Battle Cry for an Age of Alienation

April 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

A scene from my campus today:


Things you don’t see: behind the Black Hawk is a perfect cherry tree and a clover patch which grows mostly four-and-five-leaf clovers. At sunset, this field floods with red-gold light.

The sky over Dartmouth is my panacea. It’s chilling and very, very sad to think that someone else walked here contemplating the destruction of people and places we love.

It goes to show that you never know who you’re dealing or what they’re dealing with – but whatever anyone deals with, I believe the only universal remedy is love and solidarity. Anti-terrorism isn’t comprised of SWAT teams and helicopters, it’s made of little actions that tear down some division, patch over some divide with love and understanding.

So then, let this be our response in the face of terror: to reach out others. Listen, and let someone know they’re heard. Smile at a stranger. Offer your heart up as a punching bag – it aches sometimes to espouse solidarity in this vast, rough world of ours, but it’s better than the alternative of alienation.

It doesn’t have to be big – just spread love with abandon. Be an anti-terrorist every day.



April 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

I woke up this morning feeling sick about the bombing in Boston. I guess you know where your heart calls home when you aren’t there in a crisis. I thought about little Martin Richard and I thought of the pavement in front of Copley Square painted in blood and I thought of how the John Hancock tower reflects the clouds and the blue sky and I just cried.

I went out to clear my head and walked by a store selling discounted flower boxes. I’ve wanted to plant a balcony-garden since I arrived here but never found the moment. On the rack beside the display I found a single pack of Nasturtium seeds.

Nasturtium have been symbolic of Boston to me since I first visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum ten years ago. There, in Spring, in the inner courtyard, strands of the bright orange flowers drape from the balconies like delicate beaded curtains. The courtyard adjoins the hall in which Sargent’s magnificent El Jaleo sounds out through time. (Sargent was a good friend to the city and painted a magnificent mural in the vaulted staircase of the Boston Public Library — where the first of the two bombs detonated yesterday.)

I bought two Blumenkästen and a bag of potting soil. At Wittenbergplatz, on the way home, shelves and tables full of flowers brightened the morning market. I learned after I bought a few starters that pansies stand for remembrance and dianthus for undying love. Nasturtium are for patriotism.

Flowers are for hope and a future that blooms beautifully.


Patriot’s Day

April 16, 2013 § Leave a comment


My thoughts are many miles from me tonight as I turn in in Berlin. I’m sending all love and prayers to this shining city by the water.

It’s strange to be away when terrible things happen at home. I feel in a frenzy for communication, a frenzy to help in some way, a frenzy to be back. All there is to do here is scurry around for information and assurances from loved ones, some pieces of which settle (friends safe, friends safe), and the rest of which create confusion and dread. I am so grateful to have my best friend visiting today. We spring from the same soil and our context runs so deep. She feels powerless and worried, too.

The wifi in my apartment is frustrating enough on a good day and torturous on a bad one, when live-feeds online are a lifeline. We went to the only cafe which stays open 24 hours and offers free wi-fi — appropriately enough called Cafe Belmont.

We were the two non-regulars on the night-shift, tucked into a corner near the ashtrays and potted plants, leaning in to the computer to listen to our president, our governor, our family and friends.

“Boston is a tough, resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, and take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city.” We take some comfort in what we heard, because what was said is true.

Boston, you’re my home. Stay safe and strong in spirit. Take care of each other. Marathon on.

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