Archive for friends

Frustration

// June 3rd, 2011 // 1 Comment » // friends, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

There are times when I have to take a step back and ask myself why I do what I do. There are times when I feel like what I do does not make a difference as far as the big picture is concerned. I say this because there is almost no change taking place in the way organizations handle and are for the people they claim to to doing so much for.

Yeah, I know there are those organizations who have testimonials from people they say they’ve helped, but having been one of those people I have to question just how much of that “testimonial” is truth and how much of it is “forced” I say this because I know plenty of people who have been homeless and tons more who are low income, living in low income housing who say things in order to get a gift card for food, referrals for service and all sorts of things. But when you get right down to it and are able to speak to them about what is really going on and how much these places truly help, without the pressure of having a representative  from the organization present, more times then not, the story will change.  Let’s just face it, just like AT&T will not place on their website or printed information how many times they screw customers over, neither will a homeless service organization or any other organization place it there either.

Yesterday afternoon I get a call from someone I do peer support for and right away from the tone of the persons voice I could tell they were upset. Just to confirm this, right away I asked and just as I thought, they were agitated by something that had just taken place.

After speaking with the person and trying to get them to relax and after they asked me to call to try to get a clear answer, I make a call to their case manager who does not answer their phone. So I call another line and get someone who is able to let the person know that I am calling. I was finally able to get the person on the line only to feel like I am being “stonewalled”

Skid Row is like the wild, wild west. Organizations play by their own set of rules and seem to have this “we you gonna tell” attitude about it. I would even say they have this “let’s just fake it until we get caught and they we’ll address it” This is where testimonials come in handy. If you get enough deprived, under cared for, neglected people to say things like “this place did wonders for me” then chances are complaints from people who say otherwise will go ignored.

Many times rules and regulations are set in place, not to help, but to discourage people. If you already have someone dealing with medical issues, housing issues, food and clothing issues or even transportation issues, then adding one more issue or as i like to call them “road blocks” will only cause them to give up and go away and in the end the organization has successfully achieved its unwritten mission.

I mean come on, if a doctor says their patient would greatly benefit from A, B or C, then why would someone stand in the way of the overall medical and mental welfare of someone they claim to be “helping” let me take this just a step further, how can you help someone when you have no clue of what the person is dealing with? How do you help someone when you have no respect, no compassion for the people you say you do so much for? In order words how can I be a heart surgeon and no nothing about the heart….I don’t even know where it is located or how it works.

Later that afternoon I get another call from someone else totally lost with the HIV maze and has no one to turn to. For 45 minutes I listen to this person break down and cry, tell me how they feel like giving up and ask me things like “what have I done wrong” or “why can’t this be fixed”

It frustrates the fuck out of me, because all I can really do is listen and do my best to comfort each person and encourage them to remain engaged. All I can do is allow them to be heard, vent, yell, scream and yes break down and cry, because case managers do not have time to do any of this…they don’t even have time to care.

It frustrates the fuck out of me because after they are calm, after they have been heard, after tears have dried, I then have to encourage them to go right back into the lions den, right back into harms way, right back to the very person, place or things that have caused this in the first place.

I wish that I could wave a stick in the air and tables could be reversed and the people who don’t seem to get the clear fact that there is a HUMAN LIFE at the other end…….let me take that back, I would I could wave a stick in the air and give them a full taste of the bullshit, red tape, office politics, games and drama that they play every single day, calling it work.

I wish I could wave a stick and give each and everyone one of you assholes what it is like to be ignored when you’re in need. Wave that stick and see to it that you eat from a trash can simply because I failed to do my fucking job and then act like it is your fault. Wave a stick and hold you hostage to pain and suffering simply because I do not give a flying fuck about you. Wave a stick and watch you suffer while I go home and forget you even exist.

It is bad enough in this country to be homeless and be fully engaged in doing all you can to change things and the people in line to help you only cause you more hardship, force you to be more broken.

God knows that people with HIV or AIDS deal with enough stigma and ignorance, but to then have the stigma and ignorance come from the very place in line to help you. The very place that you must turn to for help is a breeding ground for HIV and AIDS stigma and ignorance. PLEASE tell me how this is going to help anyone?

After my last phone call I sat on the sofa for one minute and then I smiled because I was thinking of people like Ms. Lopez who treated me with respect and kindness and I now sit in this apartment because she cared. I think of the clinic and amazing Dr. I now have and how HIV is no longer something that causes me such heartache and pain….because they care. I think of my friends who suit up and show up when I can’t even get my ends to look at each other let alone meet. When after 96 job interviews I am still unemployed and $220 per month does not cover even the most below living expense. I think of the people I know who do outstanding jobs for the people they serve and do so because they CARE.

I jumped on my bike and went for a ride. I had hoped to find Judy, but no luck and just as I was heading back home to Hollywood someone stopped me to say “HELLO”

My friend Sells who I met in the West Los Angeles cold weather shelter was smiling at me, looking like a new person, riding a bike with no back pack and many layers of clothes. He was smiling and happy. After over three years of homelessness and three years of begging for help, he found a place on his own. He is now in school and the cell phone I gave him through my cell phone outreach has now been replaced by an iphone that he purchased.

