December 25

I grew up on the outskirts of a small town. Surrounded by fields, my childhood home is peaceful. A fire in the fireplace, ornaments from long ago, Holiday Inn, White Christmas and celebrating the birth of a baby that changed everything.

Despite my childhood, with a few Christmases spent in Colorado with my dad, memories of Christmas are at mom’s house. A house that was built by my Grampa 50 some years ago. With the exception of a Christmas spent in Omaha to visit the cousins, every single memory is Christmas morning at my mom’s.

Until this year. A moment I knew would come when I married The New Yorker.

This morning we woke up in midtown Manhattan. I traded the peaceful sound of the crackling fireplace and wind blowing across the field for sirens, squeaky brakes, big trucks.

I had a belief that the world stopped on Christmas Day.

But it does not. I ran across the street to the deli for a bagel and Shmear, stopped in Starbucks, picked up some Dr. Scholl’s for my aching feet and presently find myself with many people on a train bound for Long Island and family.

Yes. This year found us celebrating Christmas with my family a little early. A lazy morning and the joy of giving doesn’t have to happen on the 25th.

I once had a friend say, “Christmas is a state of mind”. And this year I find those words resonating deep in my soul.

It doesn’t matter where or when, Christmas is Christmas.

Last night we were able to join dear friends for Christmas Eve service at Marble with the most amazing choir. They sang a song I had never heard before, but absolutely adored:

What sweeter music can we bring than a carol for to sing the birth of this our heav’nly King?

Awake the voice! Awake the string!

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

Dark and dull night, fly hence away, and give the honor to this day, that sees December turned to May. If we may ask the reason, say :

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

The darling of the world is come, and fit it is we find a room to welcome Him. The nobler part of all the house here is the heart, which we will give Him, and bequeath this holly and ivy wreath, to do Him honor who’s our King, and Lord of all our reveling.

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

Merry Christmas, wherever you are and whomever you are with.
May you be filled with peace, joy and hope.

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Meet Me on March 22nd

This is schmoopy. You’ve been forewarned. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended. I try not to be schmoopy often. But sometimes schmoopiness is bound to occur.

Rob and I have not had a Christmas together yet. Nor have we celebrated his birthday together. But today, we get our third March 22nd. Two years ago on this date, I walked into Marble Collegiate Church with Caleb. I was taken in with the beautiful architecture and meeting Caleb’s church family. As I scooted into the plush pew, all breathless from the Caleb-sized walk (in heels) and the cold air, a very New York looking man, a few pews up, turned around and waved. Caleb waved back, leaned over and said, “That’s my friend Rob…”

I have never been one to believe in love at first sight. In fact, I’m a little bit of a cynic when it comes to love. And I was definitely cynical about there ever being love for me. But I will say this. There was something different about the moment I met Rob.

Turning 30 was rough. I was quite confident that the clock was going to strike 30 for me, and I was going to be alone forever. And people would say, “You’ve got plenty of time!”, “I know there is love out there for you!” and “Any moment. You never know when it can happen”. These were never very helpful. Because how could they know? God really could be calling me to a life of singleness. I know plenty of singles who don’t want to be single and are single. And no matter what, it was clear God wanted me single at that time, so I just needed to accept it and move on. But I had a hard time accepting it. So, I went to New York.

And so I was wrong. There was a moment.  It’s so strange. I can remember everything quite clearly about that day. In general, I have a pretty good memory, but that day is vivid. Every detail of meeting Caleb’s friends, walking all over the city, laughing at lunch, the glorious Mac and Cheese- Every moment is etched out in my mind bright and shiny.  It would still be another 5 months before Rob and I would start our dating relationship. But on March 22nd my whole life changed and I’m glad I remember the moment.

Last year Rob and I met up in the Pacific Northwest for a mountainous vacation and a chance to meet some of my dearest friends. We both had a layover in Seattle, but were on different flights to Portland. Rob got me switched to his flight…although to accomplish this task he called me his “fiancé”– thinking that held more emotional weight in getting someone to make the switch. And with a quick search in gmail, I found this flight took place on March 22nd.

