World Poetry Day

We’re all drinking shitty coffee waiting

Something’s happening that’s liberating

Wind that’s captured in our mouths and jars

Wishes falling flat before the stars.

 

We’re all drinking shitty coffee yearning

Wishing that repeating words meant learning

Teaching running kids the alphabet

We ain’t outrun tomorrow’s sunset yet.

 

Got the dress, we got the carbon rock

Call you California four o’clock

Wake up, seen it all, get out of town

No time left to start your breaking down.

 

Shovel in the dirt, dirt in the sky

Magni-quanti-puri-justi-fy

We’re all drinking shitty coffee thinking

We may be in a lifeboat, but it’s sinking.

April: Creative writing

Anyone interested in a month of creativity?

I signed up for the A to Z challenge, which means a blog post every day in April, not counting Sundays. Each day is themed after a letter in the alphabet, so April 1 is A, April 2 is B, and so on.

I was just going to continue with the Playground style of just writing what happens in life, but I was a bit worried about those days when nothing interesting happens, or all of the things happening in April ruining my flow. So I thought, why not do it a bit differently for April? Something I can plan ahead for, something that can keep it fresh and add a bit of flavor.

So I think I’ll write a bit of fiction every day, based on the letter. They won’t be very long, or even particularly stories–some may very well be just scenes. But I wanted to post some fiction here since I created the blog, and this gives me a chance to do so.

And don’t worry, if something comes up I’ll do an additional post that day as well as the A to Z challenge. Sundays will be the same, and things will be back to normal in May (or earlier, if I mess up the challenge).

I know it’s a bit of a change, but I need to get my creative juices flowing again, and with the travel I’ll be doing in six months and the journalism venture I’m on now that ends in June, I figured this blog is already going to go through phases. Just like life.

I’m excited to share April with you:)

 

Comforting Moon (Guest Post)

My boyfriend Colin is on a study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico. An introvert himself, he wrote this guest post about how being in Mexico gave him the confidence and drive to connect with people he normally wouldn’t have.

If you like this guest post, please leave a comment or email Colin at crugg129@gmail.com. He’s thinking about starting his own blog, so any feedback will be welcome. Enjoy!

Comforting Moon

When you look at the stars you can forget where you are. You can look up past the stars into the darkness, the same midnight blue around the world, and be comforted. That is, until the little differences start to build up, the new constellations or the angle of the moon, and again you feel alone.

In Oaxaca, Mexico, the moon waxes vertically, so that all I can see is an ever-thickening canoe, distinct from the classic DreamWorks chair. The people here eat chapulines (grasshoppers), put ketchup in their beer, and consistently arrive at least a half-hour late for any scheduled meeting. The worst cultural quirk one has to overcome is the infuriating habit people here have, upon being asked for directions, of instructing you on an imaginary pathway when they have never heard of the place you are seeking, all for the purpose of being polite. These are the small differences that weigh on you. Nothing revolutionary, but enough to weigh you down and make you question why you came: culture shock.

How do you overcome it? For me it was the simple act of discussion. When you talk to a Oaxacan beyond the obligatory “tell me about Oaxaca,” they rarely discuss the subtleties of munching on a cricket or the need to throw toilet paper in a trashcan so as to not clog the toilet. These are things that they do, not things that they are, just as Americans are a bit more complex than cheese-whiz, to-go coffee, and a bizarre desire to flaunt red, white, and blue.

When you talk to a Oaxacan, they often cease to be a Oaxacan to become a person. My host mother in the city, Martha, likes to travel and loves to tell stories about her children. My Spanish teacher, Miguel, studied geology for a semester in Oregon, and when his girlfriend at the time broke up with him his roommate helped him to discover Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. When you look past all the little differences, the customs that mean hardly anything, the placement of the stars, you realize that we are all the same. The comfort of a familiar midnight blue is the comfort of a shared humanity.

