Monday, December 21, 2009

Making Moves




From the Youth Speaks FAQ page: 
"I want to start a Youth Speaks chapter. What do I do? At this point, we do not have any plans to start a Youth Speaks chapter, but are happy to support your programs participation in Brave New Voices, where we do organizational development trainings. At BNV, you will meet other people from around the country doing the work, and will pick up all kinds of pointers. To learn how to start a


Looks like the only way to do this is to do it locally.

So far, all I really know is that there is not a Youth Speaks team in Oklahoma or Kansas (i.e. I have to travel for my resources). I also know that a majority of the team members from Philadelphia at BNV 2008 go to UPenn and they have a program at their college that fosters spoken word.  From what I've seen, it looks like a lot of places where there is a Youth Speaks Team there is a more local organization of the purpose. Like what I want H.E.A.R. Inc. to be.


It looks like the places that are closest to me that I could look into are Denver, Austin, Amarillo, and St. Louis. Here's a good resource: http://www.txywc.org/. And I'm looking into more. I emailed a girl at UPenn about their thing they have going there. I'm gonna talk to the sponsors of the language clubs at UCO about what they want their organizations to be involved in. I'm gonna put out some more feelers.  


I love it when things feel like they're moving.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hmmm

I think it's interesting that Jesus wasn't the Jesus we read about and know about except when he was born (Merry Christmas!), when he was approximately 12 ("I'm going about my father's business"), and when he was 30-33. What about when he was 17? Or 21? Or 25? Some say that he was doing the things most of us do during our adolescence, the things that most people don't consider holy and set apart. It is theorized that he GREW to become the Savior of the world; he wasn't born with all of those characteristics.
Hmm.

I get annoyed about working at Aldo for longer than 5 hours or so.
I started back at Build-A-Bear Workshop on Tuesday and I loooooove it. I missed the wholesomeness of kids' bop music and uniforms and not being allowed to curse and putting smiles on the faces of innocents.
I worked some crazy long hours for OSGA this week (because I procrastinate, LOL), but I was not annoyed with my work at any point. I think I was meant to spend some time as someone's P.R. Director.
I still want to teach, but not in a year and a half. Maybe in 5 years, or 10, depending on what I fall into.
Hmm.

I am so underwhelmed by the single guys I meet in real life that I am completely ready to stay single for as long as it takes to find someone who makes me both happy and proud, someone who makes me better.
Hmm.

These are just some things I've been mulling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Woman Should...

One of my mentors emailed this to me a couple of weeks ago and I find it really inspiring. The email said it was written by Maya Angelou, but that has yet to be verified.


I think I'd be pretty content to live my life with these things in mind, regardless of which parts of it break the rules.


> A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...
> enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to...
> something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour...

> A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
> a youth she's content to leave behind...
> a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age....
> a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...
> one friend who always makes her laugh and one who lets her cry....

> A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...
> a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family...
> eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored...
> a feeling of control over her destiny...

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
> how to fall in love without losing herself
> how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship....

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
> when to try harder and WHEN TO WALK AWAY...

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
> that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..
> that her childhood may not have been perfect, but it's over....

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
> what she would and wouldn't do for love or more how to live alone even if she doesn't like it...

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW.. .
> whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally...

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
> where to go - be it to her best friend's kitchen table or a charming inn in the woods - when her soul needs soothing....

> EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW....
> what she can and can't accomplish in a day...
> a month...
> and a year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Placing Myself - in the Intersection or dying by the Roadside

Bear with me, this post might be tedious.

Yesterday I wrote the beginnings of a whiny poem in my other blog after talking to Jen and thinking I was ready to man-up and finish this semester. Today I journaled about how angsty I'm feeling. I talked myself out of quitting school by remembering that I don't want to work retail forever. It's okay in your early twenties, but after that it doesn't make sense. I need to at least graduate by 23 (that gives me an extra year to mess with).

I started following a fellow young poet's new blog and remembered the days when my blog used to be happy and insightful, or at least insightful. So I went back and looked at old posts of mine.

The most recent insightful post was October 29th. I wrote about living in the "I am" rather than the "will be." And I found a way to be comfortable with who I am. I tried that approach last night and it did not work. I absolutely hate who I am, because who I am has no intrinsic value. I am just a shell waiting to give birth to what will be.
October 11th was both insightful and optimistic. I had an idea of what I wanted and how to get there. Sadly, that "how" burnt itself out as the time passed.
September 25th was a good one. But the thing that makes it different and maybe vaguely irrelevant is that I used a principle found in a book that my friend Kendal thinks I should throw out. If you've read very much of my stuff, you've seen me reference this book time and time again: The Lotus Still Blooms by Joan Gattuso. In that post, I quoted her: "What you focus on expands," and said that I was smiling a lot because I focused on grace and possibility. I would argue that the book helped me keep a good outlook.
September 16th had a lot of ideas and plans. I was still optimistic then.
But I think the fact that I have forgotten, or rather completely rejected, what I wrote on September 9th is the reason I stay so upset. In that post, I quoted Rainer Maria Rilke who I internet-researched after reading a couple of chapters in The Lotus Still Blooms. "Try to love the questions themselves, Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them." (Rilke) And then I said,"success is a process, not a product and life is a journey, not a destination." I realized, "My spirit is getting stronger - probably because I am becoming more sensitive to it. Yoga does that. I am in pursuit of Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. I am in pursuit of the balance between belief (in Christian principles) and understanding (of the innerworkings of the Universe)." Now I'm sure that I have more than one Christian friend, my pastor included, who thinks it's imprudent to let my spirit rest in a text (Lotus) that calls itself the intersection between Buddhism and Christianity, but all I can say is that when I was practicing like a person who lives in that intersection, I was happy and now that I'm trying to be a complete, 100%, no-holds-barred, no teraphim-listening (Zechariah 10:2 in the King James Version) Christian I am back to thoughts of wanting to quit.

The inflexibility of Christianity makes me want to give up. Last night I cried hysterically and told GOD I couldn't do it anymore. Today, I have managed not to cry but I still want to to quit.
To be fair, I was warned about this. Pastor said there would be a time when I wouldn't want to push anymore (using the birth metaphor), but if I stopped that something would die or at least be permanently damaged. The only thing I have right now is a fear of damaging the dream that GOD gave me to give birth to. I want/need that dream to become reality, but I don't know how to make it through the process without referencing The Lotus.

"What the Buddhists teach is a soul science. 'Buddhism promotes understanding, not belief. Christianity promotes belief, not understanding'" (Robert Thurman).  
"'All the effort must be made by you; Buddha only shows the way'" (The Dhammapada)
"Right effort is knowing that the only sacrifice is to give up that which has no reality."
"We all need to engage techniques and formulas that appeal to reason and lead to higher states of awareness."
"For this material to have any true meaning, it must be embraced intellectually, because it is reasonable, psychologically sound, and it just makes sense."
The Five Aggregate Exercises
The Four Immeasurables
The Eight-fold Path

Oh my gosh...Just typing out those things that I've read several times before makes me feel better. The idea of giving up that which has no reality sets lightly on my spirit. It makes sense.

The problem is that Pastor says, and Kendal agrees, that things like that book are teraphim.
Zechariah 10: 2 "For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams, they comfort in vain: therefore they go their way like sheep, they are afflicted, because there is no shepherd."
Pastor explained teraphim to be evil beings dressed up as angels of light. Idols that take the place of GOD, ideas and thought patterns that subtly counteract the truth.
In the first part of that verse, the instances where I struck words out, the teraphim are obviously the bad guys. The second part, that I underlined and italicized, depicts people being led astray by the teraphim, afflicted because there is no shepherd.

So my confusion/irritation/uncertainty lies in the fact that I take comfort in something, The Lotus Still Blooms, other than Bible. It is sometimes contrary to the Bible and sometimes it quotes the Bible and makes what seem to be perfectly acceptable parallels. My book fits Pastor's description of teraphim and yet I find the following of this particular teraphim easier, better, more constructive than the angst I feel without it.

