Photo-induced memories

The top left photo shows Doug Chase (and the program director) at the soup kitchen in 1999, our first year volunteering with Grant Avenue StreetReach.

I’m taking a break from writing after writing 50,000 words last month. I intended to do nothing but read and then remembered the enormous stash of photos I swore I’d organize so my sons wouldn’t have to deal with them.

So I started scrapbooking and quickly felt a sense of overwhelm. My family has SO many photos. Then I asked for/demanded help. As a result, Zippy and Zebu have stepped up and helped round photo corners and put sticky tape on their backs while I crop and organize the next pages. It feels a lot better to share the load. And it’s good for me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

The page I’ve highlighted here shows Wildebeest playing chess with a man named Steve who taught both sons to play. This page is also bittersweet because it contains the only photo I have of our friend Doug who died in 2009. He was a lovely man and today I miss him all over again.

I frequently curse the number of photos needing our attention, but finding Doug in the stacks was like striking gold.

Real People, Real Lives


On Monday I took my camera and notebook to the spaghetti dinner.

This is Dennis.
After I took his picture he simply said, "Thank god for the meal."

                                                         © Tracy Abell 2011

This is Wayne.
He told me, "The meal means a lot to me.  I haven’t had a whole lot of work for the past year."

                                                                                                                                          © Tracy Abell 2011

These are real people struggling with real-life problems.
I wish the powers that be would stop pandering to the already-rich, entitled people,
and throw substantial support to those hanging on by a thread.

Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse; the new meme is "we’ve all got to make sacrifices."
Except the power structure will ensure the rich get richer
while the disenfranchised poor pile up like so much forgotten trash.

They’re people.

Karma, Baby


AGNES by Tony Cochran

I can’t help thinking of the little spat I got in with the resident evangelist at the meal on Monday.
She thinks it’s her right to tell people they’ll go to hell unless they accept her religious dogma,
and got testy with me when I told her to knock it off.

Wonder how her teeth feel today?



All the current hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric makes me ill.
And it’s everywhere.

While busing tables at the spaghetti dinner on Monday,
I overheard some mumbled slander aimed at Muslims
from an evangelical woman who likes to
put her hand on people’s foreheads and pray over them/bless them.
Over the years I’ve asked her to stop doing that since we’re about feeding people,
not proselytizing, but she’s so locked into her belief system my words don’t make a dent.

Which is probably why on Monday I walked away from her in frustration (something I’m not proud of),
and went into the kitchen to vent to Zippy who then told me
the same anti-Muslim crap was being spewed there by a volunteer washing dishes.

It’s everywhere, and it’s getting more and more blatant.
We have a man of color in the White House, a man many choose to believe is a closet Muslim,
and that’s unleashed The Ugly which people have kept simmering in their guts.
G.W. Bush was able to keep a lid on anti-Muslim sentiment following September 11, 2001,
but Obama’s skin tone has inflamed The Ugly.

Burning Korans.

Shrieking opposition to mosques all over the country.

Denying Muslims their First Amendment rights.
I’m sickened.

PREVAIL in your pants

Yesterday while helping at the spaghetti dinner,
I saw a family with young kids and offered them diapers.
I went to the basement and dug through the donated personal hygiene items
(diapers, tampons, napkins, adult underwear, etc.) to find the correct size.

In my search, I happened upon a package that looked like this:


My personal motto is also a brand of adult underwear?

My hand-made, special-order, one-of-a-kind bracelet that I haven’t removed
since artist Laura Hamor mailed it to me in September 2009
might conjure images of incontinence?

I stared at the package, stunned, and gave myself a few seconds to mourn.
Then I started thinking about the situation in broader terms.

Lots of those product  names would make great mottos for inspirational or philosophical bracelets:

          DEPENDS (for those trying to remember to make nuanced decisions).

          ALWAYS (for those professing undying love).

          WHISPER (for those struggling to find their “inside voice”).

So, I’ve decided I’m going to keep wearing my bracelet
but I’ve also resolved to be more diligent about doing Kegels.

Gift Ideas

Yesterday the Street Reach volunteers
bagged gifts for our annual toy drive.

