Saturday, July 31, 2004

My "border mentor/buddy" Michael Marizco's story finally made it into the paper today. His story was beautifully written and just heartbreaking. It's what I want to do, but more than that, I want to help. As a reporter we can't. We're just there to observe and get it out to the people to read and hopefully, spurn some sort of changes. Anyway, here's the article's link. READ IT.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Grass and sidewalks

I took the pampered pooch for a walk. Oppulent, winding streets paved the way for our mini journey outside of the gated complex. Sprawling sidewalks, the only cracks being the horizontal ones showing their individual placements. No gaping chunks taken out. No cobblestone detailing. All even and flowing, like the fountain bursting skyward near the wrought-iron gates.
We walked near the stone-lined fountain and bounded down the steps, avoiding the grassy area, still wet from the sprinklers. I hadn't seen long plots of unnatural grass in over two weeks. The last grassy area I remember seeing was in front of the mortuary near the cop shop downtown. The grass was a facade of cheerfulness, green and lush, manicured and perfect.
The dog paused.
I opened the gate.
It's a little tricky because it leans forward on its hinges as if to suggest you can just push through it.
You have to pull it.
We walk through and across more grass.
Wet grass.
The dog steps off of the curb and onto the pavement. He never liked getting his paws wet, even as a puppy. I remember him looking back at me after I told him to go potty in the backyard which was in the midst of a flurry of misting sprinklers. The morning drink. He wouldn't even go near it and if you tried to shove him in that direction, he avoided you. I swear, if he had a tail (he's a cockapoo) it would've been tucked between his legs.
Not much has changed with him since he was a puppy. Still head-strong and wanting to pull away. But he always comes back, always looks back at me.
As we strolled through the gate and down the sidewalk bordering the main street, the smell of Prescott flooded my nostrils. Pine Phoenix.
It took me back.
We still walked.
I remember the night so clearly. The stars covering an infinite expanse of sky. The moon glowing brightly overhead. The grass slightly damp. Me worrying that my jeans would be stained when I got up from the grass.
Wet grass.
We weren't supposed to be on the grass as much as we had been. But we played football and bocce ball anyway. This night, we just layed on our backs, gazing into oblivion. I don't remember what we talked about that night or where everyone else was, but I remember it was the 4th of July. It was the first time I hadn't watched the fireworks on television. We never went out to see the fireworks. Too many drunks on the road. Too many people. Just too much. So we watched it on television.
That night there were no fireworks. Only the scent of wet grass, pine needles and an enormous sky. My arm bent behind my head, I remember silence. I remember the giddiness, the awkwardness, the tenderness. We had only known each other for a short time. But I was falling for him. It was just he and I that night.
The dog kept walking.
His nose was pressed near the ground, every so often bumping into a small twig, yanking his head up startled. Lost in the grey shadows of the night and dimlit sidewalk.
I sorted through my thoughts like my laundry. The darks, one pile. The lights and pure whites, another. And in the end, I didn't have enough to make a substantial load from each so I bound them together. I'd separate them later when they were fresh again.
Normally I had felt nervous walking at night. Thoughts of being grabbed from behind or from the bushes nearby. The dog wouldn't make any difference. He'd just think we were playing and run around in circles chasing his non-existent tail.
But tonight was different.
I was alone and had a strange sense of security. My God has always been with me. Always. I shouldn't fear for this reason and yet, still a sense of frailty. Tonight I walked down a sidewalk without cracks, without gaping holes or broken cobblestone. With even-layed cement, without unnaturally slanted curbs. I walked in the tidy grass and I turned to go back to the gated place.
My heart half there yet halfway gone, torn between oppulence and poverty. Between the beggers and the begged. Between the unloved and the overly-loved. Between the manicured grass and the crab grass, the cracked sidewalks and smooth surfaces. Between the dirt and the flowers, the pine trees and the saguaros, the barred windows and well-lit porches. Between darks and lights, shabby and chic, trendy and ordinary.
As we headed back, the dog picked up his pace. He was in such a hurry, I couldn't help but yank him back a little.
Slow down.
Take in the night.
The peace.
The safety.
But I know the hurry, the flurry, the busyness and bustle. The sense of responsibility and irrationality, impetuousness and caution.
I can't get the dog to find a balance so I pull him closer to my side, wrapping the leash once, twice, three times, four times, five times around my palm, a coil binding my fist.
He slowed a bit and this time, he was forced to walk in the wet grass next to me.
And for once, he didn't seem to mind.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Well, I sort of met the girls yesterday at the Repatriation center where they put kids who've been caught and the parents aren't around. The dad came and picked them up later in the evening, so for a few hours we were just hanging out with the rest of the kids and talking and playing basketball. I think a lot of them were very surprised to see a girl dressed in nice black slacks and blouse playing basketball like a boy in a backyard. Lol, it was fun and they were all so cute. It just sucks that they are in that kind of situation.
One boy we talked to was 16 and his parents were in New Jersey. He has to figure out how to get back over there. I didn't catch how that whole thing happened, but man, that sucks. But yesterday was all about loving on the kids and just playing with them. I know it was more for Michael because he'd been waiting all day long for answers, for the father to get there and interview him. In the end, the dad didn't want to talk. Marizco said I didn't understand after I said I felt sorry for him, that he had to wait around all day long. Maybe I didn't, but I still have a lot of things I need to experience in life and disappointments in journalism is just one of many things to come I'm sure.
While he typed up his story on a computer in an Internet cafe, I sat down to write (after buying a strawberry paleta--mm mmm). Here's what I came up with...

