Wednesday, November 10, 2010

this is a sinner's prayer

dear Lord,
obviously, as Creator, You can do whatever You please,
but here is a sinner's prayer:
teach me to be a Christian through poetry.

i think john really knew what was up when he said
the Word was God.
he said Your creativity spoke the universe into being.
Your ability to breathe Poetry is the only reason we exist.
You said it
and it had no choice but to come true.

so when i'm struggling through paying bills and making ends meet,
remind me of the beauty in matthew 6
when You promised that my heavenly Father would provide
like He did for the grass and the lilies.

when i'm feeling ugly and the spare tire is causing me grief,
point me in the direction of the full-breasted, heavy-set mother-women
who nurtured my poetic contemporaries:
jill scott
the queens
mrs. jackson
...surely, You wrote us down perfectly.

when i'm tired of looking at a ringless finger,
remind me of the beautiful men i know
and the lies their ex-wives told them.
let the verses bring me to my knees in repentance and thanksgiving.
any of those ex-wives could have been me
had i been allowed to say "i do"
without knowing who i am.

dear Jesus,
don't ever allow the flame to die out
where the fire inside me burns for the babies.
continue to keep me crying with every teenage poet
who hits the stage at BNV,
and the ones who don't make it that far.
continue to move me by the stories
of the kids who don't know they can write out their feelings.
keep me like You,
arms open, smiling,
suffering the little ones into our embraces.
matthew 19: the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

this is a sinner's prayer:

may my head forever nod to the world's beat,
because if i don't know what they're looking for,
i can't point them toward the You they need to see.

may the rhythm of my hips
forever entice the men to know YOU move me.

may the fullness of insecurity rest between these breasts
until a poem is born in my heart that i truly believe,
that genuinely shows little girls their thighs don't have to fit in size-2 jeans.

and may this finger remain ringless.
dear Jesus.
paul told the corinthians it is better to marry than to burn with lust.
but spare us all the misery of a marriage born from physical immaturity.
when i meet the man who inspires me
to write poems about GOD'S love for me,
when You are the center of his, my, and our everything,
only then can we talk about wedding rings.

i'm begging You to make it beautiful.
i am too selfish to fall in love with the ordinary.
so keep before my eyes all genres of things that move me,
that show me both where You are
and where We need to be.

i don't think i can do this Christian thing without poetry.

Friday, October 29, 2010

To President Obama with my condolences - written 10-9-10

Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for teaching me
that there are a lot of people in this country
who really do want things to change.
Thank you for showing me
that there are people crying out against
the way things have always been.
Thank you for being brave enough to stand
for what you think is right.

But I am sorry.
There is one thing I've learned,
day after night after week
of being Black in America:
things don't change just because you want them to.
Things don't change based on what legislators do.
Things only change when multitudes unite behind something they are devoted to.

And despite what we wish to believe,
Americans today are devoted to money.
The only thing out there bigger than money is God.
And the only thing out there big enough to compete with God is money.
The Word doesn't say the Two Masters of Destiny are God and Satan,
the opponent of record coming against the Almighty is wealth,
that desire in humans to leave others struggling while we take care of self.

So I'm laying down my flag.
And it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
See my grandpa,
he fought in one of those wars too.
And my uncle, and cousin, so many of my friends and their husbands.
I have seen so much loss behind this flag.
We wave it so high,
with tears in our eyes,
ghosts in our heads,
and stripes on our arms.
But I've realized,
the only way it actually matters
is if what stands in front of the flag is God.
If what stands in front of the flag is Christ
and His call to fight for the abundant life.
An abundant life to which all members of society are entitled,
not only the wealthy.
The America I want to live in is one that stands for equality,
one where the poor are brought relief,
one where the widows are cared for,
and the sick healed of their disease,
one where Brotherly Love is shown to all of those who don't look like we.
So, you see,
nothing we legislate and no one we elect has the power to bring us peace.

So I'm sorry, but the change that I believe in isn't you.
It's not even a true American Democracy.
And it's scary to stand here and say
that the only hope for our world today,
is a Being far enough removed from the labors of humanity
to deserve to be called the King of Kings.
But He's the only One worthy of my allegiance,
the only One completely above the electoral process
or Washington politics,
the One for whom I'm laying down my life,
giving up my single interests for those of humanity.
He's the One for whom I'm picketing,
with whom I'm standing and weeping.

Dear Mr. President,
I'm sorry you stepped into a role too big for a man,
a role demanding a King.


If you make enough money that I don't have to work
and we can still support ourselves, our children, and our loves,
then I will be the best trophy wife you ever saw.

I will work out 4-5 times a week unless I'm sick.
I will cook big and nutritious meals to keep us healthy and happy.
I will entertain our friends and your business partners.
We can have Thanksgiving at our place.
I will have healthy, tame, beautiful hair.
I will drive carpools and host play dates.
I will stand at your side looking trim, beautiful, and so happy to see everyone.
But never think I will be silent, or stupid.
I will engage all of the other trophy wives in enlightening conversation.
I will read and write and create art to the satisfaction of the wives who go to work.
I may even discover a way to make money from home while still being the support and care-giver.
This I promise you, if you make enough money that I can stay at home.

But if you ask that I work,
or better yet,
if our household asks for more income,
I will more than likely throw myself into a job that requires a lot of my emotions.
I may teach school or work at a day care or toy store.
I may go in on a business venture with one of my very ambitious friends and spend a lot of extra time making sure everything is done well.
If I am a working wife,
I still promise to keep the house clean, but it may not be spotless.
I still promise to cook sometimes, but I can't promise that the food will be gourmet or that it will come more than 4 times a week.
We will eat leftovers, and take out.
I can't promise that I will work out regularly.
In fact, when a schedule gets crazy and there are little mouths to feed,
that will be the first thing I scratch off the list.
I may not volunteer to host family get-togethers,
and if you bring someone home unexpectedly,
I will be generous and open-armed,
but my work papers and the laundry may be strewn all over the bedroom.

So I guess what I'm saying is this:
if the extra 20-30 pounds I carry secretly bothers you,
don't bank on it coming off for the wedding.
If you only like my hair permed and coiffed, you will have to make sure we can afford that.
If you demand a home-made meal every night,
you must be willing to cook it yourself sometimes.

But our children will be happy.
They will be hugged and loved,
but taught to be brave.
They will be handled firmly and required to behave,
but they will always know where to lay their head when they weep.
And you will be happy.
I will sit close to you while we watch a movie or game.
I will greet you when you come in and say goodbye to you when you leave.
I will speak gently, but honestly,
thoughtfully, but openly,
and I will speak often.
And when you need me to be quiet, I will be.
And every night when we lay down to sleep,
I will make sure to give what I can when you need it.
I promise you these things,
from the time you give me a ring until the time one of us ceases to breathe.
Whether I'm working, or standing like a trophy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Planting People - more doodles

I drew this while sitting and having a discussion with a group of friends I call a life group. Well, I didn't coin the term. Some churches call them cell groups or small groups. But it's people who go to church with me, and we get together every week at someone's house and we talk about our lives and our struggles and our dreams. We serve as accountability partners and encouragers and mentors.

I was far away from Jesus until I became planted in this group.'s message series right now is about being planted. If I can think of a better way to connect with people of God than a life group I will let you know. But so far it's the best idea I've seen.

And I've seen a lot of ideas.
I've searched far and wide and came up empty until I came back to Jesus.
Whoever finds God finds life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


in case you don't look to the right or the left when you open this blog, i now have a new purpose for blogging.
i used to do it to organize all of my thoughts about the world. now it's to showcase what i'm inspired by. maybe you think it's lovely. maybe you think it's juvenile. maybe you think i'm dumb. it doesn't much matter. this is what i do today so that i can do tomorrow what i could not do today.

originally when i did this one, it was meant to be me in a business suit, supposedly as my political self. now it's just a professional representation. i'm probably arguing for more funding for hearOKC. :-)

this i did in class when i should have been taking notes. the mini me popped into my head first, the hand was the first intricate thing i noticed that i could copy. the cross and heart were last, for no good reason, except they are basic images and they are always on my mind.

do either of these mean anything very special to you? or do they jump out at you?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Can Always Come Home

I'm going to tell you my rendition of what my very dear friend told me, and I hope it helps, at the very least, to get you to open up the channels of communication.

He is not sitting up in Heaven shaking His head because you messed up again, thinking of ways to punish you for your actions. He is holding out His hand asking you to come to Him and let Him "fix" things. Sometimes, I think He's on His metaphorical knees, begging you to come to Him...
...not because He's a weak God who needs us to validate Himself, but because He is a perfect, loving, Father, friend, and Savior who wants the best for us, and only He knows what's best. He knows because He created us, and the best thing for us is His will.

"you can ALWAYS come home"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Arbitrarily irritated: my grandfather told my mom I can't afford my car. I am a full-time college student working 25-35 hours a week and still getting As. What exactly are you complaining about?

In other news: I am about to catch up on my school work.
I had a mini-nervous breakdown on Sunday/Monday, due in part to the strange over-medicated experience I had Saturday evening.

Again, I might graduate in May, rather than December, especially now that my grandpa thinks it's okay to persecute me while I'm trying to get a degree.

