Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dear J.K., (Happy Birthday Harry & J.K. Rowling!)

I am cleaning and I found a letter I wrote J.K. Rowling after I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I had read all night and was full of emotion, so parts are a little sappy...

In honor of her birthday (and Harry's!), I would like to share it with you. (Spoilers ahead if you have not read the series)

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I was glad to find myself among those, who you said would, love it. I cannot tell you how fearful I was that Harry was going to die; you kept hinting at it but I wasn't sure how he could die since I knew Voldemort had to be defeated! But you and your nifty plot twists and loopholes! I was amazed how everything began to fall into place.

I want to thank you for sharing Harry with the world. I grew up with Harry, as many did, having read the first three books when I was ten and then attending midnight release parties for the next four. I was not a convert to reading because of Harry Potter; I have always loved to read. However, there's just something so different about your books. For the first time, all the fantasy and magical worlds I had always wished I lived in actually seemed real because it was right in the middle of our own world!

I am sure you are aware of how Harry Potter has become so much a part of our society. But I think sometimes I don't even realize how much I learned from them or how much I love every little thing about them. The characters of the Harry Potter books are so fascinating. All of them have their struggles to do the right thing (fighting against Voldemort) or the other right thing (protecting their families). This is what makes them so human and attainable. This is what makes them so admirable.

In the days after Half Blood Prince came out, I had a lot of discussions of who was my favorite character, which character was I most like, etc. When I was younger, I had always loved Hermione, just because she was a girl and awesome. But six years later, thinking about it, I realized that I most identify with Harry. Of course, I've never had near the kind of magical battles or confrontations like he has, but the way he dealt with things was so familiar. I've dealt with loss, become depressed and then rejuvenated like Harry because I knew I had to keep going. And knowing that he could do it, having it so much harder than I, it always gives me encouragement.

Thank you, again, for giving me and so many others an escape to a more fascinating world than our own where good always wins out in the end. Thank you especially for giving me the friends of your seven books that I will always treasure.

Best of luck to you in the rest of your life and thank you for sharing Harry with us.

~Naomi Broadway

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Embarking on a Journey to California.


I can tell you that ever since I can remember, I have loved California. My aunt and uncle used to live in San Francisco and we got to visit them every once in a while, and I LOVED it. Sometime when I was younger, I think around 3 or 4, I kept telling everyone that I lived in "Halifornia."

I've been going through my old journals, getting rid of the incredibly embarrassing things I wrote in my youth and also some of the really painful experiences I had (a whole other story for why I want to do that), and it comes up again, and again, all through them. How much I love California. How at home I feel. How I feel drawn there.

I wanted so bad to go to college in CA. For a few different reasons, it didn't happen. It ended up being an important lesson on disappointment and learning that life is what happens when things don't go according to plan.

It's honestly hard for me to feel like planning out my life much anymore, just because so many things haven't gone according to the plan I had for my life. It's been a lot more lessons in disappointment, but also a lot of incredible surprises that have changed my life for the better. So I don't mean to make that sound like "wah my life sucks because nothing ever works out" because that's far from the truth.

It's a post for another time to really describe how my life has not gone according to plan, yet has been much more than I could have ever imagined. Right now, I wanto focus on one thing in particular that was not in the plan...

Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

I had this really vague idea of what I would do after I finished university, but never quite imagined that I would be embarking on this journey. I'm not Catholic... why would I join a Catholic service organization?  If I was going to do a year of service, why would I stay in the States? I can hear my 18 year old self asking my 22 year old self these questions.

I won't bore you with the details, though you can read a little more here. Point is, however it came about, I made the decision, and I looked seriously at many of the placements that JVC has, felt drawn to Urban Compass, which is in LA. In California.

I still can't believe it. I'm not na├»ve enough anymore to think that moving to CA will solve all my problems, buthere's still a part of my soul that feels drawn there, and I'm so glad that I will be able to live there, even if it is only a year. (It might be longer if I decide to go to graduate school there... watch this blog as I attempto make that decision...)

In a week I will be beginning orientation for my year as a Jesuit Volunteer, and it still doesn't feel real. Even with all the packing lists, the fundraising, meeting roommates over facebook, background checks, etc.... California has been a dream for so long, one that I had put on the back burner as I went on with my life. It's going to be my real life now.

Just goes to show that good things come to those who wait.

California, here I come!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Photo Post: Trees

I'm a tree lover. And I love taking photos of trees. Here is a sampling.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2,000 Paper Cranes... And Counting.

I remember first learning to fold paper cranes... it was at Peace Camp 1999, in Vancouver, BC. I had justurned 10 and was BFF with Rachel who was a year older and therefore SO cool. I had sort of gotten the gist down, but I had this really shiny gold paper that was really pretty that I wanted to fold a crane with, buthat paper is a little hard to use when you are a beginner. Rachel helped me smooth out some of the mistakes I had made and together we finished that gold crane. I thought of it as our friendship crane. And though Rachel and I have not spoken since that summer (I've been trying to find her on facebook but have been unsuccessful so far...), that crane brings me memories of our friendship that summer.

here it is, twelve years later

I was in fifth grade that next school year, and we read the story of Sadako. We folded cranes, and I, of course, was already an expert. 

Sometime around age 11, I started folding teeny tiny cranes, tearing my origami paper so I could make those little cranes. I'm not sure exactly whathe draw was; perhaps the challenge? maybe I justhoughthey were cute? Anywaythe summer I turned 11, I decided I would fold a thousand cranes. Mostly justo see if I could do it. And I guess something to do with ~peace~. It was a slow start, but a pretty big undertaking for an eleven ear old. I only folded maybe a hundred that firsyear.

