Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Regrets

We have an ecclesiastical leader here in NYC that likes to give sermons on regrets.  To be more accurate, he talks about "No Regrets."  No Regrets is his personal motto. No Regrets is his family motto.  He anxiously encourages the congregations with talks and anecdotes that highlight living a life without regrets.

With this life philosophy I most certainly disagree.  No Regrets as a life motto ranks with other horrible contenders like "You Only Live Once" or "Trust Nothing but Your Intuition."  People who shout "NO REGRETS!" are typically a few seconds away from making a horrible mistake.  Keeping a life motto of avoiding mistakes seems like a good way to avoid the truth of who we are.  We make mistakes.  We try again.  Sometimes we improve.  Sometimes we do not.  It is especially difficult to make any life improvements if we have an attitude of no regrets.

I have many regrets.  I regret words I speak in anger.  I regret a missed opportunity to help.  I regret the first week of 9th grade when in an attempt to avoid bullies I bullied another kid who most likely would have been a lifelong friend.  I regret not taking more time to visit friends and family.  I regret my complacency.  I regret finding fault in other people just trying to make their way in life (even stupid ecclesiastical leaders).

There is a chance I am wrong and the No Regrets life is the best way to live, but I like my regrets.  They remind me that tomorrow is another day to make better choices.  My regrets may embarrass me, but they also motivate me to "Keep A-Goin'."  That's our motto, what's yours?

***this is not a picture of my tattoo***
***let's hope I'm not that stupid***

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Walkersville

Walkersville, MD is a few hours from New York City about 30 minutes south of Gettysburg and happens to be one of my favorite places to visit.  Also, I like describing distance in units of time... it sounds fancy.  My wife's parents live in Walkersville, so we visit as often as we can.  The town has open spaces, quiet neighborhoods, and great proximity to a Wal-Mart and Cafe Rio.  I know that most of my family and friends have all of that in Utah, but we live in NYC where life can be a little crazy.

Walkersville is where we get away.  It's where we visit family.  It's where our son learns to be a country boy.

On our recent trip there I had a moment of clarity.  These moments are rare, but I never forget them.  It was a Saturday night, and the entire family (around 13 of us) had left the dining room to watch Kim walk around the front yard in a giant cardboard tube (it was hilarious).  As we were in the front yard, neighbors came by, the kids started playing games, and the dog ran between everyone eagerly joining the various groups.  The sun was setting, and I sat in a chair and watched it all happen.  I wanted to get my phone and take some pictures, record some videos, and get everyone to pose for a group shot, but I didn't.  I was happy to keep this memory locked up.  I was afraid that if I recorded it, I would forget it.  I don't want to forget the feeling of security and love I felt in that yard.  I don't want to forget the happiness found in family.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

My Favorite Prophet

Elijah is my favorite prophet.  He wins for all books of scripture and even the modern era.  I know we aren't supposed to have a favorite prophet.  I was reminded of this a few weeks ago in a church meeting when I answered the teacher's inquiry about favorites.  I ignored the snarky reply because it was stupid.  I have a lot of favorites: favorite poet, favorite food, favorite chair, favorite book... I can't have a favorite prophet?

Anyway, this is not a rant about uptight Mormons, this is about Elijah.  I really like the guy.  He took on the priests of Baal, raised the dead, and rode a chariot of fire to heaven.  The dude was a rockstar.  Of all the scriptures about his life, the following has been rolling through my head a lot the last few weeks:
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 
 The story continues in 1 Kings chapter 19, but this is the passage I think about.  Elijah was waiting for the Lord.  He was not deceived by the wind, earthquake, or fire.

There have been a lot of proverbial earthquakes, winds, and fires lately.  It seems that we can't take a breath without some commentator extolling the virtue or condemning the vice of (insert your own trending news story here).  We are inundated with what courage is supposed to look like, how families are supposed to behave, what symbols are good, what laws are just, what freedoms are in danger, the books we ought to read, the sins we ought to shun, how gender is supposed to function, why the poor deserved to be shamed, and the science that must be ignored.

I stopped listening to the voices clamoring for the spotlight and listened to the voice that matters most.  I didn't need the shouting heads to teach me that all life is worthy of love, that compassion and mercy should always trump the demands of justice, and that my neighbors are my family.

