Thursday, September 30, 2010

Of Great Value

Tonight I spoke with a friend of mine from Chicago. He insisted, "If he's not physically attracted to you, then he must be gay." But I'm not so sure about that, I mean, I know he's not gay, but just because he's not gay, doesn't automatically mean that he'd be attracted to me. After all, I could be too tall, too brunette, too green-eyed, rather than blue, too, well, I won't expose my physical insecurities to the world, but just because my Chicago friend finds me to be attractive, doesn't mean that this other guy does. And even if he is physically attracted to me, I've learned that physical attraction and liking are two matters that are seemingly unrelated.

But back to the gay thing. This morning as I working in my cubicle in the Empire State Building, our Athletic Director stopped in and shared the tragic news of the death of a college student named Tyler. Tyler was a phenomenal musician who was attending Rutgers University, just across the Hudson River in New Jersey. While pursuing music and academics, Tyler was also pursuing a gay life style and his roommate thought it would be funny to expose this to the world by setting up a camera in their dorm room and posting on You Tube footage of Tyler being intimate with another man.

After the exposure and the humiliation, Tyler drove the the George Washington Bridge and ended his life by jumping off of it.

As a mainstream radio station (92.3) discussed this evening, there are two tragedies in what happened. The first is that the roommate thought destroying his roommate through public humiliation would be "funny." It's not funny - it's horrible and far from the basic respect that we ought to have for one another. But the other tragedy is that Tyler thought that what happened was so bad, that he couldn't continue living on. He had lost all hope. When in reality, everything we face in this world is temporary - and there isn't any situation (as horrible as it may be) that we can't move through and beyond.

Our lives are of great value. We must learn to value one another - regardless of how different someone might be, and we must learn how to value ourselves, even when our world seems to be falling part. We must believe that we are of great worth.

Just so you know, I think that you are of great worth and of great value. And by the way, God does too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Carol Alt, Winnie Cooper, and Katrina Blank...

PrimeHouse 381 Park Avenue South at 27th Street New York, NY 10016

“If you want a religion that makes sense, I suggest something other than Christianity. But if you want a religion that makes life, then, I think this is the one." ~ Rich Mullins

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweaty Hearts

Sweaty hearts - not to be confused with sweet hearts, or sweet tarts, but rather I'm talking about something that stems from perspiration. A friend of mine recently pointed it out to me in the elevator just after I had returned from a run. She exclaimed, "Oh wow. The sweat on the back of your shirt forms a heart. That's kind of cool."

Once I was back in my apartment, I took a peak in the mirror, and sure enough, there was a rather defined sweat heart on the back of my tank top. Tonight, once again, upon my return from running, I checked in the mirror and discovered a pronounced heart on my back. And well, it got me thinking...a bit about love.

I mean, I've already been thinking about it, being that it has been the topic of my one-on-ones with my RAs (known here as Chamberlains) this past week. '

To be finished...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mr. Third Random Guy

"So you're the third random guy whose phone number I've added to my phone in the past 24 hours."

He protested, "But I'm not random - you know me. Who were the other guys?"

I went on to tell the story of one - the one who was the most random, but I internally disagreed with Mr. Third Random Guy - slightly. He is rather random; I don't know him well - except that I do know that he's a huge fan of Brennan Manning.

I was explaining this to my roommate Shannen on our walk home from Union Square, and she clarified, "Brennan Manning isn't related Peyton Manning - is he?" I laughed and explained that Brennan is a writer and that there is no relation to the professional football player (at least to my knowledge there isn’t.)

So that was last night.

Tonight I found myself smiling for no apparent reason at all. This happens to me from time to time, and when it does, my smiling perpetuates itself and I end up smiling even more because it makes me smile thinking about the very fact that I'm smiling. Except tonight when I was smiling, it was as I was out running and I had to be careful not to make eye contact with anyone (particularly men) as I was running down 5th Avenue because I feared my smiling might send a signal that I wasn't intending to send such as hi, I'm interested.

However, it's not completely accurate to say that I wasn't at all interested. Because I've realized, especially after spending a week in Europe, that I've been falling for a certain, I would like to say someone, but actually it's not that romantic - or perhaps it is, but it’s of a different kind of romance that you can read more about in my post (tba). But yes, it's true - I've unexpectedly fallen for New York. And tonight was yet another run through Central Park with the cool rain refreshing my soul.

