Monday, December 7, 2009

ticket to ride

Sharrod: Man, cheyenne get your fat nose outta my buisness!

Sharrod! come with me now.

Joselyn: Mr. B! I could talk to you?

Not now Joselyn, maybe when I'm done talking to Sharrod.

Joselyn: Mr. B! i need to talk to you!

In a minute, Joselyn.

Sharrod: man, I didn't do nothin' mr. B!

Come with me.

You called Joselyn ugly earlier and you just called Cheyenne fat. Why?

Sharrod: she was messin' with me first!

Drew: Is Sharrod giving you trouble? he needs to go home.

Sharrod: No, Mr. B! I'll be good! don't call my momma!

(A brief paraphrase)
Drew & I: Sharrod, do you understand that when you let Cheyenne get to you enough that you get in trouble for responding to her, she is bossing you around? She wants you to get in trouble, and when you call her fat or say you want to bust her jaw, she is winning. You don't want her to win, do you?

Sharrod: No, man. but she messin' with me!

She's winning, Sharrod.

Sharrod: ok, i'll be good.

Joselyn: Mr. B! I could talk to you!

Ok ms. Joselyn, what do you need.

Joselyn: I could talk to you in the hall!

ok, come with me.

Joselyn: up there was a computer lab.

It's not anymore though. What do you need?

Joselyn: It was before! when I was little!

I believe you, what do you need to talk to me about?

Joselyn: We could go in the office?

Hold on. What are we talking about here.

Joselyn: We gotsta talk about my behave!

Why? You've been a little talkative, but nothing too bad.

Joselyn: I was gonna be in trouble!

As long as you keep your arguing down, you'll be fine. Lets go back, its time to pack up to go home.

Joselyn: You could zip up my coat?

I guess so. come on, I have to go get the other kids.

Have a good day Ms. Joselyn.

Joselyn:Bye, Mr. B! my gramma come to pick me up!

I believe you. Go downstairs to meet her!

And that's how I get through stressful days.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

weird fishes

a man in the middle of the road with a flat tire.
an old man, looking confused.
a woman stopped to talk to him.
we asked if we could help, she gave us her keys so we could drive her car while she drove his to a shop.
a cop came to fix the situation, so we didn't have to.

We were in the hood, and she trusted us. Why doesn't that happen more often?

I worked with some high schoolers working with some middle schoolers, and I realized how far I've come since then. It was odd.

There's this awesome man named Buzz who was working with us. He came off creepy at first, but then I realized he was just incredibly comfortable with who he was. when we were done he played us a song on the piano that he wrote, and the lyrics were so good I still remember some of them.

I love it when the world throws people like this at me in the midst of liars, cheaters, and people who think violence solves problems. We were working with the middle schoolers on team builders and the idea that violence only complicates. If you're from Holland, you don't understand how much this idea can change this world. Thursday two of my starfish were almost at blows because one wanted the others identical piece of paper because it was less wrinkled. It's the solution to everything. I don't like this. We need more people to show them peace, like the mystery woman and Buzz.

Instant gratification is also the problem. Or the want of it, more so. peace doesn't necessarily get you that piece of paper right away, but if i scare the other into giving to me I can get it now. If you ask nicely for it back, or for another piece of paper, you'll get it in a little bit or not at all if we run out. But no one is hurt, and no one is bitter and we can be friends. which is valued more?

that's just what I've seen. I get to start working with five kids during lunch once a week to talk about the reason they were suspended from school last year, and work wit them to make them into constructive leaders. It should be fun.

I miss the mountains, the water, and the trees. I miss the joy of non-complication. I miss the innocence.

I love the growth, the difference I'm making, the connections I've made. The challenge.

I can't have both.

"I'll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I'll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I'll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I'll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone.

There's really nothing, nothing we can do
Love must be forgotten, life can always start up anew."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This is madness. THIS IS SERVICE!

