Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beads for Harriet.

I have never been good at asking people for money. I remember when I did Girl Scouts, I could NEVER go door-to-door (especially because most of the homes in my neighborhood are gated and a pain), but seriously, I had anxiety just thinking of putting people on the spot and guilting them into supporting my adorable self. Therefore, I had my dad take my order forms into his office, where he is the CEO. Can you say, I was always the top seller?

I promise that story has a point, even though it may seem like I'm going off on (another) tangent right now.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Kampala, Uganda in Africa for a month. While I was there I stayed with a host family who transported my team and I to various schools and orphanages, where we lead programs for kids with AIDS, and gave programs about health and nutrition (and sexual safety) to the schools.

Some of the kiddos from the schools:



I can't lie - I had a VERY cushy life in Africa. I stayed in a beautiful home, went on a safari and stayed in a five-star hotel while there, and most importantly to me, I ate some of the most amazing food I've ever had, all due to our cook Harriet. Seriously, I gained at least 5 lbs. going to Africa (and please factor in the fact that we walked a LOT while we were there - this 5 lbs. was no joke). She was the sweetest, warmest woman I have ever met, and she constantly came to talk to us, and we would always go help her in the kitchen with getting ready just to hear her talk about her four children.

When I went back to the States, I swore I would be a changed person and never take anything in my life for granted. Unfortunately, that began to wear away, and my life got more consumed with oversized Prada bags and new cars, and I forgot about the people I had met, the starving children I saw, and the homeless families in the city of Kampala.

After a little while, before I was back to being completely "Americanized" (or really "Bergen County-ized" since much of America is not as superficial and materialistic), I got an email from Harriet, telling me how much she missed me, and just sharing different things going on in her life. We began corresponding more regularly and just sharing more and more, and I felt more grounded and started caring less about Miu Miu flats and got more of a perspective. I'm not saying all this to say I'm some wonderful philanthropist who doesn't care about fashion or labels, because I have a Seven jeans habit, and a closet filled with clothes I don't wear - I'm as guilty as the next person - so don't think I'm judging you all for your fabulous taste, okay?! :)

Anyway, Harriet's struggles seemed so distant to me. She was working five (seriously, FIVE) jobs to support her family and her alcoholic husband. He laid around all day, passed out. When he got up, he would beat the crap out of her if she didn't give him money to go to the bars and get more alcohol. If she still refused, he would beat her kids to punish her, so she took the beatings all the time to spare her children.

All of Harriet's money goes to schooling for her children. Her oldest daughter Martha is smart - really smart. In Africa, there is no public schooling. If you want your children to get an education, you have to pay for private schools for them to attend, which was sucking up all of Harriet's money (and still is).

Her husband did not work - ever. He relied on Harriet to be the sole provider, while he went out and did whatever he wanted. If this was America, simple solution - you divorce the douchebag, and make him pay you a ton of money in child support so that your four kids can have a shot. In Africa, women have very few rights, especially when it comes to your husband. The husbands can demand whatever they want - sex, money, whatever. I really had the hardest time wrapping my head around her staying.

Anyway, we're going on five years now since I've been to Africa. Harriet and I are still keeping in touch, and I try to do whatever I can to make her life a little easier - whether sending her money, or packages of clothes for her kids... because I do still realize how fortunate I am.

Harriet and I spoke this past November around Thanksgiving after I had sent her some money, and then I didn't hear a word from her for a while. I didn't think too much of it - the internet over there sucks and I knew she was relying on Internet cafes, plus, the woman has too much going on! I finally heard from her in late February/early March, when she informed me that after all these years, she finally left her husband.

The breaking point in their marriage had been when her oldest daughter came home from school on holiday and Harriet woke up hearing her daughter screaming and crying. She went in to where her daughter was sleeping and saw that her husband was trying to rape her own daughter - his own daughter. The next day, Harriet was gone.
Unfortunately there is really nothing she could do - she couldn't press charges, because it would be her word against his, and she would be wrong. So she took her kids and got out of there, and they lived on the street for two months. She found a teeny, tiny little room with friends, but the landlord insisted that since she wasn't paying rent, she had to be evicted. She is currently homeless, and still has the threat of her kids tuition looming over her head.

Harriet (isn't she cute?!):

Okay, back to the point.

Harriet asked me if I would be willing to sell some of the handmade jewelery that she makes and sells in the market. Like I said, I HATE asking people for money, and this is absolutely 0% pressure, I just thought I would try to cover all my bases. She makes everything - gorgeous long necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Currently I don't have them, as she just asked me this a few days ago, but I promise it is completelyyy legit, and I won't set up any type of payment information until I actually get the beads. They're pretty and super, super different (and perfect for layering, honestly).

I'm just trying to get as much response as possible and see if anyone would be willing to purchase these beads. Her prices are: $5 for bracelets, $3-$5 for earrings, and long necklaces for $10-$15 (it's up to you and your financial situation).

I do understand this is a recession though - trust me, with student teaching and bills, I can't afford to send her much at all. I'm just trying to do what I can for a friend in need right now, because I feel like it's the least I can do.

