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Friday, September 11, 2009

All you need is Love ( why isnt LOVE considered a proper noun? I think we should always capitalize it)

This weekend is the wedding of my great friend Mike and his amazing fiance Meryl. I would like to spend time wallowing in the fact that I am unable to attend the wedding but that would be extremely selfish, and most likely boring ! ( oh and I know I said Id be telling you about LAST weekends wedding but that will have to wait... carpe diem ! )

So todays post is dedicated to Mike and Meryl. I Love you both and I know that you have a lifetime of Love and peace ahead of you.

" Ive ALWAYS been in Love, it was only a matter of finding someone to really get in there with me ". That is something I realized recently, or maybe I always knew but had never been able to articulate. Obviously the quote is meant to be from my own personal perspective, but it got me thinking about all people.

First let me explain what I mean by the quote. This may sound strange but when I look back on my life and think about past romances, friendships, and even infatuations I can recognize that the Love I feel and express today was there in every instance. Its the same exact Love I feel now when I smile catching Devin singing in the shower, or when I beam with pride and Love watching a friend or family member graduate or get married, even when I cry in empathy over a sad but true documentary on TV. It all comes from the same bottomless reservoir of Love inside of us all. We like to break it up, being the organizers we are, into categories that help us forget that Love is simply Love. I think my point here is that we naturally come into this world in Love, in this instance I do not mean born into Love, although of course I hope that to be true as well.

Some people know they are in Love from the day they are born, you know these types. They glow. They laugh a little harder, cry a little more, and it always seems like there are people around them quietly wondering what their secret is. These are the people who show genuine interest when they are making small talk to the grocery store check out lady. They get a sparkle in their eye upon meeting a new person and learning all about them. They are wide open to accept the world in all its glory and consequence. Every day is new and wondrous, and somehow the child inside them is always present. Even though these people almost sound complete as they are, that does not take anything away from the moment they find their other piece of the puzzle.
Only now is the full potential to manifest all of their dreams possible.

Now others dont realize the Love they are in for years and years until the right person opens their eyes to it. This may sound like a sad lot but it isnt. Life can be almost as good this way, especially since you dont know what youre missing. Its just like saving a present to be opened later, forgetting it was in the closet, and then being pleasantly surprised when it finds you. It could be a romance that enlightens them and helps them open the present, it could also be a parent, a friend, even a stranger ... the possibilities are endless. Watch out though, once the ribbons are torn off and the scraps of wrapping paper are a big mess all over the floor, the light will come streaming out through every crack in the box until the world is suddenly anew ! Now Love is everywhere and there is no turning back. We've all seen what happens when someone tries to wrap the Love back up in the box, it isnt pretty. There are open patches without wrapping paper here and there, and there never seems to be enough tape to get it back in properly. I wouldnt recommend this to anyone !

It is the coming together of these great people in different stages of opening the present that make the world such an interesting place to live in, and I am thankful for that.

Now, back to Mike and Meryl. Mike, whom I have had the pleasure to know for most of my life, is definitely a member of group number one. Mike , you ALWAYS have a light in your eyes like you are waiting for the next amazing thing to just pop up out from around the corner ! What is it you know that the rest of us dont ?!! Maybe it was Meryl you were always awaiting... but now that she has come along the light is even brighter!( so there goes that theory). Meryl, we have only had a small time to get to know each other. I dont think I can comfortably throw you into either category, you could even be a little bit of both. What I can say though, is that together you are balanced and beautiful. I have seen peace in both of your eyes anytime we have all been together, and peace is drastically underrated.

I feel so honored and lucky to have been with you, Mike, through so many different parts of life where Love was present. Even though we have lived way too far from each other for far too long, you are truly one of the closest people to my heart. From cutting a rug at the school dance in the senior commons, putting me in fits of laughter in Ms. Parmleys art class( and really I couldnt count the laughter we shared on a million hands over all this time) , and maybe most importantly sadly sharing many tears over the loss of your mother. Now is a time of Love that I will be missing out on and I can hardly bear it ! ( you should see the tissues around me right now, god maybe its better Im not there- I dont know if I could handle it !) It is breaking my heart not to be there but I know you know that. You both will be in my thoughts and heart all weekend.

