Monday, November 14, 2011

Is The Bus Pass Worth It?

So tonight, as I exited my second and final bus, preparing for the short (four blocks) walk to my house I found myself thinking "that bus pass is totally worth it". It's not a cheap investment, the monthly regional pass that allows me to ride anything, anytime, anywhere, but most importantly, the expensive bus out to the airport for work. It's $176. $176 for ONE MONTH. Still, in the short time I have had it there are some definite benefits.

Take exhaustion for example, in my line of work going home tired is virtually guaranteed every, single, day. Plus there are days like today when I worked a double shift. I was at work from 7am this morning until midnight. Is it really a smart idea to try to operate a car after that? I feel like I am keeping myself and other drivers on the road a little safer when I don't attempt that drive that tired.

Another benefit of a bus pass is the lack of stress around parking. I recently moved to the Capital Hill area in Denver. I love my apartment, its location, its proximity to things I need and use and do. Parking is a royal pain in the arse. On an average night it took me 10-20 minutes to find a parking space, and the closest one I have ever found is 2 blocks away from where I live. I would much rather walk 4 blocks than waste expensive gasoline circling blocks like a shark attempting to will a parking spot into being.

Not everything with taking the bus is sparkly rainbows. Financially, it's a bit of a wash. $176 is a lot of money. Figuring that my hoopdie grocery getter of a car Delores uses about $10/day in fuel costs to get to and from DIA I need to take public transport about 18 days a month to make it work there. I haven't even tried adding anything like potential savings for maintenance costs. Too complicated for me. It does take a little bit longer, and requires some planning around the timeline of when I want to be at work. If I get mandatory overtime at work because of say, a snowstorm. I will most likely have to spend the night (or a good portion of it) at the airport, because the buses I need will not be running that late/early.

Overall though, worth it. Decent convenience, large reduction in stress levels, a certain novelty from traveling that way, and not having to battle with Delores. I am in, sign me up.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Review

I did this survey a couple years ago. For some reason I remembered it today on the commute to work. Here goes.

Yearly Wrap-Up Survey

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

  • I joined an ice hockey league and learned how to play - AWESOME
  • Finally joined the Urban Servant Corps
  • Went on outreach
  • Had my heart broken by my work

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolution?

  • Oh heck to the no. Are you supposed to?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

§ Nope

4. Did anyone close to you die?

§ Actually yesterday I just found out that one of the most awesome volunteers I work with died suddenly. Eleanor, we all miss you.

5. What countries did you visit?

§ None this year

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

§ Responsibility in handling financial details

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

§ March 9, 2010 - Shoulder surgery

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

§ Joining the Urban Servant Corps, living in intentional community, stretching and growing

9. What was your biggest failure?

§ There was a problem that I could have moved faster to address

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

§ I tore the labrum in my right shoulder about 180% and my bicep tendon was coming off the bone as well as ripping down the middle.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

§ Uhh, right now I am a big fan of the phone I got as a hand-me-down from Cherica. I guess the technical answer is my iPod touch.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

§ Pastor Karol - she is a rock star who dealt with some really tough questions in a way that I admire. I might not agree with the outcome, but the process and the hurt and the questions she addressed and the conversations she facilitated.... Someday maybe I'll be cool like her. I hope so.

14. Where did most of your money go?

§ Hockey gear, and immediately after that, medical expenses.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

  • Joining USC
  • Finally taking steps to move towards going to seminary

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

§ Tik Tok by Ke$ha, I can't believe I admitted that

17. Are you...

A. Happier or sadder? Happier

B. Richer or poorer? Poorer, by choice!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

§ Hockey

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

§ Avoidance

20. How did you spend Christmas?

§ I spent christmas eve being a torch-bearer at St. Paul Lutheran Church, christmas day with my family in Arvada, the next several days in Montrose w/ the Grandparents, Kansas contingent, and immediate family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

§ Nope

23. What was your favorite TV program?

§ Bones, hands down.

25. What was the best book you read?

§ The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

§ Daft Punk

27. What did you want and get?

§ I wanted to escape from my job at a grocery store making sure that people had all 30 choices of Ranch and moved into a place where I feel like I actually have an impact.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

§ Iron Man 2

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

§ I turned 28, watched Harry Potter the night before and had my favorite dinner ever.

30. What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

§ Trying to not play God, and being happy with that.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

§ Is it clean? Is it comfortable? Ok, that works.

32. What kept you sane?

§ Great friends.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

§ Probably the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell"

35. Who did you miss?

§ I miss Sara, I wish that she was closer and we could hang out more often.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

§ Uhh, all the other volunteers. I can't pick one.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

§ I'm not in charge, I don't control other people.

38. What travel plans do you have for 2011? Which ones are you the most excited about?

§ No plans yet. Perhaps a move to Chicago is in my future?

40. Which season are you looking forward to the most this year? Why?

§ I have no idea. Potential adventures in all of them I guess.

41. What are some things you'd like to do in 2011, but haven't officially planned for yet?

§ skydiving would be nice

42. Do you anticipate any major changes in 2011, such as a new home, job, family life, etc.?

  • One more niece or nephew! Coming early August.
  • August will bring a whole lot of changes actually, new home, new job, learning to live w/ out my 5&9 community, etc.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

USC: One Month In

Wow, so much for the weekly updates huh?