On Friday the whole corps went to a community living center in uptown for service. It is a few blocks from my house. I was assigned to cleaning an apartment with 10 other people. It was an apartment used to house single mothers who were getting back on their feet after addictions and abuse.

The walls were stained with ciggarettes and thecarpets ahd burn marks all over them.

We scrubbed the walls throughout the house, and cleaned the kitchen thoroughly. We moved back the oven and the walls were so splattered with food that I had to use steel wool to scrub it off. Some paint came with it. It was nasty. I got service on my boots. meaning they are stained with cleaning solvent.

Here's a picture of me and the wall behind the oven:

also I got a haircut last week.

Saturday was CTA service day. I rode the holiday train from Howard on the red line to 95th. Those are on either end of the red line. I handed out candy canes. Two little boys sang me the chipmunk song, and then shook my hand when they left the train. There was a flatcar on the train that santa was riding, and you could get your picture taken with him. It was pretty cool.
I have a picture of me on the train, but it won't upload.

I was wearing an elf hat.

Last night I went to a GirlTalk concert, which was some of the best music I've heard in a while. It was loud, though. I got in with the first 250 people so I got to be on the dancefloor, which was way cooler than sitting in the seats. For those of you who don't know, GirlTalk samples music from a bunch of different songs and puts them together to make new ones. He is really good at it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

You're gonna make it if you try.

I saw a mouse in my kitchen Wednesday.

I stepped on it and killed it Thursday night. It was gross.

Life moves forward. I'm slowly figuring out how it works.

It's been a roller-coaster of a week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm losing my mind, that's why I'm fine.

so there's this little round girl in starfish named Josselyn. she's in third grade but looks like she's four. she says things like "boy, i'm gonna smack you if you do that one more time!" She's a very angry little girl, but she's also the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

She walked into an empty room and grabbed her stomach and told no one that they better not hit her in the stomach again. no one.

she likes to dance, and has grabbed my hands and started to sing and dance with me when i'm trying to get her to sit down and do her homework during homework help. It's so hard to keep a strait face.

she opened her mouth wide open once to show us that she had chapped lips, but she didn't say this. she just opened her mouth and pointed to it.

I was helping her with her homework, and it was time to take a bathroom break. she didn't believe me that when we got back I would help her again, so she wrote a note "Mr. Bennett better help me with my homework when we get back or i will not come to city year again." I'm keeping that forever, even though she ripped it up when i came through on my promise.

once she was picked up by her grandmother and Nosa told her to tell her grandma what she had been doing all day, to which she replied "arguing..." her grandma told her she better not argue with us.

the next day she was much better and ran up to her grandma and yelled "I didn't argue today!"

it's things like this that get me though some days. and the hope that is in most of their eyes, no matter how much anger and hurt accompanies it. and there's plenty of those two to go around.

Monday, October 26, 2009

With, without. and who'll deny, its what the fighting's all about?

I went to the Howe school of Excellence on Chicago's West side.

It was intense.

We started Junior Great books as well as starfish corps today.
Junior Great Books is a program we do that involves pulling kids out of class to read and discuss literature. I did this immediately after our morning greeting of the kids.
We only had five kids, we are supposed to have fifteen. This made things awkward, as when we were introducing ourselves it didn't take very long and we had a lot of time. So we read "the house on mango street", a story we were supposed to start in our next session with these students. It is about a dissatisfied home owner who used to live in apartments with their family, and now has a real shoddy house.

After JGB, I went into my sixth grade classroom for in class support. I worked with a table of four girls, one of whom was working quietly and well, so I helped the other three. They were easily distracted, especially by my wavy blond hair, so keeping the focused was a challenge. This is not to say I was a distraction, when I got there they were doing nothing, I got them to finish one side of the worksheet before the teacher moved them on. But while the teacher was talking, I couldn't get them to stay focused, so they had to split up the group into rows where the whole class was in groups of four or five. One girl blamed this on me, and I felt bad.

