Thursday, March 27, 2014

What I've Learned About Suburban Homelessness

Today marks two years that I’ve been working specifically with youth who are homeless or are precariously housed.

Here are some of the major things I have learned:

1.       Youth homelessness happens for all kinds of reasons which might include:

  • Parent(s) or Guardian(s) do not have the resources to keep you safe/housed.
  • Mom’s boyfriend doesn't like you.
  • You're turning 18, so you have to go.
  • You just came out as GLBT or Q.  
  • You're fleeing a DV situation.
  • Whoever you're staying with doesn't approve of your partner, religion, extra curricular's, or any other number of things.
  • You face barriers to employment, such as being unable to get an ID, not having enough work experience to get hired, not having available transportation to get to work, etc.
  • The Fair Market rate for a 1 bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities is $756, not including utilities. 
  • If you ride a bus to/from a job that pays min wage 5x a week, it costs $90 a month to go to work.
  • To have a dark/cold place to live and a way to get to work, you need to work 140 hours a month – or 35 hours a week.  This does not account for the cost of food, utilities, putting away/investing, getting warm clothes in the winter, sunscreen in the summer, a cell phone, laundry, etc.


2.       Most of the youth I work with who are experiencing homelessness are in school and working at least one job.


3.       Racism and Bigotry are alive and well – especially in the northwest Hennepin/Anoka County Suburbs.

  • It’s incredibly taxing/wearing/frustrating


4.       Having a team of kick ass coworkers has made a world of difference - both personally and professionally.


5.       In the past two years, my friends and family have donated:

  • 3 beds, a microwave, and other household items
  • More than $1,000 worth of hygiene supplies
  • More than $3500 in cash
  • More than 300 pounds of food
  • At least 50 pounds of clothes
  • Several hours leading presentations/workshops 


6.       Without your support, none of this would be possible.  


7.        THANK YOU for all that you have done, and continue to do.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Run With Me

Literally.  Run with me.

I'm supposed to be running Twin Cities 10 mile race on October 6th, and so far, my training has been minimal.  While trying to live a minimalist lifestyle at home (and failing), such an attitude cannot be transferred to my workout regimen (or lack thereof).

I used to like to run.  I guess I still do, but I'm having a hard time getting into it consistently.

THE TIME IS NOW.  Well, maybe not right now.  But soon.  Tomorrow.  The time is tomorrow!

I look like a runner, and people from my past remember me as a runner (among other things), but now that is not me.  Not today anyway.

I'm not "too fast" for you.  If anything, I'm too slow.  If you're a speed demon, ask me to meet you at the track, or to tag along for a few miles during your long run.  If you're regular speed, ask me to join you on any of your runs.  I know I do much better when running/training with someone.  Many of us do.

I've got to get back into this, ASAP.  I know I won't run this 10 mile race as fast as I have in years past, but I also have been blessed with a fairly decent amount of athleticism, and I think I can get at least to the point of finishing 10 miles without dying, if I get my ass in gear over the next 3.5 weeks.

That said, are you running soon?  Can I join you?  Call, text, email, facebook me, etc.... I could really use some support with this.




Monday, September 9, 2013

I Want To Get Away

I want to get away.... to some place where not only is the grass green, but dammit, there is grass and plants and flowers and all of it.  I want to get away and see the mountains.  I want to get away from traffic, drunk people leaving the bar, guys with small member syndrome who ride obnoxiously loud motorcycles.  I want to get away.  I want to get away to a place where I can look and keep looking, for someone or something... only to see that I'm truly surrounded by what nature is supposed to be/feel/look like.  I want to camp on my own lake, not disturbed by the conversation of 2 dudes across the lake who have no idea of their loudness/privilege.  I want to wake up in a bug free, sun shining, good smelling, quiet when I want it to be.... place.

For someone who almost always has music playing (in the background, my fingers on guitar strings, brushing dust off vinyl records, singing in the shower, the humming of an air conditioner... ) I appreciate and often find myself "needing" those background sounds.  Yet... I still desire silence.

I love the work I do, the people I know, and the passions/commitments I have.  Somedays however, I want to leave most of that behind, and start anew.... in the mountains.  Those picturesque mountains.  The ones where it's not too cold, it's always sunny, you have no neighbors unless you really want to hang out with them in that moment.... It's a romanticized idea, I know.  If it were to come true, I'd miss my family.  I'd miss walking through my neighborhood and seeing friends/folks I know.  I'd miss the convenience of what I've become so accustomed to in my life of privilege.  Yet.... in this moment, it's where my head is.  My heart -- who knows where that is -- not me, not now.  My head though, is in this space of desire for something more simple.  Perhaps I just need to add a few more gummy vitamin D's to my inconsistent morning routine... maybe that's the solution.  

