Monday, December 21, 2009

Fighting the urge to wallow

When I was a child, I did not understand how anyone could possibly be depressed during this happy and gleeful time of year. Out of town family buys you presents. Santa comes. The streets are filled with twinkling lights and there is talk of being loving and giving. All things that are seemingly NOT depressing. As an adult, I find myself fighting the downward spiral to that depression and start to see how much work the adults had put in to make the holidays a magical time for us ignorant children.

The first step on that journey was learning that Santa isn't real. I distinctly recall honestly believing the myth, honestly believing the guy at the mall was really him, and honestly believing my mom was a part time elf (that was her answer when I'd asked her why Santa had the same handwriting as she did). The next step down happened somewhere in the teen era, when the gifts from the out of town family became more and more generic, candles and trinket boxes galore. I don't think I actually purchased a candle until I was twenty-three because of all the leftovers from the teen Christmases (no offense to out of town family, I always appreciated the thought and I know it was due to our lack of closeness). Then later I realized all this talk of giving has more to do with keeping our precious economy afloat...sort of like how banks "help" us get homes by charging interest. Stores tell us we are "giving" when we are really "spending."

This year going into public has been a grand challenge. Ever since the night before Thanksgiving when I ventured into a liquor store to purchase wine for our family gathering. No one smiled, no one was happy, and it was basically a large mosh pit with shopping carts (thank God I've never needed a shopping cart in a liquor store, but that's another blog entirely). Ever since that night, going into public has sparked a terrible illness inside my stomach, whether it's to a resturant or just to the local store. Stopping at the gas station has been annoying. Driving down the street has been annoying. I feel like everyone is feigning joy when really we are all just irritated. Or at least, I am just irritated and can't even bring myself to feign joy. I feel like I am simply wading through it all, not feeling a thing other than this irritation, and like there is nothing really different about these days leading up to Christmas than any other winter day.

Around noon today I woke up from my hibernation and realized today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. I have spent the last two days hibernating, watching movies, and avoiding public places, and suddenly this abberent behavior made a little more sense to me. Of course I'm hibernating, I'm supposed to! Maybe tomorrow I will miraculously have more tolerance for the crowds and the will power to leave the house. I hope so--I still have at least two gifts to buy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five Things to Love about Winter

So many people hate winter, and for good reason. It's cold. Snow presents oodles of inconveniences from slippery roads to shoveling. I myself cursed the Old Man as I endured a long bonus workout with a shovel and large drifts that piled in my driveway earlier this week during our first notable snowfall. At the end of the day, we choose to live in this climate. I grew up in Minnesota, so I know no different. It was not until one year I spent Christmas in Florida and found it disconcerting to hear carols while wearing flip-flops did I begin to appreciate the variety of the seasons. And, as much as it can be hard to admit, there are many wonderful things about winter, and my top five are described here.

Number Five: Outdoor activity. I am not a serious outdoors woman even in the best of weather, but the winter has yielded us with one half of all Olympic games with a variety of athletic challenges that cannot be sought above thirty-two degrees. In sticking with what I know, I do enjoy a good run in the winter. Today I ran nearly six miles in fifteen degrees, sunshine, and just enough wind to cut through my clothing. The cold pushed me in a way warmer temperatures cannot, and upon completing the run I felt more refreshed than I had in months. Not to mention the same old terrain has a totally new look: a sparkling, white blanket.

Number Four: Hockey. I realize this may also be considered an outdoor activity, however, these days most hockey is played in a heated arena where little more than a hoodie is required to stay warm. I am referring to hockey as a spectator sport, sheer blood lusted entertainment. Ever since I went out with a boy who played junior varsity hockey in high school, I have been hooked on watching it, the bulk of which is played in the winter.

Number Three: Hot beverages. In my gene pool, coffee is year-round mainstay. But only when the temps and snow fall do other hot beverages creep into my diet. Hot cocoa tastes so good when coming in from the cold, and green tea warms the soul on weekend afternoons. Even the occasional spiced apple cidar can hit the spot, and let's not forget the Bailey's in our coffee on Christmas morning.

Number Two: Cooking anything in the oven. Cooking in the oven is tolerated when it's warmer simply because of one side effect: it warms the house. So in the winter, the oven can turn into an auxillary heater that also creates wonderful smells and nourishment. For further elaboration on this thing to love about winter, refer to my entry on chocolate chip cookies.

