully I'll be able to get to all of those mundane things I've been putting off since they're been here.

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 40 (Chinapino Invasion)

Here's another late post, this time because my family is in town. Actually, they're not the only one's to blame; Lydia had her birthday party tonight at Holy Grounds. It was really fun watching everyone dancing to Gavin's spinning. Gonna keep it brief; it's late and we had a long day ahead of us.

I went with Amber to Credit Cars so that she could once again achieve vehicular independence. Isn't Credit Cars a shady name for a dealership? They seemed like they were actually pretty decent people, and Amber was able to drive off with a car. Of course, one of her taillights wasn't working and she thinks it needs new brakes, but the person who helped her fill out her paperwork said all repairs would be free. Not exactly sure how that works, but we'll see.

I went to my aunts' house after that to pick up my brother and sister who had just arrived with my parents. We tried to leave right away to get to Lydia's birthday party, but my aunts insisted that we eat dinner first. We finally got back to my apartment an hour and a half after the party started, but it was still going strong, so everyone had a good time.

Now, it's time to sleep. Night all!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 39 (My Fair City)

Finally! We had a poetry slam at Holy Grounds, the seminary coffee house. It's been over two years since I've done spoken word, so I got really excited when people started talking about maybe having a poetry night. I'm hoping it becomes a weekly thing; maybe it'll get me to start writing poetry again! I performed my favorite of the poems that I've written; it's kind of the poem that started it all for me. I had been hanging out with Poet's Jazz House, a poetry group in L.A., for a while when one of the members happened upon some traveling poets from Canadia. They performed some of the coolest poems I had ever heard and I really wanted to write something along the lines of what they did. So, this is the poem I came up with, which I performed tonight for some of my new seminary friends:

My Fair City

My family moved to Camarillo when I was in the third grade,

We were the third family to move into a neighborhood of fourteen track homes surrounded by fields and orchards

Like a fairy tale village in the countryside,

As the years went by,

Trees were cut down and houses grew,

And I want to say that it was like mushrooms popping up in the middle of the night after it rains,

But it didn’t happen that fast,

It was slow,

And insidious,

Like a fungus growing underground where nobody can see it,

And we don’t have as many fields and orchards anymore,

But my dad says that we live in a green belt,

And it can’t change that much,

But people are greedy,

And they’ll roll over for a few million dollars and what that can buy them,

So now instead of mountains,

We have a skyline of million dollar homes,

And they’re threatening to turn Hill Canyon into a golf course,

But luckily,

I still have my slice of wilderness across the street where I can go running the morning if I want to,

But I went there to play with my kids one time,

And a cop told me I couldn’t be there after the sun sets,

And I thought to myself,

This is where my taxes go,

So that a cop can patrol a park in the middle of nowhere,

Because people go there to party at night where their neighbors can’t complain,

And while we have gang injunctions,

Graffiti on churches,

People breaking into my car,

And my fair city is competing for the coveted “Most Dangerous City in California” award,

I pay my taxes,

So that a fat cop,

In a uniform that’s too tight,

Like too much pork sausage stuffed into a greasy casing,

Can tell me that I can’t play there,

And I wonder,

What is happening to this city that I live in?

The innocence is seeping away,

Like a piece of fruit that’s been sitting on the counter for too long so that the insides are bursting out,

And all the sweetness is rotting,

And it’s attracting flies,

And I just want to knock it off the counter onto the floor,

But I can’t,

Because the seed in the middle’s put down roots,

And it’s stuck there,

And it’s growing,

And it’s going to keep on growing,

And growing,

And growing,

Until it become this enormously huge peach cobbler gone horribly awry,

And I live there!

And if you come to visit me,

Then you’ll say it’s pretty,

And it is pretty,

But pretty doesn’t cut it,

Because just beneath the surface it’s still a piece of rotting fruit,

And it’s still sweet,

But the flavor’s off because you know what it’s supposed to taste like,

And in spite of yourself,

You’re gonna pick up that fork,

And you’re gonna eat it,

Because you know that if you don’t,

Then someone else will,

And that doesn’t make it right,

But that’s the way the world works,

And if you don’t like it,

Then you don’t have to live there,

But they haven’t started selling trips to the moon yet,

But I’ve read,

That in a few years,

For a few million dollars,

You will indeed be able to buy a trip to the moon,

But the only ones able to afford to make that trip,

Are busy eating my peach cobbler,

And I can’t find my fork.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 38 (The "Pretty" Side of the Call)

Started the day with a little bit of Lectio Devina. We actually did the prayer exercise instead of just a lecture, and it felt really good. I felt really connected to God while we were doing it.

Afterwards I had to go to Wells Fargo again because they can't seem to figure out how to stop stealing my money. I went ahead and deposited my student loan check...hopefully I won't live to regret the decision.

Went to Marin Coffee Roasters with Terra to study. Tom showed up and left, then Ian came. They have the best music there! Every time I'm in a coffee shop or restaurant, I'm always looking for elements that I can incorporate into the church I think I'm supposed to open someday. From this place, I definitely liked the music, although I've been collecting music for just this purpose for the last 3 or 4 years. They serve food there, but I didn't get anything to eat.
It's kind of annoying that they close at 6:00 pm.

So, here's the "pretty" part of my calling. I believe that I'm supposed to open a "cafe church." It will be both restaurant and church. During the week, we'll serve mainly the kind of drinks you'd find at a coffee shop, but I'm thinking about including wine. We'll also have pastries and really good food. I've been collecting recipes too. It'll have a stage for live music and spoken word, and Bible study groups will be able to meet there, as well as the youth group.

