New Years

Jan. 1st, 2008 05:03 pm
plumtreeblossom: (booze)
Many thanks to all the hosts who have graciously hosted [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit and me over the last 24 hours in celebration of the new year. We ate dinner at Yoshi's and then went around the corner to where [livejournal.com profile] gilana and [livejournal.com profile] kalliejenn2 were co-hosting a fun and Firstie-enriched gathering. We helped hoover the yummy cheese ball that [livejournal.com profile] eclecticavatar [livejournal.com profile] gilana allegedly made out of people (Soylent Cheese Ball!). [livejournal.com profile] daily_alice continues to charm [livejournal.com profile] beowabbit off his feet. We then headed a few blocks down the street to a party hosted by some other friends, where the festivities continued. They have a gorgeous and enviably huge apartment, and it was nice to see some folks I don't get to see often.

Wabbit actually woke up before me (rare, very rare), and we headed over to brunch at the home of [livejournal.com profile] dan4th and [livejournal.com profile] dabunny. Dan the Waffle Man has invented a savory bacon and cheese waffle that makes all other waffles in the world bow down and worship. He made them last year too, but at the time I couldn't get my brain to wrap around the idea of a savory waffle so I was too afraid to try it. I'm so glad I gave it a chance this year, because it is simply the best waffle creation I have ever tasted In My Life. Brunch coma followed.

It was a very nice start to 2008. Cheers, all!

plumtreeblossom: (webcam)
I've been enjoying reading everyone's year-end recaps and resolutions. I feel I ought to say something to close out the year, but I don't want to do quite that. 2007 has been a mix of highs and lows, as I suppose all years are to some degree. My career sector took the worst hit it's ever taken in my adult life, and I'm still recovering. But that bad fortune was balanced with an abundance of love and friendship, and stability in my home life. In the end, there's no question as to which is more important. I have much to be deeply thankful for, and I am.

What I'd rather talk about is something I learned this year, or rather, re-learned through an example that almost feels as if it were sent to me.

About two months ago I met a man who has lost everything. Through no fault of his own, he is homeless and scrambling to survive. After 30 years of devoted service to one employer, he and most of his colleagues were discarded in a mass lay-off. At the same time, illness struck, putting him on long term disability. Not long after, his wife terminated their relationship in order to be with a different partner, and he was forced to move out of their house. His temporary shared housing fell through, and he ended up out on the streets, having to navigate the atrocious maze that is the homeless shelter system, sometimes finding an available bed, sometimes not. He's still homeless. I don't even know his name. I only met him once, and now I follow the blog that he occasionally updates if a computer is available at a shelter.

He told me something I didn't know, about what he calls the invisible homeless. When we think of homeless people, we mostly think of the visible ones -- those who have succumbed to drugs or alcohol, or those with untreated psychiatric disorders. They are obvious to us and we think of them as the face of homelessness, but they are not representative of the full homeless population. There are many, many people, no different than you or me, who through whatever unfortunate circumstances crossed their lives are without a roof over their heads. They look like any ordinary person, and to see them, no one could guess they were homeless. He told me about one of his homeless friends, a retired Harvard professor. He's an elderly, dignified man with no family, and currently no place to live except shelters and the street. He spends his days in bookstores, keeping warm. Harvard couldn't care less what happens to him (no surprise there). These two men, who worked hard and well all their lives, are among thousands who have slipped through the cracks. We see them every day; they're indistinguishable from any of us, but misfortune has put them out on the street.

The root of what this taught me, or rather reminded me, is that security and well-being should never, ever be taken for granted. Even if you're poor and living on ramen but still have a place to go home to each night, you are in a far better situation than many. It reminded me to be thankful each day for everything from my blankets to my boots to the walls and ceiling I rent. Life doesn't automatically fall neatly together because we are a good person. Be grateful, be vigilant, and be as prepared as possible to survive misfortune should it come your way.

Cheerful little budgie, aren't I? I hope this didn't come across as negative or depressed, because I'm not feeling that way at all. I just felt that this was a more important thing to share today than "I resolve to lose 10 pounds" or anything like that. I have some hopes and goals for the new year, but it's important to go forward with wisdom and insight gained during the previous year, and that's what I'm trying to do.

To everyone, whether I know you or not, have a safe and love-filled 2008.

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