Monday, April 23, 2007

Guys.... Girls...

Last night 5 of Ben's friends slept here after their weekend in Mexico. When I came downstairs this morning hardly any of them even said hello and when they left 35 minutes later hardly any of them said goodbye (granted they had slept on a wooden floor and gotten 1/2 a night's rest, but still, I've known them practically my whole life). After they were gone, I found dirty glasses and a cereal bowl still filled with milk on the counters, a pair of someone's dirty underwear on the living room floor, mountains of rumpled, unfolded blankets, the toilet seat up, wet towels on the living room floor AND last but not least, PEE on the bathroom FLOOR next to the toilet. Seriously?

In contrast, last night, before they all arrived, I had Hollie, whom I hardly know, over for dinner. She came with 4 picked roses from her garden and helped me grill chicken.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech

How does one even write about this?

I have felt sad in my core, introspective, quiet, afraid, mournful.

Everyone has looked different. Walking through the park with Silas, I involuntarily looked for guns in the pockets of peoples' jackets.

I've thought a lot about death.

I've thought a lot about loving people. What a fearsome endeavor it is -- to love from our gut. Nothing is more vulnerable.

In the shock of tragedy, I feel floaty, like looking around at death is like looking around at mythical creatures that most of the time I don't believe in. Death means vanishing. How can it be possible for a person to be vibrantly moving and then to be utterly gone from the earth? It is unthinkable. At least unbearable. It makes my chest tight and achy.

At 3o, I still have never suffered losing someone. This terrifies me. Loss, big loss, is inevitable . And to be honest, I am not sure how I will ever face it.

What has struck me as a miracle, though, -- and I do believe in miracles -- has been watching people survive losing someone. People do survive, and not only that, they usually continue to live. Annemarie described her grief to me once by saying that each morning she had to make herself breathe, make herself put one foot in front of the other and show up. People do this. Fiona. Mari. My dad. Kari. People in Iraq. Probably most of the people we know, at least many of them, are moving through a quiet grief much of the time. Somehow this is possible. Somehow, we are incredibly resilient, incredibly full. We can absorb and feel and remember so much, be loaded to the brim, overflow. And we can heal. Never, perhaps, without tenderness or scars, but we can heal enough to move through the earth again. That is a gift. And maybe somehow the tenderness is too. Today I can't see that, but belief goes deeper than today.

What I hope most for all these families and students and roommates and friends and boyfriends and children and parents and lovers and sad people is that as the day plummets into blackness and thick shadow, that somehow, even far off through dense trees, they'll see the moon rise and know there still is Light.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Catching Up

When we were in DC Easter week, an April snow fell all over the cherry blossom blooms and emerging azaleas. This is Silas in his first snow.

Last Tuesday I turned 30.
To wear this new age beginning with 3 feels surprisingly refreshing -- a gust of wind, almost cleansing. My Mom said it well: as you grow up, whims and dreams and likings change, emerge, fade, but what stays the same is your core, who you really are. As you get older, you come to know this core more and more and settle into your real, solid self.
This is how I feel, settling. It is relaxing, assuring.
This is a picture from my birthday party that Ben threw for me-- a circle of women (and two men) around a wooden table outside in half-sun, eating cupcake roses and telling stories. How blessed I am to have them fill my life.

30 and 1 walking in Newport.

A small bandito.

And lastly, Fat Kitchen. It turns out, just as I suspected, that she has been feasting at various houses around the complex. On Friday, I officially gave her to a neighboring house. (She has scratched Silas on the face three times and once on the arm -- seems to me like enough. 10 minutes after the last swipe, however, Silas, with a big red scratch across the face, leaned over and kissed her picture on my "cat needs a home" poster -- oh to be as forgiving as a baby!).

It was a tearful goodbye as Fat Kitchen trotted after the heels of her new owners and they carried away my yellow cat food bowl. She has been a trusty friend these 4 years. The gloom settled around me in the living room -- an era over. Since we parted ways last Friday, though, I have found her on my doorstep each time I have left the house or come home. SO... it looks like our goodbye will be gradual after all.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The World now and in 100...

