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Haiti Journal 2014

1/12/14 – One week after returning to the States.

So, for those of you who are unaware, I went to Haiti for a week over New Years Eve. I feel INSANELY blessed that I was able to go – I decided to join the trip super late in the game (only 3 weeks before our departure date), and had several obstacles to overcome before I could leave, such as finances, vaccinations, work time off, etc. Luckily, it quickly became evident that God wanted me on this trip, as I was fully funded in less than 48 hours (CANNOT say thank you enough to my incredibly gracious/generous friends and family!!!!), was able to get into the doctor for shots right away, and got the last seat on the same flight as the rest of the team. Everything fell into place without a moment to lose, and the trip ended up being one of the most incredible weeks of my entire life. Below, you’ll find the daily journal I kept throughout the trip. I literally just typed it in the “Notes” app on my phone, so I’m sure there is an abundance of grammatical errors waiting to be found (just a warning).

Before going on to my stream of consciousness (reader beware), I should give you a bit of background on our team and the trip itself. The missions trip was organized by Matt Negaard – a med student at University of Iowa, and good friend of mine since middle school – and consisted of five Iowa med students, two physicians assistants, several RN’s, and me. If you know me at all, you know that needles make me cringe and/or scream, gross sights make me pass out, and the only medicine of which I feel fairly confident in my pronunciation is Tylenol (sorry, Grandpa). Long story short – I am not a medical person. Hahahaha. I was extremely nervous about that aspect of the trip coming into Haiti, but as you’ll see below, I think it actually worked out just fine. :)

We stayed at a place called Tytoo Gardens in a village called Simonette, Haiti. Tytoo is an American-run, Christian non-profit that is half orphanage, half medical clinic. It’s right on the waterfront, with a ten-foot high cement/barbed wire fence going around the entire perimeter of the premises. On the inside of the gate, there are several buildings, such as the clinic, a praise and worship area, boys’ and girls’ dorms, a couple apartments for the Tytoo staff, etc. – all of which are really nice by Haitian standards! For example, Tytoo has running water, internet (sometimes, anyway!), electricity, and a cook to make meals throughout the day. Staying at Tytoo was an incredible experience, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun than when I was playing soccer with the kids every morning. I can only hope and pray that it’s in God’s plan for me to return to Haiti and to Tytoo someday – preferably soon. :)

Day 1: Sunday, December 29th. 9:27 PM.

I’m not sure how I feel about this international missions trip situation. It isn’t that I specifically DIS-like it, but I’m pretty confident in saying that I don’t think I like it… What does it say to the people of this nation that the white people are always swooping in with their “superior” methods and medicines and toys and tools? And what does it say to these children that we white people care enough to come into their home, teach and show them OUR ways, and then leave a week later? Their lives are a constant stream of new white people filing in and out of the mission. How does that effect their psyche? How could a child grow up in an environment and not feel inferior to these white “saviors?” I hate it. What if one week trips do more harm than good? Because REALLY — how much change/good can truly be accomplished in a week? Any “good” that happens seems to be a bandaid over a bullet wound anyway. We aren’t doing anything to fix the systems… We’re just helping people live one more day a little better by shoving new crayons or Tylenol in their faces. Realistically, how does that TRULY help? Ugh. This is my inner city work talking. I see my kids at Learning Lab, and I know how long it took them to trust me — to believe that I wasn’t going to up and leave them like all of the other flake volunteers. Why? Because they see me as just another white lady trying to make myself feel better about my life by doing something “worthwhile” for an hour, and then leaving. But with my LL kids it’s different. I DO care, and I HAVE been around them, week in and week out, for over a year and a half, building relationships and trying to genuinely help them better their lives long term. How in the WORLD can I do that in this situation?? How is it HELPING a child to essentially pretend to care about them for a week — one measly, stupid week — and then leave their lives and literally never see them again…..? That is HURTING them long term, isn’t it? And that’s not what I want… How can I keep any sort of clear conscious if I allow myself to get close to any of these kids? It’s crap. And I can’t feel good about it. This just doesn’t feel like helping…

Day 2: Monday, December 30th. 8:06 PM.

Today was a long day. Blah. How is it only 8:30? I literally got into bed just now expecting it to be close to midnight… I guess that’s what happens when your wake up call was at 6:15 am. Haha. Anyway. Today I spent my morning hanging out with the kids — mostly the little little ones. Babies through maybe age 4 or 5. These two little boys, Chris and Steve, basically competed for my attention all day. I’d guess they’re both about two, and both are absolute dolls. It’s crazy how much these kids just crave attention. They run up to you, without even knowing who you are, and immediately hug you, put a hand on your shoulder, hold your hand… Whatever. It’s clear that they absolutely crave physical touch. And can you blame them? Ha. I was talking to some of the staff here at Tytoo, and it sounds like most of these kids aren’t orphans in the sense of their parents dying… Most have been straight up abandoned. Parents either drop the kids off at the gate of Tytoo in the middle of the night, or beg the orphanage to take their kids. At first glance, it’s appalling. What kind of parent just peaces out on their flesh and blood? But then you look at Tytoo and compare it to the rest of Haiti… Kids here consistently get three meals a day, they have a roof over their heads that will never leak when it rains, they are enrolled in school to learn French and English, they have toys and access to any supplies they need… It’s heartbreaking, yes, but not impossible to comprehend why a parent would rather leave their child here. I mean, let’s be real for a second, either way these kids are hung out to dry. Where are these people going to go in life?? Even those who do get jobs in the city or at resorts are still just living day to day, hoping to make ends meet. Whether these kids grow up in an orphanage or in a crappy “house” (ha yeah right, more like a tin shack) with a single parent, either way, life is gonna suck. Their futures are dim. It’s crap. They deserve love and hope and an actual life where they are told day in and day out that they are loved and can do anything they want with their lives. It seems like that should be a basic right of all children, but clearly it’s just not. 

I’m told that the adoption process out of Haiti isn’t necessarily “impossible,” but it’s insanely difficult and ridiculously expensive. What a joke. Your country creates a crap life for people, and then you don’t do any/everything in your power to make it easier for your citizens to have a better life, even if that means they’re leaving? K. Cool. 

But then it’s like if you DO adopt, you’re literally snatching a child away from his/her culture, family, way of life, etc., and thrusting them jnto a world of materialistic commercialism, which at this point is enough to make me puke, and probably make that poor child’s brain explode. Like, what do you mean your biggest concern (read: my biggest concern, the day before I left for Haiti) is that your new Blu Ray player didn’t come with an HDMI cord, and now you have to make an additional trip to Best Buy? You just got a brand new tv and have an incredible home with hot water and laundry and a full fridge and a closet full of a million pieces of clothing. Can you even imaging taking one of these kids back to America and trying to help them process all that they see. It’s ludicrous… Obviously adoption gives them a “better” future long term, but then again, is it really better to spend your free time constantly refreshing Twitter and wondering why the boy you have a crush on hasn’t texted you back? I don’t know. Probably, yes. But who knows. Our cultures all have our flaws, that’s for sure. Except Sweden. I miss Sweden. That’s a side note. And it realistically probably has flaws anyway. Haha.

Also, before I go, when we were driving from the airport yesterday, I saw a dude in this white, almost puffy armor type stuff and a rifle, and my first actual thought was, “Crap a Peacekeeper!” ….. I’ve been watching/reading too much Hunger Games. 

Also also, I just realized I ranted for a while, and then never finished talking about my day. In the afternoon, we took a boat (like literally a row boat that this old dude fishes out of) to this island across the bay, to an abandoned resort from the 1950’s.  We took the kids swimming on the beach, and even though there was a decent amount of trash/garbage laying on the ground, the sand itself was pretty clean, and the water was the stereotypical Caribbean clear-turquoise. At one point, I just sat in the water and couldn’t help but think how ironic it is that just a month ago I was on the OTHER side of this huge body of water, living a life of luxury at a Cancún all-inclusive resort. Then today, I was literally sitting on a beach filled with garbage with about 20 orphan kids having the time of their lives. HA. It really is almost funny if you don’t think about it for too long. 

Anyway. Matty and I played catch with the kids and threw them into the water. It was fun, but definitely exhausting. Like I said, I thought it was almost midnight right now, and it’s only 9:00. Haha. On the way back from the island, I was trying to get out of the boat, and I literally ATE IT. Just tripped over a board and slammed onto my leg out of nowhere. I have a huge scrape on it now, and am probably going to catch a flesh eating bacteria/virus like that one girl who had to have her legs amputated or whatever. Honestly, it probably looked hilarious, but Matty was in the other group so there wasn’t anyone there to laugh at me besides the kids. 

