29 March 2012

ordinary instants in sicily

I wonder what it would be like to see these things as the sicilians see them. to me they are quaint and unique. moments to be captured and remembered. to them, they are normal and ordinary. everyday necessities of life.

an afternoon reposo in the shadow of st. agatha's cathedral.

good natured shouting and jostling at the daily catania fish market. I imagine these two have been friends for years.

 lemons. everywhere. bright yellow trees heavy with the fruits of their labor.

keeping the fish wet. and the cigarette dry.

a little piece of home. not everything can be local, I suppose.

narrow streets on the steep hills of motta sant'anastasia. cars whizzing up and through them with such velocity that I may never complain about the driving in dc again.

the smell of fresh mussels cooking in homemade white wine broth by lovely new friends. with this view behind them.

that beautiful travel friend resting below the duomo of siracusa.

young accordion masters serenading us amidst white wine, pizza, and the siracusa piazza del duomo.

24 March 2012

today is the day.

I had such grand plans to post something fun and interesting on the eve of my trip to italy with my lovely and dear friend. but now here I am, sitting at the airport listening to a little girl tell her grandmother about girl scouts and mad libs and how she wants to try every single gelato flavor. and I think that might be a good goal for me too. trying every single gelato flavor, that is.

here's the plan:
- 2 nights in sicily
- 3 nights in rome
- 1 night in portovenere
- 8 nights in florence with 1 night in montepulciano and day trips to siena and cortona and ravenna thrown in
- 4 nights in venice

I look at that and can't even believe it's happening. but friends, it really is. and I'll try my best to keep you updated along the way. pictures will be limited to the iphone until I get back but I'm pretty sure italy will look beautiful any way you shoot it.

ciao from on my way to italia!

21 March 2012

spring is here with a gentle ferociousness that reminds us of the persistence of change. of course, change like this we welcome with the shedding of our winter layers and usher in with open windows and fresh tulips placed in mason jars.

we even welcome the drama of thundershowers and the moody rebellion of clouds as they fight to take back their reign on the sky. we flood to courtyards and park benches on our lunch breaks. roll up our pant legs and take off our suit jackets. and soak up the vitamin d our bodies have craved through months of winter.

we lament at the brevity of spring. cherry blossom and magnolia trees burst to life in a matter of hours and seem to shed their skin just as quickly. so we insist on meandering walks through tree lined neighborhoods. we allow ourselves to stop and breathe in the scent of new life. we allow our eyes to study the branches above us. to feast on colors so vibrant they do not seem real. these are the trees of storybooks and fairytales we read as children.

spring brings a snowfall all its own. we walk through fallen flower petals like a bride down the aisle and try not to crush the colors below us. unlike the leaves of autumn, they do not crunch. their death is in the height of life. it seems a bit cruel but somehow necessary. the wind blows and we feel the blossoms fall into our hair like snowflakes.

go outside. take a deep breath. walk a little slower. smile at strangers. for spring is here and life seems brighter.

13 March 2012

currently loving.

watching: a professional display of no handed bike moves. (impatiently awaiting summer days to practice cup of tea.) midnight in paris. (again and again and again.)

browsing: amazing photography. (this set gets me every time.) beautiful bookstores. the lively morgue.

reading: italy day by day. waiting for god. the hunger games. (all three in one week, if you must know.)

listening: bombay bicycle club live at the 9:30 club. lucy rose. gabriel yared. xavier rudd.

eating: not a whole lot thanks to feeling ill all the time. but I've been known to consume kombucha with fervor in times like this. so that's making a comeback.

what are you currently loving this week?

11 March 2012

thoughts from :: bad days & good news.

I had such a crappy day friday. my job just keeps getting harder and harder to handle. insecurities and doubts flooded over me like a dam had broken. nothing seemed to go right. and the day dragged on and on like it would never end. I felt exhausted and sick. a little lonely and a lot frustrated. I sat on the metro thinking I might be ill and wondering, for the hundredth time today, what it would be like to make the change I am so desperate for.

and then I got off the metro. and I had cell service again. and I was walking towards the ticket gate and my phone buzzed with a text message. and I opened it to news from one of my very dearest friends. good news. the kind of news that made me stop in my tracks and laugh out loud. because I just couldn't believe it. because I wasn't surprised at all.