Foreign, familiar J.G. 7/28/04

Abandoned, lost and afraid,
What they wouldn't give, what they wouldn't trade.
A foreign home in a familiar land,
Longing for the touch, the warmth of a hand.
To be lifted up and secure again,
Justice can't be done solely by the pen.
World shaken to the core,
Comfort insufficient as the tears begin to pour.
Alone in a foreign, familiar place,
Those who lost, those whom the water chased.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

As promised, here's a link to the story I couldn't talk about yesterday..

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Only five more days until he gets back! I don't think he even has a clue that I'm going to be waiting there for him when he gets off of the van at church. It's so strange not hearing from him or seeing him in so long. It's almost as if he's turned into a figment of my imagination, as if it was some wonderful, far off dream. I can't really believe that he's coming back. I guess somewhere in my mind I convinced myself that there was a possibility that he wouldn't--me and my worrying! Que terrible!
  No night on the border tonight. Big story happened today, but I'm not at liberty to talk about it until it comes out tomorrow. I wish I could have gone. It sounds like an amazing story--difficult, but amazing. Sorry to tease you all. I'll try to remember to put it on my page. It'll be written by the border reporter I've been working with. I'm looking forward to seeing it myself.
  What else has been going on? Well, exciting news. My article that I've been working on for the last week could make the front of the paper on Thursday! I'm not going to get my hopes up because there are tons of important things that they want to put on the cover, so who knows. I think it's a a great story and I came up with it by myself and figured out all of the details myself. We'll go through and edit it tomorrow and I suppose I'll find out if my editor likes it or not.
  I'm really growing fond of Tucson and being so close to the border. I suppose most would say it's ugly and dirty and lower class looking, but I like it. I like the old architecture--the 90-year-old casitas with original wood flooring and hidden basements. I like the history the city's trying to preserve in the downtown area. But I really believe I could live pretty much anywhere.
  On our way to do a follow up interview the other day with a man whose backyard is the border, we (Marizco and I) stopped in Bisbee briefly to check it out since I'd never been there. The town is really cool. Its museum is really cool too because it had all kinds of journalism stuff in it like old newspapers and typewriters and radio equipment from back in the day. It's great seeing history, you know?
  I'm hoping to get together with the other border reporter one of these days. Marizco raves about him being a "fantastic" journalist. He's won numerous awards for his coverage. He goes on vacation soon so hopefully we can figure something out.
  Well, I'm tiring of sitting at the computer. We'll see what happens next...
  Toodles from Tucson

