Write a letter for posterity

My grandfather keeps files of his life. Earlier this month, when I interviewed him, he pulled them out and used each folder as an outline to tell stories from his childhood, young adulthood, and more recent past.

The most helpful items were letters, typed or handwritten in script on stationery and cards. He shared letters from former music students, individuals in the churches where he played organ and directed choirs and, at one point, he pulled out letters he had written to my grandmother when he was in the hospital with tuberculosis.

We didn’t have time to delve into that last group, so this week, my grandfather (who is almost 85) emailed me and recounted events and emotions from that period of his life, about half a century ago. Every detail came from his letters.

Letters keep a record. Not just of dates and events, but also of thoughts and ideas. Before the Internet, before the telephone, before the telegraph, anyone who left home for a period of time wrote their loved ones letters that not only shared their experiences, but also their thoughts, questions, fears, and triumphs. When a letter arrived, entire families would gather to hear about their son or brother’s life out West or at college in Massachusetts.

Now, we’re living in the communication age. A child stays at a friend’s house and calls or texts home to say good night. Parents and grandparents keep up with their offspring via Skype and FaceTime. College friends have no excuse not knowing where each other are geographically or professionally because it’s all on Facebook or LinkedIn, just keystrokes away.

Letters are not only unnecessary — they’re expensive: to send one costs 49 cents, not to mention paper and the time spent ensuring each word is legible.

It’s also the age of instant communication, and an instant is about how long we keep our conversations. Think SnapChat. Think of the strings of texts you delete to free up memory on your phone. Think of the video chats that function like face-to-face conversations, nothing recorded unless someone’s bugged.

These things aren’t archived somewhere for posterity to see later as they try to learn about their namesake or great-great-grandparents. But if you compared those interchanges (okay, exclude SnapChat and two-thirds of your texts) to what you post on Facebook and Instagram (posts which are kept indefinitely), which would be more interesting to future generations?

I had several pen pals when I was in elementary and middle school (late 90s, early 2000s), and I remember making an effort to share something of value in each letter I wrote. Usually, this meant sharing something I’d learned in school or a book I’d recently read. I remember bonding with one of my pen pals over a shared love for Nancy Drew and writing; I remember connecting with another through our mutual trials in piano.

A boring letter talked about clothes, to-do lists (they existed in fourth grade), and all the activities one of us had going on, with no aspect of growth, trial, or triumph. 

Most Facebook and Instagram posts contain the makings of a boring letter.

Think about it: how religiously do we record our meals via Instagram and our workouts in a smartphone app and our busyness on Facebook, yet, we don’t record our thoughts?

Thoughts, ideas, life-changing (or shifting) experiences are more important than what you ate, how far you ran, or how much you have to do. Every animal eats, moves, and in some sense works, but we, humanity, have more going on inside of us. It’s important that we share it, not just in the moment — right here, right now, via Skype, SnapChat, or text — but also in some long-term form that won’t just disappear someday: a blog, a journal, a tweet, a Facebook post. A letter.

When we look back at history, common meals and exercise routines are fun pieces of trivia, but what catches our attention is life — where body, mind, and spirit work together in a human being who moves, breathes, thinks, wonders, postulates. We remember and love Anne Frank because she wrote her heart. I can know what my grandfather thought in that hospital bed in the 50s because he wrote my grandmother letters.

If you are human, do posterity a favor: record your thoughts, your worries and anxieties, your triumphs and failures. Keep a log of your life, because even if your memory doesn’t falter, eventually you will. And what’s left inside, we won’t be able to know.

Sitting in the dark, eating ice cream by myself

Ice cream is no fun by yourself.

That’s what I thought last night as I sat with my little bowl of orange sherbet carved from the brick of Turkey Hill I bought last week for $4.99. I was sitting alone on the first floor of the house I live in, where all the lights are on timers to make it look like people are home when we could be anywhere in a hundred mile radius.