This year we provided gifts for 1000 children
from about 320 families.

When families sign up they provide the sex and age
of each child and we give each a gift.

The gifts are sorted by age groups and we walk around
"shopping" for the right gifts which we put in a numbered bag.

Even though it’s a good cause, I get a little tense
because selecting gifts feels like sex-role stereotyping.
Dolls-for-girls and footballs-for-boys sort of thing.
(My family donated books but there weren’t nearly enough).

I’m putting together a list of suggestions for next year’s drive
and I thought you all might have some great gift ideas.
We especially fell short for the teens (and there were lots this year).

We try to keep the gifts at $10 or less (bought on sale).

I’d appreciate any sex-neutral suggestions.

Thank you in advance!

Big heart, not so big brain

When is being nice too nice?
Or even dangerous?

Last night I walked out of a store to the parking lot.
An old, loud truck passed me.
As I reached to open my car door
I heard "Excuse me, ma’am."

It was the guy in the truck.

He had a story about being stranded
and needing gas money.
I told him I didn’t have my wallet and only had a credit card
but would look in my car for change.

He then asked me to go to a gas station where he’d clean my windows
in exchange for some gas.

I hesitated and told him I needed to check in my car.
I found four quarters, accidentally dropped one between the seats,
and took three out to the man.
It wasn’t until I handed him the money that I looked at him.

He looked a little volatile.
A bit scary.
But I see volatile and scary every week at the soup kitchen.

He thanked me and I walked back to my car.
A woman in an SUV was idling there, watching.
She said, "I was just making sure you were okay."

I thanked her and got in my car.
And then it all hit me:
I hadn’t thought twice about approaching that man’s truck.
Hadn’t thought twice about standing next to his door and open window.
Hadn’t thought about the big dog on the seat next to him.

I’m 5’10".
I regularly "bounce" people from the spaghetti dinner.
I’m used to people on the edge.

But none of that matters.
Last night I wasn’t paying attention to the situation.
And worse, I actually contemplated going to a gas station.

I need to maintain a sense of "me" in those interactions.
Giving is good until it’s stupid.

The miracle that was Larry Brown

Today I finished reading Larry Brown’s last book, A Miracle of Catfish.
Larry Brown was an excruciatingly good writer
who created characters you wouldn’t typically find in children’s literature.

They’re often selfish
murdering and pathetic.
But also kind-hearted and funny.

Larry Brown wrote for adults but whenever I read his work, 
I have this burning desire to be a better writer for children.
More like him.
Minus the occasional slaughter of various animals
and gruesome factory mishaps.

Larry Brown wasn’t afraid to shine a light into humanity’s dark spaces.
And he was one helluva storyteller.

Thank you again, Doug, for making the introduction.

Remembering Doug

Yesterday afternoon I learned I’ve lost a friend.

We met Doug in the summer of 1999.
Zebu had just turned three and Wildebeest was about five-and-a-half.
We were new volunteers at the spaghetti dinner and several old-timers
weren’t happy having young kids underfoot.
But Doug wasn’t one of the cranky ones.
He always made us feel welcome.
Doug had a smile that came from deep inside; you felt his warmth.

Doug sometimes cooked the spaghetti and sometimes served it out in the dining room.
Many called him Noodles.
Others called him Montana.
Something to do with a t-shirt he wore the first day he walked into our director’s
used bookstore.

Doug loved books.
Maybe more than anyone I know.
Signed-first-editions kind of love.

When Doug learned I’d written a novel, he gushed all sorts of compliments.
Told me I was amazing and that he was in awe.
He begged to read it.
I gave him the three-ring binder holding the single-spaced manuscript.
My first novel.
My mess-of-a-novel.
He didn’t finish it.
I got mad and demanded he return the manuscript.

He gave it back without a whole lot of apologies.
But then when he turned me onto so many great writers like
Larry Brown and Larry Watson
Pete Dexter
Sherman Alexie,
and I shared these new-to-me writers with my parents and brother
who loved them, too,
I understood why Doug couldn’t read my book.
Doug knew his literary shit.