Another night of venturing out to the border and another night of absolute excitement. I spoke with two people and actually received responses to my inquiries. Amazing.
  It's one thing to hear a person's tale by reading it in a book or the newspaper, but it's a whole nother ball game when you are standing there, listening to them tell you it in their native tongue and somewhat understanding it. I'm not going to claim by any means to be fluent in Spanish but heck, I try my hardest and I think it shows.
  Octavio has crossed the border more than five times. His leg is infected because of a wound he incurred as a result of the wrong shoes and the wrong weather. He and a group of others were deported yesterday. The 43-year-old just wanted to work. "And they call me a criminal," Octavio told me. I know where he's coming from, but in the same instant I can't help but say politely, "yes, I know, but a lot of things happen when we don't obey the laws. You need a job, but it also hurts our economy. It's a difficult situation to deal with." He nodded and said something else. He wanted to speak to me in English, to put me more at ease and allow me to stop fumbling over vocabulary words I somehow lost along the way. He let me know that he had taught himself English, that it was tough to speak with people at first, but he kept on doing it. Now he speaks nearly perfect English from what I could gather, only with his native accent. He told me he's not sure when or if he'll try to cross again. If he does, it will be after he gets his wounds taken care of.
  I notice a hobble in most of the steps of these deportees. I ask one woman how long she had been out walking before she and her husband were picked up. Three days. She's only 23, but beautiful and open with me. She doesn't speak any English, so I'm on my own, hobbling along with my Spanish. But once I get over my fears, I get her to smile even though I know she's cold and tired on a night where rain cascaded from the sky in continuing sheets. I try to ask her how long she's been married to her husband, but I word the question incorrectly because her answer doesn't compute. I fumble with conjugations and other words, but I get by. I can't help but think my last semester Spanish teacher would have been shaking her head at me. Oh well, I'll learn. Shoot,  I'm learning.
  Hasta luego mis amigos.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Estoy cansada. -j.g 7/25/04
A las once y no puedo dormir,
Quiero esperar aqui y pensar de vida
Quiero mirar el mundo
Mientras todos estan dormiendo.
Quiero correr en las calles gritando
"Estoy libre."
Libre para vivir
Libre para amar
Libre para siempre.
Pero, nadie puede oirme.
Estoy en un mundo del silencio,
Caminando en el oscuro.
Esperando para la luz del dia.
Por ahora, solo voy a mirar al mundo,
Espero aqui
Sin mi amor
Sin mis amigos
Sin mi familia.
Sin embargo, tengo este tiempo.
Tengo todo del tiempo del mundo
Solo para pensar de las cosas importantes
Y esperar aqui para siempre.

mi amigo m.m-no sabes como has afectado mi vida pero estoy alegre que yo te encontre. Gracias por repartiendo las cosas de la frontera conmigo. Estaban las experiencias de mi vida. Continue buscar las repuestas de la vida y no te olvides leer el libro de Cristo por Strobel y la Biblia. Los dos tienen las repuestas de la vida y puede ayudarte durante todos de las situaciones encontrarte.

    I've been sort of working all weekend, but it hasn't felt like work. In fact, I've been working a lot lately, but that doesn't feel like work either. Is that wrong?  I mean, I guess I have this weird notion in my head that if you're doing "work" then you should be looking forward to quitting time, looking forward to getting home and away from the craziness of it all. But I don't.
 I've been going to the border and actually seeing what goes on down there. Not by myself, mind you, actually, with another reporter. His name is Michael Marizco and he's one of the Star's border reporters who knows what he's doing. I respect him a lot because he's the type of journalist who can talk to someone and call their bluff. He doesn't mess around and he knows his beat. I wish all reporters were like that and I hope to be like that someday. In some ways I'm just too trusting of people. I want to believe that a person is being honest with me. In the same respect, I'm not naive and I for the most part can tell if a person is trying to pull the wool over my eyes, but I'm still learning and growing. I have a lot of that to do still and that's something I need to continually remind myself of. I'm still growing.
  So we've been going down to the border in the evenings after work and interviewing everyone from the chief of police in Nogales, MX to deportees who have just been shuffled back over the border. And by "shuffled" I mean tossed back over the border only to go right back over a few hours later. It's like this ridiculous game of hide and seek along with some elements of capture the flag.
  Off topic, but I have to say right now that I'm looking at the most amazing sunset. I can barely see it through my 2nd story window because of a bunch of palm trees blocking my view, but the bit I can see is amazing. The sky is dark and thick with clouds, but touches the horizon just enough to leave space for some color. The lowest part of the sky is this blazing color of orange with some reds and purples jumbled together. It's even peaceful over the sounds of college kids playing volleyball in the yard just outside of my building.
  Okay, so back to Mexico. Gosh I wish I could just be there 24/7.  I don't know why, but it's just a very appealing place to me. It's so fascinating to me. So different and yet so beautiful and unique. I've felt pretty safe with the border reporter because he just knows his stuff. He knows the area, knows what places are good and bad, who to trust and where to go. It's great! Even better, I've been practicing my Spanish with him and though I forget numerous vocabulary words, he's very polite and willing to help me here and there. I finally feel like I'm here doing what I had wanted to do. But things around the paper have been insane because of all the political shake ups going on so it's been difficult to get a clear cut answer on anything.

