Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tis the Season


I learned this year how much Christmas really means to me. This year I was the one coming home to my family. To make it back for the best two days (Christmas Eve and Christmas). I've said before, I come from a big family. One of three and extended families on both side, huge and awesome. This Christmas I realized how unique my family is and how blessed I am.

The week leading up to my departure was filled with quite a bit in such a short time. I encountered real life, "Mean Girls," and got to do my first circle! By myself! I walked in a little intimidated.... 7th grade girls ughh. By the end, I decided I won em over, no questions about it. It reminded me about what 7th grade was like... geeze, good luck. I feel like those are the years you just keep going..... kids are mean. The following two days were filled with wrapping AXE cologne kits, and hoodies and decorating the center. Oh and bagging up 250ish bags of candy. The cologne and hoodies were for Wednesday night circle/our centers Christmas for the boys. I'm pretty sure I went home both Tuesday and Wednesday smelling like cologne haha

Our center and Kolby House put together bags for kids in Juvi each Christmas. That way the kids in Juvi get something over the holidays, otherwise they would get nothing. Early in the week Sr. Donna and I had to go drop of bags to get them approved by Juvi, for letting us hand out bags. The candy bag was approved. However, a bag with: toothpaste, a tooth brush, short socks, and some kind of soap was not approved. Apparently tooth brushes can be chiseled down into a spear of some kind, creating a weapon to stab people and socks can be turned into a device to hang yourself.... reallllly? So, candy it is this year I guess? Dumb.

Tuesday night I went into Juvi to kick it. Usually the courts try to get as many kids home before Christmas as possible. So, numbers were down. Well.... I guess you could say that. That night I met a kid that I can pinpoint what, but he had some kind of mental disability/just.... wasn't all there. Played some Uno with him and tried to talk but, wasn't to successful. At the end of the night, on the way home I couldn't help but think about him. Why was he there? Whatever crime he committed I am betting he was taken advantage of, clearly without him knowing. He was doing someones dirty work, and I am betting he couldn't tell right from wrong? I can't assume to much... I guess just a possibility? (hardly)

At one point in the week one of the doors in our center got locked and we didn't have a key for that door. Of course behind that door were all of the Christmas presents. When I confronted the problem, it was kind for shrugged and I was told to go get one of the boys to help get it, "unlocked." By unlocked..... ehhh basically pick the lock. And after picking away, and kicked it in a bit, the door was opened. I've seen it done a few times now, I may just inherit this new trait haha I mean, it may come in handy some day. So.... as the worry of Christmas being locked behind a door was apparent, it quickly disappeared by breaking into the room! Hey if you got the skill, might as well use it for a good cause!

Finally, Wednesday came. After running around getting a sweet massage (a present for Christmas), and then getting some legit tamales for lunch and good conversation with some girls, finally one last thing to do, Christmas for the boys. We had dinner catered by an awesome Kolby House volunteer! Brisket yummmm. Off to circles, where the theme was, "What does Christmas mean to you?" As a rule, what's said in circle, stays in circle. But, the biggest theme was, "togetherness and family." All week between conversations with some girls, kids in Juvi, and conversation in Circle.... the theme of togetherness and family were beaming everywhere I looked. Some kids down on the South side never had a tree for Christmas, or the star at the top was considered a gang symbol rather than a guide for Mary and Joseph and the 3 wise men. Presents were nothing but a "real meal." Hopes of seeing family were the true present. Last post I talked about how I felt as if I lived in two different worlds sometimes. How I have my family life, a simple, safe, blessed life vs. the streets of the Ghetto, a life of violence. Two, obviously very different environments right? Well, maybe where I thought these two environments are very much crazy different.... guess what? They are pretty similar as well. If you talked with anyone in my family they would tell you that presents aren't really that big of the deal. Its about being together with everyone, talking, eating tamales and burritos, or ham and potatoes and simply being with each other is all that really matters. Very similar "themes," that were shared in circle with the boys. So, as I struggled with these two different worlds... things like this make it easier an easier to see my world as one, or helps me see that they aren't so much different. Amen to that!

So, as presents were handed out that night, I packed and literally had to sit on my suitcase to zip it up for my flight home and I have lived through the Christmas eve/Christmas madness and got to meet my new nephew/Godson, I have nothing but a smile on my face. I couldn't be more thankful this Christmas season :) Cheers to the Christmas season!

