Spain-ish

So I made my annual southern migration during the holidays to enjoy the Floridian delights.  Heat, weird animals, Waffle Houses and Florida fun to be had.  What could possibly go wrong???

OK so yeah.  EVERYTHING.  But worry not dear blog reading public.  It was all OK in the end.

Let’s get into the time machine and go way back.  Way way way way back to December 27th 2017.  I know.  It feels like two years ago at this point.  So I depart the relative comfort of Massachusetts for the yet many splendored comfort of Florida.  Get to Orlando, drive to St. Augustine and luxuriate in a condo for seven days.  Heaven.

Except we get to Florida and…. it starts raining buckets.  And then it got bad.  We arrived at the La Terra Condo complex, located at 955 Registry Blvd in St. Augustine, FL to find…. nobody.  Nobody at all.  I mean there was a kind security guard at the gate to the whole thing and inside there was NOBODY.  It was dark and rainy and we were instructed to go to some kind of lock boxes where there were supposed to be instructions.  Spoiler alert — there were no instructions.  NOTHING.

We sat in the car.  We made phone calls.  We called every number available and NOBODY picked up the phone.  The hours wore on and it became clear that NOBODY was going to help us.  We called Expedia, who kinda helped us, but really should not have listed this non-sense condo on their website in the first place.  Finally at about 3am, we checked into a hotel.

The next day we went to some kind of a store front where there was supposed to be a planter with keys in it and THERE WERE NO KEYS.  NOBODY WAS THERE.  We went back to the La Terra to see if anyone was over there to help us.  Turns out the staff at the complex actually refers to them as “La Terrible.”  WOW.  This was not getting off to the best start.

Expedia finally rebooked us into the next available option — a Days Inn next to not one but two sex shops and an outlet mall complex.  All right.

Honestly, I hope people find this entry if they search La Terra St. Augustine.  What a scam that is.  What a scummy scam that is.

Anyway, the visit though continued in pretty nice fashion after the accommodation fiasco.

St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in America and has this sort of Florida/Southern charm about it.  It looked like New Orleans, where I haven’t been yet.  It had some Florida oddities which I will detail in an upcoming entry, but most of all it had this colonial, historical charm.

I thought it was going to be really Spanish, like a little Spain but it was just kinda Spain-ish.  Cute, charming but not the odd, animal filled Florida I was accustomed to.

Let’s have a look see at the town itself:

st augustine historic district 1st augustine historic district 2st augustine historic district 3st augustine historic district 5st augustine historic district 6st augustine historical district 6st augustine historical district cadillacst augustine historical district candy shop applesst augustine historical district candy shopst augustine historical district caramel chocolatesst augustine historical district greek churchst augustine historical district greek church shadowsst augustine historical district hat shopst augustine historical district house pathst augustine city hallst augustine historical district macaron shopst augustine historical district mannequin

Bombogenesis and the Book of Revelations

Warning.  I’m going to mention things that usually don’t make it onto this blog.  First, politics.  Second, Jersey Shore.  Oh and also the bible and God, but that’s gotten more and more popular around these parts lately.

A few days ago I was in relatively less arctic Florida.  I say relatively less arctic because it was still kind of cold over there but like an early summer, June kind of cold in New England.  It wasn’t the sunny, wonderful Florida I’d become accustomed to but it also wasn’t the North Pole.  Well, until my last day there Jacksonville was actually colder than Alaska.  LOLOLOL!!!!!  I saw a news story today that iguanas are falling out of trees because its so cold in Florida right now.  Considering the bomb cyclone we got hit with today in Boston, those problems are kind of cute.

Of course people are asking where all of this is coming from.  Al Gore, noted inventor of the internet started sounding off on all of this years ago, even before he was the Vice President.  I saw an interview with him recently and he said that the evening news is starting look like a nature hike through the Book of Revelations.  I didn’t exactly what that was and rather than Google it, I asked my friend who I consult on ecumenical matters he told me referring to the Book of Revelations was nothing good.  Nice.  Is there a bomb cyclone in there somewhere?

