Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Call For Help.

When I was doing drugs, getting evicted constantly and going nowhere in life, an angel showed up on my doorstep and told me to get my shit together. His name is Jim Jenkins.

I was trying to sell my stove to the man who owned the appliance shop next door. He didn't want the stove, but offered to pay me to clean refrigerators- at $10.00 a pop. That was big money to me back then(hell- it's big money to me now) and even though I was afraid to leave the house, much less stand outside on the street in full view of everyone, I took it.

The next day I found some money in one of those refrigerators. When I took it to him, he told me I had passed the test and gave me the keys to the front door. Not only did I earn his trust that day, I earned a place at J and J Appliances.

J and J is a little house on the side of Buford Highway- surrounded by trailer parks and car lots.. and of course next door to my little house that I raised Samantha in. (This old covered in ivy, infested with my spiders, pipes bursting in the winter, looks like a deserted crack house, tin roof where it rains so hard you can't hear someone talk.. house that doesn't even belong to me... place of refuge and solace where I found my sanity and raised my daughter house. Where I FINALLY let go of Robert and Jason.... where I learned how to mail the mail.. where I found Jesus and God... where I quit smoking pot.. where I stopped spending hours doing my hair and makeup and listening for people who wanted to hurt me and waiting for a tragedy that was just around the corner.. where I remembered how to talk to trees and found out that I loved the people that no one else did.. I've lived longer in this house than I have ever lived anywhere my entire life... THAT house.)

In the 10 years I stayed at J and J, I did indeed get my shit together. I found God- or God found me, since after all He was the one who stuck me there in the first place. I worked there 6 days a week, for free. We all did. There was no money there. The people who came into that appliance shop didn't have money. I realized many years later that God was personally responsible for each and every person that came in through that door. They either needed help, or were in a position to give help.

See, J and J was also a food bank. Every morning, while it was still dark outside, Jim and his son would go to numerous grocery stores and pick up donations. EVERY MORNING. Then they would unload what I needed for my families who were coming that day to J and J, and THEN they would take the rest to a church, and THEN they would come back and fix/sell/deliver appliances, and THEN they would do it all again the next day. And that's nothing. They also delivered food to shut ins, got furniture, clothing, household items for those in need, gave baby showers to teen Moms, birthday cakes and party stuff to single Moms, rides to work, pulled strings to get people job interviews, went at midnight to those same grocery stores the night before major holidays to get the Christmas/Easter/whatever things that didn't sell, just so kids whose parent's weren't worth a shit would have a stocking or an Easter basket the next morning.

It doesn't matter to them if you are a drug addict currently or reformed, or a prostitute, a drunk, on parole, running from an ex husband or just running. They will give you community service hours, food, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear- you have worth in that shop. You matter. Your past doesn't. J and J will give you hope and a loaf of bread to go with it.

J and J changes lives. I saw it happen every week for 10 years.

Many people have helped over the years- and it's odd how many came down with cancer. It's the 'regulars', really. The people that helped every weekend. Ali, Ted, Sadie, Hazel, now Brandon.. and now Cindy. Jim's own wife. She went into surgery today to remove a cancerous lump in her lung, and they saw that it had spread, becoming too large to remove.

I need help.

I am a 'fixer'- and I am down here in Louisiana and all I can do is rely on others.

I need a team.

They will need home cooked meals that they can freeze. Cindy will need rides to chemo. The taxes were doubled this year on both the shop(J and J) and Jim's house- not to mention his social security and VA benefits were LOWERED. Some people are physical helpers, getting their hands dirty, some aren't. Can't or don't want to help that way? Too far? Her medical bills are going to crush them. Send a check. Even $25.00 is alot right now.

I can't do this alone.
(If you are close enough to help, please message me your number so I can give it to the lady I've placed in charge of this new 'Team Cindy', so she can call you. If you are in Georgia, you've heard me talk of Priscilla.. and you know we won't take advantage of your generous nature. Promise.)

Please help me bring some much deserved blessings to this family.

God Bless- may blessings and good karma come your way!

Jim Jenkins
P.O Box 956662
Duluth, Ga. 30096

J and J Appliances
4411 Buford Highway
Norcross, Ga. 30071

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Day I Met a GangBanger.

After I had watched him for awhile.. watched him come in with his black pantyhose and ball cap head dress and baggy pants belted at the knees.. watched him do that special 5-part special handshake and hug that is reserved for members of the ‘brotherhood’… my suspicions were confirmed. Just another gang member.

I had a right to be here.. here at DFACS, land of welfare checks and food stamps. I have 2 lumps that still have yet to be finally cleared by the doctor. I need the Medicaid. (Of course they will be, like the 3 before them, but in the meantime I have yet to hit the lottery, and food banks don’t have medical insurance.) I typically don’t assume that people at DFACS are mooching off the system and just need to get jobs.. I know their stories personally.. and bad things happen to good people.

