Quotation of the Day

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Unaccustomed As I Am To Public Speaking............."

Good Morning;

Well.....This past Sunday morning it was my privilege and pleasure to speak to the 5th and 6th grade students at Beth El Congregation's Sunday  School program at the synagogue in Pikesville. It was a bit of a journey from Canton to the Exxon station at Hooks Lane and Reisterstown Rd. where I was met by Dr. Bor the Director of the Religious School. Catching the first bus before 7:00 am. on a cold gray and windy Sunday after getting only 3 hours sleep, and having to worry about making connections when the buses are running a Sunday/Holiday schedule with the typical level of MTA dependability had me at a pretty high stress level. I had the Metro and another bus to catch after that, and one 3 minute delay and it could have meant an hour's wait for the next connection. Luckily everything went perfectly and I arrived just as he called to see when he should get there to meet me.

After an initial bout of anxiety (because I knew no one involved and had had no personal introductions as everything was arranged by e-mail), my nerves settled down from the sedative effects of a really good  pumpernickel bagel and a cup of lemonade.
I met and talked with Rabbi Faith Cantor, who is a delightful person, and she gave me the rundown on what the kids were studying and the events that led to my invitation to speak. In a nutshell- On 2 previous Sundays Rabbi Miriam Burg of the CJE, (Center for Jewish Education) had led the class in teaching and discussing poverty and Judaism, past and present, separately and intertwined. They were looking for someone who had personally experienced poverty and homelessness to share their story with the children. As it turns out, Rabbi Burg is friends with Evan, the editor at the City Paper, and at some point my name and the column in the paper came up..whether before or after reading it I am not sure. Evan contacted me to ask if I'd be interested and when I said yes, gave my e-mail to Rabbi Burg, who acted as intermediary and brought Rabbi Cantor, Dr. Bor, and I together by e-mail....and a couple weeks later...there I was.

Rabbi Cantor listened as I gave the quick and dirty version of my back story, took some notes, asked a few questions, and explained the frame work of the occasion. The kids had been asked to think about any questions they would like to ask, and to write them down. I would speak, telling my story and expounding on a few topics I've mentioned fairly frequently in the blog and the column...shared humanity, respect and dignity, more things in common and how easily their family could end up homeless. The whole room was quietly attentive and I was very relaxed and, as would sometimes happen at an NA meeting, when everything aligned and time seemed to slow down, the words came from somewhere deep inside me with no conscious effort on my part. After I spoke their would be a bathroom and bagel break and the kids could write down any new questions that came to mind. Most of the questions were passed to Rabbi Cantor, who did a bit of weeding out redundancies and condensing and combining similar queries. There were a number of the students (and their parents, who I did not know would be sitting in until I got there!)who wanted to ask there questions themselves. Questions ranging from the obvious, 'where do you sleep', 'what do you eat', etc. to questions about 'what can WE do', drugs and mental health, political infighting, and more.

I was surprised and impressed at the grasp of the subject and the depth of thought that was displayed by these young people. Intelligent, insightful, and interesting! I really enjoyed being there and talking with NOT TO these not so childish children.

After my talk and the Q & A my ego was stroked further when some of the parents came up and thanked me and told me what a good job I did, not just in content but presentation also. 

A couple of the kids came up with their parent(s) or the Rabbi and  gave me dollar bills, one parent gave me a $20.00, and m Dr. Bor gave me an envelope from the school and Rabbi Cantor with an honorarium of $75.00.
One of the fathers, Dan, and his daughter Sarah gave me a ride back to Reisterstown Rd. and Hooks Lane.

A couple of buses and a train ride and I was back in Canton, where after a sandwich and a glass of milk....I ended up taking a 3 hour nap! I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to just lay down for a little while over the past few years and could not..... it was awesome! And, after I woke up in the dark with the cat complaining that it was well past his dinner time... I took a shower, watched the Ravens beat the Steelers...and crawled back into the bed.

On Monday morning I got up and headed over to JAI Medical to get my doctor to fill out the D.S.S. form for my Medical Assistance & T.D.A.P. benefits recertification/renewal. Then..I went to D.S.S. to hand in the forms. Expecting to stand in line for 40 minutes to see Customer Service spend 40 seconds filling out a receipt and dump the paperwork in a huge overflowing IN Basket, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have changed their procedures....AGAIN! But!...this time for the good!
I waited about 10 minutes to see the Customer Service rep., who filled out a receipt listing the forms I had, and then told me to go over to the main counter and put them in Basket 5, and wait until my name was called. I waited about 20 min. and witnessed the woman behind the counter scan the forms directly into the computer, (hopefully into MY file!!), and ask me if I want the originals back....which I took, along with the receipts.

So....now I wait and see how long it takes to process the forms ans reinstate my M.A. It is kind of critical because I am out of Blood Pressure meds and the doctors no longer get any samples with the new system in place at JAI. My Doctor also wants me to have an MRI on my right knee, the one I slipped and fell on top of as it twisted under me at Giant about 2 months ago, the day after I went to the doctor! It still hurts and something is not right with it. As soon as she felt and manipulated the joint she knew that there is a problem! Greeeaattttt!!!

Anyway...it's 3:45 am. on Thanksgiving morning and I'm going to bed.


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