It was probably the fifth time I had ice cream last week, other times eating it straight out of the container because you can do that when it’s all yours and you’re never expecting company because the few friends you have in the City either already live with you or wouldn’t come visit because it’s too far for them and you wouldn’t feel comfortable inviting them over to a space that isn’t really yours.

Ice cream. By oneself.

Even when it’s eaten for the joy of the flavor, temp, and texture, it feels like I’m eating it out of loneliness or depression — eating my feelings — when I eat it by myself. Food, it occurs to me, is a social activity. It’s not just me, my mouth, and whatever’s on my plate. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the presence of others.

Considering my upbringing, this only makes sense. Food (especially dinner and, almost more so, ice cream) was always a family affair, something we gathered around in some sort of order, everyone in their seats, places set, eyes on the serving dishes, thoughts on their stomachs. It was almost a contest to see who could get the most — seconds, thirds — and with ice cream this was especially apparent (though seconds were only a possibility with my grandparents).

“One. Ha ha.”

“Three. Ha ha.”

“Six. Ha ha.”

Different voices called out, boasting the number of mini peanut butter cups they’d gotten in their two small scoops of Peanut Butter Moose Tracks.

Some kids collected their candies, licked clean of ice cream, on the table, not squeamish at all about the bacteria that could potentially latch on from the tablecloth. Others ate as they counted, leaving no proof to their claims of “Nine. Ha ha.” Sometimes, it got competitive and ended with tears and insults and Mom yelling at us to “go to bed!” More often, it fell into hilarity, my older brother and I poking fun at the younger ones and laughingly calling out our own tallies: “Four. Ha ha.” “Two. Ha ha.” An enjoyable, laughter-filled way to cap off our day together as a family.

Nothing like sitting in near darkness with a bowl of ice cream and no one beside myself, not even a picture of someone to look at or an animal to talk to.

Last night, I became acutely aware of how often I am alone. Not in the “woe is me,” Mr. Lonely sort of way, not in a God-forsaken way because I know and believe He will not forsake me, but just a human alone-ness. I’m fine with independence; I’m fine with doing my own thing, but some things are better with others. Especially food, especially bus rides, especially movies and reruns of Friends, and especially ice cream.

Girl Meets World has already disappointed me, and I’m not holding my breath for it to get any better

I’m not a negative person. Typically, I’m the first to spot a cloud’s silver lining and the spark from lightning that lights up the rainforest in a good way. But Girl Meets World, in its premiere episode, made me cringe enough to turn the TV off as soon as the ending credits rolled and decide no, this was not worth my time.

It’s a valiant effort, taking a much-loved sitcom (Boy Meets World) and building a reincarnation, complete with actors from the original. When I first heard about the possibility of Girl Meets World, I was excited. I grew up watching BMW and, in recent years, enjoyed its early-morning reruns playing in the background as I worked the loner opening shift at a deli in upstate New York.

BMW presents life as it is for the majority of the population: one day after another, trying to figure out relationships, family, school, and what to do with this thing called life. Fame isn’t on the characters’ radars — Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and the rest of the gang have bigger fish to fry, namely tomorrow’s homework, Shawn’s trailer park family, and Topanga’s fear of love and commitment because of her parents’ divorce. Held up beside today’s shows — especially those Disney produces for a similar demographic — BMW tackles much bigger issues and aims not only to entertain, but also to inform. Each episode is replete with life lessons, courtesy of Mr. Feeny.

I think that’s why there was so much excitement about bringing BMW back as Girl Meets World. Again we’d have a show that not only makes us laugh, but also makes us think and grow and makes our nieces and nephews and children think and grow. Yes, please, make GMW a thing.

So much potential.

But one twenty-minute episode, and I’m already disappointed. Let’s ignore the garish colors and the subway car that’s oh-so-fake (not to mention, too clean).

Continue reading.

