Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in the City

We drove home tonight under the cover of silvered clouds backlit by the glowing orb of the night’s moon. Full and bright and utterly strange. We drove home from Ohio where my family lives among the ghosts of strange names like Tuscarawas, Cuyahoga, and the people like General Wayne and Holmes who tried to kill them and ended up dying themselves like everyone else. When I told the owner of the Russian Souvenir store here in town that my people in Ohio are German he wanted to know if they were colonists – I told him yes they were. They were settlers on the great Northwestern frontier. He wanted to know if they live in villages like peasants in Southern Ukraine and I said that was right. He seemed to like that, particularly when I told him my grandparents had been Amish.

I like my family too. When I visit my Filipino friends over the holidays I am always impressed by the obsessive way they make every conceivable holiday food in their tradition. My mom does that too. There are always twenty different things on the table when we spend Christmas with my family. It’s great. We always gain weight.

Since Jenn and I are getting ready to go to China in a couple of days this week is crazier than usual. So no big elaborate Christmas in New York. We’re mostly trying to get enough sleep and make sure the laundry gets washed. Maybe we can celebrate another year of Jesus with the Chinese.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peace of Mind

Oh yes! Another night in a port-a-john sized booth with the New York Times and an illustrated edition of The Kite Runner. What could be better than the simply shocking news that Roger Clemens did steroids and Afghans dislike American soldiers telling them where to plant their poppies. Not surprisingly, Jennifer lost her voice this week in a co-incidence with the first blizzard of sleet and snow for the year. Slogging on, in defiance of the handful of mud flung at her by her ecology, Jennifer refused to take more than one day off and resolved once again to drink lots and lots of ginger tea with entirely too much lemon.

This though did not prevent her from splitting some vegan pizza with me on our way home from a lecture on Chinese Muslims at the 92nd Street Y – that paragon of secular Jewry. Yes that’s right Hanukah is right here and that means Christmas parties at work and school all of which J and I managed to miss. All for the better and less for the worse this strategic avoidance has proven key in the fight against low self image and as Jennifer’s smooth skin displays: a cultivated lack of the grease available in copious quantities in holiday food. This sort of asceticism will though be corrected next weekend when we drive the long concrete road to Ohio where high fat foods magically appear in clusters of four or five garland by giant mugs of coffee and swags of other indescribable festive “goodies.”

Laughing delightfully, this playful monologue will yet get you nowhere as I have nothing on my mind and a serious lack of concern. Armed with Chinese visas and assurances that I will graduate on time next December, I have little worry other than a faint longing for peace in the Middle East and a desire for an end to global poverty – those utopian imaginings aside life is going down smooth like a bit of bistro au jus with French cut fries and Oaxacan string cheese.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Shiny Happy People

I hope no one says I’m being sincere because as W.H. Auden announces: “When a reviewer declares a book to be “sincere,” we know immediately: (A.) that it is not sincere, and (B.) that it is badly written,” but the weekend of waffles with Matthew and semi-informal sleep patterns was a wonderful excursion into the arms of a long sought after break from routine life as I know it. Auspiciously, my adorable puppy-friend Zach is now visiting more often and spending a suspicious amount of time sniffing another short person (although it should be noted that Zach can jump much higher than me) named Mary. Its nice to have a couple more friends who are good for double dating.

Although little Eden didn’t have much to say about it, her parents, who we have been courting religiously for some time now, graciously agreed to bring her to our annual “Explore all the State Parks of Pennsylvania so Olivia Can Accomplish a Goal” camping excursion with Matthew and Olivia and Lyric. Following in the tradition of the offices of Deacon and Deaconess to which they have recently ascended the Barnharts grandly decided to share what they have been given – an orderly household of funny little girls – with those of us still impoverished irresponsible. It’s nice to have friends with such generous hearts – although it also indicates that they may be blind to our greedy sense of entitlement.

As Christmas picture taking season rolls around I am again reminded that families that smile together take good pictures together and that peanut M&M’s taste better when they come from a vending machine. Even when Chinese buses smell like sewer, if you discuss the lives of other people, particularly your friends, time goes by fast and Jennifer smells even better than usual. I’ve also been thinking about how I like things that have two consonants in a row (maybe because “Darren” has two “R’s”): I like things like: Matt, Rossabi, waffles, Jenn, Glass (Philip and Ira), Caravaggio, Hessler.



Monday, December 03, 2007

Eat Quietly

While I was sitting in the Petrie Court in the museum where I work waiting for my shift to end contemplating why I like Bourdieu and why it is so difficult to explain what Post-Structuralism is, the wind gave a sharp little whistle through the glass wall of windows facing Central Park reminding me that it is winter and all the leaves I see out there are dead more or less. This of course is obscured by the fact that Harlan and Marilyn have a new baby girl and next week we are going to see Lyric and Olivia and Matthew. Yes, it will be Chinese bus time down to Arlin and Racine’s wedding in Marryland where in celebration of another semester of Chinese Studies behind me I will contemplate my free time and celebrate my nothingness with a waffle and along informal sleep (hopefully). Jennifer is still not complaining like she used to though she says she is, but I’ve been advised anyway not to complain about it by my father-in-law who considering his 35ish years of successful wife appeasement (they seem happy together) is a regular sage in his quotation of Proverbs. Fortunately unlike one of my co-worker’s mom, Jennifer does not wash our curtains obsessively every couple weeks making me hang the high parts all over a two-storey house. Perhaps this is because only three or so windows and we have no curtains since Jennifer is loath to obstruct our magnificent parking lot/bill board view. Although this is most likely seeing a half-full glass bone dry since we do have a nice Hopper-esque view of 1930s style tenements and clear blue sky. And today it snowed for the second time and made everything nice and white and fluffyish looking.