On Sunday, it will turn into a church. This part hasn't really solidified for me yet, but I'm leaning towards a really long service, maybe somewhere along the lines of 5 hours or more that people can sort of float in and out of, or even stay the whole time if they want. It'll be broken up with a fellowship lunch in the middle and will include things like group discussion and lectio devina. Different elements will happen at regular times so that if people really want to have praise music, they'll know to show up later in the afternoon, or if people are more interested in the sermon, they'll know to come around 10 am.

I want the place to kind of function as a community center, where people feel like its a home away from home. I want people to think of it as a place when they can come and relax for a few hours, have a blended mocha, eat some mac 'n cheese, and maybe play Apples to Apples with a few friends before hunkering down to do homework. I can see it so clearly, I know it's what God wants me to do. It'll be so different, people won't know what to make of it at first, but hopefully they'll come to equate church with community and togetherness and comfort.

So, this is my vision. Anyone interested?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 37 (Make Crack Like This)

Disclaimer: I do not listen to this kind of music, not that I'm judging anyone that listens to it. It's just that my preferences run more towards Norah Jones or Hawk Nelson.

So, Sacred and the Substance (Drugs and Jesus) started with us listening to this song. The professor then proceeded to lecture about the Gin Craze in the U.K. in the 1700s and the Crack Craze in the U.S. in the 1990s. When I realized I would be going to seminary, it never even crossed my mind that I would be taking a class like this. I actually did a little bit of a better job reading the articles this time, so I was able to partake in the discussion and prove to the professor that I actually was capable of speaking, but it's still going to be some time before the culture shock wears off and I get really comfortable sharing in there.

One of the articles we were supposed to read was about hangovers. At one point, the professor asked everyone who has ever experienced a hangover to raise their hands. I was literally the only person who did not raise their hand. I've never even been hung over a little, that I know of anyway. The main reason for this is that for some reason, I am completely terrified of being hung over. I have no idea why, I just am. So, any time I think i've drunk enough that I might get a hang over the next day, I drink a lot of water and eat until I'm really full. It always works. I wake up and I'm fine. Now, Tom brought up a really good point tonight that I had never considered, which is that my fear of being hung over is probably limiting the amount that I drink. I know I've never been gloriously drunk before, but there have been several occasions where I've tried to get pretty drunk, the latest being Gina's anniversary party where I had seven shots of tequila on top of a mojito and a margarita. I honestly don't even know if that's a lot to drink, but it seems like a lot to me.

Still have Spirituality homework to do...*sigh*

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 36 (Calling)

There's been a lot of talk recently about each of our callings, which is a strange Christian concept for those of you unfamiliar with it. It's even strange for us so-called insiders. Apparently, this is even strange for European Christians in general, as our Old Testament professor, who is from Switzerland, humorously tried to explain to us on the first day of class.

A calling, like the secular meaning of the word, is something that you feel like you are meant to do. Of course, when I use it, I mean something that God wants us to do. You can be called to do something right now, or you can be called to do something far in the unforeseeable future, to any point in between. Some people stress out about this because they think they're supposed to have all of the answers right now. Unfortunately, or fortunately as you may choose to see it, God doesn't work this way. People, including me, have a tendency to forget that God does things on his own time, not our time. We just have to have faith in him to take care of us. Of course, this reasoning isn't that comforting when you feel like God isn't giving you any direction. All I can say to those people is to continue to do the right thing and keep praying for direction. Mother Teresa never felt God at all for a very long time in the later part of her life. She described her faith as emptiness and darkness, yet she persevered. If she could retain her faith in God without being able to feel him, then those that are lucky enough to sense God's presence yet do not know what he wants them to do should remain faithful as well. Sometimes he shows us only a little bit of the path, other times the floodlight shows the whole thing. Still other times only parts of the path will be illuminated with the sections in between shrouded in darkness. Why he does this is his prerogative.

As for me, I do feel that I know what God wants me to do. That is why I spent 2 years at California Lutheran University to get my bachelors degree. That's why I'm at San Francisco Theological Seminary right now. That's why I'm writing this blog. The Presbyterian Church and the Christian Church as a whole has done incredible damage to itself and to the community at large with its stance against homosexuals. On top of that, most of the mainline denominations are in decline. There are many factors involved in this, but I believe that the churches' stance on gays also plays a role. As secular society marches forward in it's understanding of human sexuality, the church remains entrenched in its backwards mentality of hatred disguised as piety. This makes the church irrelevant in the eyes on many, least of which are those in or involved with the LGBT community. It is also tearing the church apart as those who choose to love their neighbors fight for the rights of those of us who are being oppressed. I don't know why God chose me for this fight, but he did. I don't know how large of a role I am supposed to play, only that I am supposed to play one. I don't think it was an accident that I was born in the 2nd most conservative presbytery in the country, and I don't think that it was an accident that my parents decided to raise me and my siblings in a Presbyterian church.

This is what I like to call the "ugly" side of my call. There is a prettier side that involves cappuccinos and cookies, but that's a post for another time. Good night all!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 35 (B Average)

I'm trying to find balance in my life. At the risk of some of my professors reading this, I have decided to shoot for a B average. This is not going to be easy for me, because for the last 2 years, I did everything I could to get the A. Unfortunately, I have also found little correlation between the amount of work I did and the grades I got. I got 3 B's in undergrad, and 2 of them were in classes that I thought I did well in and put the most time and work into. This has caused me to become a little bit jaded, on top of coming to the realization that A's just aren't, or shouldn't be anyway, that important to me. Life is too short to be worrying over getting A's all the time. What does it really mean anyway? That I studied longer to memorize some things that I'm going to forget the next day? That I spent a few more hours over a paper that isn't going to help my spiritual or personal development any more than a B paper would? I didn't come here to slave over my homework. I came here to learn, and I don't think I have to run myself ragged to do that.