I attempted to explain to most random guy the other day a quote by St. Irenaeus, "The Glory of God is man fully alive." I often feel fully alive, but tonight was one of those times in which there was a heightened awareness of the presence of Holy Spirit and a sense of joy and victory that, to be honest, I can’t really explain, but rather it just is – and it is beautiful and breath-taking and it is real.

When I returned back from my run I received a text from most random guy asking if I wanted to meet up for dinner on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My friend Jessica use to insist, "Stuff like that never happens to me." Then one night she and I hung out together and it happened.

The King's College 3
Princeton 1

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


He picked me up just before 5...

And when I say 5, I mean 5 in the morning. It was too early for conversation, but he made it any way, and I failed to retain anything that he said, or what anything I said for that matter. I only vaguely remember talking about Istanbul, Turkey - a place we had both visited, and a place I suspect that he is originally from.

It was too early to become BFFs with my taxi cab driver and so I kept my answers to his questions rather succinct. Besides, he wouldn't have time to take me out for breakfast like the taxi cab driver in Chicago did last time I visited the Windy City.

So I arrived at the Frankfurt International Airport, and after checking my suitcase, and going through security, I sat down with my journal and began to write:

And so my day begins w/a 4 AM alarm clock and a 4:45 AM taxi ride to the airport w/an overly talkative taxi cab driver who would have - perhaps - received an even larger tip if we could have enjoyed the 20 minute ride to the airport in silence rather than engaging in a false interactive dialogue. I call it false because I wasn't really "in" the conversation. Althought I did ask questions, I think I only did so - so that I wouldn't have to answer as many of his.

Wow, this sounds snotty, snooty, snobby - or some variation of the sorts. I promise I didn't send that vibe - at least I hope I didn't. But you have to understand - I am NOT a morning person.

It's like my brother and I when we were in high school - and perhaps even young... when we'd eat our morning bowl of cereal - aside from the crunching and chomping, we respected the silence in the air.

Finally, we were summoned to board the plane. And once I was settled in my seat, I continued to write.

And so I'm on the place - well, plane 1. I have to admit, this morning as I walked around the airport I felt this air of romance - but it's of a different kind. I suppose you could call it a romance of sorts - where it's the kind of romance that is found within adventure.

And I suppose that's what's I sesned this morning. Knowing that I would be stepping into the unknown, yet knowing that it would be absolutely beautiful. And today is different from my move to New York - because w/that move... the scare and fear overrided the excitement and anticipation. But w/today... I just know that it will be a day that I treasure well beyond today.

And maybe because it's...

"We apologive for the inconvenience." I paused in my writing to listen the announcement. "Due the foggy weather in Amsterdam, we will not be able to take off at this time. We anticipate that we will be delayed an hour. For those of you with connecting flights..."

And maybe because it's

It's not so romantic after all. Flight delay: 1 hour...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

final evening in frankfurt...

Monday, September 20, 2010

funny how human tendency is to gravitate to what is familiar.

you may notice this tendency in any college classroom
there is no seating chart imposed by the professor, yet, by the third class of the semester, it's as if the students in the class have agreed to create one.

this may explain why my family had lunch at Starbucks today...
or why brand loyalty (or political for that matter) is so prevalent...
because we default to what we know... just because it's easier

this afternoon we took a cruise down the Main (pronounced mine, as in the seagull call from Finding Nemo)...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 18 - unedited, rough draft...

I've been up since 5, and would like to go back to bed for another 4 to 6 hours, but I've been plagued by some sort of illness that is causing me to toss and turn and night. The effort to find sleep for a few more hours isn't worth it, and since there are few quiet hours to write in my sister's 3-child home, 5 AM writing it is. And actually in New York, this would be my ideal writing time anyway - I think around 10 pm or so - or so I think. I'm too lazy to look up the time difference and do the math. (Then again, I'm also somewhat of a perfectionist, and so I'll tell you now that it is actually a _ hour time difference, and the current time in Manhattan is....

