Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
[Judy Graves, the City of Vancouver’s homelessness advocate] also persuaded authorities to see that homelessness was neither unsolvable, nor an age-old problem that has always been with us. She remembers the 1970s and ’80s in Vancouver, when higher vacancy rates and affordable rooming houses kept many people off the streets.
In the 1990s, however, homelessness became visible, as two trends struck the city at one time. In 1993, the federal government completed its long withdrawal from funding social housing across Canada. Meanwhile, an influx of cocaine fueled an active open drug market in Vancouver’s inner city. By 1997, Vancouver Coastal Health declared a public health emergency in the Downtown Eastside for its HIV-AIDS epidemic and high drug overdose rates.
Today, “we’ve got a whole generation who don’t remember that homelessness is not normal,” Graves says. “Anybody who was born in the late ’80s would have no conscious memory of there simply not being a homelessness crisis.”
— from Jackie Wong, One Last Walk with Judy Graves, 12 April 2013
These are some of the most important points about homelessness in Vancouver, and are also unfortunately the ones glossed over the most.
Perch where the wind comes at you full force.
Let it blow you apart till your feathers fly off and
you look like hell.
Then abandon yourself.
The wind is not your enemy.
Nothing in life is.
Go where wind takes you
The wind to carry you forward will find you
when you are ready.
When you can bear it.
White men, they get nervous when another race gets a little power, ‘cause they’re scared that that race is going to do to them what they did to that race. So they start screaming, ‘Reverse racism! This is reverse racism!’
Wait a minute, isn’t reverse racism when a racist is nice to other people? That’s reverse racism. What you’re afraid of is Karma.
Step 288: If someone makes you feel unsafe, forget about politeness and protect yourself.
This is a little more serious than most entries. There is a bit of a trigger warning on this for crazy people, weird racist rants and the general bullshit that comes with being female.
I am over making myself uncomfortable for the sake of strangers that make me feel freaked out. I am over socialization that tells me that politeness and not hurting feelings come before the seemingly basic premise that I can be in a public space without being concerned for my safety.
The backdrop to this entry is that two weeks ago, someone put a date rape drug into my and a friend’s drink while we were out celebrating her birthday. I don’t feel like talking or writing about that yet, although I will. But know that my stranger-danger spidey sense has been vibrating extra frequently lately.
…to realize that I went to school with Meghan Ory’s brother!!!!!! And only just made the connection now. THIS IS AWESOME and yet horrifies the side of me that cannot talk to anyone remotely famous without vomiting.