It's been almost 6 months since I've written any kind of blog entry.  That's disappointing.  Maybe starting back up again is a good start to getting that piece of imagined solitude.  Because really, after all... I enjoy the company and love I have in my life... I just need to take advantage of the other beautiful things around me...the lakes, the green spaces, the good people/conversations, the music, the weather, etc... I know there's a lot going on right here.  I want to open up my self/heart and soak up more of what's available.  Here's to starting that journey....









Sunday, February 24, 2013

Things to Know Before Surgery

Advice to my friends dad, and anyone else having shoulder/elbow surgery:

1. You likely won't be able to put a shirt on over your head for a while.  Have lots of button ups.  Get new ones if you need, especially as the weather is cold these days.

1a.  I wore a lot of halter dresses, which was nice, because I didn't have to move my arm hardly at all to get them on.  I'm guessing halter dresses may not be abundant in your wardrobe, so consider throwing a bathrobe on.

2. It's a biatch to put socks on one handed.  Stick with slippers.

3. Invest in a few pairs of sweatpants.  Doing zippers and buttons is tricky with one hand, and can get you frustrated easily.

4. Get a winter jacket big enough you can just throw it over your arm on one side.  Ideally you'd be able to zip it up if it's cold outside.

5. Eat a TON of fiber, drink prune juice, take colace or miralax.  High dosages of pain meds can constipate you big time.  It's horrible.  I had a 100+ dollar plumber bill after my surgery.  :(

6. Get N/A beer.  You'll want a beer after surgery (within a few days), but the alcohol could really mess you up. Trust me on this...you'll want things to be "normal" but they aren't.... having something "familiar" that won't kill you will help. 

 7. Talk to your wife and kids.  Ask them for help.  Ask your friends too.

8. Find other people to support your main caretaker.  He or she will likely need a break.  Taking care of someone who is super fragile is scary and easily overwhelming.

9. Say thank you.

10. Don't push too hard.  It's easy (if you're like me) to think you can climb up on the kitchen counter to get something on the top shelf, or drive to work 4 days after surgery, or mop up a toilet disaster and carry 30+ pounds of soaked bath towels to the laundry room.  You can't.  Don't try.  It will just slow down your recovery.

11. Ask for your friend for movie/music recommendations.

12. Buy your wife something nice ahead of time-- like a massage.  Schedule it for 2-3 days after your surgery.  It will make you both happy. 

13.  You may be heavily drugged for the first couple of days.  I don't think I was actually "awake" much during the first 48 hours.  I definitely wasn't coherent. 

14. Like I said last week, make sure you keep up with your meds from the start.  Playing "catch up" is not good, nor easy, or even possible sometimes.  Take the full dose they tell you, and make sure to write it down.  12 hours in , you might be high as a kite and won't remember the last time you took meds.  Having it recorded is really important.

15. If you have to take meds every 2-4 hours, make sure you have whoever is waking you up to give you your pills has someone replace them after 24 hours so they get a break.   Being short on sleep can make even the nicest person cranky.  It's a good way to help take care of your caretaker.

16.  Heal up!  It takes time, but really, if you rush it, it won't help.  It will only hurt more.  Patience is important here.

17. Speaking of patience.... the whole nurse/patient role play can be fun...really fun...just make sure to be careful.

18. Have some meals planned and frozen ahead of time.  That way, if no one wants to cook for you, or you get hungry and no one is around, you can quickly make something that you know tastes good.

19. If you have to wear a sling, have your partner try to immobilize their arm for an afternoon.  I had mine wear my immobilizer one afternoon, and she didn't last 20 minutes.  I think it helped us both for her to see what my life was going to be like for the next several weeks.

19a.  Addendum.  This isn't exactly accurate (sorry, I was in a hurry to meet a friend for Pho, and I kept thinking of things to add to the list).  My partner did wear my immobilizer for 20 minutes, and she did last, with only minimal complaints.  It was meaningful to me that she put herself in my shoes (err...my sling) to see what my experience was like. 

20. If your arm does have to be immobilized, get corn starch to put under your armpit.  I didn't at first, and it got rubbed raw.  It was gross, and painful.  

21. Be vulnerable.  Let someone take care of you.  It's good for the both of you.

22.  Before surgery, have a lot of fun.  Be romantic.  And adventurous.  Also though, do whatever chores/errands you can to help the house, because you'll be chore-free for quite a while after that. 

 23.  Best of luck!!  Holler if you need anything from me.  I'm happy to help!






Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Letter to my Conservative Friends -- All 4 of you


Dear super conservative/religious friends (there are 4 of you I can think of off hand), 

The election is in 2 days, and I know you will vote yes to keep the definition of marriage between a woman and a man.  If you voted no, it wouldn't affect you.  In fact, it wouldn't affect me much either, not yet anyway.  