I went from classroom help to finishing some things for starfish for 20 minutes and then back to the classroom to talk with my teacher during prep period. We worked some things out, and she gave me some weight to throw around, including detentions with her consent in certain cases. I can finally do more than tell kids "please don't do that. you are creating a negative learning environment for all those around you. It breaks our hearts." ( I don't actually say that)


Back to in class help, much better results.


The starfish are 3-5th graders after school. We first brought a snack, and the kids were a little rowdy, but not too bad. After that, we helped them with homework. I helped the adorable and well-behaved third graders. They were estimating how much Ulysses spent on a t shirt and baseball cap. the answer was $67.00, when you add 19.99 to 46.99. because its an estimate. Watching them come to that conclusion is always grand. They're amazing.

We split into our animal groups, I lead the octopi with Kiki. We had one kid who wanted to fight someone, and his ex girlfriend. These kids are in fifth grade. Why does he have an ex girlfriend?
Anyway, they're getting split up tomorrow. Also there was a kid who really wanted to be a Tiger, but he was assigned to Octopi. He was angry about this at first and wouldn't move or sit down or speak. But after he realized how awesome we are, he joined us. It was an exhausting two hours, and I'm going to have it monday-thursday every week. But we'll pull through. My team couldn't be better.

I left my house at 6:55. I got home at 7:15.
It's going to be a long year, but I'm optimistic about it being rewarding.

Now I'm listening to Pink Floyd. What could be better? It is what the fighting's all about. Darnell had the red crayon. Antonio wanted it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

cold, kind, and lemon eyes

Yesterday we had a perfect attendance challenge rally, which encouraged the kids to come to school everyday and gave them reasons for it. They could win a laptop if they have perfect attendance, which is pretty sweet. Also I was in a skit in it. I was a bad kid, i threw a pencil at Jenna and tripped Tim. I stopped coming to school as often, and got kicked off the football team even though I was the star player. Nosa was a good kid. He joined young heroes, a city year saturday service opportunity for middle schoolers, and young heroes in high school. I got arrested 3 times and didn't graduate. He graduated and plays football on a scholarship at UIC.

Today I went to a Howe football game, and we won. Twenty four to zero. After the game, one of the players told me I could have been on the team if I hadn't gotten locked up. Oh, how it warms my heart to hear that they listen and care.

My dear sister Emily and her friend Abby came last night, we made brownies and ate half the pan. Not a whole lot happened besides that, but it's for your health.

I don't eat meat any more.

This is the news from Uptown Chicago.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Like Gasoline.

6:20 A.M.: Wake up to the red hot chili peppers

6:25 A.M.: Get out of bed, eat oatmeal, make coffee, take shower

6:50 A.M.: Get out of shower, put on uniform, walk to train station while drinking coffee

7:00 A.M.: Board the red line at Lawrence, standing because there are no seats

7:37 A.M.: Arrive at lake and state, transfer to green line platform toward Harlem

7:40 A.M.: Board green line

7:45 A.M.: My fantastic Junior great Books Discussion partner, Adrienne, joins me at Clinton

7:55 A.M.: Arrive at Central stop on red line. Meet up with Kiki and Ashley at the Dunkin across the street, introduce ourselves as city year, get awkwardly ignored.

8:00 A.M.: Cross street to local corner store, see Tim in his chevrolete everycar. accept ride. he pulls around the block.

8:02 A.M.: Stand on corner with Ashley and my Timberland shoe box. Get asked "you sellin them boots, playa?" agree to "playa", but not selling boots. Adrienne and Kiki go into store, introduce city year, recieve free beverages and rubber gloves.

8:07 A.M.: Get into Tim's car, turn down the wrong street twice, finally arrive at Howe school of escellence for a wonderful day of service

8:15 A.M.: After the whole team gets there and we brief the day, go outside and play "ride that pony" for a half hour with screaming children. Terrify them with height. Vow to stay away from the timid short ones.

8:45 A.M.: Kids line up for class, we disappear into our building.

