Friday, April 25, 2008


If you're not from NY, you may not have heard about this case. Back in 2006, a group of 5 police officers confronted an unarmed (black) man as he emerged from a strip club after his bachelor party the night before his wedding. One of the officers, mistakenly thinking the man was holding a weapon, opened fire. In a matter of seconds, the man, Sean Bell, was dead - in a barrage of 50 shots. The lead officer managed to empty an entire clip, stop to reload, and empty an entire second clip.

Today, these officers were acquitted of manslaughter.

A comment posted on the NYTimes article sums up my thoughts on this matter:

I am shocked.
I don’t know in what world it would ever be appropriate to empty an entire round of bullets into a man, stop, reload, and empty an entire second round. In what world is this not excessive force? In what world is this not illegal?
Apparently, in mine.
— Posted by Mollie

I understand and appreciate that police officers are there to protect the public. But, as another poster put it, it is the police officer who has agreed to risk his life in service to protect the lives of others - not the other way around.

Pray for peace today, for an end to the violence and fear that have come to define our society.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


"The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation."

So, over the weekend (how about that "So", Meg!) I got to see Rent on Broadway for the second time. I'm pretty sure I'll go back for a third time before they close the doors in September. This time, my friends Becca and Nicole were in town (specifically to see Rent) and so of course I wanted to join. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it. It's almost a religious experience. Though I do recommend buying the soundtrack first and listening to it over and over (on public buses in Africa, perhaps) so you can sing (and moo) along while you're at the show.

But I did catch myself wondering this time if it would have been such a big success without the tragic story of Jonathan Larson's death the day before opening night. What a way to give meaning to a life though - how many millions have been inspired by his vision of love, inclusion and speaking out against injustice... You can add one to that list.

To Jonathan Larson.

A Song of Peace

Here's the full words to the song after Prayers of the Faithful at Ascension:

This is my prayer, O God of all the nations,
A prayer for peace for lands a-far and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.

But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.

But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations,
A prayer of peace for their land and for mine.

Tune: Finlandia (Jean Sibelius)
Verses 1, 2, Lloyd Stone; Verse 3, Georgia Harkness

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"So, did you have a nice walk today?"

Being berated with Ella statements/questions that all start with the word "so" is quite entertaining. "So, how long are you staying?" "So, this is my little brother." "So, are you going today?"

So is being able to dictate pretty much everything Jackson's going to say for the day. Take for instance the one or seventeen times we pretended that there were mean animals trying to get us from the "water" (ground). "Say be nice, alligators!" "Be nice, alligators!" "Be nice, sharks!" "Be nice, shawks!"

I had a really refreshing weekend. Unexpectedly refreshing.

Today I had a cool moment too. I was getting ready for work at the crack of dawn, and the 3 main things I wanted to get done before I left were doing a load of laundry, trimming the shower curtain (you read that right...our shower curtain is really long and I feel uncomfortable with the water molecules that spend all day sitting in the folds of its excess), and doing the dishes. Because it's been nice out (not even remembering it was earth day at that point), I wanted to walk to work, which means I'd have to leave at 10:30, as opposed to the driving ETD of 10:45.

Well, I found myself stressing about all of them not getting done at 10:23, AND I wasn't even dressed yet! My initial reaction: "Well, I can just take a few extra minutes to do the dishes and drive instead of walk." And then my reaction to that: "Au contraire, mon frere (this despite the fact that I've never had a brother, that I know of, and even if I had, I was talking to myself), this is not about you and your need of 8-minute dish time. If we want to be more friendly to our earth (i.e. driving less as one way of doing so), then there are sacrifices we need to make. And maybe today that sacrifice is simply waiting 'til tonight to do the dishes. Big deal."

And so I walked! And it was great. I got to take a different route than I've taken before, call a few of my peeps, and get a little exercise with all-inclusive fresh air. I just sometimes forget how powerful being intentional can be, so it was really refreshing to remember that, then own my decision, and realize that all the small decisions of all the 4 billion (right, E??) of us in our world in all 10 countries can make a really big difference. It was nice to remember that, and I feel good and like change is possible and that there are good people in this world. Hallelujah!

