Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Graduation Weekend

A few exciting and nerve wrecking things happened this weekend.

First, for the exciting! My mom and her husband as well as my grandparents came down to RI to celebrate my graduation! It was a delight to have everyone in the same place, as that rarely happens. We spent some time frolicking around town.

Friday we went out to dinner at the delicious Governor Francis Inn in Warwick, RI. It is one of the first restaurants in RI that we ate at four years ago, thanks to the recommendation from a man in a parking lot. It's almost symbolic or something. I recommend this place if you are in the area. Lobster, steak, reasonable prices, yes!  We wanted to go somewhere out of the immediate Providence area, simply because of the amount of graduation related people clogging up every Providence nook and cranny.

Saturday was the graduation. There were so many people! I kind of tear up at the thought of never seeing these people again (even if I'm not directly friends with them, it still feels like I know them!).

 They kept us holed up for about 45 minutes in the back of the Dunkin Donuts, and it was kind of gross and sweaty, but finally we made it into the main room and the anticipation was incredible. I can't believe that four years later, I am a college graduate! All the hard work, all the essays, phone calls home, field trips, friends... tuition, haha. The commencement speaker was the guy who rediscovered White Zinfandel wine. It was pretty cool.

After graduation, we grabbed lunch, went shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop, took a nap, and decided to head to Oakland Beach. I guess we didn't realize how cold and windy it would be by the water, because it was quite brisk. We took cover in Marley's On the Beach and sat by the big windows to watch the water. Good times as the sun set, the sail boats passed by, and the brownie sundaes were ordered... (delicious by the way!)

My mom and her husband left early the next morning, but my grandparents stuck around until the next afternoon. They came to church with me, and then we went to T's in Cranston for brunch - another place I recommend if you understand that a wait means that the food must be good :P

Now, the nerve wrecking things that happened. Well for starters, my car didn't pass inspection. The car that I've had less than a month. It was a surprise because it was just inspected in NY less than 6 months ago, but we figure the inspection must have been "bought" if you know what I mean. The cost to repair is greater than the actual cost itself, so I am going to basically sell it off to a junk place. It is pretty sad, actually, horrible. I did everything I could to bless others with it, and not turn it into an idol. I waited and prayed for 4 long years while riding psychotic RIPTA. What a waste. Sigh. The only thing keeping me from being devastated is the fact that I know God is sovereign, and he loves me, and everything is for my good and his glory. Surely He knows whats up, and I know He is still on "plan A."

The second thing, and the most ironic thing of all. At the time of graduation, I did not actually know my grades. I was confidant about passing all but one class, Statistics. This class has been my plague for 2 years, and if I didn't pass then I didn't graduate. So I went into graduation not knowing how I did. Thankfully, last night,  I finally found out that I PASSED Stats! So many people helped me study and prayed for me, and I know that God  has grace on his little girl that just is horrible at hypothesis based theories!!!!

Well, that about sums up my past weekend. What a crazy time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trust. Rescue. Abba.

I wrote this poem tonight because I'm struggling with trusting in God as my father. 

When my heart struggles to trust, I must ask God to help me and rescue me from myself.

Abba, Please
by Alissa Graham

Grant me help to be your daughter
though I struggle with the concept of father.
You are loving, kind, and good
and in you, evil, my heart withstood.

Grant me divine eyes to see
that you haven't really given me
a rock though I asked for bread,
or a snake rather than a fish, though I pled.

Grant me grace to trust in You
when I cant fully understand the truth.
When I misread the rose for the thorn,
the gospel is what I must adorn.

Grant me peace among this rocky sea
that this peace shall quell the unease.
When I lack and have nothing that will tide
help me look to you to provide.

Grant me forgiveness, as you know I will fail;
Your loving sacrifice was the perfect bale.
When I waver from the foundation-
Abba, please, persevere me for the duration.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Graduating, Done, Almost, Calluses?

I'm sitting at my desk in the JWU University Information Center and thinking about the fact that I currently have no homework, no tests to study for, no essays or field trips. Oh my. This week I crammed my hardest for Statistics (probably a good 6 hours or more), wrote up my finals, turned them in, and here I sit, at the end.

Ideally I graduate this Saturday with a Bachelors degree in Global Tourism Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Of course I have two more classes to take this summer, but this basically marks the end of my college career.

On the way to Freshmen Orientation, 2007
Four years at Johnson & Wales, in Providence Rhode Island. Three years of being involved in Christian Student Fellowship. Two years of working in the UIC. One dorm and two apartments later. One gospel centered church. Many an adventure. Many good relationships, and some not so good ones. Innumerable opportunities for learning about tourism. Russia. Greece. Blackstone Valley. AAA. T.F. Green. Wow. And now I have a CAR! And so many people to thank.

