Monday, October 31, 2011

"Why I Am Late for Cooking Class"

Jessie had three-quarters of an hour when she got home from working at the food bank to eat lunch, pack up, and head off to catch the bus for her cooking class at the community health centre. She made and ate her lunch, and then had a brilliant Jessie-inspired idea for a costume to wear to the class.  What defines a Jessie-inspired idea is that it explodes at the last (if not past the last) possible minute for it to be do-able.

My first inkling of this brilliant idea was when she almost knocked me out of my desk chair as she grabbed the good scissors, and then left me in a cold freezing draft as she forgot to close the door after rooting through the recycling box for cans and containers.

“It’s a great idea!” she exclaimed. “I am going to wear old plastic shopping bags (we do have a very few of those left) and attach cans and things.”

At this point Jessie is due to leave in exactly 1 minute to get to the bus on time. And she still has to pack a container to bring home what they cook, find a loonie ($1 coin) to defray a minor portion of the costs, and review the bus and walking route to get to the class

“Great,” I say. “Good for you!” (See upcoming post on mantras.)

She is excited. She is late. She looks like this:

If you can’t see it, the message (because Jessie always has a message!) reads:

If I had a smart phone I would send the picture to her cooking class instructor right now with the header: Why I Am Late.

But I am not sure how well it will work for my client who is waiting for my final edit on their food safety report.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Text Message Alert: TGIF

I was going to blog about moving out (a different text message), or letting go, or maybe even cooking. A short blog, because I have a ton of work. But as I was sitting down this text message just came in:

Hey Mom. I want to know
if i get my stuff done in . . .

I am pretending that I haven't recieved it yet.
Who is this girl and why does she never send these messages to her Dad?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living the Dream

This is Jessie’s weekly calendar:

Far from languishing at home alone trolling the internet and sneaking bad food, Jessie is very busy. Thanks to the help and inspiration given by her friends, family members, and mentors at her PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope, or futures planning) in the spring, Jessie seems to be “living her dream.” Or at least that’s what she said last week. Of course, this could also be attributable to being madly in love (thank you Drummer Boy!), when the whole world takes on a rosy glow!

I, however, am exhausted! All the training and the figuring out and the teaching is taking a toll on my psyche and our bank account (hours not worked)! You see all those little open white spaces on the wall calendar? Those are the “getting there” and “getting back” spaces, which a) take a lot of time because Jessie is taking the bus and b) taking even more time because I’ve been teaching her how to take the bus and hence end up being out for hours at a time.

Talking to my friend CG the other day, I said I thought it would be manageable (i.e., I might actually be able to get some real work done in a reasonable amount of time) when we had all settled into this new routine.

“But Nancy,” she said (ever the realist, ever the friend), “It’s already the end of October.” Then she handed me some tissues to wipe up my tears and suggested we go have lunch at Costco.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Street Proofing or, Forget What Jesus Would Do and Just Keep Your Head Down

Jessie has a wild schedule this “first-year-of-no-school” year. While it includes a good mixture of both down and active time to keep her contributing, learning, creating, and growing, what makes the schedule so wild is that it’s not the same routine every day, as it had been for school and hence most of her and our lives so far. And it involves a lot of bussing to different places all across the city. Places that I might not normally go. Places that have no sidewalks and trucks that roll through stop signs (the Food Bank); places that require at least three transfers through points that I can’t access with a car (and hence can’t be a rescue backup); and places with more druggies, homeless alcoholics, skanks, and barely leashed Rotweilers per square inch than anywhere else in the region (downtown Rideau Street!).

Of course, it’s to this last location that Jessie has to travel 2 times a week. At night. To the dance school billed as being “located in sun-filled, heritage studios.” What they don’t mention are the hordes of tattooed and pierced street kids blocking the narrow entrance to the three flights of rickety stairs that bring you up to the creaky and perhaps sun-filled, if one were ever there in the daytime, studios.

While Jessie did a dance intensive at this studio during the summer and managed to get there on her own with no hassles (maybe it was all the tourists balancing out some delicate drug-to-decency ratio?), September’s journeys played out somewhat differently.

Dan was the travel accompanist and on the first night managed to herd her past a drug deal going bad on the way in. On the way out it was a skank fight. Night journey two was a longer story involving a dog, a tattoo, and a pipe, with the added Fellini-esque bonus of some spandexed and feathered street opera singer. We agreed that while Jessie could technically get to and from the classes on her own (she was comfortable with the bus route and knew where to go), it would be just too dangerous.

This, and the dubiousness of certain Christian teachings as practiced by transitioning youth with disabilities, was confirmed on night journey three. This is when Jessie and Dan were approached in the bus shelter by a staggering, red-eyed, malodorous gentleman holding out a grimy hand requesting spare change.

Jessie looked him in the eye and said, “Sorry. I don’t have any money right now. But I really admire you and you should keep up the good work. Because what you are doing is making a difference.”

Dan, taken aback by her response (the gentleman in question was too stoned or drunk to hear anything she said after “sorry”), asked her what she meant. What kind of work did she think he was doing and why on earth did she admire him? She explained that he was probably looking for money to clean up landmines or to contribute to the Foodbank, as the only reason to ask for money is for a good cause, right? And (this is the part where my faith gets me into a bit of trouble, and Dan looks at me accusingly), she said “Mom says to greet every person as if they were Jesus.”

Dan explained that the man was probably looking for money for drugs or alcohol (Jessie’s eyebrows raise in horror) and that she was NOT to greet every person as if they were Jesus—at least not on Rideau Street and certainly not when she was alone—and that he would discuss this with me when they got home.

Which he did.

Which is why we are re-street proofing Jessie and I am re-thinking exactly WHAT Jesus would do. Or what he would do if he were a middle aged mom trying to balance risk with independence in a twenty-something young woman with a disability and a social conscience.