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Song Parodies

I love song parodies, specifically good ones. I also love A Capella versions of songs. Pentatonix and InsideOut A Cappella are my two favorite A capella groups.

Anyway, I wanted to share my top 5 favorite song parodies. I hope you enjoy them and be sure to let me know what some of your favorite song parodies are because I would love to go listen to them!

#5: Long Division Style, parody of Gangnam Style. This just cracked me up and it helped one my GED students remember the steps to long division, so it made my top five 🙂

#4: Ima Korean, parody of I Gotta Feeling. I actually heard this one before hearing the original song, so it was kinda weird when I heard the original lol. Warning, this is highly inappropriate (part of what makes it so funny, right?).

#3: White & Nerdy, parody of Ridin’ Dirty. Finally, the nerds have a cool song 😛

#2: Mitt Romney Style, another Gangnam Style parody. This came out during the campaigning. I love the VP’s part of the song.

And finally, #1: Science Style Cover, parody of Style. This is by ASAP Science and is a must watch. I love it! They’re doing a great job at making Science seem cool 🙂

I hope you liked these and be sure to share some of your favorite parodies in the comments 🙂

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Abridged by the Writer’s Hand,

the parchment becomes enhanced
with a series of marked-up script.
Once re-written, the words are now
fewer than the original. Adding cursive
words, little secrets form across
the papyrus. King Author himself couldn’t
write this well
on his royal parchment.
Words are replaced
with words – royalty
with novelty, numerous descriptions
with three details – groundwork
of the soul.

Enough
of the mark-ups,
the replacements,
the new literature. It’s too much.
Its original meaning is all
but lost – a new idea
has been introduced – innocent
in its being.

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The Get Moving Challenge

Sitting for long periods of time is very detrimental to our health, yet we all do it. Desk jobs are more prominent, desks for work and studying are designed for sitting down to use, classes and seminars are all sit-down, and many recreational activities such as writing, reading, play games of any kind, and watching tv all involve sitting down. ASAP Science even did a video on the effects of sitting called Are You Sitting Too Much? and a video about ways to stop sitting so much called 9 Tips To Save Your Life. Unfortunately, most companies don’t offer desks that will rise and lower to give you the option to stand or offer a yoga ball as an alternative to a desk chair, which burns a little more calories and forces you to work on balance and posture without even realizing it, which is good for your brain.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting up when you should. For me, it seems like the longer I sit, the less motivation I have to get up. Even knowing that if I stand up for 5 minutes every hour I would negate the negative effects of sitting for that hour, I can’t always (or often) force myself to do so.

I have also noticed that the opposite is true. If I stand up for longer periods of time and move around, I’m less likely to sit down for too long before I’m back up and moving. At work, I have a box on top of my desk that I put documents and such on when I’m doing work that’s not on the computer such as hand sketches, hand calculations, or proof reading. When things are slow at work and I don’t have anything to do, I’ll put one of my college text books up there and skim it and work some of the problems so I don’t loose that information or I’ll read Civil Engineering magazine or Water Environment & Technology magazine. Sometimes while doing so I’ll even stand on one leg to work on balance or bounce on my toes to work my calves a little or even do squats while I hold and read my magazine.

The hardest part of starting all this is getting motivated to actually stand up. I usually don’t start this until after lunch, which means I’m sitting for a few hours straight in the morning. Even when I’m standing, sometimes I wish I had more motivation to grab that heavy book and do some overhead extensions or squat against the wall while I read. So, I proposed a game to several of my friends, and my mom, who I know wish they could just force themselves to move more, and I’d like to share the idea with all of you.

Here’s how it goes: text one of your friends with something along the lines of, “Get moving! Do _______! You go! Let me know when you’re done.” In the blank put something that’s easy to do in a small room like an office such as 15 squats, run in place for 1 minute, 30 toe raises, 20 overhead extensions with a heavy book, 30 sec wall squat, 20 sec quad stretch each leg, go for a 5 minute walk, etc. Do the challenge as soon as it’s convenient then text back “Done!” and send a challenge to someone else to keep it going!

What do you think about this game idea? Would this be something that would help you get moving when you’d normally be sitting? What are some other exercises that you could do in a small space? I’d love to read any of your own thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. that you want to share! 🙂

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Skin Color is a Physical Trait, Not a Personality Type

I’ll mostly be talking about “black people” and “white people” in this post, because that’s what I see the most of relative to the particular sort of racism, but I’m sure it applies to others as well.

This is going to be a rant about how black and white are COLORS, NOT personality types. One of the reasons racism is still alive in everyday life is because people have labeled black and white as personality types, coming up with terms such as “oreo” for people who are “black on the outside but white on the inside” and “wigger” for people who “are white on the outside but black on the inside.” Phrases like “he/she is so white” or “damn girl, you must be black on the inside with dance moves like that” do more to keep racism alive than people realize. And they hurt. It makes it so people with black skin don’t want to do well in school because then they would be “white” on the inside. White is a skin color, not a personality type. Black is a skin color, not a personality type. I can’t express that enough. Saying things like “that’s such a white thing to do” has become an insult to people with black or white skin, it seems.

Why can’t people with black skin be smart without getting called white? Why can’t people with white skin dance well without getting called black? Why the separation? It’s just another way to separate white people and black people instead of integrating and just calling everyone people. There are all kinds of personality types that go beyond race, skin color, and gender for that matter. We all feel the same emotions, we all have different skills and interests, so why is it that some are associated with “white” personality and some associated with “black” personality. How about just saying “hey, that guy makes good grades” instead of “hey, that guy is so white”?

Skin color is a PHYSICAL trait. It’s a way to PHYSICALLY describe someone. Just like eye color, hair color, and shirt color.

Smart, nice, mean, hard-ass, caring, determined, focused, spiteful, loving, etc are ways to describe someones personality. Notice that white, black, and brown are not in that list because they are NOT personality traits.

I’m calling for a stop to using skin color as a personality type. It’s not. Someone who is smart and focused could be white skinned, black skinned, or brown skinned. Someone who is a mean hard-ass could be white skinned, black skinned, or brown skinned. Personality types come in all color skin. That’s why they are two separate things. Calling someone white or black for any reason other than the color of their skin just adds to the discrimination and separation of the two races. If we’re going to grow and become stronger as a community, we need to stop viewing things this way. We need to see skin color as skin color and not judge a personality based on that or label a personality as a color. Please, stop.

Please share any of your own thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. because I love reading them. Do you agree or disagree with my point? Why? What similar phrases have you heard that you think are harmful?

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A Thorough, Yet Simple Budget

So, I’ve shared my meal habits and now I want to share my budget. This is something that I made after reading Dave Ramsey and being raised by my parents who instilled money management skills in me.

What I’m going to do is share my actual budget with the actual figures with you so it’s more realistic (I am NOT trying to show off the amount I make, I just wanted to keep it real) and then I’ll break each category down. It’s going to look completed at first glance, but I promise it’s really simple. The reason that I am sharing this is because I have created something that works really well for me, so if you are struggling with making a budget, or have a desire to make a budget, or just want new ideas for your current budget, then buckle in and pay attention. You could also go to everydollar.com and make a budget that you can manage from your phone. It’s even based on Dave Ramsey’s teachings. I considered using it, but my income fluxuates and I didn’t want to have to keep adjusting the figures. Plus, I already created mine. Also, if you would like for me to make you an excel template similar to mine, please let me know and I’ll be happy to do it!

First, let me explain why the numbers are not the same for each pay check. I started the beginning of the year full time then dropped down to part time because there is simply not enough work for me and I felt guilty that I was take more money than I was doing work. I fluctuated my hours for a few weeks until I finally settled on 25 hours a week. In addition, I tutor on the side for extra money, so my bi-weekly income changes based on how many hours of tutoring I was able to do. In the future, I may switch to the everydollar budget since I could manage it from my phone, but for now, this works best for me.

Overview

Like I said, it looks complicated, but it’s not. Every two weeks I add my income (salary from job + tutoring money) into the appropriate spot, and the excel formulas do the rest: everything is automatically calculated (I do have to pull over certain items) and distributed to the proper category sections.

Income

You can also see that some of my budget items are percentages while some of them are fixed. I like to put everything that isn’t a fixed item (such as rent and bills) as a percentage because my income changes so much from month to month.

