Dichotomy

I was told once that I am a dichotomy. Ok, perhaps I wasn’t told so much as a website dedicated to analyzing ones stars calculated my birthday and gave me the statement. Dichotomy. And I grabbed onto this flimsy web-generated statement and really tried to wrap my mind around the fact that this may be the best way to describe my in-definitive self.

I am a dichotomy in all that I do –

In dress I am both bohemian and urban, in reading I am high fantasy and southern African-American Lit, and in writing I am both a prose writer as well as a poet. In life I am an artist, but I am also a teacher.

Believing all of these elements to be beautiful isn’t my problem. My problem is balance. I often allow one part to take-over while the other lies dormant. It’s as if I force all of these elements to become individual personalities and never allow them to co-exist. When I am a writer I find myself renouncing education, hating the tedious tasks of taking attendance and writing lesson plans. When I am a teacher, I allow myself no time to create. I keep myself divided by locking up all of my components into tiny compartments and releasing one at a time. But that’s yet another flaw of mine I am realizing, and reinventing.

Do you also have a time and a place for specific parts of you? The Church you vs. the work you, the quirky you vs. the refined? I suggest we all break down these barriers and stop categorizing the things we are comprised of so that we can comfortable be all of ourselves all of the time.

 

Salaam 1653680_10104231765849163_927721284_n

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A Musing Sunday…

16e4af00039011e3845f22000a9f3c3e_7There is something in the air this morning that must give me pause. A lingering scent, the quiet rumbling of a world not quite awake, the haze of a sunrise between swaying branches are all nudging me to smile to myself in grateful humility.

This tempest has brought many a torrential moment. Truths too dark to share, still. Though, they’re there, in the stories. Moments where I acted out of some horrific need to be noticed, to be the center of it all, regardless of what it required of me. I’ve gone to lengths to keep the light on me you’d never guess of your favorite villain.But isn’t it the best villains who make themselves appear the victim in order to become the victor? I digress…

It is said that we are born with a blank slate. I believe, instead, we are given canvases, and paint. Like many, I have a plethora of dark spots, moments of recklessness, selfishness , tests that were cheated on, papers written for money, wonderfully fabricated excuses, glorious rants, bitter responses, moments where i was the embodiment of gluttony, wrath, pride, and even envy. 

But through it all… I am learning, and growing, and changing. I am not saying that I am not longer that 5th grader who pretended to be sick to get out of class, or that 24 year old so full of anger and bitterness. I am still her, but now with lessons under her belt. With an understanding of how much I do not know, how far I still have to go, how unperfect I am. And what’s more, an understanding of how beautiful my own imperfections are, how magnificent my journey is. Every moment. The jazz on Burbon Street, the sidewalk chalk castle and pumpkin carriage illustration for a little girl, the realization of how right my mother can be, straddling a surfboard and taking in a sunset, dancing on my father’s toes, standing on a mountain with a family I spent half my life searching for, that inexplicable feeling i get when he looks at me and smiles, my mother and aunt’s tearful reunion after 25 plus years of separation, hugging my favorite professor before walking across the stage at graduation, the moments when Monic – my bulldog/pitbull mix – knew i needed a cuddle from him without a word spoken. It has been a beautiful journey for such an undeserving person and I am thankful I get the opportunity to be better to a world that has given me so much. 

Salaam Good People. e9fff720638811e3ae940e052fb5b447_8

Propellers

I have typically been the type of person whose entire day would go wrong if, say, I overcooked my morning bacon. Or sub my toe heading out the door. Recently I came across a few things that have helped propel me into this wonderful feeling that consists of equal parts freedom, love and confidence. 

1. Loving people.

I took my dog to the vet the other week and my mother and boyfriend came as well. My mother, being her typically bubbly self spoke to everyone as she walked in with her contagious smile. She greeted cats, humans, dogs with the same reverence and love and, as always joked like laughter was the ony thing that mattered in the world. When I went back to the vet to pic up a prescription, the girl behind the counter told me “You know, your mom is like the sweetest person ever. She’s like a little butterfly. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so wonderful before.”