This is a pretty weighty discussion. I understand if you opt out, but if I tag you on Facebook, please know that it is because I want your scholarly, or faithful, opinion, not because I'm trying to bring you around to my way of thinking.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"I'm tired of painting myself 'will be' when You are always 'I AM'" - Melissa May

I am tired of striving
All of life is striving
Striving to be a good daughter, to be less of a financial burden, to ask few questions, to have fewer arguments.
Mami, I have never said this out loud,
but on nights like tonight, I would cut out my personality and throw it away if it meant we could go the rest of the year without arguing.
I would drop out of school and make the money to pay you back if that didn't mean that the loans you took out for me would go into early repayment.
I would spend my last few dollars on presents for your birthday and Christmas if I didn't have to ask you for gas money next week.


I'm tired of striving
All of life is striving
Striving to be a good Christian, to be less volatile, less judgmental, to love like Jesus, and obey His commandments.
Savior, Father, Spirit,
the thought of dying scares me less than the thought of continuing to do this wrong.
I would give you my whole paycheck, not just ten percent, if I wouldn't be financially hurting my family by doing it.
I would enter a convent, if I didn't believe you had given me specific gifts to take with me to the masses.
I would spend all day, everyday talking to, hearing from, reading about, and worshipping You, if I didn't really believe that You want me to worship You by showing others the truth. 
I would say "all I need is You, Lord, is You, Lord. All I need is You" if I didn't think You had created me for relationship with others too.
I am tried of striving.

I think that was going to be a poem...but it's really just a complaint, the same complaint I've had for the last year.
The place I was trying to get to, but failed, is that there is nothing happy about where I am. I am only alive for the "will be." I get up every morning and pray for the strength to make it through today so that one day, I will be able to walk in my calling and my gift. So that one day, I will be able to say, I made it over. So that one say, I will be able to thank God that I'm not where I used to be.

My pastor says you can always thank God that you're not where you used to be...but I'm having a hard time believing that, because I used to be happy. And I haven't been happy for a year. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Leadership

I've heard it said that I was born to be a leader.

I used to be very into that idea and therefore always sought out leadership positions and opportunities. I could list them, but that would be boring for you.

Well, since I left OCU I have been pretty nearly running from leadership positions - not because I don't think I'm capable of fulfilling them or because I hate responsibility.  I run from them because I've recently decided that I don't want to be followed.
I have often heard it said that you're not a leader if you have no followers. Well, then that's where I want to be. I don't want people to follow me anywhere, I just want to help people do whatever they want or be a better version of themselves.  And I don't know what that looks like.

Tonight, I went to a church service and LC.tv is trying to start a movement. They were asking leaders to step up...
...and this is the kind of thing that's right up my alley.

But I'm no longer into leading...

I don't know. I just want to "crawl 'til I can walk again, then run until I'm strong enough to jump, THEN I'll fly - y - y!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There's Some Hard Times in the Neighborhood

(I came to the realization this week that a lot of people read and I don't know they read. Subconsciously I probably knew that,  but I had never reall thought about it. So thanks.)
If you've been watching lately, you may have notived that my posts fluctuate between brilliant and intellectual and angry or defeatist. That's a pretty accurate assessment of the current state of my psyche.

My fingernails and cuticles have major evidence of nervous biting. My skin is broken out. I pick fights with people because it's much easier to argue than to be unengaged. I'm either wayyy more put together than it's necessary to be, or I look like I fell out of bed without looking in the mirror.
The part that you may not know is that along with my moods comes a general dissatisfaction. I'm either really missing the past or I want to lay down and go to sleep and wake up in the future.

There are degrees and poems and competitions and books and good essays and fancy titles and legislation in my future (Thank GOD)...but for all I know that future is 5 years away. I don't like to think about the distant future when tomorrow scares the sh*t out of me.

In my past, along with the stupid things I did and mean people I knew there are a ton of missed opportunities. If I hadn't been so wrapped up in experiencing OCU college life, I could have had a good, well-paying, cushy office job for a year. Instead, I only had said job for 5 months. When I was 18 cheerleading, being in a sorority, working for the college newspaper, and sleeping in were more important than money. I was either stupid and childish, or blindly idealistic. I could have had a hard, taxing job that paid enough and got me a lot of attention and notoriety from summer 2007 until graduation. Instead I only had that job for 4 months. When I was 18, being an officer in my sorority and being on Panhellenic and having time to do nothing in my dorm room was more important that the future I could have had in journalism.  I think at that point my fault was a lack of focus. I didn't know what I wanted, so I didn't know how to get it. I could have had a relatively easy job doing soft sales and hanging out with cute kids and their neurotic parents from summer 2007 to the present. I did work that job for over a year. But then sorority and student government and free time were more important. 

Are you bored with my list yet?

My point is, back when I had all the opportunity and none of the focus, I had my choice of jobs to help pay the bills. I had three jobs at one point. No time, but plenty of money. Now that I have focus, I have no opportunity.

I'm not saying money is the most important thing. But I'm saying everything is easier with money.

I don't really know what to do. I'm technically employed at two different locations. But Chili's took me off the schedule for some reason unbeknownst to me, and I'm 96% sure Aldo is about to cut my hours wayy back (not that I was getting a lot anyway).  Part of me doesn't want to look for a new job because I'm spending three days in Texas over Thanksgiving, I want to take an intercession class, and my bestie's getting married over New Year's. But the other part of me is in constant freak-out mode because at this rate, I'm not going to be able to afford the gas money or hotel fare for the wedding road trip that's already been completely planned. Hm.

My mom thinks I should skip intercession class so that I can work pretty constantly from December 7 to December 28 and from Jan 3 through summer 2010 (my next semester schedule is WIDE open - thank  GOD for online classes)...and that might be a smart choice. But I want to graduate, damn it! I'm already a year late. I'm not particularly interested in being later.
Then I thought about it. Would I rather be poor and not get to do anything but make sure I'm done in May of 2011, or should I find a good job that pays and maybe cut back on the hours? I took 17 this semester and am in enrolled in 17 for next semester. I only need 12 to be a full-time student. But taking my time with this degree just wasn't part of the plan.

They say pray about it.
I have, I am. This is prayer. There's a prayer being prayed in a foreign language in my head. Last night's tears were prayers. Now I want some answers.

:: deep sigh ::

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Losing Friends

I'm not talking about death, so don't feel too sorry for me.

I went to college and immediately joined a sorority. That brought with it a lot of issues about money, race, class, and socialization. One of the things that was really exciting about the house I joined is that so many of us have big goals and big dreams and we want to be influential in the lives of those around us. We had the reputation of being the girls you study with or ask to co-lead your organization or initiative.  We weren't the partiers or the sex-pots.  And I really felt like I fit in there. I love my sisters with all my heart. Being a part of that sorority taught me things I wouldn't have learned elsewhere and I am the woman I today because of them.

But there is one thing I have come to realize I get older.
After approximately sophomore year in college, and especially in a sorority, you see a lot more candle lightings and bachelorette parties and weddings. You hear a lot about lace and flowers and bridesmaids dresses. And no matter what kind of person you are, conversations about marriage and weddings and futures are more "fun" or "interesting" than conversations about politics, public service, or books will ever be.
One of the girls I met my first year became a close friend of mine. We noticed ourselves often sitting together at events and talking about things. We ended up being members of other organizations together and discovered that we have vaguely similar politics and vaguely similar personalities. We got really close the summer after sophomore year and remained so until I transferred schools.

I also got pretty close to the girl who was my big sister in the sorority. We spent my birthday together when I turned 20. I was at her graduation party. She and I have double dates with our moms. It's great fun. 

Well I haven't talked to either of those girls much this semester because one is our sorority president as well as the SGA chief of staff. She also has a demanding major and a wedding in approximately 50 days. My big sis has graduated and her job requires her to travel a lot. She also has a fiance, just recently, and is now planning a move and a wedding. 

Not too far into the semester when I realized that my friend and I never have time to hang out just the two of us, I got nervous. I got even more nervous when roads of conversation always led to her upcoming wedding. I don't have much to say about that because I don't get excited about weddings. She knows this, and we've agreed to disagree about it.

I saw her last week and we talked for a while. We talked about the sorority for a minute or two and about the Homecoming celebration they had just finished. And not five minutes later, I found myself searching for topics that would strike her interest. I don't have time to keep up with politics, so I couldn't ask her how she felt about the health care bill that was on the table. I don't do any extracurriculars at my new school so we couldn't compare busy schedules. I am out of the OCU loop now so we can't chat it up about the intricacies of the student government or the perception of our house on campus. So I told her some story about work or about Frank or about something else stupid that doesn't matter, because I couldn't of anything else to say and I didn't want to waste the little bit of time we had together.