But this one? His uniform was new. That jacket must have cost a pretty penny.. but of course he probably bought it with drug money he got off someone he murdered. Yes, I’m biased. I have a right to be. You would feel the same way if you had been left widowed at 19 years of age with a baby due in 3 weeks… widowed because a gang had decided to murder the one person who stood up to them when they went around hitting girls at a party. Just trust me. You would.

When he followed me outside and stood next to me under the overhang, I was stuck. It was pouring rain, and I still had another 15 minutes until my ride arrived to take me home. I lit a cigarette, and waited. I knew what was coming, and he didn’t disappoint me. All through his ebonics, which I personally cannot stand-it’s simply bad English- and his hand gestures and slouchy posture, I waited. All through his ‘Yo..check this out!’s, and ‘Get your digits’ I waited. Being hit on by ANY man aggravates me.. but being hit on by a punk kid dressed as a living reminder of one of the worst experiences of my life makes me furious.

I understand the sense of family. I understand that for many this might have been the only path left open to them. What I don’t understand is the lack of concern and empathy towards others. All of my life experiences have guaranteed that if I was to come out unscathed, then at the very LEAST I was going to walk out of the fire with an understanding of how your actions affect others. And if I have empathy? Everyone should, too. It’s just how I am. That’s not going to change now.

Finally.. I looked at him and asked him firmly why he wasn’t in school. He gave me the surprised look that by now I am quite accustomed to. ( I look younger than my years.. it’s always fun at my daughter’s school when the teachers tell me to get in class and I get to tell them ‘I’m a Mom’.) I told him my age… I told him that I have a daughter around HIS age… who was at that moment in school, and had I mentioned that’s where he should be?

And then.. then.. the whole world came sharply into focus. Lessons that God has been trying to pound into my head time after time..lessons that I keep swearing I have learned.. I hadn’t really. I hadn’t learned them at all.
The ‘Yo’s’ became ‘Ma’am’s.
The posture became straight.
Good English replaced the horrific ebonics .

The gangbanger became a boy.. a boy that immediately apologized to me for assuming I was his age. And then the boy became Dwight.. a 19 year old who had been laid off his job and was there to try and receive some assistance so he could contribute to the household where he was staying with his ‘homies’ until he could find another job.

Did you know Dwight graduated from high school 2 years ago? Did you know that Dwight is forklift certified? Did you know that Dwight has a valid driver’s license and can pass a drug test? I know, I know.. but.. I really think he can. I’m going to believe him, anyway. I’m going to have faith in Dwight, and I’m going to find Dwight a job. I’m not going to judge him. I’m not going to judge the clothes and the handshake and.. we’ll work on the ebonics.

Do you know that as I am writing this I can’t even remember if it was the Crips or the Bloods that killed Jason? I guess that part of it isn’t important anymore.
What IS important is that I think I have FINALLY learned this lesson. I WAS STILL JUDGING. Not simply assumptions based on clothes.. deeper assumptions based on past life experiences that make you biased later in life. We DON’T have the right. I don’t have that right.

I hated gangs.. and now.. now I’m looking at them as simply boys that have built up this hard exterior for whatever reason. The walls that we build to protect us emotionally when something bad happens? Well I happened to meet Dwight’s mother when she walked up for HER appointment.. and I think he must have had to build walls very early in life. I can’t imagine having a mother like that. That poor child.

So I was thinking.
I was thinking that all these boys are a great untapped resource. I was thinking that they would be GREAT to have help at the food bank… or at the church.. I know some elderly people that need their gutters cleaned.. And no, I’m not going to ‘use’ them for their muscle and youth. I will feed them, and I will introduce them to people, and maybe.. just maybe.. it will have some affect on their life.. You never know. I just feel compelled to stick my foot in their path right now. My gut tells me this could be the beginning of something great. Did I ever mention that I believe God is in my gut?

As for Dwight?
If anybody has a job opening, I have his digits. Yo.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm Going to Save the World.

Thanks to 2 of my followers, I LOVE SAYING THAT. I'll say it again.

Thanks to 2 of my followers, I have come up with an idea.

We support our food bank by doing appliance work. I've done another blog(My Blessing) on the lightbulb over my head going off when I realized that not everyone coming in needs help.. some are in a position to GIVE HELP. I hit a dead-end when I also realized that not all of them volunteer at large shelters in downtown Atlanta.. nor do they always like me enough to discuss it.

Rachel,, gave me the idea. (Can I do that? Just post her link? I guess we'll find out.)

Small Footprints,, Food Glorious Food blog made me realize I can take this idea and use it to help the families I feed, too... AND promote my other agenda.

I'm going to make a brochure to hand out at work.. to my customers (who can read it on their own time away from my big mouth), and to put in the food boxes. Hell if I get truly inspired and motivated (it's a stretch) I might even give them to other businesses to hand out for me. Or maybe churches, gas stations and daycares..

