marathoner452: (rebirth)
I spent the day in Algiers painting Algiers Technology Academy high school with Habitat for Humanity.  The building used to be an elementary school and the students didn't like all the bright colors, so we repainted it a more institutional and sedate gray that has been added to the palette that is my painting clothes.  There were about 10 of us doing the painting, mostly long-term volunteers and I was the only one who could describe myself as living here.  As we finished up the conversation turned to New Orleans' recovery and I found myself unable to participate because unless you live here and are invested in this place, you don't fully understand why someone would want to live here.  I can't be rational on that subject.  I bought a fleur de lis ring last Thursday and wear it on my left ring finger where you're supposed to wear a wedding ring.  Yeah.  I've committed at least three more years of my life to New Orleans and I can't see myself leaving after that.

Unless. of course, I melt this summer.  It's 84* with a heat index of 89* and it's almost 10 pm and it's only the beginning of June.

I've put down roots and started to carve out my niche.  Tomorrow I'm going to to DMV to get my Louisiana driver's license.

I'm on the membership team at church now which last Sunday meant giving visitors and volunteers Mardi Gras beads and explaining that Muses is the name of a Mardi Gras krewe and what a krewe is, then having the pastor encourage us to give her an address where we could be reached in case of a long-term evacuation, then listening to Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground, speak for more than an hour about social justice in New Orleans.  I love my UU church for all of that.

Today was my dad's 50th birthday and the entire family got a kick out of the card I sent:  "Cher, I could cook a pot of red beans over your 'burthday' cake!"  I got it at Boutte's Bayou Restaurant down in Lafitte, total Louisiana birthday card.

On the way back to Camp Hope down in St. Bernard today, we stopped for snowballs and I got a hurricane (flavored) snowball because it is the beginning of hurricane season, after all.  I'm trying hard not to think about the implications of that, trying hard not to think about how safe we're not and of all the reasons why no sane person would live here.
marathoner452: (Default)

I helped prepare and serve lunch at a church soup kitchen this morning. All the other volunteers were older ladies from my church, so my ability to lift heavy objects and stir mac ‘n’ cheese came in handy.

We served about 80 meals. I’m glad I did it, especially the working on the serving line part, but some of my fellow volunteers’ comments bothered me. There seemed to be an “us and them” attitude, that somehow we were better. I don’t believe that, especially not after my experiences at Emergency Communities in New Orleans.

I know the Westminster is different than New Orleans in many ways, but that still gives you no right to judge people.

marathoner452: (katrina relief)
When I got the last seat on the plane in Chicago, last stop before New Orleans, the woman I had had to climb over turned to me and said, "Where have you been?  We've been waiting for you."  Welcome back to New Orleans, how was your vacation, it's been way too long and we've been waiting for you.

I took a much-needed almost day off yesterday.  I pulled a muscle either having too much fun on Mardi Gras or lifting too many boxes of orange juice and cambros of chicken alfredo.  So instead of chopping squash and strawberries and potatoes and serving all of the above to hundreds of residents and volunteers, I spent most of the day in bed reading Soul Kitchen and most of the night taking a real shower and hanging out at Sugar Park until 1 in the morning.  You need a change in scenery every once in awhile.  It's not going to do anyone any good if I get burned out from hearing so many "I was there when the levees broke and I was in the Superdome for 6 days" stories.  I think the breaking point was the gut I went on a few days ago.  The downstairs of this man's house had already been gutted, but then the roof leaked into the upstairs bedroom where he and his wife went to escape the floodwaters when the levee broke.  Had to be a major trigger for him.  We threw debris, his books and clothes and magazines and carpet, out the window that he climbed out of to be rescued.  He showed us how high the floodwaters were, where neighbors of his lived who didn't make it.  When I needed a break pulling insulation out of the ceiling I just stood by that window and tried to imagine 125 mph winds and 14 feet of water instead of a beautiful sunny day.  Fortunately, here and now the sunny days win most of the time.

I want to hear the stories, need to hear the stories because the residents here need someone to listen and to care and because people back in Maryland need to get as angry about this as I am, as invested in the future of New Orleans.  But sometimes it's too many stories all at once and you need a break.  Now I'm ready to get back in the game.  Perfect timing because tomorrow night's red beans and rice.  Of course it is, it'll be Monday in New Orleans.

So life is for living and right now life is good.  It's not always easy, but I'm where I need to be.
marathoner452: (Default)
I'm doing a hopefully-painless lj friends cut. If you have updated your journal in the last month, comment on my journal entries, and/or know me in real life you have nothing to worry about.

This morning I drove down into inner-city Baltimore to volunteer with the MLK day of service with Volunteer Central. I helped out in the Harlem Park Recreation Center by sanding and varishing sliding doors and trim. I also decorated a few plastic flower pots, filled said flower pots up with bulbs and dirt for donation to a local senior center, and ate lots of pizza. I think my arms are still buzzing from the power sander. I have handbell practice tomorrow and I think I'll be happy I don't play the big bells.