As Ryan likes to say, "What do you call a doctor that graduated with a C average? Doctor."

Not that I can imagine him getting C's.

I also came here to have a good time. This is, as far as I know, going to be my one shot at a "college experience." I've never been away from home before; even when I moved to Simi Valley for 3 years, it only took me 20 minutes to drive to my parents house. I want to experience new things and also spend time with the hobbies that I love.

When I thought about moving up here, I thought that because I wasn't going to be working, I would have ample free time to write and paint and explore the city. I wanted to find a coffee shop that had poetry night so that I could get back into that scene. I wanted to start developing relationships with people in my presbytery to prepare for the upcoming battle for my ordination. Heck, I thought I'd even have some time to market my book a little. At the very least, I thought I would have finished my inquirer essays and applied for a few scholarships by now.

So, I am actively trying to be a worse student. I have yet to see any fruits of that labor, but I am not a quitter! The one area that I'm not going to slack on is Biblical Hebrew. It may be a dead language, but so far I seem to be pretty good at it, and who knows, I may finally have a foreign language under my belt after all this time. Shalom!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 34 (Surprise Visit)

I got an interesting call this morning. It was my dad telling me that my mom was in town. My mom lives 7 hours away from me, so this was not something I was expecting to hear. Not that it was a bad thing, just a little surprising considering that she, my dad, and my sister and brother were planning on, and still are I presume, coming to visit me next week. My mom had called and left a message last night about coming up to see me. I hadn't listened to it because I wanted to keep the message icon on my phone so that it would remind me to listen to it and call her the next morning. Apparently, one of my aunts was coming up here to visit a friend, and my mom hitched a ride. Also along for the trip was one of my Filipino cousins that I had never met before, of which there are many. I don't mean "many" in the traditional sense, I mean "many" in the Filipino sense, which means there's like 50 or so of them. I'm pretty sure this number increases exponentially every year. It's estimated that by the year 2014, 1 out of every 7 people will be a member of my family.

I was trying to give my mom directions to my apartment over the phone when they reached Montgomery Chapel, which is on the opposite side of the school from where I live. She was trying to relay this information to my Aunt Flora, who was driving the van, which had a total of 7 people in it. After about 10 minutes of this super fun game, I decided to walk down to the chapel and lead them like the shepherd I am trying to learn how to be. This turned into another super fun game called "Get in the van, I'll tell you where to go, get out of the van, we're going to walk, get in the van, they're driving and need directions, we'll meet you there" by Parker Brothers.

We finally made it back to the apartment, where everyone took a potty break to prepare us for the next leg of the journey: touring the school. I rather enjoyed this part because my aunts kept making Harry Potter comments, and these are old Filipino women who by all rights shouldn't know who Harry Potter is. After the tour, we had lunch at the chinese restaurant and then the van carried my family away to Daly City, which is apparently where they keep the Filipino people around here.

I got a real sense of the mortality of people while we were at lunch. I've known the women that were sitting around the table for as long as I can remember, and it suddenly dawned on me how old they were all starting to look. In a way, I've lead a pretty blessed life. I attended my very first funeral earlier this year, and I just turned 30. I went for over 29 years without having to go to a single one because I just never had anyone die on me. Well, my uncle died when I was in high school, and I was very close to him, but I was out of town during the funeral, so I couldn't go. He died of leukemia. He got very sick and was hospitalized for a long time, but I could never bring myself to visit him. Hospitals are another thing that I don't have that much experience with. I remember thinking to myself that I could always visit him another time. I could visit him tomorrow. I can visit him next week. Part of it was denial. Part of it was that I didn't want to see him that way. I was too self-conscious that I wouldn't know what to say when I got there. I think seeing him in the hospital would have made it too real for me. I was a mess when I found out that he died. I'll always regret never having said good-bye to him.

These women have always been a part of my life. I don't like to think about people dying, but my sister and I are strangely morbid people. I've noticed my aunts and my parents getting older and I can't help it. If I think about it too much, I actually start getting choked up, so I'm always pushing it out of my mind. I know it's unavoidable; in a way, I almost wish I was more used to people around me dying so that it won't be as much as a shock when it finally does happen.

Sorry to make this post such a downer, this is just how my brain works sometimes. Happier stuff tomorrow, I promise. I also promise to stop ending my posts with promises ;-)

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 33 (Balcony Conversations)

Friday's post comes to you an hour and a half late courtesy of Ryan, Gavin & Sam. We had some really good conversations out on the balcony tonight as the air cooled around us. Some of things we discussed: Gavin and Sam are a lot older than they look, conservative vs liberal theology, worship and politics, gay ordination and school politics. I didn't want to stop the conversation to blog; the conversations were just too important.

Today was the last day of the second week of the first semester of the year. We had quizzes on the Old Testament and Hebrew today, and I was not the only one that needed a nap afterwards. My study habits went totally out the window today. I don't know if it was the heat or that I've just been studying too much or the simple fact that it was Friday and I wouldn't have classes for the rest of the weekend, but after lunch, I got out my paints, painted for about an hour and then took a nap. After that, I went grocery shopping and we had the second night of our Firefly marathon. Then, it was back home for the balcony conversations.

That's all for now. I was feeling more ambitious when I started this post, but my bed would really like me to lie in it. More tomorrow, I promise.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 32 (Chinese Chicken Salad)

Per serving:

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced water chestnut or jicama
1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (chinese parsley)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (green onion)
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup toasted almond slices
1/4 cup mandarin orange segments
1/2 cup crunchy chow mein noodles

Toss salad with your favorite chinese chicken salad dressing

Thank God for my classmates! We got together for our second weekly dinner / study session and plowed and drilled each other on Old Testament questions. We had my chinese chicken salad for dinner. I love cooking for a new group of people because I get to use all of my old recipes! These of course are from my tried and true arsenal, although the first time I cooked for them I was totally winging it with the random stuff from 4 different kitchens.

