Matchy Matchy

This week I bought my first pair of rain boots. They’re from the school bookstore because I didn’t actually feel like making the effort to go any farther away than that to purchase rain boots. Laziness is a powerful motivator. Purple plaid isn’t really my style but desperate times call for desperate measures. Besides they keep my feet nice and dry which is kind of the point.

About an hour or two after I purchased my rain boots, purple plaid rain boots that I walked through the pouring down icy Arctic rain for, the sky decided to clear up and turn into a beautiful fall day. My new boots ended up on the floor waiting for the next rainstorm while my Minnetonka moccasins and I frolicked outside. Lucky for the boots rain has been forecast all week. Lucky for me I went ahead and bought them.

Today was my first actual day of wearing rain boots. I haven’t had any since I was a little kid and I’ve definitely never worn them around campus all day so it came as somewhat of a shock to me that these giant rubber things on my feet can be a little clunky to walk in especially if you have to go up a size to accommodate wearing jeans tucked into them. It was also rather surprising to find out that rubber shoes, when wet, are actually pretty slippery. Which would account for the biggest surprise of all when I rather gracefully managed to slide down the stairs between classes today landing on my butt and my elbow. This beauty is the result of that:

You’ll notice the unique weave pattern of the bruise. That’s from the fabric of my sweater making this officially one of the coolest bruises I’ve ever had. At this point it almost matches the boots.

~Have Coffee Will Travel

Whatever it Takes

Thomas J. White is not someone that I know. More than likely he is not someone that you know or, unless you are familiar with the history of Partners in Health, someone who’s name you’ve even heard. I only know of Tom through reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. This book chronicles the beginning of the work of Partners in Health, a non profit devoted to creating a “preferential option for the poor” by providing quality healthcare to everyone, regardless of ability to pay, socioeconomic status or even geographical location.  Tom is the guy who funded PIH for years starting when they were just the dream of a few idealistic young people to bring affordable, quality health care to Haiti, to present day when PIH has become a world renowned organization with a presence in countries such as Rwanda, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Peru.

This is not an ad for Partners in Health. This is just me, a 20 something-year-old public health student who admires the work this organization has done and the good they have achieved around the world. Good that might never have been achieved without Tom. Proverbs* tells us to stand up for the poor, to seek justice for them in court, Psalms** reminds us to care for the widows and the orphans, for those who cannot do for themselves. I get that not everybody has the same value basis as me. I don’t expect you to or hold you, whoever you are, to the same beliefs that I hold myself to. Let me appeal to your basic sense of humanity then and simply say that as humans each and everyone of us has the right to live. We are born and we die citizens of this world and a part of the greater universe that is humanity. With that right to life comes a right to health, a right to live healthy, productive lives as members of society. How then can we look into the eyes of the poor, impoverished and sick and deny them the basic right that we ourselves cherish? I know that I can’t. Tom couldn’t, that’s why he put his money where his heart was and started to make a difference.

Partners in Health is having their 18th annual Thomas J. White symposium September 24 to talk about the importance of global health and social justice and the partnerships that support them. You can register to watch it live at this link.

Thomas J. White is no longer with us. He passed away this past January, but when you look at his unintentional legacy, at all of the good that he has done, the countless lives that he helped save by his generosity, he has created a testimony and a story far greater than anyone could have imagined. I didn’t realize that Tom had died until I was registering to watch the Symposium. The link about Tom mentioned that he had passed in January 2011 months after I read Mountains Beyond Mountains. I read Paul Farmer’s eulogy for Tom in tears. Here was a man that I felt like I knew, even if I just met him in a book. A quiet, generous man who wanted to make a difference and did so. I hope one day I can be like him.

In the words of PIH: From Partners In Health’s founding in the early 1980s, co-founder and partner Thomas J. White enabled the organization to do “whatever it takes” to make our patients well. It is difficult to measure the impact of this commitment—millions of lives have been saved around the world because of it. Whether financing the construction of a small clinic in Cange or investing in the expensive drug regimens of PIH’s first multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients, Tom’s investment in service to the destitute sick and his vision of what could be have changed global health delivery forever.

~Have Coffee Will Travel

*Proverbs 31:8-9

**Psalm 82:3

War of the Roaches

The thing about being from Texas is that even though I grew up in the suburbs, have never shot a gun in my life, and have definitely never killed anything bigger than a bug we all like to imagine ourselves as having a little bit of surly eyed Walker, Texas Ranger round house kicking through our veins. Cockroaches, hell yeah I’ll kill those suckers, just give me a .22 and a machete and I’ll go to town.

Except that I’m only slightly sure of what a .22 actually looks like and I’m pretty sure that swinging machetes at a cockroach, while highly enjoyable, is a slightly inefficient cockroach killing method. My Chuck Norris complex seems to be getting the better of me however, as to date I have killed not one, but three, big nasty cockroaches in the slightly sub par graduate housing I live in.