8:56 A.M.: While paging Willie, the custodian, or "engineer", learn from one mother that she wishes to pull her child out of the after school program he is currently signed up for and put him in city year's "starfish corps" because she didn't realize we were back this year. fell good about self, the woman who runs the other afterschool program is borderline mentally capable and is horribly misguided in thinking A) she is better than us. B) she is going to use our floor (the principal is on our side, don't worry) C) she runs the building.

9:05 A.M.: Make "parts of speech" poster for the homework help room for 4th graders.

9:50 A.M.: Begin painting. white paint, two coats per room and more where there are horrible murals from last year to cover up.

11:30 A.M.: Finish first coat in first room, continue poster.

12:00 P.M.: Break for lunch, travel to another Dunkin and purchase heavenly coffee. Note the vagabonds on the street.

1:00P.M.: Begin on poster once again, but Jenna says I should paint. She is my team leader, and I am flexible, so I do.

3:30 P.M.: Tim, Hannah, and I are in the second room, for the second coat. the fumes have gotten to us. We are shouting loudly about getting not paint, but service on our pants. Also "this is Howe! THIS IS SERVICE!!!!" (that's a 300 reference) Jenna comes in and tells us not to frightne whoever may be downstairs. She is informed of a butterfly nest. I inform them all that "I ate all the butterflies" and proceed to explain this statement. (it's MIFA, folks)

4:15P.M.: Edging the third room, listening to Regina Spektor, The faint, and Margot and the Nuclear So and So's. Singing, "Control Control Control Control Control Control Control".

5:00 P.M.: Finally the day is winding down, we've cleaned up most things and are in final circle of the day. Jenna drives me home, as she lives by me.

6:15 P.M.: Arrive home shortly before Stephen, put on pajama pants and my strong bad sweatshirt I got for five dollars at the brown elephant thrift store. Go buy a burrito. Eat the delicious burrito while talking to Stephen about matters of importance. Stephen begins simultaneously cooking food and playing Rinbow six Vegas two on the xbox.

7:00P.M.: Jeanne comes home, we three sing and dance to "Don't stop believin'", watch various videos from the onion.

9:00 P.M.: I join Stephen in playing Rainbow Six vegas Two after discussion of which is more lame, him playing it or us watching him play it.

10:20 P.M.: Make lunch talk to Greg (who just got home), get ready for bed.

And here I am. Its been a good day, week, month, year so far.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

introverted, interesing, intellectual.