Who would have thought I would be here, doing this!

My friend said that graduation feels like "they are kicking him out," and I kind of feel the same way. I'd rather not leave, haha.

There might be some denial going on (actually kind of a lot). But I look forward, and I am nervous and scared, yet excited.

Travel Practicum in Greece, 2009
I read a blog yesterday where a commencement speaker "told the graduates that they had developed calluses from all the hard work of studying, and he charged them not to let those calluses get soft." 

I do not want to loose the calluses from learning. Of course I am graduating, but just because I am in the "real world" (what a crappy term, by the way), doesn't mean that I cant learn, in fact I'm diving into an even larger, radical learning experience. 

The Future?
My plans include to stay in Providence for another year at least. I am moving in to a house next month with three sweet girls from the Christian Student Fellowship. I am going to apply to a bunch of places, including AAA and Liberty Travel. I want to work in the Travel/Hospitality industry, but I will take whatever job will pay the bills. (So if you know of a place that is hiring..!) I'll continue to be a part of the body at Grace Harbor Community Church, and probably be involved to some extent next year with the student fellowship. I hope to amp up my travel, local, and theology writing- submitting to various publications with the hope of being published more (and getting paid?). I would also love to travel more -- we will see how that pans out.. but Seattle? Iceland? mmhmm :)  

The future is quite uncertain. Thankfully I serve a God who is very certain.

If you could pray that I trust God on this new path and that I wont choose a "known pain, instead of an unknown joy."

Thanks for reading.

Any tips on life after college? 

If you graduated from college, what kinds of feelings did you experience?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thoughts on Grief: Don't Do That To Me

 I thought this excerpt very helpful out of a very helpful article by Robyn Huck, Grief Diary 4: "Meltdown in the Produce Aisle."  She is talking about an "artichoke meltdown."  I've had one of those before, maybe not with artichokes, but more like a "car oil meltdown." haha.
If I were to come to you for counsel, what would you do? Are you going to pull out a book on “stages” of grief and tell me that I’m fitting some standard pattern and will “get over” it in 1 to 4 years? Or will you be concerned that I’ve seemed to skip a step or two? Please don’t do that to me. 
Instead, explore the specifics of my sorrow, my fear, and my longing—with me. Let this be a time of growth and enrichment. Because you, dear Christian, have the very best answers to these feelings that anyone can give. But you will also know not to rush to answers. First, you weep with those who weep. I am vulnerable right now, and I am sharing very deep things with you. Don’t rush. 
There are big fat categories of typical responses to grief that my experience does fit into. But if you counsel me in generalities, checking off boxes on a prefab list, you’re not going to be a lot of help to me. Certainly, I do want to hear that I’m not crazy, and I might need to be reminded that everyone experiences grief in their lives, but I don’t want to be lost in check-lists or categories. Treat me as an individual, because I’m hurting and feeling very alone. Generalities will make me lonelier. 
But once you know me well, telling me how I personally fit into the bigger picture of life is not speaking generalities. It’s helping me make sense of what I’m feeling.
The plain fact is, living in this world hurts. And as Ecclesiastes teaches, it makes no sense without the knowledge of God to anchor our experience into his plan. We need to see each enjoyable moment, each glimpse of beauty, each smile, each sunrise as a gift from Him.

Check out the whole article though. It's worth it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why he HAS to be a Member

I used to work with a graphic designer who was semi in charge of recruiting other graphic designers to hire. One time I remember asking him what he was looking for in consideration of the open position. "Oh," he said,  "creativity, responsibility, they have to be fun, and they HAVE to be a member of AIGA."  (AIGA is a professional association for design)

I inquired further. Why do you say that? Why do they need to be a member of AIGA?

"Because a serious graphic designer is a member of AIGA. It helps them grow as a designer, it is beneficial for networking and professional growth, and it gives them some level of credibility. If they are a for real designer, they are a member."

This story always comes to mind when people ask me what I look for in a potential husband. I say, "He must be creative, responsible, fun.. Oh and he HAS to be a member of a local church."  If he is serious about his faith, one way I will know that is by his commitment to a local body of believers.

Motte Brown did a great little Article over on Marry Well on why being a member of a local church can help you on the path to marriage. Some of the things he talks about in the article are the "benefits" of this membership. They include growing in spiritual maturity, practiced commitment, spiritual compatibility, built in opportunities to serve others, and near instant credibility. I would also want to add in accountability and support. You know this person is learning to submit their lives to Christ, and that is an important quality to grow in as one prepares for marriage/is married.

