Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Mortician

I need to consciously integrate some festive, holiday cheer into my life this month. As I sit here, some candles are lit and Nat King Cole is crooning in the background. This is a good start. I plan to dig out my nativity set, the beautiful collection of white soapstone figures I bought in Zanzibar a few years ago. I think the best Christmas decorations have sentimental value- like the ornament I made my mother in the 1st grade, the one my sister is likely hanging on her Christmas tree as I write this. My poor sister is exhausted these days. The third baby refuses to sleep, so she navigates her days in a bit of a fog. She could use an extra set of hands to string popcorn or distract busy boys, a job best done by a sister, but instead I sit here crunching sun chips, writing liturgy, and trying to rationalize the purchase of a new holiday dress.

Tonight I was riding the trolley back to Center City and sat behind a woman who works at a morgue. She told me a little bit about her job and the precision it demands. She told me she was raised by a mortician. As a little girl, her daddy used to bring her to work where she learned how to prepare bodies for burial. I couldn't quite figure out why she wanted to chat with me. Engulfed in my puffy coat, I was mostly all yoga mat, down, and grocery bags. She flipped around at one point to tell me about a suicide she witnessed earlier in the day. A man had jumped in front of a train. She mentioned something about the Bible and what it says about suicide. If she was watching carefully, she might have seen the flicker of surprise that crossed my face. But I said nothing, of course. I imagine God Almighty would be surprised to know what people attribute to His Holy Book.

Me and this mortician, we deal in the art of life and death and the rituals that accompany it. Weird that I have quite a bit in common with a mortician.

Life can be hard. I am sad for the guy that ended his life today. I am sad for the lonely minister I met tonight and the homeless folks that are curled up outside. "The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise: I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness." May it be so.

Hope you're finding time for warm drinks and cozy evenings at home. Here's to savoring life, my friends, and the gift that it is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I feel like death warmed over. It will pass, but I just got back from the gym and am certain of two things: one, I am dehydrated; two, I am out of shape. Since August my work-out schedule has been sporadic at best. Tonight I planned to slip into the back of an aerobics class, but accidentally entered the wrong room and found myself in a one-on-one cardio and weight training session. Eeesh. Afterward I sat in the locker room with a towel over my head concentrating on not being sick.

I walked home tonight and paused in the middle of a cross-walk, caught off guard by an overwhelming urge to call my mother. That hasn't happened in a long time. I miss my mother's advice and compassion these days. She was a wise one. I have a box full of letters she sent me when I was in college that are are organized by date. I think I will find one marked November 23rd and read it tonight with an appropriate nightcap. Tea.

I had a lovely weekend in beautiful Boston where lobster reigns and young, good-looking brainiacs hang out in Harvard bars (pronounced 'Hahvahd'). My friend Stephanie and I spent two gorgeous fall days traipsing around the city with our friend and host Adam who recently moved to Boston from Philly. We took a night bus, so we were delirious and ridiculous by the time we arrived. I like Stephanie. She has the capacity to be sparkly and zesty and hilarious and she is also deeply reflective and wise. Adam is a cool cat. He wears designer sunglasses, has excellent taste, a wicked sense of humor, and a tremendously generous spirit. These are good people. I am lucky to know them.

In two short days we will be celebrating my favorite holiday. I will be heading to Princeton to be with good friends for a couple of days and look forward to some long walks, some lawn games if the weather plays along, and ridiculously good food. Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear friends.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adios a mi Camera

I watched a Brecht play a few nights ago. Upon arriving home I had two options: stew in despair or browse facebook and ponder a newsie blogpost. I choose option two. One should make room for nihilism, but only in small doses.

I have bad news. On Sunday night I was carving this cute jack-o-lantern and while cleaning up I accidentally bashed the viewfinder of my camera into a radiator. SMASH. In one swift move its days of documenting the world were over.

On the bright side, it is one less thing to own. I have always found ridding myself of earthly possessions invigorating. Within reason, of course. It's like nihilism: everything in moderation.

And so, my friends, I must pay homage to my camera.

How should one give honor to any good and faithful companion? A montage, of course.

A tribute to you, my Camera. Thanks for the good times.

RIP 2007-2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Almost Everything Serious is Difficult

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is,to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

-Rainier Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love is in the air

I finally got back to the gym tonight after a long hiatus. I have developed a slightly pudgy layer around the belly, so the return was critical. Betsy, my aerobics instructor, was especially cheerful tonight. You can attend to these things in between circuit training, particularly because you are surrounded by unforgiving wall-to-wall mirrors. In between jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups I noticed her furtive looks out the door and by the end of the class I had no doubt that dear Betsy and the new front desk guy have a little romance brewing. Love is in the air. Three cheers for romance.

I went to the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" this weekend. It was a bucket of fun-- nothing life-transforming or anything, but it was the perfect fall day to hang out with 300,000 of my closest friends on the Mall. DC is such a lovely little city. Horrendous traffic, but full of politicos and fresh-faced idealists, those weary of injustice and those eager for something new. I think I would like living in DC.

A few pics from a controversial event. A penny for your thoughts?