Anyway, people seek answers from their leaders for all of this and our leader sure provided it:

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…and shit like that.  Yeah.  We’re living in a live action version of The Simpsons now.

Well, anyway, we can’t actually blame that orange toddler for this latest crap.  He didn’t cause it but he’s also not doing anything to make the situation better.

Oh and today.  A bomb cyclone of snow that brought bombogenesis with it.  Yesterday I didn’t know any of those words.  I mean I had never heard of a bomb cyclone until today and I didn’t know what bombogenesis is.  I’m still not exactly sure what it is, but it doesn’t sound friendly.

I elected to stay inside today.  Now I’m not afraid of snow and storms being that I’m out of door with enthusiasm when it comes to skiing in temperatures that would drive a normal person insane but for me today was too cold and kind of scary so I got some photos from the safety of my parents house.  No pictures of Kelton today.  Bombogenesis:

westborough bomb cyclone january 4 2018 1westborough bomb cyclone january 4 2018 2westborough bomb cyclone january 4 2018 3westborough bomb cyclone january 4 2018 4

All My Airports

Every time I travel I think about the other times I’ve traveled. I also think in particular about airports and all the ones I’ve visited over the years.

Of course I’m always reminded of the first flight I ever took in my entire life which is in fact the first memory I have of my entire life. My mom and I boarded a plane from Warsaw bound for New York and subsequently Chicago where my father was at the time. It was my mother’s first time on an airplane and her first time out of Poland. The whole thing was packed with anxiety. My mother had to wait for ages to be given a passport to even leave. We had our passport together then. I don’t even think they do that anymore. My mother thought they would invalidate our tickets at any moment. The political situation in Poland was awful at the time. My mother was told she wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country with her child, to leave me with my grandmother. To say she was worried was an understatement.

I was a little kid so I don’t remember any of this. My mother told me I told my grandfather that I’d see him on Thursday, which had made my grandfather cry. We were eventually reunited with my father. We were supposed to stay in the United States for two years and go back to Poland but that obviously didn’t end up happening.

After that there were a lot of memorable airports. The first one that comes to mind is our return to Poland seven years after we left. We landed in Warsaw to steps being attached to the airplane and an armed soldier with a dog greeting us.  The airport was sort of gray and depressing looking. We got off the plane to be greeted by seemingly our entire family including my grandmother who kissed me on the cheek when I arrived. I didn’t even recognize her and I’m sure that made my grandmother very sad.

That first trip back to Poland proved to be eventful for us airport wise. Our flight was through London, which was super exotic to me at the time. On our return flight we flew a Tupolev which was a kind of soviet copy of a Boeing. It was also an airplane that had been in a terrible plane crash a few months before. I knew this even as an eleven year old and I started to cry when I saw the plane. My mother had to convince me to get on the plane.

We ended up missing our connection to New York through London. We had to find a pay phone to wake my sleeping father to alert him that we would be in Heathrow for an extra seven hours. We made the best of it. I got a British version of monopoly to play and some magazines that I kept for a long time because they were exotic and British.

The next memorable airport was the one in Copenhagen where I knew I would some day return. My father and I flew to Warsaw from Copenhagen in an aircraft that I think had been repurposed from World War Two. When we flew through the clouds, droplets of water entered the plane. It was chock full of drunks. Forget turbulence. I wasn’t even sure if this aircraft would make it the hour to Copenhagen in one piece.

The next memorable flight didn’t come for a while. Interestingly that was to Copenhagen again but this time I was flying alone for a four month student exchange in Copenhagen. I’ve detailed the entirety of that experience in another blog entry. The flight was memorable too in both directions. Just going down the sleeve to the airplane was memorable. I wanted to turn around and go back to my parents as I passed down the sleeve. I couldn’t go back obviously because I wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing.