Also, Matt just randomly shoved a camera in my face and asked what the highlight of our first full day was, and I (like an idiot) said, “I dunno? Swimming and hopefully getting tan?” FACE TO PALM. Whatever. My brain was submerged in the rant above, and my response to his question was shallow word vomit flying out of my mouth. Typical. Hope you’re reading this, Matty, so you know I’m not a total bimbo after all! :)

Ok. I’m dead. I’m going to sleep. Bye. 

 

Day 3: Tuesday, December 31st — NEW YEARS EVE!

It’s New Years Eve today, and we threw a party for the kids. It’s crazy what kids will just go absolutely nuts for… We made cupcakes and handed out glow sticks and candy, and even did a balloon drop by stringing up several dozen balloons in a mosquito net… It was actually hilarious — we started counting down for the balloon drop/New Year, but then the kids randomly switched and started counting up to ten. Hahaha. If nothing else, it marks this New Years as special, to say the least. 

Earlier in the day, I spent the day toting Steve around (he’s literally too perfect and cute to ignore or put down), and playing catch with some of the older boys. One boy, Davidson, is 10 and I’m basically obsessed with him. I almost starting crying earlier today after we got done playing catch… It’s crap that this gorgeous/hilarious/naturally athletic (not that that matters, but hey. I’m a former athlete. I notice when a kid can throw and catch a ball! Haha) kid doesn’t have a mom to tuck him in at night or kiss his owies, or a dad to teach him how to play baseball. It’s infuriating, to be honest. I can sort of, kind of, at least BEGIN to understand why the parents of these children feel that they can’t provide for their families and give up their babies… What I don’t understand is why/how God allows people to be born into situations like this. Or more importantly, how was it determined that I would be born into a relatively “perfect” family, and these children would be born into an HIV-stricken, impoverished land? Like. What??? I don’t do well with injustice (as if we didn’t know that already HAHAHAHAHA. #sarcasm). 

Anyway. After we played catch and some soccer, we baked and decorated the cupcakes. A few of the girls helped mix and bake, and a couple boys helped us frost them. At one point, Steve wandered into the kitchen (I like to think he was looking for me. Haha), and after I grabbed him, I dipped the tip of a spoon into the frosting and tried to get him to taste some. At first, he pushed it away and looked alarmed/grossed out, but I had him watch me try some, and finally he stuck his tongue out and very lightly touched it to the spoon……….. He then went bug eyed, got the BIGGEST grin on his face, and shoved the whole spoon in his mouth. Hahahahaha. It was legitimately one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in my life. 

That’s one thing that’s been kind of funny for me. Earlier today, Matt said that being around these kids is a great form of birth control, but I sort of feel the exact opposite (um what?). When you’re playing with these kids, it feels like your sole purpose in life is to get them to smile, and when they do, it’s seriously the best feeling in the world. You can’t help but grin back… It’s weird and adult-ish and creepy, but I can’t wait to see my own kids smile like that someday. Not for a long time. But someday. 

After we made the cupcakes, we took a sort of field trip to another village to drop off two of the kids. I guess their mom had them stay at Tytoo temporality while she figured some stuff out, and now she was “ready” to have them back. I’m not sure how long they were here… But when we dropped them off at their “house,” it was literally some tall boards nailed together, with tarp pulled tight around the four walls, and a second piece of tarp as the roof. There’s no way it was bigger than ten or twelve feet square… Pretty much the entire space was taken up by one queen mattress. The mom lives there with her four kids. What? I literally can’t… I don’t understand how it’s even possible to live past childhood in a society like this. Like. By American standards, these people should literally be starving to death, and just die out as a nation. But they don’t, obviously. And I don’t really understand how. It definitely makes any problems we have in the States dim in comparison, though. Like, who cares if my energy bill was higher than normal this month? I can still pay it. I HAVE electricity. There is NOTHING worth complaining about in our cush American lives… Everyone has pain, and I’m not refusing to acknowledge that. There are things that hurt us in America, and we definitely have problems… But I know I’ll be thinking twice before complaining about most things ever again. 

I’m exhausted. We just watched Despicable Me 2 with the kids (in French, with English subtitles haha), and it’s nowhere close to midnight (10:30), but I’m just dead. Goodnight, and Happy New Year, world! Last year, I was wishing you well while standing on a frozen inlet of the Baltic Sea (GREAT celebration in Luleå), and this year I’m sweating up a storm and caked in dirt in 95 degree Haiti. I’m too blessed to even begin to think about, and if you’re reading this, you probably are too. Goodnight, world. 

 

Day 4: Wednesday, January 1

It’s actually Thursday morning at like 6:30 am. I woke up and realized I forgot to journal last night… Oops. I was just so tired. Kids wear you out in general, and when you mix that with the blazing hot sun… Whoa. Dead. Haha. 

Anyway, yesterday wasn’t anything too special. I hung out with the kids again all day for the most part… I realized during the afternoon that I hadn’t really taken any pictures, so I brought my phone down to use the camera. Of course the kids went crazy. First, a couple of them wanted to know if I had any games on my phone, but since i don’t have service here, obviously they don’t work. However, I did show them how to play music on my phone, and they were ecstatic about that. It quickly became clear that the only songs they didn’t skip over in the first five seconds were the ones that had an exceptionally catchy intro. This basically limited it to EDM songs and, once, Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl.” Hahaha. They loved it though, and it was so cute to see them dance. They actually took turns with my phone really well! The adults in our group kept saying, “oh you’re brave, letting those kids use your phone!” I don’t feel brave at all, I just feel like it was giving them a fun experience, so of course I would do it? Plus, like I said, they were super respectful. 

After the music, I took a few pictures, and learned that Steve thinks it’s funny to act like he’s afraid of cameras. He’ll turn his head to the other side, and keep doing it when you move the camera to face him, and then cracks up in your face when you can’t get a picture of/with him. Rude. I fixed the problem by just taking a video instead. Muah ha ha haaaaaa. Two can play at that game, Steve. Anyway, the older boys realized you could take videos on my phone, and it was all over from there. They took videos of us playing soccer, swinging, doing flips, etc. It was only by dumb luck, that one of the boys accidentally switched the camera mode over to slow motion — it happened when he was videoing some of the boys doing flips. When they gathered around to re-watch it, they realized it was in slow motion, and I’ve never heard so much laughter in my life. Hahahaha. I have to admit, it was pretty funny, especially since it was unintentional and unexpected. I laughed just as hard as they did. Needless to say, every video was in slow motion after that. 

I finally put my phone away when we decided it was hot and we wanted to get in the water (Tytoo is literally ON the waterfront. Like. You open this big door, and the water is there. If it ever rises even like a couple feet, Tytoo would probably flood.). Tanya brought out this sprinkler system that had like ten smaller nozzles, and flung around the water in the air. The water pressure wasn’t really enough to make it work well, but the kids had a bunch of empty bottles (“water toys” haha), and it essentially just turned into one giant water fight. It was an absolute blast, but I was fully clothed, so I just looked soaked and hilarious, I’m sure. It was really fun though, and obviously I retaliated and dumped bottles full of water back on the kids too. :) After the water fight, some of the kids jumped into the gulf (ocean? Sea? Not really sure?)… I was going to, but the water near this shore is pretty muddy, so unlike the rest of the Caribbean (or even unlike how it is if you go just a little ways out), you can’t see the bottom or ANYTHING. It’s just murky. I didn’t get in, because I was alarmed that snakes would be lurking in the weeds in the water… I later realized that was a completely unrealistic fear, as the water was salt water Hahahaha, but by then the kids were done swimming anyway. 

That’s pretty much it. Yesterday was a fun, but overall pretty chill day. As usual, I’m exhausted. And I don’t really know if I’m doing any good here. I feel like all I’m doing is encouraging attachment issues from these kids. Ugh. Anyway. Time to start today! Byeeee. 

