going postal

March 29, 2011

i have a love/hate relationship with the postal service, local and international. i guess that is to be expected of a person my age, with friends and loved ones spread across the globe. my moody relationship with USPS and it’s affiliates/competitors began in my last year of high school as friends began to move according to schools, jobs, love interests, boredom, soul searches, etc. the diaspora of friends has continued through the years with people scattered like the shimmering flames of a firework. at any given time, there is a  minimum of 7 cities stateside and elsewhere that i long to visit, which promise the coffee dates and late nights with kindred spirits that i’m desperate for.

and so, like most people, i feebly attempt to fill in the gaps of physical contact with mail. e-mails, letters, cards, packages, you name it. while in many ways, i see this sort of exchange as a second-rate replacement of actual time with a friend, i also find that correspondence via good ol’ snail mail has been a very tremendous blessing to me in many relationships. it has served as a vehicle for creativity and confession, a means of communicating something wordless and of illuminating the word-y. tangible letters carry the weight of a person, animate past memories, they remind. i have some friendships in which the letters are all that remain.

depending on a fluctuating combination of creativity and motivation, there is typically a pile of things (or ideas for things) that are sitting in my apartment, waiting for final touches before being sent off. over the years, perhaps as i’m increasingly flooded with nostalgia and misty-eyed sentiment towards friends far away, my postal aspirations have gotten increasingly ridiculous from handmade books and quilts to trying to figure out ways to mail champagne to LA (yes, taz, i tried that).

the reality, of course, is that as i wax romantic and daydream about the depth of value and beauty in mail, the postal system at large is one huge train wreck. more than a train wreck, it’s a train that somehow crashed into a plane that then sunk a boat. it’s a hot mess. and it’s carrying my boxed up creations all the time.

i’ve lost dozen of things to the complicated claws of the machinery – things that were expensive in terms of money or time (or both), sentimental things, things that i had been so very excited about. who knows what weirdo postal worker is doing with these things of mine. maybe there is some bermuda triangle of packages that they all fall soundlessly into. i just don’t know.

so that is why i was incredibly delighted to hear a little tale from our friends in estonia. a concentrated number of our lost packages over the years were intended for them. this time last year i made a bunch of handmade things for their new baby (a complicated stuffed animal included) which never made it to their door, thereby providing me with lots of frustrated tears and sleepless nights. so this year, for little saskia’s first birthday i made a more simple stuffed animal (i wasn’t taking any chances) and some gifts that were easily replicable, just in case. we crossed our fingers and ourselves and sent them on their way. to our great delight, we heard yesterday that the package arrived via miracle of sorts. the telegram the estonian post office issued with the package somehow had the wrong name so the postman brought it to our friend’s apartment but didn’t deliver it. actually, he came IN to her apartment, asked if her name was such&such, was told no and then left without actually double checking or showing her the properly labeled package. later, another postal worker noticed the package at the office, sans the mis-written telegram, and recognized the name. so, on his break he walked the package to where he remembered our friend’s husband worked and gave it to him there. can you believe that? mail success! of the year! that would….never happen in chicago. or in any of the other cities i so often mail things to. this one instance gives me all sorts of hope for the future. perhaps i’m being overly optimistic but, hey. i’ll take my kicks where i can get ’em, especially when it comes to as fickle a mistress as the postal system.



March 17, 2011

so here i am, in the vortex of ennui, thursday.

i have a 3 day week with epic activity as bookends to the boredom. i know i really shouldn’t complain.

the weekends prior and yet-to-come were/will be replete with activity. last weekend involved dinner with the “aunties”, fancy drinks at nightwood, a bookclub (lesson learned: bookclubs kind of suck), a lovely visit from our dear st. louis friends. tomorrow we leave on a road trip to north carolina with mark’s mom and brother. there is promise of sun out east and i am desperate to get at it.

i’ll state the obvious – i’m loving the sun these days. it has given me a renewed sense of energy and ambition in the midst of already-full days as i gear up for gardening and ambling about outdoors. we’ve got seeds cooking under our heat lamp, i’m scrambling to finish sewing projects that will get tossed aside in the warming weather (the one downside to pleasant temperatures), and scheming walks along the lake and bike rides to work.

we visited the garfield park conservatory over the weekend with the scheers and i slapped myself for not spending more time there during the winter. mark and i had been before (and had, in fact, thought about having our wedding there) but somehow i forgot how very tremendous the place is. aubree’s little girl had a total ball there, running through the paths and making my dear husband crouch down at every plant with her. aubree and i particularly enjoyed the room made to look like prehistoric illinois – what the hell we’ve done to this state i’ll never actually understand.

anyways, all this to say: i’m focusing on the green and growing these days. perhaps i’m jumping the easter gun here, but springtime will make me do it. women and babies are spilling into the streets, little buds are punching through the soil, birds are waiting on tree branches for the leaves and i’m with all of them.

hang loose

March 17, 2011

proof that my love of miu mius was really always just me being on the cusp of fashion: hermes fall 2011 collection.

looks like my love of comfort is now justifiably fashionable. finally.

[take that, mark franzen! now i just need to dior to incorporate short overalls into their line and i’ll REALLY be in business.]


“on trust”

March 15, 2011

“Faith in providence, in fact, does not dispense us from the exhausting struggle for a dignified life, but it frees us from anxiety about things and from the fear of tomorrow.” – Pope Benedict XVI

shuffling through virtual heaps of e-mail last week, i happened upon an address the Holy Father had given entitled “on trust”. in the month where we wait to hear what is happening with mark’s school (and all of the relocations and reconfigurations that come tangled up with those decisions), the Pope’s words held obvious significance for us. i’ve been chewing the above quote all week, rolling it over in my head and massaging it into my synapses because, i think, it offers perfect wisdom to the uncertain and anxious.

as is well documented, i tend towards obsessive worry about any and everything that could ever possibly happen ever. and of course, the periodic uncertainty of the path ahead tends to throw me into a tizzy. yet, the above words entirely stilled the mechanics of my mind when i first read them. the sentiment was like a beautiful tranquilizer – so simple, yet so profound. and, thankfully, this condition has persisted through the week with great force and helped sustain my hope as we encountered some hiccups of disappointment. i feel like i’ve been excused from worry. it is certainly fantastic.

i often struggle with the idea that perhaps the form of dignified living that we have been striving for, these well-articulated dreams and hopes, will just never come about. and now i guess i’m being reminded that dignity is not just about what school we attend or what we do for a living. there are all sorts of ways that we have been successfully cultivating “dignified lives” despite our boring jobs or academic frustrations. there is, of course, the joy of marriage in all of its many forms – in cooking together, planning together, laughing together (of which we do a hell of a lot), in diligently noting the things that amaze us, the things we admire. our home is so happy these days and i know that this is not something that will change with relocations or detours. at least it won’t if it remains something that we are intentional about.

we also find dignity in moments of creativity, freedom, rest, in time with good friends, in well-prepared meals, in doing things we love, in participating in the body of the Church, in the things we read, in the plans of our garden and the subsequent tending of it. all great, beautiful things that help nourish the seeds of hope in our heart and shake off the burden of worry.

so really it comes full circle. because, while the search for a dignified life can be exhausting, it is not ENTIRELY exhausting and the bits of dignity and joy that we find fuel our hope for other battles. and of course, looming above all of this is the trust we have in God’s divine providence in our lives, that as our heavenly Father, he will not forsake us entirely down here.

and for that i’m most certainly thankful.

mapping america

March 8, 2011

mark and i have been depressing each other all day with this: