Friday, September 07, 2012

Geography of a Week

I tweeted yesterday that I was "thinking about the Geography of my week and what it would take to change it."

Kaitlin texted: "See the sunrise tomorrow? Meet me at 6:15. Geography change."

I hate mornings. A lot. I hate the grogginess and the lethargy. But I needed a change (see previous post Stuck). Drastic measures must be taken. New ways of seeing. Changing the order. New thoughts at a new time of day.

I woke up several times in the night to check the time and make sure I didn't miss my alarm for 5:50am. Kaitlin and Mel and I met in the Spikes Stadium lot by 6:20 and drove into the fields where tailgating happens. We waited facing east towards Mt Nittany and Tussey. And waited.

If you were awake this morning, you'd have seen that the storm clouds from last night gave way into fog and mist this morning. No sunrise.

But we sipped on our caffeinated morning beverages and talked about plans and goals for the year--to, as Kaitlin put it, "Suck all the life I can out of State College this year, do all the things I missed last year."

Changing our geographies.


What do I mean by geography?

A mapping of time. A mapping of space. My week is broken into slots. I have a semi-set schedule that comes out of the first few weeks of the semester, into which I slide certain tasks like books onto a bookshelf. The order and arrangement largely reflects my job as a campus minister. This brings me within certain circles for certain amounts of time. On Mondays, I am always on campus for the Elements meeting Monday night.  I am in Henderson building and I am with my students, a relatively set group of people. On Tuesdays, I am at the church office for meetings. etc etc. I see certain kinds of people in a certain contexts only.

My interactions are both established in time, in person, and in content.

This means I walk a beaten track through State College. Through relationships, through time, through space. A set geography.

I'm a creature of habit.

Routine is good. I crave routine when it is missing. Without it, weepiness and frustration and rising panic ensues. But the slots I have open or closed in my week do not always reflect the values I wish they did.

 The Commonplace is a new project this fall that my current geography does not reflect. I want to 1) connect artists/makers together so they are encouraged and challenge in what they do and 2) speak to the tensions and contradictions individuals feel as both artist and person of faith. To do this, I need to get a lay of the State College arts scene. I need to start showing up in bars and visiting student gallery openings and concerts and dance recitals. There is far more than I could ever conceivably familiarize myself with. I know this. But I also see how my current geography prevents me from naturally finding my way into these places.

An example: last year, I missed most English department readings because I was leading a lifegroup for work. My geography prevented me from being somewhere, like being on a side of town without a bus system that routes the right direction at the right time to get me to the other side... if I even knew where I wanted to go. Right now, I don't even know where I want to go.

I'm not sure how this works, uprooting my comforting routine enough to be in new places. I'm not even sure quite where to start looking.

At the very least, I know I can get good beer at Zenos. There could be worse places to start frequenting.

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