We had to memorize about 50 questions and from what I've heard, there's only going to be 5 questions on the quiz. I just spent the last half hour memorizing the date questions because those are the ones I have the most trouble with. I'm going to have to go over them again after this and again tomorrow just in case. I so glad tomorrow's Friday! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 31 (Flash Cards)

I spent 3 hours today making flash cards. 2 1/2 for Old Testament, 1/2 for Hebrew. Flash Cards. Do you know what happens to your brain after you spend 3 hours making flash cards. Things start to get really weird. I felt like I had been on a boat for a week and had just stepped onto land when I decided it was time to stop making flash cards so I could do the reading for Church History. Which I am in the middle of doing now. I feel like this is a test. To see if we have what it takes to be seminarians. I feel like I'm whining all the time, but seriously, I have time for nothing else except to read and study and survive.

Any time I do something recreational, I feel like I'm being bad. Like today, I stopped for 15 minutes to look at a new book I had gotten about spices. It had cool pictures of the plants and told about the history of the spices and the weird things that people used to, and sometimes still do, with them. I decided to do this after the flash cards before reading for Church History. I kept looking up at the clock and saying to myself, "Just 5 more minutes. I'll let myself look at this book for just 5 more minutes." Originally, I was going to allow myself a 10 minute break before going back to studying. 10 became 15. 15 became 20. I put the book down and then started to read. It started getting late, so I decided to blog.

I can't give up blogging. It's the only thing I have left. I've given up writing. I've given up recreational reading. I've given up painting. To be fair, I think I have allowed myself to watch 4 to 6 hours of TV/Movies per week; I can't be completely ascetic. I'm sure things will get more manageable in a few weeks once I get settled in, but I haven't even had any papers or serious exams come up yet, and that's going to start in a few weeks, so maybe everything will be a wash. Keep praying for me and all of my classmates all of you out there who are inclined to do so. We can really use it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 30 (The Placebo Effect)

Another Tuesday, another trip to Berkley for "Drugs and Jesus" at Star King. This is going to be an interesting class. First of all, as much as people like to smoke marijuana around me, I have not actually done it myself. Second of all, I'm a naive sheltered Presbyterian boy from Santa Rosa Valley, CA that doesn't know the first thing about drug use, their effects, or even for the most part what they are when people mention them by name. I have the foggiest of vague ideas of what ecstasy is. I don't know what it looks like, I don't know what it feels like to be on it, how much a hit normally costs, how to recognize when someone is using it, or anything at all. So, I sit there and I listen to all of these people talking about their experiences with drugs and I feel like I have nothing to contribute to the class. All I can talk about is wine, and when you compare that to someone's trip to Amsterdam, what is there to talk about?

As these discussions often do, the topic moved to prescription drugs and what exactly is the difference between prescription drugs and so-called illegal drugs. This then moved on to a conversation about placebos and how effective they are, which led me to ask the question, "What would happen to me if someone switched out my blood pressure medication for placebos without me knowing about it?" Several people in the class seemed to think I would be just fine, even though the general consensus was that I should never actually try this. I'm sorry, but I think this is a bunch of bull. Drugs work. That's how people get high and that's what keeps my blood vessels dilated. I'm not saying that there is no validity to the power of the mind. I am well aware of how powerful the mind is and the amazing things that faith can accomplish, but I do not think that the chemicals that drugs introduce into our systems can be discounted in such an easy fashion.

We live in a modern society; we understand the scientific method, and unless we all want to jump on to the conspiracy bandwagon, I have to believe that there are actual scientists at pharmaceutical companies who are actually doing their jobs. Does that mean the companies don't exist to make money? No. Does that mean they haven't done some shady drug-related things in the past? No. But, just because there have been some incidents of corruption and unethical behavior does not mean that the entire system is defunct.

If someone were to switch out my medication without me knowing about it, my blood pressure would start to go up. This is not my belief; it is not something I'm taking this on faith. It is simply a fact. Give me my beta blockers, or give me death!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 29 (9)

Sorry folks, it's gonna be a short one today because I have A TON of reading to do and it's getting really late O_o

So, movie review time. Ryan, Julie, Amber and I went to go see "9" today, a movie that just came out about a group of little voodoo doll lookin' things trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world.


I wasn't all that impressed with the movie. It moved kind of slow, and considering what it was, there should have been a lot more action. The story line also left much to be desired. The concept was cool, but the writers should have realized from the get-go that they were basically painting themselves into a corner. There's not much you can do with a story when your basic premise is that all life on the planet is dead. Plus, they do some weird things with splitting souls and the main character has a pretty lame character arc. The director should have spent more time on the character's relationships with each other. It's obvious there's a lot of history there, so there were character arcs aplenty to choose from. I also didn't like the caricature of the strong idiot that is so prevalent in movies today.

Okay, I need to stop now and read about Drugs and Jesus. (otherwise known as "The Sacred and the Substance")

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 28 (Drowning)

Today was pretty quiet, drizzled on and off all morning, then started raining around 3. The weather here is almost as twisted as back home. I don't understand how it can be unbearably hot one day and then raining and cold the next. Not that I mind the temperature; I'm actually sitting in shorts and a T-shirt with my doors open. The rain is GLORIOUS! XD

So, I've heard it's pretty much going to rain until summer, with a few weeks here and there where it will stop and possibly be hot again. (Booooo!!!!) I've heard stories and seen pictures of this area flooding as recently as 4 years ago, so hopefully that won't happen this time. We're in no threat of drowning by water in the immediate future, however I just might drown anyway.