I don't anticipate change your "yes vote" to a "no vote," but I want you to hear me out.


These are the things I have learned from you in the last 28 years:

1. Jesus is an important dude.  He is your number one.
2. We may disagree on politics, but I've never doubted your love for me.
3. You've accepted me for me.
3a. at least on the surface.
4. We should love everyone.  Jesus did.  
5. Family is the second most important thing (behind God).


3 of the 4 of you (my conservative friends) are married to opposite sex partners.  I've never been married, so I have a few questions for you:

1. What do you love most about your partner?
2. When did you know you were in love and that this person was your soulmate?
3. Why did you decide to get married?  
4. What makes your marriage work?  
5. What's the best thing about your marriage?


For the naysayers or those who don't "get it" when I talk about why the marriage amendment is important to me, consider this:

1. What if someone told you that you couldn't marry the person you love?
2. What if everywhere you went, there were billboards, yard signs, television and radio ads, and people telling you that the way you love is wrong, a sin, gross, or not as equal love to theirs?
2a. Or lets say even less blatant things... such as the constant reminders of the normalcy of heterosexual relationships.  (i.e. "his and hers" everything).
3. Have you ever been scared to hold the hand of your partner in public?
4. Have you ever been scared to talk about your partner at work, because if you out yourself, you have no idea how people will react or treat you differently?
5. Have you ever been harassed by someone (a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member) when you were with your partner?


Here is why I am voting no:

1. Because I was taught (by you, by my mom, by school, and by society) that everyone is equal. 
1a. I realize that not every is treated equally, but that doesn't mean we are not equal.
2. Because someday, I want to experience the happiness of standing up in front of my family and friends marrying the person that I love -- just like you did or will do one day.
3. Because I want to have a family- you know- a beautiful wife and kids.  If one of us gets hurt, I want the other to be able to make medical decisions.  
4. Because I want my kids to know that they will grow up in a loving household, with two hot moms,  in a community that does not and never did discriminate.


I've been wanting to do more for the "Vote No" campaign, but I'm terrified.  I fear that I am not strong enough to call random people and ask them to please not limit my freedom to marry.  I worry that I will cry as I feel my heart break to hear someone who's never met me-- tell me that my love isn't valid enough to be called marriage.  

You taught me those basic rules-- treat others how you want to be treated-- don't lie-- do your best-- and so on.  You've taught me the power of God and how important He is to you.  You've taught me the importance of loving one another and the blessing of community and family.

I want that love, that community and that family.  I have that, from a lot of people, but it wrenches at my heart that I don't have it from you.  I cry as I write this, because I think about how much I love each of you, and how yes, we can disagree from time to time... but this time, it's personal.  I feel like when you vote yes on Tuesday, you're telling me that you don't support me and my right to be happy and be in love like you have been.  It hurts so bad.  I wish it wasn't true.  


All my love,
asha.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Allergies


Most days, I have stomach aches.  They are more uncomfortable than painful, but I will say that after feeling like crap days on end...it can take it's emotional toll.

Yesterday I took some enzymes at lunch.  I went to an apple orchard afterwords and wasn't feeling well.  I sat outside for a bit, and when it was time to go, I was super itchy!  My legs, my arms, my back, my head, everywhere itched!  When I got home (to the lodge), I stripped and was still itchy.  The only thing that provided some relief, was a shower with tea tree oil soap and some lotion. 

At dinner, the same person who gave me enzymes asked how they worked.  "It made me itchy" I told her.  Not quite the reaction she was prepared for.  I took some again at dinner to see if it was indeed these pills I was having an allergic reaction.

Last night, I had one of the best dinners I've ever had...and at 26 dollars, it needed to be good.  I had lobster bisque soup, followed by the best seafood pasta I've ever had.  I took the enzymes, and again, a few hours later was itchy all over my body!

I took a picture of the enzymes bottle (label) in case someone on the internet reads this and can tell me what may have caused the reaction.  I've never been allergic to anything, my whole life!  When I go to the doctors office and they say, "Are you allergic to anything?" I reply with "I'm allergic to bullshit."  

I'm hoping to figure out something about these stomach aches, but I now know that taking enzymes is not the right answer for me.  




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rebounds

Little kids rebound better than Rebekah Bronson.

I'm hanging out with two little ones this weekend and its amazing to me that at one moment they are sad/crying/being kids...and within 30 seconds they can be happy/smiling/on top of the world!

In this way, I wish I were like a little kid. I wish I was able to forgive easier, and get over bad moods faster.

We can learn a lot from kids. We can learn what it's like to do as you want without embarrassment. We can learn to cry and giggle within 30 seconds. We can learn to ask the questions that grown ups are too passive or scared to ask.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and start embracing more of these playful and free-spirited expressions and ways of living.