Showing posts from April, 2010

To everything there is a season

Maybe it's not a good idea to quit your job at a homeless shelter and drive home, insert Soderbergh's Che Part 2 into your DVD player and rewatch the final scene, where Che is fatally shot for his efforts to help the poor in Bolivia. And maybe it's not a good idea to watch the scene that happens just before, when a guard asks Che who he believes in if not in God. "Mankind," he answers. Or maybe that's just what's needed. I'm not sure quite yet. I did good work at the shelter. A coworker was spot on when she said this: You sweet but you strong. You love the women, but at the same time you give the impression they better hope you left your other side at home. And now the form of that work has come to an end. The poor we will always have with us, and other projects are in the queue. Stay tuned.


a paper on my desk that reads boy on a plane memorize poetry police report the belly fat cure intention vs effect open other room in hotel woman seen from behind: me

Missing: Mojo. If Found, Please Contact This Blog

I just.can't.write. The magic is gone. Anyone else have days--weeks--like this?

Early Retirement

Shaky, pale, and recently released from wrist and elbow wraps, I answered my husband's questions after my last lift of the bench press competition. Consider this video an official announcement: I'm retiring. Did I ever tell you about the time I sang in an a cappella quartet and couldn't find my note? Rehearsals, I was spot on. Came time to perform, the pitch escaped me. Didn't help that the conductor transposed the whole thing up a key at the last minute--that aside, I couldn't perform under pressure. Still can't. I've never been a performer--that is, making everything perfect in a single shot. For example--oh, I don't know, say pushing a heavy bar off your chest. Spending three seconds hoping your diet, training, allergies and tendonitis cooperate and allow you to do the thing you've been doing in private for six months. While everyone watches. Including a butt and chest judge. Just for instance. Later on the day of the competition, I

Art for All

Jan walked into my office, moved aside some papers, sat on the desk and said, "I almost died last week." Jan is homeless. She's a smoker, and the oxygen level in her blood reached near fatal numbers last Tuesday. Poor nutrition and a night shift job contributed to the situation, and she's been coughing horrendously for weeks now. The doctor took one look at her test results and told her it didn't make sense that she's alive. What's it like to hear that? I asked her. She shook her head. I'm grateful, she said. I want to help people. I asked if she'd like to share her story later that evening with the other women staying at the shelter. Jan hesitated. No, she said, not yet. I've been thinking about it all day. I'll probably write a poem. Save it for the poem, I said. Poems come out of me, too, when I'm faced with situations that require delicate handling. I don't know Jan's history with writing, but I'm glad she turns to it to

Bench Press, The Story (Part 2)

Read Part One here . After my T-shirt was found and before the competition began, I ran into Gideon. You remember Gideon--no hair, swirly mustache, bencher of 525 pounds . We said our hellos and compared notes from the previous year: I planned to make a 15-pound jump, I said, and he said he wasn't lifting heavy today, maybe he'd only go for 540. Loser. (Your perspective gets skewed at these events--lots of guys would bench over 500 today, and one guy deadlifted 700. It's like when I worked at a fancy crystal shop and the $200 vases appeared quite reasonable.) He asked if I was nervous. I admitted as much--my constant pacing already told the story--but I felt strong today, and therefore confident. Gideon said he used to be nervous throughout an entire competition, but now he's cool until the moment he sits on the bench and gets his head in the game. "You can't even talk to me at that point," he said. "I'm somewhere else." Indeed he was. On his

Easter Rising from the Trash

Yesterday, Tracey got married. She told me this last night when she arrived at the shelter where I am an evening supervisor. She wrote "Brown" instead of "Johnson" on the sign-in sheet, and flashed a copy of the official paper. "I got married!" she beamed. Today is Easter. Hope for Christians, and new life for all who live in climates where spring is most welcome. New life, new birth. Birth can be messy. We'd like to think of weddings as white and pure, not as a ceremony between people who spend their honeymoon in separate homeless shelters. A man and a woman who have a four-year-old daughter. A bride who was raped at age 11, became pregnant, and had a son. But this wedding is a new start for Tracey. As a married couple, she and her husband will be able to secure housing more easily. It's a messy start, yes, but sometimes birth requires that. To celebrate, Tracey opened a few tins of cookies and shared them with everyone. The guests at this makeshi