When I mentioned I was submitting a short-story to the Boston Review
Doug was already familiar with the work of the fiction editor, Junot Diaz.
Junot Diaz who five years later won the Pulitzer for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Doug knew his shit.

I think I was responsible for Doug reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
He’d already heard of it, of course,
but I’d like credit for one literary assist.

But Doug wasn’t just about the books.
He struggled with addiction.
He was clean when we met and I later learned
his brother had taken Doug into the woods
and belted him to a tree while he went through withdrawal.

 A few years back something changed for Doug
And he started using again.
I’m trying to remember what, if anything, I did to reach out.
I think I sent some emails and left a few unreturned voice mails
But mostly I kept out of the way.
I knew it was something Doug had to do himself
And I waited for him to get back in touch after he’d beaten those demons.

On March 5, the demons won.
Doug died of an overdose.
In an alley.
54 years old.

I can’t believe he’s really gone.

Last night I broke the news to the boys.
Zebu said he had no memory of Doug.
Wildebeest told us about conversations he and Doug had at the spaghetti dinner.
Jokes they shared.
Wildebeest told Zebu, “You would’ve liked him.”
I told Zebu, “You did like him, you just don’t remember.”

My heart hurts with missing Doug.
He was an extraordinary person
And now he’s gone.
But I’m grateful he’s no longer in pain.
I hope there’s some enormous bookstore in the sky
where Doug is kicked back
discovering the next great voice.

May he rest in peace.


I’m feeling so much better today.
Yesterday I had zero energy
and felt overwhelming sadness on top of other emotions.
This morning I woke feeling like my usual self.

Thank you again for taking the time to share in my pain
and help me sort through the feelings.
Your collective kindness and wisdom brought me back to me.

I am very grateful.


R is for Robert

I haven’t written about R in months.  Last summer he was at the rehab nursing home, getting stronger and putting on much-needed weight.

He hated it there.

I visited as I could.  It was hard because R’s friend, S, was always there.  Always.  S is homeless and stays with a friend at night but spent his days with R.  S can be a pleasant man but also exhibits signs of mental illness (paranoia and delusions), and several visits in the cramped space of the nursing home were very scary for me.  And R.  I’d pretend to leave and then sneak back into the director’s office to let staff know that S was agitating R, and to please keep a close eye on the situation.  There was no way I could speak directly to R about S because I knew if R had to make a “choice,” he’d choose S over me in his life.

Then against all medical advice, R left the nursing home.  I’d been calling him for several days without getting an answer, and figured it was because he was doing physical therapy or in the dining room or out in the hallway.  I told myself R was safe and getting stronger.

The following Monday I was busing tables at the spaghetti dinner, and in walked R.


I was upset.  Not just because he’d left the nursing home before regaining his strength and weight, but because he hadn’t seen fit to let me know.

I was hurt; I thought we were friends.  But I reminded myself R probably didn’t tell me because he was afraid I’d try talking him out of leaving.  And I probably would have done that.

R looked horrible.  He was weak.  He was ill.

The next week or so I saw him again at the spaghetti dinner.  He said he needed groceries.  I told him Zippy and I could shop after the meal clean-up and then drop them by his house or I could bring them the next morning.  He said the next day would be better.  I told him I’d call before leaving for the store and that he needed to answer the phone to let me know he was there.  I repeated that instruction several times and he agreed.

The next day I called but R never answered the phone.  I continued calling off and on for the next two days.  Then on September 11, R’s birthday, I went by his house with a card and a coffee table book on Italy.  R had told me he wished he could go to Rome and since I knew that wasn’t possible, I wanted him to have a taste of Italy.  He didn’t answer my knock so I wrapped the book in a plastic bag and left it on a chair on his porch.

I didn’t hear from him.  Two days later Zippy drove to R’s house and saw the present still on the porch.  Then R’s neighbor saw Zippy and told him that R and S had taken the train to Toledo to visit R’s cousin.

He and his cousin had been estranged for twenty-five years.  Some family feud surrounding R’s mother’s death.  But R kept talking about his cousin and finally last summer he got over his anxiety and let me track her down.  I talked to her on the phone.  I facilitated that first conversation they had after all those years.  R was very happy to be reconnected with his only surviving family.