Here's the main jist of this post:
It freaks me out when people grow away from each other. I am scared to death that once she gets married on December 31 we will have even less in common and once she graduates this May we will have nothing. What do I have to say to a married college graduate? "Great wedding pictures" "How's the hubby?" "Do you have a washer and dryer yet?" Blah blah blah. I won't know anything about her new life and everything about mine will be old news because she's already been there and done that.

Marriage isn't supposed to have to be the end of a friendship, nor is graduation, but my attitude toward love and marriage is one where I can only listen to someone talk about it for so long and so often.

A couple of weeks ago I saw my big sis write on my friend's Facebook wall, and she said let's get together next week. I was going to ask if I could come along. I haven't gone and had drinks with either of them, yet and I've been 21 for three months.  Then I saw one of them say to the other - "Can't wait to get together, have drinks and talk weddings!" Or something like that. And I realized that even if I had gone with them I would have been completely left out of the conversation anytime it turned to men, marriage, or weddings. They would have tried to include me because they are nice people, but really I would have put a damper on their fun. They wouldn't have felt comfortable gushing about colors and fabrics and honeymoons if I had been there. So I didn't even ask.

I don't want this to sound like it's their fault. God bless their marriages. The guys they are marrying are wonderful. God bless my friend's graduation. She has worked her ass off. God bless my big sis's job, she deserves something that makes her happy. But my friend's life will change, has changed, and mine will stay the same. I'm satisfied with my life, I just wish I could keep my friends in the process. I wish I could still hang out with them without feeling left out because I'm not getting married. I wish we still had enough conversation topics without weddings.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Untitled Love Poem (11/7/09)

I love shoes and bags
I love what dredlocks represent
I love art and music and hot chocolate...

And I love Jen, and Kosher, and Mannie, and L'Booghie,
Christian, and all my other friends
I love my Alpha Chi Omega sisters

I love yoga and charismatic church services
I love chanting, meditation and reading

And I love my Deities: Creator, Savior, Sustainer - more traditionally Father, Son, Spirit,
but I try to stay away from gender boundaries

So I love things, people, processes, and the Divine.
More accurately stated:
I am pleased by things;
I find pleasure in processes;
I have an affection for some people in a similar way as family;
and I have an all-encompassing worshipful, sacrificial attachment to GOD

But what about you?
I mean, your lips taste better than chocolate
and I'd rather have you on my arm than a new Coach
I would like to talk to you like I talk to Jennifer,
hug you like Mannie,
kiss your cheek like Kosher
and sit next to you at Thanksgiving like my cousins
I talk to you with the same diligence as prayer,
and I'd make love to you with the same focus and concentration as performing a sun salutation

But I can't tell you I love you...
Because I'm scared you won't know what I mean
I'm scared you'll think I want to treat you like my favorite high heels...
only rock with you in photos and then take you off
because deep down I'd rather be barefoot
I'd wear my heels all day for you

Sometimes I'm scared to tell you what I really think
Everybody knows that being family means sometimes fighting,
sometimes crying, but in the end compromising,
loving in spite of differences

I want to share my processes with you
I'll read you the secrets of the universe
and you can tattoo your lifeline to my breastbone

I know you're scared I'll worship you
And honestly, I'm a little worried about that too
But I think maybe after all these years I can keep my affection in balance
I think I know now that you can accept my consideration
and my accolades as long as I never try
to make you the one I sacrifice to or the one I praise

Give me a chance
I think I can learn to tell you I love you without overplaying the romance
I think I could serve up that second helping of Grandma's sweet potato pie that you like
and I can write while you play video games
I think I can pass by several new purses and shoes if you'd be willing to spend the next few years learning to say you love me too

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thoughts on Teaching and News About BNV '10

This morning I was reading The Diary of Anne Frank for Young Adult Literature and thinking about how there are so many little random things that interest me when I read. I was thinking about how even last year when my classes were structured solely on discussion, there was no way to convey ALL of the interesting anecdotal things that ran across my mind when I was reading. So I decided, in order to create more writing opportunities and in order to give students like myself an outlet, I'm going to have an open extra credit opportunity in my English classes when I start teaching. It'll be something along the line of: anytime you want to write a short essay about something you read in the text - THAT WE DID NOT COVER IN CLASS - feel free to do so and had it in by (date). This extra credit essay should be written as if it were a formal assignment and I might hand it back for revisions before I assign points to it.

Is it nerdy that I sit around and think about the things I want to do when I have my own classroom? I do it ALL the time.

The Brave New Voices 2010 festival is being help in Los Angeles, California. My friend (business partner?) and I decided that it is imperative to our project that we go to this festival. And I'm excited because, unlike so much of the rest of the world, I don't really care about California or the West Coast in general. But this will be my reason to go see it and to get attend this amazing festival!! I'm really excited. I have to save my money. I'd like to buy a video camera before then too!
(And this is extra incentive to lose 20 or 30 pounds, LOL).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Living the Dream - poem from Oct. 1, 2008

I understand why people cease to believe in dreams.
Age teaches us that we don't always get the things
we want.
Children don't get ponies
And women often don't get diamond rings.
After a few disappointments
We stop getting mad at Santa Claus
And the man we lost
And we start to blame the dreams.

But I really do believe
That the sentiments lying at the core of things
Are real.
You can teach someone what's right and wrong,
But none of us can change what we feel.

I want a man whose features are as artistically chiseled
As his heart is deep
Perhaps not because he's an archetype
But because I want to be a beauty queen.
I didn't study anthropology because
I don't like to dig for buried things.
I find my pleasure in words because
I can tell myself that they are only what they seem
On the surface.
I don't have the diligence
to find the hidden things in you.
I want to get what I see.
I put a lot of stock in a face's value.

I don't pretend to be profound
And you shouldn't try to make an example out of me.
Because I am just a girl
Who enjoys the simple things –
pretty faces, accents, and vigorous workout routines.
The creature comforts –
Southern born, corn-fed boys whose mamas made them read.
I'm no more advanced than that five-year-old girl
Who cried because she got a kitten instead of a pony.
I'm no more realistic than clapping
Your hands to prove you believe in fairies.
And I'm no more enlightened than one
Who treats dreams like they could be reality.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obstinance - poem (final edit?)

Most of the people I know don't really like poetry.
So many Christians disapprove of my tattoos.
Many members of society are too old to believe in the change I see
And won’t really listen to mine and the other views of youth.
My white friends don’t understand how my Black is beautiful.
My Black friends don’t know why I refuse to see color.

So I find myself always trying to defend my way of life
Always trying to define it so that when they ask I have an answer
Always trying to prove that I’m not just following whims
I’m making conscious decisions.

I am not a rebel just for obstinance’s sake.
I have to stay outside the box in order to stay in the game.
Everyday I need to push a new limit
Start a new project and find a way to finish it.
Because when I’m playing by your rules and living your decrees
I feel like my soul is seeping out of me.
And what, like you said, does it profit me
To gain the whole world, or your blessing,
If I forfeit my soul in the gaining?

I don’t get tattoos to mark my body for the dead
I do it because sometimes there’s an image
that expresses more than I could have said
Sometimes I need you see without me opening my mouth
Sometimes I need to know that if I lose my voice,
My skin will still speak out.

I don’t curse just to make you angry
Sometimes I have to throw in a profanity
Because if I keep my tone neutral and words rated G
The bangers can’t hear me because I’m not speaking their language
A poem is a picture and sometimes we use expletives to frame it.

I don’t argue with you about religion just to see what you’ll say
I really believe there’s more than one entity that saves.
Even Jesus didn’t speak to everyone alike
So I think maybe with all our new technology,
God’s portfolio has diversified

I don’t argue with you because I think your views invalid
I just want to make sure you can fight for how you live
If I can change your mind,
It means you weren't really that convinced
So make sure you know who you are before you step to this.
I do it to the best of my ability.
I wouldn’t call it obstinance; it’s grit
I love you for caring,
But this is me…and you're just going to have to accept it.