The meeting of the Kaleo Life Group sets the whole tone for my week, and we went to the OK State Fair this past week, and are considering skipping this upcoming week. :-/ I'll have to figure out how to keep myself on track.

I know a guy who really wants to be my boyfriend.
I am scared.

I want to get back into blogging.
If I bail on the education degree (and go the alternative route), I'll have 3-6 hours of available B.S. class time next semester where I might take a course called "Blogs: New Independent Media." Or I might take Spanish. Spanish is probably the better idea. 

That's all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

whoever finds God finds life

i would hope that you don't think you have to believe in the high-tech mega-church model to believe this. the thing that people often miss about us is that we don't care about our buildings or our technology. those are just tools we use to get to God. the only place where true life exists is in Him.

i have something akin to an interview tomorrow with some people about worship ministry.
i am a bit overwhelmed. i tweeted this the other day: "if you're looking for it, God always goes for shock and awe." He has completely revolutionized my life. this year is shaping up to be a perfect 2010 for reasons i could never have predicted.

i can't even type a coherent blog post because there are so many thoughts running through my head.

i have realized, yet again, that there is no one like the living God.
i know, better than many, that i'm not qualified to say that. i've said contradictory things so many times. but that's what makes Him the greatest in this world or any other. He is strong enough to take chances even on those who have let Him down before.

i have to reign myself in everyday.
i have to fight off the guilt everyday.
i have to fight off the temptation everyday.
and i am scared everyday.
but God is faithful everyday.
and God is forgiving everyday.
and He heals a little piece of something everyday.
He plants a little seed of something everyday.

and i trust Him.

i pray that all of us let our hearts be softened, let ourselves be romanced, by the God of the universe.
at the very least, i promise you'll never be bored!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rooted and Grounded pt. 2

A poet I know wrote, "It's the hardest thing in the world is to look someone in the eye and admit: 'I will disappoint you'" (Colin Gilbert). And he was very right.

Over the last five or six weeks, a very good friend of mine listened to God's voice hard enough to show me some things I've been hiding from for a long time.

All it takes is a foothold of fear, of doubt, of misinformation - just a little bit of a lie mixed in with a whole lot of truth - and before you know it, you're on a path you never planned to be on, doing things you never thought you'd do.

We change so much from our teenage years to full adulthood. Some of us go from being rowdy kids who don't listen to authority to soldiers and family men who make it their business to take care of those in need. Some of us go from hating school to wanting to teach little ones. Some of us go from being all-around good kids to being rebellious and incendiary.
Some say this change is inevitable. It is growth and there is no stopping or circumventing it.
My best friend and I have long believed that there's a small window of opportunity to raise hell and not be judged for it.  So we better take advantage of it while we're young, because when we "grow up" it won't be acceptable.
I've done and believed a little bit of all of these things.

I can't say I regret them.
I've heard more than one pastor say, "it's better to learn by instruction than by correction."But I've always been a kinetic learner.
So now I'm nearing the end of a college career that's taking longer than expected. I'm taking stock of my friends, my experiences, my skills, my dreams, and I'm wondering if I'm on the right path.

Over the last two weeks, I have let myself become vulnerable again to a kind of love that demands nothing. The kind that hopes for perfection, and almost pleads with my heart to take my place in the making of that perfection. And I am amazed at how wrong I was when I thought that's what I'd been pursuing the whole time.

Pastor Charles Martin at Integrity's Voice of Victory Church said, "God isn't asking you to be perfect; He's just asking you to be the best you you can be." And I'm realizing that I was placed in this body, in this skin, in this city, in my family, with my various groups of friends and influences for a specific reason. I don't quite know the reason, but I do know that running from what my unique set circumstances requires does not create the best version of myself.

I am put in mind of a quote from Shakespeare: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
And I realize now that I have not been true to myself. Not the self you probably are acquainted with. But my soul-level self, the one that is part and particle of a creative God. I have been false to her and therefore have been false to several people I know...perhaps for the last few years.

This is not another manifesto of all the imminent truth I am now privvy to.
I'm good at writing manifestos.
This is a statement to those of you who care, and I'm blessed because there are a lot of you - near and far, that I am done pretending to have answers. I can tell you what part of your sentence is grammatically incorrect, but beyond that I have no declarative statements to make, save these:

1. I have probably disappointed you at some point...maybe in this very moment.
2. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ...And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us."
3. "Christ came that we may have life and that to the full."
4. I never intended to hurt anyone - not you, not myself, not the heart of God.
5. I do not know how to make this work.
6. "With God all things are possible."

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...that He would grant [ME], according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner [WO]man, that Christ may dwell in [MY] heart through faith; that [I], being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beautiful, Artistic Life

Life is beautiful. It all happens so fast.

I am a certified Starbucks barista. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I totally understand why friends like Amanda (Moorhead) Stephens have stayed there for so long. It's wonderful. Tiring sometimes, but great.

I've got some interesting feedback and ideas about OSGA and students involved in politics.

I'm working on my second and third pieces for The Loop Magazine.

I have texted the man a lot, but we haven't resolved anything or made any plans. I'm officially in waiting mode for him. I think. Unless "god" shows me something else.

Today I was really sad about that, but then I talked to my Lovesound, and just hearing her voice - her light, carefree, youthful voice - reminded me that we are young and beautiful and everything will be okay. So after work, I ate a little dinner and then went to Frank's tattoo shop to hang with him. I talked a blue streak and he drew me this picture:
He said my voice made him think of this. It's a flower in abstract. He said, "somebody should dissect that shit and figure out what it means." I told him I was fine with leaving it how it is: a cool picture that came from a conversation between artists/friends. We talked about two tattoos for him to put on me: my cherry blossom tree, and something he thought up on his own that I like. He said he'll teach me to play the guitar. I'm sharing song ideas with him.

I wrote the beginnings of a song. I have 85% of the words, and a fun little melody. It's about my version of "god." It's called "You Are the Messes Too."

I felt like a much better, more balanced, more beautiful version of myself while making art imitate life with Frank. I could never completely live his lifestyle, but I'm happy to let him rub off on me.

There's a guy Marcus Muse, who Frank taught to tattoo and who Frank has re-employed as a legit shop artist (rather than a janky, back room of the house artist), who specializes in paint. We hung with him a bit too. Frank called us a trifecta, and I immediately fell in love with the idea of this trio of very unique people spending time being creative together.

Days at school and work. Nights being creative with my boys. Writing writing writing. Hell yes.

"This is my beautiful life
The only thing certain is everything changes
The lows and the highs
and all those goodbyes
As hard as it gets I know it's still amazing to be alive
It's a beautiful life"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rules of the Game

Coffee and Alcohol have the same rules.

Think of coffee like beer - different flavors and less concentrated.
Think of espresso like hard liquor - the real shit.
Mixed drinks apply to both,
and the rules on shots are the same:
1. gulp it down all at once, no matter how big it is
(the size determines how cool you are)
2. it WILL burn on the way down
3. make sure you eat first
4. once you break the seal it's all over

Tales of Being a Starbucks Barista!
Summer of Perfect 2010!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's still a Perfect 2010!

Since my last post:

I quit my job at Build-A-Bear because she wouldn't give me more money. Saturday was my last day. I got hired full-time at Starbucks. Monday is my first day.

I quit the poetry slam team - partially because I'm a punk and partially because it was AWFUL timing and it was disorganized. I'm thinking I'll switch back to the "real" poetry scene as soon as everyone gets back from Nationals. Red Dirt feels better in my bones and soul. That was a dramatic undertaking.

But in my pursuit of slam team activity, I got to see a youth slam team from Jacksonville, Fla. and it reminded me of what I want to do with my life. Favorite says she thinks it's totally doable and she might even end up helping with the legal stuff later on down the road. hearOKC is still gonna happen people; just hold your horses!

I did my first article for The Loop Magazine and everybody loved it. Please believe that as soon as I have the link, I'll post it.

I haven't re-lost any of the my weight gain...I haven't put in any work. BUT, I just discovered that walk-in yoga classes in the Paseo are only $10 for students!! BAM! Flexibility and tone, here I come! And I'll still walk or jog sometimes. But I've been reading yoga journal magazine and Eat, Pray, Love and I just wanna be a yogi. That's all. If I can do a complicated yoga pose in 15 pounds, then the numbers don't matter.

I haven't done ANY focusing on OSGA since my last post. But I do have a retreat with them on Saturday, so I'm sure I'll be back on the grind.

Rooms's best friend moved down from Michigan last week, so we moved out of our two-bedroom and into a three-bedroom. The living room looks freakin' bomb!! RoomsS did SUCH a good job! The kitchen needs some work. And I'm saving up to buy a Shoji room divider with a cherry blossom tree on it for the hallway. My room is getting there. I have all the furniture set up. Favorite says she'll buy me an Om to hang above my bed. I'm ordering this beautiful comforter from (gray with a big orchid and polka dot sheets). I'm buying a pink picture of the Buddha and a huge set of mala beds from Craig's Curious Emporium in the Paseo. I just need yellow curtains and a curtain rod and I'll be set. Well, and I'd like a small sculpture - maybe of a dragon, but I haven't seen anything I like yet.

