Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Joshie & Jill, or, When Little Brother Grows Up

When Joshie's hair first started really growing, he had these amazing luxurious golden curls. We were enamored with them--my two sisters and I had long brown hair that our mom wrapped in pink sponge curlers every Saturday night to get that kind of boing. And then little Ben had scraggly brownish-blond hair. Joshie was a novelty.

And then Josh grew up. He seemed to have a fascination with his hair. He caused extreme panic in my mother's heart when he decided to bleach his hair platinum the night before Lisa's wedding. Mom marched him down to Kelli's Kuttin' Korner and pled with Kelli to work hair magic. The wedding pictures show him with this odd reddish-brown cut.

There were a few other experiments with color and skater afros as Joshie skied and skated through the adventures of his life. Then there was the bungie-cord accident that nearly blinded him at age 16. Mom is convinced that that's when his hair started turning gray. I think Josh has had a lot of those kinds of experiences--for a while there it seemed like he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends.Then something happened: Josh met Jill at physical therapy, back in April. There was something about her in her quiet, unassuming yet confident way. Josh really wanted to date her, but she insisted that she would only date a clean, honest, active Mormon boy. That's when Josh began to clean up his life and turn things around. One thing led to another and next thing you know, Josh and Jill are officially engaged. They're getting married in May in Montana.
I'm delighted. I have been amazed at the person Josh has become. I loved watching him take Jill to meet Grandad before he died, and ended up staying for a week to help out (and that Jill went along with it so cheerfully!). I love that Josh is taking into account the responsibilities of life--that he is anxiously trying to clean up and grow up. I love having conversations with him on the phone and feeling his concern and love for me and for our brother and sisters. I love his jokes and his passion for climbing and river running and now for church. I love Jill for her patience and ability to see Josh's potential. I'm delighted that she will be a part of our family. She is an angel.Josh's hair is still a little wild--that's how I know it's really Joshie in this adult body. I love growing up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Country Dancing in Sweet Home Alexandria

That's right, friends. Those of you who know me may know that I'm not a huge country music fan. Well, not really at all. But in preparation for an event with people from the Chilean embassy at Nick's, the local country dancing establishment here in Alexandria, Kendall and I went for a practice run last night. And I have to admit: it was GREAT. I loved the live band--Taylor Made from West Virginia--who sang songs of their own creation, like "Sweet Home Alexandria." I loved watching the most random couples in their cowboy get-up--one woman was outfitted in a crazy red dress like a bar lady. It was great. I loved the women in their cowboy boots and spurs, jangling on the floor, and the men with their western shirts. And I loved swinging around the floor in the two-step. I'd love to learn the West Coast Swing--that looks like a lot of fun times. But only if your partner knows what he's doing and he doesn't swing you off into the middle of the room. Not that that happened, but it's just a bad idea.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Roy Rosenzweig, 1950-2007

My professor and the Director of the Center for History and New Media where I have a fellowship, Roy Rosenzweig, passed away yesterday due to lung cancer. He was a wonderful man--brilliant at his specialty. He led the vanguard of digital history and opened to the world countless possibilities for public history in accessing the masses. His scholarship was sound and his efforts were astounding. He has probably impacted the way every historian has become involved with the Internet.

And he was also kind-hearted. He was a quiet man but he smiled often and his eyes twinkled. He made such conscientious decisions in our assignments at the Center, and he was supportive of our ideas and our efforts. He was eager to hear our opinions and to use our talents. I loved that in his effort to teach our PhD colloquium this semester, he wanted to know what we as students wanted to learn. His sincere desire was to help us. I remember walking with him from the last class he attended back to the Center. His steps were slow and his breath was labored. And yet he wanted to know how my semester was going and where my research was taking me. I'll never forget the last concern that he had with my life: that I not take a job that would improve my financial situation because it would hamper my studies and my scholarship. He believed in me and for that I honor him.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Beauty of Eating

I was just scolded kindly by my Russian friend Nastya for eating a sandwich while we walked to the library. I explained that I don't seem to have time to sit down and just EAT, and she told me that it was bad for my stomach. It reminded me of living in Italy, where people constantly chided us for eating on the run, whether it was a slice of piping hot pizza or a fresh calzone or an impromptu sandwich of prosciutto and formaggio on a bun from the market. Italians couldn't understand our rush to get to appointments.

I do miss the eating culture of Italy. I love that offices and schools and stores close for two hours during pranzo, and that this becomes a sort of sacred time for family and friends to gather and eat. It's not just eating really great food, though. It's partaking of each other's company and time--of being together. It's sitting through several courses and talking and laughing and singing together.

I have so many memories--drunk Italians singing "So This is Christmas," the only English song they knew to sing to two young Americans in Sicily on Christmas day. Or the time we peeked into the kitchen before dinner and saw a live octopus in a tub of water, caught just an hour before. I think we escaped before being tortured. Or the evening with Mario's family--this huge family living out in the country, with all kinds of food and my first try of calamari and laughing and people. Or what about the Gerentano family and the basketball size bowl of spaghetti that made me cry when we left--although hearing their 2-year-old sing along to Pavaroti on TV to perfect pitch certainly made me laugh. Or eating pears and cheese after Sunday dinner on the patio overlooking the mountains of Cosenza. So many great memories...

On Sunday we had a lovely evening. We grilled shishkebabs and ate out on the patio--coconut rice, homemade bread, and salad with gorgonzola cheese, pears, and craisins. We sat out there with the citronella candle burning and talked and laughed for quite a while. I loved being with my friends--enjoying their company, listening to their perspectives, and feeling a part of something. It was a beautiful tender mercy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

You just never know what you're going to find when you walk around the corner...

So I've felt just a tad bit anxious as of late... part of it has to do with papers due, an unexpected job opportunity that just might change my entire career trajectory, recent undertakings of an old colleague, blooming social opportunities, and the cusp of a changing season.

That said, I loved coming in to work and school just now. I usually circle around trying to find a spot in the parking lot closest to my class that gets out at 10:00 pm, and I usually end up driving all the way around campus. Well today I stumbled upon someone leaving right away, so I got a very close spot. There's nothing like good parma (ME-ese for parking karma).

Then walking onto campus, I saw the funniest thing: a very sharply-dressed guy was wearing a nice navy blue double-breasted blazer with gold buttons. He carried a leather briefcase and was holding hands with a beautiful woman. Here's the kicker: he was wearing salmon pink pants that were an inch too short. It was great. Classic. I thought I was back in Italy. I loved it. It made me smile.

Then as I rounded the corner past the library, I heard some suspicious shouts and found a crowd of onlookers gathered around Fenwick. There were 3 army guys repelling off the building. It was great. It looked like fun until the one on the ropes lost his balance and bounced into the wall back first. He did make it down safely.

Who knows what will be around my next corner?