Friday, July 30, 2004

the verdict

tonight, i spent some time watching the democratic national convention.  am i a democrat?  no.  will i be voting for john kerry in november?  not likely.  but is that the point?  not in the least. 

i watched the convention because i needed a jolt of reality.  a sobering moment, if you will, to look at the state of mind and heart of some citizens in this country.  to see the faces of rabid people swarming in a frenzy over the hope that some political candidate will be able to impact their lives - and hearts and families and the other things they hold dear - in a permanent, profound way.  (and please do not misunderstand me here; i am not under the impression that the republican convention will be any different.)

let me say this while i have a chance: i do not hold the belief that it is possible to be that consumed with politics and in a similar way consumed with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

and as a citizen of God's kingdom, it is my duty to concern myself first and foremost with the goings-on of His word, His spirit, His heart.  as the (sometimes sappy but in a gosh-don'tcha-love-his-songs kind of way) Christian artist ray boltz so appropriately penned, 'i pledge allegiance to the Lamb....'  you read that right.  not to the flag, not to my president or my country or any organization, group, or party. 

so will i be voting in the presidential election this fall?  yes, because i feel like it's my responsibility as a citizen of this country in which God has placed me.  but will the outcome of this election, will my political party affiliation, will my support or rejection of any social issue or economic agenda make or break my acknowledgement of truth at the end of the day?  no way.  not now.  not ever. 

'now the years have come and the years have gone, but the cause of Jesus still goes on.  and now our time has come to count the cost, to reject this world, and embrace the cross.  and one by one let us live our lives for the One who died to give us life.  till the trumpet sounds on the final day, let us proudly stand and boldly say, 'i pledge allegiance to the Lamb, with all my strength, with all i am.  i will seek to honor His command.  i pledge allegiance to the Lamb.'

to the Lamb of God who bore my pain, who took my place, who wore my shame, i will seek to honor His commands. I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.'
(lyrics by ray boltz)

note: for some interesting perspectives on this and other issues, please visit christian counter culture dot org.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

and now, for a brief announcement from our sponsors....

i am in serious, frosty LOVE, people.  i mean, really.  i couldn't love this stuff anymore if i tried.  tonight,  i got my second 'gelati' from rita's.  their gelati is not like a traditional gelato, although i will say that their frozen custard is dense and buttery.  and they take this custard (either chocolate or vanilla) and layer it with the most delicious fruit ice and the combination is simply heaven. 

you know it's bad when you start planning road trips through locations so that you can go to a rita's on your way.  did i mention i'll be hitting the one in waldorf, md on my way down and back to and from richmond this weekend? 

i believe the words you're looking for are 'hells yeah!'  (please pardon my language)

oh, and as a brief p.s., i'm feeling 100% better, thanks for asking:)

Monday, July 26, 2004

down for the count

i woke up this morning with a churning inside me that can only mean one thing: a stomach virus. 

this is no good....

 

Monday, July 19, 2004

silence
 
'when someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time - the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers.  gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone.  just when the day comes - when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever - there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.' - john irving (from 'a prayer for owen meany')
 
this was the day of the funeral last year.  i spent my day today unpacking the boxes of a man who makes my heart swell.  last year, i buried the heart of my childhood.  this year, i uncover and prepare the heart of myself as a woman, a place that is home. 
 
and i'm ready for all of that.  and i ache for all of that.
 
but still, sitting alone in my house tonight, i'm a little girl all over again and the warm, salty rivers still flow down my cheeks.
 