Good Reads: Little league, a horseman, and death row

This is the third in a new series of weekly posts recommending well-written narrative nonfiction/longform articles.

This week’s picks:

The Undefeated Champions of Defeat City by Kathy Dobie, GQ

Artfully written, this piece introduces North Camden, New Jersey, a city known for drugs and violence, and Bryan Morton, a North Camden native who decided to combat decay by starting a baseball little league for the kids of North Camden. A community-building effort driven by kids, parents, and a few bats and balls. Jam-packed with imagery, this piece reads like fiction, bringing you up close and personal with the major players. Strong narrative, priceless story.

Memories of a Master: The Determined Life of Dickie Small by John Scheinman, The Blood-Horse

A glorified obituary, semi-biography, this piece is about the late Dickie Small, a horse trainer from a long line of horse trainers who saw tremendous success on the racetrack. Fueled by interviews with Dickie (pre-passing) and his assistants and colleagues, this piece is a project to read. Those who aren’t horse fans may not make it to the end, but I encourage you to read the whole thing. And watch the videos and read the biographical sections (Early Years, Vietnam, and Making of a Master), as well. The life of this man was remarkable — determined, for sure.

From death row to freedom: One Tennessee man’s journey by Brian Haas, The Tennesseean

Paul House has MS. It’s tied him to a wheelchair, stuck him in adult diapers, and somewhat addled his brain. If he’d been treated in time, all of this could have been avoided, but when House’s MS began ravaging his body, House was sitting on death row in a Tennessee prison on wrongful charges. He was rescued from electrocution, but today, he still pays the price for his 20-plus years waiting for the chair he didn’t deserve.

What do you think of this week’s picks? Any other suggestions?

NYC Week Fourteen: 10 things I miss about home and school (aka rural America)

Read last week’s post here or view all other New York City posts.

I’d just settled on the bench, purse and my bag of leftover food from work on my lap, one per leg. Done with work, time to wait for the F train and go home.

“Meredith?”

I looked up to see a familiar face, soft round features I recognized but couldn’t place. Danny’s, I knew that’s where I knew her from but . . . I felt my brain sputtering to find a name. None came.

“It’s Kyle,” she said.

Kyle. Yes. That’s right. The name I was trying to remember was wrong — I was thinking of her doppelganger who’d worked nextdoor.

“Is this for real?” she asked, half smiling.

“Yeah.” My only word. Still in shock.

“Do you live in the city?”

The M train screeched to a stop. The doors opened.

“Yeah.” Again, all I could manage.

“All right — me, too. I have to get on this train, but it’s good to see you.”

“Yeah.”

She climbed aboard. I stayed where I was, smelling tbsp on me, thinking of Danny’s, and trying to soak in what just happened.

In a city of 8 million strangers, I’d run into someone I knew from home.

Growing up in small town America — “small town” meaning a town with two main intersecting roads and no traffic light — running into someone I knew required only that I step out the front door. Or the back door. Neighbors, even if I didn’t know them well, I always greeted with a “how’s it going” when I passed them in their driveways on my way to the library, bank, post office, or park. I only didn’t vocally greet neighbors if I was running or if they were the creepy ones. But I took for granted that I’d see people I knew — even if I traveled 45 minutes to the nearest Walmart, I expected to run into a familiar face.

It’s not like that here. There’s one older short, black man I end up on the same bus and train with every once in a while. We nod our acknowledgements and occasionally shrug our shoulders at each other in response to weirdos on the F. But that’s it. And my not seeing people I know isn’t just because I don’t know anyone — even New York natives are surprised when they run into a friend on the street.

There are a lot of things I miss about home and school, living in the City. Most of them have to do with fundamental differences between rural America and urban life, and most of them I rarely thought about before living here. Running into familiar faces is one. Below are nine more.

