Coincidences, and Belem


In a strange coincidence, one of my clients from LA (Jason) and his partner (Steve), just happened to be in Lisbon at the same time as me. So last night we went to a Fado club to listen to some great music, and today we all went to Belem to see the tower and the monastery. Then we had a brief walkaround and coffee in Alfama before parting ways.

I love it when you run into people you know in unexpected places.

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That has a nice ring to it


I have a strange history of things going my way just when I need them to. Not incredibly major things mind you, but more get-me-out-of-a-small-jam kinda things. When I was 20 years old and had moved to Paris with almost no money, I was down to living on 50 cents a day and a baguette. As I was wandering the streets wondering what in the hell I was thinking coming to Paris with no money and just expecting everything to work out, and more importantly what I was going to do, I suddenly came across 1000 francs in the street. Just like that, in a tidy little clip with no pesky identifying info like a wallet or anything. That money got me through a tough couple of weeks until I finally landed a job and got on my feet. At another time in my life when I was deeply in debt, a relative died and left me a few thousand dollars. All through my travels I have met people who have welcomed me into their homes, at times in the dead of night when I was quite unsure where I would turn to next. In none of these cases has my need been truly life threatening, I was just in situations where I was somewhat pinched by circumstance, and have many times over been the recipient of some lovely bit of serendipity for which I am gobsmacked and truly grateful. Then again, I also tend to see the positive in almost everything, so perhaps I am only remembering the good and forgetting the bad.

What does any of the above have to do with anything? Well, getting ready to move into my new apartment has been more of an expense than I had expected, and I am getting somewhat low on funds (awaiting payment from a couple of my clients, this is mostly a temporary cash-flow problem). I was just yesterday thinking about how I needed a little something to drop out of the sky.

And just like that, it did. Yesterday on the street in the Village, I found a pretty nice ring (what looks like a wedding band, but I’m no expert), and I took it into one of the pawn shops in my neighborhood where they said they would give me several hundred dollars for it. I decided not to sell it, thinking if it was worth that much, perhaps it was quite meaningful to the person that lost it. (Then again, perhaps they threw it at their spouse in disgust after finding out they had been cheated on and left it in the street, bidding good riddance to the both of them. Who can say really?) In any event, I placed a couple of ads online on Craigslist and the Village Voice, saying that I had found a ring and waiting for the owner to claim it. So far, I haven’t received a single reply. So my dilemma is this:

If I still get no response within a couple of days, would it be wrong of me to sell it? Is there another, better way to contact the probable owner? Maybe they aren’t even aware that it is missing. Maybe they are off on their yacht eating caviar and poking fun at the hoi polloi. Then again, maybe this was the most valuable treasure they have, the only memory of a long departed relative.

What would you do?

The secret lives of sofas and coffee tables


Whenever I come across a dollar bill that has some obscure note scrawled on it, I am always intrigued. The note could be something as simple as “Jack loves Jill” or “555-1212” or “Harry was here”, but I love the idea of these random messages being sent out on the winds of commerce. I am also fascinated to hear of the rare times when these messages have either made contact with someone who knows their sender, understands the message or even returns to the person who wrote it, years later.

In the same vein, I have unexpectedly come into contact with furniture from my past. A few days ago, Dallas introduced me to a friend of his named Paul who we met out for dinner. As we dropped Paul off at his apartment on our way home, I noticed that he lives in the same building where my friend Olaf and his friends owned an apartment a few years ago. I mentioned this to Paul and he was familiar with who they were though not much more. Last night we were invited over to dinner at Paul’s and there, sitting in his living room was Olaf’s old coffee table and sofa (on which I had crashed several times). At the time Olaf and friends sold their apartment they had also sold most of their furniture and these has been purchased by a friend of Paul’s and not too long after that by Paul himself.

It is a funny message from the past that alerts me to the interconnectedness of everything. I find it strangely comforting and compelling.