Now to break the whole thing down. First, the “Emergency Fund.” Dave Ramsey suggest having at least as much money as you would need to live off of for 6 months. This is in case you get laid off. Okay, he said 3 to 6 months, still. Obviously I have way more than this. A good chuck of it came from inheritance from my grandparents on both sides dying (Yes, sad. I’d much rather have them than the money). The rest came from money my parents made me put away as part of my allowance as a kid and summer jobs I had in high school and college. If you’d like to know more, see my first post about budgeting when I was first starting it here. The reason I have kept is so high is this is money to sustain me if I’m between jobs, cover any major medical expenses, car repairs, vet bills, and even a new car if mine were to get totaled in a terrible accident. Basically, if life tries to through me some shit, I’ve got this.

Emergency Fund

The title shows that $25,000 is my goal. It’s just a nice round number. You can also see that my cat almost died and my boyfriend had to have some major repairs on his truck (which he will pay me back for, there’s just some legal stuff going on because they people that “fixed” his truck did a lot of unnecessary work and didn’t fix it, so we had to take it somewhere else – long story). I put all the money I got back from taxes (I got so much back because I was a student for half the year last year) all went into filling that fund back up. The “leftover” is money that I had left over after all budget items were accounted for.

Now I’m going to show you a break down of each category. The “subtotal” automatically comes from the sum of all the amounts in that category going across. It automatically increases every time I enter in my bi-weekly salary. Then I just hit -## for whatever I spend money on, and it totals what I have left at the bottom. There are formulas in all these spaces so I don’t have to do a think but enter what I make and enter what I spend. I’ll usually spend 5-10 minutes each evening entering in any purchases.

Invest

I invest money in a Vanguard mutual fund account. About once a month I’ll go on and buy stock in VTSMX based on my Aunt’s recommendation (who is really good with money and has been doing this for YEARS). I like to enter in when I invest, so I know that I have done it. Otherwise, I’m likely to forget and either not do it or do it twice by accident. Although my goal is 10% of my money, if I have money left over after all my other budget items are taken into account, I’ll increase that percentage. This is money I hope to use to buy a house one day 10 or more years from now.

Donation

My parents taught me to donation 10% of my money by designating 10% of my allowance as “church money.” I still uphold to that and you can see the different things I have donated money to. Often if I’m making a purchase somewhere and it asks “would you like to donate to ____” I’ll hit yest for 1 or 5 dollars and either take it out of free spending or donation.

Vacation

Now that I’m a working adult, I feel obligated to contribute on family vacations. Not only that, but I’d like to take small vacations of my own. I used money from this for my recent trip to New Orleans – I paid for my part of the hotel and withdrew a certain amount in cash that was my budget for that trip with this category. I also plan on paying my part if I get to go with my family on their annual beach vacation and again at Christmas when we get hotel rooms in Birmingham for a few days.

Free Spending

Free Spending covers going out to eat, shopping, going to the movies or a play, entrance to the zoo, aquarium, or a convention, etc. This includes clothes that I don’t need, but want to have. Work clothes, tennis shoes, new jeans, and any other clothing items that I actually need come from a different category. Since this is the most used category, I keep up with it using an app on my phone called “Spending” by MH Riley. It’s great. I have categories like “eating out,” “coffee,” “movies,” and “shopping” so I can see where all my free spending money is going. Extra gas money comes out of here too, but that’s usually not a problem unless I visit my parents two weeks in a row.

Short Term Savings

Short term savings covers more costly items that I plan on buying. This may include furniture, work clothes, kitchen items, organizational items, hangers, a vacuum, etc. Due to me being a little careless and the boyfriend being gone (who usually buys the food), I went over my free spending and used short term savings to balance it out. This is still a new budget, after all. I’m getting better at it. You can see the next items I plan on buying with this budget item.

Gifts

Gifts includes all holidays: Birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s day, and Christmas. These things happen at the same time every year, but a lot of people don’t plan for them – hoping to rely on bonus checks to cover it. By putting in just a little each pay check, I’ll have a nice pot to pull from come Christmas. I’ll be using it to buy a mother’s day present soon. Also, I just decided to up it to 2%, so you’ll see that April got a little more.

G P and M

Pet and Medical used to be grocery (as you can see), however, that’s something the SO took over, so I have lowered that budget item and use it to buy cat food, snake food, cat litter, and snake bedding, as well as any pills I need or doctor visits I take. I get sick often, but I only go to the doctor if I’m bad sick or it last more than a week. I also occasionally buy beer and some groceries, if we just need a couple of items.