And it’s true. My mom has only made enemies because she was too strong, or too beautiful. And I say enemies loosely, because my mother has never in her life hated anyone. Even when they did her wrong, she had the strength to let go. I have noticed more and more how I am NOT like my mother, but do wish to be. I am trying my best, now, to emulate her. WWMD? What would Mommy Do?

Overcooked bacon? Call it Cajun or blackened.

Stubbed toe? Kept you in the house an extra second as needed for the cosmic plan of your life.

2. The Alchemist.

I’ve never read anything like it. I know that’s what everyone says about it, but it is truly unique int he way that it is a piece of fiction that has the power to move and motivate you like nothing else in the world. In reading about Santiago’s travels, encounters and experiences we all can’t help but compare ourselves to him. Are we achieving our dreams? Are we accepting all that occurs – negative and positive – as incidents that will put us exactly where we need to be? If not, you’re not letting the Universe speak to you. God, your God, is speaking to you and you’re not listening. I am beginning to listen.

3. Joan Didion’s “On Self Respect”. 

So what if you’re an accident waiting to happen? Love and respect yourself for what you are. It’s not about anyone else’s approval. It’s about you. Are you confident enough to be who you are, flaws and all, to withstand any negativity thrown your way be others? It’s the single best essay I’ve ever read. I am not longer seeing myself through the lens of the world, but through my own. I appreciate my havoc-wreaking, dramatic, over indulgent self. And I respect myself enough to be honest with myself, and to take my own criticisms.

4. The January Issue of Real Simple.

This month’s issue of Real Simple includes so many goodies to help you balance your life. The article that hit home for me was “On an Even Keel”. It asks scientists the best ways to handle situations, i.e. someone messes up your order at the coffee shop. I have already put a couple of the tips to use, and lo and behold, positivity where I had not expected it. There’s also articles that help with finance and the only quote from post-College Drop out Kanye I’ll respect is “Having money’s not everything, not having it is”. Money issues can cause stress and you lose energy. To focus on what you love, get these things organized – your home, your money and your mind. This issue is the best magazine of its kind to be printed. From cover to cover you will feel like you’re getting great advice from a woman who has it all.

So whether you’re going to check these out or find the things that spark excitement in you, here’s hoping your new year is looking bright! 

writing…with an empty belly and cold coffee.

The f#$* am I doing in the afternoon, writing with no food in my belly and a cold cup of coffee? No. This is not how it is done. It is done in the dark of early morning. It is done so early, in fact, I am not yet hungry. And it is, without question or divergence, done with a hot cup of coffee. But it has not gotten me published. It has, however, had me provide excuse after excuse for why I do not write any other time, in any other condition. It has to change.

And so, THIS is what I am doing in the late afternoon after my class has ended and the students have driven me nearer to an aneurism and my morning coffee is borderline spoiled but after a cycle in the microwave was tepid and is now plain old cold. I am writing. I am writing about writing. I am channeling Salvador Elizondo, in hopes someone will channel me someday.

This is a cutting of the shackles, a declaration of independence from my formally dependent self – NO, exhaustion, no hunger, no bright lights that do not help with the ambiance you will not stop me from writing because, dag nabbit, I am the storyteller and I have stories to tell. I will write them, no matter the day, the time, the stressors or company. I am not only the master of my universe but countless others you have stopped me from creating. And create I will. I will write in classrooms on lunch break and in coffee shops late at night. I will write hungry, I will write cold I will write in the rain. Ok perhaps writing in the rain is not so very possible, but you get me. I will write when the dude next door decides his bachata needs to be loud enough to woo the big booty girl that walks down the other block, I will write when my favorite show comes on, I will write when I want to nap, because I have been sleeping on myself for too long, I have stories to tell and I will write them, Sam-I-Am.