Number One (drumroll, please): Snuggling. Hands down. Whether you have a significant other, a child, a teddy bear, or like me, cats, snuggling is simply better when it's cold.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

T'ai-Chi Paradise

Sometimes we do things we don't want to do. Drag ourselves to work. Drudge to the gym. Pick up after the dog, clean the fuzz off the back of the toilet seat. Life is full of it. And I'll be honest, last night I didn't even want to go to T'ai-Chi. I wanted to curl up in the ol' Snuggie, pop in a movie and chow down popcorn. But since I hadn't been to class all week and knew I would not have time to go again until after the weekend, I stepped one foot in front of the other and managed to get to the Studio.

It was a multi-level solo form class, where sometimes I am asked to tutor, sometimes we have a lesson, and sometimes we simply practice the form. Last night was one of the latter, and it didn't take long for me to be grateful I had made it out the door. Sure, I could have done the solo form in my living room, but there is something about the group energy generated when you have a group of folks doing the form together that can't be done alone. This energy, coupled with my own need to mentally get away from life and focus on everything and nothing all at once, brought me to a whole new world that, in my experience, can only be realized in a group form.

As I went through the postures with my classmates, each shift and turn was its own focal point. Brought together, these focal points became a mecca of sensations that relax the body and calm the mind in a way no other exercise that I have done can do. I was both alone and among others: content in the journey to nowhere taking place only inside of me all the while sharing the feeling with those around me. When I get to this place, this T'ai-Chi paradise for lack of better way of putting it, there is nothing else. There is no job to hate, no house to clean, nothing to worry about. I have no name, no needs, and no faults. Everything is perfect.

When class is over and I need to step out of that space, into my aging vehicle and back to my messy house, none of that is important. Yes, the brakes need to be fixed. Yes, the dust needs to be wiped from behind the toliet seat. And those things will not go unattended, in fact rather the opposite. T'ai-Chi paradise is with me for all those tasks and other motions of life, bringing a calm to daily living not even Yoga can match.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Women & Spirituality Conference

Last weekend I spent my free time at the Women & Spirituality conference Minnesota State University, Mankato. I was honored with leading a session on Tai Chi Chuan and Meditation, plus being able to partcipate in the rest of the conference. Although this conference is nearly thirty years old, I had never been. So when the opportunity was presented to me through my Tai Chi school to lead a session, I chomped at the bit.

It had the standard conference formula: a key note speaker, workshops, and opportunities to socialize. The key note was an Indian lady who studied global agriculture and spoke on the necessity of keeping our nourishment sacred. She said that women are the "sacred seed keepers," that seeds hold the essence of life within them until conditions are right for growth. She spoke about corporate farming, seed patents, and the impact of corporate farming on third world countries. This topic was new to me, and as she spoke I began to realize that I have less control over what I put in my body than I once thought.

Lunch was an interesting adventure. Minnesota State has partnered with the likes of Taco Bell and Chick Filet for its students, sort of ironic that hundreds of conference goers went from hearing the evils of corporate food to eating Taco Bell! I settled for a special-ordered turkey burger from the burger place which was of little consequence. I sat with two women I had never met named Linda and Emma (or maybe Eloise). They were putting on a workshop on trance dancing. Linda was a small gray haired white lady with horn-rimmed reading glasses wearing a tie-dyed tee shirt. Emma was an overweight cheerful black lady with curly hair. They were very friendly and quite the pair, but could not convince me to try trance dancing.

My session was in the first time slot. I only had four partcipants, but I went with the flow and allowed it to be more conversational than classroomy. We had a relaxing meditation, and they all took to the Cloud Hands posture fairly easily. I was able to make sure they got the attention they needed and the group chemistry was on point. While I was teaching, I found myself being more and more at home in my own skin, like leading these ladies in Cloud Hands was exactly what I was supposed to be doing at that point in time. I lost myself to each moment, peppering our exercise with quotes from the Classics and reminders to tuck hips and drop shoulders. The words flowed from my mouth as naturally as the Mississippi flows south, and I am thankful to have had that experience.