Day 5: Thursday, January 2nd

I did a bad job of journaling last night too, so this is technically being written the next morning again. Whatever, it’s fine. I have a bug bite the size of Rhode Island on my right arm, near my elbow. Like literally I asked some of the nurses if it was ringworm or something because it’s so big. That has nothing to do with anything, it’s just where my head is at right now since I’m putting my phone down every ten seconds to claw at this thing. Haha

Yesterday we spent all day organizing the clinic and some of the storage facilities here at Tytoo. Loree (a nurse) and I were in the clinic literally from like 9 am until 4 pm, organizing primarily medicines into an order that made sense. Of course, for me, I know nothing about medicine, so a way that “makes sense” to me would be organizing by which colors or shapes are the coolest. Hahaha. Needless to say, I’m not sure how big of a help I was. Loree had to do most of the actual organizing and thinking, while I helped with label making, sorting pills, etc. To be honest, the entire time, I really just wanted to go play with the kids. They kept coming to the clinic asking me to come out and play, and to make more videos, so finally after lunch, I just gave them my phone before I went back to the clinic and said, “Don’t break it.” They made videos on my phone for literally hours. Hahaha. 

Being in the clinic definitely gave me a ton of respect for doctors and nurses everywhere. There are SO many little details of knowledge that they need to draw from and know at any given moment. Lives are literally in their hands. Of course, I’ve been exposed to this kind of detailed knowledge my whole life with my grandpa, but I gained a new sense of respect with all of those medicines. First of all, they are literally like reading a different language — one that strongly utilizes the letters x, y, and z. Secondly, they all have so many uses and side effects, and the doses are specific to the age/weight/etc. of the patient. It’s so many things to keep straight, I have no idea how anybody can do it. Props to you, medical professionals. I couldn’t do it. I also don’t know if I would want to… For now, I’ll stick to planning events, watching sports, and drinking beer. Wow. My job sounds insanely shallow right now. Hahaha

After the organizing was done, I was finally able to spend some time with the kiddos. Davidson asked if we could use my phone to play music (the boys like flipping through the songs… Usually they only stay on one particular song for like 5-10 seconds, tops. Haha), and we ended up plugging it into some portable speakers so everyone could hear. Needless to say, the kids apparently love Michael Jackson, and it turned into a full blown dance party. It was awesome. There is one 8 y/o girl (Annalisa) who has some sort of bone disease or something (I’m not sure), but her arms and legs are curved and bent in different directions, so she’s in a wheelchair. Originally, she was our DJ, but I could tell that she was getting sad that she didn’t get to dance. I went up to her and asked if she wanted to, and her eyes lit up, her face went into a huge grin, and she whipped her arms up to me as I picked her up. We danced for a few songs, and I’m pretty sure it meant a lot to her. Of course, it was fun for me too. :)

I’ve decided I’m obsessed with Steve, and I feel like if I was married already, I would beg my husband to try and adopt him. But. I’m not, and Haiti doesn’t allow single people (especially those who are only 24) to adopt. It’s such a bummer. My heart swells with love for that little boy more and more every day. All day yesterday, it seemed like if something went wrong and he started crying (bumped his head, didn’t get a toy, typical kid end-of-the-world scenarios), I was the one he looked for and ran to. It broke my heart. That’s what mom’s are for, and he will never get that. I wish so badly that I could be that person for this perfect little boy. 

 

Day 6: Friday, January 3rd

So I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of journaling in the mornings about the day before now. Oops. Oh well. 

Yesterday was a pretty boring day. I woke up and the bug bite I wrote about yesterday had swollen up basically my entire forearm. It was HUGE and bright red and hot and hard to the touch… We thought it might be infected, but decided to try some Benadryl first. Obviously that knocked me out for two or three hours, so my entire morning was lost. It kind of sucked because that was my last day with the kids. During the afternoon, the nurses wanted me to take MORE Benadryl, but I wanted to hang out with the kids, so I skipped the dose. Even in the afternoon though, we didn’t really do anything. The kids were quiet and kind of boring all day. 

During the evening, we all showered and got a little dressed up (and by that, I mean that I actually brushed my hair and wore it down instead of piled on top of my head), and went to a Haitian “restaurant.” It was funny that they called it a restaurant, because really it was just a covered porch on someone’s hut in the middle of a village. The food was actually pretty good, and it was interesting to go out into the community and see/meet some of the people there… There was also a dog that would wander in and out of the house, which alarmed me because I told the doctor at the travel clinic before I left that I wouldn’t be around any animals, so she didn’t give me the rabies shot. I kept shooing the dog away and probably looked like an idiot. Hahaha. 

When we got back from dinner, someone set up the projector and a sheet, and we watched Home Alone 3. I was never allowed to watch those movies as a kid, so it was fun to watch and see the kids’ reactions. Whenever the bad guys got hit with something, or slipped and fell down, the kids would just scream and laugh so hard. It was hilarious (not the actual movie — just watching the kids’ reactions). I couldn’t help but crack up the entire time. 

That was pretty much it for yesterday… Not a ton to report. I’m getting apprehensive about coming back home. Part of me is ready to be back in my apartment and at work (I haven’t been home to MN in like two and a half weeks basically, because of Christmas), but part of me wants to just stay here. Life is easier and the kids are so fun. They need more people to love on them — continually, not just for a week. I am pretty excited to see MY middle schoolers on Monday too though. I hope they all had great Christmas breaks. That was a random side note. 

I definitely want to try and come back. I want to convince my family to have a summer vacation week on a Caribbean cruise, and then on the Haiti day, skip the excursions and come back here to see the kids. It isn’t much, but it’s something? Idk. Whatever. I’ll figure out a way. 

 

Last Day — Saturday, January 4th.

Well, I’m sitting in the Haiti airport reflecting on my last day. Yesterday, we spent the majority of the day at the beach as our “reward day” for our week of hard work. It was nice to relax, but a big part of me just wanted to be back at Tytoo with the kids. The resort was $20 to get in, and $20 for lunch, and I didn’t think much about the price until we talked to NeNe, our translator, about it. He told us he was happy he was able to come, and was having a great time with us, but at the same time, $40 could have reloaded his cell phone for a month. To be honest, it didn’t feel right to be in a place of such luxury, when right outside the gates there were people living in shacks. I didn’t like it, in that sense, but I still had a great time with my fellow Iowans. 

After we left the beach, we tried to go to Mission Of Hope to buy some tshirts, but they were closed and wouldn’t open the shop for us. It was weird and a LITTLE annoying, because we hiked to the top of a huge foothill to get there. Oh well. As a side note, I’m happy that we went to a smaller organization like Tytoo, instead of a huge place like MOH. People were saying that MOH has teams of 300+ that come in almost every week. Meanwhile, our team of 13 was the biggest group Tytoo has ever had. It made for a much more intimate and seemingly “real” experience. Also, it allowed us to form personal relationships with the kids. 

Anyway, when we got back from MOH, we watched a movie with the kids and went to sleep. It was kind of a bummer, because I felt like I didn’t really get to play with them at all, and it was my last day. During the movie, they kept telling me to switch flights with one of the other travelers who wasn’t going home until Wednesday. To be honest, if that was a thing, I would do it. Hah. 

After the movie, I gave in and gave Whisney my shoes. I can’t remember if I journaled about it or not, but a few days ago, Whisney (I think he’s like 11) literally asked me for my Chucks, because he thought they were cool. I told him maybe, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn’t say no. I can buy another pair when I get back to the States… I actually felt bad giving a kid a pair of shoes I’ve been wearing for the last 6-8 years. I literally think I’ve had those Chucks since high school. Haha. When I called him over and gave him the shoes, the grin on his face made the whole thing worth it. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a kid so happy. 

This morning, saying goodbye to the kids was seriously the hardest thing. Most of them weren’t really smiling, which is rare for them, and it honestly broke my heart. I gave Davidson my purple Miller Lite sunglasses (that might be a bit inappropriate, but they don’t have ML here and don’t know what it is anyway. So. It’s fine, I think?), and that made him smile a bit. I honestly just wanted to hug all of them for hours and hours… Leaving Steve was definitely the worst. We left really early in the morning, so he wasn’t out and about playing yet. I actually had to go into the nursery and look for him… When I said his name, his little head popped up in his crib, and his eyes lit up with the biggest smile when he saw me. I picked him up and said I had to go back to America, to which he yelled “NO!” at me, and wrapped his arms around my neck. It took everything in me, all my self control, to not start bawling. When I put him down, he started crying, and I did too once I turned away. He deserves a better life than this… Not even that — but he at least deserves a mommy who loves him and makes sure he is her only priority. It breaks my heart that he doesn’t get that. It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m about 90% sure that if the laws in Haiti were different, I would at least try and adopt Steve. He’s perfect, and I miss him already. Unfortunately, Haitian laws say you must be a minimum of 30 and married to adopt… And I am nowhere close to either of those things. 

