Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving…. I love having books to read. I love having the books that I read neatly displayed on my bookcase. I like owning them. I like watching my library grow. Well that is until I have to move my books. Then I hate them. I hate how even if you put just five of them in a box the box is almost instantly too heavy for me to lift. I hate the irregular size of all the books and how they never quite fit in a box of any size or shape. I hate having to take all the books off the bookshelf before you can move the bookshelf and then dust it and then dust the books because they collect an irregular amount of dust. I didn’t know that it was not only possible to get sunburned but to get fried just by the 40 seconds or so it takes to walk outside and load something in a moving truck then walk back inside. I don’t like that moving suddenly creates things you need. New rugs, new bookshelf, new couches, new this, new that, new office chair, new grill. Now that the majority of ‘stuff’ is in our new apartment a hunt and gather expedition must be launched whenever we need something. My phone charger was last seen plugged into the kitchen outlet in the old apartment. To date there has been no sign of it in the new apartment. Or there is the awkward in-between stage. Cereal in new apartment, milk in old apartment. Frozen breakfast thingying roommate eats in new apartment and microwave in old apartment. Dirty dishes in new apartment, dish drying rack for sink in old apartment. Then there is the ‘wonder what’s in here’ box opening experience. Most of roommate’s belongings have been in storage for the past year. Opening some of these boxes has demonstrated his packing technique to be a categorized as the ‘willy-nilly’ style of packing. One box could contain any or all of the following: random assortment of wires, hats, medical records, text books, lamp, car cleaning solutions, tissue box, baking sheets. When moving boxes out of storage the task was set to, if possible, quickly search each box before loading it into the moving truck. Why one might ask. Well that’s because there was concern that the fireworks might be dangerous to move and roommate had no idea where they were because more than one box was labeled (and I kid you not) “stuff”. All boxes from storage are now in our apartment. Fireworks have yet to be found. Highlights of moving… As the roommates’ office chair was ‘on its last leg’ so to speak, it was used to give me a high speed ride around the parking lot. That was fun. Those moments of pure exhaustion when one or both of us broke out in sillyness. Those are moments I cherish because they were often followed by me getting annoyed when sillyness continued on for more time than I felt demeaned funny. Imagining what the final product will look like keeps me going. I picture friends and family sitting in the living room on the new couch chatting away as we play host and hostess to them in our first new place. I greatly look forward to literally digging into the small wild garden we have in our patio. Under a vine that has taken over the small space I found a half dead rosemary plant and a small tomato plant with 4 cherry tomatoes on it. Garden sheers have been purchased in preparation for rescuing the rosemary and tomato plants. Then there is the discovering the …nuances of a new old apartment. Like dimming lights that only go off and on and do not dim. Or the light in the bathroom high up on the wall above the sink that does not have a switch and does not turn on. Both closets in our new place have little baby windows in them that are chained so you can only open them about two inches. Was there concern that a toddler would craw up the side of the building and get in through the baby window to rob us? Must chain window so no one can fully open…..? Another window oddity is the window in our bathroom. About six inches outside our bathroom window is a wall but not like an outside but an inside wall. There is also randomly and odd and very loud noise that old pipes make. Then there are the two discoveries that were made early this morning. The discovery that the circuit breaker box was outside. Why one wonders would anyone need the circuit breaker on only their second day in the apartment at 7:30 am? Well glad you asked. In the bathroom is a metal grate of an old 1950’s heater. In a moment of curiosity someone who shall remain nameless, turned it on to see if it still worked. It works in the sense that yes, one can turn it on and the coils visible inside instantly light up red and emit a strong heat. No, it does not work in the sense that it does not turn off when one switches it to the ‘off’ position. It also stays on once the circuit breaker has been turned off and turned back on. Stay tuned for the resolution of this one….

Saturday, February 18, 2012


To say Syria is a bit chaotic would be an understatement. I cant tell you what the conditions are on the ground, or what the state of the Syrian government is. I can’t tell you what Syrian citizens think. I can tell you that for the second time in recent weeks the US embassy in Damascus is closed. My concern and focus now is not the Syrians but the Iraq’s in Syria and their family members here in the US. With Syria in an uprising the already slowed and dwindling processing of Iraqi refugees out of Syria has stopped.

Imagine feeling your country. Instability, violence, death threats have forced you to seek safety. Well now that safety is marginal at best for the thousands upon thousands of refugees in Syria. Some have been there for years, waiting for their turn in line to be resettled to countries like the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada and the US. Do you leave? Do you flee to Jordan or Lebanon? If you go do you loose your spot in line having to be added behind the other refugees already there waiting for years? You can’t work and the money given to you by the Syrian government is not enough. Your family that has already been resettled abroad sends what little money they can but you know they struggle in their new home. Money is tight even in a safe country.

What do you tell your loved ones in Syria? Stay? Go? You go regularly to the resettlement agency that helped you. They are sympathetic but continually deliver the same hard line. They can’t help. They can tell you that security checks need to be all current. That your loved one has all but one just expired so best they do it again. By the time one is done again another expires. So on it goes, as everyone waits for the US embassy to open again, for processing to resume and families to be reunited.

