Monday, November 30, 2009

2009: 15 states, 21 events, countless friends.


This year has been a year of adventure and growth. I started out the year taking a single class at Mt. Hood, and living in a beautiful home in Boring, Oregon with a great family who taught me a lot. When not in school I was working at a new Coffee shop just minutes from where I lived. By chance, I was given a free pass to Portland Fusion Exchange. I went to the exhange and the same weekend went to conference my church was holding. Made for a crazy weekend of dancing all night and taking church classes all day, but I loved it.

While at PFX I got the chance to sit in on some good conversation and alcohol consumption with Stryder Crown, Cid Galicia, and Chris Mayer among others. A couple different things happend during that brief conversation. First, Stryder helped me find a ride to Utah Lindy Exchange, which was the following weekend. It would be my first out-of-town exchange, and little did I realize the start of many more. Second, Chris made a comment that profoudnly changed my (still new) blues dancing. Until now, I have never mentioned it to Chris, in fact, I doubt he even remembers saying it. What he said was something along the lines of "if a girl doesn't want to dance close with you, you will know." I didn't want to say anything at the time, because thats exactly the struggle I was having. I was in that "I'm a lindy hopper and never have to get close to my partner, how close is too close stage?!?" So while I was disagreeing inside, because I wanted to dance close, I just had no idea how to, I instantly let it change my close dancing. That same night I asked Chris, among others to dance. And if they drew me in, I relaxed, and let them. Crazy how simple it is, but I have the great way of over-processing sometimes. So thanks Chris.

The following Thursday I was getting up at the crack of dawn to go pick up Jae Wilson and meet some girl we had never met, and she was going to take us to Utah. With little delay, Jae, Zia, and I were off to ULX. My first time to Utah blew my mind. It was so beautiful, the mountains, the snow, the cold. Totally magical. At Utah I got the chance to meet Bryson, Nicholas, Michelle, John, Kristi, and so many more. I couldn't beleive how many great people there were traveling to dance. I wanted in.

I lucked out and came home to yet another event. Swinging Gyspy weekend was held just a week or two later. Still in school, volunteering with young life, and working Feb passed farely quickly. It was March that I was looking forward to. First, was Portland Lindy Exchange. I was really looking forward to having the new friends I had made come and visit my town, and meet some new ones. Once again though I was double booked. This time it was the National Barista Championships. It's so fascinating how much goes into those comps. Alot like performing. From here, next on the list was Boston Tea Party. But by chance, and small group of us Lindy Hoppers decided to jump in a car and go to Sacramento for their lindy exchange. So Emily, Abby, Nick, and I piled our things into Emily's car and hit the road. We also hit up San Fransisco for a couple of days of tourisim and dancing. Really the best thing about the Sac exchange was getting to hang out and do something spontanious with these 3.

Meanwhile, I had been throwing around the idea of a roadtrip since the previous October. I realized that if I was going to go, I would have to do leave soon. Soon, as in 2 weeks. Crap. Well, I told my job, packed my things and put most eveything in storage. Going on this trip meant, going to Sacramento, getting home from Sacramento, having like 3 days then flying to Boston, coming home from Boston and leaving the next day. Which is exactly what I did. So really my trip started two weeks earlier than when I hit the road. By the way, Boston was totally new for me. The whole thing in a hotel, the way the classes and dances and comps went. But fun. While there I competed in my first Lindy Hop comp. Beginners Lindy Hop J&J and in the end my final partner Nate & I won! Jason won his comp too, so we felt we represented Portland pretty well.

Hitting the Road; within that 2 weeks I also found a buddy, Emunah, to drive with me as far as Denver. A good way to start since I was a little nervous. Our trip in fast forward looked like this: Portland to Pilot Rock (because 3 hours in my car broke down...but seriously God's timing is perfect, my sis has family out there so we were taken care of and I left with my car in better condition than when we left Portland), Pilot Rock to Salt Lake (thanks Nicholas for housing us), Salt lake to Denver, where I dropped Emunah off friends, (thanks Alina for housing me), flying off to Tampa for a great Florida with Glenn (who I met at PDXLX, thanks Glenn <3 ) flying back to Denver, driving west to Grand Junction for a day visiting family, back to Denver for Mile High blues (where I made finals in my first blues comp, with none other than Chris), then from Mile High I picked up Jae who had flown in from Germany and we were going to head to New Orleans, at an amazing spur of the moment change of plans we decided to join about 8 others all heading towards Lawrence, Kansas (of all the random places). I spent the day driving with Justin Riley, who loves lawrence and was the root of our side trip. The next day I got the amazing chance to see Stephanie Whitehead who back when she was Stephanie Pugsley was one of my best friends in High School and whom I hadn't seen since. When in Lawrence, Jae decided to go to New York with some other folks, so I was off to Dallas alone (and happy for the oppertunity at some quieter travel time). So one sleep in Dallas (thanks Bryan for housing me, and Stryder for checking in on me ;) ), then finally off to New Orleans, the farthest destination East on my itinerary. Oh New Orleans. So many stories...where do I start? How do I choose? Well, I stayed with Mimi who I had just breifly talked to for the first time at SacLX. I got there and was swooped off to go pick up Mariah, her sister. It only took moments for us all to realize we were clearly soul sisters. I don't know if I have ever met anyone and clicked so easily with them, and identified so closely with them, as I did with these two. Fleur de Lindy was Voon, Andy, John, Robert , Katherine, Chance, Baily, Matt, Nate, none stop lindy hop, crazy stalkers, great stories, good food, and instant love with a City. From there I had to hurry back to the west coast becuase I did have a deadline to get back to Portland.

