Friday, July 27, 2012

I Can Make A Difference

My day started kind of meh.  I figured out that Mount Vernon Road wasn't going to be closed, so I drove to the office instead of riding my bike.  It was only mildly stressful trying to navigate my way through the thousands of cyclists heading out of town for RAGBRAI.  (It was actually kind of cool seeing them all jazzed up to bike 40 miles to Anamosa; now I want to do RAGBRAI some year.)  After I got to work, things started to head downhill fast when I couldn't get lists to cut right and every volunteer I called was mumbling some bullshit about not actually being able to volunteer.  I wasn't going to get the minimum 100 calls I needed for the day and without volunteers, there were thousands I had to make solo in the coming weeks.  (I know 100 phone calls per day isn't bad, but it is when you despise talking on the phone and that is all you have done all week.)

After breaking down, crying, and stopping myself from demolishing my computer, I went home for some lunch and to gear up for the Benton County Fair.  I avoided driving myself into a ditch on the way there, but not without significant amounts of road rage and throwing my arms around.

Once I parked my car, I sat for a minute and tried to regain my composure.  Which is good because I had to walk by the Benton County Republicans to get to the Benton County Democrats booth.  I didn't make eye contact because I probably would have punched one of them.  At the booth, things were ok.  I actually love talking with candidates running for county and state office.  They are always pumped up and feisty.  (Not that candidates running for federal office aren't.  I just see county and state candidates significantly more.)  Afterwards, I stopped to pick up my traditional Subway sandwich on my way out of Vinton (mileage and expenses are paid if I leave the Linn County!) and got on the road.

All was fine on the drive home.  I took my normal exit, but I accidentally turned before I really should have.  I do that a lot; Cedar Rapids is confusing like that. 

There is this one on-ramp in Cedar Rapids that almost always has a homeless person sitting at it, and as always, when I drove by tonight, there was someone sitting there.

I lost it again.

Tears swelled in my eyes.  I wanted that person to have a safe home and food in their belly.  The only thing I thought I had to offer was my Subway sandwich and the half-eaten bag of chips, so I turned around (not an easy thing to do with the wonky design of Cedar Rapids) and asked if she wanted it.  The smile on her face and "Yes, thank you!" were possibly the most genuine I have seen or heard in a long time. 

The mix of emotions was profound- terribly sad that homelessness and poverty have to exist (especially in a country that prides itself on opportunity and high level of development), relief that I know she will be eating something tonight, and embarrassment at what I considered to be a terrible day.

When I got home, I realized that I had also had an apple in my backpack, and I wished I had offered it as well.  I am going to start carrying a small bag of snacks whenever I take that ramp.  It is almost guaranteed that someone will be on that corner, and I will hand whoever is there my snacks.  I really don't need them.

This has been one of the most emotionally exhausting days I have had in quite some time, and I think one of the most emotionally exhausting of all time.  But only because I realized that I can make a difference.  Even if it is only in one persons life.

If you want to learn more about homelessness in the US and programs designed to aid the homeless, you can visit the United States Interagency Council on homelessness website.  There are also tons of programs that function on the local level to mitigate homelessness and poverty.

Peace and Love

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Proust Questionaire

My friend Kelley is one of the most creative and inspiring people I know.  She is the creative director over at majestic disorder, and as I was perusing her website, the Proust questionaire she has posted kind of inspired me.  So I decided to do it. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
 Perfect happiness is that level of self actualization that we probably never achieve, but we are always striving for.  Never achieving it is not bad, it keeps us going and working, striving for more.

What is your most marked characteristic?
 I tend to be quite honest about things.  I am honest when I do like something, when I don't like something, and when I really don't care.  People just don't usually believe me when I say I don't care due to my strong and honest opinions about certain other things.

What is your greatest extravagance?
 Travelling is probably my greatest extravagance (although I don't necessarily travel in extravagant ways).  I love the excitement and novel adventures new places have to offer, so I try to go everywhere I get the opportunity to.

What is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is the world around me.  All of the colors, imperfections, songs, people, food, and faults of the world give me inspiration by making me want to be part of it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being who I am today is by far my greatest achievement.  Granted, most 25 year olds have steady jobs, steady boyfriends, and all around steady lives, but considering where I came from, what I have been through, and what I have done, the person I have become is my greatest achievement to date.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
I use "yeah" way to much.  And I say "sure" when I am discussing things with people, and I want to give them a "yes" answer, but I still want a way out.  It's the debater in me.