After my session was complete, I was free to indulge in what others had to offer. Of the three I attended, the class called "The Energy Anatomy of Relationships" was by far the most telling and most insightful to my personal situations. I learned about how we slip into survival mode in our adult relationships, residual from our child-parent relationships. We can also end up co-dependent by allowing the person we are in a relationship with to take our energy without ever returning any of theirs. That was a familiar story to me, and I learned that when I offer anything in any relationship, it must come from a place of love and/both wisdom in order to discern the difference between truly supporting the other and being preyed upon.

All in all it was a telling weekend for me. I felt at home, and with friends. It was a conference where words like "chakra" and "aura" are thrown around freely and where nearly every face smiled and said hello, at least. The energy was positive and light and I felt at ease the whole time I was there, and I look forward to going again next year.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every fall I need to bake cookies as soon as the weather cools. It has become part of how I celebrate the changing of the seasons. What is better than warming your house with sugary, chocolately smells?

I remember when they came out with tubed cookie dough and people thought it was the best. Fresh, homemade cookies without any of the work. Just heat the oven, plop on the pan, and you're good to go. I abhor this culinary rennovation because it takes away something pure and beautiful about the whole process: beating butter and sugar, adding eggs, flour, and finally the morsels. Every time I make a batch, I get flour on my shirt and sugar under my nails and end up eating enough raw dough to constitute at least a cookie or five. It's all part of the joy: refrigerator dough takes all that away.

This love goes back to childhood. My mother would allow my brothers and I to "help" when she baked cookies. Since I am the oldest, breaking eggs was my priviledge, where my brothers were confined to scooping sugar and helping Mom count how many cups of flour had been measured. Sometimes we got to help stir things, but most clearly I remember watching Mom stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, and how by that point the dough had become so thick none of us kids were strong enough to pass a spoon through it, much less mix in more ingredients. As we licked our beaters, I would think to myself that Mom must be the strongest woman in the world to peform this feat and I wondered if I would ever able to do that too.

As I got older and met other families, I soon learned this was special. Other families stocked their shelves with Oreos and Nilla Wafers, or something the Keebler Elves made. Cookies came out of packages, stacked neatly in plastic sleeves. One day, I asked Mom why we didn't have Oreos and why did she always made our cookies.
"Because," she said simply, "I have a secret ingredient: love. The Oreo people don't put love in theirs."

At the time, this answer felt like a cop-out for not getting store bought cookies. Now I know different, because I put love in my cookies too! Thoughout the entire process, I feel happy and joyful. I don't necessarily think of anyone in particular, but my energy is positive and light and maybe some of that gets transferred into the treats. And they always manage to turn out, and anyone who ever eats one always has a smile on their face. To me, that is worth all the time and effort it takes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on Cold Weather Running

Yesterday, I woke up to seeing our first snow had graced the ground. Normally, we do not get snow for another month, and normally the early morning October air is not below freezing. But yesterday, it was like it's nearly Thanksgiving instead of nearly Halloween, and the running group I have joined was meeting for a 9 a.m. endurance run.

Getting there was the challenge. I got bundled up in my best winter running clothes (which actually only work real well down to 20 degrees or so), and met the team at a local park. We were all anxious to get through the warm up, since when it is chilly all I want to do is to start moving. The sky was gray with wintery dawn and the wind was grazing our cheeks, yet many of the trees are still green, or barely yellow, only a few have transformed into the bright orange and red glory of fall. The trail was lightly dusted in white, which had frozen the leaves that had fallen. Rather than think about how cold I was, I tried to focus on the beauty of the moment, as soon this moment would be transformed into full fledged winter.

We planned to be out there for roughly an hour, and as we got moving, we all marveled on the glittery snow cascading off the trees and glistening in the sunlight and the sounds of the frozen leaves crunching under our feet. We wondered what it would be like to run with our eyes closed and how that might change the experience: the feeling of the air and the sounds of our feet would come alive in a brand new way. The whole experience was like being in a time-lapsed photography film clip. Time slowed down but in a good way: the hour flew by yet each step managed to last an eternity as I savored every breath.

