Monday, 21 March 2011

Jazzing, jiving and living the amish life.

It's been about 6 weeks since I wrote a blog. My 14 year old blogging
addict self is disgraced. Life at the moment is simply and sadly a little
bit too busy for such regular blogging escapades!

I spent most of the weekend just gone in Leicester, snuggling up beside a
lovely radiator writing up a year's worth of evidence for my year 3
pharmacy practice portfolio, thinking about how much I really don't like
CPD. That's 'Continuing Professional Development' to anyone blissfully
unaware of reflective essays, skill development and the like. Very. Very.
Dull. On the plus side, I happily spent the weekend with my immediate
family in honour of my Nanny's 78th Birthday, and I slept for 12 hours on
Friday night. Win. I cuddled the cat and played the piano; privileges my
lovely house in the ghetto of West Earlham, Norwich just can't offer.

I could write a whole lot about everything I've done since week 4 of the
UEA spring term. This is inevitably going to turn out quite lengthy. So,
not at all in chronological order, I'll cut it short, skim through the
high/low lights, and try to expand upon only the most dramatic/challenging

*for exciting but relatively un- world changing events
**for hearing God's voice, personal challenges and epic learning curves

*I spent a weekend at the end of February visiting Sheffield for my friend
Sian's wild birthday celebrations. This was amazing, since despite
spending all my hard earned money on taxis ferrying drunk friends to and
from unknown destinations in the wee small hours, I had the opportunity to
catch up with lots of my besties from Leicester over dinner and getting
ready, see lots of associated mutual friends and experience Yorkshire's
biggest LGBT club night. When we woke up on Saturday morning it was
snowing (!). Not that Leicester or Luton are on the way back to Norwich
from Sheffield, but I decided to whilst roughly in the area, venture
homewards, see the parents, and then head south for an epic fry up and
lazy afternoon with my Nanny. There was just enough time to spend Sunday
morning with the good folk at Groby United Reformed Church before nom-ming
down another humongous dinner with the family and heading east again.
Perfect(ly a little bit mental!).

*I made and ate an excessive amount of pancakes, not only on pancake day
(when amazingly my house mates and I amazingly had our 9am lecture
cancelled!) but the Sunday preceding it with brother Laurence and sister
Katie post church, and with the children at the youth group I help out at
on the following Thursday.

*I had the enormous privilege of singing along with the music society big
band at their annual (and my favourite of the year) Jazz in the Hive
concert. I jumped at the chance to sing Michael Buble's arrangement of
'Feeling Good' and managed (after struggling at the first rehearsal) to
apparently do quite a good job! As the band completed their encores I was
even called on to sing again, since the song is also a favourite of theirs
to play. Awesome times.Video evidence can be found; although a little out
of sync I'm thankful to whoever made it as I was ab
le to show my Nan at the weekend, who was loving it.

*I've extended my baking repertoire beyond the default (but apparently
amazing) chocolate brownies. I can now make orange and sultana cake,
although zesting oranges and squeezing out the juice is a little bit of a
faff, and I'm still not sure how to stop the sultanas from sinking right
to the bottom and going crispy.

*I've spent some really valuable time with good friends I don't get to see
so often, particularly some I have the privilege of calling my brothers
and sisters in Christ. I spent an evening with Dave, his stories however
they are, are always of encouragement to me. Last Saturday afternoon was
one of drinking tea and eating cake with Fran in the Forum, which was long
overdue catch up and particularly great since she introduced me (after our
three years in Norwich) to the city library. I've even started reading the
book (fiction!) I took out!

*My friends keep turning 21. Whilst waiting my turn, and planning a barn
dance for the occasion in June, it's been great celebrating with all these
folk. Most recently Zoe Matthews, my lovely old housemate from last year,
James Pannell who managed to extend his birthday across a week's worth of
varying celebrations including jelly and ice cream, and Grace
Constance-Main whose parents treated us to their abundance of pizza
express vouchers attained from Tesco.

*Despite adopting more of a hermit lifestyle, I've been on a fair few
happy nights out and about. Last week was St Patrick's day and a few
Saturday nights of dancing at the LCR have been fun. A couple of weeks
ago I went along with James' rabble to the wild west themed night which
was another 'getting reading in the congregation hall toilets with Sally'
occasion after a busy day of being on campus for ~20 (long) hours. Epic as
ever. On Wednesday I went to see The Mariners Children who played
alongside Coco's Lovers and local band Grenouilles at Norwich Arts
Centre. Grenouilles, some friends of my friends, and therefore friends of
mine, genuinely played really well which made for a great night.