So then why do we travel? Why did I go far from home, learn a new language, and waste money to talk to people who are deep down the same as people back home in the Northeastern United States? After much thought, it can be put simply: to gain new perspectives. When you have to learn a new language, you not only have to work hard to be understood, but you also have to talk to strangers. People you would never have spoken to otherwise. You have to look for that deep blue sky somewhere under the new words and alien accent, because you’ll never learn French by talking to a Frenchman. Only from a person who speaks French. So now, I, the same boy who never raised his hand in class and murmured awkwardly as classmates introduced themselves to me, have begun to initiate conversations with complete strangers. I can talk about myself, not for myself but to connect with someone else and feel the humanity that they share with me. I can only hope that upon returning to my English-speaking homeland that this new perspective holds. Everyone is more than just their title. A brief connection can help you forget the strange angle of the moon.

Human Culture Shock

Today my friend from high school is coming to stay the night, since he’s on spring break and I don’t have class on Fridays. I’m a little nervous about it. Sure, we’re friends, but we’re usually in a group. Also, I haven’t seen him since December. Are we the kind of friends than can click back in place after so long, without anyone else? I guess we’re about to find out.

Human culture shock is a term I use to describe the feeling of seeing someone again for the first time in a long time. If you’re super familiar with their “culture” as a person, like with your parent or sibling, no shock happens, but the less familiar you are with them, coupled with how long you’ve spent apart, the more shock you get. When I run into someone I haven’t seen in awhile who falls under the “shockable” threshold, I usually find myself in a constant state of awe. I like hearing their voice again, seeing their little mannerisms, remembering where their freckles are and how they walk and laugh. But it’s always a bit nerve wracking, too.

The small talk factor is always terrible, naturally. But also, I can’t help but feel like I’m being sized up. Who won? Since we saw each other last, who is doing better? Who’s gotten hotter, or less attractive? Who got their hair cut, who’s in a relationship? Who still dresses like they’re in middle school? We’re both judging each other to a point, whether consciously or not.

Woes of an introvert…

I don’t know how much of this is going to happen with my friend tonight. Probably not much. It’s the awkwardness I’m more afraid of. Going from never seeing him for three months to seeing him for nearly 24 hours straight might be a lot to handle.

I also feel this way about family gatherings. Who knows how to act around people you don’t know that well, even if you once knew them perfectly?

I think I just have to relax. After all, we used to be such good friends, and all culture shock, human or otherwise, fades away eventually. We’re adaptable creatures, and nothing stays awkward for too long.

The Breath of a Church Organ

Today I conducted an interview from inside a church organ. The man who restored the 130+ year old organ with his father explained how the air flowed through the reservoir and into the pipes. We sat in a space below and behind these pipes, hidden from view, studying the enormous inner workings of the beautiful instrument. His father sat at the console, pressed the keys, and I was instantly surrounded by music.

Inside the womb of the organ, I could see the whole thing breathe as it created the sound that filled the church. The reservoir was like a lung, sucking in pressurized air and deflating as it exhaled into the pipes. The pipes—over a thousand of them—were like long metallic necks, stretching up like herons.

I could have stayed there forever. I probably would have gone deaf eventually, but honestly, I could have stayed there forever. I wrote notes leaning on the reservoir, and it was like my notebook was floating. The wall behind me vibrated with the lower pipes. The chimes, dangling from the opposite wall, sang along with the mingling chords. I could see it all happening. I could hear it all happening. It was alive, and so was I.

On the way home, singing to the radio, I thought about how my body was like an organ. I had lungs pushing air out my throat, making my vocal chords vibrate and sing. An organ is like a part of the body. Perhaps that’s why it’s called an “organ.”

I am on the Seeds 4 Life!

It Does Not Matter Where You Are Coming From. All That Matters Is Where You Are Going.

Check out my guest post on the Seeds 4 Life:

It Does Not Matter Where You Are Coming From. All That Matters Is Where You Are Going – Brian Tracy

The Infinity Dreams Award

First, I’d like to thank ObserveAndReview for nominating me for this.