Gas

I have a car that has great gas mileage and I live close enough to work that I can walk or ride my bike (if I’m not running late or being lazy), so I only use gas when I go to tutoring or go do something fun (which is why if I go over my gas budget it comes out of free spending). I try to budget enough that I can visit my parents often.

Utilities

Utilities was the trickiest one because it changes every month. As you can see, I started off by budgeting too much, so I backed off to a more realistic number.

Internet and CellPhone

The main reason I show internet and cell phone bill is so I can keep up with when and if I have paid them. I didn’t show them at first, and I forgot to pay my cell bill one month (oops), so it’s just nice to see if I did and when I did.

Insurance

Since work covers health and life insurance, I’m only left with auto and renters insurance. These are semi-annual and annual, respectively. As you can see, I completely forgot to include them into my budget. And my renters insurance is due at the end of this month, so I had to improvise. As for auto insurance, I just took the total amount that I’ll be paying by the end of the year and divided it by 9 instead of 12, since I missed the first 3 months (again, oops).

In conclusion, I feel like I’m pretty well off when it comes to finances, especially since I started this so early in life. If you have any ideas on how I can improve this budget, please share. If you would like me to make you a blank templet that includes all the equations so all you have to change is the dates and the categories, please let me know. You can shoot me an email at bnetherton15@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to make you one! I’ll even change the categories if you’d like.

Please share any of your own thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc. because I love reading them! Do you think this is a pretty solid budget or do you see some problems with it (if so, what problems do you see)? Does this budget seem overly complicated and hard to maintain or pretty simple and easy? What budget categories do you have and how do you keep up with your own budget?

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What Living with Chronic Depression is Like (at least for me)

Living with depression means never knowing exactly when it’s going to strike.

It doesn’t mean being sad all the time. It doesn’t mean when you’re happy you’re “cured” or “over it.” It means you occasionally get “sick.” Sometimes because of a trigger, but for me it just comes and goes like rolling waves on an ocean.

Yes, I take sick days for depression. Just because it’s a mental disorder and not a cold, doesn’t mean it’s not a sickness, so to speak. I don’t take them often, just when it’s so bad I can’t even force myself out of bed, which is rare. Usually I can still go through the motions of life – my heart just isn’t into it.

My volunteer work helps. Feeling like I’m making a difference and getting the social need filled that even introverts have helps.

I’m in a slump. Adi, that’s the real reason I took so long to respond. I’m in a slump. I can crawl out of it myself – I’ve done it dozens of times, but sometimes it takes longer than others.

I forgot the original point of this post: to educate.

My SO’s sister said something today – that a friend was taking a short leave from work due to depression, but the way she said it sounded like she didn’t think that was a valid reason to take off work, even though it sounded like the depression was due to something that happened. Break a leg? Sure, take a few weeks off. Have something that traumatizes you emotionally happen? Take a day or two, but be back soon. Sometimes mental injuries take longer to heal than physical ones.

But my point is a little different. My point is about people with chronic depression, like myself. No, it doesn’t rule my everyday life like a physical disorder, but when it flares up, so to speak, I can lose days, even weeks. My mind just doesn’t work right. It’s harder to focus which makes it harder to remember things. This doesn’t affect my work too much, but it did affect my studying abilities during school when it would flare up.

For the past several days, maybe a week now, I’ve been in kind of a daze. This isn’t helped by me spending every spare moment to read the Maze Runner series (which is fantastic, btw) to help put myself in a different world.

I can’t say my work is totally unaffected. I can’t say I don’t understand why people would be hesitant to hire someone with depression, because I do. I do believe that the quality of my work is the same, but I’m a lot slower to do things. And I’m a lot less likely to coordinate with people because when I get like this, I just withdraw into myself and avoid communication as much as possible. But I’ll pull myself out of it. I’ll keep going. Yes, I took a half day today, but as long as I have sick leave, who cares if I take it for physical or mental illness?

So many people think that depression is something that you can just “get over,” but it’s not. It hits and it stays. It’s like that antidepressant commercial where the woman had a little black figure that represented depression sitting on her shoulder and it just kept growing and growing even though nothing bad was going on in her life. I’ve had people tell me that my life is great and I have no reason to be depressed. Well, that’s the thing about chronic depression – it’s an illness that isn’t really controlled by outside factors. Yes, outside factors affect it. For example, I think once I move and am no longer living with two people I dislike, and find a more satisfying job, I’ll get depressed less often, but the depression will still it.

