Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life in my imagination

Sometimes I wonder if I am better at fake life than real life? I am not talking about those obsessive virtual games that consume some people (google "virtual life" and you will see what I am talking about). But I am thinking more about the life I lead in my imagination. On days when Philadelphia is hard, when I am dog tired and feeling insecure, I think about all the more interesting and useful things I could be doing in the world. For example, "I could be traveling through Europe or doing substantive acts of justice somewhere in Africa." A friend posted a picture of Istanbul on his facebook page today and I thought, "Why am I not going on a romantic little getaway with someone? Turkey seems nice." The day to day monotony of life can be difficult. I often experience moments of deep joy and satisfaction, but I seem to be missing that elusive existential peace.

Is restlessness a universal trait?

This week I visited with my wonderful friends, the Faucett family. They are living/working in Thailand and we had a little picnic here at the manse one evening. Four-year-old Anna Faucett asked me for a cup of milk. I found a mug in the kitchen and poured her a glass. She stood with her hands on her hips looking around and said, "You don't have much nice stuff here, do you?" I laughed out loud and said, "No Anna, we don't have much nice stuff here." She is right, you know.

Unearthing hope in a building, in a church, in a heart or mind is never easy. But maybe that is why we are given imagination. Imagination paves the way for possibility.

Some pics from the newly transformed parlor. And yes, I chose one of the most flattering pictures of myself because the authors of blogs are allowed to do such things.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beware: There is Cursing In This One

I am a blogging maniac these days!

Philly made me angry yesterday. I found out the city does not plow the streets of the poor. They plow Center City, but they do not plow the ghetto. Ridiculous.

But I digress.

I share a quote from David Eggers here for inspiration. I warn you now: for those who do not think ministers should permit serious profanity on their blog, please skip this posting. Just click that little box on the upper left corner of your screen and turn on the TV. No more to see here. But for those who can swallow a few coarse words, please read on...

"What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips's new album is ravishing and I've listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who's up and who's down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes."

Saying yes. I want to do that all my life long.

The full interview may be found at http://www.armchairnews.com/freelance/eggers.html

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Letters on the Train

Saturday morning I toured a mural art project consisting of 50 rooftop paintings with my friend Erika -- all love letters from a man trying to win the heart of a woman who rides the L train in West Philadelphia. Fantastic.

Some of my favorite love notes:

If I were with you I'd be home now

Your ever after

I had a nice dream about us

I want you like coffee

I'll wait for what I want

Co-sign on a lifetime

And my favorite series of three murals....

We share defeats. We share receipts. We share sheets.

The murals are wonderful. I hope he wins her heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

4 days, 4 feet, 4 degrees wind chill

I am feeling giddy. Giddy, I tell you! I leave for South Africa and Zambia in 33 days. The amount of work that needs to get done between now and then is ridiculous, but my excitement will not be diminished!

I will be traveling to the Southern coast of South Africa to marry my friends Gharde and Jaco (pictured here). We spent a fabulous four days together last year when I was in South Africa and I am delighted that I get to play a role in this special event. There are some amazing parts of my job and weddings are just one of them.

Snowpocalypse, SnOMG, Snow Spectacular have been the themes of the week. Two major snow storms in just four days. We have had about 4 feet of snow in total, which is a rarity in this part of the world. Too bad I do not own a pair of galoshes or water-proof boots. I have looked comical walking down the street in an assortment of atypical winter-wear.

I am not a big fan of cold weather. For those of you who know me well, you know I like to be cuddly warm all the time and subconsciously find a heat source in a room no matter where it is located. Fireplace in the room? I will be standing in front of it. Forced-air heating? I will be standing on top of it. Sitting on a couch with me on a cold day? If you are comfortable I will likely tuck my toes under your legs (my sister hates this and never allows me).

Here are a few shots from the recent snow storms. These pictures aren't particularly beautiful, but gives you a sense of the last week of my life!

Friday, February 5, 2010


It is far too early to offer a poem that anticipates spring, but I found this delicious little tidbit tonight and thought it was worth sharing. May it bring some warmth and cheer to all of you who are slogging through the damp drudgery of winter.

In April
the ponds open
like black blossoms,
the moon
swims in every one;
there’s fire
everywhere: frogs shouting
their desire,
their satisfaction. What
we know: that time
chops at us all like an iron
hoe, that death
is a state of paralysis. What
we long for: joy
before death, nights
in the swale - everything else
can wait but not
this thrust
from the root
of the body. What
we know: we are more
than blood - we are more
than our hunger and yet
we belong
to the moon and when the ponds
open, when the burning
begins the most
thoughtful among us dreams
of hurrying down
into the black petals
into the fire,
into the night where time lies shattered
into the body of another.

Mary Oliver

Monday, February 1, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words

This is a perplexing picture. It accompanied an article in the New York Times today about a cleric who was illegally swept off the streets of Milan (CIA/Italian Secret Police) and taken to Egypt where he was held/tortured for a year before he was released to his family. Obviously much could be said about the content of the story itself, but look at the boy. Twelve years old, perhaps?

I wonder what he is thinking as he stands in the midst of reporters and photographers, as he makes sense of English words like "torture, secret police, CIA"?

We adults who "run the world" run the world in front of little one's whose eyes are watching, whose ears are hearing the words we hurl at one another, the insults we scream.

I think we can be better. I want to be better for this brown eyed beauty whose heart and hands are still marked by innocence and hope.