On the way to Denmark, I carried my stuffed animal with me and spoke to a Kenyan student who would be with me for the whole exchange. I must have fallen asleep at some point because when I woke up we were in Copenhagen. I was exhausted. Landing I realized we were in Scandinavia and that everyone spoke perfect English. Oh and that I was stuck there and couldn’t leave.

Two months after that I boarded a plane to Moscow from Copenhagen, flying the infamous Aeroflot or scaro-flot or aero-snot as my classmates named it. We had received assurances from our study abroad program that flights in and out of Russia were fine, just internal travel was dicey. Hilarious I guess. The flight to Moscow wasn’t memorable and the flight back out of St. Petersburg wasn’t memorable either, save for the fact that a classmate of mine climbed the boarding steps to the airplane and started acting like an American president arriving in Russia, promising good relations between the countries. He was really convincing. All he needed was some politburo flunkies to escort him off of the airplane and he would have been fine.

The return flight four months later was equally interesting. I realized that I didn’t want to go back. The flight was calm but I wasn’t. A day before I left, my life had been turned upside down but that had nothing to do with the flight. We were flying over Christmas, December 20th 1997 to be exact. The captain got on the PA when we were flying over Greenland joyously announced that if we looked out of the left side of the airplane we would see Santa Claus and eight tiny reindeer. The Danes believe Santa Claus is Danish and that he lives in Greenland. I told them that Santa lives in the North Pole but they told me that was wrong because the North Pole was extremely inhospitable and that Greenland was the place to be for the Juleman (Christmas man). So hence his pre Christmas departure from Greenland.

The next memorable flight was again to Copenhagen but it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I was heading back to Copenhagen to see the person who had brought all the change to my life or destroyed it, depending on what account you believe. I’ll never forget waking in Copenhagen to the feeling that a million loud alarm clocks were around me were going off at the same time. I had this awful pit of my stomach feeling that something awful was about to happen and I wasn’t wrong. The person I went to see ended up be the cause of all of that. That airport trip showed me that you should never ignore your intuition.

There were tons more flights in between which weren’t nearly as memorable or meaningful as the ones I first described. Seattle through Detroit. Stockholm through Copenhagen. Boston through Düsseldorf.

One flight though lingers in my memory for the sheer comedy of it. I was going to Stockholm through Philadelphia originating in New York. The flight from New York to Philadelphia was the single worst flight I had ever experienced. We flew on an 18 seater commuter airplane for something like 45 minutes, the 45 worst minutes of my entire life and I’ve had stitches in my head and completed a marathon. That was the worst flight of my life. The entire airplane stunk of gasoline and it shook for the entire time, or maybe careened uncontrollably would be a more apt description. I was convinced we were all going to die. The plane pitched left, right, up, down. I was Ritchie Valens in La Bamba and we were going to die. Somehow we landed. I mean obviously we didn’t die because I’m writing this but it was an awful flight.

I noticed after a while that air travel has this sameness about it. Delta, United, Northwest, they were all the same. Just a flying bus. Airports too have a cookie cutter sameness about them. Some are a bit different like the one in Copenhagen, which I obviously saw quite often was different, very nice. Generally though traveling seemed less than memorable. Cayman through Miami. Boston through Reykjavik. Brussels from New York. Copenhagen through Brussels. New York to Warsaw through Paris. Paris to New York. Different destinations but the same feeling. Here we go. There it all went.

I flew to Bologna from Boston through Paris and then repeated the whole thing through Venice. The memorable thing there was that you had to take a boat to get to the airport, which was kind of cute and fun. The Italians on the boat were really happy and amiable at 5am. I would be too if I consumed as much espresso as they did.

I have though had some incredibly memorable flights after that one. One came in 2013, Cayman through New York to Boston. The flight was delayed and there was the real danger that the connector out of Newark would leave without us. I raced through the airport with the intent of explaining that we needed to get on the flight. We get there and the flight was closed. We were told by the incredibly unfriendly continental airlines staff (this I remember) that if we had gotten there mere seconds before we would have made it. It was so infuriating. As we were leaving to rebook they told us we had to run down the sleeve to the airplane and bang on the door to the airplane that was closed to get on. Turned out a family had strollers checked on the flight and having everyone disembark and take the strollers off would have caused untold chaos.

In 2015 came one of the most sublime flights of my life, Boston to Santiago, Chile through Atlanta. I had planned this trip for months and when the big day came I was extremely nervous. I didn’t even tell anyone I was going for fear something would go wrong.

The flight to Atlanta from Logan was uneventful. No food, over crowded and generally uncomfortable.

Atlanta to Santiago was another story entirely. First the plane was empty practically, save for the flight crew and the small number of us flying. There were tons of channels of entertainment. The food was somewhat edible and oh and the plane was basically new. It looked like it had been purchased the day before. All good things. I fell asleep over the southern United States and I awoke to us flying over Peru and Brazil, countries I had only seen on maps before. I awoke to the Andes mountains out the window covered in a light morning mist. The word beautiful doesn’t even do justice to what I saw.

A couple days later I was back to the United States after another journey that basically redefined my life in the best way possible. Before the flight back I was in tears from what had happened but they were happy, cleansing tears.

The flight back was less comfortable.  We were overcrowded and when I reached Atlanta I kept walking around the airport to not fall asleep and miss my flight. My flight to Boston was full of guys in khakis and polo shirts and Bluetooth headsets. I slept through my connecting flight to Boston and woke up when we hit the ground, home once again.

I’ve flown a lot in my life and I can’t say I’m a fan of it. Flying in the United States is about as much fun as taking a school bus a long distance. I’ve never flown in first class. I flew business class once with my mom from Warsaw to New York on Pan Am, which went out of business the next year. I dislike turbulence and went through a period of time when I was really afraid to fly. It didn’t keep from flying but it definitely made the whole process unpleasant. I may have needed an Ativan or two to get through the whole thing.

There’s a wonderful video on the internet of a plane landing in Canada of Syrian refugees. Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. The Syrians get off the airplane to be greeted by none other than the sexiest prime minister ever, Justin Trudeau. They are greeted so warmly by Trudeau and the people in the airport. It always reminds me of us coming to America. Obviously president Reagan didn’t greet us when we came to the airport but I could relate to being in an airport, starting a new life.

Growing up as an immigrant, plane travel is a part of life. I’ve taken multiple trips to Poland over the years because it was a necessity. My whole family is Polish. I’m some weird hybrid pseudo-Scandinavian New Englander East coaster who had no home for a long time. I used to think my home was on an airplane but as I’ve matured I realize I do ok on solid ground too.

And some photos from the newest airport I have visited, the Worcester County Airport:

worcester airport people waiting 1worcester airport people waiting 2worcester airport people waiting 3worcester airport people waiting 4worcester airport sunset 1

 

The Best Time To Run Around In A Bathing Suit

Today there was the annual running of the mostly nude Santa Clauses through Back Bay.  What??  You missed this?  You weren’t aware that something so weird, delightful and downright insane was going on?  Well, it was.

Every year a ragtag bunch of people gets liquored up at a bar in Back Bay and then runs out into the street, where a bunch of people with camera wait for them.  Then they do a circuit around Back Bay and run back to the bar.  I even thought about doing this a couple of years ago, but I didn’t want to get hypothermia.  I prefer to get frost bite and hypothermia when I go skiing, like you know, a normal person.

I guess this is the spot to get slightly philosophical and give me minute while I do.  The Santa Speedo run signifies the beginning of the holiday season, where one hopes for good gifts and thinks about what the new year will bring.  I think of the same.

