Memory Eternal

I’m not quite sure where to start today, though I know I want to share my thoughts, so I will just start writing, as is the purpose of this blog.

I was ten years old on September 11, 2001. I’m ashamed to admit that as of September 10, 2001, I had no never heard of the World Trade Centers (though I had seen them briefly, blurred with the rest of the New York City skyline, three years earlier in a car). Even as a ten year old, I lived a bubble, a place that I like to remain from time to time. So when my fifth grade teacher announced to us that the Twin Towers had been hit, I gasped because my classmates gasped. I can’t even remember what happened prior to that announcement, but shortly after, I was with my sister in the breezeway, waiting for our father to come and take us home. I do remember we had to pull over on the way home, because we were having car trouble. 

I don’t think I really ever fully grasped the horror of that day. We had family up north, but none in Manhattan. My grandparents, former Brooklynites, now resided in Bal Harbor, Florida–though that Christmas when we visited, I noticed the memorial statues and framed newspaper clippings. My grandfather, a retired military man and metal worker, spent many years working on those buildings. 

The memory of that time that is most vivid to me, however, is the first time we went to church after the Attacks–it may have even been that night, though I cannot be sure. Whatever day it was, we stood far in the back because the pews were so full. The feeling that had pervaded me since that Tuesday was a fear so intense and frustrating, because “how could God allow this to happen?” No one knew why.  But, gazing out over a sea of bowed heads, I knew I was not alone. 

The weeks and months that followed are hazy, like many of my childhood memories are becoming. We started selling red, white, and blue bracelets; there were American flags in every classroom and in front of every house. We wrote letters to the firefighters and police officers. We sent teddy bears to the children of victims of the Attacks. I learned new words, like “terrorist” and “suicide bomber”–words that a ten year old should never have to comprehend. 

September 11 became “Patriot Day.” Each year we dressed in red, white, and blue, took moments of silence throughout the school day, and shared memories. Gradually, the nation began to heal. People who had banded together with such conviction went back to being strangers, churches trickled down in size, and daily niceties became inconvenient once more. I stopped going to church. Like so many other foreword thinkers, God became an inconvenience. 

I am certainly the last person to ask about religion, and would sooner be struck by lightning before I could preach to others about how to live a Christian life, but, whether by serendipity or by grace, I was in Church this morning, and I heard some things that I really needed to hear. The priest shared his memories of that day, recalling how, in the midst of a secular workplace, he suddenly found himself praying with hundreds of strangers, now brothers and sisters in a time of turmoil . “Churches were packed” he said, as he looked out at the empty row of chairs in front of him. There was no judgement in his eyes (I used to think Christianity was all about judgement), but there was a sadness to his sermon, a sadness at the state of things now, ten years later, and how much of that pain and suffering is forgotten. Not among the victims of that day, or those who gave their lives; they are heros and saints, and may their memories always remain. But the pain and suffering of those of us who lived past September 11, 2001 is quickly becoming a distant memory. The current state of our government, divided and petty, resonates harshly with the state of our collective consciousness, focused on greed, salary, social status, material wealth and degradation of others (reality TV, much?) I strongly doubt that anyone on this day ten years ago would have stolen a cab, hit a friend, sold someone out for personal gain, et cetera et cetera. Because on this day ten years ago, through the gravest phenomenon, we were all reminded how to live in this world. We were jolted by the reality of death, and all of a sudden holding open a door or giving up a bus seat seemed so much more important than holding our own place in line. And we found the time to talk to God.  I know what it is like to feel that God has abandoned you, but oddly enough, on that day, and this morning in Church, he seemed closer to me than he has in years. 

It’s a big stretch, but I’ll risk and say it: what if His plan was to shock us? If it hadn’t have happened, would we have gotten the message? It took an earth swelling flood to reach us the first time, and it took a crucifixion to reach us the second. Like I said, I cannot preach, and I mean not to, but if we only turn to God when terror triumphs, surely he must be around to see us all the other days, even when we don’t acknowledge him. 

Just a thought.

God Bless America

"Every tear on every cheek tastes the same."