1. Going “the back way” on quiet dirt roads canopied by trees.

There’s nothing like following a long day of work with a quiet drive through the hills. The roads are narrow — I typically pray the whole time that no one will come the other way — but the silence, the scenery, and the dirt and stones your tires kick up as you ride over hole after hole is well worth it.

2. Air that smells like water, dirt, and trees — not exhaust fumes, smoke, and dust.

Because even the exhaust coming out the back of your little 2001 Corolla doesn’t ruin what the trees and creeks are giving back. And let’s face it — people, even when they try to smell good, still smell bad.

3. Local food that’s actually local, as in you picked it yourself in your backyard or your neighbor’s field.

If it’s not in season, it’s not fresh and it’s not local. Strawberries are one of the first crops to ripen. Then raspberries, then tomatoes, then blueberries, apples, corn, potatoes. Picking, processing, and freezing things yourself is the best (though labor-intensive).

4. Backyards with enough room to play volleyball, soccer, and run through a sprinkler — all with their own space.

This would be my backyard at home. And a lot of my neighbors’. Plus, there’s a park two blocks away with basketball court, playground, baseball diamond, and enough grass for casual soccer and football games to take place simultaneously. When I’m home for less than 24 hours in a week and a half, I’m going to find some grass and roll in it.

5. Fresh roadkill venison you don’t think twice about eating because you know who hit it and when.

I grew up eating more deer meat than beef, and I miss it like crazy. It’s a meat you eat and still feel healthy afterward. At least, I do. And yes, a lot of what I ate was hit by someone’s car. These things happen on dark, curvy roads at night. No reason to let the animal go to waste.

6. Open fields, open roads, and open roads next to open fields.

One of my favorite views is driving home south on 205, where the road runs along the hillside and the valley lies spread out beside it, trees, fields, a barn here and there. You realize how big this one corner of the world is, and then how big the world must be in comparison, and how small you are. And you quiet.

7. Quiet.

No trains rumbling past. No airplanes or helicopters flying low overhead. Cars, but few buses, little honking, screeching brakes typically belonging to teenagers or a tractor-trailer or that guy nobody likes. Sirens, but not constantly and always making way for a crew of emergency personnel you trust, because you know them. They live down the street.

8. Trees. Good for climbing or just sitting under.

Maybe an evergreen or a maple. And if it’s maple, best if someone taps it in the spring for sap — thus, real maple syrup. Trees are everywhere: the front, back, and side yards; the edges of the park, all over the hills that border you on every side. In the fall, they’re the best: orange, yellow, red, evergreen. In the winter: snow-tipped, the pines looking like frosted shredded wheat or something equally sugary and delicious. In the spring: new leaves, like a new page of a new life, budding from thickening branches. In the summer: green, green, green. All shades.

9. A clear, cool creek you can wade in barefoot and follow under the road and into town in one direction, or up the hill and into the woods the other way.

Toward what we like to call “civilization” or away from it, into what actually looks more orderly and less chaotic than anything people put together. No honking bus drivers or swearing cabbies, no swerving around or weaving through slow-but-not-really lanes of traffic, no derailing trains or flooding subway stations — because there aren’t any. Just you and creation. And the reality that, yes, this is good.

M3367S-4504205

Bringing you up-to-date:

Sunday: Church. Worked out (my route in 10:38 plus sprints and various other things).

Monday: Internship. Worked out (included 51 push-ups).

Tuesday: Work. Worked out (sprints with my housemate, plus core).

Wednesday: Internship. Worked a catering event for Spoon.

Thursday: Work.

Friday: Work. Made a specific goal of applying to writing jobs this weekend. Ran into Kyle while waiting for the train to come home.

Saturday: Mother’s Day brunch at church (always a weird thing to be part of as a woman who’s nowhere near motherhood). Choir. Worked out (highlight: box jumps on the front step). Did laundry. Read narrative nonfiction/longform articles (reading recommendations coming tomorrow). Wrote this blog post.

NYC Week Seven: When memories flood forward

Read last week’s post here or view all other New York City posts.