It is very sad that I, like many thousands of people have nothing nice to say about the old guard that has long been in charge of helping homeless people and people with disabilities. This is not to say that these places do not employ some outstanding people who do great work and truly care about the people they serve, but those people are too far and few in between. Those people end of leaving the field and what’s left is the garbage that hold seats of authority, making up silly pointless ass rules so they don’t have to lift a finger to help as many people as they could.

But it’s people like Sells and all the other amazing people whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, people who do care and go far and above what is required to help those in need where I gain my a portion of my strength and courage to “keep it pushing” and then there is my FAITH in God.

With God I am the majority and with God I can do all things.

In my prayers I do not ask God to give me the strength to claim the mountain of mess, I pray that he moves it out of the way.

Growth and Change

// May 30th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, beach, Canon, diet, Exercise, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time, Pictures

JAZZ & ART @LACMA 046This long holiday weekend  has been awesome. It started with jazz at LACMA and today it ended with an awesome day of picture taking with my friend Franklin, who was just one of my friends who helped me kick my weekend off. All I can say is that I’ve had an amazing, fun filled weekend.

Franklin and I have been spending lots of time together and I must say that it has been simply awesome getting to know him better and spend so time with him. I already blogged about how I met Franklin and already talked about some of the things he deals with in his daily life. It has been so cool to watch him open up and grow, so cool to watch him move from someone who barley spoke a word to someone who talks and smiles, so cool to watch him go from someone who stayed in his dark apartment, to someone who now calls me about going on picture safaris.

It is simply so amazing to watch how the gift of friendship can help to change things for someone. How simply showing up and refusing to allow someone to waste away can mean the world to the life path that someone is on. This is why the word “friendship” means so much to me and why I never just throw the word “friend’ around.

My friends are all straight and all couples,  newly weds with a baby, while another has been married a few years with aJAZZ & ART @LACMA 089baby on the way, another couple planning a wedding and the last couple has been together for a very long time. They are all great people and to be very honest they are great friends, not just supportive of me, but of my community work as well.  At times I feel like a third wheel, even though I know when they ask to hang out they truly want to see me and have some hang time with me.

Until Franklin I had no single friend and with him I get a friend who is not only single, but we also share the common interest of photography, jazz, classical music and so much more. Like me, Franklin is HIV positive, so there is just one more thing we have in common and one more thing we can help to support each other through.

For the past two months, maybe three I’ve been thinking of how I am going to grow and change, not just my organization, but in my personal life too. Just last month I had a great HIV check up and in order for that to continue I need to make certain I am doing everything I can to keep my body healthy and stay off HIV medications.

Purpose 118To address this I have been back on my bike and taking longer walks with Dodger, I am also doing all that I can to address more healthy eating habits, however doing this is a huge challenge on government assistance, but I am doing all that I can. The main thing is that i am making certain in get rest and plenty of exercise.

In addition I am also removing people, places and things from my life that only serve as distractions and yes, even problems or drama. This is going to be key in my overall health and well being. It’s funny to me how once you make your mind to be a better person all the way around, people, places and things start to work against you. All of the sudden people you never hear from are now calling, people, places and things start to do more to show up and be distractions and this is where I need to make certain I am clear in where I am going and what I want to accomplish.

The cool thing is this, with getting rest and more exercise I have seen major changes in my mood, my energy and my Sickle Cell is not given me that much of a problem. My days seem to be more full of energy and my stress level is very low. I seem to be smiling more, if that is possible for someone who smiles all the time.

Now let’s talk about my outreaches because they too are changing and I am adding an addition to my HIV outreach.

Do Something Saturday~that empowers people

This is my oldest and most visible outreach and for the past four years I have run this outreach out of my own pocket orMalibu Logoon State Beach 122 efforts combined with the backing and support of my friends and supporters. It’s been awesome and the people I have been able to reach has been great, but it is time to step it up and take this outreach to the next level.

I dont mind sharing my ideas or even talking with friends about what I want to do or how I can help them. But I must say that my feeling get hurt when I my ideas at work in organizations that do not even respect people like me. My feelings get hurt when I see people collect awards for an idea that was mine, but simply because they have the backing of some non-profit or people with deep pockets.

These past three months I’ve had to really swallow my pride and set my feelings aside and know that my ideas are at work making things better for people battling HIV and AIDS as well as people who are homeless or transitioning from homelessness into having their own place.

I’ve always said I do not so this for someone to call my name or to get some award, however it does not feel good to see other people take credit for my idea or something I’ve worked damn hard at. I simply does not feel good.

So no more will I allow organizations who wont even allow me to volunteer for them, take my ideas and use them for their good only to line their pockets and flip me or even people like me the middle finger.

I will say this as I have said all along, you cant help people if you do not speak with them and seeing what I have seen and reading what I have read from 4 very different mega funded organizations really makes me angry, but not in a bad way, i that makes sense. It makes me angry enough to do more, push harder and raise my voice that much more, so that people who are seen but not heard have their concerns addressed.