I'm getting my hair braided tomorrow, because I've made the final decision: I'm getting dredlocks. No turning back. The goal is to have them starting the new year 2012.

I went on a date with a friend from elementary school. I like him a lot. My mom is convinced that he likes me just as much. But today he told me he's going through too much in his life for a relationship. I was sad for a couple of hours. But my mom is also convinced that there won't be too much time passage before he contacts me again. The fact that I'm not sad makes me think that she might be right. And if not, then there's someone else out there.

Oh, and I turned 22! It was uneventful. We were RIGHT in the middle of moving. But Deuce knows my name now and said he loved me. So I guess that's good. Another year!

I'm very comfortable with where I am in life right now. Retreat Satuday, church Sunday, work Monday, and then three weeks until school starts! I'm ready.

It's still a Perfect 2010!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I do want to be married.
I get married in my head to every guy I crush on. If I can't see myself with him forever, I usually can't see myself with him at all.

I miss singing.

I miss worship music.
I miss the way House Church used to feel.
I don't miss being preached at about things that don't matter.
I miss being in awe of Jesus.
I wish more people I know were in awe of Prince Sidhartha, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Gandhi, and Rainer Maria Rilke, and Rumi.
I wish more people would allow themselves to reach their full potential - and therefore be awed by their own endless possibility.

I miss the community of church, of Alpha Chi Omega, of my high school jazz choir...groups of people that believed in something similar.

I miss agreeing with my family about something.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Loop, and the Future

There is so much happening in my life right now.

I love my job, but I don't love the money I'm not making. Hopefully, it will all be easier in a few weeks when we get a third roommate.

I miss being fashionable. I went shopping today with money I probably shouldn't have spent, and got so excited about the things I bought. I also got sad that I won't be able to wear them to work. I hate uniforms.

I am really busy, but trying to pretend like I'm not. I obsessively text and tweet in order to make myself feel the illusion of leisure time. That's kind of sad.

I have done two performances with the Wordpulp Slam Team in the last two weeks. I have one this Thursday (7/15) and the following Thursday (7/22). The week after that is the arrival of my third roommate, Primary Day (7/27), another Wordulp event (7/29), our house party (7/31) and my birthday (8/1). On August 3 I hop in a van with the team and head to St. Paul, Minnesota for the National Poetry Slam. I'm excited and scared shitless. So much to do and so little time.

I have pretty officially landed a job with a local start-up publication called The Loop Magazine. We are trying to become an urban version of The Oklahoma Gazette on glossy paper with some more flavor added! I loved the girls I met who have been running the show for the last year. I wrote a rough draft of my first piece just now and was all jazzed up so I decided to update my blog. I'll edit the piece tomorrow and then send it off in hopes of getting good reviews.

I've gained back three of my thirteen pounds lost and I need to fix that as quickly as possible. I don't care so much about the pounds, except they are directly indicative of how much work I haven't done in the last two weeks.

I started to get back into OSGA stuff but then all of this life happened so I haven't continued.
My roommate's manager at Starbucks is trying to set up an interview with me, but I'm antsy about it. I love Build-A-Bear and I already don't focus on it that well. But I need more money too. If Starbucks is offering full-time I might really need to look into it. My boss hasn't said no to a raise. She hasn't said anything at all.

My job with The Loop has got me thinking about the future. I think I could be content to work one "day job" and write for the magazine for anywhere from two to seven years. I say seven years because then I'll be thirty and I should probably pass that mantle to someone else, and start the teaching gig. Hopefully the economy will have turned around by then and I might even be settled into a stable relationship.

Magazine writing is what I always wanted to do until I developed my political persona and made myself believe that it wasn't a serious job. Now that my ideas have run the whole gamut, I think I'm ready to do, rather than just think. I know what I'm capable of and I'm ready to get out there and try my luck at life.

I want to teach, but not right now.
Now to just finish out this degree...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I just wrote a page and a half of mantras to meditate on daily. If I get to a point where I feel like they are manifest in my life, I will write new mantras.

One of my affirmations is this:
I love balance.
One of the truths upon which I meditate is this:
The Universe seeks balance. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

These declarations made me wonder.
If the Universe seeks balance, does American gluttony provide the need for African poverty? Does European formality provide the need for Middle Eastern barbarism?  Do the actions of one society produce reactions in other societies? If we all lived somewhere in the middle, might the world perfect itself?

I think the answer to all of those questions is yes.

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin in me."

Monday, June 21, 2010


I have a friend Lamarr Womble, who has a life philosophy about passionate living. He believes, and lives out the belief, that one should assess their passions and turn them into a lifestyle. What you love is what you should do. If you are young, don't even get started on a career path that steers you away from your passion. If you are older, integrate elements of what you're about into your life - make it your side hustle - until you become so good at it that maybe your side hustle can become your main hustle.

Eighteen months ago when I first heard this philosophy, Lamarr asked a simple question: "What's your passion?"
Even in the most fundamental and basic of things, I find a way to be complicated. He asked a singular question and I gave a plural answer. I can see now how the answer has changed slightly (or how I am looking past the blinders I had on at the time) but it still plural. I am passionate about writing, politically activism, and children.

As a 22-year-old with a semi-good job working with kids and an inclination to not be tied down at the moment, I think I should take some risks to pursue my love for writing. I have been presented with several opportunities that I don't follow through with - partially because of lack of organization, partially because of fear.

It's time to stop being afraid.
What step will I take today to pursue my passion?
Drafting and/or editing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moving Mountains

There are some days when I sit back and look at my surroundings and look at the people I know and love and think:

I just want to teach high school English in OKC public schools.
I want to have my weekends and summers off. I want to be able to randomly drive to Dallas or Houston to spend quality time with my family. I want to be free to go places and experience things.
And I want to be a cog in the system working for change in a small way, in a way teenagers need. I want to move one mountain, one stone at a time, not join with a large group of people to shift the entire course of the Rockies. Just one mountain. And I've got a lifetime to move it by myself.

And then I talk to a lady in Build-A-Bear. Sweet lady who looks Hispanic and whose daughter looks either Hispanic or Middle Eastern. She comes in an average of twice a month and never drops less than $100 on her four-year-old. I thought she was insane at first, because that's way too much money on children's toys. But this week she came in twice - Monday and Tuesday - and said some things that made me look deeper.

Monday she told about how they had "cut back" because her daughter wasn't treating her toys like she was grateful, like they were special. Very observant. Much less materialistic than I had originally thought she was. Tuesday they come in and she is wearing the same clothes - and a woman who drops dollars like she does has plenty of clothes to change into. She looks tired, sad, sick, or all of the above and she's doing a ton of sniffling. She looks at me almost apologetically and says, "We just came back for the jaguar. Just the jaguar." Her daughter starts running around looking at the things she likes and trying to decide if she has them at home already (because she's got half our store). I ask her if she is okay. She says she's been sick.

The lady sits down in a chair looking ready to wither and starts talking to me. She was surprised that I understood everything her daughter said. She said I must have kids. I told her no, I just love them and love to listen to them. I said I taught two- and three-year old Sunday school for a couple of years and that I want to teach high school English. She says I'll be great. After some time passes she says, "You should teach at Cassidy."

If you know me or have read my other posts about teaching, you know that I have NO desire to teach preppy, rich, white kids. And Cassidy is more preppy, rich, and white than almost any private school in the metro. I had to reign in my thoughts before I said, "Oh hell no!"

Instead I said, "Well, I've always wanted to teach in public schools. Private schools, especially Cassidy, are kind of..."
"Snotty?" She put in. I nodded appreciatively. She continued: "I don't ever want to be hateful, but some of the parents there are very elitist even toward my family." And we proceed to have a whole conversation about rich, snotty people and how she doesn't want to be one, how she doesn't want her daughter to be one, and how she's not sure if she wants her daughter attending that school past elementary. She is afraid the other kids will hurt her. And I can completely relate because that's how it always was for me in private elementary and junior high school.

She isn't from Oklahoma. Wherever she lived before, she attended public school in what she referred to as a "Mexican ghetto," likely the same kind I want to teach in. She said it was scary and she doesn't want her daughter to go through that either.
I worried over her and the reason behind her sniffles and weakness and day-old outfit until they left.

I stood there wondering what I could have done more to help. I had wanted to hug her but didn't know if that was okay.

And then I thought: I'll have to do something more than just teach high school English. But I don't know what it is yet. Right now, the Build-A-Bear Workshop will do.

Friday, June 4, 2010

perfect harmony

this is just another reason to love the First Family and Paul McCartney

i still believe in you, too, mr. president.

How to Reinvent Yourself - original poem

Step 1: Have multiple conversations with different people from different perspectives and backgrounds.
Ask open-ended questions and throw away the answer that’s already prepared in your mind.
Listen more thoroughly than you would any other time. Listen to scripture with your heart open the same way you listen to rhyme.

Step 2: Make lists
Of all the bad things about that way and all the good things about this. Then flip the script.
Remember that the grass is usually just as brown on that side of the fence.
Assess your motives. Jealousy isn’t a very good reason to reinvent.

Step 3: Test it out.
Stop eating meat for a week or two, then treat yourself to a big steak cooked just the way you like it.
See which way feels more valid.

