Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

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Grace

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm

piano-1924351_1920

The first time grace was visited upon me was in mid-November. I actually had a paying gig. All the elements came together in a highly congenial and efficacious manner that can be described as grace. These fleeting moments of grace are perhaps the primary factor in sustaining my haphazard career in music. That frisson, that narcotic-like blast of euphoria that comes from playing an instrument in what could be considered a musical manner is what compels the foolhardy among us to become professional musicians. The band was amenable to my wishes and played well despite a short time for rehearsal. I knew the keyboard player and drummer. We’ve played together on previous occasions and share the same musical philosophy; you create music in the moment.

The whole thing is an existential tightrope walk. Think about the Flying Wallendas or Evil Knievel trying to traverse the canyon on his motorcycle.

The audience was fairly large and responsive to our musical endeavors. I think this positive response provided the creative stimulus needed to give a good performance. A good performance should provide a sense of communion. The audience and a performer merge. There is something seemingly mystical about it. Maybe this is a form of spirituality that is inherent in artistic activity no matter how base or magnanimous. Of course, this is my take on the evening’s events. In any event, that feeling, that grace or whatever it is provides me with something that makes music and music-making the paramount concern in my rather tatterdemalion life. Of course, writing is a fugitive enterprise and number two concern. Despite these two realms of grace, the pressure continues unabated. The mundane terror of daily life always reasserts itself when the gig is over. Bills must be paid; relationships have to be tended to; laundry must be done.

-Bern Nix

Farm to Tray 2017

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Farm to Tray 2017

To support the work that Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen provides every weekday, please join us for our annual food sustainable gala event, Farm to Tray. www.farmtotray.org

Click on the photo to be redirected to a short Farm to Tray video.

screen shot of video

I Hate, Love, Am Not Happy About This; Love

In Prose, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

opening-letter

I Hate This

I’m shocked and appalled at the idea of trying to get me angry.

Sincerely,

Me

 

I Love This

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I wanted to write to congratulate you on one of the initiatives that came out of your office.  However, after careful and diligent search, I couldn’t find one.  I would suggest you and your people stop doing everything you’re doing and try doing the *right* thing for a change.

Sincerely,

Me

 

I’m Not Happy About This, To Say the Least

Dear Mr. Quatrofino,

I came today to see if there’s any news, but was told you weren’t in today.  You told me a week ago that you left three messages on Mr. McDonnell’s phone (one in my presence), but he never called you back.  I also hoped to hear a reply to my voicemail message to you, if only to find out just that.

I had been told that you would be a good person to call Mr. McDonnell, because you two are friends.  If he doesn’t return your calls, I wonder what kind of friendship this is; you might want to reevaluate it.  Or perhaps there’s more to it than I know about.

Further, this has been going on for quite a few weeks now.  As you know, I can hardly afford to wait – I have nothing firm, nothing definite to go on.  I was hoping that people who profess to help those in my situation actually would help me, and without undue delay.  I am rather disheartened at the lack of urgency everyone seems to have about this.

Please let me know if you were able to reach Mr. McDonnell, or his boss, or at least confirm the receipt of this letter.

Sincerely,

Me

 

Love

Dear Hamilton,

I wrote a letter to the court.  A friend helped me.  It’s all right that Mr. and Mrs. Williams took you in after your mom died, if they’re so kind.  But they’re asking for guardianship, and I’m worried that they want to take my parental rights away.  You’re my daughter; I don’t wanna let you go just like that.

I can’t do much for you right now.  I moved to New York City, joined the union, and they send me to jobs when they come up.  But they last only a few days, and then I’m going back to the line to wait for another.  In time, I’ll get more seniority, more work, and more money.  Then I’ll rent my own apartment.

When you graduate high school, I’d like you to come to the city with me.  I should have enough work and enough money to support you.  You could go to college and have a career.  Thanks be to God for union jobs and resident tuition.

Love,

Dad

Andre P.

 

Did We Make Any Money?

In employment, Prose, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 8:12 pm

money

We did.

First, we invested in things that had done well for the last couple of years.  Not individual stocks, because we wanted to be broadly diversified, to protect against single-company risks.  Mutual funds, offered by the providers of my girlfriend’s accounts.

Morningstar.com, a company that provides information about mutual funds and the stocks they invest in, classifies companies in two ways: by their market capitalization, the current “paper value”, combined price of all their shares, into large-caps, mid-caps, and small-caps; and into “growth” companies that are expected to have growing profits and growing share prices, and “value” companies whose shares are cheap compared to what they “should” cost.  (“Value investing” is a whole science started by Benjamin Graham and followed by Warren Buffett.  “The value is what it’s worth; the price is what you pay for it.”)

Stock mutual funds can be “growth” funds that invest in growth companies, “value” funds, or “blend” funds that invest in both.  This classification, together with the other, gives rise to a 3-by-3 table, with cells, pigeon holes, with names like “small-cap growth” or “large-cap value”.  Funds that invest in one of these pigeon holes are called “style funds”.