The dishes, meanwhile, are still awaiting me.

Earth Day 2008

As a tribute Earth Day (April 22) and to why we should all work together to save the planet (check your environmental footprint here), the 10 possible ways the Earth is sure to end. Also, the Wall Street Journal has a pretty good op-ed about the corporatization of the holiday - and how we should all strive to simplify our lives. But seriously, enjoy the day - be thankful for the deep breaths of air, the green trees, the blue sky. Make one commitment to change a small part of your lifestyle (seriously, you can do it.) Your children, and your planet, will thank you.

Above is a chart of the most financially efficient ways of reducing carbon emissions (from McKinsey Quarterly 2007).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fr. Duffell to the rescue, yet again.

"God is love, and all who live in love, live in God"

That pretty much sums up my faith lately - a faith that has been tested but still hopes for the goodness of the human race to triumph - eventually. A faith that has witnessed unspeakable injustice (but what if it had happened to me!) in Africa and New Orleans, but still hopes for renewal. A faith that is inspired by all those who still have hope. A faith that hopes "love of neighbor" is enough. To me, hope is an action verb. We can't wait.

So my mixed experience seeing the new pope in person needed less than 24 hours for a resolution. On Sunday morning, sitting in the pews of Ascension, on the Upper West Side, truth was spoken. Fr. Duffell (otherwise known as a prophet) was in his true form. As the line goes from the song "Walkin' in Memphis" -

"Tell me are you a Christian child?"
And I said "Ma'am I am tonight"

Fr. Duffell has that affect on people, I think.

The theme of Fr. Duffell's homily (and the Pope's at St. Patrick's earlier in the day, he noted) was about the church being more than just the building itself - it is the people, and all the gifts, faults, talents, and brokenness any mix of people bring when they come together. But especially as a Christian community, he noted, the Church is different. "In loving the enemy, change will come about," he prophesied. "Imagine the good that can come from forgiveness and love of neighbor," he proclaimed, "especially when the neighbor is different from you. The concept of solidarity, while not included in the Bible - is a biblical idea. The church's focus on ecclesia, on bringing together rather than dividing, empowers us to love. It doesn't matter if you are black, white, hispanic, young, old, muslim, jew, straight, or gay - God calls us not to judge one another, but to love one another."

At this point, of course, I was pretty excited, as I usually am at Ascension. The nice extra touches he adds for the Profession of Faith top it off - instead of mindless repeating of the Nicene Creed which we've all had memorized since 3rd grade religious education, it's an active, question-and-answer format with the response being, "I believe Lord, help my unbelief". How true.

And to cap off the Prayers of the Faithful, we always sing a prayer of peace and thanksgiving (that includes the line "Skies everywhere are as blue as mine") - and then the prayer of St. Francis right before communion, during the sign of peace. Basically, he's pretty effective about getting across the point that inclusion is a central point of Christianity. That through our diversity we can learn more about the nature of God.

The highlight of this past Sunday though, I think, was a group of baptisms that he wove into the liturgy. Of the 7 or 8 children that were baptized, I counted probably 3 or 4 different races. I definitely want to be somewhere where THAT many different types of people feel comfortable. I'm sad that Megan and I don't get to go every week anymore - but it just makes the experience that much more precious when it does happen.

On his way out, after mentioning that his sister got to meet with the pope at Ground Zero earlier in the day (her son died on Sept. 11) - and asking us to pray for peace, Fr. Duffell said that in the run up to the Pope's visit, the NY Times did a feature story on Ascension last week. It does a good job summarizing the general feel of the place. May everyone have such a welcoming place that we can call home.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

the pope in new york

this is the best i got. (that's Benedict in the popemobile.) as you can see, people were freaking out. it was kind of like mardi gras, only he was throwing rosaries instead of beads... (thanks for that one, becca.)