As a kid, like most kids, I loved Christmas.  When I was a teenager, I started hating it, but then again, most things went dark at that age.  When I was 14, we went to spend some kind of post Christmas time with my uncle.  Now this was kinda revolutionary, considering all of my family lives in Poland.  My uncle was here with his family temporarily.  I had really wanted some Guess Jeans that year.  That was kind of the rage that year of course and my uncle said he had some Christmas presents for us.  It turned out to be markers and different types of highlighters, with the price tags still on them.  I learned at that moment to never rely on Christmas to make me happy.

Somehow in the past few years, Christmas has become a very happy time for me after a long time of it not exactly being that way.  Christmas was for me for a long time an excuse to go home for a few days and not generally be too happy for too long but that all changed a couple of years ago.  I started to participate a lot more in the planning and just celebrate the holiday a lot more.  I also realized that giving gifts is a lot better than receiving them.

Anyway, enough Christmas.  Let’s look at some pictures of some mostly unclothed crazy people running through a snowstorm, shall we?

Whatever You Do, Do It With Joy

November gets me contemplative because it is so close to the end of the year.  Here I am trying to decide what I’m going to do for the next few months and planning what I’m going to do for the next phase of my life.

Honkfest is an annual Boston event that I love.  These photos might be coming up here a bit late, but whatever.  The message of the fest and the whole thing is to do things with joy.  In fact, I ran into a student of mine watching the Honkfesters and she remarked as much.  I guess I need to take that into my next chapter, whatever that may be.  Always do everything with joy, like my beloved Honkfesters:

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All Of Our Souls

The tenth anniversary of having this blog is making me super nostalgic seemingly.  In this entry I’m going to write about my beloved grandmother Maria Radziejewska.

I came to the United States from Poland when I was so little that I had few memories of being with my grandmother.  After seven years in the United States, my mother and I returned to Poland, a singularly bewildering experience that probably deserves its own well annotated blog entry.  But this isn’t that entry. I’m just going to write about my grandmother here.

I had two grandmothers, a city grandmother and a country grandmother.  Both of them were strong women who were not shrinking violets.  My city grandmother from Łódź, where I was born, was a career woman.

Babcia Marysia, as my country grandmother was known for as long as I knew her lived in a place called Kalisz.  I honestly don’t know very much about how she grew up or what her life was like when she was very young.  She was born in 1912.  From what my father has told me, she was educated as far as maybe sixth grade.  In those days though lack of education wasn’t a real impediment to success as most people went to work as soon as they could.

The part of my grandmother’s life that I do know about is when it gets tragic.  She married her first husband and a had a child, my uncle in 1939.  The happiness from that first marriage was short lived. Her first husband died in the Auschwitz concentration camp, something that I truly believed haunted her for her entire life.

After the war, she remarried to my grandfather and my dad was born.

My grandmother was part of a large clan whose name was Pecold, a name many of my cousins now carry on.   Inevitably she was on the outs with all or some of them at one time or another.

My grandparents lived in a house that she had inherited from her first husband.  The next door neighbors were a family called Jaszkiewicz.

My uncle left home very early, at 18, off to be educated far from Kalisz.  That left my dad and his parents in the house.

The house was spartan.  It still had an outhouse when I visited in 1988.  It did have one incredible thing.  My grandmother maintained a wonderful garden in the backyard with a pear tree.  My dad always describes many happy moments of sitting under the pear tree reading books in the summer.  Life before Instagram, Facebook, computers I guess.

My dad also left at 18 to seek his education in science.  I often wonder if it was at my grandmother’s urging that both of her sons left so early.  Perhaps her early experience made her drive her sons to seek a greater fortune beyond Kalisz.

I didn’t really start spending time with my grandmother until I was 11.  In 1988 my mother and I returned to spend an idyllic summer with my grandparents.  For me it was the chance to get to know my grandparents and my Pecold cousins and my uncle’s children, my first cousins who I really had no knowledge of.

I still remember the summer of 1988 as one of the happiest in my life.  I got to know my cousin Natalia, my equivalent in name and as it turned out personality as well.

