Ordinary Adventures Part 2: In Practice

In a weeks time, classes will be in session, and I know that the number one question that will be asked of friends who run into each other in the halls will be: "How was your summer? What did you do?"

I dread this question.

I can never give a satisfactory answer. My (insert academic holiday of any sort) was great, and I do have a life--a nice one at that--but the moment you ask me what I did and how it was, I can't remember any of the truly worthwhile things I did. I have actually said on occasion, "what did I do?"
So for those of you who really care to hear about what I did during my summer of ordinary adventures, read on!


I decided to trying living away from home this summer, as practice for that not too far off day when I graduate and get my life together regarding graduate school.  I lived on campus in the townhouses with other summer stayers, working in the library by day and in Chattanooga by night. It was a good experience. Its not like I'm not used to housework and cooking and the necessary chores of living already, my family training has paid off in that area of life. But I had to adjust to self-starting and motivating myself to do those little things even though there was nobody benefiting from them but myself.
Conclusion: I'd much rather cook for a lot of people than just myself.

It was good to practice being financially independent--living off my paycheck, budgeting, saving and grocery shopping--knowing that as my dad told me at the beginning of the summer, I could always come home if I wanted/needed to. I felt like I was flying, but with a safety net. The first day I got my paycheck and paid my rent, I texted both my parents. completely independent of each other they both texted back a quote from Mulan (which is probably the most quoted movie in my house) "all grown up, and savin' china!"  I might have laughed all the way to work that day. My parents are some of the finest.


For a couple hours every morning, I hit up the Bryan Library to do any little odd projects they might need me for. For the most part I did a lot of shelf reading, but for the month of June I had the privilege of working with Stephanie Wood, our former archivist, helping her wrap up some of her final projects. I learned so much about the school, and archiving... and even got to hold a picture of Leo Tolstoy, signed by Leo Tolstoy himself. That was a major geek-out moment for me.  The humanities (archive) room in the Bryan Library is now imbued with some very fond memories of this summer, and my education toward becoming a librarian.

As for my night job... every afternoon at 4:15, I drove the 45 minutes it takes to get to Chattanooga, where I worked at Southtree from 5 to 11:30. Tonight is my last night, and while I'm not gonna miss the late nights and long drives, I think I will miss the job. I started out as a photo tech, scanning and digitizing prints, negatives and slides, but later got moved to quality control, making sure every order was put together properly before it went out. It was a really good job for me, and kind of went hand in hand with my archive work in the library. Memories Matter is the company motto, and with every order I worked on, it was fun to think about the people behind the pictures and videos.
Compared to last summer's job at Five Guys, the work environment at Southtree was a huge blessing. The company was started by two Lee graduates, and the majority of my coworkers were graduates or current students of Bryan or Covenant, and I just fit right in. It'll probably go down in the Annals of the Life of Sarah Peden as my favorite summer job.

Social and Leisure

I did have some time for fun this summer, despite all the working I did. :)
There were two weddings very near and dear to my heart. Mary Clare and Isaac Geyman, the sweetest young couple I have ever met, got married June 23, and was that ever a happy affair. 
Before that, on June 1st, two of my best friends, Sarah and John Glenn got married, and I had the honor of attending Sarah as a bridesmaid. (my first time!) That weekend was full of crazy adventures and lovely, lovely memories.  After the honeymoon, they moved back to Dayton (John works at the school) and needless to say, Sarah and I spent a lot of time together. Almost every afternoon you could find us together drinking coffee or tea and watching a BBC Dickens adaptation, or Doctor Who, or just being together. She kept me from going insane with loneliness. 

Speaking of coffee... ( I know, that was two sentences ago) I did the math this morning and I drank upwards of 200 cups of coffee this summer. With my late work schedule, I finally figured out the best times of the day for me to get my coffee fix in order to not fall asleep at the wheel on the drive home. I found a blessed routine in the ritual of coffee making and drinking that gave a certain steadiness to my life. 
I read a lot, of course. But then, when am I NOT reading? I always have a L'Engle book on my nightstand (and I'm really excited cause I have a new one coming in the mail!) I'm still working my way through Little Dorrit, and I read various childrens and teen lit books...you know, light and fun stuff. But if I were to choose one book to hold above the rest this summer, it would be A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. That is one book that you can truly savor and digest, and incidentally one that really embodies my summer theme of ordinary adventures. Francie Nolan knows what it means to see the beauty in small things. 

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness." --A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

And by these standards  I have had a very happy summer.

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