You can’t know who you are until you leave everything you’ve ever known.

Not because being in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people brings you to some basic, almost neanderthal form of yourself. Not because everything new and strange helps you realize the person you’d rather be. Not because the concrete jungle forces you to realize your true strength, smarts, and potential.

We are formed by our pasts. The childhood memories, the adolescent experiences, the formative moments (traumatic and pleasant) from sports games, first jobs, extracurriculars — all of these influence who we are today. And it’s not until all familiar things connected to those memories are stripped away, that we realize how big a part of us they are.

For four years beginning in high school, I worked on a book called Locked about a girl in the foster care system, who finally moves into a home where someone cares for her, but is so crippled by her past experiences — always flashing back to a memory of being beaten or derided — that she doesn’t know how to respond to love. The story was driven by flashbacks, where something in the present time brought a memory flooding forward that was so strong, she couldn’t operate in the moment she was in. This week, I experienced a flashback just like this.

For the afternoon church service on Sunday, Faith Baptist held a church business meeting. The pastor had just announced in the morning message that he and his wife were preparing to launch a new ministry separate from the church, and the meeting was to introduce, via resume, a possible candidate to replace him. Some individuals were upset they hadn’t been told about the pastor’s next step prior to the morning message, and quickly, not even ten minutes into the meeting, the meeting devolved into an argument with accusations and hostile words being thrown from one side, while the other side tried to get a word in without yelling or being equally disrespectful.

It was ugly, and I don’t want to go into the details for a number of reasons: One, those who caused the problem are not representative of the congregation; they’re the people who come Sunday mornings and that’s it. Two, it’s difficult to understand the dynamics of a church business meeting if you’ve never been in one, and if you’re not a Christian, I don’t want any account of one to turn you off to the Gospel. People screw up a lot of things — and one of those things, sadly, is the church. 

I will tell you that this meeting was ugly enough to bring me back to my childhood when, as a seven-year-old in a rural upstate New York town, I experienced the repercussions of a church business meeting gone wrong.

My dad’s a pastor, has been since I was three and a half, and at the same church all these years. Every church has its ups and downs, its goods and bads, and its share of troublemakers, complacent believers, or people too afraid of conflict to speak up and silence those in the wrong.

When I was about seven, if not younger, a man in our town started attending our church. It started off fine and dandy — picture bright sunshine-y meadows, with green grass and dandelions. He engaged with the congregation, came on Wednesday nights, contributed music and guitar-playing. He looked like Santa Claus — fat with a white beard — so he seemed harmless. But somewhere along the timeline, this changed. He wasn’t a member, but he began attending church business meetings and, there, he stirred up trouble.

I was too little to understand exactly how this worked and, of course, I didn’t attend the meetings, but I remember running around in the church yard during one Sunday afternoon meeting and hearing raised voices from inside the sanctuary. Through the stained glass windows, I could hear the adults inside yelling at each other, in some sort of argument over some sort of church/pastoral issue.

When the meeting ended, the trouble had just begun. Home came my parents. Home went the rest of the adults. And later that week, to my home, the parsonage next-door to the church, came the troublemaker — to ring the doorbell, greet my mom when she opened the door, and immediately start yelling at her. This, while my siblings and I (all under the age of twelve) tried to do our schoolwork at the dining room table.

I can’t compare this experience to any instance of domestic abuse — there was no physical damage (though physical threats were sensed) — but seeing my mom screamed at until she retreated in tears, yelled at by a man we’d at first had no problem with and actually liked . . . I couldn’t wrap my mind around it then, and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it now.

In the past fourteen years, I haven’t spent much time thinking about this episode from my life as a pastor’s kid. Crap happens; people are stupid — that’s pretty much what I left it at. But last week, when the yelling started at Faith Baptist, these memories flooded forward and with them, all the pain I’d never fully dealt with. Immediately, I folded into myself and started crying. Tears flowed straight through the two and a half hour meeting; five hours later, it was still obvious I’d been crying.