Members of AIGA learn more about design ethics and how to improve their skills. They go to conferences to learn more and give input on each others design, there is mentorship, and using their talents to help the community.

 Christians need to learn more about their faith and how to implement the gospel. We need support, mentorship, and outreach. But not only do we need to join the church for these reasons, we need to join because it is the example set forth in the Bible as a reflection of the Gospel.

If the terminology is new or confuses you, here are some very helpful resources on the topic of church membership. I've included a short clip from the guys over at 9marks that talks a little bit about what it means:

6-Membership from 9Marks on Vimeo.

What do you think? Is church membership one of your qualifications for a potential spouse? If you are already married, was it a qualification? Why or why not?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Downcity Delights: Tazza

My roommate and I have been taking a culinary tour of new (or kind of new) restaurants in the Downcity area of Providence. Wednesday I tend to get out of work a little early before class and we both just happened to be around, so why not?!!

 Our first adventure was Tazza Caffe. They describe themselves as "[a] combination of the qualities of a traditional espresso bar with a funky atmosphere and placing it all in the center of Providence's Arts and Entertainment District."

My roommate is a longtime fan of Tazza- I am a more recent convert. Their ice coffee enamored, Open Mic Night rocked out, love "Movies on the Block," and it was a cool place to just go and hang out (unless you are going with a friend and they light the candle thinking you are on a date, but that is another story for another day).

THEN. Tazza renovated. Whatever is there now, is not the same Tazza. It is new, it is steely and modern. No more comfy couch atmosphere. I cant see a place for music or performances. (Is there a secret back room that I missed?)

My roommate and I were saying that if we hadn't known Tazza before and had stumbled across this place, we would totally love and embrace it- but since we know the old, it's going to be a struggle to come to love the new Tazza. I cant imagine just going there to grab some coffee and hang out with friends, write a paper .... But oh my, what a delightful surprise: the food is DELICIOUS (not that it wasn't before, but WOW!)

I had the Vegetarian Tomato Bisque with parmesan croutons, grilled chicken panino, and hand crafted fries. My roommate had the margarita pizza. Both were delicious. Check out the menu here. I am dying to try their local ceviche, and the pork shoulder taco sounds divine!

Lunch was around $11 (including tip). For a poor college student it is a little pricey, but in my opinion it is worth the random (or planned) splurge.

In conclusion: there will probably be another visit. While it is a change to get used to, their new renovation is probably more geared toward their target market and the layout makes more sense.

 So I forgive you Tazza.  

Have you been there since the big renovation? Thoughts?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tour Blackstone Valley

This past weekend I participated as a volunteer assistant tour guide with Tour Blackstone Valley. This is an annual event that seeks to get native Rhode Islanders out of their bubble and out into a new area to experience and learn. In past years, it was called "TourRI" and there were upwards of 26 different tour packages that could be chosen. This year because of whatever reason, it was only the Blackstone Valley that participated, and there were only 7 tours. Two years ago I volunteered and went on the Block Island tour. It was pretty awesome.

This year my tour was "The Blackstone Valley Sampler," and we were able to visit some various sights across the valley. As the assistant tour guide, I made sure that everyone was on the bus, given their gift bags, had any questions answered, got the right lunch, and received the information packets. We had about 38 tour participants on my tour this year.

The first stop was High-On-A-Hill Herb Farm. It is a lovely farm in the middle of North Smithfield. They grow many herbs, keep bees, have a kennel, and offer various educational classes through the year. They were kind enough to offer us snacks of delicious home made muffins and tea. Then we sat for a short presentation on bee keeping that was fascinating! I never knew that bee keeping was so involved. It was a great stop, and everyone enjoyed being outside for the lovely weather.
Our second stop was to the St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center in Woonsocket, RI. This is the home to the largest collection of fresco paintings in North America, and is also known as the "Sistene Chapel of America." We had a tour of the building and they explained the history. The coolest thing was that all the faces in the paintings are modeled after real people who were members of the church at the time. It was quite a beautiful place.
The third stop was the Woonsocket Museum of Work and Culture. (At this point I am almost starting to become enamored with Woonsocket. But dont tell anyone about that.) Anyway, this museum focused on the immigration of the French Canadians into Woonsocket and the industries that resulted. Who knew it would be so interesting? It seemed like a great place for kids and adults alike.

