Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jennifer Makes Fun of Me Too

It was nice to have my old friend Zach visit us this past weekend. Such a nice young man as my mom might say. Everyone that saw us together thought he was my brother and in a way he is: cute as a button and always into trouble – like a baby cocker spaniel with baby blue eyes. We’ve spent a lot of time fouling each other on the basketball court and missing our serves when we play tennis. Now that he’s decided he likes China maybe we’ll both put in our time as ignorant Americans when we live there. Yep, Zach is a good one. Hope he comes back for more.

Jennifer is excited about going to China too. She was telling me the other day exactly what she’s going to bring on our big trip next month. Four books: Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Reader, her Chinese textbook, and one other book she hasn’t decided on yet. She’s going to bring 3 changes of clothing and one pair of long underwear. She’ll probably need them because it will be cold and blustery in Beijing in January. Jennifer is doing good in blustery weather though this winter because she’s getting “acclimated” to the cold. I’m glad cause then she doesn’t complain as much. This week she promised not to complain about anything. So instead of saying something annoys her she says stuff like “I was able to enjoy ‘such-and-such’ a pain or trial”. I think I liked it better back when she complained more.

Even though Jennifer is a funnier writer than me [you get better at eating your words every day Byler] she refuses to ever take a turn writing. I bet if enough people commented about it she might give it a try. Then again it might just make her more stubborn. [Now wouldn’t that be a blessed lesson in flexibility when dealing with disappointment] Either way I bet it will make her complain that I wrote about it and that will be good cause I’m tired of this no complaining nonsense. Besides the name attached to this blog is “Darren-Jenn”. If she doesn’t ever write I might have to change it. [You’re the one who came up with that in the first place. Anyone who’s half an acquaintance knows I spell Jen with one “n”. Folks, would Adam have had the right to complain if the praying mantis had never prayed?]

The funny thing is [laugh on cue, people] Jennifer offered to type this up since I’ve been busy with my 50 pages of essays for my classes at school and haven’t had time to type up anything but them. I’m glad she won’t complain. [Yes , wouldn’t you know the nicest thing happened to me today! I was typing and typing astonishingly eloquent words written by my kind husband (whose brilliance causes his professors to demand that he personally type only words reserved for their eyes – the rest can be passed down to secretarial staff) for hours and hours until I was granted the blessing of carpal tunnel syndrome which has given me a much needed crash course in the anatomical course of the median nerve and enabled me to more fully empathize with my patients’ pain. Thanks hun (for giving me the opportunity to refer to you as hun publicly). Note to Dorcas: you may use this as an example in your next edition of Most Annoying Blogging Practices if you wish (think run-on sentences made possible by an endless sequence of parentheses and dashes)].

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's Snowing
Ever since Jennifer said the trees were not going to turn out nice this year because there wasn’t enough rain I’ve been making fun of her. Just because that’s what I like to do. Joke around with her. Ha ha. She’s right though at least a little bit, but not completely. This morning when I was walking home through Central Park I experienced a moment of literal magical realism when I walked under a forest of golden leaves highlighted by a crazy blue sky. And a wind whipped up and all of the sudden I was walking through a storm of leaves and a bright yellow one hit me in the nose. This picture seems like the same sort of thing.

Today we are going to see our buddies the Barnharts be coronated the arch-deacons of Little Lancaster, New York City. They came over to our place last night in all their splendor. Most of it was contained in their young daughter Eve who babbles to herself and freneticly flings herself about every place a little bit like a tree losing its leaves in the fall. The rest of the Barnharts are nice too and it will be good to hear them preach and watch them take care of the down-and-outers.

Harlan didn’t wear his suit for the inauguration because he said his suit pants have shrunk. But he and Marilyn looked stately nonetheless. They’ll be good deacons I think, because they already do all the things deacons are supposed to do: not given to much wine, servants of all, etc. I’m pretty sure they’ll put the Compassion Fund to good use. I can’t wait until we get on their reaching-out-list for being bad church attenders so we get to see them more often.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It’s Stuffy in Here

There is a Chinese woman writing in English on an unlined whitepaper across from me. Exactly what I’m doing. I read a story in the newspaper this week about a guy who saw a girl writing in a journal on the subway and he fell in love with her. He made a website dedicated to finding her (she disappeared before he could talk to her). I’m not in love with the Chinese woman across from me, but I am slightly intrigued what is she writing about. The rise of African-American erotic “literature” in New York City ghettos such as the title clutched by the woman next to her: The Streets Love No One by R.L.? Or is she a hyperactive occupational therapist like Jennifer and appalled at the maladjustment of the walker parked next to the stocking-foot homeless-style woman sprawled out under a shiny navy blue blanket next to me. Or maybe she is annoyed by the ubiquity of fake (or not fake) Louis Vuitton handbags – such as the one on the lap of the fore-mentioned erotica woman. Whatever. The Chinese woman got off the train.

I’m left with nothing to do but watch the Dominicans who took her place tongue each other. Nothing to do but ride this squealing steel millipede of desire home to my loving wife. Which she says she is even if it is sappy to say – she says. She’s a good one. This week she’s on pins and needles wondering when Marilyn will have her baby and whether boric acid will destroy the cockroach population in our apartment. Who knows? I’ll just sit here and sip artificially-flavored black-currant black tea out of my Franz Kafka mug and try to think about nothing for a little bit.

The heater came on in our apartment last week.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


The crunch of a rental van meeting the bumper of a honking car is a disagreeable sound. I experienced that early Sunday morning when I was driving back to New York from Pennsylvania with Jennifer and her sister Bethanie. Profuse apologies, 45 minutes of waiting, and the sirens of two arriving New Jersey police cars later we were on our way, no one hurt, mirrors adjusted, and lots of comments on how “it could have happened to anyone” and “what a good driver” I am coming from the back seat. I like having Bethanie around.

We had a nice weekend in Pennsylvania. The place is crawling with Mennonites from the looks of things – three thousand of them at Christian Aid Ministries Open House. Every variation of pleated “coverings” and sharply slicked suspendered boys was available. “Beachy” ushers with carefully center-parted hair, button-free “straight-coats,” and hip-holstered pagers directed us to our folding chairs in front of one of the six screens which projected images simultaneously. The pictures rolled on – narrated by “brethren” who were not all men. The poetry of the event seemed to be from a recording played in slow motion: the audience from the 1950s and the woman next to us the human equivalent of the sound a gate makes after 80 unoiled years. I liked it. It’s nice that photos of widows in Nicaragua and orphans in Liberia inspire people to park in the Hinkletown Mennonite church parking lot and ride a shuttle bus to a huge warehouse that’s usually full of stuff for people in the Third World.

It was nice also to play dollies with my niece Anastasia and sister Sophia and eat an early supper with Al and Ada Longenecker – Jennifer’s aunt and uncle. The beef loaf in Blue Ball is good and Al’s prescient questions even better. My newest niece, Nadia, can cry really loud but most of the time she sits quietly – a sharp contrast to her siblings who move non-stop: a story being told or some scrap of supper to be scooped up off the floor. On the rare occasion when all three of them are quiet – it's nice to talk to Rich and Shannon about life’s persistent problems and acknowledge that there is no perfect solutions that any of us can think of. I’m begining to master the half-way hug farewell and starting to like it – it was nice to have so many of Jennifer's relatives around to practice it with last week.

Hans washed our dishes and bought us Cheerios and milk. He’s quite the guy. There is no one else I can think of that I would rather welcome me home at 3 in the morning than the surgeon general of all crass jokes and camera phones. Our apartment seems postpartum without him.