It’s kind of like living with migraines. You learn to recognize the signs and do what you can to prevent the worst of it. Sometimes I’ll tell my SO when I feel it coming on. I didn’t this time. Not even sure he’s aware that I’ve been so out of it, feeling like I’m barely hanging on to the lighter side of the depression. Sometimes I’ll force myself to socialize with friends before it gets too bad, and that helps to lighten it and prevent me from going too far into the depression. Sometimes I’ll get myself to go to Sonic and get a delicious ice cream treat to help cheer myself up.

I don’t believe in taking pills for it – mostly because I’ve tried a few different kinds and didn’t like the results. I never felt quite like myself on those pills. And one of them gave me horrific nightmares. I think it’s something that just has to be taken one day at a time – like addiction. I’ve even tried using the 12 Step program that they use in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. It probably would have helped more if I had put more effort into it, heh.

I hope that this post has given you more insight to those who suffer with chronic depression, or helped you feel not so alone if you do suffer with chronic depression. As always, I would love to hear [read] any advice, thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc, that you’d like to share. Do you think it should be okay to take a sick day for depression? Do you suffer or know anyone that suffers from chronic depression? If you do, does this sound similar to what you go through? What tricks have worked for you when depression flares up?

Edit: Watching PewDiePie dance and sing “let it go” in an Elsa costume helps tremendously!

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A Rose for Stacey

This post is going to be long. At least read the first half.

This post is going to hurt to write and I hope it hurts to read.

This post will [hopefully] be worth it.

This post will probably not be proof-read, so please ignore any errors. I just can’t read through it again.

We went to New Orleans this weekend – my boyfriend, his sister, his aunt, and me. It was awful. Don’t get me wrong, the shops were cool, the parade was great, and the company was fantastic, but it was loud/crowded, dirty, and there was poverty everywhere. That’s what made it bad. The evidence was everywhere – people sleeping on the streets and in the park, people asking for money or leftovers, people just sitting on the ground, staring at nothing. People riding a bike walking around with what looked like everything they own on their back. People who didn’t own anything but the clothes on their back. And Stacey.

Stacey was a bright spot, though not at first. I felt for her immediately. The first time I saw her burned into my brain. We just got some drinks and were continuing our walk down the sidewalk when I saw her. She had a box lid in front of here with a few coins in it and a sign that said “anything helps.” She wasn’t begging. She wasn’t asking passersby if they could spare a dollar. She was sitting on the ground, back against the wall, arms wrapped around her knees, looking withdrawn and defeated. I felt an immediate connection and my heart reached out for her. I wanted to give her everything – my shirt, my jacket, my drink, and all the money I had in my pocket. I wanted to giver a home and a life. I wanted to know her story. I wanted her to be okay. I wanted to give her hope.

We kept walking, and I kept thinking about her. And thinking about her. And thinking about her. Several times I tried to tell the group that I was going to go run off on my own for a bit, so I could go and see her. But, I’m introverted, I’m shy, and I just couldn’t. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told my SO I was going to walk ahead. He was very confused (since I have social anxiety and there’s crowds of people everywhere), but let me go. I went to the Cafe and got two orders of bennetts, a small coffee, and two water bottles. Then I marched over to where Stacey had been. Had been. I walked around a little more, determined to find her. I almost asked another person playing music if he had seen her, but I couldn’t bring myself to. There was a cop standing where she had been sitting and after three tries, I finally mustered up the courage to ask him if he’d seen her. He pointed her out to me, walking away with a guy with a pit bull.

I walked as fast as I could to catch up to her. Mind you, all the homeless people tore into my soul, but Stacey tore at my heart. My soul still hurts from all the poverty I saw. I wonder if all cities are like that. It hurts to think about. I guess that’s why people don’t. And you never know just how to help. Some people stay homeless and just take handouts without trying to do better. Not all, but some. That makes it hard to just give money or food or clothes to someone. I guess the reason Stacey caught me is because if I was in her situation, where I had to ask people for money because I didn’t have another means of getting any, I would have sat and looked just like she did. Even though I know I’ll never be in that situation, I somehow saw myself in her.

