"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


I Heart NYC.

Four years ago today, I was preparing to leave for NYC the next morning. I met up with my mother and gave her my beloved Ford Focus, Bianca (R.I.P. Bianca 12.17.2000-7.01.2003). And then I would spend the day trying to Mary Poppins Bag my way on the plane. In my mind my suitcases were huge. HUGE. I could fit everything in them. The clothes I hadn't packed, my CDs, my Helen Reddy album, my clarinet...everything. But as I packed, I realized the suitcase did not in fact have any magic in it, and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to fit it all in. As it was a Saturday, and I had already given up my transportation, I had no way of mailing another box, so called my best friend, Nathan (who was already in NYC), and my friend Brian (who had taken charge of maintaining my sanity in the move) to help me figure out a way to get everything there. Brian came to my rescue and brought me a box* and committed to mailing it for me ASAP. Then we packed up the rest of my things and went out for Trudy's Mexican Martinis. Yum....

The next morning at 7am, I flew on Vanguard Airlines (which went under about 2 days later) to JFK and took a cab to Nathan's apartment, in a neighborhood where the cabdriver had to ask for directions. I was met on the curb by Nathan and my now-good-friend Paul and later that day we had our very first Taco night. The next day I proceded to get lost in Times Square and cry in front of some hotel in Midtown. At that point I gave myself three months. Three months turned into six months, turned into a year, turned into grad school. And here we are.

I credit Brian with helping me survive my first year here. He took my countless why-did-I do-this calls, and then my countless bored-at-the-temp-job calls and e-mails. He provided me with freelance work and then with stellar recommendations for every job I applied for and didn't get (at no fault of his). He apparently nominated me for sainthood in my recommendation letter for Social Work school. And about a month after I moved here he wrote me the e-mail below letting me know that I deserved something as fabulous as NYC (Thank you, my dear friend):

so it's 12:30 saturday morning and my lovely evening of murphy walking, baseball channel surfing, and reheated pizza scarfing has led me to send you this list of reasons to stay in NYC...
1) at least there are new people to meet there that aren't incoming UT freshmen
2) the people you hate in austin are still here
3) you don't have to work in special projects anymore
4) it's not 105 in the shade
5) while i'm sure your fellow new yorkers do their fair share of pizza scarfing...at least it's made with the best quality tap water on the planet
6) you have the yankees
7) you have broadway
8) you have a hooker roommate...it's like the writer gods are screaming "THAT'S SOME PULITZER PRIZE WINNING STUFF walking around your living room naked"
9) ryan lives in texas
and most importantly... 10) you are fabulous and thus deserve a fabulous city...all that
crap about hill country charm and live music is crap...you're in F-ING NYC
I decided a few weeks ago that I am probably here for the long haul (not sure how long that means exactly). I feel like NYC (but really Bklyn) has allowed me to fully be myself. I have found a career that lets me use my talents and sensibilities to change the lives of others. I have found a church unlike anything I ever thought possible. I have made some great friends. I have found a place where I can speak freely and know that I will be respected for my opinions, and the thought and reason behind them. NYC and I have not always gotten along so well, but we're currently experiencing a good patch. I guess I'll just see where this takes me.

*The box got sent back to Texas due to the mail-paranoia of Russian mafia hooker roommate. Then it ended up in Brian's sister's garage in Houston. Then it rode around in Brian's trunk for a bit and almost a year later I finally got it back. And I got into a car accident on my way from Brian's to my parents' house, scattering the ill-fated box's contents about the car and the roadside.


Where Youth Meets God.

I realized last night that if I hadn't moved away, I might have spent last week as a counselor at the summer camp I went to every year when I was a kid. Most of the Churches of Christ in Corpus Christi, Texas go to a camp called Bandina Christian Youth Camp. It is about 45 minutes north of San Antonia, situated between two towns, Bandera and Medina (thus the name). And it is something I've grown to appreciate only with age. I started going there when I was 11 and became friends with all the girls in my cabin. And these girls were my camp friends for the next 6 years. I'm still in touch with one of them, my friend Misty. When I was in college most of my friends from my home church were counselors there during the summer, but because I had to work and I was not a part of that church any more, I never got to. So I would go back for Friday night, which was generally a type of reunion for alot of people. Parents would come then, who had gone to camp there 20 years before and were now enjoying watching their children having so much fun. One year I went up for Friday and I ran into Misty in the Pavillion (0ur cafeteria/worship hall) and she invited me to stay the night in her cabin. It turns out this was the cabin where she and I had met 12 years before.