**My laptop broke! This affected my life and times far more than I could
have predicted. The majority of the uni work I've ever done, presentations
I was most of the way through prepping and all of the photos I've taken
since about 2008 disappeared entirely (never to return) along with
apparently the functionality of my hard drive. Disaster. First lesson
learned? Always back up. After a stressful weekend in the library, I
waited (not very patiently) until the following Friday when Dell finally
managed to send an (actually really nice Terry Pratchett fan-boy)engineer
to replace my hard drive free of charge under the amazing warrantee my Dad
had the ingenious foresight to buy following some previous trouble.
The apparent trauma of my amish week was exacer-bated since it came
directly after a week of house-related disasters including a flooded
bath-room, power cut, internet outtage and broken freezer. Having survived
relatively unscathed, I won't bore the world with further details of my
personal techpocalypse, But I'm sure you would think my world had ended.

Having no access to my work from home was a major cause of stress, since
every spare moment needed to be spent in the library trying to block
out background noise and fight off competition to use computers at peak
times. Second lesson learned? I have realised just how much I depend on
technology to do my work, and how much I depend on my work for my
identity. If I'm up to date on my coursework, (a rarity due to the heavy
demands of my course) I feel content. I rarely get nervous, but if I have
done well in a presentation I can sleep peacefully come the evening.
Equally if I've got piles of unfin-ished/unstarted work or I don't get
such good feedback from a teacher, I'm inclined to feel stressed,
disappointed or even a little angry with myself for not doing better. My
to do list is so often (and quite wrongly) the cause of and comfort for my
daily life's dramas. As a christian, I'm challenged and encouraged when I
recognise this attitude. I know that however I might feel, my identity
doesn't come from what I do, or what I don't do. Does this mean I
shouldn't use lists if I find them helpful? Surely not, but meanwhile I'm
asking the holy spirit to help me see Jesus as my only source of hope,
comfort and uncircumstantial joy. Hasn't God transferred me from the
dominion of darkness into his glorious kingdom of light? Doesn't my help
come from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth? Isn't the peace he can
bring far greater than my understanding and Isn't he the source of
strength for those who wait on him? The words of Paul found in Phillipians
chapter 3 resonate, as I want to know more of what it means practically to
live in and for Christ Alone.

''But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of
Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the
surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have
lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be
found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the
law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that
comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know
the power of his resurrection and partici-pation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the
resurrection from the dead'' - Phillipians 3.7-11

**I watched a couple of TV programmes which challenged me. One was about
some celebrities visiting the slums in Kenya's Kibera, the other about a
British woman going to work as a midwife somewhere similar. I was
overwhelmed by how much I didn't care.

What I mean to say, is that I do care. I do care about people. I pray and
I give some money to charity. But what about when I turn off the news or
programmes like the ones I described above? What about when the preacher
stops preaching and I'm going about my normal life? What about when I go
to Sainsburys, get some beer and trifle and cuddle up with my housemates
in our relatively toasty house? What do I care about then? Is my heart
aching every day for the same things God's heart aches for? Am I doing all
I can to act justly for the people in God's world? A hymn we sometimes
sing, includes these words;

'heal my heart and make it clean,
open up my eyes to the things unseen,
show me how to love like you have loved me.
break my heart for what breaks yours,
everything I am for your kingdom's cause
as I walk from earth into eternity'

In truth, my heart is hard. I am still more likely to cry about my
computer not working than Jesus' perfect response to suffering and sin in
the world he loves. Jesus please cultivate more of your compassion in me

*I'm considering what I might do with my life. I think I would enjoy being
a pharmacist in some capacity. If I want to do this (which I know enough
to know I apparently do) I have to apply for pre-registration placements
soon! It's worth noting this won't be until about July about
planning ahead...this is what pharmacy does to you.

In terms of hospitals, I'm wondering about Nottingham, Cambridge and
Birmingham, staying in Norwich or indeed lovely Leicester. I've always
liked the idea of living in Nottingham. Whatever people will say, I've
never been involved in any shootings and I wouldn't mind being a bit
closer to my family. Coming round to the idea of community pharmacy a
little, I might apply to the big businesses (Superdrug gave the best
freebies...) and some of the jobs in the smaller independent pharmacy
chains which exist only in the south of England. Why not go and live out
in the coun-try/Essex/Sussex/Devon/somewhere entirely random and far away?

Ultimately I have no capacity for such big and immediate decision making.
I'm not even sure how to do it. It's a sticky subject and up for debate,
but time will surely tell...exciting!