Monthly Archives: January 2012

stressfree

When I’m with you, the world is at its stillest.

It’s like there’s nothing in this world alive but you and me.

Even the faintest sound can’t break us free.

 

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The new solitaire

My cubicle neighbors are discussing the game Angry Birds. They’re finding it hard to understand the point of it and why people are fans of the simple game. One coworker mentioned something very interesting though. He said that Angry Birds is the new solitaire. Now that we have our fingers instead of mice, we need a new kind of game that can cater to the advancement of our technology. I agree but I also disagree. With new technology emerging in the market every week, games are being developed even faster, three times faster. If Angry Birds was once the new solitaire, then that could be said for Plants vs. Zombie or Fruit Ninja.

It’s scary how fast technology has transformed. I remember being the coolest kid on the block because I had a CD player (by had I mean my older sister’s) and now I have an iPod Touch that can hold more than 14 tracks about the same price. Even with my Touch I am still behind the rest of society in technological terms. LS

Hello. Nevermind.

It’s funny when you have a question in your mind, you want to ask someone… but who? You figure you’ll just ask the person closest to you but, seconds later of asking you know the answer. Then you must apologize and explain that you’ve figured out the answer from asking the question.

Isn’t that one of the most awkward moments? I do it all the time! It drives me crazy sometimes because I feel like I just brought the other person down into a spiral of unnecessary confusion.

I guess a way to avoid that situation is to THINK before you SPEAK, but like brainstorming, sometimes it just best to hear the question from a voice. Too bad society views talking to one’s self an unacceptable act.

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Last one… I swear.

Hello. Today I slept in later than I should have. Recently I’ve been feeling very lazy but it seems to only happen around this time of the year. Maybe it’s because 3 years ago this time, I was on drugs most of the time due to my injury. But maybe it’s because I’ve been TRYING to quit smoking recently, again. The reason I capitalized trying is because I realized that I can’t, right now that is. The only time I don’t smoke is when I’m in Toronto. Since I only have class 1-2 times a week in Oshawa, and it is only during those times I smoke, I guess I’m working my way to quitting… slowly.

Perhaps I’ll quit cold turkey after graduation, but I wouldn’t count on it this year since I’ll be going to Europe in August (hopefully) and smoking is second nature there.

I hope something/someone will show me a reason to quit. LS

COMMUNITY DROP-IN #1: REFLECTION

I met a lot of people that night, witnessed a fight, experienced theft and learned a new way of playing solitaire; things I would’ve experienced with any community of people, homeless or not.

Tonight opened up my mind to the people who are underserved. As odd as it sounds saying this, they are like regular people. The reason I said it was odd was because they are no different from me, you or your neighbour, but yet I had the mentality that they are different. I’m sure many of you feel that way as well. I am quite ashamed of myself that I felt so much fear against them and pretended as if they weren’t there. I think from growing up in downtown Toronto my whole life, I’ve grown used to hearing them beg for money, food, drugs, and cigarettes, that they end up dissolving into the traffic which is as horrible as it sounds. The past four hours at the community drop-in has really showed me how wrong I have been in the past eight years of my life.

These stereotypes may seem like a small factor from one person, but even that one person’s actions are hurting the greater community of underserved individuals.

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Community Drop-in #1: First Timer

Dinner – Pork Chop and Mashed Potatoes

Today was my very first experience at the community drop-in. Throughout my posts, I will include a stereotype that most people including myself have against the homeless.

Stereotype #1: The homeless are rude.

As I turned the bend around Starbucks, I noticed a bunch of cars outside the church. I was a little confused because homelessness and cars don’t exactly go together. Outside of the doors was a group of smokers and people drinking. It was a little intimidating to be honest. Do I say hi or do I mind my own business? What if they say I don’t belong here – then how will I complete my project? Or even worse, what if they attack me?! All these thoughts and emotions of nervousness and fear were running through my head. I walked past them and one of the men kindly opened the door for me.

