Caturday: Pioneering is hard but cat gifs are cute, a memoir.

Quaint map of my local Oakland area

Mexican folk music is flowing out of weak sounding speakers from a back corner. The barista, Jose speaks with a costumer in Spanish, they happen to be ordering my favorite house drink- cafe con leche. My table is directly underneath a permanent ofrenda that seems to be offered up to everyone and no one. Old flowers. A packet of cigarettes. An old bottle of booze with a name I do not recognize. A crude Diego Rivera sketch featuring my favorite flowers and one of his most commonly used subjects, calla lilies, is on the wall to my left. There is no air conditioning but the cool air flows through the open door, as does the sound of laughter and conversation from the tattoo parlor to the right and vintage clothing store to the left. I am not in a idyllic city in Mexico, but mere minutes walk from my apartment in Oakland. Lake Merritt lays outside the door and people stream past. Joggers getting exercise. Old men enjoying the day. Young teenage couples hopelessly joyful to be together. Joy seems to ooze out of the people here.

 I came here to write and reflect on my first few weeks but most of my time is given to chatting with Jose, my new friend and barista here at Cafe Akat. We have spoken about the weather, sunny with not a cloud in the sky. Warm in the sun, perfect in the shade.

Cafe Con Leche – warm spicy milk paired w perfect coffee 

I share with him about the recent passing of my pastor, and how I am feeling especially sad today regardless of the sun. We spoke about the meaning of Akat (the word for Bamboo in the Nahuatl language, native to Central Mexico.) He asks about my new life here and how I ended up at Re:genetration. I get the chance to explain my call to missions and love of serving God. He replies by musing about his spiritual side and offers some more information about his Aztec heritage. We are both so kind, and respectfully interested in each others beliefs, and as I grab a nearby seat I thank him for my drink, and for his explanation of the history of the cafe and suggestions of things to do around Oakland.

There is no shortage of things to do in Oakland. Or the Bay Area. So many people packed in like sardines, each with their own joy overflowing out of them. It is hard to be unhappy here with so much vitamin D to soak up. people to engage in conversation with, and new foods to try.

OR so I thought.

I am a determined person by nature. I love deadlines and I love hitting deadlines head on, this is one reason knitting is probably so appealing to me. I follow a set of clear (USUALLY) instructions and in due time have a finished product that is all mine. It is probably similar to the feeling runners experience when crossing a finish line but I would not know, and do not care to know, how that really feels. I prefer knitting to running for a good many of reason but the main one is that knitting can be done with no bra, no shoes, and no sweating is required. When I have a new project or job to do I am exuberant. The prospect of keeping myself engaged and actively working is heavenly to me. I do not like half working on anything. I am of the mind that you should full-ass everything and half-ass nothing. One of my pet peeves in busy work, or finding meaningless work just to give people something to do. To sum this up: I am the Leslie Knope of my life.

My newly finished ‘Little Scallops” knit-a-long hat

I want to tell you guys a secret. Something that no one has ever told me but I discovered for myself this past week. I’m not sure if this is a secret or a terrible truth that everyone knows but keeps hidden in their mind and tied to the tip of their tongues.

Pioneers have no idea what they’re doing.

(Neither do adults, or so my mother tells me, but in many ways adulthood is personal life pioneering)

Pioneering is gritty, hard, hopeful work. I’d say half of a pioneers time is spent working on something with no idea of the outcome, just wishful thoughts that all this hard work will pay off.

I am a pioneer here in Oakland. We have never had a Pais team in such a busy, urban, unique setting as Oakland. Will it ever even work? I am not sure, but I hope so. Will it be very difficult to carve out a path for us here? yes. Am I up for that? I am not sure, but I am willing to give it a go

Did you know it took 6 years to build the transcontinental railroad? 6 years and 15 hour days by the thousands of Chinese and Irish immigrants working for the Union Pacific railways. They had times when their work was swift. Hard, back breaking work, cruel work. They also had times when they would have to wait for the mountains to literally be blown out of their way so they could continue working. Many died in this process. Railway building is not glamorous work. It was hard, pioneering work. When they had completed the railway travel from coast to coast was reduced from six months or more to just one week.

How apt is it that the railway has it’s most western beginnings in Oakland?

Right now my part of pioneering feels like the mountain demolishing part. Slow. Dangerous. Exciting. Rocky.

I am overflowing with free time, which as a person who loves to stay busy I am struggling with. I want to begin work, I want to feel important and valued, but I can do nothing more than make contacts, stir up interest, and pray that God quickly gives me open doors. My new home group has been so encouraging to me in this annoying time in my life.

Two books I love to death! 

I have been reading many books. Just today I started Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and I already feel so inspired in almost every aspect of my life. Often books by powerful woman, such as Amy, jolt me into gear more than many so called inspiring Christian authors. Amy’s book is kicking my butt and telling me I am responsible for my own happiness. I have control over who I let influence me. I am worth more. I am always growing and deserving more. There is more of life to experience. Either in a group, in a couple, or alone there is always more.

God promises the same thing. The best is yet to come is my motto for life here in the Bay Area. The best is yet to come.

Soon I hope I will be so busy that I forget this time of stress and anxiety. Soon I hope I will not be sad thinking about Brent passing. Soon and very soon, I hope to love every single bit of my life here in Oakland, but for now I will love where I am. Coffee beside me, the sun reflecting on my very blonde hair. The freedom to read and expand my mind. New friendships awaiting in every person I meet. I will enjoy every second I get to explore Oakland, walk around the lake. I will relish in the fact that I am wearing size 8 jeans and have beautiful new lipstick.

Life is beautiful guys, go experience it for yourself. Netflix with still be waiting for you when you get back. I know.

Happy Saturday, guys. I would love to hug each and everyone of you right now, but since I can’t please watch this adorable gif of a cat hugging a teddy bear and pretend that youre the teddy bear and I’m the cat.

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