Salt of the Sea

Wow. Logging in and looking around this blog for me right now is like coming home after a stint in jail. Which I did not suffer through, I simply got caught up in life.

I have been writing, and now that it’s summer I’ll begin to type up and post them. This first piece is a poem from The GLWI writing workshop for teachers – which has considerably less writing than I had hoped. It’s a poem modeled after “Where I’m From” and I got to read it to the entire workshop – which was more exciting than you’d think.

 

Without further ado….

 

SALT OF THE SEA

I am from red Kool-Aid fruit cups.

From Mother Key Byrd’s church hats

greater than Colossus

with lace and feathers and

little birds on the fancier ones.

From japchae and kimchi and

white funeral dresses.

From the Mason Dixon line that separates Manors from Section 8,

I am from apartment complexes

Which held cousins and aunts and

I am from the salt of the sea.

Tears washed from Halmony as she stood by the river in Seoul

mingled with those of my wailing mothers

crossing the middle passage.

I’m from “love who you want”

fuck tradition.

From an Irish boy who

fell in love with a slave girl

and made a family the moment she knew freedom.

From downhome Friday fish-fries in Uncle Porters yard,

and skyping with Uncle Sung:

“Ahnyung Babo-ya!”

From Mottainai

till earth and heaven ring.

I am from two hippies who taught me to find God in all things.

From the course of true love is easy if you will it,

from star-crossed,

from “Move that mountain cause it ain’t nothing but a molehill anyway.”

From “It’s yours, baby girl”

Claim It

The Noah Movie

I do believe many people are sadly mistaken as to the origin of the story of Noah. As it turns out, the story of the flood is not a Christian, Jewish, or even a monotheistic story. Digging around a bit you will find that a vast number of societies have some form of a flood story. The oldest, as far as I know, is the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh where he meets Utnapishtim, a man who was told to build a huge boat to prepare for one of the Gods’ cleansing of the Earth by rain and flood. Utnapishtim and his family survived the flood and were given word by nothing other than a bird that it was time to recuperate.

Based on the fact that so many different cultures have the story, coupled with the scientific evidence of a disastrous flood that may have led people in the region to believe the entire world was flooding, I believe the Flood actually happened.

Still, I am bothered by people’s vilification of Darren Aronofsky. Because he is an atheist, and the movie doesn’t match up exactly with the bible they are treating him as if he has attacked all of Christendom. Remember folks, the story of the flood is not a Christian story. Not originally, anyway. In his own way, as The Washington Post says, Aronofsky is “making one of history’s most enduring and universal myths his very own.” Isn’t that what the Judeo-Christian texts did anyway? I for one appreciate this ambitious retelling, and instead of putting Mr. Aronofsky on the cross and accusing his non-religious character as one out to destroy the story we should thank him for keeping this one alive and well.

 

 

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

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

Trayvon,

I have not forgotten you and the hundreds – maybe thousands – like you. My brother, my son, my father, my man are you. I will not mourn you by hoping your murderer receives shame in losing a boxing match, because I know he will know no shame. He will only happily accept the attention, and more than likely the money, that will come of such an atrocious even. I know that Zimmerman is not a celebrity; no more than Hitler, Booth, or McVeigh. I can no more change the mentalities of my peers, my countrymen, my people than I can change the skies, but I will never forget. I will never allow my morality to stoop so low as to condone the exploitation of a murderer. No blow to or from a washed up rapper will undo the fight that took your life. I will remember, solemnly and lovingly, young man.

