Thursday, November 29, 2007


I wrote in my headline thingy that I post alot. I apparently lied, because I have not posted in a long while. My pants are clearly on fire.

Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was one of my favorites in my lifetime. The table was so crowded her at the Murphy's, that we had to attach a card table to the end of the huge dining room table. There was twelve in all here. It was the first time my boyfriend joined us for a holiday and it could not have gone more wonderfully. My cousin and her new husband drove in from Colorado and we had a great visit. A new family friend, Basile, was also one of our guests this year. I complained so much to my gma the days leading up to the holiday because Thanksgiving is definitely my least favorite holiday of all. I am horrified by the turkey and the resulting using of the bird's dead carcass/body cavity to serve as on oven to cook the equally repugnant stuffing. Last year, I almost passed out when I entered the kitchen to find my little tiny gma almost shoulder deep in the ridiculously enormous turkey body, packing it full of stuffing where all its organs used to be. Then, I had to choke back vomit as she sewed its' former anus closed. This year she got 2 smaller birds and I avoided the kitchen like it was on fire. But for all my complaining and pre-emptive loathing, I enjoyed myself immensely. The contempt I feel for large gatherings and turkey was further complicated by the fact that due to a severe ear infection I had lost something like 80% of my hearing. I could hear talking but making out the words was nearly impossible. I missed many of the jokes, and was the butt of a few more I am sure. My uncle Bobby got a huge kick out of screaming in my face and then asking if I could hear him now? Marquis served as a translator for many of the ongoing conversations. Once, I thought my cousin was discussing porn in the living room and was visibly shocked at her candor. I went on to find out she was in fact discussing, CORN. The best part was my gma actually misunderstood her as well! The Lord delivered a much needed peace and joy unto my house that day and a many different people came together for a satisfying meal.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


so yes, Honestly....
I like to read other people's blogs. My favorites are listed as links on this page. Noel, Paul, Andrea and Arloa all work at Breakthrough. It's just a coinkie dink that they are all my fav blogs and work there. Paul recently posted a blog about the imposition of being homeless. That is one of the inspirations for this blog. I have been thinking alot about that since he wrote it, kind of always in the back of my mind until this situation. It wasn't something I was going to write about, but I admire how Andrea and Noel post things that were difficult situations and they learned from, even as it shows their inherent sinfulness/pride as human. So here is mine, I feel it's only fair....

I have a friend. He used to be homeless. I spend time with him. You can't tell anymore that he was homeless. Since he is still struggling, I often take him to food pantries. My boyfriend came along to some last week. He got some food also and gave most of it to our friend. At one pantry in the heart of Boystown, I helped first my friend pack up a bag of food and then my boyfriend. An older, cranky gentleman that worked there came over and said, "Who are you? Are you from some kinda organization or something?" I said, "No. Why?" He said, "Well, you have these two fellas with you, all that food is not for you, is it? What are you doing? How do you know them?" I stammered, and stuttered, and replied something like, "Um, no, it's not for me. I don't need food. I just brought them here" and seriously, then something about being a Christian and helping people. WHAT? My boyfriend kind of looked at me confused as to why I was so obviously flustered and at a loss for words. Other pantry workers stopped me and apologized for the man's seeming harshness and intrusion and I was like "yeah whatever, I drove them both here. "
Later, we went to a church for dinner where the homeless gather. My friend wanted to go there and see everyone he used to see and check in. I thought it would be great to visit with the other (homeless) guys I haven't seen in a while. I felt weird about eating the food though, because I didn't need it. I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, had my hair pulled back, no make-up and probaly tired looking. Some of the women that were serving, I caught looking at me like they felt bad for me. I was one of few women there, and the youngest by far. I caught myself feeling like I wanted them to know I WAS NOT HOMELESS, I didn't need this food, that I was there visiting. I realized how prideful that was of me and I turned to Marquis and shared this feeling. He said he thought that what I felt earlier at the pantry when I responded so weirdly, but he wasn't going to say anything. He didn't seem to have this problem. Then, again, he isn't too caught up ever with what people think. I didn't think I did either. But then, when I sat there amongst the needy and thought I was loving them, in fact I was trying so hard to make sure no one saw me as one of them. That is not love. This was a week ago and I am still sooo ashamed of myself. I had no idea I was so shallow and prideful. I am so hard on others for setting the homeless apart or "othering" them and there I sat, thinking I was better than them?
May God forgive me for thinking in some way that I was better because He has blessed me with a home, food, resources, etc.
And may those men that surrounded me, so happy to have me join them forgive me for not wanting to be one of them.
And somehow, may I work through this to forgive myself.
There is my honesty.
And may you forgive me, too.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"We don't recruit there"......

