A Letter, Better Late than Never

I am ashamed to say that in my more than three decades of existence, I have not read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from the Birmingham jail.

The shame doesn’t end there.

As a privileged, educated Christian who is a minority but often treated like the majority, I cringe at knowing the injustice that existed less than a century ago – and the fact that injustice still exists now.

I cringe because there are still Christians who “stand on the sidelines” and while they mouth the right words when facing inhumane circumstances or possibilities for sacrifice, the hands stay closed and the eyes are dull.

I cringe when recognizing the disgust with the church has not diminished; in fact, the faith I believe in is frequently dismissed by outsiders because we are no longer extremists as Jesus Christ was. Were we ever? Could we be?

I know myself, and I see the potential for such standoffishness in me. Yes, me who graduated from an Ivy League university and chose to work part-time at a news station, dreamy about telling the stories of the voiceless. Yes, me who has grown up ‘churched’ and reciting Bible verses her entire life. Yes, me who left a provocative career for one that seems less ‘glamorous’ in order to ‘do good.’

We’re all frighteningly capable of indifference. Today I saw a man ahead of me who appeared to be mentally unstable based on his loud ranting and stumbling gait. I set my teeth, determined to walk straight past him as a sign that he was a human being and not a ‘body’ to avoid.

Then a well-dressed gentleman stranger walking from that direction passed me and suggested kindly, “Hey, you should cross the street.”

I crossed.

When the lesser-dressed man caught my eye from over the hood of a car, I gave a weak smile. He grinned and kept on singing and leaning against a pole, and I walked the remaining block to work, wondering if I had given into irrational fear by creating a distance of 10 feet rather than 10 inches between us.

 

This letter is to me. This letter is to you.

“The question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of justice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 1963

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Not in Kansas Yet

A few confessions:

  1. I avoid Home Goods like the plague.
  2. The photo of my family in my living room dated back to my high school graduation until I changed it out just two years ago.
  3. I refuse to buy a salad spinner even though I desperately covet it.

 

Stay away.

Stay away.

 

Let’s unpack these, shall we?

 

Since college, I discovered that I inadvertently chose a nomadic life when I chose to enter broadcast journalism. From contract to contract, I found myself in places I had never even heard of. Moving became commonplace. Minimizing my possessions seemed necessary.

Then I’d enter a friend’s beautifully decorated house and feel envy.

 

I dream of a home. Home means a space I can decorate, with the creature comforts of ottomans filled with board games, a wine cabinet and a memory foam bathmat. I know, my fantasies are extravagant.

settlers

Source of fun. Takes up too much space.

 

There are so many physical items I have refused to purchase until I can guarantee the next and possibly final destination of my life. I am waiting for the freedom to call a place home without an end date in place.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas... yet.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas… yet.

 

There seems to be potential in the area of San Francisco. If only I could click my heels twice and know. However, I will be lugging a percentage of my belongings across the country in a meager few suitcases. The rest will remain in a generous and clever friend‘s basement and wait to be unpacked… one day.

 

Did I tell you how much I enjoy unpacking? Ask my friends Annie and Steve: I unpacked their entire kitchen in an afternoon and managed to send a few boxes to the dumpster while I was at it. The enjoyment comes from knowing each item has its place. It will return to the space in which it dwells.

 

Unlike their kitchenware, I’m still #innaefarawayplace. Sure, I lived in NYC for two months but I tacked that hashtag all over my Instagram feed. I know New York isn’t an exotic place. In fact, I remained in the same state as my last job. Not so far away.

Also, even though the opposite coast awaits me for the first half of 2015, it’s very likely that I will continue to use that phrase. This journeying isn’t over yet. I have yet to find my Kansas.

 

And when I do, I’ll buy my first salad spinner.

One More Airport

I haven’t been in New York City long, but I will admit the Big Apple has become quite satisfying. Sure, I’m still the person who takes candy from strangers on the subway and then spins like a ballerina to orient herself once on the surface. At the same time, there is a coffee shop I can call mine and I have successfully completed multiple loads of laundry at my local laundromat in my six weeks here.