Off the dome, untitled, unedited

These are not just eyes, they're windows to my mind, my heart, my soul
They are portals to the future from the past
and from the future back to now
Don't ask silly questions
There's no way I can explain how
All I know is that these are not just hands,
they're hugs, they're warmth, they're strength
These are love and protection, my grace
It's nice that I can use them to cover my face
But this isn't just a face
it's a mask,
it's not just a mask; it's a shield
it shields my inside, my spirit, from the outside world
it shields the thing that's fragile enough to float on fairy's wings
It shields from your scathing glare
from the world out there that doesn't understand it
These are not just feet
They are cars
They're the gospel of peace
they're the impetus to actually accomplish something
They're the vessel that my body uses to take it to bigger and better things
This is not just a tongue
not just a mouth used to smile at everyone
Not just words I used to strum the guitar strings of the Universe
This is the beginning, it's the ending
it's everything in between
It's the day in and the day out
the realization of my dreams
or the hinderance of them
This thing you call a voice is the greatest gift human beings have ever been given
it's the choice to believe in the things these timeless portals we call eyes have seen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The goal is for the next several posts to have to do with the interesting things I find during my research.


Adolescent Psychology abstract DONE!
Healthy Life Skills Literature Review
Research paper for Women's Autobiography
Literary Analysis for Ethnic American Literature
Healthy Life Skills Behavior Modification Project

those things are on tops of the regular reading assignments I have to do...

I posted once about a class-related topic, although it wasn't research paper-related. I think it still shows that I'm being academic and paying attention.

So be ready for nerdy, smart people stuff

Excuse me for a moment while I organize my thoughts on life

I was in Ethnic American Literature today, after reading Philip Roth’s “Defender of the Faith” (and taking exuberant notes). I was vaguely aware of my smolderingly hot professor just over my right shoulder, but much more aware of the pure pieces of heaven coming at me through a teaching video on the projector.  The video discussed Roth, along with Ralph Ellison and N. Scott Momaday, and their views of Americanism and literature.  The initial part I loved was the discussion of the literary tactics each author chose to use in concurrence with this theme.  But then one of the main critics, Pancho Savery, turned literature into politics and my mind and attention became fully erect.  I adore the interconnectivity of arts and culture. Art imitates life.

That situation has occurred several times in that particular class. Props to my hot professor. Lol.
And when it happens, after my artistic appetite is whetted, my intellectual appetite is reminded of its shortcomings. I want to go to the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. But I am not scholarly enough to focus long enough to write well enough to get in. I want to study literature on a deeper level – maybe graduate school – but I am not disciplined enough to finish my readings.
My mind is always hungry for more knowledge and yet I lack follow-through. So am I scholarly?

In 20th Century American Women’s Autobiography we talk about ideologies. Kim Chernin’s mother Rose defines herself as a Communist organizer. Our professor posed the question: Can we define ourselves by our ideologies? The conclusion we came to is that ideals are popularized by people, but a person with no life, with no humanistic traits, only their ideals, is not one after whom people would model. So we cannot define ourselves by our ideals, we must define ourselves by our realities.

My ideal is intellectualism at the point where it intersects art, more specifically Socratic intellectualism: learning through rhetoric (reading, writing, debate).  But my reality is a busy schedule, diversified interests, and middle socioeconomic status. So I cannot, as the Wellesley girls say, “dedicate my life to knowledge.”

I guess, based on the point made in my class today and based on what Marsha (my former academic advisor) has said to me, the point is: I must live my life. I must live through the shifts at Chili’s and the long drives back and forth to Edmond. I must live through multitasking and split-attentiveness. I must live through these realities in order to be who I am.

And to flip that on its ear, regardless of what my ideologies are, I must live my life in order to be who I want to be.
Because deep down I know that who I want to be and who I am are the same person.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trying out a short story

I haven't done hardly any work on the project I mentioned in my last post. Fail.

But here's a little something that just came to me...

    She's been this way as long as I can remember. 
    
    When I was about three I noticed it for the first time. I was supposed to be asleep but I woke up because I wanted Mama to rub my back some more.  I climbed out of my crib and followed the sound of Sugarland to my parents' room. Daddy is policeman and he worked at night so he wasn't there. I thought I'd crawl in bed next to Mama but she wasn't there either.  I saw a light from a crack in the bathroom door. I had a baby brother so I knew to be quiet at night. I tiptoed over to the door and looked in. Mama was in the bathtub, surrounded by bubbles that smelled like the vanilla cupcakes she made me on Sundays. She had a funny-shaped glass in her hand and she was staring blankly at the wall. She looked strange compared to her usual smiling, talking, playful self. I sat down on the floor, with my head against the doorjamb and watched her do nothing until I fell asleep. I vaguely remember being carried back to my crib later on.
     
     Shortly after I turned five and my brother was two, I learned that being a police officer is a dangerous job and I became incessantly worried about my father's safety. One day, I decided to talk to him about it.
     It was breakfast time and Daddy was reading the morning paper. I got down out of my chair and walked around the table to climb into his lap. 
    "Daddy, are you scared?" I asked.
    "Scared of what?" He asked looking right at me and bouncing his knee.
    "The bad guys."
    "You mean the ones I have to deal with at work?" When I nodded solemnly, he rubbed my hair out of my eyes. "Sometimes I think about the bad things that could happen, but then I think about you and your brother and your mama and I remember to be brave. I've got to be brave so I can outsmart the bad guys and keep you guys and everybody else's family safe. Being brave is more important than being scared."
    "Who keeps you safe?" I wanted to know.
    "My partner, my bulletproof vest, my gun, my fast car, and God."
     I thought about this while I ate a piece of toast. "What happens if you're trying to catch a bad guy while we're at home sleeping and something bad happens? How will we know you need help?"
    "I tell you what: I'm going to give you a big-girl responsibility. You know how to answer the phone, right? Well I'm gonna teach you how to call my cell phone."
     He set me on the edge of the table and went to get his cell phone and the cordless phone for the house. "You know all your numbers, right?" He asked teasingly. Then my dad taught me how to turn the phone on, listen for a dial tone, punch in his ten-digit cell phone number and wait for an answer. We practiced three times and then he taped the number to the table in the hallway where I could see it.
    "You can call me one time a night if you need to talk to me. If I don't answer it means I'm busy with work and I'll call you back if I have time. But make sure you ask your mama for help first, okay?"
     I told him I understood and then gave him a big hug.
    "You probably shouldn't call him every night, pumpkin, unless something is really wrong," Mama brushed some crumbs off of my face and then kissed my forehead.
    
     Two weeks later, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I looked into my parents' room and noticed that Mama wasn't in her bed. I had seen this at least a dozen times since I was three, so I knew she was taking a bath. I went and looked to make sure and then went to get the phone. I didn't worry about being heard because the music was on and the phone was downstairs. I dialed Daddy's number and hoped that he would answer. He did, on the second ring.
    "Hello?" 
    "Daddy, it's Des."
    "Desiree, why are you awake?" He asked gently.
    "I had to go to the bathroom. Mama's sad."
    "What do you mean, sugar? Isn't she asleep?"
    "No. She's in the bathtub staring at the wall and drinking out of a grown-up glass."
    Daddy sighed. "She's okay. Go back to bed and we'll talk about this tomorrow."
    "Daddy, she's sad."
    "I know, baby, but don't go in there unless you need something or if your brother cries. Just go back to sleep. Do you hear?" His voice wasn't harsh, but I knew not to argue.
    "Okay."
    "Thanks for calling, Des. I love you. I'll take care of Mama when I get home."
    "I love you too." I hung up the phone and went back upstairs.
     Daddy and I didn't talk about it the next morning. Mama woke me up with her usual cheerful song and dance.  She made us pancakes and smiled a lot. She and Daddy kissed twice and they looked so happy, I forgot to say anything.


In my head there is more of this, but I should go to sleep.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Truest Statement

A few hours ago, I accidentally made the truest statement of my life.

Several people asked me how I'm liking UCO. And I kept making jokes about missing OCU's glitz and glamour and prettiness. And then finally, I was talking to Miller Tai and I said,

"It's hard, because most people - not everyone obviously, but a lot of us - get to a point when it's time to stop performing, time to stop putting on a show, and start being a big kid. Now's my time. And it sucks, because I miss the show, but that's life. And that's okay."

The problem is: I'm not really sure if it is okay.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

117,840 minutes

"525,600 minutes
525,600 moments so dear
how do you measure a year?

in daylights
in sunsets
in midnights
in cups coffee 
in inches 
in miles
in laughter
in strife

525,600 minutes
how do yo measure a year in the life?

measure in love
seasons of love

in truths that she learned
in times that he cried
in bridges he burned
in the way that she died

remember the love

in diapers, report cards
in spoked wheels 
in speeding tickets
in contracts, dollars,
in funerals 
in births

how do you figure a last year on earth?"
-"Seasons of Love" from the musical RENT

A few people I know are in the local production of RENT during the month of October.