My heart hurts. I already can’t wait to come back here. Hopefully soon

 

1/12/14 – A week later. Again. The conclusion this time.

Thanks for reading my thoughts about my time in Haiti (more importantly, thanks for making it this far. Whoa). Some of the above was complete nonsense, but some of the thoughts still trouble me today, even a week after returning. I think my biggest question/concern at this point is still the question of what’s worse – to only eat MAYBE once a day, not have clean clothes, and live in a shack, but have a parent(s) who love and adore you? Or to have all of the necessities of life – food, shelter, cleanliness – but not have any form of unconditional, parental love? I honestly don’t know if I could choose between those two options for myself, or for my children someday, and it’s heartbreaking that the people of Haiti are forced to make such a decision at all.

Aside from that, the other natural struggle in returning to America is seeing our abundance of wealth and corresponding waste. As Americans, we have so much, but often times it seems like it’s not enough. We strive to have a better car, a bigger tv, or a new pair of designer jeans (I should probably cut the crap and change that “we” to and “I,” because those three things literally apply to my actions in the last 6 months), and for what? Chances are, we already have a car, tv, and pair of pants that work just fine… But yet we feed into this culture of bigger/better/more.

There’s not a ton we can immediately do about the poverty gap between the USA and a 3rd world country like Haiti… But the LEAST we can do is be appreciative and thankful of what we do have, and be sure to avoid wasting food/items/money that others would literally die to have. And of course, we can love. Because really, what else does the Lord ask of us but to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39)?

It’s late, and I haven’t really slept well since I returned, so I don’t have any sort of powerful conclusions or words of encouragement to end with. Lucky for me, I can’t say anything better than God already did anyway:

“Learn to do right.

Seek justice.

Defend the oppressed.

Take up the cause of the fatherless orphan.

Plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17

“And what does the Lord require of you, but to SEEK JUSTICE, LOVE MERCY, and WALK HUMBLY with your God.” – Micah 6:8

Love you all. Thanks SO MUCH again for your prayers and support… I couldn’t have done this without you! :)

-Brittany

Welcome to Colorful Colorado!

Welcome to Colorful Colorado! That’s what the sign said when I drove in on Tuesday evening, and I’ve barely had any time to think, much less blog or keep in touch with people since. I feel absolutely awful! I hope that this entry will fill in my friends and family on what I’m doing in Denver, who I’m with, and what prayer requests I might have.

For those of you who may not be aware, this summer I am participating in a program called DUS – Denver Urban Semester. DUS is a strange (but awesome!) mixture of a two month leadership seminar, ministry outreach program, and summer camp all rolled into one. There are 12 students participating in DUS from all over the country – California, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, Texas, etc. Each of us have a Christian-ministry-based internship within the city that we do Tues, Wed, and Thurs, and then we have class / reflection seminars on Mondays and Fridays. We have Saturdays and Sundays off and are able to fill our time exploring the city, discovering ourselves, and bonding with each other.

My internship is at a law firm called JAMLAC (Justice And Mercy Legal Aid Clinic), and they work with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll be doing since I have zero law background, but I know that I will be able to attend court with the lawyers on staff throughout my time here. I’ll keep you posted on the details of this section of my trip! :)

DUS students live at a place called Issachar, which is essentially a huge house divided up into multiple apartments full of DUS or Issachar students. The Issachar program is basically a year-round version of DUS, and there are maybe 10ish people involved in that program. The building has such a fun atmosphere; we all leave our doors open and hang out and laugh together – no matter if you’re DUS or Issachar. The Issachar building and DUS program is super diverse; you can find someone from almost every racial background. When we are all together, laughing and having fun, I can’t help but see the beauty in the differences between us. Everyone is already so bonded, and we’ve only been here for 2 or 3 days, I can’t even imagine how it’s going to be by the end of July!

I suppose I should talk about the important people involved with DUS, since I will most likely be mentioning them from now on. The DUS team consists of myself, Tamara, Jennifer, David, Michael, Benton, John, Jordan, Gabe, Austin, Caralee, and Cuyler. We come from Northwestern College, Sterling College, Taylor University, Wheaton University, and University of Colorado in Boulder.

Tamara is from NWC as well, and she lives in the Omaha-ish area. She’s soft spoken and sweet, and is interning at the African Refugee Center. In the last few days, we’ve discussed how she could be taken to be nearly any race – Asian, Native American, Latino… But she is technically half white, half Asian. She’s also one of my roommates in my apartment in Issachar.

Jennifer is also from NWC, and lives in Orange City. She kind of has a hipster feel, and is interning at Dry Bones – a center for homeless teenagers. Jennifer is my other roommate.

David is the final person from NWC, and is Jennifer’s boyfriend (ooh la la! Haha). He is also working at Dry Bones. Dry Bones is a different section of Mile High Ministries, so their internship takes them away from a lot of our group bonding activities.

Michael is from Taylor University, and grew up on a pig farm in the Mason City area. He is shy at first, but full of dry-humor one liners once you get to know him. He also kind of reminds me (looks-wise) of the guy with the missing tooth in The Hangover, orrrr Steve Carrell. I see both. He is interning with Tamara at the African Refugee Center as well.

Benton just graduated in May from CU Boulder, and he’s originally from southern Colorado. I don’t remember off hand where he’s interning, but that’s ok I guess. I’ll remember later. Haha. He is obsessed with bikes and drumming, and he is seriously one of the coolest guys I’ve met in a while. He has a mohawk, and we have decided that we are getting tattoos together by the end of the summer. Hahahaha. We shall see. Sorry mom! ;)

John goes to Sterling College (which is apparently right in the middle of Kansas), and is from southern Ohio. He is studying to be a youth pastor, and he has already founded his own youth group called 1031! Another cool thing about John is that he is actually half blind. He was born with cataracts in his eyes, and even with corrective tools, the best vision he can get is 20/70.

Jordan is one of the students from Wheaton, and she is from Mid-City (which is basically the heart of L.A.). She’s interning at a place that provides baby toys, clothes, and other necessary items to impoverished women who would normally not be able to afford things for their children. She is almost 6’2”, so I’m sure we look hilarious next to each other, but I absolutely love her!

Gabe is another person who goes to Wheaton, and is from Irvine, California. He is a pastor’s kid, and is pretty quiet (at least compared to me. Then again, who ISN’T quiet compared to me. Haha). He is the sweetest boy, and provides amazing truths and bits of wisdom during group discussions. His grandparents moved here from China I think, but he and his parents don’t speak any.

Austin is the third person from Wheaton, and his family lives in Dallas. He is a missionary kid, so he moved around a lot, but he is currently from Texas. He is interning at Joshua Station and working with kids from poor backgrounds. Joshua Station’s children are hurting, but surprisingly and beautifully pleasant – Austin is going to have an awesome time!

Caralee is the final person from Wheaton, and she is from San Diego. She plays water polo for Wheaton, which basically means that she’s literally jacked and tan. I can’t remember where she’s interning, but I know that she plans on biking there everyday? Props to her and her health conscious orientation! Haha.

Cuyler is the final DUS student, but he is finishing up with a missions trip overseas right now, so he isn’t here yet. I know he goes to Sterling, but that’s about it.

In addition to the DUS students, we are almost always with the Issachar students as well: Ricardo, Ramone, Ike, Nester, PT, and Dee. They’ve been together for at least a year already, so they know the city well and are able to help us newbies out!

The people in charge of DUS are Greg and Millie. Millie is originally from Texas, and is the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet. She is a single mom of two adopted kids – DJ and Rebecca – and they are hands down the most gorgeous and social African American children I have ever laid eyes on. I’ve already told her I would babysit! :) Greg is probably in his early forties, and has lived all over the world! He has a heart for the inner-city, and encourages us to do the same. He’s a self-proclaimed “master of ADHD,” so he bounces from one topic to another rather quickly. I like it. I feel like he is one of the few people I’ve ever met that can keep up with me! Haha.

We’ve done so much in the city of Denver since I’ve been here, but that needs to be saved for another time. I promise I will try to keep in touch with all of you better; orientation week has just been crazy! Thanks for reading and caring about what I’m doing with my summer. If you could, please pray that God would give me patience in learning new jargon and tasks in my internship at the JAMLAC law firm, and that he would continue to bring myself and the other DUS and Issachar students together as we continue our two month time together.

There will be much more to come, hopefully soon!