R didn’t see fit to let me know he was taking that trip to Toledo.

Again, I was very hurt.  But this time I knew it was R’s decision whether we’d ever be in touch again.  So I let go of the anger and hurt, and focused on the release that came with knowing R didn’t need me in his life.  If he didn’t know me well enough to get that I would never, ever have stopped him from taking that trip to see his cousin, then there really wasn’t anything between us.

In the following months whenever I’d picture his frail body in his filthy home, I’d remind myself that was what he’d chosen.  I’d remind myself I’d offered help and that R was living his own life on his own terms.

I saw R across the dining room one Monday in late October.  He and S were just leaving but I didn’t say hello because I was helping voters figure out their polling places and ID requirements.  I had the election on my mind.

Last night I was busing tables when I saw S.  If you’re still reading, you’ve probably already figured out what comes next.

R died at home on December 20.  He was alone.  He weighed 76 pounds, down from the 102 he weighed when he left the nursing home.  S told me when he found R it looked as if R had gone peacefully.  I’m not inclined to believe much of anything S says, but I’m holding onto that statement.

Right now I’m struggling with so many emotions.  Sadness and anger.  Hurt.  Outrage.  S had my number.  S chose not to call and let me know.  Not only that, S said some hurtful things to me last night.  Zippy keeps reminding me S is mentally ill.  And a dick.  Zippy is right.  Just as he’s correct in pointing out that S was most likely messing with R’s head in those last months.

R was a deeply unhappy person.  He also suffered some mental illness.  But I’m trying to remember him as he was when we first became friends years ago.  He’d talk to me about what Denver was like before all the changes.  He had an incredible memory and described the architecture of old buildings and rattled off names of clubs and restaurants.  He told me he was a jazz singer.  It makes me happy thinking of him singing, especially since I only knew him with the raspy whisper that came after his throat cancer.  Losing his voice seems the cruelest blow, and I believe it was the source of much of his anger.

The last time I visited him in the nursing home we had one of the best conversations in years.  He told me about being a little kid in Toledo watching the old guys playing chess at the tables on the sidewalk and how his grandfather would buy him a penny candy.  He had some good memories and I’m glad he shared them with me.

So what is this huge mass of words I just spewed?  I guess this is my way of sorting through my feelings.  I know I did good things for R and I know he wasn’t a very pleasant person, so I’m not looking for pats on the back or anything like that.  I’m just trying to make sense of my relationship with Robert.  Trying to figure out whether we really were friends or whether I carried all the weight in that department.

I’m guessing it was a little of both.

Revision Angst

I’m having one of those moments.
One of those "this is crap, who are you trying to kid?!" moments.
One of those "what made you think you could pull this off?" moments.
One of those "this isn’t even close to working so you might as well
go fill out an application at Taco Smell" moments.

I hate these moments.
But I know they always pass.
Especially when I read those vile criticisms aloud in R’s voice.

Okay, now I’m smiling again.  
Thanks for listening.

I gotta get back to it.


One Person, One Vote. For All

I’m headed out in a few minutes with my laptop so I can help homeless and working poor people know where to go vote tomorrow.  But first I wanted to put up a voting-related post that included a cool quote or an inspiring story about voting.  So I did a Google search.

I’m so naive.

I didn’t find inspiration.  My search brought me to discussion boards with people saying the most cruel and hateful things about homeless people and their voting rights.  I don’t know whether to scream or cry.

A pox on all the mean-spirited, ignorant people out there. 

And In the meanwhile, I’m joining the ranks of the many volunteers out there working hard today and tomorrow to make sure each and every person’s voice is heard and counted. 


Agnes Tames the Voices

I’m fortunate enough to have R’s raspy voice as my secret weapon for keeping the nasty voices at bay. But if anyone out there still needs help getting the cranial naysayers to shut the beep up, you might want to try this approach:

AGNES by Tony Cochran (8/20/08)

Stuff and Other

Yesterday I finished the draft of my WIP and set it aside for at least one week but probably two!

