Thursday, March 29, 2007

I sent my letter to Katrina Corps...

And they posted it on their blog. There are letters from others volunteers. You should check those out... maybe you can help out too.

Spread the word :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Impossible is NOTHING!

This spring break wasn't the first time I was in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and the flood. I was in the city a year ago and got to see closely the damage in the city and the need to help those affected. And since I had been there before, I thought I'd be prepared to face the experience, but my life was changed in ways I couldn't have imagined.

It's been hard putting into words what a couple of days of gutting houses did to me. I just know I'm not the same. And how could not be changed after connecting with the people that lived in the houses we gutted just by looking at their house and helping them a little to get their lives back together, to get themselves back home.

I came back from New Orleans full of hope and love for those who are dispersed around the country working for the moment when they are able to go back to their city and feel at home again. I felt honored to be part of the team that will make their homecoming a little easier. I can't imagined their hearts if they were to have to start from nothing, from getting their damaged belongings out of the house. They've already gone through too much, and it's up to those of us who can, to help them.

The experience let me connect on a personal level with the homeowners, even when we didn't even meet any of them. Their stories were being told by the posters they had in a room door, the suitcase with colorful dresses found on a bed, the pictures framed, and the little details that made the lives of those who lived there. Those things that were ripped out of their lives by the tragedy 18 months ago.

When helping out with gutting houses one is able to trace life stories, and that's what happened to me. I was trying to picture the people who lived in one of the houses we gutted. Each object found gave me a clue of the life behind it, and I found parallels to my life. In that house I found drawings and paintings of the homeowners. And I paint, and that touched me. Those paintings could have been painted by me, with my brushes, with my paints. And that's the moment in which the experience went from doing volunteer work to becoming something more human I can't explain. At that moment I knew that helping that family was a privilege I was given.

I only witnessed pieces of lives, and I listened to pieces of stories. But they will go with me wherever I go. And I'll tell them to others, because the losses of cause by Katrina and the flood are our losses. And if everyone realized this the recovery could be so much quicker.

We had the chance to listen to people who are back in New Orleans working hard to getting their lives back together, experiencing so many obstacles. One of the neighbors at one of the houses took the time to come and share with our group his experienced. "I have a sister" he began, and went on to telling us how his life has completely changed after the flood. He lost family members during the hurricane, and still now Katrina is costing lives of his family members that are dealing with the losses, with the struggle to get back home. Sitting by the pile of debris he shared part of his life with us and gave us hope.

I admire the work Katrina Corps has taken over. And I am so honored to be part of this effort. Much more help is needed, but I am hopeful. There are people that still need to cry their loss. A lady living next door to a house we gutted said, looking at the pile of debris, that she hadn't cry the tragedy yet, that she still could not believe that so many people's lives and homes had been destroyed so easily. As humans, we need to be there for her.

We tried to save some of the photos and the paintings found in good condition, and I know when they find those paintings waiting for them at their house they will know there's hope. Katrina Corps is doing a wonderful thing for the people of New Orleans. Helping them save their houses and their spirit.

Needless to say, the team of volunteers bonded and more than a team became a family. I'm amazed at the courage and heart of the people I met during my week in New Orleans. Each of them is special and a great example of commitment to service. Thank you for leaving that example in my life, I will always remember.

New Orleans 2007 Flickr photo set

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quick note from the Big Easy

This trip is changing my life in more ways I thought it would. I thought I was prepared for all I would see. I thought being here last year would make a difference in what I experience and how I deal with things. But it didn't.

New Orleans needs more people to come and help them recover their lives. Help them recover their hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Off to New Orleans.... see ya in a week

I'm going to New Orleans for the week of Spring break to do some work on rebuilding the city. We'll be gutting houses for the week, so I'll relieve a lot of stress that way. It's not that often that I get to hammer down walls....

Right now I have a terrible headache that seems like it's gonna be a migraine because I have it since I woke up and now, a few hours and pills later, it's still here. I need to pack and get in the shower (yes, I still haven't showered, but it's OK... it's Saturday!).

This morning I looked out the kitchen window and saw the neighbor's tree, that comes over out backyard, full of white flowers. It was a beautiful sight! So I went to get my camera and took a few photos. I downloaded them already, because I had to erase all the pictures from the memory cards before I leave tonight.