<3 That’s B Dike’s thought of the night

(P.S. For more information about anything I’ve talked about, feel free to creep around http://www.issachardenver.com/ or http://www.milehighmin.org/index.php?/jamlac.htm Thanks again for reading!!)

True Life: I’m a Mean FB Creep.

“I watch other women, measuring myself against them and judging myself accordingly, I experience intimidation and jealousy… We appraise other women as a man would, appraise ourselves as a man would, and weigh the results.” – Maile Meloy, The Voice of the Looking Glass

           

In her essay, “The Voice of the Looking Glass,” Maile Meloy explains that most women, herself included, are prone to being affected by what she calls, “pale-mauve hostility.” She explains that women constantly assess the other females around them, evaluate themselves, and weigh the results against each other. Women don’t always mean to do it – it happens subconsciously, in a split second. It stems from a deeply imbedded insecurity that I suspect all females carry with them, and is often expressed in the form of snarky judgment and rude remarks.

But Meloy wrote her essay about this alleged trend nearly twenty years ago. Do women still look at each other with one suspiciously raised eyebrow, meanwhile hoping that their significant other does not? Does this concept still apply?

I believe that it does. If anything, pale-mauve hostility has gotten progressively worse with the development of recent technology. The rise of Facebook and the technological age has opened new doors, windows, cracks in the walls, and holes in the ceiling for doubt, self-consciousness, and even self-hatred to come pouring through for women. Facebook creeping enables, and even promotes, the pale-mauve process to occur even more.

I know this because, unfortunately, I find myself exhibiting pale-mauve hostility characteristics regularly when I log onto my Facebook account. Many times, I find myself creeping for the sole purpose of comparing myself to others, because I know that somehow in my demented, rude, self-gratifying mind, I’ll end up mentally rating myself higher than my unknowing targets (not an easy confession to make to the world).

Am I feeling fat today? Maybe I’ll try creeping the Spring Break album that the drunken girl from high school just posted. She gained at least the Freshman 50. If I can just find her swimsuit shots then… voila! I feel better about myself already.

“Well, at least I don’t look like that when I go to the pool…”

Did I just get dumped for somebody else? I won’t dwell on what I could have done differently, or how he wasn’t right for me anyway. Oh no. I’ll find her profile and creep away.

“At least I don’t have orange skin and white hair. My ex obviously wasn’t thinking.”

Have I had an awful day? Never fear. I’ll creep the girl from high school who just had a baby at age nineteen. Her life is already at least ten times worse than mine could ever be. I’ll never say I hate my life again.

“At least I don’t wake up to an infant shrieking every night.”

These aren’t easy statements to admit to myself, and they’re even harder to publicly declare to others. I’d like to think that readers will be able to relate to my candidness, but there is a much higher chance that in reality they’ll be offended by it. This looming possibility is enough to make me question my decision to post this particular essay, but I’ve never been one to shy away from brutal honesty.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but the fact remains: I – and I’m willing to bet, some of you reading this – often use the creeps I find on Facebook to make myself feel better about my own life. It isn’t ok, and I’m not pleased with myself for discovering this atrocious fact, but they say the first step is admitting you have a problem. So here it is, my first step on the road to recovery.

MY NAME IS BRITTANY, AND I’M A FACEBOOK CREEP.

Twenty years later and pale-mauve hostility still exists; I’m living proof. I’m not sure what can be done to solve this problem in our society, and more personally, within my own life. This hostility ultimately blooms from an internal lack of self-confidence, not from actual hatred for my oblivious stalkerees, but there has to be a better way to deal with the personal insecurity that I face. I’ve tried to force my mind to develop an ingenious plan to overcome the effect that Facebook creeping can sometimes have on me, but unfortunately no witty remarks or dazzling ideas have surfaced. I hope that, one day, I’ll get over my issues, and be able to creep the ‘Book with better intentions at heart. Until then, though:

MY NAME IS BRITTANY, AND I’M A FACEBOOK CREEP.

—-That’s B Dic’s thought of the night! <3

Dear God…

Dear God,

I’m furious. More specifically, I’m furious at You. I know that isn’t how you’re supposed to start a prayer, but at this point – I don’t care. I’m livid, and if I’m being realistic, You already knew that I was upset anyway.

JaeLynn Moss was a beautiful girl, both inside and out. She had mischievous dark eyes that were always full of light and laughter, and she was never seen without a smile on her face. She was my best friend throughout middle school, and together we may very well have been the loudest, most obnoxious pair of friends that West Middle School has ever seen. Every day, we would run through the hallways chanting – almost singing – about how “I love Jesus more than you love your mom!” Our days in 2004 were filled with giggling and happiness; it was impossible to be around us and not have a great time.

But then I moved across town. We lost touch. And everything changed.

 

 

February 21, 2009. That was the day that she did it. That was the day my best friend killed herself. It’s been over two years, and I still don’t understand.

Why did You let this happen? Aren’t You supposed to love and care about all of Your children? Don’t You have all the power in the universe? Couldn’t You have saved her? WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN? Why didn’t You send down an angel to throw the pills out of her hands before she took them? Or why didn’t You send down a whole team of EMT angels to revive her when her body lay limp on the floor?

As many questions as I have about Jae’s death itself, I also question why You let me act the way I did.

Why didn’t I care more? Why didn’t You hit me upside the head, and tell me to care more? How did I ignore the warning signs? How did I ignore her, even when she reached out to me in her time of mental turmoil?

She was there. She was RIGHT THERE. She was calling, and texting, and Facebooking me. Begging for a friend, begging for someone to care.

“Hey Britt! When will you be in town next? We should do lunch! I miss having you here. Why did you have to move all the way to LA?! Love, Cheese.”

Jae, or “Cheese” as I always called her, was crying out for help. I see that now… Why couldn’t I see it then? How could I blow her off? Why didn’t I care until she was already in the hospital, after trying to take her own life for the second time?

 

Late December, 2008. That was when she called me from her hospital room. She wouldn’t tell me why she was at St. Luke’s; she simply asked me to come visit her. I rushed to the hospital immediately, and with every step I got more and more confused. Why was Jae in a hall labeled, “In-Patient Psych?”

“Nuuuurse! … Nuuuurse! … Nuuuurse!” A man in hospital-issued scrub pants marched in a trance down the off-white hallway, chanting – almost singing – with every step. Why were there seemingly crazy people wandering this hallway?

What was wrong with my Cheese? When I arrived at her room, she calmly told me the news: Two days before, she had tried killing herself. Again. Her first attempt was the day after Thanksgiving, and this try came right after the Christmas season. Happy Holidays, right?

Looking back, the way she told me about what she had done was cavalier, as though she was simply describing what she had for breakfast that day. Her eyes were dull – nothing like the bright, lively, deep brown eyes I remembered – and her casual, almost eerie, tone made me feel instantly uncomfortable. How could she not view her actions as a major problem? As abnormal? As scary? As detrimental? It was then, in my 18-year-old mind, that I decided if Jae didn’t think she had a problem, then she must not!

How could I ever succumb to that mentality? Why didn’t I have the common sense to talk to her about her problem? How could I act like everything was ok, when it clearly, obviously, plainly wasn’t? We were meeting in the psychiatric wing of a hospital, for God’s sake! Yep. The first time I saw my best friend in probably a year was in a psych ward, and I acted like we were getting together for a traditional cup of coffee. Why didn’t I care more? Why didn’t I know what to say? Why didn’t I tell her that I cared about her, loved her, never wanted her to do this again?

Instead, I left the hospital… And I stopped caring.

WHY? WHY DID I DO THAT? WHY DID I ACT LIKE THE PROBLEM DIDN’T EXIST? How could I convince myself that Jae’s release from the psych ward was the equivalent of her releasing her inner demons? Why didn’t I call her? Why didn’t I follow up with how she was doing each day? How could I fly back to L.A. and move on with my semi-charmed life, the life Cheese TOLD ME time and time again that she envied, and act as though our meeting in the hospital never happened? Why, oh WHY, didn’t I continue to show that I cared about her?

Why didn’t you MAKEme care, God? Why didn’t you slap me in the face and say, “Ummm… Hello! Your best friend is on suicide watch! Why aren’t you texting her? Why aren’t you doing anything? Why aren’t you telling her you love her every single day? DO SOMETHING!”

 

But I didn’t do anything. I didn’t say I cared. I didn’t keep in touch. I got scared, and I ran, and I pretended nothing was wrong.

Cheese? Have a problem? Nahhh. Everything is fine.

