Chapter 11 Continued: I’m On a Boat

This is the latest installment of The Growing Season by Stephanie Phillips. For previous installments click here.

Being in love is a powerful antidote to the winter blues, and I found myself sailing through January and February without the usual moodiness I felt during those months in previous years. Especially on Valentine’s Day, a faux holiday that the girls and I had typically boycotted in our own fashion: each of us would find and buy the cheesiest, most unbearable card in the world. We would bring said cards to dinner at a restaurant devoid of romance (last year we had gone to Dave and Buster’s so that we could double down on food and games; it was slightly depressing to see how many couples had made the same choice) and proceed to exceed our impressive food intake with an even more impressive alcohol intake. The year this tradition began, VD was on a weeknight. Since that year (and some legendary hangovers), we had observed the holiday on a Friday or Saturday.

But this year was different. In what can only be described as a miracle, all of my girlfriends had hung onto their New Year’s Eve hookups. Abby and Mike had discovered that they were each other’s high school crush and had managed to translate that into a present-day relationship–which meant she had company at her apartment at least twice a month. Our brunches had taken a hit, but she had never been happier. Cara and Ben had turned their mutual hatred of douchebags into a fledgling relationship. They were taking it slow, and I was pretty sure that he still didn’t know the deepest reason for Cara’s Epic Speech, but so far it looked promising. And Kennedy, whose mother had indeed screamed when she was informed that her daughter was dating a Midwesterner (“What the hell is her problem?” Abby had uncharacteristically and defensively asked), was allowing Todd to introduce her to football teams outside the SEC. Brian, on the other hand, had a new boyfriend every week and saw no reason to change that schedule.

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Photo Phriday: The Walk Home

Most mornings I walk to work and most evenings I walk home. Which means that I stride past the White House twice a day. Rain or shine, a different crowd lollygags in at the gate of the First Family’s front lawn. Little kids hang off the vertical bars and parents ask strangers if they can please take our picture. A tattered tent sits opposite this gate, the only constant on a pedestrian plaza marked by an ever-changing sea of tourists, police officers, and government workers going for an evening jog. The tent has been there for years, protesting the existence of nuclear weapons. Its handmade signs warning of our own annihilation. Today, as I weaved among locals rushing home and a large group people wearing ponchos, I stumbled upon a bunch of hula hoopers. “Hoops, not Bombs” said the banner from Code Pink. Under a grey evening drizzle, these reveler-protesters were a bright spot in my day.


imageAll photos taken and copyrighted by Verena Radulovic


Jesus vs. The Doctor

Warning: Spoilers ahead. (Sorry, River.)

I couldn’t tell you what made me watch my first episode of Doctor Who. Several cool people had recommended it to me, waxing poetic about its awesomeness. But I don’t really remember my conversion moment. I can tell you that I binge-watched most of the show while living in Paris one summer, which I realize sounds like a complete waste of being in Paris. Don’t worry, I still experienced plenty of la vie à Paris.

I couldn’t tell you when I became a Christian—I just  grew up that way. My faith has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, and I find myself seeking out more Bible study, more theological essays and books, more time in the church and workplace Christian communities I’ve found.

Similarly, once I started getting into Doctor Who, it was only a matter of time before it started to become a bit of an obsession. Confession: I may have permanently dyed my hair red for a Doctor Who Halloween costume two years ago.

Over the years of binge-watching Doctor Who, I’ve noticed some parallels between the Doctor and that other really cool guy, Jesus. So now I present to you, Jesus vs. the Doctor. (Or, Jesus alongside the Doctor, because both of them are nonviolent, one with more consistency than the other.) Continue reading

Beach Haikus

Man vs. Beast
Out! Out damned seagull!
You’ll have to pry this sandwich
From my cold, dead hands.

Man vs. Lifeguard #1
I’ll swim where I please.
Stop your pointing and waving!
Get a job, hippie.

Man vs. Lifeguard #2
I climb the white throne
Ousting the whistling tyrant.
Swim free, people! Free!

Sand, a Lifecycle
Born a rock, the waves
Grind you into submission
Now cats pee on you

You don your speedo
Children scream, adults snicker.
Ne’er change, Euroman.

Disturbingly Tan Old People
You are really tan.
You are also really old.
Just pointing that out.

Ocean Seasoning
The Big Chef upstairs
Chose salt for some reason, but
I’d go with Old Bay.

Four Ways to Be Awesome During a Crisis

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Mr. Rogers

Dear Friendly Fixers,

I’m not sure how to say what I’m trying to say without offending you or seeming ungrateful for your genuine interest in my well-being, particularly during times of trauma. It is truly wonderful to be cared for and about by you. That’s not something anyone should take for granted. I appreciate being seen by you and having our situation observed and cared about by you.

But–and yes, there’s a but–when people experience suffering and trauma they are often well-aware of what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. They don’t need it to be pointed out or solved. Just because people are struggling through something doesn’t mean that they’ve somehow lost touch with reality or their own problem-solving abilities. The very fact that something is wrong in your normally-capable friend or family member’s life is surely evidence that it’s outside that person’s control. Putting it back onto them to do something isn’t helpful. Continue reading