Step 4: Remember the deep conversations from step 1? You don’t need them anymore. That was just a way to introduce yourself to the questions.
Take everyone else’s answers, kiss them lovingly and kick them out the door. You’re trying to create a new self, not a new friend. Do what YOU think so that if you succeed you can pat yourself on the back. And if, or when, you fail, the blame is on you not them. That way there’s no resentment.

Step 5: Get rid of all your perceptions. Walk in the shoes of the new you. Break them in. Give yourself blisters and sing freedom songs while you massage them.

Step 6: Realize that all of this is bullshit. Time is relative and when it comes to reinvention, what the Universe wants it will get.
A whole year spent growing out your naps just to throw it away with one sentence? It doesn’t matter. You’re still young, and the best stuff is what comes after the mistakes.

Step 7:

This should be the last step because seven is the number of perfection, but it’s not. Just like I didn’t stop after three which is the number of completion, or five because it’s nice and round. I’m just getting to the good stuff now.
You are never complete, nor perfect. You should be contemplating one or more of these steps every day you live because the Universe is always fluctuating and you’ll never be happy if you can’t move with it.

So, step 7: Don’t try to give this meaning. Don’t try to make it a cause that everyone should rally around.
You admire vegetarians because they’re skinnier and you want to be able to choose to run with “the in crowd.”
You’re raising your Black Power fist so you’ll feel more powerful, and because you always feel less like a sore thumb in the midst of your own people.
You don’t have to prove to yourself or to anyone else that this matters. Everyone is entitled to their feelings and what you want is always what you should go after.

Step 8: Remain autonomous.
That’s means self-governing.
Never let your paltry desires enslave you like the system did. Everything you have you should be willing to give to someone who needs it, or else your soul, not your hair or your eating habits, is what needs to be reinvented.

Step 9: Last step.
Engage your mind. Make sure it’s as much a part of the process as your heart is – that is balance. Reorder the steps on this list. Make them fit your specific successes and limitations. Analyze. Passion without reason is anarchy. And regardless of what you say you believe, there must at least be some semblance of order to things.
Decide on a path and then follow it wherever it leads. Fear nothing. No mistake is too great for the Universe to iron beauty out of it. You’ve been reinvented.
Now remember these steps, because I promise you’ll be using them again.

Belief - original poem written May 18, 2010

Who knew the world would get so messed up
That the enlightened ones among us
Would hide behind books and pens
While the whole world disrespects itself to the point of crashing down around them?

Who knew that we would lose faith
To the point where the only thing we can all agree to believe in is the grave?

We can no longer unanimously say that a little black latchkey kid on the east side
Can someday grow up to do whatever he wants with his life.
We can no longer all pay homage to the American dream,
Because so many of us have united behind the belief that it’s a lie.
And maybe you’re right.
Maybe Thomas Jefferson never intended for Maria de la Roca from San Juan to be free
Maybe he didn’t really think that she and I and that little black boy up the street
Should have the knowledge and the power to change our family trees,
To start a new generation of kids who know that the world sucks the way it is
But who know that the only hope for life is belief in our ability to change it.
Maybe Abraham Lincoln cared more about the preservation of the Union
Than the freedom of the slaves,
But I promise you that the sharecroppers whose grandkids went to college,
Whose descendants were able to excel in public offices,
Don’t give a damn about motives.
We are just glad things finally changed.

Just two years ago
We were waving our flags, paying our dues,
Believing that America could be beautiful if her president looked, acted, and thought
A bit more like me and you.
And I was one of the worst.
I cried on inauguration day,
And I still hang on to every word that man has to say,
But now I know this:
Things never have and never will change from on high
No matter how bad any god or president wants it.
All sustainable social change must happen in our midst.

So what does that mean?
It means every day you choose to get high when you could be
Writing the lifeline that some small child will pull on to get back on even ground,
You are standing in the way.
Every time I choose to bull shit with my friends,
When I could be studying thoughts that will be the hands
That pull my people up out of their defeatist trends,
I am wasting time.
Whenever those who can do not
They strip others of the ability to be able.
Every time we choose to eat in the kitchen when company comes
We give up our right to sit at the table.

Obama can not free us; he could only free himself and he did.
Your words turned into poetic sentences,
Your arms turned into hugs for the fatherless
Are your contribution to a generation that has got to learn how to use our resources.
Teach a child to read,
so that he can write his way into college and off of the street.
Teach her to build up her strength,
So she learns to say “no” and she can make it to the top
By doing things her own way.
I’m not asking you to believe in God or the presidency.
But I’m begging you to believe in what society could be,
Or at least to pretend like you do,
So that they can.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

peace comes WITH understanding

words. are. life. to. me.

the true colors personality test has just helped me understand that life.

knowing that i'm predominantly green (as opposed to gold, blue, or orange) - i.e. more analytical than the personality quadrant (expressive, driver, analytical, amiable) gave me credit for being - and that only 7% of the population is green explains why i never feel understood. knowing that i am green (deep-thinking, seeking correlation) followed by a toss-up between gold (driver, task-oriented, structured) and blue (amiable, focused on relationships, passionate, artsy) shows me the reason behind my desire for a connection to a spiritual community. it also shows me my intense passion for poetry - the most condensed version of meaningful art. and for writers - the juxtaposers of correlative information. and for philosophers - the students of the universe. and for theologians - the students of the Divine.
this is why i love Jesus. and Buddha. and Ralph Waldo Emerson. and Barack Obama. and Elizabeth Gilbert. and Lauren Zuniga. 

thank the universe.

i feel so much peace right now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


i must balance a thing/person's flaws with it's redeeming qualities.
disney never made me feel bad about myself. i can love disney movies and hate cookie-cutter images at the same time. i can see the stereotypes and the plot problems and love the music and the morals.
a story is still good even if i don't approve of the ending.

i looove country music.
perhaps it's because i live in oklahoma and my family is from texas, but i most appreciate songs about the real life stuff that people try to ignore. "it's a quarter after one, i'm a little drunk, and i need you now." classic.

i think facebook and twitter are the best things to be invented since personal computers.
via facebook, i can get glimpses into the lives of people i have "grown out with" (yes, grown out, not grown up. to "grow up with" is to experience life with while growing. it's a time and proximity thing. to "grow out of" or "outgrow" is to leave something behind. it has a connotation of being better or smarter or more evolved than the thing that was outgrown. to "grow out with" someone is to grow apart from them, as in not in the same proximity, but not in a way that is removed as if you are leaving them behind). several of the people i used to know are wonderful people whose lives make perfect sense for them. we cannot be close because our lives are so different. but we are not far away because i think i'm better. our paths no longer cross, but i still think they're wonderful. via twitter, i can let out all of my random thoughts and comments and they can be taken or left off at will. no pressure.

i want to write a movie script.
my world is too aesthetically beautiful to exist completely in the written word. it's also too complicated to be a song or poem. a photo collage is too extensive. plus the writing would be good exercise. i'm a story-teller struggling to find a medium.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What If? A New Spin on Dead Rhetoric - NaPoWriMo #10

Dan Brown once asked, what if the greatest story ever told was a lie?
Contradictory to Milton, what if the Paradise you think you have to die
To find was never lost and is all in your mind?
What if the Greatest Sacrifice ever made is less about being saved
Than it is about modeling selfless behavior?
Robin Meyers and I wonder whether Jesus is wishing
you’d get off your high horse and make some changes
instead of sitting pretty doing lip-service to the idea of a Savior.

What if our disgust at Sally Kern’s villainization of the entire world
Outside of her is the way God looks at the members of the church?
Hate mongers so busy throwing Bible verses like daggers
That they have no real concept of the parts of law and Christianity that matter.
What if two men kissing each other in public
Is a reminder that we’ve forgotten the inherent risk in love?
What if the people throwing things and protesting
Is a modern-day image of crucifixion?
What if we’ve gotten so far from the state of mind called Heaven
That we can’t see God’s arm pointing, reaching?
What if all the rhetoric has drowned out the still, small voice
Of a Holy Spirit teaching?
What if, like Cuban said, we can no longer hear God over the cappuccino machine?
What if purity is buried so deep in the dark creases
Of our designer hobo bags that we can’t hear it scream?
What if the size of our cars and houses is so offensive to the Spirit of generosity,
And the right way of being is driven so far to the outskirts,
That we can no longer see the need?

What if your prophet is wrong?
Not because he’s malicious or he meant to do harm,
But simply because the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What if none of these questions matter
Because you are what you eat,
People don’t really listen when you speak,
We can’t really conceptualize the after-life
Because we are not dead,
And absolutely none of us were around to hear what Jesus really said?

What if the only thing we have is this moment in time?
Just like RENT, there’s only now, only this
Here I can choose to use rhyme to revitalize or to break.
You can choose to listen and take in,
Or to ignore and walk away.
And five minutes from now,
Which ever decision we made will be gone
And another opportunity will take its place.

So right now, I’m going to use the only meaningful things I have –
These three minutes, this mic, my voice, this stage –
And I’m going to tell you you’re beautiful,
Even if you never change.

Head/Heart Reason/Passion - NaPoWriMo

Sometimes our hearts
or our guts
commit us to a course of action that our brains refuse to follow up with

I think our hearts are the indestructible parts of our beings.
When we sustain wounds,
it's our psyches and our memories that show bruising,
not our hearts.
Our hearts recover quickly.