 

And then it happened. February 21, 2009. I was in Waco, Texas, at Baylor University, visiting friends and looking for a new school (such a trivial worry – what school to transfer to – when I consider the worries that Jae probably had earlier that night). I woke up in my cozy, warm hotel bed to a forwarded text – apparently making its rounds to all Sioux City natives – that read, “RIP JaeLynn Moss. You’re flying in the sky with the angels now.”

I don’t remember many details about the following few minutes; it was a whirl of the most intense emotions I have ever felt in my entire life. I remember my body went completely numb. And I remember shaking uncontrollably. And I remember instantly bursting into tears. And I remember frantically asking all of the questions I’m spewing at you tonight, God. I called my mom immediately, and incoherently sobbed what had happened into the phone. She rerouted my flight, and instead of going back to sunny SoCal, I went home to wintry Iowa.

 

Obviously by then, my caring attitude was too late. Jae was gone.

 

So what now? What am I supposed to do now, God? I’m left here with these horrible feelings of guilt and blame towards myself, and anger towards You. People tell me that I can’t blame myself, that it was her choice, that there was nothing more I could have done. I refuse to believe the latter part of that sentence, but even if all of that is true, I have to say it: I couldn’t do anything to stop her, but You could. So why didn’t You? Why would You let a beautiful, smart, hilarious, amazing girl throw her entire future away? “All things work together for good?” Really? How is THIS good? How does it work in a positive way in your grand scheme? I hate your grand scheme. Yep. There, I said it. I hate that this was “part of Your plan,” and I hate when people use that as an attempted statement of comfort.

Where do I go from here, God? I’m pissed, and I don’t know what else to say to you. Please bring my friend back. You’ve done that before, right? You raised Lazarus from the dead, and You’re due for another big miracle any day now. Right? I mean, it’s been over 2,000 years since Your last one. I just want my friend back, God. I miss her, and I’m tormented by these questions of “why” and “what if” every single day. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to help people like Jae in the future? What if I still don’t know what to say again? What if more people die because of my incompetency?

 

I’m mad at You, God. But more than that, I’m furious at myself.

In Jesus’ name…

—That’s B Dic’s thought of the night…

Cowards Disgust Me

Perhaps the least desirable attribute one can possess is the characteristic of being a coward. Naturally, of course, there are others in the race for “worst life habit ever,” such as lying, cheating, or being a jerk. But I think, however, that many of these other horrible characteristics in a person often stem from being a coward, from being spineless. People lie because they don’t have the strength to admit to others what they’ve done. People cheat because they don’t have the determination to do something on their own. And people morph into jerks because they refuse to acknowledge their own faults and downfalls.

 

Cowards disgust me. Billy is a coward.

 

My best friend (or I suppose now, at the risk of sounding childish, ex-best friend) being a coward was never something that bothered me while we were friends. In fact, it’s probably not even something that I would have ever acknowledged, had the tragic ending of our friendship not made it so painfully clear to me. Despite my rosy-colored glasses during the entirety of our relationship, in hindsight, his cowardly characteristics were always there. He has rotated between the same few girls, year after year, since high school (who, if I must be frank, have proven themselves to have questionable motives within the relationship time and time again), because he is scared of ever emotionally opening himself to anyone new. He refuses to talk about anything even vaguely serious, for fear that his opinions might not be accepted by others. He is incapable of ever committing to anything, because he worries he won’t be able to perform well in the end. I see all of this now, but I never noticed it before.

 

It was December 28th when I had found out what Billy had done. When I heard the awful and degrading things he had said about me. When I first realized that he was a coward.

 

I think the first and foremast trait of a coward is the inability to stand up for yourself and admit something that you did. A lying coward is even worse, because they deny what they have done to everyone else around them, and never address the person they hurt. In this case, I was the one that got hurt. I texted Billy about the rumors, and in my anger, told him to “never speak to me again, unless it’s to apologize for what you’ve done.” He took my words literally. He never talked to me again.

 

Silence. Friendship over. No words of self-defense. No words of denial to counter my accusations. Just silence. Four and a half months of awful silence.

 

Well, that’s not entirely true. In a world of constantly streaming Facebook statuses and picture uploads, total silence is nearly impossible. In the past four months, Billy has liked one status and one picture on my profile. He also somehow, presumably by a miracle of God, mustered up the courage to write, “Happy 21st Birthday, B (his pet name for me; how dare he call me that when we’re fighting)! I hope you have a good one!” on my wall for my birthday.

Honestly though, these gestures – which to some may seem friendly, perhaps even with an air of surrendorence – only fuel my frustration and anger towards Billy. Why doesn’t he man-up and admit what he did to me? Why can’t he face the facts regarding why I refuse to speak to him? Does he think this will just blow over after a while?

 

Coward. Admit what you did. Apologize.

 

These irritations via social media have been bothering me so much, in fact, that I recently decided to defriend Billy officially (because nothing’s official until it’s Facebook official). Perhaps this move was childish, perhaps it was bitter, perhaps it was uncalled for. Despite these potential negatives, though, I felt great afterwards – like I could finally move on from this four-year-friendship-turned-bad… Until five days later, when he attempted to re-add me.

Once again, why? Why are you doing that, Billy? Have you ever considered actually talking to me about the reasons why I deleted you from my life, both figuratively and literally, in the first place? Maybe you have, who knows? But clearly you can’t bring yourself to apologize for your actions.

 

Why? Because you, Billy Reynolds, are a coward.

 

I feel as though I should take a step back, and allow myself to be vulnerable. If I’m being honest with myself, while I am clearly livid at the inequities you have against me, I still miss you every day.

 

We first became friends four years ago, during my junior year of high school, before he got famous. I was drawn to him because of his witty humor from the back of the classroom (reading “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” out loud while the teacher was lecturing in Humanities immediately got my attention), inherent appetite for daring stunts (his “Playing With Death” YouTube videos showed him jumping off of roof tops; for some reason I found this interesting.), and - I’ll admit - partially because my parents told me they didn’t like him (17-year-olds often have this bizarre need to rebel against their elders. Don’t ask me why.).

As our friendship grew throughout the years, so did Billy’s level of fame and fortune. At age 16, nobody would have believed that his online poker playing habits would have led him anywhere but bankruptcy. But by the time he reached his twenties, he was a millionaire, sponsored by PokerStars.com, and playing in tournaments all over the world. Some days I feel like I can’t turn on ESPN without seeing Billy’s smiling face – now known as “William” to the rest of the civilized world.

Billy’s success was never a reason behind my love for my best friend. In fact, I often begged him to quit his job so we could “be normal college students together.” I knew my attempt was futile, but I wanted him to understand that I wasn’t involved in our friendship because of his wealth. I was still best friends with Billy because of his wit, dare devil personality, and “I’ll do anything for you” attitude towards the people he loved.

 

But none of that really matters now, does it?

 

Do I miss the carefree way that Billy used to calm me down during a fight? Of course I do. Do I wonder what country he’s playing in this week, and what beautiful sights he’s seeing? Undoubtedly. Do I wish I could slap him in the face and tell him he’s an idiot for letting four months go by without an apology, without even a single word? Every day.

Despite any lingering nostalgia, Billy’s cowardly nature prevents me from ever acting upon these feelings. He’s a coward, and a liar, and a jerk. Obviously he meant more to me than I ever meant to him. I don’t want to trust a person like that anyway.

 

And yet, everyday, all I really want is my best friend back.


Admit what you did. Please. Just apologize.

—That’s B Dic’s thought of the night.

"Musketeers Make Playoffs, Puck Sluts Rejoice" — A Satirical News Story

The Sioux City Musketeers USHL junior hockey team clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time in 4 years, after a rare and shocking win over the Lincoln Stars on Tuesday night at the Tyson Events Center.

While the players and coaches were stunned and mildly ecstatic about the unexpected post-season berth, the people most excited about the extension of the season were the team’s honorary puck sluts. According to sources close to the team, a puck slut is “a girl who is obsessed with the members of a given hockey team — often multiple members at the same time — and will do nearly anything sexual to prove it.” They are sometimes also referred to as “jersey chasers.”

Andrea Muller, a first year puck slut, was especially happy about the lengthened season.

"I had my suitcase packed and ready to go, because I thought Bryan was going to leave Monday. I was determined to go with him." Muller began. "I would have followed my current hockey player across the country if he asked me to. Hell, I probably would have followed him even if he didn’t! But now I don’t have to resort to awkward desperation. Now we get to stay together for an extra few weeks. Thank goodness the Muskies made playoffs."