but seriously, it was kind of cool to see how much people were inspired to come out and see him, even if only for 6 seconds (like we did). there was a wide diversity of people around us (we were across from the apple store at 59th and 5th) - tourists and locals, nuns and lay people, young and old. people were holding up banners announcing their pilgrimmages from at least several states away. other people were holding up banners proclaiming that "jesus is the 1 true way" and that catholics were going to hell. enterprising old men were selling homemade buttons at $5 a pop. a short hispanic woman kept elbowing me in the back for a better view. there was an insane amount of police, and about 5 ambulances and several SUVs full of people with sniper rifles, i guess just in case anything happened. but the mood was like a big party, and everyone went straight for the grassy lawns in central park after he went by to enjoy the nice weather, satisfied by their experience.

i didn't really know what to make of it all for myself. Although my heart did beat a bit faster as he approached, I felt nothing of the intense personal connection that I felt at the easter sunday mass in Rome with John Paul seven years ago. (to be fair, you can hardly compare the two experiences). Maybe it's because I don't find this pope that particularly spiritually inspiring. It's kind of like going to the library with an old college professor. Maybe its because I was hoping for another John Paul (which I think is impossible), or a pope from Africa, or Latin America (the two fastest growing Catholic regions). But, this pope did make an address to the UN this week (1st time a pope has done this) on the need for an increased focus on human rights as the unifying force between cultures - just as he was denied a meeting earlier in the week with a muslim-american group. So it's not ideal. And there's so many issues that are being left unaddressed, like the role of women, birth control-AIDS, and the church's position on homosexuality. If those aren't human rights, I don't know what is. Maybe Benedict's speech at the UN was a start - only sometimes in the Catholic Church, "a start" could take 400 years. I want my faith to be more dynamic, more life-giving than that.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Okay, a pity party is not what I'm looking for here. I've been trying to focus lately on all the things I'm thankful so many things have just aligned in my world lately. Almost everything from the purse thing is taken care of: the internet works today, and I have a new checking account, a new phone #, new keys, new credit cards, a new elbow...wait a minute...

HOWEVER...I was before taking lightly the whole "there's a lesson in this" thing, but now, I really am starting to believe that Someone/Something is trying to send me a message, and I need to vent about that. Yesterday I had an interview for a job, and in order to move forward with it, I have to get 3 reference forms, of which I have hard copies. After trying to fax one of them yesterday for 10 minutes to no avail, I'm told that I have to dial a "1" first...common sense, yes, but I'm not used to having to do that on my phone or at the fax machine at GSV. So, finally, it goes through...YES! A couple hours later I get an email from my reference telling me the page was really unclear. Dang. "That's okay, I'll just scan it & send it as an email attachment," I tell myself. Because my flash drive was in my purse and is now in another person/dumpster/curbside/fill in the blank's possession, I went to the oh-so-low priced Tulane bookstore & paid about twice what I should've for a new one (one that you can't return unless it's disfunctional of course). I go to Kinko's, which luckily is located in the student center where I work, they upload the document to the drive, and botta-bing-botta-boom, I'm ready to send it.

Except for the fact that it's not working on my computer. You've got to be kidding me. I'm so over it, and they better give me a refund.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I'm grappling with what lesson I'm supposed to be learning here. I feel like I keep getting pushed in the direction of NEEDING patience. I am SOOOO thankful for my wonderful, beautiful, life-giving friends that supported me over the weekend (my purse got stolen & it was really frustrating). I love you SO much, Chrissy, Amy, & Michelle. SO much. The fact that after 3 AM on Sunday I laughed about 6.57 million times says a lot, I think.

With why, in waiting for the locksmith to bring a key in the FREEZING, wind-penetrated parking garage, we were put off SEVERAL times, & ended up waiting in there for an approximate total of 5 1/2 hours...I was so over it. The past few days, without a debit card, house key (thank God for our alarm!), or cell phone, the most missed items, I've had several moments of almost losing it (i.e. crying really hard & feeling completely overwhelmed).

And with why, today, the day that I'm CRAVING connection & getting things done & talking back & forth with Eric all day, after having a month of clean-cut internet access at the store, I'm left without it as I'm asked for a username & password that doesn't exist.

