Monday, January 31, 2011

Just a little drip

Today was a good day. Not even an "all things considered" sort of good day. Just a good day. Which, when thinking about the events of this morning, it's pretty wonderful it worked out afterall.
This morning began early, and Meredith, Kady (Luke's girlfriend), Jacob and I were feeling a bit lazy, so instead of the normal bike-ride to Southside, we decided to take a ride in the car. Which, as you'll find out, turned out to save the day in the end.
CrossStreets was wonderful, as usual. And then we piled back to drive home, grab our bikes, and head to work for the day after dropping Meredith's bike off for a tune-up.

As we were walking out the door to go to work, I looked up in the kitchen, and saw a little drip from the side. "Oops, its leaking." I said, kind of laughing- because the day before one of our toilets had flooded the back of the house, and we still hadn't heard back from our Landlord about someone coming to fix that. Ali, being the rational thinker, put a pot for the drip.
Then we realized our living room floor was a bit wet in places from some drips over there. And, pretty soon, we'd run out of towels and pots to put under, and the little drip in one isolated spot had turned into a flood throughout the entire living room, and the indoor rain continued still. Water was coming out the ceiling, through the walls, and seemingly everywhere.
We hurried to move all of the stuff out of the rooms that were flooding. Within a matter of minutes, our well-furnished living room with a tiny little drip had turned into an empty room with an inch of water on the floor and water still coming out of the walls and ceiling. We had rushed around the living room moving every bit of furniture anywhere there was space in another room. Our couch sat ontop of our dining room table all day, because that's where there was dry-space for it. Eventually, the repair guy arrived. Since he'd just been told there was a leaky toilet, he was a bit surprised to see four girls frantically running around an empty room trying to barricade off the flooding from getting to everything.
Over the next few hours we dumped the pots and buckets of water into our new garden, the repair guy climbed around in the attic to fix the problem, and, while we waited for him to finish up, we played some Yahtzee in the one little dry corner of our empty living room.

Had we not decided to sleep in a tiny bit this morning and take the car to CrossStreets, we probably would have all been at work, while the water just continued to build throughout our house. Good thing we were feeling lazy this morning!

All in all, it was a pretty hilarious morning of channeling water, ringing out towels, and laughing about it all, together.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 8, 2011

I can't really say that day started as any other, because it didn't. I was on a delegation at the time- which, is BorderLinks lingo for saying that I was leading a group of people on an organized, educational experience through the border area. We had just returned from Nogales and Altar, Sonora, Mexico, to Tucson, Arizona the night before. That morning, the group was going with Humane Borders to go on a Water Run in the desert. It was an early morning- the water trucks pull out at 7:00 am, and my plan was to crawl right back into bed after dropping them off. Which I did for a while, then got up and hung out with some of the roommates. Around 11:00 or so, I headed back out to pick up the participants from their water run.
I really enjoy when I'm driving by myself, because I get to pick the radio station- always country, of course. After singing along to Garth, the DJ interrupted to talk about shots that were fired at a grocery store. At this point, that's all that I knew. I continued on to pick up my group. As the day continued, I learned more and more about what had happened at that Safeway. I never really took a moment to let it sink in; my main concern at the time was delegating the 8 participants' experience in the Border Area. Throughout the day, I got texts and phone calls from friends and family back home, asking about it, asking if we were okay, etc. I'm not entirely sure if I'll ever fully understand the why or what happened.
One of my roommates, Ali graduated from Virgina Tech last May, and it completely slipped my mind when I texted her about what was happening in Tucson. Since she was in Mexico for the day leading a delegation, I wanted her to have some information about it to be prepared for the questions when she got back. That evening, she returned with her group to the dorms at BorderLinks. It would have been a long and stressful day on its own. She had asked another roommate Meredith to meet her at BorderLinks. Once the groups were doing their own thing elsewhere, I walked in the office where Ali and Meredith were hugging, and just after me entered Polita.
Polita saw us embracing and asked, in Spanish, what happened. And Ali, in Spanish, began explaining, about the shooting at Tech, the shooting in Tucson, the stress of the trip. Polita was wonderful, she hugged Ali, and said really kind words in Spanish to calm her down and try to make Ali smile.
Meanwhile, Meredith and I were both standing there next to Ali and Polita while the conversation was going on. I didn't translate the conversation to Meredith, who speaks enough to follow the basics. But- you never would have known based on Meredith's reactions that there was a language barrier.
And meredith stood there laughing when we laughed, crying when we cried together, and just stood there with us, as we tried to comfort ourselves- regardless that the whole conversation was in Spanish
so- i guess love can really be in any language.

"Let this tragedy serve as a catalyst for change."