I called her as tears began to form and when I heard her voice I just started crying and laughing uncontrollably. my fellow commuters glanced at me with confusion and amusement but it was all I could do to hold myself together. I didn't really notice anything except for her voice and our joy and all the memories of our life together flooding back to me like a different kind of dam had broken.

and now I can't stop thinking about all of it. I can't stop thinking about how we used to walk to new seasons on rare sunny days and buy olive rolls and strawberries and dark chocolate to eat on the bench outside our apartment with our legs tucked under us and the sun warming our rain-soaked skin. I can't stop thinking about how we used to sit on each other's beds with arms and legs and fingers intertwined talking about things as silly as the boys we had crushes on. talking about things as serious as the pain of our families and the suffering of children in Africa with horrible diseases like AIDS and poverty and the terribly corrupt world around them. and we would dream about the kind of men we would someday marry and the children we wanted to help right now. I can't stop thinking about traveling to germany and sleeping in the same bed and seeing the same amazing and devastating things and realizing that it was possible to get sick of each other after all. but I still missed her a week after we got back and I stopped seeing her everyday. I can't stop thinking about the months we didn't talk and about how it almost killed me everyday to think that she might not continue to be in my life in the same life-changing way as she always had been. I can't stop thinking about the day she met that boy who would become her husband. how she was cautious and a bit nervous but full of the same joy and patience that always seeps from her and covers everyone around her. and I can't stop thinking about their wedding and how it changed the way I think about love and marriage and life with someone else. because it was a day that I saw the perfect love of Christ mirrored in a more real way than ever before and ever since.

and now I can't stop thinking about how good she is going be at being a mom. and I can't stop thinking about how good he is going to be at being a dad. of all the people I know in all the world, I am most excited to see them as parents. of all the people I know in all the world, they are the two who were made to be parents. just like they were made, unequivocally and perfectly for each other. I don't believe in soul-mates really. but I believe they are soul-mates. and I believe that whatever happens, that baby (and any baby of theirs) is going to know the love of the Lord from this moment until, well, forever.

and I can't stop thinking about how we used to talk about how we would live together and raise our kids together and be sisters forever. and I can't stop thinking about getting back to the pacific northwest. because being apart from her for this journey might just kill me. missing the growing belly and the pregnant-lady hormones and the awe-inspiring way that I just know that husband will care for her might just kill me. only having photos and letters and the occasional phone call might just kill me. lincoln city to washington, dc just seems like an unfathomable distance now.

and what I really can't stop thinking about is this. how great God is. how undeniably cool and perfect and amazing he is. because friday was a bad day. but in the end, it wasn't. in the end, I remembered that at the same time everything falls apart everything comes together. we are broken but we are redeemed. and one day we will live with new life restored. and while bad days may happen too often. good days are right around the corner. that text message with a picture of a positive pregnancy test is right around the corner. and thankfully. wonderfully. new life is right around the corner.

07 March 2012

keep calm.

such an enchanting little story about that often used phrase these days. and this bookshop. well it just jumped to the top of my "go" list.

02 March 2012

thoughts from :: really high up.

photo by luci laffitte

they tell you to make the most of your leap day. and so I did. but I'm glad I didn't actually leap. because I would have had a long way to go.

most anyone can go on a tour of the capitol. it's actually something I would recommend to DC first-timers. especially if you like a good statue (there's two for every state in the building) or are particularly interested in checks and balances and that sort of thing. but what most people don't know about is that, if you try really hard and have an inside connection (or are not too lazy to contact your congress-person), you can actually get a tour of the capitol dome. so this week, on the most auspicious of non-holidays, my super cool friends and I got to go on a super cool, top-secret dome tour at the capitol building. okay, maybe it's not top-secret. but sometimes I like to feel like one of those top-secret agents running around this little town. especially when convincing myself that walking up about a million stairs and over 200 feet in the air is something that I actually want to do.

some fun facts about the dome: the capitol dome is over 280 feet high. when inside and looking up at the striking fresco (called the apotheosis of washington in case you were dying to know.) you are looking about 180 feet up. the statue of liberty could fit inside the captiol dome. with room to spare.

one fun fact about carrie: not a big fan of heights. not a big fan at all, friends.