Which means that it is still September 18th in the States, which makes me feel better for writing a post on September 18 as if it were still September 18th.

Today started, for my dad, at 4:30 in the morning. He got up and out of bed to shave, thinking that it was at least 7 AM. When nobody else seemed to be getting up, he finally checked a clock in the kitchen and realized that it was probably in his best interest to get a few more hours of sleep.

Meanwhile, I was on the 2nd floor, tossing and turning with a pounding headache that was a continuation of my miserable fever and cold that struck me down and held me hostage to my bed the entire day before. Honestly, I don't think my head has ever hurt so badly in my entire life, and I questioned if I would be able to join my family for the days festivities. I finally determined that as long as I didn't pass out while I was in the shower, that I would join my family in our adventure to (city name). After all, today is the reason why that my family has gathered in Germany and I knew it meant a lot to my mom to be present.

Just before 9, my family (as in my sister, brother-in-law, plus kiddos, plus my parents and my brother Mike), loaded up the vehicles and headed out of Frankfurt on the autobahn, which I've learned, is not without speed limits. In fact, in a good number of areas on it quickly and somewhat drastically changes limits, and if you're not careful, you'll be caught on camera and mailed a rather pricey speeding ticket. Needless to say, my brother-in-law learned the hard way his first 6 months in Germany, receiving not just one, but rather several autobahn speeding tickets.

My sister and brother-in-law have been living in Frankfurt for almost 2 and 1/2 years now. More often then not when I tell friends that my sister lives in Germany they assume that they are with some mission organization and ask me which one. I then explain that my brother-in-law does International Business - which to be honest, I'm not sure is entirely true, but I feel as though that description is decently accurate and so I've been standing by it. Meanwhile my brother Mike (who is into all sorts of conspiracy theories), tends to believe that our brother-in-law is some sort of spy for the US government. I find this theory rather unlikely - especially since his company is transferring him back to Indiana. Among cornfields doesn't seem the most strategic of locations to place a government spy. Then again, he does have to travel a lot for his job... hmmm...

So my family drove about an hour (directionwise) of Frankfurt to a beautiful town called (?) located in Germany's countryside. And there we reunited with relatives, who I hadn't seen in 12 years

Now I know I'm in Europe, where such a holiday isn't celebrated, but
if I could best describe the day, it felt an awful lot like Thanksgiving.
We ate a ton of food, and simply enjoyed each others company.

Mid-afternoon we field tripped to a nearby winery, and then to a famous monument called (?)
Back at the house there was more eating...
And then a walk to a nearby park where there was an outdoor ping pong table, in which some intense competition took place among the men.

As we loaded up the vehicles and started return to Frankfurt, my mom started to cry. Which caused me tear up. I hadn't considered that this very well be the last time that my mom sees her German relatives.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

playing in dirt...

in germany...

my sister is/was concerned that we didn't do anything "fun" today... but i think her definition of fun is different from mine. yesterday we had "fun" because we explored a nearby city...
but what was more fun, was returning to frankfurt, and taking the kids (my niece and nephews) to a nearby park, where we got to play in the dirt...

and tonight, just before dinner...

(in case any of you are wondering, i do intend to finish all these posts...)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

and i'm off...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Katrina Goes to Europe

Yet another post... yet to come...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sharing Our Sh**

Today was not church as usual...

But actually, it was probably the closest to what church ought to be...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dream Job on the 93rd Floor

* I originally wrote this piece several years ago, and although I have already posted it at least twice before, I feel it's important that I continue to edit this piece and to tell the story. Because it may impact someone else's story - perhaps even your own. With that having been said, here is Dream Job on the 93rd Floor.

On a day like today I think of college football and my time at the University of Michigan. But more than that, I think of a girl who lived in my Residence Hall.

Her name was Meredith and she longed for a Titanic romance – not one involving a tragic death, but rather one in which she would meet a handsome, young man on a cruise ship. She lived down the hall and to be quite honest, at times she was difficult to love, but we chose to love her anyway.

My friends Emily, Michelle, and I frequently invited her to our small group where we'd take time each week to talk about Scripture, faith, and life and how the three are interwoven together. But Meredith always declined our invitations, using the excuse that she needed to study. Michigan’s business school was ranked #1 in the nation at the time and she wanted to be certain to get in.