A Salaam-Alaikum

God Be With You

Sa Rrang Hea

 

Self-discovery and Self-indulgence

It may be that my biggest problem as a person is self-indulgence. I do not discipline myself, I do not withhold happiness from myself and I do whatever possible to avoid misery. Even as a small child I knew that every moment was precious. The effect that this had on me was rather different from the effect it has on others: I stopped trying. Why work hard in class? If I get a B or even a C, that’s just as much a pass as an A. In fact, and A says I super-pass but the C still says I’m good enough. I would much rather watch cartoons right now than do work, so by golly, that’s what I’m going to do.  Is that lazy?  And I don’t simply do what I want, but I do it in excess. I have been late to work, because I was too into a book to get out of bed. I gain weight when I work, because I can afford all the food that I crave. I will cuddle up with a book and a dozen cookies and both will be done before the afternoon wears out. On top of that, I am not one of those people who get sick of doing or eating something over and over. I tried Buffalo Blasts from Cheesecake Factory once, they’re these friend pieces of amazing shredded buffalo chicken and cheese. I went back twice a week for those things for about two years. I’ve re-read Harry Potter – all of them – three times and I have watched Memento no less than 42 times.  I figure, if I like it, why change it? I KNOW the answer is because i may find something else i like, but what if I don’t like what I try. Unlike most people, I’d consider it a wasted moment.  What’s more, I binge everything. I binge eat junk: cookies, fries, pizza as I binge watch Orange is the New Black or Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey AS I binge scroll Instagram or Pintrest. I’ve got a serious problem, but that’s okay because the first step in anything is admittance, right?  I admit that I am self-indulgent book/food/film glutton who needs to branch out. There. I said it. Wish me luck.

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! 

Until 2014…

I have lost my temper, and my keys. In near equal amounts. 

I have been taken for granted, for a fool, a joke. Been left alone, hanging and to my own devices. i have been less confident, less eloquent and less of the me that I have striven to become. I have been wasting money, ideas, and too much time on Candy Crush.

I have forgotten your birthday, to return your call even when i knew you needed me but i was in the middle of a movie and knocked out right after. I have eaten all the cupcakes, or the bacon, or your shit. And I’m sick of it.

I have refused to acknowledge your right to happiness because somewhere along the way i taught myself to be selfish and condescending. No, dammit, you cannot have the last slice of pie. That’s my spot, didn’t you see my signal? It’s saw, “I saw you” not seen.

I have given corrections, directions, and complaints without suggestion,compassion,or empathy.Or many hugs.

 

To alter this is the unattainable whimsy of a fool, 

However, to leave where I have been to be better?

that’s a New Year’s Resolution

 

 

 

I have not been honest

I haven’t been honest.

Years 1-17. Because what happens in college, could get you arrested.

(a list of confessions)(abridged)

Ages 1 – 5

yes. geroldmie and i took the hot-dogs out of the fridge and ate them raw.

i spit on the carpet because it dried anyway.

faye, when you and deon were gone, i did, i did play your Mario game…in your room…on your bed…making a mess.

brace yourself: i told a girl on the playground to suck a dick. no, i didn’t know what it meant. no idea.

crackers: i used the word alot. i even had specific categories; i thought white people were saltines and hispanics ritz crackers.

i was scared to death of the lady next door to my grandmother, because she was big as a house, and said she could beat my daddy.

i made my barbies hunch.

Ages 6-12

my first story was about how good life was before my cousin Jessica was born…she was all cute… the heifer.

i pretended to be sick on all of the days gifted sessions didn’t get us out of geography. every. single. one.

i made my first, non-inhaling attempt to smoke a joint with Elizabeth, my skater buddy.

i kissed Ernesto, knowing full-well he was going out with Yomaira.

when my 4th Gifted teacher didn’t pick me to be Juliet in the play, i knew she was racist. and said so. no one knew that shit like i did.

every science project i ever did was fake.

Ages 14-17

i met a boy on blackplanet and called him my boyfriend, because he was black and korean and im’d me poems.

i learned that if i wrote the answers on my thighs and wore loose shorts, i could sit indian style in my desk and cheat. or if i wrote the answer on gum wrappers. or gum. (i keep an eye out for this stuff now)

i successfully smoked my first joint with Maria and Natalie at the biggest house i’d ever been in in my life. it was better than christmas.

i skipped, horrible, i know. but i never skipped my English class. ever. or psychology.

i got dumped repeatedly because i was a virgin and intended on staying that way until i met Juelz Santana. i’ve never met Juelz.

i went to prom with my cousin.