Friday, December 16, 2011


I think that I am finally gaining a little trust. Before I used to walk into a room and everything would go quiet. If the boys were joking around talking about whatever, they would just stop smile and stare at the ground. Now, they just keep on talking. The other day I was just sitting in the kitchen for probably an hour just talking... them talking about cars, music or whatever..... me listening and chiming in if I had anything to say. Then all of the sudden, they were asking me questions. Not silly things, but more serious things. (At this time I would like to thank my father, guess what, I actually do listen when you are lecturing me about my car!) They started asking me car questions, because I told them that someone was haggling them about their car troubles..... (I don't think I would EVER take my car to be fixed down here. Everyone is out to get more out of you. You take a car in, they tell you that you need to fix $1,000's of dollars worth of crap. In reality those things don't need to be fixed. Then if you do take it to be fixed regardless, there is the possibility that they break something on your way out so that you have to come back.... coooool, ok I shouldn't say this for ALL cases, but... it happens). It's funny because from the car conversation, it developed into a bank conversation. Savings, checking accounts, DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD, all the way to money CD's. I can honestly say that I struggle with all that money stuff. But my information to them was like opening a door they had never thought of. Instead of walking around with a wad of cash duhhhh open a checking account..... Things like that. It's nice to finally feel, I'm not exactly sure what the right word is.... lets go with "accepted." Finally!

I went out to lunch the other day with the girl I used to tutor to talk about whats been going on and if she wants to come back. Within the first 5 minutes she looked at me and simply says, theres something different about you since the last time I saw you (probably at least a month ago). I asked her what it was, and all she said was she thought I looked happier. The smile on my face wasn't forced, the way I carried myself now vs. when I first met her, was completely different. Like I was stronger or something. All I could think was did I look that bad before? Could people tell that I was definitely out of my comfort zone, forcing myself through the thick of the beginning? I guess I don't have such a great mask after all. (I had a soccer coach yell at me one time because I wore my expression on my face, there was no way I could tell a lie with my expression. I guess he was right, and so is the girl). But I'm not trying to hide anything anymore. I am happier now, and I do feel stronger but that's because I finally feel comfortable in my own shoes. Apparently I don't adjust as quickly as I wish I could.

So, to a new subject.... I need something. I need a project. Something to call my own. Something that I want to see at Precious Blood. Some kind of creative cool thing that I can tackle and accomplish.... I don't know what that thing is? Its like every time I put my thinking cap on, this cloud comes and sits over my head blocking out anything I should be thinking about.... thought? anyone?

These days I look forward to checking my mailbox! I used to go weeks in college and never check the box because it would be a waste of time. Nowadays, I get real stuff in the mail! Whether is a Christmas card, (oh and some b-day cards in there too) or just a hey how are ya letter OR a sweet care package from some awesome people back in good ol' Missouri! (Or maybe I am just anticipating some snow boots I ordered online, to get me through the crazy snow that is promised to come soon enough.) Either way, I love getting a little something because it helps me realize that I've got some support out there. I have been here for roughly 4 months. Things around me are starting to sink in as every day life. I almost forget how the outside world works. I know it sounds weird and kind of dumb. I've accepted life here on the South side as normal. I'm not shocked by a whole lot anymore, but when I tell someone about work or whatever back home, or just outside of where I work... they just shake their head and kind of laugh, out of shock and just say, Oh Bon, you life.... (Guess what... I like it, my life that is.)

The biggest thing that I think I have conquered this week is the fact that... yeah I feel kind of alone sometimes, but if I feel alone its only because I have chosen to feel alone. I have made friends here (ok they might not consider me a friend, friend, but they are all I have... the boys at the center), I have awesome co-workers (they bet on my sister having her new baby, on what time he would come! Regardless, the money came to me to go buy a little present representing Precious Blood, maybe I should go buy a little pair of sweet kicks, since that's what the boys always buy, new shinny shoes?), I have family and friends and even people I don't even know out there thinking about me.... Sounds pretty awesome to me!

So with that little sweet realization I have to give a little shout out to my GODSON! Little Harrison Bryan Norman is here, and healthy! 11:21am 8lbs 9oz. (true Kane baby right there) 21in. long. I got to skype with everyone while they were at the hospital, me at work. I cannot wait to get home and chillax with the little man! I am so happy for my sister and brother-in-law! Congrats!

And with that... I am off to ponder what sweet little something to get the new guy, I get lost somewhere for the weekend :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I believe I have some catching up to do.....