The best style funds turned out to be the TIAA-CREF Midcap Growth and the Fidelity Small-cap Enhanced Index fund.  Her portfolio started growing faster, as if you added new yeast to an old batch of dough.

My friend, the financial guru, sends his friends a list of stocks he thinks are worth investing in.  He pores over annual reports, financial statements, reads the lines, and between the lines.  I wrote another program to draw charts, so I could see all 20 on one screen.  I chose 5, started reading about them, at first just to know, for each, what’s the business of the business.  Around Valentine’s Day, one of them, V.F. Corporation (ticker symbol VFC), announced that it had missed earnings expectations, by 1 cent per share.  Its stock dropped by more than 6%.  I thought that was too much: the missed penny corresponded to about 3% of the earnings, so we could expect a 3% drop as a correction; the company was still as good as it had been; so any further drop was a discount, a sale.  They say, you can make more money buying than selling.

I wrote a program to “watch” stocks.  I would start it with a list of ticker symbols, and it would contact Yahoo Finance every minute, request their current prices, and display them on the screen.  On Monday, we started watching VFC.  It was still down, but stabilized, stopped tanking.  We bought.  The lesson: find a good company, do your homework, wait for superficial bad news, pounce as others panic.

Things went up and down, but more up than down.  After about a year of some contributions and some growth, she had about 40% more than when she started.

Then she fired me.

Andre P.

When I Woke Up This Morning

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 7:47 pm

cell-phone

I hear the flick of a switch and my eyelids turn red.  I hear roommates turning and jumping out of bed.  “Is it the time?” I ask myself.  I open my eyes, see the usual checkered pattern of sound-absorbent ceiling tiles and fluorescent lights behind frosted glass.  I take out my Obamaphone, a small cell phone issued by the government free of charge to the poor, and look at the screen.  “It’s the time.”  I hear roommates sighing and turning; roommates purposefully and efficiently getting themselves in order (early birds, farmers, military veteran types); roommates slowly and sloppily getting out of bed (night owls, city slickers, the tired and the weary, the rest of us).

I look at my phone fifteen minutes later.  “*Now*’s the time.  Rise and shine, soldier.  Another day that God has made.”  I don’t dwell on having to get up at such an early hour, to a cold room and crowded bathroom.  I don’t try to form thoughts, opinions; it’s too early for that.  I could sing “Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In the Morning”, an Irving Berlin song from World War I, but it will contribute nothing useful.  I prefer “Yes, We Have No Bananas” at breakfast.

I change into day underwear, move the grey military-style blanket and white sheet aside, put on two pairs of socks, pants, get out of my brown military-style bed, sliding directly into my boots.  (I like boots.  Show me your boots, and I’ll tell you who you are.)  I pass other beds, enter the bathroom.  You don’t have the security clearance to hear more.

Andre P.

Shoes

In Prose, Uncategorized on January 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm

snowfootsteps

It was a January morning, and a wet, heavy snow was falling. I could not stay indoors as I had business to do that day. I left with a proper amount of clothing and a recently purchased pair of shoes. These shoes were comfortable, which was a blessing. I looked down at them, and I was proud of them for their appearance and their fit. Fit is very important to me, since my podiatrist said my aching feet are due to foot bones shifting with old age.

The snow kept coming down and then the snow turned to rain. Slush was everywhere – big puddles formed at city intersections. Cars and cabs were splashing dirty water about. I walked about the city, low on cash, going from place to place. I started the day with a nice pair of shoes. At the end of the day, the shoes were soaking wet. It started when I had to step in a deep puddle at a corner. After this I did not care about my feet – I just marched on.

At home, I took the shoes off. They dried with that heavy salt stain all over them. I was disheartened. I let them stay under my bed for over a month. Finally, I got up the gumption to clean those shoes. I put them under the faucet and scrubbed them and let them dry. Then I used some saddle soap, finished the cleaning and polished the shoes.

Today there is a light snow outside and I am walking about the city again, enjoying the comfort of these same shoes. Yes, today is a better day.

Bill Acheson

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2016 at 9:07 pm

 

food-for-thought-two

Fundamentally food is necessary but more than that, than

Out of necessary, it is glorious!

Opulence of greens and reds, of leaves and roots, of slabs of meat, of breast and legs and wings

Descending on my plate before me magically, gracefully from God’s bounty

 

For all—if only we share, fall short if we fail to, frantic hunger, wasting away

Olfactory delights as well as tongue

Resounding crackles, hissing, crunching, chew, chew, enjoy the stew

 

Thankful can’t begin to describe my sentiments, the

Honest truth of it, the urgency

Out of hunger, unto gratitude

Urgent our call to share so none go hungry, none grow emaciated with distended bellies

Garden the Earth, sow, reap, gather in garlands of greens and sweet peas and marigolds

Hearty meals—a banquet for all the world

Thanks and thanks to God, the earth, sister, brother.

