Friday, September 25, 2009

Things I've Learned

Greetings Dear Reader!

So, Baltimore has not been what I expected it to be (is it ever?).  What has surprised me is what I have learned through this whole experience.

1. I can actually cook, if it involves a crock pot.  I need to perfect chicken and dumplings (not Tara's recipe, even though THAT recipe is delicious).  This week, I've made chicken and dumplings, mac & cheese, and chili.  

2. I really want to run a 5K.  As in really, really.  So, who's with me? 

3. Jack misses dog parks.  There is one "legal" dog park in Baltimore County.  The "not legal" parks aren't fenced.  Blind Dog + No Fence = Bad Idea.

4. Postcard Day may in fact be the greatest day I've ever invented...and yes I have invented other days (cf. Kermie day). 

5. I really am smart and talented and gifted.  I just may not believe that all the time. 

6. FACT:  I have the greatest friends.  Period.  My friends may not be geographically close, but they love me and support me and remind me that I am smart, talented, gifted and called.  And for that, I am truly grateful. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers

Yesterday, one of my heroes passed away. Mary Travers died at the age of 72, due to complications of chemotherapy when she had Leukemia.

I grew up having the privilege of seeing Peter, Paul and Mary ever summer in concert at Wolf Trap, since I was 10 years old. The only summers we did not see them were summers they canceled, one summer I was at camp, and one summer my mom forgot to get tickets, and they were sold out by the time my mom tried to get them. This past summer, less than a month ago, I got to see Peter, Paul sans Mary. The concert was billed as “A Tribute to Mary Travers.” I was sitting in the second row. Peter and Paul waved and smiled at me. Both of them were crying through most of the concert, knowing that their friend was much sicker than they were letting on. Before the concert that night, there was the largest rainbow that I have ever seen. I kid you not, the rainbow went over the Filene center….The WHOLE thing. I still hold that the rainbow was Mary’s rainbow (and my rainbow…that God holds us dear, but that is a story for a different time).
PPM was so integral to my childhood. Summer was complete after I saw them in concert. I could go back to school for the fall because I got to sing “Puff, the Magic Dragon” under the stars at Wolf Trap. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the songs “No Easy Walk to Freedom,” or “The Wonderful Toy.” Every time I got onto a plane, I sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” I learned harmonies for camp songs by listening to their songs.
I learned how to play chord changes on the guitar to “If I had a Hammer.” I have seen the joy that their music brings to kids of all ages at camp. Every time I see plastic handcuffs, I think of Mary telling stories of being arrested with her daughter and granddaughter for civil disobedience, and being cuffed by plastic cuffs not being as cool as metal cuffs before singing “Have you been to jail for Justice?” When I was in Israel/Palestine/Jordan in March 2009, I could not get the song “River of Jordan” out of my head (The Lifelines version, so there were generations of folk singers in my head!). Regardless of what was happening outside of Wolf Trap, for a fleeting moment, we all had hope in the world. Those of us present could take on all of the injustice in the world after singing “We shall Overcome” with PPM, one song at a time, with Mary leading the way. I can still hear her at the end of “Blowin in the Wind,” saying her line...."The answer is still peace, justice and equality, and all of us working for these things together."
There is a semi-joke in my tiny little family…There are only two family traditions. One of them is going shopping the day after Christmas. The other one is seeing PPM every summer. By virtue of that, over the years, Mary Travers became a member of my extended family through the music. Her voice was another part of my small family, and my family is now deeply saddened by the loss of a great woman. I will continue to sing, in honor of her, and to teach her music to the generations to follow.
“And if you take my hand, my son, all will be well when the day is done.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Professional Youth Worker

Discussions of professionalism always happen when youth workers gather. It's an inevitability.

As I was reading my blogs this morning, I came across a blog from Ian, a British youth minister.

In a forum he was reading, someone posted the definition of profession. So good, I'm re-posting here.

Looking at the 'roots' of such things ... from the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, we find:
Main Entry: pro·fes·sion
Pronunciation: \prə-ˈfe-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English professioun, from Anglo-French profession, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin profession-, professio, from Latin, public declaration, from profitēri
Date: 13th century
1: the act of taking the vows of a religious community
2: an act of openly declaring or publicly claiming a belief, faith, or opinion : protestation
3: an avowed religious faith
4 a: a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation b: a principal calling, vocation, or employment c: the whole body of persons engaged in a calling

Thanks to Ian! Go read his blog. He's one of my favorites.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Picks 2009

For the second year in a row, I spent the day before the Oscars watching all five best picture nominees. Last year, I blogged about it, and I figured, I should blog about it again!

Last year, the commonality between the five films was the fact that each movie didn't end in a perfect way. There was no real story book ending.

This year, the commonality was much more concrete. All five were told in flashback form. I was surprised! I was expecting to have to think about the commonality. In the middle of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I realized that the prior 2 had used the same storytelling technique. Then, when Slumdog Millionaire started, I noticed the same thing. I expected Frost/Nixon to not use that technique...I was wrong.

I was hoping/wishing for something more profound, but I really think that's it.

Milk was the story of Harvey Milk, the gay rights activist, and first openly gay politician.
The Reader was the story of a relationship, post WWII. (As a friend of mine said, the movie is better the less you know about it. She was correct.)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the story of Benjamin, who was born as an old man, and lived his life backwards.
Slumdog Millionaire was the story of Jamal, who grew up an orphan in the slums of Mumbai.
Frost/Nixon was the story of David Frost, who wanted to interview Nixon, and got him to admit some of his involvement in Watergate.

I've been debating another commonality....acceptance. Harvey Milk was looking for acceptance for himself and for the people of the Castro District. Both main characters found a level of acceptance within each other in The Reader. In Benjamin Button, he was seeking out acceptance, and accepted all those who he met without question. Slumdog Millionaire? Jamal, Salim and Latitka were all orphaned, and were seeking out those family-like relationships that we all want and need. Frost/Nixon? David Frost wanted to be accepted by more folks as a talk-show host/entertainer, and Nixon wanted to go back to DC.

As for who I think will win? All five of them could win! Honestly, whichever one wins, I will be happy. All five were great films.