I myself have dial up internet.. and I only have that because my boss had it put on his American Express.. and I think he forgot about it. Bad karma, I know. I'll risk it.

To normal people, information is right at their fingertips with the internet. To the people I see every day? They can't even afford the paper. I'm not just talking about my food families.. my customers that come in for appliance work are there because they can't afford Sears. We are in a bad part of town, an industrial/trailer park/ghetto gangy part of town. I have the tennis shoes over the power line and the pretty spray painted gang symbol to prove it. But what better place for a food bank, right?

I'm not saying I only get really poor people.. because we all now know I get the Lexus drivers, too. I'm just saying MOST of the people are having to cut back on luxuries.. like the internet.. and is it crazy to assume that there are people out there who would like to help others or even help the earth but don't necessarily Google it? They just don't have the knowledge and information on how to do it?

I have women tell me they don't know what to do with fresh garlic when I put it in their boxes. Is it crazy to assume that they need tips on how to prevent food waste? Or maybe a recipe.. maybe one that consists of what's in their boxes.. or how to cook a turkey. (I'm wondering now if that isn't the reason that lady didn't want one. She didn't know how to cook it. I've actually had women tell me they've never fried chicken before..)What better way than to print it out?

For instance. Did you know that (at least here in Ga.) every Catholic church has their own St. Vincent de Paul chapter.. a group of that particular church's members who do nothing but HELP. They pay utilities, rent, give clothing... I know this because I went a couple years ago and they paid my electric bill. (I work pro-bono, remember.. and I don't do it because I'm a millionaire and can afford not to work. It's a struggle to do this. That would be cool, though. The millionaire thing...)

A city passed an ordinance (thanks again Rachel) that said they will ARREST YOU if they catch you feeding the homeless. That bothers the hell out me. I think there are ways around that..but that's a blog for another day. So here is another idea..

I have a friend, Priscilla, who spends all her money and time carting children from a REALLY bad section of town to the library, the movies, to church.. she will make 2 and 3 trips at one time in her Land Rover to do it. Priscilla isn't rich.. she cleans houses for a living and if you saw her on the street you would think that SHE is homeless. (REALLY glad Pris doesn't blog.. she would kill me.)

My point? Priscilla rocks. No really.. my point is that everyone has got to know at least one family that is struggling.. someone in your church, your neighborhood, a friend of a friend.. it turns out you can't save the world at one time. Okay that doesn't even feel right.. I take it back. Yes you can.

How about a section on how to find that family? How about a section on how to give when it doesn't feel comfortable?(How about you stop blogging and MAKE THE BROCHURE, Shannon..) Find ONE FAMILY.. one person. One child. Alot of parents are proud. You have to be careful.. or they won't accept the help, and then the kids suffer. I always start out with.. 'I have all these clothes.. can you do me a big favor and go through them and see if there is anything you can use? That way I won't have as much crap to haul to the church. Please?' It's never failed. Same thing with books, household items, etc.

I'm getting off point. I start typing and just rant.

I'm going to make a brochure.. because I can have a 'Be Green' section and who knows.. maybe one person will start recycling.

I'm going to make a brochure.. because I want to help others.. help others.

I'm going to make a brochure.. because I want to help my families in need, help themselves.

I'm going to make a brochure... and it's going to save the world.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Things You Might Overhear at My Food Bank.

  • "Mommy, is Daddy going to sell this food too?"

  • "YES! Oreos! They are so good after you smoke a big fat one. You got any milk?"
  • " I have 5 kids. .. The only meat you have today is a turkey? Don't put that in my box. I don't like turkey." (I put one in anyway and told her oldest daughter how to boil it to death and make soup. Screw her.)

  • "I'm not high- don't judge me. I need some chocolate, Shannon. Not 'cause I'm high. Cause I'm not. I'm not high. I mean it girl, quit looking at me like that. Why you people always judging me? So do you have any chocolate or not. Can't I just want some fucking chocolate without ya'll thinking I'm high?" (All I had said was, 'Hey Theresa!')

  • "I'm having a cook out tomorrow for all the Boy Scout Troops in the county and only need enough chicken for like 300 people." (I actually said 'Are you fucking kidding me' to this one. She wasn't. She told me I was letting her son down. I told her to sell her Lexus.)

  • "We brought back the boxes (food I had given them) and we went through our kids old clothes.. last time we were here there was a little boy who needed a coat. "(They brought a whole wardrobe plus toys!)

  • Typical Thursday! For every 5 bad, you get 1 good. It's the opposite of what they say about negative/positive comments throughout your day.. that you will remember the one bad one. I remember the good, not the bad. The ones who came back to try to help someone else. They are the ones who stand out in my mind at the end of the day. Of course, next Thursday when Theresa walks through that door I think I'm going to jump in her face and start yelling, "Are you high? Why do you always have to be high? Do you want some chocolate?" :)

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    People you meet at a Food Bank.