For a city kid like me, the garden my grandmother’s was heaven.  My grandparents had terrifying things like rabbits that I eventually learned not to be afraid of.

There’s one story that illustrates perfectly who my grandmother was. Near my grandparents house was the river Prosna with its own swimming hole.  The swimming hole was filled with mud.  One day my cousin Natalia and I started throwing mud at one of the Jaszkiewicz cousins. He was a glasses wearing nerd and throwing mud was fun.  The boy’s mother ran to my grandmother right away to report our ill deeds.  It was then that my grandmother uttered the immortal words — my granddaughters do whatever they want.  Gold.

My cousin also told me a story of my grandfather feeding us homemade wine after we’d been caught out in the rain.  We ended up sitting under a table giggling.  Typical grandparent antics with their dear grandchildren.

Six months later my father was finally able to return to Poland.  I remember this emotional scene of my father seeing his parents for the first time in nearly a decade.

A year after that my grandmother was gone after enduring an illness that almost 30 years later is too painful to recount here.

We’d return periodically to the house in Kalisz.  The Jaszkiewicz clan remained on the other side of the fence.  At any point in time, three generations could be found living on the other side of the fence.  It always amazed me how close they had stayed and how far the family on my grandmother’s side went in every way.

All Souls’ Day just passed and it’s a tradition in Poland to pay tribute to the dead on that day.  My uncle shared a photo of his mother on Facebook and I shared a photo of my grandmother that got me thinking of her.

Yesterday I was at the gym in Brookline.  I uploaded the photos using my pocket baby television (thanks Dana Carver) attached to this blog entry to social media.  It was kind of fun to show my grandmother to this global audience.

I wonder a lot what she would have thought of how my life turned out, living in Boston, a place she’d probably never even heard of.  What would she have thought of me teaching English, meeting and interacting with people from the entire world.  Maybe if my grandmother hadn’t been such an influence on her sons, we’d be there with Jaszkiewicz and his family.  I guess I’ll never know.  I only know how the story turned out from our side of the fence.

Here’s my grandmother, looking fabulous and glam.  This is how I like to remember her:

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God, Heaven, the After life and all the rest of it

Well the day has come.  I’m actually going to talk about faith and God and all of the rest of it on this blog.  If you read the entry all the way through, you will see why this was all pretty unlikely until recently.

Recently I started going to a bible study group.  I was invited to go by a dear, dear friend of mine.  I initially joked that I started going because my friend has two adorable children and had a dog until recently.  The dog upped stakes and moved to Canada.  I mean without thumbs or anything.  Arranged a moving van and moved himself to Canada.  Nah, I’m kidding.  The dog went to live with my friend’s brother while she deals with the toddlers.

Every week we gather for the bible group and its meant a lot to me.  We support each other and we talk about general themes and get comfort from one another.

I joke a lot about what it even got me to get into the door of the bible group.  I did not grow up with faith and neither did my parents and what I saw of it growing up and later as an adult did not sit well with me to put it mildly.

As a kid, I’d go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York for mass sometimes, more sporadically than anything else.  It wasn’t something we did on a regular basis, religiously if you will.  My dad used to like to listen to the organ music.  I kinda couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Sometimes when I went to Poland as a kid, I’d go to church with my country grandmother.  I had a country and a city grandmother.  The city grandmother was an atheist and the country grandmother went to church sometimes because she wanted to be buried in the cemetery next to the church.  All the right people, I guess.

Generally the Polish churches were gloomy places filled with what my mother termed as “klecha,” which is this pejorative term for clergy.  This sort of clergy that was backward, stuck in the past and generally close minded.

Through the years, I attended church, most of the time at the behest of a friend or a relative.  I never got anything out of it to be totally honest.  Every service I went to involved some talk of the afterlife, after we all went to heaven.  Oh that wonderful stuff that we will all experience when we are dead.  Most of the time, I wanted to stand up and say “what about now padre?”  What about the here and now?