As the door opened, a whiff of stale, unwashed clothing with a mix of smelly feet and body odour swept right up into my nose. Gross. Not the most pleasing smell to be… smelling. Beyond the door at the end of stairs, I could hear noise seeping through the cracks.  I walked down the set of stairs and opened the door and the noise of people intensified dramatically. At first I peaked in slowly, noting about 50-60 people in a cafeteria setting. I was a little shy to walk in, but someone behind the door stuck his head out and waved at me. I had no idea, but that alone softened my nervousness. I walked in and the smell really hit me hard in the face along with the general scene of the drop-in. In the center, there were six tables with people having dinner. At first glance, it reminded me of a bar in the medieval times where people would feast minus the alcohol and swords. Along the sides, people were conversing with one another. At the back was the lounge area where a few individuals were resting. The mood level was great, everyone was talking amongst each other and a few welcomed me as I entered and walked past them towards the lounge.

Stereotype #2 – The homeless are dirty.

I met up with Joe (the founder), who welcomed me to the community and told me to wait by the side until I was called for dinner. I stood by the drinks station. At first I didn’t know the drinks were all placed there, until I noticed how I kept getting in the way of people. I figured I might as well grab a drink to give me something to do as I waited. I saw the cups in the rack on the side and I was a bit hesitant because I’m a semi germaphobe. However, my thirst got the better of me though and I broke that fear [for tonight only]. I grabbed my tea and took a step back to where I was standing before.

Stereotype #3 – The homeless are uneducated.

An older man with a cowboy hat, scruffy beard and novel in his left hand came up and stood beside me. He looked right at me, paused for a few seconds as if he knew me and then introduced himself.

Man: Hi, you look new here. What’s your name?

Me: Yeah, I am new. My name is LS, what about yours?

Man: John.

FYI – For privacy concerns, all names that are disclosed in this section of the blog will be changed to an alias.

John started talking about cowboys and vampires. He named a few shows from the 60s of the South West which I was completely oblivious about. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about but I think he could tell from my facial expression as well. He summarized the movies for me so I can get the general idea of what he was trying to tell me. As he talked, a worker interrupted us and told him there was a seat available. John tipped his hat and said it was time for his dinner.

The worker quickly assured me that there would be a seat for me soon. Just as she said it, a seat by the drinks station became available. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to sit beside John to hear the rest of his story. I was really looking forward to it because of my own self interest, but also because I felt comfortable talking to him. He showed me a sense of inclusion in his circle which was also a step closer to the acceptance of the community as a whole. He didn’t know it but just the simple hi dumbed the fear I initially had.

At my table, there was a mix of people – mostly men. Come to think of it, most of the people at the drop-in were men. There were three Native American men, a young Caucasian guy, 2 older Caucasian gentlemen who were minding their own business and an 80-85 year old woman in a wheelchair. The loudest of the group were the Native Americans but they were also the only ones who were intoxicated at my table. The Native American sitting beside was the only one of the three that wasn’t.

I asked him how his day was, hoping it would spark up a conversation, but I was too hopeful. His day started off with his sleeping bag being stolen, thereafter he got into a few conflicts and now he has nothing to keep him warm when he is back on the streets after dinner is over. With the weather continuing to decrease from the present -10 Celsius, the idea of him being on the streets without something warm frightened me. I have a hard enough time walking from my house to my car that is barely 30 seconds away, so I can’t imagine how someone can survive the whole night without heat. I expressed worry that he would freeze but he assured me that there are other ways in keeping warm like keeping close with his street family and finding other articles of clothing.

Stereotype #5: The homeless are heartless.

As he shared with me the concerns of the lack of political assistant for the homeless, a fight broke up the table in front of us. A few punches were thrown but within a few seconds, people around the fight got up from the dinner to pull each other away. The workers quickly came in to calm the two men. I am easily affected by seeing physical fights so I was taken back a little. The Native Americans beside me got up to comfort their friend, while the instigator was kicked out for the rest of the night. The environment became tense after the fight, but it slowly simmered as the night went on.

Homeless in the Winter

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The nervousness in me.