    The first time I met Roger he was on a bicycle with a wire basket. I had to open a juicebox I gave him because he was afraid opening it himself would give him harmful germs. His hair was in a ponytail, his beard one long braid that went almost to his waist.

    He has told me many things over the years, including how to cook in a coffee can over an open fire, how to tell if hawks in the sky are after your pet ducks, and that people in the Bible lived to their hundreds because they ate the crucified bodies..he went into detail about that one, but I'll keep that to myself.
    He has lived in the woods somewhere near Jim's house for years now. He's had an assortment of wild dogs, has the normal mentality of most homeless that if you bathe you will get ill, and is very leary about taking processed food.

    Roger hears voices. He will actually stop midsentence, hold up his hand, and then ask me to repeat myself because 'they' were interfering because they don't want him talking to me. 'They' only interfere when he is telling me his secrets.. the true story of Jesus, his version of religion and the birth of the Earth, and who our government really is. He's hiding.. he's running.. I would say he's schizophrenic. But I'm not telling him that. What if I was wrong?

    I'm not sure what he does for money.. he has a truck now, and says he has a job. A construction job. Over the years I know he did odds and ends for the people that would allow him to.. people with big hearts, or people that wanted to take advantage of him. I'm not sure..I wasn't there. I'm only assuming. I only listened with half an ear because he would tell me that all year long he saved his money to be able to help feed those less fortunate during the holidays... and when people tell me that.. people that live in the woods, people that I feed, I don't believe them. I believe they have big hearts.. I believe they would help their neighbor.. but I only believe so much. Especially if you have just told me that early Christians were cannibals and that the Earth is a ship made by aliens.

    As you know with my blogs, I usually do it when I have learned a lesson. So without any further ado...Roger came by the shop this weekend with a truck full of turkeys for Jim to hand out for Thanksgiving. He showed Jim the receipt where he had just purchased them from Sam's Club, with money he had saved all year.Roger still lives in the woods. I, however, am wondering about those early Christians.

    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    Top 10 Reasons why my life Rocks!

