Monday, April 30, 2007

Historic Capitol Hill Marketplace Burns

I've been talking to a couple of my good friends lately about how hard it is to know what's right and what to do. At least we're all in this big confusing melty mess together. It makes us all feel less crazy to see other people, who we don't think are crazy, struggling with similar trials and rough spots.

We all have different issues we're juggling right now, but it all boils down to the same questions - "Am I doing the right thing? Am I on the right path? Will I be ok? Will it all work out?"

We often wonder where the choices we make will take us, whether it's in the right direction or irrevocably away from something that's meant to be. So many times, we use those same tired old cliches to make ourselves feel better and reassure our doubts - If it's meant to be, it'll work out. Destiny will find a way. All roads lead to the same place. Blah, blah, blah!

In the end, we just have our gut as our guide. We make mistakes, yes, and sometimes frequent ones. We lose sleep. We upset our stomachs. But we also embark on adventures and add new chapters to our books. But are they new chapters in new books because we're so far from where we're "supposed" to be?

It takes you into one circle after another til you're so dizzy you can hardly hold your head on straight. And when you're so busy searching for clues and purpose, you miss out on a lot, and then everything loses its meaning.

I'm struggling right now so much because I feel like I really haven't been happier than I am right now. This is it. This is what I was trying to find. Good friends, stability, satisfying job, the neighborhood I live in and the city have so much character and personality, everything matches here, and I feel so comfortable in my own skin. Finally.

So why am I changing anything? I'm terrified.

Very early this morning, I was awakened by the sound of siren after siren whizzing past my window. I didn't know what was going on, but it was the loudest noise I've ever heard, and I briefly wondered what could be happening before I drifted back to sleep. When I got to work, I learned that the beautiful Eastern Market was on fire and much of the building was destroyed. The headline on this post was the headline in the Washington Post.

It's a historic building, built in 1873, and has been in continuous operation since then. People sell everything there - fresh dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables, flowers, and even jewelry and art in the flea market that is open on the weekends. It's the heart of the community. I go there every weekend when the weather is warm, and it's my favorite place to walk visitors around in, showing them how historic and fun my neighborhood is. And now all that is gone.

There are already talks from the Mayor's Office and our tireless District Representative about rebuilding the Market and making it even better than it once was. I can't help but think. Is that what happens to us sometimes? We burn down a part of our life, only to rebuild it later to a finer glory? It will take time, but can't we all recover and be restored? Is that what this all is about?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I've been thinking a lot the past few days about anger. It means something different to different people, people express it in totally unique ways and have varying definitions and parameters for it.

Anger scares and upsets me. I heard someone say once that anger is nothing more than an outward expression of inner fear. So if you are angry, before you react, think first about what you're afraid of.

The problem is, of course, that no one takes time to think when they're angry. Not enough time anyway. I've heard people say before that they can control their anger, but that control really only goes so far. People make no sense when they're angry. It's amusing to me, sometimes, when I'm fighting with someone because some of the things they say are so exaggerated they're absurd. Something this same person would laugh with me at if their anger wasn't distracting them from thinking clearly.

Usually, for me, I spend more time with the fear and hurt part of anger than the anger part. Not that I don't get crazed and irrational myself sometimes because, really, we're all human.

I was thinking about anger. Laughing at how ridiculous it makes people, the chilling damage it can leave on relationships and the intense power it has over people and their lives. And then the Virginia Tech shooting happened.

What is most striking to me about that tragedy is the aspect that violence against women has played in recent shootings, including this one. More will come out soon, but right now, we know the shooter stalked women, hated women and took inappropriate photos of women without their knowledge or consent.

The last shooting in Colorado involved sexual assault. The Amish shooting was committed by a self-proclaimed child molester who killed little girls who had been "tempting" him.

No one will ever know or understand what prompted this recent violence. But the connection between the recent shootings should cause alarm and will hopefully open a dialogue in this country. A theory many have about violence against women is that it is about power and control. People who feel powerless want to exhibit power over others. Which, really, is at the core of mass murders as well.

So much fear. So much anger. I pray we can all channel this recent fear and anger into productive action that will bring about peace.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Future's So Bright?

I wrote this on the train a couple days ago...