Your gut told you I was beautiful
and for a brief moment you overrode your inhibitions to tell me so.
Your gut continuously invited me
to what my heart and head could only logically perceive
as a beginning to something.

Our hearts are the home of our imaginations
and our bravery -
our willingness to desire things and take risks.
We often use the protective part of our minds
to manipulate our hearts into believing
that the bravery is frivolous
and that growth and maturity are more careful with emotion.
William Blake wrote that tameable passion is weak,
implying - at least to me - that passion should be
strong and unruly.

Your head told you that my untamed ways -
my lack of inhibition, my free emotion, my willingness -
could quickly and easily bring you pain...

...perhaps the same way hers had.

And I cannot promise that you are wrong.
I cannot be certain
that my willingness to jump head first, heart open
into friendship, intimacy, and love
will not some day cause one of us
to sustain another memory wound.
But I do know this:
Whether it's the naivete of youth
or faith in a Divine type of Universal Truth,
my heart has only grown stronger and braver because of the mental scars.

...that other man's hands pushing a bit too hard,
too far,
despite protests...

…yet another man’s complete inability to see
lips as the gates that freed or withheld knowledge,
his eyes only saw a vessel through which to slake his thirst…

…yet another man who claims to be a friend
but will use and be used
for the type of more-than-friendly benefit
that gives a mind pause before
and emptiness after each time…

I’ve been hurt too.
I get scared too.
But for better or for worse,
This young heart cannot help loving around the scars.

Your gut told you I was beautiful
And reached past your mind to tell me so.
Your protective armor told me no,
And my head can hear you,
But my gut tells me that someday
Your heart will tell your head what it already knows,
That real life requires a willingness
To view the scars as a new tattoo
Depicting the nonverbal elements of you

Written November 12, 2009

I am growing over
Returning myself to my state of nature
I don’t feel beautiful like flowers are beautiful,
But I feel real and honest like trees
With broken or naked branches
I am big, strong, sheltering, useful,
But not always pretty

My sex is drying up
Pleasure comes between covers made of paper
Not between sheets or on computer screens.
Please is moments of peace and quiet
In the middle of a chaotic world,
Not moments of bundled nerves stimulated by artificial vibrations
For the first time in months
I don’t want your arousal
I want your mental attention.
I want to partner (Ashtanga) yoga with you –
Engage our bodies through the efforts of our minds
And the strength of our hearts

So often a man is just a life sized representation of his sex,
A big penis with a voice
And we women stay disappointed because men
Are so often flaccid, at rest.
We always want them to be poised for action,
At attention, ready to perform.
I get so frustrated with the processing of arousing a man to action.

A constant arousal, readiness, would be exhausting
And would more often than not lend itself to disappointment.
Better to only come alive when you know the arousal will accomplish something

But women are in a state of constant, latent arousal.
We are walking wombs,
ready at any moment to be receptacles of men’s accomplishments,
to be impregnated with the future.
And, yes, it is exhausting!
But I find it near impossible to only act when aroused.
Sometimes, someone needs to me act
And I’m glad I don’t have to ask them to wait until I can rise to the occasion

Kids These Days - NaPoWriMo

Kids these days

It’s funny how the students who are considered “advanced”
Enough to go to a school separate from almost any other in the district
Are the students who have best learned how to read deep
Enough into the question to find the right answer

These kids are bright
They understand metaphor and simile, symbolism and irony
They know how to read between lines
And analyze even when things are written plainly
But they say they hate poetry
I laugh
And remember that I would have said the same thing
At sixteen when I was asked.
Adolescence is such a time for questions.

Who am I really?
What do I believe?
Where are my boundaries?
How much can I achieve?
How much should I give away?
And what demand to receive?
How do I care about the world while holding onto pieces of me?

And these questions won’t be answered
Some not for years to come, and others not at all
These kids will learn the hard way that the first
Answer to life’s questions is usually wrong.
So they learn to hate questions they can’t answer definitively
Rather than being in awe of the infinite possibilities.
I sigh
Because the answer to life is not one thing, but many
It’s the balancing act of reality and possibility
The very beauty of indefinability
The pleasure in knowing beyond doubt that no matter
How long it takes, life can be figured out
The peace that comes from seeing the relativity of possible outcomes
The melding together of days as significant,
But all so similar revolutions of the sun

But nothing feels like that at sixteen
Plays, games, first loves and first dates are the important things
And they should be
So I don’t try to change the students’ minds
About the questions in poetry
I am content to wait and see which ones
Will grow up to know firsthand that they were wrong
The way I did
The words are written definitively
But it’s all about the questions and the possibility

Training a Warrior Woman - under construction

Dear Heart,

You remind me so much of myself that it hurts.
Your readiness to laugh,
The over-frequency of your words,
The way I can tell what you're thinking by the way your face contorts.
You are so beautiful,
Precious to anyone who takes the time to see beyond the image in their mind of what a young girl should be.

But be careful.
At fifteen, boys don't know what they need.
They think they know what they want,
And you think you can see through them,
But in the spirit of practicality
But take my advice
You are both wrong.
I know that you are loving, accepting,
Open, patient, and know the importance of the team,
But despite his best intentions,
He is not grown up enough to give you any stability,
Certainty, encouragement, or direction
And those are the things you need.
I know you want to be brave.
We are warrior women and bravery is at the core of our being.
But for now, please,
Just be careful.

Be strong.
If you are as much like me as I think
You spend a lot of time wishing you weren't alone.
Take the time you have with yourself;
Do something that makes you feel important.
I sang and wrote poetry.
Maybe you dance or paint or plant things.
Whatever it is do it whole-heartedly.
It won't stay the tears or stop the pain
But listen to the voice of the future telling you it's a pleasant way to train for battle.
Cry your tears into the soil of your garden;
Let them nourish the plants to first light.
Mix your acrylics with salt water from your eyes,
Paint rivers, streams, and pituitaries.
Stretch so far that you can be silent while your muscles scream.
Learn to turn pain into beauty,
Because beauty is strength,
And a warrior's strength is her everything.

The most important advice I can give:
Never lose your laugh.
When the world comes crashing down on your shoulders -
And I'm sorry, Dear Heart, but it will -
Your mirth will be the only thing you have.
There will come a time,
Likely many,
When there is no comfort in lessons learned,
Not in his arms, or through her words,
And the ONLY thing that will bring relief
Is laughing.
So take yourself to comedies,
Hold the fun memories so tightly to your chest that their remembrance makes you smile.
Giggle incessantly.
Guffaw uproariously
Even when it wasn't that funny.
When someone tells you it's annoying -
And they will -
Tell them you're practicing for later.

I am nervous because
I see so much of myself in you.
Underneath of your skin pale, hair straight, eyes blue,
And that will make it simpler,
But you were still born into the spirit of warrior.
You are still a woman fighting a system run by men -
Not because they overpower us,
But because we give everything to them.
You are still vulnerable,
Like a sheep in the lion's den of high school.
Despite what the little girl in my past says,
There's nothing I can or would hope to do
To interfere in your process.
But you must believe the voice you hear on the wind
When it whispers the word patience.

Dreams Like Water - NaPoWriMo #12

"It's easy for someone to say they'd be lost without you, but I would gladly be lost with you and relish it, drink in every wrong turn..." - Colin Gilbert, "Invent Me a Word" - today's NaPoWriMo prompt (sorry if you don't see the connection)

Dreams have the consistency of water.
They can be dived into, floated upon, waded through, splashed at, drunk in,
and they can drown.

"I want to be a star"
is a dream you'll have to marathon swim through
everyday until it comes true.
and the effort won't stop once notoriety is attained.
You'll have to keep swimming, hard, fast, constantly in order to maintain.

"I want to make a change"
is a deeper pool in which to dive,
but a more rewarding one because once you touch the surface with a purpose
the water has no choice but to ripple to make way for you.
Beware of the tide.
It will try its best to wash you away
but if you can just get to the place where the river bends
you can redirect it.

"I want to love"
is the most unpredictable swell in which to jump.
On the floor there are rocks waiting for you to stumble
and eels waiting to sting your ankles.
The water is stagnant here because we have forgotten how to keep love moving past the infatuation stage.
We have forgotten how to love with a constancy like the ocean tide,
coming in and receding with the same attitude as always.
We have forgotten how to fall into love like a swimmer with no place else to be:
arms thrown wide, submitting to everything.
We're so afraid of getting water in our nose that we refuse to be submerged.
We've all been reverted back to little children dipping our toes in,
straining to keep our heads above,
But love won't tolerate a lack of dedication.
The waters rise to take you under when you fight them.
Love, unlike fame or progress, does not want to be wrestled with,
and it does no good to pick a fight with him
because love always wins.

I treat my dreams like shower water
letting them flow over me and make me clean.
I sometimes wonder what they mean,
if there's something they know that I can't see,
but I never lose myself in interpreting
because dreams are such beautiful things that I'd rather let them be abstract,
let them fall from the sky, making puddles in my life,
and reminding me of flux and fluidity.