I keep reminding myself that I am woman, that I am strong, that SO MANY people go through this, and that I am so lucky to have friends who will roll around on garbage cans to break into my house for me.

I'm grappling with the fact that keys disappear more quickly than they reappear, and for them we can only wait.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Frontier, Africa, and the Mets

In the great whirlwind that is our lives lately, a few stars aligned yesterday. I'm back in New York (until the 26th)... these 3-weeks-in-one-place-then-3-weeks-in-another things are really starting to get to me. Please think twice if you're ever offered a job that involves "frequent travel". Especially if you're engaged and just bought a new home. On the up side though, I've managed to avoid a lot of airport headaches (and carbon emissions too!) lately by taking Amtrak (this next time will be my 3rd time so far) between NOLA-NYC. Working here is fine, but still, most of the time I'm wishing I could be in New Orleans.

So, to buy my time this weekend, I went to the Mets game (it was a great pitching matchup - Santana vs. Sheets). As I walked into the stadium, I was reminded of the excitement I always felt as a kid going to Kauffman Stadium in KC - the first glimpse of the freshly mowed green grass spreading out before you like in a dream, seeing the players (in real life!!) that you imitated at school and heard about on the radio everynight... it's easy to get caught up in it all. I had a great time, and I already have plans to go again. But about the 2nd or 3rd inning though, I caught myself thinking - "wow, this is the first time I've been to a game since coming back from Africa." Suddenly I felt very dirty. Suddenly everything seemed so wasteful - wasn't everyone here just ignoring the 'real world' for a few hours while watching over paid, over grown boys playing a game? (with a new $600M stadium being built beyond the outfield wall, for next season). What was it all for - and why has my country come to this, where new stadiums are given the fast track priority while funding for kids with malaria in africa is being cut??

Now I fully recognize, like Megan says, "sometimes you just want the damn donut!" - a little indulgence now and then is fine and we can't all live these super-idealistic lives where we all become organic farmers knitting our own socks from goat wool in the hills somewhere, but there has to be a balance. As a generally wealthy society, we should be able to come to a compromise with ourselves that allows us to assist some of the world's most vulnerable populations, and also keep a good standard of living at home. I know Megan and I have struggled lately with similar thoughts - do we buy the sustainably made bamboo blanket for $50, or the cheap one made in China? And how can we make extra mortgage payments when there are literally miles of homeless in tents down on Claiborne?

For the train ride in to the game, I brought along Barack Obama's 1st book "Dreams from my Father". Earlier in the day, I had been reading the part where he finally gets a chance to visit his family in Kenya for the first time in his 20s. He becomes overwhelmed witnessing the extreme poverty in the slums of Nairobi on his way to a safari with his sister. Together, they realize the dilemma that exists between preserving good farmland for environmental protection in the national park and letting the Kenyan government allow some of these people to move to the lands occupied by the national park, so that they might be able to farm and bring themselves out of poverty... and the agonizing need for balance. When it comes down to it, we have (HAVE) to do both. When presented with such stark choices it may seem impossible. But I really believe there is enough in the world to go around for all of us - that we will be better as a society and as individuals the more we keep each other in mind.

Which brings me back to my opening thought - travelling. On Friday, my favorite airline, Frontier Airlines, declared bankruptcy. They're still flying, but they may not last much longer - which is a shame, because they have the best, friendliest employees of probably any airline I've ever experienced. It seems pretty inevitable right now that the future of flying in America will return to super-expensive seats, and limited options that only businesses can afford. For the average person, flying will become a luxury again (arguably, rightly so - we need, NEED! a better rail system). But the next couple of years will involve a lot of sacrifice, I think, until things sort themselves out (both in the airlines and the economy in general). It won't be as easy as a presidential election, or a new agreement for aid to Africa, or a renewed commitment to preserve the environment - but those things may be steps toward the realization that we're all in this together.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

367 pictures from Africa and India

Somehow along the way, I think I forgot to post these.

Here they are. Our best pictures from Africa and India. A little out of order, but they're there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!

Wooo Woooooo!!! Congrats KU!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Eric's new weedeater

'nuff said.