Next we went to a historical "Stone Ender" built in the 1700's in Lincoln, RI. Having never heard that term before, I was intrigued. As we approached the Valentine Whitman House, I could see the reason behind its name. The whole end of the house was made out of stone. There is some historical significance to this, but I think you will have to visit the house to learn more :)

Our last stop of the tour was The Captain Wilbur Kelly House, situated by a preserved section of the historic Blackstone Canal Tow Path in the Village of Ashton (Cumberland/Lincoln Line). I loved learning about how the canal was built (I love canals, after all I am from Lockport NY- a canal lovers haven!). We were given a tour by one of Rhode Island's leading historians. Then we walked through the house and looked at all the displays. Good stuff!
We finished the tour around 4pm and headed back to the home base. The day was extremely fun and I learned so much. The tour guide for our trip was awesome, I met so many wonderful people, explored cool places in RI, and loved the experience of "working the tour." 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Favorite Vacation Spot: New England

Well, Kelly's Corner blog is hosting a blog link-up about favorite vacation spots, and hey, since I love travel so much I figured I would go with it!

Lately I havent really had the opportunity to go on "vacation" to any exotic locales, but I have been marvelously satisfied with most of the "Staycations" that I've had around New England. Mini-getaways if you will.

So let me share my love for New England with ya'll.

First my family and I took a Rhode Island Bay Lighthouse Cruise. I totally recommend it. It was a show stopper. The cruise takes you through the Narragansett Bay area, around the Jamestown Island, and into the Newport Harbor. This light house cruise is absolutely wonderful, providing narration and indoor and outdoor seating. Absolutely picturesque, up close and personal views of the ten lighthouses and other interesting sights, along with a perfectly sunny and breezy day spent with family, how could you go wrong? I would recommend this for everyone- kids to elderly, native rhodeys or out of towners. Seriously. 

My grandparents brought my cousin Jack down and we spent some time at the Fall River, Massachusetts Battle Ship Cove. That was a really cool place, even for someone in their 20's! They have a submarine and giant battleships, with interesting displays and awesome stories surrounding it. Fall River is also the home to some really neat architecture and history. 

We also ate at a delicious clam shack on Oakland Beach called Iggy's. Delicious lobster rolls!

In the fall I went with some friends on a "To the Golden Shore" tour of New England. This tour was based on the biography about the first missionary from America, Adoniram Judson. It took us through Massachusetts to places such as Plymouth Rock, Salem (where the witch trials were held), Beverly, First Congregational Church in Wenham, and to the place where Judson was buried. Very awesome, historic, and memorable. 

These little trips dont even count for half the awesome places that Ive been and can recommend in New England. 

 The Oldest Country Store in America- in Rhode Island. Freedom Trail in Boston? Soooo good! Cape Cod is beautiful. Maine's nature is to die for. Vermont cheese? Oh please! Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is awesome! The birth place of the industrial revolution... Slater Mill in Pawtucket RI- fascinating!
The awesome thing about New England is the diversity of such a small-ish region. So much history, culture, art, delicious cuisine, nature, city life, all within reasonable driving distance from one another!!!!!

    ...I know, it's a little overwhelming. But that is because it is WORTH IT!
Have you ever been to New England? Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Experience New England: Providence Independence Trail

image source: creative commons
Yesterday, May 4th 2011, Rhode Island's Govenor Chaffee and Providence Mayor Tavares unveiled the "Independence Trail." This three mile, downtown Providence trail will
"feature 75 sites ranging from a place where George Washington slept to a statue of Civil War General Ambrose Burnside, whose distinctive facial hair coined the word 'sideburns.'"  (wpri.com)

The trail will also
"cover more than four centuries of Rhode Island history, culture, architecture and folklore – including the birthplace of religious freedom, the site of the first shot in the fight against England, and the spot where Lincoln spoke." (providenceri.com)

According to one article, one of the goals of the Independence Trail is to
"help Providence supplant Boston and Philadelphia as the Northeastern capitals of historical tourist attractions." (mysanantonio.com)

The trail seems like an exciting way to showcase the important history of Providence. It will be a fun way for both native Rhode Islander's and out of town tourists to more fully understand all that Rhode Island has to offer. At each site there will be a number you can call to get a prerecorded description of the importance of the stop. The trail should be fully complete by July 4th, or so says the trail's founder Robert Burke.

I think that the Independence Trail will be quite an interesting addition to the development of Providence as a whole, as well as the tourism sector. It will give Providence more depth as a destination, and create that connection and education that tourists seek in historic locations. (Even better because I think people will be surprised at the amount of history that is located here.) Personally, I am excited for this.

What do you think? If you are a local, are you going to check it out?
If you arent in the area, is this something that interests you?