There's a prissy French woman in the seat across from me. She has a young boy, maybe 6 or 7, in the seat next to her. He's working some kind of puzzle or word game, and she stares down at his paper through her little librarian glasses.

Every once in awhile, she glances back at me and glares through the dark rims as though she suspects me of cheating off her son. She's wearing a cardigan around her shoulders, a look I tease a friend for also wearing by joking that it makes her look like a villian from an 80s movie. The Frenchwoman is no different - except to say that she looks like a villian from a Hitchcock thriller.

And in the seats behind me, there are loud American children jabbering away about SpongeBob and shouting back at their mom about their MP3 players.

Sometimes I worry about the longterm effects of the Iraq War, that it will bring about the downfall of our country and economy and will be the end to the US as a world power. It's separating us so much from our Western allies.

Tonight, I worry it's too much TV and an oversaturation of media. Combined with inattentive parents who are too consumed with the latest US Weekly and the continuing Britney/Kevin divorce saga to bother with rearing our future leaders. Then again. Maybe I'm just having a bad day.

I worry a lot about the future. My favorite question lately is, "What is going to become of me?" Because I really don't know. I can't seem to make much sense of anything anymore. I have reason to celebrate and be happy, yet I feel dismayed and discouraged. What is that about? And I ask myself why I would want to leave what has become my new home and my new family for the setting of a painful past? Which future should I risk?

I worry sometimes that I'm too fickle and addicted to adventure or drama. So much so that I cause it to disrupt peace and calm and destiny.

But that's a grim view of oneself and a bleak outlook at what lies ahead.

Why now? How can something that's good cause hurt? Maybe because it's difficult, it will have great rewards. Maybe I should trust my desires and that they will lead me on the right path. I need to be a bit more positive about the future.

Which is hard to do. Especially when the little French boy is singing a song about learning numbers while the Americans are rapping behind me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We All Learn to Love

One of my best friends had a baby a little over a year ago. It's really the first baby that I've been around since I babysat in high school. It was an awkward adjustment for me, I'm not gonna lie. Babies are...weird. For a long time, they don't talk or move. They just cry and poop. Ick. But they get a lot cuter when they start to walk around and talk nonsense. Isabelle is her name, and she's really starting to grow on me.

At Christmas, she called me 'dog' which is what she calls anything she likes a lot so that was a big compliment. And when I saw her last weekend at Easter, she was the sweetest she's been in her short little life. See, what I learned while watching my friend become a parent is that babies have to learn to smile and laugh and love. At first she only smiled when she farted. I'm serious! I guess it felt funny to her.

Well, for the first time, she hugged me last weekend. She recently learned hugging and what that means, and she really likes it. She hasn't mastered kissing yet (and yes, I know, it can take some people YEARS haha). When she kisses, she just sort of pushes her face against your cheek. Still cute, but not quite right.

But hugging she has down pat. She gets hugging. And it feels good to her. To show love and get love in return. It's funny that love doesn't really come naturally to us. That it's not a natural instinct like walking. People value love in different ways.

For me, love has always been a top priority in my life. I want to constantly be around my friends and family and when I am, I get overwhelmed so often at how strong the love emotions I feel are. Sometimes, I can't help but grin. I look around at my friends laughing at the bar or at my family chattering away with one another, and I am overcome.

I've always put my relationships with other people first in my life. As a friend told me recently, when we're old and look back at our lives, we won't care as much about what we did as we will about how much fun we had and how happy we were. I believe that with my whole heart. So how I can leave those I love so much?

For some, leaving is a part of life. Some people don't form strong bonds or don't value the people in their lives over their career accomplishments or aspirations. Some people don't value others over themselves. I do. I am not like those people - I can't even understand them.

My stomach has been hurting me a lot lately. I have a decision to make, and it is the most difficult one that I've had to make in a long time. I don't feel equipped to make it. I need more time. I need more information. I need a sign or something telling me what to do. Because this is not coming natural to me. This decision. Usually, I can tell by my stomach whether I'm making the right decision or not. But this time, my stomach is just as confused as I am. When I think for awhile about making one decision, my stomach cramps. And it feels just the same when I think about the other decision. Which makes me think that there may be hurt on either side of this choice.

