Tuesday, February 22, 2005

a mad world of piracy

the world in which i work involves pirates. no, i have not been watching "pirates of the caribbean" lately, and no there are no parrots riding around on my colleagues' shoulders. but if you look closer, deeper, you might catch a glimpse of ol' bluebeard lurking around here and there in an office cubicle. not to mention at one point, bliss (yes, a colleague of mine is named bliss- be nice, he's a good chap) did have to wear a black patch over one eye, but that had more to do with his cornea getting scratched accidentally, than any sort of johnny depp fixation.

i feel like the turbulence of things around here is about to bring interesting things to the surface.
lately i have grown increasingly restless with the way things are turning out and find myself on unsure footing. as i had lunch with a friend today and discussed my uncertainty, i made a remark that in times when you feel out of control, it's the best thing to realize you are out of control.

"because then you realize God is in control, and then, at least for me, it helps me to settle down and not get so stressed out. it's like getting your car re-aligned. when you take your hand off the wheel, your car will continue to go straight, without provocation or veering to the right or left."

as i said these words, something like peace washed over me, allowing me to be reminded, to see that i don't have to live a life of trepidation. nope, i need to tap into the abundant life like the kegger it is. so pour me off a cup and then maybe i'll have another...

Monday, February 14, 2005

ikea insanity

i don't know about you, but super-stores freak me out. maybe it's attributable to being in third world countries; maybe it's my scrupulous eye for details, but i get overload of stimuli- like my eye doesn't know where to look first. on the oh-so infrequent drives to the east bay, i pass it, a blue and yellow behemoth of a swedish department store. it almost feels like it's jeering at me, aware that one day, i too will fall prey to its capricious lure.

and that day fell on a saturday. saturday, february 12th to be precise.

at work, we are in the process of totally revamping our tradeshow booth and we needed some stools. the pair we saw and liked was displayed in our graphic design/construction company's showroom. they explained they were from ikea. $25 each. and that's when it hit me- i would be the designated driver for this minor expedition.

so saturday morning rolls around and my new housemate natalie and i set out early at the behest of my friend kenny's advice to hit ikea early enough so as to make sure they would have what i was looking for. the converse scenario freaked me out enough that i woke up earlier than usual- foregoing sleeping in for actually being able to purchase the much needed stools.

we arrived and followed the very specific signs, denoting where to go if you have rented a van or just need to park a of the run of the mill honda, already bracing me that i was entering into a new world- the disney world of furniture.

the ikea designers have thought of it all. oh, they're good alright. the path forged through the store to actually get to the checkout line forces you, almost guides you as if on a treadmill road through each department. i could almost hear the tune "it's a small world afterall..."

but in the end, it wasn't as bad as i thought. i bought the two stools and a toolkit for emergencies and went on my merry way out of the cheap furniture wonderland... it's a small world afterall.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

irrational hope: a father's request

during meditation this morning, i was perusing some snapshots of the life of Jesus- namely a father who approaches Jesus as He is talking to some religious leaders.

Jesus and the religious leaders are discussing their differing viewpoints on the semantics of fasting. this dad comes up to Him, all distraught, telling Jesus his daughter has just died. but then he adds that if Jesus comes to visit her, he knows He can bring her back to life.

can you imagine the desperation of this father? his irrational hope? what a claim to assert here- that this man, this Jesus can make the dead alive again. here his daughter is dead and he would rather choose to believe that she can be healed and brought back to life than believe she has passed from this world entirely. how's that for stepping out on pure, sheer faith?!

i'm not a parent yet, but the grief of losing a child must be tremendous- i've personally seen it firsthand in the death of my 19 year old cousin and the emotional wreckage played out in my aunt and uncle years ago.

but here's the kicker. this father REALLY believed Jesus could heal his daughter. and Jesus cleanly exits the religious dialogue in pursuit of making that a reality. not only does Jesus bring her back to life, or as he says it, wakes her up from her slumber, along the way He heals a hemorraging woman who has been bleeding inexplicably for years.

i think about Jesus and His power- that His person emanates so much life that all He touches is restored and made whole. a child raised from the dead. a woman bleeding with doctors scratching their heads as to the cause- the bleeding stops. how crazy.

but guess what: i too believe.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

musings: cross-city trek

i have been feeling the need to take a really long walk. these used to be such a regular occurrence when i first moved here, but life crowds itself with activities and noise. so sometimes the choice must be made to set out on foot, a voyageur among pedestrians. living in a city, walking down its sidewalks, breathing in its smells is unlike anything experienced elsewhere. you never quite know what you will see.