Saturday I went downtown and walked two miles for leukemia for “light the night” I thought it was going to be a run. I was misinformed, but I came out of it with a two bunches of free bananas and a belly full of free pizza and soy granola bars, so it was all good. I also power read cider house rules because I need to finish that. I’m almost done now, if you care.
Sunday I was going to meet my sister Emily downtown to feed the homeless, but I got a little lost and she got done early so we met up for like five minutes. Oh well.
It was all good, because then I met Bradford at the Hancock building. We went downstairs and were asked to show our University of Chicago I.D.’s He had one, so did his other friend. I didn’t as I do not go there. But I was let in as a guest, and I was the only guest.
We went all the way to the top floor, and viewed the city. There was also free food. It was amazing.
Monday we got into Howe for the first time to really get it cleaned out. First we toured it extensively, and I found some amazing posters on the third floor that say things like “pollution pete” and “Danny and the Doughnuts”
These are now hanging in my bedroom.
We also cleaned out one massive room, for starfish corps (third through fifth after school) and several other rooms for the junior great books sessions (sixth through eighth during school). The building we are in is forgotten by most of the school. We get two floors to ourselves, but it is a concrete building with few windows that never gets cleaned by the schools janitorial staff. Thus; it is disgusting. We found a city year coat from last year, proof that it has not been touched. We found bread as well. And a cupcake with one bite out of it. Some cigarette butts. The third floor is haunted and doesn’t have heat. We’re not technically allowed to have students in it. It was supposed to be torn down four years ago. You know, the usual. Apparently they use our rooms as storage for all the things that have no home. Then we come and clean it up, and use it for the year. Rinse and repeat.
Tuesday we did a lot more cleaning, but first we actually met the kids on the playground. I felt like a zoo animal, they kept staring at me and whispering to each other about how tall I am. I love being dutch…
We split up and went into various sixth through eighth grade classrooms as well, just to see how it worked. I started in a seventh grade reading/writing class, and they had just gotten a new book shipment. They were all looking at the books, they like Bluford High and Artimis Fowl. The teacher had great control of them. I was impressed.
Next was the eighth grade boys, the eighth grade is the only grade split by gender. It’s a Pilot Program, just like my Junior Great books sessions. I’m piloting a pilot. WHEN DOES IT END? The eighth grade boys were incredibly well behaved. There was only really one problem child, and you could spot him a mile away because he had a popped collar. I wanted so badly to tell him it doesn’t look good on anyone, but it’s not my place.
The eighth grade girls…
They were hormonal. At best. And the teacher didn’t handle them so well. She was a first year teacher, and they took advantage of that. (all the teachers in the school are first or second year, thanks AUSL!) The girls ran that classroom though. Every time the teacher turned around, they were kicking the smaller girls over, passing notes by walking across the room, one girl even just strait up left. That room made me a little nervous. I hope I’m not put in there.
AUSL is an initiative that takes failing schools and replaces the entire staff with younger people and cuts down the population of the school so they can be better managed. Howe underwent this process two years ago. I like it, it employs younger people, so they can get a job easier without a teaching history, and also gets more energy into the kids, because lets face it, old people and middle schoolers aren’t going to mesh well. Its part of the “no child left behind program”
The other part of that is the bi weekly assessments that the students need to pass regularly for the teacher to keep their job. This part is lame, because it makes all of the teachers need to teach the same caliber, because they need to teach to the tests. The tests don’t even follow the textbooks. One of the teachers complained to us for a good thirty seconds about it, it sounds awful.
Yesterday was opening day. We painted an old convent now used to house mentally disabled folk. Then there was an awkward ceremony that thankfully didn’t last very long. My mother and sister came and my mother gave me a teapot and some craisons. Those are similar to raisons, but made of cranberries.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Wednesday we got this couch from one of my roommates friends. It's a beast. Me and Stephen spent an hour and a half trying to get it in here.

A summary of events:

I was in my room. Stephen said he was going to go run, when he got back, we should move the couch in.
Stephen came back. he asked if I was ready, I said yes and dropped everything to join him.
We first tried the front door. We had it on its side, and because we are on the second floor and the front entryway is tiny, it went a little into our downstairs neighbors apartment to get it in the front entry way.
We got the couch lodged diagonally from a few inches out the front door to a few inches in our stairwell.
Greg came down and helped us get the couch standing on end, rotated, and lodged slightly different in the same fashion. This was not helpful. The couch is heavy. I am tired.
One of our downstairs neighbors came into the entryway, and suggested we wait for one of the men-folk she lives with to help us out. One came.
We decided, after further rotations and lodgings, that our steep back stair might prove slightly easier.
Carrying the couch down the stairs from our porch, Stephen and I moth smashed various toes and shins. We decided shoes were a good choice. We fetched our respective shoes. I was barefoot, Stephen already had socks on. He got his shoes on before me.
The couch was moved to the backyard, and maneuvered to the first landing of the stairwell. We stood it on edge, Jeanne came home and watched.
I took the top edge and pulled it up the stairs. My hand got smashed between the railing and the couch. I received moral support in the form of laughter at me, not with me. We were on the second of three landings.
Same procedure, now the couch is standing on edge on the second railing. We decided to take the spring off of our screen door so it wouldn't get in the way.
I was at the top of the stair, Stephen at the bottom. I couldn't maneuver the couch through the door, so we decided to switch positions.
The couch was taking up all of the stair space, so i climbed down the railing. Jeanne said this was stupid and dangerous, as it is a good twenty foot drop to the ground. I said I didn't disagree, but it was worth it. Stephen climbed up the rail.
I lifted the couch so it was horizontal. This means I was under it. we tried this approach for a half hour. Somewhere along the way the pane of glass in the screen door was broken. This was a tragedy, but made a pretty noise. We decided to try to saw the legs off because they were in the way. We have no saw, and the crafty beaver hardware store was closed, it was almost nine at night.
Stephen went and got one of our three serrated knives and tried that. No go. One of the downstairs men had a saw, we borrowed it. We took off three of the legs, the ones in the back, and returned the saw. The couch fit through the door, I took a breather and wiped the sweat from my brow. There was a lot.
We got the couch in the living room, and realized that the front three legs were still on, our couch was lopsided. We argued over who should go back for the saw. I was voted to do so, and after much arguing went. The doors downstairs were open, the downstairs man was sitting on his couch. I could still hear Jeanne and Stephen. This man heard us talking about getting the saw. I felt awkward, but asked anyway. He fetched the saw, once again.
We sawed off the rest of the legs, and returned the saw. We sat on our conquered sofa, even though it was very low.
I was hungry, as was Stephen. We got up to make food. We remembered the glass and cleaned it up with a broom and our hands. Stephen cut himself.
I got a bowl of cereal, as I was lazy, and Stephen made Progresso soup, because he "deserved a little Progresso"
I ate a kiwi.
We sat on our conquered sofa dn watched family guy.
I ate a sandwich.

