Thursday, April 12, 2007

Northern spring

Sometimes it's nicer to wait for something a long time and then fall into it all at once instead of getting it before you're ready. In the south spring comes by February, with daffodils and pink daphne all over the place before the snow is even gone in Philadelphia. I like being farther north because the spring is more precious when you have to wait for it.

I feel like I've been watching the buds on the trees for a long time, waiting to see if they'll ever open. It's been cold and grey this week, but on Tuesday there finally came ten minutes of spring with cherry trees and warm winds that made me wish summer would never come.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Scene: Night. Driving to the sketchiest train station in Delaware, listening to "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog". Specifically the line "If I were the king of the world."
Ricky and Julia, simultaneously: "Yes! He used the subjunctive correctly!"

Sunday, April 01, 2007


This morning when I walked into Quaker meeting, it was clear by the look on my friend Bill's face that his wife had died. Bill has a long white beard and a constant good humor, even last week when announcing that Lois Ann was back in the hospital. This was the first time I'd seen him look so exhausted.

We sat in silence for a long time. Surprisingly, the first person to speak didn't mention Lois Ann's death, but asked why the meeting hasn't done more work on peace and what we could be doing that we aren't. Over the course of the hour others stood and answered her: Lois Ann and Bill lived peace, because they embodied love. They were the kind of couple that makes me believe marriage as an institution really does work for some people despite all the people for whom it obviously doesn't work. Their love for each other and other people was clear wherever you saw them - in meeting, in the grocery store. He cared for her cheerfully during her last illness just as she waited cheerfully for him when he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in World War II.

I think college activists and old Quakers could learn a lot from each other. Lois Ann may not have been agitating for social change at age 89, but her very presence in the world was a step in the right direction. Your politics can be as radical as you please, but if you're an unpleasant person and don't genuinely care about the people around you, everything you do feels hollow to me.

Balance and swing

The problem with contra dances is that afterwards, I'm still too excited to sleep very much. Eight hours is a long time to not be awake and excited, particularly this week.