Read what I write here. 58894_10102956627646343_934564824_n

What I should have said…

I am at a doubtful time in my life. I doubt whether or not I will ever be a wife and mother – something I’ve wanted since I was three. I doubt I’ll ever be able to set aside teaching and write full time. I doubt I have the ability to write full time. Hell, I doubt the sun rise in the morning, truth be told. So in this doubtful period, I – master of linguistics – have a hard time speaking. Really. I stumble, repeat myself and leave important things out.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting two of the most inspiring writers of our time – Nikki Giovanni and Junot Diaz. Needless to say, I didn’t get the right words out. As I floated around Ms. Giovanni while she was attempting to make it to her signing post, I was beside myself with the want to tell her everything. So of course, I told her nothing. I got some words out about her being my biggest muse (why do you think I go by Nikki the Muse?), told her my father introduced me to her stuff and some mumbo jumbo about my being a poet who gets off track into the world of fiction and well – hell- i don’t even know what I said and I could tell by her “I’m-too-sweet-to-tell-you-to-piss-off-you-no-sense-making-fool-of-a-girl-face” that I was talking too much. I took my signed book – which, in retrospect, I may have too comfortably placed in her hands to sign, and moped off.

Then I spotted Junot Diaz. Maaaaaaaan he so cool I forgot to tell him how cool he was. We had a brief chuckle over the fact that I was Black and Korean with a Pinoy name – Miami life – and he was super cordial and warm and gave me a hug and kiss, but I didn’t get a word to him.

As I sit at this laptop, at my desk in my classroom feeling that the walls are closing in on me, feeling as if I don’t write something and get published soon I’ll implode, I realize that though I didn’t want to say “hey, read my stuff” I did want to say the right thing.

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID:

Nikki, I mean, Ms. Giovanni,

I breathe your work. When I fall in the dream of love or find myself stirring as I wake from love it is your poetry that becomes my soundtrack. When I was 14 I read your stuff for the first time and thought, man oh man this is a Queen. I respect you, revere you even, for all that you are – militant, vibrant, and all that you are not – dull, conformed, and I have looked up to you like you are some dead white male writer – which, in the world of “respectable literature”, means a lot. I have dreamed of meeting you so often that they feel the reality, and this the fantasy. You showed me that a woman can be, hell, should be, sexy, strong, articulate, intelligent but not condescending and real – earth shatteringly real. And I love you for all you have given the world.

Meeting Junot Diaz at Miami Book Fair International

Meeting Junot Diaz at Miami Book Fair International

Junot, – I won’t say mister ’cause you seem like one of my boys –

You fly. You so fly. We can go down the colonial languages’ dictionary and find many, many words whose denotative definition can describe you but I’ll choose fly because we know that it’s a colloquialism that can hold so much more power than any fifteen syllable compliment. I regret not having read your stuff sooner, but I am a fan. Through and through, and I am inspired – not just to be a better writer, but more intelligent, informed. I love how you see yourself and by offering such a clear image, allow others to use you as a mirror when defining themselves. You are what Tupac calls a rose, one that grew from concrete of course. Thank you.

Alas, why is it that we only think of this stuff later?

Whoa, woe, whoa.

*People who speed up the moment you turn your signal on to get over.
*Hispanic Miamians who believe you challenged because you don’t speak, or refuse to speak, Spanish.
*Part-Time Jobs where you drive for one hour TO work for thirty minutes OF work.
*Losing out on a job opportunity because you dropped, and broke your laptop and didn’t get the email in time.
*Wanting to eat healthy but too rushed and too poor to afford non-dollar-menu items.
*Bladder refuses to let you make the entire drive to work without stopping to use the restroom thereby making you late.
*Paying for parking, at work.
*Having to buy a $3.85 coffee to get $4 off aforementioned parking.
*Working in an area where gas is 1 entire dollar more expensive than the station on your block, not having enough gas to make it home.
*Seeing your significant other long enough to say three things: good morning, goodnight, and I miss you.
*Job/ Insurance cover medical needs, boss “lets you go” one week before your treatment is finished making the price of the medicine quadruple and your income vanish.
*Dog owners who’s unleashed dog attacks your own then get upset when your beast nearly kills their bold brute.
*Paying for internet and having Netflix say “screw your movie night” right before they name the killer.