The girl playing Mimi is a friend of mine. She is Mimi in RENT now. She was in Beauty and the Beast last October.  She was Ariel in Footloose last summer. She was in A Christmas Carol last winter.  And when she's not rehearsing or performing for a show, she's studying because she's in college. We don't have time to hang because she and I are both very busy. I was thinking about her earlier today. She is incredibly talented. She has a voice that makes me want to cry, it's so pure and beautiful. She can dance. She's a great actor. She is beautiful.


"Show weekend" is coming up this week. My group of friends centers our get-togethers on holidays, OCU dance recitals, and "Mimi"'s shows.  My best friend comes from Kansas, our friend comes from Louisiana, and about ten of us get dressed up and go to eat and to the theater.  It's our little bit of glamour. We're lucky. Thank God for OCU.

This is a photo of our group at Beauty and the Beast in April.







Yesterday and today I was listening to RENT, the film soundtrack. I am so excited about the show. I'm excited to see my friends. I'm excited about "show weekend." I'm excited that Frank is going with us this time.
I'm also disappointed in myself for not being as driven as "Mimi" (who has learned to live on very little food because neither her schedule nor her career are very conducive to large or good-tasting meals), or Kait (a dance performance major with arthritis who ALWAYS dances through the pain), or Jen (who has worked two jobs for three years along with school and dance).  They have always paid the price of fame. I never have.


All I have to do for my art is write, edit, memorize, and perform but most days I don't make the time to put pen to paper.  And if I do get something written, I don't get it edited. If it gets edited, it rarely gets memorized.  I've only performed twice since school started. I need to step up to the plate.  As John Legend sang, "the future started yesterday and we're already late."

Don't get me wrong. I work hard. I just feel like a lot of my hard work is arbitrary. Working at Chili's feels EXTREMELY arbitrary.
But here's how I measure my life:
in prayers
in hours worked
in dollars
in tanks of gas
in car accidents


in text messages
in text books
in energy drinks
in sicknesses
in pounds I haven't lost

So I am bound and determined to make more opportunities to take pictures, to spend more time with friends, to workout more, and to perform more.
I want the next 117,840 minutes to be a bit lovelier so that when I write my new year's blog I can be happy with how I wrapped it up.


This is us before RENT last weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Well, it's not particularly surprising that I'm not doing awesome in my classes. I'm not failing anything, I don't think, but I definitely don't have a 4.0.  My midterm grades are ALWAYS like this. It's like I need to settle into my classes for half the semester before I really understand how to flourish. I always pull it out in the end, and I'm not worried about this semester.  I just feel kind of bad because I have always wished I could just do things right from the beginning, instead of over-correcting problems.

I'm going through a spiritual revolution right now along with everything else. It's not particularly fun, but I guess it's necessary. Lord help me, is all I can say about that.

Poetry is getting big in my life again, but instead of detailing the hows, I think I'm gonna quit this and read some more of The Rest of the Gospel before I go to sleep.

Until next time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Past Inspirations

"Spot-training doesn't work, so spot-fixing-your-life won't either." - BFF Jen

I have to balance it out, do a little bit of everything here and there, rather than a whole lot of one thing in the place of something else.
Ex: I can't go to poetry spots twice a week and skip workouts. I can't workout everyday and skip prayer/Bible study. I can't go to 3 or 4 church services in a week and then not do my homework. What I did on Thursday worked really well, I went to early prayer at 6, the gym with a book (for class) at 7:15, school, and then Wordpulp that night. I was really tired, but I felt like I was in the right place.  That was balance.

I really decided to blog because I was reading through my journal and found some interesting things.
On Oct. 6, 2008 (almost exactly one year ago), I wrote this:
"[I've been] needing to spend more time seeking God and doing my work and less time at Galileo or on the phone....It is so easy to let people replace God. Just because the sidewalk outside Galileo is holy doesn't mean we can leave God out of the equation. Just because each of us has glimpses of the prophetic doesn't mean God won't snatch that inspiration right back if we refuse to give credit where it's due - to God. Just because God has given us minds that can relate to all things mystical doesn't give us the right to mysticize what we know is concrete - God. We, as poets, are entrusted with a great gift and a lot of freedom. We need to be careful with all of it."
So true.  I think poets (all writers - maybe even all artists) fall right under pastors and teachers in the spiritual influence hierarchy. "With great power comes great responsibility."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From the Writing Desk

If God blesses me with the ability to focus, I might have just started writing the piece that I would be willing to "come out" (as in "debut," not as in "come out of the closet") with.

I've always wanted it to be something that I won't mind people saying was "Najah Hylton's first published work." I haven't found it in me to write enough poems and be able to piece them together in a way that would not pigeon-hole me. I can't be "that Christian poet" or "that coming-of-age poet." I also refuse to be "that faery-tale writer." But I am willing to be (in the all-encompassing sense of the word 'be') a writer of memoirs, or of non-fiction.

I need to pull an all-nighter and do enough homework to catch up, so that I'll have time (pressure-free time) to write.

I'm working on the intro, conclusion and outline, in note form, right now.

Pray for me.

From the Writing Desk

If God blesses me with the ability to focus, I might have just started writing the piece that I would be willing to "come out" (as in "debut," not as in "come out of the closet") with. 

I've always wanted it to be something that I won't mind people saying was "Najah Hylton's first published work." I haven't found it in me to write enough poems and be able to piece them together in a way that would not pigeon-hole me. I can't be "that Christian poet" or "that coming-of-age poet." I also refuse to be "that faery-tale writer." But I am willing to be (in the all-encompassing sense of the word 'be') a writer of memoirs, or of non-fiction.

I need to pull an all-nighter and do enough homework to catch up, so that I'll have time (pressure-free time) to write.

I'm working on the intro, conclusion and outline, in note form, right now.

Pray for me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Musings

UGH. Sometimes I am intellectual (like my last post), other times I just have so many random thoughts and feelings that I feel unable to focus.

I'm kind of in the second phase right now.

1) "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow..."
I have been blessed with a vision, a passion, a few talents, some opportunities. My future career is a bunch of images thrown together to create an abstract work of art. It's already beautiful, but only when viewed with your left brain, or through your heart. It doesn't make sense yet; it only makes warm fuzzies. Some day it'll be concrete,  but not today.

2) Brave New Voices
"BNV ain't nothin' to f*** with" is still one of the truest statements I know. It's got to be something real if it still sends chills up and down my spine and makes me cry four months after the fact.
I think what Russell Simmons (God Bless him) has a gift for is seeing the things that will inspire people and then giving those things the platform they deserve. He exposed poetry (Def Poetry) in a way that many people had never seen (Admit it, poets, we're wayy too proud of our antiestablishmentarianism to advertise our art to the masses). And then he compounded on that step in way that makes sure poetry will never die (Brave New Voices), because there will always be kids.
Note: you can think I'm wrong if you want to, but I have this new theory. If I create a poem, a song, a dance, an article of clothing, a program and someone else gives me publicity, I'm not a sellout if I accept (or even relish in) that publicity. Just because a poet/musician/artist/designer/activist goes on Def Jam or BNV or into a public arena doesn't mean they are now a commercialist who has forgotten where they come from. Art is most meaningful when people see it.

3) Balance is just about the most difficult thing in the world to learn.
fashion/presentation : non-vanity
piety/dedication to my beliefs : understanding/tolerance of other ideas
knowledge : faith << I'm struggling with this one BIG TIME right now.
diligence : flexibility
help yourself before you can help others : taking one for the team

4) Being a member of the information generation is both a blessing and a curse.
I couldn't live without social media/my cell phone.
The internet is the time suck of my life: email > news update > tweet > intellectual discourse > reflection/blog > friend's new FB photos > entertainment news > reflection ... RIDICULOUS. We're all going to have to learn to buckle down, turn off our internet connection (maybe) in order to get things done.

