Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Benefits of Being Single (or how I cleared $100 on Valentine's Weekend)

I have a good friend who likes to call Valentine's "Singles Awareness Day". That's right, it spells out SAD. Yet with a trip to Europe in the not too distant horizon, I have been a money making and a money saving machine lately. I even opened a fail proof savings account in my room called an envelope with "Europe" written on it in marker.

So I wasn't actually sad this Valentine's because my weekend went like this:

Friday: Babysit for 7 year old Reid whose parents are professors at the university. After 45 minutes of playing Mastermind and Pony-opoly, Reid brushed her teeth (standing on the toilet to be tall) and went to bed. This left me to two hours of drinking tea, reading a book and watching 20/20. Ahh Bliss!

Saturday AM: Brunch with said good friend followed by "He's just not that into you." Actually a pretty good girlie movie. I fell in love with Ben Affleck all over again. Then, possibly the highlight of my weekend, I found a fabulous dress on sale. What Valentine could beat that?

Saturday Evening: Babysit for family #1. Baby is good until I wake him up to feed him some nasty smelling formula, but couple comes home and is happy they got away from the nasty formula for awhile. I get my money with a bonus for a side project and head to...

Saturday Night: Couple #2 who are seeing a movie. Kid is already sleeping leaving me to read, watch Sleepless in Seattle and raid the pantry. More bliss! Only downside is that too many scary movies have made me afraid of little kids whispering to themselves. So I was a little freaked out when the kid woke up and started talking in weird voices, especially in an old Princeton house. I was able to get him back to sleep though and was very glad he didn't say something like, "I'm talking to my friend, Joe, who is wearing a Revolutionary War uniform and is missing a leg."

Who needs flowers and chocolates when you have cute kids and cold, hard cash?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I've been thinking lately about the word, "strike" and its multiplicity of meanings. For instance:

You don't want a member of your union that's on strike to strike someone with their picket sign because it would strike a member of the press as something that he or she would not want to strike from the record.

Today they said on the news that the "Miracle on Hudson" was caused by a bird strike. It leads one to imagine a group of dastardly French Canadian geese with mustaches and accents plotting a suicide mission to take down a plane. Meanwhile the people on the ground are saying, "How dare they! How dare they fly and fly together and fly where our planes need to go?"

No matter what the use of the word, it seems to be something that comes out of nowhere, something that is unexpected and often painful. Then, the question becomes how we recover from the strike, how we pick ourselves up and continue.

This week I'm trying to recover from a strike that struck me and left me without words for some time and with a lingering sense of doubt. Luckily, with some edification from friends, the talking it through seems to have repaired the strikewound. Hopefully, I can also get better at dodging the birds before they're in the engine!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Art of the Visit

This is a blog I've been thinking about for a while, but alas, time, you crafty vixen, have gotten away from me.

A few weeks ago my mom and I traveled out to Chicago to see the city, yes, but also to visit some folks. I went to see some good Mississippi friends who have resettled there and she was looking forward to seeing an old college friend and a cousin she grew up with.

There have been times, I'll admit, when I feel like because I am single and in school (which means you have all the time in the world right?) I have been expected to be the one to go, to travel. And I often resent that. Yet, I'm coming to realize what a great gift it is to be able to visit others, both for them and for myself.

For one thing, because I generally avoid phone conversations and long e-mails about my life or anyone else's life (if you send me a mass e-mail from your summer trip, I probably won't read it), visiting gives me a chance to catch up on those things in person. Linda's trip to Europe for instance, was much more interesting to hear about while I visited her in Austin and we lounged spring side in the city. I understood her excitement and frustration more (yeah those French airline people stink) when I could hear and see her.

I also love seeing where people live. While visiting Ben in Baltimore, I saw his new place and where he works. I have some context now when he tells me about his day to day life.

It's great to have friends in fun places too. It's so much better to listen to the funny tour guide on the architecture tour with Erin than by myself. Also, it's good to be lead around sometimes, to have someone who knows where the good restaurants are and which museums are boring.

Often the visit is informative too, in a personal way. When I visited the Boston ladies at the beginning of September, I got in touch with my college self. Oh right, I remembered, I like dancing in the kitchen to ABBA, and telling dirty jokes. I am bonded with those women through a very certain time and place where we learned who we were.

The most interesting thing about visiting Juanita and Ann in Chicago was learning about my mom and indirectly, about where I came from. When my mom and Juanita talked, it was as if no time had passed, although it had been 30 years. I could see two college women who perhaps also danced in some kitchens and told dirty jokes.

I got to ask our cousin, Ann, something that has always intrigued me. I wanted to know about my grandmother, my mom's mom, who died before my second brother was born. What was she like? I asked. Because I feel like we have made her into a saint, and I'm sure she wasn't. What was she really like?

According to Ann, she was something close to a saint. Except she was sassier. She was warm and caring, but knew how to tell the truth. She could prepare a feast out of almost bare cabinets. Ann still remembers her as one of her favorite cooks. These memories were a great blessing to me.

Of course, I'm not the first to understand the transformative nature of a visit. Jesus visits all kinds of people and sometimes he transforms them, and sometimes he is transformed (see certain interpretations of the Syro-Phoenician woman). I think in a culture consumed by texting and facebook, it seems to be a great gift to be able to give if you can, all the way around.

Maybe some of you will be inspired to come visit me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh the horror

So today, for no reason in particular, the second of two coffee makers my roommate and I have in our apartment quit on us. What is God trying to say?

