Monday, September 7, 2009

Starting Blocks

Two weeks in, without about ten days of work under my belt.

At this point, by “work” I mean figuring things out and feeling clueless a lot of the time. It’s more work than you’d think, that whole working-while-clueless thing. Our friend Elisabeth put it best, writing about her first week on internship: "I think I am supposed to be working, but as to what and how I am supposed to be working I haven’t the foggiest idea." Ok, so E’s exaggerations aside, we probably have a foggy idea of what this job is supposed to look like, but you get the idea, a fairly consistent feeling of: All right, so I’m here: Now what?

As for starting blocks for you, dear readers, I should probably explain a bit about what my week looks like – so far, at least.

My week begins on Tuesday at the Lutheran Public Policy Office of Washington State, whose office space is located inside Denny Park Lutheran Church in downtown Seattle (just a few blocks from the Space Needle). I spent a lot of time on Tuesday morning checking my new intern email account, clicking around through old emails, trying to get a sense of things. In the afternoon my supervisor came in, and we spoke briefly about the job description and what I’d be doing. In the evening Chris and I tried to make it to a town hall meeting with our local US Representative on the University of Washington campus, but we, um, got lost in our new city and missed it. Sigh.

Wednesday morning I’m at St. John United Lutheran Church. I’m often the first one there in the a.m. – my supervisor lives an hour or so away and works at home in the morning, coming into church after the traffic dies down. We meet for an hour or so when she arrives, and then we’re off to a gathering of six or so Lutheran pastors whose churches are in northwest Seattle. There are a lot of Lutheran churches in Seattle, and therefore a lot of opportunities to meet other Lutheran clergy. Afterwards, in the afternoon, I worked on planning the first meeting of a new young adult group at St. John’s. (We’ll be at Hales Ales pub on Wednesday at 6, everyone’s welcome!)

Thursday is at St. John (known around here as S-J-U) again, where I spend the morning in contact with members of various church committees. By 11 o’clock my supervisor and I are on our way to a text (Bible) study with another, different, group of Lutheran clergy, this one held at the church Chris and I live inside of, in a fellowship hall just underneath our apartment. We spend a little more than an hour here, and then we’re off to a lunch meeting with other folks from the public policy office who are in the early stages of planning the annual fundraiser, to be held in May. After the fundraiser planning meeting, I spend the rest of the afternoon writing the Prayers of Intercession for Sunday morning. In the evening Chris and I try to make it to a Health Care Reform Rally downtown, but get confused about the bus schedules and end up arriving too late. Again. Sigh.

On Friday I’m back at the Public Policy Office, and this time I’m the only one at the office, all day. The office manager/administrator is working from home, and my supervisor is off somewhere – he’s often in Olympia, the state capitol, doing work for the office – and thus, I am alone. All day. I spend the entire day working on a project of database searches and cross-references that my supervisor had suggested. I learn a lot, but worry whether I’m doing what he had in mind. At the end of the day, I email what I have, hopeful that I’m on the right track.

Saturday mornings will normally see me busy with church or policy office work, but this Saturday I had an empty schedule, so Chris and I took advantage of it. We unlocked our bikes and rode them down 32nd street to find a dedicated bike trail that wound its way along the locks and then along the Puget Sound, spitting us out finally at Golden Gardens Park, one of Seattle’s best. We spent a few hours walking the park’s pebbled beach, Chris taking hundreds upon hundreds of photos of all manner of nature-y thing. (That’s right, folks – Chris is the photographer this year!)

Truth be told, the little tide pools and eddies of the Puget Sound’s pebbled shores are pretty awesome, and we feel blessed to live so close to them. On the way home, we stopped for lunch (pulled pork sandwiches!) at a BBQ place across the street from our apartment, and ended the day by going to the local Goodwill store to pick some used books on the cheap.

Finally it arrives: Sunday morning. I’m at church early, printing and posting a resolution our ELCA national church body recently passed endorsing a fair and equitable health care bill. During worship, my supervisor preaches on health care and mentions our advocacy work. I won’t preach for another two weeks, but I do robe up every Sunday, writing prayers, reading parts of the service, and assisting with communion. After church I shake everyone’s hand – gotta get used to this weekly receiving line – and then it’s off to coffee hour and Sunday afternoon meetings. Chris walks down the street to a bakery/coffee shop and reads for a few hours while she waits for me to finish.

By Sunday evening I am done with my week. We enjoy a quiet Sunday evening at home. I flip on the television, but, sadly, the Bears aren’t on – this is Seahawk country, and I’ll have to adjust. Sigh.

And Monday is my day off. We spend the morning getting a tour of Seattle from a member of our congregation, and then we have lunch with him and his wife. In the afternoon I bike down the street to a coffee shop – Cupcake Royale! greatest name ever! – and now I’m writing this, right… now.

Whew! One minute you don’t know where to start, and the next thing you know you’re off and running…

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