some images captured from the jaunt:
1. a homeless man with garbage bag slung over the shoulder as if santa claus had traded in his uniform, mumbled to himself about the "rest of the world being the crazy ones."
2. two older chinese women waiting for the 29. one smiles at me revealing all the sockets in the front of her mouth where teeth used to reside. her eyes shine.
3. a chinese man slowly cycling down the sidewalk, two garbage bags hoisted onto the back of his bicycle, used for collecting recyclables. he stops, picks up a crushed can, then bikes on.
4. a homeless couple wait at a cross-stop to pass over with their grocery cart filled with a case of Budweiser and boombox to their cluster of friends on the other side. music gleefully blares from the cart.
5. a six year old on a scooter begins the countdown at 19th ave., ready to peel out into the crosswalk. 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1... take-off!
6. a father takes his twin girls out in their stroller for a morning trip to the park.
7. feathers and little bits of red guts are scattered on the pavement. my head looks to the right and sees a headless pigeon.
8. amid the drone of cars whizzing by, i hear the somewhat low thump of drums in the near distance. the drum circle plays on with such consistency.
9. a man wearing a day-glo orange jacket, riding a bike with day-glo orange and green spokes rides by. on his head is a headpiece of a collection of yellow plastic leaves.
10. on haight st. i meander into a little store with great hats. i resist and keep walking on.
11. by buena vista park, i pass the house i believe to be a sanitarium, placed in an odd space like haight st. out of the corner of my eye, i see a woman in a hospital gown standing in the doorway, behind a security gate. she mumbles low and steady.
12. this street has so much history for me. memories and people float into my mind and back out onto the pavement receding into the background.
13. a guy wearing cowboy boots, a thermal top and a fedora steps out in front of me, his feet making a clicking sound as they make contact with the earth. he walks into a hip hairstylist salon. it figures. i see his face and the thick strap of leather around his wrist- it all works for him.
14. next i pass windows of pizza and lamb shawerma. then by throngs of people outside kate's kitchen.
15. down on hayes the brunch crowd is breaking up and more people in the city are starting to wake up.
16. i stroll by a local bakery that my friend sara works at. she is melting chocolate in a big stainless steel bowl and double boiler. i knock on the window. she looks up and we exchange smiles.
17. this is when i pass by a group of gay men and see barry- a man we met at grace cathedral, christmas eve. he recognizes me and we chat about the great weather, how he has just checked out to taize the night before. we hug and he tells me to say hello to my mom.
18. i pass by the symphony hall, where tonight is a musical tribute to chinese new years. in the windows i can see giant china girl balloons blown up and standing erect, next to balloons with chinese characters on them.
19. at the crosswalk, all these little chinese children mill about, in their dancing dragon costumes,
waiting for others to exit the car pausing by the curb.
20. an old man and i cross the street at the same clipped pace. my destination in sight.
21. i enter the steps of the main library, ready for what else the day has to unfold.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

sea urchin custard & conversations

tonight i went to this important networking reception for work to hob-nob with some reporters from top magazines. so of course i got all spruced up- can't remember the last time i wore my suit and heels combo. what a blast! i enjoyed chatting with all the women there, flown in to explore a "woman traveler" program being implemented by the hotel. these women had accomplished quite a bit, but you'd never know with their friendly bantering and candor.

hors d'oeuvres consisted of interesting things like sea urchin custard (quite the rage in some parts of the world, i am sure); serrano ham with port-wine gelee on brioche toast, among other interesting bites being served off of silver platters.

i talked to one woman who had worked at cnn for a while and then got her masters in liturgy. we connected on the point of my random masters in theology link to my now-marketing job. there was such good energy in the room.

the last woman i connected with in the evening was joi. she started a non-profit called "Dress for Success". they provide women trying to re-enter the workplace with a suit and the right tools to succeed by building up their sense of self-worth (these are often women out of jail or hard conditions), as well as encouraging healthy decision-making. i was v. moved by her explanation of the non-profit. frankly it's something i can see myself doing. my mom raised me as a single mom and taught me how to fight and persevere. she and i both now feel like we should encourage others to see their potential. what a good evening. check out the link for DFS (under the links section).

long live red february

on the way to work this morning, i got pulled over by a cop on a motorcycle.
of course, the first thing out of my mouth to chet, my carpool passenger was,

"but it's not january anymore!" to which he shook his head, agreed and apologized.

the copper came over and asked about my registration tag, which is still the blue 2004 sticker.
i told him it was in the trunk and he smiled incredulously and asked me to get it, but to be careful with the traffic whizzing by. i pulled it out of the trunk with a "ta-da" like flourish and explained i haven't had time to clean the other ones off. he suggested i do that at work today and let me go.

i feel kind of invincible now that it's february. not that i'm going to test the boundaries of this newfound lot in life. but cheers to red february!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

a thought about blessings and curses

i was thinking earlier about blessings and curses. not in the christianese/witchy sense of the words. i decided i would begin to use a new phrase

"i will count my blessings instead of counting my curses."

which may sound kind of funky coming from a cynic. but i think my cynicism was a learned or acquired mindset, not something inherent. counting blessings does not involve looking at the bright side of things for the sake of being positive, but instead actually seeing all the great things in existence, like the hummingbird hovering over a fir tree on the way home- things like that.

webster's defines "blessing" as: to confer well-being or prosperity on; to invoke divine favor upon.

the last definition makes me want to be a blesser to other people- how cool would that be to "invoke divine favor upon" all the myriad people in our lives?

it's so easy for me sometimes to see the things that need correction or the mauvais things happening in my life- case in point: black january. but then again, we are now in red february and all that that color entails. i've decided it could also be fun to associate a color with each month this year. but i digress...

so i would invite you on a journey of seeing yourself as one who has been conferred upon with prosperity and well-being, which then will be released in the form of invoking divine favor upon the people in your life or just in your path on the sidewalk. cheers.