I’m learning.
Do you ever feel that life is so beautiful you can’t conceive it? It’s all some great mystery that you will never fully grasp, no matter how hard you try, it is always in vain. As I drive down the road in the dusk (apropos in its name: Pleasant Hill), the trees curling one by one on top of the next like some great dance and a swirling melody coming from the radio, I feel as if my cream colored compact car is the only thing holding my body in place, and my body the only thing holding my organs and blood in place. I want to burst. I imagined I would. The trees skirt above me like they know my name, and I am home. If only for a moment, I am home. 
I will never get that back. But there’s my mystery. There’s more mystery for me to feel out there. Sometimes I wish I were simpler so that I could enjoy things without feeling as if I am a part of them. I feel as if I am a part of everything. I don’t just see the world around me; I taste it. I melt into it. 
God help me! I can’t be normal. I can’t even be abnormal. 
What am I supposed to do with that? I hate pressure but I love performing. I hate compliments but I crave respect. I hate reality but I love life. I don’t understand myself. 

I know I know a nose to smell with
I see my sea from which I float
I flick my fingers nervously
I cannot cannot build my boat

I want I wish I try to listen
Listless as the thistles thicken
Chicken calls like cows at milking
Bravery is made to gloat

Thunder clapping heeds a lesson
Strikes a tired imagination
Staring far across the fields
The raining is my coat

It drowns into a moat
My castle on an island
Away from all you thieves 
and goats; I say I stay
No note.

Espresso Life Lessons

It is a gray and drizzly morning in the land of the North, and it is only fitting that this is the day I leave Minneapolis. The cool of temperature in the misty mornings became a sort of security blanket for me as I walked to work each morning; the sun filled me with warmth and excitement, but the soft breeze reminded me to not get overly agitated by life. At least, it tried.

I came here with a job to do. As specific as that job was, the title, I quickly learned, meant any number of duties. For me, that included: stage managing, assistant directing, light board “operating” (and I use that term loosely), movement coach, yoga teacher, kid wrangler, kid entertainer, improv leader (another term I use loosely), tap instructor, motivational speaker, acting coach, disciplinarian, usher, furniture mover, morning greeter, attendance monitor, team leader, and human enthusiast, in the broadest sense of the term. 

I learned quite a lot, and more about myself than I expected or was prepared for. I learned invaluable information about the heart and lungs and nervous system of a large non-profit theatre company. I learned to always expect more from children, but to not be disappointed or thrown off if they cannot give it to you. I also gained light years of patience, and a hell of a lot more respect for my mother, who taught grade school art for longer than I have been on this planet. 

I met people, artistically minded, creative, fully functional intellectuals, who didn’t follow the societal “norm” of (and please, don’t ask me how it got to be this way, because I still don’t know) high school –> college –> 9 to 5. And none of them are starving. 
I think my favorite interaction in the Twin Cities has got to be my serendipitous encounter with someone we’ll call Mr. Coffee Shop Man, one of those non-starving happy creative souls. It went like this:

Mr. CSM: So what are you studying? (in reference to my transfer student information packet’s list of college majors)
Me (with a chortle): That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
Mr. CSM (with a shrug very similar to the irritated body language that had been mine of late, frustrated with the “system”): I went from a major in Astro-Physics to a major in [something else I can’t remember, but obviously not important] and finally landed on English major with elementary education and dance minors.
Me: WOW. And what did you do with that?
Mr. CSM: I’ve done lots of things. Massage therapist, preschool teacher, dance instructor, corporate worker. And then I went to grad school for Korean studies, just for shits and giggles.
Me: So what do you do NOW? (unable to fathom the type of a career a dancing Korean history nerd can hold down and afford six dollar coffees and a MacBook Pro)
Mr. CSM: I create Apps.


He continued, with another, less hostile shrug: You have to do what makes you happy, what interests you. Otherwise it’s really hard to get up in the morning.


On a random aside, I did take more than two pictures this month. I will post what I have soon, because pictures really do make blogs far more interesting. I am also looking forward to two more trips in the next month: a road trip south down Route 78 and a plane trip, this time to good ‘ole New England. I will continue to blog and see what happens!
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