informal survey, please respond
a picture and a treat
journey to Bethlehem
a story plus more
strength and weakness
October, how thou flew by!
inspired by the Economist, once again
going through Love146 files
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world."
fresh off the press
I am very happy to inform you that A. has finished her caregiver's course and yesterday it was announced that she passed the government qualifyng exams. She is now a professional caregiver and can be employed in care facilities for children, adults and elderly, as well as hspitals and schools locally and abroad.
She is our first graduate into an employable profession. This is a momentuous event for us after so many hurdles with her, including her giving up several times, her suicide attempts in the beginning, her wanting to go home to work again in the bar to help her starving family, her so many disciplne issues as a result of her past life, our dramas to remold her, our constant processing with her that would last until the wee hours of the morning, etc. But now, all this is behind because a new door is opened for her.
This is no mean feat for her considering a past of exploitation that started at 8 and hard core experiences of exploitation on the streets, different provinces, on the internet, name it. When she was rescued, she was transferred from institution to institution and she gave up hope of ever going back to school again so she went home to work in the bar and on the street again, another of [our rescue partner's] statistic of re-trafficking.
Eventually [our rescue partner] referred her to [us]. We lost no time in putting her in school, a home study program that allowed her to have her own pace. She started in grade 4, age 17. In one year, she finished the 6th grade and at the same time passed the Alternative Learning System that qualified her to pursue college without going to high school.
Initially, she took a 4-year nursing course, but the hurdles were proving the course too long, so many things were happening in her life that could prevent her from finishing. So she opted to shift to a much shorter caregiving course. It still proved to be a Herculean task for her and for us. She stopped a few times at the call of her family and went home against all advice. But our process with her was not over."
Never Forget 9/11? If Only It Were That Easy
Found on the WSJ site . . .
The best days are when I don't think about 9/11 at all. I don't remember where I was. I don't think about how my life changed, how deeply affected my wife was. It doesn't come up in conversation. Those are the good days. Of course, I feel guilty about that.
We're told to "never forget," as if anyone living in New York could avoid the reminders: endless construction at Ground Zero, changes on Wall Street, armed security guards in our buildings and police in the subways.
9/11 swallows the life of anyone who was here before and after. Still, we're told that forgetting it would somehow be emotional treason to the memories of people we knew or didn't know.
It's also inappropriate to feel grateful for the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But I am. 9/11 changed us. It made New Yorkers come together. My wife and I made a commitment to New York. Displaced from our home at Ground Zero, we bought a home in Manhattan a few blocks north. We had our first child in 2002. We named her Grace.
On the day after she was born, I made a video from my wife's hospital room at St. Vincent's Hospital. I panned from our newborn to her mother to the window where there was a clear view of where the World Trade Center stood and of our old apartment. I suppose it's evidence of how 9/11 had become a prime mover in our relationship.
Everyone has a 9/11 story. When the subject comes up with friends or family, sometimes my mind immediately goes somewhere else: baseball, my next deadline and the to-do list around the house. Sometimes, I blurt out my story as if my subconscious has blown a pressure-relief valve. It's stupid, really, because my story is just one of inconvenience.
As a journalist covering Wall Street, I have to acknowledge the anniversary every year. Usually, I call someone whose company was based in the WTC. That's the easiest way to do it. People like Jimmy Dunne, head of Sandler O'Neill + Co., have been talking about their experience for 10 years. My experience is a footnote in my mind. They have more important things to say anyway, and they've had a lot of practice.
My story occupied the middle of the spectrum of experience. We lived close. We were home when the planes hit. I was putting on my tie when I heard the explosion, then the screaming. Outside my north-facing window, a crowd already had gathered at Chambers and Church streets. They were looking up at the towers.
We went up to the roof of our building. The north tower was burning. My wife, a photographer, started taking pictures. It was a reflex, I suppose. When people began jumping she put the camera away and walked down the stairs in tears.
Stunned and uncertain, I went to work. I took the 4 train from City Hall, where zombie-like refugees from the towers were wandering aimlessly.
