31.3.07

weird and fun

Today. One of the most interesting days of late. Quite a bit of scrambling around at work to get work done, and at 5 p.m., the word came down: I am going to West Africa. In two weeks.

It's still sinking in, because although it was talked about, I really didn't have my hopes high that it would happen. And now it's a go, so I can let it sink in and get stoked about it. Only one thing I have to wait for: my comrade in journalism and I are waiting for our visas for Liberia. I think there will be enough time for them to process. I hope. They have our passports anyways, so we aren't going to move too quickly without the visa.

So we will be spending a couple of weeks and a bit in two places: Senegal and Liberia. Doing what we love to do - I, to write; she, to shoot photos.

This is definitely a chance-of-a-lifetime for me. Sent as a journalist to places that have such important stories to tell; with an organization I respect; covering things I believe in. I hope I can pull it off. My boss fought the good fight for me to be considered to go despite my detractors (too young, inexperienced, etc.). It's incredible to have someone fight a battle for you; to tell you straight up, "This is what you do. Go and do it!" He definitely has some heart-felt thanks coming his way.

My arms are pretty sore from the concoction of immunizations, and I am about to drink some crazy vaccine to gird me from e-coli and cholera. Now, there are a gazillion things out there that could make you sick, however, I am all for taking what I can get. I really do not want to repeat El Salvador. (The double exodus, baby.) Although, sometimes it's just inevitable.

I wasn't really thinking about the trip a lot tonight though, as I spent the evening volunteering at the Mustard Seed. Martin was working, although he was really mostly a big-haired phantom for a majority of the night. It was pretty basic - get supper, sweep, mop, give out snacks. I gave away a lot of cookies, and I owe my fellow volunteer Mike - a unique guy who has volunteered for hundreds of years - for informing overlyinquisitive or wanderingeyes, "She's taken, you know." Funny guy. So many great people there. A kind and rather peppy greybeard who exhorted Martin's popularity, heart, and work ethics, which I thought was pretty sweet. Not exactly your homeless-man stereotype.

So it was a weird and fun day. Contrasts and loveliness. One reality juxtapositioned with another. The next few weeks are going to be mad.

25.3.07

ingratiate ::

unexpected smile and my lip splits
blood bitten back
sit still : still good : still unhappy

a tvdinner saint :
so far from the real thing
evidence of my absolution
: convincing : oh, yes
like freeze-dried steak

sit still : think hard : still taste blood

self-loathing like a shame-hammer
so easy to dislike:
such a little fool :
full of vanity : a fat little balloon

think : she is intelligent. she is quick-witted and wise.
she is funky and careless. want me around.

still the lip bleeds :
ponder: smiling with all this shame :
what nonsense has become my standard ?
rather be the dancing monkey : yes
than a naked human :

my embarrassment : how swiftly
your approval was glorified
and it’s so tragically funny :
you’re just a tvdinner saint : too

desiring to be:
the real thing

18.3.07

before

There is a picture of a dead man on my wall. He wasn’t an ancient when he passed, nor was his life full. He wasn’t full of wisdom or grace, or possess knowledge beyond his years. He was, in fact, young, impetuous, wild, someone everyone said they knew and hardly anyone knew at all.

The picture I have on my wall is his memorial bulletin. “In loving memory, 1982 -…”

It’s his silhouette, mid-saunter, hands in his pockets, head down. It’s beautiful, serene, contemplative. Whoever took this picture unintentionally captured something him that wasn’t available outside his social fa├žade. It seems to me that it captures an emotion of his death. This emotion was not revealed by the various recollections of friends and acquaintances. To many it seemed he was the sharp –tongued wit of words, the say-anything, do-anything, lack-of-social-restraint comedian.

No one knows for certain the truth of his passing. On a railroad bridge; contemplating life, the sunrise early Sunday morning, contemplating existence… the contemplation will never be factual. Two train operators witness a figure push himself from a sitting, leg-dangling position, off into a freefall. The sun has barely risen and already death. Some speculate it became an accident, up on the bridge for whatever reason, choosing between certain death under the wheels of an iron horse, or possible salvation in the limbs of a tree far below. This guy, always so funny, energetic, seemingly careless of what people thought of him; on a railroad bridge in a grungy prairie town.