 

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

one year

the sun was shining that morning when the phone rang. i heard my mother's voice on the other end telling me, 'we lost her.' she was crying, driving in her car alone from virginia to pennsylvania. i knew immediately that i would drive those roads that day as well, starting out from somewhere along the way. so i gathered a bag of my things and set out for my mountains. as i drove the winding highway through farmlands and fields, the sun blinding my eyes, i cried out all the tears that had been waiting to come - all my emotions intermingled and flowing.

it had only been just a week before that i had driven these same roads, on the way to see my grandmother lying in a hospital bed. she had never been the weak one, the sick one, the one in need. she was always head nurse, caretaker, strong one. and seeing her that day, helpless, thin, weak, i had lost it completely. i left the room and began sobbing in the hall, my defenses completely down and fear washing over me. 'dear God,' i prayed, 'please help her.'

i did manage to spend some time visiting with her that day. i had planned to come back the next afternoon to visit again, but as i left the hospital room that night, i just knew in my heart that was the last time i would see her alive. by that time, they had put her on a forced-air machine to help her breathe, and the only thing that was bright in that whole place was her shining blue eyes as she faintly waved goodbye. later that night, she went on a ventilator, and she never woke up again. 9 days later, she was gone.

driving the road back to pennsylvania on that sunshine-filled day, all i could think about were those eyes, her laugh, her smile, her hands - that i'd never be able to sit and talk with her again the way i had when i was a little girl. and my heart hurt, because so much was gone from me. so much had been gone for such a long time. my grandfather, the farm where they lived, the place where i could always go to escape - to be myself for awhile. i felt the last vestige of my childhood die in that moment.

and then, relief swelled in my heart - coupled with a guilt for its presence. her health had been failing for the last few years, and i worried all the time how much longer she had. there is a peace in death, because at least you know what lies ahead of you. there would be no suffering, no ventilators, no hospital beds. nothing. just the years of memories and the clothes and pictures and things in her drawers.

when i arrived in pennsylvania that afternoon, my mom looked very small and tired. the connectedness with one's own humanity that comes along with death is staggering. suddenly, jobs and money and commitments don't matter. all that counts is here and now and the hurt inside. we spent an important evening together talking, crying, laughing, and just being together.

as i looked for pictures that evening to place in a collage for the funeral, i found things that amazed and touched me - a box of love letters from my grandfather during world war II, a list of birthday cards she had intended to write (including some for the more 'forgotten' members of the family), a few she had written but had not yet mailed. her heart for others on a page, tucked inside a hallmark envelope.

my grandmother left behind a legacy the likes of which i cannot contain in this small piece of writing. her heart for others, her generosity, her calm spirit, her determination, her steadfastness, her honor - these were all qualities that i have not seen contained in quite that same way in anyone else i have ever met.

it has been one year since i lost her. one year since the light left those blue eyes for good. she had a profound impact on the person i am today, and her death left a scar that will never fade. i am not the same. i never will be.
 

Monday, July 12, 2004

moving on

yesterday i spent roughly 9 hours putting michael's life into boxes so that he can leave the city proper and move a mere 3 miles from my current abode. i'm so excited that he'll be closer to me - and to his non-work life. and he'll have his own place, which is even better. God has really been in the midst of this whole scene. it's been a pretty quick maneuver, however, since the decision to take this apartment just happened within the last 5 days, and already he's moving next weekend. thankfully, we made a huge dent yesterday and i feel pretty good about the prospects of getting him done by next saturday night.

in other news, i had some very paradigm-shifting thoughts earlier about a former relationship - about which i realize i needed to experience healing in my heart. a lot has happened since i woke up this morning.

and if i'm not mistaken, i just took another step forward.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sunday, July 04, 2004

'mad, sir?'
'ah yes, mad indeed. but observe how they do light up the sky....'


well, my birthday has come and gone and i must say, it was a success. between my party last weekend to my clothes shopping adventure on july 1 (complete with license renewal) and delicious dinner with michael and salimah at roy's restaurant (hawaiian fusion cuisine) - not to mention my macked-out presents, including new rice cooker, digital camera, and a host of books and other goodies - i felt cherished and celebrated by the people that matter to me the most.

and yesterday, michael and i journeyed to catonsville to the han ah reum korean supermarket and picked up a nice collection of delectable treats (which i plan to devour later today, complemented by some sticky rice in my new cooker) and then came back to my place and made three kinds of won tons: crabmeat and cheese, spinach and green onion, and pork, onion and carrot. the dipping sauces were varied (homemade sweet and sour, a vinegary soy with toasted sesame seeds, and a creamy peanut and sherry were my favorites) and we talked and laughed and enjoyed our little feast on these lovely dipping plates and platter that i had received as a birthday gift from friends.