So…yes. These are but few of my most current woes. And most woeful of all is the dropping of my laptop. I feel like Carrie in that episode she Sad Mac’d and lost her mind. My photos, videos and yes, my writing, may well be lost forever. And now there is no more Netflix, frozen or not, until I can either procure another or magically find someone who can save mine. Wish me luck good people.

Tomorrow is my lucky day, so here’s hoping.

Date Days, and recreational time.

Kyle and I moved in together with a dollar and a dream. Now we never sleep because I work two jobs and he works one full-time job PLUS side jobs – he fixes cars and boats and things. As it turns out, we see each other, awake, much less now that we live together. There is no three-hour minimum slot we have every evening with which to go hang out with friends, to have dinner together or play board games. These days we see each other, briefly, in the morning and late at night.

So?

We plan. Date night or days get planned sometimes months in advanced. It takes work for us to make sure our schedules are cleared for a designated day, but we make sure nothing gets in the way. So for one evening or afternoon a month or bi-weekly we have time to do something together. And typically it’s something free or cheap enough so that there’s no guilt for taking time off of making money to spend money.

Let me explain that guilt thing: and let me say that Kyle and I differ on this greatly. Kyle feels that if he CAN work on a Saturday evening to make more money he should. He’s the logical, realistic one. I say that working all the time leads to stress, which causes health and emotional problems. I’m the RIGHT one. What’s the point of paying for a house when it doesn’t feel like home? Now I’m not so full of folly that I would neglect bills, but a rejuvenation can be a very good thing. And romance isn’t something easy to re-ignite once it’s been lost.

But for the lovers that agree with me I would offer this advice: be flexibly firm. Know when a good business deal is worth giving up an anticipated evening, losing out on a client who is like to bring you business consistently isn’t worth a film festival ticket. BUT losing an evening with an artist you’ve been wanting to meet your entire life isn’t worth three hours of work, especially when you can schedule it so that those three hours can be tended to another time.

In the end, if it won’t risk losing your job or a big business deal, spend the time. Because not spending the time risks losing fire, in a relationship with your lover, family, but most importantly, yourself.

P.S. i look in the papers, and scour online event pages to find free and cheap things to do. In many cities they have movies in the park or on the beach where you can take a blanket and some snacks. Or free art viewings or wine tastings or the like. Whatever you’re into, someone wants you to experience their version of things, so they’re willing to give it to you for free. put in some work and you’ll be oh-so-happy you did.

Gatsby Kinda Hope

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me a piece of advice that I’ve been running away from since. He told me that the hubris of my being, the fatal flaw that both makes me spectacular and doomed is my belief that I can do anything. I have no fear of failure. I have never approached anything with doubt that I cannot get it done. It was always only a matter of learning how to do it, and then I could do it.

 

What’s more is that I’ve never been proven wrong on this theory of myself and my abilities and it may only lead to, as my father suggested, digging my own grave.

 

Poppycock.

I have read and re-read The Great Gatsby a dozen times as a student, a teacher and a fan. It was always utterly apparent that Gatsby had this fantastic idea about life. That he could make it what he wanted. Didn’t he though? He truly did, he made it as the American dream poster boy, straight from Dust fields to gold dust on his fingertips. I say only that he loved he wrong woman. Had she reciprocated Gatsby’s love he’d not be in the mess he’s in now.  Again, I digress.

That idea of himself that he held took him around the world. He learned to sail, to be a soldier, a businessman and even to some extent, a gangster. He never saw anything as an obstacle.