Muller’s “friend” is Musketeer captain Bryan Larpenter. He too, was thrilled to be able to stay with Muller for a bit longer.

"Honestly, Andrea was the only motivation I had on the ice on Tuesday night," Larpenter said through soft tears of joy. "I don’t care about the college scouts that will be at the playoff games, or the level of personal accomplishment I would feel from winning the Clark Cup. I’m just so incredibly thankful that I don’t have to leave Andrea’s side yet. She simply is my absolute number one priority in life right now. Nothing else matters, not even hockey."

While the Sioux City Musketeer coaches are “sort of” looking forward to the playoff games against the Omaha Lancers, they say they are mostly “just so proud” of Larpenter for finding someone that makes him happy.

"We always tell our boys to follow their hearts," said head coach Mark String. "These girls, these so-called ‘puck sluts,’ have true feelings for the players, and we encourage the guys to allow themselves to fall in love as well. I’m just so happy that Larpy has a girl to think about while he’s on the ice. Nothing makes a guy play better than thinking about how he’ll be getting laid later that night." 

While she is indeed happy that her f*** buddy will be in town for a few more precious weeks, the extended time period has inadvertently caused a small burden to grow within Muller’s heart.

"Now that I know that Bryan will be in town for a little longer, and since they’ve been winning recently, I just can’t help but think that maybe he’ll be around long enough to be able to take me to prom," the high school senior said excitedly. "I just don’t want to get my hopes up, you know? If they lose, and he has to leave forever, especially before prom, I’ll be crushed."

String acknowledges Muller’s concern with an equally heavy heart of his own.

"My biggest goal right now is to do everything in my power to ensure that Larpy can take Andrea to her senior prom," he choked as compassionate tears welled up in his eyes. "I just want her to be happy, and to do that, the boys have to keep winning. The Clark Cup is nothing more than a petty symbol of success, and that dims in comparison to the love that shines between my boys and their puck sluts."

Muller agreed with String, stating that, “What Bryan and I have is real. I know that he’ll eventually need to leave Sioux City and go home, but even when that does happen, I know we’ll find a way to make it work. That’s what people who are in love do for each other.”

At press time, Larpenter couldn’t be reached for any further comments regarding his undying faithfulness to Muller, because he was reportedly too busy banging someone else. Witnesses say the other woman, described as a stunning catch with her orange skin and white hair, was last seen dressed in five inch heels, and a five inch skirt. Muller has dismissed these allegations as “just a rumor,” and states that he was probably “just busy washing his hair or something.”

The Musketeers have their first playoff game on Saturday, April 9th, at 7:05 p.m. at the Quest Center in Omaha. Section 105 will be reserved for all puck sluts, and any of their equally slutty friends who may also choose to attend. The hockey players ask that their puck sluts, and anyone else who would like to bang, bring a large supply of condoms to the locker rooms after the game.


<3 That’s B-Dike’s thought of the night ;) Hahahahaha

Why? Because I Love It…

Think. Think. Think. Think. Think. Think. Forget this. I don’t care anymore. This class sucks. I wonder what’s for dinner? Dinner. I’m kind of hungry… but I don’t want anything that will make eme feel too fat. Fat. Why does Layce say she’s fat all the time? She’s gorgeous. Gorgeous. It’s beautiful out today. I kind of want to go to the park and swing. Swing. I wish I knew how to swing dance. Dance. Sophomore year Twirp was the best dance ever. Lee was my date. I wonder how he’s doing? I haven’t heard from him in years. You know who else I haven’t heard from in forever? Billy. Billy, my best friend. Well, ex-best friend, that is. Gosh, forgiveness is hard. Hard. This assignment is hard to focus on, but maybe if I just keep thinki…

            Wait.

            Stop.

            Think.

            What was that thought? No, no. before the griping about class and assignments. Go back, before that. That thought about forgiving Billy… What does that mean? Forgiveness is hard.

            Think.

            Comprehend.

            Outline.

            Go.

            WRITE.

            Whenever I write, whatever I’m writing about, the aforementioned is my mental process. I can’t help it, it just happens. Nor can I force it; I can’t make myself care enough about something to write about it unless the passion is already there. But once I stuble across something that sparks the neurons in my brain – it’s all over. I have to get it out. NOW.

            But why do I write? What do I hope to gain?

I write because I have questions. I question everything about my life. I question how “best friends” can stop caring in the blink of an eye. I ponder what my future is supposed to look like. I wonder about how a person can take their own life, despite the pleas of those who love them. I write because seeing my thoughts as words on paper sometimes gives me answers to these questions.

            I write because I need an outlet for my feelings. It makes me angry that I wasn’t good enough to be chosen by a person whom I thought I loved. I suffer from depression when I think about the way I wasn’t able to stop my best friend from overdosing on the prescription pills she had come to rely upon. I am confused by the concept of forgiving others, despite their consistent transgressions against me. I write because it helps my heart comprehend the tangled mess of emotions that occur after each major event of my life.

            I write because, sometimes, I just need someone to listen. With a swift tap to the keyboard, a blank sheet of paper is magically transformed into my best friend. I can tell it anything. I know that it won’t judge me for making the same mistake over and over. I’m confident that it won’t question my sanity when I tell it that I think I might be in love… again. I’m assured that the paper won’t make me the subject of any gossip chains with my peers – its lips are forever sealed. I write because the blank sheet of paper becomes my redemptive ear.

            I write because I want to make a difference in the world around me. I long for my peers to read my words and understand that substance abuse will never be a productive lifestyle. I wish that old boyfriends would see my work and realize that they were foolish to leave. I want non-Christians to study my analogies and finally comprehend that Jesus Christ is bomb. I write because I feel as though what I have to say is important for others to hear.

            I write because I want to gain knowledge about life in general. I wish to be able to defend my faith in Christ, should somebody ask why I believe the things that I do. I strive to avoid being labeled a “dumb cheerleader,” by being able to articulate my thoughts on current health care reform or global riots. I write because the research that academic writing requires forces me to learn about topics that I may otherwise peruse over. (Sometimes, I even write just to merely feel smart.)

            In short, I write because I have to. Because the urge to document my inner dilemmas and mental turmoil becomes too great to keep inside. Because the writing process comes as naturally to me as thinking or breathing comes to a normal person. Because I love it.

            Stop.

            Think.

            WRITE.

That’s B-Dike’s thought of the night. <3

Response to “Enough is Enough”

As I begin to respond to the very emotional things that have been said over the past few days, I find myself overwhelmed. I never could have imagined the amount of response that my blog would get, and to respond to each individual comment and concern would take literally days. Unfortunately –  I’m sure nearly every college student reading this can relate – as much as I may long for it, I simply don’t have hours of free time to dedicate to my writing. There are a few major things, however, that imperatively deserve a response.


First, I would like to say that I truly and honestly respect and appreciate every one of your responses. Overall, people were very respectful in the ways in which they chose to express their thoughts and concerns. I can’t thank you enough. When dealing with such a heart wrenching, emotional issue, it is easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of anger and competition. As I read these comments and posts, I genuinely believe that no one listed was trying to hurt, offend, or defeat anybody else. We all have very different life experiences, as Kyle pointed out, and these experiences are bound to lead us to different feelings and outlooks on hot-button issues.


If you are tagged in this, it is because you contacted me about the blog in various ways. Some chose to publically take a stand for what they believe by commenting or liking the post itself (or comments on the post), while others shared more personal stories via e-mail, inbox messages, or texts. Regardless of the method chosen, THANK YOU for your responses. Even if we don’t all agree about how specific sentences were worded or overall thoughts were formed, there is one clear, underlying fact:


We are all on the same side. None of us want another tragedy to happen again.


I would also like to clarify something that I feel may have been lost in translation during the written communication process: I have been dreadfully emotionally affected by the deaths in our community. Jae was my absolute best friend while growing up, and I had a long and meaningful friendship with Jordan as well. In no way was I trying to “make an example” of our dear friends, nor was I attempting to disrespect their lives, deaths, or family members. As I stated in the blog itself, I think about Jae’s death literally EVERY day; I’m in the same position as the countless others who have lost a friend due to this horrible travesty.


