Thursday, May 28, 2009

stinking thinking

lesson for the day: being tired is better than being crazy

p.s. how great is this picture? holy kitty cat.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

a few random nothings

You never really know just how dirty your windows are until you wash them.... or when window washers come and wash them for you. I am sitting at my desk in my apartment and I keep getting distracted by the VERY CLEAR view. Nice work window-washer guys!

The clouds are thick and heavy this afternoon, but it is hotter than hades. I am going on a run with my neighbor Millie and I might expire in the process. I am dreading it already.

My last post was a bit drear (there have been some 'blah' days lately) and I happened to be highly stressed at the moment. Not the "I have cancer" stress, but "I am transitioning into a new job and am contemplating other positions and a bunch of other stuff that one just doesn't post on public sites" stress. But there have been some lovely moments worthy of sharing.

Church is full of characters, for better or worse. Usually worse. No, that is mean. And really isn't true. There are fantastic people left and right. On Sunday afternoon I visited with the father of a baby I baptized recently. He shocked me as his eyes filled with tears as he described the gratitude he felt for being laid off these last 5 months. He and his wife never planned it, but he has been a stay-at-home dad for most of his baby girl's young life and he said he wouldn't change it for anything. He says his daughter has taught him more about a capacity for love in these last five months than he had ever thought possible in his entire life. Very sweet.

On Sunday morning I stumbled upon a man standing in the columbarium of our church where he was talking with his wife--her ashes are hid behind a pretty stone placard along one wall. He looked up at me as I walked through and said, "My Ann was a good girl."
"She must have been" I smiled.
His smile disappeared as he shuffled away and reminded me as he went "I miss her every day you know."
I said nothing because nothing was all I had at the moment. His Ann has been gone 7 years now. That is a long time to miss someone.

I went hiking in the Catskill's on Monday and this picture is of little Martha, one of my hiking companions. She is at that perfect age where she is full of wonder and spunk and fun and still thinks boys are annoying. I love this picture. Her little back curved in perfect submission to comfort and that boulder beneath her. Gotta love being a kid-- when finding old rusty bear traps in the woods and eating cheese filled pretzels are all the delight you need in a day.

P.S. Remember the film "Dirty Dancing"? It was supposed to take place in the Catskill's.... little known fact... small camps and resorts were popular getaways for New Yorkers and although not as popular now, they can be seen as you wind your way through the area.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Sometimes you have to run until your body hurts more than your heart.

Sometimes you have to catch frogs in your hands and fish in bottle to remember the wonder of being a kid isn't that far gone.

Sometimes you gotta notice the man sleeping on the bench, the woman pregnant and abandoned, and the man lingering in front of the grave of his wife to remember that life can be cruel.

Sometimes you've got to read poetry and novels and watch a brave performance and hold the fingers of a baby and drink a tall glass of lemonade on a hot day to remember that life can be astonishingly beautiful.

And sometimes you just need to do a load of laundry, take a bath, and go to bed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Some highlights from the past week

Went to a photography exhibit of Richard Avedon on Saturday. As I read about his career post- WWII I was struck by a description of his colleagues at Vogue magazine. The careers of designers from Dior and fashion editors from Harper's Bizarre were called legendary. Legendary.

I had never heard of any of the names listed.

Perhaps this speaks to my lack of sophistication. Or, perhaps it speaks to the ease with which some people offer the title. I walked home from the art museum behind a woman wearing spectacularly tall red patten leather shoes and an immaculate coiffure. She swayed with perfect undulation and peered carefully into the windows of designer stores along Madison Avenue. Perhaps she knew some of the "legends" mentioned at the exhibit.

Call me crazy, but my legends include much more valor and much less fashion. These designers are brilliant in their own right, but legendary? I am not convinced.