it was not until about 10 minutes before our tour actually started that I realized that the fun facts about the dome and the fun facts about carrie were not at all compatible. but it was too late for that. so up I went. the stairs were narrow and the ceiling was low (we were climbing up the side of a big arch after all) and the descent was almost straight up. plus there was some sort of remodeling going on so in some areas plywood was in the place of actual platforms. I was about 98% sure I was going to die. but up we went. we came to the first viewpoint area. only about 100 feet up. no big deal. I gripped the banister and tried not to look down. I admired the 36 windows in a perfect circle around the dome. I gazed up at the fresco, so much closer now, and so full of detail and color. but for the life of me, I did not look down. here is my really detailed picture of the banister. you can kind of make out all the people down there. I sort of (really) wished I was down there with them. but it wasn't over yet.
somehow I willed myself to follow the group back into the stairwell and up the stairs that were more like a ladder. inside I felt hot and claustrophobic. I was sure death was imminent. but as long as I didn't faint I was fine. I mean there was a congressman from kentucky (or was it kansas?) in there with us. I had to make a good impression on my fellow conservative constituents (haha). so I kept my wits about me and continued into the abyss. then we got to the second viewpoint and I about lost it. we were directly under the fresco that I had just been told was higher than the statue of liberty. I was almost touching the ceiling and below me were all the people who I would potentially crush when falling to my doom. it was all I could do to grip the banister as far away from the edge as possible. I focused on the fresco, which was absolutely stunning when so close to it (sure, anything is stunning when you are about to die). I focused on the intricate carvings and the 14-carat gold stars around the entire circumference of the dome. I focused on the words of the tour guide as she went on and on about the symbolism behind every part of the dome. I didn't get even one good photo. but I did manage to capture my fearless friend, SY, waving to the people 180 feet below. I sort of (really) wished I was waving back to her. safely. with two feet on solid ground. oh, but don't worry. there was still one more level to go.

we climbed back into the staircase and, despite my clammy hands and legs that felt like jello, ascended to the very top of the dome, directly under the statue of freedom. right before we went outside to the observatory deck (yes, outside), our tour guide really assuaged my fears: "oh, do be a bit careful. it's quite gusty out there and the rain may have made some areas a bit slick." thanks for the pep talk. I timidly set one foot unto to the platform outside, gripping the side of the open door. and I immediately felt better. my fear of heights went straight out into the gusty wind and was replaced with a strong sense of how truly unique this experience was. I could see for miles and miles in every direction. all the monuments. the pentagon. all of DC. it was amazing. and I didn't feel so claustrophobic anymore. I still was too shaken up to snap a photo, but that wonderful girl, luci, let me steal one of hers (that first one above is from her too.) so at least I have something to show for my leap day adventure.
photo by luci laffitte
just as I began to relax I realized that there was still the matter about getting back down. I almost asked if there was an elevator or something I could take. but like I said, I had to remain cool with the congressman from kentucky (or was it kansas?) hanging out nearby. so down we went. and I was about 99% sure I was going to die. but I didn't. and I have never been so happy to get back to a stuffy room full of statues and tourists in my life.

but here's the crazy thing. and here's why this post is not just a story about my near-death experience on leap day and actually has thoughts attached to it. I have done this all before. when I was in college, just a few short years ago, I climbed the dome of the berlin cathedral while in germany. that thing was pretty darn high up too. and I do not remember being even half as frightened as I was climbing those steps of the capitol dome. and it was at that moment, wondering when I had become such a scared loser that I realized I should also be wondering when I had become an adult. I look at things differently now. even though it's been less than 5 years since I climbed those steps at the berliner dom. now I asses risk at every turn. I know that bad things happen all the time. too much of the time. I know senseless acts of violence or suffering or just plain brokenness enter the world on a daily basis. and so I am more cautious. more responsible. more like an adult. and it's weird to think that my fearlessness is leaving me as I get older.

then again, maybe I am just becoming fearless in different ways. not in ways that are about heights or skiing too fast through the trees or not wearing sunscreen. but in ways that are about choosing to love fiercely in the midst of all that brokenness. choosing to trust in a time table that I don't fully understand. choosing to let go of all the expectations I have for a life that I don't even fully control. I can try my best to be fearless in those ways. I'll leave the heights to the young kids.

p.s. in the end I figured out that my congressman friend was actually from kansas, not kentucky. better luck with your political expertise next time, carrie.