To House Church - NaPoWriMo #13

I've never hated you.
I've never screamed at you in rage,
or said to you the things that I knew would make your heart break.
I've never wanted you to hurt.
In fact, I walked away because I could no longer look on
while you placed yourself in the intersection between pain and defeat.
You are victory.
You are light.
But no one knows this other than me.
None of the tear-stained bottles
or previously punctured veins can see
that underneath the pages of dead tomes are real hearts
not for yourselves
but for those who go home to wash off the smell of latex and sweat.
I know that you weep for those who haven't overcome yet.

And I know you long to laugh.
But I cry because somewhere it was written,
and you believed,
that your laughter was impropriety,
that your rabbi kept his feet dirty and his eyes cast down.

Your words do not come out like love.
The word "follower" is tattooed on your skin.
The real world looks at you and misinterprets Them.
And I hate this.
And you don't understand
why you've sacrificed your education and your friends
for a life spent in service
and we still don't get it.

This world cannot read Greek.
Hebrew is too far removed from American for us to understand when you speak.
The cause you're willing to live and die for
is stifled by the yellowed pages of history.
I wish you could see
that all we're trying to do is breathe new life
into a system that could catalyze change.
The revolution is not on the page.
It just might be televised,
but the broadcast will be late,
because the movement you seek
flows through the bodies and out of the mouths
of those you can't hear over the sound
of an army holding on, crying out,
claiming they won't be moved.
Your revolt is in the way.
Evolution is fluid.

And I beat my fist at the futility of this argument.
Your passion is valid.
Your words are not undermined by the way you live.
And for this, I commend you.
For this, I drop my knees to the pavement and respect the posture you don't know you're not bound in.
And then I stand,
stretch back into the posture I am free to assume,
and I reach back to you,
begging with my eyes that you'll stand up in grace too.
You shake your head no
and I go on praying that someday you'll know
commitment doesn't have to always be painful.

EastWest - NaPoWriMo #14

teach me to speak a language we both understand
textbook terms and invitations won't be enough
my jokes are born in the way i handle a language about which most fancy dance or tiptoe
i wear these words from my head to my soles
and yet i don't know how to weave them in a way that will make you laugh in your bones
but you know my name
you spoke into flame an ember that had been glowing in this chest
ever since the muslim who named me packed his things and left...

teach me how girls flirt in the east
do they bat their lashes? eyes peeking at you from a sea of fabric
or is it altogether bold enough to simply meet your gaze?
i will not hide behind a veil or long sleeves
but if it pleases you, i will talk as if i know nothing of bedroom scenes

does the pressure of your eyes on mine indicate
that girls who wear red lipstick, white tank tops, and blue jeans
are the kind you find intriguing?
and are you more than a little scandalized by the obvious line of thigh under denim?
were you shocked by the prevalence of half-bared breasts
on the sidewalks at the university?
did we make you think of all the things
you hoped your sisters would never let a stranger see?

i know nothing of the desert that birthed you,
the Red Sea that nourished your youth.
teach me what it means to live in the seat of everything the West considers ancient and holy
teach me how to hold tradition in my left hand and progress in my right,
teach me to balance progressivism with hindsight.
teach what an Arab man sounds like when he cries...

you are standing within arms reach
looking boldly at these eyes that still can't see
and i feel like there's still an ocean between us.
the olive tone of your skin
eclipsed by the soothing and wholly masculine timbre of your accent
are nothing when put up against the depth of your eyes.
perhaps you were drawn to me because your eyes and my skin understand the intrinsic, earthy, beauty of the color brown.
your lips...
so delicate, forming each word deliberately,
curving with a grace abstractly akin to femininity.
i admire the raven waves that crown you,
lose my gaze in their shimmer and fall,
wish to run fingertips through them because I know they are feather-soft.

you are Adonis;
i am afraid and in awe of your mystery.
i fear the coyness of the goddess in me
who sometimes hides and sometimes presents herself
with a startling display of passion and fury.
perhaps you should not teach me anything
lest your lesson wash away the smoke screen between us
and leave only a thunderous cavern of cultural inability in its wake.

Reach for the Stars - NaPoWriMo #16

You told me I could be whatever I wanted
You told me to reach for the stars
You told me, “No matter what happens, girl,
You had better follow your heart”

And I believed you
But you didn’t say why.
That phrase sounded so beautiful, so ethereal, so right
But you didn’t say then that what I wanted
Would be so very hard to get
You didn’t say that I’d have to struggle and fight for it everyday.

And I gotta tell ya, mama, I’m kinda scared.

In first grade when I quit soccer because I couldn’t play goalie,
You told me it was okay, because I had to do what made me happy.
Five years later when I cried at the piano and told you to throw it away
Because I wasn’t getting better, you said,
Baby, someday you’re gonna have to learn to push past the hard place.
Someday you’re gonna have to fight through the pain.
But I said no.
And a couple years later I quit cheer because I didn’t like the coach.
I changed schools when the kids said they didn’t like me anymore.
Despite your words, I learned a long time ago
That you can’t lose at something if you walk away from it first.

And then I went to college in the far far away land of Dreams Come True
Everyone there believed the only obstacle in the way of the future is you.
They gave their money, time, ankles, and appetites because they knew
That with determination you could do anything you put your mind to.

These are the kids who really do become president,
The ones who are not lying when they say they danced on Broadway,
And they amaze me, mama.
They are so driven…
They actually finish what they start.
These kids know what it means to follow your heart.
And I wish I was more like them.
They are even crazy beautiful that once in a blue moon
When one of their brave hearts gets broken.

But I’ll tell you…
At those moments, I am absolutely speechless.
When a damn good dancer gets arthritis in her knees…
When a dad loses his job and an honor student has to leave…
When a family casualty causes a loss of focus and decline in grades
And the best little actor has to leave far far away
And re-enter that ugly place that we call the Real World…
When that happens, what do you say?

And the only thing I can say as I hold a crying friend in my arms is:
Baby, you better keep reaching for the stars.
Don’t let this keep you from following your heart…

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things I'm Looking Into

Reading more: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, something about Marcus Garvey, maybe Roots, and some fun stuff too.

Lupe Fiasco's Lasers thing. It looks like it wants to be a movement, but for now it's just Twitter and Lupe's music leaks. I want to move it.

Hip hop: Lupe, dead prez, Talib Kweli, Public Enemy, NWA, T.I.

Doing MY OWN thing. I want Jari Askins to be Governor, but I need to stop trying to intern in her office, because the movement of my people is bigger that her campaign office. I want to volunteer for her campaign, but I don't want to be responsible to them.

Go natural again?
My friend Vineasa chopped off all of her hair, and she is beautiful. Maybe when I lose 30 pounds.
I've been saying that for a while, but I am going to the gym right now, so it might happen this time.

Forward movement.
Check this out:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Senior Alpha Chi Omega: What I Would have Said at Omega Fireside

First: leaving OCU before senior year was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Mostly because I knew I'd be leaving all of you. I knew I'd be missing the laughs, the struggles, the beauty, the ritual, the t-shirts, the meetings, the photos. That was my life for three years and I love this organization so much.

Second: I know I promised I would visit a lot this year and I haven't really visited at all. I am very sorry. There are no real excuses for this other than work (I took a position all of the sudden that left me with no free time) and fear. I was told that I was an alum, not a collegiate member and as such I was supposed to behave like an alum. I understand this mandate. It is based in fact and in preservation of the order of the group. But I realized at Homecoming that I didn't want to be an alum. I wanted to be a member still, even if I didn't go to the same school. I wanted to wear letters and take photos and hang out and participate, but I didn't want to anger anyone by over-stepping my boundaries. Hence, Alpha Chi became something I missed everyday, rather than something I could participate in sometimes. Please hear what I say (or write) rather than focusing on what I do. I Facebook stalked you guys ALL THE TIME because I miss you so much. I talked you guys up at UCO since they don't have a chapter. Y'all were always in my heart and on my mind even if I did a bad job of showing it.

Third: You are all so talented and beautiful. I ask two things: 1) keep doing you and 2) don't take Alpha Chi for granted. This chapter is an asset to Greek Life at OCU and to the national organization on so many levels (most importantly in my mind: our dedication to class and hard work and our pride in our organizations ritual and tradition). Continue to excel in those areas AND continue to find "new walls to break down and new ideas to replace them with" (Mona Lisa Smile quote). Keep seeking the heights! And always remember that there are girls who want what you have (each other, an organization dedicated at its core to excellence) and can't have it - either because they can't afford it, or because they don't go to the right school, or because their parents won't let them, or whatever. So treasure it everyday. Never miss an opportunity to spend time with sisters. These are the best days of your life and you WILL miss them when they are gone. Especially if they are taken from you before you expected it.

Fourth: so much of who I am as a person I owe to my experience at Gamma Tau. You all taught me how to love beyond differences. You taught me how to fight fair, and when not to fight at all. You taught me when to keep my mouth shut and when to speak up. And you gave me some of my best friends (Big, Bestie ;-)).  You taught me how to let people walk their own path. You made me into a Real. Strong. Woman.

Thank you,
I still miss you,
Love ITB,
Najah, Fall 2006 PC

ENG 2653: Writing Techniques

In reading Virginia Woolfe's Mrs. Dalloway, the question was asked: what's the relationship between stream of consciousness writing and psychological realism?

