Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A long overdue update...

I realized this morning that I haven't updated my blog in a while, and figured that there's no time like the present. Here's a picture from the SCAD Sidewalk Art Festival in Forsyth Park this past weekend. Pretty much every bit of sidewalk had some type of art on it, which was pretty cool. This is one of the neatest ones. I'm not sure if it comes through for you in the picture, but in person the image looked 3-D.

So much has happened - some things are coming together for the people I'm serving, my favorite soccer team (Chelsea) has had a meteoric climb to 2nd place in the English Premier League and is within striking distance of 1st, I turned 23, the Cleveland Indians are in 1st place, and Osama bin Laden was killed.

So first things first - work has proved productive recently. One of my clients, a 22 year old from way out in rural Georgia, is matched up with his local YMCA. Through a series of phonecalls and meetings, I was able to find the director at the Y who was extremely receptive to the idea and willing to help make it happen. Once the obligatory background check stuff is complete, my client will be able to get out of his house and be around people (which he loves), while doing some light maintenance work alongside the Y's handyman. What I really like about this Y in particular, is that most of the employees have been there for years and they are kind of like a big family. The director said they know eachothers' families and they'll frequently get together for picnics and other activities. She said they would love to include my client in all of this, which I think is absolutely wonderful.

I've also been working on getting some SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) students in to the Day Center here at the Georgia Infirmary and it is also coming together nicely. Two Design Management grad students are coming in to have a session on facilitating creative thinking with some of our members. Their goal is to help members make some mental connections with memories and feelings, leading to greater creativity in conversation, art, or life in general. I don't really get it, but they seem pretty bright, so I'll let them do their thing and see how it goes.

Now as for soccer! (non-fans may want to skip this paragraph) If you didn't already know, I did the stereotypical american study abroad student thing and latched on to a European Football (soccer) Club. I picked up the kit (jersey + shorts), the lingo, and a passion for the sport. Unlike most, I would presume, I did not let go of my connection once I returned to the states, and I continue to cheer for my club. Now, I was already interested in the game, as I played when I was young and got really into the 2006 World Cup, but being in London and around the coverage every day just built up until I was a big fan. Early on in my time in London, I realized I needed a team to cheer for. Manchester United was out from the start because they are evil, and pretty much any American I had met that had a remote interest in soccer cheered for them. On top of that, I wanted to pick a team from London. My choices narrowed to Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham and West Ham. Before I had really decided, I had a chance to meet some extended family that lived in London when I went to their home for a Sunday lunch. I met my little cousin Edward, who was 7 at the time, and the perfectly proper English boy. He raved about Chelsea and how great they were: The captain, JT (John Terry), was an immovable object on defense, and his favorite player, Nicholas Anelka, was an unstoppable force at striker. His enthusiam fed mine, and before lunch was over, I was a Chelsea fan. It was the perfect connection I needed to take an interest in a club, and it was even better that it was a family connection. Anyway - I fed my cravings for sports with soccer and watched every game I could in a neighborhood pub. I even went to a match at Chelsea's home field - Stamford Bridge. It was a somewhat bland scoreless draw against Everton, but it was an evening I won't soon forget. Fast forward through the painful (and poorly officiated) Champions League exit that year against Barcelona and last years' double winners of the Premier League and the FA Cup, and Chelsea found themselves hitting historic lows this season by plummeting down the standings. Starting in February, though, the team starting clicking and ripped off a string of victories to make them the hottest team in the league and skyrocketed up to second place! Now, this coming Sunday, Chelsea play first-place Manchester United and a win would allow them to leap frog United into first! Needless to say, it a huge match. Now that you're all caught up on English soccer...My baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, have come out of nowhere this season to first place in the division and the best record in baseball. Crazy...

I am officially an old man. At least after my recent birthday, I feel like it. For some reason, 23 sounds so much older than 22, and according to a 90's song by Blink-182, nobody likes me. For anyone that is actually old - like 50 or something (just kidding mom and dad) - they're probably laughing at me. But hey, let me have my moment. Anyway, I did have a wonderful birthday which included relaxing on the beach and enjoying some delicious pizza from my favorite restaurant in Savannah (Vinnie's). My mother also sent me a Mrs. Field's Cookie Cake (jackpot!). This was on top of the wonderful time I had at home with my family for Easter, when my grandmother made a fantastically delicious Walnut Cake for me! All in all it was great, and the only thing missing were my friends who I spent my last four years with, and are now scattered across the country.

Concerning my final topic, Osama bin Laden is dead. I'm sure you've all heard the same reports I have about the Navy SEALs that went into Pakistan and took him out. I'm not sure of how I feel about the reaction to his death. I'm not going to miss the guy, but it strikes me as a little odd that there was such an unbridled celebration. I get the cheers of "USA" at the Phillies game; I get the statements from the firefighters of FDNY and those who lost family and friends on 9/11. What I don't quite get are the impromptu celebrations on college campuses and cities across the country with flags waving and drunk kids singing. These things are not without precedent. Just think of the Wizard of Oz and the cheers of "Ding dong, the witch is dead!" But that's not what first came to mind when I saw the pictures from the celebrations. I can't have been the only one reminded of images of people in parts of the world singing and burning those same American flags, while celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center. The reactions from many Americans that I saw on the news just seemed too close to those of the people we have condemned as evil, at least too close for my own comfort.

 On the other hand, I suppose you could view the reactions as less of a celebration of a man's death, and more of a celebration of the lives which he can no longer threaten. I remember how I felt watching the towers fall in my 8th grade classroom. I was scared, angry and hurt, and I was far away from any real danger. Perhaps for some who have felt the effects of his hate first hand, bin Laden's death provided that moment when they can breathe easily again. They have cause to celebrate a return to living life with less fear. I would argue that's what the people of Oz were really celebrating when they sang songs about the death of the Wicked Witch of the West. They were celebrating an end of fear and terror, and the beginning of a return to normalcy. In this war on terror, true victories seem hard to come by, and perhaps this event gave hope to the American public that terrorism can be defeated. In practice, the true cause of such celebrations seem to be a fine distinction on a personal level, which may be why recent images can conjure memories of both a scene from the Wizard of Oz and people celebrating an act of unprokoved evil.  I can say that these recent events gave me pause and caused me to reflect on what I really think, and I invite you to do the same.

Thanks for reading, and God bless!

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