The young seven year old girl previously mentioned in my posts needs somewhere to go after school. I was hoping her school had one that was noteworthy, knowing full well she didn't have anyone to transport or walk her somewhere. I looked it up on the internet and found a bunch of places in the Cabrini Green area. First place that called me back today had a man speaking named Herman. He was very nice and informative but said her mother would need to sign her up. I tried to explain that her mom was not super excited about her daughter's future, or present for that matter. He said the goal of his program was to get involved with parents and children in the neighborhood. I got the idea, I think he missed my frustration.

The second callback was more of the same. Just send her mom down, etc....

By the time the Big Brother, Big Sister organization called I was notably on edge. When she told me that there wasn't much I could do besides refer the mom to call and sign up Tanguray, I almost punched the phone. I calmly explained to her that her mom was not super involved in her life and not really interested in helping if it put her out any, that was why I was calling in the first place. The lady was so sweet but I still had contempt for her as she explained : "We know. thats why we don't recruit for the program there. Our program requires an initial family meeting and weekly phone call with the parent and after repeated attempts we realized the parents are non cooperative in that area. So now, we devote our time elsewhere." She went on to share my sadness at this, elaborating that as a social worker it is hard because she knows those are the kids that need the most help, most mentoring, most guidance alot of time. They still accept kids from there, but they stopped recruiting.

I did find one cool place. It's called 826 CHI and its not too far from her apartment. Its sounds fun. They are a free drop in center during the week for tutoring and reading and they have these workshops on the weekend. All of them were full for this month and next and I was so obviously disappointed the woman actually allowed me to register my little buddy for the one this Saturday. It's called Crazy Island Adventure. They read a fun story, then some people act it out, then they all draw their version of an island and talk about it or something. They have an island party. WOW. She said the goal of the workshops is to excite kids about reading and stimulate their creativity. AND ITS FREE! I am amazed and I want to bring all the volunteers/staff cookies and hug them for doing this.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Apple Mint Jelly and Lindonberries?

So I had an overnight nanny job on the North side of the city on Saturday. It was for two young girls, ages 4 and 1 1/2. The four year old was interesting, to say the least. She attends a French preschool about thirty to forty minutes from her home every day during the week. Her vocabulary put high schoolers to shame as she described herself as a "voracious" reader, asked me to hurry up the breakfast "process," and repeatedly said "oh my, what a wonderful day" and "isn't today simply wonderful?" She only watched one half hour of television a day and it has to be a pre approved show on PBS or Noggin. She can play educational games on internet sites like PBS for one half an hour also. She made up intricate stories about life and animals and told them to me. She asked me a million questions about my life like separately asking specifically how every single room in my house looked, where I go to school, what I like to do, my favorite color, if I like Dora the Explorer, etc. Upon hearing her proclaim that I was her most favorite babysitter ever, I asked her to elaborate on reasons why. She asked what elaborate meant, and then explained that she particularly liked me because I was wearing a pink sweatshirt. Honestly, I was a little irritated by her by the end of the 24 hour job. But looking at her and her sister and all their educational toys and health food (they have never eaten at McDonalds, they eat banana chips instead of potato chips, no juice only organic milk and water, no junk food, they love fruit and veggies) I was able to actually see the world at their finger tips. It was like seeing a positive future in the flesh. There is no way these little girls can fail. I looked in their eyes and saw happiness, peace, excitement, fun.
It was a bittersweet reminder of what childhood should be like. What an unbroken family looks like. What manners and healthy living can do for a childs development. And money. What money and being white can mean for a child.
I have a little girl in my life that I love and spend time with. She has an absence of positive role models or figures in her world. She does not have a playroom filled with educational toys and books and when I buy her some, they always disappear from the house by the next time I see her. She does not have pink clothes and ribbons for her hair. She is currently failing second grade in a school situated in the last of the notorious Chicago housing projects. She lives 2.5 blocks from her school but does not get there regularly. When she does attend, she is late. Her mother is not fond of getting up early in the morning to walk her across Clybourn (the busy street separating her apartment from the school). The other two adults in the house are not concerned with taking her either. They often don't pick her up from school on time, leaving her to "play" in the housing projects parking lot until someone does arrive to take her home where she will sit in front of the tv and watch adult programs until she falls asleep late at night on the couch. Her clothes are usually dirty and mismatched, and she can sing all the most provocative hip hop songs on the radio word for word. Her vocabulary is deplorable and she cannot read the most basic of words like Hop, cat, on, by ...I dont need to go on.

These children live worlds apart and twenty minutes from each other. I could not help realizing all these discrepancies as I watched this little girl I babysat for dance around the room singing a song in French. How is this just, fair, or part of God's plan? Why did one deserve to be born into such opportunity, love, promise and the other into such deplorable living conditions, neglect, years of ingrained institutional racism, non stimulation......... And how exactly does the color of their skin factor in here? This four year old was light years ahead of my seven year old sweetheart.