His memorial was the most tragic thing I’ve attended. The room was full of people who hardly knew him at all. “He was drunk and ran naked,” “He had nicknames for everyone,” “He was so funny…” There was nothing of anything that lasts. Nothing of any substance. There was nothing but emptiness, and the tragedy of it broke your heart.

The last time I saw him he was his “usual” self, or at least in hindsight, the usual persona I had come to recognize. He was insulting, witty, and was nearly in a fist-fight with my close friend. I don’t think anyone in that room would have imagined where we’d find ourselves a short time later.

I think about him now. I wonder about the afterlife. I remember how I used to be afraid of dying because if I died people might learn the truth about me. They might talk to each other, and find out that I had facades for every occasion. That I was one person here, and another there. That I cheated that person, told that lie, played people and used people. That I was insincere and insecure. That I was shallow and so were they and we never really knew each other.

I am not so fearful of death these days. I have been reconciled. The slate has been cleaned, and so has my act, and I am not afraid of that which lies beneath. And I have learned reality won’t be revealed in a funeral or a memorial gathering for a tragic, too-early death. The only chance others have to know me is when I recognize my facades and reveal myself. When I let my anger show. When I stomach humility and say “forgive me.” When I look you in the eye and tell you the truth. When I’m not cautious of showing love for fear of being rebuked, or worse, shrugged off.

It’s a lifelong struggle, unto death.

16.3.07

slap me and run

Some loser hit our car last night while I was at a friend's place for dinner. Seemed he or she didn't want to stick around and be responsible for their poor driving, and now I have spent all morning (and probably most of the afternoon) dealing with insurance and police reports and body shops and rental car companies because they (the tool) hit-and-ran.

The principle of it is what annoys me the most: people being selfish and irresponsible. It's a sign of the times, this lack of accountability people have.

But, oh well, it's just money and time lost. It could be a lot worse. And the poor little Civic will get fixed up real good, but it's still pretty annoying.

Hm. I think this is an online gripe session. Not very fun to read. Oh, well, it's my blog!

10.3.07

retreated


I have reached the weekend - weary, but satisfied. I can barely keep my lids open, but I will attempt to post something coherent.
It's been a long couple of weeks, but things have finished off well with a retreat with my coworkers to the foothills of the Rockies for three days.

My winter blues were burned away with intense March sunshine, beautiful temperatures, and a brisk wind. My face is tight with windburn, and lips chapped, but it's a great feeling. It feels like spring, and I am greatly enjoying it however short-lived the nice weather will be.

The photo is the view from the retreat centre we stayed - a quiet, picturesque, wholesome place. It's focus is on quiet, rest, and spiritual recuperation. I enjoyed spending time thinking, trying not to talk too much, playing piano and guitar in the little chapel, and just taking some deep breaths. It was really, really good. I definitely needed it.



Tomorrow morning I have my volunteer training at the Mustard Seed, which I am looking forward to. It's a must before you can volunteer, and I have been waiting since Christmas to do so. But I think God's timing is good on this one; even if I was able to volunteer before I don't think I would have been capable of it in these last couple months.

I have been bothered by how busy life has been; when it gets to the point where I am sacrificing people and the real things I would like to be doing to the schedule-god. I hate it, and I don't want to be a person like that. I want to stop by and visit my elderly neighbors. I want to write people real letters. I want to finish the painting I said I was going to finish two weeks ago. I want to give my home a top-to-bottom spring cleaning, and learn how to bake bread.
Instead I am rushing to work and to class, eating out too often, not getting enough sleep, and not connecting with people I care about. Do I really have an excuse? Not really. Some circumstance, some choice. But I hate saying "I am so busy". Everybody says that. I think it makes us feel good. I think we say it to excuse our lack of time for people.
So I think I need to say it less. And maybe look chickens in the eye more often.