My hand is swollen.

Before all of this went down, Greg and I went to a grand opening of a pizzeria and obtained free deep dish spinach pizza. It was delicious.

Free couch and free food, all in one day. It was a good one.

Training is almost done. Opening day is next Friday. I know who I am going to be working with in my "shared inquiry" junior great books sessions. It'll be a pretty good year.

We're almost into the real part of the year. Good news.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We finally got into the real deal training. Monday we met with someone from the Junior greatbooks foundation, a nonprofit organization meant to supply books and discussion to all ages. We learned how to be facilitators of discussion, practicing on pieces by Langston Hughes and folks like that. It was a really good discussion, and I learned a lot about how to lead one, but it's going to be much easier to lead a group of 8 people who are interested in the subject than 15-20 hyper middle schoolers who don't care. Wish me luck.
Back at king of glory, we had a talk about how to plan things, like reading nights to get the parents involved. The way he taught us went against everything we had just learned at the great books foundation. My whole team was in uproar afterwords, and it was amusing.
We also went to our school and the surrounding neighborhood this week, it looks pretty rough. The demographic info tells us that it is 89% black, 4% white, and the rest is other. I'm not racist, but that is an imposing statistic. Its a pretty poor area as well, and its a little frightening when all of the stores and restaurants have bullet proof glass between the employees and the customers. I'll live though.
My parents came this weekend, brought me free stuff. It was good. Saw my sister in her college. she has a pretty sweet art exhibit there. I went downtown today, met up with someone i graduated with. It rained. It was a good day. Now I'm watching Stephen pretend to shoot at pretend germans on the television. It's entertaining.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Last weekend I went to the zoo, and the white lipped deer and the rhinoceros are impossibly far apart. And the white lipped Deer are disappointing.

I found out on Tuesday that I will be working in a school called "Howe", a middle school. Whereas the elementary tutors read from scripts essentially all day teaching kids how to read, I will be reading through books with them and facilitating some sort of discussion about what the books mean to the kids and digging in deeper than just merely "I before E except after C". I will be in a classroom 90 minutes a day doing this sort of thing as well as whatever the teacher needs from me. In the mornings I will be calling kids who haven't shown up to school and find out whats going on. I'll tell them they're missed and encourage them to come learn, because learning is cool.

