Saturday, December 23, 2006
I was actually at the airport, in line to board my flight when all flights in-bound to Denver and out-bound from Denver were cancelled. So after a four hour bus ride (two different buses) and a two mile walk to my apartment in the blizzard, I made it home. And I am excited today because my street actually got plowed and I can get out of my garage. And I was able to order pizza and buy beer at the liquor store.
I managed to reschedule my flight for Christmas morning. But that means that I will be celebrating Christmas Eve away from my family for the first time ever. So I am going to reflect upon what the season actually means.
My good friend Kaija, who is spending the year volunteering in the Slovak republic mentioned that all she wants for Christmas is for her friends and family to "pay it forward". Well, all I want for Christmas is a puppy, but I will settle for making the world a better place since my landlord won't let me have a dog.
So, I am spending this weekend at the Ronald McDonald House. I work weekends here, and absolutely love it. Since I cannot be at home in Montana, the second best option is to be present for people in need. I have met so many wonderful people at the House. There is Elmira and her sons Hraj and Arsen. They are from Armenia and have been at the house for two years. There are Jamie and Conor who have a micro-preemie in the hospital and Jamie was just diagnosed with cancer. There is Chelsea, who is my age, with a very ill preemie who will probably not make it. Her daughter is so sick that she does not make any noise, or move. I have never seen a baby that you forget is there.
So I will answer the phones and empty the trash and call the medical supply companies for oxygen, but I will also celebrate Christmas in an entirely new way. I just feel so lucky that I am healthy, warm and do have a home and a family to visit this time of year, even though it is later than I would like.
And I feel so lucky to be with Tim, because I will be spending Christmas Eve with his brother and sister in law and three crazy nephews. And he is driving me to the airport at 4 am, because I am going to get there with plenty of time to spare.
Peace, Love, Joy and Light! (and snow, beer and friends!)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Nine of us spent friday evening and the wee hours of saturday morning at Sing Sing. This is a fabulous dueling piano bar, complete with a cover charge, expensive drinks and a dancing and singing wait staff. Don't get me wrong, I had an amazing time and we practically shut down the bar, but I was struck at just how different my life is than many other people. Most of my friends are USC alums or closely affiliated with USC alums. My other friends work at non-profits so they are already choosing to live their lives differently.
At Sing Sing, money can buy you just about anything you could desire. Any sort of alcoholic drink you can imagine, a song that you want the pianists to play, souvenirs and even a chance to get up on the stage and dance and sing all you want. I watched one man fork over $50 to get the piano players to stop playing "American Pie". Just to watch someone else top him with even more money to have the song continue.
I wonder if I will ever again be so easy going with my money. I used to buy clothes, food, soda and overall, junk, without a second thought. Now I think about where every dollar is going and what it could better be used for.
$17 can help someone obtain their birth certificate
$20 buys a full bag of groceries
$10 pays for a TB test (necessary to stay in a homeless shelter)
$3 provides round trip bus fare
$52 provides an unlimited bus pass for one month
$30 provides one month of birth control pills
However, as evident on friday evening, it is not common for people to think about how their money is being spent and how they might be able to help their fellow human beings. While I do experience lots of guilt and plenty of remorse at my station in life, I can choose to live differently.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
This is Stehekin, a tiny town on the northernmost point of Lake Chelan in Washington. It is only accessible by boat and I had a layover here on my way back to Wenatchee.
My good friend Heidi who is serving with Christian Peacemakers Teams in Palestine was on sabbatical at Holden while I was there. Heidi recruited me for the Urban Servant Corps.
The view of the mountains from Holden Village.
Me weaving at Holden.
I have been working on my grad school applications, hopefully to begin next fall. The job that I have right now is not something that I am planning to make a career of. It is good experience and pays me decently, but I am not truly happy without working directly with people in need. Several times a day I have to wander out of my office to reconnect with what I am actually raising money for.
Also, one of my good friends from the Ogden house last year, Sara, is living in the Philippines doing another lutheran volunteer program. I am hoping to visit her there this year.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
As of tomorrow, my time with the Urban Servant Corps will cease. It has been an amazing year, and I have grown and changed so much. I will be processing and unpacking this experience for quite some time to come. I will continue to make posts and updates with my reflections.
On Monday I am beginning a new job as the Development Coordinator for another non-profit agency. I will be managing the donor database, planning special events and writing some grant proposals. I am eager for a new adventure.
The last week of August I am taking a much needed vacation to Holden Village in Washington state.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Update: On July 24, 2007, Jon's remains were found on the rugged face of Grand Mogul in the Sawtooths. He was laid to rest in Minnesota in October 2007. His family has created a foundation to provide wilderness education and support to families searching for loved ones lost in the wilderness. www.jonfrancis.org
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Also, trying to explain my job and why I love it is also really draining. Often times, the only people that I can discuss work with are my coworkers. When we have a particularly draining day (today we saw 400 clients!) I can really only process it with the people who are closest to me.