I drove home via Falls Road, much prettier than 83 and 695 but also a bad idea. The contrast of going from the grittiness and reality of the inner city to driving past multimillion dollar mansions just made me mad, but not as mad as seeing oversized "luxury single-family estates" usually does, because the work I did today was some small step towards better quality of life for the children that use the Harlem Park Recreation Center in Baltimore.
marathoner452: (Default)

I want to thank all my 43Things friends for encouraging me to give blood. I put it on my list because I worked for the Red Cross last year and because it was something I wanted to do but could never quite get up the nerve for. You all gave me so many cheers I couldn’t back down, not that I wanted to anyway.

They took such good care of me. The woman doing my interview wanted to know all about subbing and my time in New Orleans, and the woman who took my blood had a great sense of humor. My mom came along for moral support and to donate. (She was unable to because of low iron but will “iron dope” and try again on Friday.) It didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would, and this is coming from my who hid behind plants in the doctor’s office as a kid to try and avoid getting a shot. I have now earned the purple bandage on my arm and my t-shirt. I have a ton of blood donation shirts from my parents, so it’s exciting to have one of my own now. :-)

I already scheduled my next appointment. March 5th, same location. I’ll be eligible about a month before that though, so I might not be able to wait that long.

I’m going to go eat my cookies now.

marathoner452: (Default)
Thanks to getting bumped on my flight home last summer, I can fly round-trip from Baltimore to New Orleans for $22.  Yay for travel vouchers.

So here's the itinerary:
Wednesday, February 14th, 2007-leave Baltimore 9:40 am, arrive Chicago 10:55 am then leave Chicago 2:05 pm, arrive New Orleans 4:25 pm
Sunday, March 4th, 2007-leave New Orleans 11:00 am, arrive Dallas 12:40 pm then leave Dallas 2:00 pm, arrive Baltimore 5:45 pm

Next up:  contact Hands On to find out where they're based at this point and to let them know I'm coming.

marathoner452: (Default)
This is as much for my future reference as for anyone else.

I'm planning on going back in February for Mardi Gras. My sister leaves for school up in New York on February 12th (Monday), and I'm thinking I'll fly down to New Orleans on Wednesday or Thursday, whenever I can get the best rates. I'll stay for about two weeks, volunteering with Hands On to gut houses or whatever else they need at that point. I'm thinking fly home on or around March 1st-once again, date to be determined by when I can get the cheapest flight.

I'd love to stay for more than 2 weeks, but I need to be subbing to keep the money coming in. Also, I'm really hoping to get started on teacher education classes this winter/spring, so I won't be able to take unlimited time off from school. And once I become a certificated teacher, maybe I can move down there for good. Maybe.

I'll be there for Mardi Gras and the Mardi Gras Marathon. You're welcome to join me for any portion of that time. Not only can they still use your help, it's a lot of fun. This'll be my third trip in the past year, and it'd be more if I didn't have to work (silly work).

marathoner452: (running off into the sunset)
I was the race director for the Bachman Valley 1/2 Marathon in Westminster, Maryland last weekend. We had 4 water jugs for 3 water stops, we ran out of cups several times, and getting the race results compiled was a challenge because many runners didn't tear off their tags at the finish. We did see a rainbow prior to the race, have race tshirts for the first time in recent history, and have a new women's record set for the first time in 14 years.  So I'd call the race a success. I think the runners would too:

"It was an excellent race on a beautiful course. Directing a race is huge, and can be very nerve racking. Thank you for your service to the running community."

So as we head into the heart of the fall racing season, remember before you run or before you complain that organizing a race is more difficult than you think. So offer to be on the planning committee. Volunteer at a water stop or put blankets around finishers after they finish their first marathon or set a personal best or qualify for Boston. Give back to the running community, because not only could races not function without volunteers, volunteering at a race does wonders for your motivation.

Besides, how else are most of us going to get to watch the winners cross the finish line?


X-posted to [personal profile] marathoner452, [community profile] runners, [profile] marathoners.
marathoner452: (bubbles)
Je suis epuissee.  (Is that how you spell it?  It's been awhile since I took French.)

I spend about 4 hours today boxing up donated children's videos for Book Relief, a First Book initiative whose goal it is to provide 5 million new books to children affected by the 2005 hurricanes.  They're more than halfway there too, with 2.8 million books.  The site where I worked today is south of Baltimore, not far from the bridge if you're familiar with the area.  The Coast Guard has donated warehouse space, which is awesome, and there were about 20 of us there today getting kid's educational videos ready to be shipped down south.

As an added bonus, since I was the only AmeriCorps volunteer there today and pretty much everyone else left at the end of the day were Coast Guard people, I am now an honorary "Coastie." 

Maybe not the best idea in the middle of marathon training though.  I'm supposed to run 5x800 tonight (or the equivelant because the stadium's in use for game, I think).  Whoops.  I have less than no energy right now and bed sounds really nice, but then I'd disappoint my coach if I didn't get the miles in.  Bed.  Or run.  Bed.  Or run.  Decisions, decisions.



EDIT:  Sometimes bed wins out, just so you know that marathon runners aren't quite as wierd as you thought.


marathoner452: (Default)

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