On wednesday, we left for basic training retreat at the YMCA camp Duncan. We did low ropes the first day to build our new school teams. My team is pretty awesome, I think we'll get along great. I only have one team leader, everyone else has two except the one other middle school. But she's cool. Cool enough, I guess. There's a lot of personality in the group, and a lot of openness. After the awful camp food supper, I played two hours of ultimate frisbee. I don't know what the score was, but it was an amazing game. One of the senior Corps members was even inspired to work on a league for City Year so we can play. Because we can't fraternize without our boss's permission. This makes me frustrated, mostly because they're reasoning for it is flawless.

Anyway, the next day was pretty intense. We did a lot of racism and sexism awareness. We also did a privilege line where we all stood in a line and held hands, then Jewan, my bossman, read off statements, and if they were true of you you had to step either forward or backward. The questions were usually along the lines of "have you ever been denied ____ because of (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation)" then step back. some of the step forward ones were "did you go to a private school, have hired help in your home, eat together as a family, etc." Needless to say, I was one of the top twenty privileged people in the line. Some people were way back there. It was eye opening for both ends, and also heartbreaking. When all was said and done, Jewan held up a $10 bill and and said whoever could get it first could keep it. Only one person moved, a senior corps member who wasn't greedy, he just participates in everything to the best of his ability. He was in the front of the privilege line, so he got it easily and quickly. We talked about it later, and the people in the front mostly didn't move out of guilt, the people in the back because they would never make it, and because of the tension in the air because of the exercise.

We talked about all of it as a large group for a while, then split up into smaller groups and talked about it for longer. We did this thing in our school teams the first day where we put down six things that shaped us as people to this point in our lives, and this exercise certainly highlighted some people's events that had changed them. I don't want to go into specifics, for their privacy, but it brought us closer as a team most definitely.

The afternoon after the privilege line, we split the whole group into male and female, and wrote down stereotypes of each gender, then discussed them. We then "played a game" in which a staff of City year would ask a question, and if it applied to you you had to stand up. With 125 people, this got intense. They were all questions about sexism, for the men they asked questions involving violence, embarrassment of perceived "manliness", and other male stereotypes. It was incredible how many people stood up during some of the questions involving violence towards them, from them, or that they witnessed. For the Females, they asked about if they ever felt pressure to diet to look better, make up, and so forth. Eventually we did another round involving sexual abuse, and amazing amounts of people stood up on both sides, giving and receiving anything from catcalls to rape. A lot of tears were shed that day.

We split up into our small school teams again to debrief, and became more of a team.

All of these things were interspersed with fun and games, of course, it is too taxing to handle all those emotions with out a break. All in all, the three days we spent were more than worth it.

This weekend, Bradford and Christian came to visit, and we spent way too much time waiting on the red line for the train to move because of "an emergency situation at the Sheridan stop" Also it was a Cubs game day, so there were too many people crammed into the cars. It happens.
At night we went to Chens, where Greg and I got $100 worth of gift certicficates from because they were giving them away. We had sushi, and it was fantastic.

Today I went shopping with Greg, got a costco membership, and bought a lot of food, which was then transported home via bus. That was interesting and difficult. We made pizza, and now im drinking chammomile tea to combat the sickness I picked up at camp Duncan. Tomorrow I'm applying for food stamps, because they gave us all a half day off to do so and gave us letters recommending us for food stamps from City year.

Also I was in an awkward parade on sunday, involving lots of people shouting "viva Mexico" I felt out of place. But it counted as my service to the CTA so I can get free train/bus pass for the next month.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week one: a summary

So this week for city year, we have been in our "crazy teams" all week. we find out where we are really going to work all year and with who on Tuesday. I'm excited.