In my answer I discussed what Wiki described of psychological realism in Henry James and Edith Wharton novels.

It made me think of my American Literature course when we read James's Turn of the Screw and analyzed the mindset of the nanny. Is she plain crazy, making up things, and then abusing kids? Is she crazy because she was abused as a child? Is there really a ghost? How brilliant James was to get us into her head that way.

In the same class we read Wharton's House of Mirth. Could the relationship between Lily and Selden have worked? Is Lily shallow? Is Selden a coward? That story was fascinating because we were in the characters' heads enough to wonder about their deep psychological processes, but we were still outside them to the extent that there were several questions and very few answers.

I find these authors brilliant (Woolfe is a bit too extravagant for me - as the British are known to be) in their ability to use third-person narratives to get the audience inside the characters.
A character doesn't have to be relate-able if we can see what they are thinking. That's the difference, I think, between a third person stream of consciousness novel and a first person account. Both are tied for my favorite literary style.

Quotes I loved from the story:
"She would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day. Not that she thought herself clever, or much out of the ordinary. How she had got through life on the few twigs of knowledge Fräulein Daniels gave them she could not think. She knew nothing; no language, no history; she scarcely read a book now, except memoirs in bed; and yet to her it was absolutely absorbing; all this; the cabs passing; and she would not say of Peter, she would not say of herself, I am this, I am that."

"Her only gift was knowing people almost by instinct, she thought"

"...what she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; the fat lady in the cab."

"What was she trying to recover? Did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?"

"How much she wanted it—that people should look pleased as she came in, Clarissa thought and turned and walked back towards Bond Street, annoyed, because it was silly to have other reasons for doing things..."

"...thank you, thank you, she went on saying in gratitude to her servants generally for helping her to be like this, to be what she wanted, gentle, generous-hearted."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Searching While Trying Not to Search

My quest for an older, intelligent man who wants to have deep conversations and quiet nights buried in our books is fruitless. I just filled out the questionnaire for, and yet I refuse to pay subscription fees. That AND, I highly doubt that the type of man I want is on dating sites. He's too busy meeting pretty girls at museums and bookstores.

I wish I could get over it, but that guy whet my appetite for something that I never would have thought I really wanted. But I do. Badly.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

ENG 2653: Poetry vs. Prose

Much of the literature we've read in this course (and much of what is read in ENG 2543) is poetry rather than prose.  When I studied American Literature, it started with poetry but that trend ebbed and gave birth to prose earlier than it did in England.  For example, the American Romantics (save Whitman) are famous for their essays and non-fiction, not for their poetry.  Blake, Wordsworth, and Keats wrote essays, but we still read their poetry first.

As a modern-day writer of both poetry and prose, and as someone who wants to make a career out of teaching English (and coaching poets), I am concerned by students' lack of enthusiasm - and sometimes outright disdain - for poetry.  I wonder if students' attitude toward the genre in correlative to the lessened frequency of it today.  The most famous living poets I can think of: Ted Kuzer, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Mary Oliver are names that only poets know while prose writers Stephen King, Dan Brown, Jodi Piccoult, and Nicholas Sparks are much more common names.

Was the shift from poetry to prose purposeful or coincidental?
Wiki defines Poetry as is "a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning."  Might this indicate that poetry went out of style with Romanticism and the rise of Realism, where people wanted "apparent meaning" and reality? They were look away from emotion to reason.
I'm sure another reason poetry waned was because the modern novel was born.  Narratives have always been more readily understood than symbolic language and metaphor.  Prose tend to be narrative and when they are not, they are moreso written in "plain" language that the ambiguity that often characterizes poetry. 

Taking It In Stride

I miss his brain. so. much.

There was a guy. He doesn't exist in my world anymore. For once, I think I really hurt his feelings too (not just he mine).
Long story short: I came on too strong (damn my driver personality sometimes). He hinted at being just friends. I am bad at backtracking and kept pushing. He called me out on it. I got defensive. He got defensive. I got pissed and said mean things. We're not even friends on FB anymore.

To an extent that needed to happen, because I would not have backed off if he hadn't MADE me. I want what I want when I want it.
But I am sad, because I over-reacted. If I had been calmer about the situation, we might be able to still share thoughts and that's what I wanted. That's what I liked about him to begin with.

He was an English undergrad and is getting a master's in library science and instructional technology.  SO SMART. And I loved knowing that if I wanted to talk about something nerdy he would get it. I used to fantasize about homework parties.
I know, that's ridiculous. 

I'm sad that we couldn't be friends. I'm not trying to shirk blame for flying off the handle, but I really think it's for the best because I would have continued to try to start something if things hadn't gone the way they did.

So, who wants to help me find an older, mature, intellectual type who is avant garde, likes my strong will and my opinions, and appreciates art? 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Short Arms - NaPoWriMo #4

Here I stand for all time
Arms extended wide of my body, fingertips reaching,
heart open, chest heaving,
All seven eyes open, seeing clearly

I see the tear-stained homework
as you continue to write and erase and rewrite
because turning your assignment in late won't make him change

I see the demons that taunt you while you sleep,
ghosts of lovers come and gone,
dreams of things you couldn't be because you're smarter than the average sheep

I see the bruise behind your newly cut bangs,
the one he gave because you fell asleep at his mother's dinner table,
exhausted by school, your job, and the baby
you haven't told him you're carrying beneath your heart

I see the bones of your ribcage
and beyond that I feel the insecurity they cause.
I feel you withdraw from the friendship you claim you need so desperately

But this should be easy
Stop pulling away
My arms are so tired, but I AM HERE TO STAY
This should be natural
All you have to do is receive

I see the muscles in your back clench
from too many successive hours spent bent over your work bench.
The work you produce is lovely
but beneath the ink, I see your fear of being a failure like him

I see the blood on the bed sheets
It's been four years and your body has healed
but I go there with you whenever your mind remembers the feel of stranger taking future

I see all of your scars and your flaws
I see your heart wishing to advance
and your mind deciding to withdraw
But you don't need to be seen...

You need someone you can trust
to place her hand where the blood used to be and chant songs of healing

You need someone to take the pen,
put it to your breastbone and engrave the word "free"

You need gentle fingertips
to press delicate foods between your rarely parted lips and tell you it's okay to relax

This should be easy
Please stop retreating
My arms are short,

You need a hand
gently brushing your hair back while you sleep in peace that passes all understanding

You need to be touched
in that place between wakefulness and your dreams
so you can see the angel asking your permission to fight back the demons

You need a pat on the back so you know
there's nothing enlightened about resenting growth

This should feel better
Here I stand
Hands out, heart open,
doing the very best I can
All eyes seeing,
all muscles reaching
But I can't be there for you if you insist on leaving

I've been writing them in a notebook, not typing them, but this one is so much a piece of my heart broken off and passed out to the world that I needed y'all to see it as soon as possible.
The other three have the same theme. Apparently I am really eaten up about the state of the world.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

ENG 2653: Victorianism As it Relates to America

(Dr. Hochenauer: I used this week's prompt as a starting point for my blog. I used this blue for the parts that I added to what was posted in the discussion board so you can clearly see the difference between what is repetition and what is new.)

This week we looked at Victorian literature. Our professor gave us a link to the Victorian web and asked us if the article changed our perception of the Victorian era. My response was this: I didn’t come into this as one to bash the Victorians. I find them fascinating. An era known, as the article stated, for being “prudish” and “repressed” must have had so many layers. This article did, however, enlighten me to some of those layers.

I didn’t know that “In literature and the other arts, the Victorians attempted to combine Romantic emphases upon self, emotion, and imagination with Neoclassical ones upon the public role of art and a corollary responsibility of the artist.” But this reminds me of Kate Chopin who wrote in America during the English Victorian Age. I wrote a paper last year titled "Waking Up to Fight the System" about Chopin's famous work, The Awakening. I called her work, a "text bordering on Romanticism and patriarchy, a text that sees the struggle between the two and seeks to create a bridge firm enough to cross over on. ... it also praises an ideology that allows room for the creative person to go through their processes without hesitation. Chopin and her heroine are both fighting social norms and trying to create a new life for themselves as women and as artists. The odds are against them on both fronts." I later reference Kathryn Lee Seidel's article which claims that Chopin's protagonist's “art follows the Byronesque conceptualization of the artist as alienated and alone” (Seidel, 233-4). "The ’torture’ of creativity, this knowing what is expected of you but feeling an irresistible pull to subvert it, is what drives" the protagonist to the novel's climactic crisis (Seidel qtd. Carole Stone, 234). I talk about how there should be a community for artists (there is now, but wasn't during the Victorian age in England nor America), and the lack thereof is the downfall of Chopin's protagonist.

I love this correlation from the Victorian Web: “Victorian, in other words, can be taken to mean parent of the modern -- and like most powerful parents, it provoked a powerful reaction against itself.” It seems the perfect description.