Collectively, my professors want me to read just under 1,000 pages* a week. I am literally drowning in words. I, like most of my fellow humans, am not a speed reader. I can't even read 1,000 pages of something I actually want to read in a week, let alone 1,000 pages of textbook. It is physically impossible for me to read that much in a week. Of course, I could give up sleeping, eating, personal hygiene and blogging, but what fun would that be? So, I've "technically" done the "reading" for Monday, meaning my eyeballs have passed over the assigned words, but as far as how much information actually went into my blaine?????........(sigh)

Yes, my study habits have carried over from undergrad. I did walk away with a 3.7, so this might just work out. When one of the second-year students was telling us during orientation that he read about 6 hours of homework a night, I totally thought that was ridiculous and that I would never do that. Well, I haven't actually "read" anything, and I've already spent more time "reading" than that today. One of my classmates said someone calculated the amount of work that the professors expected us to do and it worked out to be more than 24 hours per day. How does that math work? If I was going to be good, I would continue "reading" after this post, but I don't know if I have enough strength left in my arms to turn the pages. Do the teachers actually expect everyone to read all of this? And if so, was I missing when they passed out the time turner necklaces?

*number not exaggerated for hyperbolic effect

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 27 (God as a She)

I was woken up this morning by the Apocalypse. Well, that's what I thought anyway. It was actually a bolt of lightning that struck incredibly close to my apartment, and since rain and lightning were the furthest things from my mind given the recent weather and the fact that I was ripped out of a deep sleep by one of the loudest noises I had ever heard in my life, I came to the natural conclusion that the world was ending. Thunder lasts a while, and when you don't know what it is, it sounds very scary. It sounded like the nearby mountain was being ripped in half. Then I saw some flashes of light, realized we were having a lightning storm, and breathed a sigh of relief. You need to understand that I hail from Ventura County, where thunderstorms are very rare. I've probably only watched one or two of them in my entire life. The flashes of light and thunder made it difficult to go back to sleep, so I opened my front door, pulled up a chair and watched nature's light show for a while. This was perhaps not my wisest moment, as I live on the top floor of a four story apartment complex and the railing is made of metal. But, I figured if lightning did happen to strike right there, it would probably find me no matter where in the apartment I was. The Native Americans of the area where afraid to go to the top of Mt. Tamalpais because they thought a witch lived on top of it. I can only imagine what they made of lightning strikes and thunder.

I'm just glad the rain came and cooled everything off. The temperature was actually quite nice today. :-)

I went to the Russian Orthodox vespers service tonight with 3 of my classmates: Julie, Terra and Tom. It was an absolutely beautiful service, but not really my speed. I'm more used to drum sets and electric guitars when I go to church. Nevertheless, it was quite beautiful with all of the candles, incense, icons and chanting. The funny thing is, as "conservative" as the worship service, and I assume the denomination, was, I found it to be very affirming of women. They had icons for the virgin Mary and for Mary Magdelene, women reading scripture and the female voices were the most dominant and sometimes only voices in the choir. Now, as a Presbyterian, I have no problem with women being pastors or of the idea that God is neither male nor female, but I did have issues with referring to God with a feminine pronoun. It was more of a English language limitation thing than anything else. I'm still not sure if I'm 100% OK with it, but I think I'm pretty OK with it now.

One of the Bible passages they read during the service was from proverbs, where Wisdom is referred to as a woman. I had somehow completely forgotten about these passages, but I remembered them as they were read during the service and how dynamic they were. The way I read these passages, Wisdom is an allegory for God, and Lady Wisdom dukes it out with Madame Whore for three whole chapters. The writer of Proverbs had absolutely no problem with thinking of God in female terms, and if that's the case, then neither should anyone else.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 26 (Calling All Brown Coats)

Today was a shiny day! Inara saved the cap'n and Zoe from the sheriff and the townspeople got their medicine. Not to mention the fact that everyone is safe from Niska for another day.

Yes, we have introduced 5 more unwitting victims to the Firefly universe, and by George, they'll be glad we done it! For anyone that has no idea what I'm talking about, Firefly is only one of the finest shows to ever grace the pixels of a TV screen. It's a unique show that takes place about 500 years in the future on the frontiers of space, so it's kinda like taking Tombstone and Star Trek and smashing them together. It. Is. Awesome. Period. (period.)

I know for a fact that there are at least 4 copies of the series floating around campus hailing from southern California, Montana and Colorado. Go Brown Coats!

In other news, I aced my Hebrew quiz, went to lunch with Amber for her birthday, got into an altercation with Chase Mastercard and forgot to take my blood pressure medicine. And, it was hot today. No exaggeration, I've already eaten at least 4 ice cube trays worth of ice, and I'm not done yet. I wish these apartments had air conditioning.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 25 (San Anselmo Heat)

Yes, believe it or not, it does get hot in San Anselmo. It's not the dry desiccating heat of the desert, nor is it the humid bacteria-fostering heat of the jungle; it's the moist, delicate heat of a coastal city that doesn't really understand what heat is. And, no matter where you come from, you will get acclimated to the area you are living, and whatever the residents there consider to be hot, one day, you too will think of it as hot, even if it is 20 degrees cooler than what was considered hot in your old life.

Today was hot. I've felt hotter, but today was hot. I decided today that I would walk to the post office to buy a large envelope and some stamps because the post office is not that far away. In hindsight, this was not a good idea, because this errand was to take place in the middle of a list of things to do. Earlier, I had gone from my dorm to the library to print a student loan form. It's not that far, but there are hills and stairs involved, and today was hot. I must add that I'm not in great shape right now and I'm also taking blood pressure medication that seems to be exponentially increasing the amount of sweat I produce. Not to mention that today was hot. The computer lab was also hot. There is no air conditioning in there. After printing the form, I made my way to the financial aid office, but the person that runs it was at lunch.