That might be what you would feel and think. Last night I stood in a room with over 200 angry, tired, and worried families from Iraq. They held immigration documents in their hands like they were golden tickets and the only life line they have to family in Syria. And that’s because they are. What we wanted to do was say we’ll fix it. They will come soon. You wont have to worry about their safety. What we said was, we have no idea how long it could be and we cant do much about it. Believe me when I say we hate saying that as much as they hate hearing it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Communists are wearing these days….

I was working a citizenship workshop, which means I was checking the application one fills out when applying for US Citizenship. As part of a local collaborative I volunteered to assist as a checker of volunteer filled out applications. A particular YES/NO question was left unanswered on one young woman’s application that I thought must have been a mistake. Usually if a question is left unanswered at this point in the workshop its because an issue has arisen and the applicant needs to speak to a professional about that particular issue to ensure they can move forward without further immigration problems or to tell them that if they go forward they will have serious immigration problems.

The reason I thought this question must have been left blank by mistake and that there could not possibly be an issue was because this question usually becomes an issue with the over 50 crowed who are from a former Soviet country, China or Cuba. Can you guess the question?

Have you ever been a member of or associated with the Communist party?

The woman in front of me was not yet 21 and from Mexico.

Me- So I see you left this question blank. What are your concerns with the Communist party question?

Woman- I go to a lot of immigrant rights ralleys and protests.

Me- ok. And….

Woman- Well a lot of the people who go to these rallies wear Che Guevara t-shirts.

Me- (blank stare waiting for a real explanation or connection between a t-shirt and a communist party connection)

Woman- Well Che Guevara….(cut off by me)

Me- Ya I know who he is and what he did. I want to know what kind of membership or association you’ve had with the Communist party.

Woman- Well I go to these protests and the people there wear t-shirts with Che Guevara on them.

Me- I don’t care about what other people are wearing. I don’t care about other people. What does that have to do with you and any connection with the Communist Party?

Women- Well….

Me- Have you ever signed a paper agreeing to a communist membership, manifesto or intent in any way?

Woman- No but…..

Me- Have you ever gone to a Communist Party meeting or rally?

Woman- No.

Me- I feel pretty comfortable saying that you could probably answer no to this question and that would be a truthful answer.

Woman – (blank stare)

Just think once she gets citizenship she can vote for a communist and probably wont even know it….unless they are wearing their signature Che Guevara t-shirts that is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 years.....

Still think about you all the time. Still smile when I think about carrying you down the hotel stairs in the middle of the night when the fire alarm went off. Still think about baby sitting you when you were sick. Still remember passing you in the car on the way to church and you jumping out of the car and into ours when at a red light. Still remember the first time I saw you and the last.

Love you always and forever.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Prayer of a Dangerous Woman....

May we be dangerous women.

May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow, and be radically alive for God.

May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.

May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.

May we pray deeply and teach wisely.

May we be strong and gentle leaders.

May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.

May we never hesitate to let passion push us, conviction compel us, and righteous anger energize us.

May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.

May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.

May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.

May we overflow with the goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus. And in that name, and by that power, may we change the world.

Dear God, Please make us dangerous women.

(Nice Girls Don't Change the World; by Lynne Hybels)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Prayer for Today:

Ephesians 3:16-19

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in you hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

(The Message)
"I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit- not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength- that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives full in the fullness of God."

These verses really struck me today and I had to share.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Make Yourself at Home…..

As is often my way, let me start with a disclaimer. I love these people and I would immediately ask them to stay over again. Having said that let me tell you about the three days I had house guests.

Someone dear to me was moving and I offered my apartment to them and their sibling for a two nights after everything was packed but before they were able to leave. Upon their arrival I warmly said, “make yourself at home”. Those words then haunted me the rest of their visit. When I said ‘make yourselves at home’ I had assumed they would still act like it was not their home but none the less feel comfortable in mine. Like getting their own drinks or reading my books, that kind of thing. Well they took it as an open invitation to act as if they were at their own house just plus a maid - me.

You see, I live in a petit apartment that is a perfect size for me and me alone. I have things just the way I want them and I clean regularly and thoroughly. This is not to say that it is never messy or that I cant handle a little chaos from time to time. Clothes on the floor or dishes in the sink waiting to be washed I can handle. What I got was wet towels left on my bed, dishes with food still on them left on the kitchen table, over flowing garbage filled with ice-cream containers and fast food debris and one offer but no actual help to clean up. Oh and I received a burn (this may be my fault entirely but none the less a wound received) when making them cookies!

Again, I feel I should say that it really was a treat and privilege to have these two temporarily homeless siblings staying with me. But it was also an eye opener. I was surprised at how quickly toilet paper disappeared, how often I had to refill the ice tray and water pitcher, how much fast food wrappers and bags were in my trash and how much they slept. Also, on a grosser note, my bathroom always seemed to smell in a way in never has before or since. I also had the privilege of doing laundry during their brief stay and was horrified when I saw my fresh and fluffy towel had been used by another! Now a towel is a very personal thing and I do not want under any circumstances to share my towel with anyone. After all I had provided each guest with their own clean towel. I don’t care how clean you are upon exiting the shower or how much I love you. My towel, is MY TOWEL.

If my guests read this let me again say I loved having you and you are welcome back anytime, just don’t use my towel.