 

 

In the middle of all this comfort, though… there’s another airport waiting to greet me.

Hint: It is one of the two that feels like home to me. Who remembers? Prizes if you know! And by prizes, I mean a shout-out and an enthusiastic high-five if you’re anywhere near San Francisco or NYC.

 

Oops, there it is.

 

It’s an unconventional decision, but I am going to take my next very large step over to the other side of the country as an intern with the non-profit Kiva.org. If you don’t know what they do, well, that’s why there’s a hyperlink for you to learn! So click and get to it!

 

All kidding aside, I have been intrigued and inspired by what this organization and what many other microfinance groups are doing to encourage entrepreneurism, and more importantly, empowerment. My interest in small business development grew throughout my reporting career as I witnessed and contributed to the growth of the downtown areas of Salisbury, Md. and Troy, N.Y.

We dressed like this every Friday night.

We dressed like this every Friday night. [Main St, Salisbury]

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all - my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery.

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all – my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery. [Troy]

 

 

As someone who often lacks courage, I admire the bold spirit of these visionaries and I only hope that I can help foster that among men and women in countries where aid can’t be found in the form of loans.

That’s where you and I come in.*

 

 

I am leaving for California in January for five months. That’s the charted territory for now. You’ll be learning more of the life that’s unmapped alongside me as we go. Well wishes are welcome. So are food, hugs and prayer.

———————————————————————————

*Check Kiva.org again, please, if you don’t understand.

Earthquakes

Remember how I realized that I’ve explored two cities this summer whose goal is to be bizarre?

 

Another fun fact: I’ve also ventured through two cities whose identities have been heavily molded by an earthquake’s devastation.

 

I have never experienced an earthquake (knock on wood – preferably a sturdy doorframe). This is rather surprising, seeing that I called California home for years, visited the state frequently and am now considering it as a future home. However, even without the personal experience, I feel aghast at seeing what such a natural disaster can undo.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

The Carmo Convent: ruined in 1755, still beautiful today.

 

It is even more gasp-inducing to see what humanity can re-do afterward.

 

In Lisbon, my sister and I stumbled upon the work of a pair of designers who have captured the personality of Portugal in childlike cartoons.

lisboa_02

(courtesy of Soma Ideas)

A poem accompanies each city or national icon. For Portugal’s capital, one line immediately held my attention.

(courtesy of Yelp.com) Urbanity risen from an earthquake.

(courtesy of Yelp.com)

Urbanity risen from an earthquake. 

 

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi (photo courtesy of about.com)

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi             (courtesy of about.com)

 

These churches are also the progeny of a post-earthquake era. Both existed before 1906. Both fell in that year. Now both have been born again.

 

“Born again” has a spiritual association, and I profess to fall into that Christian category. Joining my spiritual life is now my professional life. Please don’t misinterpret this: my decision to leave a career does not compare to the pain and destruction experienced in an earthquake. I am, though, starting anew. What existed before is no longer in front of my eyes, and I have to envision, reimagine what will stand there in the years to come.

That’s why the tales of these shifting tectonic plates has so grabbed me. Look at the beauty around you. Humanity is a people of resilience. Of strength. Of determination. In a time of desolation, the answer is not, “Let me leave.”

 

Instead, it has been, “Let me live.”

IMG_9604

 

 

As I survey what is no longer there in my everyday, I pray for an existence greater than what was before.

Image

#whatinnaeworld?! San Francisco Edition

Strange to think that it’s been more than a month since I was in the Bay Area, but the good news is… I’m returning! I’ll be in the Bay Area as I revisit friends and family and prepare for the wedding of one of my oldest friends.

 

However. This photo needs to be shared. I was folding a friend’s laundry when I found THIS:

This is in one's laundry in the middle of July.

Mind you, this was taken in the middle of July. JULY.

 

Gotta love NorCal weather and its sharp temperature changes. At least Karl the Fog has a sense of humor.