Who are your favorite writers?
I get lost in Henry Miller's writing constantly, and I am absolutely in love with Pablo Neruda's poetry.  I also really appreciate the beauty of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's writing.  Even if you don't like the stories he tells, you have to love the way he tells them.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When I was younger, I did a lot of things I didn't really want to do because I thought I had to.  Out of sense of duty or obligation or for whatever reason.   But that is what I regard as misery.  I no longer do things I don't want to do "con pasión."  Everything I do, I chose to do because I want to do it "con pasion."

What is your favorite journey?
I honestly believe everything in life is a journey, and so far,  it's working out ok.  Even the parts that I complain about and say I wish didn't happen, I ultimately appreciate because everything is part of a larger journey for us all.

What is your greatest fear?
By far, my greatest fear is failure.  In fact, I am so afraid of it, I don't do certain things if I think there is a possibility I might fail.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
 An honest smile, a big heart, and ready for adventures.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
An honest smile, a big heart, and ready for adventures.

When and where were you happiest?
My first reaction is summer 2010/2011 in Santiago, sitting on the balcony of my apartment having beers with friends.  Or sitting under the shade tree at Peace Matunda last May-July having coffee with Jackie and Bellasix.  Simple bliss.

Where would you like to live?
If I could still be living in Santiago right now, I would be a happy girl.  I was not nearly ready to leave when I did.  Ultimately, I think I would like to live in any place that is new.  I love the challenge of finding a pharmacy for a wrap for your foot that has a massive blister on it and you can barely walk.  Or tying to bake cookies but the store doesn't have brown sugar.  I like to live places where I don't simply live, but I also learn along the way.

If you could choose to come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I think it might be interesting to come back as a more "traditional" person: married parents, 4 normal years at a university, boyfriends and internships.

What is your most treasured possession?
 My books hold a tremendous value to me for several reasons, and I have always treasured my books.  Even as a child, my mom always said I could part with a lot of things, but I couldn't part with my books.  My books might have a new contender with my new camera though. And I also really like my passport.  It takes me places.

On what occasion do you lie?
Straight up, I try to never lie.  It gets you nowhere, and 98% of the time, more of a hassle than it is worth.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
It's 2012.  Nobody even knows what virtues are, let alone gives any of them ratings.  However, in terms of what virtues I think are just silly, I would have to say temperance (I say this as I am drinking a beer) and chastity.  Sometimes, you just have to go balls to the wall and let temperance go.  And if there are two consenting people, I don't think chastity really matters either.  Chastity has no effect on other people, so I don't think it should really be considered a virtue.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I don't love.  I'm not that kind of girl.

What is your motto?
Go for it.  Because ultimately, the world isn't that big.  (Which is admittedly rather ironic considering my biggest fear is failure...)

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Ugly behaviour.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My inability to accept love and acceptance from others is deplorable along with my complete lack of self-confidence.

I hope you have enjoyed peeking into my soul in a way inspired by Kelley at majestic disorder via questions provided by Marcel Proust. 

Peace and Love

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Goal Pondering

The other day I went for quite a long walk as part of my goal to stay (at least kind of) healthy and mobile during the election cycle.  My original goals were much more lofty, but with the random schedule of sleeping and eating, running and a lot of consistent outdoor activity don't fit in well.  But usually I find some quite time on Sundays to do as I please, and last Sunday it was walking in the park and listening to Stuff You Should Know.  The first episode I listened to was "Are we obsessed with goals?", and it reminded me of my List of 25 Things to Do While I am 25.  I still haven't even finished making the list, and I kind of forgot about it for a few months as my job was ending and I was figuring out what was happening next.  Obviously, I am still failing miserably at some parts of this list, but I have actually finished some of the things.

I got to visit a new country, even though Kelley didn't get to come with me.  I more or less spent my May tooling around Colombia.  From Bogotá:

La Candelaria, Bogotá, Colombia
To Playa Blanca:

Livin' the Life

 And out into the jungle to search for La Ciudad Perdida:

Hot and Humid Break Time

 You could probably call the trek to La Ciudad Perdida could probably be considered a camping/hiking adventure, and I have been looking for pawn shops in hopes of finding a camera.  I was much more enthusiastic about my list last January, but as I was listening to the podcast, I was reminded of it.  I think I outlined these goals for a few reasons, one of which was just for something to do.  Working a part-time minimum wage job will drive anyone to insanity. 

Ultimately, my List of 25 Things to do While I am 25 isn't something that will make or break me.  It will however give me a huge sense of satisfaction if I can do most of the things on the list.  I already  know I will not do all of them.  And that is ok.  It at least gives me something to work for.  And I was coming to this conclusion, so was the podcast.  So I might add "Get my own podcast deal" to my list of 25 things to do...