Today, I fly to New York. And no, I did not plan it to be on March 22nd. American Airlines and their crazy volatile flight prices led me to flying on a Tuesday. It wasn’t until I bought the ticket and went, “Huh, March 22nd.”

It has been one month since we last said good bye. Sometimes, this distance thing is really difficult. I know this is God’s plan for us right now. I know that we need to be wise with our money and wait for His timing. I’m trying to stay full of faith as we wait for God to reveal His plan. But sometimes, the waiting is painful.

I keep hearing that planning your wedding is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. And I will admit that it has had its truly wonderful moments. But I really would like to get to point where we are married. Because, Lord willing, that means the distance is over. All the looming major decisions and details have fallen into place and we are living in the same place, together. I’m looking forward to the married part.

So, here’s to our third March 22nd and getting a little bit closer to July 4th.

World’s Best Cup of Coffee

Around the time I began dating Rob, my dear Freed introduced me to a little blog called Six in the City. (That’s not a typo- you can breathe easy mom.) A witty Colorado suburb mom of 4 was moving her family of 6 to New York City. The blog was her journey. And it is funny. I started reading it religiously, especially as she began to deeply immerse herself in the culture that is New York. I felt comforted when she felt the same way about that crazy city. And excited when she gave me a new part of the city to explore.

Recently, she wrote about a little Italian grocery close to her apartment with amazing coffee. I went there to confirm this.

So, my Thursday in the city dawned bright and beautiful. I laced up my new boots (yep, I had to buy new boots to forge through the snow. Yes, I really HAD to buy shoes.) and went on my new adventure to Agata and Valentina. It’s on the Upper East Side—from Rob’s place it really is quite a trek.

This is what I got….a café au lait and some Italian almond pastry. It was delicious. I enjoyed sitting in the little café, sipping my coffee and SCARFFING down this incredible deliciousness. And I wanted to scream in all my Elf glee, “Congratulations! You did it! World’s best cup of coffee!” and I would have meant it.

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I wandered through the grocery section.

I cannot begin to explain a New York grocery store. They’re small and congested and full of characters. And every time I come home I kiss the floor of Marianos.  The entire store probably fit into the produce section of Marianos…and I’m not lying when I say I saw strawberries that cost more than a week’s worth of mistos from Starbucks.

Suffice it to say, take the mad, crazy, floorplan weavings of Ikea and shrink it to the size of my apartment. And you’ve got this magical little Italian grocery store.

I was one of those people I hate—I had no shopping agenda. I needed nothing. I couldn’t buy anything because I had a huge day ahead of me with no room for groceries. I wandered around picking up cookies and smelling pounds of coffee…

But I will tell you this…they make their own pasta. I looked up…and hanging like beautiful curtains on a clothesline in Italy were these very delicate, mysterious sheets of noodles. It took everything within me not to reach across the refrigerated section and rip one down for a taste of the pure carbohydrate heaven. I’m actually regretting that moment of self control as I sit here typing this. I will return.

 

Baggage Claim

So, here’s a scenario that boggles my mind…

The luggage carousel at any given airport.

You and your fellow passengers get off the plane and head toward baggage claim. Slowly people start to gather near the carousel…but not right up next to it.  This seems like a good place to wait. We can all see what’s coming and there is plenty of space to grab your bag without taking out a small child.

And then, the light starts flashing and the buzzer beeps…and the craziest thing happens. Everyone crowds forward. They get right up to the edge. They make a wall …shoulder to shoulder…a wall that cannot be penetrated. Now you can’t see anything. There is no room to get a bag out.

I have witnessed this several times and I wait safely behind the line. I do this because I know inevitably, if you’re in the front of the line your baggage doesn’t come out first. The baggage carousel does not operate on a first come first serve basis. It does not believe in lines. It’s random and there is no one to tip for good service.

And that’s where today’s story comes in…

The light flashed, the buzzer beeped and the frontliners stood there waiting…taking up space for their bags that may never come. They craned their necks to see what black bag was coming out of the Door of Wonder. And guess what? It did not have their clever piece of ribbon on it.

You know whose bag was coming out? Mine.

