I Am (a day late)

Context for this: here

I Am half-caf and half hazelnut, actual limeade with visible pulp, orange juice scooped out of a bucket from the juice guy on the street in San Ignacio. I am two soft boiled eggs smashed onto a baguette or ciabatta roll with a slice of cheddar. I am brunch.

I Am the magazine section at Barnes & Nobles with an iced mocha and a BFF. I am the second floor deck of a lake house doing my own version of Insanity called I-can-ity with my earphones and solitude. I am a tiny room in Central America with slat windows, iguanas and the most hilarious Belizean family.

I Am one-eighth of the World Next Door summer team. I am a woman: one tiny part of the sisterhood of oppressed women all over the world but holding a rare lottery ticket to education, independence, relative equality, and material wealth. I am heartbroken for my worldwide sisters and will do my very best to use the winnings of this lottery to make life better for all of us.

I Am God’s Plan A for the restoration of this world. Who are you this week?


Late for 2010. Early for 2011.

**We realize this never made it out to some of you. We don’t know why. It’s okay to put 200 stamped letters in your mailbox with the little flag up, right? I don’t really know about mail etiquette. But here is. A little holiday update. You’re drooling. I know.

Happy Holidays! Jeff and I want to take this opportunity during the season of Thanksgiving to express our sincerest gratitude for all who have planned, helped, participated, and celebrated the last 6 months with us. We were blessed with a spectacular oil-free wedding in Destin, FL and a gorgeous rain-free reception in Beloit, WI and were able to visit with many of you during those gatherings- although not for as long or intently as we’d have liked!

We also want to give an update on the life and times of the brand new Hartmans, including our relocation to a new city and new jobs- which we request as justification for how late (or how not at all) this thanksgiving has arrived in your mailbox! Please?

Following our honeymoon in Breckenridge, Colorado, Jeff returned “home” for the first time to Indianapolis, where Brooke had moved three months earlier to begin as a Social Worker at a downtown hospital in the Emergency Department.  Prior to the wedding, Jeff accepted a unique position as Physical Therapist in the same Emergency Department and began on August 2nd. We have been working across the hall from each other for about three months now, and the Social Work department has seen a sharp increase in printing activity, as the printer is located in the PT office.

In addition, Jeff continues to work part-time as the Stateside Director of Operations for Hillside Healthcare International in Belize, and Brooke works part-time as a Behavior Consultant for developmentally disabled adults through the waiver program and a therapist for emotionally impaired kids through a state grant.  Jeff would like you to know, he is not one of Brooke’s clients.

Jeff also continues to mourn the loss of Madison, but we’ve added the Big Ten Network to the cable line-up and he’s discovered an iphone app (yes, Jeff has an iphone!) that allows him to tune-in to the Madison radio talk shows. As we embrace our first winter in Indianapolis, Jeff asks things like: does water freeze here? And Brooke is rolling around in winter coats and boots she hasn’t had use for the last few falls in New Orleans or Belize. Somehow we’ll adjust.

Until this week, we’ve been living downtown Indianapolis on the Canal, but we close on our first home together in the Arts & Design District (spoken with an English Accent) in Carmel, a suburb north of Indy. We put those qualifiers on the Carmel home for the local friends who are standing by with Carmel jokes. We will be in Old Carmel, two blocks off Main Street, and we bought the house from the friend who set us up in the first place!  Given that she introduced us and sold us our first home, we are considering an advanced order for kids. Kidding.

As we reflect on this past summer, we want to thank you (yes, you) for making 2010 the best year ever. Thank you for the gifts, cards, fellowship, prayer and celebration!  Please accept this thanks, albeit a couple of months late, as sincere and heartfelt.

Berny hotfingers

While I was in Belize, my greedy little brother pawned all my books.

I didn’t discover the books missing until an hour before my dad’s wedding, which is just like him. He had been MIA for at least a month and had shown up the day of the wedding to get some clothes. It just so happened that my dad had changed the locks that morning, and Brandon all but jumped out of the bushes as soon as we pulled up. He smiled a sparkly smile, raved abut his great new job at the pet store, threw his clothes into a trash bag, gave me a hug, and promised he’d stay in touch.

Twenty minutes later, I found my empty book boxes. My poor, pillaged boxes. Hundreds of books. Gone. I stomped around the apartment screaming about what an idiot he was and threatening to throw him out a two-story window if I ever saw him again. My dad thought I was overreacting until he went to get his camera, which was also missing. It was the camera we bought my dad for Father’s Day—and by “we” I mean “me” since I paid both Ben and Brandon’s share. So, to recap: he stole my books, and then he stole the camera he himself gifted, at my expense.

Had he shown up for the wedding, he would have been uninvited. But that’s what makes him so frustrating. He is so unreliable you can’t even exclude him.

He finally called me about a week ago under the guise of “I heard you had shingles, how are you feeling?” which turned out, in the end, to be “I need a bed can I have yours?”

I told him I was feeling fine, except that I was broke and had to depend on the free clinic to treat my shingles since I have no money and can’t even pawn my own books for prescription drugs.  Then I threw in something about food stamps just to make him feel guilty, and ten minutes later I was fielding calls from various family members alarmed about the food stamps.