As Tommy pointed out, this blog was primarily meant to be self-reflective. Many, MANY people have done absolutely everything in their earthly power to save our loved ones from themselves – there’s absolutely no denying that! Kelsey, I respect you so much for sharing your very personal stories with the world. Nobody can argue that you didn’t do enough. In a sense though, for the readers who know they DID do everything they could for our struggling friends, this blog wasn’t meant for you. This entry was to force people to look at their lives and ask themselves, “Did I, personally, do all that I could?” Personally, in my relationship with Jae, the answer is a resounding no. It pains me each day to know that fact, and I wrote this piece as a desperate cry to ensure that nobody else has to feel the way I do. The entry wasn’t meant to be self-righteous or to slam my readers with concepts of Biblical theology; it was meant to share my own emotional demons with my peers, and encourage them to fight their own.


In regards to the issue of honoring the deceased with profile pictures, status updates, and commemorative paraphernalia, I feel as though I need to clarify the point I was evidently failing to make. All of the aforementioned actions are fantastic ways to honor the dead. They bring about the conversations and stories that Briana discussed in one of her comments; they enable people to talk about the horrors that have happened and to support the families who have lost a loved one. As Gary and Kelsey pointed out, I, too, have participated in buying bracelets and changing default pictures. There is nothing wrong with engaging in these memorials, but the question I state in my blog, which I fear may have been overlooked, is this:


“How are the deaths of our dear friends truly impacting our lives? What are we doing differently now, as opposed to what we were doing two years ago? Do our lifestyles show a noticeable change due to the horrors that we have had to endure over and over?”


While buying bracelets and making our losses public on Facebook are good deeds on their own, they aren’t enough. How are our lives TRULY changed from our losses? How have we changed our lives both individually and cohesively due to what we have learned in the past two years from the deaths of our friends? Again, this is meant to be self-reflective. It was never my intent to point fingers, offend, or disrespect anybody, and it pains me that my words were so awfully miscommunicated to some people in the Siouxland community.


In conclusion, yes addiction is hard. And yes, addiction is scary. And yes, there is often little that can humanly be done when people are so dependent upon a given substance. And yes, people deal with loss and grief in countless different ways. My original post was never meant to question any of these irrefutable facts. We are ALL hurting, due to the catastrophic loss of our beloved peers and loved ones. Just like Brittany and Kyle expressed in their comments, each person is bound to deal with tragedy in a vastly different way. Me? I write about it, in an attempt to make some sense of the madness that is occurring all around us.

Again, I sincerely apologize for offending anyone, and I appreciate everyone giving their input on this very serious matter. I hope that this follow-up post has done a better job of communicating what I was attempting to say in the first place. Overall, I hope and pray that the main idea that everyone takes away from this entire process is that the cycle of substance abuse must end. None of us have a specific answer of how this struggle can be won, but one thing is certain: The battle begins within yourself. Do everything you can to stop this process from occurring again and again, whether that means changing the habits in your own life, or helping as much as possible in the lives of others. Step up. Take a stand. Do something.

That’s B-Dike’s thought of the night. <3

Enough is Enough.

In light of recent events, it has touched my heart to write about the issue of prescription drug abuse. My best friend, Jae Moss – or as I liked to call her, “Cheese,” – died from overdosing on prescription drugs two years ago, and ever since then the topic has been a sensitive subject. Every day, I think about what I could have done differently – how my actions could have prevented her tragic death. The questions of “what if…” haunt me constantly, even to this day.

I open with this because I want to be clear: the following accusations, statements, and suggestions are directed not only to the reader, but also to myself. I’m just as guilty of the proceeding issues as anybody else, and I am just as emotional as anybody else. I care deeply about the people that have been lost due to their addictions, and it is because of this passion that I refuse to sit idly by any longer.

With that said: Enough is enough. At the risk of sounding cold hearted, or preachy, or even possibly downright rude, I need to say it. Enough is enough.

In the past two years, there have been at least 3 drug related over-dosing deaths in the Sioux City community. Jae Moss died on February 21, 2009 after several instances of over-dosing and needing to be hospitalized. Jordan Dvorak died on May 29, 2010 after years of alcoholism and drug addiction. Most recently, Jerritt Wilson died on Thursday, January 27, 2011, of the same problem. All three of these instances have overwhelming common themes:

1.      They all had a reoccurring drug addiction problem.

2.      This addiction was a public thing. In every instance, we all knew about it.

3.      Now, they are all dead.

We can try to negate the final point by saying that they were “called home,” or “have passed on,” or – my personal favorite – that there is now “a new angel walking among us.” Again, at the risk of sounding emotionally empty (which, I assure you, I am NOT), the 20-somethings of Siouxland need to face the facts: Our friends are dead. They aren’t coming back. They aren’t checking their Facebooks and updating their statuses. They aren’t “looking down on us from heaven.” They are dead.

They are dead, and nobody in our community is taking responsibility for the travesties that are occurring around us all too often.

I have heard it said over the past few days that what is happening is “scary” because “this could happen to anyone.” Let’s be clear, and let’s be frank. What has happened to Jae, Jordan, Jerritt, and surely others is not a freak accident. They weren’t hit by a bus, or gunned down by a madman on a street corner. What has happened to our beloved friends was a conscious choice. Taking drugs and retreating down the path of physical and mental addiction and deterioration was a decision that they each made individually. This wasn’t a bizarre happening that nobody saw coming. In each case, let’s be honest with ourselves, we all saw the warning signs. The question becomes: Why aren’t we doing anything about it?

Of course, it can be argued that with addiction, there comes a certain point when the person is perhaps too far gone. It doesn’t matter what you say, or what program of rehabilitation you suggest for them; they will get their fix no matter what. At this point, it is probable that there is truly nothing within your humanly power that you can do.

But what about the baby steps that led up to this point?

Addiction doesn’t appear out of nowhere. Addiction begins with a choice. Arriving at the brink of destruction is a process, not an instantaneous disaster. Where were we during this process for our friends? Were we telling them how we felt about their self-destructive habits, or were we allowing them to pop a quick Xanex before we went out to the next house party? People can be influenced, and future decisions can be changed if we will only take the time to communicate with others that what they are doing is wrong.

This, of course, presents an entirely different problem for our generation. In a society that consistently teaches that truth is relative, it becomes increasingly difficult for one to stand up and define what is right, and what is wrong. Our generation refuses to take a stand for fear of offending others and their beliefs. This discussion is an entirely separate issue, but let it be noted – I feel that we can all agree upon this: Watching a loved one deteriorate mentally, physically, and psychologically is not desirable for anyone, and we need to do everything in our power to prevent it from happening to those we care about.

 

You would think that Jae’s death would have been an initial wake up call for our community. Then, you would have thought that after Jordan’s death, people would have noticed that drugs literally lead to death. You would think that, but clearly we aren’t getting the picture.

Of course, after each horrible incident, Facebook and Twitter blow up with posts such as “RIP _______, you will be truly missed,” “RIP ________, we will honor and remember your name,” and other messages of the sort. We order commemorative bracelets and t-shirts that are tagged with our friends’ names and favorite sayings. We go through old photos and make our profile pictures one that includes the deceased. While these condolences sound nice on paper, I have to ask:

How are the deaths of our dear friends truly impacting our lives? What are we doing differently now, as opposed to what we were doing two years ago? Do our lifestyles show a noticeable change due to the horrors that we have had to endure over and over?

In many cases, I fear that the answer is no.

Many times, I see my peers “honor” our friends by taking shots and going out on the night of their death or funeral. I often wonder how abusing a substance qualifies as honoring those who have died from substance abuse. While I understand that this is a common way of coping with stress and emotional grief, I feel as though it is almost a slap in the face to those that have died.

We aren’t invincible. We can’t keep thinking that the problem of addiction and substance abuse would “never happen to me or my friends.” We can’t continue down this path of self-destruction. We can’t continue to act as though our peers don’t have a problem. We can’t expect the issue of drug abuse to go away on its own.

For so long, I pretended as though Jae didn’t have a problem. She was released from the hospital, and I chose to believe that any issues she may have once had were released with her and would go away. I was wrong, and I would give anything to change the way that I ignored her inner demons, even when she reached out to me for help. I would like to think that others who were also close to Jae, Jordan, and now Jerritt, have also felt the same way.

We can’t continue to do nothing. Step up. Take a stand. Do something. Change your life, and encourage the life changes of others. Let’s stop accepting that “people will do what they want,” and start trying to prevent these horrible catastrophes from ever happening in our community again.

I speak for myself, and I believe the 20-somethings of Siouxland as well: Sioux City can’t handle another heartbreak.

 

That’s B-Dike’s thought of the night…

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