Here we go!

  1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you. (done)
  2. List 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers and set 11 questions for them.

———-

The Facts:

  1. I put a lot of sugar in my coffee. Caramel swirl, extra sugar, and cream. Coffee is a dessert for me!
  2. I love driving, and I would do all the driving for a road trip if I ever went on one.
  3. I love Sherlock, but don’t talk about it much because Sherlock fans are sometimes a bit much.
  4. Once I held a baby alligator so. That’s fun.
  5. I love the sound of high heels on a hard surface.
  6. I’m very particular in my choice of writing utensil.
  7. I’ve written 4 novels, published zero.
  8. I know the entirety of “Hiphopamotamus vs. Rhymenocerous.
  9. I like when you order water at a restaurant and they give you a black straw. I don’t know, it just looks cool.
  10. I’ve been puked on by every baby in my family.
  11. I have not puked on any baby in my family.

———-

The Questions:

  1. If you could give eleven year old you some advice, what would it be? Being popular actually isn’t fun at all. Opt out and find your real friends before high school.
  2. Can you name all fifty states? This can be a simple yes, no or I wish. Yep.
  3. If your partner (future or current) was to surprise you with a gift, what would you want? Food! Food is the best present.
  4. Are you a cat person, a dog person, a mix or neither? Like, both or neither? I’m pretty neutral to pets.
  5. If you could play any character from any book, who would you want to be? Probs Katniss, cause I do archery and I can’t think of anything more creative.
  6. Who is your fashion icon? Queen Elizabeth II, current form.
  7. If you could have a first edition of any book, which would it be? The Bible. I’m not religious, but imagine how interesting that would be?
  8. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? Ulysses…maybe if it was the only book in existence I could get myself to read it.
  9. Do you have a reading position? Or are you a constant wriggler? Constant wriggler.
  10. Are you a specific and detailed reader who will re-read pages until it sinks in? Nope, I speed through. Let it wash over me.
  11. What book are you currently reading/what is the last book you read? Life of Pi!

The Questions I want you to Answer:

  1. What is your favorite coffee like?
  2. Describe a poster or artwork you own.
  3. Do you have an accent people sometimes make fun of? What is it?
  4. Craziest story about food-gone-wrong that you know?
  5. What is something that made you believe in ghosts/aliens/etc. for a second?
  6. Last time you set foot on a stage, it was for…?
  7. Do you read comics? Which ones?
  8. Have you ever painted your nails? Favorite color?
  9. What makes you mad?
  10. What’s your ideal Chipotle meal (hold the norovirus)?
  11. Do you crack your knuckles? How impressive is your cracking?

———-

I nominate the last 11 blogs who followed me:

  1. Swaangriffith
  2. Nick Overton
  3. Charles
  4. LEON KWASI CHRONICLES
  5. belikewaterproduction
  6. sppwilliams
  7. strugglingstudentsite
  8. dbreeden
  9. Zeina
  10. davekingsbury
  11. chiiaraapinna

Rock on, lovelies.

Missing Community II: Coffee jitters

It’s daylight savings time here in the US, which means we suddenly “spring forward” one hour, putting the entire country (except a few lucky abstaining states, like Arizona) into mild jet lag. My work is giving out free coffee all day. I’m on my second cup. I never have a second cup!

The coffee isn’t great. It tastes like a mix between chocolate-coated beef jerky and nail polish remover, but it gets the job done, and hey, it’s free. Besides, I run on Dunkin’, so my opinions on good coffee are pretty moot.

I recently wrote about how I meet the community feel of high school. Going through daylight savings, surprisingly, made it feel like I was in a community of sorts again. Everybody was tired at the same time, complaining about the same thing, guzzling caffeine and wanting to go home. In many ways, it was just like high school.