I'd appreciate any feedback you have on models of coffeemakers or good places to buy them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Birth of a Frustration

I've had one of those days, except its been a series of days. Those days where so many little things keep going wrong. Anne Lamott, a favorite Christian writer of mine, says these days, these little frustrations serve to birth something really beautiful. I'm still waiting for the something beautiful.

Let me explain. On my way out a Hebrew Exam on Friday, I found my driver's side mirror hanging off my car, three hours before I was supposed to drive down to Baltimore. After cursing the town of Princeton and all the rich, SUV driving yuppies in it, I took my car down the street to the mechanic where I was guilted into renting a car.

Next at the pharmacy I needed to stop at before leaving town, I discovered my doctor had not called in my prescription. Awesome.

On the way down to Baltimore, I stopped for a coke. I asked for a medium, but seeing that a medium meant a cup as tall as me, I asked for a small. The girl working the register looked at me as if I had just asked her to build a spaceship out of paperclips that could send me to the moon. I said I would take the large.

There was all kinds of traffic.

Upon arriving at my hotel, I realized my door was difficult. I tried unsuccessfully to open it with all my bags on me for about 10 minutes before going to the front desk. After the hotel "engineer" showed me that I paradoxically needed to pull and push it at the same time, I kind of got it, but it provided endless entertainment the rest of the weekend.

Later that night, coming back at midnight, my friend Erin couldn't park her car because an event entitled "Fierce, Fabulous and Fortunate" was taking place in the hotel's ballroom.

The next day, I tried to find a movie theatre but got stuck in traffic and missed them all.

Last night, I sat down to figure out some financial stuff only to realize A: the website the financial aid people sent me to wasn't acknowledging my school's existence, B: my credit card payment was actually due the day before, resulting in a $35 fee, C: I haven't gotten any work study or field ed money yet, and D: the people in San Antonio that owe me a refund (long story) are choosing not to acknowledge me

The section of the library I need has been closed both times I've tried to go.

The auditorium I need for the play I'm putting on has a roof that's caving in and we can't rehearse in there for a month.

I looked at the wrong shuttle times (because remember my car is still in the shop) and got to school way late.

My curtains have fallen down.

By now, you're undoubtedly all singing the Charlie Brown sad song for me. But seriously, all this has been so frustrating, and one side of you is like "How bad can it be? You have food and shelter and don't have AIDS or someone chasing you with a machete." In my selfishness, though, I don't what the beautiful thing being born is. I didn't fall in love at the mechanic's, or find a space even better than the auditorium, or find out about some amazing opportunity to build orphanages on the Galapagos Island while riding the shuttle.

If my frustrations have impacted your life for the better, please let me know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This is a funny place

Well, it's been a while. Since my internship ended, I've been travelling, catching up with friends, and packing (and packing and packing). I've arrived safely at my new apartment in Princeton, and while a lot of my stuff is still in boxes, I feel remarkably at home already.

Sometimes it takes some travelling, I think, to help you realize how much you miss a place. This summer when people would ask about seminary, I would often say that I was enjoying it, but that I didn't necessarily feel at home here. While that might be true to some extent, this week I'm realizing that I've probably carved out more of a niche than I was aware of. Somehow I was personing (my alternative to "manning") two tables at the Organization Fair, have several birthday parties to go to already, and have known more people than not in most of my classes. That's a good feeling.

A few things have happened this week to remind me what a funny (in the good, beloved, funny valentine way) place this is.

- a professor cried during a lecture. Twice! A little awkward, I'll admit, but when do professors get so into what they're talking about that they cry?

- people have helped me out! From fixing the copy machine, to passing out fliers, to carrying the top half of my desk, colleagues have been anxious to kindly be of service. In case you live in a bubble, that doesn't happen all the time.

- we didn't get classroom assignments until the night before classes started. While this was not funny in a lot of ways since no one knew where their classes would be until 8 hours before they started, I choose to see at as another way that this place is personal and not robotic.

I'm looking forward to what the semester will bring!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10 (possible) Upsides to Having Your Wallet Stolen

In no particular order:

1. You get to feel very Law and Order when you go to not 1 but 2 ghetto police stations in Philly at 11 o'clock at night. (This after you've been sitting in your apt. for 3 hours because no one came. Apparently in Philly when a theft moves to a fraud, as in someone spending $317 on your card at CVS, an officer has to physically see you. Then when you go to station 1, they inform you that actually your particular crime happened right on the edge of their precinct and you need to go to station #2)

2. You don't have to worry about being mugged in said ghetto areas because everything worthwhile is already gone!

3. You become very chummy with your Bank representatives who, after detecting the crime before you did, seem like the Second Coming.

4. You get to make an unexpected trip to everyone's favorite place (wait for it)...The Jersey DMV!!

5. You get to make little jokies with the one nice guy of five people who check your IDs about why exactly you're carrying your College diploma, framed, into the DMV.

6. You find out your seminary is kindly not going to charge you for a new I.D.!!

7. After said DMV trip you get to see your baby niece for a little while.

8. You get to work on that all important Christian quality of forgiveness while picturing someone stealing your wallet out of your bag, running to CVS, spending $317, using the cash in your wallet to get to Cherry Hill, then spending $500 more at Target.

9. You get to hear everyone else's story about the time they lost their wallet, and kind of feel less bad about your situation. Kind of.

10. You get to correct everyone's assumption that the homeless people you work with took the wallet by saying, "Actually, my wallet was stolen in a food court in a really swanky hotel that caters to wealthy people and wouldn't let a homeless person in the door!"

Now doesn't all that sound awesome?