Saturday, June 19, 2010

The first poem I've written in years...

You know...
I'm starting to remember myself again.
Little glimmers of light in such unexpected moments,
burst forth.
But I dare not speak too fast...
Lest it is a bubble, daring to pop,
A butterfly with gossamer wings,
That if it were touched, would float to the earth,
Never to fly again.

Monday, June 7, 2010


In a couple of hours, the first church group is going to come. They're going to think I know everything about the city, and about homelessness, and that I'm super experienced in everything. They're silly! I don't know these things! I don't feel ready, but I know I'm as ready as I'll ever be: I'll be just as ready to start being responsible for these groups in a month as I am now. So I'll just plunge into it and hope for the best.

Last week we went down George St. to hand out sandwiches. Now, I've never been personally afraid for my safety until I found myself on George St. There's a shelter that has 600 beds on George St. as well as a strip club. It's known as "crack central" and the shelter is known on the street as "Satan house." It's a breeding ground for theft, violence, addictions, and just like, driving down the street, you see the roughest people you've ever seen: drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, all of the lowest of the low together. So the thought of walking right into the street to hand out sandwiches really unnerved me, and I've never felt that way. Usually I'm not afraid for my safety in that way, but this street just seemed so incredibly sketchy that I figured something bad was bound to happen.

So, Mom... we ended up spending at least a half an hour on George St. When we were handing out sandwiches and socks, people came up, and were so polite, and a lot of them said "God bless!" and expressed a lot of appreciation. I got into a conversation with a guy on a wheelchair who got into a fight and broke his leg. He was really rough around the edges, but really friendly as well. At one point he pulled a bible out of his bag and started naming off all these verses, and getting me to read them, and being like, "See? This is important stuff! Don't forget that, okay?" and even reciting the verses with me as I read! He definitely knew his stuff, and was asking me to give him verses to read. I couldn't come up with verses fast enough, and it felt kind of strange standing in front of "Satan house" reading a bible out loud with this guy.

It was a really good experience gaining a different perspective on such a rough area. It really gives a depth of humanity to such a low place, to realize and know that there are people there who love and are pursuing God, and are trying to get back on their feet in the midst of such darkness. What a good challenge to me, to allow my perspectives and judgments to continue to fly out the window, and love people for who they are. I've been finding myself giving away bus tokens to guys, and today, I bought a coffee for another guy, and when I gave it to him, I saw a lady smiling at me when she saw what I did. But I didn't even do it thinking about other people appreciating it: the guy wanted a coffee, and I could get him one, so I did.

Last week, I volunteered at this really amazing place where they had a factory for people with mental illnesses. So those people who otherwise wouldn't be able to work were given the dignity and opportunity to have a job and be able to get hours, wages, and breaks. They could be... normal. I loved it. I do like factory work for not having to think too much, and I got into some awesome conversations with the people next to me: a girl who just graduated with a social work degree and was doing her placement there, and another guy who seemed to know everything there was to know about everything. The guy would ask me what I thought about different world issues, and then, when the other girl had gone to help somebody else, said to me that I should talk to the girl, and become friends with her because, "Two ships should never have to sail by each other without ever spending time together." - one of the wisest things anybody has ever said to me. They even had a piano in their staff lounge, and when I started jamming on it, another guy who worked in the factory came by, and asked if he could play, revealing to actually be a classical pianist. Boy, I can't wait to go back there.

Another place we went to was a restaurant that would only charge a dollar for a meal, giving people the dignity of being able to buy their own food. The meals were really good food too, and we waited on them and served them in a really nice restaurant atmosphere. I really liked that place. The more I see, the more I realize just how deeply important dignity, and the chance to be normal, and not looked down upon, is so deeply important.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This morning while driving, Sarah, one of the girls I'm working with this summer told me that she found a centipede in the bathroom. It was a couple of days ago, and really small, but one of those hairy ones, with the hundreds of long legs, and feelers! ew! I shuddered, and my eyes grew wider. But then she went on to say that this morning, she found another centipede... but this one was bigger... and she measured her fingers apart... wider and wider... a couple of inches...


And this was the legitimate, "I'm terrified out of my wits!" scream. Not many people have heard that scream! Okay... that's a lie.

Apparently, I even scared a pedestrian who was crossing the street in front of us and heard my scream. Maybe I was a little dramatic? It just kind of... came out of nowhere.

But now I'm really scared! Of centipedes!? Today, I went to the bathroom, thinking to myself, "don't think of centipedes, don't look for centipedes... stop thinking of centipedes! Frig!" - I mean, you're in a vulnerable position going to the bathroom, and that is the worst possible time I can think of to run into a 6-inch long centipede.

I have a few fears, but this one feels debilitating. There was this one time in Ghana, where there was a scorpion in my room. I was in there with my best friend from high school Anna, and we called Mat into the room because one time he had talked... unusually passionately about how he believed scorpions were the symbol of death, and the archetype of all evil. When he saw the real-life scorpion, he started freaking out, going on about how it was the symbol of death, and "this big, and it can kill you!" and I videotaped it, because it was really funny. But then some of the people came into the guest house with bug spray, and when they sprayed it, the scorpion moved. The moving scorpion suddenly registered in my mind that this bug is real, and can kill me, and it's on my WALL, above my BED... and I screamed! And then Mat took my shoe and smacked the scorpion! Killed it dead! Splat!

Like... is this weird? To be so terrified of a centipede? The scorpion I understand, but those centipedes. Mat's not even around to smack it with a shoe, which means that the responsibility falls on me. Crapface. Oh man, writing this blog entry kind of sucks, because I keep on looking around me and wondering if I'll see a centipede on my sheets or something. They really are nasty creatures. I bet they ARE evil, and ARE the symbol of death.

It's just weird that I'm so, really deeply scream-inducing scared of these things. How does one overcome a fear of centipedes???