It’s been quite the year, I’m sitting here and can barely remember all that’s passed since last Christmas! This letter is a bit late, mainly because I’m still recuperating (alternately vegetating attempting very long mountain bike rides) after my first quarter at Seattle Pacific University. Although I’ve been very busy since starting school (gaining a newfound appreciation of family life), on the whole I’m very satisfied with SPU.
So here’s my chronological rundown of the last year of the first decade of our new millennium. It’s not as shiny as I wanted, not because of a lack of love for you guys, but because of a lack of time coupled with that horrible, post-finals “vacation” mentality that comes after round-the-clock cramming. You’ll have to excuse all the run-on sentences and other grammatical faux pas (<- this likely is one of them).
…but first the highlights, just the facts*, for those who don’t have time to waste on my wordy letters:
- Winter: School visits, acceptance letter season
- Spring: Did NOT race the Sea Otter, School decision= SPU
- Summer: Dad received offer @ Western Digital in Fremont, De Anza College CAD courses
- Fall: School Begins! Life in Seattle…
- Winter II: Finals week X_x, Christmas cheer etc
For those of you who have a bit more patience, here’s all of 2010:
Not a whole lot happened in January. I was working on filling out financial aid forms for college and things and planning visits to schools and things. On February 1, I got on a plane bound for Seattle for a scholarship competition at SPU. Flying alone for the first time isn’t as much fun as it sounds–you don’t have any family members handy to watch your bags and little things like that. Once on campus, I was dropped off at Hill Hall to meet my hosts, a pair of Sophomores living on the third floor. They took me on a midnight tour of campus (small enough that it doesn’t take too long), giving me the forthright story about school that I wouldn’t have heard anywhere else. Afterwards, the entire men’s side of the third floor went to a 24-hour breakfast place called Beth’s a favorite among students in the area. The next days were filled with interviews, presentations and tours. It was quite hectic to say the least, but I was able to talk to lots of the other people there for the preview-competition-thing and meet lots of the students there. I stayed an extra day to visit some classes with some of the other previewers the following day, which was much more relaxed. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at SPU, and was also able to observe the Seattle weather patterns as well.
Towards the end of February, I was again on a plane, but this time to Texas to visit Letourneu University in Longview (about two hours east of Dallas) for their Heritage Weekend, basically the same thing that I had done SPU. I stayed in the East wing of Tyler Hall, again on the third floor. My time in TX was a little more relaxed because they spread the activities out over a few more days than Seattle Pacific did. While I was there, Longview experienced at one-in-a-decade snowfall, which was pretty amazing. Since I was there for a few more days, I was able to get to know people at Letu (Letuourneau-U)a bit better. Because of the goofy weather, I was my flight home was cancelled and I stayed another day in Texas. The next day happened to be valentine’s day, and I was able to join the Tyler 3B in filling their sister dorm with thousands of balloons they had been blowing up over the past week It took a couple of hours to fill their hall to waist level, and my my ride to the airport left at 6am, so I didn’t get much sleep that night. The next day, after some issues with delayed flights, I made it safely home, exhausted but filled with Letu-awesomeness. I took a camera along on my trip to Letourneau, and pictures from TX are available here.
A more sobering event in the Spring was the death of the father one of our friends from BSF (This was my last year before I graduated from Bible Study Fellowship). Even though I didn’t know him personally, his death was a shock–he was quite young and left a wife and 6 children. The funeral, though a sobering reminder of how short life is, was also a very joyful memorial of Mr. Amos. It was an encouraging reminder that we can celebrate the departure of that soul which trusts in Chirst, because of the future hope we have in him.
For those of you who have known me long enough: what happens in mid-April? The Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, of course! This is a giant cycling related gathering at the Laguna Seca raceway outside of Seaside that practically opens up the racing season, and also serves as a sneak peek of the next year’s new gear. This year, I went with a roadie friend, and was able to see much more of road bike side of the coin compared with last year, when I went alone. I did *not* race Dual Slalom or Super D at this year’s event as planned. This is mainly because all the scheduled training and practice I had planned for sort of evaporated with busy work from school, so I was just a spectator. As such, I was able to witness an unexpected upset, with Mick Hannah running off with the 2010 slalom championship.
Later in the spring, I was busy with paper work for the coming school year. Campus housing apps, and other random apps such as the University Scholars program at SPU, which I chose to try for based on all the cool UScholars (as they’re called) I met while there. Once Financial Aid information started coming out, I was able to paint a more concrete picture of what my school decision would be. Of the 5 schools I applied to, I was able to to eliminate Santa Clara University based on cost, and after more deliberation, Cal Poly because I decided that I wanted to go to a Christian university for my undergrad work. Between Seattle Pacific and Letourneau, I felt that I felt more at home with the culture at Seattle Pacific, and they had offered me a more affordable financial aid package. With that decided, I sent my acceptance in to SPU, asking to be placed in Hill Hall.
In May, we said goodbye to Pastor Tim Isbell and his wife Robin at our previous church, where they had been ministering for the past 18 years. They were there even before our family first moved away from the Bay Area in 2001.
As summer approached, I had to decide between summer classes at the nearby De Anza College, or finding a job somewhere. I quickly realized that the cool internships at companies like Lockheed and HP are pretty much reserved for college upper classmen. I did, however, score an interview at the Palo Alto Apple Store for the ‘Genius’ position, but it didn’t work out because I was planning to leave for Seattle in September. Apparently there wouldn’t be enough time to complete their rigorous 3-month training process. In the end, I enrolled at De Anza for 10 credits of Pro/Engineer classes, a 3D modeling computer tool used by, surprise, engineers for designing parts and such. It was a self-paced class, and I ended up finishing in 3 weeks of 9-5 grinding– not bad for 10 credits, and I had the rest of my summer free! You can take a peek of some of my models here.