5) I feel a connection to Carrie Underwood. Not because I adore her music. Sometimes belting gets on my nerves. But, I feel connected to the lyrics she writes (or at least the ones she sings, lol); probably because she's from Oklahoma and she sings about that. (I also love most all country music, btw, fyi.)
I will probably never leave Oklahoma for long because I can't imagine feeling like she does when she sings "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore." "You can get anything you want here, except a Walmart store...I'd rather be tippin' cows in Tulsa than hailin' cabs here in New York..." (even though I've never tipped a cow or been to New York, I understand the feeling.) "I miss the big blue skies, the Oklahoma kind..."
On a more universal level, even though I'm still at home, I feel this in my bones: "Tell my baby sister I'll see her in the fall. Tell MeMaw that I miss her. Yeah, I should give her a call. And make sure you tell Daddy that I'm still his little girl. Yeah, I still feel like I'm where I'm s'posed to be. Don't forget to remember me." That last line goes out to my sorority sisters and to Frank and to Jen and to Jeffery.

All in all, life is very good. I smile a lot because I focus on grace, vision, and possibility. ("What you focus on expands.") For the first time in a while, the glass is very much half full.

Happy Friday.
Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

P.I.T. - poem

Welcome to the P.I.T.
Here, time is completely relative,
just a man-made construct.
Here, there are no seconds or minutes,
because time is a part of life.

This pit is not my life.


My life is all in my hands and in my head
(my real life hasn't even started yet);
it is not subject to this circumstance.
I make my reality...

And right now as you're watching me,
hearing me take up three minutes of your illusive time,
Poetry is here!
It hovers in this room like a cloud,
it seeps into your skin like Oklahoma humidity.
these tongues of fire burn, not only to be heard, but to help you see.

Don't get it twisted,
this is NOT Shakespeare's poetry.
This is nitty gritty,
hit-you-over-the-head and make-your-tear-ducts-bleed poetry.
These are words as they explain my pain,
movement as it works out my aggression,
performance meant to keep my feet on the ground,
and passion used as fuel for the fire that will
burn this pit down.

Forget foster care.
The Earth herself gave birth to me.
Anytime I need to be held
I can just lie down in the grass,
meld back into the Earth from whence I came,
breathe in the fresh air that first spoke my real name _________.

I don't ever have to worry about my mother leaving me.
The day the Earth ceases to exist
is the day you all stop believing in the silly idea of seconds and minutes,
and the day that I transcend this body and this life.
But until then,
the only thing I have is the pit, the P-I-T,
the transition,
the intersection of time and reality
as they come head-to-head, toe-to-toe with poetry.
I'm not afraid of the day Mother Earth divorces Father Time
and abandons the facade along with you and me
because that's the day...
That's the day I'll be free.

Matthew 11:12 - original poem finished

All my life, I've heard people quote the verse in the King James Bible that says,
"The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force."
I never really knew what that meant
or if I could even trust it
because my history books had told me
that King James wasn't all a body might've expected him to be.
Since then my spirit has come to believe
there's got to be some truth to that phrasing.

You see in the Kingdom of Heaven people are always working,
always striving toward love and peace.
And that Kingdom of Heaven exists here on earth
as long as we nurture our dreams.
But just like we are all capable of goodness and beauty,
so some of us have stopped fighting for love and peace
and have given ourselves up to harmful, hateful things.
Those of us who have sat idly by and let the darkness creep in
are causing the Kingdom of Heaven to be grieved.
We have allowed the battle we were born into
to discourage us from trying.
And our apathy has turned to anger that works itself out violently,
against ourselves, against the hurting and the dying.

Because of this, a war is waging.
Those of us who remember that we were created for victory
must take back what apathy is stealing.
Jesus loved peace
but when the Kingdom started suffering
we were given the commission to toughen up
and fight for its protection.

(Now) I don't know how you feel about this situation,
but I'm not comfortable with hurting people hurting me,
or my family, your children, or this country.
I believe we were created to prosper,
to enjoy and create beauty,
to be blessed in order that we might be a blessing.

I want back the wonder and possibility
between two people whose souls desire unity.
I'm fighting against the pain brought on by lack of respect for physical boundaries.
I'm fighting the consequences born from our seeming inability
to wait to fulfill our fantasies.
I want back purity.

I want back play time and the innocence of children's minds.
We used to play house and hide and seek.
Now we only look at violent games Nintendo and on TV.
I'm fighting for invented games and made up stories.
I'm fighting for the ability to make believe
because I think it's a forerunner for faith.

I want back language that speaks of God and nature and humanity
in words that cause wonder and praise.
I want back strength of character that refuses to be torn down by circumstance.
I want back Mama's love and G-rated romance.
I want back dads, not just father-figures,
or fathers who figure they do best to provide us with money.
I want back the proper view of male-female relationships
that got skewed when my father left me.
I want back the word "Christian"
and the truth of Christ's legacy.
I want us to remember how to behave
like we have been in God from the beginning...
because we have been.

You can call me hostile if you want to,
but I'll use every weapon in my arsenal to fight for those things.

The Kingdom of Heaven is suffering violently
because God's people refuse to walk with authority.
We lay down and cower in corners when we get hit.
We've forgotten that the Kingdom lives in us
so it lies stagnantly until we forcefully advance it.

When Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed peace -
nothing broken, nothing missing -
but as Christ's years on earth came to number thirty,
those who had forgotten their rightful place in destiny
took up arms against the King and His progeny.
It's about time we stopped pleading and whimpering
and raised up our swords of truth to fight for the reign of the Kingdom of Peace.

Body Image and Athleticism

I started cheer leading in fourth grade (and continued in sixth, seventh, eighth, and freshman year of college). I was never a skinny kid, but I was basically a born performer, so I cheered along with acting, singing, dancing, stepping/stomping, and public speaking. (That makes me sound like some powerhouse triple-threat, but I'm not that good at any of those - except talking. Lol. I'm just an attention whore.) If you know me now or have known me for any length of time, you know that I'm a pretty thick girl. No dancer/cheerleader body here, and never has been.

I'm taking a Healthy Life Skills class (UCO's version of OCU's Wellness) and I just watched Bring It On 3, so I've got my mind on fitness.

Do you see these tiny tummies and cute body jewelry?


I'm on the back row in pre-clap mode. Lol.


Last spring I went through this phase where I wanted to lose 50 pounds by January. It started really really good. I worked out everyday (and didn't hate my life), had a good diet going (and allowed myself some indulgences every couple of weeks), and saw results quickly. I lost 15 in about 3 weeks (which they say isn't healthy, but I think it was fine because I had COMPLETELY changed my life).

...Then I moved off-campus and the gym was no longer a two-minute walk from my apartment. Everyday became every couple of days. Then I totaled another car and the gym happened like once a week. I started eating my depression and sleeping all day everyday. So I gained back that 15 pounds and probably a few more.

My original plan when I transferred schools was to make UCO's Wellness Center my 2nd home. But it's been four and a half weeks and I haven't hit the gym once. (I did take four yoga classes and immediately started toning up, which tells me that my body really wants to be active.) We took a tour of the Wellness Center in Healthy Life Skills class today and I was struck by how lazy I've been. I saw my friend Gina in there and remembered how much motivation I used to have and how "simple" it was to get on the right track.

Is there any excuse for being overweight when I have a free membership to a huge facility paid in full with my tuition?

The second problem is time. I have two jobs, and a few volunteer things that I do on the side of work and school. I'm always behind on homework. I never read my Bible or wake up early to go to prayer. And I sleep basically every time I sit for very long. I feel like there are never enough hours to do half of what I want, much less all of it.

Should I continue to put off working out and weight loss until I get my spiritual life and my academic endeavors underway? Or should I force myself to learn diligence by continuing to pile things on (like adding workouts into an already semi-cramped schedule)?

The third problem is vanity. It's one of my vices. It's probably my biggest problem after giving into loneliness and lacking diligence. Is the quest for health - working out, eating differently, etc - really about health, or do I just want to be smaller because I'm vain?

I need some guidance over here.

Soon to come: "Welcome to the P.I.T." - here's a teaser.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Maybe You're Not Doing Enough"

I WANT TO DO SOMETHING!

Yes, I volunteer for LifeChurch.tv's youth group. It's cool. They tell me that we make a difference. But I don't feel it yet.

Yes, I write poetry to address stereotypes and discrepancies, to poke holes in ill-formed theories. But I don't feel the impact yet.

Yes, I'm in school to be a teacher, learning about things like the "tyranny of expectations" and why some adolescents act out. But I still haven't seen a classroom. I'm not there yet.

