Sunday, May 27, 2012

Frustration Stinks. Do Something.

My dear Albanian neighbors and friends (near and far),

Allow me to express my great respect and appreciation for your kindness, generosity and hospitality.  Let me to say “Thank You” for helping me to integrate into your community, work among you and to encourage your youth to become confident and skilled leaders of the future.  And let me share in your frustration with the country’s challenges as you continue your development as a democratic nation.  I understand that programs and systems are not yet adequate to serve all your needs.   I understand why some days it feels like nothing will ever change.   But today, I have living proof that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE
A story:
A young woman stepped out of her apartment for a morning walk.  Immediately, the pungent odor of dog poop hit her in the face and seconds later, she discovered the source… a nasty mound, sitting on the stairway landing.  “Gross!” she thought as she passed, holding her breath and swatting away the flies that were buzzing around.  “The owner of that dog should clean that up!”

Some time later, returning from her walk, and having stopped at a market, the young woman climbed her stairs and was met again by the increasingly foul stench from the doggie pile-o-poo.  As she passed, she leaned away from the smell, but there was no escaping it and she had to stifle her gag reflex.  Not wanting the stink to infiltrate her groceries, the girl quickly entered her apartment, again thinking, “That is just disgusting!”  And she started to wonder…  Who’s dog was to blame for this offense?  Did any of her neighbors even own a dog?  Perhaps this was the mark of a street dog?  Regardless, she was steadfast, “Someone really needs to clean that up!”

Later that day, the young woman stepped out from her apartment again… it was still there, and potent as ever and she was frustrated.  How long would she have to wait for someone to clean up?  Until the evening?  Tomorrow?  Until it had become petrified shit?  She was so frustrated that she made a decision. I’m not willing to wait any longer.  She walked back inside, grabbed 3 plastic bags (tripling up for safety and the sheer ick-factor), and then literally took the matter into her own hands. 

Even though it was gross…  even though it wasn’t her dog or her mess… Even though others could have done the same thing… SHE DID IT!  She took that steaming sack of wretched animal feces and delivered it straight to the dumpster.  When she came back, the smell was nearly gone.  And she felt good.  Because she didn’t have to deal with it any longer.  And the young woman felt good because she knew she’d relieved her neighbors of the same unpleasant experience.  And she felt good because… SHE HAD NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE.

So as you can see… change can and does HAPPEN.  That young woman (notice how I keep using the adjective!) was ME.  And the story is true.  (You can even ask my mom!)  Never before in my life, have I ever WILLINGLY picked up dog crap!  But today, it was necessary and important... and so I did.  

And if I can change, and do just one little thing for my neighbors… think of the magnitude of change that will come when each Albanian does SOMETHING within their power to do something for their neighbors, their city, their country?  And not because its easy or popular… Or not because it’s their  job…   Or not because they’ll get public recognition… Just because they are not willing to wait any longer for something to change!   That day is coming and I just can’t wait!  (which is exactly the reason why I am here.)

So there you have it… the proof that change is possible.  It is within each of you.  Do something, anything. Don't wait, start today.  There will always be challenges and frustrations.  There will always be greater need than we can accommodate.  There will always be injustice.  But we must never stop ourselves from doing THOSE things that ARE within our power to bring change. 

Peace, Love and Extra Plastic Baggies


  1. Hi Melia....i knew it was you all along! So in my experience (typing this on my phone.....wish i had a qwerty keyboard!....anyway...) it always took 2 things to do a good job....1) u had to want to do it and 2) you had to know how to do it. Recently i amended that as ibset ou to make some change at the City of Mesa where i know happily work....i realized that some of the management had different ideas and wo their support it was difficult....SO....#3...#3 is you must have a going to think about your poop see if my theory evolves. I dont always agree with how u think but i love that you think. Carry on Miss.

    1. "I dont always agree with how u think but i love that you think." That statement means so much to me. :) I'll carry on...on one condition. You do the same!

  2. And for many, volunteering and doing something in the community IS like sticking your hand in a pile of shit... All kidding aside, I'm proud of you. If they say, "do something everyday that scares you", then my dear friend, you did that! Love, JM

    1. Considering I'm telling students and co-workers to BE the CHANGE they want to see....I'd better damn well practice what I preach! Even if it comes down to stinky poo. Oh... and although I love puppies, this is why I prefer cats. Litterbox! Hello!

  3. Does this only apply to POO? :) I think not! I'm an American from Chicago living here in Tirana for over a year now. I can tell you from first hand knowlwdge and extensive POOEY experience that if I could get one of my tirone neighbors to to even pick up a single piece of paper in thier own building hallway that they live in, that would be progress, let alone stinky, smelley POO. This blog actually speaks volumes to me because not only did I pick and relocate myself to Tirana (for reasons I might write about later here), I also brought my "QEN", (that's DOG for the none Albanians) with me to Albania. Now I'm from Chicago, where there are city ordinances pertaining to and governing where your dog can take a POO and if it has to be picked up or not. Now, in roughly 99% of the Chicago area you have to pick up your dog's poo and dispose of it properly, say in a garbage can. This is something I have done my entire life with my dogs. One item on the top of my lists of things to bring with me here to Albania was, beilieve it or not, was DOGGY POOPY BAGS. These are hand size plastic bags that you slip over your hand to scoop up the POO from your dog. After scooping the POO, the bag is tied so that the horrific, stenchy and smelley POO does not linger to your neighbors or people around you. After this is done, the real work begins...getting the bagged POO to a garbage can. In Tirana this can be a daunting task. Walking with a bag of POO a whole wopping two blocks to the nearest garbage can. God forbid anyone sees me picking up the POO, but the walk to the garbage can can be quite an experience. The people who wittness this alien type of event, PLAYING WITH POO, stand astonished that such a thing could happen here in tirana. You have the people who stand and laugh at you for performing such a task and then theres the people who stand in horror, as if they just wittnessed a satanic type of ritual. WHY IS POO DEMONIZING TO PEOPLE here?
    There's never been another time or situation that I can recall receiving so much pleasure talking about smelley OLE POO. Melia, keep up the blogging. I've been following your adventures for a year now and and can hardly wait to read what you are going ponder next. I just love your since of humor and your writing. Keep up the great work.