The phones weren't working. So after the first tower fell, I took a cab from work to Canal Street, where the police barricades were. I tried to cross and was ordered back. I walked to the next block, took advantage of the confusion and just ran through.
At Chambers and West Broadway I was covered in white dust. It was raining paper: memos, analyst reports and charts. I got to my block. Our building was empty. Firemen and police were running everywhere. They didn't seem to know if they should evacuate or rush in.
A fireman handed me a dust mask. I asked him for a cigarette, and we smoked watching helpless rescuers try to figure out what the hell to do. In that moment, I remember thinking: What a beautiful fall day.
There is one wonderful memory I don't mind thinking about. I managed to get back to work. My wife, who had trudged two miles through the streets, arrived at the office, and we hugged in a white, dusty embrace.
In the nomadic weeks that followed, we slept on couches at friends' homes, in a hotel and finally in a tony apartment owned by my father's company. We bought entirely new wardrobes and stood in line at the Red Cross. My wife tried to rebuild her photography business, but all of her equipment was in our Ground Zero apartment.
PBS offered her an office. Occasionally, I took a cab to Canal Street and walked with a National Guard escort to my building. I loaded my wife's computers, cameras and a few belongings onto a luggage cart and pulled it back to the perimeter.
On one of those trips, a city policeman asked me if I had been to the site. I hadn't, I said. He offered to take me there. This was weeks after the attack, but the ruins were still burning. It was night, but remains of the buildings were illuminated from huge floodlights. Rescuers were doing their gruesome work. I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to leave.
We moved back home in early November 2001. A hazardous-materials cleaning crew went through the apartment, sucking mountains of dust in high-powered vacuums. Air filters were a fashionable appliance; we had three, which had to be cleaned daily.
Sometimes during dinner or the middle of the night, we were awakened by sirens. Whenever the body of a firefighter or police officer was recovered, there was a motorcade.
In those early weeks, I spent most of my time attending memorial services and trying to write about the impact on Wall Street. I was numb through it all. If I worried about anything, it was my brother in the army, stationed in Korea.
He made it through the first Gulf War. I worried if he would make it through a second one.
Ten years later, I'm happy to report that he survived. My wife restarted her business, and it flourished until we had a second daughter—and then a third. We sold our place in the city and moved to the suburbs. It was economics, not bad memories, though living farther away does make it a little easier to forget.
I think less and less about 9/11 with every passing year. I'm grateful to be more consumed about the issues I cover on the job, my kids' first day of school and whether we'll have water in the basement after all this rain.
Yet I still hate to throw out any of those clothes I bought in the days after 9/11. And there are six contacts in my address book belonging to people who died that day. They were regular or semiregular sources. I just can't delete them.
Chris Quackenbush, a victim of 9/11, is pictured in an undated photo with his children.
One of those names is Chris Quackenbush. He was an investment banker for Sandler and one of the handful of bankers with whom I had built a friendship. I remember that Mr. Quackenbush talked about his family a lot.
"Do you have kids?" he asked me back then.
"No," I said.
"Oh, you're missing all the fun," he laughed.
I think about that conversation every time I scroll through my address book and hit the "Qs." Chris is the only "Q" that I have.
It's not hard to understand why 9/11 has become an industry or why people from across the globe come to visit Ground Zero. 9/11 was a turning point in this corner of the world for a way of life that seemed innocent.
But I'd be lying if I suggested that this 10th anniversary of the attack and the planned memorials are meaningful to me. I've spent the last decade trying to move on.
If it makes any difference to Chris, you'd be happy to know that I'm not missing the fun anymore.
Write to David Weidner at email@example.com
(future) home sweet home
A Victorian High Tea
original poem by oli higham
Real people are never fake
And fake people are never real.
The zoning regulations of monochrome,
Split like pre Mandela apartheid.
Painted with the same brush
But from different pots.
Some daubed with the brilliance of perfection.
As for us, the bristling feel of discolouration
Covered with the gloopy residue of failurehood
We walk with heads drawn low by markers
That signed our certificates of not being part of them,
The bright toothed, the smiling brigades of togetherness.