Stolen Heart  7/25/2004--j.g

Her eyes are blinded by smoke and dirt
By profits and poverty
By hope and coke.
Yet, like a child she wanders
Searching for the answers
Learning by trial and error.
How I wish my hands could help
How I wish my lips could run more smoothly, easily
To comfort her
To guide her.
She's everything and has my heart
Stolen by large doe eyes,
Broken by feeble hungry hands
Enlightened by simplicity.
She reminds me of all that I want to be
That person who cares more deeply for another
That person who puts all other things aside
She makes me want to live
To breathe
To move
Just to be.
When I leave her
My heart calls back for its return
To feel whole and alive
Awake and wired.
Just to learn of her graces and trials
To understand why she weeps
Why everyone wants to leave her
Use her
Scorn her
Yet, die for her.
What has she to give to me?
My love,
My foreign 


Monday, July 19, 2004

I'm so annoyed. I tried to get this link on my sidebar, but it's not working. Anyway, if you want to see what time it is in Ireland right now (at this time it's 5 in the morning Tuesday), check out this site.

It's now 7:30 p.m. and I'm sitting at work. It's not so bad though. I did a weather story, but that's about it so far. We'll see what else the night brings...
My parents came down and visited over the weekend and that was fun. We went out to lunch at the best sandwich place on the planet--Beyond Bread--and ate huge sandwiches. The Killough boys (more Luke or David actually) would love the sandwiches. Then again, I don't think I know anyone who wouldn't like the place. I've been there twice now, mostly because I'm watching my waistline and my money so I don't go out very often.
I did go out on Thursday and Friday night with some aquaintances from work. It was a good time, but I didn't feel like I completely fit in. Being engaged and then talking with a group of singles who also don't have much in common with you except for a passion to write, makes it difficult. As soon as most of them saw my ring it was like "eeeerrrrttt" (brakes). But still, some guys don't take that as a reason to back off, they see it as a challenge. So I'm not sure if I'm going to go out anymore because I don't really feel like dealing with that kind of pressure. Maybe that's not the word...I don't know what the word is it just makes things weird.
Anyway, so I've been trying to depend on God more since Obadiah's been gone because I've felt somewhat convicted about my priorities. I found a great scripture last night and I think I have it memorized. Mine is the NLT version, so let's see if I remember it...
Psalm 32:8&9 The LORD says "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like the senseless horse or mule that needs a bridle and bit to keep it under control." I think that's how it goes for the most part. I think I messed up a word or two. Anyway, I think it's a great scripture to remember because there are so many times when we have to make decisions and we're given the option to do what God wants or what we want. He's not going to force us with bits and bridles. I think sometimes I wish he did because I feel like it would make things easier, but then we'd be robots. We wouldn't be what God intended for us to be.
Anyway, that's my thought for the day.
Toodles from Tucson!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

He's been gone for about 3 1/2 days we're down to about 17 1/2 until he's back home...Obadiah, that is. I'm doing fine so far, although I do have my moments when i feel a little sad. That mostly happens when my phone rings and I realize it's not him calling me. I just miss talking to him. But I'm doing okay. Just trying to keep my mind on other things though I pray for him and the group every time I think about them.
Things are getting better at the office, though I'm still not sure when I'm going to adjust to being "edited" by an editor. It's never an easy thing, especially when you're trying your hardest. I suppose I just need to keep reminding myself that everyone is edited and that no one escapes it. My editor said she's edited others much much more than me, so that made me feel better. I guess it's just hard for me to watch someone go through my work and tell me that it's not yet good enough. That my work is never "perfect." I never thought it was, but I've never had so much critiquing before so it's taking adjusting...
Monsoon storms have rolled in each evening this week. Last night I was really excited that it was raining...until I was outside and saw the bright, thick lightning bolts that seemed only about a 1/2 mile from my door step! That was pretty freaky. I thought Phoenix lightning storms were crazy! These ones are so much closer than back home. I was also missing my Bronco yesterday when I was driving through some heavily saturated parts of the streets. It makes me a little nervous because we haven't even gotten torrential downpours yet. But I'll survive.
My quest continues to figure out food and photography for the wedding. Man there is so much to think about. But, I'm now 10 months away from being married--by this time it'll be just Obadiah and I, which is so exciting to think of. Our relationship reminds me of my really close friendships with my friends Christal and Chelsea. If given the opportunity,I'd never leave their sides because all we do is have a fun time when we're together. I mean, he's my guy best friend. That's why it sucks when he's away because it's like my best friend's abandoned me :) But I know he's probably having a good time and will grow in Christ on this trip, so I am completely supportive. It's only in those selfish, lonely times that I feel like he shouldn't have left! Those are few though. lol
I'm still getting used to this whole "engaged" thing. It's very nice, I have to tell you, just because you never feel like you have to explain your relationship situation to anyone. They ask "so are you engaged or married?" You answer "engaged" they say "congratulations." End of story. On the other hand, you get people (mostly guys) who don't take the relationship seriously when you say "I have a boyfriend." Boyfriend just isn't as serious. Anyway, that's my little rambling on about nothing important. It's just nice not to have to explain all of those details and to not have to wonder about other people's intentions.
Tomorrow night Lynn and I are going to go out with some of the other younger reporters to the Sidewinders game. We'll see how that goes. Maybe this time the Sidewinders will score more than one run...
On another note, yet another article printed...