I drove to Austin, stayed a night in a hostel, drove to Tuscon, another night in a hostel. I chose to spend a couple night in hostels, simply because I never had. After so much socializing and dancing, it was nice to have a bit of a break. I could go for walks and enjoy the peace. From there I sped off to Santa Barabra, where I visited another friend I knew when I was in High School, Shane. I gracious host, I spent a couple days enjoying the sun, the beach, and rediculously good shopping. From there i was off to Tracey, Ca, to spend a day with Cid. Barns & Noble, scrabble, some wine and park swings. A nice relaxing visit as my final stop of my road trip. It was on the drive between Tracey and Portland that I learned of Frankie's death. I had just gone on an epic Lindy Hop adventure and as I finished, Frankie was finishing his.

Home meant a new apartment with 3 girls Ashley knew, new school (PSU), and adjusting back to normal *sorta.

In the mood to keep traveling I set off to Show Me Blues, in St. Louis. this would be the first time I would go into an event not knowing anyone. I flew there all by myself, hopped on public transit, and made it to my host's home. The dancing was great, and turns out my friend Bryan was there, and of course I met tons of people. Really what Show Me Blues really comes down to is Kim Masse and City Museum. Seriosly, visit city museum some time in your life, and even better bring Dave Madison. From St. Louis I flew to New Orleans where I was going to join Dennis Goetz on his road trip already in progress. Had a couple more great days in New Orleans and then we drove to Dallas. Another fun night dancing in Dallas, but by this time I was so exhausted from traveling I had to bail and flew back west.

While I had many adventures this summer, most were spent in anticipation of Camp Hollywood. A reunion with my KG's. King Girls that is, as in the previously mentioned Mimi and Mariah King, with the lovely addition Lexi King. Oh my did we enjoy that. Crazy awesome comps, lots of girl talk, fun costumes, dancing, and sunshine. Kevin, Mike, Kristi, Brian, Bryant, Doug, Tasha, Nate, and there were so many people I can't even keep track. You all made Camp Hollywood amazing.

Still jobless I returned to Portland. Heading off to Seattle to dance whenever I got the chance I also hit up Seattle Lindy Exchange. Summer classes finished well, passed my third attempt at a required math class and aced none other than Jazz History--->best class ever by the way.

I started dabbling in West coast at LAP Dance weekend. We'll see if that goes anywhere, but while at LAP Dance I won the Nov/Int J&J, not to mention had a rediculous time by the pool in Phoenix Arizona. Abby and I hopped in my car and drove all the way to Phoenix in 24 hours, including stopping for 3 hours to sleep...oh and by this time my AC had totally broken so we were driving through the desert hot hot. On the way home, we decided to take a minor detour and hit up the final late-night dance of SFLX another exchange that was happening the same weekend in San Fransisco...yes we are that was amazing (thanks Dave for housing us so last minute) oh yeah, we showed up at 2 in the morning in San Fran with no where to stay. It seems that the west coast swing got to me because the next weekend I found myself at Bridgetown swing, a west coast event here in Portland.

I really couldn't tell you where most of my time went when I was not traveling, and not working and not going to school. Lets see, there were totally awesome dinner parties in Abby's studio where basically we just hung out and Jae cooked for us, those trips to Seattle, spending hours and hours in Cafe D scanning craigslist and talking to friends, and dancing, always dancing.

So in love with New Orleans and equally jobless one way or another, I planned to move there. I got as far as packing everything I owned and supposed to leave the following day when I paniced and realized it wasn't the right time. I still miss New Orleans and think about the place and the people often, but for now, I'm happy in Gresham. So, instead of moving to New Orleans I moved to a super cute little apartment in a 4-plex in historic downtown Gresham. I can walk to my favorite coffee shop, the library, and lots more.

It was about this time that I started taking a class at my church called Life Work. It's been 8 weeks of classes once a week and my life is dramatically changed. My passion for God is far renewed, my understanding of myself and my family is so much clearer, and God's work in my life is evident everywhere I look. Begining mid-January next year I will start the second half of the class. Looking forward to it.

In October I finally got a job at a coffee shop which I can ride my bike, to, which is great. Also in October was the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, my third trip to New Orleans. This time I actually did more of the touristy stuff I had skipped the first two times. But of course it was the music and creative expression that drew me in the most. I really had a great time, and found myself really enjoying myself as a Lindy Hopper and feeling confident in it. A week later I went to one of my favorite events of the year, Blues Muse.