This was when I decided to go to the post office, which was not that far away, but today was hot. I made my way down the hill from the school and walked the four blocks to the post office, all the while cursing myself for not being lazier and taking the car, because my car has air conditioning and today was hot. Upon reaching the post office, I was greeted with glorious AC! But, the damage was done. Sweat was already pouring from my face and I could feel my energy level ebbing like an old balloon slowly sinking to the floor.

After the post office, I walked to my friend's apartment to pick up some stuff I had left there. Then I had to walk back to my apartment and climb up four flights of stairs, because I of course live on the top floor. I dropped off my stuff, then walked back down the stairs and back up to the financial aid office and dropped off the form.

Back up the stairs, changed my clothes, took a nap. It was hot.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 24 (Alef Bet Vet)

Today started with my Spirituality class. We did a contemplative prayer exercise called Lectio Devina. Each semester, the class has a different focus. Last semester it was Contemplative Listening, and I think the semester before that was on Quaker Clearance, but I'm not really sure what that is.

I took the class because I had heard so many good things about it, but to be honest, I had never had any kind of real emotional or spiritual experience while doing Lectio Devina. This time was very different. The way it works is that you are usually with a group of people and there is a leader taking the group through the exercise. The leader reads a short Bible passage, then there is a moment of silence while everyone thinks about the passage. Then a different person reads the same passage, and there is another moment of silence. Then the group is lead through a series of questions about the verse, the first of which is normally to discover what word or phrase really stood out during the reading. Then the leader asks each person to think about how they feel about that word or phrase and then what they think the meaning behind it is, etc. There is typically a few minutes of silence between each question for people to really listen for the voice of God. It's different from meditation, because with meditation, you are using your mind and your imagination to wrestle with a Bible verse or a question or idea, but with contemplation, you are more receptive as the verse works on you. The meaning of "meditation" in Eastern tradition is more like what we mean when we say "contemplation" though, so you have to be careful who you're talking to when you use these terms.

The phrase that stood out for me was "don't worry." The last few days have been pretty stressful as I've been thinking about the requirements of ordination and how much money going to school was going to cost and all of the homework I was going to have. God really used that moment to calm me down and help me to understand that He is in control of it all.

Of course, I began to study Hebrew for the quiz on Friday, and I started stressing out again. But we got a study group together and we found the above video on YouTube. I was really surprised to discover how quickly I was able to learn the Hebrew alphabet once we all started working on it together. I made boeuf bourguignon for everyone and we tested each other using desert plates and dry erase markers. It actually ended up being really fun! I have the Aleph Bet song playing in the background right now hoping to burn it into my memory.

Church History is tomorrow. It's my only class on Thursdays, but we're also having our first weekly class dinner, which of course I'm in charge of. I didn't get to the inquirer forms today nor did I mail out my application to work on the 2010 census, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a more manageable day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 23 (Star King School for the Ministry)

I took my very first classes today as a seminary student, and I'm hoping I'm not going to be overwhelmed by it all. Four classes today: Old Testament, Hebrew, Improv and The Sacred and the Substance, otherwise known as "Drugs & Jesus."

I think the class that scares me most is Hebrew, the one that will challenge me the most is Drugs & Jesus and the one I'm looking forward to the most is Improv.

Hebrew is scary because they don't use the Roman alphabet, like we do in English or like in Spanish, French or German. On top of that, words are written from right to left and there are no vowels. I've never been good with languages, so this doesn't bode well. However, this is the first time I will be trying to learn a language with a study group, so you never know...

Drugs & Jesus is scary in its own way. I think while it challenges me, it's going to be a lot of fun and will definitely help me to grow in my faith, even if it's only from having to defend my position all of the time. The class is at Star King School for the Ministry, which is the Unitarian Universalist Seminary. The above picture is of the school; it's always reminded me of a barrel of wine. Luckily, I'm taking the class with 7 other SFTS students (the class only has a total of eighteen students) so I'm hoping I'll have at least a little support for my viewpoints. The instructor was quite tickled to discover how many of us there were. Being raised in a conservative Presbyterian environment has done little to prepare me for this course. I'm just hoping I can figure out rather quickly how to confidently share my beliefs with people who are so theologically liberal.

Improv was just a lot of fun. I can't wait to go again! We played a couple of fun games in order to get a feel for the class and see a little bit of what Improv is like. I've never done anything like this before, but I'm hoping we get to put on some kind of show once we're more comfortable with it.

Old Testament is going to be a bear with all of the reading and tests we have to do, but that's why I'm here.

Spirituality is tomorrow and Church History is on Thursday. I get my first taste of Intro to Ministry on Monday. Kind of a crazy load, but I'm pretty sure with no work to get in the way, I can totally pull this off! XD

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 22 (Settlers of Canaan)

Last day before classes start. It was pretty lonely today actually; I guess I'd gotten so used to running around like a chicken with its head cut off that I forgot how to be by myself for a longer than a few hours. I've always thought of myself as an introvert, and I suppose if I had to categorize myself, that's what I would be, but I actually do need to have people around me. It can't be too crazy, like when I'm trying to host a party of over a hundred people, because that gets me wound up for sure, but it's nice to just have people around.