It turns out that being a friend is fun.  Also, sometimes I get treats.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Commuting

We live in Harlem, but our son goes to school in Bayside.  The reasons he attends a school in the farthest corner of Queens are complicated and unchanging, so we must endure a long commute.  In an ideal world the trip shouldn't take much more than an hour, but this is NYC and nothing is ever ideal.  We leave the house at 6:10am, walk 8 minutes to the subway, ride the 3 train to Penn Station, take the LIRR 7:01am train to Great Neck, get off at Bayside station, walk the final 12 minutes to his school.  Door to door, the trip takes over 1 hour and 30 minutes.  The afternoon is the same route just a different direction.  If the stars align and we catch an early train back to the city, we can make the trip as fast as 1 hour 10 minutes.


 Two weeks ago we had some family stay with us and instead of using public transit we borrowed their car.  This was a faster trip.  There was some light traffic and we made the commute in under 20 minutes.


I thought that having a car would make our commute a breeze, but I realized that even with a direct route and more speed, I enjoy riding the train with our son.

There are mornings when we sit in a darkened tunnel waiting for the tracks to clear only to miss our connecting train.  There are snowstorms that freeze our noses.  There are rainstorms that we cannot outrun.  There are crowded platforms, annoying teenagers, and sleepy eyes.

But the last year of travels has been good to us.  The boy and I commuted together.  We laughed together.  We cried together.  While the storms continue to rage around our family, we are still together.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Auto Awesome Auto Memories

The nifty thing about Google's Auto Awesome is coming home from a fun day in the city and watching a nifty little highlight video.




Win for Google.  Win for us.

We also enjoyed the view from a great park.



Enjoyed the "meta" moment.

Saw a neat little stained glass house.


Enjoyed our awesomeness.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

She Sang

Last Wednesday I needed to get home quickly to meet up with an important houseguest.  My need to get home was more important than my need to avoid the 2 train.  I will do anything in my power to avoid the 2 train.  The 2 is crowded, loud, and filled with with all varieties of underground life.  When I saw a 10 minute wait for the 3 train, I chose to endure the 2 and get home faster.

The train was crowded, loud, and within minutes a frail woman raised her voice to announce that she was going to sing us a song and hoped that we would enjoy her performance.  (Sidenote: when anyone makes any kind of announcement on a train it is always annoying.  They may wish to sell us snacks, call us to repentance, or solicit donations for any number of ailments.  In all cases, the riders drop their heads and avoid any form of acknowledgement of the speaker.)  There we were, a train car full of people wanting to avoid the aspiring musician, and she sang.

She sang, and the train was no longer so crowded.

She sang, and the train was no longer so loud.

She sang, and the train experienced the beauty of life underground.

There aren't many times when an entire subway car of people connect with each other, but this was one of those times.  When she finished we clapped, dropped crisp dollar bills in her bag, and asked for one more song.  She sang again, and I was tempted to pull out my phone to record this memory but decided against it.  I wanted to enjoy that moment.  I didn't want the distraction of holding on to the present.  My stop came, and I got off the train.  Walking home, I smiled.  Sometimes when you live in the Big Apple, it is easy to get lost in the grind.  Other times it is easy to find solid ground.

You just have to listen to the song.


Monday, May 11, 2015

We are Fancy

Before moving to NYC, I envisioned a life of sleek apartments and fancy parties... then I lived here and decided that life is best when the ceiling doesn't leak.  Our garden apartment (just a fancy term for ground floor) has a leaky ceiling and a lot of street noise, but it also has access to the backyard.  This sounded great when we moved in until we realized that the backyard was full of weeds, a broken cement slab, feral cats, glass shards, and garbage.  After living here for a couple years, we decided to finally start cleaning it up.  It took around two weeks to go from this:
to this:

Now that we have it mostly clean (mostly because the only way to get all the debris out is through our kitchen, so it will just stay piled up in the yard) we can start a garden, maybe plant some grass, get a trampoline or just enjoy the glass-free dirt.

While cleaning we did see Willie's recent kittens.

 I also took a lot of breaks just to take pictures of me doing yardwork.  (I never thought that I would move to Manhattan and spend my time gardening)

But most importantly, we had a great time creating a space for more adventures.  Hopefully we can get a grill and start having some of those fancy parties at our sleek garden apartment.