I remember one particular evening, when Meredith was taking a study break, that she stopped in at my room. I had been reading, but I set my book aside so that we could talk. After exchanging hello’s and how are you’s, Meredith glanced down and noticed the book I had been studying wasn’t an academic textbook; it was the Bible.She started to tell me that she’d like to read the Bible someday, and possibly explore Christianity, but it wouldn’t be anytime soon. She explained to me that she didn’t have the time and that she needed to focus on her studies so she could get into the business school. After all, Meredith dreamed of a high paying job and vacations on cruise ships.

Meredith made it into the B School and even before receiving her diploma she was offered her dream job in New York. After graduation she moved to the city and settled into her office, located on the 93rd floor. She booked a cruise for the month of September, but she never got to go on it; she never had the chance to meet her Prince Charming.

Meredith’s dream job was located on the 93rd floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

I’ve been to Ground Zero a few times since it happened, and a few summers ago I located a memorial bench for Meredith on Michigan’s campus. I think what haunts me the most, is that I don’t know where Meredith stood with God when the Towers crumbled to the ground. And I don’t necessarily know where each of you reading this stands with God, but I do know that our time “here” is limited and that the Creator of the universe desperately desires a relationship with you.

If you’ve been putting off getting to know God, please don’t any longer. Meredith had her excuse. What is yours?

If you’re already a follower of Christ, how closely are you following? How are you doing in loving those around you?

To be honest, I'm somewhat hesitant to repost this piece, because I feel like this message could be perceived as a turn or burn scare tactic (i.e. get right with God or go to hell). I promise that's not my intention. My intention is that you might take time to consider what is important in life, and to consider allowing Jesus to make your life even more beautiful, adventuresome, and radiant. That is, after all, what He has done for me. He desires the same for you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I was told I would have to wait outside, and that it would probably be about an hour. Instead of waiting in the lobby, I decided to literally wait outside...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Post... I promise!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On the Cover of Forbes Magazine

I have to admit, when the song Billionaire by Travie McCoy first came out, I somewhat liked it - not because I thought it was brilliantly written (musically or lyrically), but rather because there is this part in the song where he sings something about visiting Katrina. And, well, being that my name is Katrina, I liked the idea of someone singing about visiting me. Even though I knew it wasn’t me he was referring to, it was fun to at least pretend.

But then I started to wonder, “Who exactly is this Katrina that he mentions in his song?” Finally I asked someone about her identity, only to be disappointed to learn that his singing is in reference to the hurricane that hit New Orleans around this time 5 years ago – not some cool girl named Katrina, like me. The actual line is, “I’d probably visit where Katrina hit and damn sure do a lot more than FEMA did.”

Honestly, I use to love my name, convinced that I got the better deal than my sister Bettina. But ever since that hurricane, I’ve been less than satisfied with my name and have been considering having it legally changed - kind of like how I tell people that I did when I was in 2nd grade. (Some of you have heard the Filinda story – which is another story for another day.) But what I want to know is how in the world did I end up with a name that is associated with devastation? That’s not what about. I’m about hope, and faith and life and joy – not destruction.

But the woes of my name is not why I write this post, but rather it is the chorus of the song Billionaire that prompts me to proudly say that I recently met someone whose article is featured on the cover of Forbes magazine. I work for him, actually - he’s the president of the university that I’m now at in NYC. His name is Dinesh D’Souza and his piece entitled How He Thinks – The Root of Obama’s Big Problem with Business recently made it into the magazine. And, well, I think that’s pretty darn cool.

Monday, September 6, 2010

When Camera Crews Swarm

I have to admit, after last week, I've become rather wary of my doorbell... mainly because I never really know what I'll be opening my door up to… This morning I was awakened by the buzzing of my doorbell for the third time since moving into my apartment a month ago…

I immediately check my cell phone to see what ungodly hour of the morning it might be. Rather than the time, my cell phone displays a notification that I have a new text message. I open and read, “hey katrina its becca! since school is closed today want me to just go to your room and give you the phone?”