Avoidance of contact with their sneering eyes
And their reflective sheen, eyeballing our exclusion.
And it’s all so black and white.
They stand on a different canyonside,
Elevated above our levels of stature.
The gulf between, a sea of air to bridge.
No foothold to start a stage of grappling,
The distance too impenetrable.
For we are us and they are
And we dare not speak of drifts of consciousness,
Of night time stories and wisps of fleeting thoughts,
Where we find ourselves leaving these shores
In boats of crudely stapled refuse.
Blowing into sails filled with storm cloud breath
In the panicked knowledge that if the wind should cease
We could be dashed upon these rocks once again.
We choose not to gift words to these dreams.
Standing on these rocks hurts less than crashing afresh
After we make foolishness from valiance
And display that
Escape is not ours
It’s just so black and white
We hear those whispers of a bastard child,
Wrapped in perfection and shed of graveclothes,
Who can straddle ravines that dwarf the grandest canyons.
A foot in both camps, enthroned to crowns and rightful places
And betrothed to lowliness and broken faces.
Hands, adorned with royal riches, wipe tears
From eyes transfixed on points of earth,
On dirt and rust, eyes predisposed to down.
And spills truths out of lips carved from beauty itself.
That strain necks as eyes are thrust skywards.
The rumblings that the complete feel as broken as we,
That their masks are tied with stronger cords,
Their shields slip less and hide more
But their muscles bleed like ours.
Their hearts beat in time with our sorrow.
Cupped hands, scarred like our souls, magnify promises
Shouted out like words that need to be shared faster than legs can run.
Promises, sweet like ripe mangos on summer days
That the division of we and they is void.
Nullified in honesty, made to dust in raw hearts.
That our ship may sail, that ports of tomorrow are ours.
That today is done, and bloodied skies may set.
That second chances are served like feasts,
That overflow from wineglasses and silver plates,
Spread on tables buckled under under graceful weight.
the lives of the engaged
Happy Birthday, Rob
one of the girls
And then I remembered the girls -- the ones that we work for every single day. The Helens and Graces and Frans out there being purchased and abused every minute. And then I got mad. And then I forgot about my lead-like legs. And then I asked God, "why?" And then I teared up. And then I prayed, "Lord, I don't want to hate and yet I hate what men do to these girls. And for me, one of the girls is 146. And I'll run and kettle bell swing and pull up for her today. And even though 146 will never know, I pray that in some way dedicating this WOD to her will make a difference." And maybe we make sense of the craziness surrounding us by imbuing everyday actions with some sense of greatness and eternal meaning. We recognize that the small internal steps of determination overflow from lives that are staid against injustice and devoted to redemption. When that determination overflows, it changes the world.
As a completely unrelated addendum to this blog, I have to add a bright note about a recent accomplishment. My office staff just watched a friend's band perform on New Haven Green. While our staff sat on bleachers set to the side, one old man in boldly colored pants and shirt danced directly in front of the stage. Matthew dared me to go dance with the man. Matthew doesn't know me. I went and danced. And the BEST part is that the man liked to dance like me, arms flailing, in his own little world.
r.c. sproul's lessons are always entertaining. i watched a session tonight where sproul highlighted the human tongue's propensity to inflict wounds on others. for instance, when face-to-face with constructive criticism, it's unlikely that we would say, "ahh, thanks. that's really going to help with my sanctification." why is it that when faced with a knife-wielding maniac, we'd run but when faced with a constructive criticizer who is "speaking the truth in love," we graciously receive those bitter words? on the flip side, our tongues have great potential to build up, encourage, and edify. wield your tongue wisely.