When memories flood forward — memories you’ve ignored because you wish they weren’t there, memories with the potential to make you throw your hands up in defeat and say, “forget it,” or to stop you in your tracks, make you forget about your current life — you have three choices: push them back to the recesses, where you kept them before; let them control you (freeze, give up); or let them inform you, by seeking to understand how they impact you today and what purpose God may have for them now or in the future. (This blog post is my attempt at the third.)

My memories paralyzed me for two-plus hours, reducing me to a sopping wet mop of tears incapable of forming a coherent sentence. That fact alone says a lot about the damage done by those experiences.

I’ve been processing since Sunday, writing up thoughts here and there about my memories, my views of the church, my thoughts on God’s perspective (that His pain when the church is divided is even greater than mine). I haven’t come to solid conclusions on myself, yet, but I’m beginning to see where my past — the painful parts — impacts my present. At this point, I can identify myself as a Christian who believes in the importance of involvement in the local church but hesitates to tithe or become a member because of what can happen in business meetings. 

This identification is good. It means I’m conscious of myself, my own memories, and their impacts on me. It also shows I’m aware of contradictions within myself, which translate to areas in which I need to grow. It shows I am capable of taking painful memories, thinking them through, and seeing how they impact me in good and bad ways. I am capable of embracing my past and using it to inform me, rather than allowing it to use and control me.

You can’t know who you are until you leave everything you’ve ever known. I left my church and all the people and settings tied to it and the memories of business meetings there. But in a different church, in a different business meeting, those memories came flooding forward, overwhelming me and forcing me to deal with the pain and hurt, and find a way to make sense of it without giving up on the church, God’s people, or myself.

Bringing you up-to-date:

Sunday: Church & business meeting.

Monday: Internship.

Tuesday: Work.

Wednesday: Internship. 1.4 mile run in 10:33. Choir practice and church.

Thursday: Work. Jazz musicians in the subway.

Friday: Work. Attended first half of the dress rehearsal of “The Inner Circle” with a fellow City Limits intern. Peaced out early to get home at a decent hour.

Saturday: Street evangelism with Faith Baptist. Choir practice. I also found out about this conference, which I really want to attend, and I watched this short film which reminded me of Locked:

Sorry, no photos from this week. This is what happens when a girl gets a job and is exhausted just about all the time. Street musicians, though, are the highlights of my days. Make sure to check this out.

Week Two in New York City: Hey, stranger

Read last week’s post here or view all other New York City posts.

Everyone wants a “Friends” apartment, to live with BFFs or favorite (read only) siblings and figure out life together, with a few fights and whole lot of fun along the way. I have yet to experience anything close to that.

Over the past three and a half years, I’ve been plenty willing to live with strangers:

  • my freshman year, because I knew no one at my school
  • sophomore year, because I had no desire to move off my wing
  • senior year, to make a friend happy by sharing an apartment with her (and two strangers)
  • now, in a house in Queens, because I didn’t know anyone in the City who had space.

I’m convinced in order to go anywhere new, you have to be willing to share close quarters with someone you’ve never met before. 

Anna Shannon Apartment

Living with strangers isn’t easy. There’s a testing-the-waters period, as you figure out how the other person operates, what sort of things bother them, and deal with whether or not you’ll be able to sleep in silence or have the shade open enough to let in the morning sun. When you share an apartment or a house, you have to learn how clean to keep everything in order to avoid conflict. It’s not like home where conflict is a natural thing you deal with, because you’re with strangers and confronting (or being confronted by) strangers can be worse than awkward. Your insides tense up, indigestion ensues. 

Beyond cleanliness, there’s relationship development, learning if your roommates are interested in friendship or if all efforts on your part will go unrewarded (what did she do with the gift I spent an entire month on? That was the best I ever made). I always go into living situations planning to befriend the others, so I’ve gotten hurt when the desire for friendship wasn’t reciprocated.