I found myself getting really drained actually around 5 o'clock. I knew the Labor Day party was at 6, and I was looking forward to actually doing something active. Just before the party, I was totally going stir crazy, but I think because I knew the party was coming, it was like my brain wasn't able to deal with anyone until the party actually started. A few of my friends had come down with a cold, so I made wild mushroom soup for them, which I was glad to do, but for some reason it was like the social interaction part of my brain had been shut off and I forgot how to make conversation when I delivered it and when one of them brought the mug back. I guess it's like I hadn't activated that part of my brain yet because I knew I had thought I wouldn't need it until later.

When I finally got to the party, I was my normal self and was able to interact with people very nicely, which was good because I was starting to get worried that I had become socially retarded. Afterward, a couple of us played "Settlers of Canaan" which is a version of "Settlers of Catan," neither of which I had ever played before or even heard of. We got totally wupped by our seminary friend from Hawaii, who apparently plays this game all the time. It was really fun though, and I look forward to playing it again. Plus, I learned that one of them is a former Magic player, so I just might get the chance to break out the ol' Magic decks. I'm getting way more excited about that than I should, but I truly love that game and it has been way too long since I dueled someone.

Alright, that's enough of me being a nerd for tonight. Four classes tomorrow, I'm gonna need my sleep. Keep me in your prayers everyone!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 21 (Mission Bay Community Church)

Today was pretty laid back compared to yesterday's 12 mile hike through the mountains. Slept in "late" which means I woke up at 8:00 with the SFTS bell tower. Did some laundry. (Stupid machine ate my quarters!!! >_<) AND, I finished filling out the Inquirer forms! WOO HOO!!!! It truly wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. There weren't even any essays to write/plagiarize from myself. I don't know why I put it off for so long. Although, I have been getting the sneaking suspicion that I need to look the forms over again, just in case.

Drove Amber to work; she's car-less right now, then went to Mission Bay Community Church with Terra and Tom. The traffic was HORRIBLE!!!! The Bay Bridge is closed for the weekend for repairs, so everyone was trying to get across Golden Gate. Took us almost 2 hours to do a normally 45 minute drive. It was kinda weird; there was a guest speaker who was getting just a tad too political from the pulpit for my taste, but otherwise we had a pretty good time. I was told that was not normal, and I'm pretty sure it's not. I'll be living here for a while, so I'm sure there will be many visits to Mission Bay. Anyone looking for a place of worship in the Bay Area should definitely check it out. Some very nice people over there fed us lasagna and caesar salad for dinner and there was some good conversation. Bruce (see above picture from the MBCC website) was back from his travels and I was lucky enough to run a small errand for our illustrious leader. I love how much fun us Presbyterians make of our Moderator, it's very refreshing.

So now, it's time for some red wine and 24. Good night everybody!

BTW, I appreciate you Pastor Ron!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 20 (Seminary to the Sea)

We did a 12 mile hike from the seminary to Stinson Beach today. I was a little unsure of this adventure as I had never intentionally hiked anything so long before, but I figured it would be a good bonding experience with the class. I have to say that it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I didn't really have the right shoes for it, but my Perry Ellis shoes that look like bowling shoes worked surprisingly well! My feet didn't start getting sore until the last mile and no blisters! I didn't realize we were supposed to bring lunch, but when people heard I didn't have anything to eat, it was like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. Food came flying at me from every direction and in less than five minutes I had way more food in front of me than I could eat. Gotta love Presbyterians and their relationship with food! Catholics have the crucifix, Protestants have the casserole dish...

The hike was beautiful, if exhausting. I felt like I was in the Twighlight world with all of the old moss-covered trees growing up through the underbrush. There's this little plant with white flowers that grows in the meadows here called tarweed. It's covered in little sticky black dots of what look like tar, hence the name. We were walking through a meadow and this wonderful scent of oranges and thyme and eucalyptus kept wafting up in the breeze, and we realized it was coming from the tarweed. That scent was one of my favorite things on the hike.

Fell down once and tweaked my ankle a little bit, as per usual, but it seems okay. I know I'm going to be stiff for a few days, but the hike was worth it. Definitely doing it again next year to haze the next incoming class! Now, getting ready for a night in Fairfax for some live music. Woo hoo!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 19 (The Examine)

Today was the last day of orientation and we had a "retreat" type day to re-energize. The first thing we did was a reflective/meditative/prayer type exercise called "The Examine." You start but thinking about your day or week, in our case we used orientation week, and you make a list of all the events that really stood out to you for that time period. You take about five or ten minutes to just sit quietly and reflect on those events that had some kind of an impact. Next, you go through the list and mark each item as good, bad or both. Good things are events that re-energized you, made you feel good and brought you closer to God. Bad things would be events that were draining and drew you away from God. The last step is to review your list and see how the different things impacted you and to pray and meditate over it.

I noticed that I didn't have many negative things on my list; just the heat and then one or two random incidents that I wasn't really involved with. As I looked at the list, I noticed how many of the items were conversations I had had with people here. They seemed to have occurred on almost a daily basis and were deep and loving helpful conversations. As anyone following this blog should know, I have been getting a pretty heavy dose of reality over here. The transition from home to San Anselmo has for the most part been pretty uneventful, and the only thing that I can attribute that too is the careful planning of God. I had a pretty decent support system set up before I even moved, and as I get to know the other members of my in-coming class, I know that network is going to continue to grow. It's like God understood how much I was going to have to be dealing with and the last thing I needed was the stress of living in a new place away from my family and friends, so he arranged for that stress to be virtually non-existent.

On top of that, He kept me in the dark about all this conservative/liberal crap, so I wasn't even thinking about that until a few days ago. I mean really, if I had known, what good would it have done other than stress me out over something I have no control over? I'm glad God is in charge of my life, cuz I could never plan things out this well.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 18 (The SFTS Seraphs)

My incoming class just might be a little psychotic, and I'm not helping (BWA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!)