quote of the day
Memorial Day Weekend Favorites
2. Memorial Day Trevor Win'E WOD with Mom and Lisa
3. Gini's beautiful bouquet straight from her garden
4. NYCB with Lauren
5. Jozeph's fried tomatoes
6. Mcgolrick Park reverie
7. Van Leeuwen's cinnamon ice cream
Mother Theresa's wisdom
it's a brand new day
Motivation to Tread on Trafficking
What's Hot Today
"I believe that God is closer to suffering than to happiness, and that finding God in this way brings peace and repose and a strong, courageous heart." ~Bonhoeffer
Other random thoughts on this flight include memories from a blissful 10-day holiday. Here are a few glimpses...huddling (cuddling) on Mt. Snow to preserve body warmth after plunging ourselves into 45 degree water...reminding ourselves how AWESOME we Tough Mudders were as our teeth chattered and our lips matched the blue war paint streaking our faces...discovering how delicious Cara Cara oranges are at the Torrance Farmers' Mkt...searching for some way to encourage a troubled woman on the streets of Pedro...discovering that there are actually "correct" answers when playing Apples to Apples AND that penguins *may* be more graceful than Grace Kelly :) ...plunging into a cold Pacific Ocean after hiking Sandstone Peak...the best date ever in Palos Verdes at sunset...finally, a trip to the Magic Kingdom as a big kid...deciding hiking sand dunes in Manhattan Beach is good for me (I'll skip the push-ups, though, thank you very much)...seeing old friends ranging from rockstar to pilot...dressing up in fairy wings as my fellow spies donned princess and Superman disguises...honoring the marriage of friends and being reminded of the symbolism of rings :) ...dancing the night away with some fabulous people...clear views of Catalina following rains in LA...precious moments with special people.
self indulgence or not?
- reading David Wilkerson's last blog
- catching up on friends' blogs. here's my pick of the morning.
- Greg Mortenson's Outside interview
- two back issues of the Economist, including Mike Campbell's obit (I have a morbid appreciation for the Economist's obits) which illustrates continued racial struggles in Zimbabwe
- if you click nothing else in this list, click this, a link to a summary of a new book on the reversal of globalization -- FASCINATING reading and glad to hear of someone challenging Tom Friedman. The world's NOT flat!
Rtn to land of blogging
- "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." ~Bishop of London, in his sermon at the royal wedding, quoting St. Catherine of Siena whose festival day is April 29
- Gaddafi's regime supposedly gave Libyan troops Viagra
- I really like my "gym"
- I really like my boyfriend, too (a lot more than my gym, actually)
- A royal wedding is a good reason to wear a tiara ALL DAY LONG! (Thanks to my sis for outfitting this princess.)
Tugging on Heart Strings
- After Rob's talk, a high school junior and her parents approached Rob. The girl shared that she's been saving money for college but felt called to give all the money to Love146. Rob looked at the parents, wondering if this was for real. The mother started crying and confirmed that, yes, this was for real. The girl gave Love146 $1,600, emptying her bank account.
- International Justice Mission (IJM) tweeted Rob on his way up to the pulpit to share that IJM just raided a karaoke bar in the Philippines, rescuing 146 (hmm, interesting number) women and girls held there. This is the kind of partnership we LOVE and the successes for which we praise God.
Tread on Trafficking
on a happier note
things i'm liking lately
new job honeymoon
What Does Love Look Like?
Patagonia, There I Was!
After three days of rain out of a total six days, I endured my tent until noon and then made a break for it, heading up towards La Mirador Britannica in the French Valley of Torres del Paine Parque Nacional. There was a steady drizzle, nay rain, coming down and I passed some folks a little too soon to be La Mirador so I continued the steep uphill slog, slipping, sliding, and crawling my way to some unknown, unmarked top. I set my sights on a saddle at the base of the backside of Torres Grande at the top of the French Valley. I sort of followed some trail that maybe existed, as much as a trail exists in an avalanche field of boulders. When the wind sent me wobbling sideways, I gave up the morraine scramble (oh, how I loathe morraine) and sat to enjoy the view. It´s fair to say God blessed me with one of the most spectacular views of my lifetime. There was a break in the rain and even some rays of sun -- THIS was the Patagonia of my dreams. Oh, yeah, and on the descent, I noticed ¨MIRADOR¨spray painted across the rock where I had passed those folks hours earlier. I´m glad I didn´t stop there!