Malibu Logoon State Beach 193I am adding a support group for people battling HIV or AIDS to my Skid Row outreach. I am just so sick and tired and hearing the same old tired line from the “community” and even people at “ASO’s” when it comes to addressing the needs of people who are greatly affected by HIV and AIDS.

No longer will I wait for people to return emails after I’v sent several and even had face to face conversations with such people. I will no longer accept “they are out of my SPA area” I will no longer wait while HIV and AIDS continues the path it has always been on unchanged since the start of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

After reading this you will understand why I need to remove some people, places and things in my life that only take up space and offer up nothing. I can not allow my health to fail me because I am not doing all I can to remain in good health.

Tomorrow is day 1 in the journey of positive growth and change for both me and my organization.

Today I ended my awesome weekend at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. I am uploading the 344 pictures I took and the video of the day is already live on my youtube channel. I will share the other surprise later this week in either a blog or vlog.

I hope you all have had a great holiday weekend.

Changing

// May 27th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, diet, Exercise, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Me Time, photos

Purpose 146There has been so much taking place in my life. Like some of my friends I am experiencing a shift in life which requires me to “be still” It is also requiring that I look at people, places and things in my life that no longer serve a purpose….to be honest some of these things never served a purpose, but I just wanted to hold on to them. That is no longer going to happen.

It’s always so funny to me that right as I am about to experience a breakthrough in my life, people, places and things will come around or reappear in my life to only serve as distractions to take my eyes and attention away from where they should be. Now these people, places and things come in many forms, but none the less they are distractions and I can not allow them to trick me off my center.

One thing I know for sure about God is that he does not need to announce himself to me. He does not need anyone to tell me that he has sent them. You see I am his child and I will know if God has sent something for me. It’s always funny to me how people invoke God into their mess and then act as if you are not supposed to know it.

This week I’ve spent more time being present and listening to things around me. I spent time making sure that where IPurpose 210spend my time and energy is something that is fruitful. There is no point in me toiling in a field that will never bear any good fruit. Now I know this will go far over the heads of many, but for those of you who fully walk in love and light you know full well what I am talking about.

I’ve also been making certain I take more time out for me and not spending my time worrying about things I have no control over. I’ve been making certain that I am getting proper rest, doing my best to eat better and get far my exercise in so that I am able to move forward with the work I am doing.

It has been awesome to simply go to bed and get some rest. I can’t even begin to tell you just how much this has changed my mood, my spirit and this I can carry with me throughout my day. I realize that not everyone is going to understand and even care about what I have to say or what it is I am doing and that is ok. As long as God understands then I have nothing else to concern myself with. See with God I can do all things and with God I am the majority. I do not need to seek any other permissions or ask anyone else but God.

I’ve been enjoying the rich friendships I have in my life, I am taking the time to smile a bit longer, hug a bit stronger and live my life a bit better.

I am making no time for confluma (confusion and drama), I am not entertaining people, places or things that do not set well with my soul and I am not apologizing for it. I am not making time for people, places or things that only seek to distract me and I know what distractions look like, how they sound and yes I even know they will come bearing gifts and even say they are from God.

Purpose 401I am staying on my center and my center is God and I will not be shaken off, rocked off, pushed off, shoved off or tricked off my center.

Each day I pray from a hedge of protection around me and I know that there are people who pray the very same prayer as well. I ask God to bless me when I am in the city and while I am in the field. I ask him to be a fence all around. I ask him to protect me and guide my foot steps.

As I move to embark on my new journey in the outreach work I do for people battling HIV and AIDS, I know I will need to be rested, I know I will need to be on top of my game, but I also know I must ask God to bless the work and me.

If you are watching my Flickr page then you see I am spending more time with my camera in hand. I also working on creating a photography book and hoping to put together a photography show of my work as well.

Blessings

The Gift

// May 15th, 2011 // No Comments » // Cooking, friends

I woke up this morning and made my last package of instant oatmeal…well there were two, but I am a grown up and one package simply does not satisfy me. I love oatmeal, but this morning I knew this was the very last thing in my apartment I had to eat. I do have a box of corn meal, but nothing to mix with it to really make anything. I also have two boxes of pancake mix but no eggs, milk or oil to add to it. It’s not the just add water kind, so don’t bother to suggest this.

I do have some dry bean, so I let them soak and then placed them in the crack pot. I knew they would not be ready for dinner today, so I knew I was not going to be eating anything the rest of the day. The money friend were kind enough to send to me has been used on bills and food for last week.

My friend came over today and I know he is always use to me having something to eat while he is here and when I dont have anything prepare I can always order use something. Well today I had to tell him that all I could offer him was a glass of cold water. He smiled and said “I know what you mean man, this month has been hard for me as well. I had to walk the 6 miles to my medical appointment because I have no money for gas or the bus after paying my rent and bills.”

Right as he said that I was looking at bills on my table that are due this month, while in the back of my head thinking at least three more are coming.

He was here for a little while and then someone from YOUTUBE stopped by with his boyfriend. It wa sso great to finally meet the person whom I have grown to have so much respect for and really enjoy the message he brings on his channel. However it wasn’t until after my visit with them and my friend that I remembered I had nothing to eat for dinner.