Probably the most important part of a community is having something to fight for—and something to fight against. Having a common enemy makes people work together. I didn’t like a lot of people in drama club, but after a successful show we might as well have been family, crying and hugging, sharing the love. When I was at competitions with the orchestra, we banded together like the goddamn Avengers, one-liners and all. It feels great to all be in agreement, to all feel the same thing at the same time, and to know you are all working together for one goal.

I guess to feel community you have to face a challenge in a group. That makes sense. Fighting, together. Struggling, together.

Today, the struggle is against the temptation to go home and sleep, but no matter the battle, we are in it together. We can complain together, we can fuel up together, and we can celebrate together at the stroke of 5.

Who knew sleep-deprivation and being miserable would help me feel so much better?

“You’re Rey!”

When you’re playing Star Wars with a couple toddlers, it’s no fun to play Leia.

My two cousins, four year old Anthony and two year old Nicholas, cousins are absolutely obsessed with Star Wars. Nicky, at 2, knew the sounds of R2D2 and ewoks before he know what a cat said. Anthony, at 4, knows all the movies and even some deeper lore, like why lightsabers are different colors. He even has his own theories about how *Force Awakens Spoilers! Spoilers are throughout this piece, actually* Luke ended up with such a crazy robot hand.

Since Anthony could walk and talk he’s been telling me that “my lack of faith disturbs him” while pretending to choke me from across the dinner table.  They went as mini Chewbacca and mini Vader for Halloween, and after seeing The Force Awakens they were little balls of energy, screaming with wide eyes about how Han was dead and how Finn is dead and how cool Rey is.

I am so glad Rey exists, and I am so glad she is cool.

Nicky and Anthony have great parents and they know it’s okay to be girls. They know girls are not any lamer than boys—but they want to stay true to the plot of Star Wars, and Leia doesn’t use a lightsaber.

Leia had a personality, unlike most female roles at the time, and was a pretty good fighter, often saving the men as often as they had to save her. Not only that, but she was shown as being brilliant, caring, tough, and fiercely independent.  But…she doesn’t use a lightsaber.

I could just play someone else, to use a lightsaber, right? I mean, I don’t have to play Leia. Unfortunately, prior to The Force Awakens there was only one other prominent female character, and who wants to play Padme? My cousins are pretty smart, but couldn’t quite wrap their heads around me playing a male character.

Except Chewbacca, for some reason.

I was overjoyed by Rey’s existence for a million reasons, but I didn’t realize how it would affect playtime until today, when I picked up a toy lightsaber and began play fighting with them. My cousin Anthony gasped and pointed at me all excited.

“You’re Rey!” he shouted.

I was excited about this, even at my age, and here’s why:

Naturally, I didn’t care too much about playing Leia, boring as she was. I mean, I’m an adult. But that one moment made me realize how different elementary school recess would have been if The Force Awakens came out when I was a kid. Or if Frozen did, or The Hunger Games. I was okay with playing Hermione, but she never got to face off against Voldemort. I was okay with playing Powerpuff Girls, but then none of my male friends could play with us.

I realized, as I faced off against 4-year-old Kylo Ren and 2-year-old Darth Vader, that representation in media mattered even more than I thought it did. The kids loved Rey. They thought she was really cool. Plus, now they could see their cousin as a person who can be a hero, not just a side character. They can put me on the same field as their male role models. In fact, Rey could help them realize that all women can be heroes.

I could see kids on playgrounds across the country—girls being Rey, boys being Luke, both able to use lightsabers without a problem.

I knew representation in media for all races and genders was important forever—hell, I did a 10-page paper on superheroes-of-color—but seeing it in practice, even in such a small way, had a huge impact. I only wish I had a young girl cousin to play Star Wars with, because I know Rey must be affecting young girls even more. After all, I’m sure I’m not the only girl who was stuck on the sidelines playing Leia.

Girls, the force may have been “with us” since the seventies, but now we get to use it.