Monthly Archives: June 2013

Some Videos of the City

Since I leave Novorossiysk tomorrow for at least several months, I figured I’d share some vids I found on YouTube so you can see the city where I’ve been, why I’ve fallen in love with it, and why I’m pretty bummed to move on (for a while).

The second one was taken at New Years, 2013. I’d flown out the day before, but the city puts on fireworks pretty frequently.

I reserve the right to post more about the past few days later.

Blessings. Shalom. Aaron.

A Beautiful Dare

I listened to the podcast of this radio show the other day appropriately called Radiolab, and the two hosts tell stories — sometimes science-y, sometimes about life or psychology, or curious little things in the world. This particular episode focused on a pair of improv comedians. You know the kind. They stand up in front of a crowd and act out a scene based on audiences’ suggestions. Except that these guys take it a little farther. They don’t take suggestions and rather than act out a scene, they go for a whole hour, starting the show from nothing and not knowing where it’s going.

As the interview goes on, they start talking about the experience of jumping into an hour-long performance kind of blind, like the thought of the lights coming up and having no idea what you’re gonna do, and then what comes next. And one of the comedians says, “It’s that step off the platform before the next piece of floor comes under your foot.” And then Robert Krulwich, my favorite media figure in the world, says this line. He says, “It’s like a beautiful dare, sort of — the whole thing.” Then the other improv guy comes back, reading my mind and saying, “It sounds like you’re talking both about life and about the show as a beautiful dare.” And I got hung up right there.


I have no clue what happened for the rest of the podcast because I just couldn’t move on from this image that life is some sort of dare, begging us to do bigger, scarier things. For the rest of the day I thought about all the stupid, thrilling things I’ve done that have contributed to my story. There are all of these silly dares, little experiences when I’ve thrown fear aside to jump off a cliff, go for a big “dino” climbing, crawl to the back of a cave with a history of losing men for days, ask for a big-ass raise, run a marathon, or kiss the little red-haired girl (no, I’ve never actually dated a redhead) that mean so much to me looking back. They’re not all so grandiose, either. Remember that just last year I learned how to swim (well enough to do more than stay afloat long enough to get to a ladder or the shallows)? Now I’m swimming hundreds of yards in the Black Sea and there’s still that tinge of anxiety every time I jump in and the reward of manning up to the challenge and going a little farther or a little faster so I can whisper to myself those two letters that take on such magic when put back-to-back, “PR.”

Ah, in this life we inhabit in a world of dreams and dares, where we’re rewarded for every risk with a more storied life, even if we fall. A lot of people want to write a book about their life. I doubt I’ll ever do that, but for now I’ll try to live enough so that I could.

Blessings and shalom,

Wrapping this up and thinking about risks, rewards, and the thought that sometimes we fall, Rules 64 and 85 came to mind from the Velominati, but I couldn’t quite find an elegant way to work them in, so you’re left with this ungraceful appendix.

Russian Folk Dances: They do exist!

The band is outside in the park again this morning. They started with their usual march, but today they moved on to play a ragtime ditty, then a couple of Russian folk dances! You know the kind… where everyone dances in a circle and the music starts really slow and speeds up to end really fast. Yeah! It’s a real thing! Though I’m pretty sure there isn’t anyone dancing down there, it definitely put a huge smile on my face to hear.

Moonrise and Sour Milk

I just got back from a walk to the grocery store, having left at 9pm, just about the time that the sun sets here. I go the fancy, Western-style, grocery store for the selection, yes, but mainly so I can walk back to my hotel by the water. In the evenings the boardwalk is crowded with couples and friends enjoying each other’s company and the view. For me, walking here is a way to feel connected to the city. The reason I’m telling you this is that the most curious thing happened when I got to the boardwalk tonight. The moon, orange and as bulbous as I had ever seen it, had just begun to rise over the ridge on the far side of the bay and, just as it pulled itself up off the mountain, everyone stopped. The clouds parted just enough for the vessel to pass through, as if Moses himself were at the helm commanding them to clear a path, and every person on the walk turned — some sitting on the cement rail, others on benches, the rest of us standing, but all facing  one direction, focused on this single point in the sky. It was like each had stopped to pledge an oath — to walk slowly, to enjoy their lover, to breathe deeply on the cool summer nights. We watched for half a minute looking full into the gentle moon, like the harsh Sun would never allow. Then, so we wouldn’t take advantage of such an experience, the clouds closed and we moved on into the night, each one walking a little slower, looking farther to the back of the eyes of their partner, and breathing the bay air just a little deeper into our lungs.

I went to the store tonight for milk. Without groceries in my refrigerator I’ve been waiting too long after exercising to get protein into my body and then probably not enough. On the past trips I’d tried twice to buy milk, but each time it tasted very sour. Today, spending the afternoon with the lovely folks from Calvary, Novorossiysk, I shared that I’d had bad luck with milk and found out which kind some other folks buy and decided to have another go. It had been suggested that I might’ve bought a type of sour milk (you wouldn’t believe how many options there are when buying milk here!), but looking again at the selection today I don’t think that was the case. And though I am a man, I do know how to check the date, despite what others may have hinted (Masha, you’ll probably never read this, but I’m looking at you ;-) ). You will all be glad to know that I am now sitting on the patio sipping milk along with my Little Debbie-esque snack cakes, which have proved to be a perfect dinner after gorging myself at the backyard barbeque earlier.

Here’s to a great day with brothers and sisters, and the wonder of God’s creation!
Blessings and shalom,