“what makes Victorians Victorian is their sense of social responsibility, a basic attitude that obviously differentiates them from their immediate predecessors, the Romantics” (Victorian Web).  I am a proponent of the Romantics, so I hate to think of them as socially irresponsible. But as I alluded to before, I can see how the “bad” behavior of many – namely Romantic writers Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron (who had illegitimate children, slept with each other's spouses and spouses' siblings, and who loved to drink and misbehave [gross generalizations based on bios from a class taken last year])  – can be attributed to a lack of care for the social example you are setting. It makes sense that repressing your urges to act up or act out preserves the order of the group. I can see it.
But the Romantics cared more about what they individually wanted than what message they were sending to society. And this goes back to the notion in the Romanticism post (which I haven't posted yet) of self-government and a society where the self was valued like the whole group.  According to the Victorian article, Victorians selflessly sacrifice their whims for society, not doing or saying what might set an example for bad behavior.  This is great; but the Romantics - the American Romantics at least in my knowledge - assumed that each man should live by his own moral code regardless of what those around him did (Emerson, Self-Reliance).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My 10-year Life Plan

To do before I officially enact this plan: move into an apartment with a roommate. 
Application in, lease to sign and pro-rated rent to pay, move in starts April 30.

This year:
-lose 20 pounds or more
-keep up with all my big kid bills

One Year: By Dec. 31, 2011 (23 y/o):
-graduate with a B.A. in English Education and a minor in Spanish
-continue working at BABW and saving money
-keep my life balanced so that my hair stops falling out from stress

Two Years: Spring/Summer 2012 (24 y/o):
-maintain good financial standing
-work at BABW while looking for a teaching job for the fall
-write Lamarr's book (and some other things)
-do primary and secondary research for hearOKC
-start teaching
-get my own place with no roommate

Three Years: Spring/Summer 2013 (25 y/o):
-go to DC for (Pres. Obama's second ;-)) inauguration
-continue to write and research
- have great savings so that I can travel

Six Years: Spring/Summer 2016 (28 y/o):
-be financially stable
-keep writing and researching
-start the Oklahoma youth poetry slams 

Seven Years: Spring/Summer 2017 (29 y/o):
-start graduate school
-take a team to the Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam Festival 

Ten Years: Spring/Summer 2020 (32 y/o):
-have a master's (don't know in what yet)
-have some good writing under my belt

These are the things that need to get done in ten years, in that order. But if I'm awesome and can do them faster then mad props to me.

Edits in light pink.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Help Me Help Myself

I should be doing homework, and I'm going to sleep as soon I finish this, but I'm doing this because blogging makes me happy and the lack of happy things in my life is why I eat my emotions and my hair is falling out.

Here's the deal.
My whole life is work.  Gubernatorial campaign = work. Build-A-Bear WORKshop. Being an education major = work.  This is not to say that I don't love my jobs. I do love them. But a body can only handle so much.  I rarely hang out. I'm only available at night when everyone else is studying or sleeping like I should be.  So what I need to de-stress is time to do something good for my body, relaxing for my mind, and WITH OTHER PEOPLE. 

Here's where you come in.
I've already decided that I am going to start doing yoga on Tuesday nights again. I like Art of Yoga in the Paseo. Something like $50 for five sessions. Good prices and the teachers are great. If you want to join I'd love to sweat and stretch next to you at 5:30 on Tuesdays (there's a beginner's rate, don't remember what it is. Just call them).
But I need some more activities. I'm available most Thursday afternoons and evenings, Saturday and Sunday mornings. I get up at 9:30 so I can do something starting about 10:30. I know that's difficult for some of you church-goers. But I would like to walk around Lake Hefner (or a park somewhere) with a buddy. I would like to play sand volleyball with a group of buddies. I'd like to make a t-shirt quilt, or go to the museum. 
If any of these activities strikes your fancy leave me a comment, give me a call; we'll do it. Promise.

Help me help myself. I like my hair. I don't want it to fall out due to stress. I am pretty good company. Some people think I'm funny. Be my friend. Hang out with me so I won't be lonely.

Thank you for reading. Hope to hear from you soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

P4L: The Breakdown

Passion, desire, motivation, love, inspiration
None of these words describe anything tangible. They describe feelings or emotions.

Some people go through life doing what needs to be done without really engaging their emotions - without being worried about how they feel about things.  In the public sphere we are encouraged to use the word "think" and never "feel", we are taught that emotions are nothing, that actions/rationale are everything. 

Lamarr Womble branded his concept on purpose. Passion - the feeling - for Leadership - the action - is the intersection between the ethereal and the practical. It is the heart's way to the head, and the head's way to balance the heart.  Don't think for a moment that passion is all fluff and fancy with no concrete necessity or basis.  And don't be fooled into the belief that you can lead successfully (for very long) if you are not passionate.

As co-author to this book and someone who lives her life by its philosophy, I know this concept through and through.  Allow me to give you a piece of advice, before you embark on the journey that is passionate living. Open both your mind and your heart to these ideas; experience this on a practical and an emotional level.

When I first heard the P4L concept at a conference when I was a junior in college, I experienced it on an emotional level because my life had been overrun by the practical. I was in five or more extracurricular organizations, taking 16 hours of classwork, work 2.5  jobs, and having panic attacks. I was spread too thin. It wasn't, as a poet I know wrote, "what I loved but what I felt I was supposed to do" (Colin Gilbert, "Desert of Words").  After hearing that I didn't have to reinvent the wheel, and not everything requires a degree, and I didn't have to (and shouldn't!) quit my day job to develop my "side hustle", I was near tears with relief.  A leader has to hustle, but if she is resourceful, and if she's hustling for what she really wants then it won't feel as hard - and it won't cause panic attacks!  Here's the challenge: If you tend to shut off your emotions and focus solely on action - let this book appeal to your feelings, your heart.  Read it all in a short amount of time, don't dog-ear pages or make notes or use a highlighter.  Don't study it, just receive.  And once you've let the initial impact settle (a week or more) then go back through and pull out the more practical elements.  If you tend to never look at the practical and focus solely on the way you feel - let this book teach you that practicality doesn't have to be dispassionate.  Take this book slowly and in small bites: one chapter a week with a highlighter and a pencil. 

Lamarr hit the bull's eye with this. It will change your life - not just your collegiate career or your job search, but your whole life - if you let it.

Happy reading, passionate living, effective leading!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hope and Desire and Freedom

There is so much going on right now. I'm going on vacation tomorrow, but I'm overwhelmed by the things that will be facing me when I come back.

School - I have another research paper coming up. I have a new class starting.
I need to figure out my summer classes and plan my summer schedule. I need to decide when I'm graduating and what I'm doing with my life. 

Build-A-Bear - I need to write down some Spanish phrases to better serve our clientele. I need to brainstorm some training methods. I need to schedule some training time. I need to update our calendar.

Classen SAS - I need to spend 30 hours there before April 16th.

OSGA - I need to write a script for our promotional video and finish editing/send out the minutes from the last meeting. I need to contact a guy about the website.

hearOKC/art - I need to schedule in time to brainstorm, blog, edit my previous writings, and talk to people about the movement.

I've never really liked how it is decided who has to do what in order to "pay their dues" to a concept.  You have to be the leader of however many organizations in high school to be eligible for certain scholarship programs in college. Regardless of your willingness to do what it takes starting now.  You have to win local competitions and do local shows before you can get big roles in the performance world. Regardless of how good you are and whether you're perfect for the job. You have to be a reporter before you can be a columnist before you can be an editor. Regardless of the fact that you're better at opinion writing and better at editing than reporting.
I understand why you have do certain things and get experience before you can do other things...but I feel like oftentimes, the process of those experiential things takes the love of the bigger projects away.

I want to make contacts in the poetry world but I have to slam first. I don't want to slam. But supposedly I need that experience before I can have the right perspective for other things.

It's just frustrating.

In other news, what the hell is going on with my life? At Levey's wedding, I was single and not really trying to mingle.  I have so many things I want to do with my life that I don't want to have to think about a relationship. I have codependent tendencies, so thinking about the potentiality of a relationship messes with my mojo. And I'm a bit of a control freak who likes to only have my wants and needs to worry about. For better or worse, there was (is?) a situation with a guy who seemed like a great catch - smart, funny, older, far away, self-reliant, focused.  The problem is: I am VERY easily distracted, and very quickly attached to ideas. So I spent all this time thinking about all of the potential goodness and how that might or might not affect my future plans. And now it looks like it has fizzled out before it really got started.
The moral of the story is: for a month I've been really excited about something that was not in my 3-year plan. I considered how I'd be willing to change my 3-year plan. I forgot about small parts of the 3-year plan that impact the 5-year plan and the 10-year plan.  And now I'm back to the place where a potential relationship isn't in the forecast. I kind of feel like I wasted a lot of mental energy this month and I am worried that every time a guy shows an interest I'm going to do the same thing. 

Is it selfish to not amend your thinking regardless of who comes into your life? I.e. if I were to assume that a relationship couldn't go anywhere (except the bedroom) because my 3-year plan needs focus, would I be driving away a good guy because I'm not flexible? Or is the right guy a guy who thinks, "It's awesome that you have this plan for your life. Don't worry about me. Just fit me in where you can"? Or should I do what I did, have an alternative plan for my life if I'm with someone?

I guess it really comes down to hope and desire and freedom.  Do I hope for a relationship, or do I hope to be "a movement by myself"? Do I desire the things that I know I can accomplish on my own, or do I desire the things that require partnership? I am free to choose. In the freedom lies the tension.