I caught up to her. She was carrying a bag with little food. I told her I saw her earlier and I bought some doughnuts and asked if we could hang out and talk. She said yes, so we found a place to sit out of the way and I gave her some bennetts and the coffee and a water bottle. She was introverted too. I guess I expected her to tell me all her troubles, because that’s what others in bad situations have done, but she didn’t. She didn’t talk much at all. So, I had to prompt her a little bit. She did talk some and she asked a few questions about me like who I was with and how long I was staying. I found out that the pit bull was hers and only 7 months. The guy walking the dog was a friend of hers who lets the dog stay with him since the shelter doesn’t allow it. I found out that people feed the dog better than they feed her. I found out that she sleeps at a shelter every night that she is able to scrape together enough money to do so. She likes to stay at the shelter that costs money because there’s less crime there. She owns nothing more than the clothes on her back and that little bit of food she was able to buy. She gets jumped occasionally. The last time she got jumped, they took her social security card and her I.D. card, so she’s starting from scratch. She has asthma which makes it difficult to work (though she tries and she’s determined to get another job), and she can’t afford an inhaler. She also has bad allergies, like me. I can’t help but to think that if she had all the opportunities that I did, she would have done something great with her life, like I’m trying to do. I also found out that she doesn’t drink alcohol and she really likes Monster energy drinks.

She has a positive attitude, regardless. One thing I liked is she never told me how much it costs to get into the shelter (until I asked – $10) and she never told me that she didn’t get enough to get in that night (though I knew she didn’t). She has hopes and dreams. She calls this time “a bump in the road” and she’s determined to get back on track. She’s second in line to get placed into a home. I told her I was routing for her and hoped that life got better. I gave her $20 so she could get more food and get into the shelter. I told her I would try to see her tomorrow when we would be out shopping around, and I gave my two uneaten bennetts to her friend as I left.

I didn’t see her the next day, and I feel awful about it. When I finally got back to the group, my boyfriend had been worried, and while his aunt and sister said it was nice that I took her some bennetts, my SO didn’t get it. He didn’t say it, but the look on his face said (I thought) “why the fuck would do that for some homeless nobody?” I really hope I misread that, but sadly, I don’t think that’s the case.

The day we went to the french market. I found a necklace there that I bought to give to Stacey, hoping we would walk that way and I would see her – we didn’t. It was a simple, silver rose on a silver chain. A rose for Stacey. A rose she never got. A rose that I have in my bed-side drawer. I feel so guilty. I never even tried to get the group to go that way. It wouldn’t have been too much out our way, and I don’t think the two ladies would have minded. It was the look that my SO had on his face when I showed him what I bought for Stacey that caused me to hide my tongue. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it. I just wish he would have tried to understand. If it’s something I care about, then he should care about it too, right? Or at least ask me about it and try to understand why I wanted to be nice to her and give her the necklace. I like her. I connect with her. I care about her. And he won’t even try. And I’m too afraid to speak up. I feel like I bite my tongue around him a lot lately, but that’s a different story. And this is not the end of this blog.

I said it would be long. But there’s more I need to get off my chest. Even if you don’t want to read anymore, at least read the favor I’m about to ask.

If you ever go to NO, please, please check on her. She sits in front of the Walgreen’s on Decatur St., by Wilkinson St. She’s black, looks to be in later 20’s or maybe early 30’s and she was wearing black pants and a black hoodie. Please, just give her something – anything: a Monster drink, a cup of coffee, some fruit, some bennetts, a dollar, a hug, a smile. Just give her something, look her in the eyes, and tell her that Brandy is thinking about her and rooting for her. Tell her you’re rooting for her too. Give her hope. Keep her spirit alive. Also, ask her what shelter she goes to and let me know. I want to send a donation there.

Now onto a few more events that I just need to get out.

One, a comment the boyfriend made when I told him about meeting up with Stacey and that I ended up also giving her enough money to get into the Shelter (with a little extra): “hopefully we don’t see her in a bar later.” Why? Her life seems horrible. She has no money, job, home, or even identification. She gets jumped regularly, so it’s not like she would work on saving up money for anything, because it would just get stolen. If I was in her situation, and I had a little extra cash, I would buy a drink or two. If they’d let me without and I.D. People look down on the homeless when they drink (and I used to also), but who cares? It’s not like society is really willing to give them a chance with anything. Not a lot of people are willing to hire someone homeless and jobless. Not a lot of people are willing to share their home with someone who doesn’t have one and help them find the means to support themselves. It’s not like they have a lot of options. If they want to buy a bottle and get so drunk that they can’t think straight so they don’t have to mull over their situation, let them. It’s hard to come out of rock bottom, especially when society isn’t looking to help.