I really, from the bottom of my heart mean it when I say no pressure - I'm going to try to talk to my mom's church, and her friends to see if they would be willing, so it's not like I'm relying solely on you - I will love you just the same either way, honest :)

I hope you're all had lovely weekends, I can't wait to do some catching up on blogs!

(P.S. May I please tell you I am done with student teaching on April 29th, and I graduate May 8th?! Where did the time go?!).

Currently listening to: DVNO - Justice

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The ABC's of Moi.

There was a big chunk of my blogging history when I focused on just meeee. My life, my stories, my puppy, my struggles with living as a single girl... everything. That got boring and redundant, because let's face it, my life is not that exciting.

However, I do like to talk about myself. I mean, it is MY blog, so clearly my opinions and thoughts and little stories and pictures are about me, and the posts are about what inspires/makes me happy (or pisses me off, if you catch me on the right day!).

Sometimes though, even though I try not to bore you with roommate drama, or too many stories about J or moi, someone like my girl Tracy posts a fun survey that I feel like I have to share (especially in the hopes that all of you will do the same so I can learn more about all of you!).

A - Age: 22

B - Bed size: Full at home, Twin at school

C - Chore you hate: Dishes. Ugh, I seriously want to vomit just thinking about them.
Especially because in my apartment right now there is a sinkful of dirty dishes
with crusted food on them - ick!

D - Dog's name: Cooper

E - Essential start your day item: Depending on the weather, either a hot or iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks; a banana or Greek yogurt (or both, yummm!)

F - Favorite color: Light yellow, sage green (very Crayola, I know)

G - Gold or Silver or Platinum: Platinum

H - Height: 5'5"

I - Interesting fact about yourself: I have lived with the same girl for all four years of college. We were randomly matched up our freshman year, ended up growing really close, and have lived together for four years now!

And, since I am very interesting, another fact is that J and I have lived a half hour from one another our whole lives; I went to private school where he went to church, and I was really good friends with his cousin, but it took us coming to college to meet each other!

J - Jewelry you wear every day: My silver bead earrings and matching bracelet

K - Kids: Right now the only kids in my life are my fourth graders

L - Living arrangements: Outside of Philly (on the Main Line) in PA with my three roomies;
Bergen County, NJ with my parents and brother and cutesy little puppy (who is not a puppy anymore and is not so cutesy when he gets "separation anxiety" and eats my comforter and rugs)

M - Mom's name: Belle

N - Nickname: Ally, Al, Allygator

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: This past year when I had a stomach bug; passed out from dehydration and bumped my head/had memory loss. 3 days in the hospital, ick!

P - Pet peeve: When people pull food off their forks with their teeth and not their lips so it makes this horrible scraping sound. I die, I really die.

Q - Quote: "I have found that paradox, that if you love until it hurts,
there can be no more hurt, only more love."
-Mother Teresa

R - Right or left handed: Left!

S - Siblings: 1 brother

T - Time you wake up: 6:20 a.m., every morning.

U - Underwear: Always, especially when wearing dresses or exiting cars

V - Vegetable you dislike: Broccoli!

W - Ways you run late: Stopping for coffee, moving too slowly, second (fourth, fifth) guessing my outfit, hitting traffic on my way to school

X - X-rays you've had: Arm, nose, head, ankle...all that radiation - niceee!

Y - Yummy food you make: I make the best penne with vodka sauce EVER.
I promise, it's the best.

Z - Zoo favorite: Seals :)

And the wonderful Morgane who is tres chic and French tagged me in a fashion inspiration post.

1. Who is your fashion inspiration?
I'm inspired by effortless fashion, people who are chic, but don't look like they spend all day trying to plan the perfect outfit. They just are themselves and have some innate sense of fashion (from birth, probably!).
People like: Rachel Bilson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Nicole Richie


Exclusive: Mary Kate Olsen Out And About In New York (No France, No Australia/New Zealand, No Germany)32129_celeb-cityeu_ashley_and_mary_kate_olsen_go_to_nobu_in_malibu_172007_21_122_916lo


2. What is your favorite socialite lit book?
I LOVE Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes, and I also love Maneater by Gigi Levangie Grazer


3. Favorite party theme?
I love parties with a famous couples theme. You have to be really creative so you don't have the same costume as someone else!


4. Go-to Halloween costume:
See above. That was one of my best.

5. Extravagance you can't live without:
My car, Starbucks coffee, Seven for All Mankind denim

6. Living person you admire:
Oprah. I know, cliche.

7. Greatest fear?
Getting dismembered by a shark.
Someone chasing me (especially up stairs - it makes my heart pound to think of it!)

8. Trait you deplore in yourself:
Indecisiveness, being too self critical

9. Which talent would you most like to have?
I'd love to be able to sing. I used to be pretty decent until I ruined my throat (see below).

10. Greatest achievement:
I'd say overcoming an eating disorder.

I really want all of you to try this! It's fun to think a little differently, and is a nice way to spend a sunny (but really cold!) Saturday afternoon! (Says a lot about me).

I hope you're all doing well! I miss you all and will be catching up soon! And thanks for the help with the stretch template...does it look okay?

Omg, and CONGRATS to Amy for being the winner of the Misikko giveaway! Congrats and let me know when they contact you, girl!

Currently: Watching Glee for the first time! I LOVE it so far :)