Met online friends in person this week and enjoyed myself very much both times!  Hooray for Jennifer, Robin, Stephanie, Ingrid, Jean, and Sarah!

Cannibalized (with her permission) one of Robin’s throwaway comments and this morning used it as a jumping-off point for 1k words!  Have no idea if it’ll go anywhere but it was nice trying to get another voice/story going while the WIP simmers in the background!

Visited R in nursing home this afternoon and for the first time in weeks ( ! ) I witnessed him up and walking (with a walker).  He’s gained 4 pounds and the PT says this week has marked a real improvement in R’s strength! 

Tomorrow I’m taking Zebu and friend plus Wildebeest and friend to Elitch’s amusement park.  (I can’t bring myself to use an exclamation point for that news item).  Wish me well.


Life Update

I’m feeling weird and disconnected from LJ these days but in some ways that feels good because I’ve been much more productive without my internet habit.  I don’t turn on my desktop until I’ve done my writing and as a result, I’ve hit my daily word count goal for 16 days in a row!  Methinks I’m forming a habit!  Finally, a good one! 

R was moved from the hospital into a nursing home last Friday so that he can receive daily physical therapy.  The transition was extremely difficult and I’m still amazed he agreed to go through with it but I guess even he realized how weak he is right now.   He’s frighteningly thin and not eating much at all but when I was there today, the director spoke with him about strategies to get him eating again.  She was patient and understanding with his anxieties and negativity, and her kindness brought me to tears.  For the first time in weeks I feel hopeful about R’s chances for recovery.

And just so you don’t get the idea this is your one-stop shop for maudlin posts: 

R and his friend, S, have an ongoing “discussion” about bringing the horse and buggy back into practice.  S, who is probably 55 or so and a little off in the head, thinks it’s a great idea because it would help “green” our city and give jobs to kids whom he apparently thinks are dying for the chance to scoop poop from the streets.  R finds the idea absolutely ludicrous and lobs his counter-arguments across the room so that pretty soon they’re talking over each other while I try hard not to fall down laughing.   The other day I really, really wanted to whip out my notebook and jot down bits of dialogue but didn’t because I thought it would upset the balance.  But then I inadvertently pressed a button on my cell phone and found out I’d recorded a portion of the conversation which has planted a seed in my brain.  Now I’m dying to record one of those talks from start to finish.  In fact, today they started in on the horses again and I actually fondled my little voice activated recorder in my backpack.  I didn’t turn it on, though.  That feels a little too Bush/Cheney-ish.

Tomorrow I head to Westcliffe with Zebu and Wildebeest to see my parents.  We shall return Saturday.  I’ve vowed not to nag my boys about the excess of junk food my mom will provide.  Maybe I can form another good habit while I’m there.


Random Notes

Last night Zippy and I, the temporarily childless couple, went to the Denver Botanic Gardens to hear Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson play.  The evening was perfect.  Dinner and a bottle of wine on the lawn as we listened to two extremely gifted songwriters pour out their hearts.  I laughed and I cried.  Loudon was coerced into performing The Acid Song (oh happy day!) and Richard sang Walking On a Wire (a song he wrote when he and his former wife/singing partner, Linda Thompson, were splitting up; Linda sang it on their album so I’ve never heard him sing it).  Wow.

Earlier in the week, R’s nurse and I were discussing the frustrations of trying to get R to drink some stuff he needed to drink before having a procedure he’d agreed to have done.  R was in rare form and had dug in his heels.  Big time.  He complained about what he couldn’t do and complained about what he wanted to do but refused to take any action that would alleviate his complaints.  It was infuriating.  The nurse told me she’d worked with him on a previous hospital stay and that R kind of cracked her up.  I told her she had a great attitude but that his contrariness was making me want to bang my head against a wall.  She said, “Don’t do that.  Then you’ll have a headache AND a pain in the ass.”  That really made me laugh (I was tired!) and I felt so much better.  Nurses are the best.

