28 September 2007


I'm realizing that ever since I was 4 or 5 years old and started going to school, I've always associated fall with beginnings and newness--new school year, new friends, new sneakers, new pencil case, new schedules--a new season. Logically, I thought those associations would end once I finished school, but I'm finding the opposite to be true. Somehow, those 20-odd years of schooltime anticipations have worn a deep rut in my expectations for fall, as if I had written them on a chalkboard 100 times. There have been a number of mornings, on my way to work, that I have longed to be cracking a new textbook or trying desperately to remember my locker combination. Now it must be understood that I'm not wishing to be back in junior high, high school or even college. And if I try to look beyond the hazy glory of new sweaters and unmarked notebooks, I will remember that all of this excitement usually wore off by mid October, when we all couldn't wait for Thanksgiving break. But that's beside the point. What I am finding now is that I can't escape the energy of fall--that anticipation of new beginnings. I'm energized by the change in season, the newness of cooler weather, new colors. While I may not be immersing myself in another year of academic assignments, I am inspired to start projects, take on new responsibilities, learn a new hobby (yes, mandolin), commit to renewing myself and changing some attitudes.

I do love fall. And for some reason, I've always felt some kind of ownership of it, as if it were my season. Perhaps it's because my birthday is in September, or because I'm from New England, which, let's admit, has the corner market on fall colors. Or maybe it's because when I was younger, my mom had our personal "color palates" analyzed, and it was determined that I looked best in fall colors. And now, as we prepare to celebrate our first year of marriage this weekend, I am realizing how fitting it is for our anniversary to be couched in the energy of fall. What better time to commit to the celebration and renewal of our marriage... this year and every year to come. I hope we will always harness some of that fall inspiration to remember, reflect, and be grateful for the gift we have in each other.

We were given some great advice from my pastor, Dale, who married us. During our pre-marital counseling, he told us that for the first year of our marriage, we were "off the hook", so to speak. For that first year, he explained, we need not feel pressured to take on new responsibilities or commit to new endeavors. For that first year we were to just be--be with each other, learn about each other, and learn what it means to start living out our vows. Great advice indeed.

And I'm realizing that it may not just be the advent of fall that is infusing me with newness and energy, but that it may also be the product of a year of nurturing our infant marriage.
A year of intentional thought and planning regarding who we want to be as a couple and what that may look like. A year of learning how to love and support the other as we each explore who we are individually in this relationship. It's been a year--a year of getting ready to go.

So now I'm feeling ready, and while I look forward to what Year Two will bring as we continue to find our footing, continue to grow and shape our marriage, and as we begin to put some plans into action (no, this does not mean children), I will not forget nor abandon the lessons of Year One. Because no matter how inspiring the back-to-school sales might be, there must always be time to just be, to allow God to breathe life into our souls, into our marriage.

Happy One.

18 September 2007

Lord of the Dance

We checked out Celtic Fest in Grant Park this weekend to get in touch with our roots (and as you will see below, maybe a little too in touch). Saw some absolutely incredible fiddlers, Irish Step dancers, Highland dancers, and one of our very own. Not bad, eh?

(Make sure your sound is on. For some reason, the rotated version of this video no longer works, so if you haven't seen it yet, you'll have to crane your neck to get the full effect. Darn technology!)

For all who may be concerned, Andrew is known to "overexert" himself on such occasions, and after about half an hour, he finally recovered from his lightheadedness.

13 September 2007

Codes or Common Sense?

Within the past few months, two female passengers aboard Southwest flights have been asked to "cover up" because their provocative clothing was inappropriate and potentially offensive to some passengers. Setara Qassim, 21, was asked to wrap a blanket around herself for the flight in order to hide her halter-style dress. She complained that if Southwest wants its passengers to dress in a certain manner, then they should publish a dress code. Southwest airline spokesman, Chris Mainz, said, "We don't have a dress code. We rely on our employees to use common sense, good judgment and good taste" (Associated Press).

And so they should! Are we really so wayward as to need a dress code to fly? The last thing we need when flying is another set of restrictions and regulations. We're already defying common sense when we have to remove our explosive lip balm from our carry-on bags. It's gratifying to know that there are corporations out there who still value common sense, and who are willing to uphold that value at the cost of possibly hurting someone's feelings. I applaud their effort to deal with violators on a case by case basis (a most uncomfortable situation, I'm sure) instead of hiding behind the safety of a blanket policy. And for those who feel humiliated by being reprimanded for their poor judgment? Next time, use common sense.

For further commentary on airborne apparel, click here.

07 September 2007

Mandolin I | Class 1

This week I started taking mandolin lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I can't say exactly what inspired me to take on such a challenge other than I think the Old Town School is cool and I thought the mandolin might be cool. (And I want to be a rock star.) The Old Town School is a reputable, well known music establishment in the city. They offer a wide variety of classes (from instruments to voice to dance) and concerts, and they house the Different Strummer music store. And since it is within walking distance of my apartment, I thought I'd be remiss to not take advantage of this great resource in some capacity.

My class meets once a week for 8 weeks and there are only 2 other students
besides me. So, for the price of a group lesson, I'm almost getting private training (let this not be a factor in any expectation you may have of my performance). Class 1 found us fumbling through some basic chords, followed by a timid execution of "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles. Hey, at least we weren't attempting some folkish rendition of a nursery rhyme. Needless to say, I have plenty to work on for next Wednesday.

What are my goals, you ask? Aspirations? Well, in addition to launching a career as a traveling minstrel, I will faithfully attempt to debunk the stereotype that to be a mandolin player, you must look like this:

Hopefully, I have this one under my belt.