Monday, September 22, 2008

so you've decided to join the americorps...

you've decided to dine with strangers/dumpster dive/haul rancid meat out of a freezer. welcome to the americorps:

madonna and david met alyssa and amanda at the unitarian church on sunday and invited the entire team to dine at their home the following saturday evening. seeing as none of us actually knew each other, it was awkward for a few minutes. however, it didn't take long for friendly banter to emerge, eating contests over the squash curry and black bean soup to commence, and a tour of the house/family history to be given. it was delightful. then came the lounging and games. madonna, david, housemate sara, and i played a geography version of rack-o, several of the girls started knitting, amiee and tyler retired in front of the television upstairs and sarah updated us on her texas cousin's whereabouts and well-being. all-in-all, we felt right at home. then came the coffee (for some) and the apple pie (for all). we packed into the van with much thanks around 11pm. i never anticipated feeling so comfortable dining with complete strangers...

yet, it was such a success that we couldn't resist when tom and jane (a couple who volunteer regularly with the flood relief center in fond du lac) invited us out for dinner and a bonfire the next night. again, we got a photographic introduction to the kids and grandkids, cozy dinner chats, and s'mores around the fire. when we left around 10:30, half of us had committed to return the next night for warm beds in which to rest.

they just deserve a section of their own. as i lay on their family room floor on monday evening with my red blankie watching a pbs special on objects and memory, i thought: "i've never felt so at home away from home". amanda, alyssa and i took over the camper in the driveway while sarah, bre, and tyler took beds in the house. the next morning we woke up to hot breakfast with tom and jane. i left for work with hugs and a playful "thanks, mom! thanks dad!"

i came two hours late to dinner on friday due to some necessary dumpster diving (see below). tom and jane fed me at the counter as they did dinner dishes and we discussed their afternoon bike adventure. this time, jane informed me that she and tom purchased their first bike helmets ever after discussing bike safety with amanda and me on monday night. tom asked why i'd chosen to become vegetarian. much like rosemary's, i parted ways with a "god speed," an open invitation to stay with them any time i find myself in fond du lac, and a very full tummy. i miss them already.

we were scheduled to drive south to new orleans bright and early on saturday morning. you can imagine my concern when i misplaced the minivan keys after a brain-frying day (directly related to our 4-hour speed solitaire competition the night previous). after searching everywhere else at the fairgrounds, i determined that i must have tossed them in the dumpster while cleaning out the van.

i hopped up on top and fished around. no luck. i hopped in (just after taking my first shower in 7 days) and tossed all the big bags out of the dumpster. no luck. i went inside, a short - and very sincere - prayer running through my head, found my headlamp and an overturned bucket, and hopped back in. i crouched on the overturned bucket and shined my lamp downward while fishing out the smaller bits of garbage. still crouching on the bucket, i announced: "those are the keys. i found them" to nobody in particular at least 4 times after i spotted the hot pink carabiner to which the keys were attached. in total, the search effort took 45 minutes. i don't want to know what passersby thought as i emerged triumphant with headlamp, bucket and keys, and started hauling bags of trash back into the dumpster.

i made my first trip to milwaukee last week to help a racist, sexist, ageist woman clean out her basement. she was very skeptical about our intentions at first, including our desire to remove a freezer full of rancid meat. she insisted - despite the odorous evidence - that the freezer had not been unplugged when we arrived (it had, according to fema records, been unplugged since june 2008). when i convinced her i had not unplugged the freezer and that the meat was truly foul (no pun intended), she insisted the freezer was not a total loss:

"it's brand new. it's not 2 years old."
"i hear you and i'm sorry to say i think it's best to call it a loss."
"we can clean it. we really can."
"well, let's take a look."

so she and i hauled slimy, bug-infested meats out of her freezer until it was empty. in the end, the whole freezer came out, i nearly vomited, and she asked for our addresses so she could keep in touch. such a 180 and such a committed vegetarian for the next little while...

- i went to arkansas for the first time.
- i visited memphis for the first time, including the lorraine hotel (where dr. king was shot) and beale street.
- an in-the-undetermined-future mlk bike tour, including stops at several historic sites.
- (the cyclist's equivalent to
- bike on washington "trek to re-energize america".
- the little farmer in fond du lac, wi.
- making pumpkin pie from scratch for the first time.
- staying up until 2am to taste the fresh apple pie alyssa and i made.
- having excellent access to the world wide web at my new housing.

1 comment:

preethi said...

Um, I love you. And you're writing. And "Walking in Memphis" is one of those few songs for which I will never, ever hit the skip button on my iPod, regardless of my mood.