    1. I have never used a credit card. I could probably figure out where to swipe it ( and notice I DO know the terminology), but what you type in the fun keypad I have no idea. I have to assume you're signing your name when you use the groovy pen. I understand the whole idea of credit, and building it up, but I can't think of ONE thing I need that badly that I would end up paying double for once you add the interest. Now I know there are loopholes and ways to get around interest. I know you need credit to a house. OH WAIT! I bought a house with no credit. So what was my point? ;) Yeah.. I know Dad..I know.
    2. I couldn't pump gas now without asking directions. I haven't pumped gas in..almost 16 years? Did you know you have to pay first? My girlfriend was pumping gas and sent me in to pay and I'm just walking around QT looking at all the stuff ( I don't get out much) and she is waving and waving.. I'm just trying to give her time to get done, you know? I'm just waving back, making faces at her.. did you know they want like $7.00 for a bottle of Advil? ADVIL! OH! And this 'Pay at the Pump'? See 1.
    3. I think ATM's are bullshit. Never used one, never will. I also don't have a personal bank account. Why in the WORLD would you trust someone else, a computer nonetheless, to handle your money? Has no one seen Terminator 3? Of course I don't have any major cash lying around.. but if I did.. I would get an alarm system (shotgun, not computer) and a big nasty dog. If they get through those? They can have it. It's just frapping money.
    4. I don't have a cell phone. I'm not going to get on my soapbox about the bees, don't worry.. but the only reason I can justify having one is of you are out driving and the car breaks down or needing a way for your child to get in touch with you. I don't drive, and my child has one so I can get in touch with HER b/c she is normal and actually leaves the house. Other than that, there is no one I need to talk to THAT BADLY that can't wait until I am home..not to mention I hardly answer THAT why would I want one when I'm out? Leave me alone already! If I want to talk to you, I'll call you!
    5. Every man needs a shed or garage- ie Playroom to call his own. I CAN NOT STAND IT when a woman doesn't give her man some room to play in, yet expects him to keep his feet off the coffee table or pick up every damn beer can as soon a he's done with it. If you want to keep your living room clean, get him out of it. I like time with my boyfriend just as much as the next girl..okay that didn't come out right but you get the drift.. but I don't want him stuck up my ass all the time, and trust me- he doesn't want to be there all the time. Men need a place to kick back, throw down and just be able to make a general mess sometimes. It's in their genes. And trust me- the more you let him relax and be true to his inner child ( and I don't mean just being messy. This could be dirtbiking/hunting/fishing/collecting stamps whatever) ..the more time he will want to spend with you. It's the whole Mars/Venus thing.
    6. This one is decidedly not for everyone.. and I cetainly would not suggest it to everyone.. but my child has no rules. She has nothing to rebel against. If she wants to take a day off and skip school, she does it. If she wants to go to the movies, she does it. All I ask of her is that she keep her grades up,keep her room clean, stay off drugs/drinking/smoking, and hang out with a great group of friends that I have approved. She also has to go to college. That's not up for debate. I just recently gave her a curfew, b/c some of her friends drive. I also have a little trick here which I would love to share, but I can't b/c she might read this. So far so good! She's almost 17.. her grades are phenominal, she does her own laundry, pays her own cell phone bill, and usually comes home early. I never and I mean NEVER have to tell her to pick up her room or study or..anything. She's cheesecake. If she talks back, it's not smartass-y..she's usually right.
    7. I make no money-nothing- and I am as poor as a church mouse. My Dad has drilled it into my my head that I NEED a paycheck b/c of social security when I'm older, etc. And he's right. I do need a paycheck. HOWEVER when I look at the past 10 years of my life with the food bank, and think of all the things I went without because of no paycheck, I realize that it was definately a positive experience that I would recommend to everyone. When you don't have money, you make do with what you have, and money becomes less important. If you don't have cable (or electricity) you play games and read with your child. You jump on a trampoline surrounded by candles at night b/c you ran the microwave and washer at the same time and blew another fuse. When you don't have air conditioning, you go outside and dam up a creek or make potpourri out of wildflowers. When your choices for dinner are limited, you spend time coming up with weird casseroles that include what you DO have, and make memories-again- with your child.(OMG green tomato incident of '99, huh Sam?;) You've all read those stories about the people that go to third world countries and come back with their lives changed for the better b/c they realize what is REALLY important. Helping people less fortunate than you really does make you appreciate what you have. It literally changes your life. Living it? Makes you feel blessed every time something happens that so many people take for granted.. like flicking a light switch, opening the frig and finding it stocked with food, FLUSHING THE TOILET (this week), etc. Trust me.. seeing my child smile in the morning is better than any trip I could take or object I could buy. I am truly blessed.
    8. Some people tell me that my life has been filled with so much tragedy blah blah blah.. whose hasn't, right? It's probably why I let Sam throw water balloons in the house at 2 am instead of going to bed. It's why I let her Sharpie on her walls, or take trips every summer or skip school when it snows. It's why we glue stones to doorways and paint our bedroom doors with bricks when the beds are unmade or the sink is full of dishes. LIVE PEOPLE. That mess will still be there tomorrow. You might not be.
    9. I am impulsive and irrational. I cut my hair if a dream dictates that I should. I wear my slippers and a tiara to work if I'm on my period. I pierce my nose if I want at 30..something. I got a much younger boyfriend b/c I had a gut feeling. I scream 'OFF WITH HIS HEAD' if a customer makes me mad at work. I put up signs at work that threaten to hit customers with bats if they kill the bumblebees that are swarming around. Does that make me a bad person? No. Does it make me slightly nuts? I don't know.. I don't care.
    10. I started writing this b/c my brother said this morning that I had grown up. I meant to write the Top 10 Reasons Why I haven't Grown Up, and kind of went off on a tangent. In reading it now, I don't think it proves I haven't grown up. It just reminded me that I have had a great life and done exactly what I wanted. So thanks Nick. I love you!

    My Blessing.