Ah yes, the emergency duty phone. I work with college students, specifically in Residence Life, which means I live among students and am often on call to respond to anything and everything. Becca’s text came as somewhat of a surprise because I didn’t realize I was scheduled to hold the phone for the day (and actually, I learned later on - I wasn’t.)

Gaining consciousness, I roll out of bed and go to answer my door. I expect to see Becca with the phone, but rather it is Liz, one of my other stellar student leaders (who just so happens to be dating a guy named Gia Paul pronounced John Paul who at one time played for the LA Clippers, and now occasionally leads the team devotional and prayer time for the New York Giants.) Liz is holding out a Starbucks travel mug and speaks only two words, “Fruit smoothie?”

“Are you serious?” I reply.
“Yeah, I was just making smoothies in my apartment and I thought you might like some.”

I smile and accept the Starbucks mug, “Thank you!” I take a sip of the delicious morning treat. “Funny, I was expecting to see Becca with the phone – this is way better than the duty phone.”

So that was this morning, at a rather reasonable hour – 9:30. However, last week the wake up “calls” came at a much earlier hour of the day.

Thursday morning my doorbell awakens me from my deep slumber - my cell phone tells me that it is 6:45, and my body tells me to stay in bed and ignore the door. But I can’t, so I crawl out of bed and when I answer the door I find two peppy girls (obviously morning people) dressed in work-out clothes. One of them enthusiastically inquires, “Hey! Want to go running with us?!”

“Actually, I think I’m going to sleep some more, but thanks for the offer.”

“Okay, have a great a day.” And they are off, and I shut the door, head back to my bedroom, and slide under my covers to get some more shut eye.

The very next day my doorbell buzzes at almost exactly the same time, and once again, my body fights, not wanting to get out of bed. But this time my mind quickly sides with my body as flashbacks of a recent conversation with a student surfaces. I recall the words, “Oh, you live right down the hall from us. That’s awesome. That means we can mess with you and play pranks on you.” I reason, that it is probably the same girls going out for a run, sending me a little “love” on their way.

I almost determine that I’ll ignore the doorbell and continue on with my sleep, but something inside won’t let me. And so I get up, answer the door, and a girl who I had not yet met, is standing there in tears. She explains, “I’m so sorry to bother you. But I didn’t know where else to go. The cops just showed up at our apartment, and evidently a girl fell out the window from the 25th floor and landed right outside of our window, and I just can’t be in our apartment right now.”

“Oh sweetie,” I hug the girl. “Please do come in.” I do my best to console her, as the question races in my mind, is it one of my girls whose body is lying on the rooftop of the second floor?

Our university leases a select number of apartments from large apartment building, and so only a small percentage of the tenants are my students. I call the front desk inquiring if they know whether or not it is one of my students who fell. They inform me that they don’t know, but for some reason right after that call I am prompted to open my apartment door. I see a policeman walking down our hall and he is able to confirm for me that it isn’t one my students. Although still a horrific and tragic situation, I am slightly relieved to learn that it isn’t one of my girls.

Moments later the other two roommates from the same apartment join me in mine. They further explain that cops and investigators are utilizing their apartment to access the rooftop area where the girl landed to her death. I spent the morning with the girls – just being there for them and providing a safe place for them away from the chaotic activity occurring in and right outside of their apartment.

On their way out, one of the girls thanked me and insisted, “You are a Godsend.” Her words stuck with me, because it’s only the second time in my life that someone has said those words to me. The other time was in July, when I was in New York for my interview. It was in our final wrap up conversation of the day, that my now colleague Stacey said, “Our team is really excited about you. We have no reservations and we would like to move forward in offering you the position. You are a Godsend.”

The more I ponder that phrase, the more I realize how true it is. And that’s not to sound arrogant or conceited, but rather it is the reality that God has sent me here – to New York City, to The King’s College, and as one of my colleagues Ms. Hamilton recently prayer over me, “For such a time as this.” (See Bible, book of Esther).