At blues muse I really felt confident in my understanding of blues and I was really excited to meet dancers from the Northeast, a destination I didn't travel much yet this year. I met a ton of great people where, Karsie, Erin, Reul, Alan. I felt so welcomed and had a great time enjoying Philly. Also in Philly I had a couple of non-dancing adventures there was the handsome gentleman, Garrick, who I met at Rum-bar and Sunday afternoon I joined in a free class that was going on in Rittenhouse park. The class involved spinning and throwing a large stick. They said I picked it up was fun, and totally random. I like Philly.

Last year I went to late-night dances only at Emerald city Blues fest, and it was my first blues event, ever. Being that I picked it up so passionately it was important for me to go back and do the full event. It really was an interesting paradigm shift. I went from knowing almost no one, to knowing almost everyone. I knew the people from the Northwest as as well as those who traveled from far away. I went from being a baby blues dancer to having spent many hours studying and working on technique. I was greatful for everything, but it puts me in a new place getting to novel is a lot harder and refining skill is more important.

Coming up I'll be going to Chico Dance Sensation this weekend, have a nice Christmas with my family at home, and then enjoy the best New Years Eve's yet by reuniting with my KG's once again.

A total of 21 national events this year. Crazy. I love dancing.

Jan: PFX

Feb: Swingin' Gypsy Weekend

March: PDXLX
Boston Tea Party

April: Mile High Blues
Fleur De Lindy

Show me Blues


July: PBEx
Down Home Blues
Camp Hollywood

Aug: Seattle Lindy Exchange

Sept LAP dance
Bridgetown swing

Blues Muse


Dec. Chico Dance sensation

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I've Made a Mess of Me

Check out the new single "Mess of Me" from Switchfoot

Romans 7:14-30 (New Living Translation)

Struggling with Sin
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another powerb]">] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dreaded Weekend

This past January, with the help of 2 generous friends, I dreaded my hair. The process took about 7 hours, over two days. I loved the outcome! I had all new possibilities for styling and looks. the only goal was to do something different with my hair, that didn't involve cutting it short.

Here I am having my hair done back in January.

I had no plan for how long I would keep my dreads. I simply said "until I get bored." Well I got bored. It was time for something new. So over the past 4 days I spent a total of 22 hours combing out my hair.

Here I am before the de-dreading, with recently died dreads.

After 2 Combs, 2 jars of intensive conditioner, and a lot of patience I now have my long hair back.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oregon Wilderness

I have seen many beautiful places, but there is nothing like the feel, smell, and beauty of Oregon forests. Today I took a hike through the Wildwood Recreation Site, in the foothills of Mt. Hood. It is really a pretty mellow place for a hike, most of the trails are either boardwalks or paved, but I managed to find some quiet space at the end of one of the boardwalks where I could sit and really take in the landscape around me.

Psalm 104:13

"He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work"

I love nature for so many reasons but there are two reasons that always stick out to me. The first reason being that it is a place where my soul really feels at peace and can rest. When I am in the woods, by the river, or on the mountain I feel rejuvenated. The second reason, is with wilderness is a place where I can see most easily the work of God. I love just sitting and taking in all the life giving beauty God has put together.

Walking through the forest the realization came to me that I may not be back in these woods, or any forests of Oregon for quite some time. With this thought I made sure to take in the views around me that much more. When will I next see a hillside covered with my favorite ground cover of Wood Sorrel. When will I next see the Sandy River or any river so cold and clean? And when will I next see mountains so majestic? I may not know for certain.

Don't get me wrong I will miss Oregon, however I am very excited to learn an entirely new ecosystem. I am looking forward to learning about totally different plants and animals, and bettering my understanding of nature through this knowledge. So while I said bit of a good bye, the possibilities ahead of me brought me strength.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A New Journey

Over the past year, the Lord has been preparing me for a big adventure. All the while, I had little idea of where this adventure would take me. After traveling across the United States twice, after prayer and growth in church, after meeting dozens of new friends, I have finally realized that I am to move to New Orleans.

I visited for the first time in April, and found myself back in June. I fell in love with the city. The music, the art, the culture. It is beautiful.

Mimi, Mariah, and I were all in NOLA for a swing dance event. Here are a couple of pics of Mimi and me.

The truth is, I love the Northwest, but I have lived here my entire life and it is time to stretch myself beyond my limits.

I finished classes at PSU last week, have no job, and no significant other to hold me here. Of course I will miss my friends here and Coram Deo more than anything, but with Facebook and cell phones it will be fairly easy to keep in touch with them.

I just have to move a few things into storage at my Dad's house, load up my car, and I'm off. Crazy! I've been watching the hurricane updates. It will be a bit difficult getting there with all of the heavy rain in the area, but I'll leave when I feel the time is right and I am sure God will get me there.