I envy that sweet little baby. Things were a lot simpler back then. But she's just learning about love, and even though I've had more practice, I find that there's always something I can learn about love. But because I know it so well, I'm able to experience it more fully. And one thing you learn as you get older is that love complicates things and brings with it a lot of pain and fear.

In catholic school
As vicious as roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised
By a lady in black
And I held my tongue
As she told me "Son,
Fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back

Monday, April 2, 2007


I had an interesting Saturday night. I went to see one of my favorites - Will Hoge - this soulful, bluesy rocker with a kickass voice. Part singer/songwriter, part Memphis blues-rock. Love him. He plays the acoustic guitar and the harmonica, an instrument I really can't get enough of. His music is not at all the type that would attract brawls or girl fights, but that's exactly what transpired.

He has an incredibly powerful voice and always sings part of a song or an entire song without any accompaniment or microphone. The first time I ever saw him was a few years ago in a little Athens hotspot. He jumped up on the bar and belted out an entire song. He stepped away from the mic on Saturday too, but my listening enjoyment was interrupted by a woman sitting nearby talking loudly. My love of music blossomed in many long nights spent at the Bluebird Cafe, whose motto is "Shh!" and I think it's disrespectful to the artist to talk loudly during a concert and also disrespectful to other audience members. I leaned forward and said, "Shh!" I didn't say, "Shut the fuck up, bitch" or "If you don't shut your mouth, I'm gonna shut it for you" or anything like that. I didn't say a word, in fact, just a sound.

She flipped her head around and gave me a icy death look, then flipped back to her friend and said, "Oh no she didn't! I know she didn't just shush me!" Foolishly thinking that communication can solve any disagreement, I leaned forward and explained myself, "He was singing without any instruments." I received another glare and just shrugged, turning my attention back to Will.

I decided not to let this woman's attitude contaminate my evening and walked back down near the stage, where my other friends were standing. We were dancing and having a good time, when the rude woman's mean friend came down and got in my face to say, "You just told my friend to shut up, and I want you to know that when she was talking, she was saying how good he sounded! Don't you open your fucking mouth to her again!" I tried to respond and said, "But he was..." Though at that point, she whipped her brown hair in my face and stomped away.

I had to fill in my friends and explain why a stranger just yelled at me. I laughed it off and decided not to let it bother me. It's easy to get caught up in little things, and this ridiculous altercation was not something I was about to let bring my funk down. I went back to enjoying the awesomeness that is Will Hoge. The next thing I knew, the two women pushed and shoved their way through the crowd and stood directly in front of my friends and I. Very aggressive. We exchanged glances and took a step back.

My friends were really nervous by then and one of them had his arm tight around me. I thought they were exaggerating and told them everything was fine. I even encouraged my big strong bodyguard to go get another beer, reassuring him that he didn't need to protect me. He wouldn't listen and stood behind me shooting daggers at the women. Several minutes passed without any dramatic event, and one of my favorite songs came on that I always have to dance to. I stepped away from the 6'3" tough guy standing guard over me and went a few feet away to dance and sing with another friend.

The song ended and we were laughing when I felt violent, persistent taps on my shoulder. I knew who it was, of course, but decided I could ignore her angry tapping. She kept it up so I turned around. She waved her finger at me, yelling, "Don't you ever mother-fucking say another mother-fucking word to me! EVER." I shrugged and said, smiling, "Ok. Are you having fun tonight?" She looked confused and cocked her head to the side like my dog when I ask her a question. "Because I'm having fun tonight, and I hope you're having fun tonight too," I grinned sincerely. She grunted and turned sharply on her heels. Mama always said to kill 'em with kindness. :)

Later on, my bodyguard told me that before the two women bombarded down to stand in front of us, the rude woman was cracking her knuckles and her neck. Getting ready to rumble. Everyone saw it but me - I was blissfully clueless. Thank God for good friends!

I started thinking about how thankful I was that I was with the people I was with. How would other people have handled the situation if they had been there? Haha one good friend said if she was there, she would've just punched the woman. What would have happened if I was there alone? I'm really just not that tough. More sugar than spice.

I have the greatest friends, I love that they're so protective, that they would fight for me. And I love that the people in my life are always on my side. While I'm listing things I'm thankful for, I should also add that I'm grateful I didn't get bitch slapped Saturday night.

template by