“Are you on food stamps?”
“No, who told you that?”
“You talked to Brandon? Did he call you or did you call him?”
“He called me.”
“To tell you I was on food stamps?”
“Well, no. He said he was trying to buy dad’s furniture but that you might need the money more than dad. Do you need money?”
“Do you need groceries?”
“No. I’m not even on food stamps. I was just trying to make a point.”

“Did you tell mom I was on food stamps?”
“Yeah, because she said you might be selling your couches, and I thought you would need the money for groceries. And I need some couches. And a bed.”
“Brandon! I don’t need groceries. I’m not selling my bed. You can’t afford my couches. I just want my books!”

Do you know what he said next? He said, “Brooke. I left your yearbooks.”

As if all other books are merely ornamental.
As if he were a classy enough pawner to leave the things of real value. As if I am not a smart enough sister to understand the translation: “Brooke.  The bookstore didn’t want your yearbooks.”

For the record, the bookstore did not keep a record of books bought. There is no list of books sold. If I want my books back, I have to manually go through the shelves and pick out the ones I think might be mine and then re-buy them. Re-buy them. Hundreds of books. He managed to get my dad’s camera back, though. He originally used it to take out a loan at the pawnshop and then paid the loan and reclaimed the camera. But books? You should see the way they look at me when I whine about the books. Come on, Brooke. It’s not like they’re yearbooks.

Well. Today I bought three books. Now I am the proud owner of three books and 4 yearbooks. If you would like to give me a parting gift for grad school, please buy me a book.

Unrelated: I have a bookshelf for sale

Stop me if you’ve heard this one

I wrote an article for CFI.
It’s mostly everything I’ve already said in one post or another, but I feel compelled to share.
If you get through it, I promise colorful binders in the next post.

(On re-entry from Belize)

Doc: Hello Ms. Wilson, It’s time for your two-month check-in. How do you feel? Are you reintegrating? Adjusting well? Back to normal?
Me: Hang on. The zookeeper is trying to drag me out of the rainforest dome.

Two months ago my life was full of coconuts and lime, pick-up trucks, 90-degree days, meandering walks and dirt roads.

Today my life is filled with things it was missing in Santa Familia, like 8-lane highways and Starbucks and Fruit Loops and Grey’s Anatomy and 49 different kinds of Paul Mitchell styling products. Oh, and deliciously delicious Oreos- all of which disguise themselves as happiness.

But right in the middle is a gaping hole called “community” and another called “family” and one called “Antonia’s Kitchen” and a few more little ones called “good weather” and “sweet limes” and “dollar ice-cream cones”.

I have resigned to the fact that when I take a group of kids to the zoo, like I did on Saturday, and we walk into the Tropical Rainforest Dome, I’ll want to cry—and not just because the kids aren’t interested about the time I lived in a rainforest, but because I know in the deepest part of my heart that no matter how much money I make, or how many friends I have, or how many degrees I earn, I will never have the quality of life I had in the village for those short few months.

When I see birds or monkeys behind a cage in the zoo, I automatically think of Ronnel pointing out a toucan on the way to the sinkhole and feeding jackfruit to this little spider monkey our neighbors had in the village.

One of my favorite memories will always be that half-an-hour between dusk and total darkness when Inez and I would walk to the shop for a dollar ice cream cone or a Snickers or in search of hard-to-find flour.

Daily, those little triggers open this giant door inside called “My Other Life” and I wonder what they’re all doing there in Belize—what the weather is like, what the village gossip is. I can almost feel the sun and the breeze, the warmth, the sweet smell of coconut and campfire, and I can picture myself sitting with Ms. Mig on the back stoop peeling sweet limes.

Tonight, I’d give anything to hear Antonia’s deep laughter in the kitchen. I’d love to walk to the store with Inez. I’d love to flop down on David’s couch and catch up with Nelly.

Sometimes the best I can do is go to the zoo.

Birthday. Bangs.

The bad thing about not having a job is that you have time to do things like cut your own bangs. If you look at my bangs, they’re equally proportionate to my life since returning from Belize: sort of aimless and random, but well-intentioned with a touch of frantic. They scream: Something good can be done with this space if I could just get it together!

There was lots of cutting and fixing and cutting and fixing, because, well, you know how cutting and fixing goes. I tried to do it exactly how Hannah does it—I twisted them all together and snipped. Then I tried to even them up, but they were short on the left. So I tried to even them up, but they were short on the right. So I tried to even them up and they were short on the left, again. So I tried to even them up, but they were short in the middle. I gave up. Then I tried again the next day, because I still didn’t have a job yet and I had already seen all the E! True Hollywood stories.

My bangs are about 2 inches long now. Gosh.

Also, my birthday was Saturday.

We had a little birthday bash on Thursday night at Cheesecake Factory in Indy with friends and family, which was the best ending to an entire week of baby Lily, my adorable week-old niece.




Weekly Lily pics







On the actual day of my birth, I made a Belizean Cuisizean dinner in Fort Wayne for a few friends, and then—I’m just going to skip to the punchline here—Elaine from Germany showed up on my doorstep with Doug, home on leave. They spent the night. It was the best birthday surprise ever.





Pay no attention to Scary Sprinky on the bottom.


Isn’t it weird that I’m 27? There was a time when I thought 27 year-olds knew everything about life. Turns out, they’re more like 19 year-olds with 4 grey eyebrows and really short bangs.

(The things I wish I’d known.)

On the upside, I have found that most car dealerships have free popcorn, Diet Coke, coffee, internet and cable. It’s my new thing. Car dealerships.