Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back to School

"Don't you just love New York in the Fall?  It makes me want to buy school supplies.  I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."
- Tom Hanks, You've Got Mail

It's that time of year again.  That time when you wake up in the morning and realize you have a full day of work and school ahead of you.  That time when you realize you will be trading valuable sleeping hours for just a little more time to write a paper you procrastinated.  That time when you finally finish an 8-hour work day, hurry to catch the bus, and drag your feet as you walk up the hill to campus.  Yes, it's September and I'm in school once again.

Things are a little bit different this time around.  For one thing, I'm not going to BYU.  I'm going to Cal State East Bay.  We watched part of a film in class on Wednesday and I was the only one that was phased by the use of the F-word.  (Reality check, Celia...people do swear.)  My classmates and I are pretty much taking all of our classes together so it would be in my best interest to get to know these people very well.  (Luckily there are some very nice people in my classes that I've already become "friends" with so it hasn't been as difficult as I thought.  One of the guys was actually in my graduating class at Northgate High School.)  It was easy in my history classes at BYU to just sit and take notes, make occasional comments, and roll my eyes when that one kid in the front row raised his hand for the tenth time.  Since this is vocational training and not just education, I'm getting the feeling that my usually passive-yet-attentive style is not really going to work here.

But not everything is different here.  Campus is still up on a hill.  It's within walking distance (although my walk to Cal State East Bay, Concord Campus is considerably longer than the one I would take up to BYU everyday).
View of Mt. Diablo on my way to school.
Walking to campus.
Cal State University, East Bay - Concord Campus
I still see random wildlife on campus but instead of seeing deer I see wild turkeys and SO MANY SQUIRRELS!  They're everywhere!
There were about 20 turkeys walking around campus the first time I came out of class.  This is the only one that didn't run away from me :)
My first week of school is officially complete.  I can honestly say that I forgot what it is like to do homework and to be truly exhausted.  This is a different kind of exhaustion than what I've felt before.  When I was at BYU, I worked custodial and didn't really have to think for the four hours I walked around the JKB cleaning.  Now I work 8 hours everyday and actually have to think about what I'm doing.  Then I go to class where I sit and think some more.  But I like being busy.  I like having a schedule and a routine.  I like feeling like I'm working toward a goal.  I'm okay giving up a few hours of sleep for this. :)

So it's back to riding the bus, back to taking notes, back to long hours writing papers, back to sitting in front of computer screens, back to thinking, back to reality.  I got this!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Things You Should Never Try To Live Without

I moved into my new apartment this past Saturday.  After hefting all of my possessions up three flights of stairs for a back-breaking hour and a half, I was able to get everything pretty much situated.  This is the first apartment I've lived in that isn't furnished so I borrowed a lot of my parents' furniture but also got some of my own.  Lucky for me, my sister-in-law, who is very adept at finding furniture for low prices, located a couch for me that I was able to get for $15.  I went to Big Lots and bought a small shelf for the living room for $20.  I got a bunch of odds-and-ends for the kitchen at Ross.  Basically, discount stores now rank among my closest friends.

I really like the layout of my apartment.  My room and my roommate's room are on opposite sides of the apartment.  The living room is in the middle.  We each have our own bathroom!