In a way, having visitors is very difficult. I want to be hospitable and share my experiences with the people I love, but it is really difficult sometimes to do that when I am trying to process this whole year.
But it is so important for people from other parts of my life to learn what I do here, because so much of it has shaped who I am and who I will become.
Patty and I. Renee is throwing a snowball in the background.
Stefan kicked over a log and then was covered with fire ants!
Me, Sarah W, Renee, Patty and Marta hiking the W. Jefferson Creek Trail.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
However, on the other hand, I am not looking forward to the dissolution of our community and not always having the same people around. It is going to feel weird to not have seven roommates! I would enjoy having my monday and thursday nights back and being able to just come home from work and lay on the couch rather than having "intentional christian community" to work on. But the feeling is bittersweet. About half of us will still be here next year, and I am counting on that group for some continued sense of community.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Clear Creek Open Space Park in Jefferson County.
Patty and I atop Mount Sanitas near Boulder.
Karla and I at White Ranch Open Space in Jefferson County.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The women involved in the coverup were our "good" clients. They never gave us any trouble, were always willing to help and they were always kind. I am so frustrated and upset. I have been made the fool, along with all of my coworkers. We have been betrayed.
Right now, I am having a really hard time being sympathetic with any of our clients. I have seen so much this year, and it can really be so frustrating. So many of these women are in these situations because they put themselves there. They are addicted to drugs, or sex or just living a wild life, and possess no self control, no work ethic and no motivation. In addition, quite a few women are products of their environments, but very few are victims. Some no doubt, but the majority are manipulators.
I decided to do this this year because I genuinely wanted to help other people and to make a difference. I am learning alot, and I am not sure that it is all good. Another day, another adventure. We really have no idea who will walk through the doors of our shelter on any given day.
Friday, March 31, 2006
All I can do is listen and offer what I do know. And pray. For my lenten resolution this year, I decided to work to create more fulfilling relationships with the women who come to our shelter. So far it is going pretty well. They are more than willing to talk and I just need to take the time to listen.
Friday, March 03, 2006
However, these measures are too little, too late. The damage has already been done. Meth irreversibly changes the brain chemistry of users. It changes to dopamine receptors (pleasure centers) of the brain to accept meth. Also, horrific physical changes beset meth users.
The greatest drug problem facing my clients is meth use. You can tell within a minute who is or has been a meth user. Their skin is honestly yellow. It is chaulky and sallow. They are often covered in sores. Around their eyelids turns a dark purple and their eyes are perpetually watering. Meth users' gums and teeth decay over time. They often lose drastic amounts of weight and are severly depressed, particularly if they are trying to kick the habit. They are generally unable to eat and often suffer seizures as they withdraw.
To see the failure of the government in battling this drug, you only need to walk down to civic park or talk to any social service provider. It is really a tragedy.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The Vagina Monologues, the fabulous play by Eve Ensler, is a worldwide movement celebrating the sexuality of women. The Play has also spawned a movement called V-Day which coincides with Valentine's day calling for the end of violence against women. The USC and the BSC joined forces to produce our own Vagina Monologues while in Santa Fe.
Friday, January 27, 2006
First, is the "bag man". This man pushes around a veritable mountain of shopping bags attached to a cart. It is really a sight to see. It is five feet long, at least seven feet high and probably five feet wide. I wonder what he carries in his bags. I see him all over my part of the city. It makes me sad to see him.
Next is Jean. She lives in a camper outside the shelter where I work. She moves her camper everyday so as not to get a ticket. She is convinced that the director of the animal shelter is trying to steal her camper, because she runs her own tabby cat rescue. (basically she just lives in her camper with alot of cats)
Donna is a middle aged woman with downs syndrome who is charming and affectionate, but incredibly emotionally needy. She follows you around the shelter, asking questions, asking how you are doing, never really leaving you alone. She says at least every few days that it is her birthday.
Werke is a stunningly beautiful woman of middle eastern desert who always wears snow pants and a sweater, no matter the weather. She is completely non-verbal. I wonder what troubles her to the point that she cannot speak.
There is Maria who is convinced that I speak spanish, and speaks rapid-fire Spanish at me every time she comes in. I smile and nod and reply, "No Entiendo Espanol. Uno Momento."
However, sometimes when I see a glimmer of recognition in Werke's eyes, I admire pictures of Jean's cats or I sing "Happy Birthday" to Donna for the third time in a week it makes my job worthwhile.