Monday, August 11, 2008

After A Year...

The summer program is over. Six weeks of immersion for both the interns and the community. Amazing interns, I might say. The community cites this summer as the best they've had since... well, they can't remember when. I'm grateful to have survived my third consecutive summer with the LACW, and now, I'm off to start my second consecutive year as a community member.

July 18 marked the completion of my first year at the LACW, and I have been thinking lately of things I have accumulated since...

"Allison" turns out not to be the most common name, and actually has birthed many nicknames. Quite possibly more than I have ever had. The regulars include:
Alicia (for my Spanish-speaking buddies)
Ali (pronounced ah-LEE)
Licha (again, a Spanish nickname meaning "darling" or something to that effect)
Allison (yes, it's different--pronounced ah-lee-SAHN)

Others include:
Hey You

10 pounds, to be exact. That's what happens when copious amounts of cheese, bread, sweets and coffee are available. Actually, I shouldn't kid myself... there's just a lot of food. Soon, the weight will be all off. Give me another year, I promise.

LA Catholic Worker Tee-Shirts
We have for sale at the house "The only solution is Love" tee-shirts. Community members get them for free, one new one each year. But since I visited a few times during college and was an intern, I have three LACW shirts. And recently a friend went to the national 75th anniversary gathering and bought me a CW movement shirt. And we also have a "NO WAR" shirt. And then Margaret and I made LACW/SOAW Los Angeles shirts last November for the SOAW action at Ft. Benning. I lost count... is it somewhere around too many?

Ball Point Pens
Hoarding is not only a skill, it is a necessity at the Catholic Worker. I can't say anything for other houses, but here, things come and go in a jiffy. You want that muffin that's sitting on the kitchen counter, but you're not hungry right now? Take it. Who cares if you find it under your bed two weeks later. If you don't take it now, you might never get it. As noted above, I am in the process of avoiding the habitual collection of food. But I have continuously, throughout the year, kept a close eye out for nice pens. Ball point pens, preferably. Medium tip is nice, but I quite like the fine tip pens. Currently, I use them to work on the archive project (I'll touch on that in a minute); but mostly, I find the pen, use it once, and lose it. My inability to keep track of the favored pen only encourages the hoarding. I think one day, I'll clean my room and find dozens of them hiding in mysterious places like under all my LACW tee-shirts.

Tolerance for Dirt/Sweat/General Filth
It gets hot here. Really hot. And for an Oregonian, the Los Angeles summers send me into a sweat-induced trance. Add that to working in Skid Row, having limited clean clothes (our washer is known as the "dirtier"), and sporadic showering, and you get--no, not a hippie--tolerance. Even just 15 minutes after getting out of the shower, I kid you not, I already have dirt under my fingernails. I don't walk around like Pig Pen from Peanuts, but I wouldn't be readily welcomed by Howard Hughes. I do know how to accept hygiene as part of my lifestyle, so don't worry. I'll take a shower a few days after I can smell myself.

Useless Information Regarding the LACW
Want to know stories about the LACW that affect you in no way, shape or form? I'm your gal! Recently, I've taken up a much-too-large and self-consuming archive project. With almost 4o years under its belt, the LACW has successfully left no organized path to understand why it is the way it is today. Banana boxes full of unlabeled, undated pictures. Supposed milk crates in the abyss of the back house basement allegedly full of interesting articles, photos and miscellaneous archive material (Jeff, Catherine: you keep telling me they exist, yet you have no solid proof... I wait impatiently). Cassette tapes of interviews from certain people about certain things (again, unlabeled and undated). In a desperate attempt to prove to doubtful community members that my history major is in fact practical, I have decided to put order to this mess. So if you need to know when Jeff was arrested that one time for that one civil disobedience thing, or if you have a sneaking suspicion that something has changed since you last visited, ask me and I just might be able to give you an answer. Chances are, though, you really don't care.

Interested in Catholic Worker life? Internship? Volunteering? It's not as farcical as I am... so no fears. Contact us, and look for the Summer Internship issue of the Catholic Agitator!

Los Angeles Catholic Worker
632 N Brittania St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033