Oh, I have to pack. I can't wait for the Big Easy.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

My I-Love List (revisited)

I love God
I love my family
I love my friends
I love my patria, El Salvador
I love pineapple
I love music
I love city life
I love traveling
I love cherries
I love art
I love chess
I love painting
I love designing
I love the smell of oil paints
I love Van Gogh
I love short stories
I love free verse poetry
I love street art
I love photography
I love Salvadoran food
and tacos
I love fresh green grass
I love rainy days
I love drawing
I love 'Una Vida en el Cine' by Alberto Masferrer
I love the window seat in planes
I love airports
I love Santana's music... and John Mayer's
I love San Salvador
I love Washington DC
I love San Jose, Costa Rica
I love Coyoacan, Mexico
I love the theater
I love when people call me Darling
I love helping others
and making others laugh
I love high places
I love creative writing
I love seashells
I love the book of Job in the Bible
I love dogs... I'd love a Leonberger
I love water
and coffee
I love postcards and any souvenirs I can get for no more than $5
I love soul food
I love to walk barefoot... specially in the sand
I love Jazz
I love the Blues
I love the beach
I really love the beach
I love sunsets... specially if they're at the beach
I love fresh air
I love breezy nights
and I love the stars

If you're interested... this is the list I had before (CLICK)

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I had an amazing day yesterday.
A lot of love.
And cake.

And now from my heart to yours, John Mayer:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Twenty two reasons to be thankful

Each one full of life.
Each one so unique and wonderfully rich.
Thankful for the good and the bad, for it all has shaped me in the person I am now. And the flowers smell amazing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Missing conversations

The long nights with no sleep got me tired, but after Tuesday this week things slowed down a bit. I don't know how I feel about the confusion and frustration that learning to work with flash is bringing to my long nights. Last Saturday as I sat in front of the computer trying to figure out how to make the movieClips do what I wanted them to do I almost cried. It was frustrating, though necessary and beneficial for my career. It'd be so much better, so much easier if I had the resources to get the work done without depending on the lab monitor hours and the reliability of the computers at the media center. I hope to be able to get a Mac once I graduate and don't have the tuition payments anymore.

It's also frustrating to have studied so much for the ancient art history test and still have done a mediocre job on it. I did what I could. I would change so much about the class.

I would change so much about the world, really. Specially about college culture in this country. Today, we had a meeting to prepare to go down to New Orleans during spring break. We watched part of the documentary "When the levees broke." It was hard for me to find out that so many people in the room didn't know what really went on in New Orleans after Katrina. It was sad, because it was just a matter of reading the articles in the newspapers, internet, or just turning on the TV and listening and seeing the images. Even now, 18 months after the catastrophe, people are ignorant. The whole thing made me think of April. We always talked about current, social, political and economic issues. She would take out a newspaper clip from her bag during lunch or when we were studying or just hanging around and would say "B, read this, I wanna know what you think of it." And from there it could go on for hours. We used to have Friday lunches and would go on forever talking about so many different things. Sometimes it would get to be 4 pm and we were still sitting in the back of the food court just talking. I miss those conversations. I miss those meaningful, intelligent conversations. The world needs so many more people like her. And I've been thinking of her so much more lately. The award in her memory will be given soon. Last year I got an email about being nominated and I don't know how, but I filled out the application. It was very difficult to do so because it's not supposed to be that way. There shouldn't be an award in her name because she should be here with us still. I got the email this year again, and I'm not applying. I just can't do it.

I'm doing the same with a couple of other awards I have been asked to apply for. It's damaging and I don't think it helps me grow to win or lose awards. The mere application process makes me feel uncomfortable. My sophomore year, when I applied for the volunteer spirit award I ranted so much about the application. I told my advisor all I thought about it. How it seemed ridiculous to me that they were asking for a count of service hours of the work I had done. That alone defited the point of service. Why do you serve? Who are you ultimately serving? Yourself? Is it just a way to accumulate numbers in a notebook where you can later go back and brag about in a paper application for an award that will later sit on top of the bookshelf just accumulating dust? I got the award, and my name is on a plaque at the involvement and leadership office, but I wonder if that will change anyone's life? I'm sure it didn't change mine. The service did, but having my name there... not so much. Then when I lose an award I feel bad and wonder what I did wrong and why wasn't I good enough to get it. It's sickening. The whole thing. It's wise advise the one given in the Bruce Mau Design's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth when in n. 26 it says "Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you." I now know what they mean.

I'll keep changing the world. On my own. No recognition needed, a simple bright smile will do.

Oh, and I'm ready for my 22nd birthday! Two more days, though for some people thought it was today.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Man, I'm tired.
AND 4 days until my birthday. It'll be a glorious Saturday.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"somebody needs a hug"

that's what Billy said after one of my cranky remarks this morning.
sleepless nights trying to figure out how to use Flash are not good. even after 1 hr break for breakfast at the waffle house.
tonight: another all nighter.
long nights of my youth....

Saturday, March 03, 2007

long nights of my youth

There's a beautiful lunar eclipse outside and I'm in front of a computer trying to understand Flash 8.0. It's a bit depressing. I tried looking at the eclipse from the window but I can't see it. And when I finish this project, I have to study for my media test on Monday. I have to get a high grade on that test to get my spirits and hope up. It's terrible how my nights and days revolve around class projects and things.

I wish I could be outside. Watching the moon. Thinking of nothing. I need a hug.... and coffee.