Monthly Archives: March 2012

You the best man

No matter who I meet, I always put up a wall and only the ones that get to really know me will know how to break that down. You are one of the few. It’s not that I don’t trust the person, it’s that I don’t want to just let anyone in.

It’s really hard for me to explain how I feel about you… I guess I’m not much of a verbal person. So for someone to randomly come into my life, and make me feel comfortable enough to say anything without being shy and embarrassed is a big step in my books.

Thanks for being so patient with me.



It’s weird how real a dream can feel when you’re awake.

Community Drop-in #6: You, have the best advice for yourself

Today is my second lunch at the homeless drop in. I never really have lunch because it’s on Wednesday afternoons and Wednesdays are when I am at my internship. I came again with JL. As an infrequent guest, I find it easier to go with someone who knows the people and the atmosphere more than I. Just her presence boosts the emotional support for me while being there.

As we were crossing the street, JL made an interesting comment. She said, “You always walk in not knowing what happened.” I was a little confused to be honest, but after the visit, I understood what she meant.

As we walked in, the smell wasn’t as strong as it normally is. Which is a good thing because not only am I getting used to the drop-in, I also don’t have to sense that atrocious smell. I mean, I know it is there, but since my nose has grown used to it, it’s as if the smell isn’t there anymore – to me at least. The first person I saw was Jake. The reason I noticed him first was because of his green shirt. From my previous lunch visit which is where I met Jake, he told me that he only wore black. He said there was a sense of power in wearing all black. Today he was wearing a bright green shirt!

Me: “Hey Jake, you’re wearing a green shirt! I thought you only wore black… so what’s the special occasion?

Jake: “I wanted to s-spice things up. This colour also looks good on me so I wanted to wear it.”

Sure enough, it did look quite good on him. As he talked, I kept thinking back to our previous conversation. I distinctly remember that he only said he’d only wear black, with the exception of dark colours. I guess with summer coming in before spring even arrived, it is beginning to brighten people up in ways we would never have imagined!

I looked around the room trying to figure out what was for lunch today. Lasagna – my favourite! JL on the other hand had left me standing there at the entrance to say hi to a few volunteers/workers. I don’t have a connection with the people there like JL does, so I always look forward to the food first when I arrive.

We sat down across an older man with a clean beard. He looked about 55 to 60, Caucasian and tough. Before I took a seat, he already introduced himself as Garrett. JL asked if he had already eaten and responded with a nod. The more I looked at him, the more he looked like a stereotypical Harley Davidson biker – badass.

As he finished his last bit of yogurt, JL swings her arm around with my lunch platter of salad, chicken burger and whole wheat pasta in tomato sauce. Where was my lasagna? As I analyzed my plate, Garrett looks at our plate and asks where our lasagna was. I asked the same thing. Without saying another word, Garrett waves down a worker and requests them to serve us lasagna. Emotionless and stern. Not even a minute passes and our lasagna arrives. While the worker was serving JL and I a spoonful, Garrett waves down his friend to sit beside him.

Since he is sitting across from JL, the two of them start talking. I will be honest, I wanted to talk to Garrett because I feel weird sitting there and being antisocial, but I was a bit afraid of talking to him. Putting all stereotypes and fear aside, I break the silence.

Me: “So what are you plans for today?

Garrett: “Well, I have to pay this Hydro bill after this. And then, I’m going to go buy a book.”

Me: “Oh, where? What kind of book?”

Garrett: “World’s Biggest Bookstore. Probably a history book. I really enjoy history. I feel like not many people look back at the history of the events that occur. They seem too interested in what is happening at the moment, but the way we got here is in our history.”

Garrett and I talked about history. I, myself am not knowledgeable in history so knowing someone who is, really intrigued me, and sparked an interest to know more. He recommended me to watch a movie called, Nanking. It is about the raping of Nanking, China. When he was briefing me on the movie, as soon as he said the “raping” I knew what he was talking about because my grandmother was a runaway. During his explanation, I can see glimpses of a smile which removed all sense of my fear in him. As with any other movie, I figured he suggested it because he had seen it so I asked what he thought about it. It turns out that he didn’t see it yet, but even if he did, he wouldn’t tell me how it was.

Garrett: “Watch it for yourself, then you’ll know if it’s good. Only the weak ask questions like that.”

I was silent. I didn’t know how to reply to that. Instead of leaving it at that, Garrett explained what he meant by personal opinions being for the “weak.” An opinion will not have the same effect as if the person was to actually watch the movie. When people ask for opinions, what makes them weak is that they are afraid to try new things hence the label weak.

