A Case of the Mondays

The Mondays of wintertime is God’s acknowledgement of myself.

I wake up to the chilled air of a Monday knowing exactly what’s in store for my toes before they reach the abrasive black and teal tiles of the shockingly frigid floor.

I shiver.

I prance over to my red and cozy slippers by the door which have been worn down to a thin layer that is barely enough to keep those black and teal tiles away from my bare skin.

I stretch.

I gather clothes from my closet, and with half opened eyes that are sticky with my night’s slumber I dress and trade my red slippers for black boots.

I yawn.

I walk across the campus in those black boots, appreciating the frosty grass and faithful squirrels who join me on this Monday ritual.

I breathe.

I continue past the residential buildings and watch as people open doors to the world as if their gentle touch could shush the tires on nearby cars.

I relax.

I admire the ears of those with steps as soft as mine, looking much prettier when not adorned with headphones.

I sigh.

I step into work and the elevator dings and the coffee is brewing and I struggle to unlock my door and an early riser talks on their phone and I wonder when my keyboard became so loud as to punish my calm with each key stroke and a printer comes to life and the trash is being collected and papers are dropped in the hallway and the unfrosted window now holds a sun fresh with the promise of an end to my muted Monday.

sun in window

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Lessons from the Lama

DSCN0608This past Tuesday, the University of Maryland hosted the Sadat Lecture for Peace, featuring His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

I jumped at the chance to miss my morning classes and to eternally brag that I had heard the Dalai Lama speak live. Yet, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from this lecture. Moral ramblings from an outdated source? Spiritual musings the likes of which the world has never seen?

After trekking across a rain sodden campus and patiently waiting amongst the masses in line, I took my seat in Comcast Center (our indoor arena) and decided that I was thoroughly unenthused. This man has probably lectured thousands upon thousands of times, and I didn’t think there was much that he could bring to the table in the ways of relating peace and love to the world. We get it, peace is peaceful, love is lovely.

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Once the Dalai Lama entered the stage, the whole stadium rose to their feet, applauding and cheering for the adorable old man who stood tall in his red robe. I recognized that unlike most modern celebrities, this man had truly earned his fame, and I clapped with as much enthusiasm and rigor as those around me. I was in the presence of a clearly meaningful human being, I needed to appreciate this.

From that initial encounter on, I was completely captivated by what His Holiness had to say regarding life, love, and the lot:

  • DSCN0635Don’t trust material valuables for inner happiness, they will only disappoint you
  • Real value and beauty is within us and our genuine smiles
  • Trust is key for friendships between all
  • Dialogue is the only way to overcome violence
  • We all have the same potential, the same goal. And this makes it possible for genuine harmony between people who differ
  • Think more

Obviously I paraphrased a good deal of what he said, and obviously I could never convey the tone or true power behind his words, but these things that are seen as common sense, really need to be taken to heart and utilized for the creation of a better world.

Not only did the Dalai Lama give a remarkable lecture on the state of society’s spirit, but he also graced us with his sense of humor. Every so often he would tell an amusing story, place a UMD visor on his head, or snuggle up on the comfy lounge chair he was sitting in. This man’s smile brought about my laughter in a completely innocent and genuine way. To hold such a high position and still make jokes about the bright spotlights, I was in the presence of true happiness, and it brought laughter to my heart and joy to my soul.

DSCN0618Thank goodness I attended this lecture; I needed a reminder about how magnificent life can be when you approach it with beauty and positivity. Thank goodness I opened my heart to his message of tolerance and peace, to recognize the unity of humanity. And thank goodness I am living, and free to acknowledge these wonderful conditions for the rest of my life.

Holi Cow!

This past Sunday the University of Maryland created their own Hindu festival of color, Holi. Pronounced “Holy”, this festival involves throwing multi-colored power at people to celebrate the beginning of spring and the driving force of good over evil. 551462_10151526062127593_100085468_nBut for me, it was mostly a good excuse to make tie dye, hang out with friends, take plenty of pictures, and have an unbelievable experience.

DSCN0450We first gathered around the Administration building on the far end of our mall. After handing out free samosas, but sadly for our poor taste buds, no water bottles, they began throwing packets of colored powder into the air. People went wild. Purples were flying through the air intermingling with a neon green that left its presence known to all those standing below it. Somehow a hose and buckets of water got involved, and though it helped enhance my tie dye, it chilled me far too much for such a warm spring day.

Soon my face was splattered in a comically gory fashion and I marveled at how a mere half hour ago I would have been considered clean. After taking a couple pictures with my friends, one of whom resembled an impish smurf, I headed off to the shower where I would not reemerge for a solid 30 minutes.DSCN0461

I had a blast being a part of this festival, and even though I didn’t know most of the 200 + kids who attended, I still had a great time feeling included in a community and letting myself go. Every once in a while, you need to do something so crazy that even your closest friends give you weird looks when they see the pictures.