Some things I bet my sweetie would not be jealous of though- the little girl I babysat for had apple mint jelly and lindonberry sandwiches for lunch. What is a lindonberry? I still am not sure but they were imported from Switzerland. Apple mint jelly; the color, the smell, the consistency, the idea - all made me close to vomiting.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Love your enemies as your brother? Thanks for the lesson Michael!

I watched Sicko by Michael Moore this past week. I wanted to see it kind of, like I knew it had information that I was interested in but sometimes Michael Moore rubs me the wrong way. I also didn't want to have another thing to worry about, and his movies always educate me about something. This knowledge is hard most of the time because what can I do about the violence in schools, this countries' obcession with guns or 9/11 and the possible cover ups? The answer here should be, I can pray - I can pray for justice and for people to turn their lives over to God. But my faith inspires works, I want to do more and I want to see results. I am off on a tangent, so anyway I watched Sicko.

Like ten minutes into it, I asked Marquis to turn it off because I wasn't in the mood to be depressed and upset. He wordlessly picked up the DVD box and pointed to a review on the front that hailed this movie as "Michael Moore's funniest work yet!" I sighed and sat back to wait for the funny parts. They didn't come, but I enjoyed the movie anyway and witnessed something miraculous. I am not on the Michael Moore love train, nor have I joined the hate groups dedicated to shutting the man up. I simply recognize that this man is passionate about injustice in America and is voraciously dedicated to showing America another side of our system and its inequities. Emotional appeals are inherent in his work, but the man is effective and I appreciate action on injustice. That being said, towards the end of the movie on lack of decent and affordable health care in America was an amazing story. Moore is concerned for all Americans and their battles to acquire life saving health care. He is bold in his assertions that America only cares for those at the top of the socioeconomic ladder, those that can pay. That is a belief I have had since my childhood. The amazing, wondrous part of this movie was when Moore wrote a twelve thousand dollar check anonymously to one of his most embittered and hateful critics. The man, who regularly posts a blog concerning Michael Moore's latest doings with a harsh critique, was shutting down his blog because he needed to work more to pay for hefty insurance increases that accompanied his wife's diagnosis of cancer. The blog I believe was called MooreWatch and trumpeted the fact that they basically stalked Michael Moore and documented all his so called ridiculousness. Moore did not disclose alot of the material on the blog, but it's fair to say they are not in his fan club (called him a sad, pandering ignoramus etc). Moore recognized this man's pain as he read his blog and knowing the man would probaly be in a tough spot having to choose to accept money from his sworn public enemy to save his wife's life, he donated the money as a "Guardian Angel." The man wrote a blog detailing this happening and publicly thanking his guardian angel for now he could keep the blog up and running. It was slightly amusing that Moore was concerned about protecting the rights and abilities of his harshest critic so much he would donate money to help him. That was my first reaction, happiness and amusement. The more I pondered this action, the more affected I became. Here, is truly a kingdom sign, a work of grace and love no doubt inspired by Jesus. Moore acted as Jesus taught us to, he loved his enemies as his brother. He acted out and showed love when he was faced with hate. I am not responsible for judging and if anyone in my family reads this I will get lots of strongly worded emails decrying my public support of Moore, but I was inspired by his actions. He did it anonymously, and perhaps included it in his movie to let the man know who gave the money or perhaps to let everyone know he really did care about everyone's right to health care. Everyone, even his enemies. I began to think, Do I love my enemies? Those that speak out against me and judge me harshly, do I turn to them with love and giving selflessly? I laughed today as I realized Michael Moore taught me an important lesson about loving my enemies. I wonder if he is a Christian? I wonder if he realized Jesus was using him in the midst of his documentary to show a biblical example of love to the world? Moore, perhaps, was not aware of God's agenda. It just shows HIS will be done, even while we are out doing our own thing you know? Breaking into Guatanamo Bay prison to get health care for 9/11 rescue workers or whatever.

Friday, November 9, 2007

So, I cancelled my myspace. I wasn't thrilled with it anymore. This webpage (blogspot) feels like a grown up version of it, so I will post here for awhile. I find I have alot to say and I feel a sense of relief after I would type a blog. I am extremely bad at expressing myself, except for in print. I am always learning and have become great at apologizing and growing from my mistakes. I really struggle at having grace with myself, but have a plethura of it for other people. I am working on being gentle with myself lately, because the world tears you down and rips you apart and if you don't care for yourself then you are screwed. I am new at being a Christian, and have learned that just going to church does't make you a Christian anymore than standing in the garage makes you a car. I have learned that just because someone says they are a Christian doesn't mean they are perfect or going to exude love and graciousness. That was probaly my hardest lesson of the year!