I opened my cupboard hoping that I had missed a can of vegetables, beans or something, but nothing was there. I checked my crockpot but the bean were not ready to eat. I knew they wouldn’t be. So I took Dodger for a walk and once I returned I finished uploading my photos to Flickr and logged into FACEBOOK. Just as I did this there was three knocks at my door.

“Who is it?” I said. Since I had not buzzed anyone into the building and I know Franklin always calls before he comes by, I never open my door without asking who it is. However no one answered. Since no one answered I went back to doing what I was doing. A few minutes later I got up to get some water when I saw the trash needed to go out. I sat the bag by the front door and not long after I walked to take the trash to the bin.

When I opened the door there was a bag hanging from the handle and there was a note on the bag that read “God said to get this for you” Again not knowing who had left the bag or what was inside I took some care in looking in the bag, since it was plastic I could see there were cans in the bag and nothing that looked like it could hurt me or anyone else for that matter. I opened the bag to discover four cans of soup.

I looked around but the courtyard below and the passageway in front of me and the stairs above me were clear. It was quiet, just as it always is around this time on a Sunday. I walked back inside, closed and locked my door and sat the cans of soup on my table. I then walked to take the trash out.

Once back in my apartment I thought to myself, wow, who should I thank. So I knocked on my neighbors door and asked if she had done this, but her boyfriend said she was not at home and she is just not the kind of person that would do something like this, not even for herself. I knocked on another door and asked but they had no clue as to what i was talking about.

Was this some dream? So I walked back to my place and looked at the cans on my table and then said “thank you God” and enjoyed a bowl of soup for dinner.

It’s funny how I go out of my way to make sure homeless people or others in need have what they need in order to fell like someone cares, but these past few weeks it has been people who are not in my daily life that have gone out of their way to check on me and make sure I was doing ok. Friends from my youtube channel who have made certain that my needs were met and now tonight someone I dont even know made certain that I had something to eat.

THANKFUL.

Relaxing

// May 14th, 2011 // No Comments » // Canon, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Me Time

Friday Photo Safari 004Since my last trip to the hospital I have followed the instructions of my doctors to the letter. I was told to rest, take it easy and try to reduce stress and also to find a way to relax. I have done just that.

I dont recall if I blogged out my last HIV check up or not, I’m pretty sure I did, the results were awesome and I was so pleased to hear this. Everything that was of some concern when my blood was taken for the labs was laid to rest with the results. So the past two weeks I have done my best to continue this trend of great health.

It’s funny how certain people who say they are close to me have not even picked up the phone to call or check on me, while others have gone far and above to visit, hang out and all else. However I did not allow myself to get worked up or even worry about it. It is what it is or as Ma use to tell me “sometimes people don’t want to be bothered with all that may be going on with you.”

I recall getting a message from someone who hinted at me needing depression meds, this person happens to be on them as well. Now this is not the first time someone has said something like this, but each time this has come from someone who takes such meds and after making such a statement they vanish into thin air never to be heard from again.

However this time I did have a heart to heart with a good very good friend of mine and after that conversation I didFriday Photo Safari 020speak with my doctor about the possibility of me being so depressed that I need meds for it. In defense of my dear friend, she did not hint or imply this at all, however the other person did because she felt I was crying far too much. Apparently crying is a sign that someone is depressed and in needs of drugs to control them.

Just as I told the people who have made this suggestion in the past, my doctor once again confirmed the fact that I do not need any signs of depression that requires me to seek out meds. However just as I have always said I do get depressed from situations, but this always passes once the situation works itself out. Anyone who has gone through anything and certainly anyone who has been through what I have is bound to have some situational depression. This is not cause to go sounding the trumpet or alarm that the person needs meds to help them deal with things in there life.

My great grandmother “Nana” as we called her use to say that misery not only loves company, it also demands it. I have to say that each time I have had someone already on meds to control them suggest that I need them as well, they also tell me which meds to ask for. As if this is some sort of recruitment or celebration that someone else is taking meds just like them. Which brings me to my final point on this topic. There are certainly people who have a chemical imbalance in their brain that would require them to take such meds, but there are also those who simply just need to learn some basic life skills instead of depending on a pill or several pills to correct something they can correct themselves.

Friday Photo Safari 035It’s been awesome hanging out with friends, going to lunch, dinner and even on picture safaris. This week alone I have already gone on three and tomorrow I am planning to go on one alone. I must say that several people have asked me to hang out tomorrow, but none of them have confirmed if in fact they truly want to do this. The old me would check in and make sure, but this new me is no longer begging people to come hang out or follow through on things they set into motion.

It is always so funny to me how people say things only to not mean a damn word of what they have said. They simply wanted to say something and they could care less if what they say will be taken to heart by the person they have said it to. For example; “please call me if you need anything” or “I will be there for you when you need me most” and then the one I really hate, “please let me help”

So today was yet another day filled with pictures and the company of a friend. I’ve truly embraced and enjoyed theDowntown Los Angeles 218peace in my life and the coolness of the real people in my life. From my awesome friends I’ve made through YOUTUBE, this blog to the crazy, sexy, cool friends in my daily life. My life is rich and truly blessed.