I have plenty of negative stories from my years of going to church.  One in particular was when my grandfather died when I was 16.  The whole situation deeply upset my father and we went to this Catholic church in Valhalla, New York where we lived at the time.  My dad wanted us to go to light candles for my grandfather and I think in a way my dad was hoping to get some kind of comfort from the church.

Well, comfort my father did not get that day.  First when I walked into the church, I realized that every single person I went to high school with went to that church.  These were people who spent the weekdays talking about the drinking and drugging they had done on the weekend.  Here it was Sunday, so I guess it was time to go and repent.  Worse, nobody even smiled or came to talk to me or anything or wondered why we were even there in the first place.  Oh well.  I mean it isn’t as if I expected them to talk to me in the first place.

The service started and it got yet worse.  The priest spent the entire sermon going on about how expensive the gutters in the church were and how expensive it was to replace them.  I’m not sure what this even had to do with God, the church, the holy spirit, Jesus or anything else.

I always pointed to this as an example of how ridiculous the whole concept of religion even was in the first place.  People told me over the years that I had to go to a different church, but this to me was the perfect illustration of what was wrong with going to church in the first place.

I also saw so much hypocrisy with respect to religion.  I saw people doing awful things, acting in horrible ways towards people and then sort of hiding behind religion as some kind of justification.  I had a college roommate who was heavily involved with the Christian students group at the college I attended.  She kept her entire life a secret to her parents.  She smoked, had tons of boyfriends and generally acted un-Christian but yet she hid behind the religion thing.  Another hypocrite.  Another reason to turn my back on religion in general.

The final nail in the religion coffin for me came in 2012.  My parents have periodically invited my cousins to the United States over the years.  Generally my cousins were well behaved and made me look bad in the chore department!!!!!  Nah, again, kidding.  They were nice but that all changed in 2012.  A cousin who I had some small amount of contact with over the years came to stay in the United States.  I offered to let her stay in Le Minuscule Chez Kelton for the duration of her stay.

My cousin made me go to mass with her during this time.  A friend reminded me that churches usually had pretty good bakeries nearby, which is a pretty good argument for church attendance.  I enrolled my cousin in the school I used to work in and I would take her around Boston after school everyday.  Now I’m biased.  I will never say anything against Boston.  I took her to different places that I loved in the city.  I took her to the Public Garden one day and I said “this is my favorite place in Boston.”  She goes “they are all your favorite.”  Ok well, bad me for loving the place I lived in.

One day I took her to Harvard Square, where I have passed many a pleasant afternoon over the years.  She had the same weak reaction to the place that she’d had to every other place we’d visited.  I asked her what she thought of Harvard Square and she goes “my religion teaches me that the greatest rewards are in heaven.”  Now excuse my French, but that is the largest load of bullshit I have ever heard.  It felt like to me that I was being told that I was some fool for enjoying Harvard Square as much as I did.  It was kind of awful and further turned me against organized religion in all forms.

Which brings me back to the beginning of the entry.  Until recently, I was on team atheist, further team anti-religion.  Opiate of the masses.  I did however always think that I would explore the whole religion thing, but I thought it would be when a great crisis had struck my life.  The last two years haven’t been that great crisis, but they aren’t a time I will look back on with unadulterated fondness.

So, this past summer I started going to a once a week bible study.  My friends started talking about the ideas and I thought “wait.  Open yourself up to this.”  We explored further.  I realized that I had always believed in some kind of greater power, call it God if you wanted.  My friends showed me how to pray and what to pray for.

This past weekend I went on the first church retreat I have ever been on.  It was in New Hampshire.  It was like a ski trip without the skiing.  We went to services.  The pastor was this jovial older man who told wonderful stories.  We were encouraged to share our stories.  No judgement.  The tears flowed.  Everyone seemed to be going through some kind of difficult stuff in their lives.  It was really refreshing to be in an environment like that.

Whatever path leads you there:

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