By the end of the run, we were all commenting on how it is so much better to get out in the cold than in the high heat and humidity of summer. I'm not sure I agree 100%, but it was so invigorating that I look forward to our next fall/winter run and maybe getting out of bed the next time won't be so tough, even for a chilly Saturday morning.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One foot in front of the other

Over the past couple years, distance running has become a hobby of mine. Running frees me, and it is one activity where I can look back on the past and say, yes, I can do today what I couldn't do yesterday...or last week...or a year ago. There is a constant building of improvement that I haven't been able to see in many other areas of life.

Until this past July, when the muscles in my back decided they'd had enough of my athletic routine (running is not my only activity) and became aggravated, creating numbness in one foot and a dull ache in my back. Luckily, this was not a serious injury. There was no brace, no surgery, no days where I could not get out of bed. Just an annoyance...a bit of rest, a few sessions of acupuncture and a couple of back cracks and I was practically back to normal. I was graced with healers who insisted that complete rest was not my path, rather, pursue the activities I love to track the healing process.

But by the the time that message became clear to me, I had lost much of what in running we call your "base." Three miles felt like five, and five felt like, well, an eternity. I was supposed to be training for a half marathon, farther than I'd ever gone, and have another summer of running accomplished. But there was none of that. Instead, on those clear July evenings, I found myself at the park watching other people run, writing in my journal, and trying not to get depressed. Sure, I could do "other things." But what "other things" are there, really, when running is what you love?

I have spent the past month trying to re-gain my base. My standard fun run was a five to six mile distance. I love that distance because it is short enough to not sap up an entire day's worth of energy, but long enough to get an awesome cardio workout. Tonight was my first attempt at getting back to the full six miles. I ran at the Uptown lakes with a friend, the same friend with whom I was supposed to train for the half, and we both struggled. She is still recovering from the half, which took a toll on one of her knees, yet the running addiction is so strong she is wearing a brace and working through it. As for me, my legs just didn't want to. Once we got past the four mile mark or so, my body had had it and insisted on walking. Thankfully my friend was OK with it and we grumbled back to her apartment, begrudging the crappy run we were both having.

And then I remembered something a trainer used to say: "If you got one foot in front of the other, it was a good day." I iterated this to my friend and we both admitted we should be grateful we can go six miles on foot, walking, jogging, or otherwise. The hard part is three months ago the two of us booked around that same route, no walk breaks, just a great run around the lakes, and today, a struggle.

I realized later how metaphorical this run was: some days, we cruise around the lakes, happy to be alive and feeling good the whole time. Other days, life makes our knees hurt and we wish we could stop, but can't because of that insistent drive to keep going. Perhaps this is a sub-conscious reason for a running addiction: if we can through those painful, shitty ones, it makes the great ones seem even better. And no matter what, we always go back for more. Yesterday was tough, but today might be OK and so we get out of bed and do it all over again. Who knows, with a bit of training, the toughness of yesterday and the OKness of today might lead to a fabulous tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009


It would seem healing from demons is harder than anyone imagines. At one moment, one might think the healing is over, and the next, that the healing has barely begun. It is as though we are in a constant state of flux with our past demons. They rotate in and out of our lives like cravings for foods or movies. One day, we want pizza and action, the next, sushi and drama. The same happens with our demons: the same model car your ex-husband drove cuts you off on the freeway, or the scent of a flower reminds you of grandma's gentle hug. Demons, good and bad, waft in and out. If only we could control them better so the good ones may come more often and the evil ones never at all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thoughts on the MN State Fair

I hate crowds, but I am a Fair junkie. So once I year I buck up my phobia, grin and bear, and let myself enjoy a crowd...and curds, and garden displays, and animals, and did I mention the curds?

It seems of all people I know, folks either really love or really hate the Fair. The haters loathe the crowd, greasy overpriced food, and overpriced beer. But once you get over the fact that pretty much everything everywhere is overpriced, and can grit your teeth through strollers and slow moving old people (let's face it, us youngin's aren't the ones holding up the flow of traffic), then the fair can actually become somewhat bearable, and hey, maybe even a little fun and a great way to close out the summer.