The first one I killed appeared in my coffee drinking buddy’s room. She knocked on my door late at night freaking out because of this giant roach she saw crawling on the wall next to her bed. It was big, but between our screams and me chasing it with my flip flop and a bottle of Clorox we borrowed from another girl I couldn’t help but wryly interject, “They get bigger.” We managed to eventually kill that one by turning off the lights and exiting the room for a few minutes. The darkness and lack of three high pitched shrieking females no doubt lured the nasty little monster into the open. Crawling back in bed that night after a successful kill I couldn’t help but chuckle about all the freaking out we did over a silly little thing like a cockroach. I mean seriously, everything’s bigger in Texas, even the cockroaches… Right?

Fast forward a few days and Coffee Drinker and I are killing another cockroach that one of my suite mates managed to trap in the bathroom underneath a plastic cup and a Denny’s drink. She left a little note explaining that she couldn’t bring herself to kill it, just to catch it. I have no such qualms. I can handle this. I am from the great state of rattlesnake cowboy boots and five alarm chili. I can kill a cockroach even if I am beginning to wonder if they really do make them bigger in Texas after all. I am going to kill this monster because there is no little sister or man around to do it for me and I can’t take a shower knowing its out there scratching at the cup like an alien in someone’s stomach trying to get out.

What finally did it for me was learning that not only was our building infested with these suckers, unlike the South where cockroaches are endemic and you end up seeing a few a year, up here in the great state of Ohio cockroaches are not something you just have to live with. Apparently they are something that happens in old buildings but that can be eradicated. Key word here: eradicated, as in dead, as in toast, as in sayanora suckers, as in Chuck Norris is about to kick your butt. After that lovely little revelation I went to Target, not once, but twice, and stocked up with bottles of roach killing Raid and giant bait traps. I’ve sprayed my room, the bathroom, the hallways and the common area and managed to put out sixteen baits, eight of which alone are in my room. I also gave one of my bottles of bug spray to the guys at the other end of the hallway so that they can kill the monsters too. I am armed and dangerous and those little monsters better watch out, there’s a new sheriff in town and she means business.

~Have Coffee Will Travel

Band of Horses: Infinite Arms

I’m kind of in love with these guys. Starbucks first introduced me to their single “On My Way Back Home.” Then I had a stroke of genius months later and actually downloaded the entire album before leaving for Cleveland as part of my roadtrip soundtrack.

I had one ill-fated fifth grade year of pretending to play the violin so take what I say with a grain of nonmusical salt. But from the perspective of a non music aficionado I love the smoothness and beauty of their music, some of their songs like “On My Way Back Home” and “Infinite Arm” sound like lullabys. The lyricism of their words and the way they blend with the music is also pretty impressive.

Their music doesn’t just remind me of home, it reminds me driving through endless dark fields on family summer road trips staring at the stars sliding past us into the night. Its the kind of music I want to turn on when I head to the kitchen to try baking pies . That’s probably the weirdest compliment they’ve ever gotten before now that I think about it. Mostly what I know is that when I need to chill or life starts to get to me I can turn on this album and try tuning out the chaos.

Their songs are a mix of chill and upbeat. I can space out to something like “Older” or “Evening Kitchen” or listen to something more upbeat like “Laredo” for some quirky baby don’t leave me music. If you’re looking for something beautiful with amazing lyrics check them out.

Cleveland Coffee Love

There is a Starbucks on the same block as my building.

Like maybe 100 yards if I had any idea what 100 yards looked like. I’m not so good with the distance thing. Either way its there. Right there! I realize this is not a big deal to some people but to someone born and raised in the suburbs this is like a whole new exciting world of caffeine addiction has been made suddenly and gloriously available to them. There’s also a Starbucks freakishly close by that I walk past every time I go to class. Then there’s a university coffee house in a cool old house on campus, larger servings, but their iced coffee just doesn’t have the same Starbucks zing.

I’ve tried a Peets Coffee Shop on campus, super strong dining hall coffee that keeps you awake for hours (I’m currently buzzing on that), and a really cool place off of Coventry Road called Phoenix Coffee. That’s probably my fav so far but it requires driving so I may not be there as often as I like. I’m kind of liking this whole walk everywhere thing. Let’s not forget the delicious Vietnamese coffee that I had at Superior Pho off of Superior Road, original name I know but it makes it handy to find. Yum. A little more condensed milk than I prefer but an afternoon of steaming hot pho and crisp Vietnamese iced coffee was like being at home. Mmmm. I may need to hit that up again next week.

Awesomely enough I have made friends with a fellow coffee enthusiast so I have a buddy for caffeine fueled adventures. The point of the matter is we’re taking Cleveland by coffee storm and so far its been amazing. :)

My delicious Vietnamese coffee.