Praise God

Stay Focussed

// March 9th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, Chef, Cooking, friends, health, Homeless Outreach, Me Time

Do Something Kits 016As I have said before here and even on my youtube channel, getting my final pay check from Tri Delta Sorority has been like pulling teeth. After several calls to the house director and several emails to the house president all of which went unreturned, I finally called an attorney who was more than happy to help me with this matter.

It’s really too bad that things ended this the way they did. As I have said before working for the girls was cool, but the house director was something completely different and to be honest I can see why she doesn’t stay at one job for more than 2 years. I was in the office when my attorney friend called her and she acted as if she didn’t even know who I was or what she was being asked, but she quickly changed her tune when she was asked for a number for her boss.

After spending far too much time dealing with this mess I came home and went for a very long walk with Dodger. Before leaving the my attorneys office, she reminded me that my health was something I needed to stay focussed on and not to allow this to discourage or upset me. I do have some money saved up, but I know it wont last long, so not getting my last check is really starting to bother me. However I did listen and hear what it was she was saying to me.

After walking Dodger I took some pain pills and reclined to take a short nap. I had not been sleep for an hour when someoneDo Something Kits 008knocked on my front door. Dodger barking and running to the door made it hard for me to ignore it and go back to sleep. I went to the door only to see the smiling face of my friend Bradly and his two kids, they even had their little dog in toe. I totally forgot they were coming over.

He is very much aware of the situation with Tri Delta and had called to spend some time time with me just to take my mind off things. He also wanted to drop by some items for Do Something Kits. Since I had the help I opened the door to the closet where I keep the bins with the items in it and asked if he would be willing to help me organize them. He said yes and two hours later we were done.

I cant tell you just how much it meant to me to have a friend stop by to help me stay focussed on something else. It was also nice to see his kids and spend some time catching up as well as laughing. Before they left the girls asked if they could talk about me and the work that I do in their class when they return to school. I smiled and say “yes” and this is when they began to tell me what they would say. Now his kids are 9 and 10 years old, they know about my Sickle Cell, battles with cancer, my 29 months of  homelessness and even my HIV.

Do Something Kits 010They talked for a bout 10 minutes and by the time they were done I could feel the tears about to fall from my eyes. I gave Bradly a hug and kissed them goodbye. When I closed the door the tears just came on like a flood gate had been opened. I could not even fight them or control them. The things they said were so kind and pure, to be very honest they were innocent and very raw at the same time. What made me cry was that here were two kids only 9 and 10 years old and they had such love, respect and compassion not just for me, but towards people in general. I was crying because I dont know many adults that have this. My tears fell even more when I thought of them growing up and the innocents about them is replaced by life and how it can change a person.

It wasn’t long before Bradly called to make sure I wasn’t crying for too long. I laughed when he mentioned it and he told me how much his kids as well as him and his wife think the world of me and what I do. He told me not to allow the actions of Tri-Delta and their director get the best of me. He reminded me that I am far better than that and what I do for people in need is far better then cooking for people. “God will always make a way for you Louis, he always has and always will. Trust this”

I reclined back and started to drift off when Dodger jumped into my lap and began to lick my face. Dodger always seems to find a way to make me smile, even when I don’t feel like it. He put his little head on my chest looking up at me, closed his eyes and began to snore. I laughed to myself thinking how protected and loved he must feel. I stroked his little body and said “I love you Dodger.”

Today was yet another day where I needed to kind my mind busy, so after my long walk with Dodger I made the rounds toDo Something Kits 009stores to get some items to help round things out for the Do Something Kits. Once I got back home I walked Dodger again and then began to put the Do Something Kits together

In all I was able to make 26 kits, 9 of them are for women. It was so relaxing to sit on the floor and prepare the kits. I had some jazz music in the background and I even made time to make a youtube video. The sun had already began to set by the time I was done. I even had time to clean the rest of the closet out and thanks to my friend Tina and Andy I will be doing a Sunday Dinner this weekend for homeless people here in Hollywood.

As I started to clean up I was reminded of something my friend KoKo said to me about a week ago and that was no longer having that job will allow me far more time to do what I love to do. She is so right. While not having a job is never a good thing as far as income is concerned, but as far as my overall health and well being is concerned I know I made the right choice and I know that things will all come together and I will be just fine.

I refuse to allow some job to hold me captive or cause my health to fail me. I refuse to allow some sick woman cause me stress and I refuse to allow some little girls with no real world experience treat me like I am so dirty dead animal laying in the road. It’s funny how they said they loved me and cared so much for me, but that love and care is taken away when I do what is right for me, taken away when it comes to paying me my final check.

Do Something Kits 014From here on out my focus is on my work and nothing else and just as my friend Bradly reminded me, God will always take good care of me, just like he has done my entire life.

Now let’s just hope and pray that my transsexual neighbor will not be fighting with her crack head boyfriend all night and I am able to get some much needed sleep and rest.