 

I have that in common. James Gatz and Marquita Medley have ended, and it may have been about the same age. A different name, an inherit, indestructible view of oneself and one may be able to obtain anything they desire. Even something as grand as re-writing history.

 

humbled

I offer my humble apologies to those of you who are following my writing of your own interest and I haven’t posted in a while. I have been incredibly humbled this summer. I lost a job I didn’t want and was happy to be free to write, only I true to character, was unrealistic considering my financial obligations and thus have been forced to find another position. I have written, but sparingly and with no internet at home have not had the pleasure of sharing it with you all. When I get my laptop t some wifi I will post a snippet of my latest piece “We Called Them Fire Demons”…I have no idea where I’m going, with the piece or with life. But I do have the end in mind. For both.

By the way, I am happy, broke as I am. Stressed, wishing I had more time to write, and kicking myself for some decisions, but I have picked up the pieces and moved on. I smile every day, laugh every day and feel true, true love every day. I cook, I dress well and I treat myself like the queen I am.

Some things I have fallen deeply in love with laely:

Game of Thrones, books.

Anthropologie! (woot woot my new jiz-ob)

Instagram

Califia Farms Almond Milk

and Ms. Bardot.

Have a great day, and check up on me sometime. You never know…something fabulous could pop up any minute!

My Dark Secret: Perseus and Preparation

I had an entire reading area in my bedroom as a small child, but I could not read or write properly until I was near nine years old. No, I wasn’t unintelligent, I was actually, as tests would later prove, and much to my parent’s surprise, a gifted student. I was simply more concerned with the stories themselves. I felt for the characters, I feared the villains, I saw where it was possible their world and mine could cross paths one day. Even before I could read I would sit with the books sprawled in front of me, looking at the pictures and either reciting the stories as I’d heard them read by my parents or I’d make up the stories myself putting words and emotions to the images I was given.

But I digress, this is about my belief in and my wild obsession with stories. Let me illustrate. My mother, though a humble waitress by profession, is one of the most well read women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. She knows stories from great literature, mythology, ballets, opera’s. And when I was very little she’d told me the story of Perseus. Most people walk away with some feeling of awe, perhaps, at how he was able to slay the hideous creature, but I thought, well what would happen if I had to follow in Perseus’ footsteps? So, oddly enough, I’d crawl next to my mother whenever she was sleeping, or resting and pretend that she and I were out at sea, trapped in a box. There, the beginning of my training for an adventure like Perseus.

And all the great stories affected me in much the same way. I followed white rabbits, I’d plant every bean I’d ever come across, I even made it a policy to treat all my stuffed animals with tenderness, thank you very much Velveteen Rabbit.

Things didn’t ease up much as I got older. At ten I ‘d begun my reading career primarily with books about Vampires. One of the things I remember reading or hearing was that they have to be welcomed into the home before they could enter. So? I never allowed my parents to have a “WELCOME” mat. “Too dangerous,” I’d mumble.

So what’s all this say? That my imagination is absolutely ridiculously active and that I was quite the odd child? Yes, but also it’s the most tangible evidence that I believe. All the stories I read, the ones worth reading, I give my entire heart to them. I have no shame in it. I love good adventures, and escapes and I let the universe know that I believe such magic exists, somewhere, even if not for me. But always, always with a secret desire that it would happen. Adventures would be mine. I may not have been able to run a lap in PE but God as my witness if I had to get to Mordor with nothing but a loaf of bread, I’d do it. (This one, however, doesn’t require any preparation as Frodo was someone who ate cakes and smoked all day).

Have I grown out of this? Only slightly. This ability to go fall into a fantastical reality is what I hope will get me my bread and butter. How can I tell stories without first falling into their worlds completely? It’s my duty to suspend reason. I mean, I obviously know that it’s not real, but …it could be that I am currently awaiting my acceptance letter to Hogwarts Graduate School for Late Bloomers. You never do know these things…