    So today was exactly what I needed right now.
    I had forgotten why I am even here.. I've been wrapped up in my own problems and my own world and this morning I said my usual "Lord do with me today what You Will", but then since I am too dense to see past my own nose, He reminded me of something and had me eat my own words to boot.
    I've always said that God puts the people through the doors of J and J. When you walk through, you either need help or give help. Not everyone speaks up, though. He can get you to J and J, but you have to help yourself. Like my Mama says, He isn't going to throw the food in the bird's nest, for crying out loud. I had figured out a while ago that I'm not supposed to judge who walks through those doors..that's His job, not mine. But I've been thinking that I'd been doing a pretty good job of trying to find out if they need help.. well HELLO.. that isn't all I'm supposed to do.
    A lady came in yesterday and bought a refrigerator. (We do appliance work to fund the food bank.) She left with a couple boxes of cookies, just because that's the norm. It's our way of finding out if you need help.. "You got any kids at home? Do you want some cookies?" If they are struggling it will eventually come out. That and the fact that we have so much crap lying around it's easier to try and get rid of it that way too.. I hate putting stuff up. I'm WAY lazy.
    Well the lady calls me today. She sounded kind of weird and uncomfortable and I'm thinking.. 'Aha! She needs help! I knew it!' Wrong. It turns out she volunteers at The Samaritan House for most of the week and wanted to tell me that she didn't know what we were doing with all that food, but when we went to throw it away(like we throw stuff away) please call her because that's what she did with those cookies and the people loved them.
    I gave her my usual speel.."We are really a food bank.. we're all volunteer.. blah blah blah.." and she was completely dumbfounded. When I told her that if she wanted to come by tomorrow I would go through everything and get her some boxes to take back down to her shelter, she couldn't believe it. I'm saying the same stuff that I say almost daily, like.."It's NOT too much trouble. It's what I do everyday. It's not a big deal. No, you don't have to come help me. No, I'm NOT such a nice person. I've been there. God put's you people through my doors for a reason." But today it hit me that I never really thought about what I say. It's automatic.. it's habit.. but as she is sitting there shocked, I'm sitting there thinking 'HOLY CRAP. YOU IDIOT. All this time you say this stuff, but all you think about is the one group..the group that needs help. You never think about the people that have the resources or the calling to help others. You are supposed to be helping them help others TOO. MORON!'
    Ever since we lost our source for meat, alot of people haven't been coming by for food. I've been thinking that this cannot possibly be what God wants me to do anymore..sit there and hope that someone will come in? Then we start getting boxes and boxes of stuff like hair supplies and baby stuff and I'm like..'What the hell am I supposed to do with all this shit?" I've been calling out to God constantly, "I'M BORED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to do something BIGGER!!" And yes, I know He will make you in charge of little before He makes you in charge of alot. I'm not an idiot. I just complain alot to Him. He's probably used to it.
    My Aunt Lindy told me this morning to start a Praise journal..everyday write down one thing that you are thankful for and can praise God for. I have lots to be thankful for.. but today? I am thankful that God opened my eyes to my calling.
    Every single one. I have a list of people that came in hoping for a cheap appliance.. and left with food, put their abusive husbands in jail, got shelter, got jobs, got cars, furniture, clothing, phone numbers for resources they had no idea were even out there to help them.. or just a shoulder to cry on and unload for awhile. I have watched families get back on their feet, kids have real birthday parties b/c of the cakes and party supplies we get.. I've gotten calls from prostitutes who have gotten off the street b/c (they claim) I just listened and then chewed their ass before helping them find jobs/shelter/whatever.
    And I'm bored? Who the hell am I to question where God has me? My work has been in front of me the whole time. I cannot wait for the lady who called me today to come in tomorrow. I'm going to give her a huge hug and thank her for calling back. Then I'm going to see if I can go with her to The Samaritan House to see if I can help there too. I'm an idiot.
    So today Lindy? I praise God for opening my eyes to what was right in front of my face the whole time. I LOVE J and J. It is a blessing to me. And so are YOU. I love you!


    Brandon went to a Braves game the other night and got attacked by ninjas in the Marta parking lot on the way home.
    Well.. they might have just been a small band of Chinese boys... but he came home with his nose bleeding. (I know baby.. you should have seen the other guy..)

    Today I washed the Tshirt he was wearing that night. When he came home he asked if the blood came out of it. I pulled it out of the dryer.. I hadn't even noticed the blood. There was a huge spot on the front and when I saw it the room started spinning and it all came back.

    I can hear 'Our Song', I can watch the video where we recorded the news the next night after it happened, with the blood on the front porch, hell I look at his face every day when I look at Sam.. Robert came home bloody tons of times after a bar brawl.. but tonight the blood on that Tshirt.. it just brought it home.
    I didn't cry when we got him dressed for the funeral. I didn't cry when I cut a lock of his hair for her. I didn't break a sweat during labor 3 weeks later when I had Sam. I didn't cry for 17 years.

    I used to talk to him..when I was 'crazy' and would hide in the closet all day b/c I thought I was going to die if I ventured out. I moved up from the closet to the rest of the house.. but I wouldn't leave it for 10 years. We would have long conversations about the state of my mental health, and how it might be affecting Sam, and what I could do about becoming 'normal.' I would make long lists of things I needed to do..'learn to mail the mail' is my all time favorite.

    Jason was a hippie. He lad long brown hair and he wore a big cross carved out of ivory hung on a leather strap.. I cut that off him when we dressed him for the viewing. I knew he would understand and want Sam to have it. We would go to parties and he would sit on a log around a campfire and the people would come and sit at his feet and listen to him talk about God and Nostradamus and how we all just needed to find the peace in our lives. Sam said when she was little listening to the stories about him she thought he was Jesus.

    Tonight is the night he was murdered. I won't cry tonight either, though. Tonight I will love my daughter. I will feel blessed to have her, and to have this wonderful life that God has given me, and tomorrow...tomorrow I will talk to Jason and we will talk about how our daughter is the most incredible person on this Earth. I will think about how she is as old as he ever got to be in this life, and I will think about what things she now needs to know..what things she is now old enough to learn. I will think about the things that Jason would want her to feel and to see at 17 years of age.

    Tonight I miss Jason.

    I can never get a job at Wal-Mart after this.