We've been talking about this whole quidditch thing for a while and we found out we have a soccer team and a ping pong team. Our soccer team is called the "sacramentals," and as far as I know, the ping pong team does not have a mascot. This is unacceptable. If we are going to have a quidditch team, we need a proper mascot. We talked to the Greek professor and she said that we could come up with one, so we decided that we are now the "STFS Seraphs." A Seraph is basically a warrior angel, much like in the picture above. Yes, that picture is Serra Angel from Magic: The Gathering, and yes I knew exactly where to find a picture like this because I am that much of a nerd. Although I haven't played a game of Magic in years, I still maintain that it is one of the best designed games ever invented. I did bring three or four decks with me just in case...

I'm supposed to come up with a seraph logo that we're going to put it on sweatshirts to sell as a fundraiser.....we'll see, LOL.

I had to explain the quidditch rules to a girl we might tap to be the snitch.

We're planning phone and email lists, weekly lunches gatherings and Grey's Anatomy dinners. And, a big group of us decided we're all taking a class together at the Unitarian Seminary. I can't wait to see how they react to a bunch of SFTS kids all showing up at the same time!

I love how well we're gelling together, but this might make studying an homework a little difficult. Oh well...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 17 (How Ridiculous Can a Denomination Be?)

More fun and festivities today. Went on a hike up Mt. Baldy; the view from the top is amazing! You can see Berkley and San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge from up there. There's also a really great view of Mt. Tamalpais, the "sleeping lady", which I was able to make out, but the image is pretty "abstract" and one of the guys with us just couldn't see it.

Then we had a community pot-luck where several students, faculty and family members put on a show displaying their musical talents. It was absolutely spectacular and makes me wish I was talented in that area. I tried to learn how to play guitar for a very short time, but it hurt my fingers too much, so I gave up, LOL.

Afterwards, I caught up with a friend that I hadn't seen in a while and we talked for hours. He started school a semester ago and we discussed classes and the church and jobs and studying. I found out that another guy that goes here has to actually change churches because his church in San Diego, apparently the most conservative presbytery in the United States, will not support him if he goes to this school! Seriously, this is the only Presbyterian seminary in the state, and it's been around since the 1800's, and they don't like how liberal this school is. We're all part of the same denomination people!

So, we talked some more and I told him about the problems I was going to run into with my presbytery, since it is the second most conservative presbytery in the United States, being a gay man trying to get ordained. I know this is a fight that God wants me to bring back home. He then proceeded to tell me about his own experience with his presbytery and how they asked questions to make sure that he wasn't gay before they would support his decision to come to SFTS. The more I learn, the more sickened I am by this whole situation.

The conservative branches of this presbytery have been fighting against the ordination and marriage of homosexuals for the past 50 years, spending BILLIONS of dollars in the process. Can you imagine the good we could do as a church if we had used that time and energy and money in a good and constructive way? How many hungry people could we have fed? How many homes could we have built? How much evangelizing could we have done to try to save our dying denomination? This is the height of arrogance and stupidity, no wonder God wants me to get in everyone's face! It just makes me so angry when I think about it! *breathe.........*

Anyway, I found one more fun Harry Potter thing: there's an asian girl here with an actual British accent because she is from England. How cool is that!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary: Day 16 (Harry Potter is My Life)

I can't believe it's only Tuesday; this orientation thing keeps you busy! Filled out a bunch of forms and had my picture taken for the second time, not counting all the shots they got of me talking to our new Roman Catholic dean at the get-together earlier tonight where I was sweating like a pig. I really need to see a doctor about this blood pressure medication because this sweating side affect is really starting to get on my nerves. I can't get over how cool it is that we have a Roman Catholic sister as the dean for our Presbyterian Seminary!

Anyway, I'm starting to get to know my classmates and I'm starting to realize just how liberal this school really is. I don't think I necessarily have a problem with it, I mean hey, they accepted me right?, but they seem to be awfully fond of pushing the envelope. I might even come across as looking pretty conservative once all is said and done. Everyone keeps telling me that seminary will radically alter my views, and maybe it will, but I come from a pretty solid and apparently conservative Presbyterian background, so who knows?

After the get together, five of us threw together an impromptu dinner of onions, olives, zucchini and anchovies with some fettucini. It turned out really good. I even tossed in a 99 cent jar of mixed wild mushrooms and it worked out great. I was a little scared of the mushrooms because I had never tried them before, but I figured if I was ever going to use them, now was my chance. It was so great cooking in a normal sized kitchen again instead of my tiny Oxtaby one.

Our class consists of, but is not limited to, a pastry chef, a math teacher, a business major, a med student and 2 marines from California, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, North Carolina and Korea. I've already registered for 17 units. Every day has been more strange and exciting and wonderful than the last. And, magical. Here is some evidence that I might have accidentally enrolled at Hogwarts:

1. The administrative building and one of the classroom wings are actual castles.
2. Depending on how long you've been going to school, you are either called a first-year, second-year, third-year or fourth-year.
3. One of the ancient language teachers looks like Professor McGonagall and the teacher that has us growing things in the dirt looks like Professor Sprout.
4. The names of the courses sound like the courses at Hogwarts: Hermenutics, Homiletics, Exegesis, Pentateuch, etc.
5. We have to learn dead arcane languages.
6. I brought some of my things with me in a big green trunk with brass fittings.
7. Each student is allowed to bring one cat.
8. Our house names are Oxtoby, Landon, Trinity and Dobbins.
9. We learn our craft from ancient texts written by guys that have been dead for thousands of years.
10. There is a better than average chance I will be joining the Quidditch team before the end of the year.

Don't be jealous.