I know your day will be beautiful , it couldnt be any other way with two people as authentic, creative and Loving as you are. CONGRATULATIONS ! MAZEL TOV ! I LOVE YOU !

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What is going on?

When I heard that President Obama was going to give a speech to American children on their first day of school my initial thought was, how cool? ! I would have loved that as a kid. Even though my instinct was that it would be a back to school pep talk revolving around educational issues, I wanted to look into it a bit, so I did. Well unless a lot of people were lying, including the transcript of the speech, that is just what it was setting out to be. An inspirational, motivational, self-empowering pep talk !

Here is a clip of a mother who is very upset about the school speech. (Come on people, is this really something to cry about?? This is what I mean when I say people want to demonstrate conviction and emotion without being informed. Sometimes I think we all just want attention.)

As much as I would like to credit Obama as being the first to do this he isnt. George Bush Senior, Reagan and many others have done this in the past, and in Reagans case he even mixed some politics into the speech ( they couldnt even vote yet!). The strange thing is I cannot find any remnants of there being such opposition to any of the others. I would assume parenting is hard enough as it is. Why in the world wouldnt you want a strong figure giving your kids a little extra boost in the right direction? Most of the voiced opposition is coming from areas of the country that we know voted mostly for McCain. So what? Your guy didnt win the big race. Life goes on. So you are conservative, republican and voted for McCain, I still think that you should possess the logic and smarts to recognize that the President is a figure to be looked up to. If for nothing else simply for all the hard work a person in that position must have put in to get there. That work ethic, that diligence, that unrelenting drive to realize a dream... arent these the type of things you would hope would rub off on you children? I wish some of it would rub off on me right now !

The argument, if you could call it that, seemed to be that young children shouldnt be exposed to or exploited in politics. Im pretty sure we can all agree on that. That would be a great argument if it correlated to this AT ALL. I think its fair to say it would not be a stretch to assume that these certain groups of parents who opposed showing the speech in school would NOT have felt the same if McCain was giving the talk to the kids. Isnt that the definition of politicizing the situation? Dont you think these kids being kept home for that hour or that day are wondering and asking why? What kind of an explanation can you imagine these parents giving them? Im going to guess that it doesnt come across as very patriotic. Very confusing since I thought McCain supporters were supposed to be the most patriotic of all! So if anyone is exposing children to politics I would have to say, in this case, its the parents themselves.

Well I watched the speech, and I loved it ! In fact it made me wish I was in school again ! It even touched on some very relevant media and societal issues that I really do feel are at the root of some problems kids have today. If you havent already, I would highly recommend watching the speech. I tried to set you up with a clip but I must doing something wrong ! Oh well, my favorite part is when Obama tells the kids he knows it looks easy to grow up and become a rapper, NBA player, or reality TV star but it probably isnt gonna happen ! Let me know your thoughts...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So where was I ?

Ok, so if you read last Tuesdays post you should be caught up on at least the gist of my work history. If I had to sum it up Id say I have some pretty well rounded experience in all different aspects of the restaurant industry, sprinkled with a few odd jobs that revolved around customer service/ relations.

So here we are, Devin and I, in Chicago. Had a blast with all our initial visitors, and a great time exploring the new neighborhood. Now it was job time ! It was mid July and time to buckle down. We werent sure how to attack the city. Since there were so many different places we had heard about and wanted to go we decided to drive as opposed to taking the bus or train, this was because we didnt want to waste a ton of travel time between restaurants. The routine became to wake up, check craigslist for any ads that looked good, make a list of the addresses and hit the road. In between the places that were on the actual list we would go everywhere along the way that we came across. Some days we would be mostly downtown, others Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village, Old Town and everything in between.

I should take a minute here to say that Devin and I werent necessarily trying to get a job at the same place. Although, not only did we meet on the job ( kind of...) but have worked together for the past four years going on five( three of which we were dating) ! I know, insane. Many people wonder to themselves and sometimes out loud directly to us about how on earth we havent killed each other yet. Considering we have also lived together for almost two years now, it really is a good question, and one I have no answer to ! It is one of the things I am most proud of though, especially when I hear the stories of couples who have attempted the same feat. We get a lot of " How do you do it?", " I would kill him/her by the end of the week !". Well I dont know, but it would take less than one hand to count the times I cried at work for reasons Id like to blame on Devin, and every time I did it on the back dock of the restaurant sending others to care for my tables. In three years of dating and working together I think thats pretty damn impressive ! And when I really think about it almost every instance was on a Saturday, which meant it was our last shift of a really long week and both of us had just had it with everything, not necessarily each other. So anyway, our thought was if we ended up working in the same place that would be fine, but we were not setting out for that, in fact we liked the idea of meeting lots of new people through different jobs...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Roadtrip !

