Thursday, September 22, 2005

Out of the mouths of teenage babes

It is amazing to me how much the kids teach me. I think there are two schools of people that work with kids. One is the person who know they have a lot of information to give and go in to give it. And the second is the kind of person that goes in knowing that the kids probably will school them before they ever get to school. I'm pretty much the second person. Today, I got schooled.

One of my boys, Braulio, has really been such an interesting kid to watch grow. In two years he has grown tremendously. It is only after being dismissed from our program that he really made the leaps that I always knew he could make. He came back and he's been kicking ass ever since.

Today he had asked me for help with a scholarship application, we were chatting and then he says "Hey Karla, I'm sorry I was so hard headed when I was a freshman." At which I laughed and joked with him. Then he says "You know I don't regeret it. I know that I learned from being that person. I would never know how to talk to people like that if I hadn't been that person. I mean life is a maze right? You don't like the patch you chainsaw your way through another place where you can be happy. Otherwise, you just follow the maze. No reason to feel too guilty. You spend so much time feeling guilty you can't get better. I was spending a lot of time telling myself I sucked."

I was listening to Braulio and I started thinking about how much time I spend saying that to myself lately. The assault didn't do it as much as the workshop. The USC workshop had me really feeling guilty for my inability to get past the assault to be the Rap Director I know I can be. I know its silly, it was a week after the assault, I was still in shock, I should let up on myself. It was just still hard for me. Its not about being perfect, it was more a doubting of how strong I actually was.

I actually mustered the ability to call Derek soon there after. I owe him and Oudete a phone call. I apologized for having charged into certification when I wasn't personally ready, for not having been able to clear my filters enough to hear the feedback being given to me, for shutting down. I don't know what I expected to hear Derek say honestly. I think something along the lines of "we all have hard workshops, we have to just keep cleaning out the fliters so we don't get in the way of ourselves." but really I didn't expect what I got.

He told me I needed to not "flip the script" on myself. The long and short of what he communicated was that what I did under the cicumstances I did it in was testament to who I was. There probably could have been more opportune times to certify me, but I got to show myself what I was made of that week. Hearing him say that was so freeing. I wish I could get myself to the point where I can do that for myself or see things that clearly for my own preservation.

It is a process gosh darn it. This has had ripple effects on my whole life. I heard what he said, it will take some time to process and digest it as fact. But I heard it, and I guess thats really the first huge step.

Thank god for my students yo. My life and my growth is so influenced by them, I wonder if they even know how much. How grateful I am for the lessons they teach.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Another One

Mark and I are heading back from the Best Buy/Starbucks complex today and we come up against a few police cars blocking the street next to College Track. There is police tape all over the place, and we hear a neighbor say "Someone shot up a whole car!" Mark and I sat in silence for a bit before either of us opens our mouths.

I still don't know the whole story. For that matter I'm not sure if it was a car, a person, if anyone was hurt. At this point, I really don't care. I am tired of this. I am tired of this neighborhood being a war zone. It makes no sense to me. There is so much anger. So much. All it does is poison more and more people.

On one level, let me say, if it is not clear, taking away the life of someone does not make another person come back. It does not heal a place in your heart, It doesn't make the smile of a loved one any less missed. It only serves to provide that same emptieness to another group of people. I went from watching this kinda of senselessness happen in my community to watching it happen in the one I chose to work in. Trust me, the results are the same across the board.

I have to go speak to a group of my seniors now, I'l write more later. Pray for this community ya'll. It's heart is broken.

Home Sweet Home

You work so hard for the creation of home. So much comes up that disrupts it. Its really a fight to establish a place where you feel safe and have love on demand. No matter how great your parents are, you work your entire life to get out of your parents house and have one of your own. To have that little piece that is just yours.

Tonight I had home. It was nothing planned, just dinner with friends. Some half ass tacos with some slammin bell peppers. But damn if it isn't nice to just feel comfortable. I have been so sad for so long. More then I care to tell the people I love. It makes it so easy to forget that I created a home long before the assault. No bastard takes that away.

I look at the faces of the people who are dear to me and it just fills me. ::sigh:: Thank the good Lord for the blessing of my urban family.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Making Peace With Soccer

Yesterday I went with Rey to take a group of BUILD students (two of which happened to also be College Track students) to a San Jose Earthquakes game. Now, I gotta tell you. I love spending time with my kids. Spending time with soccer? Now that is a whooooole other issue. She and I have a a history that is much more complicated then most friendships.