I’ve been disciplined about my writing goals this week and hit my word count five days in a row!  I’m realizing how important it is for me to establish a routine and stick to it.  And yes, I’ve had this realization before and then lost sight of it along the way so I’ll probably be back here in another few months saying, “You know?  It’s really helpful when I set a word count goal and then hold myself accountable to it each and every day!”  Feel free to laugh when that happens.

My other cool writing-related development is that I have a new technique for handling my inner critic.  Lately I’ve really been plagued with negative thinking whispered in my ear by that horrid inner creature.  I guess William Faulkner’s off drinking or having sex or something because he’s not doing a very good job watching my back right now.  But that’s okay because I now have an actual voice to put to that inner critic.  And that voice is………………R’s voice!  That’s right, folks.  Whatever nastiness starts echoing in my head (You know, Tracy, this isn’t very good.  No one’s going to want to read this.), I repeat aloud in R’s rasping whisper.  And then I laugh!  And keep writing!  I totally recommend this method for thwarting your critic.  Not everyone is as fortunate as me in having a near-constant negative person in my life who complains about everything in a very unique voice (his vocal chords were damaged years ago) but I’m sure you could use your father-in-law’s voice or that nosy neighbor’s or the twit at the bank the other day.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Wishing everyone a glorious weekend.


Revolutionary Progress

I’m making progress on a couple fronts:

Number one, thanks to the revolutionaries who responded to yesterday’s post regarding LJ Overwhelm, I’m determined to wash that angst right out of my hair.  Thank you, friends!

Number Two, thanks to Wildebeest and Zebu being at camp for ten days I’m getting serious about my revisions.  So serious, in fact, that for the last two days (um, that’s counting today) I haven’t turned on my desktop until late afternoon when my writing work was done.  What a concept!  No internet play until the work is done!  Revolutionary!

I can’t read any journals now, though, because I’m off to visit R, but you know what?  Even though I’m doing a drive-by post, I don’t feel any guilt at all!  Now that’s progress! 

And here’s hoping you’re all making headway in your lives and work, too!


Life Cycle recap

I’m a little embarrassed by the responses to yesterday’s post about R and me.  I really and truly didn’t write that so people would think, “Wow, she’s so nice to be there for him.”  I absolutely appreciate those sentiments but I guess what I wish I’d conveyed was ………

I rely on humor to get me through the tough times because even though I couldn’t laugh out loud, my epiphany helped me feel an expansion and lightness within that carried me though the rest of the visit and

it’s relatively (pun intended) easy to stand by someone you’re not related to because there isn’t all that emotional baggage from years and years of miscommunication and hurt feelings, and

if you’re looking for a hero in all this I’d nominate R’s new neighbors who were there when I arrived yesterday; a young woman with her two bright and funny toddlers playing on the other hospital bed (because while Zebu and Wildebeest are happy to deliver groceries or shovel R’s sidewalk, there’s no way they’d agree to visiting him in the hospital and no way I’d ask them to do that), and

even though R had a really bad day yesterday he was calm and relaxed on Tuesday, and I coaxed the ghost of a smile from him.

So the bottom line is that right now he’s clean and safe, and people are keeping an eye on him.  Thank you for all the good wishes you’re sending R’s way. 

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.


Life Cycle

I’ve been scarce in these parts and am just popping in to to say a quick hello.  My elderly friend, R, is in the hospital.  He’s not doing well and is facing some tough decisions.  I’m right there with him, facing tough lessons of my own, namely those same old questions about inserting myself in his life – how much and how far?  I’m starting to think this must’ve been a difficult lesson for me in previous lives since I’m getting so many opportunities to master it this time around!   Yeehaw.

Anyway, didn’t stop by to be a downer but to share the little epiphany I experienced today while visiting R in the hospital:

Toddlers are all about kicking and screaming their way toward independence.  Teenagers revisit this developmental stage as they kick and scream to assert their personhood.  And senior citizens?  Well, they’re not above a little metaphorical kicking and screaming of their own.

As I sat at the foot of R’s bed, I realized if I closed my eyes I could easily imagine it was Wildebeest going on and on and on…..

There’s a reason people say that the more things change, the more they stay the same; they say it because it’s true.



