Expect the Unexpected

So I've come to the realization that this summer's theme will be expect the unexpected. It's when I think something's going to happen that it doesn't. And when I am positive something won't happen (like right now, I'm pretty sure I'm not getting a job... pessimism), that it does.
The day BEFORE Alli leaves for Vegas for the Sigma Nu formal, I get invited to go. Before that, I was pretty sure I was spening those few days chilling in Fresno just waiting for her to come home...

The man's name is J.R. and his date bailed on him last minute so he thought he'd ask me - the foriegner, the girl they all love to call "SCOTIAAAA". I spent the day yesterday scrambling to find myself a dress, shoes, and all those extra essentials for a three night stay in Las Vegas.

I have gone from going but not the formal, then going to the formal, then not going at all, and now I'm going to the formal but not with Blake. I'm going with J.R., and he's so nice. He has a lot of adventurous things planned for us that he's taking care of. Like indoor skydiving!! I have skydiving on my bucket list so maybe I can scratch that off? Haha... cheap...

Anways, it's 8am and I am waiting for him to come pick me up. Very excited but so sad I broke my camera! I will not be able to capture Vegas the one of two times I'll probably ever go in my life!!! I'm going to take mental pictures and maybe I can muster up the words to describe them on my blag. Yes that's right. I called it my blag.

I have many more updates (for example, my latest thoughts on the Greek culture, and a wee rant about how much of a joke exam period is at FSU) but I'll leave it at this.

Vegas, here I COME!!


Trip to the Trees

So. I will try to explain a little bit better our lives:

THEY ARE CRAZY. Things change EVERY day we are here in Fresno, and honestly feel like I am a puppet and things are just happening the way they want to. But I'm letting them.

A lot of drama has been going down and Alli seems to be in the middle of it all. The fact I already explained about how Alli's parents didn't get along very well with Claire and I - that's only part of it. Also, the Sigma Nu hate on Claire because they think she's a bitch (which, haha, she isn't really but she does give that impression. For example I am watching her play a game of Mario Brothers and she is cussing at the screen).

So after another wild night with the Sigma Nu's at Blake's house (after we became homeless) we decided to get our dresses on, eat some Mexican food and head for the HILLS!! We drove approx 2 hours to the mountains to see the worlds largest living things - the trees.
We took a detour to Riverway Ranch Camp - where Alli and Claire met in 2006. Haha funny story bout that one... :) See video.

The trees gave us hope. We know there is hope for us and that everything is going to be okay. The sunset on the way home was extraordinary... It made me feel at peace. Everything will be just fine. God is going to lead us where he wants to.

All of these things, plus the fact that Claire and I have been working out buns off trying to find employment and we cannot, for the world, find anything. We were seriously considering selling our EGGS - that is bad. But here we are, in a city in Northern California, just trying to get by. I wonder how many more people there are in the world in a situation similar to ours...

We just decided today to move and go to Huntington Beach - Claire's home town where her dad, step mom and brother and sister live. I am more than excited to see what that has in store for us because so far it seems every sign has been pointing towards another direction from here.

Alli found out she got a leave of absence from her work.

So this is how things are panning out.

Oh ps. Yes Blake no longer wants to take me to formal. As I said, frat boys are weird. Eff them.

Worries... worries... worries...

Oh yes, I have some worries.

First of all, we are homeless. We no longer live at the Suvanto's. Total bummer, but well needed escape from that house. They are such a lovely family, but the problem is, their rules really did not mesh well with what Claire and I are used to... and things were just not working. We left on a good note... I... think... I am a little sad that things didn't work out well there but at the same time it's totally cool!! Because we are homeless but we crash at Alli's friends, Enrique - such a good roomie!! He lets us sleep in the spare room on the floor OR we sleep on the couch too. But clearly, we can't do that all summer.

So we were suppose to live at Sigma Nu (the fraternity) but some conflict has arose between Claire and some of the brothers and now they aren't sure if they want us living there for the summer - reeeeor. Lame. It was only going to be $96 a month each but we're not sure if that is worth the drama...