It started out with AYSO. My brother was 5, I was 7. He was naturally gifted at the sport, I was not so much. Bottomline, by the end of my first practice, I knew this was not something I would be doing a lot of. It wasn't until my first game however that I ran screaming from it. In my 7 year old brain, the girls we were playing against were towering giants. My soccer coach, whose name I do not remember, in their infinite wisdom made me a goalie. And I stood there and ducked as 8 goals sailed through my goal post. I was devastated by the end of the game and asked my parents to never make me return. My brothers team in the mean time, was league champs. And it didn't get much better then that.

Soccer was the ultimate division of "Karla is the brain" and "Gabriel is the athlete". Now looking back as an adult, I see we were much more multi-faceted then that. I believe to this day that my brother is naturally smarter then me. Don't get me wrong, I am no slouch. I work hard to make up for what I don't have in natural ability, I make myself very informed of the world around me, I have musical abilities (not talents, just abilities) and I have an emotional perception far far ahead of any member of my family tree. But, in short, my brother is waaaay smarter then he ever gives himself credit for. He's just so busy undermining and not believing that, he doesn't really see it. To this day, I blame soccer (and you know from time to time dad) for this. I blamed her for my artistic abilities never being developed. I blamed her for my brothers lack of confidence. I blamed her for never allowing me to be the apple of daddies eye.

I spent every Saturday of my life from the ages of 7 to 17 on a soccer field. I cheered, I yelled and I read books while my brother got anywhere from exhaulted to berated for his performance. When I stopped going to games, it was the family rift of the century. I was no longer the good daughter of yesterday, I was the abandoner. Because Soccer ya'll was a family member. And you just do not choose anything over family.

Now don't get me wrong, I had some great moments with soccer. We were close from time to time. I saw so much of it, at some point, I probably could have coached it. Good days were good days. It was the most time my family and I ever spent together. It was the only reason we ever traveled. It was even responsible for the first time I ever laid eyes on a college campus. Falling in love that day, as I did so completely, changed my life. I saw my first crush on her fields. I learned the love of reading on her green grass

I've never had the need to make peace with soccer. My brother stopped playing in college (another massive turning point in our families history) and I moved away from it, from them.

Yesterday, I revisited her. Given the events of the last two months, I really did understand how difficult this was going to be. The assault has made every event a challenge to walk into for some reason. Whenever I get into my car, its a matter of bracing myself for the next place I have to be. It can be excruciating. Going to a stadium, around lots of people, predominantly men, many of which have had beer... well it felt scary. However, I had the kids, I had Rey and I had soccer. I knew those three factors would get me through okay.

I found joy in the sport I had forgotten all about. I saw her for what she was. I had grown and learned to accept her for the joy she provided. I thanked her for the sense of competition she gave me. I forgave her. Forgiveness after all opens space for love and I have about all the anger and resentment I can take as of late. Most of all though, she helped my kids laugh. She helped my kids be free. She helps them be kids and I really have to pay my respect to anything that can get that done.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I tried doing one of these about two years ago. I got about two posts out and then gave up. haha. Its been a long time since I have written down my thoughts, I figured I deserve to find a new outlet. We'll see if I can do this with any kind of consistancy. I guess I should start by saying who I am.

My name is Karla and I'm 24 years old. I'm a California girl, born and bred in the Los Angeles area, Pomona to be exact. I went to la Uni at the University of Southern California. I am every bit the brainwashed Trojan and proud of it.

About two years ago I moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I have since managed to recruit and wrangle a couple of other So Cal refugees. I have my own little commune, if you are cool, you are welcomed to come and join. My urban family is crazy wonderful. My little liberal northern Cal bubble is great. Full of a lot of really cool people. I'm still trying to find my way and navigate this place. Its a beautiful city, but creating home is always a challenge wherever you may go.

I am totally dedicated to my work. I am a youth professional. Work with kids in lots of different capacities. Is my full time place of employment. Check out the website, that way I don't have to spend a whole lot of time telling you what I do. haha. oooh I have a bio on the site too.

I would spend more time on this, however, I'm sure that as time goes on I'll talk about my students and coworkers at length to the "I'm gonna be ill" point.

And as silly as it is, I am going to post any other thoughts seperately, thats my boring little intro and I'll leave it at that.