and now it is 1:35 on sunday afternoon and i have just returned from what can only be described as a mini 'adventure.' michael and i decided to visit this church that i had passed by one morning on my way elsewhere. first let me say that while i am in no way opposed to the concept of being one of only 6 white people in a church setting (i felt very welcomed and comfortable in this decidedly urban, 'black' church), i actually prefer more ethnic/racial diversity than a church filled with all of any one race. that is to say, i don't feel particularly comfortable in a church of all white people, or all black people, or all asian people, etc. i believe that, just as the kingdom of God is all about every tribe, tongue, and nation, the church should, in my estimation be a reflection of that. in addition to that, of course, i also want to be able to connect with people on a personal level and i want a pastor that i feel comfortable talking to - someone who could really support and advise and lead me in this walk.

anyway, this place was nice, very comfortable, and not big but not small either. they had a gospel choir that was pretty good, but it was hard to hear the singing, because the band was REALLY loud. in fact, pretty much everything was REALLY loud. we had to leave early because when the sermon did finally start (after an hour and 15 minutes of other activities), it was making my ears throb. michael was in pain, too, so we snuck out the back door. just as we got outside, however, it was immediately apparent that we were parked in by another car. so then michael had to summon one of the ushers who - thank God - knew whose car it was and was able to move it. by this point, it was raining rather steadily and i just felt it was time to go.

i have to say that, while i won't be going back there, i appreciate what that body of believers is doing. and i can see the place they have in this community. they seem like a thriving bunch, and i'm encouraged by that. i'm just pretty sure that, at this point in my life, my place is not among them. so i will continue the search for where i'm supposed to be.

oh, and even though i'm not much for trekking out to find fireworks shows, last night, we heard some decidedly explosion-type noises and went out on my balcony to find a fireworks show happening somewhere north of me. so we stood in the darkness and watched the sky bursting with colors and light. and i was glad to be with michael, glad for it to be summer, thankful for where i live and where i am and for this country i call home.

so happy independence day, everyone. may God bless america and all who reside herein. now onto the next adventure....

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Vintage Grace

These days, I am obsessed with anything old school. My friendship with Sarah is old school to the core. Our friendship is a throwback to an era of “best friends” and “lifelong pals.” She is my road trip companion, my sounding board, the person who does not consider it her job to make me comfortable, but rather, to make me uncomfortable with mediocrity, bad choices, and deficits in my character. Sometimes we chafe each other with our idiosyncratic differences, but we also charm each other, bail each other out, and are each other’s safe place.

In this era of transient relationships, where being a “friend who sticks closer than a brother,” may be deemed old fashioned, I am so glad Sarah is cut from vintage cloth. Her sensibilities are grand in scale, Victorian in essence, antiquated, but relevant traditions that include a clear sense of right and wrong, common sense, and a true sense of sophistication infused with fun and light-heartedness.

For just over one year, I had the privilege of working with Sarah. She came on board at my company to help with a major editing project. I was on the verge of drowning because the task was so huge, so impossible to get arms around. Even though she was not hired to be an editor, I knew that I could trust her to work in tandem with me. After a few weeks, she was, for all intents and purposes, operating in the same capacity as me, fully and autonomously functioning...and saving my life once again. Even though the organization she slaved for never changed her classification to permanent, she was their second of two editors, and whether they will ever realize it or not, she has vigorously contributed to any credibility they may have in the public eye. This, too, is vintage. I am awed by her commitment, steeped in things instilled by her parents and grandparents, to never sell herself short by attaching her name to anything slipshod.

God strategically places Sarah in all areas of my life to shine His light there. He strategically places Sarah in the lives of many to serve as His voice of wisdom and compassion.

And now, on this, her 29th birthday, she is starting over--being equipped for her life's calling, facing the world with courage, and leaping over things that have tried to destroy her in a single bound.

I tip my hat to you, Lady. You are the essence of grace.

Love,

Salimah