Wednesday and Thursday we were at a church in the deep south of Chicago in training to be City Year members. This involved a lot of the culture of city year (which is there to make us comfortable around kids, so it feels like vacation bible school with a bunch of 18-24 year old. ech.), the history of Americorps and City Year, and all sorts of fun stuff along those lines.
Friday we went out on a "get to know the city we serve" scavenger hunt in our crazy teams. My team is pretty diverse. We're all pretty laid back, a few are super energetic. There's a kid named Unique who is very out there, likes to talk a lot and is sort of the leader of the crew because of his flamboyancy. There's only 5 of us and then two leaders though, so we're all leaders sometime. He just talks the most. We went everywhere on this scavenger hunt, from china town to the white sox stadium, all over downtown, to the CTA headquarters. We even saw kevin Youkalitz, or howeer you spell the pitcher for the red sox's last name. For transportation we were given our CTA passes that we will have for the rest of the year. These get us on any subway or bus for free, any time. It's pretty awesome. Also they're magnetic, not the kind that you put in the slot and retrieve, so if its in your wallet you can hip check the reader and then go through, baffling tourists. That's the best fun you can have.

Yesterday, Greg and I found out about a free pig roast at a bar, curtly named "small bar". We then went to said pig roast, and stuffed ourselves on something other than carbohydrates for the first time in a week. Because, hey, free food. We left fulfilled and went to the free Jazz festival, which was awesome. We met up with some of Greg's High school friends there, and then walked around for a while. We went to Ed Debevics when the line to Gino's East was 45 minutes long, and Greg and I got yelled at for not ordering anything. But we're poor and were stuffed with free pig, so it's okay. After a good half hour being berated by the Ed Debevic's waitress and a chocolate coke, which was gross, we left and parted ways. I went to bed.

Today I woke up, showered, ate oatmeal, and road the red line north to the Morse stop, where I went to Many People's church, with Rev. John Hoekwater (One of my Church in Holland's missionaries). The many people there numbered thirteen, including me, the one visitor. They were friendly and gave me coffee, cookies, handshakes, and hugs. they were glad to hear I was doing City year, apparently they are partnered with a school City Year serves at.

Here's how the children's message went, I thought it was funny:

Rev: have any of you had an experience when you were lost or got separated from your parents?

Liam: Yes.

Rev: what hapened? and how did it make you feel?

Liam: I was at the zoo, looking at a Rhinoceros when I noticed my parents were gone. I was scared until I was them at the next exhibit looking at the white-lipped deer.

Rev: How did it make you feel?

Liam: I thought maybe I'd be kidnapped because my parents weren't there.

He was one of two children at the front.

Tomorrow is Labor Day, and the village discount is putting everything at half off. I am going to get a sweatshirt for $2. Then I'm going to a City Year person's house to play boardgames, I think. Because I don't have to work.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First day. Summary.

So last night, there were periodic booms coming from my downstairs neighbors. These are yet to be explained.
I woke up this morning at 6:50, posotive that my alarm was set for too late and I had already missed all chances of making it relatively on time. I was wrong, it was 6:50. I showered, ate and went to the train by myself as my tow senior corps roommates had to be there at 7, and my other roommate has a bike and rode it, so as not to pay for the trains. That cheapskate. I made it uneventfully and on time to the school, where the festivities of my first city year day began.
These festivities started off with free bagels, of which I had two, because hey, free food. Then about forty five minutes later, coffee was brought out. About fifteen minutes later, someone finally directed us to stand in formation, where we learned what we would be doing for the day and did our physical training, which were all strikingly similar to various theater games I had played in high school.
Finally, we split into our "crazy teams" (can you tell we're going to be working with kids?) and went to different rooms throughout the school to paint them white. Our room was pink to begin with, but now is white as snow. we got done in an hour, and there was still one more before lunch, so we played some cheesy name game type activities. then we ate lunch, and since i forgot mine at the apartment, I stole more bagels, and some nice girl named Jenny gave me some cookies and rice cakes. me and my cheapskate roommate, Greg, then proceeded to fill our backpacks with six more bagels each, because, hey, free food. And there were three grocery bags still half full of them. After lunch, we finished the second coat of paint, cleaned up, debriefed, and got T-shirts that say city year on them. They ran out of mediums by the time I got there, so I have larges. drat. Then I rode the train home. Now I'm going to indulde in a turkey burger, strait off of the george foreman lean mean grilling machine.