Though I was not so religious, these were by far the greatest weeks of my summer. I painted cups and made bracelets and necklaces in Arts & Crafts. I stood by and watched the Campers vs. Counselors softball games. I greatly anticipated everyday at 11am when all the high school kids would get together in the "Gabezo" (really a gazebo) and sing as loud as we wanted. I always got a seat next to my friend Stuart, who had and still has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. And I hoped against all hope that we would sing Paradise Valley...or Ring Out the Message...728b, Our God, He is Alive. Now I appreciate the words of these songs for what they are, but then it was the music that was so beautiful to me.

But this week as I think about Camp Bandina, it is with a bit of sadness. One of my dear friends from my home church died last year about this time. The last time I saw him was at Camp, the summer after he graduated from high school, the summer after I graduated from college. I met him when he was about 11 and I was about 14. And though he was quite a bit younger than me, he has always been one of my favorite people. Such a kind and gentle spirit. I wish him peace now. One of my fondest memories of him was riding in his mother's Suburban on our way to Camp, him singing When They Ring Those Golden Bells into his portable Karaoke mic. It takes a special kid to rock the portable Karaoke mic. I think of him often, mostly when I'm singing a very happy song. I hope that's what he doing now.


The Seeds of Aggression.

I have long held the belief that meat breeds aggression, that if mankind were vegetarian, World peace would be attained. While I have not held a proper research study, I am a careful observer of the attitudes brought about by consumption. When I was in college I worked as a book shelver (not a librarian) at one of the UT libraries. Apparently it was a requirement in the reference section to be a vegetarian, because they all were, and I have never seen a less aggressive group of people. No one spoke above a whisper, no harsh words were spoken even when someone believed Dewey Decimal to be superior to the wonderful Library of Congress system. Harmony reigned. Knowledge flourished. It was a utopian society. And this was true of every pocket of society I belong to where there was no meat to be found. But last week, my theory was quashed by orientation at the Park Slope Food Coop.

Now when you hear "Park Slope Food Coop," you think organic, holistic, earth-friendly, peaceful, good karma flowing all around, everyone's aura is blue, everyone's qi flowing freely. But so not true. I feel that the Coop in a vacuum, much like socialist society, would be utopia--everyone giving freely to others, everyone provided for, equality and humanity would reign. But as we have learned, no one lives in a vacuum, no matter how we try. As my friend and I sat through Coop orientation, we were shocked again and again at the aggressiveness of the orientation provider. She told the couple with a child that despite the fact they were there for the health of their baby, if he didn't shut up they would have to leave. She told the woman who was there to provide nutritous food to her baby daughter that if her husband, who works long hours to provide for the family, could not come to orientation, their child will simply have to eat the pesticide laden foods found at the local supermarket. She told of how the coop chose to punish people for missing their shifts and how they had to implement extra security measures because people had begun stealing from the Coop.

I'm not sure which came first, the stealing or the agression, but in my head it was the aggression. I picture the first crunchy patrons of the Coop in the 1970s being peaceful, free-loving folks, but then their utopia was shattered by the rules and restrictions of the man. They felt the need to rise up, eating bulk items before they were weighed and silently, defiantly sticking the hemp dishtowels in their bags as a means to show their discontent. Going limp as they were dragged out by police called in to quell their uprising. Well, I am with you, my brothers and sisters. As I join your former Coop, I will get work on the inside. I will overthrow the aggressor. It shall be ours again.


Something to read.

I was reading back and my last few posts have been particularly bitter, so today it's just gonna be me giving you some stuff to read. My favorite New York Times articles this week. And one from the UT Web site.

(1) A terrible word changes sides.

(2) Something that makes me feel not so obsessive .

(3) A list of books for summer reading from my alma mater .

(4) And something to bring us hope .

Happy reading and a good weekend to each of you. Peace.


Too Far Gone...

I do believe my constant thoughts, rants and reading about the current political state of the U.S. have gone too, too far. I had a dream last night where I was in some sort of meeting with George W. Bush and some of his advisors. I don't remember, but I hope Donald Rumsfeld was there and upset that I called him a pompous, ignorant a-hole. In this meeting GW and I discussed the state of the Union, and agreed on nothing. I left enraged at the insane ignorance of the GW caricature in my head, knowing that nothing I said to him really even made a dent and he was just going to go off and celebrate imperialism--old and new--with some fireworks and BBQ. I am incensed even in my sleep.