“Connection without Bureaucracy”

// March 4th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // friends, Homeless Outreach

Chilling 018This week has been pretty relaxing for me. I’ve emailed my resume for two job openings that my friend told me about and later she went a step further and recommended me for the job. I have a pretty good feeling about, but the best thing is that I no longer has the incredible and in many cases life threatening stress of cooking for people who truly did not appreciate it. The possibility of working in the field where. I already do my community work is simply awesome and I am so looking forward to it.

Thursday I got a call from my long time friend who happens to work in the area of homelessness and not long along I had the chance to work with her in developing an idea for something she was planning to do. In the end the brainstorm we did together came together for the greater good and helped people in need. She was calling to invite me to a “thank you” lunch. I was so touched that she even thought to call me. She is my friend and I believe in what she is doing, so I was more than happy to help in any way.

Today after spending some time sending out more resumes and also spending some much needed time with Dodger, I headed for Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles to have lunch with my long time friend and the volunteers who did such an awesome job of helping people in need.

Since some of the people that I do peer support for down on Skid Row were just a small portion of the people who were able toChilling 020 benefit from the outreach, I had already heard from them just how successful the event was and most importantly how very thankful they were to be able to be part of the people who received gently used dishes to help make their house more of a home.

When I started Do Something Saturday, the main goal was to restore dignity and respect to homeless people. As the outreach grew to include children and seniors and then to offer services to people who are low income or formerly homeless, the goal remained the same. Today I am so proud of what I have created and how through the help of some very kind hearted people, who not just understand what I am trying to do, but have embraced it and have gone above and beyond to help me be of service to people who are in need.

Having the chance to meet the other people who worked so hard in order to make things just a bit better for others was so awesome. The chance to hear first hand just how very important it is to them to be involved to help make things better for people who are suffering, people who are in need, truly meant the world to me and to hear first hand how other every day people are willing to stand up for what is right in order to make this earth a much more peaceful place was simply inspiring to me.

Chilling 050Today my friend took us all to lunch to show her appreciation and thanks to us for helping her make her event a huge success, but in the end it is me sitting being so thankful to her for allowing me to be of service to those who are in need through the amazing work she is creating.

I smiled, laughed and had an amazing time today, not in celebration of myself, but in celebration of my friend for the awesome job she did for those who are in need. The great care she took, her refusal to be discouraged by red tape and BS. In celebration of a friend I have always admired, respected and looked up.

I smiled, laughed and had an amazing time because I got to see someone who happens to be my friend doing all she can to “restore dignity and respect” to people who go without it. In my friends eyes and in her smile I had a front row seat to something that has been the core of what I do……”connection without bureaucracy”

She took us to lunch to thank us, but I was the one who walked away being so thankful. How cool is it to see the same passion in your friends eyes that you have deep in your soul. How cool is it to wake up one day to discover that someone you grew up with has the same care and passion for people that you do? How cool is it to have friends who care as much and sometime far more than yourself?

Today I saw the core of what I do, the core of what I work so hard at in a dear friend of mine and my soul smiled, my heart feltChilling 035 joy……..”connection without bureaucracy”

YOU ROCK KoKo

Awesome Week

// February 12th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // Chef, Cooking, friends, health, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time, work

Although this week went by very fast, it was a very busy week for me, with changes taken place at work and outreaches, placing final things in order for the rest of the month as well as getting ready for what could be a battle for my job. By Friday I was feeling a cold trying its best to get stronger from the day before, but Friday night I took measures to head it off at the past.

WORK

This was the last week of having two chefs of the kitchen. The other chef who cooks dinner give her notice and Friday was her last day. If you have been reading this blog then you know how hard ti was to work with her, but I did all I could to make the situation work. However in the end she made the choice that she had mentioned several times before which was to quit and find a job that worked best for her.

The last week working with her was very pleasant, for some reason she was very relaxed and in many ways very helpful and considerate, but she stuck to her guns about helping to keep the pantry and refrigerator clean and stated true to form with ordering far more then what was needed and three times used items that were supposed to be for breakfast or lunch. However this is now in the past as Friday was her last day.

She seems to be very happy with the new job she will be working and I am happy that she found a place that she feels will work best for her. She will be working at a very high placed eatery in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. A place I am very fond of and a place that has a really cool vibe.

The other thing that took place this week was the fact that I would be training the new chef on Monday and Tuesday of next week. I also was asked by the director to plan a dinner menu for the week as well, but by Wednesday after ordering food for the following week I was told that this would not be the case because there would be no evening chef, but instead a catering company that would not require any training or assistance from me.

For me this raised some red flags mainly because I use to cater and I know the ultimate goal was to have the entire operation and not just part of it. Moreover, according to the house director they have requested that I be out of the kitchen by 1:30pm, which is 30 minutes before my schedule time ends. I raised this point with the director and she did her best to simply dodge the issue with the answer of “well I will have to talk to Brian and see what he has to say about this.”

Now according to the director, the kitchen is about six thousand dollars over budget. For me this is hard to swallow because we have never been given a budget for the kitchen. In any case just while going over all the invoices and making certain that all bills have been paid and that we are current with each vendor, I find that we have nearly a eight thousand credit with the very vendor the director made the choice to stop using.