Twin Maps

BorderLinks' dorm rooms are full of super-cool people.

Like the twins, Richard and Max. They just graduated from college, and instead of jumping into the career fields with their respective backgrounds in Religious Studies and Broadcast Journalism, they figured out a way to be both engage in community service, and see a good amount of the US along the way. They applied for a grant from the United Church of Christ to spend a year going to different cities documenting, through both video and blogging, outreach programs (like their Young Adult Volunteer program) and other youth/young adult involvement in the community through the UCC.

I highly suggest you follow their blog:

Another reason to follow that blog: Ali, Meredith and I were all interviewed for it- so maybe you'll see us there!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Most of the time, I enjoy my experience here in Tucson. The city, with its very agreeable weather and tons of character, is great. My four roommates are, quite possibly, one of the biggest blessings in my life. If not for the year as a YAV with them, I otherwise would not have gotten to know any of them. Even though Ali, Luke and I attended the same conference years before becoming roommates, we had no clue about each other. Each of the people I live with has pushed my way of thinking, comforted me when I've been upset, made me fall over laughing, and overall just been an amazing presence in our 1229 family. Most of the time I'm energized by the lessons I learn here, and by the thought of being able to share them in a variety of venues, and help others to open their eyes to the tragedy that is "the border towns." Most of the time I can understand this year of service, realize it will shape me in some way that I may never fully comprehend, and recall why I decided to do it in the first place.
Like I said- most of the time, I enjoy it here. Yesterday, however, I wanted to buy a one-way ticket and never look back.
Yesterday, I woke up sick. When I'm sick is when I'm also most home-sick. So, I went about my as usual, and left during work to go to the doctor. Upon leaving it hit me that I really couldn't afford to go to the doctor, as the deductible alone makes up 1/3 of my monthly stipend. Luckily in normal months the stipend has been enough to cover the bills, food, personal stuff, and even have a bit left over to save for a rainy day- or in this case- a sick day. On the drive back to work from the doctor I started thinking:
Why did I decide to do this, anyhow- what a stupid idea... spend a year without an actual income, so that when something happens I'm 15 again asking mommy for help. I'm just playing- I'm ready for "real life" to start again.
I'm so frustrated with crummy insurance... but I guess I'm grateful to have insurance, and a mommy to call when I can't even afford the co-pay.
I was more financially sound two years ago upon graduation.

It's a good thing I didn't write this yesterday, also- because I probably would have left it right there, with the message being "my decision to do this year of service was stupid- i'm playing for a year and not doing anything real, and I can't even afford to take care of myself beyond just the basics."

Luckily though, I slept on it. err--- laid in bed trying to remember what it was like to breathe through my nose, and thought about sleeping, is more like it.

And this is real life. It started a quarter of a century ago for me. I know when I am settled down- whatever that may look like- I'll be glad to have had this experience. I know right now I'm glad to have this experience. I meet so many people that, after the small talk questions of "what do you do?" and find out what I'm doing in Tucson this year respond with something along the lines of "Oh, I wish I could do something like that." And I could- I wasn't turning down anything that wouldn't still be available to me after this year. I'll make ends meet for now, and return to a steady paycheck and a normal routine someday. But right now, my eyes are more opened to the world around me. The ills and beauty of people, nature, and policy have come alive to me in the desert here, and I'm happy to be here to have it bring me life.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happiness is coming home again

The song, "Happiness" was stuck in my head as I landed in Tucson yesterday. Following the song, (which you should all listen to following that link below), is an excerpt from my journal from when I landed last night.


From “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

Happiness is finding a pencil.

Knowing a secret

Telling the time.

Happiness is learning to whistle

Tying your shoe for the very first time.

Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band

And happiness is walking hand in hand.

Happiness is two kinds of ice cream

Pizza with sausage.

Climbing a tree,

Happiness is five different crayons

Catching a firefly

Setting him free.

Happiness is being alone every now and then

And happiness is coming home again.

Happiness is morning and evening

Day time and night time too

For happiness is anyone and anything at all

That’s loved by you.

Happiness is having a sister

Sharing a sandwich

Getting along.

Happiness is singing together when day is through

And happiness is those who sing with you!

Happiness is morning and evening

Day time and night time too

For happiness is anyone and anything at all

That’s loved by you.


I'm landing during the sunset again. It's like a salute to a new beginning. The sun is toasting my arrival as I return to what I left a week ago calling home. The first time I touched down in Tucson, the sun cheered its multi-colored salute to me and my other roommates. Then, I felt very inbetween- mildly nomadic. Having left my homes in Irving and Dallas, but not yet having found a place to call home in Tucson.

Thanks for the welcome home, Tucson sunset!