Another, someone asked for our leftovers after leaving a nice restaurant. Now, Brandy, why would that bother you when you were willing to give the shirt off your back to someone else? Good question, Reader. Because I don’t know them and I don’t like being pressured. No, I didn’t know Stacey either, but she also didn’t pressure me. These guys seem perfectly well off. There was a group of them. They all had back packs and some had instruments. Instead of buying their own food (though, I don’t know for sure that they had the money to), they hung around an expensive restaurant, knowing the portions were big and that people would leave with leftovers, then ask for that food. So, they got a nice, expensive meal for free. That just rubbed me the wrong way, I guess. However, I was thinking about it, and they probably would have been thrown away, anyway. it takes oil, water, work, and money to make food, and it costs money, and a large percent of all food made never reaches a human mouth – just goes straight into the garbage. So, I guess if those guys kept that food from going in the trash, and got a nice meal, then, that’s okay.

Another is a guy standing out by the french market asking for money. Again, why would he bother me and not Stacey? Well, first off, he had his hands in his pants, which is just creepy. I guess that was really the main thing that bothered me. He was asking people if they could spare a dollar so he could get some food. But still, why would you approach me with your hands down your pants asking for money? Ask me for a banana and keep your hand visible.

One small instant was I witnessed some guy steel something like it was nothing. He just walked up, grabbed a soda w/out paying, and walked off. He was also holding one of those containers of sugar that you see at Waffle House that I’m pretty sure he stole too. He didn’t even look like he was bad off, he just looked like a bad person. White skin, black hair, and dressed hard core gothic.

Last one – a vendor. At the French market, there were many, many vendors and a few of them were selling marble sculptors/figures, cups, shot glasses, and little boxes. One of these tables also had marble chess sets. I’ve been wanting a marble chess set. One of them had jade and white pieces. It was beautiful. I bought it. I hate that I bought it. Here’s why – the main reason I bought it, was the vendor pressured me too much. Have I mentioned I’m an introvert? I can’t handle pressure from others very well. Don’t get me wrong, at first I really, really wanted it. But, the more I thought about it, and my boyfriend said a few things, the more I realized it was a dumb purchase and tried to get out of it. It was heavy, I already have a chess set that’s part of a multi-game box, and I haven’t played chess with another human since I graduated college almost a year ago. And we’re looking at moving into a smaller space soon, so we need to be downsizing, not buying stupid crap. That, and it wasn’t in my budget. But the guy kept pressuring me and lowering the price and I tried to get away a few times but there was just so much pressure and I just bought the damn thing and cried about it on and off the rest of the day (it doesn’t help that this weekend and today are pms days).

So, that was my [awful] trip to New Orleans. I wish I knew how to help the poverty. But I don’t. I don’t think feeding them and giving them money straight up is a help. Maybe donating to the shelters and the programs that help house them is a help. My Grandpa’s church offered their church as a living space for one of those programs. The first family who moved in was a man and woman and three kids (why the hell would you have three kids if you don’t have a house?). They were pretty terrible. The man kept saying he was trying to find a job, but he really wasn’t. One of the ladies even got him an interview at Walmart because she has a contact there, but he never went to it even though he said he did. They let their middle child draw all over the walls and furniture and just in general let their kids run wild. The shelter was supposed to send food and water supplies once a month, but didn’t, so the church fed them. The church finally kicked them out. However, they did keep doing the program, and the next person who was housed there was a loner and got a job and was soon able to move out. So, not everyone simply rides the system, but I think too many do ride the system, which makes it hard to help those who are really trying to get out of it. You want to help people, but only people who are willing to help themselves. Stacey sees her situation as a set back, so I didn’t mind helping her during her rough patch because I know she is trying to get out of it. I know she’s not riding the system. That first family that stayed at my grandpa’s church – they were just in it for the free ride. I feel bad for those kids. I feel bad for society. I feel bad for not giving Stacey her rose.

Please, please, please share any thoughts, observations, ideas, personal stories, etc that you have. Even if you only read the first half. How do you think we can help the homeless, or if we even can? Do you have a story where you tried to help someone in need or at least talked to them and heard their story? Do you have a story of someone abusing the system?