If I could scrap all of the other activities and start a youth poetry slam scene, I think I would be happy. Because as long as people show up and as long as we're all writing, we are making a difference. My friend Kosher has been supposed to start one for more than a year now. Stomp the Stage has done some performing here and there but we have yet to actually get a workshop program in place. We have yet to actually take a kid from the page to the stage or from inside his head to outspoken.

Maybe if I write more...
Maybe if I draw up some plans...
Maybe if I get some folks with money involved...

I'm jealous of the Excelano Project (UPenn program) and cities with Youth Speaks teams.
Oklahoma has got to rise up.
And I've got to help.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As soon as the autobio essay I just turned in gets graded, I'll post it either here or at the Artist's Heart.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Success is a Process

Yes! I am very thankful to be living a life that I am proud of. I am not perfect. I have so many questions, but last night I was led to a revelation about even that. Rainer Maria Rilke said, "Try to love the questions themselves, Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them." I am doing my best to live that. It's hard, because I am a fixer by nature. I always want answers and solutions, and I want them yesterday. But success is a process, not a product and life is a journey, not a destination.

I am doing okay-to-good in school. I need to work harder at Math and Health (I slack because they are my gen. ed.s), and then just step everything up another notch. I need to use my free time more effectively (like I'm doing right now, lol).

I am writing and reading and performing a bit more now, which is awesome. That is my balance factor. I go to school, I work, I volunteer, I try to eat right; and for me, I read, write, practice yoga and acquire beautiful things (often books, but sometimes clothes and accessories).

My spirit is getting stronger - probably because I am becoming more sensitive to it. Yoga does that. I am in pursuit of Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. I am in pursuit of the balance between belief (in Christian principles) and understanding (of the innerworkings of the Universe). I went to Switch last week and this. I am starting to remember the burden for those kids.

My non-relationship is very much in the "non" part right now. I guess he's busy with work and stuff and I'm definitely busy with school. I'm learning to allow missing him to be only an emotion, not an action and therefore a distraction. And he's trying to make sure I do that. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." I gotta get through school. They say true love waits. And I believe that fake love eventually dissipates. So, que serĂ¡ serĂ¡.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

I honor the Divinity that resides within me.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

News

Well it's been almost a month since my last post. I don't think I have any loyal readers, so that might not matter, but I will say that I haven't quite gotten the hang of my new life.

My grandpa bought me a car (that I have to pay him back for) and my new-found mobility has changed a lot of things.

My non-boyfriend and I get to see each other now. It's starting to look like once a week we'll be having either a long and involved phone conversation or an all-night gab session completely with cuddles, kisses, and almost plans. I feel like I'm in a relationship and yet I know that the dynamics of this non-relationship are fragile. We are a work in progress, but I think we'll work. I wrote a poem about it.

I have changed schools. My new school is so much bigger and I have to commute rather than living on campus. But my classes are interesting. Ethnic Lit is fun because of the subject matter and the professor's personality and expectations. Young Adult Lit is interesting because of the subject matter and because most of us are English Ed majors (which channels the discussions toward teaching). It is also challenging because it's only once a week (easy to forget) and the professor is rather set in her ideas. American Women's Autobiography is borderline interesting and boring. I don't love the book we're reading first and the professor lectures a lot about vaguely unrelated topics like psychological language theory. Math for Gen Ed is not as easy as I wanted it to be, but I think I'll be okay. Adolescent Psychology is incredibly interesting, but the book is written with a very biased tone and the professor chooses to teach the book as fact rather than argue with the things that are obviously subjective opinions. Healthy Life Skills is a class that I will almost definitely benefit directly from but I don't love the professor and the class is over-large. All of that plus seventeen hours is a lot.

I also am working a lot at Chili's and soon at Aldo as well. My new goal is to learn to save my money rather than spend it immediately.

I am hoping that since it's been two weeks, this week I'll be able to add back things like Switch and poetry. I have a poem brewing that I'd like to get edited and off paper soon. I want to make sure not to miss two weeks in a row at Switch again. I had a meeting today with the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Student Government Association. Now I have a new-found desire to keep up with news and do research. We'll see if I can find time for that.

So now that I have logged all my life updates...I'm headed to Starbucks to homework. Hopefully I'll work myself into a better routine after this week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Remember This - poem under construction

I remember us.
We are strong hands, closed eyes, open hearts.
You are a scarred mind.
Mine over-achieves.
But I remember this.
It works somehow.

Not everyone gets it.
Not everyone was there at the beginning when it was decided.
But that doesn't change it.
Not knowing what is coming won't stop the bomb from dropping.
Not hearing the birds sing won't keep dawn from coming.

I remember fighting for it.
I know that you finally realized.
I don't remember how it ended.
But that's fine.
Life isn't about the destination,
it's about the ride.

Jen sees me under your needle, being branded willingly.
She sees you hurting me.
But she doesn't see know the difference between the girl who let you puncture me and the woman who was brave enough to pierce herself in dedication to our love.
She hasn't seen it yet.
She'll get it.

Just like you will.
I'll show you.
Perhaps God will let you see it in my eyes.
Perhaps making this work is about finding a new way to fight.
Maybe it's bringing the hidden things out into the light for you to see.
This...
this heart inside a book blanketed by words and simile...
this is me.
And I know you don't read, so I'll have to show it to you in pictures.
I'll have to learn to translate.
Some things are so hard to translate.
Some things like strength
and peace
and memory.

Maybe if I drew you a tree,
told you that the seed was planted long before either of us came to be.
Maybe if I discussed the dynamics and intricacy of a universe's growth,
maybe then you would believe.
You see we are supposed to be fruit,
meant to nourish, to produce more seeds, and to look pretty.
Right now we're just little buds without leaves.

An apple must decide to grow,
to trust the tree,
if it ever wants to be picked with the others ripe enough to eat.
Lucky for us, the Gardener took care of the end before the beginning.
I know how this works out because I watched Him plant the seeds.
I saw, through His eyes, the most beautiful fruit tree.
A tree in which kids learn how to be free.
We teach.
We teach them how to speak, with words and imagery.
We teach them how to climb,
higher and higher until they reach the top.

If you can't see it for yourself,
just believe me.
I'd never lie to you.
I remember this.
We succeed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

a prayer poem under construction

i don't want to use Your word as a weapon
i don't want to use Your name as a sword against anyone but the teller of lies.
i just want to serve You.
i just want to make You happy.

i want my hands to touch
heal
reach out like the hands of Christ
and i want them to be clean
free of the death of innocent people
free of the blood of innocent children
free of the pieces of hearts broken by a lack of self-control.

cause my hands to see the pain people are trying to hide
and by the power You gave my before You went to that cross and died
let me use these hands to heal

i want my feet to be those that go where others fear to,
that stay planted when others fall.
i pray You bless me to walk where only the angels are usually brave enough to tread

Sisters/Pearls - poem under construction

A sister is someone with whom to share your heart and life
She is there for midnight panic sessions,
afternoons laying out by the pool,
fun, mischief, and challenges of every kind.

But I have always believed that my sisters are also my best accessory.
They are those diamond earrings you received for graduation or sweet sixteen,
the ones you save for special occasions
when you feel like you're onstage before the whole word.
Sisters are that ancient and timelessly beautiful, family heirloom strand of pearls.
They have been preserved by satin casings,
hidden in the bottom drawer at the back
so that not just anyone could find them.
They are in all the best family photos,
showing off both their ability to be preserved and the wearer's good taste in jewels.

A sister is a pearl.
When she's around you stand up straighter,
speak clearer, smile bigger.
She is all the good parts of you magnified
and all the unpolished places out-shined by her caring, protective lustre.

A sister, like a strand of real pearls,
should not hang around your neck like dead weight,
dragging you down,
making you feel the pressures of society.
But in her embrace,
you should feel and want to be your best self in her presence.
She should motivate you to shine, as does she.

So take your sisters with you everywhere you go
as a reminder to behave as though she were with you.
Say only what you would say might she overhear,
act only as you would were she near,
and in so doing let the most elegant and beautiful you shine through.