In June, the big news was my dad landing a job with Western Digital in Fremont as a Senior Process Development Engineer. Basically, he looks after the quality control machines of their microchip assembly line and is in charge of maintaining and purchasing equipment in the optical metrology section.
The rest of my summer was filled with getting as much riding in as possible before heading up North (where I initially wouldn’t have bike), and getting my things in order before school began. I think that I was down in Santa Cruz almost every other week, and I only saw the ocean a couple of times over the course of the summer because I was so busy mountain biking. Also towards the end of the summer, I received my housing + roommate assignment: I would be living on the 6th floor of Hill Hall, and my roommate would be a fellow Californian from SoCal.
In September, our church had its annual family camp in the Santa Cruz mountains (my second home during the summer) which our family had not been able to go to in previous years. It was a nice chance to say goodbye to people before college began (although many of our poor semester friends had already left for school by then).
My first quarter at Seattle Pacific began at the end of September, unleashing a great deluge of events I can still barely recall now. The first half week was what is called Welcome Week, basically a fancy name for orientation. We learn a lot of special names for everything, i.e. dining commons = cafeteria, Office of Safety and Security = campus police, OSL = Office of Student life etc. It was a very packed few days, with activities booked for nearly every portion of each day. Adding to the confusion was the fact that I was making last-minute adjustments to my schedule and auditioning for Choir at the same time. A very hectic first week, all in all. It was actually a bit of a relief once classes started up for real! Other random 6th Hill initiation madness went on about this time as well, unfortunately I am not at liberty to elaborate on the goings-on. The community that exists on each floor in the dorms at SPU (especially in Hill) has been likened to that of a fraternity/sorority.
Almost every weekend in October had some sort or retreat or other out-of-town activity going on, making it difficult to visit enough churches to get a good idea of where I’d like to settle down. This delay in finding a church home was rather frustrating. The Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade came to Seattle during the first week of November. They had some cool artists (such as Hawk Nelson and one of my all-time favorites, Jars of Clay) playing there. Of special note, at least for me, was that Jar’s Steve Mason was NOT playing his famous Long Haul Fender Telecaster, instead he had his “new” Gibson SG, which I’m told he acquired while recording their latest album, The Shelter. For some odd reason, that Tele has become one of my favorite instruments, and I’ve developed a minor obsession with 60′s era Telecasters. I had I the time and diligence, I would start a flickr group for photos of it, but so far I’ve just been vacuuming them up and accumulating them on my desktop. Sometimes I think I should have been alive during the 50/60′s, but then mountain biking wouldn’t have been invented yet.
Just before Thanksgiving break Seattle experience unusually low temperatures, and we actually got a few inches of snow. There was enough to cancel classes for a couple of days, leading (naturally) to enormous snowball fights and sled races on pieces of cardboard. The break itself was only a couple of days long, so instead of going home to California, a few out-of-state friends and I went home with a someone from my floor who lives in North Bend, WA (a couple hours east of Seattle). In North Bend there was much more snow, but the counties east of King (Seattle) actually have enough snowplows to deal with it, so it wasn’t much of an issue. The Thanksgiving at the Benson’s was one of the best in recent memory, enhanced by the contrast between eating in a house vs a cafeteria. The first thing that all of us noticed was how quiet the meal was, and this was a big family gathering with around 20 people!
Right after Thanksgiving, everyone was jolted into finals mode, as the quarter was ending in about two weeks. Along with studying for finals, members of the Concert Choir (like myself) had to make up for rehearsals missed during the snow days before break for the upcoming Sacred Sounds of Christmas concert in downtown Seattle’s Benaroya hall. We barely pulled it off, rehearsing only once with the orchestra before it was time for the show– I bet the conductors had a lot of fun. After a whirlwind of finals, we were kicked out of the dorms within a day. I was back at home within 48 hours of my last final! The first thing I noticed when I stepped outside the San Jose airport was the dryness of the air–and it was raining at the time. In California, the air also smells better and less ‘mossy’.
After letting me sleep for a couple days straight, my family deemed me sane enough and we went out visiting bucketloads of people that I didn’t remember I knew. During rare times of being at home, I annoyed everyone by spreading my stuff all over the now-spotless house (I’ve been told it’s been that way since I left) and sneaking out to attempt very long, cold bike rides around in the nearby hills. After our quiet family Chirstmas (typical of the Chaffees), I’ve had quite a bit more free time to ride and hang out with friends I haven’t seen since everyone dissipated for college. Currently I’m packing up my things an preparing for another six months in Washington– I likely won’t be home for spring break as it’s only a couple weeks long.
Originally, I wanted this newsletter (usually published on Christmas eve) to be out around the time I arrived home, but I’ve waited long enough to write this that I’m (much) closer to departing than arriving. Anyhow, thanks for reading this far, and tune in sometime next year for more drivel about my life!
And the requisite motley collection of postscritpts:
P.S. Feel free to drop me a line and say hi, I can be contacted in a multitude of ways. <- Password is my true firstname, no capitals.
P.P.S. I’m heading up to Seattle via plane in a couple days. In hopes of staving off the freshman 15, I’m trying to bring my bike up to Washington. I’d like to avoid the $100-some charge for beating up my ride with the airline, so I’m looking for someone who’s driving up that way and would be willing to bring my baby along.