My Mom is 58 and almost more obsessed than anyone I know with her technology. Her Treo is never far from her fingertips, and frequently trills customized rings. Her iBook travels with her around the country and back and you can almost always find it in whatever room she's standing in. What a different world it is than when I was in college. SO different. For example, this afternoon, I found all four of us scattered around the house working on our four separate laptops. And last night, Ben and my Dad watched some bloody movie while my Mom and I sat on my bed each with a laptop. Many of our technological trends suggest that our culture -- world, really -- is moving toward isolationism. And in many ways we are. But I must say that we did feel very much together sitting there uploading our photos...

At dinner tonight we talked about what the state of the world could be in 100 years. 100 is a long time. Lots of positive predictions: leaps in healthcare (AIDS, Cancer, Alzheimers), more technology, a more global, communal planet, efforts bent on meeting basic needs for impoverished nations, hopefully radical environmental conservation. We appear to be on the brink of making important planet-altering decisions. What will we choose? (it is so easy to look down at only our own lives and conveniences -- it's terrifying to look up at any sort of big picture).

Though there is much we can do environmentally, we agreed that the planet may continue warming regardless -- due to population, pollution, a natural shift, something. The Nuclear card also continues to be a wild card. Will there really be a nuclear war? Too hard to imagine, too terrifying. Population growth could alter everything too. We are growing at an exponential rate as is, and if devastated nations do begin to get well, there will be even more of a boom. I pictured our grandchildren piled into pod-like apartments in white sterile buildings, emerging for work wearing white suits and sliding into rivers of bodies walking to work like an Army.

Where will we be in 100 years? My mom thinks a lot may blow over in the next century. Today our world is charged: China's power swells, North Korea threatens, Russia wears more corruption, the Middle East surges and bleeds and is ready to blow. Maybe in 100 years much of this will have played out and we will be settled in a new place. The casual phrase "played out" smuggles horrific chills.

The more we speculated and talked about which parts of our world are throbbing, the more I found my body bracing itself agains the wooden chair and the impulse to squeeze my eyes shut and sing "tra la la" over and over until the conversation passed. But instead I kept moving my mouth as I gripped the edges of my seat and listened. We have to listen. And I have no idea what we have to do, but we have to do, too.

Read, think, look up, stop throwing so much away, turn off the lights, invite people over for dinner, be kind, give money away, be watchful, say yes, pray for children and leaders and grace.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

advice to me

When in doubt, pause.

(or leave the room for a breather)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Oh, our world (and our selves too)

It's Sunday morning: Silas is napping (home with a runny nose), Ben is at church and I am reading the newspaper. The whole world, it seems, is up in arms. Violence continues to rage and destroy people in Baghdad and all over Iraq. Marches against governments buzz in Taiwan, Ukraine, and coups are in the wings in Sudan. The Darfur crisis continues. Starvation is rampant all over Africa. AIDS. Child trafficking. Sex slaves and the market, violence, pornography that accompanies it. Gobs of explosives found in Spain. A new deep water port paid for by China in Pakistan. Oil. Oil. Oil. And global warming. I realized this morning (again), that somehow, Ben, Silas and I produce as much trash as a small nation. This is not ok.
(check this out for more thoughts - )

How eerie it feels, after pausing to consider, to sit in a structurally sound home that I have filled with objects and colors of my choosing, windows intact, locks on every opening, the quiet of sleep at night in the absence of terror, watching maples push tiny leaf-paws into Spring air.

We feel so safe here a lot of the time -- even in the midst of all of our American dysfunction, obesity, overcrowded prisons, partisan hatred, crises in education, poverty and injustice especially for our poor. But overall, I think we -- we being the educated, the wealthy -- wrap up in our silky lives and carry on wearing hefty earplugs and singing to ourselves with averted eyes. How else could we carry on? A lot of us feel untouchable, I think. I do. Like all the violence and poverty surging and spewing all over the world is so other. Tragic. But other.

I half want to pull out my woolly earplugs and put my nose on the ground and realize all this Stuff people are and are suffering from is a reflection of me, instead of a picture hanging across the room. And I half want to sprint to the hills and set up a tent (with lots of big pillows and mattresses in it) among wildflowers with my closest friends and family and live there happily ever after roasting marshmallows.


I've been watching BBC/Discovery's "Planet Earth" -- which, I might add, is stunning, sobering, and refreshing -- and have been trying to learn from the animals. I haven't come up with much except that one, their lives is 100% about survival, there is little room for gratuitous anything, and two, they rely a lot on each other. Maybe that's a lot.