Dear Inner City High School Students - poem under construction

I see you
I know why you cry
I know why you act out
You just want someone to care
I know because I was there
And not even a long time ago
Don't write me off as being old
It's only been five short years since I was living your life
I know exactly what it's like
to just want people to care
All you want is for them to say they'll be there
All you want is for them to listen and to validate the struggle you're going through
You just want them to prove they can see you
And I see you
I hear you
I care about what you're going to live through
not just because I was there too
but because I see the things you face that you shouldn't have to

I believe in what you can do
I believe that you don't have to stay where you
I believe you can move
You can grow
You can be or do whatever you want as long as you know
that you'll only get there by your efforts
It's not me,
it's not my grades,
it's not this system or money you may or may not have to pay.
What matters is your drive
You have to decide:
this is what I'm going to do
this is why and this is how

There's nothing anyone can do to hold you back once you learn that
There's nothing anybody can say to keep you down once you're bound and determined
to keep going
to keep fighting
to keep living
to keep striving
Not to die before it's your time
once you decide, there's nobody who can take that life away from you
it's yours to do with what you're called to,
what you can
which is anything
I just hope you know that

I have to make sure you know that
it's my job to tell you
if I have to look into each pair of eyes
and banish forever the tears you refuse to cry so that you'll know
I'll do it
I'll fight your demons with you everyday to make sure you remember that not only is there a way
but there are plenty of ways
you just have to pick the one that's yours
all you have to do is prove that you have something to live for
and I know you do

I see it in you
in the things you try to hide from me
I see it in the doodles in the margins of your papers from class
I hear it in the way you talk back
You're practicing being defiant,
learning to fight the system before you become a victim of it.
And I love it.
I thank God for your spirit and the challenge it puts on me.
Just make sure you learn the right time and the right place.
That's how you'll get from where you are to where you want to be.

I care about you.
I wouldn't be here if I didn't.
Please don't believe that this is easy, because it's not.
I've given up so much for you.
I sacrifice all day, everyday for you.
And I'm not asking for your applause.
I'm not asking you to join my cause.
I just want you to have some respect for yourselves,
for me, and for the sacrifices we have made to teach.
We ask that you learn.
We ask that you listen and believe.
We ask that you reach inside yourself and understand
that there's more to life than where you've been.
Where are you going?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

trapped by now - original poem

right now i feel trapped
by my skin,
my body type,
my hair texture, this depression,
trapped by smiles that don't last,
by my voice,
and the personality i can't get past.
the mind's eyes view of me is
fit, toned;
natural;
cultured;
and happy.

but right now,
i'm trapped by society's image of a belligerent black girl
in a cookie-cutter upper-class world.
i know that inside her is an intelligent, strong, courageous african (and panamanian) queen.

but right now,
i'm trapped under a layer of fat that sugar keeps tricking me into indulging.
when i run, i know there's an athlete in here waiting to be set free.
someday all will see what's trapped inside of me,

but for now,
i'm trapped in the house when it rains; i avoid humidity
when others have proven that hair can testify to the life i am working to achieve.
time and money are gifts given to those who will use them wisely,
and there isn't enough of either to fit straighteners and salon stylists into the routine.

right now,
i'm trapped by all the things i'm not supposed to say.
i feel guarded when i should be able to use words to stimulate faith.
i know my voice has value when i use it the right way.

but right now,
i'm trapped by the desire to be someone you will understand,
trapped by standards with which i wish to comply but can't.
and yet i know the uncommon are the ones chosen to make a stand.

i'm trapped by now.

i am a snake ready to shed dead skin,
a butterfly hat has yet to crack open her cocoon.
i am change waiting for the brave to usher me in,
and a land that longs for daytime while staring at the moon.
i am a pregnant woman in her third trimester, ready to be free,
but knowing she'd better wait
if she wants to give birth to something better than now.

dawn is breaking.
people are learning.
hearts are awakening.
heads are turning.
some are being born
while others are re-creating.
i see it coming!
the future is tired of waiting.
the first battle is over
and victory is so close there's no more anticipating freedom!

we're trapped by now,
but with each breath we take, now becomes then,
and the trap gets further and further away.
one day we'll wake up in the future
and have our God to thank for getting us out of the now.

words are weapons - original poem edited

i want to forget my competitive drive.
if i don’t change, i’ll be damned by the mind that never thought it was good enough
unless it was showing someone up.

in that big movie, denzel washington as melvin tolson said words are a weapon.
but i’ve known that since i learned to talk.
what if instead those words were used to build bridges we could walk across?
a bridge that leads from the lonely space in my heart
to the hungry space in your belly,
a bridge that leads from the silence behind your queer gear
to the manhood protected by the cup in my jock strap,
a bridge that leads from inside a book only he’s smart enough to read
to the space she doesn’t fill up in her jeans because she no longer eats.

he said words are weapons;
but who in the world are we fighting?
why would we use something so beautiful
to undercut someone who is already crying?
if we are going use this gift to destroy,
let us only be capable of tearing down the walls we’ve built around our humanity.
may i be damned if i shoot down someone else’s words
just to hear myself speak.
if we’re going to use this blessing to kill,
may we be incapable of taking the life of anything that has time to get it right still.

but may the universe allow this:
let us rip to shreds every parchment that has ever decreed
that i hate someone who’s not like me.
let us smash to bits every box we see so they can no longer close us in.
let us pull down the religious structures here
that only teach us how to hate and how to live in fear.
let us bulldoze the emotional monuments that stand for greed, and pride, and division,
and plant a garden that will only grow fruit healthy enough for eating.

i’d rather use my words as seeds,
plant them in the garden of this world and let them be watered with divinity.
i hate my competitive drive.
in fact, may i be stripped of my very life when i become so busy getting mine
that i forget to save the world.

what it seems - original poem

I was taught to enunciate,
taught that it's "Jennifer and I" not "me and Jen"
and that the proper contraction is "isn't" not "ain't."
It was important to my grandmother that I had good diction and spoke well.
I appreciate her efforts because they became part of the story I'm in the world to tell.

My family wanted me to go to private schools.
They weren't elitist.
They didn't think that I or we were any better than the rest.
They just wanted what money could buy
so they pooled theirs together to give me the best.
I thank them.
Those schools taught me that everything is not what it seems.
Those schools and the kids that attended them are more fuel for the fire in my dreams.

Ever since eighteen and my first tattoo,
I've been trying to use the self-inflicted pain and the ink
to wash away the blood left on me by the world's reality.
Now that I've discovered my purpose
and permanently recorded it on my back and my right wrist,
I know that I am yoked to this and bound.
There are too many lives at stake to ever turn back after now.
I’m no longer trying to write love on my body.
I’m writing it on paper and passing the poems around for free.
My life and my skin have become the canvas on which God can tattoo dreams.

One day I looked in the mirror at my relaxed, colored, and perfectly coiffed head.
I decided that authenticity needed to be a way I lived
not just words I said.

I've always been into fashion.
I take pride in the way I look
and people tell me when I look good.
I relish the compliments, but I see vanity as a vice.
It just happens to be one of those easiest to hide behind.

I lost thirty pounds because I wanted my body to fit.
I refused to be limited by too much baggage.

So now I can really stand before you naked,
nothing tightening my tummy,
my hair complete with all its kinks,
a jazz song on my lips that my suburban middle class white choir director taught me how to sing.
And I can honestly say,
What you see is what you get.
Everything about me is a statement
and I know you'll misread it.
So I write to create a subtext for the life you see but don't understand.
I write so you'll have documentation of who I really am
when you see me with my nappy hair and my "ghetto" friends
bumpin' our music too loud
and using vernacular that doesn't seem to make sense.
It will be easy to judge,
easy to call my boyfriend a thug and me a hoodrat,
easy to justify our car getting shot at,
easy to blame it on the streets that made us and the neighborhood,
decide the cops had a reason and it must have been good.

I write so that if I become a casualty
while digging through the gutters trying to wash them clean
you'll know that I did it all intentionally.
The news story failed to show you that things aren't always the way they seem.
I refused to look, talk, act, and be like the main stream
in order to be understood by the ones who really need me.

One must learn the rules before they can be successfully broken.
I learned to use my circumstances to show I'm more than just the token.
I'm an ambassador to the streets from the life they deserve to pursue
and I'm the voice for the silenced to those who still refuse to see the social discrepancy.

Nothing is really what it seems.
Who I am and what I write will prove that you know nothing about the streets.

------
i can't perform this poem until the things i state have come to pass. i can see this being my staple poem, my personal statement.

this is where i'm going. this is the future of my now.

it's all in the hands of the LORD.