    So I had a dream last night about the way things used to be at the shop.. when there was meat, and fruit, and vegetables.. when everyone was family and got along and we saw families get on their feet on a monthly basis.
    I woke up depressed and nostalgic for the old days, because I'm moving next year. Georgia has been my home for 10 years. This house has been my place of comfort.. it has worked miracles not only in my life, but others as well. I've put people on my couch for months to get them off meth... one girl is now on TV doing commercials for the college she graduated from as a paralegal.
    I have pulled up A.C.'s obituary alot in the past weeks.. but this morning it had new meaning for me. Looking at all of his accomplishments, I realize I have made but a small impact.. and I want to do more. I NEED to do more. I need a place where I can make a bigger impact. And it's time to let someone use the magic of this house to help heal them.
    Will I ever be able to list as many things as he has? Absolutely not. But I can try to live up to his legacy. He made it his life's work to help people. A man walked up to my Mother at the viewing and said that he had invented something that would save lives.. a device that immediately cooled one's body temperature down in the event of a certain crisis..and that A.C was the one- the only one- that gave him the go ahead to try it. He said that the 5 people whose lives it had saved wanted him to tell Mom thank you for them. And that is just one small story of the many that we heard.
    So I'm moving.
    But I must..we ALL must.. be pretty important in the long run if we were special enough to have this man put into our lives.
    I can't wait to see what I can do.
    I love you, A.C.

    UPDATE: AC Buchanan, RHS President and CEO, dies at 56 08/07/08 - 10:38 AM RSS Feed .. --> end div headline -->
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    Alexandria, LA - Rapides Healthcare System's president and chief executive officer, A.C. Buchanan, died Tuesday at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from complications due to leukemia. He was 56. Buchanan served as president and chief executive officer at Rapides Regional Medical Center (RRMC) since March 1999. In 2002, he was named president and chief executive officer for the Rapides Healthcare System, which is comprised of RRMC, Avoyelles Hospital, Marksville, Oakdale Community Hospital, Oakdale, Savoy Medical Center, Mamou and Winn Parish Medical Center, Winnfield. Buchanan's leadership of Rapides Regional Medical Center and the Rapides Healthcare System were a testament to his long career in healthcare administration. After earning his bachelor's degree at Texas Christian University, he was a medical platoon leader in the U.S. Army. Buchanan went on to earn a master's degree in public administration from TCU and a master's degree in healthcare administration from Trinity University.
    He served as an administrator and CEO of six hospitals across Texas and Louisiana including a four-hospital system before taking the helm of Rapides in 1999. He also worked as a managed care consultant in Texas. Visionary Buchanan's years in central Louisiana anchored an extraordinary career in which he continued the tradition set by those before him, growing RRMC into one of the top hospitals in the state. Through his leadership and strong interest in women's and children's services, RRMC became home to the area's largest neonatal intensive care unit and the area's only pediatric intensive care unit. He also was instrumental in recruiting pediatric sub-specialists into our community providing access to these rare specialists for those in need. Providing the highest quality patient care was Buchanan's top priority. His respect for the nursing and ancillary staff was recognized by many. A.C. also understood the importance and value of an exemplary medical staff. Along with over 200 dedicated physicians already serving RRMC, one of his proudest accomplishments included the strong recruitment efforts of more than 40 new physicians to this community. But the accomplishments didn't stop there. Under Buchanan's leadership RRMC achieved the top five percent rating nationally from Healthgrades in multiple specialties, for many years, was awarded as a Top 100 Hospital, as well as awarded the Louisiana Quality Award for hospital excellence. He developed and expanded many new services in cardiology, oncology, surgery and other ancillary areas. His most recent achievement was the completion and opening of the $50 million expansion accomplished earlier this year.
    Community Involvement Buchanan was a dedicated member at his church, St. James Episcopal. He served in many capacities such as Senior Warden of Vestry (Executive Committee), Finance Committee, Property Committee, Investment Oversight Committee, Lector, Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lay Eucharistic Visitor, Life in Christ Leader, Mission and Outreach, Christian Education Director, Diocesan Executive Committee and the Diocesan Council for The Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. He was a recent graduate of the Education of Ministry program, which involved a four-year commitment in training.
    Also, in the community, Buchanan recently served as Chairman of the LSUA Foundation Board, LSUA Chancellor Search Committee, Alexandria Museum of Art Board, Alexandria Business Foundation Board, Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA) Board, Cenla Advantage Partnership Board, LHA Central District, Past Chair, and the Canterbury House Board.
    Buchanan previously served on the Chamber of Commerce Board, American Heart Association Heart Walk Chairperson, LHA Legislative Regulatory and Policy Council, the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board and the Region 6 Healthcare Reform Consortium, and the Rapides Primary Health Care Center. He was a Leadership Giver of United Way, as well as involved with the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, and a Leadership Central Louisiana graduate. Services/Memorial Contributions Visitation will be on Friday, August 8 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church Parish Hall. On Saturday, August 9 visitation at the church will be from 1 p.m. until the time of service at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Pineville. Funeral arrangements are under the guidance of John Kramer & Son. His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support his nephew Scott Peacock who is running the Houston Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of AC, his "Uncle Buck." Donations may be made at or in the name of A.C. Buchanan at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202

    Moving and all that Crap.

