30 October 2007

maybe tomorrow my life will be balanced...

tomorrow i do the final proofread of the final draft of my thesis for the research master at the Vrije Universiteit. my supervising professor and another professor will respond to it with suggestions for further improvement (they have commented on the first 80 pages already) and/or things to address in the dissertation, then i make (hopefully minimal) corrections, and i am finished my second master's degree. and more importantly, i become officially a ph.d. student with all but my dissertation finished (actually it'll be with a couple of chunks of my dissertation done, since my thesis is a starting point for my ph.d!). the whole process will hopefully be finished by the end of november. finally. it has been all but finished for too long.

and there have been several valid reasons for it taking so long. i chose to take on more work in the community for the month of september because there was a need that i could fill, and for a number of reasons this extra work continued into october. i had a rather large computer problem (the solution being a complete overhaul). i have been spending extra time thinking and processing. i stopped to research and ponder biblical methodology for awhile. i live in community and that takes time and energy, even without the extra work. my parents came to visit and i wanted to spend significant time with them. and so on...

thus, my expectation for how long it would take and the actually reality were significantly different. and that caused some stress in my life. not because i've missed the deadline (i just need to be finished by 3 january to get a certain pay level and by 20 february to be qualified for a position - and as it's ironically financially better for me not to be finished, dragging out the deadline is not a bad thing). but i couldn't help but be disappointed at how little i was able to accomplish academically. and how it felt that this thesis kept hanging over my head, like i didn't really have the space to do everything i really wanted because i really should be finishing my thesis. sure, i don't expect to do what i want all the time, but it also felt like i didn't have the space to be available to others as much as i wanted to, the time to spend more on dutch, more on the fairly delightful task of prepping classes, more on growing in academic knowledge, and so on. in other words, it felt like my life was out of balance.

and even if i can explain my delay in finishing the thesis by the valid reasons given above, part of me wonders what it is about me that tends to make it so that i often have something hanging over my head. or struggle with a desire to be busy and tend towards being overly responsible. and that this has a tendency towards slowly pushing my life out of balance.

but i will keep trying (and praying and asking for help) to restore the balance. to help with that, i was given time off from some of my house chores and am passing on some of the chores (and this is what has given me time to finish my thesis). i'll be asked in a week if i've done the lovely things that i know bring me joy (like biking to the university a couple of times a week, eating at friends' houses, and having a couple of fun dates). and i will spend some extra time processing again - and wonder and pray about how to balance proper amounts of productivity in academic stuff with a desire to make space for and be available to the people in my life.

and maybe tomorrow, my life will be balanced. i have some work to do (academic and for the community). a bike ride planned. some emails to respond to. a date that i'm looking forward to. and somewhere in the midst of all of that, i hope for time to ponder and pray, good conversations, some unexpected things for which i now have space and energy to meet, and most of all, the wonder of meeting God.

14 October 2007

Photos from my parents' visit

More stories are coming about my parents' visit - but for now I'll just share some of the photos my mom has taken about their trip here. The photos can be found on facebook.

10 October 2007

how i sometimes feel about love and living in community

The following is a quote from Quite a Year for Plums by Bailey White that I found on the blog, ricklibrarian.

"There is no beginning to love," Roger said. "It just creeps over you."

"Oh," said Hilma, "like brown rot on a plum tree in the dark winter months, and by the time you become aware of it, the leaves are out and it's too late to spray."

I have to admit that this quote struck me as fitting. Perhaps I wouldn't quite compare love to rot, but it does have a way of creeping up on you and it does cause pain - so maybe the description isn't so bad. And rot can be beautiful in its own way :)

06 October 2007

my parents in Amsterdam

i picked up my parents Wednesday morning at the airport. they were excited to be here, but fairly tired. the tired-ness only got worse, despite the fact that travelling to my place is fairly easy [a 15-minute train ride and a 10-minute walk (albeit through the usual crooked streets pulling a suitcase)]. by the time they'd seen my room, shared coffee/tea after chapel with some of the people that lived here, and helped carry their stuff to the fifth floor, they were more than ready for a nap.

Wednesday afternoon, we were off to a canal cruise because one of the guys in the community (Harm) is a captain of a tour boat. ideally, we'd have meandered a bit more on this day or taken bikes to get there, but this was the only day that Harm could take us and biking in Amsterdam is not exactly something you'd want to try on little sleep. so, my parents discovered the busy-ness of Amsterdam a little more abruptly than ideal. As my mom wrote to my sister, "Had lunch here and then we walked and walked the streets of Amsterdam. The streets are narrow and the bikers are worse than the cars and you better be on the bawl or you will get run over." they managed not to get hit by any bikers or cars, so they did pretty good.

for the canal cruise, we had the captain (Harm) all to ourselves, since the rest of the group was Italian and had their own tour guide. so my parents could ask tons of questions, which they enjoyed. then back to my place, meandering through the flower market and the shopping street, and finally time for supper. then sitting around, tea, and chapel. chapel was run by the oldest member of our community and didn't quite follow the liturgy, so it was a bit confusing for all of us. and since my parents don't exactly know church-y dutch and were still pretty tired, the fact that they made it through without falling asleep or being completely overwhelmed, was impressive. and then bed for them and a community meeting for me (a fascinating discussion of truth and perspective in journalism, which i followed most of the time despite it being in dutch and about dutch journalism and not having yet read the articles related to it!)

the next day, i had to clean the kitchen (we're a bit short-staffed with cleaning so switching seemed more complicated than it was worth), so they headed off to the huge flea market - and meandered through the streets of Amsterdam by themselves. they managed to get themselves back again by themselves and i think had a lot of random conversations along the way (they're walking proof that Canadians are really friendly!). in the afternoon, we tried to make plans about what to do next and where to go. having spent all their lives in the country-side with lots of space and cars being the obvious way of getting around, they were starting to feel claustrophobia from Amsterdam and felt that they lacked freedom in not having a car. and as our/their plans are somewhat dependent on when people are available, planning on when and where to go and what to do has been a bit difficult. but by mid-Thursday, plans were in place - and since i was going with them the next day for an indefinite period of time, i left them alone ago in order to go on a date (sorry, no parents invited). my parents went to the Heineken museum, meandering through the city again and went out for a nice supper.

Friday morning, they made me look good by being on time to breakfast (since it's 7:15, that's a bit of a feat for everyone around here). and then with a bit of packing and organizing, we skipped town to pick up a rental car and go off to Friesland.

so, my parents got an introduction to my world. they've had their fill of the Red Light District and second-hand pot smoke. and with the view out of their window of a corner where drugs get sold and a prostitute or two in windows across the way, they've been exposed to the sadder part of my life here. unfortunately, i think the busy-ness and ugliness of my neighbourhood and the confusion of things being so different (including and especially language) has overshadowed the joy and delight of living in this community that i want to share with them. hopefully, that will still happen more and more as time goes by. and for now, i'm trying to help them out as much as i can in their holiday and am delighting in being able to be with them as we discover more and more about our roots.