Camera crews swarmed our apartment building all day, and by noon I had learned that it was a 17 year old girl – daughter of the US ambassador to Thailand – who had fallen to her death. She had simply had too much to drink and fell out of a window. She was about to start college, had the world ahead of her… only for her life to end tragically and prematurely. I can’t help but wonder if this girl’s story might have been different if I would have had the opportunity to interact with her, and perhaps inspire her to a better way of life, that would have stirred within her the desire to make better choices, and to perhaps embrace the greater life and story that God intended for her to live.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Craigslist Missed Connection

New York Craigslist > Manhattan > Personals > Missed Connections

Runner in the Rain on 5th Avenue – (Midtown)

Dear 5th Avenue Runner,
It was exactly two weeks ago (Sunday afternoon, August 22nd) that our paths crossed somewhere between 34th and 59th Streets. I was heading south, returning home from Central Park and I’m inclined to believe that you were on your way to Central Park. We were both drenched from head to toe, and I’d imagine, quite the sight to see as we both continued pounding the pavement through the downpour.

We were the ONLY ones on the sidewalk because everyone else, even those with umbrellas, had taken cover in stores and under awnings. But not you and I, we continued on our way, enjoying our run though the summer rain. As we passed, we exchanged smiles, acknowledging our ridiculousness for pressing on through the torrential rains.

I suspect that you’re not married, because if you were, your wife would have cautioned you from going out for a run on such a precarious afternoon - and you would have probably listened to her. But instead you went out, knowing very well that it was rather probable that you would return home soaked. And I think that is why I could potentially like you.

* For the record, no, I didn’t post this on Craigslist, but I have to admit, I was tempted.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Blog Not About Cockroaches

My 2nd hottest guy friend forewarned me that there are a lot of them in this city, but I didn’t realize the extent of their population in NYC until today. And no, I’m not talking about cockroaches – although, there are plenty of them in the city too… but rather, I’m referring to Michigan alumni. And perhaps some of them convincingly fake their ties to the university (as my friend Colin Campbell does) for their love of Michigan football, but regardless, I wasn’t expecting the masses that I encountered when I entered Professor Thom’s to watch the game.

I suppose I should explain…Professor Thom isn’t actually a professor, but rather he’s a bar tender at a sports bar on 2nd Avenue, just a few blocks from Union Square. I had caught wind that Michigan fans gather there to watch the games and being that I have no television in my apartment, I ventured to Thom’s to join the maize and blue community of NYC. Honestly, I wish I could have taken someone with me, but my friend base in NYC at the moment is rather limited, so I entered the bar alone. (On a side note, if you know of someone – not married couples - who currently resides in the city and might want to be my friend, I’m currently accepting friend recommendations. I’d be particularly thrilled if you can recommend someone who is into rock climbing or Michigan football or might want to start a small group with me that would listen to and discuss LA Mosaic’s podcasts.)

The place was packed - so much so that I suspect that we were breaking fire code - and everyone was sporting some sort of Michigan t-shirt or jersey, and there were those that even went as far as to wear face paint. The game, which could be viewed on over 25 flat screens throughout the place, blared over the chatter and cheers of those in the bar. Although we were in Manhattan, miles away from Ann Arbor, it kind of felt like we were there - at the Big House, experiencing everything firsthand. There was “that guy” with the cowbell who would lead the “Go Blue” chant and with every touchdown Hail to the Victors would play over the sound system and we would all sang along.

I love those moments in life when feel and know that you are a part of something bigger and greater than yourself – where there is a spirit celebration and joy that can’t really be explained, but it is there and your soul knows it is right and how things should be. I think that is what we ought to experience in our faith journey, and what Jesus was referring to when he said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Shortly after half time I met a couple of guys - Toby and Bruce. Toby asked if I had just graduated. I laughed and explained that I had graduated a while ago, and that I had just moved here from Southern California. He informed me that he had graduated in 2005, and then continued digging for my age, by insisting that I tell him what year I graduated. And so I did (and honestly, I have no problem stating that I graduated from college in 2000 and that I am currently 32 years old. If anything, I just wish men under the age of 25 would stop hitting on me.)

Toby is 27, and although within range, he’s not within possibility. I’m rather certain he would agree with me. I asked what line of work he is in and he told me that he’s a youth director – at a synagogue, and that he is also in a band. He told me he’s supposed to be a role model, but he doesn’t always feel like one. I argued that the very fact that he is pursuing his dreams makes him one, because so many people don’t. At the end of Michigan’s win over University of Connecticut (30-10), Toby asked if I wanted to meet up later that night; I passed on the invitation, explaining that I already had plans for the evening, but that perhaps I’d see him back at Thom’s for another Michigan game sometime in the near future.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Elevator Indecision

I have to admit, I almost didn’t step into the elevator. Because when it opened the sight that I saw was more than unpleasant - it was repulsive.

