March 2009

Jeannie Lee, my blog advisory council, says that people generally don’t explore blog sidebars since it’s not obvious when that stuff gets updated. Here’s what I’ve got going on so far.

“In” is for my input: I’ve got a list of most of the blogs I’m currently reading, with short reviews, and, under ‘learning,’ a list of the classes, lessons, workshops, and lectures taken or listened to. “Listening” is for music. Under ‘reading’ I have a list of what I’ve read this year, and at the bottom a link to what I read last year. “Viewing” is a list of movies and TV I’ve watched. “Websites” is a list of my most heavily used sites, with little descriptions.

The “Nathen Online” section is self explanatory.

“Out” is for output: Under ‘driving’ is my driving log since my birthday and a little essay about my truck and driving. Under ‘landfill’ is a trash project I started in January, documenting my landfill contribution. ‘Photographs’ has links to some Flickr slideshows I’ve put up. I’m almost a year behind on that project, but what’s up is good. ‘Writing’ is where I post my academic writing. I intend to put up everything I’ve written for school in the last two years but so far I just have my fall term up.

“Categories” is just that–how I’ve categorized my posts here. Having that list up is a straight rip off Ethan Mitchell’s blog. I thought it was a cool idea.

I have a cell phone for the first time in years. I like being able to talk to my family for ‘free’ (that is, for the cost of the monthly service) since we are on the same monopoly. When I travel, I like being able to update people who are trying to pick me up at the airport and who would otherwise be inconvenienced. I like how it reduces the psychological barrier to calling my friends, especially those who are spread around the country. If I’m thinking about Danielle, I can call and tell her I miss her while I’m walking between classes. Or if I have a Pro Tools meltdown in a recording session, I can call John to bail me out. It’s great! I think it strengthens my relationships and community.

On the other hand, it’s embarrassing to have my phone ring during a ‘live’ conversation. Sometimes I forget to turn the ringer off and even the vibrate function is audible. I wish it wasn’t. I want to be fully present with anyone I’m talking to. I know I can just keep it turned all the way off, but I do want to be available for my friends and family calling much of the time, and it’s been too much to keep track of so far. If I’m expecting an important call, I try to remember to tell anyone I’m in a conversation with that I may need to answer a call and that I’m sorry in advance. I don’t expect anyone else to behave like that, but I do sometimes wish that people didn’t just automatically answer their phones—that there was some commonly held etiquette to consider.

My friend Anna Fritz pays a lot of attention to social and environmental issues and has decided against having a cell phone because they use this substance called coltan, which is mostly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the economics of which is perpetuating violent conflict there and displacing people. The mining process is also infringing on gorilla habitat. I haven’t looked into it much, but Wikipedia supports her claims. Ah, the moral ambiguity of leading a modern human life! It may be that if I witnessed what was going on in the DRC first hand, I would be so ashamed to be part of it that I would throw my phone away. It seems like that would just be a waste of this dearly-come-by resource, so I’ll keep it until I find out otherwise. Maybe there’s a business opportunity there—cell phones made with recycled coltan for the ethically sensitive.

March 24, 2009

Dear Nathen Lester:

It is our pleasure to inform you that the Couples and Family Therapy admissions committee has recommended to the Graduate School that you be admitted to the Fall, 2009 class. Your credentials, letters of recommendation and response to our interview questions suggest to us that you can excel in the CFT program.


Once again, congratulations on your acceptance into our program. I am happy to talk with you at any time prior to your enrollment next fall. We look forward to working with you!


Jeff Todahl, Ph.D., LMFT (KY)

CFT Program Director

Just in case any of you have tried to click through ‘my band’s website’ on the right in the last couple months and were frustrated, that site is now back online. It’s worth checking out, too, I think, just to see the websmanship; it was created by our friend Zen Zenith, incorporating artwork by Tilke Elkins, so it’s very cool.

I had my interview for the University of Oregon’s Couples and Family Therapy masters program today. I think it went really well, despite sleeping through my alarm and waking up three minutes before I was supposed to be there. I was interviewed by two of the heads of the program, one of whom went out of his way to tell me that I’d done well on two separate occasions during the day. He had asked three questions: What does diversity mean to you? What does it mean to be sensitive to diversity? What is cultural competancy?

I see that my last post was about a dance event, which makes it look like all I’m doing is dancing. I am doing a fair amount of dancing, but what I’m mostly doing is school-related: my internship at Stepping Stone, statistics for my honors thesis, and studying trigonometry. It’s the last week of my term, and I’m busy. I’ve got some more thoughtful posts in the works, but only short and hopefully sweet ones for now.

I just got back from the Portland Lindy Exchange–at 3 am this morning. Three nights of dancing. I had  so much fun. I don’t think I can effectively express what is so fun about it right now but I can tell you about another couple compliments that I really liked.

There was a lot of fast music–northwest dancers like fast music. I do, too. I’ve been doing a lot of Balboa, which works well for fast music, and I’ve gotten comfortable with fast tempos, and able to lead musical dances. At the last dance, about 24 hours ago now, I was dancing with a great Portland dancer named Desha, and in the middle of the dance, she said, “Nathen, I love how relaxed you are! So many leads start to feel rushed when the music gets fast, like they are struggling to keep up.” I really liked to hear that. I feel relaxed! Woohoo!

On Friday, a young woman I didn’t recognize asked me to dance. She was good and we had a fun time. Afterwards she thanked me and said that last year she had come to this exchange after having been dancing for only a month, barely knowing how to do it, and her favorite dance had been with me–that I was the guy who had made her feel like she was doing a good job and that she was fun to dance with. I liked that, too. It reminded me a little of when someone I taught to swim joined the swim team, partly because of my enthusiasm for her talent, and a few years later was an all-star swimmer.