I am going to the Sigma Nu formal with a lovely man named Blake and I am so lucky we are taking a plane there because Blake's roommate's Dad has a plane and is going to fly us there. So lovely. But I don't have a dress - and I do not have money to buy a dress right now.

Second problem of life is that I have no job. This is rather large. Even if I were to find a job right now it would be minimum wage and only about 20 hours a week. Things are so tight here right now and it's frustrating. I am getting pretty desperate.

Third problem of life is that my credit card expires at the end of May. It hasn't come in the mail at HOME yet, and even when it does I have to wait for it to get to Fresno. :( Sad. I really have no money so that is emergency credit that I can't even use starting in a few weeks.

OH LIFEEEE. I knew you would be complicated this summer. But please start being a little easier!! Please!!



Me and Claire decided to not eat chips for the rest of the summer (but we're allowed corn chips). We think it would be a good challenge. GO US!


Alright MOM

Mom says my blog is too wordy: "Rena I read it all but if I wasn't your mom I wouldn't have" haha... so It's boring. Cool. Oh mom... you're such a mom.
Okay here's a point form version of my thoughts:

  • Frats are weird. Yes I'll say FRATS and not fraternities. I have yet to figure them out.
  • California is HOT. But they say these are the cooler temps. So this should be interesting.
  • We have a place to LIVE. Woot. It's at Sigma Nu in one of their apartments. And it's 4 girls sharing one room. Haha. This should be wild.
  • I almost have a job. Okay I keep telling people I have it but technically I don't but practically I do. I mean she said "We're so excited to have you with us." and "I told my husband about you last night!" So... I'm going to take that as yes. It's at Quiksilver! And I'm just waiting for a phone call.
  • Claire got a job at Crombie and she's looking for another one. (PS SARAH. I'm getting you the skirt tomorrow!)
  • I want Tim Horton's coffee. Mom, will you send some? Please?
  • I love that there are no clouds here. Do you know how rad it is to wake up everyday to perfect weather? Amazing. And it's not a vaca. It's summer residency. :) RAD.
  • When camp starts, don't tell me stories. I'm going to be jealous.
  • Me and Claire joined a gym today. Expensive, yes. But amazing. Too much food going into my body lately. Not a good call.
  • I need to start my online course soon. It's starting to freak me out.
  • We get visitors this summer. Alex Carlson, Ben MacKinnon, and Jordan Lilley. I can't wait to see them!!
  • We're going to Vegas on the 26th. I'll be there for my 21st Birthday
  • It's going to be hard to not spend a million dollars a week on ForeverHoe (that's what they call it here) ... it's just so great.
Okay there was a boring update. No life lessons. Just random stuff.