Thursday, July 08, 2004

He wore a bright, tangerine jumpsuit. Tattoos were enblazen across his forearms, a dark green snake zigzagging from his chin to his cheek. He looked rough.
His intercessor spoke on his behalf to the judge. His client had changed. Everday the man would be reminded of his past when he gazed into the mirror and saw the snake zigzagging across his face. He would be reminded of the mistakes he had made, though he had been changed.
The judge asked if the man had anything to say on his behalf. He answered "yes, I have a letter" and struggled against the chains around his hands to unfold the three-pages he had tucked away. His hands shook, his eyes grew shiny as he spoke in his letter to the judge.
"Dear Judge Phil," he read, with in a voice unaccustomed to reading aloud to a crowd, let alone a person who held the fate of a life in his hands.
"I would never want anyone to sell crack-cocaine to someone I loved or even my seven-year-old son, who is here today." He gestured over to the pews across the room. The boy was the youngest in the room.
"My life changed when I met Jesus Christ in August of last year. My girlfriend, because of my habits, would not marry me until she saw a change. I had moved to Texas after living here in Tucson and committing the crimes and thought I could continue drinking when I got to Texas. When I met Jesus, that changed. I got a job at the China Buffet restaurant and began working there. I even built a good relationship with my boss and he trusted my judgment and hired my 17-year-old son too. I'm so proud of him. He's working and going to school and is passing with flying colors. It's more than what I did with my life at his age."
" My life was getting better and I found out my girlfriend had become pregnant and after she saw the change, she married me the following month. We now have a baby boy. Things were changing until I was arrested in Texas after finding out Arizona authorities were looking for me."
His eyes grew moist and his voice began to break.
"I've changed through the salvation of God and I just want to provide for my 4 kids and my wife. Please, give me mercy and grace that I don't deserve. Please don't give me the punishment I deserve." Tears flowed as he finished and tried to fold the letter once more, dropping one page on the ground. The prisoner shackled to him, next to him, bent down with him so he could pick up the page.
The judge paused and said, "You don't need to impress me with your changes, you need to do that yourself. It's clear that you are changing, but you need to stay away from alcohol and do what you need to do."
Then the judge said he could be on 5 years probation, pay some fines and live where they felt it was appropriate. He had to attend counceling, do community service and other things.
They began signing papers immediately.
He had been released.
He would need to pay, but not the harsh penalty he deserved.
He was forgiven and allowed to move on with his life.
And at first, all I could think of was how Christ saved him and me in the same way.

Lord, thank you for saving the life of this man and bringing him into Your presence. I pray that you would continue the work within him that you have begun and I pray that he would be an encouragement for others who have made wrong decisions, even if it isn't drugs or alcohol. May he be a blessing in your kingdom and go about praising you just as Saul did after you freed him. Make him into a new creation and give him a new identity, a new name. Thank you for giving us freedom to choose and thank you for freely blessing and freely giving. Help me to freely give, freely bless and freely serve others the way you did when you were here on earth. Thank you Father for allowing me to witness this miracle and testament today. Please continue to shed light into the darkness. You're amazing and I praise you.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Hello all!
Yesterday was a tad busy and my "highly anticipated" RSD article was finally published today. It got really good "play," by newspaper standards. That means it got into a great spot with a lot of copy. Anyway, I'm hanging in there after a weekend that wasn't quite as I had planned it. It's all good though.
Hope everyone's doing well. It was soooo nice to see everyone on Sunday and I was so excited to hear that Paul and Erin's new baby, Samara is now in the world. What a blessing!
Love y'all