I understand what he was trying to say, but I disagree at the same time. Opinions give individuals a perception from another pair of eyes. I don’t think people are “weak” if they ask for an opinion, I think they may be considered weak if they let the opinions overpower theirs. I always ask people for their thoughts. May it be on a dish at a restaurant, event, movie, or relationship, I ask because I want to see a different angle of it.

This project is like an opinion in a sense. My goal is to show the readers that we as people should not perceive the homeless or individuals who are troubled as dirty, lazy, uneducated, or stupid. There is more to them than the fact that their social class is considered lower than normal. Even though that is how I feel, it is up to the reader to decide how to view my experience. The weak are the ones that follow what I say while the others will research to formulate their own outlook.

Community Drop-in #5: Time is Priceless

Dinner – Beef Stir Fry with Rice (Yummy!)

Today’s drop-in experience was a little different. I brought a friend with me who had never been.

The first thing he said to me was that he wouldn’t eat too much. I figured it was because he felt like he was eating food that could’ve been eaten from someone who needed it. Since I thought he felt that way, it started to make me feel that way again. Even though this is only my 4th time coming to the drop-in, I still feel weird about it because of how people react when I tell them where I’m going. Many show confusion and anger because I’m potentially eating another person’s dinner. Not saying that these individuals are dumb, but they are close-minded and not understanding of what a community drop-in is really about.

My friend is a prime example of the stereotypical assumptions that are associated with homeless drop-ins. There’s nothing wrong with his initial comment. Although it does make it better that he was thinking for them, rather than against them come to think of it. Aside from that, the food that is served is for everyone. Individuals are not excluded because of their social class at the community drop-in. The drop in actually encourages people to involve themselves because it is their involvement that tightens the conflict between the rich and the poor. It is the effort to build a relationship that alleviates the stereotypes that is associated with homelessness, in turn alleviating the silent suffering we are causing them.

Today was a full house. My friend and I had to wait until a seat was available. While we waited in the lounge area, a man sat down beside me holding his stomach in pain. My first thought was that he was going to hurl, or that he was needed to relieve his bowels so I shuffled a little over the opposite side; my germaphobia is kicking in here. I asked what’s wrong because it just seemed like the natural thing to do when you see someone in pain and he explained that he had a simple stomach ache. The odd part was that as simple as it is, it’s been happening for the last few weeks. He had made an appointment with the doctor with the earliest appointment three weeks from now. Since he had to wait three weeks before seeing his doctor, he was very persistent in seeing the nurse at the drop-in. I suggested that if he wanted another fresh eye, there was a walk-in clinic downtown that he could see as well. He asked where about specifically because transportation was scarce for him. Even though he thanked me for the advice, you could sort of sense that the information went in one ear and out the other by his persistence for the nurse.

The note that Joe clearly stated to me during my first time here came into mind from my conversation with the man. Joe explained to me that the drop-in is more than just a place for a hot meal; it is a community with a roof. People who come here often depend on each other like family. To the individual with stomach cramps, his persistence to see the in-house nurse could be an example of how connected the community is in here. Although she is the in-house nurse, she is also considered a friend or even a family member to the individuals who frequent here.

It is heart warming to know, there are people who are willing to use their profession in a community that is underserved. There is much need for involvement in communities like this. To have students interning at a placement like this, is a great step in creating a better future for this community. Students are the future after all.


My homie

Even though this post is short, just know that your support has been monumental.

Thank you for giving me strength, a shoulder to cry on, and the laughs.

I can only imagine how horrible it would be if you weren’t there.

Again, thank you. You’re the best!

P.S. You’re going to love your belated birthday present!

Good things are the hardest to write

You are always able to put a smile to my face, even when I’m mad. I know you like my smile which is maybe why you try so hard, but I do wonder if you actually like my smile, or like the fact that you made me smile. Perhaps it is both – which isn’t a bad thing on my mind. You’ve showed me that fun exists even when times are at its toughest. Sometimes this is bad though because I tend to lose track of my schedule. Your presence itself can comfort me even when I don’t need to be. Your hug can pause the rest of the world around us and it is then, when I can see and feel your unspoken emotions. Your voice is always so soothing, often making me sleepy which I know doesn’t work to your hopes because our conversations become shorter. I try not to let your thoughtful mind and caring soul get to me, but even though I try every single time, it still wins me over.

I don’t know how you do it, but you do it well.