You see, there were two of us waiting on the third floor to go up. I didn’t know the other party, but I suspect that she is kind in nature, because when the elevator opened, she motioned for me to go in first. And I would have…except, I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to get into the elevator, and so I insisted that she go ahead. So while I continued my mental deliberation, she stepped in without any hesitation; it was evident that she didn’t have any concern, but I certainly did. Because there were three men already standing in the elevator, and one of them was wearing this t-shirt whose sight was enough to make me sick to my stomach.

But I knew that I had to big bigger than the red O that spread across this man’s chest. I would share the elevator with an Ohio State Fan. And so I got in, and explained my delay and indecision. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into the elevator when I saw your t-shirt. I’m a Michigan grad.”

The Buckeye responded, “Oh, I feel sorry for you guys.”
To which I replied, “Yeah, the past few years have been rather brutal.”

My football friend, Coach Keith Schulte, later told me that I should have responded by saying, “Don’t feel sorry for us. Michigan has one of the greatest running football programs in college football history, and we have at least a dozen more wins over Ohio State than they have over us.”

Coach Schulte is right. And as we shouted and sang out after our Rose Bowl win in 1998, “It’s great – uh huh – to be – uh huh – a Michigan Wolverine!”

Go Blue!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Considering Cubic Zirconium

In your first month in New York
1. Meet three, interesting, out of the ordinary type people
2. Do something random and adventurous
3. Stumble upon a job for me.

The assignment was given to me by one of my former college students who dropped by my place the day before I made the big move to the Big Apple. I thought perhaps it might be a wee bit difficult to accomplish the task of meeting three unusual people in such a short time frame, but oh no - I’ve met well more than three. In a city like New York, meeting interesting people is not difficult to do.

In fact, my very first week in the city I met this guy named Andres from Colombia. The start of our conversation was rather confusing because I assumed that he was student studying at Columbia. Once we finally established that he was from Colombia (i.e. the country) and not going to Columbia (i.e. the university), we chatted about coffee. He insisted that the coffee you find in Colombia is far superior to any coffee you will ever drink at Starbucks. I believed him and told him I would be sure to try the coffee next time I’m in Colombia.

A few days later at the subway station I met another man from Colombia. He asked me a question about one of the subway trains and I made the mistake of replying. He (Ricardo) insisted on continuing the conversation onto the subway train where he sat down and made himself a little bit too comfortable beside me.

I’m beginning to think it might be a good idea to invest in a cubic zirconium ring to wear around the city to ward off creepy men. The problem with wearing such a ring is that I would also ward off potentially quality men at the same time. Perhaps I ought to get engaged and married for real to help alleviate the amount of creepsters hitting on me. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Or if it’s too difficult to find someone to marry, I suppose I could pretend not to speak any English. I could create my own language or perhaps just speak in tongues (see Bible, book of Acts.)

Before I exited the subway train, Ricardo informed that I would be married within a year. I’ll take that – as long as it’s not to him. Although, if it was to him, I might have the chance to go to Colombia and try the Colombian coffee that Andres was raving about. Hmmm… maybe I should have given him my number after all.

I know the assignment said three, and I only mentioned two, but I’ll be back with more stories – perhaps about the carriage driver at Central Park, or the cyclist, or that missed connection that I’m tempted to post on Craig’s List. And how can I forget that guy from New Zealand, actually make that two guys from New Zealand, and that other guy Sweden. And then there is my favorite - a friend I made on the plane on the way to New York – Julia, the yoga instructor from Norway. We recently met up at Union Square at a place called The Coffee Shop, which oddly enough specializes in Brazilian American food and drinks, not coffee.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sea Streaking

“And this is where I get out and run.” I thanked the cab driver as I handed him some cash. It was 10:57 AM, and I had exactly three minutes to get to where I needed to be, otherwise my plans for the day would be ruined. I quickly exited the taxi and dashed across the street, running the rest of the way down 34th until it dead ended into the water. I gripped my cell phone tightly, monitoring its ever so slight, but significant changes in time. At 11:00 I stopped running, because I saw the boat that I was hoping to board – the one that departs daily at 11:00AM to take passengers to a remote beach in New Jersey. The boat, with the words Sea Streak on its side, was less than 100 yards away, yet I hadn’t even purchased a ticket.

