Live from Hollywood. . .

Haven’t been here in a while. I hate it. I always forget that until I’m here, and then I’m like, “Why the heck am I in Hollywood?” It’s pretty much the loneliest place ever, I think.

We just finished Week 7 — a really good one, following in the vein of other odd weeks, 3 and 5. We had a big group of like 30 from boone-town Wisconsin; a group of 9 from Logan, Utah; and 5 guys from inner-city Minneapolis who work for YE, the organization that screen-prints all our Youthworks t-shirts. They were a cool bunch, very into serving, very into processing what they saw, trying to put into context. It felt like the majority of them got it, were changed somehow by their experiences, which is fantastic. The Utah group was very interesting — they were a conglomeration of all the churches in their little town, very much a population in the minority with all the LDS churches there. I learned a lot about the LDS church, as one of their youth was about ready to sign up; we talked a lot, my eyes were really opened to that. It isn’t all that different from conservative Christianity, but is growing faster — which is the most scary part. The kids were all children of university professors — little pseudo-hippie intellectuals, into recycling and being vegetarians and long hair and reading the NYT. They got mad when I quoted Napoleon because they said their lives were actually like that and they found the movie offensive. I loved them.

Mom and Dad were here last weekend, and that was pretty much glorious. We spent a lot of time just driving around, “seeing” LA, because that’s pretty much all there is to do here. There aren’t really attractions, just places to go so you can say you went there. We drove through Hollywood, Beverly HIlls, Bel Air, Burbank, etc. It was just so nice to spend time with them, and be happy doing dumb things — it was fun to relax and do things that we enjoy doing, because we enjoy doing the same things. That is very much something I’ve realized I have been taking advantage of for the past few years.

We went to dinner in Chinatown tonight with Randy, the pastor of our church, and his 6-year-old son, Lucas. It was a blast. We spend an inordinate amount of YW! hospitality budget on “slippery shrimp,” green beans and asparagus, chicken with snow peas, mixed vegetables and pork dumplings. Lucas was incredibly entertaining — a smart little guy — and it was nice to spend some time with Randy and hear about all the cool stuff he’s done. We went on a little driving tour of Echo Park and SIlverlake after dinner — Randy took us up (and down) the two steepest streets in LA and showed us their cute 3-story condo that has an amazing view of Downtown. It was the first time in a while that I actually felt affection for this city — I was like, “Yeah, I could live here someday, get a cute little condo with my husband and awesome kid.” It made me homesick to be in a neighborhood with someone who knew all its little quirks, to drive down residential streets and see people on porches and sidewalks, to think of a home. I think I’m ready for my next thing — LA is winding down, I’m getting excited for Prague, and then for my adult life to begin.

I’m getting my post-YW plans in order. I talked to KJ today, and I’m going to hang out with him after my retreat is over next Tuesday. Then I’m going to go to a hostel near the train station in Denver Wednesday night, most likely the lovely Melbourne Hotel & Hostel , so I can catch a $52 train to Albuquerque at 6:00 Thursday morning. Then I’ll spend a few days with Brenna, get a rental car, and drive to Glenwood probably Saturday to greet Jut when he gets out of the woods! I think I’ll fly out sometime the next week, I haven’t decided exactly when. So, I’m excited about that.

We’re going to hang out with our Silverlake friends tomorrow to say goodbye, then probably start packing up what we can, doing paperwork, etc. on Sunday — so it will be a busy but good weekend. We’re trying to arrange a stop at the Grand Canyon on the way back to Denver, so the sooner we can leave next week, the better. So now, this God-forsaken cafe is about to close, I’m getting up at 6:00 tomorrow to run to the top of Mt. Hollywood in an attempt to burn off some of the YW! pudge, and it’s time to go.

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