Archive | January, 2010

this is high school honors math

7 Jan

You know those two studious gals in the back of the room? Look at them, all academic, intently taking notes on derivatives. Ms. Freni-Johnson should be ever so proud:

v: Two guys walked into a bar

s: And then one said, “I don’t know who you are.”

v: As he stared glazed eyed into a mirror

s: He saw behind him one man nearer.

v: A delayed reaction caused him to stumble

s: Quickly an apology he managed to mumble.

v: Though a hardly audible drunken slur

s: And through half closed eyes the world was a blur.

v: He mistook an 86 year old man for his wife

s: And he said, “Dear, you’ve never come here in your life!”

v: The old man, half-deaf, jumped to his feet

s: “What did you call me, my fist you’ll now eat”

v: Then, all at once, a riot broke out

s: The first punch was thrown by a man that was stout

v: He knocked out the old man, and outright kicked ass

s: But his son heard his cries, he was always a good lass

v: The poor kid couldn’t do much since he fought like a girl

s: And after five minutes he was ready to hurl

v: So he turned to the drunk and got ready to barf

s: And in defence all the drunk man could say was “narf”

v: Lo and behold, the kid let it all fly out

s: Into the drunk’s face so he couldn’t even shout

v: (Although he probably wouldn’t have since he was about to pass out)

s: Now all he could do was turn away and pout

v: Since his baby blue tux was now acidic gray

s: All he wanted was to be far away

v: And so in a daze he fled the scene

s: And behind him he left three guys feeling mean

v: As well as his wallet and 5 empty beers

s: With that money they paid for another round and said “cheers!”

v: And drank through the night like all great men do

s: Now I can say this story is though!

Reflection: NOLA

6 Jan

5 years ago, the Protestant Campus Ministry of Syracuse University led a student group to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help with the relief efforts. We spent a week over the winter break gutting houses, forming lasting relationships with the families and the communities where we worked. It truly warms my spirit to know that in a few months I’ll be back to help build affordable housing there. Full circle.

I’ve been doing some winter cleaning and came across my reflection of a particular experience 5 years ago:

I made my way to the back of Lani and Deborah’s house. Past vacant rooms, with mold covered walls. In one day we had cleared out most of the house, and the bleak and dreary atmosphere we had encountered the day before, when we first opened the front door, was replaced with a vacant and haunting emptiness.

Lani and Deborah’s room still needed to be cleared of their belongings- their room was in complete disarray. Clothes littered the carpet caked in mud, books and papers were water damaged and strewn across the floor, a dresser was on its side, the drawers half open and its contents spread throughout the room as though someone in a rage had run in and torn the place apart with complete disregard.

The windows were cracked open so that fresh air could flow into the room. We had pulled the mold curtains out so that light permeated through the water stained windows, revealing shadows on the walls where paintings had been hung- a reminder of what this room, this house used to be.

The closet had caved in on itself- the weight of the waterlogged clothes had pulled down on the shelves above. so in no particular fashion, I began to sort through the damp clothes and boxes that cluttered the floor, putting aside anything that seemed salvageable.

A box was stuck to one of the broken shelves. I peeled it off the wood carefully. It was heavy, waterlogged. The box fell apart in my hands as I tried to open it. Inside were card and letters saved over the years. I brought it out to the living room and put it in front of the fireplace so that Deborah could look through it.

She looked at the box and let out a sigh. Tears began to form in her eyes as she said, full of gratitude, “You’ve found my life.” She peeled away each card, one by one, and opened them. Most of the writing had been washed away, but she stared at the blankness as if the words were still there. Tears were flowing freely from her eyes now, I gave her a hug and went back to work, giving her some time to herself with her memories.

A few minutes later I took the closet’s rotten shelves outside. Looking over Deborah’s shoulder as I passed I could see that the card she had in her hands was still legible. It was signed “Love, Lani.”

I’m not sure what flashed through my mind, but in an instant thought became action. I pulled off my mask, turned to Deborah and put my hand on her shoulder. “You know in Hawaiian ‘lani’ means heavenly.” She looked up at me and something beautiful happened. Through the tears, she smiled, a smile more radiant than the sun, and she laughed a deep true laughter that pierced through the gloom and filled the emptiness. In an instant sorrow had become joy and darkness, light.

In New Orleans, there was a lot of pain and suffering. But despite the physical destruction, within the hearts of people like Deborah and Lani, there is strength and there is hope- there is life. This trip was truly a reawakening, a rediscovery of what it means to be human.

A Snowflake

6 Jan

A poem for the wintry months, for you, for life

A Snowflake

Chiseled by caring hands above the clouds
A delicate snowflake begins to fall
Made perfect and yet in perfection flawed
It must make its journey amid snowfall

The snowflake dances upon the winds of time
As though it has no end destination
Spinning and turning and ever yearning
To get back that divine elevation

It shall never make it back to that height
It must make its way to the bitter ground
Showing off its every point and sparkle
For once it’s there it will never be found

Its final moments of heavenly flight
Are but fractions of time it spent up high
Now it flutters and scrapes against the earth
Too weak and weary to say a goodbye

Blanketed by a layer of soft snow
The snowflake rests desires forgotten
Its journey complete and purpose fulfilled
Though it alone has been long forgotten

Oh hello there, 2010!

4 Jan

So far so good, the year’s off to a great start. Despite initial efforts to avoid facebook, now that I’ve set up a group, it’s proving to be an awesome method for keeping friends up to date with bike and build news. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the new year. Not only am I reconnecting with friends, but I’m spreading the word about this incredible organization and our efforts to provide affordable housing for America. I’ll be channeling all that good energy into affecting positive change this summer. Just thinking about it gets me all giddy inside- picture a kid in a candy store.

So let’s talk about training. I mean, this is a pretty epic adventure. It wouldn’t be smart to just hop on a bike and go without some prior long distance rides. I’ve been pedaling on a machine since my $80 pink-craigslist-road-killer is locked up safe and sound, and out of reach in Stuyvesant Town, NYC. Granted, the machines get the job done, but I am looking forward to having a legitimate road bike to train on.

Once the weather gets a bit more inviting, I’m hoping to obtain a permit to set my bike up in a high foot-traffic area where I will pedal all day, non-stop. Of course, it’s just an idea now, but we’ll see! Its a new year with endless possibility.