I’ve mentioned the Monday spaghetti dinner.  We’re a 100%-volunteer organization that’s fed the homeless and working poor for the past sixteen years.  We rely on donations to keep going.  Every December our local newspapers highlight different non-profits and collect donations on their behalf.  Last year I requested an application but there was a mix-up on my end and we missed the deadline.  When I bought my 2008 planner, I put sticky notes and reminders in it to keep me on track with this year’s application process.  I was determined to get Grant Avenue Street Reach into that program so we’d receive funding.

Street Reach is registered as a non-profit but because our gross receipts are so low, we don’t have to file with the IRS which means we don’t have formal financial records.  We use whatever money we have to buy what we can (and rely on food donations for the rest).  Yesterday morning I made last-ditch attempts to pull together enough financial information (990-N filing status, accounts receivable statements from our food service sources) to satisfy the Application Gods.  Well, the Application Gods told me it wasn’t enough, that we wouldn’t even get an application because we didn’t pass the screening process.

I was very upset. 

But I pulled myself together and went downtown to help out.  We’d finished serving the meal and were cleaning up the kitchen when a soft-spoken man arrived.  He told me he was with a local group that worked to help non-profits get funding.  (huh?)  He said they’d helped us last year and had intended to contact us again but hadn’t because of an oversight. 

Then he said, “Our group is the Denver Cycle Sluts and we’d like to give you all the money we make at Bingo this Friday night.”

That’s right, friends.  The corporate machine couldn’t help our tiny non-profit feed hungry people but a bunch of drag queens designated Grant Avenue Street Reach their charity of the month (and did so last year, too) and will raise money to help us out. 



Be Afraid! Be Very, Very Afraid!

Today at the spaghetti dinner I had a conversation with a friend whom I admire in many ways.  Big heart.  Lots of energy.  A recognition that BushCo is a trainwreck of an administration.  Well,  I made the mistake of letting my curiosity get the best of me and so finally asked what it was she liked about the candidacy of Hillary Clinton that motivated her to place three Clinton signs in her yard.

"I don’t like him," she said.  "Because he didn’t put his hand on the bible and he doesn’t put his hand over his heart."

I screamed.

It was as if I was in a haunted house and some creepy, crawly creature jumped out at me; I had no control.  I screamed.  Because I was horrified to meet someone up close and in person who couldn’t tell me anything positive about her chosen candidate yet was casting a vote  against the opposition candidate based on media manipulation and lies.  I know plenty of people have done just that in the past seven years or so (for dawg’s sake, 27% still think Bush is doing a heckuva job), but I’ve resigned myself to them being so adamantly ignorant that nothing could blast them into reality.  My solace was that the majority of the population would use its brainpower regarding the upcoming election.  Wrong.

The whole scene got ugly.  Friend got upset.  I was embarrassed to have reacted so vocally and apologized profusely.  But then it got quieter and the conversation continued.  I pointed out Clinton’s vote on the Kyl/Lieberman Amendment which basically lays the groundwork for invading Iran in a repeat of Iraq, and someone else responded with "The U.S. is already the world’s police, so what’s another country?"

I kid you not.

What is there left to say when people put more energy into their ignorance than their awareness? 

After the fact I wondered if maybe I could’ve changed their perspectives if I’d mentioned Clinton’s vote against banning land mines.

Yeah, right.


R’s Gift to Me

Wanted to give an update on the R situation.  He called me last night and apologized (several times) for not answering his phone when I called.  He said he knew that I worried about him and that he should have answered.  He promised to answer from now on and told me he didn’t want to lose me as a friend.

And the best part was he sounded calm.  There have been times in the past when he’s been emotional about something and the panic makes it hard for him to speak.  Last night he was completely in control.

I think we both feel much better.



Just wanted to let you know how much it meant to me that you not only waded into yesterday’s story about R but took the time to validate my feelings.  It was an emotional rollercoaster as I imagined him dead in his house and then discovered he was still alive and angry as ever.  

Life is one crazy ride but it’s a helluva lot easier with people like you alongside me.  Thank you so much for sharing your hearts.