Work In Progress

I feel like the reoccurring theme in my life for the past month or so has been a deep and dark feeling of loneliness. Not that I haven't had wonderful beautiful people around me all the time to encourage me and hold me when I need it. It's not that kind of loneliness at all - it's much deeper than that. The kind of loneliness I've been experiencing is the consistent realization and the undying truth that the things around me - people, travel, money, school, success ... they're worth nothing.
I know people say that all the time "You can't take it with you when you die" but I think there are definitely moments in your life where you just have to take a deep breath because that truth has never felt more real. When you lose a loved one, when you're heart has been broken by someone, when you are abandoned, when you are broke - for me it's in these moments of weakness that God is building us up the most. I feel so strongly in what my mother has always told me: "There is purpose in your pain." I'd like to talk about a few moments where this feeling of loneliness is at it's peak.
For me, in travel, these moments happen a lot. I don't know about everyone else in the world but I literally feel cursed when it comes to travel. I have the worst luck and I've experienced everything from unplanned 10 hour layovers, to sitting in a plane that wasn't moving for 5 hours, to having my plane turn around 30 minutes before landing. I find that airports and traveling just in general, when you're alone like that, and all you have is your brain and maybe a book, you think. I know it makes me think. Think about my life, where it's headed, what I'm doing. Am I making the right choices? Am I being the best I can be? And I start feeling vulnerable. I start realizing that there is nothing in this life I can hold onto.
My friend Riley explained to me the experience of bungee jumping. I can't say I have ever done it but he said that before he jumped the people working there told him there is a moment, X number of seconds into the free fall, where people literally have accepted death. They come to a place in this quick jump and for a split second, they believe they are going to die and they accept it. This is pure vulnerability. It's the feeling of absolute loss. It's the feeling of surrender because there is absolutely nothing you can do.
This experience, I believe is incredible. Because once you come back up and realize you're not dead, it must truly be the most exhilarating feeling in the world.
One thing that makes me feel very alone is the feeling the no one understands my heart. I have to admit that my mom understands my heart better than anyone in the world, but when people don't, and your heart is feeling something really heavy, it's such a devastating feeling when you know others will not completely know you inside and out. Not even my mom truly does. This happened to me only days before I left, when I came to the bitter realization that people will not know me inside and out, and that I am alone. It's just me, and this heart, and it's mine, and this is my first and last time to live.
It reminds me of the song "Deathbed" ... the man is just lying here in his deathbed. He has absolutely nothing left to hold onto. His entire life, he threw away. He lived, but he only scratched the surface of the kind of joy intended for us by Jesus. He is lying here in his death bed and he says "But I cling to the hope of my life in the next." and I just think this is such a powerful moment in people's lives but I wish that people felt that vulnerable all the time. I wish we acted like we were on our deathbed everyday ... because then maybe we could all realize what is truly important.
Today in church I couldn't help but get choked up as the pastor interviewed a couple (who have two kids) who have been through a lot of emotionally difficult and horrible times as a result of drug abuse in the man's life. And as they told the story, I first realized how everyone has a story, and how vastly different, but how beautifully the same we all are. It's a connecting theme in all of us - pain. And he neared the end of this glorious story about how he really had to make a decision to give his life to Jesus in order to have any hope at all. And at the end, he tried to tell the congregation about what his son told him, and he choked. He couldn't even speak the words because it was so difficult. His wife continued "Our son said, Dad, me and mom have been praying for you for a long time. I'm so happy you gave your life to Jesus. Welcome home dad."
In that moment of the service, I felt a high emotional anxiety about how little I have without Jesus. And how now would be a really great time to start praying more and trying to find contentment and joy in the sweet surrender, and sacrificing my independence for his Glory.
God is the only one who understands my heart... truly, exactly, in the imperfect way that it is.
He is with me in the airports even though I'm all alone.
He won't let us fall.
And he pulls us out of the muck.
He's such a rock of mine, and I hope this summer continues to give me that vulnerable feeling so I can know more what God's grace really feels like.


Bringing Sandy Hill to Frezzy

Yo party peeps!! So I thought it would be appropriate to bring into the conversation the fact that we own too may clothes and the three of us have the incredible ability to organize our clothes. Let's just consider the kind of skills you get from living at camp:
Sandy hill has this awesome aspect where every single week, new kids come. Which is great. I don't think I could put up with the same kids all summer long. However, with that change means a new cabin, which means an entire pack up, tidy up and move out and carry all of your unecessary boas, squirt guns, toiletries, your string set, dress up clothes, and cabin decor, and re-setting it all up in another cabin. Rad. So sweet. Two years of that taught us how to really make the most of our space and truly "live out of our suitcase."
So Claire and I have a room just for our clothes cause she has a pathetic amount and this is only half of it. It's silly. Just silly.
Anyways, as we were unpacking, folding, and rearranging, we both were amused and how we felt like we were back at SHC. It was such a warm feeling. Here we are, bathing suits go here, tanks here, jeans here, etc. And doing it together, like the co-counselors we always were.
I think it's an appropriate time to quote Alli, in reference to the fact that we have to remember her parents are conservative: "This house is Sandy Hill. My mom is Gregitta. And you just have to eat the shit sandwich."
Haha... except there is one difference - we're the kids!!