As always, I had to go oggle sheep, and the largest boar and sow in Minnesota. Dem some big pigs, mon! Not to mention the biggest pumpkin, which I had never made a point to see until this year. It's amazing that Charles Schultz is a native yet never thought that Charlie Brown should hunt down the Great Pumpkin at the Fair, just a little over a month early. But of all things big and small at the fair, this year my favorite moment was the giant slide. I had not gone down the giant slide since I was a kid, and the memory of it was vauge at best. For only two bucks, you get a gunny-sack like thing to sit on and push off at your own volition. And because of my adult size, well, let's say Newtonian physics worked well in my favor.
So what is there not to like? It was a tiring day, with lots of walking and standing, but otherwise it gives us all a chance to be a little silly.
NOTE: All pictures were taken with my phone, since I left my real camera at home. This is also my first attempt at putting pictures on a blog and it didn't go as smooth as I had hoped.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Artist's Way & Breaking its Rules

I'm not big on the "self-help" genre of books, but The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron has been a mainstay in my life during transition times. I have undergone the twelve-week "course" twice, and both times was able to surprise myself with the artistic output and through spiritual transformation. Each of the twelve weeks corresponds to one chapter, so in part, there is some "textbook" style learning: the artist reads a chapter a week and completes several "tasks" at the end of each chapter. The tasks are designed to uncover artistic blockages or fears that we all have and overcome them via our chosen artistic expressions. In addition, the two primary activities are morning pages and artist dates. Morning pages are three pages of freewriting to be done first thing every day. Cameron insists they must be done in the morning and no other time. The artist date is a solitary activity of any sort that is to get the artist away from normal life and into the artistic "place". Examples are museum trips or walks through the park, really the only criteria is they are done weekly and alone and somehow stimulate the inner-artist.

As I fumbled through my battered copy, I decided to undergo the Artist's Way "light." That is, for now anyway, I am not going to re-read the whole book, a chapter a week, for twelve weeks. I am going to do the artist date and the pages, but that is where the rules will be broken.

I'm changing the "morning" pages into "anytime" pages. I have learned that for myself, when I write is not as important as that the writing happens. Inevitably, the more I write the more ideas I have, which fuels more writing. My committment then is to pick up my notebook once a day and write whatever the hell I want for three pages straight. If more comes, more comes, but three pages is the minimum. This is a blatant breaking of the morning pages rules, but it's better than not writing much at all. The artist date is trickier because I already do many things on my own. I go movies alone, eat at local cafes alone, so the notion of an outing all to myself is not that intimidating. In a sense, I'm already living the "artist date" lifestyle because I often allow my inner child out to play during these solitary meanderings. However, I do need to pay better attention to the play itself and transform it to writing. Therein lies the task.

Throughout the book, Cameron has wisdom and insights to share of her own journey and brings home the ties between the artistic and spiritual lifestyles. Thumbing through the book, I find there are many passages and sentences I underlined because of how striking they were. I will close with a couple of them.

"Fantasizing about pursing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time--or at all."
"Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless."
"Usually, when we say we can't do something, what we mean is that we won't do something unless we can guarantee that we'll do it perfectly."
"It is impossible to get better [at something] and look good at the same time."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Maybe sometime I'll be able to grow something besides weeds

For the third time in so many years, I pulled all the weeds out of my front garden. A whole afternoon in the sun, pulling up creeping charlie, dandelions, and grass into big Hefty yard bags to be brought to the Ramsey County compost place. And for the third time, I vowed to plant something, anything, in those beds lest they become overgrown with weeds once again.

Last fall, I decided I didn't want any of the remnants left behind from prior owners of my home. The primary flower present was the iris, which I don't care for because of the short bloom time and just plain ugly blossoms. So I dug them up, bulbs and all, and left the bed to freeze over the winter, full intentions to plant something in the spring. Spring came and went, and because I just could not decide what I liked, I put landscaping fabric down to keep weeds away while I made up my mind. But I failed to take landscape fabric 101 and did not put near enough stakes in, and alas the weeds persisted right though and an even bigger mess ensued.

Turns out, I'm damn good at growing weeds. I don't necessarily mind the labor of pulling them out, just would like to pull them out to allow something else to grow. I considered planting some bulbs, but after taking many long walks around the neighborhood and studying yards belonging to others, I have decided I love the more native look. I'm going to go for some sort of black eyed Susan, purple cone flower kind of mess. I read in the newspaper's garden section that fall is an OK time to plant these, if they are low on blossoms and high on stems and roots. Not to mention, plants go on sale this time of year and I can get them for much cheaper than in the spring. So we'll see. I am lucky enough to have beds already cut, all I need to do is biff up the soil and make it pretty, so what the hell.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Funny of the Day

Today's Mother Goose & Grimm by Mike Peters

Thank you Mike Peters, you bring great joy to my morning coffee.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I want to calculate the odds but can't!