But to my delight (and I hope to yours), the boat was still docked, and there were about a half dozen individuals lined up still waiting to board. I purchased my ticket at 11:01, got on board at 11:02, and at 11:03, we departed Manhattan’s shore.

I made my way to the upper deck to inhale the city view as we ventured down the East River. We sped by the city, making our way under the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and then finally the Brooklyn Bridge. And of course, we passed the Statute of Liberty, standing prominently and proudly on Liberty Island, right beside Ellis Island.

Right around the Statue of Liberty, I got out my cell phone and texted one of my favorite people the message, “I’m on a boat!” To which, a man nearby questioned me, “Are you actually getting cell service out here?” I told him I was just sending a text and I wasn’t sure if it would go through. But being the darn extravert that I am, the conversation didn’t stop there. I had to explain that I was with All-tel, which essentially is Verizon, and then went on to rave about the great cell service that I get. And he continued the conversation by sharing with me the woes of his cell phone plan.

After our cell chat, he told me that his name is Eddie, and we shook hands. I informed him that I’ve met a couple of other Eddies this year - one when I was out rock climbing in Southern California and another one while I was in Chicago (who was actually my taxi driver who took me out for breakfast, which is another story for another day.) We conversed the rest of the way to Jersey, and by the time we got off the Sea Streak ferry, I sensed that he was inwardly and not so secretly hoping that we would spend the afternoon together. And I inwardly, and not so secretly, did my best to kindly blow him off, saying something along the lines of, “Well enjoy your day, perhaps I’ll see you on the Ferry on the way back.”

Even still, he lingered.

But thankfully as we neared the beach area, the women’s restroom came to my rescue. Conveniently I was able to excuse myself from his presence. It’s not that I minded having conversation with Eddie, but I took the day off of work for the very of purpose pulling away and having some alone time, and I really didn’t want him crashing my solo party.

From the restroom, just after 12 noon, I made my way out to the shoreline of Sandy Hook’s north beach, I settled in the sand on my beach towel with book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield in hand.

The author scolded me, exposed me, and encouraged me. He told me that I absolutely must start writing again. (Confession: it has been months.)

Later in the afternoon I decided to go for a jog down the beach, and so I changed into my much-needed sports bra, and started running barefoot down the shore, pondering the crisis of faith that one of my college students is facing. She is wrestling with a question that most everyone wrestles with at some point in their spiritual journey – how can God allow such awful things to happen in our world? Specifically, she wants to know how God can be so cruel. As I was running the Scripture that came to mind is John 11:35. A verse that states, “Jesus Wept.” Jesus wept. God wept. And I believe He still weeps. I don’t think God is playing the cruel card, but rather I think He is playing the compassion card and that the pain and suffering in this world disturbs him deeply.

My running thoughts were abruptly interrupted as found myself amidst a large group of people staked out on the beach. And for once, I could only wish for Speedos. Because the beach area I was running through, evidently didn’t believe in wearing any sort of swimwear.

Wow. Awkward. Weird. Gross. I was running through a nude beach. And suddenly I wondered just how Sea Streak Ferry Company got its middle name. I kept my eyes on the sand a few feet in front me trying to avoid the nakedness around me. I couldn’t help but to think back to University of Michigan’s naked mile that was still in existence my freshmen year of college. I had a paper that I had to write that night, and so I went to the computer lab, and occasionally someone would come in completely naked, sit down, and check their e-mail.

I safely made it back to my beach area, and after a dip in the ocean, I headed back to the Ferry pick up point.

Eddie found me on the way back to Manhattan, and before we parted ways, he made sure to tell me, “I have to admit, I find you to be extremely attractive, but I’m also extremely intimidated by you.”

I responded, “I’ve gotten that before. Perhaps that’s why I’m still single.”