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An Easter Surprise

This Easter weekend I had planned on visiting my boyfriend down at his college. While there, we went bowling with friends, ate a scrumptious breakfast at Cracker Barrel, played tennis until our arms ached, and caught Jim Gaffigan’s comedy show down in Roanoke. I could dedicate a post to every noteworthy element that made up our time together, and yet, there was something missing come Sunday morning. Though it had the all the essentials for a memorable weekend, the fact that I was missing Easter Sunday with my family was rather devastating.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I didn’t have to sit in a stuffy church listening to babies cry for an hour and a half, but I missed having the “Easter Bunny” hide eggs around the house and having an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. I know I’m not a kid any longer, heck, I’m not even a teenager any more, but those are some quality family memories that I never wanted to lose. And that fact that there weren’t going to be any hidden eggs for my brother to find due to my absence left me riddled with guilt and an urge to change this year’s depressing Easter fate. I had to make it home for Easter.

After waking up that morning, I embarked upon my Easter adventure through the rain and fog. I called my parents to let them know that I wouldn’t be heading back to school until later that night and that I was bummed out about not spending time with them, they ate it up. I took pride in my lie as I drove the 5 hours up north to bring me closer to their long-lost faces and hoards of candy stored in the cupboard.

When I pulled into our driveway I made sure to park the car far back from the house and close the car door as silently as my anxious hand would allow. I ducked under windows while trying to maintain balance with my suitcase and made it to the front door not a moment too soon. Not only was I proud of my undeniable stealth, but I was positively giddy with the excitement of being reunited with my family. I rang the doorbell and hid below the glass window in the middle of the door, not daring to make a sound. Out came my grandfather looking rather confused until he spotted me stooped low to the ground. He began silently laughing and helped me up into the foyer where he called for the whole family to gather. My dad came first, and as he tried to hide his shock, a big smile broke out onto his face. My mom and grandmother could hardly believe I was real, so thoroughly convinced were they that I would be going straight back to school. My brother met my arrival with an air of teenage indifference…

What followed was a sweet and memorable Easter day with my family. We ate a great dinner, talked about our lives, and watched a documentary about the Raven’s championship season. Suddenly, I had a new highlight from my weekend.

P.S.        My cat usually sits in a box on our big table. When we took it away for Easter dinner, she just wouldn’t have it. We’ve never had a cuter centerpiece. IMG_1923

My Passover Experience

I was raised in the teachings of the Catholic church. Ever since I was a young child I was taught that Jesus is good, God is great, and as soon as communion has been served it’s alright to file out of the overly crowded pews. I’m not very devout in my religious beliefs, but I do enjoy discovering new aspects of religion, especially when they come from outside my area of expertise. So when my good friend, Bobby, invited me to celebrate the second night of Passover in the spirit of Judaism with him and his family, I happily agreed.

I drove to his house with my other Catholic companion, Dallis,  where we greeted by the 20 other guests with whom I would be participating in the Seder.

My friends Dallis and Bobby at a basketball game

My friends Dallis and Bobby at a basketball game

They were all so enthusiastic to have us there and immediately began asking us questions and making the effort to get to know us, I was taken aback by everyone’s polite and inquisitive nature, I guess I’d grown accustomed to the indifference more college students portray.  After they learned our entire life stories, they took quite a bit of time revisiting old friendships and sharing new developments in their lives. It was delightful to see such a loving reunion, and I was continually and pleasantly surprised as the actual dinner began.

Everyone went around the table reciting from a script, performing ceremonial songs and conducting rituals with various symbolic foods. There were a lot of words I didn’t comprehend and an entirely different language in which I couldn’t even differentiate the words from the syllables, but I never felt uncomfortable. In fact, it was nice to be a part of something so meaningful. After the traditional customs and my reading of a blessedly easy passage to pronounce, the food was served.

In any good experience in my life, food usually plays a crucial role, and that is more than true for this Passover dinner. At first it began with the traditional Matzah which was fine by itself and had a pleasing crunch. Then the Matzah ball soup came which absolutely delighted my taste buds. At one point there was a weird fish that people tried to convince me to drown in horseradish sauce, but I just couldn’t seem to choke it down. After that slight hiccup in the meal, I gorged myself on salmon, carrot casserole, asparagus, mashed potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and a chocolate fondue assortment that was so plentiful and delicious I didn’t think I could ever stop gorging myself on it. And as it turns out, all the food was kosher! I’m still not exactly sure what this means, but I know it definitely doesn’t affect the quality of the food you eat.

At the end of the night we helped clean up the huge mess we had made and said our goodbyes and words of appreciation. I had a blast hanging out with my friend and his family, but more than that I actually enjoyed the messages they were sharing and the good company that they knew how to appreciate. Never keep yourself from trying new things, even if you can’t imagine yourself doing them. It’s always good to surprise yourself, and the surprisingly good time I experienced will bring me back for next year’s Seder. Plus, his house has a gorgeous view of the Bay.IMG_1903