Every week, I will be visiting community drop-in right in the heart of Toronto. Tomorrow will be my first time but before I step foot in there, Joe (the founder) helped shed some light on what a community drop-in is, who goes, and why.

A community drop-in is a safe haven for individuals to freshen up with food, laughs, healthcare and basic essentials of survival. Joe states that it is “a sanctuary” or in other words “a home to their family.”  Truthfully, when I hear of the word drop-in, the idea of a family is the last thing on my mind. I personally thought it would be a place where the homeless or individuals who are less fortunate, are given a hot meal either it be lunch or dinner and then some. But as Joe explained more, it came to me that although these individuals are struggling every day, they are not doing it alone. They have each other and that is what keeps them living through to the future.

Every week they hold events: Tuesdays is a women’s drop-in, Wednesday is a community lunch, Thursday is a community dinner and Friday is a games drop-in. Through out the month, shows will also be hosted such as Java House or a Community Concert.

Every week, I will be attending a drop-in event. In doing so I am becoming one step closer to understanding the life of struggle. We all have struggles in our lives, but often times we have the essentials to becoming “an acceptance in society.” These individuals are often left in the shadows of the streets, forgotten and uncared for. Tomorrow is my first day, and like any first day I am nervous! I don’t know what to expect.  LS

Balance

I admit. I am a hoarder in the making. Blame my mother; she keeps everything. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Found out your shirts have holes in them? She’ll use them to patch something else up. Have old notebooks that are half written? She’ll write in the other half. Too many shoes? Don’t worry, she’ll keep them in case she wants to wear them one day.

Sound like a hoarder?

I honestly think, without my siblings and I… She would be featured in one of the episodes of Hoarders on TLC. I on the other hand, am not as bad. Although I do have the urge of keeping things, in hope that I can find use for it later. Sometimes I find it hard to throw things away because 1. I bought it myself; or 2. Someone gave it to me. Either way, it’s more than just an object. A feeling or memory ends up attaching itself to it, making it harder to let go.

I guess that can be said about people too. But sometimes, the best thing to do is let it go so something better can be found. LS

The good in everyone

I am a daughter, aunt, sister and friend. I have a roof to protect me, a bed of my own, a seat in an institution and a shot at a career. Many individuals don’t have what I have, and those that do, take it for granted.

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For those who don’t, the reasons are endless. It can be due to an unfortunate turn of events, choice of decision(s), or the enforcenment of another. Many of these individuals take to the streets, or move from place to place, with no home they can call their own.

This section of JLS is my blog space for a project in my Nonviolent Communication course. We are each assigned to choose a project that makes us, a source of nonviolent/peaceful communication within the next 3-6 weeks. I chose to do my project on homelessness because it will bring a personal change in myself, as well to others.

My friend had actually suggested the idea because of an incident that happened recently. We were on my way home from a night out on the town, when we noticed a drunk man walking towards us. He was notably drunk because of his stumbling posture and the closer we got the more scared I became. I’ll be honest here, the main reason for my fear was because he looked homeless, which to me automatically associates with the lack of cleanliness.  When I think back to it, the stigma I had on him overpowered any other feeling I could have had towards him. For all I know, he could’ve had alcohol poisoning which I neglected to help.

This is where this project comes in. I want to change the way I think about them and create change in others. All too often, we as individuals let stigmas take over how we should see people, and that is to see them for who they are, not how they look. It does not just happen with the homeless, it happens with culture, religion, individuals with disabilities, and people with HIV/AIDs. By alleviating the negative judgements, I am becoming a source of nonviolent communication as well as enduring others I know to do the same. Just like violence, peace is contagious as well. If the LGBTQ can make change in the views of others, perhaps I can make that change for the individuals that are often ignored and feared of. LS

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Try and you’ll succeed

As an undergrad, graduating in less than 4 months, it is particularly overwhelming when it comes to job hunting. It’s not the bad economy that I’m worried about, it’s the requirements  that I may not meet due to the lack in experience. You can only learn so much from lectures, but hands-on experience is what I find lacking from the university system (except for the Waterloo). You can only make the best out of what you got though. LS

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