Happy Memorial Day, friends.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
A couple of months ago I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things.” To use a cliché, I couldn’t put it down. I inhaled her advice and tough love framed in with “sweet peas” and F bombs.
Since reading, I haven’t been able to get this quote out of my head:
There’s a line by the Italian writer Carlo Levi that I think is apt here: “The future has an ancient heart.” I love it because it expresses with such grace and economy what is certainly true—that who we become is born of who we most primitively are; that we both know and cannot possibly know what it is we’ve yet to make manifest in our lives.
I’ve passed these words along to a friend making decisions about residency, offered them as hope to a person trapped in indecision and spoken them during a celebration of someone’s recent accomplishment.
We both know and we cannot possibly know.
Ryan graduated on Sunday. We drove to D.C. on Tuesday to attend the graduation gala, a gathering of about 1,000 affiliates of the School of Business. It took us two tries to get to the right venue. Tuesday night black tie galas are, at least from my singular experience, a bit odd. It’s the middle of the week and staying out late on a Tuesday has consequences. Plus you feel a little silly getting all dolled up. We attended anyways and spent the night sipping cheap wine in a hotel ballroom, offering congratulations and inquiring about post-graduation plans. Most of Ryan’s friends worked through the MBA program, so questions about next steps were answered rather wistfully – there were hopes of new opportunities and moving on from current positions, but few graduates had concrete offers.
This graduation was markedly different than undergraduate commencement ceremonies where students receive diplomas and are then thrust out into the real world. This graduation lacked the same sort of punctuation and felt a whole lot like a Tuesday night black tie gala – situated very much in the middle of something else.
I began running a few months after I graduated from college. I’d just started my first full time job and remember being exhausted at the end of the first week. The thought of working like this for the next forty years nearly brought me to tears. It sounds silly now, but the prospect of professional life after college felt big and long and I feared it would be exhausting and monotonous. Up to that time life had been punctuated by graduations accompanied with clear transitions from one school to the next. The task was scripted and performance was measured. I had no idea how to navigate those first weeks of my career and felt at once trapped and completely lost at sea. So, I started running. I signed up for a marathon and found a training plan. Running added structure to a life space that otherwise lacked any sort of finish line, so I pinned on a bib my own. Punctuating my first steps into adulthood with mile markers and weekly long runs, I built endurance and began to gain perspective.
In the years since graduation from college, I still find myself wishing for punctuation — a pause between this and that– and a moment in time bearing witness to that which was in the past and this which is what will usher in the future. A college-style three month summer vacation would do nicely.
But, I guess that’s the thing about life (as Robert Frost famously said): it goes on. And, as such, transitions are rarely as anticipated and discrete as college commencement. The reality is that continues and it’s unclear where this next thing will begin. And so recently Cheryl Strayed’s words took on new meaning for me: whereas in the past I called them forth to bear witness, I now hold them close with great hope and expectation.
We both know and cannot possibly know.
Finish lines still matter and so we lace up and start running. We count the miles. We sign up for races and see how we measure up against the course. In running we test the edges of ourselves again and again. Along the way we find strength and a pack to run with. We learn to endure and we come to understand the incredible places we can go if we just keep placing one foot in front of the other. We run from here to there and move from this to that and in so doing we come to understand that we both know and cannot possibly know where these steps will lead us.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
- “The unsung museums of Paris”
- The museum with the world’s largest Monet collection.
- The Picasso museum re-opened recently after renovations.
- Three of the world’s top 20 museums are in Paris.
- The 15 greatest works at the Louvre.
- Paris museums for free.
- Travel + Leisure’s picks of the best museums in Paris.
- Frommer’s picks of the best museums in Paris.
- Another opinion on the best museums in Paris.
- Ten best small museums in Paris.
- Five must-see museums according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
The wisteria blooms have arrived in all of their showy, fragrant glory. Did you know Marco Polo carried wisteria seeds from China in the 13th century? Or that wisteria is a member of the pea family? A wisteria vine grows wildly in our backyard and as I was sitting outside the other evening, I was reminded of wisteria covered buildings of the flea market in Paris.