–    Annie Quintano

Let us go then you and I            

In Poetry, Uncategorized on September 29, 2016 at 8:58 pm

A collaborative poem by Ann Quintano, Tanya Jones, Stephanie Lawal, Michael Welch, and Bern Nix, using a famous first line (T.S. Eliot)

blue-door

Let us go then you and I

Can explore the world in our own eyes

But if fear keeps us trapped, ask why

In search of the sirens’ dressing room

I follow the song to her tomb

And plead at the entrance to “let me in!”

Not so long, as to an entrance!

There are requirements, my dear!

But who are you to ban me from either room or tomb

The ushers refuse seating in the tomb 15 minutes

After the show’s opening

The show must go on, with or without you!

Anthony

In Soup Kitchen Stories, Uncategorized on September 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm

anthony

Two years ago, Anthony was enjoying a successful career in wardrobe, set design and acting for film and tv. Originally from Delaware, where his mother was a college professor of Communications and his father ran a small construction company, Anthony grew up in a loving, comfortable home.  He was encouraged to develop his creativity, work hard and put his best foot forward in everything he did.

Sadly, when he was still a young man, both his parents passed on within a few years of each other and Anthony, with no brothers and sisters to lean on to help, coped with his grief by travelling the world, wanting to experience life to its fullest. Always optimistic, he had faith that between trips he could always find new gigs on tv and film projects.That formula worked for several years before he finally settled down in New York with a long term job on a major television network tv show in New York.

“I lived in an apartment building on the West Side, you know…a doorman,  a nice place, ” he says. “I enjoyed the good things in life: restaurants, travel, nice clothes. I didn’t know what it was like to live without any money.”

So, when the production company went through a reorganization and Anthony lost his job, he was confident he could pick up new work before too long. That was a year and a half ago.  “I thought I’d pick up something new by the end of the month,” he remembers. “Then one month turned into the next, and then the next.”

Never one to give up hope,  Anthony refused to think about the worst case scenario.

But with no income, and no new job prospects in the competitive show business industry, Anthony soon saw his bank account dramatically shrink until he finally had to use his security deposit to pay for a final month on his apartment last June. Since then, he’s been living on the street, homeless, and without family to turn to.

“That first day, when I moved all my things into storage, I looked around and thought – I really don’t have anywhere to go!” he says. “So I started walking, and trying to figure this ‘homelessness thing’ out.”

Anthony’s been putting one step in front of the other ever since. Not feeling safe in the crowded shelter system, he started sleeping on the subway at night, and coming to the soup kitchen during the day for his midday meal.

“If I stay clean and well groomed, and I sit a certain way on the subway  with my briefcase between my feet, I can close my eyes.  I just look like I’m a tired commuter, and I sleep from one end of the line to the other” he says. “By using my old gym membership I can still shower and stay clean. The haircut vouchers from the soup kitchen have really helped.”

At first, he said, it was hard to ask for help. “I always saw people in line here and I was hungry. My pride got in the way though. I kept saying to myself – ‘I don’t want to be in that line’. Next thing you know…I’m in that line!”

He remembers his first impression of the inside of the soup kitchen as he stood with his tray of food, how  it immediately gave him a sense of hope, of peace: “The church is so beautiful!”

Anthony continued to look for work, but when his phone got cut off, he faced an even harder uphill battle to stay on top of his job search.  Excited to find out about our computer lab and resume coaching, he says, “All the people here help so much, they are amazing – the food, the clothing, the soap and toothpaste,  the haircut vouchers. It makes me want to volunteer too. I need to feel productive.”

Anthony’s perseverance, combined with the help from the soup kitchen will hopefully pay off  before the winter months set in. He’s just recently gone to several  job interviews for customer service positions and one job looks especially promising.

“You know, I see this as temporary. It has to be” he says, determination in his voice.  “Some day, I’ll be able to give back a lot to the soup kitchen. You’ll see!”

 

 

INSOMNIA #2

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

 

insomnia-2

                     

 

I lie awake at night

Amazed at how quickly deep dark begets the daylight

 

I lie awake at night

Unimpressed by headlight flashes that give false pretense to the moon

 

I lie awake at night

Waiting for tree branch shadows to reach down from the ceiling to caress me

 

I lie awake at night

And cower as the tree incarnate beats fiercely against vinyl siding

 

I lie awake at night

Because I am too cold to be comfortable, but too warm to wander

From beneath one blanket in search of another

 

I lie awake at night

And think about when I didn’t do so alone

We’d chat or brood, but together

 

OR

 

I would lie awake at night

Annoyed by your snores

Or being drenched by your sweat

 

AND

 

I would lie awake at night

Concocting methods and devices to make your passing seem natural

 

So now…

 

I lie awake at night

And marvel at how slyly slick darkness creeps into bright light

 

and

 

I lie awake at night

 

and then

 

I lay alone in morning

Knowing that we are all better off this way.

 

-Stephanie Lawal