I made my finding known to the house president as well as to the house treasurer expressing that it would be better to no longer order from other vendors until will use this credit that we have with the other vendor. Doing so would bring the kitchen back on budget with room left to move. They thought this was best, but we will see what takes places in the coming weeks.

As I stated before, the order for next weeks food had already been placed, instead of simply refusing all the items that were order for dinner, the director made the choice to keep the entire order saying “We will just use the extra dinner items for lunch” However in our meeting just last week, the house president expressed that sometimes lunches are a bit heavy, these would be menus that I have not planned, but menus submitted by the house director or the former evening chef. When I mentioned this to the director she simply said “It would not be fair to Oscar if we cancel half this order. They will just have to deal with it.”

Other the this my time at work has been awesome, as I have stated many time on this blog and on my youtube channel the girls I would for are awesome and I love working for them. I made some baked tofu this week and even introduced Soy Lettuce Wraps which were a hit with the entire house. Something the director said would not be well received by the meat eaters. Again she was dead wrong, but then again she always is.

So my goal next week to to continue to do the very best job I can and do all that I can to make sure the kitchen runs on budget, meals continue to be awesome and that the members remain happy with the service I provide them. Judging from the applause I got after a Friday brunch where at one point I had next to 15 brunch tickets stacked up on the counter and from the all the smilies and love the girls continue to shower on me, I am certain my job is till secure. However I am leaving nothing to chance.

OUTREACHES

By Friday I wasn’t feeling all that great so I was happy that I had made some arrangements with my friend KoKo who had some donations from  cousin Mona to give to me because she could not use them. So the items that I planned to do the Skid Row outreach for were passed to my friend and she would drop them off next week.

When I am not feeling well it is always so nice to have a friend like KoKo help me do with I do and even better to know that people like Mona are out there doing what they can, when they can to help people in need. I was also able to get some information from my friend that will help someone who is homeless and looking for a place to live. Through her advice and support I am hoping that this person will follow though and eventually get his own place to live.

I’ve also received a few emails from one of the guys down at Chess Park. His cell phone has died on him, so he asked if I could help him get another phone. I just happen to have a few phones in my donations closet, so I am able to give a phone to him. I just need to load some minutes on the phone and then meet up with him on Sunday. I will also be able to give him a hygiene kit as well.

One of the cool points of my week was the pleasant surprise I received from my friends Kim and Nicole who live in Milwaukee. They sent three boxes with shoes, Do Something Kits and a brand new Fox Sports jacket. The shoes and jacket were part of the outreach to people on Skid Row battling HIV and AIDS. Thanks to my friend KoKo the outreach went on as planned, so this was awesome for me.

SATURDAY

It’s Saturday and it is beautiful outside. Because I am not feeling my best I am simply going to take it easy and relax today. I need to be in top health come Monday as I prepare to pull out all the stops and stay on top of my game. A task I am sure the director thinks I will fail at badly. She must not know about me.

Happy 4 Year Anniversary Do Something Saturday

// February 8th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // beach, Cooking, friends, Homeless Outreach

Do Something Saturday & Old LA Zoo 021On February 3, 2011, the outreach that I created while I was homeless celebrated it’s 4th birthday. it was such a happy and proud time for me. Who would have ever thought that my attempt to reach out and help people who are homeless would grow to what it is today and be so embraced, loved and respected by so many?

Now I could have simply went out with some friends to celebrate this milestone, but instead I am taking the entire month to be of service to homeless people, low income families and people living with HIV or AIDS. This past weekend (Saturday, February 5th) the month long celebration kicked off in the area in which it was created with an outreach to homeless people in Santa Monica’s Chess Park.

I also had the cool opportunity of doing this outreach as with many of the outreaches with a good friend of mine. Together we spent the day with some pretty cool homeless people feeding them Jumbo Jacks, bottle water and passing out Do Something Kits. We hung for about an hour, laughing and talking, I also had the chance to speak with someone who is looking for housing and I am hoping with the connections I have I will be able to help him get started in the right direction toward ending his homelessness.

The cool thing was the fact that just two days before the outreach I received an email from someone who was so helpful to me whenDo Something Saturday & Old LA Zoo 007 I was homeless. To be honest if it wasn’t for him I would have been close to death on what was the coldest February on record, by showing me how to use newspaper to help keep me warm and how to dig a small trench to prevent the wind from blowing across my body while sleeping on the sand at the beach. It was so cool to see him. Later this week I will be picking up a cell phone and taking it to him so he is able to stay connected.

My evening was spent with my friends taking a cool, but very short tour of the old Los Angeles Zoo. I had no clue that there was a such thing, so I was happy that I was able to hang out with them to take some pretty cool pictures.

Do Something Saturday Outreaches 011Sunday I had someone stopping by to drop off donations for the Do Something Kits. This person watches my YOUTUBE channel and happened to see me on the bus coming home from work one day. I was on the phone, but we got off at the same stop and he tapped me on my shoulder to say hello. It was really cool to have met him and later it would mean donations for the Do Something Kits.