Urban Servant Corps, community living, job site training and day-to-day, this is an EXPERIENCE. I don't really know how else to describe it. It is an amazing, frustrating, humbling, joyful, heartbreaking, building experience. Every day is a distinct roller coaster ride of emotions where you can be happy and excited for a person one minute and the next heartbroken and despairing about the world and society as a whole ignoring or downplaying or refusing to help our neighbors. Ok, it's not really minute to minute. It's here and there. Some days will obviously be more positive than others, some days will be more challenging.

Highlights: I've been blessed to get to know some great people. Volunteers, participants, all sorts of people. Today I heard an amazing story of a landlord who returned a check to the church not because the individual had been evicted, but because he spoke with her and decided to work with her on his own. His exact words? "Give the money to another person". That is cool.

Lowlights: It's a hard lesson to recognize that you cannot help everyone... it's impossible. I have seen for the first time a writ of restitution. How does one explain the connotations of that to someone sitting across the table?

Overall: I have been incredibly blessed to be a part of this. The community I live in, the people I serve, it's amazing. Every day I am asked to jump headfirst into whatever I am working on for the day. Some days it feels like I'm jumping into a kiddie pool, but I love it none the less.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

USC Week One: Oriented Yet?

Wow, a week! That was fast, and slow, and impossibly long, and really really short. I have known my housemates for technically only a week now, seven days. That is not a long time but here, we have bonded. The house started out with eight people, and (not unsurprisingly) we have a myriad of backgrounds and perspectives and experiences. We laugh a lot, we play games and drink, we plan pranks and gather around the dinner table. The week truly was action packed, so I'll give you a quick day-by-day, but don't expect this for every week! That just isn't going to happen :)

Day 1 (Sun) - Total whirlwind of activity, moving in, meeting everybody. That was quickly followed by answering the same questions again & again. Where are you from? Where did you go to college? What house are you living in? What are your placement sites? It was a little bit overwhelming, a lot crazy, and super fun.

Day 2 (Mon) - Today's buzzword: intentional community. There's an interesting style of facilitation, I'm often reminding myself to participate. Today I got to check out the HRAC, that's an intense orientation. Beers in the backyard led to some fun conversation and the creation of a quote book.

Day 3 (Tue) - So we are touring around different places that volunteers will be serving in the afternoons. It's amazing and awe inspiring to see the passion of people touring different sites. Today we found out that one of our housemates is leaving. Sad sad day, just wasn't working.

Day 4 (Wed) - After touring HRAC for a second time I am very excited to go to work there. Worked on all the Americorps paperwork in the morning. Americorps has this awesome pledge, and crazy rules.

Day 5 (Thu) - Workshop on feedback, I wasn't impressed but that wasn't the point. More tours of placement sites, it's amazing how all of these places work together and refer clients to others services and are so interconnected. D took off. :( sad. Almost called you to be a part of the house meeting!

Day 6 (Fri) - The most emotionally draining and involved day by far. Today we shared our faith stories/journeys with our housemates. I feel privileged and in awe that in 5 days we have been able to come together as a community, to create a safe space that people can share this deeply personal aspect of their lives with one another.

Oh yeah! We got paid our first months stipend! You can talk about seventy-five dollars, and try to imagine it, and rationalize it all you want. When you are holding those 5 bills in your hand the reality hits you pretty fast. SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. FOR ONE MONTH. REALLY? How's this going to work?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

T minus One Day: Urban Servant Corps

Here it goes. Tomorrow starts a whole new adventure/phase of life/something seemingly really (impossibly?) large. A year of volunteer service with the Urban Servant Corps. I am honestly having a hard time putting my thoughts down into something coherent and readable, so there are the four main questions I will attempt to answer tonight.

What is it?/What will I be doing?: According to the website, the Urban Servant Corps (USC) is a one-year, full-time Lutheran volunteer program involved in ministries serving inner-city Denver. Volunteers are placed with non-profits, so this year I will be working with two organizations, the St. Paul Local Assistance Ministry, and the Harm Reduction Action Center. As part of the experience I will be living w/ other volunteers as part of an intentional christian community.

Why am I doing this?: It's a funny story actually. The short version is that I am somehow supposed to, don't ask me why or how, but I just know. Longer version, I knew someone a long time ago who participated and encouraged me to do the same. Then, when I moved to Montana the pastor up there said 'Hey, you should think about doing this'. Moved to New Jersey, moved back to Colorado and a pastor here said the exact same thing. Don't worry, I picked up the message this time and applied. :)

Overall, this year accomplishes several things for me:
  • My philosophy and approach to life is very simple: Have fun, do good. This is a great way to intentionally do this, apply my philosophy in the most direct way possible.
  • There are a lot of problems and challenges facing us today that I have no experience or even baseline knowledge of. How can I participate in discussions and help work for a solution if I know nothing about the subjects? (homelessness, poverty, etc.)
  • I want to live intentionally this year. (More on that later, probably)

Any questions/expectations going in?: I think that the questions I face going in are the same that everybody faces, or is thinking about right now. Pretty basic including, what did I sign up to do? Am I out of my mind? What are the other volunteers going to be like? Expectations, I'm trying to intentionally stay pretty blank on this one.

I just want to say a quick thank you to all the people who are supporting me this year. Your thoughts and prayers are welcome. I'm hoping to post a USC related post about once a week on average. I was thinking about doing posts about community life, the organizations I will be working in, and the fabulous volunteers I'll be getting to know a lot better. If you have any questions, comments or ideas I'd love to hear them!