"If you had three wishes, what would they be?"
"Three wishes? Usually I only get one…"
"Well, this time you get three."
"Okay, more vacation time."
"People need to be kinder to one another."
"And your last one?"
"This little boy being healthy and smart and having a good life in the future."
According to the Urban Dictionary, a "meemer" is one who tries to weasel his way out of something. Who knew?
Me: "What do you like best about him?"
Her: "His sense of humor."
Me: "What do you like about her?"
Him: "Ummm…Everything…I don't know…That's a hard one…Ummm…"
Her (impersonating him): "I'm a meemer!"
Him: "Yeah, uh, I hate to be cliche, but, like, she gets me. That's the best I can say. I don't know!"
"I'm passionate about living life to the fullest. I'm a gospel singer I sing with the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. I've been in that church for 25 years." She went on to sing an incredibly powerful hymn, a cappella, in an angelic voice. I got goosebumps on my arms and she laughed, "Look--You got the goosies!"
"Here's what I've learned from having my dog: There is something more selfish than myself, and that's her. I consider myself, and people call me, 'high maintenance'; I maintain that I maintain myself highly, but *she's* high maintenance!"
"I was thinking about this a couple of times: You know, there's a stigma attached to seeking help, whether it be counseling or something like that. And it was the last thing I wanted to do. But, there was a time, in the recent past that I did: I decided, 'All right, I don't care what anybody thinks. I really need to talk to somebody, someone who's not related to me, someone that doesn't even know me.' And I did. I sought help, I spoke to that person, they didn't know me, but they helped me build myself back up. I think I'm back to my old self. If I hadn't done that, I don't know how I would feel right now."
"The coolest thing that ever happened to me was climbing all the way to the top of a mountain. It felt like a big accomplishment, like, 'Finally you made it to sit on top of the world.' I'm not really an outside person, but I tried to do something spontaneous that day, and it ended up being really 'life-ly' worth it. Seeing life at a different angle."
Zanzibar is located in East Africa. It's a beautiful place with crystal clear, blue waters, and, as I learned the other day, it's known for its doors:
"I have a door that my grandfather, an architect from Zanzibar, made before I was born. It's not a *real* door, but just for the wall, like the size of a picture, that I hang in m living room. It means a lot because it's my grandfather, and Zanzibar are known for their doors. They're very popular, with their intricate designs, and he made them there. So, it's history. It's really great to have that."
Jason told me the story of how Max the dog came into his life:
"My wife decided that we wanted a dog, so we went to a shelter, found him and picked him up."
"Why a shelter?"
"We wanted to give a dog an opportunity that obviously didn't have one. We actually ran into the person who dropped him off and she lived on a farm, and he just wound up on her farm. She already had two dogs and didn't want to take on another one, so she had to give him up."
"We met in daycare and after that we didn't see each other anymore. And then we saw each other in high school, and then we just started hanging out. We became good friends."
"When I was growing up, I had a pen pal named Michael and we used to write each other letters on actual typewriters. I was, like, sixteen and melodramatic and it was wonderful, and he used to sign all of his letters with 'Beauty In Everything,' and I always loved that as a concept. So, I have a typewriter tattoo with that on it. I don't talk to him anymore, and I've actually never met him in person, but I think that perhaps he was meant to be in my life in some way in my formative years to remind me of this."
"What's your favorite inanimate object?"
"It's kind of a cliche, but it's my wedding ring and my engagement ring together. At times, if I'm away from my husband or having a difficult day, I'll reach over and grab onto them and it just makes me think of my husband and of our marriage and I'm really comforted by it. I feel naked without it."
Diddy (left) and Charles (right) run Squareboyz 87:
Charles: "It's a company that we have. We do it for the kids so we don't mess up their eyes; you use your own 20/20 vision. We don't put any lenses in the frames. Our donation goes toward the kids and making kids happy. Giving them a pair of glasses so we can see them smile, that's what we do. Our whole goal is to make kids smile. What made me want to do this was the kids: some of them can't wear glasses like you and I can, but they want to. So I said 'Let me create something without using any type of lenses.' I started down here at the Brooklyn Barber Shop. Positive thinking, positive everything. It's all going our way."
Chris Long of ReaLion is exclusively a reggae musician and DJ. I asked him why:
"I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop gangsta music and I feel like a more positive message is needed out there. Nothing against hip hop or any artists out there, but I feel like there needs to be more positivity."
"So what's the main positive message you get from reggae?"
"Treat yourself right, stand firm, self-sufficiency, and learn how to work in accordance with everyone."
Check out his website at http://www.realionsound.com.
Sophie explained the Soapbox Project to me:
"West Ward Neighborhood Partnership is a program of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. This year, I don't want to say we're 'celebrating,' but it's the fiftieth anniversary of the War On Poverty. So, Community Action Committee is asking people to speak up and stand up about issues around poverty and why there's poverty in the country. So we have this soapbox: you get up on the soapbox and make your ninety second speech and then we have a website, caclv.org, and your video will be posted up there."
Woman on Right: "I'm not new anymore; I've been here about five years. I came from New York."
Me: "What brought you here?"
Woman on Right: "I guess after twenty-plus years of the hustle and bustle of the city, I think this is the place…"
Woman on Left (Shrugs shoulders): "…And *me*?!?!"
Woman on Right (Laughing): "And her. Yeah."
She is celebrating her recent move into a condo in the Grand Eastonian Suites:
"I've moved thirty-two times in my lifetime. I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in North Jersey, and have been in Pennsylvania since 2007."
"What made you decide on Easton?"
"My daughter lives in Forks. And the best thing about Easton is that I'm close to my grandchildren. But, oh, *the river*! My husband and I lived on the Raritan River for ten years, and then he was offered an endowed chair at Penn State, and so we went up there. Seven months later he died. So, I have moved four times since then and I think that I have finally found my serenity on my balcony overlooking that beautiful river."
"I just reconnected with my girlfriends from when I was in seventh and eighth grade and when I was in high school. We haven't talked in 40 years."
"How did that happen?"
"I was thinking about this friend of mine, and you know that feeling that something wasn't right? And so I Googled and got to know her married name and one thing took me to the next thing, and supposedly she was on Facebook, but I realized she hadn't been there, so then that connected me to a friend from Florida, so then that connected me to *all* the people I went to middle school with… So there was this big hunt, and last night I talked with her for, like, two-and-a-half hours as if not a day had passed."
"It is more difficult (than riding a single). You have to learn how to balance and everything. My wife doesn't take her feet out; we clip in, so it's a balance thing. We also have to be able to ride in synch, so you have to be able to anticipate each other's movements. We've been riding for twenty years--we've been doing it a long time. This is twenty years old, this bike."
"Where's one of the best places to ride around Easton?"
"We typically ride in through Nazareth and make a big loop of about thirty miles to 512 up towards Bethlehem."
"He's taught me to have more fun. I'm very uptight and sometimes all I want to do is work and sleep, work and sleep. But he taught me to relax, don't yell so much and just go out there and do stuff."
Esme belted out a soulful version of "What Is And What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin at the open jam last night at Weyerbacher Wednesday:
"I've been singing since I was a little kid, but I didn't start taking lessons until about fifteen, twenty years ago."
"Why do you sing?"
"To feel truth and authenticity and just…freedom."
"Believe it or not, both my kids were supposed to be born on my birthday, which is September the eighth. One of 'em came the third and the other one came the seventeenth, but I was right there from start to finish. I had no idea. I was never around little kids; I was terrified of 'em. I don't think I even touched a little kid until I was about 26, and to be in there and actually see them coming into the world… Just totally blew my mind.
These are the stories of the people of Easton, PA