Yep, that’s right. My large slightly over the weight limit bag was coming towards me and the wall was before me. And this is what I said…

“Excuse me. I need to get my bag” And so they moved just enough to let me slip in sideways. Are you kidding me? Don’t you see what’s coming towards you? It’s bigger than a Smart Car.

“It’s that big one, it’s really heavy. You might want to get out of the way. I have no control over it.”

I tried to say this nicely and not display my lack of tolerance for stupidity. But I cannot be sure.

But seriously….what’s the deal? Can anyone explain this “wall” phenomenon to me?

 

Naturally Delicious

Rob and I met in March of 2009, enjoyed each other’s company…but at the end of the day a long distance relationship didn’t sound appealing. We kept in touch—but it was nothing special. In fact, Rob dated someone else. In August of 2009, I was in New York entertaining Caleb while he was still unemployed. While I was in town, Rob asked me to lunch. Although I was interested in someone else back home, I was bound and determined channel my best inner Carrie Bradshaw. I wanted to prove to him that I was a catch and he was a fool to let me go! I was charming and mysterious. And it must have worked cause here we are.

We met up for lunch at that same diner, Naturally Delicious, the other day. It’s a nice little diner close to Rob’s work. It promotes health food (as good as it gets for a diner, I guess). I recommend the spinach burger.  (Don’t worry, we don’t usually sit on the same side of the booth. We only did for the picture.)

Later in the day, I ventured to SoHo. Due to all the snow, I needed to buy new boots. I needed boots that could keep my feet dry and warm.

I really hate SoHo during tourist season.

Dear New York,

I’m sorry for all the times I was a tourist and walked slow on your narrow sidewalks.

Love,

Karrie.

I found some nice boots at EMS (Eastern Mountain Supply). Rob had a coupon. That was a nice bonus. Although, I’m very disappointed I can’t wear my cute brown boots to properly accessorize my outfits.

Anyway, it placed me right next to a bakery I read about in Real Simple a number of months ago. They serve only cupcakes and they ship around the country. Even Colorado.

State of Emergency…

I’m not a pansy when it comes to winter weather.  I grew up on Illinois blizzards and I have even spent my fair share of time with snowy Colorado mountain experiences. But I was not prepared for my first Nor’Easter.

I knew snow was coming. But I had no idea. I heard there was talk of 18-20 inches landing in the Northeast. But I didn’t believe it. I should have.

On Sunday, I went to the airport not expecting too much. It was an early morning flight. (And by early I mean it was one of the first flights scheduled on the day after Christmas. I was there before Starbucks was open.) It was snowing in The Chi. But we’re tough and take off in all sorts of weather.

I didn’t even think of the weather on the other side of my journey until I heard a woman behind me say, “The weather on both sides is bad. My 9:00 flight to Newark is already cancelled so I paid $976 to get the last seat on the last flight out of O’Hare”

There are two things crazy with that statement.

1.)    She paid how much to get a seat on my flight? Are you kidding? I don’t care that it’s First Class. That’s just crazy.  It’s almost four roundtrip tickets to Newark. It’s a lot of pairs of shoes! Who is that desperate to get away from their holiday family experience?(I considered asking her to make a donation to the wedding.)

And

2.)    What? I’m on the last flight out? What is going on? Is it The Day After Tomorrow?

We were slightly delayed due to a tardy flight attendant. I took some Dramamine thinking the flight would be bumpy.  I fell asleep so fast I didn’t even get to see the tardy flight attendant to give her the stink eye.  I slept the whole way. It was marvelous.

It was not snowing when we left the airport. But it had just begun to snow when we arrived home 15 minutes later. We had brunch with some friends of ours in the building. It was a nice, cozy brunch with good food and friend. But while we were there, they got a message on their landline urging residents to stay inside because the weather was terrible. From our seats it looked nice and picturesque. But we have since learned this is one of the worst storms on record (I believe I heard #6).

The snow fell and the wind howled (seriously) all night. And in the morning, it was one big mess. Rob worked from home. We couldn’t even get on the train into the city! I went on a walk in the afternoon. Here is what I saw:

The view from Rob's place. These guys worked on this driveway FOREVER!

This is Kensington Ave. Right there. Where all the snow is.

Too bad I forgot my ruler...I mean yardstick...to measure how deep it was!