My bedroom.  In case you couldn't tell, I really love America :)
The other side of my room. That door leads to my bathroom.
The view outside my bedroom window.  Not too bad, eh?
The living room.
The dining area.
The kitchen.
So I'm feeling quite satisfied with the way things have worked out.  Although, there were a couple of days when I had to live without some necessary items.  So get out your notepads and jot down a few tidbits of what I'm about to say.  It may come in handy later in life.  These are three things you should always have at your disposal:
  • A Toaster:  I thought I had it made when I showed up at my apartment with the basic breakfast items, bread and butter.  However, when I woke up the next morning ready to eat some slightly-browned toast covered in melted butter, I was bitterly disappointed.  Alas...I had forgotten a toaster.  I spread the cold butter over my cold bread and ate it with as much cheerfulness as I could muster.  Advice: Don't live without one of these wonderful inventions.
  • Shower Curtain Rings:  Who knew little plastic circles could be so essential to one's happiness?  I woke up Sunday morning to accomplish the usually painless task of getting ready for church but found myself faced with a dilemma.  I had a shower curtain (which my old roommate Heidi so willingly and generously bestowed upon me) but I had nothing to hang it up with.  In a desperate attempt to make do with what I had, I flung the curtain over the bar and taped it so that it hung straight and would block (most) of the water from reaching the floor.  Never in my life have I felt more white-trash than I did then.  Advice: If you don't have shower curtain rings, find some other means besides tape to hang up your curtain.  It turns out hot humid air and cheap adhesives don't really mix.
  • A Microwave:  There's nothing worse than making a bunch of delicious food, putting it in tupperware to save for later, and then realizing that your now cold food is inedible because there is no microwave on your counter to heat it up with.  Advice: If you are unfortunate enough to not own a microwave, make only one serving of whatever deliciousness you want to eat so that you don't end up with leftovers.
So despite some difficulties at first (having to do without the aforementioned items, dealing with the smokers down below us), apartment life in Concord has been just fine.  I think my roommate and I will get along well, there is a shopping center just down the street, my sister Brittany lives just around the corner, and the Concord Campus of Cal State East Bay is within walking distance. Yes, "I find myself quite content with my situation." (I'll give the person who knows what movie that line is from a high-five.  Sorry, I'm a poor starving college student again so that's all I have to offer. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Will Remember You

I'm a cryer.  It's quite annoying, really.  I cry when I hear a touching song on the radio.  I cry during the tender moments of movies.  I cry every time I get up to bear my testimony in church.  I come from a long line of cryers.  In other words, this horrible tendency to burst into tears is actually hereditary and, therefore, not my fault.  What can I say?  I'm a Christensen.  Crying comes with the territory.

So it should come as no surprise to you that I cried the day I left Provo.  I woke up that morning, looked around my nearly-empty room, laid my head back on the pillow, and promptly let out of a few wails.  Later that morning, tears streamed down my face as I vacuumed behind my desk and my dresser.  My throat ached but I managed to hold the tears back as my sister Brigitte and I drove down University Avenue past restaurants and old apartment complexes, away from the Y and all my BYU friends.  I nearly cried again when I said goodbye to Brigitte, my closest family member for the past five years, and drove away with the Lamberts to make the long journey back to the San Francisco Bay Area.

I have been back in California for a little over a week now.  I've started a new job.  I've managed to find an apartment (though I haven't moved in yet).  I went to the Walnut Creek YSA Ward this past Sunday.  Everything has been going just fine.  I love the fact that I can have Sunday dinner with my parents, my grandma, my cousin, and two of my siblings and their families.  But, like any change in life, adjustments and reality checks are required.  I'm not in Provo anymore and, though I've managed to hold back the sob-fest since I've been home, I am still a little sad that my ward members don't live next door, that I can't just walk up the hill to church, and that I have to make friends all over again (something that's never been particularly easy for me).  I am happy to be here, though, and I really believe that this is where I am supposed to be right now.  So to Provo and all of my friends there, I'll quote the lyrics of a song that aptly express my feelings toward you: "I will remember you and all of the things that we've gone through.  There is so much I can say but words get in the way so when we're not together, I will remember you."  If any of my Provo friends are ever in the Bay Area, please feel free to visit me.  I'd love to see you.

New beginnings give all of us the opportunity to be a little better than we were before.  I start school in a few weeks.  Maybe this time around I can be a better friend and example to those around me than I was in high school.  I will be attending a new ward.  Maybe I can try to serve those around me with a little more zeal and enthusiasm than I did before.  This is my chance to be a better version of myself.  Let's hope I can start it off right!