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22 December 2008 @ 11:47 am
 I stumbled across this in a blog that I read, I think it's a good reminder to us as we begin to get caught up in the "have to"s of the holiday season. "Being Poor" by John Scalzi Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs. Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV. Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn. Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away. Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours. Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier. Being poor is living next to the freeway. Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last. Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn’t mind when you ask for help. Being poor is off-brand toys. Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house. Being poor is knowing you can’t leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around. Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt. Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn’t have make dinner tonight because you’re not hungry anyway. Being poor is Goodwill underwear. Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you. Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground. Being poor is your kid’s school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning. Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal. Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you. Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights. Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support. Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet. Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash. Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw. Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference. Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall. Being poor is not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids. Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours. Being poor is not talking to that girl because she’ll probably just laugh at your clothes. Being poor is hoping you’ll be invited for dinner. Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it. Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk. Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise. Being poor is your kid’s teacher assuming you don’t have any books in your home. Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap. Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor. Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere. Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid. Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy. Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap. Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn’t bought first. Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar. Being poor is having to live with choices you didn’t know you made when you were 14 years old. Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful. Being poor is knowing you’re being judged. Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa. Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by. Being poor is deciding that it’s all right to base a relationship on shelter. Being poor is knowing you really shouldn’t spend that buck on a Lotto ticket. Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime. Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won’t listen to you beg them against doing so. Being poor is a cough that doesn’t go away. Being poor is making sure you don’t spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up. Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in. Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree. Being poor is a lumpy futon bed. Being poor is knowing where the shelter is. Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so. Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor. Being poor is seeing how few options you have. Being poor is running in place.
20 June 2008 @ 12:10 am

It’s been a really odd life in the town of D. I’m working for a ministry called “the Outpost” through St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church.  While we’ve all kind of adjusted to being the only white people in an area, it seems the area is less adjusted to us.  We can pretty much guarantee that any time we go anywhere in our town, we’re met with stares and occasionally asked if we’re lost. Twelve white college kids, living together on the lower west side of Detroit apparently sticks out? Who knew?


So culture shock has been an interesting thing.  But more than that, I am aware of myself and my surroundings, and how much I don’t know about the world more every day.  Monday afternoon there was an incident that still is kind of bugging me now.  The agency I’m working with didn’t know I was coming this week, and their camp doesn’t start off until next Monday.  So basically I sat in the office all day, every day, all week, with the two secretaries Miss Elaine and Miss Lena. (Yes, I did mix those names up for the first 2 days)  Now Miss Elaine is the church secretary and Miss Lena is the Outpost Director. I began my day hearing about the theory of the Outpost, how it’s meant to be a safe and nurturing environment, and how they have a zero tolerance policy for fighting and all forms of violence. On this particular Monday Miss Elaine had brought her 2 granddaughters to work with her. Kelly is 13 and Nina is 5. The girls were to be there all day, and then attend Vacation Bible School that night.  Let me just attest to the fact that besides the 6 years worth of financial forms I filed, there is absolutely nothing to do in the church office, and after about 3 hours the girls were wearing on everyone, but mostly they were just terrorizing each other.  Lunch diffused and distracted the harassment for a while, but by 1:30 they were back in each other’s faces and spaces.  That’s when Miss Elaine left the office to meet with the Pastor for a minute.


It started off as most fights between siblings does. Kelly doodled hearts onto the corner of Nina’s art work from earlier that day.  Nina, who’s 5, gets angry and yells at her sister. Kelly pushes Nina, not hard enough to hurt her, but hard enough to knock her on her butt. Up until this point, this might seem like a normal feud between siblings. One that most of us have seen at some point, and some of us might have even had when we were younger.  At this point, because of everything I’ve been told, I am fully expecting Miss Lena to reprimand Kelly, after all she just turned the verbal fight into something physical and pushed a little girl down.  Instead the response from the adults in the room was not directed at Kelly but at Nina, who was told that she had to “take care of her business,” and literally the two adults in the room became the peanut gallery for what turned into a knock-down drag-out fight, lasting nearly 15 minutes, which included but was in no way limited to biting, scratching, kicking, hair pulling. And which inevitably ended in Nina in tears. Her sister is, after all, 5 years older and a full foot taller. I was in shock, and even more shocked that rather than reprimand the girls for fighting, Nina was praised by Miss Lena and Miss Elaine as being a scrapper, as being someone who could “take care of herself.” She was told that it was good for her to be violent when someone hurts her. 


This is the picture that’s still sitting in the pit of my stomach; I can not for the life of me understand this notion of redemptive violence. I can not understand the idea that if someone hurts you, it is only right that you should find a way to hurt them back even worse.  It seems to be the beginnings of a very scary and painful world, and whether you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. many of “the greats” have preached change through non-violence.  So my question for you is, in a world where if your country is attacked you go to war, how do we teach kids that violence should not breed more violence?? And more so, can redemptive violence change anything?         


17 January 2008 @ 01:37 am
I posted this to a community I'm in...

"But I feel like you guys might be the only ones who understand this.  I just got off the phone with Ryan. It was the best thing in the world to hear him laugh, and hear "Babe, don't worry so much, I'm fine."  At the same time... I can't go to sleep now.  I was doing so well just bustling through my life, and falling into bed every night just exhausted, that our 7 minute phone call was both the best and worst thing in the world. On the one hand there were so many things I want to tell him and not enough time.  On the other hand... I love the kid, but I've been working really hard not to think about why he's in Texas, so when he chatters on about how great his new unit is and how much he's looking forward to working with these guys on all this stuff, suddenly my brain snaps it back into focus. Ry isn't just in Texas, hanging out, learning. He's getting ready to go to war.  

"Don't worry so much".... I don't even know if that's possible.  

Thanks for listening, any advice is always appreciated. I might be a veteran at seeing the deployment of people I love, but this is the first time it's been someone who didn't HAVE to love me, and I guess I'm just coming to terms with the fact that there's no in between for me. Either I'm worried sick, or I'm doing such a good job blocking it out that it's hard to tell that I care at all. So my question is, how do you guys find balance?  " 

Then I learned a valuable lesson in being misunderstood.  So I gave up, and took it down. It now lives here... with the other junk that no one reads.
06 January 2008 @ 01:55 pm
 I have a best friend, who everytime he leaves for deployment does the exact same thing. In the airport he hugs me, he spins me, he pecks me on the forehead and he tells me to "be good".  We've done this exactly 4 times.  But this time... he wasn't the only one leaving me. And I think for the first time, I heard him, and took it to heart. 

In saying "Be good," he actually means "While I'm away, do the very best you can to be the very best person you can be. Stay stable, stay strong, grow, change the world around you, love on the people in your life, support them, and take care of you."  

That's a tall order. But as I find myself alone, or soon to be alone on many different fronts. I'm willing to make it my New Years resolution.  I  want to dedicate this year to being good. And this journal to the documentation of how I'm doing it.  It probably won't be fancy or flashy, but I guarentee that it'll be real. So dear readers of LJ land, what does it mean to you, to "be good"?