One afternoon we ventured to Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen Market — the biggest flea market in the world. We followed these ever so helpful instructions on how to get there. The market is only open on Saturdays from 9am to 6pm, Sundays from 10am to 6pm and Mondays from 11am to 5pm. The flea market is sprawling and we walked from market to market rifling through old postcards, admiring artwork and ogling vintage designer luggage. Shopkeepers sat outside enjoying freshly shucked oysters and sipping rosé. We finished shopping, then set out to find our own glass of rosé. We walked to the nearby ma cocotte for lunch with the requisite glass of pink wine.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Friday, April 3, 2015
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
I think we’ve finally reached the turning point and are headed into spring. After a frigid weekend, we enjoyed 70 degree weather yesterday and the 10 day forecast doesn’t show us dipping back 30s again. Thank heavens.
At this time last year, we were on our way to Paris for the Marathon de Paris. I didn’t run, but I couldn’t resist a trip to Paris in the spring. There really is nothing like it. Leading up to this year’s race, I thought I’d share a few photos if you’d like to see.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
We’ve had a relatively quiet weekend. We enjoyed some fish tacos on Friday night followed by our weekly trip to Lowe’s, then poked around a gear swap at our local multisport store yesterday morning and had some spectacular sushi last night. We’re off to coffee with the NYT in tow, then to the pool for a few laps. Happy Sunday, friends.
In case you are looking for a little reading with your morning cup of coffee:
– How to make your long run easier.
– Just finished your long run? 25 beautiful donuts.
– Words from the week.
– 100 years of fitness in 100 seconds.
– Will you go see the Mad Men set exhibit at the Museum of Moving Image in New York?
And, in case you missed it here:
Thursday, March 26, 2015
As I’ve run this week, my mind has continued to come back to this series of events that unfolded as I departed Vietnam:
Yesterday afternoon a woman was in the ward of a hospital I was visiting with a baby who had doe like eyes and dimples and the sweetest disposition. She offered the baby to me to hold. I took her and asked through a translator about the baby’s name and age. She is six months old and her name is Thien. I asked the translator to tell the mother that her daughter was absolutely adorable. The translator looked at me and said this woman is not the mother, the baby is an orphan. I felt my arms clinch the baby a bit tighter. I asked if she was being adopted. The woman said that she probably would not be. It was one of those moments when you know you cannot fix the whole of the problem, but part of the solution is right before you. Obviously, I couldn’t just leave Vietnam with a child, but still, the desire for this child to have a home, maybe even to share mine, was very real.
Twelve hours later I boarded a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong to Chicago. Waiting in line for the bathroom on the plane from Hong Kong, I met a baby named Veronica who was on her way to her new home with her adoptive parents. Veronica was to receive treatment for the same condition as baby Thien that I met the day before. Veronica’s new parents were beaming. I told them I work with children like their daughter and spoke with them about what a bright, hopeful future lies ahead for Veronica. I inquired as to who would treat her in the States – a physician I was just with in Madagascar.
Sometimes problems seem so big and unfixable. A beautiful infant with no home and the thousands upon thousands of orphans that she represents. My inability to do anything about it. At the same time, quite literally on the same day, another baby is traveling home with her new, beaming parents. There are things unseen; matters are being arranged. Love is on the move. Take heart.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
When in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as everyone calls it), here’s what you do: first, do a little shopping in District 1 and second, get a massage at Cat Moc Spa.
Hop in a cab and head to Duy Tan. This was the only shop I was able to find in Saigon that was selling artisanal goods. I’m sure there are others, but the majority of shops and markets that I popped into sold only mass produced, factory made junk. This shop had beautiful ceramics and tableware at very reasonable prices. The staff was happy to bubble wrap all of the breakable items that I bought. My favorite items were oil lamps constructed from glass soda bottles ($2-3 each). From Duy Tan, walk down the street L’Usine. Should you suddenly find yourself in Saigon with a pressing need for Rifle Paper Co. stationary, you are in luck. This store is full of high end hipster brands. Items are well-curated and it’s fun to browse. There’s a cafeteria upstairs if you’re hungry.
Next, head to Cat Moc Spa. I visited this spa two nights in a row because I had such a fantastic experience. After a series of subpar massages near my hotel, I turned to Trip Advisor and found this place. It’s not the cheapest place in town (though still incredibly well-priced, think $15/hour for a massage), but it’s a serene space with a very helpful manager who pointed me towards treatments tailored to my skin type. They use Dermalogica products and my facial was fabulous. Plus, they will call a cab for you and direct the driver back to your hotel.