In seventh grade, we studied Japan in social studies class, so we approached the subject of the atom bomb & Hiroshima & Nagasaki. As a seventh grade class, we folded 1000 cranes to send to the Sadako memorial in Japan. I donated some of my teeny tiny cranes to the cause, and folded many more, because again, I was an expert athis already.

In eighth grade I was very angsty. Reading my journals from back then is just drama, drama, drama, ~feelings~, ugh my lyf sux, etc. By then, folding cranes had become a calming activity, a coping mechanism. I'd play some music (angsty, of course), and fold. Athis point, I barely needed to look down, my fingers knew exactly whato do.

It was the summer after eighth grade, the summer I turned 14, that I found out my friend Madeleine had cancer. When we departed that summer, we were confident we'd be seeing each other again. Her cancer was treatable, she was young and healthy, she'd be cancer free in no time. I'm not sure when exactly I decided thathe cranes were now Madi's. It may have been right when I came home that summer after learning she had cancer. It may not have been until a few months later when we realized thathis wouldn't be as easy as we'd thought. Nevertheless, I had folded maybe 400 cranes by that summer. And sometime in the next few months I did decide they were Madi's cranes, and it became almost urgenthat I keep folding, that I make ito a thousand.

Time passed slowly or too quickly the next few months, who can say now. Come April, I got a phone call. I answered the phone and the person on the line asked to speak with one of my parents. I shrugged it off, I didn't know who it was. A few minutes later, my mom came to me with the phone. She told me it was Madi's dad on the phone; it was going to be soon. That conversation with bob is up there in the top ten hardest conversations I've ever had. I don't remember much of what was said. I remember sobbing. And I remember bob saying: "She was a great kid, eh?"

After I hung up the phone, I went and sat on my futon. I had 900 cranes. I folded a hundred that day. I sathere sobbing and folding, while each of my family members took turns sitting with me. I made ito a thousand. Madi departed to the heavens a few days later.

I puthose cranes in a box. I couldn't be there for all of her illness, buthis had been how I was present with her, how I had thought of her every day.

Months later, much too soon for me, a classmate of mine died of heart failure while playing basketball. I had never known him well, but it was all too real to have another fifteen year old die. That first day when we heard the news, teachers hardly expected us to do anthing. We made cards for his family, we wrote him letters. I folded cranes. I sent fifteen with a letter to his mom that first week. I had every intention of folding a thousand for him as well, but somewhere in there, time passed, and while I kept folding, I got busier, it went slower, and I had never met his family, only seen them from afar at his funeral. I know that they would have still appreciated it, but I never did give his family the rest of the cranes.

The summer of 2006, it was the 60th anniversary of the bombings in Japan. My aunt and uncle's church did a commemoration, and I folded the cranes for the service.

Time passed again. I grew older, didn't fold cranes as much. I finished Aaron's thousand, had Madi's thousand in a box, and had even more. Last summer, we began packing up the house to move to TX. I didn't know whato do with all those cranes. Madi's would of course, be making the trip. But Aaron and I hadn't been as close and I felt weird keeping them even if I didn't give them to his familyThough they may have been "Aaron's cranes", the truth is thathere was a piece of my soul in every one of them. My pain, my suffering, my tears, my love, my joy, my hope.

That summer we returned to Keuka, NY for Peace Camp, which had been the last place I had seen Madeleine. I decided that I would take some of these cranes and we would have a small memorial service in the lake, giving the cranes to the water we'd had so much fun in at age fourteen. Her biological sister Genevieve, her spiritual sisters Frances, Sarah, Lydia and I puthe cranes in the water. We told stories and remembered our beautiful sister.

cranes floating in the lake
I had only taken some to NY however, so I was still faced with the issue of whato do with all these cranes. My friend Sean suggested: "Use them to make one giant crane, charge admission to see it, and then take a bath in the millions of dollars you will inevitably make. Your welcome." Other suggestions were to make a mobile or donate to a children's hospital. My mom then suggested that maybe we give them out at church. We joined Mt. Level in 1997 just before I turned 8. This church is our family, and I liked the idea of giving them something to remember us byThe last Sunday that all of us were there as people living in Durham (we have gotten to visit a few times since), I brought a basket of cranes, I believe a few hundred. They were all different sizes and colors, people took one or many. After church was over, there were still some left, and we saved them for the kids I had worked with for years in Messiah's House.

We officially moved to Texas. I still had maybe a few hundred cranes left, justhe teeny tiny ones, and I figured I would make art with them or something. My best intentions are often overcome by laziness, so mostly they have just sat in their box.

On the seventh anniversary of Madi's death, I had my own memorial service for her. I wento the grotto on St. Ed's campus, which had been a place of solace for me, especially my freshman year. I used to walk back from the photo lab pretty late, and would stop to chat with Madi a while before heading to my dorm. That day I took 22 cranes, for she would be 22 this year, and laid them athe altar. I chatted with her a while, cried a bit, and remembered my dear Madi.
This brings us to present day. Where are the cranes now? Still in a box. But I am leaving for LA soon, and have been struggling with how to say goodbyto my friends and family here.

And I came up with something to do with the cranes.

Yesterday I spent folding boxes to put cranes in. There is no significant number of cranes in each box, just sort of filled each one. My hope is thathese become prayer cranes. I am going to be especially in need of prayer in this nexyear of my life as I embark on this nexyear of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I wanto give you something tangible to remember me by, something to guide your prayers (or positive thoughts, if you prefer) for me. I have also made prayer crane boxes for my new roommates that I will meet in less than two weeks, so we can share this journey together.

If you would like one, please let me know. Don't worry about me running out, I can easily fold more. Also, if you are not nearby, I'm not sure how well these will hold up in the mail, but if you would still like a crane, I can send you a bigger one.

If you have stuck with this entry for this long, props to you. Thank you for being part of my journey.