Thankfully, everyone I’m living with now is willing to live in community with each other, but we have a few strong personalities, so conflict now and then is inevitable.

Let me introduce you:

Dick and Mara Burns, the owners of the house. A couple in their sixties who have one adopted son with a wife and daughter. The Burns eccentricities are evidenced all over their house, with their rhinoceros collection on the untuned piano, their house collection in a glass cabinet in the dining room, all the nice pitchers lined up on the dining room fireplace, the rose pillows in the living room, rose lamp on the wall in the kitchen, and the random plastic rose stuck in the kitchen wall. Dick and Mara live in the third floor and basement of the house, meaning at least twice a day they must travel the creakiest stairs I have ever experienced. I never hear them go up or down.

Lili Leung, a 32-year-old Chinese renter who grew up somewhere in South America (either the Dominican Republic or Venezuela), works as a companion at a nursing home, and is very involved at church. Lili has an extremely fast metabolism and, when she leaves for the day, brings a bag of just food to keep her stomach satiated. She makes her own laundry detergent, dish soap and, most recently, ice cream.

Krystle Morrissette, a 29-year-old African-American who’s from New Jersey but has roots in the South. Krystle got engaged last week, so in my two weeks of knowing her, I’ve seen her go from being in a relationship talking about marriage to beginning to plan a wedding and all that entails. Her fiance is a Japanese-American from Hawaii. Krystle prides herself on proper grammar, and corrects me on a regular basis. She also likes to give things away — mainly things she can’t fit in her bedroom or kitchen cabinets. Within days of meeting her, I helped her go through her belongings, sorting into categories: keep, donate, chuck, store, and give-to-Meredith.

Coming to NYC, I was concerned that I wouldn’t meet anyone, that I wouldn’t make any friends, that my life would consist of eating, sleeping, and working. That isn’t turning out to be the case. I’ve already had really good, deep conversations that have brought me to tears. I’ve already joined in prayer with others and shared concerns very close to my heart. In my two weeks here, I’ve already been real with people more than I’ve been fake or passive. I’ve found that one shaky step out, not knowing what to expect, can bring more good than standing back for fear you might slip.

Garbage PlowSpeaking of stepping out and slipping, above is a picture of what happens in Queens when it snows like crazy: garbage trucks, retrofit as snowplows, leave the trash where it sets and put their backs into shoving other accumulation out of the public’s way.

Bringing you up-to-date:

Sunday, I went to church and had dinner at the pastor’s house with the church cleaners. I made the salad; it was beautiful.

Monday, I returned to City Hall Library to research for a few hours, this happened, and then I finished my day at City Limits’ office.

Tuesday, I applied to a lot of jobs. I don’t know how many. I also did a minimal workout, enough for sore obliques the next day, but not enough to feel like I exerted myself. Physical activity has really gone downhill.

Wednesday, internship day. I found people to interview to learn more about arson and fire investigation. I also looked up convicted NYC arsonists and where they’re imprisoned. In the process, I found these gems:

Attica Reviews

Thursday, I interviewed for a job at Panera. To kill time beforehand, I explored the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd, and saw from a distance one of my favorite NYC skyscrapers: the Chrysler Building.

Library MuralFriday, I learned the difference between hearings and court appearances (a court appearance is any time a convict appears in court; a hearing is a trial involving witnesses and evidence), had a great conversation with Krystle, and ate noodles and tomato sauce for dinner, with so much sauce it may as well have been soup.

Saturday (today), I updated my writing resume, wrote a long letter, converted my leftover sauce and noodles into tomato-basil soup (with oil, milk, and seasonings), and spent way too much time on this blog post.

Chrysler Building

To remember:

God understands your need for community — it’s part of being made in His image. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You have to be a friend in order to have friends, and strangers aren’t always dangerous.