I went to a wedding in Sharon, Pennsylvania this weekend. I drove there with Devin and his father Patrick. Six hours both ways. On the way there last Friday I couldnt sleep wink. I think the anticipation of the weekend ahead kept my wheels turning. Considering I slept almost the whole way back Im pretty sure this was true. The wedding was beautiful, genuine, and simple in the best way (a nine minute ceremony? Hallelujah!) . Anyway, I ll tell you all about the wedding on Friday.

Today I would like to talk about the drive itself. The things I saw along the road, and what it lead me to think about.

We left straight out of downtown Chicago at about 11 am. The city was in full bustle by now. The streets full of cabbies, the sidewalks filled with walkers hustling around carrying their second or maybe third Starbucks purchase of the day. Everyone seemed to have a purpose. We talked briefly about which freeway seemed the smartest to take out of town considering it was the beginning of a holiday weekend. Oh yeah, happy Labor day !! We chose the I-80. It was a great choice. Easy breezy the whole way, and when I say the whole way I mean we didnt get off the 80 until we exited into Sharon, PA. Who would have thought one road could take us all the way to our destination? Once we got on the freeway from downtown we were in Indiana almost immediately. Passed what seemed like a couple small suburbs right away, then it became much sparser. It was a huge contrast from the city we were only about 20 minutes from by now. Devin or his Father then told me we were now passing though Gary, Indiana. Ive heard of this place before, I thought to myself... but why? Then Devin said " This is considered one of the armpits of America" . Being from NJ I am particularly sensitive to this phrase ! Since I know how beautiful parts of NJ are I am always skeptical when I here this about other places. But considering it was the beginning of a 6 hour drive I didnt really want to get into it over why people called it an "arm pit". I just started to look around.

The first thing I saw were two billboards directly across from each other on opposite sides of the road. I tried to take a picture for this post but getting one that actually showed the proximity was impossible. To my right I read in huge letters " JOBLESS?" and written below were some local statistics on unemployment in Gary, and then some local resources to help the unemployed. On my left, the second billboard read "CASINO" , "Come and try your luck" , " Biggest payouts in all of Indiana!" . I thought this hilarious and ironic at first. Then it turned sad. Its always been interesting to me that the people most suseptible to the lure of easy money are the ones that are most down and out. This idea makes as much sense as it doesnt. Of course a person in a bad spot, maybe unemployed, with bills to pay would love a fast fix trip to the casino that has the ever present possibility of solving all their financial problems. Sounds perfectly reasonable. On the other hand completely illogical. These are the people with the most to lose. If somebody with money to burn walks into a casino and loses a couple hundo for fun there are usually not much for consequences. Some poor soul trying to make rent could really dig themselves a deeper ditch. So why does it seem to me that these vulnerable people, trying to avoid eviction are the ones targeted by advertisers? Maybe I was just over analyzing things that day. And by no means do I imply that whoever approved the placement of these ads had any idea how ironic it looked. Either way it was an odd site to behold.

The rest of the drive we past through lots of industrial areas, both currently in use and some that seemed untouched for decades. It was a progressive journey that ended in Sharon, PA, which according to our cab driver was being slowly taken over by "blacks" ( this guy was enough to talk about in another post and completely killed my wedding buzz). In between all the " blacks" this and "blacks" that, he said most of the businesses in the area had closed down, and they had major drug dealing and using problems that the police cant handle. Driving around the town it looked like it might of had a heyday. Not much proof left of that now. Lots of empty retail/commercial space and run down buildings. No matter what we found the right places and people to make a great time for ourselves !

Like I said the wedding was great, we had a blast ! The travelling itself gave me perspective on the country I never had before, I had never even been through any of these places. The ride back was a weird reverse trip back to city life. Turns out going to a wedding in Sharon, Indiana is much more thoughtful, educational and eye opening than I imagined. For that I am grateful.