Do Something Saturday & Old LA Zoo 008He and I hung out and talked while I finished cooking “Sunday Dinner” for homeless people. This was an added outreach that I planned since I knew I would be home and had the money to purchase the food. After passing out 12 chicken dinners and 10 Do Something Kits, I had the cool opportunity of speaking with this awesome young man on camera.

I could not have asked for a better way to kick off the month long 4 year celebration of Do Something Saturday. I spent this very special time with my friends and then had the amazing honor and pleasure of meeting someone who watches my youtube channel and wanted to get involved.

Looking forward to sharing all the amazing stories from the outreaches as well as the photos all month long.

Sunday with Friends

// January 30th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, Chef, Cooking, friends, Me Time, Pictures

Cooking with Kengi 024It’s been a while since I’ve had my two friends Donald and Walter over for dinner, in fact it was long overdue, so after chilling with Donald on Friday, I knew it would be awesome to hang out with him and Walter, so right away I made the calls and after hearing “yes” from both of them I made the plans to have an awesome Sunday afternoon with great food and plenty of smiles and laughs.

Whenever all three of us hang out it is nothing but a great time. I could not have asked for a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon. Donald and Walter are both members of my book club and even though we have not had a meeting in a while, at the end of the night we are so looking forward to bringing that time together back to life. We decided that we will read a few chapters when we get together for our brunches. This way we can all keep up, share and talk about the books we are reading.

Saturday was a cleaning day for me so there wasn’t too much for me to do in the way of getting things ready for my guests. ICooking with Kengi 006just had to wash dishes from the night before….yes sometimes I leave dishes in the sink. This was a huge no, no as a kid and I use to be the kind of person that was very anal about this, but now if I am not feeling up to washing dinner dishes, then they will wait until the next day. The word never comes to an end because i have not washed them and since I don’t have any bugs I don’t worry about leaving a plate or a cup.

It was cold today and the rain returned. It was so cold that I could not sleep as late as I had planned, but unlike most Sunday mornings where I get up make a pot of coffee and watch the morning news shows on ABC, today I simply opened the blinds just a bit and sat on the sofa with Dodger. Soon after I was laughing on the phone with my friend Leah for well over an hour. I love when I have time to spend talking with her. She always has this way of making me laugh even when I dont feel like it.

The bonus surprise was the fact that i was able to hang out with my friends and do an outreach. The shoes Leah donated I was able to give to Walter. He was so happy to get them and I even had the chance to let him speak to Leah. That was really cool.

Cooking with Kengi 012Ok, so as I was saying, it rained today and for some reason I really enjoyed it more then I normally do. Walking to Trader Joe’s was nice and unlike before when I had to bundle up because the rain was coming down pretty hard, this time I simply slipped on a t-shirt, thermo, heavy scarf and a knitted cap and I was off.

I really like Trader Joe’s, but I have learned that I really most inspect things I get there. Many times I come home with fruits or veggies that are packed in these handy plastic containers only to discover that most of them are not usable. Today I was in a hurry and failed to do this and I ended up cutting away most of the tomatoes I purchased. Even one of the avocados was bad, so that too got tossed. However the staff is always friendly and the prices are still cheaper then Whole Food and the quality is still far better then Fresh and Easy.

We had lettuce wraps, chicken tacos, Spanish rice, refried beans, homemade salsa and guacamole with blue corn tortilla chips.Cooking with Kengi 018 I added some fresh grilled shrimp to the ground soy I used for the wraps. I also picked up some juices that I would offer with the water and squirt I already had.

The guys arrived on time and after some conversation we started with the sides and then moved on to the main meal. It was a hit!!!! I was surprised that Donald liked the wraps. I didn’t tell him it wasn’t meat until after he had eaten at least two, but even if I told him before I am still sure he would have eaten and enjoyed them.

As always our time together went by so fast. Before I knew it the time had come for us to say our goodbyes. Dodger and I walked our friends to the corner where we hugged and said good night. i so wish these two lived closer to me so we could see each other more often.

As I walked back home, looking up at the pink clouds in the sky I started to smile because I had just spent the better part of my day with two guys I really enjoy, two men I truly respect and admire a great deal and two men I am so honored, blessed and thrilled to call my friends.

Cooking with Kengi 035The sun has set, most of the kitchen is clean and I have had my hot bath. I am sitting on the sofa uploading my photos from tonight, Dodger is sitting on the arm of his chair snoring, the blinds are closed, my apartment is cozy and I am about to lit my candles and burn some sage.

Since I have to be up rather early, I will be in bed by 8:30pm tonight. Monday is my long day and after having a week off I am sure the director will be in the kitchen bright and early to ask questions and do her best to get under my skin. Already she has emailed a menu that is not mine, so I will have to deal with that once I am in the kitchen, however I will be ready for her and all the games she likes to play.

In the middle of my day I was able to upload my “What is GOOD in Our World” video, that was really cool because last Sunday I was not able to do one.

I hope you all have had an awesome Sunday and I pray that you all have a peaceful and productive week.

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