Friday, December 17, 2010

well behaved women seldom make history

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

As the sun shines magnificently through the paper snowflakes haphazardly taped to the glass blocks of Isaiah House's westernmost wall I can't help but be overwhelmed by this amazing sanctuary for those experiencing mental illnesses.

As Ms. Shirley walks through the door, smelling of urine, wearing sweatpants tucked into her baseball socks, three hats, and a couple of hooded sweatshirts, the only disturbing thing about her appearance to the other Isaiah House participants is her swollen and bloodied finger. Ms. Debra calls up to my office, not to inform me that Ms. Shirley needs to bathe, but that she needs a doctor.

Isaiah House has introduced me to the most beautiful people. People who are often overlooked and even considered expendable. People who wave and call out my name as I bike down Georgia Avenue, or stop and chat with me in line at the MLK library, or come sit in my office and keep me up to date on current events.

The Isaiah House community has taught me that it's not scary to share a meal with someone who mutters and mumbles under their breath to no one in particular; it's actually a moment spent with Christ. They have taught me that the only thing disgusting about a man sitting in the bathroom, too drunk to pull himself off the floor, wearing clothes full of holes, is that he doesn't have clothes WITHOUT holes, or a place to go once the sun starts setting, and that he is probably drinking so that he won't be aware of that.

My supervisors, Jamie and Joy, have pushed me to do everything that I can for anyone who walks through the glass doors of this place. Meeting someone where they’re at and serving them to the best of our ability is what we are here to do. Jamie told me once that it doesn't matter whether something that someone says is real or not. What matters is that whatever they say is THEIR reality. What matters is that what they feel is real.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Low Road by Marge Piercy

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t blame them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organisation. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I was prepared to change the world.

I know it sounds egotistical, but during the summer of 2009, right after I had graduated from school, I was ready to change the world. And I knew that that’s what I would be doing.

I was prepared to change the world.

I knew that I was going to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and comfort the sad. I had this amazing privilege that would allow me to single-handedly fix everyone’s problems.

I was prepared to change the world.


I was completely prepared for the wrong thing.

I didn’t expect my heart to be broken time and time again, by the structural injustices that perpetuate marginalization, prejudice, racism, and stigmatization.

I was supposed to be the one doing the fixing, not the one being broken.

I wasn’t supposed to feel helpless and uncomfortable and vulnerable.

Remember, I was going to change the world!

I was supposed to be around for a year,
mend some wounds,
bring some joy,
have a good time,
and then move on.

I was supposed to be the one teaching, not the one learning.

I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with Debra, James, Lorraine, Wilbert, David, Mary, Maria, Dynise, Pam, Leola, Vera, Stephen, and countless others.

I wasn’t supposed to sign on for a second year.

Or maybe I WAS supposed to feel broken, and angry, and helpless. Maybe I WAS supposed to learn, and NOT teach. Maybe I was supposed to fall in love.

Because nothing else happened the way it was supposed to.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

sometimes you just need a reminder

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It's been a while...

...and I'm not sure how many people even read this or care to hear an update, but I'm still around, and just haven't had any profound thoughts recently.

But I will post some pictures of my new community soon.