Highlights from the week: my cousin Tonya Lynne came to visit, which was great fun. I got to see my friend Kristin from Norway (pictured here with the "Naked Cowboy" in Times Square). I celebrated my birthday with friends new and old, sang some karaoke (dressed up 80's style), went to the philharmonic and an amusing little piece of British theater. Played softball last night for the first time (church league) and had two major "star sightings": Hugh Jackman and Woody Allen. All in all, a pretty nice week.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

30 things in my 30th year

1) started the year by holding a baby chimpanzee
2) ate caterpillars
3) swam with a whale shark off the coast of Mozambique
4) drank coffee in a village in the Doi Sutep Mountains in Thailand
5) received a marriage proposal from a prince in Lesotho
6) sobbed and sobbed as I left the continent of Africa
7) sung Christmas Carols on Park Avenue at Christmas time
8) was “sharing” in my nephew’s kindergarten class
9) baptized a baby for the first time and 30th time
10) read my first book published by a friend
11) tried my hand at documentary filmmaking
12) personal guest of the organist at the Messiah at Carnegie Hall
13) chatted with the ambassador to Malawi and the former ambassador to Greece in the same day at church
14) road on the back of a motorcycle in Bali
15) mastered NYC transit system.... mostly
16) stayed in a 5 star hotel for the first time in my life
17) fell in love
18) began a yoga fettish
19) spent my first Christmas alone
20) played Settler’s of Catan on two continents and 4 countries
21) went on a date with an opera singer
22) had malaria
23) became addicted to facebook
24) learned to appreciate hot showers, fast internet, and clean running water
25) returned to consumer-land with far too much ease
26) hung out on a beach with penguins
27) watched the world’s economies falter from South Africa
28) discovered the genius of the haiku
29) smoked cloves with my good friends from Princeton again
30) realized at 11:55 p.m. May 10th that year 30 may have been the best year of my life thus far

Friday, May 1, 2009

A PTS Reunion

Princeton, New Jersey looks like a make-believe town. I never felt this way when I lived there, but when I return to visit, I usually can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it feels strange. Today as I walked along one sidewalk lined with quaint stone colonial homes and picture-perfect dogwoods and cherry trees, I decided, “This place doesn’t feel real.” Princeton is an idyllic place filled with well-groomed yards, towering deciduous trees, smartly dressed intellectuals with book-bags in tow, and gobs of families parading on foot toward their favorite cafe on Saturday mornings. I was in a consignment shop with my friends Becky and Emily and laughed when I heard Bob Marley singing about resistance on the sound system overhead. Seemed rather inconsistent with the locale.

I returned to Princeton last night for a mini-reunion of good friends from seminary. We ate and drank on the Roberts and Tennent lawn with a few rousing games of “stick” and delighted in all kinds of nerdy and more meaningful conversations. It felt good to be with these old friends, but I was reminded that time has a way of distancing us from special seasons of life whether we like it or not. Our gathering brought friends from as far as Seattle, Chicago, Glasgow, and a small town in Texas whose name escapes me at the moment. It was fun to see Eric and David and reminisce about working with the junior high kids at a Presby church in Montclair.

It was good to drink some sangria with pals who are now pursuing PhD’s and ministering in churches (weird how many pastors I know) – the same people with whom I cursed summer Hebrew and played flag football.

And now I will return to New York City. I am tired. I helped host a delegation of 5 from Zimbabwe last week, but hosting can be taxing. I was in charge of rounding up appropriate gifts for our visitors and accompany them on excursions around the city. It was interesting to begin to learn some of the differences between Zambian and Zimbabwean culture and some of the subtle similarities made me miss living in Kitwe where chitenge and dancing and bartering and sunshine are typical fare.

I get a couple of weeks off in June and I am ready for a break. Will go home and be with the fam, which will be fun. My dad is already planning a fishing trip and perhaps a day at the beach. Sounds good to me. I’m going to find some delicious books to read and lay around with my nephews (unless they insist on trips to the pool or the library or t-ball or something).

Happy RAINY Friday!