I thought it would be easy to find the statistical likelihood of getting rear-ended and contracting strep thoat. Multiply the two together, and wa-la, the odds of having them together appear on the calculator. I Yahooed and I Googled, I read medical sites and traffic safety data, and could not find anywhere that will tell me something like: "The average person has a 1 in x chances of getting rear ended." Well, turns out the stats on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration largely surround fatalities, alcohol, and motorcycles (and combinations thereof). And Googling "the odds of getting strep throat" bring you to a bunch of mommy sites telling people to reduce their odds by handwashing, etc. Maybe my search parameters were incorrect, or I simply wasn't patient enough to keep digging for the data I sought. Or maybe Google isn't as "smart" as I gave it credit for and I'd have to go to a library or something. Or maybe, just maybe, insurance companies house this precious data in air tight, oxygen minimized environments so smarty-pants bloggers like me can't uncover the data and learn something they don't want me to know. But surely this data exists, someplace...didn't Jack Nicholson star in a movie about an insurance guy who was too paranoid to do anything because he knew the stastical likelihood of getting hurt or killed doing everything?

Whatever the odds may be, this set of circumstances has led to one hell of a week. Monday afternoon, I was sitting in a boring meeting when I thought I felt my throat scratch. I otherwise felt fine and went about my evening as though nothing were wrong. I went to the gym, cleaned the house and enjoyed being the queen of my domain. Tuesday was the car accident. I was sitting at a red light, checking out my hair in the rear-view, minding my p's & q's when BAM, my car is hit. Luckily I did not "pile up" onto the car in front of me and the damage seems to be minor (I've yet to hear from an insurance adjuster but that is a whole other blog). I was shaken, so I took the afternoon off work and relaxed. Wednesday I woke up feeling not so great, but not terrible enough to call into work so I dealt with it, but there was no energy for my normal Wednesday run. This morning, I really wanted to call in, as overnight the pain in my throat woke me up several times during the night and I got little sleep. I didn't think it was strep, or that serious, because I had no fever. However, because of the accident, I was eating Ibuprofen like it was candy and my doctor pointed to me today that I was probably suppressing the fever.

But I digress. What are the odds? Who knows. All I can know is the Universe is sending me a clear message: slow down.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Affordable" Housing: Bleeding Hearts vs Money Makers

I have been in the affordable housing industry for nearly ten years and have born witness to the constant pull between the bleeding heart and the money-making conservative. The bleeding heart wants the best deal for all, and will house anyone from the drunken bum under the bridge to the ex crack dealer avoiding child support. The money-making conservative doesn't care about housing in and of itself, but about the buck to be made by charging the most by providing the least.

One of the realities of government housing programs is that the programs allow landlords to charge higher than normal rents to off set the administrative burden of pushing cases of paper and filling out forms ad nausem. Therefore, a concept that seems to belong to the bleeding heart is taken over by the money-maker, as the money-maker holds the purse strings.

So what happens when you have money-makers partering with the bleeding hearts to fulfill two ends with the same means? The money-makers run the budget and question why the bleeding hearts are spending staff time on school supply drives and food shelves. Meanwhile, bleeding hearts allow free loaders to live in apartments for months rent-free because they can't stand the thought of an eviction and question how the money-makers can be so harsh.

These are extreme examples but they are examples I have witnessed and conversations in which I have partaken, and the nexus between providing a basic human need and making a buck off that need is a delicate one. In the end, there needs to be some money making or appliances go unfixed and yards go untended. Likewise, there needs to be some forgiveness of poor choices or there would be no one living in the buildings to pay rent.

I find myself comfortably in the middle, making a livable wage off an industry designed to help those who do not. I sit in a cubicle at the "home office" where I am shielded from the reality of what happens: all I get are the stories of our residents an.d the numbers from the money-makers. Some days I am able to accept the different worlds and other days, like today, I question my place in the big ugly scheme of things.