Warning: I apologise now, this could be a long one ;)

Here's a rough lay out:
17 dollars lighter
Birthday weekend
Shinan's (shenanigans)

We'll start out simple.... ha, I guess. Last week I had quite the convo. Someone was in to have their paper looked at, the paper was over "discrimination." So, myself and one of the boys started out with the basics, what is discrimination, what kind... wait? what kind of discrimination?-- you know, age, race, work, sex, ect ect ect. WOW timeout there is more than just race discrimination? (why yes, and so we begin) After internet searching, google (is great) and so forth, we stumbled upon this conversation. (I will try my best to relay the conversation) We are saying A-the other person B- is ME!

A. Bonnie can I ask you a question, and you promise you won't get angry with me?
B. I don't ever get mad, so of course you can.
A. You are here, the same age as I am, and you have this job. I could do your job. I know how to act, help and work with kids that come in and out of here. And you don't have their trust yet and don't know how to act with them yet. And you get paid for this. I feel like I have been discriminated against because you have this job and I didn't even get the chance.
B. But I don't get paid for this, I am a volunteer. I am here to learn and give back. I'm not here for recognition or a pay check.
A. But you get something in the end right? Like you are here because of school, or you will write a paper about this and get credit, or money for school right? Overall, you get something out of this right?
B. Sure, I get something out of this. I get the experience. I guess I get to add something else on my resume, thats all though...
A. Oh... well then you are here volunteering and its not part of school or anything like that. Volunteers always say that they are here to give back. Well, that's what all the older people say. They say they want to give back. But your 23 now, you haven't received anything. How can you give back something, if you haven't received anything yet?

Its like this idea keeps haunting me, poking at me every once in a while, right as I am forgetting, it pops up.-- So why are you here? Its like I am this huge mystery that everyone is trying to figure out.. surprise! I'm trying to figure it out too! It's interesting. I love being here, even if I am not doing a whole heck of a lot. I am learning more and more about people. Trying to think of ways to get some of these boys, some of my favorites to reach their potentials, trying to get them to think about the big picture, get them away from here. But, I don't know how.

Yesterday, I left 17 dollars in my purse. Strategically waiting for me to use it on my Target run to buy face wash and toothpaste. Well, I got to Target, picked up my desired whitening toothpaste and exfoliating face wash, opened up my wallet and BAM! Nothing was there. Cooooool. I guess I will confess and say that I'm not surprised that it didn't happen any sooner. I was mad, more than mad, pissed. The next day I was talking to one of the boys about it and he was so nice. He was sorry he didn't warn me sooner, or gave me some tips as to what I should have done. He just sat there and shook his head and apologized for whoever it was. Well, all I can hope for is that the money was spent on something good right (except who I thought it was miiiight have showed up later high..... nice) Moooooving on :)

Help-Portrait was a success, so I hear! I was unable to make it on that Saturday, but everyone said it was... organized chaos. So... sounds like a success to me!

My birthday weekend was fab! Best birthday I have had in years! No really! The past four years my birthday always landed on the week before college finals. Yuck! This year three of my best friends came up. We stayed down on Michigan ave. Shopped, walked, sight seeing, shopping, drinks, pizza, the bean, shopping. You know... all that fun stuff. It was so good! Now if only just one of them lived here!

I gave someone a ride yesterday and he asked me the next time we drove together, not to drive down the street that I did. Even though he wasn't in a gang, he was black, and he was in the wrong gang area. Good thing it was cold outside and there wasn't anyone hanging out outside.

I was at Juvi the other night and I was re-named Bonnie Blue Eyes (he doesn't know that my Grandpa calls me Bonnie Blue because of my blue eyes.) This kid was shocked by how blue my eyes were... or maybe he was hitting on me? Either way, we had a really good conversation. It kills me every time I meet a kid that is in Juvi for the first time. They are always so quite, scared and asking, how do I get through this? I hate Juvi. It makes me so mad thinking about how many kids are there and how they are treated.

Finally talked to the girl I was tutoring way back when. She is having family problems. There is so much going on with her I couldn't even begin to talk about everything going on with her. I guess my only question is, when can you tell someone that its time to worry about themselves than worry about everyone else?

Each week always circles around to the same problems: race, family problems, gang lines, discrimination, why is this crazy white girl still here? So here I am, blue eyes and all.... still here, thinking.