crickets two beautiful families

Growing up in such a small town, you don't realize the kinds of things in the big beautiful world you're so unaware of. I had no idea how important the Greek system is to some American's. Like, I mean, it's a really big deal and living with Alli might give me a slightly biased idea of it (she breathes, sleeps, and eats her Sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma) but in general, people understand the sentiment of being in a Sorority or Fraternity, even if they aren't in one themselves. By the second or third day at Sandy Hill, 2007, all the staff members were well aware that Alli is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and even I was so skeptical of the entire thing. I'm not really a fan of house rivalries at St.FX - it just doesn't make sense to me why you could want to have enemies on campus just to have a "bond" with the people in your house. But as the summer went on, I realized why Kappa is so important to Alli and that sorority membership is more than fancy titles and prestige. Alli holds Kappa really close to her heart. Coming here, however, I realized it even more. Stepping into the beautiful house Alli lives in, I couldn't help but think "Wow, these girls have it so easy here..." but as I spent my night there, I could see how deserving they were of that. Every girl I met was so nice and kindly went out of their way to introduce themselves, say hello, and ask me how my day was going. Considering I'm not a fan of superficial small talk, I was really impressed with how genuine they are and they all really left me with a feeling that Alli has a really special family outside of the Suvanto's.
The Suvanto's are a whole other story. Alli's family lives in an especially quiet and beautiful area of the Clovis Bubble and the first members of her family I met were her dad Allan and her brother Danny. I felt imediately close to them as if they were my own family and they treated me just that way. The first night I was here, I later met the other sibling, Spencer, and Alli's beautiful mom, Marci. I think it's a really beautiful thing when someone's parents open up their home to a 21- and 22-year-old and I think it says a lot about Allan and Marci's trust and love for Alli that they are letting Claire and I live here for the time being, eat anything we want in the house, and make ourselves at home. I know that's something my family would not be able to do, and Claire and I consider it such a blessing that all they ask in return is a respect for their home. Last night Marci barbequed and we had an amazing dinner on the patio - all 7 of us - and the conversation just made me smile a lot. I love living it up with my friends, but I'm so happy that I have a home-base while I'm here for the summer, and a mom and a dad to come to if I need anything.
Alli's two families showed me why she loves her life here in Fresno so much, and I really thought I should at least put it out there just how wonderful they really are!!




The point of the blog is to share my California adventures of Summer-Oh-Nine, with my friends and family at home. To begin the journal, I should very well tell the story of our first 24 hours.
My adventure began as soon as I came out of the airport bathroom after brushing my teeth, I looked down the long hallway, and could easily spot my two amazing friends, Alli (Cricket) Suvanto, and Claire Tripeny. They were so distinguishable by their anxious body language and we undoubtedly made a scene as the Trifecta was completed for the third time. The Trifecta is just a name the three of us came up with when we realized how we really are a unit. We come as a package. Especially where we met, Sandy Hill Camp, 2008, our identity revolved around the simple and beautiful fact that we are perfect together.
The moment in the airport was a preview to the summer we are about to experience together.
We all agree that the summer won't be story-book-perfect - and neither will we. But our moments of mistakes is where we learn. What I find entertaining is the surprised expressions on people's faces when they asked me "What are you going to do in California?" and I respond with "I'm not sure yet. I'll see when I get there."
People are so anxious to have their life perfectly mapped. But I'll admit that this summer, my contentment exists outside of the tightly packaged practical and sensible plan I usually have. I'm not saying I came to California to make mistakes, but I am certain they will happen, and my goal is to let them better me while I am here. I don't like talking ourselves up - we are definitely not always the cute threesome displayed in pictures. But with that said, I just want to say how confident I am that being with each other causes growth, and that when I am with them, I can look challenges in the eye and not be afraid.
Not to sound so ridiculously corny (which I realize I've already done) but we really are in this summer together. And like the summer we met, this one is promising to be life-changing.
Summer-Oh-Nine, Hi. I'm Rena. It's nice to meet you!