    I am going to live off the grid.
    I will have wind and solar generated power.
    I will grow my own food and have a composting toilet.
    I will live more simply than I do today.
    I will I will I will.

    Today my family does not drive. We take the bus and our carbon emission is very low. We save over $8,000.00 yearly by not having a vehicle to maintain, and that cost is rising due to fuel prices.

    Due to the global crisis the world is facing, we try to be good environmental stewards. We live very simply in an effort to shrink our carbon footprint. It doesn't seem weird to us to only have the 5 bills which only amount to what...$500.00 or $600.00 a month? Have I ever mentioned I have 2 window AC's and 2 space heaters? That's my cooling and heating units. No central heat and air. And they don't stay on all the time. And we're FINE.

    But now we are moving... and we all have to drive, which means THE CAR will come back into our lives..the car which Sam will need because she will be 18 and that's normal. 'Normal'.

    When we move, we are expected to do the things we don't. We are expected to drive. We are expected to have credit cards and be a part of the work-spend-consume materialistic, stressed, stretched, time starved and cluttered world that is 'normal'. We are supposed to grow up and start a solid foundation for our future. Buy a house. Buy things to put IN the house. Nicer things than I have now. New furniture and TV's and ... what... new things that mean a new life. NEW clutter.

    Well I happen to love my old couch that has a hole in the bottom that the cat crawls into. My ex of 13 years brought it over at 6 am and he and Brandon dragged it in laughing and it was on that same couch a year later that I saw my ex and his new girl snuggling and realized he was going to be just fine... which was something I needed.

    Brandon and Samantha want new things. They want better things. They want THE CAR. I want to be closer to Mom and Nick and April and BabyKhan.. I just don't want the rest of it.

    I need to find a balance. I need to mentally be okay with a new house that isn't.. this one. This old covered in ivy, infested with my spiders, pipes bursting in the winter, looks like a deserted crack house, tin roof where it rains so hard you can't hear someone talk.. house that doesn't even belong to me... place of refuge and solace where I found my sanity and raised my daughter house. Where I FINALLY let go of Robert and Jason.. where I FINALLY let my Dad have it with both barrels.. where I learned how to mail the mail.. where I found Jesus and God... where I quit smoking pot.. where I stopped spending hours doing my hair and makeup and listening for people who wanted to hurt me and waiting for a tragedy that was just around the corner.. where I remembered how to talk to trees and found out that I loved the people that no one else did.. I've lived longer in this house than I have ever lived anywhere my entire life.

    How do you walk away from that?

    I've tried convincing myself it was someone else's turn. I've thought about asking my landlord to let me sub-let it so that I can pick who lives here next. That is SO unrealistic. I mean I know this.

    My Mother is big on cutting ties and starting over..on walking away with almost nothing. I know she would not approve of the whole 'sub-let' idea. It reminds me of what Joyce Meyers said once... that if you are holding on to the thing behind you, you aren't going to be able to reach the thing in front of you.

    So I have 8 or 9 months to let go. If I could just KNOW. We're going to be happy..we're going to be so glad we moved.. we won't become materialistic fiends with debt and bills and plasma TV's..

    I mean this is a great opportunity.

    It's a great little town with a great little church.. you feel God in that church, you know what I'm saying? I bet you Father Fred would let me teach Sunday School. Yesterday I opened the Bible because I needed me some Jesus and I read some Psalms..boy that David went through some shit to write what he did, btw. So I find God and He will tell me what to do and He will give me peace about it and I wll be fine. What the hell am I thinking doing this without God. I'm a fucking moron.

    And in the meantime I have my brother bribing me with Little Shannon at Christmastime and Katie yelling 'You can do it!" and Brandon excited and Sam.. well Sam is pretty much Wednesday Addams so there's no highs or lows there...

    It doesn't mean I can't have a garden or keep bills down, right? I can still take the ivy WITH ME.. I can bring seeds of all the plants I love and have watched grow.. I can just cut out the bark of the tree with the initials and hearts and take the piece of the wall with her height marked WITH ME... I mean they have spiders in Louisiana.. it's actually warmer, so the heating bill would be LOWER..and you can't tell me they don't have wind what with all those hurricanes, so my wind powered generator would work better than I imagined!!! And I do love those crawfish boils... I can play dress up in Mom's closet whenever I want... I'll be close enought to bite the BabyKhan..

    Okay so maybe this isn't as scary as I thought.

    I do have a big issue with just takes me awhile. I bet by the time we have to go I'll be fine.
    I just have to find someone to sub-let my house...