In addition to getting ready to move, we’ve recently also been hitting the road. Planes and cars and hotels and other people’s empty houses… I guess there haven’t been any train or boat rides in the last month, but it sure feels like we’ve done it all. Traveling with a baby isn’t the easiest thing, but I am thankful that traveling with 10-month StellaB is infinity times better than traveling with 6-month StellaB.
Here are some pictures from one of our latest trips, this one to a beautiful area in the south of the country. We met some great people, saw blue skies and sunshine, and learned a lot. I don’t have photo documentation of us all together, but we were also grateful to travel with our friends and neighbors, Owens and Jess. They make entertaining the Beanster 1000 times simpler–and are dang good company, too!
It happened last week.
The day was book-ended by fusses with Michael. The night before Stella was up for an hour and then it took me (Michael, too–wonder why we were crabby the next morning?) another hour to fall asleep. It was yet another grey and smog-filled day in a long line of grey and smog-filled days. I lost my subway card. Stella and I schlepped in the rain to the center of the city, an hour and a half away, for a meeting, which is when the real climactic moment happened: while I was trying to balance an umbrella, a baby, and a bulky diaper bag, some jerk stole my iPhone.
Here’s the thing: I say I don’t believe in karma….but I act like I do. My first thought was: Seriously, God? I just came all this way with my baby to meet with a lady and talk about what we can do to help orphans, for heaven’s sake, and this is my reward? Ugh. Cue anger, sulking, and a sizable side dose of self-beration. (I knew it was stupid to put my phone in my coat pocket but Stella was half-asleep/half-crying and I was just going 20 yards in between buildings.) I act like I deserve good things, I am shocked and self-righteous when bad stuff happens to me… but really, deep down (sometimes not very deep), I’m selfish and self-centered.
Days like this, like that, it’s hard for me to love this place, hard for me to love this people. Some days, the good ones, I look at the crowd milling about the square and feel compassion for them, feel overwhelmed by love and their deep need. But that day, as I rode a glass-fronted elevator up above the square after being pick-pocketed, all I could think was, which of those idiots down there took my phone? (Did I mention I was carrying a baby in the rain? You should feel sorry for me–I certainly felt sorry for myself.)
That afternoon, I met with some friends. We talked, they commiserated with me over the lost phone, we grumbled about how people are sometimes the worst. BUT THEN. One of my friends prayed: for me and my crappy day, but also for the person who took my phone. What the what? It never would have crossed my mind to pray for the thief. But that’s what it’s all about. Not about karma, about doing good deeds and reaping good results as a reward, but about loving and caring for others even when they don’t deserve it.
Especially when they don’t deserve it. Because that’s the principle that has been applied to me.
I’m thankful that’s the grace I live under.
It doesn’t look like this always. It doesn’t look like this usually, even.
But the days it does, when the sun peers out for a quick hello (even if it’s just as the day is ending), the view from my living room sofa is as good as it gets.
If you talk to me even semi-regularly, if you read this blog, if you’ve ever live in our part of the world, you’ve heard me (and others) whine about the weather and the pollution.
This is not a post about that.
Earlier this week, Michael and I and some friends took a get-away to another part of our city, one outside and above the smog. Our destination, although only three or four hours away, had blue skies, dry air, and crisp mountain temperatures. It was lovely, and we were thankful to get away for a few days.
This couple was just in front of us along the path for much of the way. Americans, I think, are weird about photos compared to the rest of the world. Because Asians loooove to cheese it up for their close-ups. We’ve see our fair share of Europeans on this side of the world, too, and Asians have nothing on them when it comes to staged photos (hello, awkward SI style beach photo shoots in Thailand!). I just don’t get it. But I guess I don’t have to.
With my friend Cat, who I’m so thankful to have in my life this year!
Some years ago, a kung fu epic was filmed here, so this spot is famous in this part of the world. I mean, I’d make a kung fu movie here–it sure looks the part.
As happens everywhere we go, little Noah attracted quite the crowd. American babies are probably more loved, admired, and photographed than movie stars over here. It’s sweet and kind and says a lot about the value that this culture places on children. It also makes you sympathetic for actual movie stars who have to deal with paparazzi and thronging crowds. Being the center of this much attention is exhausting!
Thankfully, Noah was distracted from his stardom by downing (almost) a whole can of Pringles. Get it!
Requisite family photo!
Some pretty fabulous feet…
…and some pretty fabulous friends! (Excuse my artsiness, I was just really excited about the above photo.)
Thankful for beauty which refreshes my soul.
And thankful for this guy to enjoy it with!
There are days when I miss the south. Hillsides golden with daffodils, like sunshine dappled on the green. Cross-shaped flowers cover stretching trees on every corner, dogwoods budding with the soon-to-come hope of Easter. But sometimes, on those days when I wish for what is not–and yesterday was one–I stop, look around, and realize that this is amazing, too.
In a break between classes, I stepped outside the library (where I meet my teacher) and saw this. Hillsides golden with, not daffodils, but 油菜花，or rapeseed flowers.
It’s not exactly what I was craving. But it’s every bit as beautiful.